Thursday, December 29, 2011

Civil Rights Activists in NYC Protest Voting Restrictions / Roundup of States' Restrictions of Voting Rights

NY1, December 10, 2011: Protesters March To UN In "Stand For Freedom"

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ANN MCFEATTERS in San Angelo, Texas Standard-Times, December 10, 2011: "Too many states making it harder to vote"

New York University's
Brennan Center for Justice's Comprehensive list of voter suppression laws passed in states, in 2011.

Brennan Center PDF report by Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden, "Voting Law Changes in 2012"

"Expanding the Vote Abroad, Suppressing It At Home" by Yanick Saila-Ngita – 12/08/11 at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Thankfully, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has woken up and has addressed this issue. (It is not just a matter, by the way, of interest to minorities. A range of people do not need or carry a photo identification ("ID") card for their daily or weekly business. Youths, elderly, MANY people will be barred from voting, because of these new voter ID laws.)
From the Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2011: "Atty. Gen. Holder takes aims at new state voting laws: Atty. Gen. Eric Holder hints that he may challenge some laws placing new restrictions on the voting process. He also proposes that the federal government automatically register all citizens to vote."

TPM< December 13, 2011, "The ACLU sues Wisconsin' voter ID law; cites law as modern day poll tax."

READ THIS PIECE, on the phony non-issue of "voter fraud:" at Think Progress, December 2, 2011: "Despite a 0.0002 Percent Rate of Voter Fraud, Reince Priebus Claims Wisconsin Is ‘Riddled With Voter Fraud’" [Reince Priebus is the Republican National Committee chairman.]
Think Progress recognizes that the notion of rampant voter fraud is a red herring ruse to restrict access to polls, to the right to vote.

Stephen Colbert captured the absurdity of Priebus' argument:
[C]omedian Stephen Colbert joked that “our democracy is under siege from an enemy so small it could be hiding anywhere” . . . .

Martin Bashir (formerly of ABC, now on MSNBC) interviewed Priebus in the context of his arguments that voter fraud is rampant (It follows narration by Think Progress):
. . . Priebus went on MSNBC to defend Wisconsin’s new photo ID requirement and yesterday’s anti-voting rights measure passed by the House GOP. When host Martin Bashir pushed the RNC Chair about his party’s motivations for restricting voting rights, Priebus pointed to his home state of Wisconsin and declared, “I come from a state in Wisconsin that was absolutely riddled with voter fraud, okay?”

BASHIR: Just last night Republicans in the House voted to dismantle the Election Assistance Commission, the sole purpose of which is to make sure states meet voting standards that prevent fraud. Why would Republicans do that if they’re honestly concerned about preventing fraud? [...]

PRIEBUS: Well listen, I don’t want to get into the specifics here, but let me tell you something. I come from a state in Wisconsin that was absolutely riddled with voter fraud, okay? They had the smokes-for-votes exchange in Milwaukee. This is something that has nothing to do with constitutional rights of the people who are committing the fraud, it has to do with the constitutional rights of people under our Constitution that one person gets one vote, not two or three or four or five, by not having reasonable voting standards in this country to make sure that fraud doesn’t occur.
See at right, where I have uploaded Bashir's interview with RNC chair Priebus.
Think Progress closed with these observations:
Research has found that voters are 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud at the polls, and 3,500 times more likely to report a UFO encounter.

Voter fraud certainly ought to be prosecuted in the extremely rare instances when it occurs. But Republicans like Priebus are using the false specter of fraud as a cudgel to disenfranchise millions.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg calls NYPD "my own army"; Pepper Spraying ALEC Protestors; OWS Library Trashed

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had the original Occupy Wall Street encampment aggressively shut down. Also, the New York Police Department (NYPD) put the OWS library of a thousand or so documents into the trash. Organizers said that they could only salvage about 10 to 25 percent of the original library.
Bloomberg a few weeks later, in an apparently delusional moment, said that the city's police force was his own private army.
Given the mayor's inclination to micro-manage, we cannot help but think that he had a hand in choosing to have the police hastily dispose of the books. (Of course, very disturbing has been the general reticence by the general commercial media on this matter.)
This trashing of a library is what spurred me to upload the photo of the Guy Montag figure from Francois Truffaut's film version of “Fahrenheit 451” and Heinrich Heine's quote about burning books and burning people. What an irony that the same season that saw the disposing of a library into the trash also saw the violent abuse of people, including the pepper-spraying of non-violent protestors.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg calls NYPD "my own army"; Phoenix Police Pepper Spray Protestors Demonstrating ALEC
Hunter Walker, November 30, at PolitikerNY had the best piece on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's public boast on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is "my own army".

