A pie in the sky can hit you on the eye!
Trump-Make America White Again
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
"…Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus" 1883
The Trump administration has expressed its support for a much harder line on legal immigration into America. These changes are reflected in the new proposed bill called the RAISE Act. It is an attempt to change the standards used for approving green card applications from focusing on an individual’s ability create a living for themselves and uniting families, to a points-based or merit system. According to Trump and excerpts from the proposed legislation, applicants will score more points if they are “wealthier applicants…English speakers” and are “skilled laborers” who can “financially support themselves” and have skills that "can contribute to our economy."
For a politician who wants to build a wall to control illegal immigration, this proposed legislation will only make it worse. The jobs that need less skilled laborers will not go away and will not be filled by a native-born workforce for the same pay. By focusing on those immigrants with higher skill-sets over those who perform service sector and manual or “stoop” labor jobs; Trump’s proposed legislation will result in lower skilled immigrants entering the country via any means necessary, thus exacerbating illegal immigration. It’s a solution looking for a problem.
Let’s focus on the rhetoric and language being used to rationalize these actions. Behind all of this is not an effort to “Make America Great Again”, it’s an effort to “Make American White Again”.
There has been a lot of discussion about diversity in America and that America is a “melting pot”. In the early years of its development, immigrants to America were primarily European. According to Nicolas Evans, “From 1836 to 1914, over 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States.” Even though conflicts arose between these European immigrant groups, Irish, Italians and others, they relinquished many of their cultural ques to become “American”. Over time they could assimilate into mainstream America because they were white. Today, we no longer differentiate between those European ethnic groups, we simply refer to them as “white”.
At a recent White House press conference to explain President Trump’s new immigration policy, Trump administration policy aide Stephen Miller very dismissively said, “The poem (The New Colossus) …which was added later, is not part of the original Statue of Liberty." This ignores the historical fact that the sonnet was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 to help raise money for the construction of the Statue’s pedestal. It’s not as though the poem or the placement of the bronze plaque on the base in 1903 was some sort of afterthought as Miller ignorantly attempted to infer.
In reality, this discussion about the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island and immigration is a bit disingenuous because it connotes White or European immigration. According to History.com, “…close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island…as more and more immigrants poured in from southern and eastern Europe…Jews escaping from political and economic oppression in czarist Russia and eastern Europe…and Italians escaping poverty in their country. There were also Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Serbs, Slovaks and Greeks…” References to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island do not reflect the harsh realities of the 15-20 million enslaved Africans that were brought to the shores of North America through the Middle-Passage and the African Slave Trade. Enslaved Africans and Chinese workers brought here to build the railroads were not, “the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”
Looking back at the rhetoric it is easy to see that when Trump discusses “protecting the American worker” and bringing in highly educated wealthier “English speakers” with “higher job skills” he’s is speaking to White people about White people. Candidate Trump told us about Mexico, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you…They're sending people that have lots of problems…They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." He led the campaign claiming President Obama was “other”, “He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me…that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.' And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way.” Trump also said, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
While in Poland President Trump gave a not so subtle nod of approval to Poland’s authoritarian and anti-immigrant President Duda. Trump, the patron saint of the “birther movement” spoke about defending “Western civilization” and “Western values”. He also said, “We must work together to confront forces…that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are…” We also have Trump supporters and surrogates such as Iowa Congressman Steven King praising the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has espoused anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and recently called Moroccans “scum”. While in Europe, King said, “You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies…You’ve got to keep your birth rate up, and you need to teach your children your values. In doing so, you can grow your population, you can strengthen your culture, and you can strengthen your way of life.”
To the average American these are innocuous words, standard American rhetoric. To those with another reality who understand settler colonialism, American racism and hegemony, this is White Nationalist code language and this immigration policy is an attempt to put this code language into practice. A 2016 Huffington Post poll of White Trump voters found that 45% of them believe that Whites are the victims of discrimination, more so than Muslims, Blacks, Jews and Latinos.
The ethnic demographics of America are changing. This change is striking fear in the hearts of a lot of White Americans. Birth rates among White’s in America are dropping. According to Census.gov , America is “Browning” and according to NPR, not only is America “Browning” but this demographic shift is impacting voting traditional voting patterns. “America is at a demographic inflection point. The crosscurrents of demographic and cultural change are upending traditional voting patterns and straining the fabric of what it means to be American.” This is the motivation for Trump’s bogus Vote Fraud Panel, another solution looking for a problem.
Trump plays to the fears of many Americans who feel it is necessary to circle the wagons to protect themselves from enemy attack. His racist rhetoric and proposed policies are speaking to these fears. His executive order “protecting the police” makes it more difficult for citizens to sue police officers for misconduct even in the most egregious of circumstances. Even though according to The Hill, “the overall trend of violence against police has moved steadily downward for the past several decades, and assaults on police dropped over 15 percent between 2004 and 2013”. It’s the xenophobia of “them vs. us”.
