GOP Furious That 1993 Voter Registration Act Guarantees Right To Register When Applying For Health Insurance


Well, this is a bit of a sticky wicket for those who advocate voter suppression…

Addicting Info

One of the main reasons Republicans oppose Obamacare has largely flown under the public’s radar — until now. Here’s the key to understanding the GOP’s typically mean-spirited position: applications for insurance under the Affordable Care Act will also allow people to register to vote. Aha! The picture jumps into focus. Those in our population who are most anxious to sign up for healthcare coverage are the same people who the GOP has worked diligently, in state after state, to disenfranchise. The Affordable Care Act could lay waste to all that conservative effort.

Voters’ Rights groups have been keenly aware of this emerging issue, which is likely to be fought out in court. It became obvious to careful watchers in March, when a draft of the insurance application became public, that it would include the opportunity to register to vote. It was also obvious to those defending the right to vote that this provision is mandated by federal law — specifically by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. That law, more popularly known as the “Motor Voter Act”, specified that states had to offer voter registration in government offices. That’s why most states currently offer the option to register to everyone who gets a driver’s license.

The draft application got an immediate response from Congressman Charles W. Boustany, (R-Louisiana). As chairman of the House Committee On Ways And Means Subcommittee On Oversight (got that?), Boustany wrote a letter of protest to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. His objection was supposedly that applicants would be confused and think that voter registration was somehow linked to getting subsidies for their health insurance. Right…because Republicans have been so-o-o concerned that people get all the subsidies to which they are entitled.

California eagerly embraced the provision in May, becoming the first state to designate its healthcare exchange as a voter registration agency. New York and Vermont soon followed, while Connecticut and Maryland recently announced plans to do the same.

The difficulty, of course, comes from less progressive states. Their argument is over whether the exchanges are really government agencies, to which the 1993 law applies. Lisa Danetz, of the advocacy group Demos, is confident that it does. She says:

However it’s organized, the actions of the exchanges are closely intertwined and are essentially the actions of the state … In the long run, they’re going to be doing it. It’s what the law requires.

Progressive groups have raised the concern that the administration might back down on the issue in the face of a strong conservative backlash. However, reported on Tuesday that they had received confirmation from a White House spokesman that the administration hasn’t changed its position; the marketplaces fall under the 1993 law and voter registration is “still the plan”.

Nevertheless, residents need to keep a watchful eye on the actions of their own states. Many of them have adopted the strategy of keeping mum and hoping that a lack of action will escape the eye — and the enforcement power — of the federal government.

Top GOP Senator: Native American Juries Are Incapable Of Trying White People Fairly

In Washington, DC it’s no secret that Senator Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is not very bright.

Think Progress

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Republicans have offered a number of reasons why they oppose the Violence Against Women Act. Some think it’s unconstitutional. Others argue that it’s just a meaningless bill with a patriotic title.

On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) added a new one: Native Americans supposedly aren’t capable of holding fair trials.

Last week, Grassley was one of just 22 senators—all Republican men—who voted against reauthorizing VAWA. During a town hall meeting in Indianola on Wednesday, a woman asked him to explain his vote. Grassley responded that the legislation is unconstitutional, a belief shared by at least five of his colleagues.

Since the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to a trial among a jury of peers, Grassley reasoned that white men would be deprived of their rights if those who were accused of violence against Native American women had to appear in a tribal court. “On an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” Grassley said. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

GRASSLEY: One provision that non-Native Americans can be tried in tribal court. And why is that a big thing? Because of the constitutionality of it, for two reasons. One, you know how the law is, that if you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society. […] So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.


There is actually no requirement that juries reflect “society as a whole.” The Sixth Amendment requires juries to be drawn from the “State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,” and Supreme Court decisions establish that criminal defendants also have a right to a jury which is “drawn from a fair cross section of the community,” where the trial court convenes to hear their case. But this does not entitle anyone to be tried by a jury that reflects the whole of American society.

A person who is tried in Vermont is likely to have an all-white jury because over 95 percent of Vermont is white. Similarly, a person who commits a crime in the Navajo Nation will face a jury of Native Americans because the population of the local community is made up of Navajo people. There is no reason to believe that Navajo jurors are any less impartial than white Vermonters, and Grassley is wrong to suggest otherwise.

