Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Think Rick Scott Is Breaking The Law

UPDATE: see below.
Specifically, I think he's violating people's civil liberties by pushing a purge of eligible voters off the election rolls (copied from ThinkProgress):

Initially, the state created a list of over 180,000 purported “non-citizens” by comparing their list of registered voters to the state motor vehicle database. The state forwarded about 2700 names from that list to local officials to remove from the rolls. Yesterday, in the face of mounting problems with the limited effort, Scott administration officials made it clear they were just getting started:
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, defended the state’s actions. “It’s very important we make sure ineligible voters can’t cast a ballot,” he said in an email to the Herald on Tuesday.
He said the state continues to identify ineligible voters, saying the state Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has agreed to update information using a federal database that the elections division couldn’t access directly.
“We won’t be sending any new names to supervisors until the information we have is updated, because we always want to make sure we are using the best information available,” Cate wrote. “I don’t have a timetable on when the next list of names will be sent to supervisors, but there will be more names.”

It’s unclear how the new procedures alluded to by Cate will solve the systemic problems with the voter purge list. There have been several individuals targeted by the list that have been citizens their entire lives. Therefore, there seems to be a major problems beyond outdated citizenship information.
Moreover, the entire process of database matching to remove voters is problematic. The Fair Elections Legal Network, which is challenging the purge, noted that database matching is “notoriously unreliable” and “data entry errors, similar-sounding names, and changing information can all produce false matches.”
The first list was also created with information accessible to the state motor vehicle administration, which the former Secretary of State Kurt Browning considered so unreliable he refused to release. Browning resigned in February.

Why do I think Scott and his underlings are breaking the law here?

For starters, denying a citizen's right to vote without any kind of judicial review or right of defense is a major problem.  It violates federal constitutional standards in the Fourteenth Amendment, First Section:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Bold highlights mine.  This "voter purge" is depriving eligible honest-to-God citizens their life and liberty, expressly their right to vote that is a key and necessary right.  The right to vote is SERIOUS BUSINESS.  Anyone working in legal guardianship/power of attorney stuff will tell you that determining a person to be "incapacitated" requires a full review by licensed doctors and presided over by judges.  And one of the rights at stake in issuing guardianships is the Right To Vote, alongside the Right To Marry, Right to Form Contracts, etc.  When you lose that Right To Vote, it's viewed as a major loss of self-determination.

Let's be clear: voter fraud may happen, but it is not happening on the scale that the Far Right is screaming about.  Most cases are just regular people failing to update their residency status, or else felons who failed to re-instate their voting rights, or immigrants going through a naturalization process jumping the gun too early.  It's not thousands of zombie "voters" through whom political bosses are faking to stuff ballot boxes.  Out of the MILLIONS who are registered to vote, only tens of cases - not even hundreds of cases - are there any evidence of outright fraud taking place.  This voter purge is over an over-hyped "scandal".  This ain't ACORN, people.  And even ACORN was overblown nonsense.

And the ones getting purged seem to be the minorities and poor people.  Which reeks of the Jim Crow "deny the votes" attitude that harms this nation's reputation as a home of liberty and justice for all.  What's really going on is that the Republicans are going after the voting groups that will tend to vote Democrat, in an effort to reduce the risks of a big turnout this election cycle of angry Democrats pissed off about what's been happening here in Florida (and other states pushing this purge crap) since 2010.

To anyone getting purged by Rick "HaHa I Was Never Convicted" Scott, I think you have a serious case of filing a civil rights charge against him.  I'll leave it to the actual legal experts if there are any reading this blog to suggest which actual statute is being violated: I think it's a federal jurisdiction in terms of the civil right being violated, and I think it's 42 USC s 1983 that is the relevant law, unless there are more specific laws in the US Code.

UPDATE EDIT: This night the Talking Points Memo site is reporting that the Department of Justice has sent a letter to the Florida Secretary of State (the one in direct charge of overseeing elections) demanding that the state stop the voter purge:

DOJ also said that Florida’s voter roll purge violated the National Voter Registration Act, which stipulates that voter roll maintenance should have ceased 90 days before an election, which given Florida’s August 14 primary, meant May 16.

