Trump is not permitting the NSA to stop Russian cyber attacks

Free and fair elections are a crucial element to the success of any representative democracy and it is just one of the reasons Donald Trump despises America’s electoral system as passionately as he loathes the U.S. Constitution. There is some hope on the left that the upcoming midterm elections may be favorable for Democratic candidates, but with Trump in the Oval Office it is looking a lot less “favorable.” Trump is not doing anything to support fair elections and it should not surprise one American; he is a lying, corrupt Republican after all.

Whether it was Trump falsely claiming that 5.7 million immigrants voted illegally in 2016, or convening a special commission to affect future elections in Republicans’ favor, or rejecting the claims of intelligence agencies that the Russians interfered on his behalf in the last election; it is glaringly apparent Trump does not want fair elections.

That assertion was verified by Trump’s National Security Adviser who said Trump will not give permission and authorize intelligence and Defense Department officials to combat the Russians who are still interfering in the electoral process.

During queries to Trump’s director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Admiral Michael Rogers testified that “President Donald Trump had not given him or his agency the authority to fight back against Russian attacks on the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.”

That’s right, despite the universal knowledge going back nearly two years that Russians interfered in the 2016 primaries and general election attacking America’s democracy, the corrupt reprobate has not taken any steps to protect America or the integrity of the electoral process. Of course that includes refusing to follow the direction of Congress and protect the nation by imposing sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

In response to a question from Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) regarding the Department of Defense’s ability to respond and defend against cyber attacks from Russia “against our forthcoming elections,” Admiral Rogers was not hesitant to explain why nothing whatsoever is being done to protect the nation’s democratic process. Senator Nelson said:

We have been attacked and there are a lot of us that feel like we are still being attacked and that we’re going to be attacked particularly with regard to our elections. So, what’s the holdup?”

Admiral Rogers replied:

The challenge for us is right now we have this thing called the law. And the legal framework shapes what DOD can and cannot do.”

Mr. Nelson pressed the issue to get an explanation about why there has been no action and what about the law is holding up a defense of America’s electoral process. He asked Rogers:

What do you need as the commander to say go after and punish these guys that are trying to tear apart our critical infrastructure?”

Rogers replied thus:

I need a policy decision that indicates that there’s specific direction to do that. The secretary [of defense] would ultimately make a recommendation to the president… and then based on that, we’d be given specific direction and specific authority.”

Seemingly perplexed, Senator Nelson asked, “So you need a direction and specific authority from the White House?”  Rogers explained that yes, “The president Trump ultimately would make this decision.”

Trump made his decision a little over a month ago when he decided not to impose Congress’ sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2016 elections. His reasoning was that passing the legislation was enough to serve as a “deterrent.” Congress voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions on Russia as punishment for “election meddling” in 2016. The concept of “deterring” a past action is beyond a mind-numbing assertion, even for a mind-numbing ignoramus like Trump.

Trump is not going to punish Russia for its past election meddling and it is apparent he has no interest in stopping them now. If that were not the case he would have imposed Congress’ latest sanctions a month ago, and unleashed the Department of Defense on the Russians immediately after learning the attacks are continuing, but he has not. He is so indebted to Russia and needs their attacks to continue unabated, he even violated the Constitution by not imposing Congress’ sanctions. It is a clear signal he is not going to stop Russian election interference because he obviously opposes fair elections.

Free and fair elections are no more appealing to Trump than they are to his Republican cohorts, particularly in Republican controlled states. The Trump demonstrated that a couple of weeks ago when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to take action to stop Republicans’ unconstitutional gerrymandering. Trump said that the Republicans’ “unconstitutional gerrymandering” was “correct” and that Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was wrong. Trump encouraged Pennsylvania Republicans to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where conservatives will continue their, and the GOP’s, assault on fair elections.

What Trump claimed was correct, according to his disdain for fair elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court labeled “clearly, plainly, and palpably a violation of Pennsylvania’s state Constitution.” Of course Pennsylvania Republicans concurred with Trump and said the state Supreme Court’s ruling was wrong; they oppose the concept of “fair elections” or they would not have fashioned a system blatantly skewed to elect Republicans.

The head of the Executive Branch refusing to punish a foreign entity for attacking America in the past, and failing to authorize the defense department to combat ongoing attacks is simply beyond comprehension; it is also un-American and it damn well should be considered treasonous. It is also a clear indication from Trump that he is as frightened of the Russians as he is opposed to free and fair elections. Plus, not punishing or opposing their election meddling efforts is remuneration for aiding him and Republicans in 2016. That the Republicans in Congress are refusing to use their considerable power to punish Trump indicates that they too are either afraid of the Russians or want them to carry on interfering with impunity; everyone knows they oppose fair elections.

