Does Truth Matter Anymore

My “official” occupation is to study the past and to make the past relevant for today and for tomorrow. Feel free to insert your own clichés about the foibles of history and the dangers of not knowing history.

As a professor of history, as someone who has worked in various areas at different levels of government, as someone who has worked every capacity, save being the candidate, himself in campaigns and elections, and as someone who took advantage of early voting and has already cast his ballots, these midterm 2014 elections have been the most frustrating, aggravating, insane, ludicrous, despicable, and so on, that I have ever encountered. I always thought back home and the “Vote for the Crook: It’s Important” gubernatorial runoff between Edwin Edwards and David Duke would be the most ridiculous pulling the lever for the lesser of two evils election during my lifetime.

Vote for the Crook

Edwin Edwards bumper sticker during his gubernatorial campaign against David Duke.

The year 2014 goes beyond that election cycle in my opinion with the propaganda, rhetoric, and so many Americans seemingly ceasing to think of themselves as Americans but as loyalists to a political party. Modern political party loyalty to this degree seems unmatched since that in the South during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.

This blind allegiance to party affiliation scares the intestinal crud out of me. Many candidates could win their elections in a landslide merely by switching party affiliation. That’s how scary the effectiveness of propaganda followed by the blind acceptance of suppression has been to this point in 2014.

Now I’ve written about voter fraud and voter ID many times.

Today’s propaganda plays on this fear of people not eligible to vote casting multiple ballots and this assumption that requiring the display of a photo ID will stop this fraud. As I’ve noted previously, even if this type of fraud did occur and occurred widespread statistically it would have minimal effect on our elections. People can cite individual occurrences in rebuttal, but the fact is that overwhelming proof of such fraud does not exist.

I’m not rehashing the studies cited in the previous writings, but with all the accusations why aren’t there more prosecutions by these GOP District Attorneys, Attorney Generals, and majority legislative bodies if they had evidence beyond what typically becomes unsubstantiated allegations?

Other types of election fraud such as that which occurs by technological glitches at the polling places, “stuffing of ballot boxes,” and the counting of ballots can alter elections and does happen. Unfortunately it is not that easy to catch.

Media and blogs went ballistic over the video from Arizona of a man stuffing ballot boxes.

To its credit The Blaze did update their story on the ballot box stuffing.

In Arizona, “People can bring in someone else’s ballot if those people are willing to trust that individual. There’s no law against bringing in ballots and placing them in the receptacle for early ballots” (Yvonne Reed spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Elections Department).

Voter ID, however, would not address this type of fraud which did not take place at this time in Arizona but sadly does occur without the media spotlight. Voter ID does not solve malfunctioning electronic voting devices. Often malfunctioning equipment is unintentional but at times it is not. That’s one reason why I always had poll watchers at every polling location for candidates with whom I worked. Many of these problems can be corrected on the spot. Unfortunately some prefer to use the allegations for their own agenda’s because the accusations prove to be more powerful than the truth or solutions. The following contains multiple examples.

From historical perspectives and personal observations from working at elections, the simplest and most effective type of fraud is voter suppression. By whatever means, you simply prevent certain groups from casting ballots. It can happen via intimidation at the ballot box or more subtle means such as changing locations and requirements through the legal process. The legal process approach predates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, occurred during the enforcement of that Act, and continues with the recent SCOTUS decisions rendering portions of that Act mute.

Propaganda machines convey that you cannot function in the United States without a photo ID.

How many times have I seen advertisements showing minorities or destitute individuals of any ethnicity seeking government services as “proof” that everyone needs photo ID? I’ve seen and heard these types of arguments too many times for my sanity.

Why do those arguments drive me nuts?

  • The arguments ignore reality.

Despite the images and the rhetoric, the reality, however, is that the people most disenfranchised by Voter ID are senior citizens of all races.

