Thursday, May 28, 2015

Scattershooting some soft targets

Hypocritical Republicans, clay pigeons, false flags... you know, the usual stuff.

-- GOP tries new/old way to suppress the vote.

The number of ways that Republicans invent to reduce the voting power of the Democratic Party is truly impressive. Here's the latest:

The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.
A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas.
....The Supreme Court over the past nearly 25 years has turned away at least three similar challenges, and many election law experts expressed surprise that the justices agreed to hear this one. But since Chief Justice John G. Roberts has led the court, it has been active in other voting cases.

Over the past few decades we've seen pack-n-crack, photo ID laws, old fashioned gerrymandering, mid-decade gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, reductions in early voting, the crippling of campaign finance law, illegal purges of voter rolls, and now this: a change in the way people are counted that would favor Republican-leaning districts.

From a purely academic view, you really have to be impressed by the GOP's relentless creativity in finding ever more ways to trim the votes of groups who lean Democratic. They've done a great job. Sure, it's been a violent and cynical assault on our country's notions of fairness in the voting booth, but that's for eggheads to worry about. After all, it worked. Right? Maybe its made a difference of only a point or two in presidential elections and fewer than a dozen districts in congressional elections, but in a closely balanced electorate that counts for a lot.

Harold Cook had the earliest and best take on this; he's been working with Texas Democratic state legislators for years on it.  If the SCOTUS decides it's time to return to valuations of brown people as 3/5s of a person, then you know they've finally succeeded in taking "their" country back.  All the way to the 1700s.

-- Over one million Texans, out of about 7.5 million low-and moderate-income Americans, stand to lose their healthcare insurance coverage if the SCOTUS rules against Obamacare subsidies next month.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in a major new lawsuit against Obamacare this June, and the health coverage for millions hangs in the balance.

This challenge to the Affordable Care Act, called King v. Burwell, came from longtime Obamacare opponents who claim that, because of a key phrase in the law, the federal government may provide tax credit subsidies only in states that operate their own health insurance exchanges. Thirty-four states declined to establish these marketplaces, and instead left that responsibility in the hands of the federal government.

If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in this case, it would eliminate health insurance subsidies for 7.5 million low- and moderate-income people in those states, causing most of them to become uninsured when their premiums become unaffordable without financial assistance.

Here's how the numbers break down in each state with a federally operated health insurance exchange.

It's hard for those average Americans -- hell, it's hard for me -- to understand how this can even be possible.  But it's part of the reason why I got off the Obama bandwagon nearly four years ago once he took a public option off the table.  Insurance companies and their profits take precedence over people and their health in this country.  That's why America is so exceptional.

-- Ross Ramsey explains the arcane way the Texas Lege operates, through odd rules and fits of pique, especially in the last few days before Sine Die.  It's just what you need if you're only a casual observer of the sausage-making process in Austin.


A small group of Texas House Republicans on Wednesday morning hijacked the often rote Local and Consent Calendar because they wanted to exact vengeance on some of their adversaries they blame for the deaths of their bills. That is the way it played out on the floor, at least.

After killing several Democratic bills, Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, expressed disbelief that his motives were being questioned.

“People think that we're up here, that this whole thing today has been some kind of show!” he said. “That it's political retribution.” It’s not, Stickland assured listeners, just before essentially filibustering a measure aimed at reducing pet euthanasia in San Antonio.

-- Marriage equality in Texas is as unwelcome in the Loon Star State as Obama, Ill Eagles, federal disaster relief for the recent floods, and Operation Jade Helm 15 military exercises.  So we get the state Senate declaring once more its opposition to same-sex marriage -- despite several failed legislative attempts, a ten-year-old state constitutional amendment already forbidding it, the increasing tolerance of teh gayz, and a pending decision striking down all of this obnoxious bigotry from that same US Supreme Court previously mentioned -- in an utterly meaningless demonstration of bravado and machismo for the exclusive purpose of preening to the virulently heterosexual Texas Tea Party.

(Nice run-on sentence, yes?)

"We affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being a legal union of one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and pledge to uphold and defend this principle that is so dearly held by Texans far and wide," the resolution read.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said he wanted to make sure that while some might read the resolution as a unanimous measure, there was staunch opposition to it passing the Senate.

"So is this a response to some legislation that hasn't been successful, or is more out of concern for what the U.S. Supreme Court might rule this summer?" Whitmire asked the resolution's sponsor, state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills.

Oh yeah, fuck Sen. Eddie Lucio.  Preferably employing a man with an exceptionally large penis.

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