Trump is not trying to “Make America Great Again”; his immigration efforts are trying to “Make America White Again”.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: [email protected].www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com
© 2017 InfoWave Communications, LLC
The Alt Right
The Alt Right movement is neither conservative politically nor right period. In the recent French Election, Marine Le Pen simply veered to the left on many key areas in effort to garner additional French union voters and a few straggling leftist and She still lost. The Alt-Right is following a similar strategy from Health care, economics and foreign affairs, moving to the left and taking positons similar to Bernie Sanders and much of the “anti-fascists” Marxists they fight in the street’
The Alt-right is Marxism with an over layer of White racial identity wrapped around it. Richard Spencer laid this out in his Charlottesville statement, “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity. “White” is shorthand for a worldwide constellation of peoples, each of which is derived from the Indo-European race, often called Aryan. “European” refers to a core stock—Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Latin, Nordic, and Slavic—from which related cultures and a shared civilization sprang…Jews are an ethno-religious people distinct from Europeans. At various times, they have existed within European societies, without being of them. The preservation of their identity as Jews was and is contingent on resistance to assimilation, sometimes expressed as hostility towards their hosts. “Judeo-Christian values” might be a quaint political slogan, but it is a distortion of the historical and metaphysical reality of both Jews and Europeans.” 1
Racial identity politics is a strong with the alt right as it is with the left that opposes it. On economics, Spencer argues, “Economic freedom is not an end in itself. All economic policies should serve the people of the nation; the interests of businessmen and global merchants should never take precedence over the well-being of workers, families, and the natural world.” Bernie Sanders couldn’t said it any better as economic policy should serve the people and government should direct those means of production.2 Government engineering by the Al-Right continues as Alt-Right urban policies wouldn’t be that much different than the present Day Democrat socialists and leftist as Spencer continues, “The automobile, the highway system, and resultant “car culture” have contributed to the death of cities and towns. While not everyone will live in urban environments, cities are vital institutions of culture, community, learning, and the arts. They should never have been abandoned by American Whites of older generations and should be reestablished as jewels of our civilization.”3 Spencer attack on the car culture isn’t much different than one would see with the environmentalist as government policies encouraging whites to move back into the city and chides past “Whites” for abandoning the cities for the suburbs.4
On the environment, Spencer writes, “We are a special part of the natural order, being in it and above it. We have the potential to become nature’s steward or its destroyer. Putting aside contentious matters like global warming and resource depletion, European countries should invest in national parks, wilderness preserves, and wildlife refuges, as well as productive and sustainable farms and ranches. The natural world—and our experience of it—is an end in itself.” Note the word, sustainable farms and ranches, just another code word for government extension into divining what economic policies should be and the phrase sustainable is a phrase the hard left uses to justified government interventionists policies.5 Evonlalinkola another Alt righter added, “The Alt-right as a movement has distanced itself from the traditional right on many issues regarding immigration, national policy and race realism. As the Alt-Right moves forward beyond Trump, there is an opportunity to create more separation between the Alt-Right and conservatism: we are green. I don’t mean this in a contemporary environmentalist way either. I meant that Alt-Right policy ideas would have significant impact as a whole…The Alt-Right can brand nationalism as a green priority. With this, the traditional left and right can further cast aside for a better vision; a green and white future.”6 Going Green is another attempt of the Alt-Right to combine their version of nationalism with leftist ideology to broaden their appeal. Like Spencer, Evonlalinkola views government as the ultimate controller of society. Evonlalinkola added, “Let’s reduce the third world’s addiction to first world aid thereby reducing their population, thus reducing resource consumption and pollution. We as a species have over consumed the planet’s resources. The way to change this isn’t fixating on the minute details but to look globally. The populations that cause the most harm and don’t care about it are third world countries.”7
Alt-Right believe in zero sum economics and adopted the population control agenda of the left as a mean to reduce consumption and pollution, of course note that population control resides in country where people of color live. The left understand this but the Alt-Right are more open about the reality of population control and Evonlalinkola makes leftist arguments that we “over consume” resources and adds the those who are guilty of wasting resources are third world countries. The Alt-Righter view the need to control the population of countries who are not white to save the environment but the result will be to reduce the growth of third world country and push them into continuing poverty while reducing future growth of Developed country. Alt-Right talks about increasing the growth of the Middle Class but their environmental policies will reduce growth opportunity by reducing growth!
In another piece in the blog Alt-Right.com, an editorial noted, “The flag-waving cuckservative oligarchs of the energy industry use this issue to dupe masses of rural and working class Red State America into supporting their destructive greed, while the Left uses it to recruit millions of educated middle-and-upper-class white youth in the cities and on college campuses for their anti-white agenda. How many intelligent, conscientious urban hipsters, SWPLs and Bernie Bros end up siding with the Leftist destroyers of their people because, after all, the Right wants to destroy planet Earth?”8 Note how the Alt Right writer goes after our energy industry in a fashion that Bernie Sanders and his fellow leftist would approve while insinuating that the left gain votes through their support for environment movement. The Alt-Right goal is to gain support by making the leftist environmental case their own including attacking the energy industry.
