Sen Cassidy Says SCOTUS Decision Gutting Voting Rights Act Justifies Restrictive State Election Laws

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Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) appeared on CNN’s State of The Union show (01/16/22) to put forward the Republican position on the push for a federal voting rights legislation(John Lewis Voting Rights Act), and also discuss the related question as to whether the U.S. Senate should change its filibuster rules to allow for the passage of the said voting rights law via a simple majority vote. When asked by host Jake Tapper why Republicans are now opposed to keeping key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act(VRA) intact, when as recently as a decade ago they were all for it, Sen Cassidy gave a strange response which appeared to suggest that because the Roberts Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the VRA in Shelby County v Holder(2013), there is no need to be concerned about discriminatory state election laws–that this is not 1965 anymore, things have changed.

Yours Truly, and I suspect a lot of other viewers too, found Senator Cassidy’s Response quite strange because while liberals agree that this is not 1965, and that progress has been made on the civil rights front, we need to restore key aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because Trump’s GOP is taking us back to 1965. In other words, Senator Cassidy, and by extension the Roberts Supreme Court, are totally wrong in their assessment that simply because this is not 1965, Republican states are no longer capable of crafting discriminatory election laws. The facts on the ground clearly show that after the 2020 election, relying on former President Trump’s “big lie“, many Republican-controlled states have hurriedly enacted election laws that reasonable people agree, disenfranchise voters of color.

Senator Cassidy specifically said on CNNSOTU(video @ 2:20 onwards): “The Supreme Court decided[paused for effect], the Supreme Court decided that the conditions in 1965 are different than the conditions now. Imagine that. We’ve had an African-American elected President of the United States, we’ve had an African-American elected to the Vice Presidency, an African-American elected to the[U.S.]Senate in South Carolina. Now, if anyone can’t see that circumstances have changed, they’re just not believing their lying eye…There’s more to do, absolutely, we need safeguards, but to argue we are still the same as we were in 1965 is to deny facts that are clearly before us.”

There’s no other way any reasonable person presented with Senator Cassidy’s response(including his pause for effect), would arrive at any other conclusion other than, because the Roberts Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 citing changed conditions, the voter suppression laws currently popping up in red states are justified. Think about that, the new Republican rationale for voter suppression, as articulated by Senator Cassidy, is that it’s not a big deal because if it was, the Roberts Supreme Court would never have gutted key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act–a sad state of affairs indeed.

Bottom line folks, Dems must use every tool at their disposal to get holdout Senators Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) and Joe Manchin(D-WV) to agree to a filibuster carveout for a federal voting rights legislation before the 2022 midterms because if they don’t, all the gains we’ve witnessed thus far as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act will be lost, and the Roberts Supreme Court will not lift a finger to assist. Simply put, it’s now or never for a federal voting rights law that restores key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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Senator Kyrsten Sinema Addresses Criticism By Progressives Over BIF And Build Back Better

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Senator Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) in an interview with Arizona’s ABC 15(11/19/21)

***Updated 12/3/21 to include Sen Sinema’s interview with CNN’s Lauren Fox***

On the day the House passed the Build Back Better Act(Nov 19), Senator Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) sat down for an interview with Arizona’s ABC 15(KNXV), to discuss what lies ahead for the historic bill in the Senate. It is no secret that a lot of Democrats, especially Progressive Democrats, have been very upset with Senators Sinema and Joe Manchin(D-WV), over what they perceive as a coordinated effort by the two Senators to derail President Biden’s legislative agenda.

Asked by the ABC 15‘s host about the sharp, even personal criticism she regularly receives from Progressives regarding her perceived obstruction of the Build Back Better Act and other key Democratic legislative proposals(voting rights etc), Senator Sinema responded: “When I first was elected to head to Washington DC and represent Arizona about 9 years ago, I promised to be a work horse, not a show horse, and that’s exactly what I’ve done over these last 9 years. In the 3 years that I’ve served in the United States Senate, I’ve been known for just putting my head down and doing the work. And my experience is, if you want to negotiate and get to an agreement on difficult topics, the best way to do that is to build trust, and when you’re building trust with someone, you work one on one, you solve the problem, you stay focused, and you don’t get distracted by the noise outside. Now, I know that a lot of folks wanted to hear that noise outside, but they probably didn’t have the same goal as me, which is to negotiate and pass a historic infrastructure bill into law, and I guess I would just say the proof is in the pudding. Here we are today, the bill has become law, and we move on to the next topic, which is to implement it for the benefit of every day Arizonans. So while there are some who may not like this approach, it works, and I think it represents what Arizonans elected me to do, which is to put my head down, get the work done, and deliver results for every day families. “

There’s no other way to interpret Senator Sinema’s response, especially her work horse versus show horse analogy, other than she looks at her Progressive critics as a bunch of drama kings/queens who are either unwilling or unable to do the hard work of negotiating with the opposing party(Republicans)to advance legislation. Senator Sinema added that her approach, which involves quietly negotiating with Republicans produces results, as opposed to the unproductive “noise” which she attributed to Progressives.

