Greg Abbott

Seven Times Conservatives Have Admitted They Don't Want People To Vote

Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida.

These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the votes of people who they think will oppose them.

Paul Weyrich

More than 30 years ago, an influential conservative leader explained why his movement shouldn’t “want everybody to vote.”

Paul Weyrich, an operative considered to be the “founding father of the conservative movement” because of his hand in founding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, the Council for National Policy and other influential conservative groups, laid out the GOP’s voter suppression strategy in a 1980 speech in Dallas.

"I don't want everybody to vote,” he said. “Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Phyllis Schlafly

In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers pushed through a package of voter suppression bills , including restrictions on early voting, something that many African American voters had taken advantage of the previous year.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly rejoiced in the news , saying that the early voting restrictions were “particularly important” because early voting had tended to help Democrats:

The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”

Franklin County, Ohio, GOP

In 2012, Republican officials in Ohio repeatedly attempted to cut back early voting hours , fighting off legal challenges from President Obama’s reelection campaign.

Doug Preisse, the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party (whose area includes the city of Columbus), put his party’s case frankly in an email to the Columbus Dispatch:

I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.

Mike Turzai

Before the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai declared that a new voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

Greg Abbott

In 2013, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — who has since become the state’s governor – responded to the Justice Department’s accusation that recent redistricting had discriminated against minorities by explaining that the goal was just to discriminate against Democrats and “effects on minority voters” were merely “incidental”:

DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.

Jade Helm 15 Is Over And Obama Didn't Even Invade Texas!

For most of the summer, a military training exercise called Jade Helm 15 captivated the imaginations of the Right, striking fear into the hearts of Republican presidential candidates, members of Congress and even governors. Latching on to a conspiracy theory that originated in the far-right fringes of the internet, they warned that the training exercise was in fact part of a plot by President Obama to invade Texas, impose martial law and abolish civil liberties.

At one point, one-third of Republican voters and half of all Tea Party supporters feared that the federal government was “trying to take over Texas,” with another 28 percent of GOP voters saying that they were not sure whether or not the plot existed.

Outlets such as WorldNetDaily and InfoWars, far-right sites that also regularly host Republican politicians, led the way in spreading the conspiracy theories. But the theories soon spread beyond the far-right, and suddenly people had to debate whether the government would use secret tunnels, closed Walmart stores and cattle cars as part of an increasingly fantastical plot to eviscerate American freedom.

Unsurprisingly, the people who were pushing conspiracy theories about the military training exercise fell silent when it became clear that none of the scenarios they predicted had materialized. Jade Helm 15 proceeded as planned over the summer officially ended today without a federal takeover of Texas.

However, the exercise didn’t go without incident, as it was the target of violent attacks and a deadly plot from far-right militants who thought “that the federal government intended to use the armed forces to impose martial law in the United States.”

This was far from the first time that right-wing activists had cooked up strange theories about President Obama trying to wage war against the American public. But this time, presidential candidates were fielding questions about the military exercise. Ted Cruz and Rick Perry used the conspiracy theories as a way to criticize Obama, blaming him for the increasing fears about the exercise, while Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, repeatedly suggested that the exercise was designed by the Obama administration to vilify people living in conservative states like Texas.

Perhaps no one furthered the cause of Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theorists more than Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who ordered the Texas State Guard to “monitor Operation Jade Helm 15 ” and give him “regular updates on the progress sand safety of the Operations” to ensure that Texans’ “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties” would “not be infringed.” Texas State Guard officials viewed the order as a “great opportunity” to find new recruits, but conspiracy theorists used it as an excuse to pounce.

Religious Right broadcaster Rick Wiles emerged as a champion of the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, telling viewers that it represented “the preparation for or the actual implementation of a roundup of patriotic men who have the capacity to influence and inspire the citizenry to resist a coup against the republic.” Wiles described Jade Helm 15 as a “two-month-long Night of the Long Knives” in which Obama might launch a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attacks against conservative states. “I believe that they would level the state of Texas, I believe they would use an EMP against Texas,” he said.

