Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Congress Secretly Voted Themselves a CRomnibus Luxury Car Perk (UPDATED)

Huffington Post, OpEdNews, 12-16-14

Over the weekend, the CRomnibus budget deal passed the Senate by a 56-40 margin after narrow approval by the House. The outcome is a win for big corporations and wealthy campaign donors, and a huge letdown for 99% of Americans, who once again have been shafted by back room negotiations and legislation written to favor the rich and powerful.

There's a lot to make ordinary citizens sick about the CRomnibus. Republicans used the legislation as an end-of-year Trojan Horse to pass numerous stealth provisions that benefit the few at the expense of the many. Two of the worst are rolling back Dodd-Frank financial regulations so banks can once again gamble with money insured by taxpayers, which re-opens the door to more bank bailouts; and further gutting campaign finance reform by letting rich donors give up to $1.5 million a year to political parties, ten times the current limit.

But the one CRomnibus secret that wasn't reported anywhere in the media until after the bill cleared both the House and Senate was that the budget deal renews a lucrative perk for members of Congress: the ability for each member to spend $1000 of our tax dollars per month per car on a luxury car allowance. The number of cars members can lease is limited only by the total pool of money funding Congressional operations.

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado was the first to alert the public to this perk's renewal, when he posted about it on Facebook last Wednesday, the day after House Republican leaders filed the legislation. The relevant language was hidden on page 982 of the 1,603-page bill:

"None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives to make any payments from any Members' Representational Allowance for the leasing of a vehicle, excluding mobile district offices, in an aggregate amount that exceeds $1,000 for the vehicle in any month."

At a time when U.S. families are finally getting their feet under them again after our economy's long climb back from the Great Recession, the audacity of Congress to vote itself a luxury perk like this is breathtaking. It passed only because it was buried in an enormous spending bill, with no public discussion or media coverage.

President Obama has said he will sign the CRomnibus, but he deserves to hear the American people's opinions about it. Act right now to tell President Obama to veto this deal, and send it back to Congress for an honest debate over its Congressional luxury car cash and many other unacceptable provisions. You can call the White House at 202-456-1111, or send him a quick e-mail using this tool powered by Represent.Us:

The silver lining in this battle was that it showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is willing to take on Wall Street and the super wealthy when it comes to fighting for the rest of us. The CRomnibus fight boosted her national profile overnight, and cemented her status as the Democrat who could most likely wrest the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Where was Hillary when the CRomnibus reared its ugly head? As Politico made clear, "Clinton has not commented on the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which Warren claims will undo (financial) reforms made under the Dodd-Frank law."

According to The Hill:

"The reason for Clinton's silence, some of her staunchest supporters say, is that she likely supported the spending bill — even if she didn't want to go on record with that support. 'I don't think she would have considered the legislation deeply flawed,' said one ally. 'She would have some issues with it, of course, and she'd think that it's not a perfect bill but I don't think she would have taken Warren's stance.'"

Other CRomnibus provisions that advance the GOP's agenda include allowing corporations to cut up to ten million workers' pensions; slashing $300 million from housing assistance to the homeless; reducing the EPA's budget by $60 million, which will lead to massive cutbacks and layoffs; and cutting $300 million from grants to low-income students.

It's good for the wealthy, the powerful, and Washington, D.C.'s luxury car rental companies. But the CRomnibus is bad for America, and President Obama needs to step up with his veto pen and do the right thing.

(UPDATE 11:30 pm: With little fanfare, earlier tonight President Obama signed the CRomnibus, a bill which also tonight was immortalized by Jon Stewart as unappealing enough to be the "Bill Cosby of legislation." Passage of the CROmnibus is sorry evidence of how corporate interests firmly control Washington, and how badly real change is needed.

