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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 76,856

Journal Archives

Passed, Signed, Upheld

'Health Battle Enters Round 2'

The pathetic headline above appeared on the front page of the WSJ yesterday. This is the corporatist right-wing's version of democracy today. It's not enough for Congress to pass landmark legislation and for the President to sign it (at least not this President). After all of that democracy, the right needs to test our product of legislative government against their conservative dominated court; not on the merits of the law, so much, as a gamble against their stacked majority.

Next, presumably, they want a re-do of the last presidential election to re-shuffle their etch-a-sketch and wipe out history with a supposed wave of their corporate-executive's hand. Romney and the rest are busy telling their supporters that they'll have a shot at undoing this health care law, in their favor by just electing them to office.

That might well be a possibility, but it's certainly wishful thinking. I'll say this, though . . . this will be their last shot at manipulating the democratic process which brought us the ACA and pretending like it's some unsettled law which is open for debate.

We win this damn election and we make the ACA the new 'third rail.' Damned if we're going to let these politicians and their flacks pretend like the last three years of this presidency and its legislative accomplishments were just some aberrations. We lived and breathed this history and they are fighting with our futures to undo all of it and replace it with NOTHING!


Narrow lead? In 12 battleground states, Pres. Obama has an 8 point advantage in WSJ/NBC poll

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds that Obama edges Mitt Romney 47 percent to 44 percent nationwide. In 12 battleground states identified by the pollsters, Obama has an 8 point lead, beating Romney 50 percent to 42 percent. That's up from 48 percent to 42 percent in May's poll.

link: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/06/poll-obama-maintains-narrow-lead-127383.html

The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll Wednesday found Obama leading in three swing states:

Florida: Obama 45 -- Romney 41
Ohio: Obama 47 -- Romney 38
Pennsylvania: Obama 45 -- Romney 39.

. . . if Romney had this same margin as Barack Obama, they'd be calling the President's reelection campaign over. It's not a 2008-style margin, but this isn't 2008. It's a testament to his efforts in office and to his campaign to have such a competitive margin of support in the face of such a volatile economy and such a turbulent political year.

Remember, past candidacies have overcome deficits at this point in the election season and gone on to victory in November. We can take heart from these numbers that our efforts in organizing and outreach in support of this President are making a difference where it matters in this campaign. Direct support for the Obama campaign is also expanding and intensifying along with the poll numbers.

Although, there is some apprehension about the money race . . .

from OFA:

The Romney campaign raises more than we do, and the math isn't hard to understand: Through the primaries, we raised almost three-quarters of our money from donors giving less than $1,000, while Mitt Romney's campaign raised more than three-quarters of its money from individuals giving $1,000 or more.

More than 2.2 million Americans have already chipped in for us.

We can be outspent and still win—but we can't be outspent 10 to 1 and still win.

Still, the real strength of the Obama campaign right now is their support from actual individuals. Boston Globe spelled it out:

As of the end of April, 43 percent of the donors who contributed to the Obama campaign gave $200 or less, generating a total of $88.5 million, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan Washington research group. By contrast, only 10 percent of those who gave to former governor Mitt Romney’s campaign had made donations of $200 or less, accounting for $9.8 million . . .

While Obama has embarked on a grass-roots fund-raising drive based largely on small donations, as he did four years ago, Romney has relied on contributions from more generous donors to his campaign, and unlimited contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations to the independent super PACs sympathetic to his candidacy . . .

“Small donations matter a lot because they indicate enthusiasm and energy for a campaign,’’ said Rob Gray, a Boston political consultant who was an adviser to Republican John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “The shortage of small donors means the Republican and conservative base is not jumping on board with Romney in big numbers - at least not yet.’’

“Obama has a huge advantage there,’’ said Philip W. Johnston, an Obama fund-raiser and former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, noting Romney’s reliance on wealthier donors. “Wall Street bankers are unlikely to be knocking on doors in the neighborhood anytime soon.’

Romney's Cut-And-Paste Capitalism

In a speech to business executives, Wednesday, Romney dished out the usual republican tripe about President Obama's economic record and economic plans -- along with the iced tea, salmon, couscous, salad and fruit tarts served to the 100 CEOs attending the business roundtable.

Romney made a clumsy stab at his latest campaign hat trick; projecting President Obama's 'doing fine' remark into his own distorted and warped version of a Democratic party platform.

