Senator John Ensign to Resign

An ignoble end to an ignominious career.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Sources confirmed this afternoon that embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign will resign from office on Friday, opening the door for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint Rep. Dean Heller to finish out the term.

If Heller is appointed, it would give him a strategic leg up as an incumbent against his presumed opponent in the 2012 Senate race, Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley is still expected to run.

Ensign's political star fell two years when he revealed he had an affair with a campaign aide, a scandal for which he remains under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

It's unclear whether the ongoing investigation played a role in Ensign's resignation, or whether he was stepping down early at the behest of the Nevada GOP in order to benefit Heller, the party's presumptive nominee for 2012.

The move is implicitly political on the GOP's part in an effort to keep the Nevada Senate seat. Senator Ensign, a member of the notorious C Street Christian fellowship, had already noted that he would not seek re-election next year in the wake of his lascivious conduct that led to Senate Ethics panel investigation that remains ongoing. Rep. Dean Heller, who represents the sprawling Nevada Second Congressional District that covers most of the state except the southern areas around Las Vegas, was expected to seek the seat. Now rather seek election to an open seat, he'll enjoy the benefit of being the incumbent.

Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents the Nevada First Congressional District that includes Las Vegas, announced earlier this month that she would seek the seat.

 

Shifting the Focus to Improving Voter Registration Access, Not Inhibiting It

In a democracy that can only boast that 71 percent of its citizens are registered and able to exercise their civic duty in any given election, access to the franchise is crucial.  For decades, millions of citizens have relied on either voter registration drives or government agencies to help them get on the voter rolls. Today, however, private voter registration drives are under attack, while some states are ignoring their responsibilities to reach unregistered citizens. If community-based drives are prevented from helping Americans get registered, and government agencies won’t help them, then who will?

In several states, elected officials and partisan groups are intent on stifling the proven effectiveness of voter registration drives run by private individuals and organizations. Despite the partisan-spun “scandals” that come with third-party voter registration drives, they are undeniably effective in reaching large portions of the population.

“According to the 2008 CPS, nearly 9 million citizens [or 8 percent] reported having registered ‘at a voter registration drive,’” wrote Doug Hess and Jody Herman in Project Vote report, Representational Bias in the 2008 Electorate. “This likely seriously undercounts the total impact of voter registration drives, however, as 9.4 million citizens (another 8 percent) reported that they registered ‘at a school, hospital, or on campus’—all locations where voter registration drives are often conducted by civic organizations and student groups.”

Another 9.7 million registered to vote through mail-in voter registration applications, many of whom presumably received these applications from voter drives or organizations that distributed the forms through the postal or electronic mail.

Voter registration drives are protected as a form of free speech under the First Amendment, as well as provisions under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (which directly protects and encourages community-run voter registration drives as the law’s primary purpose is to ensure more citizens are registered to vote). Yet lawmakers and election officials in states like Nevada are looking to regulate and criminalize voter registration drives so thoroughly, that they can create a “chilling effect on community-based voter registration, causing many organizations to curtail or cease their voter registration efforts.”

Other states are introducing regressive bills to halt otherwise effective means of registering voters. The opportunity to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time, or Election Day Registration, is available in nine states, most of which exhibit above-average voter participation rates.  Republican-backed efforts to do away with EDR are reportedly underway in Montana, New Hampshire, andWisconsin.

Perhaps the most noncontroversial and effective way to reach large numbers of historically underrepresented, low-income citizens lies in Section 7 of the NVRA, but nationwide compliance with this law is inconsistent.  The NVRA requires public assistance agencies that provide services to low-income residents to offer voter registration services to their clients. However, in states like Louisiana, voter registration cards collected at these agencies have declined by as much as 88 percent since implementation in 1995.

On Wednesday, Project Vote, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and New Orleans attorney Ronald Wilson put Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler on notice for voting rights violations in the state.

The groups called on Schedler, the Dept. of Children and Family Services, and Dept. of Health and Hospitals, to take corrective action necessary to bring the state into compliance with the NVRA, citing evidence of the state denying numerous low-income residents of the opportunity to register to vote.

“In the past several years, lawsuits filed by Project Vote and other groups have forced other states that had been disregarding the NVRA to comply, with dramatic results,” according to the press release. “For example, applications from Missouri public assistance agencies skyrocketed, from fewer than 8,000 a year to over 130,000 a year, following settlement of a suit in that state in 2008. More than 200,000 low-income Ohioans have applied to register since a similar case was settled there in the end of 2009.”

Voter registration is the first, key step to getting involved in the democratic process. Whether provided by community-based groups or existing state and federal laws, lawmakers should focus on improving and fostering these methods of voter registration, not obstructing or ignoring them. Every eligible citizen should have equal access to the franchise in this country, and when millions rely on voter registration drives, government agency officials, and poll clerks on Election Day to provide that opportunity, we may want to rethink our approach to “fixing” the election system.

