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Video: ‘Year late & bad info’: California says DHS falsely accused Russia of hacking...

It appears that in its eagerness to accuse Russian hackers of meddling in the US presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wrongly...

'Year late & bad info': California says DHS falsely accused Russia of hacking its...

It appears that in its eagerness to accuse Russian hackers of meddling in the US presidential...
video

Video: Green Party’s Jill Stein: Our Voting System is Wide Open For Hacking

https://democracynow.org - Extended web-only interview with former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on voting integrity, the Trump-Russia probe ... Via Youtube

Voting system prone to mistakes & malfeasance – Jill Stein on 2016 recount (EXCLUSIVE)

The 2016 election results for three states are in doubt, and an effort led by Green...

UK voting system ‘unfair’

A London-based political commentator believes that the voting system in the UK is unfair as it fails to truly represent political parties in the...
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Video: Ashley Judd On The Rigged System And Voting For Crooked Hillary

In this video Luke Rudkowski randomly see's Ashley Judd on the streets joining a black lives matter protest and decides to interview her. The...

The Systematic Destruction of Voting Rights

By Heidi Stevenson | You might think you have the right to vote. You might think your vote counts. You might think that there's...

Rev. Barber: Systematic Racialized Voter Suppression is the "Election Hacking" the U.S. Must Address

Transcript JUAN GONZÁLEZ: This weekend, hundreds will gather in Raleigh for the North Carolina NAACP State Convention, the last one that will be presided over...

‘Russia tried to hack election results’: US media misreports DHS warning on voter system...

Misleading reports on Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election filled US media after DHS...

US electronic voting firm exposes 1.8 million Chicago voter records

Published time: 18 Aug, 2017 17:06 A major supplier of US electronic voting machines confirmed that...

Hackers invited to break into US voting machines to find election vulnerabilities

Tens of thousands of hackers from around the world were granted access to US voting machines...

Did British students commit election fraud? Watchdog launches ‘double-voting’ probe

An investigation has been launched into “troubling” reports of thousands of people illegally voting twice...

Tories accuse left-wing students of ‘voting twice’ in general election

Published time: 30 Jun, 2017 15:48 Edited time: 30 Jun, 2017 16:02 Senior Tories are...

There Is No Democratic Win in 2018 Without Full Voting Rights

As resistance to Trump's agenda gathers steam, many sectors of the progressive left and Democratic Party leaders turn their eyes toward the 2018 elections...

Ari Berman on the Attack on Voting Rights

This week on CounterSpin: In a new wrinkle, Iowa Republicans, pushing a strict voter ID law that the ACLU says could disenfranchise 11 percent of...

Ari Berman on the Attack on Voting Rights

PlayStop pop out ...

Voting Advocates Announce a Settlement of "Exact Match" Lawsuit in Georgia

WASHINGTON - The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, Voting Rights Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center,...

MLK’s son and Trump discuss national voting card ID

Martin Luther King III, the son of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, has...

Ex-MI6 chief warns electronic voting presents serious hacking risk

Traditional paper ballots may be a better option than electronic voting systems because the technology could be hacked and ballots altered, the former head...

The old college try: Electoral system shaken, calls for recounts underline tensions in US

From recount efforts to criticism of the Electoral College as an institution and death threats to some electors, the aftermath of the US presidential...

Judge rejects Trump's lawsuit in Nevada over early voting

Donald Trump has filed a lawsuit in Nevada state court alleging at least four Las Vegas...

Eight Ways to Strengthen Our Democracy Beyond Voting

Throughout this trying election season, we’ve been told how much is at stake with our vote. But the success of any democracy depends on...

An Eight Point Brief for Voting to Avoid Corporate Evil

The anarchist political observer Noam Chomsky has over the years espoused a strategy of voting for the Democrat in swing states. Recently Chomsky, with...

Voting Is One Thing, but Let's Not Let Partisan Loyalties Numb Us to Injustice

(Photo: DonkeyHotey) To all those whose driving motivation this election season is to stop Donald Trump at all costs, and see voting for...

Election systems to be treated as 'critical infrastructure' – Homeland Security Dept.

The White House has announced it is considering categorizing election systems as critical infrastructure. The declared...

Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting

It is far easier to criticize the social order than to change it. And our actions express our true priorities.  The Halle/Chomsky article advocating...

Over 200 Californians could be voting from the grave in June primaries

California’s inability to introduce a statewide voter registration system, despite it being mandatory, means that 212 people who are officially dead in LA County,...

Clinton Does Best Where Voting Machines Flunk Hacking Tests: Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders...

At the end of the climactic scene (8 minutes) in HBO’s Emmy nominated Hacking Democracy (2006), a Leon County, Florida Election official breaks down in tears. “There are people...

Vox’s CIA-Backed ‘Democracy’ Standard Is OK With Slavery and Women Not Voting

Defining democracy is a notoriously difficult thing, but much is revealed by how media outlets choose to do so. One popular metric is called “Polity...
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Video: Does Voting Even Matter, Top 3 Reasons Why It Does Not

In this video Luke Rudkowski gives you a technical breakdown of how our political electoral system actually works. While Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump,...

Virginia governor restores felon voting rights

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order to grant rights to felons for the first...

A Voting Rights Victory in Maryland

Thousands of Marylanders will regain the right to cast their ballots this election year, thanks to the state’s lawmakers. The Maryland House and Senate recently...

Federal Trial Begins Over Voting Rights in Ferguson, Missouri

ST. LOUIS - A federal trial gets underway today over voting rights and race discrimination in Ferguson, Missouri. The American Civil Liberties Union is...

‘We Are in a Whole New Struggle Over the Right to Vote Now’ –...

CounterSpin interview with Ari Berman on Voting RightsJanine Jackson interviewed Ari Berman about the current assault on voting rights for the November 6 CounterSpin....

Obama calls for criminal justice reform in system ‘skewed by race and wealth’

President Barack Obama is leading a drive for a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system. He wants a federal review of solitary confinement,...

Computerized Vote Rigging Is Still the Unseen Threat to US Democracy: It’s Time to...

Our article in Truthout last week, Top Ten Epic Reasons Why You Should Give a Sh*t About Voting, elicited quite a few comments from...

Ferguson put the criminal justice system on trial

Marc Morial The funeral is over. The protests have subsided. The lax and listless wheels of justice in Ferguson, Missouri are beginning to turn. A St....

Our Fraudulent Two-Tiered Justice System

Carl Gibson We’re all familiar with the golden rule, right? I’m not talking about the “do unto others” bit from The Bible, but the “He...

Billionaires Are Warping Our Political System

Robert B. Reich  RINF Alternative News Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put...

Fighting Back on Voting Rights

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fighting_back_on_voting_rights_20130728/ Posted on Jul 28, 2013 ...

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Department of Justice Attempts to Use the Courts...

Thom Hartmann here — on the news... You need to know this. When the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act...

Holder asks court to reinstate Voting Rights Act in Texas

The US attorney general will ask a federal court to reinstate a portion of the Voting Rights Act that implements safeguards against voter suppression...

America No Longer Has a Functioning Judicial System

Washington’s BlogJuly 22, 2013 The Department of Justice told a federal court this week that the...

Voting While Black

In the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, when the racist contagion that permeates the US judicial, law enforcement and political systems was once...

41 IMF Bailouts And Counting — How Long Before The Entire System Collapses?

Broke nations are bailing out other broke nations with borrowed money. Round and round we go - where we stop nobody knows. As of...

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act, Sparking Fears of Rollback for Minorities Long After...

In a major blow for voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated an integral part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, the...

Ruling on Voting Rights Act Holds Major Implications for Immigrants

June 26, 2013  | ...

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Act by Stephen Lendman America's High Court lacks legitimacy. It's supremely pro-business, anti-populist, anti-labor, and anti-rule of law fairness. It mocks...

The US Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act

  27 June 2013 ...

Repeal of Important Civil Rights Legislation: US Supreme Court Guts the 1965 Voting Rights...

Tuesday’s decision by the US Supreme Court gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act is an outrage that must be answered by working people. This...

US Supreme Court guts Voting Rights Act

  By ...

Supreme Court guts Civil Rights-era voting protection, siding with 'Old Confederacy'

A divided US Supreme Court voided a central part of the Voting Rights Act, a law put in place during the Civil Rights movement...

Supreme Court Puts 'Dagger in the Heart' of Voting Rights Act

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court Tuesday has "sounded the death knell" for a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, laying...

Supreme Court Puts Knife in Voting Rights Act

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court Tuesday has "sounded the death knell" for a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act, laying...

Interior Ministry closely monitors voting

Iranâ„¢s Interior Ministry says it is closely monitoring the process of voting and will take immediate action to investigate any suspected violation of law. Interior...

Real American Boy: How Our Byzantine Immigration System and Failed Economy May Have Made...

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/real_american_boy_how_our_byzantine_immigration_system_and_failed_economy_m/ Posted on May 20, 2013 ...

Conservatives Benefit From Instant Runoff Voting Too

According to a report yesterday in Bloomberg Businessweek, former 2012 Republican Presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were very close to forming a “Unity Ticket” back in February of 2012, in an effort to knock Mitt Romney out of nomination contention.

After Santorum claimed the Iowa caucus and three other primaries in early February, the talk of forming a “Unity Ticket” reached its peak.

John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist, told Bloomberg Businessweek that, “Everybody thought there was an opportunity. It would have sent shock waves through the establishment and the Romney campaign.”

But the talks over the ticket broke down when neither candidate could agree over which one of them would be at the top of the eventual ticket.

These talks of an alliance between Santorum and Gingrich to take down Romney remind us how narrow our choices are with a two-party system. If our political system provided for third, fourth or fifth parties, Santorum and Gingrich could have simply run on other party tickets, and Republican-leaning voters would have had more choices.

Every generation or so, it seems that an American presidential candidate will run on a third party ticket. They always lose, and they rarely even advance their own interests, as they split the votes from the side they’re on.

Charles Koch ran as a Libertarian, Ross Perot invented the Reform Party to run on, and Ralph Nader hooked up with the Greens. Before that John Anderson ran in 1980 as an independent. None ever got anywhere.

That’s because in the United States, we use what’s called “first-past-the-post, winner-take-all” voting systems.

But that wouldn’t have been the case if we had instant runoff voting (IRV) or proportional representation (PR).

The United States is one of only a handful of developed countries in the world that doesn’t have proportional representation, and of those few nations, two, Australia and New Zealand, have instant runoff voting.

We don’t have it, because we’re one of the world’s oldest democracies. After the Constitution was written, James Madison had a horrible realization.

Madison realized that we were the first real democracy of major significance since Rome, and that our democracy was, in reality, an experiment.

Madison also realized that with first-past-the-post-winner-take-all elections, you could have a democracy if there were only two parties, so 51% of the vote could win, but couldn’t have a real small-d democracy with more than two parties. With three parties, 34% of the vote could run the country. With four parties, it could be 26% of the vote.

That’s why, in Federalist Papers #10, Madison begged us not to from political parties, or what he called “factions”.

Madison wrote that, “…It may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.”

It wasn’t until Madison was long dead that Englishman John Stuart Mill proposed, and invented, the idea of proportional representation, where whichever party got, for example, 9% of the vote, that party would get to put their people into 9% of the seats in Parliament. Or thirty percent. Or sixty percent. Whatever the voters wanted, they got.

Proportional representation is the reason why there are so many political parties in Israel, Germany, France, Japan and a host of other developed nations.

Under proportional representation, the voices of all of the people are heard, because it not only allows for but actually promotes multiple political parties

There are two ways we can accomplish this democratic ideal of more than just two political parties here in the United States.

The first is to have the states change the way they apportion votes to Congress and the Senate.

Proportional representation, otherwise known as “fair voting,” already has a long history in U.S. elections. Over 100 cities and counties across the country use some form of fair voting to fill their various elected offices.

FairVote is one of the leading organizations in the fight to bring proportional representation to the halls of Congress and the Senate.

The organization also advocates strongly for instant runoff or ranked voting.

In our current system of voting, also known as a “plurality voting system,” three political parties is a crowd. Our current two-party system discourages new candidates from entering the fray, and suppresses new ideas and dissenting opinions.

However, instant runoff voting creates the democratic ideal of majority rule and voter choice.

Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e first, second, third and so on).

If a candidate receives a majority of first choices, he or she is elected. But if nobody has a clear majority of votes on the first count, a series of runoffs begin, using voters’ preferences as indicated on their ballot.

The candidate who receives the fewest first place votes is eliminated.

All ballots are then recounted, and if you voted for the guy who got the least number of votes, your second choice gets counted instead.

The weakest candidates are continually eliminated and their voters' ballots are added to the totals of their next choices until one candidate wins a majority of votes.

An example of an election when instant runoff voting would have worked wonders for America was the 2000 election between Bush, Gore and Nader.

Back in 2000, I voted for Ralph Nader, and Louise voted for Al Gore.

Although the real reason Bush took Florida was because the US Supreme Court stopped a statewide recount, and because Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris had illegally knocked about 70,000 African-American voters off the rolls even before the polls opened, Ralph Nader did get around 70,000 votes in that election.

But what if IRV had been in place?

Under IRV, and if I lived in Florida (I actually lived in Vermont at the time) I could have voted for Ralph Nader as my first choice, and Al Gore as my second. Since Nader had the fewest votes and lost, my ballot would have rolled over to a vote for Al Gore.

Now just imagine all of the Ralph Nader votes that were cast across the country rolling over to votes for Al Gore.

Surely, Al Gore would have won the election, and the Supreme Court never could have stolen it for George Bush.

Right now, instant runoff voting is used in more than 300 communities across the country, including San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, California.

And, thanks to organizations like FairVote and the Green Party, instant runoff voting is becoming more and more popular across America.

But we need to take instant runoff voting and proportional representation national.

We need more voices and more choices in our elections.

It’s time to leave the 18th century system behind, and step into the 21st century!

How Private Prisons Game the Immigration System

Thirty years ago in January, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), now the biggest operator of private prisons in the world, opened its first prison, a federal immigrant detention center in Houston, Texas. Three Decades of Service to America, a page on the company’s website, features a video interview with the company’s founders looking back on that first contract. “We saw this big ol’ sign, ‘Olympic Motel,’ made an offer to lease the motel for four months,” recalls Don Hutto, who chuckles with fellow co-founder Tom Beasley, the former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, as they remember hastily converting the building and staffing it with family members. The night of Super Bowl Sunday, “we got our first day’s pay for eighty-seven undocumented aliens,” says Hutto, who even fingerprinted the inmates himself.



Three years after the company’s first contract in 1983, according to Southern Changes magazine, the company spent some $100,000 lobbying the state of Tennessee to secure a correctional facility privatization bill, which helped propel the business to financial success. Last year, the company brought in $1.7 billion in revenues, about a quarter of which came from contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and federal Bureau of Prisons to incarcerate non-citizens in the United States.

For a company that began and later thrived by imprisoning immigrants, the federal immigration policy overhaul expected this year presents both opportunities and challenges.

On the one hand, a pathway to citizenship and legal reforms sought by advocates could reduce the number of immigrants detained by CCA and its competitors in the private prison industry. “Private prison corporations have an enormous stake in immigration reform,” says Bob Libal, a prison reform advocate with Grassroots Leadership. “A reform that provides a timely pathway to citizenship without further criminalizing migration would be a huge hit to the industry,” he says.

On the other hand, Libal observed that a bill with increased security measures “could be very profitable” for the industry. Legislators and the Obama administration could adopt a plan that mirrors Republican proposals for an “enforcement first” approach, which include increased police powers, new mandatory detention and sentencing laws, further militarization of the border and proposals for more prisons and detention officers.

Damon Hininger, the chief executive of CCA, sounded anoptimistic note when asked about the impact of reform on an investor call earlier this month, noting, “There’s always going to be a demand for beds.”

In recognition of the profits at stake, the prison companies have invested in key legislators leading the reform process—although the companies are coy about their purpose, denying that they are attempting to influence Congress’s deliberations.

Their lobbying efforts are nothing new. CCA and other large private prison companies have forged ties with political insiders by spending huge sums on lobbying firms, campaign contributions and grants to friendly think tanks. An analysis by the Associated Press last year found that the three major private prison corporations—CCA, the Geo Group, the industry’s largest two companies, along with a smaller company, the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation—spent roughly $45 million over the past decade to influence state and federal government.

The private prison industry has cultivated support from Republican leaders on immigration policy, from Senator Marco Rubio, the “face of comprehensive immigration reform,” to the right edge of the House Republican caucus, a review by The Nation has found.

Unlike other stakeholders involved in today’s process, prison companies have stayed away from the headlines, and have told reporters that they are not planning to engage.

Pablo Paez, a vice president for corporate relations with the Geo Group, e-mailed The Nation to say that his company “has never directly or indirectly lobbied to influence immigration policy.” Correction Corporation’s spokesperson, Steve Owen, echoed that position, telling The Nation that his company does not lobby on any “sentencing or detention enforcement legislation” and “will not take a position on or advocate for or against any specific immigration reform legislation nor will our government relations team on our behalf.” Management and Training Corp. did not respond to a request for comment.

Regulatory filings and lobbying documents, however, undercut the industry’s claims of neutrality.

CCA, in a 2011 SEC filing, warned investors that “any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

Last year, disclosures with the Senate show that the company tapped one of its lobbying firms to begin monitoring immigration policy issues.

“Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us,” notes the Geo Group’s 2011 annual report, which specifically cited the “relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts.”

Both companies may be wary of engaging publicly on immigration reform this year given the backlash over their involvement with recent anti-immigrant laws in the states. In 2010, Arizona enacted SB1070, a measure that centers on a requirement that local police to arrest and charge anyone found without proper immigration documentation. The bill, developed in consultation with private prison lobbyists through a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, spawned copycat laws in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Utah and South Carolina.

Asked on an investor call about the effects of the Arizona law shortly after its passage, Wayne Calabrese, then the chief operating officer of the Geo Group, said, “I think people understand there is still a relatively low threshold of tolerance for people coming across the border and those laws not being enforced.… And that to me at least suggests there’s going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do.”

The association with the wave of state-level enforcement laws—prison companies hired local lobbyists and donated generously to many of the state lawmakers behind the Arizona effort in particular—generated unwanted attention on the industry. It also set off nationwide protests, including a demonstration at the Nashville, Tennessee, headquarters of CCA.

* * *

The private prison industry grew quickly thanks in no small part to its close ties to politicians and its ability to take advantage of right-wing trends, starting with the privatization wave in the eighties and on to the politics of crime, terrorism and immigration.

The money spent on influencing lawmakers has coincided with a sharp increase in immigrant detention and deportation. Immigrant detention costs taxpayers about $2 billion a year, and private prisons are increasingly tapped by the federal government to house the over 400,000 undocumented immigrants detained annually, a number that has more than doubled over the last decade. In 2012 alone, the two publicly traded prison companies, CCA and Geo Group, took in over $441.9 million in federal contracts to house so-called “criminal aliens” for the federal Bureau of Prisons. That year, the two companies combined netted $296.9 million in revenues from ICE contracts. These figures could grow or shrink depending on the details of the immigration reform overhaul debated in the coming months.

As immigration talks began formally in January with the so-called “Gang of Eight” negotiations in the Senate, legislators close to the industry were quick to promote policies that are in line with what critics call “the business of detention.”

Texas Senator John Cornyn, the number-two Senate Republican, was one of the first high-profile lawmakers to throw cold water on talks to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, calling such an idea a non-starter. Cornyn said that enforcement would be his foremost priority. We have to do “everything we can to secure our southwestern border,” Cornyn declared.

Cornyn’s idea of “robust” border security was made clear in an amendment he offered during debate over a supplemental spending bill three years ago. Cornyn’s amendment called for $3 billion to be spent on a mix of drones, border security guards and funding for 3,300 beds for immigrant detention over two years, as well as 500 additional detention officers. In 2005, Cornyn’s immigration reform legislation called for 10,000 new ICE detention beds.

Last August, federal government officials confirmed that the cost to taxpayers to detain an immigrant is approximately $164 a day. Cornyn’s approach would balloon the roughly $18 billion spent already on federal immigration enforcement measures.

Cornyn received $24,750 from private prison political action committees and their registered lobbyists in the last cycle. The political action committees of CCA and the Geo Group bet on a GOP-led Congress this year, and over the course of the past two years collectively gave over $380,000 to Republican candidates and committees, nearly six times the amount given to Democrats. The bulk of the money went to the National Republican Campaign Committee and other Republican leadership committees.

CCA’s PAC cut checks to hardliners like Representatives Lamar Smith and Jim Sensenbrenner, senior Republican lawmakers on the pivotal House Judiciary Committee who sponsored harsh enforcement-only legislation the last time Congress attempted immigration reform. As Seth Freed Wessler of Colorlines reported, House Judiciary Committee members have already hinted that they will again demand that “mandatory detention and deportation of anyone the government labeled a member of a gang, even if they’ve never been convicted of a crime” as a requisite for reform this year. Critics say such measures amount to racial profiling and sending young men of color to prison simply for whom they associate with in school or where they live.

The Geo Group’s PAC also gave $50,000 to the Mitt Romney Victory Fund, to support a presidential candidate who campaigned against “amnesty” and pledged to induce the undocumented to “self-deport.”

To Cornyn’s left within the GOP are Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rubio of Florida, both members of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight.” Although neither has dismissed a pathway to citizenship like their colleague Cornyn, McCain also seeks a strong set of enforcement proposals before any legalization system is put into place.

According to a source close to the reform discussions who spoke with The Nation, McCain has been adamant that any reform overhaul include a law that enshrines the so-called “Operation Streamline” program that enforces criminal penalties for every undocumented immigrant caught entering the country from the southern border. The program, initiated in 2005 by the George W. Bush administration, has continued to be enforced by the Obama administration, and is the main reason the number of immigrants in the criminal justice system has surged in recent years.