Romney also gave an outline of his '100 days' pledge to reform and remake the federal government into a mimic of every regressive Reagan-Bush-era economic assault on the U.S. Treasury his campaign minions could cut-and-paste from the favorites' list on Grover Norquists facebook page and insert in the republican candidate's speech.

It's not as if there's some expectation that this 'businessman,' who's touting his business experience and ability, would be looking to highlight the most impressive planks of his own mind-blowing economic plan before a group of his peers and fellow financial mavens.

Sure, he brought his '100 Days' thing with him and laid it out for the crowd. Yet, it played like just another extension of his schoolboy bully-like, singsong attack on his Democratic rival, instead of something which might have struck the CEOs as both dynamic and doable.

Of course, these CEOs already understood that a Romney administration means another term of free-wheeling capitalism with a dollop of trickle-down beneficence to convince the rubes that they can't survive without their profit-taking, wage and job-cutting return on taxpayers' investment in the wealthy's further reduced tax rates.

Romney fleshed it out for them as if he invented the Reagan-Bush era rhetoric about cutting government and lowering taxes for rich businessmen; invented the prattle about cutting entitlements and balancing the budget . . .

"I will in my first 100 days take action to eliminate government programs, to send a lot of government programs back to states where I limit the rate of growth at inflation, and to cut back the number of federal employees through attrition," Romney said. "And by the way, to link the pay of government workers with the pay that exists in the private sector. And those things save about $500 billion a year by my fourth year in office, if I am lucky enough to be elected, and get us to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years."

Also on Romney's to-do list: approving the controversial Keystone pipeline, slashing non-security discretionary government spending, reducing the number of government regulations and repealing 'Obamacare.'

There was little in Romney's actuarial address about where average Americans would benefit from the reductions in their social safety nets and the incentives built into the tax code, and his planned cuts in other federal spending which invests in our individual aspirations for our families to grow and prosper.

In fact, it's those average, working-class Americans who Romney expects to make the largest sacrifice in his economic plan to advantage their employers' bank balances in the promise that they will share out those benefits when they cash in on the fruit of their labor.

If it's CEOs' prosperity, though, that we're waiting to inflate to the point where they can share-up, you should wonder why that rain-down of prosperity on the little man who labors for them hasn't happened yet -- despite record earnings and profit-taking at the top by the nation's CEOs; even during the period where the majority of the nation suffered to find a financial foothold in the faltering economy.


The Standard & Poor's 100 Index of the biggest U.S. companies rose 5.5 percent in 2012 through yesterday, beating a version of the S&P 500 that strips out weightings for market value by the most since 1999. Earnings for the 100-company measure are projected to reach a record high this year, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Here is a list of the top 100 CEOs and their pay packages according to public record from Sept. 2011. The top three CEOs all made more than $70 million in one year alone.

Where's the trickle-down beneficence from these 'good guys' that Romney says deserve the lion's share of of the tax reductions in his budget -- at the expense of the 99% of the rest of us? Where's the 'hurt' on these companies' profits? Most of these CEOs he was talking to have personally prospered greatly from their divestments; which often accrue from reductions in workforces; closing plants; and from 'productivity,' as workers are forced to work harder for less.

I can just hear this group of economic moguls rallying Romney to keep government from bolstering the individuals who work in their factories and industries; to keep their corporate welfare flowing; to give them more of our debt-owing money to gamble with; to keep their workers hungry for anything they'll toss to them.

"He said, as you know, just a few days ago that the private sector is doing fine, but the incredulity that came screaming back from the American people has caused him, I think, to rethink that," Romney told the top 100 CEOs.

You know, I can just hear the 'American people' now; 'screaming' about how 'not-fine' these wealthy CEOs are doing in the Obama recovery . . . screaming for more tax breaks for these fortunate few on top of the renewal of the expiring ones. I can just hear average Americans caterwauling for their own benefits to be cut to pad-out the bank accounts of these multimillionaires and billionaires.

As enticing and satisfying as all of that may have sounded to these businessfolk, you've got to think that at least one or two of them were wondering if there really was an actual economic plan hidden inside of Romney's cut-and-paste collection of political attack lines from the past that went beyond merely providing his aid and comfort for yet another corporate raid on our Treasury. But, hey, if the appeal ain't broke yet . . .