New challenges and new hopes- immigrant voters hold their own in the elections

From the Restore Fairness blog-

As election fever passes and the nation takes stock, one thing becomes clear – even as Republicans have taken control of the House and Democrats remain strong in the Senate, no one can afford to ignore the immigrant voter.

This election wasn’t about immigration – much of it was dominated by the issue of jobs and the economy. But the issue of immigration, even if it wasn’t front and center, did play a crucial role in winning Senate seats. In California, Meg Whitman’s strong anti-immigrant stance yielded no results, while in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet received support from Latino voters, and in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s positive stance on immigration brought in Latino voters who formed 16% of the entire electorate. In an analysis on the Washington Independent-

“Harry Reid beat out Sharron Angle (R), who ran a campaign that relied heavily on anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, and immigration hawk Tom Tancredo lost the race for Colorado governor… Angle claimed Reid supported a number of policies to help illegal immigrants and seemed to be attempting to capitalize on ethnic fears in ads that showed angry-looking Latino men set to dramatic, if untrue, statements. Tancredo also campaigned largely on immigration policy… Republican Meg Whitman lost to Democrat Jerry Brown. Whitman tried to reach out to Latino voters after her primary, but was hindered by allegations of mistreatment and illegal employment by an undocumented maid who worked for her for almost a decade.”

In a poll conducted by Latino Decisions with the support of National Council of La Raza, SEIU, and America’s Voice, among Latino voters in 8 states, they found that when asked whether the issue of immigration was an important factor in their decision to vote and in their choice of candidate, 60% of Latinos said it was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues, staying ahead of other important issues like education, taxes, and housing. In Nevada and Arizona, two of the states with the most polarizing immigration debates going on at the moment, sentiments were even stronger. 69% of Latino voters in both Arizona and Nevada said the immigration issue was one of the most important factors in their decision to vote, and who to vote for.  In Arizona, 40% said immigration was the single most important issue in their voting decisions, and 38% in Nevada said the same. Moreover, a high percentage of Latino voters said that their decisions to vote and who to vote for were also motivated by divisive immigration debates, and especially by anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment expressed in the electoral campaigns of candidates like Sharron Angle and Tom Tancredo.

The election results, particularly the Republican take over of the House, will have deep consequences for the future of immigration policy. With Lamar Smith, R-Texas slated to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee overseeing all immigration issues, and Steve King, R-Iowa heading the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, pressure for “increased border security and enforcement actions targeted at undocumented immigrants in the workplace” will increase. Mr. Smith’s track history around the issue of immigration over the past few years does not yield a pretty picture, with him supporting Arizona-Style Immigration Enforcement, measures to ending birthright citizenship and a push for mandatory E-Verify regulations. And judging by last weeks request by seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to “detail exactly how much funding” would be needed to “ensure that enforcement of the law occurs consistently for every illegal alien encountered and apprehended”, a strong pushback from Republicans in both the House and Senate would not be surprising.

But instead of running away from ugly bills, we need to confront them. Because looking at 2012, it is clear that no one, Republicans or Democrats, will be able to win an election without the strength of the immigrant voter, and particularly the Latino voter supporting them. Be it in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, this election has shown that in races with the Latino and immigrant vote, one can create victory and show strength.

It’s time to listen and stay fixed on the goal with a clear, progressive call for change that respects due process and fairness for all.

Photo courtesy of www.fronteras.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Jury Rules Immigrant’s Murder a Hate Crime, Even as Vicious Ads Continue to Stoke Racial Tensions

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Guest Blogger: Jackie Mahendra from America's Voice.

While the mainstream media has been largely absent, Latina Lista has been busy covering the dramatic trial of the two men charged with the hate crime killing of immigrant Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa. It turns out the 2008 murder was, indeed, a hate crime. 

A federal grand jury has convicted the two Pennsylvania men, in a verdict that many argue was long overdue.

On July 14, 2008, Ramirez was beaten to death by a group of teenagers who yelled racial epithets throughout the killing.  A retired Philadelphia police officer said she heard one of the defendants yell to Mr. Ramirez’s friends, “Tell your [expletive] Mexican friends to get the [expletive] out of Shenandoah or you’ll be [expletive] laying next to him.”  Defendants were reported to have yelled, “Go back to Mexico” as they beat him to death.

Despite the evidence, an all-white jury found two of the defendants “not guilty” of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation last year, to cheers in the courtroom and the astonishment of the Latino community.  The Federal government took up the case and finally justice was served.