Before these guidelines, most undocumented immigrants were sent to civil deportation proceedings. Now, any undocumented immigrant arrested at the border automatically faces criminal charges, with six months in jail for their first illegal entry into the country, and up to twenty years for their second arrest for illegal entry following deportation. This policy, the Detention Watch Network notes in a 2011 report, has played a significant role in fueling the spike in incarcerations for migrant communities. The federal Bureau of Prisons has largely outsourced these types of criminal incarcerations to the Geo Group and CCA.

Currently, Operation Streamline exists as agency policy, not statute. McCain’s attempt to codify the “zero tolerance” rules as a condition for immigration reform would amount to a coup for the private prison companies, which currently manage thirteen detention centers for the BOP. An amendment previously sponsored by McCain in 2010 called for $200 million to the Department of Justice to expand Operation Streamline.

McCain, the Columbia Journalism Review reported, has collected over $30,000 in campaign contributions from CCA.

Rubio, a Cuban-American with broad support among conservative activists and a regular voice in Spanish-language media, is perceived as the politician most likely to set the parameters for reform. He has been featured in national media as the de facto leader for his party in finding a middle ground with Democrats and President Obama on a pathway for citizenship.

Rubio, however, has indicated that he would favor a system that forces currently undocumented immigrants in America to wait more than twenty years before applying for citizenship, while immediately enacting a set of enforcement measures. What this means is that for some 11 million undocumented immigrants a work permit or provisional documentation would be awarded only after they pay back taxes and a penalty fee, pass background checks that may include minor offenses and meet other yet-to-be-determined requirements. This approach, though hailed as a shift away from the GOP’s nativist positions of recent years, could leave millions of people in legal limbo as law enforcement is charged with a greater mandate to arrest those without documentation.

Rubio has his own ties to private prisons. In his bid for the US Senate in 2010, the Geo Group, which is based in Boca Raton, gave $33,500 to political action committees supporting his candidacy, and the company’s chief executive personally donated $4,800.

In 2011, Rubio co-sponsored another McCain bill to steer taxpayer funds to Operation Streamline.

Peter Cervantes-Gautschi, director of the Enlace Institute, says he believes that “Rubio’s positioning on reform is linked to his ties to the private prison industry.” Cervantes-Gautschi, who organized a divestment campaign against private prisons, noted, “Rubio’s guideline would produce more opportunities” for those seeking to profit from immigrant detention.

To fully appreciate the scope of industry’s potential influence over Rubio, one must look beyond mere campaign contributions to the man guiding the senator’s every move in the immigration reform process.

Cesar Conda, Rubio’s chief of staff and reportedly the architect of the senator’s immigration reform outreach, maintains financial ties to the Geo Group’s main lobbying firm, Navigators Global, a company he cofounded in 2003. Although Conda left the business in 2011 to lead Rubio’s staff, financial disclosure forms show that Conda has received up to $100,000 from a “stock buy-out agreement” of his ownership units from the firm, an arrangement a Rubio spokesperson said “is being paid out over time.”

Conda did not respond to a request for comment. Since 2011, the Geo Group has paid Conda’s former firm $220,000 for lobbying services.

Payments to current and former congressional insiders are a big part of how the private prison lobby wields influence.

The two largest for-profit prison corporations currently retain six outside lobbying firms and forty federal lobbyists, most of whom are former staffers to powerful politicians. Some are former lawmakers. Former Republican Representative Jim McCrery of Louisiana, who regularly antagonized any legislation he viewed as too friendly to immigrants while in office, is now at a firm called Capitol Counsel as a lobbyist for Geo Care, a Geo Group healthcare subsidiary; Vic Fazio, a former Democratic Representative from Northern California and former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a lobbyist for CCA through his law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

In 2008, former Senator Dennis DeConcini, a Democrat from Arizona, joined Correction Corporation’s board of directors.

The industry’s hired guns have helped win political victories large and small.

In 2008, a bill called the Private Prison Information Act, which would require for-profit prisons to comply with most public record requests relating to the their operation of federal prisons, gained bipartisan backing and appeared poised to pass out of a House subcommittee.

Calls for more transparency have followed the private prison industry as news reports and lawsuits have revealed a striking pattern of violence, sexual abuse, inadequate staffing, medical neglect and death in facilities across the country. Investigations by the American Civil Liberties Union found multiple immigrant deaths at facilities managed by CCA. Grassroots Leadership has documented several instances of sexual abuse and mysterious deaths at immigrant detention centers managed by the Geo Group.

Alarmed that the bill was gaining momentum, CCA dispatched several executives along with Fazio to meet with the sponsor of the legislation, Representative Tim Holden of Pennsylvania. A consultant who worked to pass the bill told The Nation that Fazio pressured Holden to drop support for the measure. The consultant recalled being invited by Holden’s staff for a meeting about the bill, and his surprise to find Fazio in the congressman’s office when he arrived for the meeting. Fazio and other CCA officials, the consultant said, took control of the meeting and berated advocates of the legislation.

In the end, Holden did not bother showing up to the hearing about his own bill and it died in committee. Holden, who lost his seat last year in the Democratic primary, could not be reached for comment.

In 2006,CCA paid the law firm Akin Gump, along with Fazio, $200,000 to lobby on “immigration reform legislation” as Congress made its last attempt at a federal overhaul. In May of 2006, John Ferguson, then the CEO of the company, told investors that immigration reform could produce “significant expansion of border enforcement efforts, which should result in a substantial increase in the population of illegal detainees.” One financial analyst associated with the company that year predicted the immigrant detention “market” was worth $250 million over twelve to eighteen months due to Bush’s enforcement actions.

The dynamics of immigration reform during that period can be viewed as massive victory for the private prisons. The Bush administration attempted to placate its right-wing base by enacting a series of policies to militarize the border and send more immigrants to jail, through new criminal procedures and increased ICE raids. The bipartisan attempt to create a pathway for citizenship was scuttled by right-wing lawmakers, many of whom are reprising that role this year. Senator Cornyn, who played an important role in opposing a comprehensive approach to reform in 2006, has even more influence this year given his position as ranking member on the Senate subcommittee that deals with immigration.

Five days after making his enforcement first position on reform clear at a conference hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation in January, Cornyn was back in DC celebrating his birthday with a fundraiser co-hosted by CCA lobbyist Rob Chamberlin.

A fundraiser announcement posted by the Sunlight Foundation shows Chamberlin among several hosts of Cornyn’s party at Hill Country BBQ, a Texas-style restaurant near Pennsylvania Avenue. Over the last year, Chamberlin’s firm, McBee Strategic, made more money than any other firm in Washington, DC, on behalf of a private prison interest.

“Who’s asking for more prisons?” asks Roberto Lovato, a co-founder of Presente.org. “There’s no polls that show that Latinos, immigrants, average citizens want more prisons or the enforcement-first mentality, so that shows that these politicians are listening to the prison lobbyists, not voters.”

“Racial Entitlements?” Long-Term Effort to End Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action May Finally...

The U.S. Supreme Court may roll back two pillars of the civil rights era this term -- the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and affirmative action -- both of which have long been targeted by the right-wing and whose challenges are backed by the same set of deep-pocketed ideological funders.

Scalia Sees Voting Rights and Affirmative Action as "Racial Entitlements"

Wednesday's oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder indicated hostility among some justices towards Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA), which requires states with a history of state-sanctioned racial discrimination to get federal pre-approval before implementing changes to their voting laws or procedures. Congress has renewed it four times since 1965 with significant bipartisan support, most recently in 2006, when every U.S. Senator voted for it.

But that support was "very likely attributable to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement," Justice Antonin Scalia asserted from the bench. "Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes," he said, a characterization of the landmark civil rights law that was met with gasps in the courtroom.

This is not the first time Scalia has talked about "racial entitlements" -- and his perspective will almost certainly apply to another civil rights case in the Court's docket this term.

"To pursue the concept of racial entitlement -- even for the most admirable and benign of purposes -- is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred," he wrote about affirmative action in a concurring opinion in the 1995 case Adarand Constructors v Pena, a decision that enacted a high bar for government affirmative action programs.

Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed similar support for so-called color-blindness under the law. "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," he wrote in a 2007 case striking down the consideration of a student's race by school districts striving for diversity in schools in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky. Likewise, in a 2009 decision about the VRA, Roberts expressed a view that race matters less today, and therefore Section 5's federal pre-clearance requirement may no longer be justified since "things have changed in the South."

Roberts and Scalia have another bite at the affirmative action apple this term. In October, the Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v University of Texas, which challenges race-conscious university admission policies. Questioning from Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia indicated the Court may have a five-justice majority to reverse parts of a 2003 ruling that allowed consideration of race in college admissions (a decision that came before President George W Bush named two justices to the court).

The statements from these justices on affirmative action and voting rights reflect a view that race plays little role in America today (!), or at least that it should no longer be acknowledged under the law. In fact, "explicit anti-black attitudes" have actually increased over the past four years, particularly among Republicans, according to research by social scientists at Brown and the University of Michigan.

If the Court sides with plaintiffs in Fisher and Shelby County, it would be a victory for the right, which for decades has been laying the groundwork for rolling-back these sorts of progressive gains by adopting the terminology of "color-blindness."

Long-Standing Opposition to Affirmative Action, Section 5

Both the VRA and affirmative action grew out of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, and have been targeted for reversal ever since by generations of reactionaries.

President Lyndon Johnson's support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act led to realignments within America's two major political parties. Southern Democrats like "Dixiecrat" Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina defected to the Republican Party, and over time many voters who had long supported "the Party of Lincoln" shifted their allegiance to Democrats.

Ronald Reagan's opposition to civil rights programs, for example, was a key part of his effort to win the presidency by appealing to the racial views of white Southern voters. He famously kicked-off his successful presidential bid by declaring his support for "state's rights" at a Mississippi event held just a few miles from where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. "States rights" had been a rallying call for Southern states opposing Brown v. Board of Education and the end of racial segregation, and provided a facially neutral way to oppose the VRA's Section 5 federal pre-clearance requirements. He called the VRA "humiliating to the South" and described affirmative action as a form of "reverse discrimination" where whites are "victims." As legendary campaign consultant Lee Atwater acknowledged after the campaign, the way Reagan discussed voting rights and affirmative action was part of a careful effort to garner the votes of white Southerners by using "abstract" and coded language to avoid express racism.

Once elected, Reagan stopped enforcing several affirmative action programs, and his Justice Department began filing amicus briefs in support of white men claiming injury from the programs. In 1982, when the Voting Rights Act was up for reauthorization, John Roberts was working for the Reagan Administration andargued for a watered-down version of the law. After Congress rejected the administration's efforts and passed a strengthened VRA with bipartisan support, a hesitant Reagan nonetheless signed the reauthorization -- prompting Roberts to write "we were burned." President Reagan also appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justices who passed the litmus tests of a narrow view of affirmative action and civil rights laws: Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, who are still on the Court, as well as William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Right-Wing Institutions Laid Groundwork

Part of the long-term success of modern Republicanism, which grew out of opposition to the civil rights gains of the 1960s, is attributable to the development of a network of right-wing funders and well-funded institutions starting in the mid-1970s. For example, in 1973, legendary right-wing activist Paul Weyrich co-founded both the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation.

ALEC, as the Center for Media and Democracy has documented, has advanced an array of policy initiatives at the state level to advance a right-wing agenda, for example by privatizing public institutions like education and prisons, and by successfully promoting efforts to restrict voting rights (some of which have been thwarted in the past year by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act). In addition to voter ID legislation, ALEC has adopted model bills like the deceptively named "Civil Rights Act" to end affirmative action programs run by states and universities.

The Heritage Foundation has become one of the largest think tanks in the country, and has long opposedaffirmative action and Section 5. In recent years, Heritage Foundation legal fellow Hans Von Spakovsky (who was recently profiled by New Yorker author Jane Mayer in a piece crediting research from CMD) has promoted the myth of rampant voter fraud to justify restrictive state voting laws. He argues that Section 5 is an outdated statute that allows the feds to trample on state liberty and has also opposed affirmative action.

The last three or four decades have also seen the development of an array of legal institutions attempting to achieve right-wing political victories through the courts. The best known is the Federalist Society, which has contributed to the development of legal theories to advance preferred policy outcomes through the judicial system, and has cultivated a network of like-minded lawyers and judges, including Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts.

And these groups have been funded by a shared set of wealthy donors. In the 1970s and 1980s, foundations created by the Coors and Scaife family fortunes provided the seed money for groups like ALEC and the Heritage Foundation. The Bradley Foundation and Koch family foundations also provide tens of millions to an array of right-wing organizations.

Likewise, the current Supreme Court challenges to both the Voting Rights Act and university affirmative action programs are backed by top funders of the movement and were organized by the same right-wing activist -- and are carrying forward this long-term project to roll-back the gains of the civil rights era.

Same Group and Donors Behind Fisher and Shelby County Cases

The Project on Fair Representation is a "legal defense fund" dedicated to reversing race-based legal protections, and its director, Ed Blum, coordinated the challenges in both the Fisher and Shelby County cases. Blum has likened his role in high-profile litigation to "Yenta the matchmaker."

"I find the plaintiff, I find the lawyer, and I put them together, and then I worry about it for four years," he said.

Blum urged Shelby County, Alabama, to bring its Section 5 challenge after the Department of Justice blocked its effort to dilute the voting power of the growing African-American population. He also connected with Abigail Fisher, a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin and claimed it was because of her race. Blum was also behind the last Voting Rights Act challenge to make it to the Supreme Court, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder.

The Project on Fair Representation's legal fees are entirely funded by the secretive Donors Trust, which has been described as a "Dark Money ATM." Donors Trust funnels money from the Kochs and other funders to organizations in the right-wing network, but keeps the original donors secret.

Blum's known contributors include the Bradley Foundation, which also bankrolls groups promoting voter suppression, writes Ari Berman of The Nation:

Blum's group does not have to disclose which funders of Donors Trust are giving him money, but he has identified two of them: the Bradley Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust. The Wisconsin-based Bradley Foundation paid for billboards in minority communities in Milwaukee during the 2010 election with the ominous message "Voter Fraud Is a Felony!", which voting rights groups denounced as voter suppression. Both Bradley and Searle have given six-figure donations to ALEC in recent years, and Bradley funded a think tank in Wisconsin, the MacIver Institute, that hyped discredited claims of voter fraud to justify the state's voter ID law, currently blocked in state court.

The Bradley Foundation has also been a major funder of attacks on affirmative action. It has given millions to Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action "American Civil Rights Institute," and it has given over one million dollars to a group that calls itself the "Center for Equal Opportunity," whose activities include traveling the country urging Republican legislators to crack down on affirmative action programs, which it claims constitute "reverse discrimination." In 2011, a Center for Equal Opportunity representative claimed the University of Wisconsin was guilty of "severe racial discrimination." This is a difficult claim to believe given that 2.6 percent of the university's 42,180 students are African-American and 3.8 percent are Hispanic, much lower percentages than the general population.

Institutions of higher education -- and many employers -- indicate that taking race into account remains an important tool for promoting diversity in classrooms and the workplace, particularly to help compensate for the institutional forms of racism that contribute to ongoing inequity.

And civil rights groups strongly contend that Section 5 remains a vital part of the VRA's goal of protecting access to the ballot box. The Act was designed to end decades of racist Jim Crow voting restrictions, like literacy tests, which might have been facially neutral but had a racially discriminatory impact. And in the past year, Section 5 has been applied to block the wave of voter ID restrictions passed in states like South Carolinaand Texas, as well as to stop discriminatory redistricting in Texas and to keep Florida from reducing early voting hours in certain areas. Like the Jim Crow-era restrictions, the ALEC-inspired voter ID laws and limits on early voting would disproportionately impact voters of color.

The problems of the 1960s and 1970s remain concentrated in the areas covered by Section 5: six of the nine states fully covered by the provision have passed new voting restrictions since 2010, but only one-third of the rest of the country passed similar restrictions during the same period. Justice Elena Kagan noted during Wednesday's oral argument that while covered jurisdictions hold less than 25% of the U.S. population, they account for 56% of successful voting-rights lawsuits.

Although each case currently before the court asks a separate constitutional question -- for Fisher, whether considering race in university admissions violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection guarantees, and forShelby County, whether requiring federal approval for changes in state voting procedures violates the 10th Amendment's protections for "state's rights" -- if the Court sides with the plaintiffs, the cases will represent major victories for the right-wing movement's effort to roll-back civil rights gains.

But, as today's Republican Party tries to lose its image as the party of white people, these potential legal wins may instead be pyrrhic victories that reinforce it.

US Supreme Court Justices attack US Voting Rights Act

law

 by Ed Hightower

On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, which challenges the key enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

Right-wing justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and John Roberts made clear their opposition to the act. Justice Clarence Thomas, the fourth member of the far-right bloc on the court was, as usual, silent, and the “swing vote,” Justice Anthony Kennedy, acidly questioned the continued relevance of the landmark ruling.

The tenor of these reactionaries suggested the existence of a five-vote majority to either overturn or eviscerate the provisions of the law that require states of the former Jim Crow South and certain other jurisdictions to pre-clear changes in voting procedures with the federal government, so as to insure the right of blacks and other minorities to vote.

The very fact that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge to the Voting Rights Act, which had been rejected by the federal trial court and the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is indicative of the ferocity of the assault on democratic rights being waged by the ruling class. It reflects the aggressive posture of the court’s right-wing bloc, which may be poised to usurp the power of Congress, as stipulated in the 15th Amendment of the Constitution outlawing voting discrimination based on race, to pass legislation to enforce the Amendment’s provisions. Congress has repeatedly voted to extend the VRA, most recently in 2006, when both houses voted overwhelmingly to extend the act for another 25 years (98 to 0 in the Senate, 390 to 33 in the House).

The Voting Rights Act marked the high water mark of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In the preceding decades, African Americans, who were guaranteed all of the constitutional rights of whites through the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, nevertheless suffered severe repression at the hands of state and local governments in the American South, including de facto disenfranchisement through poll taxes and literacy tests backed up by brutal violence and terror.

In the mass struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the South backed by white workers and youth across the country fought against legal segregation in marches, sit-ins and protests, many of which met with violent attack both from state and local authorities and from organized terror groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Bombings, lynchings and beatings claimed many lives.

The outcome of these struggles was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The VRA covered all of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia and Alaska, as well as parts of Arizona, Hawaii and Idaho. In 1975, Texas was added due to findings of persistent discrimination against non-English-speaking persons. Today, all or part of 16 states fall under the pre-clearance requirement of the VRA.

Immediately after the 2006 renewal of the VRA by Congress, a Texas municipality challenged it on grounds similar to those at issue in Shelby County. In its review of that case, commonly referred to as NAMUDNO (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder), seven Supreme Court justices signed on to an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts that depicted Sections 4 and 5 of the act, the key enforcement sections, as outdated, and the 2006 congressional renewal as failing to take into account progressive changes in the South.

Shelby County largely concerns Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the pre-clearance provision. The suit also targets Section 4 of the act, which defines which jurisdictions will be subjected to the pre-clearance requirement.

Attorneys for Shelby County, Alabama argue that jurisdictions in their state should not be treated differently from those in any other state, claiming that there is no more overt discrimination against minority voters in Alabama jurisdictions than in any other state. During oral arguments, Alabama’s attorney brushed aside evidence of recurrent and frequent attempts to disenfranchise minority voters in Alabama and the states in question, insisting that the pre-clearance requirement posed an unacceptable intrusion into the sovereign state’s interest in managing elections within its borders.

The questioning by justices Scalia, Roberts and Alito, with Kennedy largely following suit, indicates a possible if not probable overturn of at least Section 4 of the VRA, leaving it up to Congress to create a new formula for determining which jurisdictions fall under the scope of pre-clearance, a remote prospect in the present political context that would have much the same effect as striking Sections 4 and 5 altogether.

Scalia’s contributions were particularly provocative. Referring to the ever-broader support for the VRA at each successive congressional renewal, Scalia made the following extraordinary comment:

“Now, I don’t think that’s attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement…It’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.”

Justice Kennedy posed the unrelated and almost nonsensical question to the government’s lawyer: “If Alabama wants to have monuments to the heroes of the civil rights movement, if it wants to acknowledge the wrongs of its past, is it better off doing that if it’s an [sic] own independent sovereign or if it’s under the trusteeship of the United States Government?”

The nominally liberal justice Stephen Breyer appeared inclined to conciliate with the right-wing majority, asking the government’s attorney, “What is the standard for when it [the VRA] runs out? Never? That’s something you have heard people worried about.”

The overturning or emasculation of the VRA would serve as a green light for broader attacks on democratic rights, and the right to vote in particular. Shelby County takes place in the context of more than a decade of mounting attacks on the right to vote, beginning with the infamous Gore v. Bush decision of December 2000, in which the Supreme Court shut down the counting of votes in Florida and handed the presidency to George W. Bush.

More recently, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations had the right to donate unlimited cash to election campaigns. This term it is hearing a suit to lift all restrictions on the amount of money individuals can donate to candidates for office. The domination of the electoral process and the political system by corporate money is being institutionalized and written into the law of the land.

The recent spate of disenfranchising measures adopted by states across the US in the form of voter ID laws, the curtailment of early voting and the purging of voter rolls represents more than just a gift to the Republican Party, whose strategists fear changing demographics will contribute to future electoral losses. It represents an ongoing and escalating break with democratic norms on the part of the corporate-financial elite.

The attack on the Voting Rights Act is an attack not just on minority workers, but on the democratic rights of the working class as a whole.

American and world capitalism face the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and with it, growing resistance to relentless attacks on workers’ livings standards. This is the source of the turn by the ruling class toward police state forms of rule, from indefinite military detention and domestic spying to the authority claimed by President Obama to assassinate people branded as terrorists, including US citizens.

