To Win, Dems Have to Revisit Voting Rights Act

I was never under the illusion that the Electoral College would save us from Dear Leader Trump. Much of our reaction as Dems has been a sort of knee jerk one. The simple truth that none of us can prevent is that he will become our 45th president. That is not to say we should just give up. There are serious issues being raised with his presidency even before he takes the oath that must be addressed. He will be impeachable due to his violation of the Emoluments Clause, his ties to foreign governments, the Russians hacking in order to assure him the presidency, etc. All need to be discussed at length. After all, Trump, like any other elected official, should be held accountable and scrutinized if he wants to hold the highest office in the land.

But none of those investigations will occur with this Republican held Congress. Modern day Republicans have proven time and again that they care little about America nor about working with the other party to make this country “great.” Their interests lie in obstructionist politics and are about power, money and control. But if Democrats want to start winning, and so far I’ve seen little evidence of this, they have to start working the long game. They have to start figuring out how to win elections. Republicans have been playing this long game since Reagan. Trump’s election is the result of 30 plus years of plotting, organizing and executing by groups like the Heritage Foundation and not some fly by night op.

One of the main areas Democrats need to work on is voting rights. Without it, they will always be pushing that boulder uphill. A reminder:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the

United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” 1

Seems fairly straight forward to me, but racist legislatures being the jerks that they are, don’t think so. Oddly enough, these men were Democrats who were angry at the Lincoln Republicans for freeing slaves. (Yes, I admit that in the beginning Republicans were on the side of civil rights, but things have changed.) Once this Amendment was passed in 1870, they went to work establishing the Jim Crow laws. These laws, predominantly used in Southern states, implemented not only the “separate but equal” laws but voting restictions that were not only selectively enforced, but were biased against minorities. To vote, African Americans were required to pass literacy tests, prove they paid their taxes, not been in prison, etc. If that wasn’t enough, legislatures even purged voter rolls of minorities. A wee bit too familiar eh?

Yoichi Okamoto

Thanks to President Johnson, the Voter Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end all such minority voter disenfranchisement. Knowing that these racist state legislatures would continue to try and pass such laws, Section 5 stated that any proposed voting law would have to be approved by the Department of Justice before implemented. That didn’t stop them from trying though. Even as the parties switched sides, Democrats becoming more inclusive and championing minority rights while Republicans became more exclusive, Southern state legislatures and local governments continued to challenge the law.

In 2013, they finally won with Shelby v. Holder; a case that was not won in U.S. District or Appellant Courts but solely in the Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin. The court held that though Section 5’s preclearance was constitutional, the manner in which the federal government determined which states would be required to meet the standard, Section 4, was not. According to Chief Justice Roberts:

“There is no denying, however, that the conditions that originally justified these

measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

He based his decision on the most current Census Bureau statistics stating that African American voter turnout was larger in 5 out of the 6 states affected. In other words, Blacks were no longer afraid to vote, and legislatures were no longer racist.2

Really.

Within two hours of the court’s decision, Texas passed their first voter restriction, the voter ID requirement. Other states followed. It just so happened that all the states that the federal government had deemed in the past to be too racist to be trusted in regards to voters’ rights started working on their own voter restriction laws under the guise of protecting elections from voter fraud. Not one state has ever produced evidence of sufficient voter fraud to effect an election. Yet these states have passed a multitude of laws regarding who can and cannot vote: Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina….get the picture?

Voter ID is the most common restriction. The problem with this law is that not everyone can afford to pay for an ID. To deny someone their right to vote because of money is akin to the poll tax laws under Jim Crow. To combat this, some of these states have made it free. Fair enough, problem solved you say? Not so fast. These states then turned around and began closing their departments that issue said IDs and polling sites saying that it was in an effort to save money. Actually, it is just another way to keep minorities from voting. In state after state, the closures occurred in only districts with high Black or Hispanic populations, not in predominately white districts. Not only did voters have to travel as far as 250 miles (Texas) to obtain said ID, they then had to travel to other districts just to find their assigned polling stations.