Michelle Obama on Pinterest: Father's Day

I’m fortunate to have had two great fathers in my life. My husband and my dad, Fraser Robinson. –mo

Victories of every size are cause for celebration. –mo

We are dad’s biggest fans, each and every day. –mo

Barack knows his basketball – and he makes a great coach for our daughters. –mo

The list of life skills passed along includes many things, even skipping rocks. –mo

With everything that he has on his plate, Barack always makes time for our daughters. –mo


Plant Giveaway

HAD our third plant giveaway at our house, Sunday. We take divisions from our garden yard and plant them up in old pots we've saved over the years. This year we had donations of old pots and trays from a few customers at David's Natural Market -- where my wife works-- which helped expand and round out our collection.

The folks who visited and picked up a few plants got to expand their own gardens, and, in some cases, start new ones. One lady had an eroding bank where the county had installed a drainage pipe as a weak solution and she was going try to plant there to take advantage of the moisture.

We had a family with their challenged son who took advantage of a tour of the garden and it proved to be just the right fit for their very expressive and active companion. Lots stuff around to spark lots of questions from the young man and lots of answers were happily available as Karen guided them around.

A friend from Karen's job came by with a few of his buddies and spent an hour or so hanging out in the garden and talking about life, nature, and the rest. No politics today; just talk about much of the things which underlie our political ambitions. Conservation, environmentalism, sustainable living . . .

Other folks just dropped by for a few minutes to help themselves with a wave to the house as they were leaving. It was ghastly hot, so it kept the numbers of visitors down from past years.

Also, there weren't as many plants which stood out as winners, like the hostas I had provided for the last two. I spread the divisions out in the yard last year, so I should have a more interesting selection next time when those plots mature.

This year we had a neat lysimachia, 'Firecracker,' which was a royal Hort. Society winner in 1996. There were generous sprigs of lirope for an evergreen groundcover. We had some pots of oenothera tetrogona, day-opening 'Sundrops'; some sweet woodruff (galium odoratum); sprigs of oat grass; and some mystery daylillies.

If we get enough pots back, we plan on having one more giveaway this year -- kind of splitting it up -- where I plan on having some coleus cuttings; some sedum starters; some bright-yellow sweet flag sprigs; and some more lirope, this time in bloom.

It makes me feel good to know there are new plantings being tended to around the community which started in my yard. In our neighborhood, we have a lot of homes with large plots of grass between the street and their home. All of that grass gets chemicals applied each year to maintain them, and those nutrient and minerals flow right down the hill to our couple of lakes and stimulate algae an other plant growth in the water which can stifle and kill the aquatic life there.

We stopped the cycle in our own yard and replaced 90% of the grass with other plants. We have a rooftop gutter hose which channels the rain into our rainbucket. That gives us enough water to maintain most of the growth during the rest of the mostly rainless summers around here after July. We hope to provide a pleasant and interesting yard for ourselves and our neighbors.

We'd also like to encourage folks to plant up more of their grassy yards with a variety of specimens and to try and maintain them as organically as possible. just a suggestion, of course, it's hard work to get started; rewarding, though, I think. So, that was plant giveaway day, 2012. Looking forward to trying for another this year, and already looking forward to 2014!

watch short video of some visitors talking with my wife and son: http://www.facebook.com/v/205616842893798

Romney's Smackdown of Teachers, Firefighters, Police Is No Gaffe

from HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/romney-gaffe-obama-gaffe_n_1582556.html

Mitt Romney, seeking to capitalize on a damaging mistake Friday by President Barack Obama -- the president's careless comment that "the private sector is doing fine" -- responded with a gaffe of his own.

"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?" Romney said at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa. "The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people. . . . more"

Romney and his republican counterparts in Congress have been fighting President Obama's efforts to defend and help increase the jobs of teachers, firefighters, and police his entire time in office.

In fact, the very same speech of the President's that Romney is criticizing was an appeal to his republican buddies to do SOMETHING to save these local and state jobs and to help keep our neighborhoods and communities safe and productive.

What's Romney's plan to stop the hemorrhaging of local and state employees? There isn't one. His political rhetoric calls for even more cuts in our social safety nets; even more draconian cuts in basic services and basic needs of our communities. It was no gaffe when he criticized President Obama's call for more stimulus funds to ailing regions of the nation still reeling from the economic meltdown his party's brand of on-your-own economics had fostered.

