Tag Archives: 2016 election

What Russians? GOP seeks to terminate Election Assistance Commission

February 10, 2017:  The House Administration Committee votes 6-3 (along party lines) to terminate the Election Assistance Commission, saying the body has “outlived its usefulness.”  [NCSL]

“The bill would also terminate the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), which is the entity responsible for developing “voluntary voting systems guidelines.” According to Harper, the technical guidelines developed by the TDGC and adopted by the EAC are hardly ever used. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) reminded the committee that the creation of the EAC and the TGDC was a bipartisan effort because of  shared concern after the 2000 election that our election systems and administration of elections needed to be reformed.”  [NCSL]

What the EAC does is to establish guidelines for electronic voting systems.  And, THIS is the commission the Republicans want to fold into the Federal Election Commission.  There is one more element of immediate importance:

“NCSL’s webpage, Voting System Standards, Testing and Certification, describes the standards set by each state. Some states adopt federal standards, some develop their own standards and others use a hybrid of both. NCSL research indicates 37 states use some aspect of federal guidelines in their own certification requirements, and another four refer to federal standards in some way.”

It seems very difficult to argue that the Commission has outlived its usefulness because no one is using its services when 37 states have used the guidelines in some form.

Given that the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to be the last man on planet Earth to agree that the Russians interfered in our election processes and institutions in 2016,  it seems altogether more nefarious that his political party is the one calling for the termination of the commission which sets standards for election integrity.   It’s all the more incomprehensible the GOP would advocate for the termination in light of the continual Republican refrain that the Russian interference didn’t change any election results.

The Republican members of the House Admin. Committee are Gregg Harper (R-MS), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Mark Walker (R-NC), Adrian Smith (R-NE), and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA).  The Democrats who voted against the termination of the Election Assistance Commission are Robert Brady (D-PA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

It might well be high time to contact our Representatives to indicate opposition to the Election Assistance Commission Termination Act (HR 834).   The one who might require more incentive to vote against this ill-considered bill is Nevada Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2):  775-686-5760; 775-777-7705 (Elko), and 202-225-6155.

 

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, Voting

Watching Circling Wagons and Flighty Chickens

The wagons are circling.  The panic thermometer is rising.  The GOP is behaving like panicked chickens with a fox in their midst.   House Republicans are trying to sabotage  any meaningful investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in the Judiciary Committee  and by the House Intelligence Committee. [LAT]  Senators of the Republican persuasion are covering themselves in ignominy (and not just a little bit of hypocrisy) as Senators Grassley and Graham want to launch a criminal investigation into British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. [BI]

Meanwhile the Diversion, Distraction, and Delusion of the administration is on full display as the GOP/Trump haul out the long debunked “Cllinton foundation investigation” and the….wait for it….Clinton E-mails.   It can’t be too long before the Republicans start investigating Benghazi again.  In short, this is a very limited amount of ammunition being expended as the hordes (of investigators working for Special Counsel Mueller) press against the castle walls.

First, I’m noticing that there is nothing new on offer.  There is absolutely nothing new about investigating the Clinton Foundation, a charity with some of the highest ratings granted by those organization which track such things.  The charges were bogus to begin with, the “linkages” so tenuous that only great leaps of faith (and fevered conspiracy dreams) can make them whole, and the topic has been done to death.  The Emails?  They aren’t missing, they aren’t important, and they too have been overcooked in the fevered imagination of right wing Republicans.

Secondly, the attack on the former member of British intelligence is too obvious.  Let’s allow the participants to speak for themselves:

“Based on the information contained therein, we are respectfully referring Mr. Steele to you for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.”

The criminal referral does not pertain to the veracity of the dossier’s claims and “is not intended to be an allegation of a crime,” a press release from the committee says. [BI]

Regarding his distribution of information…” we might interpret this to refer to statements Steele may or may not have made to members of the press?  Frankly, it isn’t clear.  And then there is that press release — “...is not intended to be an allegation of a crime…”   So, the Senators are not “alleging” any crime took place but they’d like the Department of Justice to investigate to see if there might be one?  Somewhere, anywhere,  anything. Please!  Further, what do we make of “The criminal referral does not pertain to the veracity of the dossier’s claims,” other than we (the GOP) don’t want to touch the substance of the assembled memos with a barge pole but we will gleefully attempt to sully the reputation of the person who shared the information with US law enforcement officials.

Aside from being gratuitous and almost silly, the “referral” on Mr. Steele sounds like GOP attempting to argue that instead of investigating the person who tried to burn your house down the authorities should be investigating possible criminal charges against the person who called the fire department.

There will be a steady drumbeat of GOP talking points,  most of which are as old as the lyrics to Mariah Carey’s rendition of Dream Lover, some of which are manufactured from the whole cloth by which the GOP would veil the antics of a failing, flailing, presidency.