Grassley went to great lengths to tell attendees that he had supported VAWA in the past. “I support 98 percent of what’s in the bill,” he said. If it weren’t for his belief that Native Americans’ are incapable of conducting a fair trial, perhaps he would have voted for it again.

If you want Congress to reauthorize VAWA, sign ThinkProgress’ petition here.

Get Your Free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Cone Today!


Calling all ice cream lovers!  Ben & Jerry’s is once again offering their “Free Cone Day” at participating scoop shops across the globe on Tuesday, April 3.

Every year, the ice cream makers set aside one day to thank their customers for supporting them through the years.  At this year’s annual giveaway — B & J’s 34th anniversary — the company will spotlight their most-recent taste sensation, Greek Frozen Yogurt. The brand uses real Greek yogurt made through a traditional straining process that creates a thicker, creamier product.

There are approximately 800 scoop shops in the world, and even though the fans of the product eagerly anticipate this day, the Vermont-based company has always placed philanthropy at the top of their financial agenda.

Founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the two hippies were the poster boys for good corporate behavior.  They sought to always support the underdog.  The entrepreneurial duo looked to employ disadvantaged people at their factories, support farm workers, and put into place eco-friendly measures to make and package their products.  The men strove to create work environments where their employees were treated with decency and respect, were paid fairly and where the family unit was held in high regard.  Cohen and Greenfield were true representations of the counter culture.

In 2000, the Unilever Corporation purchased the company, though the company’s founders are still somewhat involved in certain aspects.  Their involvement ensures that the philanthropic deeds that serve as the cornerstones of Ben & Jerry’s will continue.  Both founders have used their fame to positively influence political, social and environmental movements.

To find out where your nearest scoop shop is located so that you can get your free cone between the hours of 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, go to the Ben & Jerry’s website for more information.


Historic (1870s) Covered Bridge in Bartonsville Vermont swept away by Irene flooding – Democratic Underground

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This is the bridge before its destruction by Hurricane Irene.

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Mr. Sanders Filibusters The Tax Bill

One of my favorite movies is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  The most dramatic scene in the movie is the filibuster scene.  Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith) actually filibusters the Senate by speaking for hours without interruption, without going to the men’s room, without sitting down!  Today, Senator Bernie Sanders brought back the true filibuster to make a dramatic point about his opposition to President Obama’s tax proposal.  No one has done this sort of filibuster for years.

As I said in a previous post, Senator Bernie Sanders is the smartest guy in the Senate.

Huffington Post

UPDATE: The filibuster ended just shy of 7:00 PM ET, after 8 hours and 37 minutes of speaking.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading a stalling session resembling a filibuster against Obama’s tax proposal on the Senate floor Friday, after earlier promising “to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides.”

As First Read notes, however, the event is not an actual filibuster under the traditional definition: “If it were a true filibuster, he would be blocking Republicans from conducting business or speaking.”

The near-filibuster, which began at 10:25 AM, became so popular that it temporarily shut down the Senate video server.

Sanders kicked off the debate on the bill with a two-hour stand in opposition to the tax cut deal before handing over the lectern to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and then Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

“How can I get by on one house?” Sanders said. “I need five houses, ten houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We’ve got the money, we’ve got the power, we’ve got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That’s the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks.”

Continue reading here…

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington – The Filibuster – Part 1

Part 2

Sen Bernie Sanders: There Is A WAR Being Waged Against The Working Families Of America!

If one were to look back at Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speeches on the floor as well as his appearances on radio and television,they would most likely conclude that he is perhaps the smartest man in Congress.

November 30, 2010 C-SPAN

Our $13.7 trillion national debt was run up by two wars, tax breaks for the rich, a Medicare prescription drug bill written by pharmaceutical lobbyists and the Wall Street bailout — all unpaid for. After leaders of a White House debt commission floated bad ideas to deal with deficits, like raising the Social Security retirement age to 69, Bernie assembled seniors organization, labor unions and others in to come up with ways to cut the deficit without hammering the middle class. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and when the top 1% now earns more income than the bottom 50 percent, this Congress is going to have to be very careful about how it goes forward on deficit reduction,” Sanders said. “In my view, we must not balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly or the poor. Instead, we’ve got to do away with the enormous tax breaks and loop-holes that have been given to millionaires and billionaires and take a hard look at the excessive amount of money we spend on the military as well as some other government agencies.”