Map of the day

It’s not only NH that’s looking to disenfranchise college kids from voting.  Campus Progress has put together a very telling map about changes (and potential changes) in voting laws on this matter across the country.

From the accompanying article:

According to research by the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) andCampus Progress, in the past six years, seven states have enacted laws that disenfranchise students or make it more difficult for them to vote. This year, 18 additional states are considering similar laws, while other states are proposing voter ID laws that would depress turnout among other groups of voters—particularly those who traditionally lean left.

These requirements run the gamut from requiring in-state driver’s licenses, to banning school IDs, to prohibiting first-time voters—essentially every college-aged voter—from voting by absentee ballot. All together, these barriers create new logistical and financial barriers for many people attempting to vote…

Where is the alleged voter fraud?

While the legislation promoted by ALEC and its allies is supposedly aimed at reducing voter fraud, there is little evidence that it would actually achieve that goal. In Wisconsin, for example, investigations by the attorney general, a Republican, found that in 2008, out of the three million votes, only 20 of them were fraudulent. And it’s not clear the proposed law could have prevented those 20 fraudulent votes.

“There is no evidence of widespread or systemic voter fraud occurring in the U.S. in recent history,” says Robert Brandon, president of FELN. “These photo ID bills really are a solution in search of a problem. I don’t understand why state legislatures would seek to spend millions of dollars implementing laws to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. With most states facing such high budget deficits, this just seems irresponsible.”

Of course, Robert Brandon surely does understand.  As college kids have shown an increasing relative propensity to vote Democratic, Republican legislatures are showing an increasing propensity to disenfranchise them.  And, since young people are notoriously poor voters, this a constituency they don’t have to worry much about upsetting.  All in all, a very troubling trend.  And, really, it’s just so wrong that Republicans are trying to win elections by keeping people from voting, rather than through good ideas and good governance.

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The liberal bias in fundraising

I haven’t followed the NPR “scandal” of one of their executives calling the Tea party racist all that closely because 1) I’m really not interested in what undercover right-wingers can get people to say on video tape and 2) I don’t think racist is that much of a mischaracterization of a lot of tea party sentiment (I’m on record as calling it white ethnocentristm).  Anyway, after reading Jack Shafer’s Slate piece today, I’m even less concerned as my superficial attention to the reports missed a really big part of the context.  The videotapers were posing as a group poised to donate $5 million.  Here’s Shafer:

But pardon me if I’m not outraged that 1) a pair of NPR officials hosting potential donors would merrily slag conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party members, and other non-liberals or 2) display temporary deafness when deep-pocketed potential funders say ugly and demented things.

If you’ve ever hung out with rich people, you know they have a lot of crazy ideas and aren’t afraid of expressing them. I don’t know if being wealthy causes people to over-express themselves because it erases the fear that they’ll draw sanctions from polite society, but I am willing to test the proposition if a social scientist wants to send me $100 million.

How should Schiller have fielded the incitements? Praised the Tea Party or remained neutral? Spat on them when they revealed their Muslim Brotherhood connection? Lectured them when they said stupid things about Jewish-Zionist media control?

I certainly would have, and I’ll bet you would have, too. But we’d last about 15 seconds in the fundraising business if every time a potential donor said something crazy or offensive, we told them to shut their pie hole. When people donate money, they feel even more entitled than when they’re sitting in their home bank-vaults running their fingers through their cash. Rich people love to give their money away, but they’re always attaching strings, and one common string is “You agree with me, right?”…

From what I can tell, Schiller worked hard to keep the potential giver happy while maintaining a modicum of face. Still, he shot his mouth off in directions that don’t make him or his organization look very professional. Did he talk like that because he believes the things he said or because he’s found that sucking up to suckers who want to give money to NPR works? Or both? (Weigel calls his pandering “masterful.”)

That doesn’t make what Schiller said right, but the context sure as hell matters.  I’m sure the organization that filmed these videos would agree to all sorts of assertions from someone offering up a lot of money.

you can fool most of the people…

Talk about preying on ignorance.  This is just pathetic:

Brigitte Gabriel bounced to the stage at a Tea Party convention last fall. She greeted the crowd with a loud Texas “Yee-HAW,” then launched into the same gripping personal story she has told in hundreds of churches, synagogues and conference rooms across the United States:

“America has been infiltrated on all levels by radicals who wish to harm America,” she said. “They have infiltrated us at the C.I.A., at the F.B.I., at the Pentagon, at the State Department. They are being radicalized in radical mosques in our cities and communities within the United States.”

Through her books, media appearances and speeches, and her organization, ACT! for America, Ms. Gabriel has become one of the most visible personalities on a circuit of self-appointed terrorism detectors who warn that Muslims pose an enormous danger within United States borders.

But some of those who work in counterterrorism say that speakers like Ms. Gabriel are spreading distortion and fear, and are doing the country a disservice by failing to make distinctions between Muslims who are potentially dangerous and those who are not.

Only “some of those”?  Please!  Of course we should be concerned about terrorism from Islamic extremists, perhaps even homegrown ones.  But the idea that they’ve infiltrated our most important institutions and are going to take us over from within?  Get real.   She’s preying on the exact same type of people who fell for McCarthy’s (not in-coincidentally) similar non-sense over half a century ago.   Maybe she really believes all this stuff, but I can’t help believe some of the people doing this (and as the article points out, there are many) are simply snake-oil salesman preying on the ignorant and fearful (yes, Tea Party America, this means you).

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