When Wiles appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show,” he and Bakker wondered if they would soon end up in jail as a result of the military drill:

Wiles also worried that the exercise would allow President Obama to “ seize power illegally.”

He wasn’t alone in that view.

Matt Barber’s website BarbWire ran a column warning that Jade Helm 15 could be “the final exercise before the Obama-Jarrett team install Martial Law nationwide.” WorldNetDaily even consulted a “Bible prophecy expert” for an article asking if Jade Helm 15 was proof that the government was “preparing for some major future event that will bring chaos to America.”

Paul Vallely, a former Army general turned radical right-wing activist who once volunteered to lead a right-wing coup against Obama, said that the military exercise was giving Obama an opportunity to impose martial law.

“We know full well that Obama would declare martial law at the earliest opportunity if he could,” Vallely said. “I’ve seen the documents, it gives them plenty of latitude to start talking about how do you control the civilian population if they rise up? And that’s part of what Obama is trying to do and the question that came out again, ‘Will the military turn on the American people if Obama decides to do any kind of a martial law activity?’ That’s what the American people are concerned about.”

This fear also found a receptive audience in the Oath Keepers, a militant group that won notoriety when its armed members flocked to the Bundy ranch to stage a a standoff with law enforcement officers. Following the Bundy incident, the organization has been trying to find a new cause, such as Kim Davis, Ferguson, or, of course, Jade Helm 15. The group’s fear of Jade Helm 15 makes perfect sense considering that its entire reason for existing is to tell law enforcement officers that they should defy unconstitutional orders that may be coming down the pike, such as a command to throw Americans into concentration camps.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes said that “Jade Helm is in part conditioning and vetting of the military to see who will and will not go along” with a future plot to repress Americans. “I think they’re figuring out who is loyal and who is not loyal and who is likely to go along, with the town councils and county commissioners as well,” he said.

“I think it is very likely that you’re going to see scenarios shift from supposedly being practicing for overseas, all the sudden it will be, ‘oh, today we are going to take down a compound of skinheads,’ or whatever least favorable people they can name domestically and get the guys to go along with it, see who does and doesn’t go along,” Rhodes said. “I think it’s also conditioning and assessment and vetting of the local politicians. Who raises questions? Who has any serious, meaningful questions about what we’re doing with this exercise? They put their name down. I think they’re figuring out who is loyal and who is not loyal and who is likely to go along, with the town councils and county commissioners as well.”

He claimed that the government was using Jade Helm 15 to send a message to the public, particularly “veterans, gun owners and anyone who is a constitutionalist,” that “resistance is futile” and if you object “Navy Seals and Delta Forces will come get you.”

“Jade Helm is definitely NOT meant to prepare troops for foreign operations,” read one article on the group’s website. “The program is admitted to be a primer for military response to ‘crisis scenarios,’ denoting domestic operation…. And they are training and infiltrating completely American environments, which they would not be doing unless they planned to operate in very similar environments.” Citing the plot of a Chuck Norris movie, the post claimed that the government would present Jade Helm 15 as a way to save the country from ISIS terrorist attacks:

Maybe I am connecting dots that are not dots, but it seems to me that the timing of ISIS warnings, the re-ignition of economic downturn in 2014/2015, the global shift away from the dollar, and Jade Helm are not entirely coincidental. Martial Law is not a scenario that can be generated in a vacuum; it needs a primer, a trigger event, if not multiple trigger events.

If the final trigger event is indeed intended to be a terror campaign on U.S. soil, then questions of the true purpose of Jade Helm will undoubtedly take a back seat to immediate solutions to what amounts to a foreign invasion (at least, that is how it will be painted), and none other than Jade Helm will be presented as that solution.

“ISIS has long been a collaborative creation of the U.S. government and its allies,” the post continued. “So should Americans be forced to relinquish their freedoms in order to combat an enemy that our own government engineered out of thin air?”