Another common tactic used by these Republican legislatures is redistricting. This is occurring in both state and local governments. As an example, instead of having 10 districts with mixed populations, they are redrawn so that 8 or 9 of the districts contain majority whites and the remaining are Black or Hispanic. This leaves minority communities with less representation by diluting their vote. Some legislatures have even further divided white communities so as to give them more representatives on local councils and state legislatures.

Other tricks include changing polling sites at the last minute without notifying voters, moving elections from November to July, holding minority polling sites in police stations, eliminating same day registration and Sunday voting and only opening ID issuing offices one day a month. All of these have been statistically proven to reduce minority turn out. They have even changed the dates of elections just as was done under the Jim Crow laws.

As it stands now, the federal government is being required to challenge each and every law passed in court using valuable time and money to fight the same fight over and over. It’s the same plan Republicans use in regards to abortion: overwhelm the opposition in court battles. Meanwhile, the laws will stand until the cases work their way back through the courts only to end up with the same result. North Carolina’s recent debacle with their voter restriction laws is a prime example. North Carolina Republicans knew these laws were racist and didn’t even try to hide the fact before the court. The goal was simply to tie Democrats up in court and suppress their vote until after the 2016 election.

Democrats have more than enough ammunition to prove Justice Roberts wrong. Unfortunately, there is still one party willing to violate the 15th Amendment to control legislatures. There is no doubt that this is a blatantly racist tactic used by Republicans to gain control over local, state and federal elections. Republicans can and will continually challenge these laws. Democrats need to continually challenge these voter restriction laws and work to get Shelby v. Holder overturned no matter the costs. It does not matter if they lose. They must take a stand. If not, we will become a party of one.

This article was written in reference to: “History of the VRA,” The Leadership Conference, retrieved Dec. 20, 21016, www.civilrights.org.

Don the Con

Donald Trump has been called a narcissist and a sociopath. Though to be fair, I think one cannot exist without the other. But I confess, I’m no psychologist. I don’t even play one on TV. Not even on Twitter. I do however know a con man when I see one. Con men in fact have many characteristics of narcissists and sociopaths, but I’ll leave the scientific labeling to the experts.

There are many different types of con men. Different levels exist from the street con to the deluxe models like Bernie Madoff. It’s these higher-end types that take you for everything you’ve got. A $20 bet on a Three-card Monte game won’t do it for them. They want your savings, your business, your house. Everything. And yes, some want more. Only your undying support, your faith and your devotion will satisfy them.

In 2010, my wife and I met a con man that we shall refer to as Hans the Asshole. We owned a custom cabinet shop and were fortunate enough to make it through the recession mostly because we’d invested in machines. That is not to say we were fine. We were still hurting, still behind on all bills, still asking for extensions, but we were still there. And by then, our business had actually started to do well. It was the digging out of the giant hole that was the problem.

This, I have since learned, is when con men are most likely to strike. Contrary to logic, con men do not normally look to take advantage of you when you’ve got your shit together. They are looking for those who are swimming against the current or at least feel like they are. This is because you are more vulnerable when struggling, more apt to make bad judgements and bad decisions.

Hans moved into the business next to ours. One day he came over and asked us to cut a piece of wood for him seeing as how his machines had not yet arrived. Day after day he’d stand outside looking for that machine delivery. Then he’d walk over and talk about his frustrations. Frustrations that as small business owners, designers and high end cabinet makers we knew all too well. Pity is the first thing a con man will get from you. If he can get your pity, he can get almost anything.

We discussed design, cabinet making and the economy. He learned that we were college educated, artisans and gay. We learned he was from Germany, studied and built yachts and was now designing and making his own furniture. He was wealthy, his wife was a doctor, he had high end billionaire clients and work orders coming out his ears. He loved our work and complemented us constantly. He was liberal leaning like us and supported gay rights. What we learned about him was interesting and familiar…

What he learned about us was not so much interesting to him but more useful. While we thought we were getting to know him, he was studying us; cataloging our likes and dislikes. Eventually, he was in our shop every day borrowing machines or asking us about designs and uses of wood. It did not dawn on us that his machines never came, that his wife didn’t have her own transportation or that he had no pictures of his work. We’d been too busy staying afloat to notice. And when our boat began to sink, we didn’t notice because we were trying to catch our collective breath.