The first stimulus bill initiated, passed, and enacted by this President has been the main whipping post of the republican cabal working to unseat him since his first day in office. The Recovery Act took the focus away from their Bushian bank bailouts and invested in people and communities to help them maintain their grip and balance on those elements of government which actually sustain and enhance our lives.

It's not bank money (mostly spent and paid back) which they're harping on; it's the portion of the Recovery Act which gave aid and comfort to average Americans at a time of great need that they just can't countenance this President receiving the credit he deserves.

Consider the impact of that Act, passed shortly after President Obama assumed responsibility and control over managing and mitigating George Bush's economic meltdown. We don't have to look any further back than just yesterday where the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the vast majority of economic experts have reiterated the degree that the Recovery Act has helped boost the economy.

from the WaPo:

On Wednesday, under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree . . .

(CBO Director Douglas) Elmendorf’s testimony came in response to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a member of the tea party caucus. Huelskamp asserted that the stimulus was a failure because it did not keep the jobless rate below 8 percent, as the Obama administration predicted.

“Where did Washington mess up?” Huelskamp demanded. “Because you’re saying most economists think it should’ve worked. It didn’t.”

Most economists not only think it should have worked; they think it did work, Elmendorf replied. CBO’s own analysis found that the package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of 2010, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession.

Somehow, Romney is counting on Americans punishing this President for rescuing their communities from the tragic and continuing effects of the collapse of the Bush republicans' economic house of cards. Even as these communities are still reeling from the crash, Romney is arrogant enough in his frat-boy style campaign rhetoric to damn these teachers, firefighters, and police for even thinking about help from the federal government.

What would he spend the (borrowed) money on that he'd find upon assuming office? He'd devise even more ways to funnel more taxpayer money into the hands of 'investors' like himself.

here's a Politifact with actual facts:

Romney’s tax plan would affect what he personally pays in federal income taxes. With a fortune estimated at between $80 million and $250 million and 2010 earnings of around $21 million, Romney falls in the top tax bracket. That class currently pays a 35 percent rate. His plan would reduce that to 28 percent.

"The tax plan would cut taxes on the rich a lot," said Roberton Williams, an economist with the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution think tanks that published an analysis of Romney’s plan.

The 20 percent cut, Williams said, is "a huge savings for the people at the top end."

That's Romney's main concern; preserving, defending, and enhancing his rich buddies haul from the federal treasury. He has no concern for the nation's infrastructure or the actual needs of our communities. He's going to stick with his schtick that investing our hard-earned contributions to government in his wealthy industrialists' profit-making schemes will somehow trickle-down to the rest of America. He wouldn't accept that percentage of return on investment for himself; in any instance. You'll get your jobs (maybe, unlikely) when he gets his inflated share.

President Obama has our people and our communities at the top of his economic agenda. In fact, if the political pundits would put aside their gaffe game for a minute and actually report what the president said following his exploited statement about the private sector . . .

President Obama:

"Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."

"And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry. Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more."

"The truth of the matter," said President Obama, "is that we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.

That may not be 'fine,' but it's a whole lot of good. What's Romney's plan for preserving these jobs, again? A big fat tax cut for himself and his wealthy benefactors. I'll tell you what. He sure doesn't live anywhere near where the rest of us do.

Fox in the Garden

THERE'S a fox in my garden.

There's a young, small brown fox who has decided that my cottage/woodland garden yard is its new home. I found it curled up asleep on top of the stone wall where the powder-blue star-shaped flowers of the campanula are now in full bloom and spilling over the edge in the morning sun to mingle with the dark-green blades of lirope at the bottom.

It was such an iconic and natural sight that I waited several minutes -- studying this 'wild' resident of our wooded community with fondness and admiration -- until I woke the sleeping beauty with a 'hey!' and a finger pointing in the direction I wanted it to leave. The small, summer resident woodpeckers had already been chattering away like mad. They looked to have decided that I'd gotten a new pet and were arguing their birdie case to me; as much as they were chastising my slumbering visitor.

My fox woke up without the ability to see, as the sunny spot it had chosen put a glare of light between us. It squinted at me at first through one open eye; the other shut as if it intended to snooze just a little bit longer. Then it leapt up and made as quick an exit as it could out of the back of the yard; loping along as fast as its sleep-interrupted instincts could manage.

