Sunday, October 21, 2012

Republicans declaring early victory?

Republicans say momentum is on Romney’s side in new polls

(Yes, folks, I'm blogging again - health has been pretty bad this election season, and I've not been feeling nearly as froggy for the general election as I was during the primary. Thank you for the many well-wishes, and I blog on.)

So, we're voting in a great many states (this one included), and the polls have the two presidential candidates in a dead heat, nationally. This story is about how the Republicans are declaring an early win, saying that momentum is on their side. As one Republican told me this weekend, "The Romney people feel they've locked up NC, so they pulled all their people out already."

Well, let them. Let them gloat, let them "pull all their people out," let them claim victory with weeks left to go. Meanwhile, keep making phone calls, keep encouraging Democrats to go vote, and keep encouraging your friends who may have written off their own votes as meaningless to get in the fight. On November 7, we will have proven the Tea Partied, right winged, deluded minority wrong - or we will have merely tried. But, do not let it be said that in these last days we simply left the election to them. Rather let it be said that they declared victory just a little too soon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mike Stone violates election law!

Political signs are considered by many to be the necessary evil of election season.  Like nearly everything else related to elections, the placement and timing for sign displays are regulated by North Carolina law.  According to NC G.S. 136-32, political signs can be placed along the right of way no earlier than 30 days before the beginning of early voting.  In our case, that's September 18.  This fact isn't a mystery.  All you need to do is call your local board of elections, and a representative will be more than happy to tell you the date or email you the statute. 

Representative Mike Stone (R-NC House 51) knows all of this.  He just doesn't care.  Today is September 7, and I personally drove by about 20 of Stone's signs along the right-of-way on NC Hwy 24/27 in Harnett County.  Another Democratic volunteer reported to me that Stone also has signs along the right-of-way of Nicholson Rd., and in the whereabouts of Swanns Station in Lee County.  I took the pictures below this morning.  I said that Stone doesn't care; here's why: while the statute says that whoever erected the signs is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the only penalty is that the signs must be removed by the DOT.  And, actually proving that Stone personally erected the signs would be nearly impossible.

So, Mike Stone doesn't care about the law because he won't get caught breaking it.  For a guy so neatly tucked into AFP's pocket, all of the conservative lip-service to the rule of law sounds like so much hypocrisy.  Remember, too, that this is the candidate who claimed to have no knowledge of the false mailer that went out right before election day in 2010, the mailer which secured his election.  My guess on this is that Rep. Stone will be said to have had no knowledge of the fact that 20-30 of his signs, at least, went out a week early.  But, his name's on the signs. 

Bill Tatum has his work ahead of him in this election.  His opponent plays dirty.  If you want to support fair, transparent leadership in the General Assembly, volunteer or contribute, and by all means vote for Bill Tatum.

** UPDATE **
An attorney for the Harnett County Board of Elections has notified me that he will be contacting Rep. Stone with respect to these signs.  While it can't be proven that Stone placed or authorized the placing of these signs, it's still his name on the cardboard, and therefore his responsibility.  Kudos to the Harnett County BOE for working quickly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stick to the facts, Fox News!

Obama acceptance speech moved indoors

This story should be pretty boring.  The chance of inclement weather, specifically isolated thunderstorms, presented a risk to attendees of the Democratic National Convention who would be watching the event outside, in the Bank of America Stadium.  To mitigate the risk, convention planners moved the event inside.  Unfortunately, this had the effect of shrinking the seat availability from 65,000 to 20,000, and so tens of thousands of supporters holding community credentials to the event on September 6, this humble blogger included, found themselves unable to attend.  The President has promised to hold a conference call with them on Thursday, and cancelled credential holders will be invited to other future events involving the President.  Those are the facts.

Never one to miss out on a good conspiracy hypothesis, Fox News is reporting that "one Democratic official" reported that the DNC was having trouble filling seats, and that "one source said some Democrats had been hoping it would also serve as a handy solution to the potential attendance problem at the stadium." 

