Friday, August 31, 2012

Obama vs. Romney Electoral Map: Sept 1 Update

As the Republican Circus winds down in Tampa and the Democratic one gets ready to roll in Charlotte, we have decided we need to make four changes in our Election prediction map since last month. The hammering Romney has taken over his taxes and the fiscal ice-water that runs in his veins was only exacerbated by the choice of Paul Ryan as Veep. Ryan's scorched-earth approach towards government programming has even normally Republican seniors sitting up to listen...and independent seniors furious.  The pandering to Ryan, darling of the Tea Party, and the adoption of a platform on social issues (abortion, marriage equality) that is so conservative Ronald Reagan wouldn't have been able to abide by it, cements the GOP ticket as an image of a party captured by the lunatic right.

Accordingly, we switch two states from red to blue:

FLORIDA:  The Senior citizen vote is critical in Florida, and the choice of Ryan was, in effect, a surrender of the Sunshine State by the Republicans.  Add to that the embarrassing voiding of a GOP-lead voter suppression law by the courts, and the endorsement of President Obama by former Republican Governor (and now-Independent) Charlie Crist, who stated, " "I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me."  Momentum is clear for Obama to overcome notorious elections in Florida to take the state. Color it Blue.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Another state with a sizable retiree population that votes in its own interests. A closely watched 'swing state,' New Hampshire Democrats are energized by a Gubernatorial primary that pits two popular Democrats against each other in a contest that has been relatively upbeat and above board.  The Republicans, meanwhile, are beginning to show their deep fissures, as Paul-leaning libertarians, Christian fundamentalists, and old-tyme establishment Republicans find it increasingly harder to convey a common message to the voters. We tilt this one, ever so slightly, Blue.

On the other hand, there are two states we are finally resigning to the GOP:

ARIZONA:  It appears that in this election, in spite of the outrage among liberals, the young, Latinos, and many independent women at the Republican establishment, they do not command the votes to overcome a significant GOP registration edge.  This was a state that I thought might end up in the 'swing' column, but it is clear now that it is Red, at least for the next election cycle or two.

IOWA: This state has gone back and forth, but the most recent polls seem to show that the Republicans are uniting and the Democrats are growing tired and weary of this fight.  It seems likely to slide back into the Red column in 2012.

This gives the election to Obama by an electoral vote of  326-212.

And now, the Sleeper Surprise State:  

GEORGIA: A Deep South state, many have simply written Georgia off as a Red Republican state like her neighbors Alabama and South Carolina.  But Georgia is changing: the metropolitan Atlanta area commands a huge portion of Georgia's electorate, and these are no good old boys.  In addition, the minority population of Georgia is growing exponentially: as of the 2010 census, only 56% of Georgians were non-Hispanic whites,  while 60% of those under the age of one were minorities. The minority vote will factor in strongly here.  Lastly, Georgia has a recent history of breaking for Democrats, such as home-state candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

The latest polls?  Romney is still ahead...but only by a 3% margin.  I still expect Georgia to go Red, but it will be fascinating to watch the margin of victory; with Obama having won North Carolina and Virginia last go-round, and his expected victory in Florida in 2012, it is possible that 'the Solid South' is becoming a competitive landscape.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Separatists Poised for Québec Election Victory: An Analysis for Confused Americans

