Posts tagged "news"


November 2nd, 2013

Voter ID (Near) Disenfranchisement

Most people know I was married at one point.  I took his last name, and when I went through the process of getting unmarried, I made a vow to myself that the hassle that comes with changing one names would be reserved after 5 years of marriage.  If we were on stable ground and I wasn’t ready to bolt, I’d do it, because that’s exactly what it is: a hassle.  Plus, my name is kind of nice.  Soothing.  Almost full of alliteration, plus my initials spell out “Be Right Back”, so if it was a big deal to my future Mr., I’d change it, but if not, I’d probably just go about for a while, and slowly make the switch.  

Yesterday, I went to my usual Early Voting Spot.  Now, I should warn you here and now that when I usually go to vote for such innocuous things like Primary Elections and I say I’m a Democrat, there’s a look of surprise and almost shame.  I shock the blue haired old ladies, because surely they didn’t hear right… surely there’s not a *whispers* Democrat *unwhispers* in their presence.  And surely she’s not attempting to *whispers* vote *unwhispers* in their early voting location.  

I took my United States Passport, for a variety of reasons.  One of those reasons is a U.S. Passport is more a legally defined form of Identification than a Texas Driver’s License.  I wanted to make sure that if I was turned away, I had all forms of identification available to me as I stood in the parking lot calling an attorney and the ACLU and the Harris County’s Stan Stanart, because if I don’t need identification to become a deputy voter registrar, why do I need one to vote?  But, I digress… and shouldn’t give Stan Stanart or any other Republican Tea Party crazy Texan any ideas on how to further disenfranchise me, what with losing Constitutional Rights enough as it is this week.  

So, when I got to the table, where I’m to hand over identification, I handed over my Passport AND my Voter’s Registration Card.  Which, if they want us to have Voting ID, why do they not just request those of us that have a Voter Registration Card come down for new Voter Registration Cards to their local county to have Voter Registration Cards made with Photos?  Surely, this would be the most common sense way to handle all of the problems we seem to be having.  That way, names could be corrected on the spot.  

Anyhow, as I handed the two documents to the woman, my Passport more than applicable since it expires in 2017, she asked, “You don’t have a Texas Driver’s License?”  I was obtuse.  ”I’m handing you a United States Passport, one of the seven forms of acceptable identification.”

"Yes, I know it’s an acceptable form of identification, but…."  I was glaring at her and looking at the packet which clearly lays out what forms of ID are acceptable, only their packets conveniently have the Texas Department of Public Safety documents listed on the front page and "preferable" to the lesser United States form of identification.  "…It would just be easier if you have a Texas Driver’s License."

At which point, I was probably supposed to say, “OH!  Well, if it will make things easier for you, let me just roll out the red carpet while my right to vote is being held up by a law that will likely be constitutionally challenged because it greatly discriminates against minorities and women.  A law that my sister is fearing complications of voting where she’s voted the last 20 years because, she FINALLY looked at her Voter Registration Card and noticed that her middle name and not her maiden name is listed, though I warned her about this in August.”

I didn’t say it.  I didn’t bat an eye, when I further persisted, “But this is a United States Passport, it’s BETTER for verifying my identity than my Texas Driver’s License… and one of the seven forms of acceptable identification.”

The woman was squirming, because, I know the law and it’s kind of obvious I know the law…  ”Oh, well, it will just take longer to find you…” She said in that sweet southern way that’s supposed to imply f__k you and in a tone that meant I was supposed to answer with, “well, if it’s going to take longer than it already has to just argue with you over the fact that I’ve produced LEGALLY accepted identification to vote by all means, let me reconsider and give you what you want.”   I just glared at her.  I can play that backhanded sweet game, too, I just choose to be blunt and not catty.   You know where you stand with me.  

She said, “Well… there’s a problem, because your Passport lists your middle name as R__________________ and you’re listed on the voter file under just “R”.  

I’m rolling my eyes at this point.  Mind you, all of this is under my maiden name.  My legal name, before any of it was changed, the name that was on my final Birth Certificate issued by the State of Texas and Harris County.  There is no issue here with a former married name or a former maiden name, there is simply a problem with the fact that on one form of identification, my middle name is completely spelled out whereas on another, my middle name is just initialed.  

