Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Republicans stole the White House yet again mostly through voter suppression

By Jack Thor

As expected, more is coming out about how Trump and other Republicans stole the White House. No, this story doesn't have much to do with Russian hacking, WikiLeaks, and FBI Director James Comey.
Though those aspects were certainly significant factors, the main method that Republicans stole the White House and why Trump was so confident that he would win before the election is through the same way they did in 2000 and 2004: suppressing the minority vote, especially in key swing states.
In Michigan alone, more than 75,000 ballots in mostly Democratic, minority-dominated precincts of Detroit and Flint were not counted, investigative reporter Greg Palast said in a report on Truthout.
Michigan voters had to fill in bubbles on paper ballots. If the bubble was not filled in completely, the vote was not counted by a machine. A systems analyst who participated in the hand recount there told Palast that she saw “a lot of ballots that weren’t originally counted because those don’t scan into the machine.”
The problem intensified in urban, mostly Democratic precincts because they contained older machines that broke down more than those in suburban and rural mostly Republican areas. Republican leaders denied pleas by officials from the Democratic sites to upgrade the machines.
In Detroit, officials also threw out ballots in which voters marked the straight Democratic ticket but wrote in a protest name like Bernie Sanders, even though the ballot should have counted for Clinton. The Detroit machines “simply invalidated the ballots with protest write-ins because the old Opti-Scans wrongly tallied these as ‘over-votes’ [voting for two candidates],” Palast wrote. A human recount would catch such mistakes.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, blocked Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for human recounts with nonsensical orders. The result was that recount workers were denied access to 59 percent of Detroit’s precincts, Palast reported. “It’s shocking to think that the discounting of these votes may be making the critical difference in the outcome of the election,” Stein said.
A similar situation occurred in Wisconsin, which employed the same Opti-Scan system as Michigan. Uncounted votes were concentrated in African-American strong precincts in Milwaukee, Palast noted. Stein again sought human reviews of ballots, but GOP state officials ordered Milwaukee County to run the ballots through the same machines. “Not surprisingly, this instant replay produced the same questionable result,” Palast stated.
There were other problems, such as long lines and shortened polling-place hours. Some sites were moved. Numerous voters, particularly students, were turned away due to tougher ID laws passed by mostly Republicans after their buddies on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
But among the most heinous pre-election suppression efforts was a system called Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck. That program involved a list of more than 7 million voters in 29 states created by Trump supporter and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in 2013. Yes, that same year the Republican-leaning U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for purging voters by gutting the Voting Rights Act. Like Kansas, most of the states involved are controlled by Republicans, including key swing states such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Florida.
Crosscheck’s goal is to find people with similar names and claim they had voted twice, when officials didn’t even check birth dates or Social Security numbers to verify the votes came from the same person, Palast charged. Before the 2016 election, hundreds of thousands of voters were purged from the rolls simply because they did not vote in a recent election, or they had the same first and last names as a voter in another state and did not mail back a small, colorless postcard the state sent to verify their address. For example, Donald Alexander Webster Jr. of Dayton, Ohio, was accused by the system of voting as Donald Eugene Webster of Charlottesville, Va. The Ohio Webster said he had never been to Charlottesville.
Palast’s team ran names through a computer and found that two million of the middle names didn’t match. “They had 288 guys named James Brown in Georgia, who apparently voted in another state,” Palast told The Real News Network. “How’d they know that? Because they found  ̶  believe it or not  ̶  a James Brown in Motown, in Detroit. And then they found a James Brown in Virginia. And can you believe that? They found another James Brown in Ohio.”
Almost 450,000 Michigan voters were on the Crosscheck suspect list, and at least 50,000 saw their votes discarded, he said. Trump supposedly won Michigan by about 11,000 votes.
Hundreds of thousands more were on the list in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, and other states. Tens of thousands of those voters saw their ballots tossed. Most of the purged voters were African-Americans, Latinos, and others who tended to support Democratic candidates, especially in the 2016 election.
Trump supposedly won Wisconsin by 23,000 votes, Pennsylvania by 44,000, Arizona by 91,000, Florida by 113,000, and North Carolina by 174,000. If the unjustified voter purges had not been done, Clinton would have won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania at the very least – and thus the White House.

