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“Let My People Vote”: David Axelrod To Republicans On Election Engineering

Barack Obama’s former right-hand man accused Republicans of passing laws to shut out Democrats from voting in the next presidential election. “There’s no doubt that Republican legislatures and governors across this country have made an attempt to try to win the elections in 2012 and 2011 by passing laws that are restrictive, that are meant to discourage participation, particularly by key constituencies that have voted Democratic in the past,” said David Axelrod, former White House official and current senior advisor to the Obama campaign.

The comments were made in an online Q&A following the premiere of “The Road We Traveled,” a 17-minute film directed by David Guggenheim and produced by the Obama campaign. Questions were submitted over Twitter, and the topics ranged from how the president will handle Iran to whether Axelrod ever got in arguments with fellow senior advisor David Plouffe. The final question posed to Axelrod was about the string of laws Republican state legislatures have passed over the past year that will restrict access to the ballot in the name of combating voter fraud.

“The bottom line is we’re going to have to fight this in every state,” he said, “with every set of rules through organization, through commitment on the part of the campaign but also on individuals to find out exactly what the rules are in their state.” Axelrod and fellow Obama staffer Mitch Stewart then touted GottaRegister, a website started by the Democratic National Committee that helps voters register and navigate their local voting laws.

Seven states have passed strict voter ID laws since the 2010 midterm elections, though some of those have been held up after objections from the Department of Justice.

Immediately after taking power, newly elected Republican majorities in state legislatures rushed to combat voter fraud, a constant fear among the conservative base. But research has shown that these laws—and other restrictive voting measures such as repealing same-day registration or cutbacks on early voting—will make it incredibly difficult for certain groups of citizens to cast a ballot: senior citizens, racial minorities, the poor, and the young.

Republicans claim that it is just a coincidence that these groups targeted by the bill happen to vote consistently for Democrats. But Axelrod didn’t mince words about Republicans’ intentions. “We’re going to thwart this cynical attempt to depress voter turnout,” he said in the video. “The difference between our party and their party is we’d be comfortable if every single American who was qualified to vote did vote. We think that’d be a great thing for this country.”


By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, March 16, 2012

March 17, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Lying Candidate Will Be A Lying President”: More On Mitt Romney’s Lies

Is Mitt Romney a guy who tells a bunch of lies, or is he a liar? That the question Jonathan Chait asks, and he winds up sort-of defending Romney, saying that his lies, many of which revolve around his effort to deny his own history, have been practical in nature. “It’s Romney’s bad luck that fate has dictated his only path to the presidency lies in being a huge liar,” Chait says, so those lies don’t tell us much about what’s deep in Romney’s character.

There are two problems here. The first is that Romney lies about President Obama as often as he lies about himself. It’s just that when he does the former, he does it with actual squirming (if he’s sitting down), the phoniest smile you’ve ever seen, and panic in his eyes, so it’s really obvious. The second problem is that Chait’s distinction applies to pretty much every political liar in history. There’s always a reason why a politician lies. The biggest lies come when they get caught doing something they shouldn’t have (Nixon with Watergate, Reagan with Iran-Contra, Clinton with Monica Lewinsky). They might be telling themselves, “Taking responsibility is all well and good, but it’s better for the country if I get out of this scandal and continue with my duties.”

In fact, saving one’s own skin, whether from scandal or the displeasure of the party base, is a near-universal motivation for politicians’ lies. In Romney’s case, what he got caught doing wasn’t trading arms for hostages or getting serviced by a young intern, but supporting abortion rights and health care reform, which to the people whose votes he’s now seeking are sins even more deplorable. I’d argue that Romney’s lies about Obama (see here for some ) are the worse ones, because it wasn’t like some reporter backed him into a corner and he was grasping at straws to keep primary voters from hating him. He could make a critique of Obama that’s just as persuasive without making things up, but he chooses not to, fairly regularly.

So is there a real meaningful difference between a politician who’s a liar, and a politician who tells many lies? No—or, at least, none that will matter to us as citizens. Experience tells us that a guy who lies as a candidate will not only tend to lie just as much as a president, but will probably lie about the same kinds of things. If he’s lying on the campaign trail about whether he has cheated on his wife, it’s a good bet he’ll end up telling us more lies about future cheating. If he’s lying on the campaign trail about what his tax plan contains, it’s a good be he’ll end up lying to us about his tax plan when he tries to pass it, as George W. Bush did.

So the really important thing to watch out for is the guy who tells lies about policy. Which would seem to apply fairly well to Mitt Romney, whatever happens to lie deep within his heart.