As a follow up to Alt-Right view on population control is their view on abortion, which is another tool to make the population smarter and reduce the number of minorities. Alt-Righters understand that Abortion has a eugenic quality as Black are three times more likely to be aborted and Hispanic twice as likely to be aborted than whites. The Eugenic results suits the Alt-Right causes. Alymer Fisher noted that “Not only is the pro-life movement dysgenic, but its justifications rely on principles we generally reject. The alt Right is skeptical, to say the least, of concepts like “equality” and “human rights,” especially as bases for policy. The unborn fetus has no connection to anyone else in the community.” Fisher argument is similar to the pro-choice movement by denying the humanity of the unborn baby but also makes it clear that abortion helps create a “better race’, repeating arguments that many progressives made in the defense of eugenic in the early 20th century. Just to make sure that one is not missing the racial angle on abortion, Fisher notes about Pro-life politicians, “It is no coincidence that some of the most pro-life politicians are those most excited about adopting children from Africa and those in their movement are among the conservatives most likely to denounce the “racism” of their political opponents. Those who want to do so, by banning abortion because its “racist” or adopting children from Africa, are the ultimate cuckservatives.” 9
The creation of a better race is reinforced, “The case would have to be made that abortion is what is decimating the White population and decreasing its quality. While it’s true that a blanket ban on abortion would probably increase the White population in their numbers, it would, no doubt, decrease the overall quality, as well and leave all races stupider, more criminally prone, and more diseased.” These arguments were prevalent during the Progressive era and Hitler merely adopted the logic of the Eugenics arguments by Progressive and even today, there are those on the left who on occasion admit this truth just as Ruth Bader Ginsberg did during an interview, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.” 10 Justice Ginsberg certainly let loose a few dog whistle when talking about race and one doesn’t have to think too hard who she is referring when talking about those “we don’t want too many of.”
Richard Spencer has made it clear that his goal is to replace the present conservative as he noted, “The Alt-Right doesn’t start with “freedom and tax cuts,” and it is anything but a Trump cheerleading squad and or a “young and hip” version of the same old bullshit…the Alt-Right starts with identity—the racial, historical, and ideal core of what it means to be European. This, in itself, is a revolutionary act. And despite the fact that we don’t get Soros money—or even Rebel Media money—we have a tremendous impact on the public…And the disappointment of Trump—and the increasing irrelevance of Breitbart—only reinforces why a real Alt-Right must exist.”11 The Alt-Right even view Breitbart as part of the conservative establishment which is ironic since Breitbart introduced Alt-Right to the general population and conservative movement during the Republican primary.
About Breitbart, Spencer noted, “For the latter part of the campaign, Breitbart was, explicitly, a nationalist, populist, anti-free trade, and anti-Beltway Right publication. There was a lot of stupidity mixed in, much as with Trump himself. And Breitbart certainly was never Identitarian. But it made an unequivocal break with conservatism’s usual operating pattern. And the mainstream press was scared. Breitbart, in short, mattered…Following Trump’s inauguration, Breitbart has become stale, boring, unimportant. It no longer matters. The self-defeating strategy of becoming a right-wing version of The Hill.”12 Spencer drives home the point when Breitbart pushed the nationalist theme during the election, they never paid enough attention to race to suit Spencer’s taste.
Vincent Law noted in a piece title We Don’t Need Conservatives, “The Alt-Right is growing and we won’t play these appeasement games the current “conservatives” are playing. We refuse to feed the alligator. We won’t just sit by and pretend that everything is ok. We are not here to lie to people and drain resources from the machine to keep a corrupt existence going. We are striving for a better people, a better society and a better world. We are not here to play the inclusive or equality game. We don’t want to be the world’s caretaker.”13 The Alt-Right is not interested in being part of the movement but be the movement, overthrowing the existing conservative establishment and that includes many within the National Populist movement brought into the political arena by Breitbart.
The Alt Right proves their merging with the left through their support for single payer. Dylan Mathews wrote, “When Mike Cernovich, one of the most prominent alt-right internet trolls supporting Donald Trump, was interviewed on 60 Minutes, he used the platform to spread conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton's health and to allege that she is involved with pedophilic sex trafficking operations. But he also declared his belief in single-payer health care.”14 Cernovich told 60 minutes, “I believe in some form of universal basic income…I’m pro-single-payer health care. Is that right-wing or is that left-wing anymore? Well, if you have a lot of people, a large swath of the company, or country, are suffering, then I think that we owe it to all Americans to do right by them and to help them out."15 Richard Spencer added, “Unlike Paul Ryan and Rich Lowry, who masturbated to Atlas Shrugged in their college dorms and have no loyalty to their race, Donald Trump is a nationalist…We can’t ignore the politics of this. If Trumpcare passes, leftists can credibly claim that Trump has betrayed his populist vision. They will recycle the hoary script about nationalism and ‘scapegoating’ immigrants as a means of pushing through a draconian agenda. And they’ll have a point!”16
The Alt-Right is nothing more than a mirror image of the left they protest but what they are not are conservatives but another version of Marxism in which government will be used to direct economic policies for the benefit of their voting bloc, White voters. The Charlottesville riot will not dissuade the Alt-Right from continuing their public campaign and occasional battles with their mirror images, the “Antifascist” movement. It will only empower them.