One hopes that Democrats are prepared for what may be incredibly disappointing results in the 2018 midterm elections.  Because with the party in power opposed to fair elections that would evict them from power, and the head of the Executive Branch unwilling to interfere with the Russian election meddling efforts, the midterms may produce exactly what the Russians want – a wave election that augments Republican majorities in Congress and the states.

 

Alabama’s Evangelical Perverts Supporting Moore Is Abominable

A while back Foreign Policy featured a commentary asking rhetorically if America is a failing state, and although that is not the case yet, it is incrementally failing as a secular democracy created by the Founding Fathers. Nowhere in America is that more evident than in Alabama where the state is failing morally and endangering young girls’ well-being on religious grounds.

There is no other possible conclusion but that Alabama is suffering a complete moral break from reality when a serial pedophile claiming fundamentalist Christianity as his raison d’être makes him qualified to serve in the United States Senate.

That Roy Moore is even considered a viable candidate is intrinsically a damning indictment of the perverted Republican and evangelical voters in Alabama. That he continues gaining “value voters” support after the recent revelations he dated young girls as a 32-year-old man is very revealing about the perverse mindset among many Alabama residents.

It should not be a surprise to any conscious American that Alabama evangelicals ardently support a perverted pedophile and avowed enemy of the United States Constitution for a seat in the United States Senate. These are typical hard-line evangelicals that will excuse any immoral and flagrantly heinous act if they believe their dream of an American theocracy can be hastened to fruition. And the idea that a pedophile is available to advance their “dream nation” scenario not only emboldens evangelicals,  a recent poll revealed that close to 40 percent of evangelicals are more likely to vote for Moore now because of his sexual abuse of young girls.

Moore all but admitted the pedophilia charges are true when he boasted that yes, as a 32-year-old man he did date teenage girls, a lot of them, when he was in a position of authority as a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. What makes the situation even worse, for all Alabama residents, is that while Moore was a prosecuting attorney it was common knowledge that he was a hunter seeking out teenaged girls.

According to Teresa Jones, a co-worker of Moore’s during his time as a prosecuting attorney, his craving for young girls was well-known and yet no-one dared even approach him about the issue, much less charge him. Ms. Jones wrote in the Gadsden Times that while she was with the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office with Moore, “it was common knowledge that he pursued teenage girls.” Moore was 32 years old at the time.

The immediate question any sane human being would ask is: what the Hell is wrong with a district attorney’s office that condones one of their prosecuting attorneys’ violations of Alabama’s sexual abuse laws, especially laws enacted to protect young girls from adult male sexual predators like Moore?

In an attempt to answer why Moore was allowed to pursue young girls, Jones only damned every district attorney employee aware of the “common knowledge” that a fellow adult male employee was seeking out young girls with literal impunity. She said:

As a Deputy DA in Gadsden when Roy Moore was there, it was common knowledge about Roy’s propensity for teenage girls. I’m appalled that these women are being skewered for the truth.

Right wing malcontent activists like Breitbart have launched a campaign to besmirch the women who have come forward as is typical in America’s patriarchal society; it’s always the woman victim who ends up being demonized. And if one Alabama Republican had his way, the victims would be facing criminal prosecution – for being teenage victims of a good clean Christian man. These Republican and evangelical enablers in Alabama are a seriously demented and perverse group; sadly, Alabama is in America and not a 12th Century barbarian nation.

Ms. Jones also told CNN that everyone knew the Christian fundamentalist Moore often went to high school events and other local teenage hangouts trolling for victims.

It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird…We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall.

Jones reiterated that her and her co-workers “thought the situation was odd,” but “you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that.” She also posted, on Twitter, a reply to why she didn’t bring charges against Moore:

At that time, in that atmosphere unless the girls came forward with specifics, then no, no charges could have been brought. The Weinstein, Hoffman, etc. revelations have made it far more palatable for women to come forward.” 

 It’s about now that one has to call bullshit. If Ms. Jones and her fellow prosecuting district attorneys were not covering for a co-worker’s sexual deviancy, then they would have used their authority to investigate what was “common knowledge” and charge Moore with a crime. According to the Gadsden Times:

The legal age of consent in Alabama is 16. Under Alabama law in 1979, and today, a person who is at least 19 years old who has sexual contact with someone between 12 and 16 years old has committed sexual abuse in the second degree. Sexual contact is defined as touching of sexual or intimate parts. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

The law then and now also includes a section on enticing a child younger than 16 to enter a home with the purpose of proposing sexual intercourse or fondling of sexual and genital parts. That is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.”

