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“Yeah, We’re Color-Blind Down South”: Republicans In Full Freakout Mode About African-Americans Voting

Here’s some unsurprising but depressing news from the Montgomery Advertiser‘s Mary Troyan:

Congress does not need to update the Voting Rights Act by restoring special federal oversight of elections in a handful of states, Sen. Jeff Sessions said today.

The Alabama Republican, who voted for the 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act, said he can no longer support legislation that singles out certain states for supervision based on their history of discriminating against minority voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that the formula Congress used to decide which states needed to have their election procedures pre-approved by the federal government was unconstitutional because it was outdated and didn’t account for improved conditions for minority voters since the 1960s.

Congress is now debating legislation that would write a new formula, based on more recent findings of discrimination. But Sessions said that is unnecessary.

The timing of Sessions’ statement is interesting, coming right as conservatives next door in Mississippi and to some extent nationwide are in a full freakout mode about African-Americans voting in a Republican primary, even though they are “liberal Democrats” and thus are clearly selling their votes for food stamps and Obama Phones. .

It was widely surmised that Eric Cantor’s defeat might sharply reduce the odds of the House acting on a VRA fix. If Republicans retake the Senate this year, any VRA legislation is probably doomed there, too; Sessions is the third ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, which also includes “constitutional conservative” leaders Ted Cruz and Mike Lee (the ranking GOP Member is the increasingly wingnutty Farmer Chuck Grassley).

Perhaps Thad Cochran, in an act of gratitude, will champion a VRA fix? Don’t count on it.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, June 27, 2014

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Congress, Discrimination, Voting Rights Act | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“From The Fringe To The Hill”: For Conservatives, Strange Ideas Effortlessly Seep Into The Mainstream

It’s alarmingly common to hear congressional Republicans repeat some deeply odd conspiracy theories. But more often than not, the theories didn’t start on Capitol Hill; they just ended up there.

This keeps happening.

Four Republican senators have sent FBI Director James Comey a letter regarding conservative author and political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who was indicted for campaign finance fraud last month.

In the letter, Sens. Charles Grassley, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee quote Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz as saying, “I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it…. It smacks of selective prosecution.”

“To dispel this sort of public perception that Mr. D’Souza may have been targeted because of his outspoken criticisms of the President, it is important for the FBI to be transparent regarding the precise origin of this investigation,” the senators write.

Last April, I laid out the flight plan, showing the trajectory of these theories: they start with the off-the-wall fringe, then get picked up by more prominent far-right outlets, then Fox News, then congressional Republicans.

Now note the Dinesh D’Souza conspiracy theory. It started with Alex Jones and Drudge. It was then picked up by Limbaugh. And then Fox News. And now four members of the U.S. Senate.

It is one of the more striking differences between how the left and right deal with wild political accusations: for conservatives, strange ideas effortlessly seep into the mainstream.

In this case, D’Souza, a fairly obscure anti-Obama provocateur, was charged with violating federal campaign finance laws, allegedly using straw donors to make illegal third-party donations to a Senate candidate in 2012. D’Souza has denied any wrongdoing.

Looking at this in the larger context, let’s make a few things clear. First, there’s no evidence to suggest politics had anything to do with the charges against D’Souza. Second, if the Justice Department were going to politicize federal law enforcement, risk a national scandal, invite abuse-of-power allegations, and use federal prosecutors to punish conservative activists, it’d probably go after a bigger fish than Dinesh D’Souza.

Third, when the Bush/Cheney administration actually politicized federal law enforcement during the extraordinary U.S. Attorney purge scandal, and there was overwhelming evidence of a genuine scandal, Senate Republicans couldn’t have cared less. Now that an obscure right-wing activist is accused of campaign-finance violations, they’re interested?

And finally, there’s just the unsettling pattern in which Alex Jones and Drudge come up with some silly idea, and within a few weeks, congressional Republicans – including the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for goodness sakes – are demanding answers from the Justice Department.

As we talked about last year, this just doesn’t happen on the left. This is not to say there aren’t wacky left-wing conspiracy theorists – there are, and some of them send me strange emails – but we just don’t see Democratic members of Congress embracing ideas from the far-left fringe.

On the right, however, no one seems especially surprised when a story gradually works its way from Alex Jones’ show to Chuck Grassley’s desk.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 21, 2014

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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