President Obama's stated reason for signing it was that it was the best deal Democrats could get before the GOP assumes control of the Senate in January, and he was wrong. The GOP's brand is now so linked with government shutdowns that they don't want to be blamed for another. If more Democrats had stood unified and rejected the poison pill-packed CRomnibus, Republicans were prepared to pass a three month spending bill with current levels of funding, not shut the government down. As reported by The Hill:

"Republicans prepared a three-month stopgap spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, just in case anything went awry. 'That was always the fallback but we were going to do everything we could to pass the bill,' said one source."
Three months from now, Obama could have then insisted the GOP pass a longer-term budget stripped of the riders the Republicans had crammed into the CRomnibus to force their agenda through, or face a veto. The unpopular provisions it was packed with could never survive up and down votes on their own. Instead, he and Congressional Democrats got rolled again.)

(CORRECTION 12/18: An earlier version of this post misstated the taxpayer-subsidized vehicle perk as new for FY2015, not a renewal of an existing perk.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tell Congress To Reject CRomnibus Deal Allowing Rich To Buy More Elections (UPDATED)

Huffington Post, OpEdNews, 12-11-14

Not content with the loosened campaign finance rules made possible by Citizens United, the GOP is attempting to pass a stealth provision that would open the big money floodgates even further. Republican leaders added the measure at the last minute to the so-called "CRomnibus" spending bill now under consideration in Congress.

As reported by Politico:

"A provision tucked deep inside the $1.1-trillion spending bill filed by Republicans on Tuesday night would dramatically increase the amount of money a single rich donor could give to national party committees each year -- from $97,200 to as much as $777,600. The provision, inserted as a rider to the bill only hours before it was filed, would mark a further erosion of campaign cash restrictions."

The provision was hidden on page 1,599 of a 1,603-page bill. NBC News reported that House Speaker John Boehner, "along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (both) pushed for the campaign finance measure, according to an appropriations committee aide."

In a statement, campaign finance reform leader Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) put the blame where it belongs. "We're seeing a preview of the Mitch McConnell Senate," said Sarbanes.

"He's attempting to drastically expand the influence of the wealthy and well-connected without even introducing a bill, holding a hearing or allowing a direct vote. By tucking this into a 1,600-page funding bill, Mitch McConnell is essentially saying 'auction off our democracy or I'll shut down the government.'"

Act right now to tell your members of Congress to reject this deal, which would further increase the corrosive influence of big money on our democracy. You can send them a quick e-mail using this tool provided by Public Citizen:

The Hill's constantly updated whip count for this bill shows opposition growing among Democrats and even some Republicans. Observers agree Speaker Boehner needs a substantial chunk of House Democrats to support the spending bill in order for it to pass.

The House is expected to vote on the spending bill sometime on Thursday, with the Senate facing a midnight deadline to pass it. Republican leaders have said they would offer a substitute spending bill to fund the government through January if the CRomnibus is rejected.

Another measure in the bill would give taxpayer subsidies to Wall Street derivatives trading, as first reported by The Huffington Post. The office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called the deal a "Wall Street giveaway."

On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged Senate Democrats to oppose the spending bill, denouncing it as "a giveaway to most powerful banks in this country."

"This is a democracy, and the American people didn't elect us to stand up for Citigroup, they elected us to stand up for all the people," she said on the Senate floor.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are "deeply troubled" with the bill's measures. On Wednesday, Pelosi declared, "These provisions are destructive to middle class families and to the practice of our democracy. We must get them out of the omnibus package."

According to The Huffington Post:

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and other House members -- including Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) -- issued a joint release calling for the provision to be removed or else they would not support the bill."

An amendment offered by Rep. Deutch to remove the campaign finance provision from the CRomnibus spending bill was not adopted in a House Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday night.

Take five minutes today to e-mail and call your members of Congress. Tell them to reject this blatant attempt to allow the super wealthy to buy more elections!

UPDATES

(12:30 pm: Not a single Democrat voted to set up debate on the bill, which narrowly advanced Thursday morning by a one vote margin, 214-212. The Republican-controlled House will now vote on final passage of the bill this afternoon.)

