Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Clinton Calls Out GOP on Voter Suppression

Friday, June 5th, 2015

559953_545779358786752_100427983_nTexas – Yesterday, in a major speech on voting rights, Hillary Clinton denounced Republican efforts on voter suppression. She laid out a far-reaching vision for expanding access to the ballot box for all Americans.

Clinton, the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, talked about voter suppression and called out by name several of her potential 2016 rivals for taking actions that restricted voter participation. She discussed Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie and their supporting/imposing restrictive voting policies. She said, “Republicans should stop fearmongering about a phantom epidemic of voter fraud.”

As demographic trends have shifted toward an increase in Democratic voting, Republican voter suppression tactics have increased in an effort to slow it down and/or stop it. Republicans have a long history of voter suppression tactics. As dark money bought elections putting Republicans in charge of state legislations, and in the face of losing five of the last six majorities in presidential elections, Republicans have used these victories to impose a variety of voter suppression laws.

Speaking at Texas Southern University in Houston, Clinton called for every American to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. She also backs a nationwide standard of at least 20 days of early voting. She urged Congress to pass legislation strengthening the Voting Rights Act, which was gravely weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling. And she slammed restrictive voter suppression laws imposed by the GOP in North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, Texas, and Ohio.

Hillary said, “We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country, because what is happening is a sweeping effort to dis-empower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.”
She continued by saying, “What is happening is a sweeping effort to dis-empower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.” Hillary Clinton put the GOP on notice that further efforts to make voter suppression will be used to motivate Democrats and increase Democratic turnout.

She is the first presidential candidate to discuss in detail the massive voter suppression/discrimination that has surged in “red” states since the Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013.

Noting that approximately one third of all Americans aren’t registered to vote, Clinton called for sweeping modernization of the registration process – universal automatic voter registration, in which every citizen is automatically registered when they turn 18. Oregon passed such a law earlier this year, and several other states, including California, are considering doing the same.

Clinton said she believed, “this would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy.”

She also called for 20 days of nationwide early voting; including evening and weekend voting should be implemented to help those who work or have family commitments.

North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio [all Republican-controlled states] have cut their early voting periods, North Carolina and Ohio have also eliminated same-day voter registration. And a third of all states (most in the south) offer no early voting at all.

Clinton also bashed the Supreme Court for weakening the Voting Rights Act. She said, “We need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person to vote than the right of a corporation to buy an election,”

Voting is the cornerstone of our nation’s democracy and voter suppression laws by Republicans are dismantling our nation’s democracy.

Tennessee Decends into the Dark Ages

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

dark pathThe fight for reproduction freedom rages on in several states this election but the Tennessee wing-nut legislation has made this state center stage for the battle.

Tennesseans were asked and voted to amend the state constitution to provide that:

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother”.

That’s right folks. Tennessee is trying to amend its constitution to never protect abortion, ever, under any circumstance (rape, incest or death to mother). How did Tennessee descend into such backward thinking logic?

It was not that long ago [2000] that the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in a case that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of… the Tennessee Constitution’. The case was Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist and the ruling of the court was that the Tennessee constitution affords even more protection than the U.S. Constitution to Tennesseans seeking abortions.

The court also determined that Tennessee could only pass very narrow restrictions on abortion as a result. Republicans in the state legislature immediately reacted by attempting to amend the state constitution. Those proposed amendments failed to pass the state legislature but now they are on the November ballot.

Don’t be deceived that protections exist in the legislation by veiled references to rape, incest and the life of the mother in the language of the proposed amendment. The second sentence is deceptive and craftily written to leave the incorrect impression that exemptions are either in place, or could easily be put in place. The proposed wording in fact allows the state to regulate all those interests out of existence.

Do Tennessee women really need to be protected from their own decision-making by the state legislation? The restrictions and regulations that Amendment 1 would enable Tennessee legislators to pass would be appalling.

Amendment 1 is a misleading piece of legislation and designed to be exactly that in an effort to deceive voters into voting for poorly written legislation. Recent polling conducted by Vanderbilt University in May found that 71 percent of state voters oppose amending the constitution to place abortion rules solely in the hands of the legislature.

It appears that people who support Amendment 1 will have their rigid beliefs and restrictions imposed on everyone else. They want the draconian legislators to decide – the same legislation that has repeatedly proven to be biased on the issue. People should not forget that the last time fundamentalists imposed their rule on everyone else – they called it the dark ages.

Content in Tennessee

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

In 2010, the political landscape in Tennessee changed. A large stash of “dark money” sweeps the Tennessee Democratic Party from power, for the first time since Reconstruction. Candidates of the Republican Party were elected in mass, based on empty promises of job creation and a focus on education. It did not seem to matter that many of these candidates were not vetted; more less qualified to hold political office or even hold a regular job in the common job market. The voters did not seem to care they were electing unqualified people to office.

Unfortunately, the lack of qualification of candidates was not the only thing wrong with the “political winds of change” that affected Tennessee and many other southern states that created the perfect political storm. This political change was driven by much darker forces and was not based on the normal issues that affect most elections or spark most political up evil. This change was fueled by racism and hatred of President Obama. And it occurred at a time when control of political power was up for grabs for ten years, not just for an election cycle.

