The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie They use the fallacy of rampant cheating at the polls to make it harder for people to vote.

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He was a proud Korean War veteran. He was also black and lived in Texas. That meant that by 2013, Floyd Carrier, 86, was a prime target for the state’s voter suppression campaign, even though he was “Army strong.”
In an election that year, when he handed his Department of Veterans Affairs card to the registrar, he was turned away. No matter that he had used that ID for more than 50 years without a problem. Texas had recently passed a burdensome and unnecessary law that required voters to show a state-approved ID with a photo. His card didn’t have one.
The North Koreans couldn’t break Mr. Carrier, but voter suppression did. “I wasn’t a citizen no more,” he told a reporter last year. “I wasn’t.”
Voters across the country are now realizing that they, too, have crossed into the twilight zone: citizens of America without full citizenship rights. The right to vote is central to American democracy. “It’s preservative of all rights,” as the Supreme Court said in its 1886 ruling in Yick Wo v. Hopkins. But chipping away at access to that right has been a central electoral strategy for Republicans.

Anthony Settles, a Texas retiree, had been repeatedly blocked from the ballot box because his mother changed his last name when he was a teenager, and that 50-year-old paperwork was lost in what he described as a “bureaucratic nightmare.” After spending months looking for the wayward document, and then trying to get certified by the name he has used for more than half a century, he knew, beyond all doubt, that he had been targeted.

“The intent of this law is to suppress the vote,” Mr. Settles told a Washington Post reporter in 2016. “I feel like I’m not wanted in this state.”

That was the point. Demoralize people. Strip away their voting rights. Debase their citizenship. Dilute the diversity of voters until the electorate becomes homogeneous. Lie and say it’s because of voter fraud. But most important, do all of this in the name of saving democracy.

Rampant voter fraud does not exist. There is no epidemic of illegal voting. But the lie is so mesmerizing, it takes off like a wildfire, so that the irrational fear that someone might vote who shouldn’t means that hundreds of thousands who should can’t cast ballots, in part because of the increase in voter ID laws across the country in recent years.

The best way to understand the lie is to understand how it began: on Election Day in 2000. What happened then affects who will show up to vote in less than two months, and how confident they’ll feel when they get to the polls.

Florida’s electoral malfeasance in the 2000 vote is infamous. But that election in St. Louis was also a disaster, and it taught the Republicans an important lesson: Block people of color from polling places by any means necessary. And it showed them, point by point, how to create a voter suppression road map that is paying dividends today.

The St. Louis Board of Elections had purged some 50,000 names from the voter rolls, primarily in key Democratic precincts. And it had failed to notify the people who had just been stripped of their vote, as the law required.

So when those voters showed up to cast their ballots, they were told they were no longer registered. Besieged precinct workers couldn’t get through on the jammed phone lines to check much of anything. Some opted to send frustrated would-be voters downtown to the Board of Elections office to resolve the issue there.

This combination of poor record keeping and ill-prepared officials meant that hours and hours dissolved as the clock on Election Day wound down. When the polls were about to close, the lobby was still packed with people waiting to cast their ballots.

Democrats filed for an injunction to keep precincts open to accommodate voters who had been caught in the Board of Elections runaround. A circuit court judge agreed and ordered the polls to stay open for a few more hours.

Republicans were not having it. Senator Christopher Bond said the voting extension “represents the biggest fraud on the voters in this state and nation that we have ever seen.” Others made the case that this was just a Democratic maneuver that would result in hundreds of fraudulent votes.

Republicans filed an appeal to close the polls. A state appeals court obliged. Shortly after the circuit court’s decision, the doors slammed shut on hundreds of people waiting in lines to vote.

Then things got worse.

Missouri Republicans twisted this clear case of election board wrongdoing into a torrent of accusations against the Democrats and the overwhelmingly black residents of St. Louis. Missouri’s Republican secretary of state, Matt Blunt, called the effort to keep the polls open an attempt “to create bedlam so that election fraud could be perpetrated.” Senator Bond went further: It was a “brazen” and “shocking” effort to commit voter fraud.

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. Instead, it was an illegitimate purge of approximately 49,589 eligible voters by the Board of Elections. It was also sloppy record-keeping and bureaucratic malfeasance. But, for the Republicans, that was not the point. Rather, it was about fine-tuning a voter suppression master plan. They learned three key lessons from the bungled election.

