Poor People, Non-Whites, Those With No Cars Face Harder Time With Voter ID Laws

Though an appeal is a certainty, there was still reason to be proud of the actions Tuesday in a Dane County courtroom in relation to the odious voter ID law rammed through the legislature by out-of-control Republicans.  There is not now, nor has there ever been, a long list of offenders when it comes to election fraud in the Badger State

A Dane County judge permanently barred enforcement of the voter ID requirements of Wisconsin’s voter law, holding that it imposes too great a burden on voters in Wisconsin than the state constitution allows.

What I cringe at are news stories, like the one from CBS News this afternoon, that links Wisconsin with Alabama and Mississippi.  God, help us!

Anyone who has followed the debate in this state over the past year-and-a-half  knows that the partisan move by the majority Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature was a solution in search of a problem. There was no evidence of voter fraud that necessitated the draconian move of enacting a voter ID law in the state, except for the sole purpose of undermining the rights of citizens, especially certain demographics from having easy access to a most basic right.

Amid ongoing controversy surrounding a spate of new voter ID laws being enacted in the U.S., a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law argues that the laws sets up a series of hurdles that could prevent thousands of voters from getting to the polls this fall. 

Ten such state laws have so far passed in the United States, adding fuel to the debate over whether or not voter ID laws prevent fraud, as proponents argue, or lead to disenfranchisement, as opponents contend. 

The study, written by NYU’s Keesha Gaskins and Sundeep Iyer, who oppose voter ID laws, supports the latter argument, contending that free photo IDs are not equally accessible to all voters – particularly those who live in areas with high poverty rates, black and Hispanic voters, and voters who don’t have cars. 

“We really are talking about a population of individuals that could very well influence the outcome” of the November elections, said Gaskins, in a Wednesday conference call. “These laws undermine the principles of fairness and equality promised by the Constitution.” 

Citing long distances between state ID-issuing offices, limited hours of operation during which these offices are open, the high costs of documents needed to obtain an ID, and government bureaucracy, Gaskins and Iyer say thousands of voters will be unable to vote in upcoming elections due to their lack of government-issued ID. 

According to the study, there are about 500,000 eligible voters without access to a vehicle who live more than 10 miles from a state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. 

For instance, in Wisconsin, Alabama, and Mississippi — three of the states that have passed these voter ID laws — fewer than half of all ID-issuing offices are open five days a week, according to the report, and none are open on the weekends. Some offices, the report states, maintain what it calls “truly unusual” hours, such as the ID-issuing office in Woodville, Mississippi, which is open only on the second Thursday of each month.

Why Is Gov. Scott Walker Calling A Special Election For Rich Zipperer’s Seat?

This makes no sense.

For most of the last year one of the many complaints from the Wisconsin Republicans pertained to the cost placed on local units of government for the recall elections.  A needless waste of money was the response from the GOP to people who only wanted their elected officials to be accountable to them. 

Now comes word from Governor Walker’s office that a special election will be called to fill Republican State Sen. Rich Zipperer ‘s seat.  

There is no reason to call a special election.  Instead it should run concurrent with the November election.  There is no pressing need to have an election sooner as no action is required on the floor of the senate, in fact they are not even slated to meet again until January.

It is nice to notice the inconsistency that is a hallmark of Republican politics.  I recall (no pun intended)  the GOP asking endlessly ‘What about the taxpayers?’

Might Scott Walker wish to respond to that question now.

Republican state Sen. Rich Zipperer of Pewaukee is leaving the Senate to join Gov. Scott Walker’s administration as deputy chief of staff.

Walker announced the appointment on Wednesday. Zipperer will begin the new job on Aug. 6, leaving Republicans with just 15 members in the Senate. Democrats have 17.

The 38-year-old Zipperer was elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving two terms in the Assembly.

He replaces Ryan Murray who is moving into the No. 2 position at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie says the governor plans to call a special election to replace Zipperer.

Conservative Concerns About Mitt Romney’s Chances At Victory

There is a nervousness being expressed all over the conservative corner of the nation today about the future of Mitt Romney’s political career.