The then-14 year-old victim’s account of Moore’s sexual predation certainly meets the conditions on both counts. If any one of the fine upstanding district attorneys had an ounce of decency when it was “common knowledge” about Moore’s propensity for “dating” young girls, then they would, and should, have investigated Moore, filed charges, and sent the evangelical creep to jail; but they didn’t. Their excuse that “You really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that” is as pathetic as Moore trolling for teenage girls at the local mall.

The tragedy of this horrific story isn’t that yet another self-professed “holier-than-thou” evangelical is accused of molesting girls, or that the victims are being “raped” again by right wing cretins and evangelical Republicans; it is what always happens. The tragedy is that Moore has any support whatsoever to sit in a position of authority to infect the federal government with  “his brand” of Christianity.

For dog’s sake, just the idea that Alabama evangelicals are “more likely” to support Moore after sexual abuse allegations speaks volumes about exactly what kind of sick, twisted moral compass these so-called Alabama Christians embrace. And no, their archaic bible does not promote pedophilia no matter the age disparity of Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s parents. Only a sick evangelical Republican would conjure  up “biblical” justification for Moore’s predilection for chasing young girls.

It is true that most Americans are appalled at these revelations and even former presidential candidate Willard “Mitt” Romney called for Moore to get out of the race because “he believes” the victims regardless of Moore’s religious bona fides. This morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Willard saying he too believed the girls’ allegations and demanded that Moore step aside. Moore replied that McConnell is the one that has to go because he’s not a pure Christian conservative like Moore.

No doubt both McConnell and Romney, like every Alabama resident, are well aware that Moore is unqualified and was already evicted from the Alabama Supreme Court twice because his religious conviction informs him the Christian bible, and not the U.S. Constitution, is the law of the land. Still, Moore has unwavering support from “the faithful” that regard themselves as “the real Americans” because they are evangelicals. They ardently believe, like Moore, that their archaic scriptures supersede the Constitution and that a 32 year-old man abusing teenage girls is acceptable.

The longer this atrocity goes on the worse it looks for Alabama voters supporting Moore when they know the kind of sexually deviant creep he is and yet support him on religious grounds. But Alabama voters also supported Jeff Sessions despite his public claim that the Separation Clause in the First Amendment is “unconstitutional.” Something is seriously wrong with Alabama voters.

It is glaringly apparent that putting theocrats in the federal government, even if they are pedophiles, is how Alabama Republicans intend on doing their part to make America a great theocracy. These are some sick people and it is an abomination they are Americans and a nasty joke that they call themselves Christians. They are typical patriarchal conservatives and another one of their heroes in the Senate portends danger for American women and a quick path to “Gilead.”

Virginia’s Chief Homophobe Defeated By Transgender Heavy Metal Singer

At a juncture in American history when the concept of good news seems fantastical, there was a bit of encouraging news upon waking Wednesday morning. Most of the bad news over the past several months was not necessarily that the Trump administration still exists, it has been the raging religious attacks on women, LGBTQ people, and non-Christians that Trump plays a pivotal role in executing.

One of the nation’s worst religious right bigots after Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, a nasty piece of work named Robert Marshall, expected to win another stint as a delegate to Virginia’s legislature so he could continue to intimidate and discriminate against women, the LGBTQ community, and anyone unwilling to toe the evangelical line. In a glorious win for the “good people” of Virginia, Marshall was not victorious. Instead, justice prevailed and he was soundly defeated by a Virginia resident who represents everything Marshall hates and has spent his political career tormenting – LGBTQ people.

Danica Roem is a former journalist and now the first openly transgender elected to a state legislature in America after she defeated “bigot Bob” Marshall.  She is also a singer in a “melodicheavy metal band that was almost certainly an extra irritant to Marshall’s “holier-than-thou” sensibilities.  Regardless what the defeat meant to Marshall, Ms. Roem’s victory was historic as a transgender woman; defeating a raging religious right homophobe and “real conservative” was “extra sweet.”

As an aside, another transgender won a first-ever city council seat in Minneapolis; it informs that Americans are rejecting bigotry driven by religion and actually voting for a candidate based on their policies and qualifications, not on who they hate according to their religion.  Andrea Johnson was the “first ever” African American transgender woman to win an election in America.

Roem likely captured some national attention not so much because she is the first state-level transgender to win an election, but because she defeated an avowed malcontent Catholic that wears his religious bigotry proudly and refers to himself as “chief homophobe.”  Obviously in the 21st Century Virginia voters were no longer impressed that their representative was a religious bigot.