  [This article analyzes the 2012 elections; for a blogpost on the 2014 elections, see 2014 Québec instead] In the midst of unparalleled student unrest, a university system that literally shut down for half a year, and a government embroiled in construction-contract scandals, Québec Premier Jean Charest and the Liberal Party appear headed for a major defeat in provincial elections less than a week from today.
The likely victors will be the Parti Québécois and their passionate leader, Pauline Marois.  It will be the first chance that the Franco-centric separatists will have to flex its muscle since it lost an independence plebiscite by a mere 1% margin in 1995.  Whether the Parti Québecois will win a majority of seats in the largely three-way race on September 4th remains to be seen.
The Canadian political landscape – and the Québécois landscape in particular – rests on different paradigms than the more ideological, American race which has dominated the media from Tampa all week.
Three parties are vying for control of the province – none of which are parties that have any significant role on the national level…but the politics of Canadian nationalism (or ‘federalism’) loom large over this race.
The current government of Québec is dominated by the Liberal Party, a political party that lost all significance on the federal level just a few years ago.  The Liberals dominated the national Canadian government under Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien for forty years from the 1960s to the early 2000s; the party was then decimated on the national level, reduced to a mere footnote, winning only 35 of 308 seats in the House of Commons.   
 But in Québec, the Liberals, under Premier Jean Charest,  have managed to hold on to power – until now.
Earlier this year, the Charest government recommended raising university tuition by $1600/year, setting off the largest protests in Canadian history throughout the summer.  Charest responded to the protests by enacting Bill 78, a bill that severely limited the right to protest and included  “pre-notification” requirements.  Initially, the majority of Québec citizens appeared to support the government as against the students, but the enactment of Bill 78 turned much popular sentiment against Charest’s Liberals.  The Liberals were compared to the national Conservative Party (the Canadian version of the Republican Party in the United States, which hardly exists at all in Québec.) The Conservatives are grossly unpopular in Québec. Conservative Canadian Premier Stephen Harper inflamed French Québec this year by openly embracing the British monarchy.  Harper's conservative, pro-British government in Ottawa created a leftist, French backlash in Québec, and Charest's Liberals have lost support because of it. (In the US, Liberals and Conservatives would never be seen as 'allies;' in Canada, that is not the case.)
 If these troubles were not enough for Charest, a long-term investigation of a bribery scandal involving his cabinet members and the construction industry began to hit media outlets during the student protests, further souring even his own traditional supporters.
The Liberal Party’s troubles and a strengthened sense of French culture in Québec have catapulted the Parti Québécois (or PQ) to first place in all pre-election polls.  Lead by Pauline Marois, the party is neither left nor right, as much as it is “French.”  The party has embraced and exalts Québec’s unique French heritage, and, as such, appears leftist (even socialist) on economic issues, while holding to a very conservative line on social issues of a “French” nature.
The PQ  has openly supported the students in their strike, embracing the very French notion of a low-cost, or even tuition-free, university education for all citizens.  It has taken a harsh approach towards miners, announcing it will demand higher royalty payments; some have suggested that the PQ will shut down Québec asbestos industry altogether.  But while liberal on social issues, the PQ insists on a conservative approach towards “French” issues: the PQ wants to tighten language laws to require greater use of French in business and government operations, and stronger laws preventing the purchase of Québec companies by foreign corporations. 

 The PQ recently called for laws outlawing the wearing of muslim head scarves as well as religious symbols such as crosses in government office buildings, similar to the militantly-secular culture found in France.
Ironically, it is in the city of Montréal where the greatest political discordance is found: Montréal is the center of the student protests, which the PQ has embraced; it is also the city with the greatest number of bilingual and non-French speaking people in Québec, who will be impactedthe most by the PQ’s stricter language proposals.

Enter the third party: The Coalition Avenir Québec, or “CAQ,” a new party headed by François Legault.  CAQ describes itself as right-of-center (and "pro-entrepreneur") on economic issues, but liberal on social issues. It attempts to stake out a ‘middle position’ on Québec independence, rejecting both the separatist platform of the PQ and the Federalist platform of the Liberals.  CAQ wants to ‘strengthen’ French language laws (especially in Montréal), and limit immigration, while promoting a French culture within the Canadian federation.  Though new, it is outpolling the Liberals on the eve of the election.
Will Montréal voters (and English speakers) continue to embrace the scandal-plagued, anti-dissent Liberals in order to protect their multilingual heritage?
Will French speakers (constituting 80% of Québec’s voters) join the bandwagon to replace the Liberals with a markedly French Parti Québecois?  
 Or with they choose just a “slightly-less-French” CAQ in the hopes of taking a ‘middle way,” even though the CAQ is an upstart, unknown entity?
Can any of the three parties win a majority of seats in the Québec Parliament?
Nous allons savoir mardi.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Energy: A New Green Paradigm

As the GOP convention approaches, I am sitting here listening to the Republicans explain their platform on Energy Policy on TV:  Increased Oil Drilling, building the keystone pipeline,  extracting oil and gas from the Canadian Tar Sands, increased use of Coal, relaxed standards for offshore drilling…..everything appears geared towards an explosion of dirty energy resources for “cheap energy” and Big Oil Profiteering.

Climate Change?  The Republicans don’t think government should address the issue.

