Working Hard To Take Away Our Vote

For a while over the last two years, our attention was focused on voting rights.  After the false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, states – particularly predominantly Republican states – used the claims as an excuse to pass restrictive laws, allegedly to make elections more secure, but in reality, to disenfranchise the sort of voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats.  These groups include single working moms, Blacks & Hispanics, college students, and low-income families.

I’ve never heard of Robert Spindell before, and unless you live in the state of Wisconsin, you probably never have, either.  Spindell is a longtime GOP activist in Wisconsin, and also the chairman of the GOP’s 4th congressional district in Milwaukee.  He was one of the fake electors who claimed that Donald Trump won in Wisconsin, and he faces three lawsuits for his role in that attempted fraud.  But none of that is why he crossed my radar last night.  Here is what he said that brought him to my attention …

“In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

Bragging about disenfranchising some 37,000 Black and Hispanic voters!!!  WTF???

The information was verified by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel …

“Milwaukee had the biggest proportional decline of any municipality in the county… Some 17% fewer ballots were cast in the city than in 2018, a drop off bigger than other communities in the county.”

Spindell was so proud that he wanted to take sole credit for the decline in voters, claiming it was a result of his “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” that included …

“Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates, and a substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”

One conservative commentator, James Wigderson, says that …

“It’s as if the cruelty is the point. If Spindell had been in charge of elections during Jim Crow, he would’ve bragged about literacy tests and poll taxes suppressing the Black vote.”

But the fact is that what Spindell said was just saying what most Republicans were thinking but not saying. Voter suppression has rather fallen onto the back burner of our attention of late, but believe me, friends, it’s still very much alive and well.  In my own state, a new voter suppression bill was signed into law just last month that will make it harder for the disabled and the elderly to vote.  We have no excuse absentee voting, but they are limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county, and demanding a photo ID even from absentee voters, something that has never been required in all my years of voting in this state.  Until now, we’ve only had to provide a signature for comparison purposes and either a social security or driver’s license number to request a ballot.

And if 37,000 people were disenfranchised in Milwaukee alone, then …

Granted, mid-term elections typically draw fewer voters than presidential elections, but still … this one was more relevant than most mid-terms and more people understood the stakes, so … what did happen to those 46 million voters?  Suppressive voter laws, apathy, or something else?

Spindell isn’t the only one working hard to keep voters away from the polls.  The conservative Heritage Foundation based in Washington, D.C., spent more than $5 million in 2021 lobbying for laws to block voting rights.  The foundation has a two-year strategy to spend $24 million in just eight states to press Republican-controlled legislatures to impose strict restrictions on voting, including limits on mail-in voting and early voting days.

Numerous states have either passed or are pursuing even more restrictive measures to disenfranchise certain groups, mainly the poor, Blacks, Hispanics, and college students.  There are many members of Congress, primarily found in the Republican Party, who merely pretend to bend to the will of the people while working to replace democracy with autocracy.  The aforementioned Spindell is but one, and a minor player at that, as compared to the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan and others who wield some very real power.  Some of those even sit on the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last year, Congress had an opportunity to pass significant voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but both were blocked in the Senate last January.  I would say it’s time to try again, but with McCarthy et al having taken over control of the House and being genuinely afraid of losing at least 1/3 of their seats if every person 18 and older could vote, it would be a waste of time and money.  Any improvement in voting rights for the moment will have to come at the state level.

Meanwhile, let’s keep this at the forefront of our minds, let’s not miss any opportunity to let our elected officials at all levels know that this is important to us!  The right to vote was better protected 50 years ago than it is today!  And as for Mr. Spindell … the world really does not need people like him.

They {Don’t} Want Your Vote

Every citizen of the United States age 18 or older should be able to vote.  Voting is truly the only official voice we have in who runs our government and how they run it.  Sure, we can write letters, we can protest, we can make phone calls … but at the end of the day, it is our VOTE that counts, that decides what our nation will be or become.  Each and every one of us has … or should have … that right.  In some countries, nobody has that right, so we should protect and safeguard our right as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  Voting IS a right here in the U.S., but it is also a responsibility.