Steve Haywood made the comparison, “But we should pause to make the obvious point that I haven’t seen made anywhere yet. What do Antifa and the alt-right mob have in common? They both hate America. The alt-right mob marched mostly behind some kind of knockoff Nazi or fascist flag, and not the American flag. White, yes, but “nationalists”? They are not trying to “Make America great again” even in the Trumpian sense. They want it to be a different country. Antifa, of course, has no use for the American flag except to burn it. They also want this to be a different country. If they do carry a flag, its likely to be a familiar foreign one. Both groups should be labeled as Un-American. They deserve each other. And perhaps one nice punishment would be for people from both groups to be put in the same holding cells in the local jails.” 17
by JANE C. TIMM
MARSHALL, Mo. — Paul Gieringer let Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft talk for half an hour, explaining the state's complicated new voter ID law to a crowd of two dozen at the local community center, before raising his hand.
"How many cases of voter fraud have there ever been in Missouri?" Gieringer, 61, asked.
"We know it's happened," said Ashcroft, 44, noting that he didn't have any hard numbers, although he cited a 2010 incident in which a couple claimed a false address on their voter registration forms to vote in a primary election. "How many are an OK number? Is it OK to have one or two?"
The Republican secretary of state didn't mention that the new law he's traveling the state to promote — aimed at combating voter impersonation — wouldn't have stopped the couple, a fact his office later confirmed.
"He brought up the red herring of voter fraud," Gieringer later told NBC News.
Missouri is one of eight states that have passed or are implementing laws with more rigorous voter identification requirements this year.
Fueled by President Donald Trump, who has claimed, without evidence, that voter fraud deprived him of the popular vote in 2016, there's more energy behind election legislation than ever before. Trump has appointed a federal commission to find and combat voter fraud — a problem experts say doesn't exist on a large scale.
"With President Trump, voter fraud is a crime that's a high priority," the commission's vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said in an interview.
Trump's stance is already playing out in court: His Justice Department, which under President Barack Obama fought Texas over its voter ID law, filed a motion Thursday supporting the latest version of the law. After nearly a decade of raising alarm about alleged vote fraud, Kobach, a leading advocate of tough voter requirements, said it's heartening to have the muscle of a federal commission and the Justice Department tackling the issue.
But it is the states, where Republican-controlled legislatures are using more sophisticated tactics than they have previously, that are poised to have the most immediate effect in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election.
With turnout in the United States already low — 55.7 percent of voting-age Americans cast ballots in 2016 — critics say voter ID legislation disproportionately affects minorities, low-income Americans and younger voters. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has estimated that as many as 11 percent of Americans — 21 million of them voting age by 2000 Census data — were without photo IDs, while 4.5 million more have IDs that may not reflect their current names or addresses.
Some studies have found that ID laws depress turnout: One study that controlled for outside effects found that they depressed turnout among both Republicans and Democrats but hurt Democratic and minority turnout the most, while other analysis has noted that turnout can be influenced by everything from the weather to that year's batch of candidates, indicating that the effect of voter ID requirements is hard to measure.
Opponents say the real intention is not to guarantee the integrity of elections but to disenfranchise certain groups, those that often vote Democratic.
Texas and Missouri are requiring affidavits — legal documents that voters without the required ID must first sign to cast ballots. Any falsification is a felony.In Georgia, voter registration forms must exactly match other state data, which means a data error or a misplaced hyphen could derail voters. Iowa has mandated that voter rolls be purged of suspected non-citizens.
Proponents of such laws insist that they are not burdensome and are needed to ensure elections are on the up and up.
"Voter impersonation does occur. Does it occur on a large scale? No," said Arkansas state Sen. Bryan King, a Republican who wrote the state's 2013 voter ID law, which was later ruled unconstitutional. "These type of situations can be very small, but they can be very impactful. It can affect elections."
King led a successful effort this year to get a referendum on the 2018 ballot that will ask voters to amend the state Constitution to mandate photo IDs. He points to one of his own electoral wins, by 35 votes, as an example of how important such a requirement can be.
Arkansas state Sen. Joyce Elliott, a Democrat, disagrees. In an interview with NBC News, she called the state's voter identification law a "different kind of poll tax," the fees many Southern states charged to disenfranchise black voters decades ago.
"As a little girl, just seeing my family and the older people in my community, I used to hear them whispering about poll taxes. I saw how they thought and how intimidated they were about voting," Elliott, 66, said of her upbringing in Jim Crow-era Arkansas. "Whether we think we're repeating it or not ... we really are."
Elliot grew up in the civil rights movement — the Voting Rights Act, barring poll taxes and other barriers designed to keep minorities from voting, was passed when she was 14 — and she said she never thought she'd have to address the issue again as a politician.
"Those things are just tattooed in my lexicon in thinking about what's right and fair for people," she said. "It's immensely taxing to think that we'd go back to revisiting something I thought was fixed — fixed in our souls."New laws, new restrictions
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Missouri, or anywhere else, and yet voter fraud legislation has never been as popular as it is now.
At least 99 bills to restrict access to the polls have been introduced (or have been carried over from previous sessions) in 31 states this year; that's already more than double the number last year, according to data compiled by the Brennan Center. Voter ID — requiring voters to prove who they are with identifying documents — is the most common requirement, but changes to the voter registration process, such as asking people to prove their U.S. citizenship, are a close second.
"The problem is when a law prohibits a certain class of people" from voting because they lack "access or ability" to obtain one of the approved forms of identification, said Myrna Pérez, who leads voting rights efforts for the Brennan Center. "They offer our society very little public benefit, in that they only stop an incredibly rare type of voter fraud."
