Guest: Alex Burness of Bolts Magazine; Also: More on need for media to call out pro-murder, anti-democracy Republicans; KY Repubs ban health care for trans kids; AR's GOP Guv further restricts absentee voting...
We'll just have to keep saying it on The BradCast: Republicans are pro-murder and anti-democracy. It's just that simple. And we've got too much more evidence of that today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
First up, the fallout continues following Monday's school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, where three 9-year olds and three adults were killed by an AR-15 wielding shooter at a private Christian elementary school. The U.S. Congressman representing the district where The Covenant School is located is Republican Congressman Andy Ogles.
Last year, Ogles sent out Christmas cards featuring himself, his wife and his children in front of a Christmas tree, proudly posing with their AR-15 style assault rifles. Since the shooting in his district, he has apparently taken down his social media posting of the festive card. A reporter from Sky News confronted him this week to try and learn why he hadn't taken it down previously, after other similar massacres, and why he seems to favor guns and murder over the lives of children and their right to be safe at school.
Jon Stewart, earlier this month, also had a related conversation with a Republican state lawmaker in Oklahoma by the name of Nathan Dahm. The GOP state Senator has authored bills to loosen restrictions on firearms and apparently believes that drag shows that may be seen by children must be banned, because "the government does have a responsibility to protect" them. But, as Stewart points out, Dahm appears to have no similar concerns about protecting kids from being murdered with guns, which is now the leading cause of death for U.S. children and teens.
In a similar vein, Big Government Republicans in Kentucky's legislature today voted to override the veto of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, to enact a law that will ban health care for trans kids and mandate that doctors begin "detransitioning" children currently on puberty blockers and hormones, despite the alarming rate of suicide by such kids. The bill also bars all discussion of sexual orientation and gender identify in schools for students of any age, as the Nanny State Republican party continues to pretend they favor free speech.
Meanwhile, this is an election year in Virginia, where the entire state legislature comes up for reelection in odd-numbered years and where the commonwealth's 1902 constitutional provision created to prevent black people from voting remains in place. The measure in question allows VA's Governor to decide, on any criteria they may like, whether or not to re-enfranchise former felons.
Under processes enacted first by former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and then broadly expanded and automated by subsequent Democratic Governors Terry McCauliffe and Ralph Northam, the voting rights for hundreds of thousands of Virginians were restored. But, since taking office last year, VA's new, so-called "moderate" Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has re-enfranchised almost nobody. Moreover, his office has finally informed state lawmakers that he will be using a secret process to personally decide, on a case-by-case basis, who will and won't be allowed to vote.
We're joined today by voting rights, criminalization and justice reporter ALEX BURNESS, staff writer at the progressive Bolts Magazine. He has been reporting on Youngkin's appalling, anti-democracy policy, and how it is harming those who are simply hoping to return to civil society after imprisonment in Virginia.
"We still don't know what the criteria is going to be, but it is clarifying in the sense that the policy is 'I'm going to do whatever I want and, at least for the moment, I'm not going to tell you what that means,'" Burness tells me, adding that the commonwealth's constitution mandates the Governor "literally has the power to make up criteria, based on whether you own a dog or a cat, or anything."
Burness explains why Democrats in the state have yet to pass a constitutional amendment to change this absurd, Jim Crow relic, despite the heartbreaking stories from so many who have served their time and simply want to have their rights as citizens fully restored. "This is one of a million reasons why Virginia's upcoming elections matter. Particularly with what Youngkin has done now, there is some renewed passion by folks to settle this once and for all and not leave it up to the whims of the Governor," says Burness.
The pathetic vote suppression by Youngkin comes on the heels of Minnesota's Democratic Governor signing a law this month to re-enfranchise some 55,000 citizens of voting age who are no longer incarcerated, whether they are on parole or probation or not; New Mexico's Democratic Governor signing a similar law that will restore voting rights to about 11,000 New Mexicans; and a recently advanced measure by Democratic lawmakers in Oregon to allow voting even for those still in prison, akin to the rights afforded to the incarcerated in Maine, Vermont and Washington D.C.
Finally today, more voter suppression is enacted by Arkansas' new Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Yesterday, we detailed her newly signed law adopted by Republican state lawmakers that will make it much much harder for Democrats to place citizen initiatives on the statewide ballot. (Even though the statute appears to be a violation of the state constitution.) Today, the American Democracy Minute's Brian Beihl details three other new bills recently signed by Huckabee Sanders to make absentee voting much more difficult in the state...
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