Even prior to the 2020 election, certain states had very restrictive voting laws, and after the utterly false claims of widescale voting fraud and other lies following the 2020 election, nearly every state in the country proposed and passed even more restrictions on voting.  It is the opinion of this writer that if you are 18 or older, you should be able to vote.  Skin colour, literacy skills, age, gender, income level, and locale should not matter.  And yet … people of colour, poor people, young people, elderly people, disabled people, and those with prior felony convictions are often disenfranchised by unfair voting restrictions in their state.

Did you know that in Michigan it is against the law to “hire a motor vehicle” to transport a voter to the polls unless they are “physically unable to walk”?  So, anybody who doesn’t drive, doesn’t own a car, and isn’t in a wheelchair, will not be able to vote.  You cannot take a bus, taxi, Uber, or even ask your neighbor to drive you to the polls to vote in Michigan.  I imagine that law is hard as hell to enforce, but still … the very fact that it is even a law is beyond disgusting!

In 2021, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access were introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.  Last year, Congress had the opportunity to pass two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which would have protected our right to vote at the federal level, overriding restrictive state laws.  Both bills passed in the House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.  Why?  Because while all Democrats voted for and all Republicans (except one) voted against, the filibuster kept the bills from passing.  The filibuster rules might have been changed to exclude voting rights legislation, but no … Republicans, aided and abetted by Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, refused.  Why?  Because as one Republican openly admitted, if everyone could vote, Republicans would never win another election.

The 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of this century with nearly 67% of all eligible voters actually casting a vote.  In part, the reason was that many states went the extra mile to make it easier to vote by mail or ballot drop box in light of the pandemic.  Also in part was a concentrated effort to unseat the person who was, at the time, sitting in the Oval Office.  However, I find it pathetic that even with easier access to the ballot, only 67% voted.  WHERE WERE THE OTHER 33%???

With just 53 days until the mid-term elections on November 8th, it’s time for us to all be giving some serious thought to voting.  In most states, you can check online to make sure you’re registered – DO IT!  Some states are quite aggressive in removing people from the list of registered voters without cause, so it’s important to make sure you are registered.  If your state supports no-excuse absentee voting, by all means save yourself considerable time and angst by requesting an absentee ballot.  If you have the wherewithal (time and vehicle) to help transport people in your neighborhood to the polls on election day, please do so.  Your vote … is so important.  Every single vote matters.  Let’s not let the bastards keep us away from the polls, let’s not throw away our one opportunity to be heard, to have our say in who is making the decisions that affect the lives of each and every one of us.  If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children and grandchildren who will inherit the world we create today.

Warning:  This blog will frequently contain posts, including some updated reprisals of past posts, about voting and voting rights between now and November 8th.  I make no apologies … this may be the single most important election thus far in our lifetimes and we need to understand the issues, the candidates, and what is riding on our choices.  Thank you for your patience.

The Face Of Our Future???

Yesterday, a reader posted the following video in a comment to my post, and as I watched the video I wondered … is Florida an outlier or is this the face of the future for voting rights in this nation?  Sadly, I think the latter may well be the case unless … UNLESS we all do our share by demanding that Congress pass federal voting rights legislation and vote those who refuse out of office in November!  At least 42 states at last count had either passed or were in the process of passing laws that would restrict our right to have a voice, even a tiny voice, in our government.  This is truly frightening, my friends … please do take a few minutes to watch the video.

Good News, Bad News

Starting with the good news …

The U.S. Supreme Court made a right and proper judgment on Wednesday (for a change), ruling against the former guy in his attempt to hide evidence of his own and others’ involvement from the House committee investigating the attempted coup on January 6th 2021.

Trump wanted to prevent the Congressional committee investigating the insurrection of January 6, from gaining access to White House records for that day and the days leading up to it, invoking executive privilege. The justices overwhelmingly, 8-1, ruled against him.  Executive privilege can only exist while you’re an executive … which Trump no longer is!

The ruling on Wednesday opens up a trove of documents to congressional investigators who have sought them to determine Trump’s actions and mindset in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, as well as what he did as his supporters were rioting at the Capitol.

Among the documents sought by the committee are speech drafts, call and visitor logs, handwritten notes and other files previously kept by senior Trump aides like chief of staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House associate counsel Patrick Philbin.

The only member of the high court who signaled he would have granted Trump’s request for emergency relief was Justice Clarence Thomas who has proven time and time again that he has outlived his usefulness on the Court.  To me, the surprise in this ruling was that the three justices appointed by Trump during his tenure in the Oval Office, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, all voted against his interests and for truth, justice, and democracy.

