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These States Are Poised to Risk Eliminating Secure Votes with New Electronic Voting Machines

June 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, Independent Media Institute

A handful of states may not embrace transparency tools.


For the first time in a dozen years, states are looking at replacing their aging voting machines and related computer systems. But a survey of the early legislative debates surrounding this prospect suggests that some states are not heeding advice from federal officials, academics and other experts saying that ink-marked paper-ballot systems are the wisest foundation for the most secure and verifiable elections.

This apparent dichotomy comes as states and the federal government have made an unprecedented effort to ramp up cyber-security precautions and training before 2018’s fall midterms, and as the voting machine industry is offering products that offer striking new options to make vote-counting more transparent and trustable.

The open question is whether legislators and election officials are looking to embrace newer technology and verification protocols, or whether they are drawn to more opaque systems that they have grown familiar with—and which are commercially available. As always is the case with 3,069 counties running America’s elections, there is a range of inclinations on voting modernization.

“I think there is a real variety. It varies according to the state,” said Marian Schneider, president of the Verified Voting Foundation and former Deputy Secretary of Elections and Administration in Pennsylvania. “I think there’s a risk that [some] states are going in that direction [sticking with legacy technologies]. I will say that especially in states that have used paperless DREs [direct recording equipment—or touch-screen computers] since 2002 and 2004. There’s a comfort level there that they don’t want to give up.”

In April, Congress appropriated $380 million to help states with cyber-security efforts in response to Russian meddling in 2016. While most of those funds have gone to hardening the computer systems that comprise the voting process—from voter registration databases to programming systems for the latest election to vote tabulators—some states have set aside some funds toward replacing their voting machinery. Even though Congress’s action is the first since 2002 for voting infrastructure, the appropriation is far from enough for states to fully modernize.

Still, the funding has prompted …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Conservative Columnist George Will Publishes a Striking Directive: 'Vote Against the GOP This November'

June 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The former Republican offers a decisive case for voting Democratic in the midterms.


Conservative columnist George Will is hoping President Donald Trump's horrifying zero-tolerance policy on the border that led to the separation of thousands of kids from their parents will be the last straw for many people planning to vote Republican in the 2018 midterms.

In a striking op-ed for the Washington Post, Will made his point directly in the headline: “Vote against the GOP this November.”

“The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers,” he writes. “The Republican-controlled Congress, which waited for Trump to undo by unilateral decree the border folly they could have prevented by actually legislating, is an advertisement for the unimportance of Republican control.”

Trump's malicious and incompetent border policies are just the beginning of Will's problems with the Republican Party.

He rails against the Republicans' refusal to curtail the president's abuse of his congressionally granted tariff powers. He is equally scathing toward Stephen Miller and Corey Lewandowski, two of the most corrosive figures in Trump's orbit.

“Meaningless noise is this administration’s appropriate libretto because, just as a magnet attracts iron filings, Trump attracts, and is attracted to, louts,” he writes.

He is almost equally disdainful of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “Ryan traded his political soul for . . . a tax cut.”

Essentially, his argument boils down to this. The president is out of control, and Congress currently provides no check on his powers. To those who oppose the legislative agenda Democratic majorities would pursue, Will points out that they would hold little power to accomplish much of anything without the presidency or supermajority control of the Senate.

“So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him,” he writes. “And to those who say, 'But the judges, the judges!' the answer is: Article III institutions are not more important than those of Articles I and II combined.”

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Tries to Convince Americans of Lie That Immigrants Are Dangerous by Exploiting Families Who Suffered Violence

June 22, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

The president told attendees that the United States has “weakest” immigration laws in “history of the world.” That is also a lie.


In a desperate attempt to salvage his immigration policy and restore his reputation as being “strong” on immigration, President Trump Friday afternoon hosted “angel families,” families of victims of undocumented immigrants. Earlier this week, after increasing national and international outrage over his placing babies and children in internment camps and cages, Trump paused his policy of separating migrant children from their undocumented parents.

“These are the American victims permanently separated from their loved ones,” Trump said at the event, mimicking the “separated” language of migrant children taken from their undocumented parents. He also suggested those children are separated from their parents for only one or two days. Later, one of the family members suggested migrant children are separated from their families five or 10 days. The average is nearly two months.

The president told attendees that the United States has “the weakest” immigration laws “in the history of the world.” That is a lie.

He also claimed that undocumented immigrants commit more crimes than U.S. citizens, and suggested that all undocumented immigrants “continuously get into trouble and do bad things.” Those, too are false.

