Republican Party: Rigging is better than conforming

When Trump was electorally elected (never forget that he actually lost the election – lost the vote of the people by nearly 3 million votes), I said it was a pushback against the country having had an African-American President for 8 years. But, given Trump’s bluster, his nastiness, his dishonesty, his schoolyard bullying ways, I thought it would not be long before Republicans began leaving the GOP in droves, thus forcing the party to change its ways, to move back more to the center of political ideology and distance itself from Trump. Shows what I know, eh? That didn’t happen, still hasn’t happened, and the GOP has sacrificed any shred of integrity it may have once had to rig and skew next year’s election. Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a well-researched piece and included a link to a documentary that is an eye-opener. Thanks, Jeff, for your hard work on this post and permission to share it with my friends & readers.

On The Fence Voters

How Obama’s election prompted a desperate power grab

A few days ago, I happened to watch the new documentary called Rigged – The Voter Suppression Playbook, which you can now catch on Amazon Prime. It deals with how the Republican Party began a systematic voter suppression and gerrymandering extravaganza not long after an incident that occurred in 2008.

Af first I wasn’t sure what event they were talking about. Let’s see, what event transpired in 2008 that would have inspired such actions?

Oh yeah! The black guy won.

Now it makes sense. It must have been as if one of the Tsunami Warning sirens, which are sometimes tested out here in the Pacific Northwest, blasted so loud to every member of the Republican hierarchy, that it became an ‘all hands on deck’ response. Or, maybe it was like the loud signal we sometimes hear on the local newscast when…

View original post 1,621 more words

Score Four For Justice!!!

There are some signs that perhaps judges and the courts are finally getting a bit fed up with the shenanigans of Donald Trump and his fellow GOP bullies.


Yesterday in Georgia, U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross ruled that Georgia’s restrictive voting laws are likely to result in the violation of voting rights for a large group of people and needed to be halted immediately.

As I noted in a previous post the republican candidate running for governor, Brian Kemp, currently holds the position of Secretary of State and as such is the overseer of elections. Kemp has implemented strict “exact match” laws that may disqualify voters based on simple discrepancies, such as a dropped hyphen between the persons voter registration and other identification, such as a driver’s license.  Last month, a coalition of civil rights groups filed suit against Kemp.

In Friday’s ruling, Judge Ross said Kemp’s restrictions raised “grave concerns for the Court about the differential treatment inflicted on a group of individuals who are predominantly minorities.”  The preliminary injunction she issued required the state to change its procedures immediately to allow those flagged, some 3,100 individuals, to prove their citizenship more easily, with a U.S. passport or similar documentation.

Kemp was also ordered to issue a news release explaining how those flagged for potential citizenship issues could still vote by proving their citizenship, as well as offering a phone number for them to call with any questions.  Kemp’s actions as Secretary of State have been scrutinized in the wake of a report from the Associated Press that he had stalled more than 50,000 voter registrations by disproportionately black voters under the state’s exact-match requirements.

Score one for justice!  ⚖️


Did you think that with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court last month, the Court would be naught more than a mouthpiece for Trump and his policies?  Think again.  Yesterday, the Court refused a request by the Trump administration to delay an upcoming trial in which a number of states and civil rights organizations allege there was an improper political motive in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.  The trial will begin as scheduled on Monday.

Administration lawyers had more than once asked the Supreme Court to disallow challengers from questioning Ross and other administration officials about their motivations in adding the question.  When they were unsuccessful, they then asked that the trial be delayed, presumably until some point after the mid-term elections.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have granted the Trump administration’s request to delay the trial.  It is unknown how Kavanaugh voted.

Score another for justice!  ⚖️


Also, on Friday evening, the Supreme Court once again ruled against Trump in the case filed by 21 young people who argue that the failure of government leaders to combat climate change violates their constitutional right to a clean environment.  The suit is currently pending before a federal judge in Oregon, but the Trump administration sought to halt the lawsuit, claiming that the “suit is based on an assortment of unprecedented legal theories, such as a substantive due process right to certain climate conditions, and an equal protection right to live in the same climate as enjoyed by prior generations.”

The goal of the lawsuit is to compel the government to scale back its support for fossil fuel extraction and production and to support policies aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

This is by no means the end, and the case is almost certain to ultimately land back in the laps of the Supreme Court justices, but for now, Trump did not have his way.

Score yet another for justice!  ⚖️


And finally, also on Friday, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland, denied Trump’s request to stay a lawsuit alleging he is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments.  Apart from the ruling against Kemp in Georgia, this is the one that had my heart doing a happy dance.