Then my wife had a nervous breakdown from the stress and ended up in the hospital. When I arrived, Hans and his wife were already sitting on the end her bed talking with her. Perhaps it was my law enforcement background or perhaps because I was raised by an extremely manipulative alcoholic mother, but it stunk to me and I took offense to them being there.  in days following while my wife rested, I began working longer and harder than I ever had in my life. Our business was making more than enough to get us righted. The only question was if the landlord would give us time.

She did, but only because Hans went to bat for us saying he needed our machines to make his product. If we went, so did he. This was not something we knew about at the time nor had we asked for him to do so. Another con man trick; you will feel obligated because they will do an act of kindness for you. Grateful nonetheless, he then asked us to make cabinetry for his house and even paid up front. We became so thankful that we wanted to allow him to use our machines whenever he needed and even built and finished many of his pieces no charge. We would set aside our jobs to get his done. But then things started to become lopsided. He was tearing up our machines and not fixing them. He started using wood and finishing products without replacing them. He left our shop in shambles. Eventually, the relationship turned bitter and we attempted to part ways since we had more than paid him back.

When you call a con out, prepare for a dirty fight, crotch kicks and all. His wife went on the internet and complained in fake reviews that we ripped them off. The reviews were removed when they kept changing the amount of their claim and when we provided documents proving otherwise. All save one that was; Angie’s List threatened us left and right but we never caved in. After all, none of this was true, and we were able to prove it. Hans the Asshole eventually threatened us with frivolous lawsuits, spit on our windows and screamed obscenities outside of our business day after day. He tried to get neighbors to bear false witness against us and even admitted to producing noxious fumes that would flow into our area for forty days in an attempt to ruin our business. No longer the gay rights supporter he would yell homophobic obscenities at us. Eventually we won a restraining order against him when he threatened to kill us.

We never talked to any neighbors about Hans. Gossiping wasn’t our game. It was his. Neighbors in the complex began asking us if it was true that we owed him money. The landlord told us that Hans had stated to her that we owed them so much money that we’d signed over the business to him. He’d been going around to anyone that would listen to him, telling lies. We weren’t interested in proving our innocence to neighbors who’d known us for fourteen plus years. If they didn’t know who were by then, they never would. We did attempt to warn them, but they wouldn’t or couldn’t listen.

Why did they believe Hans? Simple. He was conning them as well. They pitied him thinking we’d stolen his money. He promised them jobs, pretended to be like them. He could play any part well. If you were rich, he was. If you were a blue collar worker, he’d don a baseball cap so you thought he was like you. And because they would never do such things themselves, they couldn’t believe he would. They believed him because he had an accent, was a white male and his wife was a doctor. He even went so far as to have the landlord show him buildings to buy. Month after month, he would have them walk him through potential buildings only for them to be too small, too large, not this or that.

They had all spent hours upon hours working for him in hopes of getting more work before they realized he was a fraud. He took their work and refused to pay them. Then they understood. Then they figured him out. They demanded their money only for him to yell at them and threaten to sue them.  In the end, the landlord kicked him out for not paying rent. He threatened to sue her too if she came after him for payment. Like everyone else, she just wanted him gone.

That was his game. Have landlords show him sites, scout the neighbors for things he needed, figure out neighbors’ weaknesses and become whatever they needed him to be, use the neighbors with promises of jobs, threaten with lawsuits, ruin their names and reputations in hopes of taking over their businesses and then move somewhere else and start all over. He wasn’t a yacht builder, a designer, a wealthy connected businessman. His wife wasn’t even a doctor. Their house was paid for by her parents. Their debts paid by them as well. He had so many lawsuits against him there was no point is getting in line. Plus he liked to tie up your complaint in court and cost you more than it was worth. Even his so called jobs consisted of one job that he’d conned some rich guy into.