The first lesson was that demographics were not destiny. The voting-age population was becoming less white and more African-American, Latino and Asian. In 1992, nonwhite voters made up 13 percent of the American electorate. By 2012 that figure had risen to 28 percent. That growing share of the electorate favored the Democrats. A poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in the late 1980s found that only one in two black Republicans thought his party cared about problems facing the black community. In the 2000 presidential election, nine in 10 black voters, 62 percent of Hispanic voters and just over half of all Asian voters backed Al Gore.

Fullstory by Carol Anderson/NYT

Posted by The NON-Conformist


The Slaves Rebel

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The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

These men and women know that the courts will not help them. They know the politicians, bought by the corporations that make billions in profits from the prison system, will not help them. And they know that the mainstream press, unwilling to offend major advertisers, will ignore them.

But they also know that no prison can function without the forced labor of many among America’s 2.3 million prisoners. Prisoners do nearly all the jobs in the prisons, including laundry, maintenance, cleaning and food preparation. Some prisoners earn as little as a dollar for a full day of work; in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, the figure drops to zero.

Corporations, at the same time, exploit a million prisoners who work in prison sweatshops where they staff call centers or make office furniture, shoes or clothing or who run slaughterhouses or fish farms.

If prisoners earned the minimum wage set by federal, state or local laws, the costs of the world’s largest prison system would be unsustainable. The prison population would have to be dramatically reduced. Work stoppages are the only prison reform method that has any chance of success. Demonstrations of public support, especially near prisons where strikes are underway, along with supporting the prisoners who have formed Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which began the nationwide protest, are vital. Prison authorities seek to mute the voices of these incarcerated protesters. They seek to hide the horrific conditions inside prisons from public view. We must amplify these voices and build a popular movement to end mass incarceration.

Rest of story from Chris Hedges/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist



People are destroying their Nike gear to protest Colin Kaepernick’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign

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Nike revealed on Monday that Colin Kaepernick — the out-of-work NFL quarterback who generated controversy for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality — would be one of the faces of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” read a teaser for an ad Kaepernick tweeted.

Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018

Some Kaepernick critics took that to mean sacrificing their Nike products.

Immediately, some people began posting pictures of socks and shoes being defaced or destroyed, or declaring they would be soon switching allegiances to Adidas, Brooks or Converse. (Nevermind that Nike owns Converse.)

More from The Washington Post

Posted by Libergirl

Trump-loving GOP official in Pennsylvania raged against black NFL ‘baboons’ and told them to go back to Africa

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The secretary of the Republican Committee of Beaver County, Pennsylvania called NFL players baboons for protesting against racism during the national anthem and suggested they go back to Africa. She also whined about reverse racism, reports The Times, and predicted an impending civil war.

Carla Maloney posted the comments to Facebook in 2017.

“Tired of these over paid ignorant blacks telling me what I should believe in. I will tell you what I believe in and that is our Flag the National Anthem and America period end of story,” she wrote. “You don’t like it here go to Africa see how you like it there. We are all Americans not African American not Hispanic American. WE ARE ALL AMERICAN.”

She went on to call the players animals.

“Steelers are now just as bad as the rest of the over paid baboons. You respect your flag, country and our national anthem. How many men and women have lost limbs or died to protect this country and you baboons want respect,” she added wrote. “If you want respect you need to earn it and so far you haven’t. Stop watching, or going to a game and paying for over priced food, water and tickets. Let’s see how the baboons get paid when white people stop paying their salaries.”

The racist rant is reminiscent of GOP candidate Ron DeSantis’ comments yesterday, when he warned that a vote for black candidate Andrew Gillum would “monkey up” the state. Many commentators pointed out that DeSantis was flagrantly dog-whistling to racist supporters.

By Tana Ganeva/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Here are 5 things you need to know about progressive candidate Andrew Gillum who just won a stunning victory in the Florida primary

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Progressive candidate Andrew Gillum won a major upset victory in the Democratic Party primary Tuesday night for the upcoming Florida gubernatorial election.

The Tallahassee mayor was seen as a longshot for the statewide race, where he had been polling in fourth place. But he has now seized the nomination and will face off against Ron DeSantis, a supporter of President Donald Trump, in November.

Here are five things to know about the upstart candidate:

1. He secured an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Gillum’s association with Sanders and the left-leaning wing of the Democratic Party appears to have provided him the boost he needed to garner the nomination. Republicans are certain to hope they can tarnish his reputation by painting him as a radical in the famously moderate swing state of Florida. But Sanders supporters are optimistic that they have the wind at their backs and can ride a nationwide trend to victory.