Surge of New Laws Passed or Implemented in 2017
New laws, after
New laws this year
A decade after court threw out a similar law, Missouri is
implementing a new law asking voters to present photo ID at
the polls; in certain circumstances, non-photo ID can also work.
After the state agreed to stop throwing out voter registrations
that don’t match other state data, Georgia passed a law
requiring the practice, with a 26-month window for citizens
to correct discrepancies.
The state updated its voter ID law to include tribal IDs after a
court said they were disenfranchising Native Americans
The state is implementing a law allowing the state to purge
The state passed a law asking voters for photo ID two years
after a similar law was thrown out, adding an option for
non-photo ID in certain circumstances.
After a court stopped Iowa’s secretary of state from purging
suspected noncitizens from voter rolls in 2011, a new law
requires the practice.
Legislators passed a new law after a court threw out a
previous version last year. There is now an option for
non-photo ID in certain circumstances.
The state passed a ballot measure last year to prevent groups
or individuals from helping collect and deliver absentee bal
Brennan Center for Justice, National Conference of State Legislatures, NBC News
Six state laws have passed this year, double the number in the previous two years, while two more are being implemented. Six of the eight came after courts stepped in to stop past efforts.
A few examples: A decade after Missouri's highest court threw out a voter ID law, the state is implementing another. In North Dakota, after a court ruled last summer that a voter ID law was disenfranchising Native Americans, the Legislature added tribal IDs to the list of acceptable identification this year. Texas' Legislature approved a law this summer that it hopes will pass muster with the federal judge who said an earlier law was intentionally discriminatory.
In a new strategy to fend off legal challenges, some of the laws and bills working their way through state legislatures seek to shift the financial burden off voters — something Missouri models with its offer to pay for both photo IDs and underlying documents for voters who lack them — but they can also create other barriers that can be just as deterring, according to opponents.
The affidavits in Texas and Missouri carry criminal penalties if they're found to be inaccurate. In Missouri, the affidavit asks voters to swear their identities "under penalty of perjury." Anyone suspected of fraudulently using the form may be photographed by poll workers, as well. Conviction for filing a false form means a felony record in both Missouri and Texas, where it could mean up to two years in jail. In Missouri, it could also mean a loss of voting rights.
Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the nonprofit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who has been fighting Texas' attempts to institute photo ID for five years, said the intention of harshly worded affidavits is to intimidate. Texas' court-ordered use of an affidavit to vote in the last election caused confusion, he added. There were questions about whether someone who lost an ID could sign an affidavit — designed for those who do not have ID — in order to vote.
"It can only have the effect of diminishing the number of people who vote, make people a little scared or uncertain, particularly when they have to sign something in order to vote," he said.
Meanwhile, several states in which election laws have run afoul of the courts have come up with another new way to gird their latest efforts against legal challenges: amending their state constitutions to mandate voter ID. In lieu of evidence that voter fraud threatens elections, a constitutional call for photo ID at the polls sturdies their legal footing. Advocates say this makes the laws harder to fight.
Missouri's voter ID law is supported by a constitutional amendment; 63 percent of voters approved it in November. Ashcroft told voters that the constitutional amendment was fundamental to the state's reinstating a photo ID law after the state's Supreme Court had ruled it unconstitutional in 2006.
Arkansas lawmakers passed a bill this year that will ask voters to approve a voter identification amendment in 2018, and Oklahoma and Nebraska are weighing similar measures.
"Previous attempts were sort of stymied by that lack of requirement in the constitution," Sophia Lakin, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said of Missouri's effort. The ACLU is backing a lawsuit against the state's implementation of the law.The campaign to fight back
Texas had the toughest voter ID law in the nation when U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who declared it discriminatory, struck it down ahead of the 2016 election. She later ruled that it was discriminatory in intent.
The state, which has more than a half-million registered voters without the required identification, hurried a new bill through the Legislature, arguing in June in front of the judge that they had fixed the previous law's problems. Voting rights advocates asked to have the law, which they say is rooted in the framework of the original bill, thrown out. They also called on the judge to subject any new election laws to federal pre-clearance, the mechanism that states with histories of discrimination had been subject to before the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on the Voting Rights Act.
The suit, which is continuing, is one of 15 major lawsuits pending in 11 states, according to the Brennan Center. Opponents of additional voting requirements say that in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision — which gutted much of the federal government's ability to enforce the Voting Rights Act — there has been a frenzy of election changes and proposed legislation, forcing them to fight more suits in court than ever before, which can be costly and a drain on manpower.
"We've just seen local jurisdictions and the states enacting regulations and legislation that would not have survived under the Voting Rights Act," said Julie Houk, a lawyer for the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law monitoring Georgia's elections, citing a recent proposal to shutter 17 polling places.
"It's become very sophisticated. It's just a matter of whether courts are going to let jurisdictions get away with it," she added.
The Supreme Court recently refused to reinstate a North Carolina voter ID law that a lower court overruled as discriminatory, and it has agreed to hear a case on Ohio's voter roll purge, as well as another on alleged Wisconsin gerrymandering, in its fall session. Those rulings could set major legal precedents on voting rights.The hunt for fraud
Despite the recent flurry of activity, talk of voter fraud and efforts to combat it are nearly two decades old. For Ashcroft, it's also a family affair.