Why the Supreme Court May Rule Against the Voting Rights Act

Why the Supreme Court May Rule Against the Voting Rights Act

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Posted on Feb 25, 2013
Flickr/ massmatt

By Suevon Lee, ProPublica

This report originally ran on ProPublica.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The cornerstone provision is known as Section 5, which requires some states and localities to get federal clearance before making any changes to their voting laws.

What is the Voting Rights Act? And why does it matter? Here’s a quick guide to what could be, as the influential SCOTUSBlog put it, “one of the most significant rulings of the current term.” 

What’s Section 5 again?

As we’ve explained before, Section 5 requires nine mostly Southern states — Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, Virginia, Texas and Arizona — and areas of seven others to preclear any change to a voting law or procedure with the federal government.

This review is conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice or a panel of federal judges on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. If a voting change hasn’t been submitted for review, the change can be legally unenforceable.

Section 5, which was enacted by the original Voting Rights Act, was meant to address the systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans by state lawmakers in the South since the end of Reconstruction.

Under the provision, covered jurisdictions must prove that any proposed voting change doesn’t have a discriminatory purpose or effect or would diminish minorities’ ability to elect a favored candidate.

How were these states identified?

When the Voting Rights Act originally passed, the rubric to identify the original bad actors looked at racist voting practices like literary tests and Census data indicating whether less than 50 percent of eligible voters voted in the November 1964 presidential election.

When Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 1970 for another five years, it mandated oversight of other states and municipalities with low voter turnout.

By 1975, when Congress extended the act for another seven years, the law was broadened to include discriminatory voting practices against language minorities. For example, states were flagged for offering ballots only in English where language minorities made up more than 5 percent of the voting-age population. (That’s how Alaska, Arizona and Texas got federal oversight. It’s also the reason why parts of Florida, Michigan, New York and South Dakota are included.)

In both 1982 and 2006, Congress extended Section 5 for another 25 years — without making any significant updates to the coverage triggers, or “formula” as it’s called (In 1982, Congress also established standards to allow covered jurisdictions demonstrating good behavior to “bail out” from under federal supervision).

Right now, Section 5 isn’t scheduled to expire until 2031 — which brings us to the current debate over its fairness and constitutionality in present-day circumstances.

How useful has Section 5 been?

Nearly everyone agrees that Section 5 once played a critical function to rein in recalcitrant state legislators determined to suppress the African American, and later on language-minority, vote.

It is its present application that’s now in dispute.

“America is no longer a land where whites hold the levers of power and minority representation depends on extraordinary federal intervention,” argues an amicus brief filed by the Cato Institute in the Shelby County case.

The kinds of voting law changes covered jurisdictions must submit for preclearance — back then, and still today — span large-scale changes like redistricting and voter ID laws to small things like changing a polling place or precinct, as this chart shows.

One way to look at the effectiveness of Section 5 is through the number of times the DOJ has requested more information from a jurisdiction that has submitted a voting change followed by a subsequent withdrawal of that proposal.

In a 2007 paper, Nathaniel Persily, a Columbia University professor of law and political science, concluded that since 1982, the DOJ requested more information from states or local governments 800 times, followed by the withdrawal of proposals in 205 of those instances.

“This represents a tiny fraction” of overall requests since 1982, Persily observes, “but it gives a sense of how many dogs did not bark as a result of the threat of a denial of preclearance.”

Just this past year, the provision was the reason federal judges blocked voter ID laws in both Texas and South Carolina, voided new district maps in Texas and prevented early voting reduction of hours in parts of Florida, citing a potential adverse effect on minority voters.

In the past year, the Justice Department objected to a total 16 proposed changes under Section 5, according to a DOJ official.

Does this tell us that Section 5 remains a viable tool concerning these specific jurisdictions? It depends how you look at it.

“There’s no question Section 5 covered the most egregious bad actors and the world looks different now,” said Heather Gerken, a professor at Yale Law School who specializes in election law. “But the question is, why does the world look different? And in some ways we can’t know because of the prophylactic rule.”

So who’s challenging Section 5?

Shelby County, Ala. In 2008, the city of Calera — located within Shelby County — redrew one of its electoral maps, bringing in hundreds of white voters and significantly decreasing the number of black voters, from 70.9 percent to 29.5 percent.

Since any change that would discriminate against minority voters violates the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department stepped in and vetoed the proposed map. (The only black representative of the city council also lost his seat that election.)

The Justice Department also said the city relied on unreliable demographic data to justify the new map.

On April 27, 2010, Shelby County filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking the court to declare Section 5 unconstitutional on its face – meaning, broadly applied, as opposed to just in the county’s case alone.

As Reuters details, the case caught the attention of Edward Blum, a conservative advocate who persuaded Shelby County to file a suit, in turn connecting the county with lawyers who could handle an appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Blum is also behind the recent Supreme Court challenge to affirmative action in public universities, Fisher v. University of Texas. 

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We Can Fix This? In SOTU, Obama Shoves Voting Reform into “Sock Drawer,” Leaving...

President Obama announced plans for a nonpartisan commission to "improve the Election Day experience" in his State of the Union address, a response to the long lines and heavy burdens that states imposed on voters during the 2012 elections. But his proposal -- which some have called "the policy equivalent of a sock drawer" -- falls short of what many had hoped.

The president certainly got the rhetoric right.

"We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home," Obama said. "That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote."

He referred to Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian immigrant who became a citizen in 2005 and waited three hours to cast her ballot in Miami. She watched the address from the First Lady's viewing box. More than 200,000 people didn't vote in Florida because of long lines, which resulted in wait times as long as seven hours.

"When any Americans, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right simply because they can't wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals."

But the solution -- an election commission -- left much to be desired. As Charles Pierce notes at Esquire, "A bipartisan commission is the Washington policy equivalent of a sock drawer:" where ideas are shoved away and ignored. A similar-sounding federal agency was formed after the voting problems highlighted in the 2000 elections and Bush v Gore debacle, but all four commissioner spots are vacant and it hasn't had an executive director since 2011, largely because of Republican obstructionism. A bill to kill the agency passed the Republican-controlled House in 2011.

Weak Commission Leaves Much to be Desired

Elections are administered by the states, which has resulted in a patchwork of outdated, paper-based election systems, as well as partisan application of voting registration and early voting procedures (which vary state-to-state), and new laws that make it harder for disfavored populations to access the ballot box, such as strict voter ID restrictions advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Along with partisanship, outdated election administration is rife with malfeasance or incompetence -- like when Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus flipped the results of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race in 2011 after she insisted on keeping vote tallies on a personal laptop and said she forgot to include an entire city in the initial count submitted to the state and press.

Groups like the Brennan Center for Justice have called for federal legislation and national standards to limit some of the problems experienced in recent elections. Its proposal would enact a computerized national voting registration system (which, incidentally, would reduce opportunities for the in-person "fraud" that Republicans espouse), mandatory early voting, and minimum standards for polling places. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has proposed legislation to require same day legislation across the country and prohibit voter ID laws, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would task the Attorney General with creating minimum national standards to prevent wait times of more than one hour, both of which would advance the ball much farther than a bipartisan commission.

The president's commission is tasked with much more modest goals. According to the Executive Order creating the commission, it will "identify practical, commonsense steps that state and local election officials can take to improve the Election Day experience. The Commission will also identify the practices of voting jurisdictions where voters have the best Election Day experience."

Identifying best practices is important but it won't change many of the problems with state-run elections. The Pew Charitable Trusts just released an election performance index along these lines, and ranked Wisconsin as one of the highest-performing states in the nation during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. This is in large part because the state is one of nine that allows voters to register at the polls on election day. But as the Center for Media and Democracy recently outlined in its report Rig the Vote, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have both voiced support for ending the highly successful election day registration program, despite it being nationally recognized as helping the state achieve the second-highest voter turnout rate in the nation.

Voting rights advocates recognize that an Election Commission is not enough. Although the Brennan Center urged the Commission to think "boldly," it called on "Congress to do its part by enacting minimum national standards to modernize elections." The League of Women Voters was less conciliatory, stating in a release that "Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual."

Republican Lawyer Co-Chair Is a "Puzzling" Choice

The makeup of the Commission itself has led others to question its efficacy. It will be chaired by Bob Bauer, the top attorney for Obama's campaign, and Ben Ginsberg, former election lawyer for Mitt Romney's 2012 operation.

But Ari Berman at The Nation explained why Ginsberg is a "puzzling" choice. He writes:

For over two decades, Ginsberg has been a top lawyer for the Republican Party -- the same party, you may recall, that has led the effort to restrict voting rights of late. Ginsberg helped lead the 2000 recall effort for George W. Bush. He was forced to resign from the Bush campaign in 2004 after it was revealed that he was also advising the vile Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2006, Ginsberg said, "just like really with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection." And in 2012, he was counsel to the Romney campaign when it absurdly claimed that the Obama campaign was trying to suppress military voters by pushing for early voting for all Ohioans. Does that sound like the kind of guy you want leading a "non-partisan" voting commission?

With the Voting Rights Act being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court and a variety of proposals to make it harder to vote (and change how electoral votes are counted) being considered in the states, a bipartisan commission is certainly not enough.

Many are hoping that, beyond this commission idea, Obama will truly follow through on his State of the Union promise that "We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy."

We Can Fix This? In SOTU, Obama Shoves Voting Reform into ‘Sock Drawer,’ Leaving...

President Obama announced plans for a nonpartisan commission to "improve the Election Day experience" in his State of the Union address, a response to the long lines and heavy burdens that states imposed on voters during the 2012 elections. But his proposal -- which some have called "the policy equivalent of a sock drawer" -- falls short of what many had hoped. 

(Photo: Big Dubya via Flickr)The president certainly got the rhetoric right.

"We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home," Obama said. "That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote."

He referred to Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian immigrant who became a citizen in 2005 and waited three hours to cast her ballot in Miami. She watched the address from the First Lady's viewing box. More than 200,000 people didn't vote in Florida because of long lines, which resulted in wait times as long as seven hours. 

"When any Americans, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals."

But the solution -- an election commission -- left much to be desired. As Charles Pierce notes at Esquire, "A bipartisan commission is the Washington policy equivalent of a sock drawer:" where ideas are shoved away and ignored. A similar-sounding federal agency was formed after the voting problems highlighted in the 2000 elections and Bush v Gore debacle, but all four commissioner spots are vacant and it hasn't had an executive director since 2011, largely because of Republican obstructionism. A bill to kill the agency passed the Republican-controlled House in 2011.

Weak Commission Leaves Much to be Desired

Elections are administered by the states, which has resulted in a patchwork of outdated, paper-based election systems, as well as partisan application of voting registration and early voting procedures (which vary state-to-state), and new laws that make it harder for disfavored populations to access the ballot box, such as strict voter ID restrictions advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Along with partisanship, outdated election administration is rife with malfeasance or incompetence -- like when Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus flipped the results of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race in 2011 after she insisted on keeping vote tallies on a personal laptop and said she forgot to include an entire city in the initial count submitted to the state and press.

Groups like the Brennan Center for Justice have called for federal legislation and national standards to limit some of the problems experienced in recent elections. Its proposal would enact a computerized national voting registration system (which, incidentally, would reduce opportunities for the in-person "fraud" that Republicans espouse), mandatory early voting, and minimum standards for polling places. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has proposed legislation to require same day legislation across the country and prohibit voter ID laws, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would task the Attorney General with creating minimum national standards to prevent wait times of more than one hour, both of which would advance the ball much farther than a bipartisan commission.

The president's commission is tasked with much more modest goals. According to the Executive Order creating the commission, it will "identify practical, commonsense steps that state and local election officials can take to improve the Election Day experience. The Commission will also identify the practices of voting jurisdictions where voters have the best Election Day experience.”

Identifying best practices is important but it won't change many of the problems with state-run elections. The Pew Charitable Trusts just released an election performance index along these lines, and ranked Wisconsin as one of the highest-performing states in the nation during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. This is in large part because the state is one of nine that allows voters to register at the polls on election day. But as the Center for Media and Democracy recently outlined in its report Rig the Vote, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have both voiced support for ending the highly successful election day registration program, despite it being nationally recognized as helping the state achieve the second-highest voter turnout rate in the nation.

Voting rights advocates recognize that an Election Commission is not enough. Although the Brennan Center urged the Commission to think "boldly," it called on "Congress to do its part by enacting minimum national standards to modernize elections.” The League of Women Voters was less conciliatory, stating in a release that "Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual.”

Republican Lawyer Co-Chair Is a "Puzzling" Choice 

The makeup of the Commission itself has led others to question its efficacy. It will be chaired by Bob Bauer, the top attorney for Obama's campaign, and Ben Ginsberg, former election lawyer for Mitt Romney's 2012 operation.

But Ari Berman at The Nation explained why Ginsberg is a "puzzling" choice. He writes:

For over two decades, Ginsberg has been a top lawyer for the Republican Party – the same party, you may recall, that has led the effort to restrict voting rights of late. Ginsberg helped lead the 2000 recall effort for George W. Bush. He was forced to resign from the Bush campaign in 2004 after it was revealed that he was also advising the vile Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2006, Ginsberg said, “just like really with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection.” And in 2012, he was counsel to the Romney campaign when it absurdly claimed that the Obama campaign was trying to suppress military voters by pushing for early voting for all Ohioans. Does that sound like the kind of guy you want leading a “non-partisan” voting commission?

With the Voting Rights Act being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court and a variety of proposals to make it harder to vote (and change how electoral votes are counted) being considered in the states, a bipartisan commission is certainly not enough.

Many are hoping that, beyond this commission idea, Obama will truly follow through on his State of the Union promise that "We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy."

© 2013 Center for Media and Democracy

Brendan Fischer

Brendan M. Fischer is a law fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy and a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School in the class of 2011.

We Can Fix This? In SOTU, Obama Shoves Voting Reform into ‘Sock Drawer,’ Leaving...

President Obama announced plans for a nonpartisan commission to "improve the Election Day experience" in his State of the Union address, a response to the long lines and heavy burdens that states imposed on voters during the 2012 elections. But his proposal -- which some have called "the policy equivalent of a sock drawer" -- falls short of what many had hoped. 

(Photo: Big Dubya via Flickr)The president certainly got the rhetoric right.

"We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home," Obama said. "That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote."

He referred to Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Haitian immigrant who became a citizen in 2005 and waited three hours to cast her ballot in Miami. She watched the address from the First Lady's viewing box. More than 200,000 people didn't vote in Florida because of long lines, which resulted in wait times as long as seven hours. 

"When any Americans, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals."

But the solution -- an election commission -- left much to be desired. As Charles Pierce notes at Esquire, "A bipartisan commission is the Washington policy equivalent of a sock drawer:" where ideas are shoved away and ignored. A similar-sounding federal agency was formed after the voting problems highlighted in the 2000 elections and Bush v Gore debacle, but all four commissioner spots are vacant and it hasn't had an executive director since 2011, largely because of Republican obstructionism. A bill to kill the agency passed the Republican-controlled House in 2011.

Weak Commission Leaves Much to be Desired

Elections are administered by the states, which has resulted in a patchwork of outdated, paper-based election systems, as well as partisan application of voting registration and early voting procedures (which vary state-to-state), and new laws that make it harder for disfavored populations to access the ballot box, such as strict voter ID restrictions advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Along with partisanship, outdated election administration is rife with malfeasance or incompetence -- like when Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus flipped the results of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race in 2011 after she insisted on keeping vote tallies on a personal laptop and said she forgot to include an entire city in the initial count submitted to the state and press.

Groups like the Brennan Center for Justice have called for federal legislation and national standards to limit some of the problems experienced in recent elections. Its proposal would enact a computerized national voting registration system (which, incidentally, would reduce opportunities for the in-person "fraud" that Republicans espouse), mandatory early voting, and minimum standards for polling places. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has proposed legislation to require same day legislation across the country and prohibit voter ID laws, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would task the Attorney General with creating minimum national standards to prevent wait times of more than one hour, both of which would advance the ball much farther than a bipartisan commission.

The president's commission is tasked with much more modest goals. According to the Executive Order creating the commission, it will "identify practical, commonsense steps that state and local election officials can take to improve the Election Day experience. The Commission will also identify the practices of voting jurisdictions where voters have the best Election Day experience.”

Identifying best practices is important but it won't change many of the problems with state-run elections. The Pew Charitable Trusts just released an election performance index along these lines, and ranked Wisconsin as one of the highest-performing states in the nation during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. This is in large part because the state is one of nine that allows voters to register at the polls on election day. But as the Center for Media and Democracy recently outlined in its report Rig the Vote, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have both voiced support for ending the highly successful election day registration program, despite it being nationally recognized as helping the state achieve the second-highest voter turnout rate in the nation.

Voting rights advocates recognize that an Election Commission is not enough. Although the Brennan Center urged the Commission to think "boldly," it called on "Congress to do its part by enacting minimum national standards to modernize elections.” The League of Women Voters was less conciliatory, stating in a release that "Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual.”

Republican Lawyer Co-Chair Is a "Puzzling" Choice 

The makeup of the Commission itself has led others to question its efficacy. It will be chaired by Bob Bauer, the top attorney for Obama's campaign, and Ben Ginsberg, former election lawyer for Mitt Romney's 2012 operation.

But Ari Berman at The Nation explained why Ginsberg is a "puzzling" choice. He writes:

For over two decades, Ginsberg has been a top lawyer for the Republican Party – the same party, you may recall, that has led the effort to restrict voting rights of late. Ginsberg helped lead the 2000 recall effort for George W. Bush. He was forced to resign from the Bush campaign in 2004 after it was revealed that he was also advising the vile Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2006, Ginsberg said, “just like really with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection.” And in 2012, he was counsel to the Romney campaign when it absurdly claimed that the Obama campaign was trying to suppress military voters by pushing for early voting for all Ohioans. Does that sound like the kind of guy you want leading a “non-partisan” voting commission?

With the Voting Rights Act being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court and a variety of proposals to make it harder to vote (and change how electoral votes are counted) being considered in the states, a bipartisan commission is certainly not enough.

Many are hoping that, beyond this commission idea, Obama will truly follow through on his State of the Union promise that "We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy."

© 2013 Center for Media and Democracy

Brendan Fischer

Brendan M. Fischer is a law fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy and a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School in the class of 2011.

What’s Next for the Voting Rights Movement?

Desmond Meade stood with his wife on the National Mall on that sunny Inauguration Day, listening to a speech delivered by a president he did not vote for. But he followed attentively, hoping to hear just a few words that might address a man like himself: African-American, one-time homeless, recovered from substance abuse, and formerly incarcerated. His felony status kept him from voting for Obama, because as a Florida citizen he is not eligible to vote at all. He would leave D.C. disappointed, not only because he heard nothing about felony disenfranchisement, but he also heard nothing from Obama about the unique problems impacting black men.

“If you’re going to go out there on a limb and talk about gay rights and gun control issues, then why can’t you make mention of the plight of African-American men who are not graduating, who are dying at very young ages and being disenfranchised?” asks Meade. “As an African-American president who doesn’t have to worry about being elected again, he should have at least said something.”

Since Obama didn’t, Meade is saying something, organizing in Florida on behalf of the 1.5 million people in the state who can’t vote due to felony convictions. He’s the president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, comprising more than seventy organizations, most grassroots and community-based. Florida's disenfranchised voters total more than the combined population of both North and South Dakota. Their problems long preceded Obama and are far from resolved now that he has been re-elected. At the root is Florida’s state constitution, which prevents those with felony convictions from voting, holding office and in certain instances, even obtaining housing.

In addition, Gov. Rick Scott, the Tea Party’s golden neck charm, has rolled back reforms implemented by his predecessor Charlie Crist—reforms that restored voting rights for hundreds of thousands of former felons.

Felony disenfranchisement was far from the only voter problem suffered in Florida. The state’s electoral maladies in the last year read like a primer on how to best frustrate voters. They began with the passing of House Bill 1355, which among other things made voter registration drives prohibitively toilsome and which performed unnecessary surgery on the early voting period, including excising the “Souls to the Polls Sunday” that attracted legions of black voters in 2008. Come election day, long lines left elderly and disabled voters waiting up to five hours to vote in oven-like temperatures while overzealous poll watchers tried to block volunteers from giving them water.

But just as voter suppression schemes backfired on conservatives by provoking voters of color to turn out en masse, the totally avoidable problems caused by bad voter laws gifted voting rights activists with more momentum, more political capital and even a mandate to continue organizing in 2013. Today, Florida advocates are drawing up legislation that would establish a new bill of rights around voting for the state, mostly in response to the suppression.

“There have been so many shenanigans in Florida forever,” says Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority. “But now there is a real appetite for getting rid of the bad election policies and making permanent structural changes, looking at how the structure of voter suppression was racial, and then shifting the paradigm from conversations around voter fraud to establishing the right to vote as a fundamental right.”

Challenging Florida for the title of “Most Failed Elections State” is Virginia, which also suffered chaotically long lines, except there it was the freezer to Florida's oven. To make matters worse, there is no regular early voting process. It’s also one of only four states, among them Florida, that permanently disenfranchises those with felony convictions.

Organizers have had a tough time getting state legislators to focus on election improvements, says Tram Nguyen, associate director for Virginia New Majority, though a glance at the state’s legislation activist might suggest otherwise. After the 2008 election, Virginia legislators introduced bills aimed at election reform, including a voter ID bill that became law last year. This year, lawmakers have introduced over one hundred election reform bills. But while some are to make voting easier—by allowing early voting, for example, or providing more polling site resources—they also include “a slew of voter suppression bills,” says Nguyen.

“The bills we find most egregious ask for proof of citizenship for registration, call for stricter voter ID and gives the state access to the SAVE database.” The latter is a Department of Homeland Security database that conservative election officials want to use to purge people thought to be undocumented.