Another Oath Keepers post put it this way:

It strikes many people as a portentous government plan, a pre-fabricated and pre-constructed umbrella under which a black op by the Deep State’s compartmentalized agencies could possibly ‘Go Live’ in a fantastic sort of Shock and Awe False Flag psycho-coup to jar the public mind of America through fear into acceptance of some nefarious policy the government desired, such as the establishment of Martial Law and the complete loss of individual liberty and our Constitution. To do that, the public mind must be conditioned first. That is part of what is behind the Special Operation Command’s Jade Helm 15.

Now that Jade Helm 15 is over and literally nothing anyone predicted about a massive military operation intruding on the rights of Americans actually came true, don’t expect this to be a moment for right-wing politicians, activists and media personalities to reconsider their tried-and-true practice of carelessly engaging in baseless conspiracy theories.

If anything, the widespread belief in an imminent invasion of Texas among Republican voters, along with the success in early presidential polls of outspoken conspiracy theorists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson — the former of whom suggested that the 2012 election was a “total sham” and the latter that Obama may cancel the 2016 election — may actually give Republicans more reason to push the most wild conspiracy theories about Obama, no matter how bizarre or dangerous.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 8/10/15

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Mike Huckabee, and others will be speaking at one of David Lane's upcoming "Renewal Project" events in Texas later this month.
  • CBN's David Brody says that "Fox News should be utterly ashamed. Donald Trump should sue the network for harassment."
  • Phyllis Schlafly says that "Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in favor of gay marriage is an affront to God, the Constitution, and the American people."
  • Phil Burress warns that gay rights activists are "persecuting anyone who disagrees with them, [they] want to put people in jail who do not bow at the knees of the homosexual agenda" and that Ohio Gov. John Kasich "is in that camp."
  • Bryan Fischer had a rather interesting choice of guest on his radio program today.
  • Don Feder says that "thanks to Obama and his party opening the floodgates to Muslim 'refugees,' Sharia law is coming to America."
  • Finally, Gordon Klingenschmitt says that Planned Parenthood is possessed by the "demonic spirit of murder," but we see "the spirit of God in these prophets" who are making the anti-Planned Parenthood videos.

Jade Helm 15 Is Here! The GOP Politicians Who Encouraged Panic Over President Obama's 'Texas Takeover'

This spring, when far-right conspiracy theory websites started buzzing about Jade Helm 15, a planned military exercise in western states that they said was a cover for President Obama’s plans to impose martial law on Republicans states, we expected apoplectic reactions from the fringiest of right-wing circles. But who else was going to take it seriously?

Plenty of people, it turns out, including Republican politicians seeking to capitalize on anti-Obama fears in order to lift their profile in the increasingly far-right party — a poll in May found that a full one-third of Republicans believed that the government was “trying to take over Texas.”

Today, as the military exercise begins, we look back at five Republican politicians who, whether credulously or cynically, fed the Jade Helm 15 frenzy.

1. Greg Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the first GOP politician this fringe conspiracy theory into the Republican mainstream, assuring concerned citizens that he had ordered the Texas Guard to monitor the potential takeover effort.

After he became the object of national criticism and ridicule, Abbott said that the actually thought the military exercise would “work out just fine” and blamed President Obama for stirring up suspicion:

“Frankly, I gotta tell you, I think the cause of the underlying concerns is that we see instances, like a shooting in Fort Hood by a terrorist, that the president labels workplace violence. We see the president come to the border in Texas and say it’s safer than it’s ever been,” said Abbott. “And so I think it was a misplaced perception by people in Texas who have problems with the Obama administration and connected that trust with the Obama administration to the military.”

2. Rick Perry

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry initially criticized Abbott’s fanning of the Jade Helm 15 flames, saying that while “you can always question” civilian leadership, “I think our military is quite trustworthy.”

But the presidential candidate quickly got the messaging memo, telling Glenn Beck that while President Obama invites unhinged conspiracy theories, when he’s president, everyone will trust the government:

3. Ted Cruz

Not to be outdone by his presidential rival Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz assured his flock that he had “ reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise ,” and although he had “no reason to doubt” the official line about the training exercise, “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, “because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

4. Louie Gohmert

After Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15, Rep. Louie Gohmert threw himself into promoting the conspiracy theory, releasing a statement saying that the conspiracy theorists were “legitimately suspicious” because “true patriots” and Christians were being persecuted in America.