Marshall is so much more than just a nasty bigot; he is as religiously vicious an anti-women’s choice Catholic as the author of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae. Marshall is one of those personhood freaks that, besides claiming contraceptives are abortion and a mortal sin, invents fantasy science as a means to control women. A few years ago he confidently asserted that abortion causes birth defects in subsequent pregnancies. He also made an attempt at fear-mongering and warned that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would reinstate the draft and force the unwilling to serve.

He preached  that “X-rated videos were a public health hazard” and authored an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. His pride and joy, however, and a tool he should not have used in the campaign, was his legislation banning transgender people from using the correct restroom. Although his bill perished in committee, he embraced the “chief homophobe” role throughout the campaign as a badge of honor.

Marshall spent time during the campaign claiming that Ms. Roem’s identity was “against the laws of nature and nature’s god.” To belabor the point, Marshall always referred to “Ms. Roem” using a male pronoun to prove to voters that he’s right with “nature’s god.”  Marshall refused to debate Roem and instead resorted to typical Republican mudslinging and ugliness over Ms. Roem’s performance in an old music video. Apparently if X-rated videos are a “public health hazard,” then a heavy metal music video Ms. Roem sang in was  “lewd” according to Marshall.

Marshall and his supporters also produced disgusting hate campaign adsdisparaging Ms. Roem’s transgender identity.” It’s a tactic that likely backfired after the level of hate Virginians recently witnessed in Charlottesville.

In response to the attacks on her gender, Ms. Roem explained why Marshall had to resort to the only thing he knows; hate and bigotry borne of religion. She said: “This is what happens when he can’t defeat me [on] the core quality-of-life issues facing the people of the 13th District . . .”

 As it turns out, Ms. Roem had no difficulty convincing voters that Marshall is so consumed with hate inspired by his devotion to “nature’s god” that he had been woefully negligent to the needs of his constituents and their concerns about roads, education, equality and jobs.

After her victory, Ms. Roem said:

Discrimination is a disqualifier This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

In Ms. Roem’s case, the voters supporter her because she pledged to work towards alleviating their concerns over jobs, education and transportation. Her victory was a win for the LGBTQ community for sure, but it is also a telling sign that campaigning on hate, although the only thing Marshall knows, is not what voters are interested in.

Roem’s victory is also a signal that the evangelical hate groups are not representative of the entire population. It is true they run the government, something Trump has allowed with his blessings, but the people are growing weary of their tax dollars going to torture other Americans because of whom they love, what gender they identity with, or whether a woman chooses to give birth or not. It is an encouraging sign that despite the vocal minority making up the Republicans’ base, all Americans are not hateful bigots; fortunately Virginia residents will not have to put up with the self-proclaimed “chief homophobe” any longer.

Bob Marshall is not a nice man and the level of hate he dished out daily informs that he is not any kind of “real Christian.” This author has had a personal interest in seeing Marshall thrown out of office and the public’s consciousness for eight years. Marshall took exception to an op-Ed newspaper column condemning his attacks on gays and women and made a written response that was very personal and unrelated to the theme of the admittedly incendiary hit piece. That it was a transgender woman who defeated the dirty bigot is sweet justice indeed.

It is a travesty that the 13th District voters gave Marshall 26 years in the legislature to spread hate and bigotry, but it is heartening to learn that the voters finally became decent citizens and rejected his hate. It cannot be overstated that for the LGBTQ community, beleaguered women in Virginia, and decent Americans everywhere there is justice that a person representing everything Marshall hates was the candidate to send him packing. Maybe there is hope for America after all.

Image: Patheos

Republicans To Kill Agency Ensuring Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked

There is no doubt whatsoever that Republicans are as opposed to free and fair elections as they are equal rights for all Americans; there is ample evidence to back up that assertion. Forget all the voter suppression laws being passed in Republican states, and instead recall that the Koch brothers legislative arm that controls Republicans, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has refused, en masse, to sign a pledge that the conservative organization supports democracy. Republicans, to a person, never condemned its “legislation mill” for rejecting democracy, and coupled with their ardent aversion to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and campaign finance laws, it is blatantly apparent that Republicans as a political movement detest democracy and the democratic process.

Republicans have also pretended there is nothing for Americans to worry about after a hostile foreign power interfered in a presidential election to install a white trash Republican in the White House. They also laughed off reports that the Russians had hacked into 39 states’ voting systems prior to the 2016 election.

Now there is more proof that Republicans are intent on decimating what’s left of America’s dying democracy by making it much easier for the Russians, or the Republican Party, or dirty Donald Trump to subvert the democratic process; by purposely making it easy to hack into America’s voting machines and control the outcome of elections in every state in the Union.