Virginia voting rights advocates at least have an ally in Congress. House Represe Gerry Connolly is reintroducing the FAST Voting Act, which among other things would allocate federal resources to states that can produce best practices and results for reducing long lines. The optics alone of voter lines winding for blocks—a reality for far too many—has led people to claim it is a form of voter suppression. At a voting rights forum in January hosted by Connolly, an attorney with the Advancement Project told the story of a working mother who came to her polling location four times, because the lines during each visit were too long for her to wait through during work breaks.

A major cause of long lines is Virginia’s sketchy voter registration system, which too often prevents people from signing in to vote because their names aren’t in the poll books. The ensuing hassles with poll workers holds up lines. To solve this problem, voting rights advocates are pushing for modernized voter registration, including portable or “universal” voter registration and Election Day registration. This would alleviate jams by allowing people to register once, perhaps online, and then ensuring that their information is updated automatically if they move, get married, or make other life changes. It also allows voters to register or correct mistakes in their file on Election Day rather than being blindsided with a provisional ballot.

But universal voter registration is almost universally panned by Republicans. In late January, Republican attorney Hans von Spakovsky and the Heritage Foundation rounded up a few conservative state secretaries—among them Kris Kobach of Kansas and Scott Gessler of Colorado, both notorious for trampling on voting rights—for a panel titled “The Threat to Election Integrity of ‘Universal’ Registration.” There, Gessler railed off a myth claiming that Oregon got rid of same-day registration after a cult used it to “take over a town.”

He could only have been referring to a 1984 case in which followers of the charismatic spiritual speaker Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh brought homeless people to Oregon in a plot to rig an election by abusing the state’s Election Day registration provision. The attempt was unsuccessful, but it did spook Oregon legislators into rescinding same-day registration. Of course, that was almost 30 years ago, and many improvements have been made to the system since.

Coincidentally, on the same day of Heritage’s panel, the Brennan Center for Justice held a panel on voter registration modernization, featuring none other than Oregon’s state secretary Kate Brown. There, Brown boasted that Oregon is currently the only state that is completely vote by mail—what they call “universal ballot delivery”—and one of a few states that offers online voter registration. “I don’t believe that registration should be a barrier to participation,” she said. This was a sharp contrast to Gessler at the Heritage Foundation, who cast universal voter registration as a threat to states’ rights. “This is not a homogenous nation,” he said, insisting that those “who celebrate diversity” (apparently not him) “should respect it in other areas, including geographical diversity.”

There’s not much diversity among those who bear the brunt of registration mishaps and long-line waits. Back in Florida, a study recently found that at least 201,000 people failed to vote last November due to long lines, and that the worst areas were found in Latino communities.

This is why a Florida coalition that includes Advancement Project, Mi Familia Vota, Florida New Majority, the Florida Consumer Action Network and the Florida Immigrant Coalition is working to amend the Florida state constitution so that it guarantees voting accessibility for all citizens—a state-level voting rights act.

“We’re focusing on legislation that grants an explicit right to vote in Florida,” says Katherine Culliton-González, the director of the Advancement Project’s voter protection program. “It would aim at big picture issues and make voting a fundamental right so no election law changes could happen that would take us back in time.”

Could Florida learn from Virginia activists fighting felon disenfranchisement? Edgardo Cortés, director of the Advancement Project's Voting Rights Restoration Campaign in Virginia, has been working on this issue with dozens of organizations around the state, including the NAACP and the ACLU. The groups have successfully pushed Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to streamline the tedious application process for ex-offenders to have their rights restored. As of January 10, Governor McDonnell has restored the voting rights of more people than any governor preceding him, 4,423.

Of course, that’s nothing compared to the 350,000 Virginians disenfranchised due to felony convictions. Governor McDonnell made a surprising move this year when he announced his support for the automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent felony offenders, but fellow Republicans in the general assembly have not honored his request. Even the state’s far-right attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has come out in favor of automatic restoration for ex-offenders, saying the state has engaged in a foul practice of “felony creep,” where low-level, nonviolent crimes are inflated from misdemeanors to felonies, leading to more disenfranchisement. Right now you can be charged with a felony for bouncing a check.

“I think really the only thing that will cause change there is the governor and the higher-ups and state leadership within the parties saying, ‘Yes, we want to push this and we want to get this law passed,” says Cortés. That, and an executive order from Governor McDonnell which would give blanket restoration to the 350,000 without the right to vote.

The same could be done in Florida, except neither the governor nor the state legislators are poised to move on felony disenfranchisement. Which is why Desmond Meade and his coalition are pushing for a ballot initiative to restore voting rights for ex-offenders. Their mobilizing strategy includes trying to locate most or all of the 1.5 million disenfranchised ex-offenders in the state and ask them to find ten friends or family members who will vote for the ballot referendum on their behalf.

“Part of the reason there has been low turnout in black communities is that the issues and candidates that [political parties] try to turn African-Americans out for have been abstract,” says Meade. “These are not individuals or issues the black community can wrap their arms around or sink their teeth into. We’re not talking about issues that would directly impact them and they can see the results. Even when they elected Obama the first time we ran into a lot of African-Americans who said, ‘We got a black president but it looks like our situation got worse. Our conclusion is that with this ballot initiative, this is something that is up close and personal to the black community.”

In other words, rather than asking people to come out and vote for Candidate X, they’re asking people to vote for their brother, sister, father, cousin or friend. There’s nothing that sounds more fundamentally right than that.

Voting Rights Under Attack

In an incendiary new report, "Rig the Vote: How a National Effort to Attack Voting Rights Landed in Wisconsin", the Center for Media and Democracy and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund show how Republicans and rightwing groups across the country are working to undermine elections and ensure a Republican lock on electoral college votes in states that have historically voted Democratic.

A 2011 voting rights protest led by the NAACP. (Photo: Michael Fleshman via Flickr)Among the nefarious vote-rigging efforts explored in the report: Republicans hope to take their gerrymandered redistricting plans nationwide--changing the rules so that electoral votes in swing states are awarded based on Congressional districts, not popular vote totals.

This could guarantee that Republican candidates like Mitt Romney, even as they lose the popular vote, get enough electoral votes to become President against the will of the majority of American voters.

In 2010, Republican legislatures were able to redraw Congressional districts to heavily favor Republican candidates in states where the popular vote historically goes to Democrats.

Now, in Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, all of which went for Obama in 2012, Republican-controlled state legislatures are pushing forward plans to change the system to award electoral votes by Congressional district.

Had those plans been in place in 2012, the report finds, "Mitt Romney would have won the Presidency."

In case there is any doubt about why Republicans are pursuing this scheme, the report quotes Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who "stated explicitly that the plan is only intended for 'states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red.'"

In red states like Texas, where the same strategy might yield a few electoral votes for Democrats, the legislature is not pursuing it.

The report focuses specifically on Wisconsin--but the vote-rigging schemes it outlines are the same across the country.

That's because they are the product of a coordinated strategy by national rightwing groups--not homegrown politics.

Most of the bills discussed in the report were written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which pushes rightwing and corporate interests in all the states.

ALEC drafted voter I.D. legislation, which has come up in state after state, "shortly after the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years swept America's first black president into office with strong support from college students and people of color."

In the guise of preventing election fraud, voter I.D.bills, along with bills to end same-day registration, aim to suppress the vote by these same groups.

The state of Wisconsin had both the second-highest voter turnout in the nation in 2008, and some of the best election practices in the United States for 2008 and 2010, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts which praised Wisconsin for the integrity, accuracy, and accessibility of its elections systems.

Yet Republican state officials are currently busy trying to change all that.

Governor Scott Walker has announced his intention to end same-day registration in the state, justifying it on the grounds that it would make life easier for elections clerks.

But, the report notes, municipal clerks throughout the state as well as the state's chief elections officer have made clear that ending same-day registration would create a "bureaucratic morass."

Voters would have to go to the DMV and social service agencies for provisional ballots, and return for a second visit with proof of eligibility.

This system, in addition to burdening voters and elections officials, would make Wisconsin more like the states that scored the lowest in the Pew measure of best election practices--with tens of thousands of provisional ballots delaying results, unresolved elections, and poor turnout.

The same issues arise with the new voter I.D. laws.

In-person voter fraud is practically nil. Yet voter I.D. laws continue to be a priority for state legislatures.

Two Wisconsin judges struck down voter I.D. in the state as an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote since, as the report notes "disenfranchising 300,000 people would not be outweighed by the 'benefits' of stopping a problem that is statistically insignificant."

"The people's fundamental right of suffrage preceded and gave birth to our Constitution," Dane County District Judge Richard Niess wrote in his March decision striking down Wisconsin's voter ID law. "Not the other way around."

The same principle could be applied to all of the Republicans' nefarious vote rigging schemes.

© 2013 The Progressive Magazine

Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff covers national politics for The Progressive and is a voice of The Progressive on many TV and radio programs. Conniff was a regular on CNN’s Sunday Capital Gang and is now a regular on PBS’s To the Contrary. She also has appeared frequently on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and on NPR and Pacifica.

Voting Rights Under Attack

In an incendiary new report, "Rig the Vote: How a National Effort to Attack Voting Rights Landed in Wisconsin", the Center for Media and Democracy and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund show how Republicans and rightwing groups across the country are working to undermine elections and ensure a Republican lock on electoral college votes in states that have historically voted Democratic.

A 2011 voting rights protest led by the NAACP. (Photo: Michael Fleshman via Flickr)Among the nefarious vote-rigging efforts explored in the report: Republicans hope to take their gerrymandered redistricting plans nationwide--changing the rules so that electoral votes in swing states are awarded based on Congressional districts, not popular vote totals.

This could guarantee that Republican candidates like Mitt Romney, even as they lose the popular vote, get enough electoral votes to become President against the will of the majority of American voters.

In 2010, Republican legislatures were able to redraw Congressional districts to heavily favor Republican candidates in states where the popular vote historically goes to Democrats.

Now, in Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, all of which went for Obama in 2012, Republican-controlled state legislatures are pushing forward plans to change the system to award electoral votes by Congressional district.

Had those plans been in place in 2012, the report finds, "Mitt Romney would have won the Presidency."

In case there is any doubt about why Republicans are pursuing this scheme, the report quotes Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who "stated explicitly that the plan is only intended for 'states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red.'"

In red states like Texas, where the same strategy might yield a few electoral votes for Democrats, the legislature is not pursuing it.

The report focuses specifically on Wisconsin--but the vote-rigging schemes it outlines are the same across the country.

That's because they are the product of a coordinated strategy by national rightwing groups--not homegrown politics.

Most of the bills discussed in the report were written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which pushes rightwing and corporate interests in all the states.

ALEC drafted voter I.D. legislation, which has come up in state after state, "shortly after the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years swept America's first black president into office with strong support from college students and people of color."

In the guise of preventing election fraud, voter I.D.bills, along with bills to end same-day registration, aim to suppress the vote by these same groups.

The state of Wisconsin had both the second-highest voter turnout in the nation in 2008, and some of the best election practices in the United States for 2008 and 2010, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts which praised Wisconsin for the integrity, accuracy, and accessibility of its elections systems.

Yet Republican state officials are currently busy trying to change all that.

Governor Scott Walker has announced his intention to end same-day registration in the state, justifying it on the grounds that it would make life easier for elections clerks.

But, the report notes, municipal clerks throughout the state as well as the state's chief elections officer have made clear that ending same-day registration would create a "bureaucratic morass."

Voters would have to go to the DMV and social service agencies for provisional ballots, and return for a second visit with proof of eligibility.

This system, in addition to burdening voters and elections officials, would make Wisconsin more like the states that scored the lowest in the Pew measure of best election practices--with tens of thousands of provisional ballots delaying results, unresolved elections, and poor turnout.

The same issues arise with the new voter I.D. laws.

In-person voter fraud is practically nil. Yet voter I.D. laws continue to be a priority for state legislatures.

Two Wisconsin judges struck down voter I.D. in the state as an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote since, as the report notes "disenfranchising 300,000 people would not be outweighed by the 'benefits' of stopping a problem that is statistically insignificant."

"The people's fundamental right of suffrage preceded and gave birth to our Constitution," Dane County District Judge Richard Niess wrote in his March decision striking down Wisconsin's voter ID law. "Not the other way around."

The same principle could be applied to all of the Republicans' nefarious vote rigging schemes.

© 2013 The Progressive Magazine

Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff covers national politics for The Progressive and is a voice of The Progressive on many TV and radio programs. Conniff was a regular on CNN’s Sunday Capital Gang and is now a regular on PBS’s To the Contrary. She also has appeared frequently on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and on NPR and Pacifica.

Coalition Praises Efforts to Expand Early Voting, Same Day Voting in Maryland

Annapolis, MD - January 22 - A coalition of government reform groups praised efforts by Governor Martin O’Malley and Delegate Kiril Reznik that would help Marylanders vote and make sure every vote is counted. The groups also encouraged the Governor to further strengthen his voting package and fix the range of problems Marylanders encountered last year at the polls. Those would include an increase and fair distribution of early voting sites and funding for a new voting system.  

“The 2012 national elections spurred a new level of citizen engagement and interest in the political process. Early voting centers were flooded and voter engagement was at a high,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “Early voting and same-day voter registration are critical steps to make it easier for people to engage in the political process and have their vote counted. “We look forward to working with the administration to ensure that the details are worked out in a way that makes our voting system inclusive, accountable, and accurate.

Legislation introduced by Governor O’Malley would expand early voting and allow same-day voter registration at early voting sites. HB 17, introduced earlier this session by Delegate Kiril Reznik (D-39), would allow same-day voter registration on Election Day. 

"Our democracy works best when all citizens participate and allowing voters to register the same day they go to vote strengthens the franchise by expanding access, solving registration problems, and promoting participation," said Sara Love, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland. "We applaud the Governor and Delegate Reznik for their leadership in realizing this common-sense measure for voting rights in Maryland."

“Early voting and same-day voter registration is a priority of the NAACP because it is a critical step towards making our democratic process more fair and inclusive,” said Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches.

"States with Same Day Registration regularly lead the nation in voter turnout. Demos applauds Gov. O’Malley and Del. Reznik for opening up new avenues to voter participation,” said Steven Carbó, State Advocacy Director at Demos.

Advocates did express strong concern over the need to fund a new voting system this session. “Our current voting machines are reaching the end of their lifespan. This contributed to the long lines that voters experienced in the 2012 election cycle. The legislature has already authorized the purchase of an optiscan system that will have a paper trail and be more secure, accurate, recountable, accessible and transparent than our existing system,” said Nancy Soreng, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. “However, if the Governor and the General Assembly do not begin funding the purchase of these machines this year, our 2014 elections could be problematic for voters.”

Coalition members expect early voting and same-day voting, as well as funding for voting machines, to be dominant issues this session.

Coalition Praises Efforts to Expand Early Voting, Same Day Voting in Maryland

Annapolis, MD - January 22 - A coalition of government reform groups praised efforts by Governor Martin O’Malley and Delegate Kiril Reznik that would help Marylanders vote and make sure every vote is counted. The groups also encouraged the Governor to further strengthen his voting package and fix the range of problems Marylanders encountered last year at the polls. Those would include an increase and fair distribution of early voting sites and funding for a new voting system.  

“The 2012 national elections spurred a new level of citizen engagement and interest in the political process. Early voting centers were flooded and voter engagement was at a high,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “Early voting and same-day voter registration are critical steps to make it easier for people to engage in the political process and have their vote counted. “We look forward to working with the administration to ensure that the details are worked out in a way that makes our voting system inclusive, accountable, and accurate.

Legislation introduced by Governor O’Malley would expand early voting and allow same-day voter registration at early voting sites. HB 17, introduced earlier this session by Delegate Kiril Reznik (D-39), would allow same-day voter registration on Election Day. 

"Our democracy works best when all citizens participate and allowing voters to register the same day they go to vote strengthens the franchise by expanding access, solving registration problems, and promoting participation," said Sara Love, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland. "We applaud the Governor and Delegate Reznik for their leadership in realizing this common-sense measure for voting rights in Maryland."

“Early voting and same-day voter registration is a priority of the NAACP because it is a critical step towards making our democratic process more fair and inclusive,” said Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches.

"States with Same Day Registration regularly lead the nation in voter turnout. Demos applauds Gov. O’Malley and Del. Reznik for opening up new avenues to voter participation,” said Steven Carbó, State Advocacy Director at Demos.

Advocates did express strong concern over the need to fund a new voting system this session. “Our current voting machines are reaching the end of their lifespan. This contributed to the long lines that voters experienced in the 2012 election cycle. The legislature has already authorized the purchase of an optiscan system that will have a paper trail and be more secure, accurate, recountable, accessible and transparent than our existing system,” said Nancy Soreng, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. “However, if the Governor and the General Assembly do not begin funding the purchase of these machines this year, our 2014 elections could be problematic for voters.”

Coalition members expect early voting and same-day voting, as well as funding for voting machines, to be dominant issues this session.

Internet Voting Not the Solution to Long Lines, Machine Breakdowns on Election Day, Common...

WOODBRIDGE, Va. - January 14 - The long lines, machine breakdowns and disputes over voter identification that marred the 2012 election will not be solved by moves to permit voting on the Internet, through email or by fax, Common Cause warned today.

Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause’s National Voting Integrity Campaign, told a congressional forum that online voting remains too unreliable and too vulnerable to hacker attacks to be implemented.

“We are talking about our right to vote - a right we cannot sacrifice for what may be a great new idea, but one that is untested and not ready for prime time,” Goodman asserted. She added that “while many ideas will be fielded to alleviate the problems we saw last Election Day, some measures are just not ready for adoption.”

The forum, convened by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., examined weaknesses in voting laws and procedures as well as proposals to ensure that all eligible voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and all votes are counted as cast.

Virginia was the site of some of the nation’s longest lines on Election Day, as heavy turnout combined with a shortage of voting machines in some localities to slow down the vote. In some areas, waits lasted up to three hours, forcing precincts to remain open long past their scheduled 7 p.m. closing times.

Goodman said Common Cause supports online voter registration, which in several states has reduced the confusion that often surrounds difficult-to-decipher handwritten registration forms. More work needs to be done to make online registration available to voters who lack computers or Internet connections, she added, and registrars must have contingency plans in place to deal with computer malfunctions and other problems.

Common Cause recruited several thousand volunteer election monitors and deployed them to key precincts in 13 states to keep tabs on last November’s voting. The workers saw “antiquated voter registration systems, under-resourced election offices, and restrictive voting laws and deceptive practices targeted at minimizing participation by specific populations,” Goodman said.

While problems with voting in Florida and Ohio have been spotlighted in press reports, “problems existed in every state in our nation,” Goodman asserted. “From Pennsylvania and Virginia to California and Arizona and everywhere in between, eligible American voters were turned away because of problems such as improper training of poll workers, faulty voter registration records, and long, long lines.”

A complete copy of Goodman’s statement is available here.

Internet Voting Not the Solution to Long Lines, Machine Breakdowns on Election Day, Common...

WOODBRIDGE, Va. - January 14 - The long lines, machine breakdowns and disputes over voter identification that marred the 2012 election will not be solved by moves to permit voting on the Internet, through email or by fax, Common Cause warned today.

Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause’s National Voting Integrity Campaign, told a congressional forum that online voting remains too unreliable and too vulnerable to hacker attacks to be implemented.

“We are talking about our right to vote - a right we cannot sacrifice for what may be a great new idea, but one that is untested and not ready for prime time,” Goodman asserted. She added that “while many ideas will be fielded to alleviate the problems we saw last Election Day, some measures are just not ready for adoption.”

The forum, convened by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., examined weaknesses in voting laws and procedures as well as proposals to ensure that all eligible voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and all votes are counted as cast.

Virginia was the site of some of the nation’s longest lines on Election Day, as heavy turnout combined with a shortage of voting machines in some localities to slow down the vote. In some areas, waits lasted up to three hours, forcing precincts to remain open long past their scheduled 7 p.m. closing times.

Goodman said Common Cause supports online voter registration, which in several states has reduced the confusion that often surrounds difficult-to-decipher handwritten registration forms. More work needs to be done to make online registration available to voters who lack computers or Internet connections, she added, and registrars must have contingency plans in place to deal with computer malfunctions and other problems.

Common Cause recruited several thousand volunteer election monitors and deployed them to key precincts in 13 states to keep tabs on last November’s voting. The workers saw “antiquated voter registration systems, under-resourced election offices, and restrictive voting laws and deceptive practices targeted at minimizing participation by specific populations,” Goodman said.

While problems with voting in Florida and Ohio have been spotlighted in press reports, “problems existed in every state in our nation,” Goodman asserted. “From Pennsylvania and Virginia to California and Arizona and everywhere in between, eligible American voters were turned away because of problems such as improper training of poll workers, faulty voter registration records, and long, long lines.”

A complete copy of Goodman’s statement is available here.

Voting Fraud Ignored by the Corporate Media

Michael Snyder, The Truth |  Why is the mainstream media saying nothing about election fraud even though there are eyewitness reports from all over the country of...

Romney Knows Election Fraud Begins With Investing in eVoting Machines

Susanne Posel, Occupy Corporatism | Mail-in ballots are showed that disillusioned Americans are not thrilled with having just two choices when it comes to the 2012 elections. Forty percent...

‘Stealing America’: Voting-Fraud Documentary

The numbers don't add up. By Michael Ordoña | $3.8 billion: The initial Help America Vote Act allocation that California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen...

Diebold Finally Admits its Voting Machines Drop Votes

By Bruce Schneier | Premier Election Solutions, formerly called Diebold Election Systems, has finally admitted that a ten-year-old error has caused votes to be...