In a speech at MIT [in Cambridge, Massachusetts] last night to discuss the packed sweepstakes to build a tech campus in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg said he prefers City Hall to the White House. Almost immediately after Mayor Bloomberg dampened recent speculation he’s eyeing a White House bid, he added fuel to the fire by explaining why a mayor would be the best person for the job.

Mayor Bloomberg’s recent criticism of President Obama for allowing the debt reduction Supercommittee to fail led many political tea leaf watchers to believe he’s eyeing a potential White House bid. To the dismay of those who hope he’ll mount presidential campaign, Mayor Bloomberg began his speech last night by discussing why City Hall is just fine by him.

“I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world. I have my own State Department, much to Foggy Bottom’s annoyance. We have the United Nations in New York, and so we have an entree into the diplomatic world that Washington does not have,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

At first, Mayor Bloomberg sounded he was outlining why three terms as mayor was enough experience in public office for him, but he quickly switched gears and began characterizing City Hall as the perfect preparation for the White House because it allowed him to buck the Beltway establishment get real on-the-ground knowledge.

“I don’t listen to Washington very much, which is something they’re not thrilled about,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We have every kind of people from every part of the world and every kind of problem.”

Mayor Bloomberg explained that, unlike Washington politicians, mayors are people of action.

“The difference between my level of government and other levels of government is that action takes place at the city level,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “The cities and mayors are where you deal with crime, you deal with real immigration problems, you deal with health problems, you deal with picking up the garbage.”

You see, according to Mayor Bloomberg, he and his mayoral colleagues are focused on results. It’s the rest of the politicians who are screwing things up.

“At the state or federal level, that’s where the real problems are. You see it particularly in American government at the moment where they are just unable to do anything, and yet, the mayors of this country still have to deal with the real world,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Mayor Bloomberg closed by expressing the desire for someone with real, executive experience to arrive on the scene and change things in Washington.

“Unfortunately, people at the federal level or the state level typically spend their whole lives in politics, and they’ve never been an executive and it shows,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

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Daily Kos reports that on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, Phoenix, Arizona police pepper sprayed protestors demonstrating against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s States and Nation Policy Summit, "Pepper spray at the Arizona ALEC protest, Indigenous elder sent to hospital".

(The right-wing energy barons, the Koch Brothers, are benefactors of ALEC.)

Police drew attention to anarchists armed with nail-filled sticks. Occupy movement members said that the anarchists invaded their movement.
Most problems were blamed on a group of anarchists who were bused in from out of state. According to police, a few wielded nail-filled sticks. Seven were arrested.

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Mediabistro, November 16, 2011: "Occupy Wall Street Library Evicted" [dumped in the trash by the NYPD]

Alternet, November 15, 2011: "City Attacks Information at Zuccotti: Books Dumped in the Garbage, Press Intimidated: Books dumped in the garbage. Press intimidated and shut out. These are not the signs of a functioning democracy."

"That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also."
Heinrich Heine, German writer, 1821, whose works were burned by the Nazis in 1933.

Best page for 2012 Republican Party presidential primaries dates, # of delegates, winner-take-all or proportional