Yet, two years after Ramirez' gruesome murder, we continue to see egregious examples of race-baiting and immigrant bashing for political gain. This campaign season, a number of candidates are running race-baiting campaign ads that demonize immigrants. They use extreme, anti-immigrant rhetoric instead of offering real solutions to our immigration crisis.  Republican Senate candidates David Vitter (R-LA) and Sharron Angle of Nevada are both running anti-immigrant ads that paint Latinos as dangerous criminals, freeloaders, and the enemies of "real" Americans.  

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Latinos rose 32% between 2003 and 2008 (the last year for which data is available), and groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have documented a correlation between anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Latino violence.

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:

Hateful campaign ads and rhetoric that demonize immigrants have no place in America today.  It’s as if some politicians think there is no cost for immigrant-bashing.  Well they are wrong.  This type of rhetoric creates a climate where violent crimes are committed against human beings simply because of the color of their skin.  Yesterday’s verdict in the Luis Ramirez murder is just, but it’s not nearly enough.  Politicians and pundits must stop using immigrants as scapegoats and instead use their microphones to spread a message of tolerance, humanity, and the need for common sense immigration reform.

In light of this tragic case, we believe it’s time for politicians and pundits to end the hateful rhetoric and immigrant bashing that has created a hostile climate for Latinos and encouraged hate crimes like the murder of Mr. Ramirez. Luis Ramirez lost his life because of the unaccountable, incendiary, and out-of-control immigration debate in this country.

Politicians who stoke racial fears and hatred need to realize that their rhetoric has severe -- but not unforeseen-- consequences.

The ruling on Luis Ramirez' murder should serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to end the politics of division and fear.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

Sharron Angle’s Black Day at Tonopah

People of Nevada, I feel your pain. I get it. Really I do. It’s not like Harry Reid has been worth much as Senate leader and I’m sure he’s sucked just as bad as your personal Senator. But fer Chrissakes, couldn’t you come up with someone to run against him other than Sharron Angle? Someone respectable, you know smart and cultured – I’m thinking Rush Limbaugh.

Angle is so spectacularly bad as a candidate and – well, let’s face it – quasi-sentient being that she actually makes The Grizzly Whisperer™ look like a genius. If you elect this woman to anything, much less the US Senate, your license plates will have to say, “Welcome to Nevada, the Moron State” as a mater of truth in advertising. And that’s saying something when you’re up against the competition from Texas and Arizona. I mean those people are real pros.

An Idiot That Keeps on Giving
Nary a day goes by that Over-Sharin’ Sharron doesn’t do or say something stupid. Reporters should only ask the questions she wants to hear and write stories that only she can approve. She thinks God called her to run for Senate, proving once again that God should hire a much better class of PR flaks for his domain. She doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state and accuses Democrats of being in violation of the First Amendment Commandment. Gadzooks Nevandans!

I’ve always believed that to be a success in life you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but use a personal yardstick to compare yourself to what you are capable of.  Angle clearly has some sort of weird metric mojo going on when it comes to her personal yardstick.

Case in point : She denies it now, but back in 1992 she came out foursquare against the scourge of black. Not black as in African American (although she doesn’t seem like a BFF of them either). Not black as in Black Friday. Not even – to employ a Nevadaism – blackjack. No, Sharron Angle is against black…the color. Specifically, the color of football jerseys at Tonopah High.

It’s evil. It’s close to sacrilege she said of a move to change the school’s jerseys to red. So evil in fact that she agitated to have the change repealed, the jerseys seized and put under lock and key, and the kids who bought them left holding the bag because the school wouldn’t reimburse them.

I suppose we could infer from this that Sharron would lead the charge against all sorts of other “colorism” too.

The Amish Are Evil
Priests and ministers would have to exorcise their black vestments. Amish folks would have to wear hot pink (because we all know what raving, hell-raising devil-worshipers they are). Black Flag insecticide would be verboten and the Oakland Raiders banned from the football field – although some would think that an improvement.

I’m used to politicians saying and doing stupid things. It is what they do and you can expect a certain amount of that from the sheer volume of hogswallop they spew. Talk enough and you’re bound to look like a goob occasionally. It’s an occupational hazard. But I’m aghast to say she easily snatches the Scepter of Stupidity from Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Even the unholy Troika of  Trolldom, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and all the Fox News blondie bubbleheads rolled into one, run a distant second.

So people of Nevada, take mercy on the rest of us. Harry’s worthless, but at least he’s emasculate. Sharron is so stupid she might even figure out how to be dangerous – although I admit I may be giving her mental powers more credit than they deserve. Don’t elect this pinhead. We already have enough trouble as it is. Good God, Newt Gingrich might even make a comeback and that would be worse than a lifetime supply of Glenn Beck reruns!

Elect Sharron Angle and it will be a black day for us all.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

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