scharrison's blog

The NC GOP's continual war on early voting

Fewer voting locations = more difficulty casting a vote:

North Carolina voters are once again dealing with changes to how the state runs its elections. At a time when early voting is becoming increasingly popular nationwide, a new law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature will result in nearly 20 percent fewer places to cast votes before Election Day.

Democrats say the changes could disproportionately affect African-American voters but some local Republican officials also complain about the changes, arguing they impose too much top-down control on election administration and amount to an unfunded mandate from the state.

Make no mistake, their intent with this law was to place more burdens on county-level elections officials, forcing them to make hard choices. And true to form, the architects of this crisis had their talking points lined up so they could avoid taking responsibility for their deceitful tactics:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

One more thumb's-down before early voting begins:

As I've mentioned before, we have to teach them a lesson. Don't screw around with the Constitution for partisan political purposes.

Tillis' NRA ties are coming back to haunt him

tillisderp.jpg

That's why they call it "illegal" coordination:

In a joint letter to FEC Chair Caroline Hunter and Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub, the lawmakers — led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — asked the FEC to “open an investigation into a potential campaign finance violation” alleged by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, in two complaints that are currently before the commission. The complaints claim that the NRA uses a company called Starboard Strategic Inc. to circumvent laws prohibiting election-related coordination between campaigns and outside groups who support them.

Prior to the creation of Starboard in 2013, the NRA used OnMessage as a vendor to place political ads. Beginning in the 2014 election cycle, the group shifted to Starboard, spending millions of dollars for ads supporting the campaigns of three Republican Senate candidates: Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Tom Cotton in Arkansas. All three campaigns paid OnMessage as a consultant, and all three won.

Keep in mind, this was going on at the same time Tillis (and drunken Dallas) were using Russian-backed Cambridge Analytica to conduct a personally-targeted and invasive propaganda scam to trick voters into voting for one of North Carolina's emptiest of suits. Since Tillis is not running in this cycle, it might seem like an issue that could wait. But they're pulling the same shenanigans in a couple of 2018 Senate contests:

Go high or go low? Democrats face a rhetorical crossroads

At the end of the day, it's the votes that really count:

In 2016, Michelle Obama’s words became the Democrats’ defining creed to counter Donald J. Trump’s battering ram of a presidential campaign: “When they go low, we go high.” Two years later, the appeal of “high” seems low. As much as any policy tensions or messaging debate within the party, this question of tone — of how to combat Mr. Trump effectively without slipping into a pale imitation — is perhaps the central divide of this Democratic moment (and the next one, with the 2020 campaign looming).

How will Democrats choose to revise Mrs. Obama’s sentence, with Mr. Trump heaving insults from the White House and the rally stage — his pre-midterm bully pulpit? “When they go low, we kick them,” Eric H. Holder Jr., the former Obama administration attorney general and a possible 2020 candidate, said this week.

I think the first thing we need to remember before making any decisions on our "tone" is that it doesn't need to be an "either/or" situation. Maintaining a high level of anger and outrage is not only exhausting, it threatens to dull the senses, allowing truly outrageous things to occur with little opposition. There are values associated with each incident or issue, and how we assess those values sends a message about our own judgment and moral character. The second thing we need to remember is that things happen even when we don't "fail.":

Why Barbara Jackson is not fit to serve on NC's Supreme Court

Her complete obeisance to Republicans in the General Assembly is distressing:

The General Assembly can waive its common law rights in addition to its statutory rights, and whether it chooses to do so is not within the purview of this Court. Nevertheless, we will not lightly assume such a waiver by a coordinate branch of government. Therefore, without a clear and unambiguous statement by the General Assembly that it intends to waive its attorney-client privilege or work-product doctrine, we are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly‟s judgment regarding the scope of its legislative confidentiality.

In a nutshell, Justice Jackson blocked the plaintiff's discovery of e-mails associated with the GOP's gerrymandering plot after they took over the General Assembly in 2011. And she did this because she knew that during the back-and-forth between lawmakers and mapmakers and consultants, the true nature of their racial gerrymandering would be revealed. It was not about "complying" with the VRA, it was about abusing those Federal guidelines in order to pack African Americans into districts and greatly reduce the value and impact of their votes. In the absence of such damning proof, Republicans were free to keep their little charade afloat. Read the whole decision and you will see Jackson dug up the worst collection of Precedent I've seen in a while to back up her argument. Irrelevant and inappropriate don't even cover it. But at least read Robin Hudson's dissent, because it demonstrates why the GOP worked so hard to steal her seat:

Racism and corruption in Georgia's Gubernatorial race

Purging African-Americans from the voter rolls to stop Stacey Abrams:

My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished. This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Been seeing this on social media for several days now, and I figured we'd better dig in to make sure they don't try this crap in NC:

NC's Death Row a legacy of past mistakes

And every single one of these cases needs a thorough review:

With 142 inmates waiting to die, North Carolina has the sixth largest death row in the country. But a report released Tuesday says most of the prisoners would not be awaiting execution if their cases were investigated and tried today.

In “Unequal Justice: How obsolete laws and unfair trial created North Carolina’s outsized Death Row,” the Center for Death Row Litigation in Durham says the state’s death row is stuck in time while the views of capital punishment continue to evolve. “They are prisoners of a state that has moved on, but refuses to reckon with its past,” the report says. “Today, the death penalty is seen as a tool to be used sparingly. Instead of a bludgeon to be wielded in virtually every first-degree murder case.”

With all the political issues confronting us these days, people might be prone to back-burner this one based on two flawed assumptions: 1) They are in no danger of being executed due to the de facto moratorium, or 2) They would still be incarcerated somewhere else anyway. As to that first thing, the term "de facto" should be enough to demonstrate that fallacy. New technology and/or a shift in opinion could get the execution machine rolling again. As far as the second assumption is concerned, these factors definitely come into play:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Why voting is so important:

The science of science is dying, and being replaced by the rhetoric of industry lobbyists. We can start the healing process by taking back the General Assembly in 2018, and finish it by purging the White House in 2020.

Climate Change and the "cycle of disaster" in floodplains

When it comes to rebuilding after storms, some hard decisions need to be made:

Local officials desperate to restore normalcy to disoriented communities will get to decide how to spend those federal dollars — choices made more consequential, and costly, as sea levels rise and Atlantic storms generate greater surge and rainfall because of climate change.

“Human settlements have been designed in a way that reflects a climate of the past, and this increases the likelihood that disaster-related losses will continue to rise,” said Gavin Smith, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who directs the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, a research consortium funded by the Department of Homeland Security. “This also means we need to rethink how and where we build before the storm, as well as how and where we reconstruct public buildings and infrastructure in the aftermath of extreme events.”

First let me state upfront I do not live in an area prone to flooding, even during the worst of deluges. There are a few streams here and there in my community that are prone to overflow, but 15-20 minutes later everything's fine. And I know it's real easy for somebody like me to criticize those who do live in such areas, who resist being relocated. But emotional attachments have absolutely no influence on the science of hydrology, and if that science tells you you're living in the wrong place, you should probably listen closely:

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