Hans the Asshole and Don are one in the same. When I watch Trump’s rallies, I see Hans. When he says he’s a winner, that is the con’s mantra. Winning means getting over on someone else whether it be tangible or not. Trump studies his supporters and then tells them what they want to hear, what they need to hear. You want Hillary locked up? Sure. You’re afraid of Islamic terrorists? I’ll take care of that. You want better paying jobs? Why not? Want big bankers and corporations out of government? Okay. Win. Win. Win.

By Gage Skidmore - https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore

By Gage Skidmore – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore

But like Hans, when you look at the details, there’s nothing there. There’s no plan. He never gave any plan to build a wall or to force companies to pay their employees better. There’s no plan to replace Obama Care. He cannot lock Hillary up when even the FBI Director says there was no crime. But that’s not what his supporters wanted to hear. That’s not what they wanted to believe. They were too wrapped up in their own problems to see him for what he was and still is.

Now comes the truth. They see him appointing the same bankers and corporate leaders as administrations before him did. He now admits he had no intention on locking Hillary up. He can’t even save their jobs without bribing the company owners with his own supporters tax money. He’s going to let Ryan take their social security and Medicare. He admitted they can’t build the wall. And now they are starting to understand.  Now they see. Trump is only Trump because of his daddy’s money. He’s lied about his wealth, his foreign business ties and his abilities. He’s a fraud. And if you confront him, just like Hans he will threaten you with legal action. Winning meant Trump winning the election and that was it.

But just like our neighbors, Trump supporters will not abandon their false hopes until it is too late. They will continue to explain away his contradictions, his lies until it affects them personally. They will be blind until it hits them in the face. When their bank accounts run dry and their businesses close, when they lose their job, insurance and homes, that is when they will turn on him. Let’s hope no other neighborhood offers him a safe haven when that time comes.

 

 

“When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” – Donald Trump

trump-1822121_640Will Congress look into this shit storm Trump has created? Will he will be investigated for his ties to Vladimir Putin? Will an investigation be conducted as to his knowledge of the Russian hacking? Will Congress demand to know if Russia’s goal was to influence the American vote for Trump?

If he’s a man of his word, then the answer is no. Perhaps he thinks he’s a man with impunity. Why else would someone make such a brazen comment?

But there are many other investigations of the Orange Menace required. His conflicts of interest concerning his foreign business associations need to be investigated. There is more than enough reason to believe that the very second he takes the oath, he will be in direct violation of the Emoluments Clause. Additionally, his finances need to be investigated because of his “yuge” debts to foreign banks. Is he appointing so many Goldman Sachs’ executives because he carries almost a billion dollars of debt with them? I don’t know, but that’s what some people are saying. I’m not saying that, but people are saying that.

If his quote above is true, then we have a lot more than Russians to worry about. If “they” will really “do whatever the hell” he wants, then there is no possible way America’s elected officials, both parties of both congressional houses, will ever investigate his ties to Russia. Why? Because he gave. Or even if they do, will his “giving” cause them to be biased towards him? Some are saying yes.

Like he said, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”

How much do you think it would take? How about $245,500 to current Senators and Representatives to both parties? Not enough you say. Fine. How about an additional $891,100 to their PACS? More? Would another $367,603 to parties make you uneasy? It should.

Will $1,504,203 be enough to buy Trump the presidency? We shall see. That’s the exact amount he and his children gave to current senators and republicans of both parties. This does NOT include any money given to PACS that are not required to report donor names, aka dark money. And his does NOT include money Trump gave to state and local politicians and PACS. If I were to include that, Trump’s total in political donations would be $4,248,931.73.

Let’s hope our leaders will do the right thing and not do whatever the hell Trump wants them to do.