Citing what he said was a 2011 government report, Trump rattled off numbers of seven-year old crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. He did not explain why he was not using more recent statistics.

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Watch Tom Arnold Offer a Cryptic Warning on MSNBC About Michael Cohen 'Flipping' on Trump

June 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The comedian — who has taken a strongly anti-Trump stance — seems to be curiously friendly with the president's former attorney.


Rumors about President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen cooperating with federal investigators have been swirling around for months now, but Tom Arnold — who is known to have recently spent time with Cohen — gave hints Friday on MSNBC that he may have already decided to turn against the president.

Arnold appeared with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” to discuss his efforts to bring down the president. 

“Is he going to cooperate with — did he say anything that made you think he's going to cooperate with prosecutors?” Wallace asked, referring to Cohen. 

Arnold seemed hesitant to answer like he was holding something important back.

“He's going to do… here's what I know,” Arnold said. “He's going to take care of his family, his country, us, the rest of us Jews. Donald Trump is not. He's done. He knows Donald Trump — Donald Trump does not care about him. He does not care about his family, and it's over. He also doesn't want me — he doesn't want to be harassed by Donald Trump because he is the president of the United States still, and he probably has a bunch of dudes. But Michael Cohen is going to take care of his family and his country first. That's all you need to know. Think about that.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Huge Majority of Americans Say a President Should Be Impeached if He Pardons Himself

June 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

There's no ambiguity in the poll results.


Donald Trump says he has the right to pardon himself. Legally, that may be a gray area, but politically, it’s crystal clear: The American people say no. A new AP/NORC poll finds overwhelming opposition to Trump—or any other president—self-pardoning if charged with a crime, and support for consequences that Congress might want to sit up and take note of:

 85 percent think it would be unacceptable for presidents to pardon themselves if charged with a crime, and 76 percent think Congress should take steps to remove a president from office if they did so.

Of course this is before the right-wing outrage machine kicks into gear and Trump’s base decides he was framed by Hillary Clinton, but still. It should send a message to both Trump and congressional Republicans.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Angela Merkel, Teflon No Longer

June 22, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

German Chancellor Angela Merkel could be out of a job and her
country headed towards elections barely 100 days after the
formation of her new government, which took six months to form. It
would be a performance worthy of, well, Italy, and all
because the stolid, reliable Bavarian conservatives who spent years
acting as a doormat for her chancellorship turned into raging
populists. They now demand that Berlin bar entry of foreign
migrants from other European Union states. A majority of Germans
are in agreement.

That makes even less realistic French President Emmanuel
Macron’s proposed “reforms” that would shift even
more power to Brussels. Berlin had already largely demurred from
Macron’s plan, offering a basket of half-measures in
response. “Solidarity must never lead to a debt union,”
Merkel explained. Now Macron, who vanquished the National
Front’s Marine Le Pen in last year’s presidential race,
will have to adapt to a Europe that is moving sharply away from
him.

For instance, the United Kingdom continues to stagger towards
Brexit, under Theresa May’s desultory premiership. The EU
remains a populist foil in Greece, which, under the left-wing
Syriza government, is imposing another round of pension cuts to
satisfy EU creditors. Hungary’s populist Viktor Orbán, a
former liberal, was reelected two months ago with an overwhelming
parliamentary majority.

The Czech Republic’s Andrej Babis finally forged a
coalition with the Social Democrats. A billionaire businessman
sometimes compared to Donald Trump, Babis publicly curbed his
Euroskepticism, but he is obviously no friend to the EU. His
government will receive tacit backing from the small Communist
Party, which is favorable toward Russia (as is President Milos
Zeman). Poland’s Law and Justice Party, meanwhile, continues
to battle the EU, which scheduled a formal hearing on whether the
traditionalist/nationalist government is violating the rule of law.
Konrad Szymanski, Poland’s Minister for European Affairs, has
denounced this as a “massive power grab.”

Europe’s populist wave is
still building-and it could claim the German chancellor
next.

Austria’s young, telegenic Sebastian Kurz, a critic of the
established order, completed his transformation from liberal
minister to populist chancellor by allying with the more extreme
Freedom Party. Kurz spoke of creating “an axis of the
willing” to combat illegal immigration, looking to both Italy
and Germany (and evoking unfortunate historical memories). He
hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. In July, the
Austrian government will take over the EU’s rotating
presidency. Kurz says his agenda will be “a Europe that
protects.”

Slovenia held elections in early June, and the Slovenian
Democratic Party, headed by another former liberal, took clear
first place. Known as the SDS, the party combines liberal economic
views with antagonism towards immigration. The SDS will struggle to
form …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Upon Further Review, Don't Merge the Education and Labor Departments

June 22, 2018 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

“Let President Trump reorganize the government like a
business.”