It doesn’t take book learning, having a Post Hole Digging degree, or anything beyond just some simple thought to figure out why these laws hurt senior citizens. Many senior citizens stop driving for a variety of valid reasons. They don’t need a driver’s license. In some states an official ID expires. For many why even bother with the ID? They have other forms of identification which suffice for their activities. Many no longer have and often never had documents such as birth certificates which they did not need to obtain a driver’s license 50 years ago.

Heck in some states many people my age and younger technically don’t have “official” IDs.  Louisiana driver’s license does not comply with the REAL ID ACT of 2005.  Military, college, work IDs are not deemed valid in some cases for voting. If you got married and changed your name, or if you moved as far as across the street then your ID is no longer “official” until you find the time to enjoy the wait at the local DMV branch or equivalent in your state.

AARP produced an informative piece a few years ago, “Can We Still Vote?”

I know. Propaganda alert, I’ve been told those documents are easy to get. The wait at the DMV office really ain’t that long. It just happened to be too long when I was there. Yep, that’s the end all retort in the rhetoric world.

The truth is that many older Americans never had birth certificates registered. Even if a birth certificate exists, have you ever tried to find and get a copy of one without using modern technology? Remember that many of these people survived without the internet and even those luxuries of electricity and running water. Some are homebound.

Oh, the above is so the above is still my propaganda. Please consider this 2006 survey sponsored by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law.

Keep in mind that telephone surveys of this type during that period typically underrepresent lower income households.

Much commentary about this survey is available on Moyers and Company. Here are a couple of examples:

The Center for Social Inclusion with funding assistance from the Ford Foundation and the W.K Kellogg Foundation among others produced Citizens Denied: The Impact of Photo ID Laws on Senior Citizens of Color in November 2012.

I have graduate hours in statistics so I know how easy it is to manipulate stats to “prove” a point, so here are some personal stories of seniors having to fight to keep from getting disenfranchised.

Yes I’ve read many of the comments placing the blame on these elderly citizens and people caring for them. The internet solves everything. These people are just unwilling to sacrifice a little to vote. My response to that attitude is Nutria Nuts!

Seriously, I find it shameful that these senior citizens are considered lazy for not getting these new “ducks in a row” to cast ballots as they have done for a greater length of time than many of us have been alive.

Apparently it is not an inconvenience for the elderly to obtain transportation and wait for who knows how long in attempts to receive what is deemed proper documentation. Apparently everyone has internet access and knowledge, available transportation, and resources to obtain such documentation. Yep, the legitimate voters would never complain about such inconveniences or requirements. My retort remains Nutria Nuts or how ‘bout Gator Gonads or Pig Puddles.

Apparently overcoming such hardships without complaints is the American way. Possibly, but use your preferred search engine with the phrase NRA Hat and voting or some similar wording.  I’m linking an NBC affiliate’s story.

He was asked to remove his hat with an NRA logo before voting.

Now I give the gentleman credit for simply complying with the request to cast his ballot. Whether or not his hat was a political statement, I can’t say. For me it would depend on how prominent the NRA is for the races on the Douglass County Georgia ballots. Now even if the NRA logo were on election signs for respective candidates and as long as the gentleman was only wearing his cap and not doing anything to gain the attention of others in a manner that might influence their ability to cast their ballots, I don’t think his hat mattered in the grand scheme of things.

I do not blame the precinct workers, however, for doing anything wrong. As a poll watcher during the “Vote for a Crook” election (I was there for a candidate in a local race and not the gubernatorial election), a somewhat similar situation took place with a number of people entering the high school gym which was the polling precinct wearing Duke University shirts. One man I knew well and given the fact that he didn’t see the need for “book learning,” I doubted that his kids or grandkids left Louisiana to attend Duke or that he supported Coach K and the Blue Devils.

Still in Georgia:

“But this time, a poll worker told Cobb to take off the hat, or leave.