His father, John Ashcroft, led the first national search for fraudulent voters as President George W. Bush's attorney general. John Ashcroft's Justice Department found little evidence of it after five years of hunting, yet the federal government is at it again.
Trump, who has claimed without evidence that as many as 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, created a voter integrity commission in the spring and tapped Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach, one of his informal immigration advisers and an Ashcroft family friend, as co-chairmen.
Kobach, who is running for governor of Kansas in 2018, said he believes illegal voting by non-citizens is a "bigger problem" than current evidence suggests.
"A priority of the commission will be to make public any that is discovered and uncovered through having hearings, asking states to provide what data they have, and federal agencies," he said. "We just don't have the facts."
After Kobach, on behalf of the voter fraud commission, asked the nation's secretaries of state for data on their voter rolls, many protested, citing concerns over privacy and how such data will be used.
The Brennan Center points to Kobach's own 2013 review (since taken offline) of 84 million votes cast in 22 states, where he found just 14 instances of fraud sent on to prosecutors, according to contemporaneous reporting.
Meanwhile, a large number of academic reviews disproves widespread voter impersonation. A researcher at Loyola University in Los Angeles reviewed a billion ballots and found 31 cases of voter impersonation, while an Arizona State University study found 10 cases in a review of a decade of ballots. Government investigations have similarly found few cases to prosecute, with just a handful of convictions nationwide. In rulings against state voter ID laws, courts have routinely cited a lack of evidence.
Back in Marshall, Missouri, Mary Williams, 67, the African-American pastor of Salem Evangelical Church, is worried that the law will disenfranchise her friends and neighbors.
Standing in the community center after Ashcroft's voter education event, she remarked that it's already hard enough to vote where she lives. There used to be four polling places, but now there's one. There are no sidewalks, and there is no public transportation.
"It means that less people in general are voting," she said. "The whole photo ID thing is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist."
America at the Dawn of Darkness
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
“You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France.” Sarah Palin October 24, 2008
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Donald Trump November 6, 2012.
During the period between 1685 – 1815 Western thought, culture, science, philosophy, society and politics were forever changed. This period was known as The Enlightenment. From this period came the ideas of individual freedom, inalienable rights (those given to humans by God) and equality for all. It is reflected in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” During this period, the ideas of the divinity of monarchies and the traditional hierarchical political and social orders protected by the Church, were overthrown and replaced with the idea of governments being “…instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Human reason carried the day. Books were published and a great scientific revolution took hold, leading the world into the Industrial Revolution.
That was then. Today, America’s political landscape makes one wonder how far has America strayed from the values it gleaned from the Enlightenment Period? With the selection of Donald Trump as President, one must seriously ask if America is at the Dawn of Darkness. Will historians note this as an era where ultra-conservatives deny the accepted science of global warming or climate change, purely for political benefit? How will this period of coordinated attacks on honest journalism be viewed through the lens of history? Will the creation of “alternative truths”, designed to weaponize false narratives that create smokescreens for ultra-conservatives to pass legislation undermining the fundamental elements of American Democracy, be viewed as the beginning of the end of Enlightenment in this country?
There are many examples that can be identified as important indicators of America’s drift away from its stated precepts. In 2008 Republicans and Fox News characterized President Obama as a Harvard elitist that couldn’t identify with regular people. This opened the door for the rise of Sarah Palin as a candidate and clear example of a race to the bottom or the tip of the spear of anti-intellectualism. In a 2008 interview, then CBS News anchor Katie Couric asked Republican VP nominee Palin what newspapers and magazines Palin read regularly. Palin's response -- "a vast variety of sources". Then governor Palin’s inability to even name her hometown paper, the Wasilla Frontiersman was passed off by conservatives as acceptable for a potential Vice President of the United States. Conservatives accused Couric of “gotcha’ journalism”. Even worse, having been effected by Republicans labeling them “liberal media”, many in mainstream new outlets accepted this foolish premise; even questioning Couric’s credibility as a journalist.
Palin later tried to represent herself as a fiscal conservative by attacking, “Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France.” The problem here is her lack of knowledge about the 1933 Nobel Prize winning work of Thomas Hunt Morgan and how genes are passed on by way of chromosomes. His research has been essential to the study of autism. As a mother of a child with autism, Palin should have been better informed but was given a pass as intellectualism suddenly became devalued as a prerequisite for to hold the highest offices in the land.
Donald Trump (endorsed by Palin) continues to receive the same preferential treatment. During the campaign, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump questions about foreign policy and Middle-East politics and “Quds Forces” (Trump confused Quds Forces with the Kurds). Trump blamed Hewitt for “gotcha’ journalism”. House Speaker Ryan has chosen to give President Trump a pass for his ignorance and inability to govern by saying, Trump is “new at this, new to government”.