Gohmert continued with some theories of his own:

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in 'hostile' control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as 'hostile,' as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.

Like Abbott and Perry, Gohmert was insistent that the whole conspiracy theory was President Obama’s fault:

5. Rand Paul

We’ll give Rand Paul credit for seeming a little surprised when a popular Iowa talk radio host asked him about Jade Helm 15, although he said he’d been hearing about it from constituents and would “look into” it. If Paul ever did look into it and find that the conspiracy theory was completely bogus, however, he never bothered to say so.

Paranoia-Rama: Obama Behind Baltimore Riots, Military Coup Imminent & Bullet Ban A-Brewin'

When President Obama isn’t secretly ordering riots in Baltimore from the Oval Office, he is plotting a military coup through the Jade Helm 15 drill and a bullet ban through the EPA. Quite a week for our “apathetic,” “ lazy” president.

Texas GOP Governor Embraces Martial Law Conspiracy Theory

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is ordering the State Guard to “monitor Operation Jade Helm 15,” a military exercise that has become the center of a far-right conspiracy theory regarding martial law, gun confiscation and Walmarts, which some of the theory’s promoters claim will be transformed into FEMA Camps

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles said on his “Trunews” radio program yesterday that the military exercise may be designed to spark a reaction in southern and western states, which could then be put down by the federal government. He boasted that he made the not-at-all-vague prediction that “2015 will be the year that we will see significant trouble in the United States of America.”

Last month, Wiles said that Jade Helm 15 would be America’s version of the “Night of the Long Knives” and alleged that the drill is “the preparation for or the actual implementation of a roundup of patriotic men who have the capacity to influence and inspire the citizenry to resist a coup against the Republic.”

“InfoWars,” the conspiracy theory network, reacted to the news by wondering whether Abbott is actually saying that “the Texas military is going to work with the Jade Helm forces in conducting these exercises.” (About 6:25 in, you can also watch Alex Jones reveal some body-building photos of himself).

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/31/14

How Catherine Engelbrecht Got Greg Abbott To Shut Down A Houston Voter Registration Drive

This weekend, the Dallas Morning News ran a long investigative piece exposing for the first time an armed raid that state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office ordered on a Houston voter registration operation, Houston Votes, back in 2010. The aftermath played out like ACORN in miniature: Despite the fact that nobody at Houston Votes was charged with any wrongdoing, the organization folded under the pressure of Abbott’s investigation.

The story provides an interesting look at the mechanics of the GOP’s obsessive search for certain types of extraordinarily rare voter fraud in order to justify extreme measures making it harder to cast a ballot. And it also stars two people who have since become familiar names in the national effort to make it more difficult to vote: Abbott, who is now the GOP nominee for governor of Texas, and Catherine Engelbrecht, who now runs the national group True the Vote, but who got her start running a Texas Tea Party group called King Street Patriots.

The raid on Houston Votes was part of a larger campaign by Abbott to uncover what he calls an “epidemic” of voter fraud, in an apparent effort to build support for a restrictive Voter ID law in Texas. Abbott’s campaign hasn’t exactly been a success: According to MSNBC’s Zach Roth, “over the 13 years of Abbott’s tenure, his office can only cite two fraudulent votes that might have been stopped by the ID law.” In the meantime, Abbott’s effort has resulted in some strangely zealous prosecutions, including those of a group of Tea Party activists who tried to cast protest votes in a resident-less utility district.

Dallas Morning News reporter James Drew explains how a racially charged speech by Engelbrecht led to Abbot’s investigation of and raid on Houston Votes:

On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

Fred Lewis formed Texans Together in 2006.

The nonprofit community organizing group used volunteers to register voters in 2008 under the name Houston Votes. It registered only about 6,000 people that year.

For the next big election, in 2010, Lewis wanted to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County. He knew he couldn’t hit that number with volunteers. Houston Votes decided to use paid workers.