2. Gillum was the only Democratic candidate in the primary who was not a multi-millionaire, according to MSNBC.

He stood out from the crowd as not coming from the wealthiest segments of society. Gwen Graham, the presumed frontrunner in the primary race, is from a political dynasty as the daughter of a former Florida governor.

3. His campaign was vastly outspent by his competitors.

“My opponents have spent, together, over $90 million in this race. We have spent 4 [million],” Gillum said Saturday, according to the New York Times. “Money doesn’t vote. People do.”

4. If he wins, he’ll be the first black Florida governor.

Gillum joins neighbor Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democratic candidate for governor and the first black woman to earn a major party gubernatorial nomination, in running for a historic spot in statewide office.

5. Among many other progressive causes, Gillum supports expanding Medicaid in Florida.

The state has stubbornly refused to expand Medicaid to a wider swath of the population since the implementation of Obamacare. Failing to expand the program leaves hundreds of thousands of residents with few options for health insurance, as Vox reports. If he takes the governorship, Gillum would be well-positioned to push for this change.

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Georgia Kills Racist Plan to Eliminate Polling Places in Black County Amid Backlash Voters and civil rights advocates in Randolph County, Georgia stood up to a blatant voter suppression scheme, and won.

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Officials in Randolph County, Georgia have scrapped a plan to close 7 of the county’s 9 polling places, amid local anger, a massive petition drive, nationwide scrutiny, and threats from the Georgia ACLU to file suit. The local election board meeting to vote down the proposal lasted less than 60 seconds.

As an added bonus, county elections consultant Mike Malone, who first proposed the closures, has been fired.

Randolph County is 61 percent African-American, and one of the polling sites proposed for closure served an area that was 97 percent black. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of residents do not own a car. Had the closures been approved, thousands of minority voters might have had to walk for up to 3 hours to get to their polling place.

Election overseers had claimed the closures were because the polling places were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But a public records request revealed that the county did not have a single piece of data to back up its claim that the affected sites were causing any problems for disabled people.

Black voters and civil rights groups have a darker theory for the reason behind the proposal: that it was an underhanded ploy to undermine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is running in a competitive, high-profile race to be the first African-American woman governor in history.

Abrams’ Republican opponent is Brian Kemp, who also happens to be the chief elections official in Georgia — and according to the Washington Post, Kemp was the one who included Malone on a list of recommended consultants for local election boards. Malone has also financially supported Kemp’s campaign, and said at a meeting discussing the proposal that Kemp had urged him to find ways to consolidate polling places, although he later retracted this statement.

Kemp, for his part, denies any involvement in the proposed polling closures or in recommending Malone as a consultant for Randolph County, and claims that he opposed the closures from the start. But this was not an isolated or unique incident — Republicans have been aggressively curtailing hundreds of polling places for years, spurred along by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to throw out a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.

The defeat of the Randolph County closures plan is an important victory for voting rights, and a key case of how activist pressure is able to undo some of the GOP’s ugliest schemes to suppress black voters. It follows last month’s voting rights victories in Indiana, where a lawsuit by Common Cause and the NAACP resulted in a consent decree  ordering Republicans to allow multiple early voting sites in heavily urban Marion County for the first time in ten years; and in Florida, where a federal judge struck down a law prohibiting early voting sites on college campuses.

By Matthew Chapman / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

TD originals Spike Lee Returns to Form With the Entertaining and Relevant ‘BlacKkKlansman’

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Actors John David Washington and Laura Harrier get into the act in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” (David Lee / Focus Features)

Ever since his early career peak, culminating in a best original screenplay Academy Award nomination for “Do the Right Thing,” Spike Lee has opined on the big screen with the same measure of nuance and subtlety he demonstrates courtside at Knicks games—which is to say, none at all. But when it comes to his latest movie, “BlacKkKlansman,” arriving amid a steady stream of footage of unarmed black men and boys subjugated and murdered by police around the U.S., maybe subtlety is the wrong tack. And, for the many white people who view this same footage not as evidence of police brutality but of black people operating outside the law, maybe Lee’s full-on approach will finally wake them up.

A Grand Jury Prize winner at Cannes, the new movie is based on the memoir “Black Klansman,” by Ron Stallworth. In it, a black cop, played by John David Washington, and his Jewish partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), infiltrate the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.