Meanwhile, this nation is no closer to answering some truly crucial questions:

(1) By what means did the Russians attempt to interfere in US elections?  Are those means still being employed today?

(2) What steps should be taken by US election officials to protect our physical election systems and databases from interference in future elections?

(3) What assistance can and should be made available from the Federal government to state and local election officials so that future attempts to interfere are prevented?

 

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Meanwhile! Back At The Ballot Boxes

Not that I’m unconcerned about sexual harassment (etc) BUT there’s another story which is getting lost behind the steady drip of the Mueller Investigation and the deluge of harassment stories — not to put too fine a point to it, but the Russians played havoc with our election in 2016 and the Congress of the United States hasn’t done squat about it.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence seems perfectly happy to make charges and counter-charges about “collusion” without apparently looking all that deeply into what espionage techniques and strategies were applied by the Russians, and what was the outcome. Nor have I heard one peep out of them about how to better secure our election institutions and systems against incursions.  Given White House water boy Devin Nunes is in charge of the committee, I don’t suppose we’ll get that much out of this outfit, and that’s both a tragedy and a missed opportunity.

While the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence manages to sound more organized and focused,  there’s not much emerging from that quarter either.   Again, the committee seems to have Republicans intent on proving there’s “nothing to see here,” and Democrats hoping to find the smoking arsenal.  Again, the conspiracy/collusion segment is only part of the story, and while it’s important so too is the notion that we need to find out what the Russians did, how they did it, and how we can prevent this from happening in future elections.

Then there’s the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.   Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) seems rather more interested in absolving Republicans and the President from responsibility for or knowledge of Russian activities than in finding out exactly what happened in 2016.   I wouldn’t want to hang by my hair for as long as it will take to get this outfit to determine what laws were broken, or eluded, by Russians — nor how we might want to modify our statutes to prevent future problems.  The House Judiciary Committee is essentially AWOL on all manner of topics, case in point the “calendar” for the subcommittees is almost blank for the month of December with one FBI “oversight” hearing, and one session with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.  The Chairman appears to be more concerned with disparaging the Mueller Investigation than with determining how to identify and prevent foreign incursions into our elections.

Remember back on September 22, 2017 the Department of Homeland Security finally informed 21 states that their elections systems had been hacked in some way, shape, or form:

“The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election.

The notification came roughly a year after officials with the United States Department of Homeland Security first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia. The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The A.P. contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. The others that confirmed they were targeted were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.” (emphasis added)

21 states, notified a year after the fact was bad enough — but not only was the information belated, but some of it wasn’t even accurate.

“Now election officials in Wisconsin and California say DHS has provided them with additional information showing that Russian hackers actually scanned networks at other state agencies unconnected to voter data. In Wisconsin, DHS told officials on Tuesday that hackers had scanned an IP address belonging to the Department of Workforce Development, not the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) said in a statement Wednesday that DHS gave his office additional information saying hackers had attempted to target the network of the California Department of Technology’s statewide network and not the secretary of state’s office.”

So, we might expect the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee to be looking into this?  No, the Chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson is more interested in finding out if members of the Mueller team are biased against the current President.  The “logic” appears to be that because Special Counsel Mueller REMOVED those who made prejudicial statements in text messages therefore the investigation is prejudiced.  It doesn’t get more bass-ackwards than this.   Can we expect oversight regarding the slowness and inaccuracy of the DHS response to election hacking?  Under the current Senate leadership probably not.

The national broadcast media (as usual) is currently chasing the newest shiny object — which members of the Congress can or cannot keep their hands to themselves and their “little soldiers” zipped inside the “barracks.”  This is an important topic — but to continue to focus on the salacious and to continue to ignore the insidious is not in the best interest of this country and its institutions.

There are questions introduced last August which remain unresolved, and for which we should demand answers:

  1. What was the extent and nature of Russian hacking (and meddling) in the US election of 2016?
  2. Will the United States deploy safeguards and countermeasures to address thee Russian activities?
  3. Will the frustrations of state governments with the quality of information shared by DHS be alleviated? Will states receive up to date and accurate information so they can prevent hacking and meddling?
  4. What measures should be taken to prevent future hacking and meddling, and to give the states the support they need to deal with forms of assault as yet undeployed by the Russians?

The Mueller Investigation can explore and illuminate the extent to which criminal statutes may have been broken in regard to the 2016 election, but it cannot determine how the US analyzes, evaluates, and prepares for the next round of elections.  That should be the function of Congress, but then we seem to have one so focused on giving tax breaks to the wealthy and so determined to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid they can barely pay attention to the transgressions of their own members (speaking of Farenholdt here) while chasing conspiracy theories about the “Deep State” opposition to the administration.