“She said, ‘Your hat has NRA on it.’ I said, ‘What’s that got to do with anything?’ She said, ‘It’s perceived to be Republican Party.’ I said, ‘That ain’t right. That don’t make no sense.’ I complied so I could to go in there and vote.”

Cobb hopes the Georgia Secretary of State will rule the hat is not a political statement.

“I’m hoping they’ll change the way they look at it, and not, you know, harrass people when they go in there to vote.”

Go to many of these “conservative” publications, and it seems that being asked to remove a cap is not only an unacceptable inconvenience but a suppression of rights. That is harassment?

I have no clue as to his political leanings, but I would have loved to have seen Paul “Bear” Bryant’s (the football coach) reactions in that court house. As a kid I remember Coach always wearing a hat except for when Alabama played in the Sugar Bowl. Bear Bryant’s Mom told him that it was disrespectful to wear a hat indoors. Hence he would not wear his hat inside the Superdome. My graduate school director, a Duke graduate, had a similar opinion about hats. You did not wear a baseball cap inside of his classrooms if you wanted to remain. You did not wear a hat inside his house or office. With my flattops and buzz cuts, I’m fairly immune to hat hair but I wear baseball caps practically everywhere. It was neither an inconvenience nor an affront to me to respect and abide by my Professor’s feelings on the matter. His Mama taught him the same way as the Bear’s Mama taught him, and regardless of one’s beliefs and even if you ain’t no Southern boy few want to disrespect anyone’s Mama.

Why would anyone want to make it more difficult for senior citizens to vote?

  1. Could it be that many senior citizens are more informed about how the legislative process works as to who has the power to do what and what can and cannot be done according to the duties of that office?
  2. Could it be that some candidates are supporting raising the age limits on Social Security and cutting benefits earned by these senior citizens back when they worked full time?

The propaganda machine is not only trying to eliminate senior citizens from reaching the polls.

Aljazeera America produced this report entitled Jim Crow Returns just the other day.

Some will play up the proverbial race card.

“Republicans are calling on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to apologize after she suggested Thursday that President Barack Obama’s deep unpopularity in the South is partly tied to race.

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Landrieu was quoted as saying that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”

The comments came after an NBC reporter asked the senator why Obama has such low approval ratings in Louisiana. Landrieu’s first response was that the president’s energy policies are deeply disliked by residents of the oil and gas-rich state.

She then added, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

Republicans are calling Mary Landrieu’s remark an insult to the people of Louisiana because she is saying that the people are racist. Personally I heard the Senator stating a historical fact. I don’t believe that oppression to the degree and of the type of the 1950s and 1960s exists, but subtle discrimination both intentional and unintentional still occurs. Fortunately the violent radicals seem to have decreased in number, but blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, and every race, nationality, ethnicity, skin color, gender, orientation, religious belief, weight, height, appearance, has different factors which may or may not have a greater influence on what they do or what they believe. So much depends upon the circumstances.

Now I’ve read and been told countless times by individuals that they do not oppose the President because he is black, or half black, but they oppose his policies.

I have no problems with that, but I do have concerns when that opposition is not based on actual policies and events but on political rhetoric and propaganda.

In talks I use the following phrase about Barack Obama as President: “He is danged if he does and danged if he doesn’t.” Look at these remarks from Congressman Cedric Richmond, state representative Katrina Jackson, and former state representative Al Ater in the newspaper account.

“In defense of Landrieu, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond said, “I think it would be great if we lived in a post-racial society, but we don’t.” A New Orleans Democrat, Richmond is the only black member of the state’s delegation in Congress.

“The only way we can get to a post-racial society is by recognizing that we still have some work to do to get there,” he said.

As for Landrieu’s implication that Obama’s race played a role in the opposition to him, Richmond said, “She was just speaking to the reality of some of the challenges that this president has faced that others have not.

“At some point,” he said, “we have to at least look at the disrespect level of this president compared to other presidents.”