By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group. At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, talked about the New Black Panther Party. She then played a Fox news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”

The clip was 5 years old. It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston. She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling streets.

Dowling Street is infamous for a 1970 gun battle between police officers and African-American militants, one of whom was killed.

“Houston has a new neighbor,” Engelbrecht said. She added that a person outside the house appeared to be an employee of Houston Votes.

The house shown on the screen was the office of Houston Votes. It had nothing to do with the New Black Panther Party. And it was about 9 miles from Dowling Street.

Two weeks later, the King Street Patriots held another meeting. Paul Bettencourt, the former Harris County tax assessor-collector, was a guest speaker.

He said Houston Votes was worse at registering voters than ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Dozens of ACORN employees across the nation were convicted of voter registration fraud.

The next day, Bettencourt’s successor as tax assessor-collector, fellow Republican Leo Vasquez, held a news conference.

“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name ‘Houston Votes,’” he said.

Houston Votes had submitted about 25,000 voter registration applications. Vasquez said many were duplicates, or already registered. Only 7,193 were “apparently new voters,” he said.

Houston Votes later pointed to public records showing that at the time of the news conference, about 21,000 of the 25,000 who applied to register were already validated by the county and pending final approval by the secretary of state. Among those 21,000, the state had already given final approval to 7,193.

Vasquez announced he was referring the matter for “investigation and possible prosecution” to the Texas secretary of state and the Harris County district attorney.

The secretary of state, who advises local election officials on election laws, forwarded Vasquez’s information to the attorney general’s office on Sept. 14, 2010.

Abbott’s office opened a criminal investigation soon after.

Texas Conservatives Mobilizing To Bring Back State GOP's Hardline Anti-Immigrant Platform

Just two years after the Texas GOP passed a resolution in support of a national guest-worker program, Republican activists are hoping to scrap the plank at this week’s state party convention.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that several delegates have complained that the provision amounts to “amnesty” and doesn’t send the message that “illegal immigration is illegal and shouldn’t be tolerated.”

While Texas Republicans have pledged to focus on outreach to immigrant communities, their gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Greg Abbott, has pushed anti-immigrant policies and once described South Texas as a “Third World country.”

The GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick, has railed against the “illegal invasion,” linking undocumented immigrants to rape, murder and terrorism. He also accused immigrants of “bringing Third World diseases with them.”

“They threaten your family. They threaten your life. They threaten your business. They threaten our state,” he said.

One prominent Latino Republican activist blasted Patrick and dubbed him “the Pete Wilson of Texas,” adding: “I don't know of one Hispanic Republican who isn’t appalled by Dan Patrick.”

Among those advocating for the return to more hardline language is the Texas Eagle Forum, the group led by former state GOP chairwoman Cathie Adams. Its proposed resolution on “amnesty” explicitly opposes reform efforts:

WHEREAS, The United States takes in more legal immigrants than any nation in the world;

WHEREAS, according to recent estimates, 11-20 million people are in the U.S. illegally; and WHEREAS, illegal employment and illegal immigration have a negative effect on American workers actively seeking jobs, and taxpayers who are saddled with paying illegals’ healthcare, education and welfare benefits;

WHEREAS, President Obama and many Congressional leaders are calling for amnesty for the 11-20 million illegal immigrants, thereby negating millions of immigrants who have been patiently waiting to be admitted legally to the United States.

THEREFORE BE IT IS RESOLVED that we reject any and all calls for blanket or incremental amnesty and encourage the enforcement of existing state and federal laws regarding border security, national security, immigration and employment.

Adams is especially worried that immigration reform will bring about the End Times:

Abbott: Obama Administration Voter Protection Violating Rights of Latino Republicans

Texas Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott claims the Obama administration’s lawsuit against a redistricting plan, which a federal court unanimously ruled was designed to deliberately discriminate against Latino voters, is proof that the administration is actually discriminating against Latino Republicans.

With new legal battles heating up between the Justice Department and Texas over redistricting and voter ID laws, Abbott has taken to the Washington Times to argue that the Obama administration seeks to violate “the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives” who are Republicans. “The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters,” Abbott writes.