My developing table on 2012 Primaries and Caucuses for the Republican Presidential Nomination: (parentheses = probably)
The Republican National Convention will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida, August 27 (Monday) to 30 (Thursday), 2012.
State Date Caucus or primary Open or closed Winner-Take-All or proportional Number of delegates
Iowa evangelical January 3 Caucus Closed Proportional 28
New Hampshire libertarian but New England January 10 Primary Open to Republi- cans and Indepen- dents Proportional 12
South Carolina evangelical January 21 Primary Open Winner-take-all 25
Florida evangelical, Old South north; cosmopolitan southern section January 31 Primary Closed Winner-take-all 50
Nevada libertarian West; besieged with foreclosures February 4 Caucus Closed Proportional 28
Maine February 4 to 11 Caucus Closed Determined at precinct level (Likely WTA) 24
Table under construction. Corrections, comments are welcome.
Aside from the above table,
the following is the link for THE best site for the races for the 2012 Republican presidential nominating convention:
The Florida and Virginia primaries (January 31 and March 6, and 50 delegates and 46 delegates, respectively) will be pivotal. Florida will be a winner-take-all state. Virginia winner-take-all at the district level; WTA at state level if a candidate gets a majority. These Virginia rules will be moot, since Mitt Romney and Ron Paul were the only ones that qualified for the ballot, one of the two will get a majority, of course.
So, in essence, Virginia is throwing the nomination to Romney, with its ballot qualification rules.

The following states had their allotted delegate counts reduced by 50 percent for moving their primary election dates earlier: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Michigan.
1,128 delegates are needed for the Republican nomination; 2,255 delegates are available.

The site, "The Green Papers: Presidential Primaries 2012: Republican Delegate Selection and Voter Eligibility", gives a wide range of important details: not just election date, but also indications for primary or caucus, winner take all or proportional, number of delegates:

Other authoritative reference: --but only for first five elections

Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rally in NYC at Koch Bros and at UN, for Voting Rights Which Are Threatened By New Laws

Democracy for NYC

ALERT: March & Rally for Voting
Rights, tomorrow, Sat., Dec.10th


When: Tomorrow, Sat., Dec. 10th, 11 AM
Where: Convene at the NYC office of the Koch Brothers
61st St. at Madison Avenue

March to the UN for a 12 PM rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (E. 47th St. and 2nd Ave.)

Conservative Governors and Legislatures across the country are promoting and passing laws to restrict voting rights-an effort being financed by right-wing financiers, including the notorious Koch brothers. We are in the middle of the most extreme push to limit the franchise for the last 100 years. And it will have a disproportionate effect on students, the elderly the poor and people of color-which will promote a conservative advantage in elections.

The NAACP is leading a response. Sign their pledge here
and join us for the march and rally on the UN tomorrow.

Show up to defend voting rights for all.

For more info about the march, go to Stand for Freedom [a coalition project with NAACP as a lead sponsor].

Common Cause's statement on the Republicans' legislation assaulting voting rights, on the occasion of CC's joining the Stand for Freedom coalition:
Common Cause/NY Stands Up for Voting Rights
Joins the Stand for Freedom Coalition to advocate for more access to the polls on Election Day

Common Cause/NY is proud to join the Stand for Freedom Coalition in advocating for increased access at the polls this year by removing existing barriers, changing registration and voting practices, and ensuring voting rights for all Americans

"It is an outright disgrace that more than two-thirds of state legislatures across the nation are on the verge of taking a huge step backwards with respect to inclusivity and the basic right to vote. Restrictive voter identification laws, the exclusion of ex-felons from voting, and the refusal to increase access at the polls by passing such straightforward laws as early voting and No-excuse absentee voting undermines our core democratic principles. We are proud to support the Stand for Freedom Coalition and show up on December 10th to demand a equitable and accessible voting process on Election day," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director.

Common Cause/NY has consistently advocated for election reform, working to improve accessibility, accuracy, transparency, and verifiability in our democratic process at the city, state and national level. New York State and states around the nation can take the following steps to increase voter participation:

No Excuse Absentee Voting

Amend the state constitution to permit voters to choose whether to vote in person or through an absentee ballot, without having to satisfy requirements currently mandated (ie: a checklist of excuses why an individual can't vote in person).We trust voters to choose their elected representatives, surely we can trust them to determine whether or not to vote in person or through an absentee ballot.

Early Voting

Pass Early Voting legislation which would allow voting at the county board of elections or at an alternate location fourteen days before a general, primary, or special election. Early voting is both convenient and efficient.