Voting has become an obstacle course for minorities

“For voters of color in the USA, voting has become some kind of crazy obstacle course,” Palast said. “First, don’t get purged….Then drag yourself to the single black voting station and wait for five hours. Oops! Wrong guy ID  ̶  go back home. You’ll have absentee or provisional ballots. Don’t miss the bubble or it gets thrown in the garbage.”
In Philadelphia, officials use “push and pray” machines, which can easily lose votes merely by having a electronic glitch, Palast said. “The easiest way to stop a vote count in the computer is just to unplug it…and your vote just disappears into the ether. ‘Oh, we’re so sorry. We just lost the votes on this memory card.’ It’s that simple. Jim Crow has gone into cyberspace.”
Virginia election officials estimated that about 12 percent of voters on their rolls were purged, Palast said. That was a conservative estimate, he noted.  In all of the states, more than one million votes could have been tossed out in the 2016 presidential election.
Even though voting twice in the same election was a felony, officials never criminally pursued the suspects because they didn’t want wide public knowledge of the program, Palast said. “Interestingly, they didn’t arrest them…..They just took away their right to vote.”
A Michigan Secretary of State office spokesman confirmed to Palast that he did not know of a single conviction for voting twice.  He stated officials were careful to verify identities before they tossed out votes. But Stein and others did not buy that.
Nationwide, there were only a handful of actual convictions for voting twice and each one involved a white Republican, Palast said.
Kobach refused to speak formally to Palast, but the investigative reporter tracked him down at a Kansas fundraiser in a public park. “Why are these lists so secret?” Palast asked him.
“They aren't,” Kobach replied, contradicting what his attorney told Palast.
When shown the list inadvertently sent by Virginia officials in which they purged 41,000 voters, Kobach claimed, “That is false! You know why? Federal law prohibits that.” Then he hurried off.
Democrats engaged in voter suppression techniques as well, but they were not as noticeable in the general election as Republican efforts, Palast said. They were seen more readily in the primaries, where Clinton supporters suppressed votes made by mostly progressives for Bernie Sanders, he said.
“You see progressive forces within the Democratic Party who suddenly end up short in primaries because the votes aren’t counted,” Palast said. “So the Democrats are old hands at vote suppression. And the attack on the minority voter and low-income voters. I saw the worst cases in New Mexico.”

Republicans can't back up claims that people voted twice

When Trump said numerous times during the 2016 campaign that the “election is rigged,” he was referring to people “voting many, many times,” Palast noted. Dick Morris, a political consultant who worked on voter purges, advised Trump on what to say, Palast said.
Republican officials in North Carolina claimed that they had proof that more than 35,000 people voted twice in 2012, or at least had the same first and last names and birth dates. They charged that was how Obama defeated Mitt Romney, despite Obama winning the election without North Carolina – Romney took that state by almost 100,000 votes. Obama won Florida by about 75,000 votes, Ohio by 160,000, Wisconsin by 213,000, Pennsylvania by 310,000, and Michigan by 450,000. Yet, Republicans claimed some 35,000 votes decided the 2012 election?
When Palast visited North Carolina Republicans making those claims, they couldn’t locate a single voter who supposedly cast ballots twice in 2012. Palast checked some names on their list, and those people denied they voted twice. Some said they had not ever visited the other state, and they did not have the same middle name.
Of course, Palast had seen this tale before. In 2000, Florida GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris discarded some 180,000 ballots due to having hanging chads and other excuses. About 54 percent of those uncounted votes were cast by African-Americans, according to a report by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Gore needed a mere 538 more votes to win Florida and the White House.
Then in 2004, Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell invalidated a similar number of votes because of mostly arbitrary reasons. Some 90,000 were hanging chads, the large majority made by black voters. About 155,000 others were provisional ballots that Blackwell devised arbitrary rules so most were not counted. The majority of those ballots also came from Democratic precincts. Blackwell also took a page from Katherine Harris in using biased felony lists to purge mostly black voters. Kerry, who lost the popular vote to Bush by about 3 million, would have won the Electoral College had he obtained 119,000 more votes in Ohio.
Kerry conceded without a fight, though in later years, he claimed he was robbed. He would have had to demand a hand count of the spoiled punch cards, and Blackwell and the Supremes would likely have stopped such a count, as Harris and the Supremes did in 2000. “Kerry, realistically, didn't stand a chance,” Palast wrote on his website.

So why didn't Clinton push harder for a recount?

