Thursday, July 25, 2013

Last Call For High Stakes Texas Holder 'Em

While the Supreme Court has struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as overly broad, AG Eric Holder and the Department of Justice still have recourse in Section 3 of the VRA, the so-called "opt-in" clause.  If a Federal court finds that a voting jurisdiction has committed voter suppression, it can, under Section 3, choose to opt that jurisdiction into pre-clearance coverage.

Eric Holder has decided that's what needs to happen with a particular, specific jurisdiction, namely the entire state of Texas.  Lyle Denniston:

Here is the Holder statement on the Section 3 issue:

“Today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This request to ‘bail in’ the state – and require it to obtain ‘pre-approval’ from either the Department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes – is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found. Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”

A three-judge U.S. District Court in San Antonio is now considering the question of whether to put Texas back under the preclearance requirement in a pending case involving new election districts for the Texas state legislature and for its membership in the House of Representatives. Advocacy groups for minority voters in the state have already asked that court to take that step. Texas, however, has cautioned that court that such a step might raise new constitutional issues, unless the Section 3 provision is used only in quite narrow circumstances.

The advocacy groups have also asked a three-judge district court in Washington to take the same step. That is the court that found flaws in parts of the Texas redistricting maps in the case that the Attorney General mentioned – Texas v. Holder. The Supreme Court sent that case back to the district court to apply the Shelby County decision. The Justice Department is due to file on Friday its views on the Section 3 question in that case. Holder’s remarks presumably mean it will embrace a Section 3 approach in that case, too.

So while voting rights may be damaged, they're not done for yet, folks.  Remember, the three-judge panel last year found Texas had serious, massive problems with its redistricting scheme. Now that the DoJ has to do things the hard way, the battle begins now in earnest.

A Big Pile Of Ground(swell) Beef

Remember "Journolist", the email list of DC politics reporters talking about the news of the day, and how Republicans made such a stink over it that it cost list founder Dave Weigel his job at the Washington Post?

It turns out Karma is a cold, cold woman, unfeeling in her dispensing of justice in the form of a nice little leak to David Corn.

Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Oops.  The outfit is apparently called "Groundswell", and if you were wondering why the goofy-ass talking points coming out of the unapologetic, xenophobic right all sounded like they were half-baked in a dingy factory with cartoon music blaring 24 hours a day, Groundswell is apparently your factory floor.

One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women's Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm [2]; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.

It's a rogue's gallery of failed Dick Tracy villains conservative masterminds!  What earth-shattering ideas did these scions of conservatism put forth?

The Groundswellers feel that they too often lose the political narrative to their progressive rivals. One memo that circulated among members declared, "We must reclaim the language and put 'a face' on our messages; tell stories. Write articles on 4th grade level!" 

Well that rarely fails to happen, boys.  Read Corn's full expose' and have a good laugh:  and remember, we've got prima facie evidence of lawmakers, journalists, activists, and the wife of a Supreme Court Justice all privately colluding on how to bring the GOP to total power.

Not so funny anymore, is it?

Kentucky Science Edumacation

"A public hearing on science education standards in Kentucky schools, you say?  Why, what could possibly go wrong", Zandar said hopefully.

Supporters of Kentucky's new science education standards said the changes are needed to keep pace with other states and prepare students for college and careers. Opponents countered that the standards are "fascist" and "atheistic."

Oh this is going to be fun.

"Students in the commonwealth both need and deserve 21st-century science education grounded in inquiry, rich in content and internationally benchmarked," said Blaine Ferrell, a representative from the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, a science advocacy group that endorses the standards.

Dave Robinson, a biology professor at Bellarmine University, said neighboring states have been more successful in recruiting biotechnology companies. He said Kentucky could get left behind in industrial development if students fail to learn the latest scientific concepts.

Now, in a normal state where people recognize that science actually exists, this is where our public interest story would end.  Alas, this is frigging Kentucky.

The critics included parent Valerie O'Rear, who said the standards promote an "atheistic world view" and a political agenda that pushes government control.

Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister in Louisville, called teachings on evolution a lie that has led to drug abuse, suicide and other social afflictions.

"Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man's elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God," Singleton said. "Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state."

Another opponent, Dena Stewart-Gore of Louisville, suggested that the standards will marginalize students with religious beliefs.

Several critics said the new teachings will not fully incorporate evidence that may contradict human evolution and man-made climate change.

Darwin wept. 

I weep too because as moronic as these fine examples of Kentucky education are, their votes count precisely as much as yours and mine when it comes to filling local school boards with idiots who believe the nonsense that evolution causes death camps and scabies and The Dreaded Gum Disease, Gingivitis.

Wherever you live here in the states, folks, get involved in your local politics.  Know your school board, your city council, your mayor, your county commissioners.  Get involved yourself.


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