As a newly assigned rookie at the start of the film, Stallworth quickly rises to the rank of undercover detective, assigned to a speaking engagement by Kwame Ture (a.k.a. civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael). There, he wears a mike and records a fiery address (Ture is played by Corey Hawkins in a moving cameo), hitting inspirational points on pride, hope and persistence.

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” he asks, quoting rabbinical sage Hillel the Elder. The sequence stops the film’s narrative and gives Lee a chance to do what he has often shown a penchant for: proselytizing. But what gorgeous proselytizing it is—timeless truths about social justice over ellipsing images of Ture’s audience, eyes uplifted, a dimly lit portrait montage tastefully rendered through cinematographer Chayse Irvin’s artful lens. It’s an example of “BlacKkKlansman” at its finest, matched only by the rhapsodic dance sequence that follows at the local bar to the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose’s “It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now.”

Stallworth’s dance partner is the stunning Patrice Dumas (a ravishing Laura Harrier), president of the Black Student Union, which sponsored Ture. Patrice is drawn to Stallworth despite his more moderate politics. But although his tight-ass cop routine smoothly counters her militant hippie groove, their romantic subplot ultimately feels sketched-in.

With Ture moving on to his next speaking engagement, Stallworth is left without an assignment, stalling the screenplay written by Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz along with Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee. The movie restarts with Stallworth at his desk, impulsively calling the KKK and reaching Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold in a cartoonish, shifty-eyed performance).

From this point forward, Stallworth maintains the phone persona of the Klan infiltrator, with Zimmerman as his face. Why they don’t simply let Zimmerman lead is anyone’s guess, but soon he is in close quarters with the Klan, bearing the intense scrutiny of bug-eyed racists, particularly Felix (Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen), who suspects he’s a Jew. As the tension ratchets up, Driver takes over the movie.

In a misstep, Lee portrays Klansmen as spectacularly dumb, personified by borderline imbecile Ivanhoe (Paul Walter Hauser, the hilarious henchman in last year’s “I, Tonya”), and Felix’s wife (Ashlie Atkinson), who fantasizes in bed about killing black people. By broadening the tone, Lee not only defuses dramatic tension but trivializes the threat posed by today’s emboldened racists.

Complications ensue when Stallworth is chosen as bodyguard to Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, played by Topher Grace in a monochromatic, though subtly hilarious, portrayal. Duke is visiting Colorado Springs to oversee the induction of new members, including Zimmerman—who goes by the name Ron Stallworth (don’t ask). Further complicating things is the fact that the real Stallworth has become phone pals with Duke, without the latter knowing he is talking to a black man.

As “BlacKkKlansman” winds to a close, Lee and his trio of writers show casual interest in plot machinations, using their narrative framework to address pressing issues instead. A Harry Belafonte lecture recalling a gruesome lynching is juxtaposed with grotesque Klansman cheering on their forebears portrayed in the 1915 film classic “The Birth of a Nation.” Though Belafonte effectively delivers, it’s not the strongest montage, even if Lee makes his point.

Lest anyone not get it, he hammers the point home with footage of Charlottesville, Va., 2017, where white nationalists clashed with protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally. And yes, we see Trump with his familiar, “very fine people” quote describing racists who attended that event, such as James Alex Fields Jr., the man who struck and killed Heather Heyer.

As Stallworth, Washington, a former professional footballer and costar of the Dwayne Johnson HBO series “Ballers,” ably anchors the movie with an honest performance, free of gimmicks. But while he is convincing, with an easygoing charm one might expect from the son of Denzel Washington, his range of expression is limited.

As Zimmerman, Adam Driver is looser than his by-the-book rookie counterpart. Their easy chemistry is underscored by jazzy compositions by frequent Lee collaborator and composer Terence Blanchard, which are, like the movie itself, evocative of the era, though not of it.

While the Hollywood establishment seems to pride itself on avoiding subjects that actually matter, exceptions can be found in this film’s producers, Jordan Peele and Jason Blum, who teamed on last year’s sleeper hit, “Get Out.” Samuel Goldwyn once said, “If you’ve got a message, send a telegram.” What he didn’t understand is that movies are telegrams, albeit with outlandish trimmings.

“BlacKkKlansman” has everything anyone would want from a cop movie, but its candid treatment of its subject matter and the conversation it might inspire are the telegram that audiences deserve.

By Jordan Riefe/truthdig

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