In February, the GOP-controlled House Administration Committee voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC is a particularly small federal agency with a gargantuan task that includes, besides assisting states to run elections, ensuring that the nations’ voting machines cannot be hacked; the EAC is the only federal agency tasked with safeguarding voting machines from hacking.

The EAC was created after the farcical 2000 election in Florida “to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads.” As one would expect from an anti-democracy movement, the Republican Party has attempted to “kill the agency” since its inception.

Last Thursday, to finally achieve their goal, Republicans in the House inserted an amendment in a spending bill that gives the EAC exactly 60 days “to terminate itself” before the campaigns for the 2018 midterms get serious; likely to give Trump and the Russians an easier means of “controlling the outcome of the midterm elections.

House Democrats attempted to save the EAC by introducing an amendment of their own at the markup to save what’s left of “free and fair elections,” and they rightly argued that given the success of Russia’s inference in the last election, the EAC’s role was more important than ever. Of course Republicans rejected the facts and blew off the threat from Russia; they said the “Homeland Security Department has jurisdiction over cyber and election security, not the agency tasked with ensuring free and fair elections” by preventing cyber attacks on voting machines.

An EAC spokeswoman, Brenda Bowser Soder, related that the agency has been “active in the conversation around cybersecurity for a long time.” Ms. Browser Soder also added that the EAC is the only federal agency that provides cybersecurity experts with information on election processes as well as helping increase voting access, boosting election security and updating election equipment to prevent hacking.

The author of the “save the EAC” amendment, Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) said that “terminating” the important agency would “be a step backward for the nation.” He also said:

Eliminating the agency would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve the nation’s election systems. No other federal agency has the capacity, willingness or expertise to effectively absorb these functions.”

A law professor at U.C. Irvine and founding co-editor of the Election Law Journal, Richard Hasen, said it would be a “tremendous mistake to assume” some other agency could take on EAC’s duties. Mr. Hasen also noted the Republicans’ crusade to eliminate the EAC is not a new one, as House Republicans view the agency as “federal infringement on an inherently state and local function.

Republicans are lying because they ardently support dirty Donald’s attempt to “infringe on states election functions” by intimidating 50 states’ elections officials to turn over their respective state’s private election data to a Trump-created federal commission.

According to Adam Ambrogi, the Democracy Fund’s director of Elections Programs, there are currently 47 states that test their elections systems at the federal level through EAC. Mr. Ambrogi said state election officials need a distinct federal agency to turn to for assistance with people who actually have experience running elections, which the EAC currently offers.

One former senior litigator at the Department of Justice’s Voting Section and current executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, David Becker, said that after the 2016 election debacle, the EAC has been particularly busy. He said:

They (EAC) are traveling around and speaking right now to county election officials across the country. The agency has been extremely active on recent [cyber] threats. If the EAC is eliminated, the happiest people out there would be the hackers.”

There is no doubt Republicans and Trump would be extremely happy to have free rein to control elections without the interference of a tiny federal agency with 31 employees and a budget of about one-percent of what taxpayers spend for Trump to play golf for one weekend. But this isn’t about money or federal interference in state and local elections; this is about making it easy to control the outcome of elections and nothing else. Republicans know it, the Russians know it, and dirty Don Trump knows it.

A Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania, Matt Cartwright told Republicans during the “markup”  that the EAC provides expertise to states and other agencies as well as “helps improve voting access for military personnel and other Americans overseas, and the disabled. Those functions would simply cease to exist.” No other agency provides those important services to guarantee free and fair elections.

The EAC spokeswoman Bowser Soder said the agency would not lobby lawmakers, but she still defended the agency’s mission.

We feel we play a unique role in serving election officials and voters and we’ll continue to do that as long as we’re around. We hope to continue that for a long time.”

Ms. Browser Soder’s hope is, although well-intended, the epitome of naïveté if she thinks for a second that Republicans will allow the agency to continue one day past the “60-day self-termination” deadline. Republicans hate democracy and the quickest way to eliminate it from America is terminating any agency tasked with ensuring free and fair elections; something Republicans, dirty Don Trump, and his Russian facilitators are not going to tolerate.

Trump’s Tyranny To Fix Elections Faces Increasing Opposition

 

Some Americans may recall that after the horrific slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School when President Obama called for common sense gun safety measures,  Republicans were berserk with rage. One of the common cries was that if Americans registered their firearms, the federal government would have their personal information and “who knows what horrors” the federal government would inflict on the good folks and their guns. Suffice it to say that Republicans vehemently oppose the federal government having any more “reach” or information about the citizens and their personal affairs and private information.