A half of a thumb-up for the Court for (finally) doing the right thing.

And then, the bad (really bad) news …

The two bills languishing in the Senate that would have protected our constitutional right to vote, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, are DOA – Dead On Arrival, thanks to 52 people … 50 ‘Republicans’ and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten B. Sinema.  Given the draconian laws that have been passed in some 40+ states that would disenfranchise Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the elderly, and the young, voting will no longer be ‘fair and equal’ or just or democratic.

The last best hope, and it is a slim one indeed, is that the courts rule against the states’ aggressive measures to skew the outcome, but given recent history, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

A number of groups have already said they will withdraw their support from Manchin and Sinema over their unwillingness to protect our voices at the polls, but unfortunately neither of them are up for re-election this year.  Both will be up for re-election in 2024, leaving us with few choices for removing them from the Senate for another three years.

The United States Constitution gives the Senate the power to expel any member by a two-thirds vote, but given the current makeup of the Senate and the fact that the 50 Republican Senators seem to love Manchin and Sinema (and why wouldn’t they, for both are Republicans at the core), the odds of that happening are slim-to-none and it has not happened since 1862.

I wrote a scathing letter to my own Republican Senator Rob Portman tonight indicating that I was highly disappointed to find that neither he nor any other Republican in the Senate could find even a smidgeon of conscience.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would have informed him that I would be actively seeking to ensure his bid for re-election fails, but I cannot do that, because he is retiring at the end of this term.

And so, we are left with few choices and little voice.  One thing we can and must do to whatever extent possible, though, is offer to help those who would otherwise be disenfranchised by helping them with unwieldy registration forms, providing transportation, child care, or whatever else they need to ensure they can cast a vote and vote the clowns out of office in November!

From Inside The Bouncing Mind …

I find myself with an excess of angst these days … more than at any other time in my 70 years on this planet.  Yes, much of it is centered around the infamy of Republicans in Congress, but I’m also finding that a relatively large portion of the average Joes in the nation are also angst-inducing.  Some 65 million people are still unvaccinated!  WHO gave them permission to endanger the lives of the rest of us???  I still think we should ship them all off to some island similar to a leper colony until they either die out or decide to do the right thing!  Anyway, here are a few of the issues that are making my poor wee brain bounce around inside my head …

Winner take all … including the bigotry

I haven’t watched Jeopardy in years because I simply don’t watch television … at all.  I do watch one show … Coronation Street, a British soap opera that my daughter got me hooked on a few years ago, but beyond that, I don’t watch television.  Back in the day, however, I was a fan of Jeopardy, though I only came up with the right answers about 50% of the time, not nearly enough to make me think I had what it takes to become a contestant on the show.

Amy Schneider, however, obviously DOES have what it takes, for she recently became the first woman in the history of Jeopardy to win the most consecutive regular season episodes!  Hats off to Ms. Schneider!  Oh, but wait … the bigots of the nation had to speak out against Ms. Schneider because … she is two of the three things they hate the most … a woman and a transgender woman at that.  Imagine if she were Black on top of all else!  On Twitter, transphobic users claimed that transgender women are naturally better at trivia games than cisgender women, so Schneider’s wins aren’t meaningful.  BULLSHIT!  Frankly, I know some straight men who couldn’t compete successfully on any quiz show where education and intelligence are required.

This is just one case of the bigotry that defines an unfortunately large portion of the population in this nation.  What a sad … nay, tragic … state we are in when some people consider themselves more valuable than others because of their skin colour, gender, religion, gender identity, or other so-called criteria.  Wouldn’t you think humans would have learned to be more … human … after centuries of living in communities, living and working side-by-side with people of every race and gender?  Apparently, some people never learn to be human.

Voting Rights???  Did somebody say voting rights?

Two landmark bills have been stalled in the Senate for months: The Freedom to Vote Act would standardize voter ID laws and permanently allow voting by mail, ban partisan gerrymandering, and set national standards for elections. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would reestablish the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened by two Supreme Court decisions in the past decade, by specifically reinstating antidiscrimination protections for voters.  A no-brainer, right?  Well … yeah, unless you’re a Republican.  Not a single Republican senator is willing to vote to pass these two much-needed laws … not a single one!  I’m sick and damn tired of paying taxes to support these assholes who are trying to take away our right to have a voice in our government!!!