While around 1.4 million Texans lack voter ID, Abbott claims that “crying ‘voter suppression’ is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws,” adding that “the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points.”

In redistricting, the Obama administration has aligned itself with Democratic state representatives and Democratic members of Congress who already are suing Texas. It is no surprise then that the legal position of President Obama’s attorneys seeks to improve Democratic candidates’ prospects. Of course, Mr. Obama’s attorneys conceal this partisan agenda with lofty rhetoric about minority voting rights. But it is no coincidence that every change to district lines supported by the administration benefits Democrats. Behind the empty allegations of racial discrimination lies one goal — helping Democrats in 2014.

The president’s partisan use of the Voting Rights Act actually hurts many minority voters in Texas. With the administration’s support, redistricting litigation already has unseated Texas state Reps. Jose Aliseda, Raul Torres, Aaron Pena and John Garza, as well as U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco. These representatives — all Republicans — won in 2010 in predominantly Hispanic districts. In 2011, however, the Obama administration and other partisan interest groups succeeded in getting a court to draw district lines so that only a Democrat could win these seats. As a direct result, all of these Republican Hispanic representatives lost their seats in 2012 except for Mr. Aliseda, who chose not to run for re-election. His district had been dismantled altogether at Democrats request.

The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters. Democrats could never “turn Texas blue” if that trend continued, so they got the courts to draw district lines that guarantee Democratic victory in predominantly Hispanic areas. What about the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives such as Mr. Aliseda, you might ask? They apparently don’t matter to this administration.

Similarly, polling consistently shows that Hispanic Texans strongly support voter-ID requirements, another target of the administration’s litigious political strategy. Electoral fraud harms voters of all races, and voter ID is a simple, nondiscriminatory way to help stop it. Getting an ID is free of charge for any Texan who needs one. Voter-ID laws already have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Crying “voter suppression” is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws. The administration’s absurd claim that this common-sense fraud prevention device is actually a racist plot to prevent minorities from voting would be comical if it weren’t so depressing to see an American president stoop to that level.

After the Shelby County decision, the Voting Rights Act still works. It just no longer imposes an onerous and costly preclearance requirement that disrupts the state-federal balance of power enshrined in the Constitution. Instead of allowing the Voting Rights Act to work in a way the Constitution allows, the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points. The president is using the legal system as a sword to wage partisan battles rather than a shield to protect voting rights. This overreaching action undermines the Voting Rights Act and the rule of law. Texas will not tolerate it. So far, neither will the Supreme Court.

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/9/13

Texas Attorney General to Receive an Honor from Far-Right Texas Pastors Council

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is to be honored by a far-right group whose leader has a history of comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler and attacking gays and lesbians.

Abbot is to receive an honor from two local affiliates of the U.S. Pastor’s Council, the Texas Pastor Council and the Houston Area Pastor Council. It’s unclear to what extent the groups are “groups”: all three share a website and are led by a single man, extremist pastor Dave Welch.

The groups are also planning to honor Paul Pressler, who helped lead the “conservative resurgence” within the Southern Baptist Convention. Former Clinton inquisitor Ken Starr, who now works for Baylor University, is delivering the keynote address.

The Texas Freedom Network first noticed the event and highlighted Welch’s extreme rhetoric.

For example, Welch has:

  • Likened pastors who vouch for Obama’s Christian faith to Nazis and asserted that “Obama’s anti-Christian, anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-constitutional and anti-American policies” prove he only seeks to “use the church in the same way as a previous leader on a different continent,” Hitler. 
  • Claimed the judge who ruled that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is unconstitutional is a treasonous “domestic enemy.”

But working with radicals like Welch is just part of the game for Texas Republicans, who continue to compete with each other to see who can be farthest to the right.

UPDATE: Voter ID on trial in Texas

Attorneys for both sides gave closing arguments last Friday after a weeklong trial. Experts expect the ruling, which could come before November, will hinge on whether the defendants have successfully shown that the law has a disparate impact on minorities.
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