Anyone Can Vote

You don’t even have to prove you are an American citizen. At least so the Supreme Court has decreed.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that required people registering to vote in federal elections to show proof of citizenship, a victory for activists who said it had discouraged Native Americans and Latinos from voting.

In a 7-2 vote, the court, in an opinion written by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, ruled the voter registration provision of the 2004 state law was trumped by a federal law, the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

The state law was opposed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Indian tribes. They said it deterred legal voters who did not have the required paperwork from registering to vote.

It was another setback for the Republican leadership of a state, bordering Mexico, that has tried to crack down on illegal immigrants at a time when Hispanics represent the largest U.S. minority at nearly 17 percent of the population.

Both major political parties in Congress, aware of the increasingly influential Latino vote nationally, are trying to overhaul immigration laws with a bill that could provide a 13-year path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

At the same time, the high court made clear that Arizona could still have other ways to assert its argument that it should be allowed to ask for proof of citizenship. That would be the subject of separate litigation, the court said.

“It is a bit of a mixed bag, but at the end of the day it does reaffirm the absolute right to vote,” said Arizona state Senator Steve Gallardo, a Democrat.

Gallardo said the law unfairly made it seem as if there was massive fraud among Latino voters, which has never been proven. For a year, the Arizona Republican Party … (has) been using different methods to disenfranchise Latino voters,” he said.

Arizona Republican Attorney General Tom Horne, who argued the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state’s Republican leadership had said the law was meant to fight voter fraud, but Democrats countered that Republicans who championed the measures aimed to make it harder for minority voters who tend to vote Democratic to cast ballots.

So naturally you do not have to actually prove that you are eligible to vote in order to register to vote. This is unfortunate since it opens the way for a certain unscrupulous political party to register large numbers of illegal aliens who can then reliably vote for that party, just as they have made ample use of zombie voters.

There is a silver lining here in that the Supreme Court did uphold the principle that Arizona could seek to require proof of citizenship in a way that is less burdensome. J Christian Adams at PJMedia believes that this decision is, in fact, a victory for conservatives and perhaps he knows best.

Personally, I believe that there should be voter suppression, of the ignorant and ill-informed. In other words, rather than making it easier and more convenient for idiots to vote, we ought to make it more difficult and troublesome. For that reason, I take a dim view of such innovations as having people register at welfare offices, BMV branches, voting by internet and mail, and the like. I think a lot of the problems in this country, especially our venial, stupid and corrupt political class are directly attributable to our current practice of trying to get as many people as possible to vote. But, that’s just my, not entirely serious, opinion.

Stealing Kerry’s Seat

There is a special election coming up next week in Massachusetts for the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry when he became Secretary of State. The Democrats seem to be a bit worried since the polls are showing that the race is likely to be a close one.

BREAKING: With Markey (D) 45, Gomez (R) 44 in GOP poll, Tea Party launches $700,000 ad storm. FIGHT BACK >>

Friend — Karl Rove must think that he can steal John Kerry’s Senate seat at the last second:
With EIGHT DAYS until the election and a terrifying GOP poll showing the race neck-and-neck — Markey (D) 45, Gomez (R) 44 — a Rove-linked Tea Party Super PAC has made a game-changing $700,000 ad buy in Massachusetts.

We can’t let Rove do this to President Obama. If we lose seats like this one, Mitch McConnell will be one huge step closer to completely obstructing every sensible gun law, repealing Obamacare, and ruining Medicare.

It will take $150,000 in the next 24 hours to protect the President’s agenda and stop Karl Rove from stealing this seat and others like it. The President needs you — can you help?

I was not aware that the seat belonged to Kerry or the Democrats. I was under the impression that Senators were elected by the people of their state. In any event the Democrats have little to worry about. as far as anyone can tell, the two men have exactly the same position on issues.

Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom

The Taiping Rebellion was the bloodiest civil war in the history of China, and quite possibly the most destructive war in the whole sanguine history of war, yet few outside of China know very much about the course of this titanic conflict, or even that it happened.

The Taiping Rebellion began as a religious movement led by Hong Xiuquan, a man who had had a nervous breakdown after failing the very difficult civil service exams that were the path to success in Imperial China. After reading some tracts given to him by Christian missionaries, he conceived the idea that he was Jesus’ younger brother and began to form a cult, which became a Chinese nationalist movement against the Manchu Qing dynasty that ruled China. The Manchus did not care for this movement and their persecution sparked a rebellion that, at its height, involved almost half of the Chinese Empire.

Contemporary drawing of Hong Xiuquan, dating f...

Roughly contemporary with our own Civil War, there were a number of striking similarities between the American Civil War and the Taiping Rebellion, a fact noted by both Chinese and American observers. Both conflicts involved a rebellion by the southern regions of their respective countries against a government controlled by the north. Both were the most destructive civil wars ever fought by

either nation. Both wars threatened the prosperity of the British economy, which depended on trade with both America and China. In both cases foreign powers, especially Britain and France believed they had an interest in intervening. In both cases, the north won.

The differences between the two wars were greater, however. The Taiping Rebellion lasted longer, from 1850 to 1864. It was fought far more cruelly than the American Civil War. Imagine instead of a pleasant conversation between Grant and Lee at Appomattox, Grant seizing the surrendering Lee and having him tortured to death. Or, Sherman deliberately massacring Confederate civilians when he burned Atlanta. The United States was also spared the complication of having British or French troops invading to fight on either side, or having the British Navy burn down the White House to force America to trade. China was not so fortunate. While fighting the rebellion, the Chinese were also forced to fight the Arrow War against the British who burned down the Xianfeng Emperor’s Summer Palace in retaliation for the Chinese government’s mistreatment of their representatives.

The outcome and legacy of the two wars were also much different for the two nations. The United States emerged from the Civil War stronger and more united. In the decades following the Civil War, America became an industrial giant and a world power. Again, China was not so lucky. The Qing Dynasty managed to cling to power for the next half-century, growing ever weaker and less capable of defending China against the encroaching foreigners.

Extent of the Taiping Rebellion (French). 中文: ...
Extent of the Taiping Rebellion (French).
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I said, little is known of this conflict in the West. There have been a couple good histories of the Taiping Rebellion written by Western historians, including Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom by Stephen R Platt. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom is not so much a comprehensive history of the Taiping Rebellion, that would take several volumes to do it justice, but a story of some of the leading players would were caught up in the great events. Platt tells the story of Hong Rengan, the preacher’s assistant and cousin of Hong Xiuquan, who felt obliged to join the Taipings to help his cousin and who became Hong’s most trusted advisor. There is Zeng Guofan, the Chinese Confucian scholar who reluctantly became the general who crushed the Taipings. There were James Bruce, eighth Earl Elgin, who led the British in what he felt was an unjust war to force the Qing to allow the trade in opium, and his belligerent brother, Frederick Bruce who hated the Taipings and slanted his reports to encourage the British and the French to send forces to China to fight them. There were many Europeans, especially missionaries who sympathized with the Taipings and hoped that they would create a new, Christian China. There were others, like Frederick Townsend Ward, who sensed that fighting as mercenaries for the Qing could be very profitable.

This emphasis on some of the leading actors in the drama makes Platt’s account interesting and readable. In fact, it reads almost like a novel and I found it hard to put down. The only weakness in his approach that I can see is that he barely mentions the beginnings and early years of the Taiping movement and the history only really begins when Hong Rengan decides to join the Taipings in 1858. The story also ends with the end of the Rebellion, and it might have been nice to read a little more about how China’s “reconstruction era” turned out. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom is a worthy book about a somewhat forgotten war and I can heartily recommend it for anyone interested in China.