Additionally, Judge Messitte sharply questioned the president’s position that his business does not improperly accept gifts or payments — called emoluments — as defined by the Constitution.

The plaintiffs in the case, the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, contend that the Trump hotel unfairly competes with convention centers and hotels in their jurisdictions. Among other documents, they are expected to seek records that reveal the identity of hotel guests who visited the White House on official business, as well as how much the president has profited. Ultimately, they could try to go after the president’s tax returns.

The Justice Department asked for the judge’s permission to appeal his rulings and to delay discovery in the meantime. But Judge Messitte said the department could follow the typical legal process and appeal when the case is over.

“If the president is permitted to appeal the court’s decisions in piecemeal fashion, ultimate resolution of the case could be delayed significantly, perhaps for years. That, as a matter of justice, cannot be countenanced.”

The judge also dismissed the president’s argument that discovery would be unduly burdensome, noting that Mr. Trump had threatened to sue his former campaign chief and others. “The president himself appears to have had little reluctance to pursue personal litigation despite the supposed distractions it imposes upon his office,” he wrote.

Score one more for truth and justice! ⚖️


Some of these cases may turn in the coming weeks/months, but for today, the judicial branch has shown Trump that he is not yet a dictator and that there is still a demand for both truth and justice, honesty and integrity in the American system.

All New Episode of Snarky Snippets!

I was in a bit of a time crunch … where do those hours go???  I get just a bit ahead, and BLAM!  I’m behind again before I even said ‘hello’ to myself!  I think there is an overall conspiracy to rob us of a few hours each day, thinking we won’t notice, for I am not the only one complaining about the lack of time.  And I’m retired … I don’t know how I ever found time for a full-time job!  Anyway, I digress.  Being a bit short of time, and having seen a few stories that made my blood boil, I am opting this morning for an all-new episode of Snarky Snippets.  The snark is in full-throttle mode, so be forewarned.


Welcome to America …

It happened at Andy’s Restaurant in Lovettsville, Virginia.  A woman and her family, who have asked not to be identified, were eating dinner.  Some members of the family were here visiting from another country and, since the visitors do not speak English, they were conversing in Spanish.  The visitors got a good taste of what Americans are like when a woman began screaming and cursing at them for speaking their native tongue, and demanding to see their passports.

white-woman

Angry bigoted white woman

“Get the f—k out, back to your f—ing country. Go back to your f—ing country. You do not come over here and freeload on America. I’m tired of this s—t.”

This story made me so angry that I was shaking.  I was raised in a bilingual family and frankly I enjoy speaking Spanish … it is a beautiful language and much simpler than English.  When I get the opportunity, I speak Spanish, whether at a restaurant, store or in my own neighborhood, for I have several Latino neighbors.  The family members visiting from Guatemala will no doubt always remember their first encounter with an American, as will the 7-year-old girl that was with the family.

Nice, white woman … real nice.  Hope you slept well that night.


Two stamps or one?

A few nights ago, the girls and I filled out our mail-in ballots for the November 6th election.  It is a fairly simple process, the instructions were clear and concise, and we had no problem.  But when we placed the ballot into one envelope, and that into a slightly larger envelope as directed, something caught my eye.

“Affix proper postage.  Post Office will not deliver without sufficient postage.”

Typically, one stamp would suffice.  But something niggled in the back of my mind, so I went in search of.  Guess what?  In my county, two stamps are required, although in the county just south of us, and the two to the east and southeast, only a single stamp is required.  I wonder … surely that wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that this is a predominantly African-American community, would it?  Oh no, perish the thought.

It wasn’t the fact that the extra stamp was required that bothered me, but that nowhere did it tell the sender that if you lived in this county, two stamps are required.  How many people in my county will place a single stamp on their ballots, not knowing that two are needed?  People, if you are filing a ballot in absentia, no matter what state or county you live in, take an extra minute to find out how much postage is required in your neck of the woods!


SCOTUS protects another liar …

wilbur rossWilbur Ross lied.  He lied about the citizenship question that is being proposed for the 2020 census reporting form.  He said that the Department of Justice requested it, but in fact it was Ross himself who decided to add the question.  Ross claims the justification for the question is that it will help enforce the Voting Rights Act, but that is yet another lie.  What it will do is intimidate some from participating and result in an inaccurate census.  If the question makes it to the census form, this writer will not be answering the question.  Period.

