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Hysteria, aggression and gerrymandering are a fading demographic's last hope to maintain political control
-By Michael Lind
February 5, 2013- In understanding the polarization and paralysis that afflict national politics in the United States, it is a mistake to think in terms of left and right. The appropriate directions are North and South. To be specific, the long, drawn-out, agonizing identity crisis of white Southerners is having effects that reverberate throughout our federal union. The transmission mechanism is the Republican Party, an originally Northern party that has now replaced the Southern wing of the Democratic Party as the vehicle for the dwindling white Southern tribe.
As someone whose white Southern ancestors go back to the 17th century in the Chesapeake Bay region, I have some insight into the psychology of the tribe. The salient fact to bear in mind is that the historical experience of the white South in many ways is the opposite of the experience of the rest of the country.
February 4, 2013- Minnesota’s law prohibiting lying in political campaigns has been upheld by a federal judge.
The Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act made it a gross misdemeanor for someone to intentionally prepare, disseminate, or broadcast political advertising or campaign material “that is designed or tends to elect, injure, promote, or defeat a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or to promote or defeat a ballot question, that is false, and that the person knows is false.”
The statute was challenged five years ago by the 281 CARE Committee and the Citizens for Quality Education, which campaign against ballot initiatives that raise taxes or fees for school district funding.
The plaintiffs claimed the law violated their free-speech rights and restricted their ability to participate in political debate. They lost their first trial before a federal judge in Minneapolis. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in May 2011.
That sent the matter to U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, who ruled in favor of the defendants, two county attorneys and the state attorney general.
-By Chelsea Kiene
February 4, 2013- As the federal government works to address the long lines and administrative problems voters nationwide faced on Election Day, a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice argues that the first steps should be modernizing voter registration, providing a national period for early voting and setting minimum standards for polling place access.
During his victory speech on Nov. 6, President Barack Obama thanked Americans for turning out to vote, noting many people had waited in line for hours to do so. He made clear that voting reform would be a priority in his second term, when he said that the country needed to "fix" those long lines so that all Americans are able to carry out their constitutional right.
-By Lyle Denniston
January 29, 2013- Can anyone sue to stop an effort to change how electoral votes are allocated in swing states? Lyle Denniston examines the constitutional arguments about a contentious issue.
The statement at issue:
“We have been documenting…what appears to be a coordinated effort by Republicans in a number of key states to change the rules for electing a president. To change the rules so essentially Democrats running for president cannot win….Virginia Republicans are using the same maps they have gerrymandered for a permanent Republican advantage at the state level to also distribute Virginia’s Electoral College votes when it comes to voting for president….The action in Virginia is the first of its kind in the nation. What we have been covering is Republicans making noises about doing this across the country wherever they can…not just in Virginia, but in Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
-By Luke Johnson
January 28, 2013- A Nevada Republican arrested for voter fraud in the 2012 election, after claiming she was trying to test the system's integrity, pled guilty and accepted a plea deal Thursday, forcing her to pay almost $2,500 and promise to stay out of trouble.
Roxanne Rubin, 56, a casino worker on the Las Vegas Strip, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 after trying to vote twice, once at her poling site in Henderson and then at a second site in Las Vegas. The poll workers at the second site said that she had already voted, but Rubin said that she hadn't and insisted on casting a ballot, which the poll workers refused to allow her to do.
Blogged by Firebrand Central on January 1, 2013-
On October 15, 1991, Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 52-48 vote by the Senate. This was the narrowest margin of confirmation in over a century. Thomas is the second African-American to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Justice Thomas’s confirmation did not come without controversy; the Senate hearings where Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment nearly cost him his seat on the Supreme Court. The sexual harassment claims are likely responsible for the marginal confirmation vote, and there are public figures and officials who regret not speaking out against Thomas to the present day.