Saturday, February 13, 2016

Study shows voter ID laws suppress minority votes

There is an annual non-partisan survey, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, that provides all kinds of data about elections and voter behavior.   A group of researchers from two universities has used this data to study the effect of voter ID laws.   They found a "clear and significant dampening effect on minority turnout in strict voter ID states."

Voter turnout dropped by 8.8% among Democrats but only 3.6% among Republicans in the general elections in such states.   If, instead of political party, the data were broken down by racial groups, they found that, compared to whites, voter turnout plummets in those ID statesfor Latinos by 8.6%, for African-Americans by 10.8%, and for Asian-Americans by 13.6%. 

They also found that those who identify as strong liberals also dropped in turnout by 7.9%, while strong conservatives actually vote at a 4.8% higher rate compared to states without the strict ID laws.

We've know this anecdotally.   Now we have some data to back it up.   Will it matter to legislators who reject science, ignore facts, and distrust reason?   No, but it might make a difference in the courts.


So, another debate happened

I feel obligated to write something about Thursday night's Democratic candidates' debate on PBS, with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff moderating.    Here's a thing:   As Hillary Clinton pointed out, this was the first time in the history of the debates that the majority of those on stage were women:   One candidate and two moderators made it three out of four.

Well, that's correct.   And it's a testament to how much less the gender divide seems to matter these days that it had not occurred to me or anyone else to comment about it.   Even the moderators seemed a bit surprised to have it mentioned.

So . . . what else?  Frankly I found the debate a bit boring and slightly unpleasant -- and I think that mostly had to do with Clinton.   As she's more threatened by Sanders' success, she goes into her defensive, hard-edged attack mode.   She was either on the attack, trying to exaggerate differences, or else she was proving her superior wonkishness (which is formidable, I'll grant her that) and thereby emphasizing Sanders' vagueness about details.

Unfortunately for Hillary, the more she appeals to your head, the less attractive she becomes to your heart.  Or so my reaction is.   She should let her resume speak for itself and try to show her softer side, which she does have.   We know she is highly experienced and knowledgeableWhat is less clear to voters is that warm, human side of her.

The fact is, in the scheme of this 2016 race, these two Democrats have so few real differences between them -- when compared to any of the Republican candidates -- that it seems like a waste of time to even be debating at this point, except to keep their shared message in front of voters, who are inundated by Republican rhetoric.

They share most of the same goals on domestic policies;  their differences are about how to achieve those goals.   Their differences as commander-in-chief, in what role the United States should play in the world, are more different;   but, again, so much closer than what separates them from the Republicans.

It comes down to the basic difference between idealism and pragmatism, between sweeping radical change vs incrementalism.   Another way to put that:   Sanders believes we can change the political process with a people's revolution;   Clinton believes you have to work within the system and that she can do that better.   And that IS a big difference.


Friday, February 12, 2016

We the people vs Goldman Sachs

Another hurdle has landed, among the many that get thrown in Hillary Clinton's lane (usually of her own making, even if she didn't do anything actually wrong), in the form of highly paid speeches to one of the most powerful bank/investment firms on Wall Street:   Goldman Sachs.   It seems that, between the end of her term as Secretary of State and her entry into the presidential race, she gave a lot of speeches for all kinds of organizations and companies.

She gave a series of three speeches for Goldman Sachs for a total of $625,000.   People are asking:  what did she say to them to make it worthwhile?   What did they/will they get for it?

Compare:  Bernie Sanders had a blow-out win in New Hampshire, defeating Clinton by 22% points.   Within less than 2 days following that win, his grassroots supporters contributed over $7,000,000 to his campaign.    No billionaires, no SuperPacs.    Just We, the People wanting a new kind of politics and a different world.


Clarifying "adding outrageous insult"

Concerning my previous post about the city of Cleveland sending a bill for medical services to the family of Tamir Rice, I have learned the true story here.   The mayor of Cleveland has apologized to the family and given this explanation.

The executor of the estate of Tamir Rice, as a matter of legal routine in probating the estate of a deceased person, had asked for a statement of any outstanding bills or charges against the deceased.

So the statement of unpaid charges was sent to the executor, not to the family -- and only because it was requested.  The city had written off the charges and would not have pursued it.

Still, as a human matter, it just seems outrageous in the first place that one would be charged for medical care to be treated for gunshots wounds at the hands of the police.   I suppose the EMT or hospital lawyers would say that it's not up to the medical facilities to determine who is responsible for bills.

Logic and legalities aside, none of the whole outrageous incident should have occurred.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Adding outrageous insult to homicide

Tamir Rice was the 12 year old African-American boy who was fatally shot by a certifiably unqualified, rookie policeman for playing in a public park with a toy gun -- which the inexperienced, panicky officer just assumed was real and that Tamir was about to shoot him.

We wouldn't even know about the case, because the officers lied in their report to cover up what really happened.  Only there was one of those ubiquitous security video monitors scanning the area.

It wasn't enough to overcome the rigged system that allows police officers to hear all the evidence against them presented to a grand jury -- and then to give their own story to the same grand jury without being questioned by the victim's attorney.   And, so, of course, no indictment was brought against the officer in this case of police-inflicted homicide.

