Tag Archives: Voting Rights Act

Lies Liberals Tell, Part 4

Lies Liberal Tell, Part 4 of 7

Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban

Lie # 4: People Believe in Basic Fairness

Liberals tend to believe in fairness. We should treat others fairly. Justice systems should be fair and honest. Above all, elections should be fair. So the real will of the people can be expressed. So the voice of the people can be reflected in the legal  system. If systems are fair, we believe, all will eventually be right with the world. And we expect other Americans to feel the same way.

We are wrong. As the last 25 years have demonstrated, the right wing sees “fairness” as an obsolete concept. No longer part of our political life. The goal of the right wing is simple. Win. Win any election by any means necessary. Win by lying. Win by cheating. Win by suppressing votes. Win. Win. Win.

Of course, this is hardly new in American politics. It is seen most clearly in the election process. After all, the Jim Crow voting laws south of the Mason-Dixon line effectively disenfranchised American blacks for almost one hundred years. The Voting Rights Act passed in the 1960s finally  (in theory) gave blacks the same voting rights as white Americans. Basic fairness. A liberal ideal.

Then, the right wing majority on the US Supreme Court, in Shelby County vs. Holder,  gutted the Voting Rights Act. It was no longer needed. The ultra-right wing argued that  no longer did certain states intentionally seek to disenfranchise black voters. So the Court ruled. Basic fairness had been achieved. What happened next?

Two HOURS. Two HOURS after the decision was released by the SCOTUS the Texas Attorney General (now Governor) Abbott announced that a new voter ID law would go into effect immediately. Alabama followed suit. Within two months North Carolina had instituted new voter restrictions. So did Mississippi. In Florida, GOP governor Rick Scott ordered the purge from voter rolls (which failed). But Florida did move a voting center (used primarily by blacks) to a new site without access to public transportation.   South Carolina instituted new voter restrictions.

Jim Crow has returned. Fairness? Not an issue. Win by suppressing Democratic votes. Win by undermining the very concept of fair elections.

Of course, even before the gutting of voting rights there were ways to prevent  fair elections. Nothing was more clear than in the 2000 Florida election. When the governor, who happened to be the brother of a candidate for  president hired a company to purge the voting rolls. Over half of those purged were African-Americans. Who voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. And when the private company itself pointed out that , based on the state requirements, it would be purging thousands of voters who were legally entitled to vote, Governor Jeb Bush’s staff told the company to purge them anyway.  We do not know how many of these thousands of black Americans showed up at the polls and were turned away with no recourse. The election was handed to George Bush when the SCOTUS refused to allow Florida to recount its votes. It worked.

In North Carolina there was an organized effort, which succeeded, in voter fraud. A GOP candidate actually hired a man who had a history of illegal activities. He paid relatives and others to collect absentee ballots and mark  those ballots with the GOP candidate. Even after this corruption was revealed and exposed, the North Carolina GOP insists that the fraudulent election be upheld. Voter fraud is okay.

Beyond voting, liberals tend to believe the lie that the vast majority of our fellow citizens believe in fairness in the justice system. But the fact is that our justice system is not designed to produce “fair” results. It is designed to “win” cases. Whether for the state  (prosecution) or the individual (defense). Justice is not relevant. It is no accident that those who can afford to hire the best lawyers win. We see a case in Texas where a defense attorney SLEEPS during the trial, but the appeals court lets a conviction stand claiming the defendant still had “adequate representation”. (Decision finally overturned by the Fifth Circuit) .Those who can afford to stand up to the state with a competent legal team need not worry about justice.

Public defenders, with very limited budgets, seldom prevail. So, we see young adults without resources convicted of petty crimes and given criminal records while white collar criminals steal millions and walk away. Or make “restitution” and are forgiven. So, this lack of fairness has created a new money making industry, private prisons. A funneling of poor , overwhelmingly minority, Americans  from the poorest neighborhoods into the private prisons, all for profit.

Fairness, a liberal lie. Liberals still cling to the ideal, which is fine.  But we need to accept the fact that in government, in voting rights and in the court system “fairness” is a commodity in short supply. We also need to accept the fact that many of our fellow citizens think this is just fine. They do not see “fairness” as a legitimate goal of government. Win at any cost is their mantra.