By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, March 15, 2012

March 17, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hardline Except For “Lucrative Investments”: Mitt Romney Profiting Off Chinese Surveillance

In a Wall Street Journal oped last month, Mitt Romney laid out “how I’ll respond to a China’s rising power” and criticized the Obama administration’s handling of relations with Beijing. Romney warns of a China as a regional hegemon:

The character of the Chinese government — one that marries aspects of the free market with suppression of political and personal freedom — would become a widespread and disquieting norm.

In the op-ed, the former Massachusetts governor also criticized Obama for failing to press Beijing on human rights and intellectual property violations.

While Romney is quick to criticize Beijing and the White House’s management of U.S.-China relations, an examination of the GOP frontrunner’s investments with Bain Capital — a company he co-founded and once led — suggest he has profited from Chinese surveillance of its own citizenry and from companies that have engaged in intellectual property theft.

The New York Times revealed yesterday that a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust had holdings purchased Uniview Technologies in December, a Chinese company that claims to be the biggest supplier of surveillance cameras to the Chinese government. Uniview produces “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that allow police to share images in real time and provided technology for an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.

Human rights advocates say that the rapidly growing number of surveillance cameras in Chinese cities are used to intimidate political and religious activists. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province told the Times. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.

Romney has said he has no role in Bain’s operations but a financial disclosure form filed last August showed that his wife, Ann Romney, held a $100,000 to $250,000 investment in the Bain Capital Asia Fund that purchased Uniview.

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Romney wrote, “In the economic arena, we must directly counter abusive Chinese practices in the areas of trade, intellectual property, and currency valuation.”

But Romney’s apparent hypocrisy between his hardline positions on China and his lucrative investment portfolio is on show once again with Bain Capital’s investment in Chinese YouTube competitor Youku. CBS Marketwatch co-founder Bill Bishop writes on his blog, Sinocism, that Romney’s talk of pressing Beijing to better enforce intellectual property rights is in direct contradiction with Bain Capital’s early investment in Youku, a “pirate’s den of copyright infringement” in the site’s early days. A Bain Capital VP now sits on the board of Youku and Youku has reportedly cracked down on copyright violating content. Its newly acquired partner, Tudou, still hosts a variety of pirated and copyright infringing videos.

But if Romney profited from Bain’s ties to Youku and Uniview Technologies, it’s worth examining how the GOP frontrunner’s tough-talk on China can happily coexist with Bain’s investments in companies that have constructed business models around Chinese human rights abuses and intellectual property theft.


By: Eli Clifton, Think Progress, March 16, 2012

March 17, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oath Keepers” Alive In Arizona: Pushes Unconstitutional Bill Restricting Federal Law Enforcement

Arizona’s county sherriff’s are not exactly known for setting the standard for effective law enforcement and loyalty to the Constitution — indeed, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is currently under federal investigation for widespread mistreatment of Latinos and other violations of the law. Nevertheless, an Arizona senate committee just approved a unconstitutional billwhich would require federal law enforcement officers to provide advance notice to Arpaio and his fellow sheriffs before taking action in their counties:

A Senate panel voted Thursday to fire a warning shot of sorts over the heads of federal law enforcement agencies: Don’t come around here unless you get local OK.

The legislation, crafted by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would require employees of those agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.”

The only exception would be if the notification would impede the federal officer’s duties. But even then, HB 2434 has a requirement to notify the sheriff “as soon as practicable after taking the action.”

The Constitution simply does not allow states to order federal officials to do anything. Under our Constitution, federal law is “the supreme law of the land,” so when Congress enacts an otherwise valid federal law and empowers federal officers to enforce it, the states have no power whatsoever to limit that enforcement or place conditions on it.

Disturbingly, the bill may also be connected to a radical anti-government group known as the “Oath Keepers.” The Oath Keepers is a right-wing group that pushes local law enforcement to pledge to defy federal “orders” the Oath Keepers believe are unconstitutional. Their website is riddled with paranoid rhetoric about government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.” In early 2008, the Oath Keepers’ founder warned that a “dominatrix-in-chief” named “Hitlery Clinton” would impose a police state on America and shoot all resisters. After Democratic primary voters chose President Obama over Clinton, the Oath Keepers simply rewrote their paranoid fantasy to include a taller, African-American lead. Rep. Gowan, the lead sponsor of this bill, is listed as a member of the Tucson Oath Keepers on their Meetup page.

So, while merely notifying local law enforcement of federal actions may seem like a minor imposition, the bill makes sense in the context of a broader Oath Keeper agenda, because it gives local sherriffs advance notice of which federal actions they wish to defy.


By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, March 16, 2012

March 17, 2012 Posted by | Arizona, Constitution | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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