VOTING COMPANY BULLIES ELECTION OFFICIALS

Failed machines same as those to be used in Pennslvania tally BRAD BLOG Sequoia Voting Systems' legal threats against Princeton computer science professors and New Jersey...

Postal voting cheats are threat to May elections

Fears of widespread fraud in the local elections in May were raised yesterday after a judge said that the rules for postal ballots were...

The North American Union – Voting Your Rights Away?

Barbara L. Minton One issue that is conspicuously absent from the rhetoric of the presidential candidates is the North American Union (NAU). The questions of...

Ohio voting machines have critical flaws

Report: Ohio voting machines have critical flaws, could undermine '08 election  CINCINNATI-- All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly...

California Limits E-Voting

Prorev    NY TIMES - Expressing concern that several brands of electronic voting machines used in California were vulnerable to tampering, Secretary of State Debra Bowen...

The 2015 British General Election: Capitalism’s One-Horse Race

RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents, Counterpunch

Britain is currently in the grip of a general election campaign. Voting takes place on 7 May and election fever in the media is building as various commentators and politicians engage in empty rhetoric about British values and democratic principles. Due to the nature of the 'first past the post' voting system, the only two parties with a realistic hope of achieving a majority of seats in parliament are Labour and the Conservatives. As in the outgoing parliament, the party most likely to achieve third place, the Liberal Democrats, might hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

On TV last week there was a ‘leaders’ debate’. The issues debated revolved around the economy, the National Health Service and immigration. Leaders of the three main parties embraced a cosy consensus based on the need to continue with ‘austerity’ but quibbled over the nature or speed of cuts to the public sector and public services. The debate has set the tone for the unfolding campaign.

All three main parties are pro-big business and are aligned with the neoliberal economic agenda set by the financial cartel based in the City of London and on Wall Street and by the major transnational corporations. The likes of Chatham House, Centre for Policy Studies, Foreign Policy Centre, Reform, Institute of Economic Affairs and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (most of which the British public have never heard of) have already determined the pro-corporate and generally pro-Washington policies that the parties will sell to the public. Pressure tactics at the top level of politics, massively funded lobbying groups and the revolving door between private corporations and the machinery of state have also helped shape the policy agenda.

As if to underline this, in 2012 Labour MP Austin Mitchell described the UK’s big four accountancy firms as being "more powerful than government." He said the companies’ financial success allows them privileged access to government policy makers. Of course, similar sentiments concerning 'privileged access' could also be forwarded about many other sectors, not least the arms industry and global agritech companies which armed with their poisons, unsustainable model of industrial agriculture and bogus claims have been working hand in glove with government to force GMO's into the UK despite most people who hold a view on the matter not wanting them.

The impact and power of think tanks, lobbying and cronyism means that the major parties merely provide the illusion of choice and democracy to a public that is easily manipulated courtesy of a toothless and supine corporate media. The knockabout point-scoring of party politics serves as entertainment for a public that is increasingly disillusioned with politics.

The upshot is that the main parties have all accepted economic neoliberalism and the financialisation of the British economy and all that it has entailed: weak or non-existent trade unions, an ideological assault on the public sector, the offshoring of manufacturing, deregulation, privatisation and an economy dominated by financial services.

In Britain, long gone are the relatively well-paid manufacturing jobs that helped build and sustain the economy. In its place, the country has witnessed the imposition of a low taxation regime, low-paid and insecure ‘service sector’ jobs (no-contract work, macjobs, call centre jobs - much of which soon went abroad), a real estate bubble, credit card debt and student debt, which all helped to keep the economy afloat and maintain demand during the so-called boom years under Tony Blair. Levels of public debt spiraled, personal debt became unsustainable and the deregulated financial sector demanded the public must write down its own gambling debts.

The economy is now based on (held to ransom by) a banking and finance-sector cartel that specialises in rigging markets, debt creation, money laundering  and salting away profits in various City of London satellite tax havens and beyond. The banking industry applies huge pressure on governments and has significant influence over policies to ensure things remain this way.

If you follow the election campaign, you will see no talk from the main parties about bringing the railway and energy and water facilities back into public ownership. Instead, privatisation will continue and massive profits will be raked in as the public forks out for private-sector subsidies and the increasingly costly ‘services’ provided.

There will be no talk of nationalising the major banks or even properly regulating or taxing them (and other large multinationals) to gain access to funds that could build decent infrastructure for the public benefit.

Although the economy will be glibly discussed throughout the campaign, little will be mentioned about why or how the top one percent in the UK increased their wealth substantially in 2008 alone when the economic crisis hit. Little will be said about why levels of inequality have sky rocketed over the past three decades.

When manufacturing industry was decimated (along with the union movement) and offshored, people were told that finance was to be the backbone of the ‘new’ economy. And to be sure it has become the backbone. A spineless one based on bubbles, derivatives trading, speculation and all manner of dodgy transactions and practices. Margaret Thatcher in the eighties sold the economy to bankers and transnational corporations and they have never looked back. It was similar in the US.

Now Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with Washington’s militaristic agenda as the US desperately seeks to maintain global hegemony - not by rejecting the financialisation of its economy, rebuilding a manufacturing base with decent jobs and thus boosting consumer demand or ensuring the state takes responsibility for developing infrastructure to improve people's quality of life - but by attacking Russia and China which are doing some of those very things and as a result are rising to challenge the US as the dominant global economic power.

The election campaign instead of focusing on 'austerity', immigrants or welfare recipients, who are depicted by certain politicians and commentators as bleeding the country dry, should concern itself with the tax-evading corporate dole-scrounging super rich, the neoliberal agenda they have forced on people and their pushing for policies that would guarantee further plunder, most notably the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

However, with a rigged media and all major parties representing the interests of an unaccountable financial-corporate-state elite, we can expect Britain to continue to fall in line behind Washington’s militarism and a further hollowing out of what remains of the economy and civil society.

No matter who wins on 7 May, the public is destined for more of the same. The real outcome of the election has already been decided by the interlocking directorate of think tanks, big business and its lobby groups and the higher echelons of the civil service. The election will be akin to rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Osborne The Bank Basher

The ten things you need to know on Monday 4 February 2013...

1) OSBORNE THE BANK BASHER

Having cut corporation tax and the top rate of income tax, dropped the bank bonus tax, opposed a financial transactions tax and repeatedly refused to countenance a break-up of the big banks, George Osborne, it seems, is now trying to re-invent himself as a bit of a bank basher - from the FT's splash:

"The chancellor will today warn banks they will be broken up unless they comply fully with rules to make the financial system safer - a threat that will provoke fury among some in the City of London.

"George Osborne has bowed to pressure, agreeing that the proposed ringfence around core retail activities, aimed at protecting the taxpayer from bank collapses, needs to be "electrified" with draconian sanctions. The Labour party claimed Mr Osborne had been forced into 'a partial climbdown', arguing that the chancellor and Vince Cable, business secretary, had not wanted to leave hanging over banks the threat of full separation of investment banking from high-street operations.

"... In a speech on the future of banking today, Mr Osborne will say: 'My message to the banks is clear: if a bank flouts the rules, the regulator and the Treasury will have the power to break it up altogether - full separation, not just a ringfence.'"

For once, I'm with Gideon. Talk, however, is cheap. Let's see what actually happens...

2) NOT-SO-FREE VOTE

There's a fair bit of pressure being applied to anti-gay-marriage Tory MPs by their party's high command ahead of tomorrow's 'free' vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

"Tory gay marriage rebels told: you’re out of touch" - that's the splash headline on the front of today's Times. The paper reports:

"The Prime Minister will speak out in favour of equal marriage in an effort to win over at least half his MPs before a landmark vote tomorrow evening. However, his personal intervention risks deepening Tory divisions over an issue that Mr Cameron was warned yesterday could cost him the next election. Last night Tory waverers were under mounting pressure to spare the Prime Minister the embarrassment of being deserted by more than 150 of his parliamentary party.

"Michael Fabricant, a Tory vice-chairman, said he was 'disturbed' to hear of ministerial aides warning backbenchers that their careers would be dented if they failed to support the Government even though Mr Cameron has given his troops a free vote. Another MP said undecided ministers were being pressed to back the Prime Minister."

But there's pressure being applied on those MPs from other directions, too - the Telegraph splashes on news that

"In his first official day as leader of the Church of England, the Rt Rev Justin Welby is expected to say that marriage should remain 'between a man and a woman'."

The PM versus the Archbishop of Canterbury. Who says Old Etonians all think alike?

On a side note, David Burrowes, one of the Tory 'rebels', has written a piece for HuffPost UK which is worth a read; he argues that this is "the first time in living memory that an issue raising such fundamental matters of moral, legal and constitutional significance has been pushed through by a government without an electoral mandate".

3) WRONG WAR, WRONG PLACE

If you had any doubt that the Afghan war and, in particular, Britain's presence in Helmand province, has been a disaster, listen to the latest opinions from 'our ally', Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan.

From the Guardian:

"The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has questioned whether western troops were 'fighting in the wrong place' during their decade-long mission in Afghanistan, saying security was better in southern Helmand province before the arrival of British forces.

"... 'They feel fulfilled with regard to the objective of fighting terrorism and weakening al-Qaida, or they feel that they were fighting in the wrong place in the first place, so they should discontinue doing that and leave,' Karzai said in an interview ahead of trilateral talks with David Cameron and the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari."

Meanwhile, the Times reports that "David Cameron has set himself the ambitious target of brokering a deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate peace talks with the Taleban".

4) 'STITCHED UP'

Another 'Plebgate' scoop from Channel 4's DIspatches - reported by the Financial Times:

"Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative chief whip who resigned last year after his "plebgate" row with police officers, will talk about his frustration with Downing Street's treatment of the scandal and argue that he was "stitched up", in a television interview due to be broadcast tonight.

"... The row embarrassed the Tories, and Mr Mitchell resigned in the autumn when he felt he had lost the support of party colleagues. 'I could tell I was being stitched up but I didn't know how it was being done or where it was coming from,' he will say in a Dispatches interview tonight."

5) HEY ED, WE'RE STILL HERE

Ed Miliband has repeatedly said that New Labour is the past. Tell that to, er, New Labour. The former home secretary, Alan Johnson, a card-carrying New Labour Blairite who briefly served as shadow chancellor under Ed M, has offered some 'advice' to the Labour leader in an interview with (the Blairite) Progress magazine.

From the Guardian:

"Ed Miliband needs to start setting out policies this year and has little option but to accept the spending levels set out by the coalition for 2015, Labour's Alan Johnson has said.

"... Asked whether Labour should commit to sticking to the government's spending limits for the first two years if elected – as it did in 1997 – Johnson said it was 'difficult to think what else you can do'.

"'We can't get away from the fact that the fiscal deficit has got to come down,' he said.

"'Now is a dangerous time. We can't get away with saying we are thinking about policy. That's perfectly acceptable for the first three years, but now we have got to start unveiling some policy and what Ed's going to need to do is to meet the expectations he himself has created.'"

Yesterday, Tony Blair, speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr programme, said Labour would "later in this year... start to unveil its policies".

The clock is ticking, Ed...

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a puppy dancing, trying to get attention...

6) HUHNE TRIAL KICKS OFF

The Telegraph reports:

"Chris Huhne, the former Energy Secretary, and his ex-wife will go on trial today over claims that she took speeding points for him nearly a decade ago.

"The Liberal Democrat MP and his former wife, Vicky Pryce, are accused of perverting the course of justice over a speeding offence dating from 2003.

"Mr Huhne resigned from the Cabinet last year after the Crown Prosecution Service announced that he had been charged over an allegation that he persuaded Miss Pryce to take his penalty points so he could avoid prosecution."

7) BIASED BOUNDARIES

From the Telegraph:

"Votes in Labour seats will be worth much more than votes in Tory seats because the Liberal Democrats rejected new Commons boundaries, the Conservatives have claimed.

"Labour and Lib Dem MPs last week voted to reject Conservative plans to redraw Commons boundaries and cut the House of Commons by 50 seats.

"Without those changes, votes in some seats will be worth half as much as those in others by the next election, according to research by the Tories. They say that the reforms would have stopped the current Commons map favouring Labour so much because sizes of constituencies would have been standardised."

Oh boo-hoo. Here's a tip for the Tories: if you're so worried about the (undoubted) unfairness and disproportionality of our antiquated voting system, why not campaign for full proportional representation? Where seats in parliament reflect votes in the country?

8) 'STOMPING' ON KIDS' GRAVES

Another PR victory for the Met - from the Guardian:

"Britain's largest police force stole the identities of an estimated 80 dead children and issued fake passports in their names for use by undercover police officers.

"The Metropolitan police secretly authorised the practice for covert officers infiltrating protest groups without consulting or informing the children's parents."

"... Two undercover officers have provided a detailed account of how they and others used the identities of dead children. One, who adopted the fake persona of Pete Black while undercover in anti-racist groups, said he felt he was 'stomping on the grave' of the four-year-old boy whose identity he used.

9) UNPAID NUCLEAR BILLS

Remember how we've run out of money? How the government can't afford to fund SureStart centres or disability benefits? Not quite (via the Mirror):

"The cost of decommissioning Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant has hit £67.5billion and is still rising, MPs have warned.

"The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the authority dealing with our radioactive legacy had not been able to show if it gave value for money.

"Around £1.6billion a year is spent on the site, due to close in 2018."

10) WANNA BE US AMBASSADOR TO LONDON? THAT'LL BE $2.3M PLEASE.

From the Times:

"Today, a former US diplomat to some of the world’s less glamorous berths provides the answer: do not expect to get the Court of St James’s if you raised less than $650,000 for the Obama campaign, and in this competitive year of ten big donors for every top position, it could take $2.3 million.

"Dennis Jett, who started his foreign career in Argentina in 1973, and served in Liberia during the civil war and Mozambique during a refugee crisis, teamed up with an economist to establish the probability of big political donors landing in fine world capitals.

"Their computer model concludes that the greater the campaign donation, the more likely a posting will be in Western Europe rather than those countries seen as 'obscure, dangerous, poor or of low interest to tourists'."

I guess that means Matthew Barzun (the ambassador to Sweden, who raised more than $2m for Obama) has a better chance of getting the London gig than Anna Wintour (he editor of American Vogue, who raised a mere $500,000 for Obama’s campaign).

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From yesterday's Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 34
Lib Dems 12
Ukip 8

That would give Labour a majority of 86.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

‏@Freeman_George Fitting that this week sees a new Archbishop and new Bank Governor. Never have we needed spiritual, moral and financial leadership so much.

@tobyhelm incredibly @toryeducation still listed as official @Conservatives site despite Gove's lot running it as a propaganda tool in breach of codes

@Mike_Fabricant Why is it when I tweet about Gay Marriage I get loads of replies, but no-one is interested when I tweet about my (4g) Dongle? Boo hooh.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Maria Miller, writing in the Times, says: "The State should not stop two people who love each other, gay or straight, getting married."

David Blanchflower, writing in the Independent, says: "Here’s a way to end our slump: give away money."

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writing in the Guardian, says: "The Andrew Mitchell affair revealed our prejudices, and showed the police to be untrustworthy."


Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Hawaii: 120 Years of US Occupation: Militarism and “America’s Pacific Century”

hawaii

Many tourists from the US and around the world visit Hawaii for its beautiful islands and its beaches covered with white sand. It is known for its food and traditional luau celebrations, its native people and its culture. When you vacation in Hawaii it offers surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, hiking and many other activities. It has been the 50th State of the United States since August 21st, 1959. Since statehood, tourism has been the main industry followed by Education, Government and the Military. However, Hawaii was a country whose government of Queen Lili’uokalani was overthrown more than 120 years ago on January 17th, 1893, when Hawaii was actually known as the Kingdom of Hawaii. It is a part of history that needs to be told.

Hawaii has experienced a transformation of its culture and politics into a Western-style democracy that has seen a steady decline in the indigenous Hawaiian population. In a US Census Bureau of 2011 reported that native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders accounted for only 10.1% of the total population.

Hawaii has also experienced a militarization of its country since President William McKinley; a veteran of the American Civil War expanded the US military on Hawaii with several bases. Military expansion continued under President Theodore Roosevelt. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 the US military expanded its power and declared Martial Law until October 24th, 1944. Since then Hawaii has been turned into a major strategic location for the US military. Since January 1st, 1947, the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) was established after World War II with its headquarters based in Aiea, a small Hawaiian town on the island of Oahu, near the community of Halawa Heights. The story of Hawaii is tragic and the world needs to know exactly what happened to the sovereignty of this nation. It is not just an island where you can have an adventurous vacations, because the truth is that Hawaii was systematically stolen from its native population by an imperial power, one that it was setting its horizons towards the rest of the world, but this time through the Pacific Ocean.

Before the American Occupation

The Kingdom of Hawaii had been an independent Chiefdom since 1810 with smaller independent chiefdoms of O’ahu, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaua’i and Ni’ihau that were unified by the chiefdom of Hawaii under King Kamehameha I or “Kamehameha the Great”. Hawaii had its own culture and political systems for at least 2,000 years before the unification of Hawaii in 1810. There were two families who ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii, the House of Kamahameha who ruled from 1810-1872 and the Kalakaua Dynasty from 1873-1893.

King Kamehameha I

King Kamehameha I

Kamehameha I ruled from 1810 until 1819, the year he died. His son King Kamehameha II was his successor and ruled Hawaii from May 8, 1819 until July 1824 the day he died of measles in London.Then King Kamehameha III, the second son of Kamehameha I, was the successor to the throne. The Hawaiian Kingdom was governed independently until 1838. It was based upon a system of common law, which included the ancient kapu (taboo) and the traditions of the Chiefs. King Kamehameha III initiated and influenced the Declaration of Rights and signed it on June 7, 1839. It was the first step into a modern democracy, one that did not follow the ancient ways of life that the people of Hawaii were accustomed to. It offered protections to all classes of people, Government, Chiefs and Native tenants.

King Kamehameha II

King Kamehameha II (right)

The Declaration of Rights opening statement read as follows:“God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth,” in unity and blessedness. God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands. These are some of the rights which He has given alike to every man and every chief of correct deportment; life, limb, liberty, freedom from oppression; the earnings of his hands and the productions of his mind, not however to those who act in violation of the laws”. On October 8, 1840, King Kamehameha III voluntarily relinquished his powers and created a constitution that recognized three divisions of a civilized monarchy that included the King as the Chief Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. The King represented the Government class, the House of Nobles represented the Chiefly class and the House of Representatives represented the Tenant class (Native Hawaiians). The Hawaiian Government’s function was to protect the rights that were already established by the 1839 Declaration of Rights. King Kamehameha III introduced Hawaii’s first constitution as a constitutional monarchal system modeled after the Declaration of Independence of the United States. The Constitution defined the duties of each branch of government through laws stated that protected the rights and maintained the duties with respect for better relations between all three classes of people.

King Kamehameha III

King Kamehameha III

The new constitution encouraged the development of the country with industry and commerce. The Constitution granted land tenure which protected the rights of landowners as to promote the cultivation of soil modeled after feudalism in Medieval Europe where tenants were allowed to occupy lands in exchange for their service or labor. However, such arrangements under the revised constitution did not require a vassal-style service by both the Chiefly and Tenant classes to the King as in medieval times.By 1843, King Kamehameha III sent delegations to the United States and Europe to settle differences and negotiate treaties for recognition of Hawaii’s Independence. That same year, the success of the delegations meetings with the US and Europe acknowledged Hawaii’s call for their recognition as an independent nation. Many nations recognized Hawaii’s claim of sovereignty by 1843 and signed on to numerous Treaties and Conventions over the years including Denmark (1846), Great Britain (1851), Sweden and Norway (1852), France (1857), Belgium (1862), Netherlands (1862), Italy and Spain (1863), Russia (1869), Japan (1871), Austria-Hungary (1875), Hamburg and Bremen (now Germany in 1879), Portugal (1882) and many others. Ironically, the United States which recognized Hawaii’s claim to sovereignty and signed numerous treaties and conventions in 1849, 1870, 1875, 1883 and 1884.On December 15, 1854 King Kamehameha III had died, his successor, King Kamehameha IV born Alexander ʻIolani Liholiho Keawenui was assumed office of the Constitutional Monarch. He died of chronic asthma on November 30, 1863. Lot Kapuaiwa, a former Premier became King Kamehameha V under constitutional law of 1852. He was the architect behind the 1864 Constitution or the ‘Kamehameha Constitution’ that did not relinquish more power to the Monarch, because the power of the Monarch it once had, was now limited.

King Kamehameha IV

King Kamehameha IV (right)

It was also law that the Monarch had to take an oath of office to serve the people. The new constitution also removed the office of the Kuhina Nui (Premier) because it interfered with the duties of the Minister of Interior. On December 11, 1872, King Kamehameha V died. He did not name a successor to the throne. On January 8, 1873, William Charles Lunalilo of the Kalakaua Dynasty was elected successor to King Kamehameha V. One year later on February 3rd, 1874, King Lunalilo died without naming a successor. The Hawaiian Legislature then elected David Kalakaua on February 12th, 1874 in a special session. His first act was to nominate and confirm his younger brother, William P. Leleiohoku, as successor, but on April 10, 1877, William P. Leleiohoku had died. King David Kalakaua publicly announced Lydia Kamaka’eha Dominis to be his successor who was later called Queen Lili’uokalani. By 1887, turmoil erupted when the Bayonet Constitution was imposed on Hawaii by a small group of American, European and Hawaiian nationals called the “Honolulu Rifles” which had more than 1,500 armed men. They had a meeting and planned to take away the political rights from the native population. They threatened King David Kalakaua with death if he did not accept their demands. One of the demands was for a new Cabinet Council, so on July 7, 1887 the new “Bayonet Constitution” was forced upon the King by the newly imposed members of his cabinet.