 

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Constitution, death penalty, Elections, government, jeb bush, Politics, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Extreme Ithaca Liberals

My congressman, Tom Reed of NY-23, has once again started his biennial smear campaign against any candidate who dares run against him. Those of you who follow Mr Reed may remember his previous campaigns in which he simply outright lied about the political positions of his opponents. Or maybe you are familiar his lockstep support of Mr Trump. With most of his financing coming from out of the district organizations and PACs , and corporate organizations like ALEC, he is very successful in flooding the mailboxes with lies and half-truths. (97% of Reed’s money comes from PACs and large donors, 2.5% from small donors). It works.

This year one of his managers  has started a website devoted to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals”, which is supposed to be an insult to his mostly  moderate, mainstream and slightly liberal opponent, Tracy Mitrano. Some of his supporters even show up at rallies with “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” banners.

I guess when you can’t run on your accomplishments all you can do is try to smear the other guy. To his credit, Tom Reed does have a couple accomplishments. He has voted to end the ACA a number of times, taking away health care from his constituents. He voted for the billionaire tax giveaway, to the tune of $1.5 trillion which I suppose does benefit a couple of his constituents here in the economically depressed western NY. And he wants to pay for that tax giveaway by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Fair enough.

But enough about Tom. Let’s investigate the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals“. Those of you not familiar with this part of the country may wonder why he uses the word “Ithaca“. After all, his opponent, Tracy Mitrano lives in Penn Yan, not Ithaca.

Well, “Ithaca” is a dog whistle for “highly educated”. Home of Cornell University. On that account Mitrano stands guilty as charged. She does have a BA, MA and Ph.D. from different institutions. As well as a JD from Cornell, (hence the “Ithaca” connection.)  While many would consider being educated a plus, I suppose to Reed and his supporters that may be a disqualifying if not terrifying quality in a lawmaker. Who knows?

But, I digress. Back to the “Extreme Liberal” part of the equation. Let’s look back over the years and see what “extreme liberals” have done for America. Or, as Tom would say, how have they destroyed America?

I offer a partial list of “extreme liberal” programs, all of which were opposed at the time by conservatives as being either “socialist” or “communist” or an infringement on “states’ rights”. I would like to see Tom respond to these extreme liberal programs and tell his constituents which ones he wants to do away with. Which ones made America a worse place to live? Here they are:

Social Security. Before the Social Security program was out in place over 50% of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. And many more were just on the cusp.  FDR and the extreme liberals passed the program. At the time the opponents called it “communist” and predicted it would quickly lead to the downfall of America. Today, that number of elderly below the poverty level is 8%. Is that a bad thing?

Medicare. Before Medicare many elderly could not afford to purchase health insurance of any kind. The emergency room was their only option. Now all older Americans get preventative and necessary health care through Medicare. The extreme liberals made it happen.  Is that a bad thing?

Medicaid. Before Medicaid millions of poor Americans could not afford health care. Including millions of children. Now, the poorest of the poor can at least get basic preventative care and treatments. The extreme liberals passed this law. Is that a bad thing?

The ACA, (Obamacare). Before the ACA was enacted over 40,000,000 still had no heath insurance. They would get their health care at emergency rooms.. People with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Basic preventative care was denied to millions. Now, Mr Reed WAS able to get health care. Because of his obesity problem he and his doctor agreed to an operation.  He and his doctor thought that was the best treatment for him. Extreme liberals support that. Extreme liberals are happy that Mr Reed and his doctor were able to make that decision. Extreme liberals believe that all Americans should have access to the same quality of care. Is that a bad thing?

Social Security Disability. Before this program the disabled and children who lost a parent simply had to fend for themselves. When Tom was a little boy his father died. Luckily the extreme liberals had provided that his mother could get extra money for baby Tommy to help with the bills through the Social Security survivors program. Is that bad? Oh…by the way.. In 2015 Tom Reed  proposed a rule to stop funding the Social Security Disability program when it gets low. This has always been done by reallocating funds from Social Security. A fix that had been done under both GOP and Democratic administrations.  This rule would mandate the disability program  to cut benefits instead.

The Voting Rights Act. Many states, especially in the south, had laws designed specifically to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. Grandfather clauses. Simply refusing to register blacks. The voting Rights Act changed that, trying to make sure all citizens can vote. The extreme liberals made that happen. Was that bad?  (Evidently so, since many states have re-instituted voter suppression laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned parts of the Act.)