Gore, Kerry, and Clinton’s concern about their reputations, legacies, and careers likely played roles in causing them not to push too hard for recounts, or question the integrity of the American voting system too deeply, Palast said. Even though Gore fought for a month, he still had legal options after the Supremes stopped the counts.
Kerry was fighting a more uphill battle than Gore since he did not win the popular vote, and he needed more than 100,000 votes to catch Bush in Ohio.
As for Clinton, a story in The Hill says that Obama himself called Clinton early Nov. 9 to urge that she concede. She reportedly did not really want to at that time, but she finally agreed. 
Clinton faced a bigger climb to win the Electoral College than Gore in 2000 or Kerry in 2004. She needed to overturn results in three states in which the margin was as great as 44k. That would have been difficult under the best of circumstances. As we saw, Trump and Republican officials did all they could to oppose Stein's recount effort. If it got to the Supremes again, the Repubs had that vote as they did in 2000. I'm not sure she really conceded because she didn't want to rock the boat that carried her too much, though that could have been a factor. It may have been more that she knew she was not likely to prevail with all that was against her. And she may have been tired of it, as I think Kerry was in 2004 when he decided not to seek a recount of Ohio.
As Palast noted, exit polls were right based on votes cast but did not account for the thousands of votes discarded. Exit polls also showed Kerry winning Ohio in 2004 and Gore winning Fla in 2000. They don't account for voter suppression. This is something that still has not been adequately addressed by the mainstream media or anyone in power.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Clinton's 2.9 million popular vote win was larger than percentage margin of EIGHT other U.S. presidential elections

Trump and his minions are claiming somehow that they took the White House in a landslide; nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, Clinton won the popular vote by a larger margin than in eight other U.S. presidential elections, as the following chart shows:

Won popular vote    Year    Percentage point margin    Won Electoral College

Hillary Clinton          2016                 2.1                               Donald Trump
Jimmy Carter           1976                  2.06                             Carter
James Polk                1844                 1.45                              Polk
Grover Cleveland  1888                    0.8                            Benjamin Harrison
Richard Nixon       1968                     0.7                             Nixon
Cleveland               1884                     0.6                             Cleveland
Al Gore                   2000                     0.5                             George W. Bush
John F. Kennedy   1960                     0.2                             Kennedy
James Garfield     1880                      0.1                              Garfield

Sources: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections

Put another way, Clinton won the popular vote by a larger margin than in eight of the other 57 presidential elections in U.S. history. Remember how mad many of us were in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote and the White House was stolen from him? He only won by a larger margin in two other races.

Since Trump is on twitter, I am tweeting this post to him on a daily basis just to remind him and his supporters they didn't come close to winning. Trump is the epitome of an illegitimate president - thus he should rightly be called a bastard. 

Here are some of my tweets to Trump:
 Another facet is Gregory Palast's reports on the recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin and PA. If they were fair, Trump would not be in the White House. See Palast's reports here.

Feel free to send this out yourself.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The #GreatResistance to Trump begins full-force

Now that the Electoral College has proven to be a total farce with few electors having a backbone, #TheResistance starts in full gear.

For starters, read Marianne Williamson's Huffington Post story here. She is hosting a conference called Sister Giant in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2-4, 2017. The event will feature speakers talking about effective ways to politically resist Trump, as well as deeper understanding of our predicament.

There is also the Women's March on Washington slated for Jan. 21, 2017, in D.C. Organizers hope to have a million people or more marching in the capital. You don't have to be a woman to participate, BTW.

Others are planning to sue Trump's minions at every opportunity. You don't have to engage in big protests or lawsuits to make a difference. Creating actions that get publicity and Trump's goat can make a difference. One is the website Send Trump Pussy started by some high school students. They pledge to send lollipops in the shape of vaginas to Trump's New York business headquarters.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Fight Pence's Plan to Do Away with Medicare, Social Security

As we rightly focus on Trump, Pence has quietly emerged as the real power in the new administration.

If the recounts don't work, we really need to fight these bastards on two fronts. Pence wants to do away with Medicare and Social Security, and Trump will likely let him do so since he spends much of his time on Twitter.

Get involved in AARP and other groups like the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare - our future depends on it.

For some good reading on Pence's history of trying to eradicate SS and Medicare, see this story.

 #TrumPenceLand #SaveMedicare #SaveSocialSecurity