(2:45 pm: Instead of pushing ahead with a vote, the House declared recess at 2 pm, a sign Republicans are scrambling to find enough votes to pass the spending bill. Keep contacting your House members and Senators.)

(3:30 pm: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued an open letter to her fellow Democrats saying the recess makes it clear that "Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus." Meanwhile, liberal Senate Democrats are lining up in opposition.)

(6:40 pm: Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, gathered about 20 members in her office Thursday afternoon and worked the phones, countering a White House push to convince wavering Democrats to back the bill. "We don't like lobbying that is being done by the president or anybody else that would allow us to support a bill that...would give a big gift to Wall Street and the bankers who caused this country to almost go into a depression," said Waters. "I'm opposed to it and we're going to fight it." House Democrats went into a closed-door caucus at 5:30 pm to weigh their options.)

(9:50 pm: The CRomnibus has passed the House. The final vote was 219-206, only one more vote than needed. Now it moves on to the Senate. If the House had rejected it, the Senate leadership was prepared to quickly pass a three-month continuing resolution funding the government. Instead, as reported by CNN, "the Senate will agree to a two day extension of current funding levels to give itself time to approve the House bill." So the fight continues into the weekend.)

(Friday, 10:50 am: Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants a vote on the spending bill by this evening, although the deadline for action before a shutdown is now pushed back to midnight Saturday. Whether a vote proceeds today or not depends on "possible delays prompted by Democrats who want to air complaints over contentious provisions" in the bill. We need to keep contacting our Senators.)

(Friday, 10:30 pm: The Senate has recessed without a vote on the CRomnibus. Earlier today, it passed a voice vote extending the government's current funding through midnight Wednesday. According to CBS News, a cloture vote to end debate is expected Monday when the Senate returns to work. Today, Sen. Warren introduced an amendment to strip out the bill's Wall Street giveaways. But Sen. Harry Reid shut down that option when he "made a procedural move Friday evening that would set up a vote on final passage in the Senate no later than Monday," as reported by CNN.

"By making the procedural move, Reid prevented...amendments from being considered. Amendment votes could have been risky because if (any) passed, the spending bill would have to go back to the House to be voted on again. While the House is technically in session, most members have left Washington until the new Congress convenes in early January."

Let's stand with Sen. Warren and keep calling the Senate. The toll-free number for the Capitol switchboard is 1-888-291-9824.)

(Saturday, 6:15 pm: The Senate recessed Friday night without a vote on the CRomnibus, but came back into session today. Before the recess, a small faction of Tea Party Senators led by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz attempted to force a vote on President Obama's immigration executive orders, and used procedural tactics late Friday night that delayed a previously agreed-to voice vote extending the government's current funding through midnight Wednesday. That funding extension was finally passed this afternoon.)

(Saturday, 10:40 pm: In an unexpected move, Senate leaders reached an agreement on moving the CRomnibus vote forward tonight instead of Monday. The bill passed by a 56-40 vote, and now heads to President Obama's desk, who plans to sign it.

The silver lining in this battle was that it showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren is willing to take on Wall Street and the super wealthy when it comes to fighting for the American people.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CIA Torture Report Confirms Bush Hurt Anti-Terror Fight

The release of the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture methods confirms that former President George W. Bush sacrificed our country's values and demeaned our most cherished principles of justice, and for what? Ineffective torture that did more harm than good.

Instead of helping keep America safe, torture hurt the fight to stop terrorist plots, according to the report. Authorities were repeatedly sent on wild goose chases when false confessions yielded bad intel and phony information.

As reported by USA Today:

"The use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and chaining prisoners in cold dungeons led some detainees to give false confessions, sending U.S. law enforcement officials in the wrong direction as they chased bad information, the report says. One detainee interrogated by the CIA falsely confessed to trying to recruit African-American Muslims in Montana — a state where blacks make up less than 1% of the population.

The report also refutes claims by the CIA that its harsh 'enhanced interrogation techniques' helped gain information that lad to the U.S. capture and killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. That information was actually elicited before the detainees were subjected to those methods, the report said."