Perhaps in the midst of asking our Senators and Representatives about the “questions of the day,” we should squeeze in a couple of questions (see above) that have been sitting on the shelves since last Summer?

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Filed under Congress, Homeland Security, House of Representatives, Politics, Senate, Voting

Pretty Please Stop Isn’t Enough

Trump Swaz It’s been a feature of thin skinned conservatives to cry for apologies whenever they feel their feelings have been hurt.  Democrats and liberals have been asked to apologize for a myriad of comments, but when the tables are turned – they turn the tables.  Secretary Clinton was called upon to apologize for calling some  ___ supporters “deplorable.” Now they’re proving her correct.  “President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been told to “keep their followers under control;” no more of that marching in the street business.  So, we’d have to ask – aren’t some apologies now in order for the behavior of Trump supporters?  Here are some recent examples:

“CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A local West Virginia official said she has been placed on leave after she made a racist post on Facebook about first lady Michelle Obama.

Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president, saying: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”

Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave.

Clay’s town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, has caused a backlash and prompted calls for Taylor and Mayor Whaling to be fired. The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted. The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn’t be found Monday.”  [AP/Yahoo]

“Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives despite a series of Facebook posts that depicted President Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys. Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus.” [AP/Yahoo]

“The Westchester County mom who grabbed a bittersweet picture of herself with Hillary Clinton, a day after the election, said Monday she’s been getting threats because of the viral snap.

Margot Gerster was out hiking in Chappaqua on Wednesday when she ran into the former secretary of state and Bill Clinton walking their dog on the same trail — leading to the popular, post-election image snapped by Bubba.

Reached by The Post and asked if she had received any threats via phone, mail or email, Gerster said, “yes,” but then refused to elaborate.

“I don’t want to discuss this anymore,” said Gerster, 30. “This story needs to go away. It got a lot of positive feedback from a lot of people, but I don’t want this to add on to this (blowback), I don’t want to fuel the fire.” [Fox]

And there are more:

“When the rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, Maryland opened the church on Sunday morning, he found that a sign advertising Spanish services had been ripped and vandalized with the words, “TRUMP NATION WHITES ONLY.” The same message was written on a brick wall near the church’s memorial garden.” [Time]

Swastikas were drawn on several doors in a residence hall at the New School in New York City on Saturday. Three Jewish women live in the suite where one of the swastikas was drawn, according to a tweet from one of the students who lives there. [Time]

Anti-Semitic graffiti—including a swastika and the words “Heil Trump”—appeared at a bus stop at the University of California at San Diego on Thursday. In a statement, Hillel of San Diego said it worked with the office of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Campus Police, and the Anti-Defamation League to ensure the graffiti was removed. [Time]

In a separate incident on Thursday, students at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Mich., chanted “build that wall!” during their lunch period, echoing Trump’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. [Time]

The list kept growing – see Fusion timeline.

So, 20 hours ago – several days AFTER the election – Mr. _____ finally got around to saying “stop it.”  After there were some 300 incidents around the country. [KTLA]

“The President-elect said he was “so saddened” to hear about vitriol hurled by some of his supporters against minorities.

“If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it,” Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” [CNN]

Too little Too Late?  Vitriol? That seems a mild way to describe a man threatening to burn a Muslim lady for wearing an hijab.  Or, this:

“CAIR-MN says the family of the Northdale Middle School student reported that their child is feeling emotionally and physically distressed after she was allegedly assaulted on Friday by a classmate who came up behind her and violently pulled off her Islamic head scarf (hijab) and threw it on the ground. The classmate also pulled on her hair and let it come down in front of other students. The Muslim student now feels unsafe in the school and has yet to return to school.” [CAIR]

And, it’s not just Muslims:

Spray-painted swastikas, racist graffiti  and references to Donald Trump and Nazi Germany have appeared on a South Philadelphia storefront and elsewhere.

The graffiti was spotted at Broad and Wharton streets a day after a bitter presidential election and on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht (or the Night of Broken Glass) attacks on Jews in Germany in 1938. 

“That makes this singular event all the more distressing and horrifying,” said Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL’s full statement is here.

The children were watching:

Fraser (Supt Council Rock PA) says someone drew three swastikas, wrote a derogatory comment about people who are gay, along with the words “I Love Trump,” on a paper found hanging in the girls’ restroom.
In another girls’ restroom, Fraser says someone wrote, “If Trump wins, watch out!” directly onto a toilet paper dispenser.
In a boys’ restroom, two swastikas were reportedly drawn directly onto a restroom stall.
Fraser says a Latina student found that a note had been placed in her backpack telling her to return to Mexico. [6ABC]

Isolated incidents? Not quite. Anti-Muslim hate crimes are up by 67% [ABC]

“Hate crimes in the United States ticked back up in 2015, after a 20-year low the year before, fueled in part by a 67 percent increase in crimes against Muslims, according to an FBI report released today.