That's all bad enough.   But now -- it's hard to even write this -- the City of Cleveland has filed a creditor's claim against the Tamir Rice estate for a past due $500 bill for emergency medical treatment for this boy for his gunshot wounds from the City of Cleveland's policeman who killed him.

The city had already had to apologize to the Rice family last year for a legal filing that blamed Tamir for his own death.  Can you think of anything else that they can do to mishandle this case any worse than has been done?


"A different kind of politics is possible . . . "

OK, so this came as a letter from, raising money for Bernie Sanders.   But read the message.   It's a pretty exciting prospect.

Anyway, here's the letter.   See what you think.
Bernie Sanders just won New Hampshire in a landslide.
Not long ago, this would've seemed like, yes, a dream. Now it's a reality. And—can you believe it?—if we come together now, we have a chance to redefine politics for a generation.

In New Hampshire, Bernie won among just about everyone. Women and men, middle class and working class and poor, middle-aged and—most of all, in a blowout—young voters.

Bernie won among those who believe the system is rigged, and that the government should work for everyone. Turns out, that's a huge majority of New Hampshire Democrats.
There used to be a time when Democratic politicians were afraid of their own shadows. Not anymore. From now on, every Democrat can see, clear as day, that an unapologetic progressive agenda is a road to victory.

Yes, this is actually happening. And if the millions of us who've stepped up keep this going, and millions more join the movement, it will keep happeningall across the country.

Until someone shows that something can be done, nobody believes it can be done.

But the movement backing Bernie is busting through political myths one after another. We're showing that a different kind of politics is possible. And if a different kind of politics is possible, another world is possible, too.
What an exciting prospect.  I even begin to see some appeal to some of those voters now in the Republican camp who aren't necessarily there because they are conservative -- but because they want something fundamentally different in politics and government.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NH: big night for Sanders, Trump, Kasich

Fascinating night of election returns and analysis in New Hampshire with big wins for Sanders, Trump, and Kasich, all of whom exceeded expectations.   As of this writing (Tuesday at midnight), 81% of the vote has been counted.

Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton by 60% to 39%.   He won in seemingly disparate demographic groups:  both gun owners and those who consider themselves "very liberal."  He of course won with young people under 30 by 85%.

According to exit polls, Sanders won 77% of Independents.  He won big with those who said these factors were of major importance to them:   honesty (92%), wants an outsider (89%), cares about people (81%), and worried about the economy (71%).  But here's the surprise:   he beat Clinton with women voters by 53% to 47%.

On the Republican side, Trump won with 35%, with Kasich taking second place with 16%.   Cruz, Bush, and Rubio were still battling it out for 3rd-4th-5th places around 11-12%, all within 1% of each other -- although the Cruz-Bush-Rubio order, slim as it is, has stuck throughout the evening.

Christie came in 6th place at 8%, with Fiorino at 4% and Carson at 2%.   Christie had earlier said he would be going to South Carolina tonight.  After the returns were so disappointing for him, his campaign announced he would be going back to New Jersey to reevaluate the strategy. 

Here are some additional thoughts about the results:

1.  By choosing Sanders and Trump, New Hampshire sent a clear message.   It was a repudiation of the establishment and the status quo -- and that includes political, economic, and the media.

2.  Christie's attack in the debate hurt Rubio, knocking him out of the second place win he needed in NH.   But it actually hurt Christie himself (as I suggested on Tuesday), and now it looks like he will probably be dropping out.

3Sanders' better-than-expectations win in New Hampshire cannot be dismissed as "next door neighbor," as Clinton supporters want to make it.   If it were that, why did he start out thirty points behind her in the polls -- and then finish 20 points ahead?   He was a NH neighbor from the beginning.

4He won because people see Clinton as establishment, too cozy with Wall Street (what did she tell the Goldman Sachs big wigs in that speech they paid her $150,000 to give?);*  and because they see Sanders as more authentic, more honest, and more attuned to their needs.

5.  Bernie Sanders got more total votes by far than Donald Trump did;  and, in fact, it may turn out that so did Hillary Clinton.   Remember, he won the NH primary with only 35% of the vote, because of the large number of candidates.

6.  I include Kasich as a winner, because I see him as winning the contest among the four establishment candidates, which gives him a needed big boost.  But will the GOP establishment and donors now embrace him?   Will he, along with Sanders and Trump, be able to win in other primaries going forward?   We now head south.  Is this winning territory for them?  Or is this just a blip on the way to someone else being nominated -- as New Hampshire often is.

7Kasich may catch on with voters.   He really found his footing in NH, and voters connected with his decency, his reasonableness, and his authenticity.   Rachel Maddow was there and observed both Kasich and Christie in their rallies.    She said, apart from the substance of what either of them said, their engagement with the people was vastly different.   Christie "performed" for the crowd.   But Kasich really listened, made a connection with each person, and actually engaged in a conversation with them.   Bernie Sanders has the same quality.   That, as they say, is yuuuge.   Especially in a place like New Hampshire. 


* Correction:   Clinton was paid $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs.