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Another Question for the Census

Another Question for the Census

The Trump gang has kicked up a ruckus over its plan to insert a question about citizenship in the 2020 decennial census.  It’s a transparent attempt to reduce the response rate of immigrants, disenfranchising them in reapportionment and government spending formulas, despite the Constitution’s call for an enumeration of “persons”, not citizens.

But why stop at citizenship?  When you think about, there is no government interest greater than its ability to collect taxes, the main obstacle to which is tax avoidance, legal and illegal.  Researchers looking into this problem, not to mention government analysts themselves, struggle in the face of rampant secrecy.

So why not use the census to get a better picture of tax cheating?  Insert just a single question, “Within the past year have you failed to pay your lawful federal, state or local tax obligations?”  Respondents should be reminded that a dishonest answer constitutes a violation of federal law.  The fine is small compared to most tax avoidance, but the last thing most tax scofflaws want is added attention to their financial duplicity.

I can see the confusion when the numbers are tallied in 2021.  “Gee, there are all these big houses, shady streets and golf courses, but according to our data no one actually lives here.”

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Reduction in Representation as the remedy for voter suppression

Reduction in Representation as the remedy for voter suppression

This is the second take prompted by my reading of David W. Blight‘s biography of Frederick Douglass.

In the “nothing is every really new” department, voter suppression was very much on the mind of Douglass and other radical Republicans during the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. Douglass was fond of saying that blacks would only gain equality once they exercised power through three “boxes: the cartridge box, the jury box, and the ballot box.” In other words, first equality would have to be fought for in the war. Then there would need to be legal equality. And finally, the only way to protect that legal equality would be via the right to vote.

Douglass and others were very clear-minded that the “copperhead” Democrats would continue to suppress freed blacks by denying them access to voting rights, all the while continuing to gain power via counting freed blacks towards representation in the Congress. Sound familiar at all?

While the ultimate step was the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1969-70, the second Section of the Fourteenth Amendment addresses voter suppression directly, and mandates a specific remedy that is well worth renewed consideration today.

Here are the relevant texts of the first and second Sections of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Section One of the Amendment mandates that

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Section Two states:

“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election … is denied to any … citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”

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Frederick Douglass, Andrew Johnson, and the Copperhead GOP

Frederick Douglass, Andrew Johnson, and the Copperhead GOP

I am currently reading David W. Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass, the 19th century orator and champion of black equality. Today I wanted to briefly write on several timely topics inspired by that tome.

Douglass was biracial, or in the parlance of the day, a mulatto. His mother was a young slave named Harriet Bailey. His father was probably Aaron Anthony, the “overseer of overseers” of slaves at the nearby Wye Plantation on the eastern shore of Maryland. He was probably conceived in rape.

His earliest memories included Anthony giving his mother’s sister a vicious whipping for the crime of having a romantic relationship with a young male slave; and Anthony also gently leading him by the hand, patting him on the head, tousling his hair, and calling him “my little Indian boy.”

 

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Scales of Justice Played Out in Madison County, Indiana

There is quite a bit of Medicare fraud occurring in the nation and there has been a coordinated attack on it. The fraud can be measured in the $billions. Commercial healthcare Insurance fraud is also a problem and insurance companies spend quite a bit of money fighting it which adds to their administrative fees of 15 and 20%.

99.9% of the time the theft goes into the pocket of the thieves. People get rich off of this stuff.

In Madison County Indiana, a school superintendent resigned her position. The reason? She took a student to a healthcare clinic seeking treatment for him because he had symptoms of Strep throat. Not a big deal and an act of kindness and charity.

The problem arises with her claiming him as her son and having her insurance pay the $233 bill. Except, this was not her son, she committed fraud, and her kindness and charity does not count.

The Madison County prosecutor Rodney J. Cummings who has tried “100 major felony and homicide jury trials” has charged the school superintendent with three felonies and one misdemeanor. Yes, it is an act of theft. I admit it and I am sure others will dispute my cavalier attitude here on crime and justice.

$233 to help a child and committing fraud to get him care is now worthy of three felony charges plus a misdemeanor? What was I thinking when the state news in Indiana is talking about $billions in Medicare, healthcare, and opinion fraud? Perhaps, not much is happening in Madison County just northeast of Indianapolis.

But then there is the plea deal going on here. One year of checking in with the county to make sure you are still behaving and admit to the crime. As measured against the $thousand which will be spent on court dates and administering the sentence for one year. Mr. Prosecutor, don’t you have something better to do?

Scrap the three felonies and misdemeanor. There is no evil act going on here and move on to other things. She can pay the insurance company back, court costs, get a stern warning, you will still look like you are cracking down on fraud, and also show you have a heart

Now here is a potential real felony: “Two days after accidentally firing his handgun into the floor of an Anderson restaurant, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings acknowledges he could have done more to prevent the mishap.”

Awww, sorry folks, it was a new gun. Go back to eating your steaks (Texas Roadhouse).

“It was a new gun. I’ve only had it for a couple weeks, who noted he has carried a firearm for 36 years as a prosecutor and a police officer.”

Cummings told the newspaper he plans to have the gun examined by an armorer to ensure there are no mechanical problems. He also plans to buy a holster.

“I will not in the future have a round in the chamber, It’s just not worth the risk.”

Another JA wannabe cowboy.

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The Gender Pay Gap

The most recent year for reported year-round earnings data available for full-time workers revealed the gender earnings gap to be 20 percent between men and women or said a different way women earned 20 percent less than men (Hegewisch 2018).

The earnings gap between women and men has been measured (in the past) by taking a snapshot of both genders who have worked fulltime year-round and in a given year. Reviewing a 15-year period from 2001 through 2015, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research examined the different labor force experiences of women and men. The report “The Slowly Narrowing Gender Wage Gap” showed 28 percent of women and 59 percent of men worked consistently full-time, year-round between 2001 and 2015.

In previous reports, it has been stated women earn 80 cents to every dollar a man would make which understates the pay inequality issue for women. Looking only to full time women labor leaves many of them out of the picture when compared to men. Some of the highlights coming out of this study:

“Women today earn just 49 cents to the typical men’s dollar, much less than the 80 cents usually reported.” Total earnings are measured across a 15-year period for all workers, not just full time workers, and who have worked at least one year. Earnings for women were 49% of the earnings for men in 2015. Over the 15-year period, progress or gains in salary for women versus men has slowed when compared to the previous 30 years.

“The cost of taking time off from the labor force is high.” Women taking one year off from work resulted in annual earnings 39% less than women who worked the 15-year period. When compared to a 15-year period starting in 1968 the 2001 through 2015 period saw a 12% decrease in pay. Men were also penalized; but, it was not to the same degree as women much of the time.

“Strengthening women’s labor force attachment is critical to narrowing the gender wage gap.” At nearly twice the rate of men, 43% of women had at least one year off with no earnings over the last 50 years. Polices such as paid family and medical leave and affordable child care can help woman participation rate improve and men to share unpaid time off.

“Enforcement of equal employment opportunities and Title IX in education is critical to narrowing the wage gap.” Enforcement would assist women in gaining access to those higher paying fields which are now off-limits and has been for decades.

Expanding policies and programs to other parts of the country beyond what a few states have done or adopting national policies could help close the comprehensive, long-term earnings gap in the United States and equalize women’s pay with men’s across the lifetime.

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North Carolina and Wisconsin

Persuasive Case of Voter Fraud and Republicans Do Not Care North Carolina: The first public indication things were not right in Bladen County occurred weeks ago. The North Carolina State Board of Elections did not certify the results of the closely watched 9th Congressional District race. Republican Mark Harris appeared to defeat Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes.

Atlantic Staff Writer: David A. Graham “A congressional race in North Carolina suggests that the likeliest threats to the integrity of elections are not the ones GOP lawmakers are addressing.”

Documents released by the NCSBE on Tuesday revealed a political-consulting firm contractor for the Harris campaign had requested almost 600 absentee ballots in Bladen County. According to reporters and in sworn affidavits, Dowless had a team of workers going around collecting absentee ballots from voters, a violation of state law. The affidavits also allege, the Harris campaign workers helped to complete ballots for voters, another violation of the law.

Both Bladen and Robeson Counties had an unusually high number of unreturned absentee ballots indicating they were collected by someone and never turned in. It is unclear to the extent whether these workers were aware they were breaking the law. Harris’s campaign says he was unaware of any illegal activity. The Harris campaign and Red Dome consulting firm, Red Dome received NCSBE subpoenas.

Dowless was hired to get the vote out, and he got results. More absentee votes came in by mail from Bladen County than any other county in the 9th district. Bladen was also the only county in the district where Harris beat McCready in mail-in votes. even though the district’s party registration leans Democratic.

Republicans Stymie Democrats in After the Election Wisconsin: In the early-morning hours Wednesday, Republicans in majority control of the Wisconsin legislature carried out their plan to neuter the Democrats who were elected to office in November.

In party-line votes, Republicans passed legislation to limit the ability of the incoming governor (Tony Evers) and the new attorney general, (Josh Kaul), to deliver on their campaign promises of protecting the ACA, expanding infrastructure spending, and overhauling the state’s economic-development agency. The Republican legislature scaled back early voting in Wisconsin. They shifted power from the state’s executive branch to be administered by Democrats in January back to the Republican legislature.

In Lame Duck session, Republicans did all this over the protests of demonstrators who swarmed Madison and those of Democrats. Republicans did little to dispute what Democrats called a power grab.

In both North Carolina and Wisconsin, let alone Georgia and Florida; the battle over voting and aftermath election practices is still going on today. More on Michigan.

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“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running”

“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running”

Two years ago in a post entitled “Those who cannot see must feel”, I wrote:

That’s the translation of an old German saying that I used to hear from my grandmother when I misbehaved.  It is pretty clear that, over the next four years, the American public is going to do a lot of feeling ….  The results will range somewhere in between bad, disastrous, catastrophic, and cataclysmic, depending on how badly foreign affairs are bungled ….

I have some hope … because both China and Russia are smart enough to figure out that they can get what they want by bribing Trump without resorting to armed conflict.

Although I never published it here, below is the conclusion of an email I sent to several correspondents six months ago:

Ever since Trump’s election, the lyrics of Al Stewart’s song about the 1937 Spanish Civil War, “On the Border,” have been going through my mind:

“On my wall, the colors on the maps are running …”

and I have thought that 2019 is the time of maximum peril to Taiwan and Ukraine.

The midterms were less than three weeks ago. Today Russia blocked the Kerch Strait, entrance to the Sea of Azov, effectively cutting off one of Ukraine’s ports. Ukraine says its navy is leaving port.

Between now and the end of 2019 is the most dangerous time, because any potential U.S. Foe will want to have any aggressive move be a fair accompli by the time the 2020 U.S. Elections are underway, let alone by the time a replacement for Trump can be inaugurated.
Good luck to us all.
[UPDATE: In case you’ve never heard it, here’s a link to the song.]

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District Federal Court Rips Administration on Census

I have had enough court time to last a life time. While mine was not fun and it was a battle, this I find hilarious. It is a well placed shot across the bow of someone who believes they are impervious to society, the courts, and morality.

The census case arrived in front of Manhattan District Federal Judge Furman requesting that he delay proceedings. Calling it the ‘latest and strangest effort’ in its crusade to delay proceedings in the case. He said what made the request ‘most puzzling, if not sanctionable’ is that the Trump administration had made a similar request before the trial started, and had been rejected by not only the district court judge, but by an appeals court and the Supreme Court.

Furman pointed out, “when the Supreme Court announced last week it was taking up the case, “it knew that this Court had completed trial, and it presumably expected that the Court would enter final judgment before the date that it set for oral argument.”

Bashing the administration for taking its request to an appeals court before he had a chance to rule on it. The appeals court again denied that request as premature.

“If Defendants’ motion in this Court comes close to the sanctionable line, that filing would sure seem to cross it,” Furman wrote in his order.”

Other quotable quotes?

– “Unless burdening Plaintiffs and the federal courts with make-work is a feature of Defendants’ litigation strategy, as opposed to a bug, it is hard to see the point. To borrow from Camus, “[o]ne must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

– “Tellingly, this time, Defendants do not even attempt to argue that they are entitled to the extraordinary relief of a stay of all proceedings under the traditional factors…In fact, the words ‘harm” and ‘injury’ do not appear anywhere in their motion. That is for good reason, as the notion that they — or anyone else — would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ without a stay is laughable.”

– “Defendants’ motion makes so little sense, even on its own terms, that it is hard to understand as anything but an attempt to avoid a timely decision on the merits altogether.

– “Enough is enough.”

State of New York vs US Department of Commerce

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Why Gerrymandering Matters

Gerrymandering is not going away any time soon. It will just be used in different manner, a manner in which to achieve congressional districts with a fairer representation of the district’s constituency.

Why won’t gerrymandering go away? The districts are too big at an average of 700,000 people per district. This is the result of Congress freezing the number of Congressional Representatives at 435 in 1929 and reapportioning the districts of each state based upon population every 10 years. The inequality of this methodology can be seen in a comparison between Wyoming with its one Congressional Representative and it population of 586,000 as compared to California and its average size of 700,000 for each Congressional District. If the average was set at 586,000 people per district as Wyoming has, then California would gain 15 more Congressional Representatives.

The Washington Post has an article up on the impact of both unfair gerrymandering and a fairer version of gerrymandering as dictated by the court The later achieves a much fairer split of the districts meant to represent the makeup of the population within the state and their political interests as discovered through national elections.” One state fixed its gerrymandered districts, the other did not.“

The picture depicts the change in numbers of Republicans and Democrats elected to office as determined by the Congressional districts make up. Pennsylvania had its districts redrawn by the court and “a 53 percent majority in the popular vote yielded a hair under half of the contested seats for Democrats — a big difference from 2016, when 48 percent of the vote gave Democrats 27 percent of the seats.”

In North Carolina, the districts were not redrawn. “The old maps were still in place and a electoral result in 2018 was identical to that of 2016. Despite a Democratic wave in which more than half the state’s voters opted for a Democratic House candidate, Democrats won one-quarter of the contested seats.”

Michigan passed Proposal 2 which established a civilian board to redraw the boundaries of the Congressional districts. I suspect it will still have issues as it will be selected by the legislature.

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Recounts and Runoffs – 2018

Senate:

Arizona:In Arizona’s race for the Senate, two candidates are separated by about 16,000 votes with approximately 75 percent of results in. Republican Rep. Martha McSally was leading her Democratic opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema by less than 1 percent in the race to fill outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat.”

The last I read somewhere, Sinema had over taken McSally and the race was too close to call. This will not throw the Senate into a majority Democrat; but it will narrow the gap just in case a Republican suddenly wants to take the high ground.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson is preparing for a recount in a race too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon. Since the results are less than .25 of 1% a recount is mandated under Florida law.

Challenger Rick Scott has filed in court alleging Broward County Supervisors of Election Brenda Snipes on Thursday, asking the court to order Snipes to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots. Scott’s thin lead over Nelson has narrowed in the vote-counting in the days since he declared victory on Tuesday. Quelle Surprise!

Florida’s phony status as a perennial swing state is reassured again in this election year as it consistently decides important National and State elections with the thinnest of margins and a ton of excuses as to why it happened this way. Since Gore, it still has not brought the voting process under control. As long as it worked for Scott and other Republicans, they were happy. When it starts to slip away from them and their popularity dissipates, they look to the courts to contest alleged violations which were perfectly alright when it favored them.

The irony of Scott and Republican’s anger at Democrats for trying to all the votes counted as Repubs have been suppressing voter turnout in both Florida and Georgia.

Mississippi: Senate candidates in a special election to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran will go to a runoff at the end of the month because no one candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith received 41.5 percent of votes and her opponent Democrat Michael Epsy received 40.6 percent. The runoff will take place on Nov. 27.

For Mississippi??? and the race is that close? Unbelievable! Stennis was the last Democrat elected to the Senate for Mississippi. I am not sure I would call him a Democrat. He served from 1949 to 1989.

House

Nearly 20 races for the House remained too close to call, with the outcomes uncertain in states such as California, New York, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington state. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., the chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said House Democrats were still counting ballots and assessing races too close to call.

California: Some races (6) in California are still up for grabs, including four in the one-time Republican stronghold of Orange County.
Georgia: Republican Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall races remain too close to call as absentee ballots are still being counted. Democrat Lucy McBath, the Democrat challenging Handel, said “this race is far from over.”

Utah: Republican Rep. Mia Love trailed Democratic challenger Ben McAdams. McAdams had a strong showing in his home county of Salt Lake County. Love hoped to flip the deficit by winning a large portion of the votes left to be counted in her stronghold of Utah County. Apparently long polling lines led to slow vote tallies.

Maine: Computer-assisted tabulations under the state’s new voting system will be used to determine the winner of the congressional race between Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden. A test of ranked voting methodology, since neither candidate collected a majority of first-place votes under Maine’s ranked-choice voting system (used for the first time Tuesday); the results triggered an additional round of voting. As I understood this from reading the article, other finishers in the four-way race are eliminated and the votes are reallocated.

The allocation process will take place next week. Voter’s second choice will be applied to the candidates and so on till a candidate secures 50+% of the vote.

This should be an interesting test (Fair Vote Org. has been advocating for this).

Governors:

Florida: In the governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign said Thursday it is preparing for a recount. Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night. The counting has continued and the race has tightened with DeSantis leading Gillum by .47 of 1% percent.

Georgia: Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’s campaign argued in a press conference today, a recount or runoff is still possible if all the votes in the state are counted. As he did on Wednesday, Republican candidate Brian Kemp can not declare a victory as thousands of votes remain uncounted and unaccepted ballots have been reconciled.

Abrams through her litigation team demanded from Kemp’s office as the office of the secretary of state to release the data on uncounted provisional ballots and military and overseas votes. Kemp’s spokeswoman Candice Broce claimed those votes amount to around 22,000 to 24,000. There also appears to be some discrepancy on early votes being tallied. The belief is and contrary to what Kemp has stated; if all of the remaining votes are counted, there could be enough additional votes for Abrams to trigger an official recount or even a runoff election.

Kemp should have been more careful on eliminating voters. All of the effort, it was not enough, and if he loses; you can bet on a more thorough investigation on voter fraud and civil rights violations by elected officials.

I am sure there are more to be added to this list. Please do so.

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