In what could turn out to be a problem for the Build Back Better Act in the Senate, Senator Sinema later in the interview, raised concerns about the bill worsening the already alarming inflation problem. It’s highly likely that Senator Manchin will also raise similar inflation concerns, which may lead to the gutting of some popular Progressive items like paid family leave from the Build Back Better Act. A gutted Build Back Better Act may prove non-palatable to House Progressives thereby killing the bill, or extending it’s passage well into 2022, a tough election year for Democrats.

Bottom line folks, it was good to see Senator Sinema, often shrouded in secrecy, talking extensively to the media about her stance on the Build Back Better Act and other issues important to her constituents. Hopefully this is the beginning of a more “public” Senator Sinema.

Senator Sinema has since sat down with CNN’s Lauren Fox(12/2/21) where she expressed similar reservations about the House-passed Build Back Better Act

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Extreme Gerrymandering In Ohio Called Out

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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.

Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.

Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.

John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”

This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.

Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo:”Texas Is Being Run From Maralago”

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (09/24/2021), where she blasted elected Republicans in Texas for giving in to former President Trump’s baseless demands for an audit into the state’s 2020 election results. The decision by the Texas Secretary of State’s office to conduct an audit into the election results of Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties, came literally a few hours after Trump’s demand, which led a visibly upset Judge Hidalgo to tell host Maddow that Texas was “being run from Maralago.”

Judge Hidalgo told Maddow:“We have to remember we had incredibly successful elections here in Harris County in 2020. We had innovations that led to record turnouts from both parties, the highest in 30 years, I mean it was beautiful, and since then, no evidence has come out that would in any way cause the need for this kind of audit. All we’ve seen is [former]President Trump exhorting the state, or [Governor]Abbott, to have this audit…The reality of it is Texas is being run from Maralago, and that is dangerous, and it’s not appropriate…it’s extremely concerning.”

Judge Hidalgo added that time had come for politicians in Washington to get off the sidelines, and actively join the fight against voter suppression in the states, telling host Maddow, “We need the federal government to act, I mean, this has gone too far… This should be another call to action. We’ve got the writing on the wall. We’ve got to get off our chairs and get moving on all this.”

Bottom line folks, as Judge Hidalgo correctly pointed out, time has come for some decisive action to be taken against these naked efforts by Republicans at the state level, to restrict the voting rights of minorities. Democrats in Washington cannot just sit on the sidelines, and watch their counterparts in Republican-led states like Texas, go to war against GOP’s efforts to restrict minority voting rights. Simply put, time has come for Democrats in Washington to finally do away with the filibuster, and institute a national voting standard geared towards making it easier for people to vote, as opposed to GOP’s scheme of limiting access to the ballot box. As Judge Hidalgo correctly put it, congressional Democrats need to “get off their chairs and get moving” on a comprehensive federal voting rights law.

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35 GOP Senators Who Voted Against A Bipartisan Jan 6th Commission

05/28/21 will be memorialized in History textbooks, as one of the most shameful days in U.S. Senate history, as 35 Republican Senators voted to kill via filibuster, a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate what led to the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex, aka DC insurrection. The final vote tally was 54 yeas, 35 nays, with 11 Senators not voting. 60 yea votes were needed to overcome the filibuster.

The violent insurrection by former President Trump’s supporters on Jan 6th, was an attempt to stop a joint session of Congress from certifying the results of the electoral college, officially making Joseph R. Biden Jr the 46th President of the United States. During the violent insurrection, most of which played out on live TV, sitting members of Congress could be seen frightened for their lives, and being ushered into safety by Capitol Police officers. Five people lost their lives that day, including one Capitol Police officer, and many others had to be rushed to local DC hospitals with serious injuries.

January 6th 2021 will go down in history as one the lowest points in American democracy for several reasons, chief among them, the fact that it shattered America’s towering reputation around the world, as the only country where a peaceful transition of power was a guarantee, following every presidential election. On January 6th, the world watched with disbelief, on live TV, as violent Trump supporters fought to prevent the transition of power to the 2020 presidential election winner, Joe Biden.

Given the seriousness of the events that transpired on January 6th, any reasonable person would have expected U.S. Senators to vote overwhelmingly(all 100 of them) in support of establishing a bipartisan investigative commission, as has happened in previous national tragedies like the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. Instead, 35 GOP Senators, out of fear of upsetting former President Trump, found a way to vote against such a commission–a total shame.

Because this is one of the most shameful votes in U.S. Senate history, It is only fair that the names and faces of the said GOP Senators be memorialized for future generations. Below is a handy list of the 35 Senators.

Bottom line folks, something is seriously wrong when sitting members of the United States Senate, whose very lives were threatened on January 6th, filibuster the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the incident, simply because they are afraid to upset former President Trump, whose election fraud lies led to the incident. It is not only the epitome of political cowardice, but a total dereliction of their oaths as U.S. Senators, to defend the U.S. Constitution. It also inevitably raises the question as to whether the 35 GOP Senators are trying to cover up their direct or indirect involvement with the violent 6th insurrection.

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