Elected Leaders:

  1. Corey Booker (D-NJ) Senator – $20,400
  2. Alan David Brat (R-VA) Representative – $2,600
  3. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Senator – $2,000
  4. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) Representative – $3,000
  5. John Cornyn ( R-TX) Senator – $6,100
  6. Charlie Crist (D-FL) Representative – $6,900
  7. Steve Daines (R-MT) Senator – $1,000
  8. Ron Desantis (R-FL) Representative – $1,000
  9. Dan Donovan (R-NY) Representative – $11,400
  10. Richard Durbin (D-IL) Senator – $1,000
  11. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Senator – $9,950
  12. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) Representative – $1,000
  13. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) Representative – $2,000
  14. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Senator – $17,800
  15. Charles Grassley (R-IA) Senator – $5,200
  16. Frank Guinta (R-NH) Representative – $1,000
  17. Andrew Harris (R-MD) Representative – $1,000
  18. Dean Heller (R-NV) Senator – $4,500
  19. Jim Jordan (R-OH) Representative – $1,000
  20. Peter King (R-NY) Representative – $6,600
  21. Steve King (R-IA) Representative – $4,000
  22. Raul Labrador (R-ID) Representative – $1,000
  23. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) Representative – $7,250
  24. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Representative $5,500
  25. John McCain (R-AZ) Senator – $31,000
  26. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senator -$10,400
  27. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Senator – $3,000
  28. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) Representative – $1,000
  29. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Senator – $2,000
  30. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) Representative – $10,400
  31. Elanor Norton (D-D.C.) Delegate – $7,700
  32. David Perdue (R-GA) Senator – $2,000
  33. Charles Rangel (D-NY) Representative – $16,100
  34. Mike Rounds (R-SD) Senator – $2,000
  35. David Rouzer (R-NC) Representative – $1,000
  36. Edward Royce (R-CA) Representative – $2,500
  37. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) Representative – $1,000
  38. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Senator – $14,700
  39. Tim Scott (R-SC) Senator – $4,500
  40. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Senator – $2,000
  41. Bill Schuster (R-PA) Representative – $2,000
  42. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) Senator – $2,000
  43. Thom Tillis (R-NC) Senator – $2,000
  44. David Trott (R-MI) Representative – $1,000
  45. Ann Wagner (R-MO) Representative – $1,000
  46. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) Representative – $2,000

PACS:

  1. American Crossroads PAC – $50,000
  2. Americans for Republican Majority PAC – $1,000
  3. Building Our Bases PAC – $500
  4. Committee for Leadership and Progress PAC – $5,000
  5. Congressional Leadership Fund PAC – $100,000
  6. CORPAC – $1,000
  7. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – $67,550
  8. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – $77,000
  9. Florida Victory Fund – $2,000
  10. Freedom & Free Enterprise PAC – $1,000
  11. Grassroots Victory Fund – $500
  12. HUCK PAC – $2,500
  13. Hudson Valley Victory Fund – $500
  14. Jobs, Freedom, & Security PAC – $5,000
  15. John Bolton Super PAC – $5,000
  16. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership PAC – $60,000
  17. National Leadership PAC – $18,000
  18. National Republican Congressional Committee – $75,400
  19. National Republican Senatorial Committee – $197,600
  20. New Jersey First – $5,000
  21. New Jersey Senate 2006 – $1,000
  22. New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee – $10,000
  23. New York Salute 1998 PAC – $10,000
  24. Reform PAC – $1,000
  25. Republican National Committee – $161,050
  26. Searchlight Leadership Fund – $1,000
  27. Solutions America PAC – $6,500
  28. Straight Talk America PAC – $6,500
  29. Sunshine PAC – $500
  30. The Commonwealth PAC – $5,000
  31. USA Super PAC – $5,000
  32. Victory Fund – $1,000

Political Parties:

  1. Arkansas Republican Party – $25,000
  2. California Republican Party – $25,000
  3. Nevada Republican Party – $12,500
  4. Nevada Republican Central Committee – $12,500
  5. New Jersey Democratic Party – $2,103
  6. North Carolina Republican Party – $500
  7. Republican Party of Florida – $261,000
  8. Republican Party of Iowa – $9,000
  9. Republican Party of New Mexico – $5,000
  10. South Carolina Republican Party – $15,000

Should you need my database for your research, just email me and I will share.