Republican Eric Cantor might help pass the new Voting Rights Act that was introduced on Thursday. He traveled to Selma with John Lewis for a recent anniversary, and while many Republicans live in gerrymandered, increasingly monolithic districts, Cantor does not. Almost one out of five of his constituents are African-American.
So cynics might say it all comes back to politics. But if the democratic will of a diverse electorate drives the GOP Majority Leader to act, it’s a reminder of why this nation fought so hard to ensure everyone had the right to vote in the first place.
Your shutdown update:
1) Congress has the votes to open the government right now.
2) But a GOP minority says it has “to get something out of this” fight before it allows a majority vote.
3) And so Speaker Boehner keeps blocking majority rule.
1) “More than 100 House Republicans would be open to a clean CR [funding bill] should Boehner bring one to the floor.” - Reporting from conservative National Review.
2) :’We’re not going to be disrespected,’ the Tea Party congressman said… ‘We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.’ Let that quote sink: Stutzman is admitting that conservatives don’t even know what they want out of this fight. As we said yesterday, the deeper a hole you did, the harder it is to get out because suddenly you get this war mentality where you can’t fathom “surrendering” to the other side’s terms.” - By NBC News
3) Speaker Boehner has refused to ever bring a “clean” funding bill — without unrelated attacks on Obamacare or other policy goals — to the floor to allow the House to simply vote on it. Washington Post
“John Boehner only needs 17 Republicans to join him and House Democrats for a funding bill to prevent a government shutdown. The votes are there — if we have a shutdown on Tuesday, it’s an entirely avoidable one.”—That’s all.
“It is telling that New York, a city with an unusually diverse and liberal political establishment, is so reliant on racial profiling that the policy has sparked federal lawsuits, city council battles and rancorous debate in the contest to replace a centrist and fairly popular mayor. (Most of the Democratic candidates oppose the policy.) In many other parts of the country, profiling continues with far less outcry.”—Ari Melber, MSNBC (via politiprose)
“A 700% spike in the prison population has many states literally running out of jails. They are increasingly turning to the free market — private prisons that presume guilt as a business model and recidivism as a bonus.”—From our new Presumed Guilty series for MSNBC.
“It turns out that activities that lead us to feel uncertainty, discomfort, and even a dash of guilt are associated with some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of people’s lives. Happy people, it seems, engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.”—
“The civil rights protesters always took the Constitution *more seriously* than many politicians and judges at the time. Martin Luther King Jr. imagined what the Bill of Rights and the reconstruction amendments would do if they actually meant what they said — long before the legal establishment saw that as a practical possibility. By out-dreaming, out-thinking and out-working those elites, King ultimately moved the public and legal consciousness closer to true equality.”—My essay on Renewing the Voting Rights Act.
Now many are saying that passing another Voting Rights Act, in response to the conservative court decision this week, is too hard and unlikely to succeed.
Is it harder than the first time, when people risked their lives? When John Lewis was beaten in Selma?
Is it less likely in this Congress than in the institution that was packed with segregationists in 1965 – a Congress that holds the record for the longest filibuster in history, 57 days, intended to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Have we lost sight of so much history that we don’t even know what difficult means anymore?
President Obama's First Live Reaction to Voting Rights Ruling
Q: … could you give us your gut, your visceral reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in the voting rights case? Explain legislative remedy you will pursue and the pace of that?
A: The Voting Rights Act, Sections 2, 4, 5 were the cornerstones of providing political power to African Americans that then led to a whole range of other steps to make America more just and more equal. It was the cornerstone and the culmination of years of struggle — blood, sweat, tears — in some cases, deaths.
I might not be here as President had it not been for those who courageously helped to pass the Voting Rights Act. I think that the Supreme Court made a mistake in its ruling, but that decision is now here. I think the Supreme Court didn’t recognize the degree to which voter suppression is still a problem around the country, and that it makes sense for us to put in place mechanisms to check practices and procedures that may make it harder for people to vote in those areas where there’s been a history in the past of discrimination.
And part of the reason, Major, is because even though law suits can still be filed now if there’s discrimination, if you don’t have the structure of Section 4 and Section 5 in place ahead of time, the election may be over by the time law suits are filed or a court rules. And oftentimes, it may be too late.
Having said that, the Supreme Court has ruled and Congress can’t overturn this particular aspect of their ruling. [Ed. Note: That is inaccurate - the ruling was statutory, not constitutional, and specifically invited a congressional response, in accordance with the concerns raised in Roberts’ majority opinion.]
The good news is that there are other potential remedies, and the most important one is to simply make sure that everybody around the country can vote and that everywhere around the country we’re not seeing seven-hour lines — we’re not seeing mechanisms put in place to make it harder for people to vote, but rather we should have mechanisms that make it easier to vote. And that is within Congress’s power. Congress doesn’t have to target or identify a particular jurisdiction. What it can do now is to say, regardless of where you are — regardless of where you live — there are going to be certain rules that apply to elections.
And as you know, right after the election when we had already seen some of these problems, I assigned a close advisor of mine, Bob Bauer, to work with a close advisor of Mitt Romney’s. They’re going to be issuing a report in terms of how we can start making it easier for folks to vote. I recognize that whenever you get into voting rights issues, inevitably some partisan thoughts cross people’s minds about who is it going to advantage or disadvantage.
But in the wake of this Supreme Court ruling, surely we can all agree that people should be able to vote. They shouldn’t be restricted from voting or have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to vote, and that there should be some uniformity in terms of how that right is upheld. It’s the cornerstone of our democracy. It’s what makes our democracy work. And I’m looking forward to working with both Democrats and Republicans in a non-partisan basis to make sure that if you’re a citizen of the United States of America, you can vote without a whole bunch of barriers, regardless of your race or your political leaning.
“No one is advocating blanket amnesty for national security leakers like Bradley Manning. But the government is losing sight of its constitutional boundaries when it treats reporting as criminal and leaking as treason.”—from my new Reuters column on why the prosecution of Manning is overzealous.
In return for driving the profits of social media companies, users get free software, but the cost is contracts that give companies control over your data, prose, pictures, personal information.
This is a classic example of form contract abuse – when a single, powerful party pushes a contract onto a disparate group of other parties.
Think of that cell phone contract you didn’t read, or the waiver you must sign to go river-rafting.
But imagine if social media users came together and developed a People’s Terms of Service Agreement—a common reference point and stamp of approval, like a Fair Trade label for the web, to govern the next photo-sharing app or responsible social network.
"I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog’s report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And the report’s findings are intolerable and inexcusable. The federal government must conduct itself in a way that’s worthy of the public’s trust, and that’s especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test.
I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again. But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong. Public service is a solemn privilege. I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards. So do the American people. And as President, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day.”