That’s a quote, from someone named Michelle in Delaware,
in one of the latter, glossy, inspirationally illustrated pages of
the government reorganization proposal put forth by
the Trump administration on Thursday, a proposal that leads off
with a merger of the departments of Education and Labor. Thinking
purely about diminishing Washington’s unconstitutional,
counterproductive influence in education, I was slightly encouraged when I first considered the
proposal. It wouldn’t kill a single program (and it’s
the programs that really matter) but at least it would get rid of a
Cabinet-level education secretary, basically a permanent White
House lobbyist for “doing more” in education.

After a day’s extra thought, I’m even less
supportive. Indeed, you can probably put me in the “no”
column, as much as I’d like to see the department and
secretary go away. Aside from the fact that nothing the department
actually does would go away, I have developed an even
bigger concern: We cannot trade in education and labor secretaries
for a new workforce czar, and that appears to be either the goal of
creating a Department of Education and the Workforce, or at least
its likely outcome. And it’s tied to this idea that
everything should be run “like a business.”

Don’t get me wrong: I
think enabling people to be productive, successful parts of the
economy is a good thing. But this begins to smell distinctly of
top-down workforce engineering.

f you read the pages explaining the proposal to do the DEW, the
rationale seems centered on creating human cogs to plug into a
giant economic machine, and to do so with lots of federal
direction.

“The new merged department would … allow the
Administration to more effectively address the full range of issues
affecting American students and workers,” it reads. The DEW
would “centralize and better coordinate Federal efforts to
train the American workforce.”

Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong: I think enabling people to be
productive, successful parts of the economy is a good thing. But
this begins to smell distinctly of top-down workforce engineering,
which just from an economic standpoint is very dangerous;
bureaucrats in Washington will never know how many chemists,
accountants, or janitors we will need in 10 or 20 years, where we
will need them, or how to provide the right incentives to get the
right people into the right jobs. Life and the world are far too
complex for that.

Perhaps even more important (and here we are joined by some of our progressive friends) education is
about much more than just employment prep. It …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Symposium: The Court Begins to Strike Back at the Administrative State

June 22, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

June 21 was “government structure day” at the
Supreme Court. In four separate cases, interpreting four different
administrative-law or separation-of-powers doctrines, the justices
produced opinions that will keep law professors updating syllabi
for their constitutional and administrative law classes all summer.
I initially focused on Lucia, given both my previous writings about the case and my general interest
in the appointment and removal powers, but then I discovered the
common theme to the quartet: Structure matters.

Here’s how the Supreme Court rolled that out:

First, in Wisconsin Central v. United States,
Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion made a clear point about Chevron
deference in the context of an otherwise low-key
statutory-interpretation case. Under the Railroad Retirement Tax
Act of 1937 — which I’d never heard of — private
railroads and their employees pay tax on
“compensation,” which is defined as “any form of
money remuneration.” But what about stock options? To me
that’s an easy question: Stock options aren’t cash
money.

In four separate cases,
interpreting four different administrative-law or
separation-of-powers doctrines, the justices produced opinions that
will keep law professors updating syllabi for their constitutional
and administrative law classes all summer.

Gorsuch unpacks that intuition with the usual interpretive
tools, but then responds to the government’s (and implicitly
the dissent’s) argument for deference to a more recent IRS
interpretation that runs the other way. “[W]e think
it’s clear enough that the term ‘money’ excludes
‘stock,’ leaving no ambiguity for the agency to
fill.” This is a very Scalia opinion: Regardless of what one
thinks of Chevron deference — and we know that
Gorsuch and several of his colleagues would like to cut it back
— it doesn’t even apply when there’s no
“gap” from the agency to fill in the first place. But
regardless, the point is that if Congress doesn’t like this
result, Congress should change the law.

Second, in what for most people in this symposium (but not the
wider world) was the main attraction, the Supreme Court issued a
separation-of-powers decision that may have more long-term
doctrinal impact than any other case decided that day. In
Lucia v. Securities and Exchange
Commission
, the Supreme Court ruled that SEC
administrative law judges are “officers of the United
States” and thus under the appointments clause must be tapped
by the president or “department head,” in this case the
SEC itself (not by commission staff).

It’s gratifying that the Supreme Court takes
constitutional structure seriously, at least with respect to the
president’s appointment of inferior officers. Justice Elena
Kagan’s majority opinion powerfully and concisely explains what
was clear all along: ALJs are powerful …read more

Source: OP-EDS