Showing posts with label voting rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label voting rights. Show all posts

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Sinema And The Filibuster

Senator Sinema says she is for the bill that is for the protection of voting rights, but she is against ending the filibuster, even temporarily in the service of those voting rights. Do the math. One plus one is two. Her stand on the filibuster is a stand against voting rights. She is refusing the face the bedrock reality that unless the filibuster is pushed out of the way, voting rights can not be protected in this country, and America is already half way to being South Africa, a country of white minority rule where 10% lords over the other 90%. The filibuster is nothing but white minority rule. Senator Sinema is Karen in Central Park.

Hear why Sinema is concerned about eliminating filibuster Key moderate Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) says she continues to back her party's election legislation, but that she does not support eliminating the filibuster.

How Biden swung for filibuster reform — and missed with Manchin and Sinema Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber would postpone a previously scheduled recess and return Tuesday to begin debating the election and voting legislation. ......... Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday evening that the chamber would postpone a previously scheduled recess and return Tuesday to begin debating the election and voting legislation. He also reiterated his pledge that the Senate will vote on rules changes if Republicans block moving to final passage, as they're expected to do. Despite Biden's visit and next week's floor showdown, Manchin and Sinema are only digging in. ............ Biden had prepared remarks for the meeting but instead opted to speak off-the-cuff, recalling that he got the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) to support the Voting Rights Act while they were both in Congress and arguing that a majority of today's Republicans today wouldn’t support that landmark bill. Biden told senators he couldn’t remember a time in U.S. history where a party had been so enthralled to one person as the GOP is to former President Donald Trump. ............. Unlike Manchin, Sinema did not ask Biden a question during his roughly 90-minute visit with the caucus. There might not have been much to say:

Sinema made crystal-clear during her speech that while she supports voting and election reform bills, she “will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.”

.......... Even with Sinema and Manchin’s latest statements, Schumer is giving no indication he's backing down from his push for a floor vote on rules changes, even if it means dividing his 50-member caucus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House would keep fighting. But Psaki added that it's up to Schumer to decide what the next steps are for a bill the party has portrayed, in stark terms, as essential to save American democracy. ........ Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) argued that the upper chamber already empowers the minority, given that states like Wyoming have as many senators as California. And Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the party's most senior senator, asked why the caucus couldn’t unite around weakening the filibuster.

Sinema says no to filibuster reform to scuttle Democrats’ voting rights hopes Arizona senator says she will not support filibuster changes in floor speech condemned by voting rights activists .......... Even before the US president arrived on Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon to join Democratic senators for their regular lunch gathering, in a diplomatic public offensive, Sinema of Arizona bluntly reiterated that she would not support any change to filibuster rules to get voting rights passed...... Her surprise last-minute move with a speech effectively killed her party’s hope of passing the most sweeping voting rights protections in a generation. .......... Sinema had taken to the Senate floor around noon opposing any changes to the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 votes to advance legislation, while Democrats currently hold a bare majority in the 100-seat chamber and two voting rights bills are stalled. “While I continue to support these [voting rights] bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” she said. She added: “We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy, and it cannot be achieved by one party alone. It cannot be achieved solely by the federal government. The response requires something greater and, yes, more difficult than what the Senate is discussing today.” .......

Sinema’s speech came at an extremely perilous moment for US democracy. Republican lawmakers in 19 states have enacted 34 new laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, that impose new voting restrictions.

