Archive for Voter Rights

Do You Know What Women Want And Deserve?

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What women want

Picking up where Laffy left off yesterday in her great post Fed Up Dems...

If I knew what women want, I'd be a kazillionaire because I'd write a book about it and rake in the dough. The truth is I have no idea what women want. I know this because I'm married to a wonderful woman. And just when I think I've got it figured out, I'm told I'm wrong, asked what was I possibly thinking and then met with a silent shake of the head. My male, married buddies tell me I'm lucky that it's just a silent shake of the head.

So building on a platform of I'm no expert, I do know some things. I know that women want and deserve the right to self-determination, just like the guys. They don't want to be treated differently -- just fairly. And I don't have any argument against that.

But the Republicans do. Their mostly white, older men composite seems to feel that women are inferior mentally and emotionally, that they're not capable of rational decisions -- even with it comes to their own bodies and health issues. More of them think along the legitimate rape lines than in rational scientific reasoning. And those genteel, Southern Gentlemen who demurely dismiss women with their cloak of protecting them from themselves, "those sweet little souls. They are so lovely, aren't they -- like a field of violets or Lady Slippers, swaying in a warm, summer's night." And all the while the Lindsay Grahams spew their charming tripe, their mind is busy with the melodic refrains of "Dixie."

In the wake of Roe v Wade, individual states, feeling the decision of the SCOTUS was wrong, have set out to correct this injustice. They've taken a clearly decided issue and are chipping away at the rights determined by the highest court in our land. That's the conservative, right-wing way.

Finally, after assault on assault at the state's level, accelerated in every red state with a Republican-led legislation, women's rights and protections are being circumvented or even stricken. This has got to stop.

How?

Kraken

Well, the slow moving but well-intentioned Democrats in Congress have finally had enough. They've gone from being a sleeping giant to a forceful vociferous champion of women.  Release the Kraken-- Sen. Richard Blumenthal.  HuffPo reports:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will introduce the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013, joined by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). The bill would prohibit states from passing so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which impose strict and cost-prohibitive building standards on abortion clinics, require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds, and create other barriers to abortion access.

Looks like good ol' Connecticut Senator Blumenthal's gonna be gettin' sometin' sometin'  from Mrs. Senator B when he goes home on his next break. And you know what, he deserves it. My only criticism is why this took so long. The last pro-active abortion legislation to pass through the Senate was in 1994, with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. That made it a federal crime to block or harass patients or doctors who entered or exited abortion clinics.

When Republicans don't like something, they propose a bill and there's immediate discussion, press coverage and oftentimes votes. In the case of Obamacare, 42 votes. Of course that's the House and they're led by government shutdown fever and Republican leader, Speaker John Blunder.

Blumenthal's bill wouldn't automatically overturn states' existing anti-abortion laws, but because federal law trumps state law, it would provide a means to challenge them in court. The bill would direct judges to consider certain factors in determining whether a restriction is legal, such as whether it interferes with a doctor's good-faith medical judgment, or whether it's likely to interfere with or delay women's access to abortion.

This bill will surely pass the Senate. In the House, it'll probably never even come to a vote. But when the 2014 elections come around, you can add that to the Democrats long list of things the Republicans did -- stopping immigration reform, shutting down the government, restricting women's rights, repressing voters rights, obstructing qualified presidential appointees to the bench, pushing for war with Iran, and so many others. I'll need another blog just to continue the list. And like my wife, I make lists.

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Feed The Homeless, Get Arrested. Be Homeless And Go To Jail.

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Homeless

Wouldn't it be great to be homeless? Think about it. Seriously think about it. No bills to pay. No property taxes. You get to change your location all the time, so if you bore easily, you're going to be somewhere else tomorrow anyway. Oh, and think of not having to worry about vacuuming or doing laundry. The great outdoors is now your home.

While you're enjoying the outdoor life, you can can be singing that old standard by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson:

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,

Gone are the hard decisions like where are we going to spend our next vacation, or if we should buy a hybrid or a gas car when we trade in the SUV. Ah, and to never have to worry again about, "Should we go for Chinese tonight, or Italian?" If you're a homeless dumpster diver, the world of eating is your oyster.  The stale, the spoiled and the rancid are at your fingertips. God, what a wonderful life, huh?

North-South Carolina

Dream it, just don't live it if you're in North or South Carolina. Seems voter registration isn't the only thing the Carolinas have on their mind today. HuffPo, in a story on homeless in North and South Carolina draws attention to how little some cities and locals think about the plight of their desperate neighbors.

Love Wins Ministries, a Raleigh, N.C. church, has handed out sausage biscuits and coffee to the city's homeless for the last six years. But on Saturday, Raleigh police reportedly told members that they'd face arrest under a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city's parks without a permit, according to WTVD.