Now it is a different story, and it is not because Republicans suddenly believe Americans’ guns should be registered. It is because there is an authoritarian megalomaniac in the White House and an anti-democracy cabal ensconced deep within the Republican Party and racist conservative movement.

Because white trash Trump cannot accept that he lost the popular vote by substantial numbers, he convened a special election commission to ferret out the non-existent massive voter fraud he claims cost him the people’s overwhelming support. Trump’s stated reason for a special commission on election integrity is allegedly “to promote fair and honest federal elections.” Pay no mind that Trump’s Russian masters succeeded at denying Americans a “fair and honest federal election” in 2016; he won.

Trump tapped Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) as his vote-suppression enforcer. Kobach is renowned for lying and claiming massive voter fraud exists going back to 2008, but he has yet to find any in Kansas. So he is going national as a ruse to compile the voting records and personal data from every registered voter in all 50 states for the Trump administration to use in the next election.

One can only imagine what the corrupt and criminal Trump intends to do with voting and personal data of over 230 million eligible American voters. It is noteworthy that Kobach and Trump have both made universally-debunked claims that large numbers of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Kobach is so enthusiastic to burrow into nearly a quarter-of-a-billion Americans’ personal and private business that he sent out a letter to all 50 states “requesting voters’ names, addresses, their birthdays, party affiliation, military status, felony convictions, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, and their voting history dating back ten years, to 2006.” This federal intrusion into states’ business, and Americans’ private lives, is the result of a Trump executive order.

It is noteworthy that no Republican has screamed out “tyranny or executive overreach” into Americans’ private lives and it would be curious if Republicans were not accomplished hypocrites. During President Obama’s 8-year tenure, a common Republican complaint was that his executive orders were criminal and that asking Congress to “consider” legislation requiring firearm registration was patently unconstitutional, tantamount to fascism, and a tyrannical federal governments’ intrusion into gun owners’ private lives and information.

If Kobach and Trump want a comprehensive study of voting fraud in “federal elections,” they could save the nation and all 50 states a fair amount of money if they were serious about their bovine excrement “voter fraud” claims. There is a well-documented and impressive study of all 1.1 billion votes cast in every federal, state, and municipal election for every political office dating back to the 2000 presidential election. That exhaustive study found that there were exactly 31 “credible cases” of voting anomalies across the nation over a 14 year period.

As of yesterday, Friday, there were 24 states that told the Trump they were not, in fact, handing over sensitive voter information to the federal government; especially with an anti-democracy administration with a tyrant in the White House.

For example, Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe (D) issued a statement saying that he had “no intention” of fulfilling Trump’s demand. Mr. McCauliffe defended Virginia’s “voting fairness” and election integrity, and he rightly said Trump’s commission is “based on the false notion of widespread voter fraud in the last election.” He also stated the obvious that there is likely an ulterior motive to Trump’s election integrity commission.

At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.

California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla (D), also responded to Kobach saying:

I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians ‘voted illegally’ in the last election.

California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, Vice President, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach.”

Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), said that she does not intend to acquiesce to Trump and Kobach’s “request” for a massive release of voters’ personal data. She said:

The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not. I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government.” 

Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, was a tad more abrupt in relating that, like a growing number of state election officials, he definitely will not be turning over any sensitive personal information whatsoever to the panel. Mr. Hoseman promptly told the members of Trump’s “voter fraud commission” to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, said he was joining the other state officials and that: “We will not participate in this systematic effort to suppress the vote.”

To demonstrate how intrusive the Trump’s commission if behaving, even a member of the commission said her state was not going to comply. The president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Connie Lawson (R) said:

Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach. Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is name, address and congressional district assignment.”

Nellie Gorbea (D) is Rhode Island’s Secretary of State and she was pointed in her criticism of the commission and particularly Kobach as chief vote suppressor. She said Kobach was wholly “unfit to lead the commission, given his record of strict voting laws as well as a ‘recent court fine for failing to produce documents related to a lawsuit over voting laws.’ It is deeply troubling that he has been given oversight of this commission by the president.”

Kobach has been a staunch ALEC-Heritage Foundation advocate for enacting strict voter suppression laws he says are necessary to combat the “massive voter” fraud he has been unable to find. Democracy advocates rightly charge that the voting laws ALEC and Heritage demand are specifically devised “to hinder access to the polls primarily for elderly and minority voters.”

Many officials have questions about “the commission’s discretion obtaining the confidential documents.”  Those “questions” are code for they don’t trust the Trump administration whatsoever. One official spoke for the state of Wisconsin and said:

State statutes permit the [Wisconsin commission] to share confidential information in limited circumstances with law enforcement agencies or agencies of other states. The Presidential Commission does not qualify under either of these categories.