King Kamehameha V

King Kamehameha V

However, the Legislative Assembly had been adjourned since October 16, 1886 making the new constitution illegal because it did not obtain the consent or the necessary ratification of the Legislative Assembly. The new constitution forced voters including foreign nationals (who were considered aliens and first time voters) to swear an oath to support the constitution before they could vote in any election. The “Honolulu Rifles” used the vote to disenfranchise the majority vote of the native Hawaiian population so that “White” foreign nationals can gain control of the Legislature and it also provided a loophole that benefited the self-imposed Cabinet Council to control the Monarchy. Hui Kalai’aina or the Hawaiian Political Party was an organization that protested against the constitution of 1887. Hui Kalai’aina consistently petitioned King David Kalakaua to bring back the legitimate 1864 constitution.

The Overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani

Queen Lili'uokalani

Queen Lili’uokalani

The Annexation of Hawaii was a result of a planned Coup d’état by a group of Christian Missionaries who came from Boston, Massachusetts called the Committee of Safety, a 13-member group of the Hawaiian League or ironically known as the Annexation Club composed of American, Hawaiian, and European citizens who were also members of the Missionary Party. The Coup also involved American and European residents who supported the Reform Party of the Hawaiian Kingdom.On January 16, Charles B. Wilson a Marshal of the Kingdom was told that a planned coup was taking place by Hawaiian detectives. Wilson requested warrants to arrest members of the Committee of Safety and called for martial law. But the members were politically connected to United States Government Minister John L. Stevens so the requests were denied by Attorney General Arthur P. Peterson and members of the Queen’s cabinet to avoid any violence if they issued the arrest warrants.The planned Coup was led by Lorrin A. Thurston, a grandson of American missionaries and future President of the Provisional Government of Hawaii, Sanford B. Dole. He was supported by American and European business interests that were living in Hawaii. Thurston was also supported by the Reform Party of the Hawaiian Kingdom who registered voters and delivered voter turnouts for political candidates in their favor. After Wilson tried to negotiate with Thurston which failed, he began a mobilization of armed men for a confrontation with the Committee of Safety with Captain Samuel Nowlein of the Royal Household Guard and accumulated a force of about 496 men to protect the Queen.

Lorrin A. Thurston

Lorrin A. Thurston

The Coup began on January 17, 1893 when a local police officer was shot and wounded trying to stop a wagon carrying weapons to the Honolulu Rifles. The Committee of Safety organized the Honolulu Rifles to position themselves at Ali’olani Hale, right across the street from Iolani Palace (the Queen’s residence) and waited for her response to the Coup.The overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani took place on January 17, 1893. The Committee of Safetyremoved the queen, overthrew the entire monarchy, and led the charge for Hawaii’s annexation to the United States. What prompted the actions undertaken to overthrow the Queen? Three days prior to the Coup, which was on January 14, 1893, Queen Lili’uokalani drafted a new constitution that carried the principles and the laws of the Constitution of 1864. During the Coup, the Committee of Safety was concerned that American citizens could have possibly been in danger of retaliation from the Native population, so the United States government Minister John L. Stevens called for US Marines and sailors from the USS Boston to protect the Consulate, Arion Hall and the US Legation. The Queen was deposed and the Kingdom of Hawaii was under the control of the US military.

Sanford B. Dole

Sanford B. Dole

U. S. Marines and sailors who were ordered to land in Hawaii at the conspirators request contributed to the success of the coup. Queen Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest at the Iolani Palace. It led to the formation of the Republic of Hawaii for a short time. In order to avoid bloodshed Queen Lili’uokalani temporarily relinquished her throne and issued the following statement to the United States Government:

I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a Provisional Government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said Provisional Government.Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest and impelled by said forces, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo (?) the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.

Done at Honolulu, this 17th day of January, A. D. 1893.

A provisional government was established and assumed power until the annexation of Hawaii took place with the United States. On February 1, 1893, the US Minister (ambassador) John L. Stevens proclaimed Hawaii a protectorate of the United States. A treaty of annexation was submitted to the United States Senate, on February 15, 1893 but the newly elected U.S. President Grover Cleveland, withdrew the treaty of annexation and appointed former Democratic congressman from Georgia, James H. Blount, as Special Commissioner to investigate the illegal intervention by U.S. diplomatic and military personnel on behest of the business elites. Although Blount did not interview any of the conspirators for the report, he concluded that the United States legation and the US Marines and Navy were responsible for the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani’s government as an illegal act that violated international laws.

On November 16, 1893, President Cleveland proposed to return Queen Lili’uokalani to the throne if she granted amnesty to those responsible for the Coup. She refused the offer. It was then reported that Queen Lili’uokalani would have the conspirators “beheaded”, but she denied the accusation. She did admit however that she intended the Coup plotters to suffer the punishment of banishment. In her book, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii (1838-1917) clearly stated her position on beheading her opponents and how the media misinformed the public on what she actually said:

I well knew, and it has been conclusively shown in this history, that my actions could not be binding or in any way recognized unless supported by the ministers in cabinet meeting. This was according to law, and according to the constitution these very persons had forced upon the nation. Perhaps Mr. Willis thought that all he had to do was to propose, and then that my place was to acquiesce. But he asked again for my judgment in the matter as it stood, and seemed determined to obtain an expression of opinion from me. I told him that, as to granting amnesty, it was beyond my powers as a constitutional sovereign. That it was a matter for the privy council and for the cabinet. That our laws read that those who are guilty of treason should suffer the penalty of death.

He then wished to know if I would carry out that law. I said that I would be more inclined personally to punish them by banishment, and confiscation of their property to the government. He inquired again if such was my decision. I regarded the interview as an informal conversation between two persons as to the best thing for the future of my country, but I repeated to him my wish to consult my ministers before deciding on any definite action. This terminated the consultation, excepting that Mr. Willis specially requested me not to mention anything concerning the matter to any person whomsoever, and assured me he would write home to the government he represented.

He did so. It was a long month before he could receive any reply; but when it came he communicated the fact to me, and asked for another interview at his house. This time he also inquired if there was any other person I would like to have with me. I suggested the name of Mr. J. O. Carter, at which the American minister seemed to be highly pleased. So at the stated hour we met. This time Mr. Willis had present as his stenographer Mr. Ellis C. Mills, afterward American consul-general at Honolulu. He first read me what he said were some notes of our former interview. From whence did these come? By Mr. Willis’s own proposition we were to be entirely alone during that interview, and to all appearance we were so. Was there a stenographer behind that Japanese screen? Whatever the paper was, Mr. Willis finished the reading of it, and asked me if it was correct. I replied, “Yes.”

Doubtless, had I held the document in my hand, and had I been permitted to read and examine it, for the eye perceives words that fall unheeded on the ear, I should then have noticed that there was a clause which declared that I was to have my opponents beheaded. That is a form of punishment which has never been used in the Hawaiian Islands, either before or since the coming of foreigners. Mr. Willis then asked me if my views were the same as when we met the first time; and I again said “Yes,” or words to that effect. Mr. Carter inquired if I rescinded so much of Mr. Willis’s report as related to the execution of the death penalty upon those in revolt. To this I replied, “I do in that respect.”

Yet, notwithstanding the fact was officially reported in the despatches of Mr. Willis, that I especially declared that my enemies should not suffer the death penalty, I found to my horror, when the newspapers came to Honolulu from the United States, that the President and the American people had been told that I was about to behead them all! There is an old proverb which says that “a lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting on its boots.” That offensive charge was repeated to my hurt as often as possible; although I immediately send my protest that I had not used the words attributed to me by Mr. Willis in our informal conversation, and that at my first official interview with him I had modified (so far as my influence would go) the law of all countries regarding treason.

The American government and media were demonizing the Queen by misreporting what she was saying about the death penalty. It made the Hawaiian Kingdom look like a barbaric society when it came to law and order. President Cleveland sent the issue of reinstating Queen Lili’uokalani to the United States Congress with a referral for a US Senate investigation. But later the Queen changed her position on the issue of punishment. So on December 18, 1893, US Minister Willis demanded that the Queen should be returned to the throne by the Provisional Government without knowing that President Cleveland had already sent a referral to Congress. So the Provisional government flatly refused the demands of US Minister Willis knowing that the issue was out of the President’s hands. The US Congress commissioned John Tyler Morgan, a known racist and a supporter of Hawaiian Annexation to investigate the Hawaiian revolution.

John Tyler Morgan

John Tyler Morgan

The Morgan Report was produced on February 26, 1894 found all parties involved in the coup “NOT GUILTY”. Shortly after the Morgan Report was released, President Cleveland changed his position and ignored the Queen’s demands upon the US government to intervene on Hawaii’s political situation concerning her reinstatement of her throne. President Cleveland resumed normal diplomatic relations with the Provisional Government of the Republic of Hawaii. On July 4, 1894, Sanford B. Dole became the President of the Republic of Hawaii and was recognized by the United States government as a protectorate. The Republic continued to govern Hawaii but was unpopular among the country’s residents who were against annexation, so voting rights became limited to only 4,000 people who were eligible to the Republic’s standards; most of them were politicians that were already in power.

The US government did not reinstate the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom after it was clear that the Provisional government was fully responsible for the political dilemma.Then a resistance took place between January 6th and January 9th, 1895 on the island of Oahu, Hawaii by Royalists who opposed the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, known as a Counter-revolution. The Counter-revolution was led by Robert Wilcox, Joseph Nawahi, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Charles T. Gulick, an advisor to both Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani and other members of the former Royal Guard who were disbanded in 1893.

They recruited native Hawaiians who were willing to fight, but were inexperienced and their numbers were small in comparison to the Provisional government’s forces who were well armed and funded through Hawaii’s treasury. The plan was to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne. The rebels had smuggled arms from California and sent to a secret Honolulu location. Three separate battles took place on Oahu, but the rebels lost the fight. After the battles, arms were found at Washington Place; Queen Lili’uokalani was convicted of treason and was under house arrest at ‘Iolani Palace. She formally abdicated on January 24, 1895, and eventually won clemency for the rebels.The US government’s non-action on Hawaii’s political status continued after the rebellion. The US government waited for five years until President Cleveland left office on March 1897.

Then a new President of the United States was elected and it was non-other than Republican William McKinley who defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan. One of President McKinley’s campaign planks was that “The Hawaiian Islands should be controlled by the United States and no foreign power should be permitted to interfere with them.” President McKinley entered a second treaty of annexation with the same group of men of the U.S. legation that was involved in the overthrow of the Constitutional Monarchy on June 16, 1897. However, due to the protests submitted by Queen Lili‘uokalani and more than 21,169 signature petitions by Hawaiian Nationals against annexation, the treaty could not be ratified by the US Senate.

On December 1897, the U.S. Battleship Maine was sent to Havana Harbor to “protect U.S. citizens and property” during the Cuban War of Independence, the road to war with Spain was in the making.On February 15th 1898, The USS Maine exploded and sunk killing more than 260 sailors. The US Naval Court of Inquiry created the Sampson Board to investigate the incident and declared that the incident occurred by a submerged explosive mine, but no blame was put on a particular country at the time. “Yellow” journalism of William Randolph Hearst blamed the attack on Spain (In 1969, the U.S. Navy determined that the USS Maine exploded due to a defective boiler). However, the American public and congress along with the Republican Party wanted war with Spain, thanks to the propaganda by the media who published headlines such as “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain” brought war fever to the people and won popular support.

President McKinley continued negotiations with Spain for Cuba’s Independence with a three-point plan that called for a cease-fire for at least six-months, allow civilians the freedom to return to their homes and communities and allow US Ambassador Steward Woodford to have Spain agree if peace is not achieved by October 1st President McKinley would then find a solution to the crisis, but it was unsuccesful. McKinley sent the matter to Congress. Congress declared war and McKinley sent a list of demands through US Ambassador Steward Woodford for the immediate cease-fire with the Cuban rebels and the withdrawal of Spain from Cuba since the Cuban War of Independence was ongoing. Spain agreed to U.S. demands on April 10, but before McKinley received Spain’s response he had reversed his position on war with Spain and called for “forcible intervention” to bring peace to Cuba. On April 20, 1898, Congress passed a joint resolution which McKinley signed and called for the recognition of Cuba’s Independence; the withdrawal of Spain from Cuba authorizes the President to use the military to meet its demands and denied any intention of occupying Cuba after Spain withdrew its forces which the Teller Amendment attached to the Joint resolution had implied. The resolution was received by Spain with an ultimatum that the US would use military force if Cuba’s independence was not recognized.

On April 21st Spain broke diplomatic relations with the US and on the following day the US implemented a naval blockade of all Cuban ports. On April 24th Spain declared war on the US. The next day, the US formally declares war on Spain by Act of Congress although the US had declared war by its blockade of the Cuban ports.On May 4th, 1898 Representative Frances G. Newlands of Nevada introduces Joint Resolution of Annexation known as the Newlands Resolution in House of Representatives regarding Hawaii’s political situation. Part of the resolution said:

Whereas the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution, to cede absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining;

Therefore Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights hereinbefore mentioned are vested in the United States of America.

In a Secret Debate on the Annexation of Hawaii on May 31st, 1898, Republican Senator Henry Cabot Lodge saw the Annexation of Hawaii as a Military strategic location concerning the Spanish-American War:

“Mr. President, if I had been permitted to continue I could have finished in ten minutes. I have really made the argument which I desire to make. If it had not been that it would have precipitated a protracted debate, I should have argued then what has been argued ably since we came into secret legislative session, that at this moment the Administration was compelled to violate the neutrality of those islands, that protests from foreign representatives had already been received, and complications with other powers were threatened, that the annexation or some action in regard to those islands had become a military necessity”

On June 15th, The House of Representatives passed the resolution. Then on July 6th in a 42-21 vote with the absence of 26 Senators passed the resolution. Present McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution the next day on July 7th. By August 12th, 1898, Hawaii is a US territory.

A ceremony took place that removed the Hawaiian flag and replaced it with an American flag. It also established Hawaii as a US military base to fight Spain in the Pacific Ocean notably, Guam and the Philippines. It was a plan by the US government to annex Hawaii as a military strategic location recommended by Alfred T. Mahan. Mahan was considered an important strategist on the issue of “Sea Power”. His strategies influenced Navies from Great Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States. He wrote a letter to the New York Times which was published back on January 31st, 1893 caught the attention from the editor of ‘The Forum’ and asked him to state his case to the military on the importance of Hawaii called Hawaii and Our Future Sea-power.” It was published in the March-August 1893 issue. In the letter Mahan wrote:

To the Editor of the “New York Times”:–

There is one aspect of the recent revolution in Hawaii which seems to have been kept out of sight, and that is the relation of the islands, not merely to our own and to European countries, but to China. How vitally important that may become in the future is evident from the great number of Chinese, relatively to the whole population, now settled in the islands.

It is a question for the whole civilized world and not for the United States only, whether the Sandwich Islands, with their geographical and military importance, unrivalled by that of any other position in the North Pacific, shall in the future be an outpost of European civilization, or of the comparative barbarism of China. It is sufficiently known, but not, perhaps, generally noted in our country, that many military men abroad, familiar with Eastern conditions and character, look with apprehension toward the day when the vast mass of China—now inert—may yield to one of those impulses which have in past ages buried civilization under a wave of barbaric invasion. The great armies of Europe, whose existence is so frequently deplored, may be providentially intended as a barrier to that great movement, if it come. Certainly, while China remains as she is, nothing more disastrous for the future of the world can be imagined than that general disarmament of Europe which is the Utopian dream of some philanthropists.

China, however, may burst her barriers eastward as well as westward, toward the Pacific as well as toward the European Continent. In such a movement it would be impossible to exaggerate the momentous issues dependent upon a firm hold of the Sandwich Islands by a great, civilized, maritime power. By its nearness to the scene, and by the determined animosity to the Chinese movement which close contact seems to inspire, our own country, with its Pacific coast, is naturally indicated as the proper guardian for this most important position. To hold it, however, whether in the supposed case or in war with a European state, implies a great extension of our naval power. Are we ready to undertake this?

A.T. MAHAN, Captain, United States Navy

 Hawaii was annexed because it was a strategic location for imperial reasons. One of them was to have a military presence on the Pacific ocean in close proximity to East Asia which includes China, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan. The other reason was to have access to Asian markets for American Corporate interests.

The Territory of Hawaii and the “Big Five” Corporate Monopoly

Under President McKinley, Americans fought against Spain in 1898 in the Caribbean (Cuba and Puerto Rico), and in the Pacific (The Philippines, and Guam). Hawaii’s strategic location for warfare in the Philippines was vital to American interests. President McKinley also signed the Hawaiian Organic Act of 1900. It established the Office of the Territorial Governor, a control mechanism that allowed the Governor of Hawaii to be dictated by the President of the United States. The Territorial Governor can be removed at any time without the consensus of the Hawaiian people. Since then Hawaii’s tourism industry expanded. The US Military also expanded under American Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt with several bases on the island of Oahu. By 1906, the island of Oahu was fortified as a “Ring of Steel,” with gun batteries pointed outwards towards the Pacific Ocean mounted on steel coastal walls. Today there is even a Hawaii Army Museum.

From July 7, 1898 until August 21st, 1959 the “Big Five” were multi-million dollar corporations that operated during the Kingdom era until Hawaii became the 50th state. The “Big Five” benefited from the annexation and became dominate power in the Hawaiian economy. The “Big Five” were Castle & Cooke, Alexander & Baldwin, C. Brewer & Co., American Factors (who was later renamed to Amfac) and Theo H. Davies & Co. Sugarcane plantations gained investments by eliminating tariffs imposed on the sugarcane that was sent to the United States which benefitted them with extra money to spend on new equipment, acquire more land and hire more cheap labor. The companies did not compete with each other because they joined forces by working together to keep the prices on their goods and services relatively high. This allowed them to gain enormous profits. The executives of the “Big Five” collaberated on all issues even as board of directors for all of their companies. They gained political power since their corporations dominated all of Hawaii. They controlled the labor force and even steered the labor force to vote in their favor. Hawaii was effectively ruled by the “Big Five” as an oligarchy. They backed only white candidates who were Republicans to run the government. Democrats were not popular among the Oligarchs.

A signature produce from Hawaii that is known and sold in many countries around the world today was Pineapples. The Pineapples industry was started by Sanford B. Dole’ s cousin, James Drummond Dole known as the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, today it called the Dole Food Company. James Dole arrived around 1899 and started the first Pineapple Plantation. Around that same time on August 8, 1899, Hurricane San Ciriaco struck Puerto Rico followed by another hurricane which severely damaged the agricultural industry that left more than 3,000 dead and left thousands of people without food or shelter. The Hurricanes also destroyed more than 80% of Puerto Rico’s coffee crop. It contributed to the shortage of sugar produced in the Caribbean. A demand for the sugar from Hawaii and other sugar producing countries needed more workers in the labor force. Puerto Rican laborers were recruited to meet the world market demands of sugar. Other immigrants including Koreans, Filipinos, Japanese, Portuguese and the Chinese were recruited to work on plantations in Hawaii as well since the early 1850’s.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor and FDR’s Role

Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 1941

Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 1941

It is now known that by 1941, the US government decrypted Japanese military and Diplomatic codes before the attack on Pearl Harbor took place according to World War II veteran and Author Robert Stinnett who wrote ‘Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor’ . Stinnett’s obtained documents related to intelligence gathering of intercepted codes that proved President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt and at least 35 other people in the top levels of the US government and the military knew that an imminent attack on Pearl Harbor was going to take place through the Freedom of Information Act.

A photograph of letter written to President Roosevelt’s high-level military advisors Captains Walter S. Anderson and Dudley W. Knox by Lt. Commander Arthur H. McCollum of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was discovered on January 24, 1995. In the letter, an 8-point plan to lure Japan into attacking US ships. The 8-point plan read as follows:

9. It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States Government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado; and it is barely possible that vigorous action on our part might lead the Japanese to modify their attitude. Therefore, the following course of action is suggested:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese Government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines’, or Singapore.
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of Hawaiian Islands.
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire. 10.

If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war so much the better. In any case we should be prepared to accept the threat of war.

President Roosevelt seized on the opportunity. Author Robert Stinnett links the connection between the attack on Pearl Harbor and FDR’s ambitious plan to bring the US into war with Japan in six actions of the McCollum’s 8-point:

“President Roosevelt can be directly linked to ..six of McCollum’s proposed actions: namely Actions B and G, curtailing Japanese access to natural resources of Southeast Asia – for he met with Dutch officials and received Japanese intercepts concerning Japan- Dutch negotiations in 1940-41; Action C, aid to China: FDR directed the Administration’s China strategy which antagonized Japan’s leaders who were engaged in war with China. On September 25, 1940, the administration approved a $25 million loan to China’s U.S.-recognized government headed by Generalissimo Chiang-Kai-Shek. …

The conclusive evidence that links FDR or high-level administration officials to the eight action proposals is as follows: Action A: Arrange for U.S. use of British Pacific Bases. Arrangements were made for U.S. use of Rabaul’s Simpson Harbor, a British possession in New Britain in South Pacific, as USN Advance Pacific Base F. Orders came from Admiral Harold Stark, FDR’s Chief of Naval Operations

One of the most stunning comments that FDR was quoted as saying was “I just want them to keep popping up here and there and keep the Japs guessing, I don’t mind losing one or two cruisers, but do not take a chance of losing five or six.” Stinnett further wrote that “from March through July 1941, White House records show that FDR ignored international law and dispatched naval task groups into Japanese waters on three such pop-up cruises.” Stinnett makes the case that prove that one of FDR’s actions were deliberate by sending US Navy cruisers to Japanese waters to create a response from the Japanese by way of a military attack:

Documentation that directly links FDR with McCollum’s Action D – sending US Navy cruisers in provocative moves against Japan includes the following first discussion in the White House Feb 10, 1941. Present were President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of Navy Frank Knox, General George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff and Admiral Harold R. Stark, Chief of Navy Operations. Stark warned FDR that the cruises “will precipitate hostilities”

The plan was to lure the US into a war with Japan. What were the benefits of such actions by the US government? So that the US can justify to the American people that Japan is a threat to the US population. It was also a boost to the Military-Industrial Complex by creating a war economy that provides jobs to produce weapons that benefit American corporations. It allowed the US to expand its Imperial agenda in the Pacific Region and it allowed the US to expand its bases on the Territory of Hawaii. Japan finally attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 following provocative acts by the US which left 2,403 US military personal dead and 1,178 injured. Japan suffered 64 deaths from their attack. On that day President Roosevelt delivered “The Day of Infamy Speech” and congress declared war on Japan shortly after. America entered World War II.