Voter ID laws

Eliminate driver's licenses as a pre-requisite to vote. Requiring voters to show a license often disenfranchises the elderly, students, and low income individuals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Michael Moore's winter entrenchment strategy for more occupations: Occupy the Winter

From Michael Moore's website:

A proposal to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street from Michael Moore

1. Occupy Our Homes. Sorry, banks, a roof over one's head is a human right, and you will no longer occupy our homes through foreclosure and eviction because well, you see, they are our homes, not yours. You may hold the mortgage; you don't hold the right to throw us or our neighbors out into the cold. With almost one in three home mortgages currently in foreclosure, nearing foreclosure or "underwater," the Occupy Movement must form local "Occupy Strike Forces" to create human shields when the banks come to throw people out of their homes. If the foreclosure has already happened, then we must help families move back into their foreclosed homes -- literally (see this clip from my last film to watch how a home re-occupation is accomplished). Beginning today, Take Back the Land, plus many other citizens' organizations nationwide, are kicking off Occupy Our Homes. Numerous actions throughout the day today have already resulted in many families physically taking back their homes. This will continue every day until the banks are forced to stop their fraudulent practices, until homeowners are allowed to change their mortgage so that it reflects the true value of their homes, and until those who can no longer afford a mortgage are allowed to stay in their homes and pay rent. I beseech the news media to cover these actions -- they are happening everywhere. Evictions, though rarely covered (you need a Kardashian in your home as you're being evicted to qualify for news coverage) are not a new story (see this scene I filmed in 1988). Also, please remember the words of Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Toledo (in 'Capitalism: A Love Story'): Do not leave your homes if the bank forecloses on you! Let them take you to court and then YOU ask the judge to make them produce a copy of your mortgage. They can't. It was chopped up a hundred different ways, bundled with a hundred other mortgages, and sold off to the Chinese. If they can't produce the mortgage, they can't evict you.

2. Occupy Your College. In nearly every other democracy on the planet, students go to college for free or almost free. Why do those countries do that? Because they know that for their society to advance, they must have an educated population. Without that, productivity, innovation and an informed electorate is stunted and everyone suffers as a result. Here's how we do it in the U.S.A.: make education one of our lowest priorities, graduate students who know little about the world or their own government or the economy, and then force them into crushing debt before they even have their first job. That way has really worked well for us, hasn't it? It's made us the world leader in … in … well, ok, we're like 27th or 34th in everything now (except war). This has to end. Students should spend this winter doing what they are already doing on dozens of campuses -- holding sit-ins, occupying the student loan office, nonviolently disrupting the university regents meetings, and pitching their tents on the administration's lawn. Young people -- we, the '60s generation, promised to create a better world for you. We got halfway there -- now you have to complete the job. Do not stop until these wars are ended, the Pentagon budget is cut in half, and the rich are forced to pay their taxes. And demand that that money go to your education. We'll be there with you on all of this! And when we get this fixed and you graduate, instead of being $40,000 in debt, go see the friggin' world, or tinker around in your garage a la the two Steves, or start a band. Enjoy life, discover, explore, experiment, find your way. Anything but the assistant manager at Taco Bell.

3. Occupy Your Job. Let's spend the winter organizing workplaces into unions. OR, if you already have a union, demand that your leaders get off their ass and get aggressive like our grandparents did. For chrissakes, surely you know we would not have a middle class if it weren't for the strikes of the 1930s-1950s?! In three weeks we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the workers in my hometown of Flint, Michigan taking over and occupying the General Motors factories for 44 days in the dead of winter. Their actions ignited a labor movement that lifted tens of millions out of poverty and into the middle class. It's time to do it again. (According to the Census Bureau and the New York Times, 100 million Americans either live in or near poverty. Disgraceful. Greed has destroyed the core fabric of our communities. Enough!) Here are two good unions to get your fellow workers to sign up and join: UE and SEIU. The CWA are also good. Here's how to get a quick primer in organizing your place of employment (don't forget to be careful while you do this!). If your company is threatening to close down and move the jobs elsewhere, then it's time to occupy the workplace (again, you can get a lesson in how to successfully occupy your factory from my movie).

4. Occupy Your Bank. This is an easy one. Just leave them. Move your checking and your credit card to a nonprofit credit union. It's safe and the decisions made there aren't based on greed. And if a bank tries to evict your neighbor, Occupy the local branch with 20 other people and call the press. Post it on the internet.