"One source" said "some Democrats?"  Are you kidding me?  This is like when your idiot brother walks up to you and says, "Some people say that cell phones cause brain cancer."  The appeal to "some people" is an attempt to lend credibility to a myth.  In this case, your idiot brother is Fox News, and the appeal to authority is "some people," and this, of course, is also what the military calls single-source intelligence - a report from a single person - the least reliable intelligence of all.

Carl Sagan said famously, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  I'm not sure how extraordinary Fox News' claim here is,  but any news organization ought not make claims without evidence.  If you have something to say, then by all means say it, but by all means support it, as well.  Until and unless Fox News comes up with some actual numbers or actual evidence, this story is no more salacious or complicated as described in the first paragraph. 

So, I'm looking forward to my conference call with President Obama.  It may not be as cool as going to the convention, but when's the last time you've been able to tell someone - "hey, I'll have to call you back.  I have a conference call in a few minutes - with President Obama!" 

The whole-nation approach of the President's campaign

Obama's red-state outreach - Darren Samuelsohn -

Yes, I am biased (there's a photo of the President on the home page of this blog, y'know), but the above Politico story really makes me proud of the President.  By campaigning in states that so many say he doesn't have a hope of winning, he keeps his volunteers and donors in those states energized, even at the cost of precious campaign funds.  And that, to me, just seems so presidential.  Focus on the whole country.  Get as many votes as we can, period.  Be the one candidate able to honestly say he worked hard across the nation - the whole nation - to be the President, not of the blue states or the grey states or the red states but of the United States. 

Michelle Obama said as much tonight.  She spent some time talking about how the President doesn't get mired in all the political talk, and makes decisions to do the most good for the most people, without respect for political position.  You may doubt Mrs. Obama's words, but no one can doubt the tenacity of her husband, having accomplished so much in spite of a do-nothing Republican majority in the House and a consequently deadlocked Congress.  Far from being an empty chair, even the President's political enemies accuse him of doing too much.

Rahm Emanuel rightly said tonight that any one of the crises the President took on would, in each its own right, be presidency-defining.  If he had averted a depression, and nothing else; saved American jobs by saving the auto industry, and nothing else; gotten universal health care legislation passed, and nothing else; brought an end to the war in Iraq, and nothing else; then he could lay claim to deserving another term.  That he did all of those things is to me evidence that he is the better choice in 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An historic victory for marriage equality rights in America!

The Democratic Party made history today by adopting for the first time a party platform which says the following: 

"We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference."

"We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act."

So, there you have it.  Today, the Democratic Party joined us on the right side of history.  And, this is just the beginning.  A victory for President Obama in 2012 is a victory for civil rights in America.  The  Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and restores the rights of all married couples, including same-sex couples.  It guarantees the rights of same-sex couples married in a state where gay marriage is legal, even if those couples move.  It is the future of American policy towards same-sex couples in the modern age.

The Democratic Party Platform is a document for the future. 

Voter ID law struck down in Texas

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is clear:  "No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."  Voter ID laws violate this federal act by making a practice out of requiring ID cards for all voters.  Because of this practice, many among the poor, to include significant numbers of the black poor, will not be able to afford an ID card, or will have to travel long distances to acquire one.  The result is that poor blacks will find it more difficult to vote, and many will not vote at all. 

This is common sense.  But, don't take it from me!  A unanimous panel of judges in Texas ruled last week that Texas' voter ID law was in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because of the reasons mentioned above (please, check out the NY Times story at the above link).  This wasn't a good week for Texas, as a different panel of judges in the same court struck down a recent redistricting law for violating the very same federal act.  Who was behind this discriminatory legislation?  Republicans - no less a Republican as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for one. 