There is no doubt that this so-called “commission” is not about rooting out and preventing the nearly non-existent vote fraud Trump claims cost him the popular vote victory. The statistics showing there is no such thing as even minor vote fraud are readily available to anyone, and Trump’s and Republicans’ claim that there is any voter fraud has been widely debunked for a decade.

Look, Trump is corrupt, and criminally-corrupt to boot; so there is every expectation his real reason for wanting the private data and voting information for 230 million Americans has nothing to do with “election integrity” and everything to do with voter suppression and intimidation – exactly what one expects from an authoritarian regime.

SCOTUS Deals a Blow To Anti-Democracy North Carolina Republicans

 

At a juncture in the nation’s history when a corrupt fascist in the White House is beginning his own serious attack on the right to vote and democracy, this time in oppressing the right to vote, there was a surprising but welcomed bit of good news for voters; at least voters in North Carolina. The Republican dominated state and its anti-democracy legislature had led the nation in imposing Jim Crow-type laws specifically targeting African Americans voting rights because they are less-inclined to vote for Republicans.

Civil rights groups have spent no small amount of time and money fighting to stop the blatant vote suppression tactics favored by the Koch brothers’ legislative arm ALEC; particularly in North Carolina. The various democracy-loving groups were likely worried that when the conservative Supreme Court heard this particular case, their battle would be finished and Republicans would have prevailed even after losing at the appellate court level.

There is little doubt voting rights organizations tempered their celebration after the 4th Circuit Court struck down the Republican voter suppression laws as patently unconstitutional. Republicans, especially North Carolina Republicans, have demonstrated that they will not countenance any attempts or court rulings meant to advance the cause of democracy and rule against voter suppression tactics.

In a surprising decision, the Supreme Court left in place a federal appeals court ruling that struck down key parts of North Carolina’s hateful voting laws. The Appellate Court had found the Republican voter suppression laws unconstitutional because, like Jim Crow, it specifically targeted African American voters unfairly and “imposed cures for problems that never existed.” As anyone concerned about the failing state of America’s barely breathing democracy, to state that the High Court’s ruling is a major victory for civil rights groups, people of color and the democratic process in North Carolina is a minor understatement.

The High Court decision let stand the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that North Carolina Republicans had acted “with almost surgical precision” to shut down African American voting rights in the state. In writing for the 4th Circuit striking down the law, Judge Diana Gribbon Mott said that not only did the ALEC-devised law “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” it “impose[d] cures for problems that did not exist. Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation.” Of course the North Carolina Republicans’ “true motivation” was restricting voting rights of any North Carolinian who is not a white evangelical.

North Carolina led the nation in anti-democratic voting laws after the conservatives on the Supreme Court abolished a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act In 2013, and eliminated any federal oversight over the former Confederate states with a history of naked discrimination against African American voters. And according to the reaction from North Carolina’s Republican legislature, they are not finished building on their history of vote suppression and pledged to “enact new voting restrictions” despite the Courts’ rulings or any silly Voting Rights Act.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) joined president pro-tempore of the Senate Phil Berger (R) and issued a joint statement saying:

All North Carolinians can rest assured that Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the common sense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote.”

It is noteworthy that there have been absolutely zero cases of in-person voter fraud in North Carolina without the Republicans’ nasty law.  It is also worth remarking that the 4th Circuit decision noted that as far as voter identification is concerned, the N.C. Republican voter identification provision “retained only those types of photo ID held by whites and deliberately excluded, disproportionately, those held by African Americans.

The Appellate Court also said that Republicans “failed to identify even one single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.” However, it did find a fair amount of evidence of fraud in absentee voting by mail; the preferred method “used disproportionately by white voters” because the voter ID law does not apply to mail-in or absentee voting.

Although anti-democracy Republicans were disappointed at the High Court’s decision, civil and voting rights groups were understandably pleased. For example, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Daniel T. Donovan said, “This is the law of the land in the Fourth Circuit.”

The Director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s (ACLU) Voting Rights Project, Dale Ho said, “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.”

And North Carolina’s new Democratic Governor Roy Cooper issued a statement saying,

Today’s announcement is good news for North Carolina voters. We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder.”

Although this is good news all around for the democratic process in North Carolina, and a blow to North Carolina Republican attempts to suppress African Americans’ right to vote, it is noteworthy to mention that the fight to participate in democracy is not yet over for North Carolina African Americans. As Chief Justice John Roberts noted, yesterday’s decision not to hear or rule on the case does “not necessarily” set a legal precedent and does not mean the conservative court will not endorse and legalize Jim Crow laws in the future. In fact, history and conventional wisdom informs that the conservative majority will legalize Jim Crow to aid Republican electoral chances.

