Public Racism is now a Hope for Voters’ Rights

clippers-donald-sterlingNew Orleans    Maybe in a weird, crazy way we are going to end up being able to find a silver lining in the dark cloud of the stark racism expressed recently by the Nevada rancher’s slavery bear hug and the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner’s snarling slurs to his mistress.  How could progressives have picked more outstanding representatives of the dug-in nature of racism than a 20-year law breaking squatter refusing to pay the government for grazing his cattle on Bureau of Land Management property or an 80-year old billionaire with a record of racial discrimination settlements for discrimination in his apartment empire giving racist advice to his multi-racial Mexican and African-American girlfriend?  You couldn’t order a present this good from Amazon even if you agreed to pay the shipping or find this on any aisle at Walmart’s among the 50,000 choices. 

            Almost as if it were planned rather than a coincidence, a federal judge in Wisconsin has now struck down the voter identification law there because it violates the 14th Amendment and also because it violates the Voting Rights Act as racially discriminatory.  In a 90-page opinion, he based his decision that voter ID’s are not only illegal because they were a solution looking for a non-existent problem, but also because he argued that 300,000 citizens in the state or 9% of the population, disproportionately made of racial minorities, were the people who lacked IDs and would therefore have voting obstacles.  Wisconsin will no doubt appeal, and the Supreme Court will have trouble not taking such a case.

            Supreme Court Justice Roberts is making his living claiming that racism and discrimination are so yesterday, over and done, that we no longer need affirmative action, voter protections or much of anything else in his lilywhite imaginary world.  But, now on the front pages day after day we have proof positive, way past all of the pretending, that there are deep veins of racism both among the high and mighty and the far flung and isolated, continuing to poison American life.

Too many of the big whoops have been lured into believing that they can buy a safe pass to conceal their hate.  One of the most tragic side stories in the Clippers’ saga is the role of the Los Angeles NAACP in giving multiple awards, whitewashing the owner in what one columnist called a “cash for karma” exchange. 

The fantasy of current racial harmony may be over thanks to these bums.  They make the reality of racism harder to ignore.  Justice cannot be based on a Beltway myopia, but an understanding of what exists everywhere across the country.  It also cannot be based on the way people pretend to operate, but what they really think, which is what determines what they really do.


Judges Recant, but Voter Suppression Goes into Overdrive

DSCN4835New Orleans  Explain to me how in a rational world hunting licenses in Texas can be an acceptable form of voter identification, but a student ID from the University of Texas cannot be?  Stumped aren’t you?   How exactly does North Carolina cutting back on early voting by one week ensure the sanctity of the ballot there?  These are simple examples of the lengths that Republican-dominated states are willing to go now that the dogs have been let out by the Supreme Court on voter suppression.

            Even the judges are asking for forgiveness and mouthing mea culpas.   Judge Posner of the federal appeals court who wrote the majority opinion in an Indiana case a couple of years ago upholding their IDs is now writing his “I’m sorry” statements since he was unhappy at how his verdict has been twisted to green light voter suppression.   Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said much the same thing the other day to the Wall Street Journal.  

            Columnists Cokie and Steven Roberts cited an overlooked report by the Ohio Republican Secretary of State from 2012 that found that of 5.63 million ballots cast in the state, he thought there were 163 so-called “possible” cases of voter fraud.   Possible means not proven and in fact not even processed, just votes with a question mark, but even if these were stone cold cases of fraud, which as I’ve said, they decidedly were not, it would be an incidence of 1 out of every 41704 ballots or voters were.   Let all of our problems be so minor.  

            The Justice Department, regardless of the Supreme Court’s enabling of all of this mischief by relaxing the Voter Rights pre-clearance protections, is suing in North Carolina and is clear about voter IDs and their racial impact since African-American residents are 22% of North Carolina’s population but 34% of those without government-issued IDs.  Not surprisingly blacks also accounted for 41% of voters using same day registration and 29% of early voting, which the Republicans are also trying to restrict of course.

This is a classic case of supposed solutions, looking for problems to fix, since all of this is about voter suppression not voter fraud.   All of this is nothing but a rationale from the right.   A great ACORN leader in Arkansas named Bill Whipple, now gone many years, used to repeat to me regularly the rhetorical question of whether or not I knew the correct definition for the word “rationale,” which he would then quickly provide, saying that, “a rationale was nothing more than a lie in the skin of a reason.”