Five of Florida’s counties are subject to the Voting Rights Act, but the state never sought permission from either the Justice Department or a federal court to implement its voter roll maintenance program. Florida officials said they were trying to remove non-citizens from the voting rolls, but a flawed process led to several U.S. citizens being asked to prove their citizenship status or be kicked off the rolls...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

For Everyone Looking to Shop Til They Drop

As mentioned yesterday, Mrs. Coates wanted a t-shirt logo, and what Mrs. Coates wants Mrs. Coates gets.

So now, at Cafe Press, we have the I Heart Metrosexual Black Lincoln store, complete with t-shirts, drinking glasses, tablet covers, one hat, some wall decor, and a keychain.

As a refresher, the front logo is this: 

Additional items to be added in the future.

By the way, I need to add links to the Lost Battalion merch store and maybe my ebook locales...

Monday, May 21, 2012

For the Benefit of Mrs. Coates

Somewhere on the Twitterverse, Ta-Nehisi asked for a t-shirt logo for "I Heart Metrosexual Black Lincoln" in response to the aborted wingnut attempt to insult Barack Obama for being Pro-People.

In response, I crafted both a front design and back design for a t-shirt:

Hope Nobody Else Is Making a I Heart t-shirt like this.  :/
To your left, the logo for the front t-shirt.

To your right, the message for the back t-shirt.

I need input.  Does this look good?  Readable?

I need suggestions of possible improvements, maybe something more concise to say on the backside of the tee.

I hope to get this up in a new CafePress store by tonight.

Let me know!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You Can Leave Comments If You Want

One thing about managing a blog site is, you know, getting feedback on what you write.

I suffer a bit (okay, a LOT) from writer's block, and part of the reason for that is that when I do write something and publish it... I get little back in the way of commentary, critiques, etc.

I know criticism itself isn't fun to endure - you make something, and hope that everyone likes it - but this is a political blog.  I know there are other people's opinions.  And there is a chance - yes, I admit to it, I am human ergo I am flawed - that I may be wrong, and it takes someone else pointing out and arguing with better-cited facts where I may be a tad off.

The only criticism I don't cater is that of the Troll: the ones who show up to crow or taunt or mock without fact or reason.  The "HAHA youre librul you suck" type.  The "You Morans" type of comment.  Which is why I placed a Moderator system to the Comments section to this blog to filter out the non-serious stuff.  (I also got a ton of Chinese spam on my literary blog, which is a different story altogether.  How the hell did China find my Book With The Blue Cover site anyway?)

The Comment section should allow for people with Google or OpenID or Yahoo accounts to post comments.  I thought I left an option for any non-account people as well, but I may be seeing a different screen than non-users (since I'm doing this through Google account already).

If it doesn't allow for non-accounts, please let me know.  I gots Twitter, find me @PaulWartenberg or use my email p.warten AT  If not, you can usually find me on TNC's threads over at the Atlantic blogs.  Also: If people don't like having the comments moderated, again please let me know.  I'm just not too keen on the wrong kind of traffic, okay?

But please, if you can, Post Comments!  I wanna hear back from the seven of youse.

Now, back to job-hunting...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our President of the United States Is Pro-People. And There Is Much Rejoicing.

Video Clip to the ABC News interview (some reason, can't embed it).

Money quote: "I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

For the most part, this doesn't change much in getting voters to switch to Obama's side come November: people who hated on Obama already were also hating on Teh Gay.

But what this does do is excite the Democratic base and independent voters (and disaffected Republicans) who are pro-civil-rights.  It's one thing to be voting AGAINST someone (it's very easy to despise now-established Romney and the current Republican Party as a bunch of bullying lying scumbuckets), but it's a lot more satisfying to be able to vote FOR someone.

And Obama is making it very easy to vote FOR him.  It's not just for marriage equality: I've been impressed with Obama's move on women's issues such as getting the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed, nominating a sizable number of women to key government positions (including two women to the Supreme Court, bringing that just body to reflect our nation's actual population of men-to-women), standing up for Planned Parenthood when the GOP leadership is trying to outright kill it, getting his Obamacare to lower costs and raise coverages for women, et al.

This is something I've been saying since Obama came out for marriage equality: this isn't so much a pro-gay move as it is a pro-people move.  Obama is Pro-People.

And I'm all for that.