Republicans have lied for seven years about the ACA. They now have a Republican president, House and Senate and cannot even pass acceptable legislation out of their party. According to the CBO, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s revised Senate bill would remove an estimated 49 million people off the insurance rolls by 2026. The CBO's estimates a 280% increase in insurance premiums for elderly, low-income people over the next decade under the Senate Republicans' version. Finally, according to CNBC, “About 45 percent of the benefits from the Republican health-care bill's tax cuts will go to households making $875,000 or more…” The Republican’s plan is a tax cut disguised as health care reform.
Despite these realities, Republicans continue to lie. They are trying to sell this legislation to the American electorate because they are more concerned about “keeping a promise” to overturn “ObamaCare” (their pejorative) than providing substantive health insurance reform to the American people.
The First Amendment protects the media and free speech because the framers of the Constitution understood that a free press is the cornerstone of democracy. Trump attacks the media by calling reporters who expose his ignorance and lies “dishonest”. His spokesperson Kelly Ann Conway introduced the idea of “alternative facts” into our lexicon while her boss, Trump, introduced “fake news”. These baseless attacks on the media are dangerous. Attacking the media with baseless charges and continuing to articulate a narrative that allows people to dismiss realities that they find inconvenient, turns real journalism into public relations ala Edward Bernays and/or propaganda ala Joseph Goebbels. It’s a free and open media that makes democracy possible.
Trump’s ideological guru or “chief strategist” is Steve Bannon. According to Bannon’s comments at the Human Dignity Institutes 2014 Vatican conference as reported by Buzz Feed, “I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis… it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West in our beliefs.” He believes that hundreds of years from now, people will look back at this time as “almost a new Dark Age”.
Bannon’s new “Dark Age” is not due to a crisis in the Judeo-Christian West. Bannon’s new “Dark Age” is a result of his stated objective to “deconstruct” the “administrative state”. He is determined to allow capitalism to flourish by undermining democracy and eliminating the government’s ability to influence, control or protect the interests of the American people through its power to regulate business.
Trump and his henchmen are taking us backwards. They are substituting lies for truth by labeling those who challenge them as “the lying media”, “fake”, while calling his machinations “alternatively factual”. They are denigrating democracy by lying about “voter fraud” and implementing a fraudulent panel to investigate it. His panel has asked states to provide sensitive and detailed voter information as a pretext to validate his unsubstantiated claims. He is replacing national interests with corporate interests by proposing to cut much needed social programs by hundreds of billions of dollars while feeding the military industrial complex with a 10 percent increase in military spending.
Trump is cloaking White Nationalism with the Back the Blue Act of 2017 by calling it substantive crime policy. Trump and the Republicans are enhancing the racist and repressive forces of the police state. Per the Washington Post, they are creating new federal crimes, imposing federal police over the will of local officials and voters and shielding police officers from virtually any civil liability, even in cases of egregious misconduct.
Unlike the period from which The Enlightenment arose, the Dawn of Darkness won’t be known as a time where monarchs regained power. If Trump and the ultra-conservatives get their way, the “divine” of this age will be the rich, filling their coffers at the publics expense through neo-liberal policies with scant opportunity for movement between the socioeconomic classes.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: [email protected] www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com
© 2017 InfoWave Communications, LLC
The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Senate Republicans’ ACA “repeal-and-replace” bill found that, thanks to reduced subsidies for premiums and high cost-sharing, “few low-income people would purchase any plan.” The newly uninsured would include most of the 15 million enrolled in Medicaid through the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, which the Republican bill effectively ends.
Why would the bill’s creators offer the poor and near-poor health plans on terms that are patently unaffordable? A clue can be found in a lawsuit Republicans have pursued that’s gone a long way toward destabilizing the current ACA Marketplace. That suit provides a clue that high cost-sharing for consumers is a feature, not a bug in Republican healthcare plans.
In 2014, House Republicans challenged in court the Obama’s administration’s authority to pay for Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies to low-income enrollees in the ACA Marketplace. One might wonder: What public policy goal could cutting off funding for those subsidies possibly fulfill?
On one level, Republicans simply wanted to hobble the ACA Marketplace by any means available. The opportunity was there, thanks to a drafting error by the ACA’s creators – who budgeted for the subsidies, and mandated that insurers provide them to those whose incomes qualified them, but left it to Congress to appropriate the annual funds to reimburse the insurers.
The suit has enabled President Trump to sabotage the Marketplace, since it’s up to Trump whether to continue to fight in court for his right to keep paying the subsidies, or to push his party in Congress to appropriate the money. Insurers, who are obligated to provide CSR subsidies to qualifying enrollees whether the federal government pays them or not, have directly attributed the bulk of their requested steep premium hikes this year to uncertainty over CSR payment. Republicans’ legal Hail Mary was thus a wild success – if your idea of success is to render healthcare more expensive for millions, and unaffordable for many.‘Skin in the game’ – or a pound of flesh
The “People’s Sheriff” Is Headed to D.C.
By Troy Sparks
T.B.P.N. Contributing writer
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is headed to Washington, D.C. to take a job as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He’s often referred to by conservative groups as the “People’s Sheriff.”
He will soon leave all the criticism behind that he has received in Wisconsin for his controversial opinions and neglecting his duties as the county’s Top Cop, including a public account of four deaths at a downtown jail that he oversees.