I'd seen the fox for a few successive years at the back of the yard, sunning itself along the ridge separating the properties. I'd long suspected it had made a temporary home back where I'd dumped a few Christmas trees over the years and may have made a small shelter there.

I've had the lids lifted, carefully, from my trash cans -- and although I suspected it had been a raccoon, I had only seen the fox (and smelled his markings, as well). The other night, I called my wife to the front window in the middle of the night to see our fox weaving in and out of the daylilies, hunting for mice and stuff; barely making itself seen above the dense growth. The next morning I found it had peed on almost every bush in the yard to mark its space.

I wasn't too thrilled to see it taking advantage of the center of my yard, though; even less happy to find its making a regular bed right where I'm trying to naturalize several flowering plants.

I had a beautiful doe with a white rump and splotched coat who had also adopted my yard as her own, and had nibbled a couple of my Asian lilies from the buds right down to the stem. I went out to shoo it away in person one morning, but the sight of this gorgeous deer floored me so much that I froze in place and just went back inside without shooing it away.

I have hoped, to myself, that the fox pee would keep the doe from eating my lilies.

I'm concerned about the potential dangerousness of this beauty of nature, though. I'm worried about it becoming too comfortable being so close to humans (our own, esp.) and the prospect that someone will get bitten. I'd have the same concerns about any stray dog who had gone to ground.

Yet, I'm a bit sad that we can't enjoy this beautiful and bountiful yard on the same terms. It is, after all, meant to be a refuge for nature's offspring. We do need to maintain our respect for our established boundaries, though. Even our birds knew that, instinctively, as they raised the alarm at the opportunistic intruder who, very likely, has made a meal out of some of their offspring.

I'd like to be able to interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

We have it pretty good where I live. Our community was planned to incorporate nature with the development. We have foot and bike trails which lead almost everywhere you want to go in town. We have trees, galore, and a few small lakes within walking distance. I live in a cu-de-sac neighborhood with minimal traffic. It's really a suburban paradise.

Like most residential areas near large cities, we are feeling the pressure to develop more and further reduce our greenways and other open spaces

We have a county executive who is relatively young, but has risen to the top of our local political establishment. He's also a longtime resident, having grown up right here in town; attended the local schools; knows the community. He's a Democrat, as well.

I first met Ken Ullman when he was making his first run for office. He was going door to door in the neighborhood and I almost missed him as he came by my door. I ran up the street and caught him; shook his hand. He was an affable young man who had an appearance like he had just graduated high school that summer.

He was easily elected in our 'deep blue' community. I had a short conversation about our community with Mr. Ullman when we met. I told him of my concern that we keep and maintain our numerous community centers, and, at least, keep them 'community' centers. He quickly agreed, and he immediately got my vote.

Shortly after he took office, however, Mr. Ullman pushed the local board to reduce the density requirements for our town to allow developers to site buildings and homes closer together. It was a betrayal of what he had represented to me. How did this fresh-faced young man get into the developer's corner so fast?

Since then, I've taken to looking for a Democratic challenger to unseat him; one who promises to halt or slow the development. The shopping center/community center where the natural food store is that my wife works at is at risk of being completely torn down and replaced with a high-rise and office spaces. Naturally, Mr. Ullamn is a strong proponent of the changes. the approval, though, while moving steadily forward, has been predictably slow in winning over our civic-environment-inclined community leaders and advocates.

I imagine he'll eventually get his way and there will be some sort of compromise development which preserves the decades-old natural food store and the handful of other merchants who haven't yet left in the face of fast-increasing cost of leasing their space and bankrupted by the faltering local economy.

We're not optimistic.

Mr. Ullman is personally well liked around here, though. He's probably a good fit for this community; a lifetime resident, he's a natural part of our community landscape. We voted him in; we embraced him. Now he's so familiar and entrenched, I don't think we'll ever rid our selves of him.

Like other parts of the country, we've seen a massive reduction in the number of bees which visit our garden. So, when a wood-boring bumblebee came around last year and ate a perfect little hole into my wooden bench beside my back door and made a home for its mate, I hesitated to immediately look for a way to kill it. I've been without a pet for a while now, and I'm missing that companionship a bit. So, it wasn't really a surprise for my wife to find me downstairs this winter trying to get the plants we rescued from the cold to sit up and bark for me.