Are they reading any news reports at all? Here are some of the news reports from the last 3 weeks:

In Iowa, about 58,000 fish died along a 42-mile stretch of the Des Moines River.   Biologists measured the water at 97 degrees in multiple spots.  (Toledo Blade)

In Connecticut, the Millstone Nuclear Power Station had to be shut down because the water in the Long Island Sound was too warm to effectively cool the reactor. (WWLP)

In Illinois, fish are dying in record numbers as state officials have raised the temperature at which water-cooled power plants can return water to area lakes and rivers. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day are now being returned into the waters at temperatures approaching 100 degrees. (Morris Daily Herald)

The weather has affected grain crops as well.  Corn futures– which sold for $2.00/bushel just 10 years ago -  have surged 60 percent since mid-June, closing yesterday at $8.075 a bushel.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated U.S. corn yields will be at least 20% below the norm. 

Of course, much of the grain that is being harvested is not going anywhere: The Coast Guard has closed an eleven-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Memphis to shipping after another barge grounded near Greenville, Miss. (

And in Kansas, “Bare ground and stagnant ponds of water can be seen where a flowing Arkansas River should be.” According to The National Weather Service, the water has ceased to flow at I-235.“There's a quarter of a billion dollars worth of grain in the port of lake providence alone and guess what? we can't move the barge. so, we'll bring in trucks it will take 7,000 trucks. They don't exist,” said Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner, Mike Strain. (WKSN News)


And that means there's less water flowing down Mississippi river into the Gulf of Mexico, and less outflow means saltwater from the Gulf is creeping in.  Cities in Louisiana cities have had to purchase emergency drinking water…and the entire city of New Orleans is now at risk. (NPR)

The loss of grain crops also affect the livestock who feed on grain - and eventually, the price of meat on supermarket shelves.  And non-food livestock, such as horses, are affected, too.

Tony Caldwell, owner of an 80 acre horse rescue ranch in Indiana, reports “Everybody is using their winter hay now. The pastures are destroyed and they probably won’t recover before winter. The price of hay has doubled, and the availability is down by 75 percent…Today the problem is not nearly as bad as it’s going to be.  It’s terribly bad today, but it is going to get a lot worse.”  (Business Week)

The hotter weather will not only affect the prices of food, but of health care as well.  At least 8 deaths have been blamed directly on this summer’s heat, and that doesn’t count deaths, injuries, and property losses from western forest fires.  Nor does it include deaths labeled as ‘respiratory failure’ or ‘natural causes’ from the elderly living in homes without air conditioning.  And looming on the horizon is the nation’s largest outbreak of West Nile virus, fed by the drought.

The mosquito responsible for the West Nile virus flourished during the summer's record heat and drought.   Updated figures from the Illinois State Department of Public Health show extremely high numbers of the Culex pipiens species have tested positive for the disease — 71 percent in DuPage County and nearly 60 percent in Cook. Officials consider 10% problematic. National figures show 1,118 cases and 41 deaths have been reported to the CDC — the highest number of cases through the third week of August since the disease was first detected in this country in 1999, and a substantial jump from last week's tally of 693 cases and 26 deaths. And the number of reported cases through the third week of August this year is nearly three times higher than the average over the last 10 years, according to the CDC.  (Chicago Tribune)

 I don't care whether you believe that climate change is natural or man-made.  The incontrovertible fact is that our climate IS changing, and it IS warming, and it is CHANGING our landscape.  And whether this is part of a natural cycle or man-made, is immaterial:  We must respond to it if we are going to avoid more catastrophes like these.

How? By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

(1) Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards for autos are a no-brainer.  I have been disgusted for the last several years attending the New York International Auto Show at NYC’s Javits Center, and reading the mpg statistics on new models.  The auto industry thinks it's offering something wonderful when a new car get 23 mpg.  They just don’t get it. (Actually, they do:  they can continue to offer crappy mileage because they can count on Republicans to obstruct fuel standards, and on Democrats to bail them out.)

(2) Amtrak and High-Speed Rail.  This country lags decades behind every developed nation in the world, including China, which has caught up and surpassed us on rail technology. While politicians throw money away on road projects for their home districts, subsidies for oil companies, sweetheart deals to ram through oil pipelines, exemptions for deepwater off-shore drilling safety devices, and auto company bailouts…..they wring their hands and hem and haw about investing in rail. And the Republicans seek to slash Amtrak's budget every year, rather than seeing trains as part of the solution to smog-choked highways.