This job comes at the right time for him to escape the backlash of the black and Latino groups that he attacked on social media and on the radio as well as his podcast. So far, there has not been a formal announcement of his appointment but if Clarke says he got the job, then he got the job.
All that hard work for being the soldier in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has paid off for Clarke and he was rewarded for his time and effort while not giving two hoots about fulfilling his duties as the sheriff. He traveled the country and the world and racked in tons of money and gifts from conservative groups along the way. Good for the sheriff.
Meanwhile, four people died in the downtown county jail and he avoided facing questions of what happened and why did it happened. He tried to control the local media and the public by commenting to Facebook and Twitter about things that got under the skin of anyone he chose to offend.
An inmate flooded his jail cell and had his water supply shut off for about a week and slept on the cold jail floor with no mattress. Jail guards ignored pleas from inmates in nearby cells to turn the water back on. The water supply wasn’t restored and the inmate died of dehydration in his cell.
County jail guards were summoned to court recently to explain what happened. The lieutenant of the jail gave the order to shut the water off in the inmate’s cell but it wasn’t written in the log book and jail investigators didn’t have access to the surveillance video because that portion was recorded over.
Jail staff involved in that death may not face any criminal charges and Clarke won’t fire anybody because perhaps in his mind he considers the case closed and that inmate is dead. He didn’t care about the three other deaths in his jail either in which two of them were suicides.
He chewed out the county’s medical examiner on the phone for speaking out about the jail deaths. The examiner said Clarke yelled at him for almost 30 minutes like he was a little kid.
The inmate who died of dehydration had some mental health issues and was sent to jail for bringing a gun into a casino and firing it. Hours before the casino incident, he shot someone who he thought was trying to steal his car near his home.
After the inmate death was reported, all Clarke would say was that the man shot at someone in a casino and that’s why he ended up at his jail. Why should he care anyways since he’s going off to greener pastures?
He didn’t show up and stand in solidarity during the civil unrest last summer near a Milwaukee County park or send his deputies to assist in crowd control but he had a news conference at another county building on the first day of the unrest to criticize the City of Milwaukee police chief and mayor Tom Barrett’s handling of the situation. He supported Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to bring in the National Guard if necessary to restore order.
The sheriff doesn’t have any support from most people in the black community, which included community leaders, neighbors, clergy and elected officials. Saying that black people are uneducated and sell drugs because they are too lazy to work and voicing his support in rounding up illegal Hispanics living in Milwaukee County and deporting them are examples of how Clarke are irritating those groups.
Angry people asked Walker to remove Clarke from office but Walker refused to do that. He’s still waiting for that resignation letter from the sheriff – if Clarke doesn’t change his mind – so he can appoint a temporary sheriff to step in and serve the remaining term of Clarke until voters elect a new sheriff next year.
After a long career as a police officer for the City of Milwaukee and rising to the rank of commanding officer in the intelligence division, Clarke was appointed sheriff in 2002 by interim Gov. ScottMcCallum. Clarke ran as a Democrat each time in a non-partisan office and was re-elected four times. He identifies himself as a conservative.
Now Clarke can be like Houdini and do a disappearing act as he leaves the responsibility of playing Sheriff in Name Only and be one of President Trumps puppets.
We won’t miss you around here. You might as well embrace the opportunity to be one of Trump’s “whipping boy” because you might not have that job when we elect a new president in 2020. America won’t make that mistake again of re-electing Trump.
Friday afternoon I took my place on the final press call of for the Hillary Clinton’s campaign and campaign manager Robby Mook talked about a firewall that should help her win in Florida. Mook also felt that his over one million person strong ground game that will help his team win on Tuesday.
Mook knows the importance of both a firewall and the ground game, something that has been over two years in the making.
Both team Clinton and team Trump are focused on winning in Florida and North Carolina, two must-win states. The very well organized firewall has Mook, guardedly optimistic about both states.
“Our campaign has organized to leverage this early voting period to build a firewall in states,” said Mook, “and build out a lead that Donald Trump is incapable of overcoming.”
You have to look at campaigns in 2016 is more about the “Geek Squad,” that is all about data and creating firewalls to win elections. The difference between Hillary Clinton winning the election and Donald Trump wining could be about the data mining, ground game and firewall building that has been in the works since Barack Obama won the election in 2012.
Mook told me that he is encouraged by the more than 129% Hispanic voters who took part of realy voting in Florida. Hispanic turnout in early voting has almost tripled compared to 2008, according to CNN.
Florida’s 29 votes are among the most important that are up for grabs this year. According to the New York Times it will be virtually impossible for Trump to win the election if he loses Florida.
Mook also felt good that their number of Republicans educated women, maybe splitting their ballots. Voting for Clinton for president while then checking the box for Sen. Marco Rubio, the man who challenged Trump for the Republican nomination.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Democrats are ahead in vote totals, having cast 42% of absentee ballots compared with 32% for Republicans, according to the state’s data. Clinton campaign director of states Marlon Marshall said that early vote totals were up 16% overall in the state.
In Nevada, Democrats have a lead in early voting as well, Marshall said. “Trump will need to win election day by 10 points at this point to overtake and win the state of Nevada,” he said.
The Clinton team understand that they are not going to leave anything to chance and that means hoping those early voting states have built firewalls to help along with Tuesday election push.