Crimes against religious groups overall were up by 23 percent since 2014 and anti-black, white and LGBT incidents were all up last year as well. Most incidents — nearly 30 percent — in 2015 were anti-black crimes, the data show.

Crimes ran the gamut from simple assault to murder and rape.

In 2015, there were 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes, compared to 154 the year before, the data show. Overall hate crimes were up just under 7 percent, to 5,850 reported incidents.” [ABC]

This isn’t the time for “pretty please ‘stop it.’”  Somehow, saying “Stop It,” and then hiring a well known white nationalist as your number 2 man in the Oval Office doesn’t send a very positive message to women and members of minority ethnic groups in this country.   Steve Bannon isn’t a “populist,” and no amount of whitewashing by the corporate media is going to make him the successor of William Jennings Bryan.  There’s this bit of circumlocution associated with Mr. Bannon and his ilk:

“Bannon once described Breitbart News as the “platform for the alt-right,” or alternative right. It’s a brand of far-right conservatism that generally embraces and promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny.

People who identify as alt-right reject those descriptors as overly simplistic. They believe that what they define as intellectualism and rational thought should guide policy.

According to Breitbart’s own “guide to the alt-right,” they aren’t racist, they’re “unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.” They aren’t misogynist, they “incorporate masculinist principles.” (Breitbart does concede in that same article that neo-Nazis, or “1488ers,” make up part of the alt-right.)” [LATimes]

Your BS meter should have just blown over the top.  Calling excrement “bodily emissions” is still excrement.

No, I’m not going to “get over it.” Not as long as sexist, racists, anti-Semitic, thugs (young and old) find themselves ‘empowered’ by the president-elect’s horrific rhetoric.  He let this Jinn out of the bottle – it’s up to him to put it back in the gutters where it belongs.  Until then, he can be ‘the President’ but is isn’t going to be ‘my President.’

Perhaps he could take a lesson from some Baylor University students, whose actions help remove some of the stains they’ve suffered recently.  This is the story we should be telling:

“Amid all the physical and verbal attacks, hundreds of Baylor University students rallied behind Natasha Nkhama to make sure she felt safe leaving class.  Nkhama said she was walking to class last week when a guy “went out of his way to bump into me and shove me off the sidewalk.”

“He said, ‘No n—— allowed on the sidewalk,’ ” Nkhama said in a video posted to Twitter last Wednesday. “I was just shocked, like I had no words.”

Nkhama said two men she did not know defended her, asking the student what he was doing. “The guy said, ‘Dude, like what, I’m just trying to make America great again,’ ” Nkhama said.

The university said it was “aware of a student who was pushed and subjected to racially offensive language,” an incident it describes as “deeply disturbing and does not in any way reflect Baylor’s faith or values.”

Nkhama’s video and #IWalkWithNatasha quickly spread across social media. When Nkhama walked out of a class Friday, about 300 students stood by the door, waiting to walk her to her next class, according to campus police.  Nkhama broke down in tears.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for being here, and I want everyone who sees this to know that Baylor is a campus of love,” Nkhama said. [DallasWeekly]

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Today’s Highly Recommended Reading

First,  this piece from Slate magazine.  Teaser:

“But the ideology that most distinguishes the Democratic Party from Trump-brand Republicanism—support for immigrants and racial minorities—is one that would improve the fortunes of those who handed it such a rousing defeat. This is the central irony of the 2016 election: Trump country has elected a president who will harass, deport, and bar the very people desperate to live there, the people who would help rebuild its small towns and cities.”

And, Ralston’s going somewhere, he’s just not telling us yet.

The Las Vegas Sun discusses winners and losers in the 2016 election.

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To the Corporate Media: This paragraph sums it up

“6. All our media friends. Thank you for preserving reportorial balance. You balanced Donald Trump’s proposal that the military execute the innocent families of terrorists, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced pot-stirring racist lies about President Obama’s birth, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced a religious test at our borders, torture by our military, jokes about assassination, unfounded claims of a rigged election, boasts about groping and paradoxical threats to sue anyone who confirmed the boasts, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced endorsement of nuclear proliferation, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced tirelessly, indefatigably; you balanced, you balanced, and then you balanced some more. And for that — we thank you. And thank you all for following Les Moonves’s principled lead when he said Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”  [NYT OpEd]

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Voting Registration Info Humboldt County NV

HU registration 2016

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September 30, 2016 · 10:46 am