What does this say about the Republicans in Congress?  It says they are a bunch of incompetent cowards, that’s what!  They are scared to death that if every eligible person can actually vote, they won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the next election.  And why, you might ask, can they only win if people of colour, young people, poor people cannot vote?  Because those of us who have a brain and remember how to use it understand that they have NOT been doing their job, that they are no more qualified for a seat in our legislative body than my cat is!

Surely there are at least some Republicans in Congress who know that the right to vote is not to be taken lightly, is guaranteed to each and every one of us.  Surely there are at least a few who understand that their refusal to pass these two very important bills is WRONG!  But, it seems their loyalty to the Republican Party ranks higher in their mind than the oath of office they took. In my book, it is tantamount to treason against We the People!


Y’know, folks, if I were to be issued a summons or a subpoena to appear in court, to testify under oath, and if I were to ignore that summons or subpoena, or worse yet openly defy it, it would be only a matter of hours before I would be sitting in a jail cell.  The same can be said for all of you … it is against the law to ignore or defy a subpoena.  Full stop.  So … can somebody please ‘splain to me why people like Jim Jordan, Kevin McCarthy, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and others are still walking around free, not wearing orange jumpsuits and not looking out from behind a set of iron bars?  I thought that in this nation, the laws applied to everyone, even those elected officials whose salaries we work our patooties off to pay?  I thought that there was … what’s that called … “Equal justice for all”?

WHY are these jerks getting by with willfully interfering with a committee that is investigating an event that caused death and damn near caused the downfall of this nation’s foundation?  Obviously, each one who has defied or ignored a subpoena from the committee is guilty of having a distinct role in the attempted coup, for if they had nothing to hide, they would be more than willing to tell what they know … under oath.  In my book, refusal to even testify is an admission of guilt.  They walk among us … and they shouldn’t … they have no right to.

I Just Don’t Get It 🤷

Perhaps I’m a bit simple-minded these days, but I’m really confused over something and I’m hoping someone can make sense of this for me.  The issue?  Why is it that the United States Congress can pass, relatively without argument, a bill that allocates $768 billion for a single year to the military, in large part to purchase more tanks, guns, and nuclear weapons … hardware made with the sole purpose of killing humans … but they cannot pass a bill that would help people who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table?

To be clear, here is a summary of the major points in the Build Back Better bill (aka BBB) that congressional Republicans are determined to send to its grave:

  • Universal preschool for children
  • Free community college
  • Lower prescription drug costs
  • Tax cuts for families with children and childcare support
  • 12 weeks of paid family leave
  • Housing investments
  • Tax cuts for electric vehicles and other climate incentives

The cost of the Build Back Better bill is $150 billion per year … just under 20% of the cost of the recently passed defense bill.  Build Back Better helps people … people who need the help whether due to the pandemic or other circumstances beyond their control, whereas the defense bill largely helps arms manufacturers.  The refusal of Republicans in Congress to even consider the BBB at this time is a huge hypocrisy and in my view is further proof, as if any were needed, that Republicans largely do not give a royal damn about the average person in this nation, including their own voters.  Their fortunes and therefore their votes are tied to the wealthy corporations and groups like the NRA, arms manufacturers, and fossil fuel industry and to hell with John Doe!

And on another, but related note, why in the Sam Hell are both of the voting rights bills stagnating somewhere in the Capitol, unlikely to see the light of day?  With nearly every state in the nation passing draconian laws that will make it harder for the average citizen to vote and damn near impossible for many who are not white middle-class males to vote, it is not rocket science to figure out that the federal government needs to step in and protect the most important right granted to We the People under the U.S. Constitution!

The two voting rights bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act, are being held up by not only every Republican senator, but two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.  These 52 unconscionable people either do not understand the meaning of a democracy or else are determined to undermine the very foundation of our nation and turn it into a banana republic, an illegitimate dictatorship.

The Republicans in Congress are not in the least bit bothered by spending nearly a trillion dollars of OUR hard-earned tax dollars to build more killing machinery, yet they will not lift so much as a pen to protect our rights, our very lives.  I sincerely hope that the majority of Republican senators and representatives currently sitting in Congress are voted out of office next November for they do NOT represent the people of this country!