"Yes.  The "R" stands for R______________."  

"Oh.  And where do you iive?  Because there’s two addresses listed for you."  So, at this point, she’s blatantly looking for a reason to deny me the right to vote and especially at that location, because the other address is in Fort Bend and that house was sold this year.  

"I live at the address on the voter registration given to you."  And then spelled it out.

"OH.  Okay then."  

I finally got to go sign my name and THEN had to initial an affidavit that there were problems with my name on the Voter File and that I really was the person on the United States Passport AND the Voter Registration Card.  

And THEN, I got to vote. 

But, all along the way, I was pressured to do things the easy way… because that would make the process simpler.  At this point, I encourage you to make this process harder.  Any time you have other documentation than would make the job of the polling location easier, you bring the documentation that makes them have to work.  I don’t want this process to be easier on the election workers.  I want them to complain about it.  I want them to hate it.  I want them to say how much easier it was when we just had Voter Registration cards, before we were trying to disenfranchise large portions of the voting population and before we were made to feel like we should made the jobs of those people that are doing everything they can to prevent us from exercising our Constitutional Right to vote.  I want people to get upset, antsy, agitated.  How dare this Election Worker question me 3 times about the form of identification I provided to her.  THREE TIMES?  THREE TIMES when you’re handed documentation that will allow me to cross the border into a foreign country, documentation that far surpasses the Texas Driver’s License.  And she had the audacity to be rude to me, to look for reasons to prevent me from voting.  All because I made her job harder for her, and all because there is a law that affects me and my rights and affects the rights of many of those in this state.  

….and that lady should be grateful that my Mom wasn’t there, because as much as I was glaring, my Mom would have been spitting nails and becoming extremely argumentative.  And, I was willing to go to create a disturbance and go to jail, had I not been allowed to vote, because the call to my parents would have been one of the easiest ones I’ve ever had to make. Bail money because I was not allowed to vote?  Would have been there before I could be processed.  

Oh, but the icing on the cake?  Was the Tea Party Republican couple in front of me insisting that they ALWAYS had to show ID to vote.  The elderly black gentleman that was directing voters and is one of the few kind faces I see at my voting location, tried to explain it, and then just stopped, because there was no point.   But the look of pain on his face told the story.  

quickhits:

Tea Party’s Creating Enemies, Not Allies. It’s actually been nothing new. It wasn’t long after Tea Party Republicans came to Washington in 2010 that they began to wear out their welcome. Shills for a handful of billionaires, the ‘baggers were originally seen as just the sort of fresh blood a party in decline needed. They were ideologically extremist, sure, but newly elected people are always like that. Elected office is a form of activism, after all, abd these were just activists taking it to the next level. Washington — and the Republican Party especially — was already full of extremists, but that didn’t mean that nothing could ever get done. You talk big and settle for what you can get. Besides, complaining brings in the campaign funds. Nothing raises money like a grand battle yet to be won. When you win the war, the soldiers go home. But the ‘baggers weren’t interested in baby steps. They wanted the world and they wanted it now. Nothing less than total victory — without compromise — was acceptable and the leadership of more experienced lawmakers was spurned. By God, the Tea Party would either “save” the nation or destroy it, because anything less that Tea Party purity is considered communism, nazism, and various and sundry other forms of tyranny. In a world of black and white, with no subtleties of gray, they think they stand for liberty and anything else is tyranny. So why not destroy the nation if you don’t get what you want? Anything short of what you demand represents the destruction of the nation anyway. This is what a generation raised on talk radio have become — lunatic extremists who don’t believe their political opponents are merely wrong, they believe the left is representative of every political evil visited on mankind throughout history, from Hitler to Stalin to the KKK. You don’t compromise with the devil. This is all very, very insane, of course. The old guard Republicans know it. But these new ‘baggers can’t be reasoned with, because as we’ve already established, they’re insane. The insane are beyond reason by definition. The Tea Party wasn’t the infusion of new blood that it at first seemed to be, it’s a harmful force to be fought. Mention of the GOP Civil War has popped up from time to time, but it has never been anything other than a cold war. That is, until now. 