"When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. 'I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail,'" member Hugh Hollowell said, according to the church's website.

Six years this ministry has been handing out food. Now, suddenly the police stop them. It seems these are compassionate people who are trying to help, but like feeding the pigeons in the park, it's a bad idea. They'll just keep coming back and hover around you until you feed them more peanuts of torn slices of stale bread. And with them come diseases -- after all, pigeons are called rats with wings

So it's understandable that the Tar Heels are cracking down on human rats -- the homeless. Don't dare feed them or they'll flourish and multiply.

Well, that's North Carolina. The Tar Heels are struggling with an identity crisis. The can be forgiven for their "Don't feed the animals" policy. They've got bigger fish to fry. Voter suppression. But certainly things are different with their Siamese twin in South Carolina.

They are. Governor Nikki Haley and her band of angels show more compassion.

In South Carolina, the city of Columbia council members recently voted unanimously to criminalize homelessness, giving homeless the option to either relocate or face being arrested.

Oopsy. Seems they've now criminalized being homeless. Boy, the competition between North and South Carolina is heating up. I hear Governor Haley is stepping up legislation for public beheadings if you're found guilty of a second violation of homelessness. I'm not kidding (well only half so). Nothing like shame, guilt and a spectacle to deter homelessness.

What's wrong with these two states, when you're arrested in one for helping the destitute and jailed for being destitute in the other?

If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day,
I'd make a wish and here's what I'd say:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.

Maybe that last line should be nothing could be finer than to be out of Carolina in the morning. Whatcha think?

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Voter Fairness Must Include Forgiveness

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Mercedies Harris

I bet it must be a bitch to have to live with the tag 'felon' for the rest of your life. I think the classification of what constitutes a felony is quite vast, and something maybe need to be adjusted. Or maybe our classifications of crimes needs an overhaul. As an example. Murder, rape, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, easily those are felonies.

Possession of marijuana, tax evasion, possessing stolen property, even viewing of child pornography are all bad. They're all wrong. But do your penance, do your time and when you get out, you should be free to continue living. These are generally non-violent crimes. Yet commit any of these and in some states you're prohibited from voting. Yup, that's right. You're no longer allowed to help chose who represents you. Why? And if you can answer that, then question why some states allow it, and others don't. Some have a waiting period and some allow you to vote immediately.

Here is the case of Mercedies Harris, as covered The American Prospect this week.

Mercedies Harris was 27 in 1990, when he was arrested for drug possession and distribution in Fairfax, Virginia. Harris had served in the Marines, but the death of his brother in 1986—killed by a hit-and-run driver—sent him down a familiar path. “I was angry and I couldn’t find the guy who did it,” Harris says. “I got into drugs to find a way to medicate myself.”

He did his time and then was released. Non-violent offense. But he's a felon. Admitting his past indiscretion and his criminal conviction, he found it hard to find housing, a job, even getting a drivers license.

But he found one obstacle that was especially difficult to overcome: He couldn't vote. Virginia is one of four states—along with Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky—that strip voting rights from felons for life for all felons.

Seven states—Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming—have lifetime bans for particular crimes or repeat felony offenders.

In Virginia alone, 450,000 residents are disenfranchised. In Florida, the total is an astonishing 1.5 million. (These and several other numbers in this article were gathered from the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.)

So this is actually large numbers we're talking about, and in just two states. By conservative estimate,

More than five million Americans are currently disenfranchised because of felony convictions.

This idea that a lifetime ban for felons to vote makes the U.S. the only country in the world to prohibit permanent voting disenfranchisement.

As I've said before, but we're not talking about a small effective pool of people. We're talking about your next door neighbor, your barber, your cab driver or you car mechanic. You trust them with your safety and your possessions. Can't we trust them with their vote?

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Leave It To Maddow

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Rachel Maddow

Can you stand two and a half minutes of cringe-worthy?

Yesterday Rachel M spent the day in North Carolina, reporting on the great GOP assault on voter's rights. Seems this well orchestrated attack has just finished lining up all of it's ducks in a row and they're about to bring down the assault. If ever there was a case of the crazies running the asylum, this is it. Tea-party insanity on the loose. If the GOP tea party were a bag of nuts, they'd all roll downhill to the lowest spot on the continent. Seems the Tar Heels state has taken that mantle.

Rachel Maddow has been covering the Republican master plan to take over the human race by controlling who and when we get to vote. North Carolina isn't the first state to make a move to create voter suppression, but the Tar Heels have made an art of it. This is a plot to take over our thinking, our lives, our freedoms, not just our votes. Make no mistake about that. The word "conspiracy" was created for occasions such as these.

No one does a better job of explaining it, so  here's Rachel, in case you missed her:

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