(3) Energy-neutral Buildings.  In Europe, architects presume that a building that consumes more energy than it creates contains a Design Flaw. While the U.S. Congress continues to wring their hands over energy legislation, the European Union is requiring all residential buildings to produce nearly as much energy as they consume by 2020, in part by using renewable power sources. Public buildings will have to meet this standard two years earlier.  In urban centers, rooftop gardens and solar panels on a massive scale can lower temperatures, counter emissions, and save energy.

(4) Intolerance for Local NIMBY Obstructionism. Some of the most progressive, greenest, liberal people I know suddenly become ardent conservatives when windmills are proposed in their neighborhoods, or on mountain ridges that will impede their personal views.  Too Bad.  It is given to Congress and Congress alone to regulate interstate commerce, and if there is any product that crosses state lines, it is the national electric grid.  Far too many wind farms have been bogged down in local obstructionism, and it must stop.

(5) Local Farms, Local Food.  EVERY community needs to be a Right-to-Farm community (yes, even urban and suburban communities.) Uptight zoning regulations that outlaw chickens, restrict vegetable gardens from front yards, insist on crippling health regulations, and outlaw raw products need to go.  The Obama administration has been problematic on the left (FDA raids on raw milk farms), while snooty Republicans have used zoning to protect the landscape of their precious ‘burbs.  The more food that can be produced locally, the less food that has to be transported on the nation’s highways - and the fewer dollars and reliance on Monsanto and AgriBusiness.

We need more than Republicans who wear blinders, and Democrats who offer lip service to Energy Policy.  

We need a New, Green Paradigm.  Now.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dear Mike Huckabee: On the Issue of Rape, STFU.

 So, Mr. Huckabee, you feel a need to come to the defense of Rep. Todd Akin, the scientific ignoramus who believes that women who are raped don't get pregnant, because “…If it's a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down..”

I give you credit: you realize the stupidity of that statement, and so you’ve tried another avenue of defense: you claim that extraordinary people – like Ethel Waters – were conceived as a result of forcible rape.  And with that as ammunition, you go on your merry way with your ivory-tower, ideological approach towards women’s health.

Well, I'll agree with you on one thing.  Sometimes the child who is conceived as the result of a rape can be extraordinary.

My daughter, who I adopted at the age of six weeks, is indeed extraordinary.  And she was conceived as the result of rape. She is brilliant, possibly a mensa genius, and at the age of 18 is traveling the world tutoring English and speaking several foreign languages.  She can put most adults to shame on any intellectual topic.

But unlike you, Mr. Huckabee, I met her birth mother.  A woman proud and dignified at the same time; broken yet proactive; determined yet resigned.  As she placed her newborn child in our arms, my heart broke for the woman making this decision to give birth and place her child for adoption….while at the same time I was awestruck and joyful at the responsibility and opportunity she had placed in our arms.  Like you, Mr. Huckabee, we saw the immeasurable, boundless possibilities in that life.

But unlike you, we also saw the pain and the angst and the emotional turmoil of the woman who placed her with us.  Unlike you, I see her decision as precisely that: HER decision, one that weighed on her every day, and which was hers and hers alone.  

Unlike you, Mr. Huckabee, I see the other side of an equation that you refuse to acknowledge exists: the humanity, the dignity, the intensity of a woman making a decisions about the future.

She was a black woman.  A woman who had given birth in jail.  A woman who was the victim of generational crimes within her family, and of the federal government’s War on Drugs.

She was the kind of woman whose vote you have attempted to suppress with your support for voter id laws.

She is the kind of woman whose constitutional rights you have attempted to remove because of her conviction of a felony.

She is the kind of woman who you have tried to impoverish and marginalize by removing social service programs and nets and rehabilitation efforts.

She is the kind of woman whom the Republican Party has used as a scapegoat in discussing matters of welfare and taxes.

And she is the kind of woman whom you would surround with politician-constrained doctors to examine and direct the course of her life.

Please, Mr. Huckabee, spare me your feigned concern about the future of America, and the potential for children conceived in rape.

You know nothing – and care nothing – for the humanity involved in these situations.

I am grateful for my daughter, and the decision made by my daughter’s birth mother.  

But I also aware that the decisions were hers, and not yours. 

And it needs to remain that way.

Voter Suppression: Think a Photo ID is easy? Think Again . . .