Likewise, it wasn't surprising that I made an uneasy truce with this aggressive bee (locust family, I think) and we had somehow learned to keep our distance from each other without the need for me to kill it or without provoking its need to sting someone here. We learned to live with it and added yet another legend to tell of our close relationship with another of nature's creatures.

This year, however, another bee came to the same spot and began work on its own hole. I found some natural insecticide and I coated the bench; spraying a bit on the bee when it returned. that seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, the bee wasn't dissuaded from making its temporary home there. I went out a couple of days later and found the largest pile of bee-generated sawdust yet, and I knew I had failed to turn this bee around.

I had been pretty proud of myself for the restraint I had shown up until then, but, I was now thinking of all nature's creatures who had shown up last summer to invade the hive hole; most notably a trio of large wasps. I went inside and got a bottle of ant insecticide and started pumping it into the hole. I could hear desperate buzzing inside, so I knew I had it trapped. After a minute, or so of this mournful buzz and my bee fell out of the hole . . . and I smashed her immediately. I felt terrible. My wife says I did the right thing, but I still feel like I betrayed something basic and good inside of me. Oh, well . . .

I carefully checked my back yard this morning for any sign of my fox. I quietly sneaked around the side of the house and I didn't see it anywhere. However, when I went inside and looked out back through the window, my fox was back in its spot; curled up nicely and fast asleep in the morning's warm sun.

I sneaked out the door and crept up slowly and quietly to stand right above my handsome guest . . . I clapped my hands, loudly and shouted, 'Out!' at the top of my lungs.

I miss my fox, already. I'm certain I'll make even more of a fuss if it returns again.

Attorney General Holder's Challenge to Florida's Voter Purge is a Shot Across the Bow

Providing the second blow in a one-two punch to Florida's republican governor Rick Scott's moves to disenfranchise the states' minority, immigrant, and Democratic voters, Attorney General Holder warned Florida's election authorities that they look to be running afoul of both the law and regulations requiring them to submit their plans for consideration under the Voting Rights Act.

LATimes: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-florida-election-laws-20120601,0,7018206.story

A federal judge struck down a key part of Florida’s new election laws, which would have applied to the 62 counties not subject to the Voting Rights Act.

A top lawyer for the Justice Department's civil rights division wants Florida officials to explain why they've unilaterally decided to purge the state's voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens just months before a key primary in the 2012 elections -- an apparent violation of provisions in the landmark Voting Rights Act.

In a two-page letter, T. Christian Herren, chief lawyer for Justice's Voting Rights division, told Florida's secretary of state that officials' decision to comb the rolls for foreign nationals was launched without consulting Attorney General Eric Holder or asking permission from a federal court, long-standing requirements under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Further, Herren writes, the state hasn't officially justified why it launched the scrub, which activists say is haphazard, subjective and disproportionately hurts minority voters.

At the same time, the practice is happening less than 90 days before an upcoming statewide election, which "appears to violate the National Voter Registration Act," Herren said. "Please advise whether the state intends to cease the practice ... so the can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."
The new law, enacted last year, would have required groups that register voters to submit registration forms within 48 hours or pay a $1,000 fine. The judge said that law put “harsh and impractical” restrictions on groups that work to register new voters.

“The short deadline, coupled with substantial penalties for noncompliance, make voter registration drives a risky business,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote. “If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed.”

Politico: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/06/doj-eyes-florida-voter-roll-purge-of-nonus-citizens-124982.html

A top lawyer for the Justice Department's civil rights division wants Florida officials to explain why they've unilaterally decided to purge the state's voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens just months before a key primary in the 2012 elections -- an apparent violation of provisions in the landmark Voting Rights Act.

In a two-page letter, T. Christian Herren, chief lawyer for Justice's Voting Rights division, told Florida's secretary of state that officials' decision to comb the rolls for foreign nationals was launched without consulting Attorney General Eric Holder or asking permission from a federal court, long-standing requirements under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Further, Herren writes, the state hasn't officially justified why it launched the scrub, which activists say is haphazard, subjective and disproportionately hurts minority voters.

At the same time, the practice is happening less than 90 days before an upcoming statewide election, which "appears to violate the National Voter Registration Act," Herren said. "Please advise whether the state intends to cease the practice ... so the can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."

Both of these actions -- especially the warnings from the Justice Dept. -- send a message to the other states which might have been considering jumping on the voter purge bandwagon.