Martial Law in Hawaii 1941-1944

Martial Law Declared

Martial Law Declared

After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, a dark moment in Hawaii’s history occurred. Martial Law was declared on December 7th, 1941 until October 24th, 1944. The US declared Hawaii a war zone that can be a potential target for invasion and infiltration by its enemies. The territorial governor of Hawaii Joseph Boyd Poindexter suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus meaning that the military can detain you without no judge or jury and signed a declaration of martial law prepared by the US army. Army commander General Short stationed on Oahu declared he was the military governor in charge until he was relieved of command on December 17th 1941. Martial Law continued until October 24, 1944. It was legally justified under the Hawaiian Organic Act of 1900 that made Hawaii a US territory in which section 67 of the Organic act stated: That the governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws of the United States and of the Territory of Hawaii within the said Territory, and whenever it becomes necessary he may call upon the commanders of the military and naval forces of the United States in the Territory of Hawaii, or summon the posse comitatus,or call out the militia of the Territory to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion in said Territory, and he may, in case of rebellion or invasion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Territory, or any part thereof, under martial law until communication can be had with the President and his decision there on made known. According to Joseph Garner Anthony, a prominent Lawyer who was based in Honolulu, Hawaii and served as Attorney General in the Territory of Hawaii from October 1942 until December 1943 stated that Martial law in Hawaii was unconstitutional. On May 31st, 1942 Anthony published an article in the California Law Review called ‘Martial Law in Hawaii’ described what the orders of the military governor were:

The general orders of the Military Governor cover a wide range of subjects, the jurisdiction and powers of all civil courts, the creation of military tribunals for the trial of civilians, regulation of traffic, firearms, gasoline, liquor, food stuffs and feed, the possession of radios, the censorship of the press, communications by wireless, cable and wireless telephone, the freezing of wages for all persons employed on the Island of Oahu, and the regulation of the possession of currency.

Martial law was intentionally directed at the Japanese population, but it targeted all Hawaiian residents. Anthony describes that the military controlled all aspects of civilian life. It controlled all government functions and the judicial system which was replaced with a military tribunal. Constitutional rights were suspended. All civilians were forced to submit to curfews and blackouts, fingerprinting, food and gas rationing. Martial Law censored the news personal communications. Personal mail was screened and read by the army. Foreign languages were banned for telephone calls, newspapers, and radio. All Hawaiian residents were required to carry Identity cards by law. The Japanese population were highly restricted and oppressed by the military in every aspect of their lives. J. Garner Anthony was proven correct because after the war, the United States Supreme Court found that martial law in Hawaii had been unconstitutional in a Supreme Court decision based on the Duncan v. Kahanamoku case. Kahanamoku was a military police officer who arrested Lloyd C. Duncan, a civilian employed as a ship fitter for public intoxication during the war.

Hawaii under Martial Law

Hawaii under Martial Law

Hawaii was not a state, but still was administered under the Hawaiian Organic Act of 1900 which instituted martial law. Duncan was therefore tried by a military tribunal but appealed to the Supreme Court for a Writ of Habeas Corpus or for a person who was arrested to be brought before a judge or a court jury to decide the fate of the defendant. The Supreme Court ruled in Duncan’s favor on February 25, 1946 stating that Duncan v. Kahanamoku case did not give the military any authority to try civilians in military tribunals because it was unconstitutional therefore Martial Law in the state of Hawaii was not different than other US states of the union. Justice Hugo Black declared in an opinion that law and policy is as follows:

It follows that civilians in Hawaii are entitled to the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial to the same extent as those who live in any part of our country. We are aware that conditions peculiar to Hawaii might imperatively demand extraordinarily speedy and effective measures in the event of actual or threatened invasion. . . . Extraordinary measures in Hawaii, however necessary, are not supportable on the mistaken premise that Hawaiian inhabitants are less entitled to constitutional protection than others. For here Congress did not in the Organic Act exercise whatever power it might have had to limit the application of the Constitution [citation omitted]. The people of Hawaii are therefore entitled to constitutional protection to the same extent as the inhabitants of the 48 states.

The case was finally declared that the military tribunals were unconstitutional.

“Our system of government clearly is the antithesis of total military rule and the founders of this country are not likely to have contemplated complete military dominance within the limits of a Territory made part of this country and not recently taken from an enemy. They were opposed to governments that placed in the hands of one man the power to make, interpret and enforce the laws. Their philosophy has been the people’s throughout our history. For that reason we have maintained legislatures chosen by citizens or their representatives and courts and juries to try those who violate legislative enactments. We have always been especially concerned about the potential evils of summary criminal trials and have guarded against them by provisions embodied in the constitution itself.

Legislatures and courts are not merely cherished. American institutions, they are indispensable to our government. Military tribunals have no such standing. For as this Court has said before, ‘…the military should always be kept in subjection to the laws of the country to which it belongs, and that he is no friend to the Republic who advocates the contrary. The established principle of every free people is, that the law shall alone govern, and to it the military must always yield.”

J. Garner Anthony published an article in the Yale Law Journal titled “Hawaiian Martial Law in the Supreme Court,” on November 1947. He wrote:

It will probably be years before the historian of the future can clearly appraise the motives and causes that led the Army to pursue the course it did in Hawaii. It is inconceivable that those in high places in the War Department were not cognizant of the fact that the regime erected in Hawaii superceding the civil Government was not only illegal but contrary to our most cherished traditions of the supremacy of the law. It is readily understandable that military personnel not familiar with the mixed peoples of Hawaii should have certain misgivings concerning them. However, the conduct of the populace on December 7 and thereafter should have put these military doubts at rest. To be sure it took some time for the military authorities to assure themselves that the civil population was all that it seemed–a loyal American community. What is not understandable is why the military government was continued after several years had elapsed and the fears of the most suspicious had been allayed.

It was dark moment in Hawaii’s history that signifies what a military dictatorship is capable of. The Hawaiian population experienced Martial law and its oppressive tactics first hand.

Hawaii Statehood 1959

In 1959, Hawaii had a Plebiscite vote that allowed residents to vote on whether to become a State or remain as a territory of the United States. Independence was not on the ballot. Non-native Hawaiians (Whites) outnumbered the Native-Hawaiians who were in favor of Statehood, won the majority vote. Native Hawaiians (the Kanaka Maoli) were disenfranchised again so they were denied the right to decide the which path their country would take. With the United States and Hawaii’s state legislature in control of the vote, it was no surprise what outcome would be produced. According to International Human Rights attorney and advocate in the 1993 People’s International Tribunal in Hawaii Jose Luis Morin wrote an essay in 1997 for NACLA Report on the Americas titled “Hawaii: Stirrings in the Colony” wrote:

As it had done with Puerto Rico in 1953, the United States used the 1959 plebiscite to declare to the United Nations that the people of Hawaii had attained full self-government through the exercise of self-determination. Based on this misrepresentation, and without further investigation or monitoring of the election, Hawaii-together with Alaska- was removed from the UN list of Non-Self-Governing territories. Thereafter, the Kanaka Maoli have been hindered in their ability to use international law in the struggle for their rights.

The vote took Hawaii off the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the United Nations that included Alaska, Guam, the Panama Canal Zone and others who were controlled by colonial powers had under international law the right to decide self-determination through a fair and peaceful de-colonization process. Hawaii was denied that right through fraud. It happened again in the 1996 Native Hawaiian vote. The state of Hawaii –sponsored a vote with a question. “Shall the Hawaiian People elect delegates to propose a Native Hawaiian government? According to Morin “All told, 60% did not participate, while 10% voted against the measure. These figures are due in large part to the success of a boycott against the plebiscite organized by Stop the State-Sponsored Plebiscite-a coalition of Kanaka Maoli organizations that refused to legitimate the vote with their participation” It was a protest against the fraudulent nature of the vote. Morin continued:

As with the 1959 statehood plebiscite in Hawaii, the outcome of the Native Hawaiian vote was orchestrated through various Legislative maneuvers and fraudulent electoral practices. The entire enterprise was created and financed by the state legislature-a body not representative of the Kanaka Maoli people. The state legislature dictated the time, manner, process and ballot question. It also granted itself the power to accept or reject the results of the vote as well as the outcome of the “Hawaiian Constitutional Convention” that would allegedly follow the vote, by making explicit that no legal changes were possible without state approval.

Hawaii’s fight for independence will continue despite the fact that the voting system is fraudulent. The world one day will recognize the injustice committed against the Hawaiian people. They will demand an end to the colonial dilemma by demanding free and fair elections for the Hawaiian population. The Hawaiian people deserve better. They have been victims of US imperialism for more than 120 years.

Hillary Clinton’s “America’s Pacific Century”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote an article entitled “America’s Pacific Century” based on the need to expand America’s power into the Pacific region on the November 2011 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine. Clinton clearly defined the US role in the region:

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.

Clinton talk’s about a regional strategy that would dictate to key Asian states in the Pacific how they will work with Washington concerning American interests.

A strategic turn to the region fits logically into our overall global effort to secure and sustain America’s global leadership. The success of this turn requires maintaining and advancing a bipartisan consensus on the importance of the Asia-Pacific to our national interests; we seek to build upon a strong tradition of engagement by presidents and secretaries of state of both parties across many decades. It also requires smart execution of a coherent regional strategy that accounts for the global implications of our choices.

WHAT DOES THAT regional strategy look like? For starters, it calls for a sustained commitment to what I have called “forward-deployed” diplomacy. That means continuing to dispatch the full range of our diplomatic assets — including our highest-ranking officials, our development experts, our interagency teams, and our permanent assets — to every country and corner of the Asia-Pacific region. Our strategy will have to keep accounting for and adapting to the rapid and dramatic shifts playing out across Asia. With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

The Regional Strategy Clinton is describing is to support regimes in Asia that comply with Washington’s demands with her Bilateral Security alliances, for example the Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck who the Obama administration supports. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) on November 15th, 2011 regarding Clinton’s trip to offer assistance to a flood ravaged Thailand with a commitment to support Shinawatra politically with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and militarily “One of the messages that the secretary will bring directly to the Thai people and the government is that we believe it is in the national security and political interest of the United States to have this government succeed” according to a Senior State Department official.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

The comment on what Clinton’s message will be coincides with what she wrote in her article:

Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific. They have underwritten regional peace and security for more than half a century, shaping the environment for the region’s remarkable economic ascent. They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges.

The United States is preparing a plan that would engage with China militarily and economically. It will take place from the Hawaii, where the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) is located at Camp H. M. Smith, a town of Aiea on the island of Oahu. Hawaii is the main place where all operations of the US government to destabilize, launch a war, or threaten China, North Korea and any other nation who does not cooperate within Washington’s Imperial agenda for the next 100 years.

The 2011 APEC Leader’s Meeting was held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from November 12–13 of 2011. In the press conference about talked about the economic impact of the Asia-Pacific will have on the US economy. President Obama said “Now, the single greatest challenge for the United States right now, and my highe

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‘It Had Everything to Do With Trying to Decrease Black Voter Turnout’

Janine Jackson interviewed Ari Berman about the attack on voting rights for the May 26, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited...

TV stations ditching election polls because they’re too unreliable

British broadcasters have given up on polls ahead of the June 8 general election because...

Media Served as Echo Chamber for Trump Nominees

Despite conservative accusations that news media are “the opposition party” (Politico, 1/26/17) and “the ultimate Super PAC” for the Democratic Party (Politico, 10/28/15), a...

Strip and Flip: Democracy in a Cage

The wound burst open in November. History, suddenly, could no longer be avoided. Reality could no longer be avoided. American democracy is flawed, polluted,...

Three Strategies to Defend GOP Health Bill: Euphemisms, False Statements, and Deleted Comments

This story was co-published with Stat and Kaiser Health News. Earlier this month, a day after the House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal...

The Rise of the Alt-Center

Photo by ResistFromDay1 | CC BY 2.0 In this day and age, ‘dissent’ means little more than feeding mostly vetted, crowd-pleasing opinions into some online...

NC Republicans illegally used race during redistricting, US Supreme Court rules

North Carolina’s GOP-led legislature illegally used race to redraw congressional districts, the Supreme Court has ruled....

There Is No Getting Around the Fact That Restricting Abortion Access Has Economic Consequences...

Recently, Lori Szala the national director of client services for the Human Coalition, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times attempting to deny...

War or Granny

Remnant Review I begin with a familiar pie chart. It is well named. It is a chart of the political pie. This chart is from 2015....

Corbynistas already planning Labour’s victory party as Tory lead narrows again

Thousands of Facebook users say they will flock to the Red Lion pub in Westminster...

France’s Answer To Trumpism: Non, Merci

Before you go to sleep Sunday you will have learned a new name, the name at least six or seven of your fellow-Americans already...

Why Americans Distrust the Press More Than They Distrust Trump

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org A Morning Consult poll published on April 28th showed that “roughly half (51 percent) of Americans said the national...

When Truth Is Treason

By Courtney Michelle April 29, 2017 I started with End the Fed, but I think this was probably a better place to start. As with End the...

Biggest Threat to 'Law-and-Order'? Our Delusional Attorney General

He repeatedly mangles facts and butchers the truth -- and almost never apologizes for it. He managed to rise to the top in Washington...

Theresa May says EU migrants could still freely come to UK during post-Brexit ‘adjustment’...

Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that EU migrants could continue flowing into the UK for years – even after Britain leaves the European...

Money Talks. We Need to Talk Louder.

In today’s polarized political climate, it seems like there’s no issue that people can agree on — except for maybe one. Democrats and Republicans, liberals...

Sanders Attacks Gorsuch as Supreme Court Standoff Hurtles Forward

The standoff over President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, deepened Tuesday with a "vicious take-down" on the Senate floor by Sen. Bernie...

‘School Choice Is Not Serving the Most Disenfranchised’ – CounterSpin interview with Kevin Kumashiro...

Janine Jackson interviewed Kevin Kumashiro about Betsy DeVos for the February 10, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Kevin Kumashiro: “If...

Silenced Twice by the Senate, Coretta Scott King’s Words Live On

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was interrupted while reading the words of Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor this week. Warren was reading a...

The Truth About Voter ID

With 'Echo of Trump,' French Far-Right Leader Le Pen Launches Presidential Bid

Riding on the coattails of far-right victories in the U.S. and U.K., France's Marine Le Pen officially launched her bid for president on Sunday...

The U.S. Politician Who Could Become Second Abraham Lincoln

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org There are several reasons why the progressive Tulsi Gabbard stands an extraordinarily good likelihood of repeating the extraordinary achievement...

People Power Works as Two Republicans Pledge to Vote 'No' on DeVos

Just one more Republican "no" vote is needed to derail the confirmation of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, after GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine)...

Trident nuclear missiles have history of failure, US documents show

Newly-released US documents show Trident nuclear missiles have a track record of failure. The revelations come weeks after it emerged a British test-fired missile...

The Never-Ending Indian Wars

The following is part of a YES! Magazine special report: The Spirit of Standing Rock on the Move.The world has been shocked by North Dakota’s...

Trump’s Inauguration and the Legitimacy Fetish

Jonathan Turley has spoken. As John Lewis and 66 other Democratic members of Congress boycotted the festivities surrounding the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, they...

The Trump Resistance Plan: Step One

The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the continent, and there are not wanting among us, printers,...

The Thorniest Policy-Question that President Trump Will Face

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org A decision must be made at the start of Donald Trump’s Presidency on one issue, which will shape both...

Inauguration Boycott Grows Along With Women's March Momentum

More than 20 U.S. lawmakers have now said they will not attend Friday's inauguration ceremony, while Saturday's Women's March continues to gain steam.  Fusion is keeping...

‘We’re Seeing the Result of a 40-Year Assault on the Liberal Mainstream’ – CounterSpin...

Janine Jackson interviewed Ellen Schrecker about the New McCarthyism for the January 6, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Ellen Schrecker:...

Obama’s Racial Counter-Revolution and the Disappointment of Ta-Nahesi Coates

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0 What’s the deal with the liberal Black novelist, political commentator, and occasional Barack Obama courtier Ta-Nahesi Coates?...

Senate holds confirmation hearings for Trump’s Cabinet choices (WATCH LIVE)

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the first of Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks to face the Senate...

Economist admits BoE’s Brexit financial collapse warnings were ‘a misjudgement’

Economists failed to predict the 2008 financial crash and completely misjudged Brexit’s impact, the executive...

WaPo Spreading Own Falsehoods Shows Real Power of Fake News

Washington Post story (12/31/16) with revised headline and a never-mind editor’s note. Is this “fake news”? The putative scourge of “fake news” has been one...

Why Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Story Fell Apart- Say Hello to Fancy Bear

(RINF) - In the wake of the JAR-16-20296 dated December 29, 2016 about hacking and influencing the 2016 election, the need for real evidence...

Sanctioning Evil

President Obama did something recently that no president had done since Bill Clinton in 1995: he allowed a bill to become law without his...

Blame Russia? Fake News?

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was bound by controversy, with powerful people, sick of the secrets and lies, blowing the whistle on elitist corruption....

Roaming Charges: the Russian Game

The Russian Game is a chess strategy developed in the mid-19th Century by Alexander Petrov, a grand master from St. Petersburg. Petrov’s thinking about chess was deeply...

This Is Real, This Is Happening

A member of Pennsylvania's Electoral College holds his signed ballot for Donald Trump at the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 19, 2016....

The Decline and Fall of Collectivism

“There is no there there.” - Gertrude Stein The study of history has long been an enjoyable activity for me. A conclusion I have drawn from...

U.S. Government Is Secretly Allied with America’s Enemies

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org — Everyone knows that jihadists, and people who fund their terrorism against the United States and against other (non-fundamentalist-Islamic) nations,...

How Close Is the US to Revolution?

Egypt has a 6000-year history of good mining that pretty much came to an abrupt end when Colonel Nasser staged a revolution in 1952...

This Man May Be Trump’s Most Dangerous Cabinet Pick

President-elect Donald Trump recently picked Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his nominee for U.S. attorney general, a position that leads the Department of Justice...

Officials: Obama Prioritized Defeating Assad Above Defeating Jihadists

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org SUMMARY The evidence is clear and convincing: U.S. President Barack Obama, against advice and warnings from his top military officers,...

The Structural Legacy of Capitalist Democracies

In recent times, and probably since the establishment of universal voting, presidents-elect have systematically violated or broken their promises to their supporters. ...

Federal judge blocks Pennsylvania recount request

The Green Party request to recount paper ballots from the presidential election in Pennsylvania and inspect electronic systems for signs of hacking has been...

Election recount halted in Michigan, Stein plans appeal

A federal judge in Michigan has ordered the halt of a statewide recount effort inspired by...

Florida voters seek presidential election recount

Voters in Florida have filed for a presidential election hand recount in their state, arguing that...

Jill Stein’s Vote-Recounts Aim for a Hillary Clinton Victory

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Prior to the U.S. election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the Obama White House, were saying that Russia’s President Vladimir...

A Brief History of the Election OMG PUTIN IS TAKING CONTROL OF THIS ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Media ignore Clinton’s weaknesses and Trump’s strengths for 18 months to epically blow election predictions. No calls for recounts. Clinton concedes. No calls...

A Media Blacklist, Courtesy of WaPo: Now I’m Afraid for Our Democracy

In most third world societies, when people don’t like the results of an election, they take to the streets. In America, we take to...

Once Upon a Time in America

Artwork from book cover | America at War with Itself Moscow. Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election in the US, unexpected by the majority of...

Obama’s Nonexistent Legacy

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org “Trump did more than any democrat to deflate the neocon/neoliberal agenda that liberals themselves screamed was fascist when Bush...

‘Yesterday We Were Stunned, Today We Organize’ – CounterSpin special report on what comes...

Janine Jackson interviewed a variety of voices about what comes next after Donald Trump’s victory for the November 11, 2016, episode of CounterSpin.  This...

Destination Baltimore

Pundits and commentators on news shows have been honest recently in describing Hillary Clinton’s now-dead campaign as devoid of a big idea....

Democrats Caused President Trump; They Caused His Victory

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Here’s a video where Carey Wedler explains in her own thoroughly truthful way in just four minutes, how and...

Another Election Loser: Corporate Media

CNN‘s Brianna Keilar (8/17/16) lectures the Trump campaign’s Michael Cohen on how the “polls…all of them” show that “you guys are down.” (image: MMFA) Liberals...

What Mises Would Say

Last week, Austria issued a 70-year bond, the longest dated sovereign in the Eurozone. (Italy had issued a 50-year bond on October 4.) Austria’s...

Even If Trump Loses

“If I don’t win, this will be the greatest waste of time, money and energy in my lifetime,” says Donald Trump. Herewith, a dissent. Whatever...

Breaking down the US elections: Your biggest questions answered

Just like with the Olympic sport of curling, the US presidential election is full of rules and terms that need to be relearned every...

‘Despair, fear and loathing’: Americans in Britain give their 2¢ on US election (VIDEOS)

UK-based American voters could help swing this year’s race for the White House, so RT...

