Thursday, May 22, 2014
Welcome to the fourth day of the second week of our experiment with an evening open thread with four suggested topics in the news. This is your place to comment, a place where off topic is on topic.
Please let us know if you like the idea. We’ll incorporate it as a regular feature, if you do.
Or suggest something else.
Last night, we considered innovative strategies to peacefully change the dreadful circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Tonight we return to take a look at the people who are destroying the Republican Party and the rest of the world, including themselves.
(1) Marco Rubio sets the pace. Here’s Amanda Marcotte of Alternet,
No longer content just to claim to be “skeptical” of scientific findings they find disagreeable, Republican politicians have moved on to a more alarming anti-science strategy: confuse the public about what science even is, claiming it’s just someone’s opinion and ignoring the importance of evidence.
Marco Rubio’s recent remarks about climate change epitomize this new era, with conservative politicians deciding that “science” is whatever they say it is. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there—including scientists—that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate,” Rubio told ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientist are portraying it,” he added.
By making climate change a matter of what he “believes” or “agrees with,” Rubio was implying that climate change is a matter of opinion and not of evidence or fact. There’s the old saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Conservatives have figured out a workaround: redefine the facts as opinions, and by golly, now you get to have your own facts!
(2) And then there’s Jody Hice, who wants to succeed Rep. Paul Broun. Tim Murphy of Mother Jones has the story,
In his seven years in Congress, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) distinguished himself by calling biology “lies straight from the pit of hell” and accusing President Barack Obama of establishing a secret national police force to push a Marxist dictatorship. But the man who may replace Broun in Washington could outdo him.
In a 2012 book, that candidate—pastor and talk radio host Jody Hice—alleges the gay community has a secret plot to recruit and sodomize children. In It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America, Hice also asserts that supporters of abortion rights are worse than Hitler and compares gay relationships to bestiality and incest. He proposes that Muslims be stripped of their First Amendment rights.
Brilliant, just brilliant!
(3) And then there’s the Republican strategy to deny hundreds of thousands of people the right to vote by requiring voters to produce a valid photo ID before they can vote. They claim such measures are necessary to prevent thousands upon thousands of illegal immigrants from voting, despite the absence of any evidence that that is happening.
Here is just one more of the hundreds of thousands of reasons that have led the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit against Texas Republicans’ polling place photo ID restriction law.
The same law had been previously blocked by the DOJ and again by a federal court under the federal Voting Rights Act, after the state’s own data showed the law discriminated against racial minorities and others, while failing to deter actual voter fraud in the state.
But, literally minutes after SCOTUS gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act last summer, the section that was used to strike down the law previously, Texas Republicans announced their intention to reenact the law that, of course, they knew to be discriminatory.
As the Waco Tribune reports, 92-year old Ruby Barber has tried, but has so far failed, to obtain one of those so-called “free” photo IDs from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), now that one is required for her to cast her legal vote this year, as she has for decades, until now, without a problem.
Barber’s story is heartbreaking and maddening but, unfortunately, probably not entirely rare. The DOJ estimated, based on the state’s supplied data when the federal agency blocked the law in 2012, “the total number of registered voters [in Texas] who lack a driver’s license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955.”
Barber’s driver’s license expired in 2010 and she’s now having difficulty locating “her nearly century-old birth certificate that she’d need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.” As the New York Daily News reports, the details of Barber’s story and her fight to try and cast her vote are simply absurd.
A frail 92-year-old woman is the latest victim of new voter identification laws sweeping across the U.S.
Ruby Barber, a senior citizen in the small town of Bellmead, Texas, has been unable to vote because she can’t find her nearly century-old birth certificate that she’d need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law.
“I’m sure (my birth) was never reported because I was born in a farmhouse with a coal oil lamp,” Barber, 92, told the Waco (Texas) Tribune. “Didn’t have a doctor, just a neighbor woman come in and (delivered) me.”
Barber visited the state’s Department of Public Safety office last week to request the newly required election identification certificate, but was declined after she didn’t have a birth certificate.
Under Texas’s new strict voter ID law, enacted in June 2013, all voters must show one of six forms of valid photo identification – including a driver’s license, a passport, a military ID or concealed gun permit – to be able to vote.
Those who lack a valid photo ID, can apply for an election identification certificate (EIC) – a process that requires a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship.
Barber, unfortunately, no longer has any of the documents she’d need to obtain a ballot.
According to the Tribune, her driver’s license expired in 2010 and her marriage license was lost in a 1992 house fire.
She took her Medicare card, Social Security card and expired driver’s license to state officials when she sought her EIC, but agency staff insisted she needed to provide a birth certificate.
“I’ve voted all my life, and not to be able to vote, it just breaks my heart,” Barber said of the possibility that she may not able to vote in this year’s Texas gubernatorial election – expected to be a close race between Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis.
Fortunately, she has been issued a photo ID and will be able to vote. The Waco Tribune subsequently reported,
Despite the lack of a birth certificate, the state was able to verify Barber’s citizenship by finding her birthday in a U.S. census taken in the 1940s, [Barber’s son, Jimmy] Denton said. She also showed her Social Security card, two utility bills and her Medicare card.
Without the publicity, she never would have gotten her ID. She is the exception rather than the rule.
(4) Madame Guillotine is a potential solution that has conservatives worried. Here is Lynn Stuart Parramore of Alternet,
The oligarchs hope that Americans will be so tired, so pumped full of Xanax, so terrified, that they will remain in their places. They hope that we will watch the rich cavorting on reality shows and set ourselves to climbing the economic ladder instead of seeing that the rungs have been kicked away.
Of course, there is a very easy way for the rich to remain rich and alleviate their nightmares of the guillotine. That is simply to allow their unearned wealth to be taxed at a reasonable rate. Voila! No more fear of angry mobs.
Or they can wait for some less pleasant alternative, like a revolution. This theme, which once timidly hid behind the scenes, has lately burst onto cultural center stage. The cover of the current issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, dedicated to the topic, “ Revolutions,” features five crossed swords. Its contents outline various periods in history when ordinary folks had had enough, such as “The People’s Patience is Not Endless,” a pamphlet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, in December 1961.
Very interesting reading for the 1 percent.