State Rep. Katrina Jackson, a Monroe Democrat who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said Landrieu simply “stated the obvious” in her NBC interview. “Did she make a statement that wasn’t historically accurate? No.”

Former Democratic state Rep. Al Ater, a white farmer and cotton merchant from outside Ferriday, also said Landrieu was telling it like it is — “and that’s not calling Louisiana a racist state.”

“Unfortunately, you can go into any country store in the South and find somebody who will say derogatory remarks about the race of the president,” Ater said.

“I hear it every single day of my life — a very inflammatory word, describing that you-know-what president, and that is a hard, cold fact.

“I am not proud of it, and I love my state. And you can go to Washington, D.C., or Massachusetts and hear the same thing, and that in itself shows we still have a long way to go in America.”

Me, I think back to this poll conducted by Public Policy Polling which found that 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans blamed Barack Obama for the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina while 28 percent blamed the actual President in 2005, George W. Bush.

Yes Public Policy Polling leans toward Democrats, but 29 percent and 44 percent unsure as to which President to blame for events in 2005? Again statistics can be twisted to support any position, but look some of the other policies of Barack Obama and his intentions that they oppose.

  1. Obama does not support the 2nd Amendment will take all our guns.
  2. Obama keeps spending money we don’t have.
  3. Obama keeps raising our taxes.
  4. Obamacare.

I could go on it seems like forever.

  • Supposedly Michelle Obama made a law all by herself to destroy school lunches. I reckon that it’s evil to support better nutrition and healthier lifestyles. I reckon that any of us private citizens can enact and implement any law that we want since she could.

Lies that Michelle Obama wants to be paid for being First Lady.

It’s a sad joke up here in Washington that a certain way to obtain Congressional funding to help discover cures for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and so on is for President Obama to issue a statement that he opposes medical research. It’s sad because a lot of truth exists in that ludicrous observation.

If Obama has not been able to seize your guns in 6 years like the NRA said would happen, then how is he going to accomplish that in 2 years? I guess nobody is deer hunting this season and gun manufactures have all gone out of business.

Given how everyone is an authority on the Constitution, I would think that more people would admit that the “power of the purse” resides in the House of Representatives.

I reckon that Congress has nothing to do with taxes either. I reckon that looking at historical tax rates mean nothing.

Those temporary Bush tax cuts were temporarily longer than one would have thought, but if you reduce intake sooner or later you have to either decrease what goes out or increase what comes in. Again Congress should have some involvement, but in the propaganda world it’s only the President and Democrats.

Obamacare or ACA, I’ve written on a number of times.

The rising costs are Obama’s fault I hear. Unfortunately costs have been rising since before Obamacare.

Rising Health Care Costs

Health Insurance Costs have been rising, but they were rising before Obama became President. Were your employers increasing your wages to compensate for the additional costs? Were healthcare providers seeking less in payment? Was your insurance company decreasing your out of pocket expenses before Obama?

I’d like to think that deep in the back of our noggins we might unintentionally discredit or discriminate for whatever reason and just don’t realize what we are doing.

I’d like to think that because the alternative is that we can easily be bought, manipulated, and corrupted.

The alternative is that we lack the ability to think for ourselves and to seek out the facts for ourselves. The reality is that we really don’t care about honesty and common sense.

  • Congressman Cassidy, casting a vote for you because of Harry Reid and Barack Obama is not common sense as you suggest.
  • Colonel Maness, sir how much does Sarah Palin actually know about the state of Louisiana? If our legislative processes actually worked as many of your endorsers claim, why would you alone be able to make changes using their methods when they have repeatedly failed?

I guess that’s why people are working so hard to decrease the number of senior citizens voting. They have enough experience to recognize these tricks. I guess that’s why all these state races focus on Obama and not about the credentials of the candidates.

Does the truth matter anymore or should we just accept the propaganda and do as ordered by unknown people hiding within the Super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups?

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