Five years in the making, the Intelligence Committee report draws on more than 6 million pages of CIA documents. As expected, the declassified summary of the report condemns the methods used by the CIA to torture and imprison terrorism suspects under the Bush Administration, while concluding the information gained by torture didn't help stop terror plots. According to The New York Times:

"During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda. The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.'s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden."

Top Republicans claimed the report's release by the still-Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee was "unconscionable," in the words of Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. But the only thing unconscionable about releasing the CIA torture report is the torture it reveals. On this issue, even former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to stand up for the truth, owing to his history as a former POW and victim of torture at the hands of his captors during the Vietnam War. "The American people have a right - indeed the responsibility - to know what was done in their name," said McCain.

The real travesty is that by torturing terrorism suspects, the Bush Administration needlessly violated what America stands for in exchange for useless, unreliable information. For years, Bush apologists have insisted the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by George W. Bush's appointees were not torture, ignoring the verdicts of independent watchdog groups like Human Rights Watch and meticulous documentation by investigative journalists. Now there can be no doubt it was torture all along.

#CIA #TortureReport

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rick Santorum Wishes Obama Was More Like Jesse Helms

HuffPo 11-19-14, OpEdNews 11-22-14

This week, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced he'd make a decision next year about running for the White House again in 2016. Last week, while guest hosting a right-wing talk radio show in Iowa, the ultra-conservative former Pennsylvania Senator gave the country a glimpse of what a Santorum presidency might look like.

Over the air, Santorum lamented the "breakup of any kind of cooperation in Washington D.C.," and said "this president is very much to blame for this," because Obama hasn't been enough of a gentleman. Unlike the late Republican Senator from North Carolina and hate-mongering demagogue Jesse Helms.

"There was no one nicer than Jesse Helms," said Santorum. "I mean, I don't think a single Democrat would tell you that on a personal level, there was anybody that was more gentlemanly, more kind than Jesse. He stood up for what he believed in, but he was always a gentleman about it."

This echoed the controversial comments made by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last year, when he told a crowd at the Heritage Foundation that Helms was the first political candidate he had ever donated to, and "we need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate." He'll have at least one new Helms clone by his side next year, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, who managed to hide her extreme right-wing views from enough voters to win a Senate seat. Santorum campaigned for Ernst in early November, telling volunteers her victory would "set a tone for 2016."

Santorum and Cruz are Helms' ideological descendants, so it's not surprising they would speak highly of the man. But as sane observers are well aware, the real Jesse Helms spent more than five decades stirring the pot of bigotry and hatred to win elections and further his political career.

Ten lowest points of Helms' shameful legacy include:

(1) Creating scurrilous, race-baiting ads and handbills in 1950 for a white segregationist candidate.

(2) Denouncing the civil rights movement in TV and radio commentaries broadcast in North Carolina throughout the 1960s.

(3) Defeating his Greek-American opponent in 1972 in part by using the slogan, "Jesse Helms: He's One of Us!"

(4) Distributing tens of thousands of leaflets in 1976 during the Reagan-Ford primary fight in N.C. that alleged Gerald Ford was considering picking a black running mate.

(5) Opposing and delaying every effort ever proposed to impose U.S. sanctions on South Africa over apartheid, no matter how mild.

(6) Filibustering against renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982.

(7) Spending 16 days filibustering against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday in 1983, and ending up the only Senator to vote against it.

(8) Using shameless gay-bashing and fears of Jesse Jackson registering black voters to win re-election in 1984.

(9) Unleashing a wave of blistering, race-baiting attack ads against his 1990 black Democratic challenger Harvey Gantt, including some of the most racially divisive political advertising of modern times.

And finally, perhaps Helms' greatest crime:

(10) Leading the opposition in the U.S. Senate to increased federal funding for AIDS research all throughout the 1980s, which left real blood on Helms' hands, because even a modest increase in spending could have saved tens of thousands of gay Americans who died horrible, painful deaths in the years before effective AIDS drugs were developed.