 Around the country – and particularly in conservative circles – there has been a full-court press to require photo identification cards for voting.  From my perspective, this is nothing more than voter suppression: an effort to prevent those least likely from having photo ids (students who do not drive yet; senior citizens who no longer drive; immigrants; minorities; those whose drivers licenses expired while they were homeless, incarcerated, or being foreclosed upon).  But I have run into some fairly reasonable people who don’t see why it is so hard to require a simple picture id in order to vote (in spite of the fact that there is no widespread, documented voter fraud anywhere in the country).

And while I am often quick to share my own adventures, I am somewhat guarded when speaking of my children, all of whom are adopted, and all of whom ‘own’ their own stories; I am reluctant to speak ‘about them.’  But this voter id nonsense gives me a platform to explain just how this impacts people – real people.  And so, here are the tales of two real people, eligible voters, both of whom are my children (names changed), and both of whom went through hell trying to get proper identification, though both were eligible and American citizens.

Flashback to 1986.  A young two year old boy ("David") and his five year old sister are found wandering the streets of Brooklyn, NY.  Some neighborhood residents see the children, and ask where there mother is, and if they are lost. The five year-old is unsure of the specific events, but makes it clear that her mommy had sent them away and was gone.  They were walking around looking for something to eat and a place to sleep.

As is culturally common in urban black communities where suspicion of authorities runs high, a grandmotherly woman (“Vera”) took the children into her house and fed them, as people fanned out in the neighborhood trying to find the children’s mother.  That woman was never found, and so David and his sister stayed at Vera’s house. (Social workers in urban black communities are very aware that in these circles, children are much more likely to be informally cared for by relatives and friends  than ‘put through the system.’)

Before long, David and his sister grew attached to Vera (and vice versa),  and, in spite of her distrust of authorities, Vera went to the NYC Department of Social Services to obtain legal foster care of the children.  In a typically bureaucratic action, the Department took physical custody of the young girl, reasoning that Vera was too old to care for her, but left David in her custody and began the foster care paperwork. With the children split up, any hope for learning more of their origins disappeared.

In time, Vera and David would leave NY and join Vera’s extended family in Massachusetts. David was enrolled in school, and life was ‘normal’ – until Vera developed cancer.  I had come to know Vera through community activities, and, on her deathbed, she asked if I would take David into my house when she died.  I agreed, and David became my son. Upon her death, I went to the courthouse and asked for Legal Guardianship of David, which was granted.

Around this time, I was planning a trip overseas, and needed to get David a passport.  And that’s when the fun really began.

I had legal guardianship of an adolescent boy who had no birth certificate.  The foster care paperwork begun in New York with Vera had never been finalized, and so even her ability to legally place him into my care was questionable.

In an effort to ‘do things right,’ I went to the State Department in Boston to try and explain everything and obtain a passport for David.  I brought with me all the paperwork I had, and made my case. I gave them Vera’s certified death certificate, and the incomplete foster care paperwork, and the court-ordered guardianship papers.

What I never realized was that since Vera had lost David’s sister to The State due to her age, she lied on the foster care paperwork for David about her age – by ten years.  The eagle-eyes at the State Department saw that Vera’s death certificate and her foster care paperwork had different birthdates for Vera, and I was arrested, under suspicion of attempting to smuggle a child across international borders.

If not for the fact that I had a political job with strong ties to then-Senator Ted Kennedy’s office, I would have spent the night in jail, but some quick phone calls and wrangling from the Senate  freed me.

In time, I would approach a Judge (who knew my family), who would issue a court order directing the State Department to issue a passport for David.  We would then go backwards, and, using the Passport, demand a Birth Certificate from the City of New York (who could find no such record, but, in the face of a passport, assumed they lost it, some they issued us one).  And then finally, three years later, David would get a drivers license.

It is easy to point fingers here: Vera shouldn’t have taken him in, should have reported him and his sister to authorities immediately, should have completed the foster care paperwork, should not have lied about her age. 

But we are not talking about Vera (and unless you understand the fear and suspicion in minority communities when it comes to social workers and police, her actions may be hard to understand, but Vera was a *survivor* in a system stacked against her).  

We are talking about David.  A child buffeted by the winds of adult’s decisions – and who, if not for my own political and judicial connections, might still be a ‘non-person.’ A non-person who still has a right to Vote.

