Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category

Nate Silver offers interesting analysis and projections of the Trump phenomenon

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Written by LeisureGuy

29 July 2015 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Math, Science

The 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act

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The GOP really does not want non-Republicans to have the opportunity to vote, so for decades it has worked to keep people from voting. Jim Rutenberg takes a look at the campaign in the NY Times:

On the morning of his wedding, in 1956, Henry Frye realized that he had a few hours to spare before the afternoon ceremony. He was staying at his parents’ house in Ellerbe, N.C.; the ceremony would take place 75 miles away, in Greensboro, the hometown of his fiancée; and the drive wouldn’t take long. Frye, who had always been practical, had a practical thought: Now might be a good time to finally register to vote. He was 24 and had just returned from Korea, where he served as an Air Force officer, but he was also a black man in the American South, so he wasn’t entirely surprised when his efforts at the registrar’s office were blocked.

Adopting a tactic common in the Jim Crow South, the registrar subjected Frye to what election officials called a literacy test. In 1900, North Carolina voters amended the state’s Constitution to require that all new voters “be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language,” but for decades some registrars had been applying that already broad mandate even more aggressively, targeting perfectly literate black registrants with arbitrary and obscure queries, like which president served when or who had the ultimate power to adjourn Congress. “I said, ‘Well, I don’t know why are you asking me all of these questions,’ ” Frye, now 83, recalled. “We went around and around, and he said, ‘Are you going to answer these questions?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to try.’ And he said, ‘Well, then, you’re not going to register today.’ ”

Sitting with me on the enclosed porch of his red-brick ranch house in Greensboro, drinking his wife’s sweet tea, Frye could joke about the exchange now, but at the time it left him upset and determined. When he met Shirley at the altar, the first thing he said was: “You know they wouldn’t let me register?”

“Can we talk about this later?” she replied.

After a few weeks, Frye drove over to the Board of Elections in Rockingham, the county seat, to complain. An official told him to go back and try again. This time a different registrar, after asking if he was the fellow who had gone over to the election board, handed him a paragraph to copy from the Constitution. He copied it, and with that, he became a voter.

But in the American South in 1956, not every would-be black voter was an Air Force officer with the wherewithal to call on the local election board; for decades, most had found it effectively impossible to attain the most elemental rights of citizenship. Only about one-quarter of eligible black voters in the South were registered that year, according to the limited records available. By 1959, when Frye went on to become one of the first black graduates of the University of North Carolina law school, that number had changed little. When Frye became a legal adviser to the students running the antisegregation sit-ins at the Greensboro Woolworth’s in 1960, the number remained roughly the same. And when Frye became a deputy United States attorney in the Kennedy administration, it had grown only slightly. By law, the franchise extended to black voters; in practice, it often did not.

What changed this state of affairs was the passage, 50 years ago this month, of the Voting Rights Act. Signed on Aug. 6, 1965, it was meant to correct “a clear and simple wrong,” as Lyndon Johnson said. “Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote.” It eliminated literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics, and — in a key provision called Section 5 — required North Carolina and six other states with histories of black disenfranchisement to submit any future change in statewide voting law, no matter how small, for approval by federal authorities in Washington. No longer would the states be able to invent clever new ways to suppress the vote. Johnson called the legislation “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom,” and not without justification. By 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act became law, black registration had increased substantially across the South, to 62 percent. Frye himself became a beneficiary of the act that same year when, after a close election, he became the first black state representative to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly since Reconstruction.

In the decades that followed, Frye and hundreds of other new black legislators built on the promise of the Voting Rights Act, not just easing access to the ballot but finding ways to actively encourage voting, with new state laws allowing people to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles and public-assistance offices; to register and vote on the same day; to have ballots count even when filed in the wrong precinct; to vote by mail; and, perhaps most significant, to vote weeks before Election Day. All of those advances were protected by the Voting Rights Act, and they helped black registration increase steadily. In 2008, for the first time, black turnout was nearly equal to white turnout, and Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black president.