In fact, Republicans are pushing for voter ID laws in nearly every state.  Thanks to Governor Perdue's veto, Republicans in NC failed to see such legislation become the law in NC.  But, give them another shot in control of the legislature, and it will only be a matter of time. 

Why do Republicans want to pass laws that so obviously disenfranchise minority voters?  They cite an increase in voter fraud, but they often admit that evidence of voter fraud is hard to detect.  That part, at least, is true.  Evidence of voter fraud in the US is virtually nonexistent.  Might there be another reason?  Frankly, because poor minority voters overwhelmingly vote with Democrats, the reason for Republican zeal on this issue is plain.  Many Republicans just want for some people not to be able to vote.  Most of those people just happen to be black.

Lee GOP chair Charles Staley recently told the L.A. Times that the reason blacks tend to vote for Democrats is because the Democrats have paid them off in social services.  What a horrible thing to say about a whole group of Americans, just because they aren't on your side, Mr. Staley.  Your party's hellish bent towards forcing so many minority voters to sit at home on election day seems a much more obvious reason to me why those minority groups aren't clamoring to the GOP platform. 

Voter ID laws solve a problem that doesn't exist, while creating new problems that violate American Civil Rights laws.  I guess the GOP just gave up on trying to fix the economy in favor of pulling out the tired, old, conservative political playbook to set legislative agendas across the country (marriage amendment, anyone?).  But, that's a whole other story, isn't it?

Lee GOP says blacks are "kept in their place" by Democrats,0,4969339.story

This L.A. Times story highlights Republican efforts to beat Obama in North Carolina.  Specifically, the story focuses on the Lee County GOP and its strategy to woo Latino voters into voting for Romney.  Lee GOP front man Charles Staley predictably blames the media for creating the impression that the GOP is anti-Latino (I suppose the Republican assault on Latino immigrants in recent years had nothing to do with that impression), and then gives us this little tidbit of revisionist history:

“Lyndon Baines Johnson gets in there, there’s riots in the streets, so they decide, we need to keep these black people in their place,” Staley said. “So, well, one way we can do it is to form this Great Society and make sure everybody gets some money and if they get in trouble, we’ll stop giving them money. That was the foundation of what we call social services. Up unto that point, the black population voted Republican.”

Really?  Does he know he just said that out loud?  Social services are just a big liberal plot to "keep these black people in their place [sic]."  What a racist point of view.  He is basically saying that blacks don't think for themselves, or if they do, then they are easily duped and bought.  In Staley's attempt to be magnanimous to Latinos, he deeply insults blacks.

He is also ignoring the impact of history.  It was the Democratic Party which gave us the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as a legion of white racists stood in the way.  The deep-seated racism in the South, leftovers from the days of slavery and the Confederate defeat, was reinforced time and again by the conservative arm of the Democratic Party.  This is more a product of geography than partisanship, but if you wish to hammer the party politics issue, then you have to realize that, because of the Civil Rights Act, Democrats like Strom Thurmond switched parties.  The Democratic Party had become too liberal for its conservative racists, so they switched sides.  It didn't happen overnight (nothing in politics does), but it happened.  And, it happened not because of social programs, but because of civil rights.

Where does Staley get his silly beliefs?  I think I know.  A major conservative publication, The National Review, published this article in May of this year.  About 2 weeks later, Slate Magazine published a scathing rebuttal by Alex Pareene.  Republicans will tell you that all you need to read is "the truth."  I encourage you to read both sides.  History only happened one way, however.  Pareene's article sets the record straight.  He correctly notes, "Both parties at the time had liberal and conservative wings, and in each of those parties it was the liberal wing that was right on civil rights."  That's a distinction worth noting.

I'd love to talk about how Latinos who vote Republican are acting against their own self-interests.  I'd love to point out that Staley is naive to think that simply being able to speak Spanish means Latinos will vote his way.  But, Staley's comments revealed a deep misunderstanding of history he himself lived through(!), and that misunderstanding leads him to a very low view indeed of black Americans.