However, today in North Carolina there is reason to celebrate and in these darkest of days for America’s waning democracy, even a temporary blow to fascist Republicans is one all Americans should savor. Because with Trump setting his sights with an anti-democracy zealot Khris Kobach on making it nearly impossible to cast a ballot for anyone except white Christians, there is every reason to believe that North Carolina’s hateful voter suppression law will be the model for a national law criminalizing people of color even attempting to participate in democracy.

Jon Ossoff’s Opponent is Furious  At Ruling Allowing More Georgians To Vote

 

It is no stretch to claim that Republicans and their various operatives and legislative activists are opposed to the democratic process allowing all citizens to vote. As no small number of pundits and commenters have noted often, if Republicans were unable to suppress the vote or block access to the polls, they would not be in control of the government. However, they are in control of the government and the thought of losing even one seat in Congress has incited outrage from a former Georgia secretary of state seeking an open House seat.

The Republican facing off against political newcomer Jon Ossoff (D) in Georgia’s open seat House race, Karen Handel, sent out an email to her supporters in the form of an “election alert;” an emergency “alert” that she warned “should make your blood boil.” The blood boiling alert was that a Federal Judge appointed by George W. Bush had just ruled that Georgia election officials were bound to abide by a federal law, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

That 1993 federal law states that “all eligible citizens should be allowed to vote if they register at least 30 days before an election.” The Georgia runoff election is set for June 20 and the Judge’s order means that the March 20 cutoff day for voter registration was illegal and had to be extended to May 21; 30 days before the election.

Karen Handel, Mr. Ossoff’s Republican opponent, is renowned in Georgia for being a pioneering vote suppressor.” Kira Lerner at ThinkProgress noted that just prior to the 2008 General Election, as Georgia secretary of state Handel “spearheaded an illegal purge of Georgia’s [voter] rolls and flagged thousands of voter registrations as potential non-citizens.” As is usually the case in Republican voter purges, a fair number of Georgia voters stricken from the rolls were actually eligible American citizens, and likely Democratic voters.

The Federal District Court Judge presiding over the lawsuit to extend voter registration according to the law, Timothy Batten, had to issue a ruling for democracy.  The lawsuit was brought by four voting rights groups and the “Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.” They argued successfully that Georgia’s 90-day registration cutoff violated the National Voter Registration Act’s rule allowing “all eligible citizens” to cast ballots if they register at least 30 days prior to the election.

In concurring with the plaintiff’s argument and enforcing the Federal NVRA Judge Batten wrote:

If a preliminary injunction is not granted requiring defendants to process voter-registration applications received after the previous deadline of March 20, numerous voters who would otherwise be eligible to vote in the runoff will be denied that right.”

After the Court’s ruling, John Ossoff responded as one expects all democracy-loving Americans and said:

Voting rights are constitutional rights. I encourage all eligible voters to ensure that they are registered and make their voices heard on June 20th and in all elections, regardless of their party or political persuasion.”

Karen Handel, had a different response that typifies Republican opposition to fair election practices and the Federal Judiciary. In her fundraising email, Handel claimed “Democrats win lawsuit to change the election.” And, through her spokesperson she called the ruling by U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten a “partisan attempt to change the rules… for a nakedly partisan outcome.”

There are several fallacious statements in Handel’s remarks beginning with the claim that the Democrats’ lawsuit “changed the election.” The lawsuit, as noted above, was brought by four different voting rights groups and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. It is also noteworthy that the Judge did not rule according to partisanship or “change the election.” He ruled according to a 24-year old federal law and the election will proceed on the scheduled date as previously planned. As far as “a nakedly partisan outcome,” Handel is doing what Republicans do as a matter of course; accuse members of the Judiciary of partisanship when they rule according to the Constitution or federal statutes. This is particularly true when federal or state judges rule against Republican efforts to obstruct and suppress voting rights.

This Republican opposition to democracy, and suppressing or restricting voting is opposition to democracy, is rampant in GOP-majority states and particularly Southern Republican-dominated states. The Republicans have depended on the Koch brothers’ legislative arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to aid their anti-democracy effort and it is why ALEC members refused to go on record supporting democracy.

The Judge’s ruling was not partisan in any way, shape, or form because it provides both Democrats and Republicans a legally-extended opportunity to register more people ahead of the June 20 election; a fact that Karen Handel is well aware of.

What really makes Handel’s blood boil is that more Georgia residents now have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. Just the fact that Handel is opposed to more people participating in democracy is a telling sentiment that should give all Georgia voters pause to consider what kind of American is adamantly opposed to democracy.