It occurred at a time when the political party who won the state, would control the state for ten years, and be allowed to redistrict the political landscape and reallocate the political power of a state. The masterminds of this political up evil had more important goals in mind than just political victory and they were more than happy to use hatred to achieve their vile agenda. Nor, did it matter that mindless teabaggers would serve as minions to assist the rich in reaching their goal.

We have since seen the devastation of this political change and the damaging impact it has had on the poor and middle class in our state and nation. It did not take long to realize the promises of job creation and focus on education were empty words “lies” by the GOP to simply gain power and control.

And since the election, the GOP has taken undemocratic steps to entrench their political power. Adopting measures to ensure voter suppression on the vary people their vile agenda has harmed the most: the old, young, poor, women, sick and minorities. They have attacked women healthcare, workers’ rights, gay rights, minority rights, civil rights, and dismantled the safety net that has successfully protected the poor, old, sick and middle class since the Great Depression, while continuing to give large tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

It does not seem to matter that they have lost national power as a party, they seem happy with the short term state power and/or regional power they have achieved and they have used this power to undermine national laws and political legislation.

Four years later, the attacks on women’s rights, voter’s rights, workers’ rights immigration, and civil rights has escalated by the GOP. Attacks on the poor and middle class have also escalated as the GOP attempts to dismantle and gut public education and social programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment compensation.

Not since the Great Depression, has the GOP agenda been so void of a moral compass.Republicans are attempting to dismantle the vary programs designed to help those in need, during tough economic times, like now, when 40 million Americans need government subsidized food assistance to simply live and 1.3 million Americans lost their unemployment compensation, yesterday, because of GOP cuts. In months, another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment compensation. The GOP don’t even seem concerned about the additional loss of 240,000 jobs that will occur from this loss of this money from the economy. Nothing, not even the welfare of the nation, is more important than their vile agenda.

In Tennessee, more than 20% of Tennesseans receive government assistance for food and experienced cuts in SNAP assistance. More than 18,000 Tennesseans lost their unemployment yesterday.

The GOP faithful calls these expenditures on humanity – waste and too expensive to afford, yet, they don’t hesitate giving large tax breaks to the rich and corporations. They spoke not one objection when it came to the costs of twelve years of two “unfunded” wars and giving corporate “welfare” to the greed driven military contractors. They never seem to have a problem with waste when it comes to giving large tax breaks to their rich friends but God forbid – we help the poor or middle class during tough economic times.

Four years later, unemployment in Tennessee is 8.1% while it is 7% nationally. The Tennessee legislature has not passed nor discussed one act of legislation related to job creation. Nothing has been done to strengthen public education, in fact the GOP works feverishly to dismantle it. The Republican “super majority” legislation has been more concerned with catering to their gun lobbyists’ friends and other special interest groups. Our governor is too busy handling his messy shady dealings to something that would actually help middle class folks like extending Medicaid for 170,000 Tennesseans.

Did Tennesseans get what they bargained for when the voted red in 2010? Is there any buyer’s remorse or are folks in Tennessee simply content with the sad state of affairs of our state as a result of that vote?

NSA’s PRISM Into Your Life

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Patriot-ACTEdward Snowden, 29, is the source of leaks over an NSA surveillance program. He’s a defense contractor, a high school dropout, and he worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence – now he is on the run for blowing those secrets wide open. He may never live in the United States as a free man again.

In a recent interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden revealed himself as the source of outing the massive effort by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to track cell phone calls and monitor the e-mail and Internet traffic of virtually every Americans.

Snowden said his conscious was bothering him and he just wanted the public to know what the government was doing.

What’s next for Snowden as a hell storm encircles him? Some are calling him a traitor, others consider him a hero. One thing for sure, his revelations has stirred a firestorm about the secretive PRISM government program.

Another important question relates to trusted companies like facebook who have basically lied to their customers and quickly gave private customer information to the government. How safe is your personal information entrusted to various companies?

“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded,” he said. Snowden told The Guardian he had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community and undercover assets around the world. These facts have moved some in congress to call for his head, as they claim, this information is an attack on the United States.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong three weeks ago after copying one last set of documents.

133604_600Before his leak of U.S. intelligence, Snowden worked for a major U.S. government contractor, in Hawaii, earning a $200,000 salary and enjoying the beautiful state with his girlfriend.

He told The Guardian, “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Many disagree and point out that we expect the government to honor our privacy, but we also expect the government to protect us from more terrorist attacks.

President Barack Obama insists his administration is not spying on U.S. citizens; it’s only looking for information on terrorists. Wing-nuts and Obama/Government haters are using the incident to wave the anti-Obama and anti-Government banner. The ACLU is leading the fight in regards to violations of civil liberties.

Snowden is hopeful that Hong Kong’s climate of free speech will protect him, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be sent back to the United States and face a lifetime in an American prison. Have we traded civil liberty for security?

NOTE: Since this story was posted, Snowden has been held up in Russia for months.