But David’s story is nothing compared to my son Thaddeus.

Thad was born in Trinidad, and legally adopted by me in the 1990s.  That means that both his Passport and Birth Certificate are issued by Trinidad, and his Adoption Certificate is issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the story of how it took over a year to get him into the US because of stupidity at the US Immigration Office in Boston is another story, but not germane to this one…)

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (8 U.S.C. 1101) provides as follows:

“A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

1) At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth of naturalization;
2) The child is under the age of eighteen years;
3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen aprent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence”

This is FEDERAL LAW.  It is mind-boggling how many bureaucrats, when given a copy of the law and Thad’s paperwork, simply stare and blink, afraid to think and take reasonable action.

Thad is an American citizen.  He has a U.S. Social Security Card.  He went through all the explanations, discussions,  and repeat visits to the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain his driver’s license.

And then he moved to New York.

Trying his best simply to follow the law, get a job, and be responsible, he went to a potential employer and was required to fill out the federal I-9.

Unfortunately, his Trinidadian passport was not seen as valid.  His adoption certificate was not valid.  His Social Security card didn’t have a picture.  His Driver’s License was from New Hampshire.

So Thad, now living with his grandmother in NY, went to Motor Vehicles in Westbury to turn in his NH License and get a NY Driver’s License.

After hours (literally) of lines, he was rejected, because the state of New Hampshire had misspelled his name – Thaddeus – as Thaddues. He was told he must have a corrected NH License before he could be granted a NY license. 

But New Hampshire will only mail licenses to an individual at their personal NH residence, and Thad  now lived in NY, so that couldn't happen. After many phone calls and research, the NH Department of Transportation agreed to send a certified letter to Thad admitting their error on the original license.  Armed with that document, Thad went back and spent another half-day at NY motor vehicles.

In spite of the Federal Law, and in spite of being told earlier that all he needed was a corrected NH license, he was now told that wasn't enough; he would have to have a US Passport to obtain a driver’s license. (Why?  You don't need to travel abroad in order to drive domestically!  But the Automotons at Westbury want to cover their asses, not serve the public.)

So, $260 later, Thad eagerly awaited the package from the Dept of State (and all during this time he couldn’t get a job, or drive, in spite of having a job lined up and being more than willing to work ).

The U.S. Department of State rejected his application for a U.S. Passport.

Why?  Because in spite of having a certified adoption certificate and everything required, the State Department decided that they needed to have the Docket Number of the original court case when Thad’s adoption was finalized.  (This is the number that is used by courts for scheduling hearings, but it is not normally transcribed on adoption certificates in Massachusetts, or elsewhere for that matter).

So, back to Massachusetts to get a docket number – except that the court that originally approved Thad's adoption had been closed for budgetary reasons, and all records were sealed and boxed in a warehouse somewhere in Boston, and it would take days, perhaps weeks, to find this specific record.

Miraculously –  on a 17-year-old scrap of paper shoved into his adoption file, I had written down the court hearing information from that day long ago  - and had included the docket number.  We forwarded the information, and the State Department was contacted again.

On Saturday, Thad’s US Passport arrived.  Yesterday, Thad returned to Motor Vehicles in Westbury.

As is always the case in Westbury, the lines were long and the wait interminable.  As the hours ticked by, his 72-year old grandmother, who accompanied him, needed to make a phone call as she was running late for an appointment.  To be polite, she stepped out into the lobby.

While she was talking, the guard locked the door. Apparently, Quitting Time had come to Motor Vehicles. 

In the meantime, Thad was inside, with 26 people still online in front of him.  When he got to the counter, he had everything except the fee to pay for the license, because his grandmother had it. 

They wouldn't let her back in.  They wouldn't let her pass the check to Thad.  They wouldn't let her pass it to the guard to pass it to Thad.

So today, they will go back to Motor Vehicles and see what adventure lies in store.

The moral of these stories?

Those of you who think a photo id is a simple matter, think again.   The Republican efforts to require photo ids is designed to frustrate and delay and disenfranchise.  If my two sons – both of whom are legitimate American citizens – have to go through this nonsense just to prove who they are – how many persons, with less tenacity, fewer resources, less ability to spend money or spend days on line, with fewer political connections….will simply give up?  

And isn't that the Republican's real goal?

Voting in the United States is a Constitutional Right – not an award to be earned by running a bureaucratic triathlon.