Voter Suppression Unmasked and Undaunted

December 30, 2020

Pearl River     What’s the saying, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride….” The old Scottish nursing rhyme harkens to the days when the differences between the rich and poor might be a matter of transportation. The line came to me as I began reading a recent New York Times article that catalogued the total destruction of any remaining rationale being used to justify the host of impediments assembled to prevent access to the ballot in the name of election security. I wish….

The argument advanced in their story was that all of the various obstacles to citizens trying to vote had now in the Trump effort to undermine the 2020 election been assembled in a host of lawsuits before judges, often thought to be friendly and definitely Republican, and rejected as unproven, fabricated, and often just plain mistaken.  For years, many of us have argued that all of these so-called efforts to protect election security with various forms of voter identifications, certifications by witnesses, purges, and more were little more than pretend solutions in search of a nonexistent problem. Yes, now that’s been proven in court all across the country and fully debunked and certified as hardly more than a conspiracy theory. In fact, it’s so clearly nothing more than a conspiracy theory that President Unelect Trump has been forced to tweet that voter fraud is “not a conspiracy theory,” pretty much proving that it’s a conspiracy theory. To me, it all sounds like Richard Nixon’s claim that “I am not a crook.”

The Voter Purge Project has been monitoring almost twenty state voter lists around the country to be able to determine the accuracy of purges, as our report has established, there are problems with almost all of them, some major and some minor. In the last fourteen months, errors of 40000 were found in Ohio and ten thousand or more in both Texas and Georgia based on faulty matching data in the last two cases. More will be found as a new wave of purges now begins with the election over.

Despite the complete debunking of voter fraud claims, red state legislatures from Michigan to Georgia are already preparing new restrictions on voting by all reports in order to expand IDs, make accessing mail ballots more difficult, and a host of other rocks in the road for voters. It’s past time to call it what it is, voter suppression with no sugar in the coffee. It’s not a question of Republican or Democrat, it a question now of whether or not we protect the pretense of being a democracy, where all voters are allowed to exercise their franchise, or say it’s all about power and party, the devil take the hindmost, and wait for the next wannabe authoritarian to take Trump’s place.

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Hey, Congress, Lay Off ACORN Already

December 29, 2020

Pearl River     Good news! The still President, or as some call him the President-Unelect Donald Trump, went to sign his golf card in Florida and toady South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham slipped the latest $900 billion coronavirus relief bill to him instead, and, wham-bam, relief finally came. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but Graham is trying his best to take credit for whispering in his ear in between holes, and Trump’s last-minute histrionics in threatening to hold up the bill until the individual payments were upped to $2000 were crashing and burning in Republican “let them eat cake” Senate after the House jumped to “Amen” the higher payments. If this is political theater, it’s farce, especially since the pouting presidential delay meant an interruption in unemployment payments since the earlier extension had already expired.

The bill does extend eviction relief, unemployment emergency benefits, food stamp increases, individual payments of up to $600, money for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, and more. Sure, there’s plenty for business and the rich, too. It wouldn’t be a bill out of Congress without that caveat.

But, part of the “more,” still continues to be offensive, because it included another annual slap at ACORN. Buried on page 1,092 of the new bill is this reference to ACORN:

SEC. 521. None of the funds made available under this or any other Act, or any prior Appropriations Act, may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.

On its face, this language is ridiculous, overboard, and likely unconstitutional. It’s unclear that it is now legal to pass something ex post facto, going back in time, not that this copy-and-paste baloney hasn’t been in every appropriation bill out of Congress over the last decade or more. There were hundreds of “allied organizations” with ACORN, including scores of labor unions, progressive think tanks, religious organizations, political, social service and university programs, and more.  Congress would have to have several full-time staffers on the job to make sure nothing trickled down from this bill (or prior bills?) to ACORN allies. Affiliates, subsidiaries, or successors? Well, there are plenty of them as well, and many that survived have done quite well, thank you, so back in the boiler room there better be some elves working to make sure they are punished for no crimes as well.

Here’s what I don’t get. Sure, back in the Obama days when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, something like ACORN, attacked but never charged or proven guilty of anything, was a political punching bag for partisan players, but why is this still happening now? The House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi contains a majority of Democrat members.         The chair of the House Appropriations Committee that writes much of this bill is Democratic, which means that they also control the key staffing positions. Why then is ACORN still so unjustly singled out for this kind of gratuitous attack in any and all appropriations bills, including this current stimulus act?

Trump never even knew how to spell ACORN, so it’s hard to believe that this has anything to do with making him happy. Biden is now going to be president. The Democrats still control the House, no matter what happens in Georgia. In the next appropriations bills can’t we get rid of these Section 521 kind of insults buried past 1000 pages on these bills that mean nothing, that hardly anyone reads, and that at best are nothing but an ancient history footnote that many now would be clueless to explain?

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