............ They have also passed a slew of bills that seek to inject more partisan control into election administration and the counting of votes, an unprecedented trend experts are deeply concerned about and call election subversion. Many of those measures have been passed in state legislatures on simple majority, party-line votes. .......... For months, Sinema and Manchin have staunchly defended the filibuster, which stands as the major hurdle to voting rights reform. No Republicans support either the voting rights bills or changing the rules of the filibuster, so Democrats cannot do anything unless both senators are on board. ........... “History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly. While she remains stubborn in her ‘optimism’, Black and brown Americans are losing their right to vote,” said Martin Luther King III, the son of the civil rights leader, who had met with Biden and vice president Kamala Harris on their high-profile joint visit to Georgia. “She’s siding with the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace instead of the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make real our democracy,” he said, citing the notorious segregationists. ............. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, praised Sinema’s speech as an act of “political courage” that could “save the Senate as an institution” .......... For months, Democrats have championed two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The former measure would overhaul federal election rules to set baseline requirements for voter access. It would require 15 days of early voting, as well as same-day and automatic registration. It also includes provisions that make it harder to remove election officials without justification, and would make it easier for voters to go to court to ensure their votes aren’t thrown out. The latter bill would require states where there is repeated evidence of recent voting discrimination to get changes approved by the federal government before they go into effect. It updates and restores a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that was struck down by the supreme court in 2013. The US House passed a mega-bill on Thursday morning that combined both of those measures into a single bill. It was a procedural move designed to allow the Senate to quickly hear and debate the measure.

Sinema Rejects Changing Filibuster, Dealing Biden a Setback Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s comments came after the House approved a set of voting rights measures on a party-line vote of 220 to 203. ......... The announcement by Ms. Sinema, who had long opposed changing Senate rules, left Mr. Biden and Democrats without an avenue for winning enactment of the voting rights measures, which they have characterized as vital to preserve democracy in the face of a Republican-led drive in states around the country to limit access to the ballot box. ............. It came two days after the president had put his reputation on the line to make the case for enacting the legislation by any means necessary — including scrapping the famed filibuster — with a major speech in Atlanta that compared opponents of the voting rights measures to racist figures of the Civil War era and segregationists who thwarted civil rights initiatives in the 1960s. ........ Ms. Sinema said that while she backed the voting rights legislation her party is pushing and was alarmed about voting restrictions being enacted by Republicans in some states, she believed that a partisan change in the filibuster would only fuel already rampant political division.......... Some said her arguments were weak, particularly her insistence that Democrats should have done more to bring Republicans on board, when they have tried but failed to do so for months. And others groused that

Ms. Sinema seemed glued to her phone during much of the meeting with the president.

........... “It was extraordinarily important,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader who was on the floor during Ms. Sinema’s speech, told reporters. He called it a “conspicuous act of political courage” that “saved the Senate as an institution.” ....... He suggested that Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, once a segregationist candidate for president, had been more willing to back voting rights than current Republican senators ......... And he dismissed a question about whether Republicans would ram through conservative proposals if the filibuster were weakened by saying that the party was too divided to do so. .......... Democrats said the legislation was urgently needed to offset efforts taking hold in Republican-led states to make it more difficult to vote after Democratic gains in the 2020 elections and former President Donald J. Trump’s false claim that the vote was stolen. They argued that the flurry of new state laws was clearly intended to reduce voting in minority communities, amounting to a contemporary version of the kinds of restrictions that were prevalent before the enactment of landmark civil rights laws in the 1960s. .............

“Voter suppression has not been consigned to the history books. It is here today, right now.”

.............. The Freedom to Vote Act contains an array of proposals to establish nationwide standards for ballot access, aiming to nullify the wave of new restrictions in states. It would require a minimum of 15 consecutive days of early voting and that all voters are able to request to vote by mail; it would also establish new automatic voter registration programs and make Election Day a national holiday.

Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to filibuster reform rests on a myth Senate rules are fostering obstruction — not bipartisanship. ........ the belief that the filibuster fuels bipartisanship is one of many myths about the rule. The filibuster requires most bills to get 60 votes in order to proceed in the Senate, but it’s often used as a tool to obstruct legislation, not foster it. ......... Since Democrats took control of Congress following the 2020 elections, Republican filibusters have killed many of their bills. ............. we’re finally seeing, I think, a level of frustration, over the misuse of the filibuster, not as an infrequently applied tool by a minority on an issue about which they feel very, very strongly, but as a cynical weapon of mass obstruction. ...........

There’s a belief now that we face an existential threat.