But according to Santorum, we shouldn't believe Helms' well-documented history of fearmongering and inflaming racial tensions, because he was a politician who exhibited "probably the starkest contrast of what the press used to portray and what the reality was."

While on the subject of Jesse Helms, Santorum also told listeners how fondly he remembers the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the man who blamed gays, feminists, and the ACLU for the 9/11 attacks. At the time of his death in 2007, Falwell was described as "a founder and leader of America's anti-gay industry" by Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

During the 1980s, Falwell's Moral Majority PAC raised $69 million for GOP candidates and claimed to speak on behalf of 6.5 million members. It helped elect presidents Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988, and re-elect Sen. Helms in 1984. Falwell founded the Moral Majority in the 1970s to organize evangelical Christians behind conservative Republican candidates, and claimed it was Roe v. Wade that sparked his movement. Yet the so-called "Religious Right" he helped lead first came together to preserve the right of Christian schools to maintain racial segregation.

The divisive political figures Santorum admires tell us all we need to know about how he would lead America if ever given the chance. Hopefully we've come too far as a country to go back to the days when far right-wing demagogues using religion to cloak their narrow-minded agendas were guiding our national politics. We can be thankful Santorum's chances to succeed as a presidential candidate are remote, and his time on the national stage will eventually end up in the dustbin of history alongside the chapters on Helms and Falwell, where they all belong.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How The GOP Blocked The Vote In North Carolina

OpEdNews, 11-24-14

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Over the summer and into the fall, while polls showed other Senate Democrats in swing states like Colorado and Iowa falling behind their GOP challengers, incumbent North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan had consistently clung to a small lead.

In the end, Hagan lost by less than two points, defeated 48.8 percent - 47.3 percent by her Republican opponent Thom Tillis, Speaker of the GOP-led N.C. House.

Here are three reasons Democratic voter turnout missed the mark on election night:

(1) Black voters turned out at record levels, but their votes weren't enough.

After the GOP seized control of the North Carolina legislature in 2010, and won the Governor's mansion in 2012, they pushed through the nation's most restrictive new voting laws. Experts described them as the worst voter suppression measures passed by any state since the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965.

Besides mandating unreasonably strict Voter ID provisions (no student ID's, no public employee ID's) and cutting one week of early voting, they repealed several laws designed to make voting easier and more convenient for citizens that had been in place for years. Same-day voter registration during early voting and out-of-precinct voting on election day were both abolished. These efforts to block the vote may have provided Tillis with his margin of victory, and have been universally recognized as a blatant attempt to make it more difficult for core Democratic constituencies to cast ballots, including African-Americans, low income voters, and students.

In response, North Carolina's black community and progressive allies organized to fight back. One of the largest ever efforts to mobilize black voters in North Carolina in a non-presidential year was launched, spearheaded by Democrats, voting rights groups, and the state NAACP. And even with President Obama not on the ballot, African-American voters still turned out for Kay Hagan.

In Durham County, a bastion of black and white liberal voters in North Carolina, Hagan received 70,601 votes, or 76.6 percent of the votes cast. Mecklenburg County is home to Charlotte, the state's largest city, and another source of black voting strength. Democrats and independent voters outnumber Republicans there by 3-1. Hagan got 156,533 votes in Mecklenburg, or 59.2 percent to Tillis' 38.1 percent.

Durham and Mecklenburg counties alone delivered 50,000 more votes for Hagan than were cast there for Democratic nominee for Senate Elaine Marshall in 2010.

Exit polls showed black voters were 21 percent of the North Carolina electorate this year, which equaled their numbers in 2008, when Barack Obama narrowly won North Carolina, and only slightly down from 23 percent in 2012. Fully 96 percent of them chose Hagan.

But their numbers fell short, because:

(2) Partly due to a relentless attack ad barrage funded by right-wing outside groups, Hagan's support shrank among white voters.