Since then, however, the legal trend has abruptly reversed. In 2010, Republicans flipped control of 11 state legislatures and, raising the specter of voter fraud, began undoing much of the work of Frye and subsequent generations of state legislators. They rolled back early voting, eliminated same-day registration, disqualified ballots filed outside home precincts and created new demands for photo ID at polling places. In 2013, the Supreme Court, in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, directly countermanded the Section 5 authority of the Justice Department to dispute any of these changes in the states Section 5 covered. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, declared that the Voting Rights Act had done its job, and it was time to move on. Republican state legislators proceeded with a new round of even more restrictive voting laws.

All of these seemingly sudden changes were a result of a little-known part of the American civil rights story. It involves a largely Republican countermovement of ideologues and partisan operatives who, from the moment the Voting Rights Act became law, methodically set out to undercut or dismantle its most important requirements. The story of that decades-long battle over the iconic law’s tenets and effects has rarely been told, but in July many of its veteran warriors met in a North Carolina courthouse to argue the legality of a new state voting law that the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School has called one of the “most restrictive since the Jim Crow era.” The decision, which is expected later this year, could determine whether the civil rights movement’s signature achievement is still justified 50 years after its signing, or if the movement itself is finished.

I. 1865-1980


The fundamental promise of American democracy is that every citizen gets a vote, but delivering the franchise from on high and in the face of violent local opposition has always been a complicated legal proposition.

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Written by LeisureGuy

29 July 2015 at 11:09 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government, Law

Blatant extortion and bad faith: John Boehner

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I suppose he thinks his behavior is impeccable, but it’s yet another clear sign of at least a decline of the US. Kevin Drum:

Is it just me, or is this trick getting a little old?

Mr. Boehner said the three-month [highway] bill could come up for a House vote on Wednesday. If the bill passes, the House would adjourn for an August recess Wednesday, a day earlier than previously planned, a House GOP aide said. That would leave the Senate to accept one of the two House highway bills or to immediately cut off federal reimbursements to states for transportation projects. The Senate will have a hard time completing its highway bill before Thursday.

I need some scholarly help here. Has it been common in the past for one house to pass a bill and then immediately adjourn, leaving the other house with the option of either passing their bill or shutting down a chunk of government? Or is this something new that modern Republicans have discovered? Historians of Congress, please chime in.

You can post your responses in the comments to the original post.

One thought I had: We’re depending on people like this to govern our country. Don’t you get the strong feeling that we’re in (for) trouble.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 July 2015 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

A good look at conservative delusion

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 July 2015 at 3:41 pm

Posted in GOP

Magical Unicorn Thinking From Right Wing on Iran Nuclear Deal

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Kevin Drum has a post that makes an excellent point:

I’ve been waiting for a while now for a plausible conservative alternative to President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and Max Fisher informs me today that Michael Oren has stepped up and done just that in the pages of Politico. Except for one thing: the increasingly unhinged former ambassador to the US may have a plan, but it’s about a million miles from plausible.

You should read Fisher’s whole post, but I’m going to skip the long preamble and get straight to Oren’s proposal. Here it is:

Israel would have embraced an agreement that significantly rolled back the number of centrifuges and nuclear facilities in Iran and that linked any sanctions relief to demonstrable changes in its behavior. No more state support of terror, no more threatening America’s Middle Eastern allies, no more pledges to destroy the world’s only Jewish state and no more mass chants of “Death to America.” Israel would have welcomed any arrangement that monitored Iran’s ICBMs and other offensive weaponry. Such a deal, Israeli leaders across the political spectrum agree, was and remains attainable.

That would be great, of course. But not exactly plausible. Here’s Fisher:

All of these are politically impossible and, in some cases, physically impossible….Try to imagine a US negotiator actually asking for this. “The inspections procedures of uranium mines look good here, and we are satisfied with the limits on centrifuge research and development. But we require a binding commitment that no one in your political system will speak certain combinations of words about Israel anymore.” We might as well demand that Iran give us a unicorn that we can ride all the way to Candy Mountain.

….Is it really worth blowing up a historic nuclear deal — one that will substantially and verifiably limit Iran’s nuclear program, with global cooperation — over the possibility that one of the Iranian ayatollahs might not be legally forbidden from saying the wrong words?

These are poison-pill demands, and very lazy ones at that. They are not designed to be implemented, but rather to raise the political bar for any nuclear deal beyond what can be achieved.