If Trump Wins

There are disturbing signs that a digital 9/11 terror attack is being readied for election day in the US to ensure that Donald Trump...

The Almost Legal Coup Election 2016 -Hillary Clinton Information Operations

"The purpose of " Inform and Influence Operations" is not to provide a perspective, opinion, or lay out a policy. It is defined as the ability...

At Least 40 Women Have Accused Bill Clinton or Donald Trump of Sexual Assault

Photo: William J. Clinton Presidential Library   No, Bill Clinton is not just accused of consensual affairs. Yes, he and Hillary Clinton are a team. She...

Why Hillary Clinton Will Appoint Old World Nazis to Top Cabinet Posts

Whether you are for Hillary Clinton or against her, the problem with Hillary Clinton isn't her lack of experience. Almost the entire political establishment...

The Elections Expose a Once-Great Nation

Enemies of the United States are joyously watching its upcoming elections that are exposing this once great nation as deeply corrupt.  It’s as if...

Front-Page Election News: More Horserace, More Trump, More Presidency

A FAIR analysis of front-page election coverage in three major dailies revealed a strong emphasis on horserace politics at the expense of issue coverage....

America to choose either ‘proto-fascist’ or ‘corruption queen’ – Jill Stein to RT (VIDEO)

Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein has told RT that this year’s presidential election is...

Here’s how against the Republican Establishment Trump is:

Eric Zuesse The following is a reprint (excluding the footnotes) of the wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Republicans_opposing_Donald_Trump_presidential_campaign,_2016 List of Republicans opposing Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2016 Public officials Former Presidents Former President...

How Republicans Game the Concept of Democracy Through Disenfranchisement

Polling booths at an early voting location on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, October 12, 2016. Voter disenfranchisement is just...

NAACP complains as black centenarian purged from voter rolls

The North Carolina chapter of NAACP complained to the state about “rampant” voter purging in three...

The Ruling American Oligarchy

I am now convinced that the Oligarchy that rules America intends to steal the presidential election. In the past, the oligarchs have not cared...

Love Him or Hate Him

The U.S. Elections: The Latest Crack in the System The 2016 U.S. presidential elections are unprecedented: I don’t believe we have ever witnessed before a...

They can't rig elections, but they can fake it – US officials alter approach...

While agreeing with President Barack Obama that the US election system is too big to hack,...

Trump outlines first 100 days in office, swears to end US media’s abuse of...

Donald Trump has outlined plans for his first 100 days in the White House if he...

Ballots and Bullets

Perhaps the leading argument for democracy is that it substitutes “ballots for bullets”: that it replaces the inconvenient and disruptive processes of violent change...

The Power Elite’s War

“A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.” Journalist Chris Hedges As the ruling...

Bought and Paid For: The Corporate Media Riggs Elections

(RINF) - The 2016 Republican presidential primary was rigged. It wasn't rigged by the Republicans, the Democrats, Russians, space aliens, or voters. It was...

‘Lesser of two evils is still evil’: Voters, lawmakers on tough presidential choices of...

Many Americans long for a knight in shining armor-type candidate who bows to no party to...

High Alert: the election can still be rigged

I’m reposting this piece because, amazingly, the vote-rigging system it describes has not gotten widespread attention. The system can be used across the entire...

To Fight Global Warming, Canada Ponders a Carbon Tax

Exclusive: While the gridlocked U.S. political process freezes progress in the fight against global warming, Canada is considering a national...

Trump claims US gov't is letting undocumented immigrants vote

During a meeting with leaders of a union for border patrol agents, Republican presidential nominee Donald...

Still the Only Christian Choice For President

Ron Paul is the only major presidential candidate Christians could hire without sinning against Jesus in my lifetime. What I mean by “sin” is doing...

US gov't officially accuses Russia of political hacks

The US intelligence community is “confident” that Russia is behind the recent hacks of US officials’...

5 Insanities of Hillary

Given the strong link between leadership and psychopathy, questioning the sanity of our future leaders might not be so preposterous. One study, for example,...

What Got Left Out–and Right-Spun–at VP Debate

CBS News‘ Elaine Quijano, the vice presidential debate moderator. The vice presidential debate (10/4/16) provided a stark picture of just how distorted corporate media’s priorities...

‘Russian bear that hibernates’: Kaine & Pence fight about Russia as Putin takes...

Russia does have a big impact on US elections, but mostly in the heads of vice...

I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump

By Eric Zuesse Sometimes, things in politics are the opposite of the way they seem. The Presidential contest between the ‘liberal’ Hillary Clinton’ and the...

Election or Revolution? An Open Letter to the People of the United States

Robert J. Burrowes As citizens of the USA with a presidential election approaching you have a wonderful opportunity to ponder whether to participate in this...

Red-Light Warning on Now, About Hillary Clinton

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Hillary Clinton, on September 19th, was endorsed for President, by the most historically important, intelligent, and dangerous, Republican of...

‘The Bodies of Prisoners Are Commodities’ – CounterSpin interview with Noelle Hanrahan on prison...

Janine Jackson interviewed Noel Hanrahan on the national prison strike for the September 16, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Noelle...

Homophonophobes v. Trump

Donald J. Trump is both a racist and not a racist, depending upon the source that one consults.   His comments regarding the rapaciousness of...

Ralph Nader: I’m not a spoiler & neither is Jill Stein

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader has fired back at Democratic Party critics, the Hillary Clinton campaign,...

The 10 Worst US Presidents

A few days ago, I posted my list of the top ten worst U.S. presidents on my Facebook page. People who are familiar with my...

The Aesthetic of Statism

So far, my recent essays have been dedicated to an anthropological analysis of the archaic sacrificial origins of the state. I’ve established that statist...

The Campaign to Blame Putin for Everything

Hardly a day goes by without some “news” about the Russian “threat,” and in the past twenty-four hours the hate-on-Russia campaign seems...

Propaganda warfare? Russia accused of backing hacker attack on Washington think tanks

Russia has once again been accused of backing hackers who this time allegedly penetrated several Washington...

The Trouble With Citizenship

For at least a half-century, and demonstrably and palpably since 1972 (and perhaps since November 22, 1963), the American public, first the fringes and...

How Trump Can Personally Take Over the GOP

Trump has mobilized the millions of dispossessed voters we call the populists. This is his golden opportunity. They have no spokesman. They haven’t had one...

America’s Aristocracy Facing Resistance from American Public Regarding Russia

Eric Zuesse, updated from strategic-culture.org The subterranean reality of U.S. foreign policy is that it serves the U.S. aristocracy, the owners of controlling blocs of...

Sanders supporters mull ditching Hillary for Jill Stein as Green Party gathers in Texas

Soured by the Democratic Party's documented bias for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders,...

The Populists Have Arrived

The phrase “populist revolt” has been around for a century. But, except for the three failed presidential campaigns of William Jennings Bryan — 1896,...

‘We can offer a real alternative’ – Green Party VP candidate to RT (VIDEO)

Dr. Jill Stein is receiving the Green Party’s presidential nomination, and has chosen Amaju Baraka to...

Splashes of “Jill Stein” Afloat a Sea of Context

When it comes to voting red or blue, there is an optimism that compels us to approach presidential elections like a football rivalry between...

#BlackLivesMatter calls for slavery reparations, free education & justice reforms

A coalition of over 50 organizations affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement has issued a...

Federal judge strikes down WI election laws as benefiting GOP

A federal judge found parts of Wisconsin’s elections laws to be unconstitutional, ruling they unfairly benefited...

Emigre Super Bloc Part 5 The Failed Turkish Coup – An Exploded View

Is Fethullah Gulen the feeble, kindly imam that mainstream media is making him out to be? Hardly. What this article will show is that...

Emigre Super Bloc Part 4- Clinton’s Jihadis | Will the Super Delegates Vote YES...

By the end of this section, you will understand Islamic terrorism better than most analysts. Where it came from, where it's going,who's driving it...

Is Auckland Council too white?

Jul 21, 2016 By Tough Love | toughloveletters.wordpress.com A major New Zealand newspaper recently ran an article about New Zealand’s most ethnically...

Turkey Distances Itself From the U.S. and NATO

President Erdogan is pursuing ethnically narrow, Turkish-chauvinist, domestic and foreign policy. (Photo: Russia Today) Cross-posted from View from the Left Bank. Some Background The aftershocks of...

Witch hunts, hell &avocados: Day 2 of RNC

As Trump was officially nominated, the stage included a witch hunt for Clinton, some obtuse comments...

EXCLUSIVE: Trident renewal ‘assures Scottish independence,’ says navy whistleblower William McNeilly

As Prime Minister Theresa May convenes Parliament on Monday to debate renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear...

Helicopter Money

The Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester is a clueless apparatchik and Fed lifer, who joined the system in 1985 fresh out of Barnard and Princeton and has imbibed in...

The Little-Known Fund at the Heart of the Paris Climate Agreement

The Green Climate Fund’s activities include funding adaptation plans such as the one to protect coastlines in Tuvalu, a country that climate change threatens...

Still Second-Class Citizens

When I heard about the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I thought back to another name etched into American history: Dred...

Why I Don’t Vote

2012 was a watershed year for me. It was the last time that I stood in front of a voting machine and cast a...

It’s Not the Brexit, Stupid

Just over a week ago the world was coming unglued, as enough British citizens grew a pair and spit in the face of the...

Some Pundits Think the Solution to Right-Wing Populism Is Less Democracy

The core orthodoxies of neoliberalism are under attack by populist forces, and commentators are scrambling for a response. Some are suggesting more left-wing red...

Election 2016 Emigre Super Blocs Part 3- How the Emigres Steal Elections

"Walled safely inside their gerrymandered districts, incumbents are insulated from general-election challenges that might pull them toward the political center, but they are perpetually...

Why There Will Probably Be a Second Referendum on Brexit

Opinion, by Eric Zuesse PRELIMINARY Brexit (British exit from the European Union) would be a ferocious kidney-blow to the international aristocracy, the people (and their agents)...

‘Brexit’ and the Democracy Myth

Exclusive: A referendum like Brexit can be a satisfying moment for an angry populace to vent its frustrations but “yes...

Our 2nd Greatest Victory

The fall of the USSR was the greatest victory. It came in the final week of December 1991. Brexit came in less than one day. The...

Diversity Is a Fraud

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States voted that President Obama exceeded his authority when he granted exemptions from the immigration laws...

European SUPERSTATE to be unveiled: EU nations 'to be morphed into one' post-Brexit

The foreign ministers of France and Germany are due to reveal a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in...

‘Minority Communities Bear the Brunt of Police Abuses’

Janine Jackson interviewed Nirej Sekhon about the Supreme Court ruling on illegal searches for the June 24, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a...

‘It’s Amazing How Little These Issues of Unequal Access Come Up’

Janine Jackson interviewed Jamila Michener on expanding voting rights for the June 24, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Jamila Michener: “There’s...

Donald Trump and America B

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (via Flickr) The voters vowed to take their revenge at the polls. They’d missed out on the country’s vaunted prosperity....

‘Let’s not be hasty’: Despite EU push, UK politicians say no need for quick...

British politicians, including strong advocates of the Leave campaign, say there’s no rush in starting...

European Union’s Imperial Overreach

Exclusive: The European Union’s haughty and hasty expansion into low-wage Eastern Europe may be its undoing, as the Brexit vote...

The ‘Safe’ Risk of Hillary Clinton

Exclusive: The U.K.’s “Brexit” vote underscores the power of this year’s anti-establishment politics, a warning to Democrats as they nominate status-quo...

Brexit Wins!

The betting sites were wrong. The polls were wrong. The politicians were wrong. The last YouGov poll was 52 to 48 “remain” hours before the...

The 2016 Super Bloc Vote Part II Unleashing David vs the Russian Goliath

Voting blocs, smoting blocs, who gives a damn? I got bloc'd in traffic the other day! This is America and everybody has a “voting bloc!” What ya' didn't...

Our Daily Brexit: Will this photo make you vote in the EU referendum?

Voter engagement campaigners have launched a poster drive they hope will inspire Brits of black...

Rocking the Hipster Vote

My last article about the San Jose Peoples’ Liberation Egg Throwing Squad garnered quite a few emails. And now in the newspaper, it appears that...

Upstart Parties Crash the Ball in Spain

A failure by the left to unite in Spain and the Eurozone will open the door for Europe’s resurgent far right. For the past quarter...

Labour divided as pro-nuke MPs demand Trident renewal

Blairite Labour MPs who are in favor of Britain renewing its Trident nuclear weapons have...

Why Clinton Has Already Lost Wisconsin

The desultory, divided, and demoralized state Democratic party held its annual convention over the past weekend in Green Bay, home of the Packers. Bernie...

FPÖ to Formally Challenge Election Result

The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) has announced that a “myriad of irregularities” in the recent presidential elections has forced them to formally...

Failure of America’s Two Parties

The U.S. political process, which fancies itself the world’s “gold standard,” is ready to foist on the American people two disdained...

The Gathering Storm

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden...

The People Are the Story–and Corporate Media Are Missing It

Photo illustrating the Christian Science Monitor story on public disillusion with elections. At FAIR, we always say the primary measure of media in an election...

Feel the Hate

a katz | Shutterstock.com   Many Bernie Sanders activists and supporters are understandably disgusted by the contemptuous mistreatment they and their candidate have received from the corporate-Clintonite Democratic...

The New State Department Report on Hillary’s Email, and Why it Matters

The State Department Inspector General’s (IG) investigation report leaked out a day early on May 25 makes a number of significant points. These matter,...

The New State Department Report on Hillary’s Email, and Why it Matters

The State Department Inspector General’s (IG) investigation report leaked out a day early on May 25 makes a number of significant points. These matter,...

By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates

Within the theories of self-determination that lie at the heart of democracy and capitalism the idea of a political ‘center’ is paradoxical. Individually determined...

How Obama and Clinton Are Endangering All of Us

Eric Zuesse I am a lifelong FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) Democrat and therefore am anything other than prejudiced against the Democratic Party. But, that Party...

Hammering for Peace

Last winter, at the Voices home/office in Chicago, we welcomed two friends who were in town for a Mennonite church gathering focused on the...

‘Declaration of war’: North Yorkshire fracking approval sparks outrage

Anti-fracking campaigners have lambasted North Yorkshire council for unleashing an assault on citizens’ rights to...

Sanders supporters and allies sue to extend California’s voter registration deadline

Bernie Sanders’ supporters filed a federal lawsuit alleging widespread confusion over California’s presidential primary voting rules, demanding voter registration be extended past Monday’s deadline...

European Union: a House Divided

“Larger now than the Roman Empire of two thousand years ago, more opaque than the Byzantine, the European Union continues to baffle observers and...

'Democracy in the US is a fraud’: Left Forum debates next steps for Sanders...

A rigged democratic system, a “grotesque” military fighting unwinnable wars under the “drone commander in chief”,...

As Brexit Approaches, Europe’s Left Is Divided — and for Good Reason

European Parliament (Photo: Wikipedia) The European Union is one of the premier trade organizations on the planet, with a collective GDP that surpasses the world’s...

Why Not Hillary?

a katz | Shutterstock.com   For those who have had enough of the neoliberal turn and of liberal imperialism, and who have no liking for endless wars and...

I Renounce Politics

People have asked me what political party I belong to, or what political philosophy I believe in. The answer to that is “none”. I...

The Triumph of Establishment Politics

How to find the voice of a people?  Electoral systems are the stuff of political nightmare and experiment, all attempting the same goal: how...

Slouching Toward Washington

The corrupt, interminable 2016 presidential primary process has revealed terrible flaws in United States democracy. The biggest takeaway is that our two-party monopoly system...

Hillary and the Corporate Elite

“Mainstream” U.S. media is struck by the “strange bedfellows” phenomenon whereby a number of right wing foreign policy neoconservatives and top business elites –...

Maine Democrats eliminate power of superdelegates in convention vote (VIDEO)

The Maine Democratic Party have voted to abolish the influence of superdelegates, a group with the power to choose the party’s presidential nominee irrespective...

'Easily & Repeatedly’: Romanian hacker on gaining access to Hillary Clinton’s server

The Romanian hacker, “Guccifer” said breaching former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s personal server in early...

Here Are 10 Ways to Make Elections More Democratic

Voter suppression is real and comes in many forms. Here's how to restore democracy: 1.) Inform voters in advance if and when their...

When Putin Called-Out Obama on a Big Lie, Press Ignored It

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org “In 2009, US President Obama said that the missile defense only serves as protection from Iranian nuclear missiles. But now...

Sanders drops lawsuit against DNC over voter database breach

Bernie Sanders’ campaign team withdrew its lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee Friday. The democratic socialist...

Trump: Bernie, g'head, run as an independent

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took time out of a busy primary day to opine that...

Electoral Politics and the Illusion of Control

We have all been told a lie. The lie that says democracy can be maintained only through voting, through purely representative, parliamentarian means. When...

Clintonism the Future? NYT’s Political Science Fiction

Just before the New York primary, the New York Times (4/16/16) published an op-ed by Michael Lind called “Trumpism and Clintonism Are the Future.”...

Election clerk suspended after error 'purged over 100,000 Brooklyn voters' from rolls

A New York City elections official has been suspended without pay after a bureaucratic error allegedly...

New York cares: Primaries marred by allegations of voter fraud, suppression

The results of New York’s primaries came in largely as expected, except for one thing: accusations...

NY voters file lawsuit on eve of primary alleging ‘a threat to the democratic...

Hundreds of voters in New York are expected to file a lawsuit against the state Monday...

BDS movement claims victory at Sanders alma maters UofC & CUNY

Student activists from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement won victories at both of Democratic...

Hillary Clinton Agrees with the Citizens United Decision

Eric Zuesse On April 14th, Glenn Greenwald, a brilliant U.S. Constitutional lawyer, documented that Hillary Clinton actually agrees with the Citizens United decision by the five...

Trump blasts RNC, Ted Cruz for eliminating power of voters

The GOP presidential frontrunner launched a scathing attack against the Republican National Committee, accusing it of...

Black Lives Don’t Matter, Black Votes Do: the Racial Hypocrisy of Hillary and Bill...

 The Clinton legacy is black impoverishment—so why are we still voting for Hillary? –Michelle Alexander, author, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age...

Free From Jail, Imprisoned by Debt

At 36, Marcus White has spent half of his life in prison. Today he’s no longer behind bars, but now he’s imprisoned by something...

‘Democracy Spring’ activists to stage sit-in at US Capitol (VIDEO)

Thousands of “Democracy Spring” protesters have arrived in Washington DC, following their 10-day, 140-mile (225km) march...

Why Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speeches Are Relevant

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org On the fake-‘progressive’ (actually conservative-Democratic-Party) website that’s run by a longtime CIA asset Markos Moulitsas, “Daily Kos,” there was...

War: The great unmentionable in the 2016 US elections

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The most striking feature of the 2016 US election campaign is...

#ArizonaElectionFraud: Secretary of State baffled by vote count fiasco (VIDEO)

Arizona’s Secretary of State Michele Reagan has admitted that thousands of voters were given provisional ballots...

Hillary Clinton’s Neo-Conservative Foreign Policy

Eric Zuesse Newly released Hillary Clinton emails clarify the depth of her foreign-policy neo-conservatism, and the closeness of her views to the views of the...

Australian government threatens a “double dissolution” election

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Mike Head Facing intense pressures on his government, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm...

Prison-based gerrymandering unconstitutional, federal judge rules

A federal judge ruled on Monday that Florida’s practice of using prison populations to manipulate voting...

Sanders under pressure to quit from Democratic leaders, media

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Patrick Martin In the wake of five losses in five contests Tuesday,...

Battleground Ohio: Trump leads, Rubio backs Kasich, GOP ballot confusion

(RT) - With Donald Trump leading the polls ahead of Tuesday’s primary contests, some in the...

Hillary Clinton: the Queen of Chaos and the Threat of World War III

a katz / Shutterstock.com Maidhc Ó Cathail: In your latest book, you dub Hillary Clinton the “Queen of Chaos”. Can you explain why you chose...

Michigan primary voters unhappy with candidates over Flint water crisis, criminal justice reform

(RT) - As voters in Michigan hit the polls to cast their ballots in the Democratic...

A Bad Day for Monsanto and a Good Day for Public Health in Europe

Monsanto needs to be stopped, the health of the world literally depends on it. Aisha Dodwell A battle of corporate profit vs people’s needs has been...

Hillary Clinton’s State Department Armed Saudi Arabia to the Teeth

(Image courtesy of CodePink) As Hillary Clinton emerges as the front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, she’s receiving increased scrutiny for her years as...

USW-ATI contract imposes health care and pension cuts, casualized labor

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Evan Winters On Tuesday, the United Steelworkers (USW) forced through a contract...

Attempt to form PSOE-Citizens government coalition in Spain collapses

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Paul Mitchell The attempt by Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez to...

Leaked Australian document reveals plans for mass surveillance of immigrants

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Max Newman A document leaked last month revealed that the Australian government...

Neocon Armchair Warhawks Panic Over Trump Foreign Policy

The neocons are renowned for their courage on the battlefield. There is no keyboard they are afraid to finger. No pen they won’t commandeer. When...

Ontario report: Inequality at levels “not seen since the Great Depression”

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Dylan Lubao A report published by the union-backed Ontario Common Front paints...

For an active boycott of the Brexit referendum!

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. For an active boycott of the Brexit referendum! Statement of the Socialist...

Clinton-Bush Hardliner Attacks Congress for Blocking Invasion of Syria

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org In a Huffington Post interview on February 23rd, the Clinton-Bush former head of the NSA and CIA, and defender of their...

Hillary Clinton’s Six Foreign-Policy Catastrophes

Eric Zuesse Many commentators have mentioned (such as here and here and here and here) that Hillary Clinton left behind no major achievement as the U.S. Secretary of State;...