Hagan got just 33 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls, a drop from the 39 percent she received in 2008 when she was first elected to the Senate. That year, Hagan won white voters age 18-29 by a margin of 60 percent - 36 percent, but in 2014, they voted for Republican Thom Tillis by 56 percent - 32 percent. White voters who didn't attend college made up 35 percent of the electorate, and they backed Tillis by a crushing 69 percent - 25 percent.

Through most of the summer, Hagan maintained a small lead in the polls by hitting Tillis hard for his role in cutting the state's education budget. In early October, Tillis threw everything he had at Hagan in a bid to improve his poll numbers among white voters. He began attacking her over foreign policy, exploiting voters' fears about the Islamic State's military gains in Iraq and Syria and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He also tied her to a phony controversy over stimulus grants that went to a company co-owned by her husband.

Tillis started gaining traction with ads that called Hagan out for missing an Armed Services Committee hearing back in February where the Islamic State was discussed. Karl Rove's dark money group Crossroads GPS followed suit. One featured the mother of a Marine who told viewers, "It makes me so mad to see how the President's weakness has allowed the Islamic State to grow. And Senator Hagan? She just goes right along with him." The ad closed with a hard-hitting plea: "We can't let our kids die in vain. We have to change our Senator."

   

   

In a state with a strong military presence, polls showed the message had an impact. Support for Tillis ticked slightly upwards. Exit polls revealed the 16 percent of N.C. voters who were veterans chose Tillis over Hagan by 55 percent - 43 percent. The 11 percent of voters who thought foreign policy was the nation's top issue went with Tillis by a 68 percent - 31 percent margin.

The Tillis campaign tried to spin their win as due to their targeting of "GOP areas where their voters turned out in past elections but they felt more could vote." Tillis' chief campaign strategist Paul Shumaker "pointed to places such as Rowan, Cabarrus and Catawba counties."

Actually, in these three heavily white counties, Tillis received 1500 less votes than N.C.'s senior Republican Senator Richard Burr in 2010, and nearly 7500 more votes were cast for Hagan than for Burr's challenger Elaine Marshall.

The areas supposedly key to Tillis' victory instead illustrate how statewide, Tillis did worse than the last Republican to win a Senate race in a midterm election by about 35,000 votes, and Hagan got nearly a quarter million more votes than the last unsuccessful Democratic Senate candidate. Tillis didn't turn out more white voters than in 2010, but he benefited because too few white Democrats were fired up enough about Kay Hagan to vote this year.

(3) Not enough young voters turned out.

All 18-29 year-olds backed Hagan 53 percent - 39 percent, but they only made up 12 percent of voters, down from 16 percent in 2012. Voter support for Tillis roughly increased with age levels, and senior citizens age 65 and older favored him by a margin of 57 percent - 42 percent. Senior voters made up 23 percent of the electorate, with nearly twice as many casting ballots as 18-29 year-olds.

One reason for such low turnout by young voters was the state's new restrictive voting laws. As part of their strategy to suppress the Democratic vote, N.C. Republicans made special efforts to discourage students from voting. Under the new Voter ID statute, college student ID's are unacceptable. Students now need a North Carolina driver's license or special state-issued ID in order to vote, which created huge obstacles to participation by out-of-state students. Republican-controlled local election boards in counties with large universities moved early voting sites off campuses and pushed through other changes that made it harder for students to get to the polls.

The state's abolition of same-day registration during early voting left untold numbers of people unable to vote simply because they had moved within N.C. since the last time they voted. They were turned away from the polls when they went to update their addresses during early voting, a practice that had been allowed for years before this election.

This deliberate attempt to make it harder to vote disproportionately affected young people, students and non-students alike, because they move more often. But it also disenfranchised older citizens like disabled veteran Bryan McGowan, who served 22 years in the Marine Corps, including four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was prevented from voting on October 23 in Western North Carolina.

What happened this year to Bryan and other N.C. voters like him is a mockery of democracy. But the GOP can't be sure of winning races any other way. And their attempts to fix the game further in their favor in North Carolina have now led to a truly unfortunate election result for America.

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