Several states and civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit to stop the administration from adding a citizenship question.  When the case comes to trial, Wilbur Ross, having lied and been caught in the lie, will be expected to answer questions.  Or, perhaps not …

The government had asked the Supreme Court to block questioning of Ross, and on Monday the Supreme Court complied with the wishes of the Trump administration.  For now, at least, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who had no business ordering a change to the census form, and who lied to cover his mischief, will not be deposed when the case is heard.

I will have more on this later, but for now, suffice it to say that the United States Supreme Court is no longer a branch completely independent of the executive.  Great job, guys.  Let’s protect a few more lying, bigoted cheats, shall we?


And thus concludes this episode of Filosofa’s Snarky Snippets.  Have a great day, friends!

Stealing Voter’s Rights …

Early voting has begun in some states, one of which is Georgia.  Georgia … part of the deep south that still hasn’t quite gotten over the Civil War … typically votes republican.  This election, however, might be different, but not if state officials can prevent it, and they are doing their best to try to.

Let’s start with Gwinnett County, where nearly 10% of mail-in ballots have been … simply thrown in the trash.  According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution …

The county rejected 390 absentee ballots through Sunday, which represents 8.5 percent of all mailed ballots received in Gwinnett so far, according to state figures. Across Georgia, less than 2 percent of absentee ballots have been rejected. Gwinnett accounts for about 37 percent of all rejected ballots in Georgia.

Problems with rejected ballots are a “red flag” for racial minorities in Gwinnett, where more than 60 percent of residents are Latino, black or Asian, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. It wasn’t clear Monday exactly how many of the rejected ballots came from voters who are minorities.

And then there is the registration problem.  Some 53,000 voter registrations have been “put on hold” because of the state’s ‘exact match’ protocol.  Under this ‘exact match’ protocol, the transposition of a single letter or number, deletion or addition of a hyphen or apostrophe, the accidental entry of an extra character or space, and the use of a familiar name like ‘Tom’ instead of ‘Thomas’ will cause a no match result.

Before I go any further, it is important to note just who is overseeing the election process in Georgia.  That would be Brian Kemp, the current Georgia Secretary of State, who just happens to also be the republican candidate for Governor, running against democrat Stacey Abrams.  Does anybody see a problem with this?  This is not the first time that Kemp has come under the microscope.

  • In 2015, Kemp’s office erroneously distributed the Social Security numbers and dates of birth of registered Georgia voters. This tends to make people leery of registering to vote.
  • During the 2016 election, Kemp was the only state official to reject help from the Department of Homeland Security to guard against Russian interference.
  • From 2012 to 2018, Kemp’s office cancelled more than 1.4 million voter registrations.

You may remember Kemp from a post I wrote in August about his campaign ad …

Last week, civil rights groups including the Georgia NAACP filed a joint lawsuit against Kemp alleging the exact-match policy, which was signed into law last year, has been “shown to disproportionately and negatively impact the ability of voting-eligible African-American, Latino and Asian-American applicants to register to vote.”Louisville Georgia seniorsAnd then there was the incident yesterday in Louisville, Georgia.  A non-partisan group, Black Voters Matter, was preparing to take a group of about 40 senior citizens from their senior center to the polling place on the day early voting began. The seniors were ecstatic, eager to cast their votes.  But before the bus could pull out of the parking lot, they were ordered off the bus.  It seems that somebody had called the county commissioner and complained that the bus should not be taking voters to the polls.

LaTosha Brown, Black Voters Matter’s other co-founder, said there was nothing illegal about the group’s activity. The organization is non-partisan and the bus doesn’t endorse any particular candidate. She called it a clear-cut case of “voter intimidation.”

But it isn’t only Georgia that is trying to make certain only lily-white citizens vote.  Take a look at North Dakota …north dakota voter suppression.pngNorth Dakota is the only state in the U.S. without voter registration. Instead, voters have historically been able to verify their identity at a polling station by presenting a subset of many different types of identification showing a date of birth and home address, as documented by the U.S. District Court for North Dakota. These forms of identification included driver’s licenses (in- or out-of-state), a U.S. passport, a tribal ID, a non-driver’s license ID, a federal agency ID, a student ID, a military ID, a recent utility bill, and the like.

Then beginning in 2013 a series of stricter laws were passed, and the end result was that only three forms of ID would be accepted, a valid unexpired driver’s license, a tribal ID, or a state-issued ID card.  But the kicker was that said ID must contain a ‘residential address’, in other words a street address.  A large proportion of Native Americans living in North Dakota live in rural areas where there are no street addresses, only P.O. boxes.