5. Occupy the Insurance Man. It's time to not only stand up for the 50 million without health insurance but to also issue a single, simple demand: The elimination of for-profit, privately-controlled health insurance companies. It is nothing short of barbaric to allow businesses to make a profit off people when they get sick. We don't allow anyone to make a profit when we need the fire department or the police. Until recently we would never allow a company to make a profit by operating in a public school. The same should be true for when you need to see a doctor or stay in the hospital. So I say it's long overdue for us to go and Occupy Humana, United Health, Cigna and even the supposed "nonprofit" Blue Crosses. An action on their lawns, in their lobbies, or at the for-profit hospitals -- this is what is needed.

So -- there are my ideas for the five places we can Occupy this winter. Help the foreclosed-upon to Occupy their homes. Occupy your college campus, especially the student loan office and the regents meetings. Occupy your job by getting everyone to sign a union card -- or by refusing to let the CEO ship your job overseas. Occupy your Chase or Citi or Bank of America branch by closing your account and moving it to a credit union. And Occupy the insurance company offices, the pharmaceutical companies' headquarters and the for-profit hospitals until the White House and Congress pass the true single-payer universal health care bill they failed to pass in 2010.

My friends, the rich are running scared right now. You need no further proof of this than to read this story from last week. The Republicans' top strategist met privately with them and told them that they had better change their tune or they were going to be crushed by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They didn't have to change their greedy actions, he assured them -- just the way they talk and PR the situation. He told them never to use the word "capitalism" -- it has now been made a dirty word by the Occupy movement, he said. Only say "economic freedom" from now on, he cautioned. And don't criticize the movement -- because the majority of Americans either agree with it or are feeling the same way. Just tell the Occupiers and the distressed Americans: "I get it." Seriously.

Yes, in just 12 short weeks we have killed their most sacred word -- Capitalism -- and we have them on the run, on the defensive. They should be. Millions are coming after them and our only goal is to remove them from power and replace them with a fair system that is controlled by the 99%. The 1% have been able to get both political parties to do their bidding. Why should only 1% of the population get to have two parties -- and the rest of us have none? That, too, is going to change. In my next letter, I will suggest what we can do to Occupy the Electoral Process. But first we must start with those who pull the strings of the puppets in the Congress. That's why it's called Occupy Wall Street. Always better to deal with man in charge, don't you think?

Let's Occupy the Winter! An #OWS Winter will certainly lead to a very hopeful American Spring.


Michael Moore

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 Holiday TV Specials Calendar of Networks, Times

2011 is turning out to be a sad year for the traditional Christmas television specials (especially the cartoons).

Time was, before the dominance of cable by the late 1980s, the animated stories could be seen on the three main commercial networks, ABC, CBS or NBC.

This year, overwhelmingly, the broadcasts are on ABC-Family or other cable companies. (This past Saturday, ABC Family broadcast "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas".)

That said, here are the up-coming Christmas specials on broadcast networks:
(already passed: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer CBS Nov 29, 8PM)

Frosty the Snowman CBS, Friday, Dec 9, 8PM

The Flight Before Christmas CBS, Saturday, Dec 10, 9PM

The Story of Santa Claus CBS, Saturday, Dec 17, 9PM

Saturday Night Live Presents: A Very Gilly Christmas NBC, Tuesday, Dec 20, 9PM

It's a Wonderful Life NBC, Saturday, Dec 24, 8PM

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, Dec 29, 8PM

source: "What the World is Looking for Web Guide",
I left out the holiday specials on cable networks. The above link lists the rest of the holiday specials, those being on the cable networks.

And from the San Jose Mercury News (
New Year's Eve celebrations -- So you can't make it to that big noisy, sweaty bash this year? No problem, you can party down on Saturday night from the comfort of your couch as TV rings in 2012. (Just remember to vacuum up the confetti in the morning.)
Among the festive telecasts is
"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2012" (10 and 11:30 p.m., ABC), which has the guys celebrating with Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Florence + The Machine and others.
Meanwhile, on "New Year's Eve With Carson Daly" (10 and 11:30 p.m., NBC), our host is joined in Times Square by JB Smoove, Amy Robach and Drake.
In addition, there's "New Year's Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin" (11 p.m., CNN), featuring our favorite TV odd couple,
and "MTV's New Year's Eve Bash 2012" (11 p.m., MTV), hosted by Demi Lovato and "Teen Wolf" star Tyler Posey.