Having already challenged at least 9 other instances of restrictive and illegal voting restrictions by states in court filings -- and made inviolate the 'voter id' election procedures in both Texas and South Carolina -- the Obama Justice Dept. is sending a clear message that they will hold state governments to the letter and limits of federal law in their determination to protect voter rights and voter access to the polls.

In the letter sent by the Justice Dept. to Florida's election officials, they not only demand that Florida stop their purge of voters, but that they submit their plans, under the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, to Justice for consideration; noting that, 'the State of Florida, as a whole, is subject to the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993:

This is a clear and forceful shot across the bow of republicans' plans around the nation to 'steal the election,' as Obama's Attorney General told black clergymen this week:

|The Republic: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/

. . . Holder told the clergy leaders Wednesday that at least nine lawsuits have been filed over the last two years challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the act — which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval for changes in their voting procedures — and arguing that it’s no longer needed because the states under it have made great strides in ensuring that voting access is fair and nondiscriminatory.

“I wish this were the case,” Holder said. “But the reality is that, in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common — and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history.”

“In my travels across the country, I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens, who — often for the first time in their lives — now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals. And some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang in the balance,” he said.

Holder's Justice Dept. anticipated these recent attempts to rig election results by the suppressing of vulnerable voters access, identification, and rights early on in the process. The decision by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to nullify South Carolina's new 'voter id' law, came a week after Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, celebrating the 1965 Voting Rights Act in December.

"Are we willing to allow this era -- our era -- to be remembered as the age when our nation's proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?' Holder asked in his Dec. 13 speech.

"Although I cannot go into detail about the ongoing review of these and other state-law changes," Holder said, "I can assure you that it will be thorough – and fair. We will examine the facts, and we will apply the law. If a state passes a new voting law and meets its burden of showing that the law is not discriminatory, we will follow the law and approve the change. And where a state can’t meet this burden, we will object as part of our obligation under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act."

"Ensuring that every veteran, every senior, every college student, and every eligible citizen has the right to vote must become our common cause. And, for all Americans, protecting this right, ensuring meaningful access, and combating discrimination must be viewed, not only as a legal issue – but as a moral imperative."

Blame Congress for the slump in employment? Of course, blame Congress.

We all know the President has been pushing Congress for a year to pass his Jobs bill, warning that the jobs economy needed stimulus and incentive to continue to grow. Now, when we get a jobs report that shows a stall in the months and months of steady employment improvement, it's President Obama who should be credited for presenting a jobs proposal -- fighting for it against steady opposition from a republican leadership which publicly and repeatedly promised to spend their time working to unseat him, instead of focusing their energy on rebuilding the economy.

There a defensive feeling in the air among Democrats today, but there should, instead, be OUTRAGE that republicans have dithered with a recovering economy until they allowed it to falter and stagnate with their obstruction

Blame Congress? Of course, blame Congress. The president has very little to do with actually creating jobs. It's Congress' responsibility to approve and allocate any money that could have been used to as a stimulus and incentive for businesses to hire workers. It's not the President's.

Moreover, by law, tradition, and, save a super-majority vote, all 'money' legislation MUST originate in the House; the republican-controlled House of Representatives; the republican House that voters sent to Washington to fix this. They've obviously failed to do their job; much less do it correctly or effectively.

Voters sent republicans to Washington to do more than just oppose Obama. Voters sent their elected representatives to Washington -- both republicans and Democrats -- expecting them (from polling) to work together to help fix the economy. They failed.

The late, Robert Byrd, a legislative and constitutional scholar, spoke often about the responsibility of the legislature; its constitutional prerogative in budget and money matters; and, its frequent and habitual abdication of that responsibility.

"We, as legislators, have a responsibility to work with the chief executive, but it is intended to be a two-way street," Sen. Byrd remarked in an address on the Senate's history.

"The Framers did not envision the office of President as having the attributes of royalty. We must recognize the heavy burden that any President bears, and wherever and whenever we can, we must cooperate with the chief executive in the interest of all the people. But let us keep in mind Madison's admonition: "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

There is nothing at all stopping Congress from setting their own agenda and acting on it. In fact, the constitution demands that they provide the necessary checks against what they may view as the excesses of the Executive. But, they must also produce more than just opposition to the President's proposals. They need to take the lead in enacting the people's business.

Conversely, they must take the blame when they fail to do so.
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