In 2016, a group of seven Native American voters sued the State of North Dakota and, long story short, the case ended up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Earlier this month, the Court upheld the North Dakota law, effectively disenfranchising thousands of Native Americans in North Dakota.  Justices Ginsburg and Kagan dissented, saying “the risk of disfranchisement is large”.  Some 70,000 North Dakota residents will be unable to vote in the 2018 mid-terms simply because they do not have a street address.

The 2018 mid-term elections are the most important mid-terms of our lifetime, but the states are playing games … costly games that may actually turn our entire election process into nothing more than a sham.

One Person, No Vote

One Person No VoteA new book was released today.  No, I’m not talking about Bob Woodward’s Fear:  Trump in the White House, although I did start reading that last night … actually this morning around 4:00 a.m.  No, the new book I’m talking about is by Carol Anderson, and the title is One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

From Amazon …

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of White Rage, the startling–and timely–history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin.

In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.

Carol AndersonMs. Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and well-qualified to write on this topic.  One example from her book is astounding, and not in any good way:

Jeff Sessions, for example, when he was Alabama U.S. attorney, referred to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as an “intrusive piece of legislation,” then “rounded up twenty elderly blacks and had Alabama state troopers drive them away from their community into a predominately white area to be fingerprinted, photographed and grilled before a grand jury” to intimidate them out of voting. – From an interview published in Kirkus Reviews

And, as if to prove the point, just yesterday the Editorial Board at The Washington Post published the following:

The GOP finds yet another way to suppress the vote

IT WAS 5 p.m. on a Friday, just as Labor Day weekend was starting, when, without warning, faxes arrived at North Carolina’s state board of elections and 44 county election boards. The faxes contained a demand so outlandish — and so blatantly in violation of state privacy laws — that several officials assumed they were a hoax. A federal subpoena demanded practically every voting document imaginable, going back years. Absentee, provisional and regular ballots. Registration applications. Early-voting applications. Absentee ballot requests. Poll books.

In fact, it was no hoax. The subpoena sought a list of items which, if satisfied, would force state and local officials to produce at least 20 million documents — in less than four weeks. Prosecutors also demanded eight years of records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles, through which voters are allowed to register to vote. No explanation was provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or federal prosecutors, who sought the documents. It is a fishing expedition by the Trump administration to support the president’s repeatedly discredited assertions that voting fraud is widespread, especially by noncitizens casting illegal ballots.

The effect of this expedition, led by Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, is easy to foresee: This is one more in a long line of GOP efforts to suppress the vote. Members of the state board of elections, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously to fight the subpoena, which would overwhelm local boards’ administrative capacity. It also would intimidate voters who, with good reason, would fear their votes and other sensitive information were being handed over to federal officials.

Faced with an outcry from state and local officials, prosecutors dropped their initial, preposterous demand that the records be handed over by Sept. 25, a deadline that would have played havoc with preparations for the fall elections. They also said state officials could redact voters’ choices on some 2.2 million early and absentee ballots — a clerical task that would consume untold hours of work. (More than 3.3 million regular ballots cannot be traced to the voters who cast them.)

The absurdity of the document demand, and the president’s broader assertion that the U.S. voting system is “rigged” and marred by massive fraudulent voting and the participation of illegal immigrants, was underscored by indictments announced last month, also in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The indictments charged 19 foreign nationals — from Japan, Italy, South Korea, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Haiti, Grenada and several other countries — with voting illegally in the 2016 elections.

Nineteen illegal votes, out of more than 4.5 million ballots cast in North Carolina that year, is minuscule. Far from justifying a demand for millions of documents, it underscores the conclusion by dozens of reputable scholars and other investigators that illegal voting is exceedingly rare. That the administration pursues its crusade to show otherwise is an exercise in unicorn-spotting, but it is also something far more sinister. The real agenda is to discredit American democracy and to scare away Democratic-leaning voters. It represents an abominable misuse of law enforcement powers.

It would seem that the GOP is fairly certain they cannot maintain their majority in Congress in a fair and honest election, so the next best thing is to stifle the voters’ voices.  Trump’s claim of the system being rigged may be prophetic, rather than historical.  The North Carolina subpoena reeks of corruption, but it also appears to signal panic within the GOP.

Anderson’s advice for overcoming the challenges is to “Be engaged. Register and vote. Get the people around you to register and vote. Really engage with the issues. Understand the position of the Secretary of State in your state who sits over election machinery. Donate to the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who are fighting to open up the ballot box, to rid the nation of unequal democracy.”

The election on November 6th is our last best hope to curtail the rampant corruption that defines the Trump administration.  Spread the word …