And it’s a belief that is grounded very deeply in the reality of the moment. We had this violent insurrection on January 6. Leading up to it was two months of an effort by a president and his allies — which includes, after all, a very substantial number of elected officials in Congress and in states and some elsewhere — trying to overturn the results of an election. And that it wasn’t a one-off. .................

What we’re seeing with all these laws, now being both enacted and pushed in states, are attempts to make sure that in states, for example, where honest election officials, including Republican election officials, did their duty, that you have the ability to remove them; where you had election workers, both on Election Day and counting the votes afterwards, doing their job, that you can find ways to intimidate them and keep that from happening; that you can have partisan bodies overturn election results that they don’t like. That you can suppress votes you don’t like.

.............. and whether you believe that it’s a slippery slope, and once you change it, it’ll come back to haunt you. That is at the core for both of them, but particularly for Sinema. That if you enact voting reforms now, they will come back and undo them in a few years. So they have their reasons. .........

Joe Manchin labored mightily to come up with a compromise bill so that he could entice 10 Republicans to make it bipartisan. He did not get a single one.

......... 16 Republicans currently in the Senate voted for the 2006 extension of the Voting Rights Act. Not one of them supports the John Lewis Act. Republicans will act in a bipartisan fashion when it suits their interest without regard for the filibuster, not because of it as it is currently crafted. ............. [there is an idea I’ve advocated for] to flip the numbers from 60 required to end debate to 41 required to continue it. ......... You can marry that with elements of the talking filibuster, that whenever there is a motion, [41 dissenting senators] have to be physically on the floor. ........ If you put the burden entirely on the majority, and if you have a minority party that has as its core strategy uniting in opposition to everything of significance to the majority, you have a formula for obstruction. And that’s not the way it was, if you go back to the history of the filibuster, from the major innovation that created the term in 1917. [Back then,] if you were going to filibuster, you got to be there. You got to pay a price, you may have to sleep on lumpy cots for nights on end. ...............

the House passed two bills last year, on universal background checks on guns, an idea that has the support of 90 percent or more of Americans, including across all lines. They move to the Senate. Has there been any debate? No. Will they ever be brought up under the current rules? No.

.................. And the minority prevails, even though they’re fighting against 90 percent of the country that wants something that’s got common sense. ............. So if you don’t make a change in the rules, the chance of getting any meaningful reform of the voting and election system out of the federal government is zero. If you pass a reform that doesn’t end the filibuster, but that puts the burden more on the minority, then you have, I’d say, a better than even chance of getting something important done. Not just important, really, I would say, it really is existential. ............... you really do need to have a sharp public focus on the threat that this poses to the country and to its fundamentals. And we haven’t had that as much. And you know, you get stories, but then they pass. It’s certainly not been a core component of daily news coverage and mainstream media. It’s not what dominates the front pages. ...............

there’s only one way to ameliorate that threat. And that one way has to involve a change in the rules.

............ Anybody who believes that Mitch McConnell would be restrained from changing the rules because Democrats didn’t change the rules has been asleep for the last 15 years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Democratic Capitalism

It is in America's political heritage that the word socialism is considered dirty. For a country that defeated the Soviet Union, it might be partly pride. 

There are more than 3,000 kinds of apples on the planet. I have a feeling socialism might be similarly varied. Countries in northern Europe practice a brand that I quite like. 

But the American political and economic systems have serious problems that I think can be better addressed by using the term Democratic Capitalism. If America is a democracy it is unraveling fast. One of the two parties is party to organized attacks on basic voting rights nationwide. Even before that the system was hardly democratic. My definition of democracy is one person, one vote. 

Campaign finance reform has to happen. Public funding of elections has to be considered. 

People should vote for the president directly. You get enough presidents who lost the popular vote and the person starts illegitimate on day one in office. The electoral college needs to be abolished. Every vote ought to count. 