Equal Accommodation Laws. After World War 2 men who fought and were injured fighting totalitarian governments came home. Some of them were told they could not eat in restaurants. Could not use the bathroom. Could not drink from the water fountain. Could not sit at the lunch counter. Had to ride in the back of the bus. Could not buy a house in this neighborhood. Could not send their children to the good school. Could not enter the university. The extreme liberals thought that was wrong and changed the law to prevent discrimination based on skin color. Was that bad?

I could go on and on and on, Food Stamps, Environmental Protection laws, minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, etc.  The bottom line is that most of the progress we take for granted in our daily lives was due to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” types.

So when Mr Reed’s supporters show up with signs and post websites about those “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” we might take a moment to ponder what our society would look like today without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wage Laws, the EPA, The ACA, Voting rights and a host of other programs we take for granted as normal.

Tom Reed would take those programs away if you give him the chance to do so. He is not an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal“.

1 Comment

Filed under Democrat, Elections, GOP, government, healthcare, liberals, Politics, Republicans, Social Security, Society, Tom Reed, Trump, United States, US

Speaking Ill of the Dead

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Evidently the ancient Romans did not know Antonin Scalia.

I have no problem writing ill of Scalia. He’s dead. He won’t read this. And if he did I could care less.

Scalia was not, as his supporters like to claim, the voice of “conservatism” on the court. More likely, he qualifies as the voice of the “reactionaries”. Those who want to return to an imaginary past. He was not, as his supporters claim, a “strict constructionist” devoted to the Constitution. He was, in essence, a “reactionary” devoted to the Articles of Confederation.

You may recall that the Articles of Confederation were the first plan of government after the revolution. It gave massive power to individual states and little power to the central government. It guaranteed no rights nationwide. It was an abysmal failure. It was because the “states rights” concept  failed so miserably that the Constitution was formed.

Scalia was more devoted to the Articles than to the Constitution.  Some examples.

In 2000, in Bush v Gore. Scalia sided with the 5-4 majority is overturning the Florida Supreme Court.That  Florida court had ruled that it was necessary to recount the Florida voted because under Florida Constitution and law a vote so close had to be recounted. The Florida Supreme Court wanted to get it right.

Scalia, siding with the majority, supported the very odd decision that counting all the votes fairly would impact negatively on the Bush campaign. The vote count was stopped. The right of the state of Florida to follow its own election laws was overturned by the SCOTUS.  Justice Scalia had a son who was in the lawfirm directly involved in the Bush appeal to the SCOTUS, which should have been a reason for his recusal.

Scalia opposed the right of citizens to health care under the ACA. He used a rather foolish broccoli analogy to suggest that the federal government had no right to implement any law requiring people to..well..do anything.  (Actually, Scalia was the prime target of a 2012 blog post on this matter….    https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/scalia-and-the-broccoli-conundrum/)

Scalia opposed the rights of gays to marry. He took the position that only the individual states can decide on whether or not an adult can marry. State’s rights, ignoring the amendments guaranteeing equal protection under the laws.

Perhaps the strangest case ever for someone who claimed to be a “strict constructionist”  was the Citizens United fiasco. Overturning federal law to regulate money in politics. The decision basically created a new class of citizens, called “corporations”. According to Scalia, corporations had first amendment rights to spend money on candidates. No where in the Constitution is there any indication that the founding fathers sought to make corporations “persons” in the same sense as you and I are persons. this was a complete contortion of the reason for the Bill of Rights in the first place. To protect INDIVIDUALS from governmental power. Another example of Scalia claiming to be a “strict constructionist” and then ignoring the Constitution.

And, adding to this fantasy. A corporation called Hobby Lobby was granted “religious” reasons for not providing adequate health care to its employees. A total perversion of the meaning of the First Amendment. And Scalia was there. Leading the charge.

Scalia consistently refused to support individual rights. He opposed a woman’s right to abortion He supported overturning the Voting Rights Act. He supported the idea that individual states could deny classes of citizens certain rights. He was the most reactionary justice since WW2, perhaps since the Civil War. There is no doubt that he would have been very comfortable voting with the majority in the Dred Scott case. After all, slavery was a “state’s rights” issue.

So. I speak ill of the dead. But, in fairness to me, I spoke ill of him when he was alive. His death does not make his decisions any more palatable. The fact that he has passed from political power can only be seen as a positive step for individual rights. His loss is not one to mourn.

 

2 Comments

Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Constitution, Dred Scott, gay marriage, gay rights, gays, GOP, government, healthcare, Hobby Lobby, logic, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, SCOTUS, Supreme Court