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Juliet Lapidos at The New York Times:
Several right-wing groups have banded together to form a “voter integrity project’ in response to the news that Republican Senator Thad Cochran is courting black Democratic voters in his runoff with the Tea partier Chris McDaniel.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots, all political action committees, will “deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats,” according to a Times article. Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservative Funds, said these observers would be trained to see “whether the law is being followed.”

Does anything think this “project” will actually encourage voter “integrity” as opposed to voter suppression? Misinformation is already circulating as to the details of the law that voters must follow.

Jim Newell at The Nation:
We’d like to reiterate what’s going on here: Conservatives will be training “poll watchers” in Mississippi to monitor the activity of black voters. It’s amazing, and sad, to see how quickly things have devolved into awful Mississippi stereotypes here. Just a couple of weeks back, Thad Cochran’s team decided, hey, we should try to appeal to black voters. And almost instantly we have a volunteer army of “election observers” descending upon black polling sites. The Times writes that the effort “evokes memories of the civil rights struggles of the state’s past.” No shit.
Much more on the day's top stories below the fold.

Ari Berman reflects on Freedom Summer:

The fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer happens to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, where the Supreme Court’s conservative majority invalidated Section 4 of the VRA on June 25, 2013. As a result, states like Mississippi, with the worst history of voting discrimination, no longer have to clear their voting changes with the federal government. [...]

Since the 2010 election, twenty-two states have passed new voting restrictions, according to the Brennan Center. This includes requiring strict voter ID to cast a ballot, cutting early voting, making it harder to register to vote and rescinding voting rights for non-violent ex-felons. New restrictions will be in place for the first time in 15 states in the 2014 election. All across the country, we’re seeing the most significant push to restrict voting rights since Reconstruction.

Partisanship is a strong motivating factor for the voting changes – GOP legislatures or governors enacted eighteen of the twenty-two new restrictions.

Turning to Iraq, Eugene Robinson provides his take:
Iraq is shattered and 300 U.S. military advisers can’t put the pieces back together. So now what? An old saying about the Middle East comes to mind: Things can always get worse.

The aim of U.S. policy at this point should be minimizing the calamity, not chasing rainbows of a unified, democratic, pluralistic Iraq — which, sadly, is something the power brokers in Iraq do not want.

Conor Friedersdorf examines extrajudicial drone killings:
On Monday, a federal appeals court released a memo on the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The public should have seen this memo long ago. The Obama Administration suppressed it even after publicly invoking its logic; killing its subject in a drone strike; citing it to justify the legality of the killing; and appointing its author, David Barron, to a lifetime seat on a federal appeals court. Why was it suppressed? If you read the redacted memo, you'll see that nothing released Monday threatens national security or hurts America's ability to wage the war on terrorism. As the debate about the legal standards set forth in the memo intensify, let's not forget what finally seeing this document makes clear: the Obama Administration needlessly and illegitimately hid it from us for years. And this is just the latest evidence that Team Obama abuses its classification power. [...]

The memo makes many contested claims that will be analyzed by legal experts who are better able than I am to identify and explain potentially problematic precedents. On first read, I am nevertheless struck by how few words are spent defending extrajudicial killing against Constitutional as opposed to statutory objections. After all, the 5th Amendment is emphatic: "no personal shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Citing Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld and Matthews vs. Eldridge, the memo argues that the 5th amendment prohibition on killing without due process is subject to a "balancing test" that weighs the right not to be extrajudicially killed against the government's interests and whatever burdens it would face in extending due process.

That itself is a potentially dangerous precedent.

Here's The New York Times on the matter:
The Obama administration on Monday reluctantly released its justification for killing an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, whom it considered a terrorist, in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. But the rationale provides little confidence that the lethal action was taken with real care. [...]

The sheer power of drone strikes, several of which have killed many innocent bystanders, is in no way comparable to the kind of police shootings that the memo cites as precedent. (And, in most cities, police shootings are carefully investigated afterward, and officers face punishment if they exceed their authority. Has that ever happened with an errant drone strike?)

Lots of reaction to Egypt's draconian and unjust sentencing of journalists this week. From The Los Angeles Times:
Egyptian officials insist that the country's judicial system is independent. But, as a State Department official noted the other day, the judiciary "in many ways is clearly responding to a political environment that the government has created." The U.S. should press Sisi to send a different message to the courts and to his countrymen — beginning with clemency for Al Jazeera's journalists.
And from The New York Times:
The conviction of three journalists by an Egyptian court on Monday for doing their jobs is the latest effort by the country’s military-backed rulers to crush all dissent. The alarming verdict sends a chilling and intimidating message not just to other journalists working in the country but to Egyptian citizens as well.
Katrina vanden Heuvel writes about "real" family values:
In President Obama’s own words, too many American workplaces resemble scenes from Mad Men. Many employers’ attitudes toward family-friendly reforms seem to stem from the same unenlightened era—that is, at least, until they see the bottom-line results that these reforms can inspire. For a nation that claims to value family, the United States has an abysmal record on family-friendly workplace policies. Without access to maternity and paternity leave, affordable childcare, and paid sick leave, working parents have almost no flexibility to balance the needs of their families with the requirements of their jobs. In short, when it comes to family-friendly labor policies, America is, indeed, exceptional—exceptionally backward.


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