Washington Post: Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts. Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week. But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default.

"Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts.." The report goes on. "The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right." And that’s not the only front opened by old guard Republicans in the GOP Civil War. The US Chamber of Commerce says they will oppose any Republican candidate who votes to continue the shutdown or against raising the debt limit. And they aren’t the only ones. According to one report, “Some influential Republican donors are now threatening to withhold their contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee over the shutdown strategy.” House Republicans current strategy is the Tea Party caucus’ strategy — and it is a fiasco. A new poll shows that they’re in danger of losing the House majority. And that’s a poll not a lot of people are disputing. Other polls show Republicans taking the blame for he government shutdown. This is not a fight the ‘baggers are winning. But it’s a fight where everyone is against them and even their allies are defecting. The question is whether enough will defect in time. Whatever the outcome, we may be looking at the twilight of the Tea Party. It cannot come too soon.-Wisco [photo via Wikimedia Commons]

This is intriguing news for 2014.  
October 7th, 2013

quickhits:

Tea Party’s Creating Enemies, Not Allies.

It’s actually been nothing new. It wasn’t long after Tea Party Republicans came to Washington in 2010 that they began to wear out their welcome. Shills for a handful of billionaires, the ‘baggers were originally seen as just the sort of fresh blood a party in decline needed. They were ideologically extremist, sure, but newly elected people are always like that. Elected office is a form of activism, after all, abd these were just activists taking it to the next level. Washington — and the Republican Party especially — was already full of extremists, but that didn’t mean that nothing could ever get done. You talk big and settle for what you can get. Besides, complaining brings in the campaign funds. Nothing raises money like a grand battle yet to be won. When you win the war, the soldiers go home.

But the ‘baggers weren’t interested in baby steps. They wanted the world and they wanted it now. Nothing less than total victory — without compromise — was acceptable and the leadership of more experienced lawmakers was spurned. By God, the Tea Party would either “save” the nation or destroy it, because anything less that Tea Party purity is considered communism, nazism, and various and sundry other forms of tyranny. In a world of black and white, with no subtleties of gray, they think they stand for liberty and anything else is tyranny. So why not destroy the nation if you don’t get what you want? Anything short of what you demand represents the destruction of the nation anyway. This is what a generation raised on talk radio have become — lunatic extremists who don’t believe their political opponents are merely wrong, they believe the left is representative of every political evil visited on mankind throughout history, from Hitler to Stalin to the KKK. You don’t compromise with the devil.

This is all very, very insane, of course. The old guard Republicans know it. But these new ‘baggers can’t be reasoned with, because as we’ve already established, they’re insane. The insane are beyond reason by definition. The Tea Party wasn’t the infusion of new blood that it at first seemed to be, it’s a harmful force to be fought. Mention of the GOP Civil War has popped up from time to time, but it has never been anything other than a cold war. That is, until now.

Washington Post: Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts.

Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.

But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default.

"Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts.." The report goes on. "The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right."

And that’s not the only front opened by old guard Republicans in the GOP Civil War. The US Chamber of Commerce says they will oppose any Republican candidate who votes to continue the shutdown or against raising the debt limit. And they aren’t the only ones. According to one report, “Some influential Republican donors are now threatening to withhold their contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee over the shutdown strategy.”

House Republicans current strategy is the Tea Party caucus’ strategy — and it is a fiasco. A new poll shows that they’re in danger of losing the House majority. And that’s a poll not a lot of people are disputing. Other polls show Republicans taking the blame for he government shutdown. This is not a fight the ‘baggers are winning.

But it’s a fight where everyone is against them and even their allies are defecting. The question is whether enough will defect in time. Whatever the outcome, we may be looking at the twilight of the Tea Party.

It cannot come too soon.

-Wisco

[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

This is intriguing news for 2014.  

October 5th, 2013

"Do You Think She Can Win…?"

I’ve been asked that a million times in the past week.  ”Do you think she can win?”  And I ALWAYS answer with a resounding, “YES!”