Romney’s business history and taxes are two issues left unresolved from the primary campaign. During the primaries, Republicans didn’t want to hear fellow Republicans criticizing Romney’s record at Bain Capital. Some characterized attacks on Romney’s Bain history as attacks on capitalism itself. Democrats and many independents don’t feel the same way, and Obama and his SuperPAC allies are relentlessly slamming Romney’s business history both nationally and in key states around the country. Likewise, while most Republicans were satisfied with Romney’s release of one year’s tax returns, and promise to release one more, that minimalist offering has met less success in the general election fight.

So at least at the moment, the vaunted Romney death star, the machine that flattened his Republican opponents, just isn’t working. Romney is trying to get traction — this week, he’s focusing on Obama’s crony capitalism — but he is struggling. To fix things, he’ll have to put out more facts about his own record, plus capitalize on more bad economic news for Obama (that’s a sure bet at this point), plus gain access to the money he’s raised for the general election, plus find a way to sharpen the SuperPACs’ games. And then he’ll have to regain the back-against-the-wall fighting spirit he had in the Florida primary. If he doesn’t, the Obama campaign will run over him.

Meanwhile….

Sixty-six percent of GOPers in the poll viewed the way Romney is running his campaign in a favorable light, while 24 percent viewed it unfavorably. Those numbers lagged behind how President Obama’s campaign is viewed among Democrats — 75 percent of whom regard his bid favorably.

There’s also an enthusiasm gap for Romney in the data. While 51 percent of liberal Democrats feel strongly favorably toward Obama’s campaign, just 31 percent of conservative Republicans feel the same about Romney’s bid.

Conservative National Review Says Mitt Romney Should Release His Taxes

There is no doubt something most interesting, and perhaps politically lethal is hiding in the tax forms Mitt Romney refuses to release.  There is no principle involved here for Romney to abide by in hiding these returns from his past, and certainly not one worth the constant beating he is taking for doing what is just expected of him as a presidential nominee.

Today the National Review, a conservative publication made the attempt to reason with the richest man ever who wants to lead America.

The Romney campaign says he has released as many returns as candidate John Kerry did in 2004, and cites Teresa Heinz Kerry’s refusal to release any of her tax returns. Neither is an apt comparison. John Kerry actually released returns from 1999 through 2003, and also released tax returns during his Senate runs. As for Teresa Heinz, Romney isn’t the wealthy spouse of a candidate, but the candidate himself. In 2008, John McCain released two years of returns, but he had been filling out financial disclosure forms for decades as a senator. Romney protests that he is not legallyobliged to release any tax returns. Of course not. He is no longer in the realm of the private sector, though, where he can comply with the letter of the law with the Securities and Exchange Commission and leave it at that. Perceptions matter. 

Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.

President Bashar al-Assad Should Sleep With One Eye Open

UPDATED

I certainly do not like to see bloodshed take place.  Violence around the globe is always unsettling.  However the shocking news from Syria this morning has to be viewed in the context of how the fight to remove the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is making progress.  There has to be a real sense around that troubled land that the regime is vulnerable, and the tide is turning against the despot. 

Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute, tells the BBC the attack is a sign that recent defections to the Syrian opposition are having a impact on the government. “Regardless of whether this was a suicide bombing or a remote controlled bombing, which the Free Syrian Army claims, it would have required information as to the whereabouts of this meeting… and it would of course have required access – and this is not confirmed – to the office of the national security council chief,” he says. “That would only have been possible with a really impressive degree of insider information.”

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The claim that a bomber was able to carry out such an attack against a high security target speaks volumes about the government’s ability to protect its own members and raises questions about the broader capacities of Syria’s “security state”.

Caution, though, is still needed.

Details of the event are sketchy, contested, and rely upon elements all with their own axes to grind.

Why, according to reliable witnesses, does the building where the bomb apparently went off appear to be undamaged? Why has Syrian government TV refrained from showing its usual lurid images of the casualties?

Conspiracy theorists may have a field-day, but there is one inescapable fact.

The news put out by the Syrian government of a rebel attack against the very heart of the regime cannot be interpreted as anything other than a disaster for President Assad and his supporters.

It sends out a message that if these men cannot be protected by the state security apparatus, then who can? It is in this sense that the attack marks a new phase in the struggle for Syria’s future.