Abolishing the filibuster would be a joke since, already, it is like 10% of the country rules over the other 90%, such is the structure of the US Senate. But, yes, the filibuster has to be abolished. It is a Jim Crow relic, except Donald Trump outdid Jim Crow. 

The Senate has to be restructured. The US needs to become a union of 100 states, one Senator each at the minimum, with the more populous states having more. 

Gerrymandering has to be outlawed. Democracy is people electing politicians, not the other way round. States may still carve out the districts, but they must obey federally passed guidelines as to how they may do so. Redistricting is not that different from voting rights. There are federal voting rights laws. 

The fundamental primary in America is fundamentally rigged. It is said a few tens of thousands of people in the country decide who the two major candidates will be in each election at every level through the money primary. Before China gobbled up Hong Kong, Beijing was offering something similar to the massive movement in the city. You say you want direct elections. You can have it. As long as we decide who the two candidates will be. That was a sham offer. But that is what the money primary in America is. 

No taxation without representation. Legalize everybody who is in America. 

Allow voting on mobile phones. Take voting to 90% or more. 

The US Supreme Court needs two more judges. 

Capitalism has three components: human capital, physical capital, and financial capital. Human capital is the most important of the three. But America does not act like it. No wonder it is losing its edge. In this knowledge economy, ignoring investments in human capital is hardly a choice. Education offerings need to be delinked from property taxes. 

Capitalism is free markets. The American economy is not a free-market economy. Pretty much all sectors have minor and major pockets of monopolies. Tech is basically four or five companies. Freedom has to be introduced into the markets so there is fair competition. Without that there will not be the needed innovation. 

Capitalism is secure property rights. The data collected around an individual is the property of that individual. That fact needs to be established nationally and globally and, in the 5G era and the era of tens of thousands of satellites beaming down the internet, that just might pay for a Universal Basic Income. Every individual sits on an oil well when data is oil. But companies steal that data. There can be an arrangement that up to a billion-dollar valuation, companies may monetize and need not pay, but beyond that it is 70% to the individual and 30% to the company. 

Saturday, January 05, 2019

The US Political Gridlock Can Be Fixed

The narrative often peddled is that Americans have in recent times become bad people. They just no longer see eye to eye. The country is so divided. That may well be.

But there is a more concrete reason for the gridlock. And there are concrete solutions available. Fix the political structure.

Fix the Senate. California deserves 12 Senators. The arguments are compelling. Fix the House. Bring the gerrymandering to an end. It is the people who should elect their representatives, not the other way round. Fix the presidency. Let the president be directly elected.

Monday, June 06, 2016

New York City Is Under Colonial Rule

It is. Half of New Yorkers can't even vote in the city elections. Taxation without representation is going on, big time. The capital city of the world has full fledged colonial rule.

Mexicans pretty much run this city. As in, take away the Mexicans and the city grinds down to a halt. And Mexicans are almost all Christians, devout ones too. That does not seem to help. There is full throttle anti Mexican racism. Every brick of the Trump Tower has some Mexican's name written on it.

Name calling is the tip of the iceberg. Structural racism is the iceberg. Like, denying voting rights. That is the mother lode of structural racism.

A functioning democracy is like a functional marketplace. Demand and supply takes care of things.

NYC is the biggest bastion the Democratic Party has. But it is under colonial rule. So in a functioning democracy the way it would work is the opposition party would step in. The Republican Party would pick up the cudgels to end colonial rule and spread the love of voting rights.

But no. The Republican Party would like to take away whatever little voting rights there are.

That is dysfunction. That is a dysfunctional democracy. It would not be that big of a problem, except there are quite literally existential implications.

America is the number one culprit behind global warming. The planet is hurtling towards the stone age at breakneck speed.

The very first step to applying the breaks is a world government: one person, one vote, one voice, 24/7, local to global. The UN is a joke. It is no world government. Every country should pay 1% of its GDP as a membership fee. That would be a small price to pay to not go back to the stone age.

Imagine Donald Trump's day job as a stone breaker. It could happen.