I explain that I was there, in the Capitol, THAT night… That what I saw was amazing - beyond words.  We were at capacity in that building.  During Summer… AND a Special Session.  There’s no way on God’s green Earth we had a shot of defeating the bill that session and yet, we did.  The rules were changed and stacked against us… and, we still managed to pull it off. 

However, immediately after I express this, I’m asked one of two things: “Do you really think she can win on THAT issue? Don’t you think it will make things worse for her?”  And if it’s not that, there’s a question of, “Do you think she can raise enough money to seriously be a contender?”  

So, let’s talk about THAT issue.  THAT issue is what brought over 700 women, a good many of them Republican, out to a Thursday evening hearing to testify to a Committee (BEFORE Wendy filibustered) about why THAT issue should remain safe, legal, and rare.  THAT issue is why we’re here, even talking about Wendy Davis.  No one cares that she did the impossible in the previous session - doing what she did this session, but with public education funding.  This woman was a hero of mine prior to June and she will be one long after the crowds have left and moved on to the next big thing.   What did she get for her trouble?  A firebombed office during her 2012 campaign.  You can say anything you want about the women, but you can’t say that she isn’t formidable or determined. 

Then, we get into the money situation.  Do you know how many women were grateful for her filibuster, not just in the Capitol, but at home?  You don’t think there’s not an army of people dedicated to seeing this come to fruition?  Oh, wait… that’s because you weren’t there, watching as we did everything we could to organize while we were there, being thrown little tea parties, where we were expected to act like proper young ladies as our proverbial government Daddy made decisions for us.  

There’s only one thing that beats organized money and that’s organized labor.  

The most dangerous thing you can do is underestimate someone.  The GOP did it this summer in Texas and it left them in a very difficult position.  I’m just wondering why people are willing to underestimate Wendy Davis and the women of this state a second time.  

Elections are won by those who show up… and anyone that tries to convince me that THIS issue will hurt Wendy on Election Day wasn’t paying attention.  

I rarely feel this strongly about a candidate.  When I do, it’s gut instinct.  Pure gut… gnawing, fighting, raw passion.  No idea where it comes from. I felt this way in 2006 / 2007 about a Democratic Primary Candidate.  You may have heard of him.  Named Obama.  Pretty popular guy.  Everyone told me that he wasn’t going to win… Pretty sure he’s called Mr. President now.   Have I felt it before then?  Yes.  In 1992.   My gut has a great track record.  

"Do you think she can win…?" 

Stop asking, stop trying to find excuses or argue with me, and if, as the many who have asked me that truly mean, “well, I want her to win…” then, roll up your shirt sleeves, because we’ve got work to do. 

October 2nd, 2013

Too bad the kids in charter schools don’t learn any better than those in plain-vanilla public schools. Stanford University crunched test data from 26 states. About a quarter of charters delivered better reading scores, but more than half produced no improvement, and 19% had worse results. In math, 29% of the charters delivered better math scores, while 40% showed no difference, and 31% fared worse.

Unimpressive, especially when you consider charter schools can pick and choose their students — weeding out autistic kids, for example, or those whose first language isn’t English. Charter schools in the District of Columbia are expelling students for discipline problems at 28 times the rate of the district’s traditional public schools — where those “problem kids” are destined to return.

Nor does the evidence show that charters spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently. Researchers from Michigan State and the University of Utah studied charters in Michigan, finding they spent $774 more per student on administration, and $1,140 less on instruction.

— from “Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express to Fat City” (Forbes)

September 28th, 2013

House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.

GOP adds ‘conscience clause’ to spending bill – CNN (via brooklynmutt)

Because only sluts want birth control… and of course it’s in the spending bill… *exasperated sigh*

(via brooklynmutt)

September 27th, 2013

We’re in court today to stop a terrible situation for women in Texas from getting even worse. Politicians are interfering with the personal medical decisions of women who already have the least access to birth control and preventive health care. If this law goes into effect, there is no doubt it will end access to safe and legal abortion for many women, leaving some to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. We won’t let that happen.

— Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, via ACLU of Texas’s Press Release: Texas Health Care Providers File Lawsuit to Protect Abortion Access In Texas