And what about sanctions? Surely the other countries that are parties to the deal would quit in disgust if the US demands were as ridiculous as Oren suggests they should be. Indeed they would, but Oren says that if they drop out we should threaten to sanction them. Fisher: “This is indeed a specific proposal. But it is also insane. Oren is arguing that Obama should threaten to blow up the world economy, including America’s own economy, just to secure some vague improvements to the Iran deal.” . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2015 at 9:56 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Iran

Risking Your Health for Your Politics

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It’s interesting that the GOP leaders’ bad-mouthing of the Affordable Care Act has indeed worked to prevent many Republicans from signing up. Seth Masket looks at the phenomenon in Pacific Standard:

One of the big public health stories over the past few years has been the sharp decline in the number of uninsured Americans since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. This decline has not been even across the United States population, though. We know that poorer people, African Americans, Latinos, and other demographic subgroups have benefited more rapidly from this act than others. But it also turns out that there’s a partisan component: Democrats are benefiting more than Republicans.

As Michael Tesler reported at the Monkey Cage last week, the percent of uninsured who are Democrats has essentially been cut in half over the past two years, while the percent of uninsured who are Republicans has barely budged. One might just dismiss this as a feature of demographics: Democrats tend to be poorer than Republicans and to live in states that have more aggressively adopted health exchanges. Yes, that’s true, but Tesler actually controls for all sorts of demographic factors, including race, income, and state of residence, and still finds a large partisan effect. What’s going on here?

One possible explanation is that Republicans are constitutionally less inclined to seek out a public service until they desperately need it. That would be consistent with some of the anecdotes we’ve seen about people who were opposed to Obamacare on ideological grounds but enrolled in it when a medical crisis hit their family. And conversely, Democrats may be constitutionally more comfortable with signing up for a government service. These differences, that is, may simply reflect the general attitudes of liberals and conservatives toward actions by the government and toward collective action in general.

Even if the government is not involved, after all, insurance is all about pooled money and calculated risk. When you buy health insurance as a healthy person (and if you expect to be healthy much of your life), you accept that a good deal of the money you put in will go to benefit other people. Republicans might simply be more likely to see this as a scam, while Democrats view it as a social responsibility.

(Source: Michael Tesler/The Washington Post)

But another related explanation for the partisan differences in health insurance enrollments just has to be . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2015 at 10:02 am

Posted in GOP, Government, Healthcare

How some Republicans are receptive to Snowden’s revelations

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Jenna McLaughlin reports in The Intercept:

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, hands me a copy of a letter from James Clapper in which the director of national intelligence complains to two members of the House Intelligence Committee about Massie’s recent attempts to reform one of the NSA’s massive surveillance programs.

On the top right, in curly script, Massie has written his response: “Get a warrant”. It’s in red ink. He’s underlined it.


“If you assume the worst” about the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, Massie tells me, “it’s not a bad position to take, given what we’ve found out.”

Indeed, for Massie, as with so many others, the information NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave journalists two years ago about the extraordinary sweep of U.S surveillance programs was a huge eye-opener.

Prior to the Snowden revelations, Massie says, he knew almost nothing about the NSA’s implementation of the tools Congress gave them to protect national security.

When he tried to find out more, his friends on the Intelligence Committee and in secret briefings told him things he isn’t allowed to share. He tells me he is sure that there is more he doesn’t know—because it’s hard to know what to ask. “It’s ’20 questions’ — you don’t know what questions to ask,” he says. “There are concentric rings of knowledge” when it comes to surveillance. “I am on the outer ring.”But what he does know about NSA surveillance, aside from what Snowden released to the public, he doesn’t like. “There are line items we’re paying for…” he says, and shakes his head, unable to finish his sentence.

Massie is one of several Tea Party Republicans, including presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, and privacy hawk Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich, who have been fighting against NSA surveillance since soon after Snowden first revealed it.

He joined Paul’s attempt to block renewal of portions of the Patriot Act in May, literally cheering him from the sidelines during Paul’s 10 and a half hour filibuster on the Senate floor. Eventually, with the passage of the USA Freedom Act in July, Paul and his camp saw their first victory: Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Act, which the NSA had used to justify its bulk collection of American telephone data was amended, forcing the NSA to shut down the current program in less than five months.

When we meet in his office, Massie is eager to talk about the next big fight in Congress, over Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2015 at 10:29 am


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