Why aren't more conservatives concerned about felon voting rights?

I've been a huge fan of Elizabeth Warren since I saw her yelling at a cop during the 2012 Boston Pride Parade. I generally think that her past history as a Republican should actually be a selling point, as it demonstrates her capacity to examine the available evidence and change her mind. But one place where Bernie still stands out in front is his willingness to extend voting rights to people who are incarcerated.

I'm not surprised that Warren is hesitant to go all the way in allowing people to vote while still incarcerated — after all, unexamined biases against incarcerated people are extremely common — but I am disappointed.

The more I thought about it, however, I began to consider how strange it is that felon voting rights (during or after incarceration) tend to be such a partisan issue. As a progressive, I've come around to understand why it matters, as all human rights matter, particularly in an unjust legal system. As much as I hate it, I can at least understand the true authoritarian racist argument in favor of retaining free labor through a loophole-by-design of the 13th Amendment.

But when I think about the conservatives I know, and the philosophies they claim to adhere to, that's where the contradictions arise. For example, let's ignore the contrived veneer respectability that shines on every deceptive video from PragerU, and take their argumentative claims at face value and in good faith. PragerU pumps out plenty of content defending the Electoral College by rationalizing it around a fear of mob rule, or the "tyranny of the majority." From the perspective of the PragerU Thought Community, the Founding Fathers were very concerned that 500,000 people in Wyoming would be unjustly overruled by the 40 million in California. In order to prevent this potential future tragedy, it thus makes sense to amplify the senatorial powers of the people of Wyoming by 800 percent to make them truly equal to Californians. This perspective prioritizes the representational part of a "Democratic-Republic," and downplays the part about democracy (which is particular ironic, given the lip service paid by the American Imperialist Military Machine to "spreading democracy" across the globe. But I digress.)

So, the threat of mob rule is overwhelming. Now let's imagine a completely hypothetical scenario in which a tyrannical majority enacts laws that deliberately target minorities— in this case, let's say white Evangelical Christian men. Now they're all in prison. But if they still retained their voting rights, they would at least have some chance to turn that wicked weapon of democracy around, and use it to fight back against the tyranny of the majority mob.

This essentially weaponizes the concept of "democracy" as a form of mutual deterrence. Although it certainly could lead to mob rule, it also ensures a path to defeating that mob rule while still playing within the same set of rules.

The glaring flaw in this little thought experiment, of course, is the assumption that groups like PragerU are acting in good faith, and aren't just using realpolitik to enshrine their wealth and power like any other tyrant would. Unfortunately, the only way to change their minds would be to convince them that people who are or have been incarcerated are not some alien race of "criminals," but rather, actual human beings who are inherently deserving of the same rights and opportunities and liberties as everybody else. And that's not an easy task.

In Advisory Opinion, Florida Supreme Court Says State Can Require Ex-Felons To Pay Fines Before Having Their Voting Rights Restored [Zuri Davis / Reason]

CBP went against court orders and deported an Iranian student with a fully legal presence in the country

Shahab Dehghani is an Iranian citizen and college student who has been studying in Boston for the past several years. According to MassLive, he had been in the United States for two years while enrolled at UMass Boston. Dehghani had planned to transfer to Northeastern University, but returned home to Iran in December 2018, and had to wait a year for his F-1 student visa to get re-approved. With all the proper paperwork in place, he returned to Boston to start his first semester at Northeastern.

Upon landing at Logan Airport this past Sunday, he was immediately detained US Customs and Border Protection agents.

The agents wanted to remove him from the country right away. But a federal court upheld an emergency stay from Dehghani's lawyer that would ensure he remained in the country for 48-hours until a proper hearing could be held. According to that same lawyer, CBP deported Dehghani anyway.

It's kind of hard for authoritarian law enforcement to argue that they're upholding "law and order" when they're literally disobeying the law. But somehow that never stops them.

Student Deported From Boston Despite Federal Court Order [Shannon Dooling / WBUR]

Image of Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston via Wikimedia Commons

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No more emotional-support animals on planes except specially trained dogs if these new FAA rules are approved

Whither the in-flight emotional support miniatures horses?

“Officials highlighted a few areas where they are most eager to get comments, including whether miniatures horses should continue to qualify as service animals”

Proposed new FAA rules would mean no more passengers bringing what are identified as emotional-support animals on airplanes, unless the animals are specially trained dogs that meet requirements. (more…)

This adapter lets you play your Nintendo Switch with your favorite old school controllers

The Nintendo Switch is an undeniably awesome gadget, pairing old-school gaming styles with modern-day graphics and functionality for a new generation of gamers.

The only complaint people seem to have is that its controllers are somewhat lacking, which is why more and more Switch-enthusiasts are picking up this Gbros. Wireless Adapter that lets you play with your go-to, original wired controllers instead.

Perfectly compatible with controllers for Gamecube, NES, SNES, and SFC, this adapter will bring a new level of familiarity to your games by allowing you to take advantage of your favorite controllers while you play your Switch.

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Statins might make you a big jerk: unintended pharmacological side effects

Sounds like the clinical trials programs we use to approve drugs may have room to improve.

BBC:

He had diabetes, and he had signed up for a study to see if taking a “statin” – a kind of cholesterol-lowering drug – might help. So far, so normal.

But soon after he began the treatment, his wife began to notice a sinister transformation. A previously reasonable man, he became explosively angry and – out of nowhere – developed a tendency for road rage. During one memorable episode, he warned his family to keep away, lest he put them in hospital.

Out of fear of what might happen, Patient Five stopped driving. Even as a passenger, his outbursts often forced his wife to abandon their journeys and turn back. Afterwards, she’d leave him alone to watch TV and calm down. She became increasingly fearful for her own safety.

Then one day, Patient Five had an epiphany. “He was like, ‘Wow, it really seems that these problems started when I enrolled in this study’,” says Beatrice Golomb, who leads a research group at the University of California, San Diego.

Calabasas fan of Nazism forced to remove public display from his condo balcony

The first amendment is one thing, but I would not piss off an HOA.

A gentleman, who may or may not have a mental illness, posted a number of very offensive signs on his condominium balcony. His HOA asked him to remove said signage and then fined him to no effect. The City of Calabasas apparently got involved, and the hateful symbology has been removed... for now.

ABC7:

A man who is believed to be the long-time owner of the condo was seen last week yelling and cursing at people from his balcony. No threats were made, according to the sheriff's department, but some neighbors say they feel unsafe and intimidated by the messages.

"I'm horrified, and I'm sad," resident Sheri Polk said. "Sad that people feel this way about Jews, about African Americans."

The city of Calabasas said the material was taken down Friday, the morning after a deadline was issued for the signs' removal. The resident initially refused to remove the posters, according to Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub.

This "bulletproof" hoodie comes with a lifetime warranty

Lest you thought the "bulletproof" backpack trend wasn't heinous and exploitative enough, Wonder Hoodie is now selling a "bulletproof" hoodie.

I use "scare-quotes" here because, like most "bulletproof" products on the market, this hoodie claims to rate a IIIA on the National Institute of Justice's Body Armor Performance Standards. This means that the padding is "Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection."

So it's not really bulletproof so much as it is bullet resistant for certain handguns. Which ain't gonna help in the occasion someone shows up with an AR-15 or similar semi-automatic rifle. Also, if we're being technical, it hasn't actually been tested and certified by the NIJ, but rather by an independent lab. But I digress.

If it does make you feel comfortable about the statistically likelihood situation of a mass shooting, then by all means, spend the $800 for the adult-sized hoodie, even though you're more likely to die in a boating or a spaceship incident. (To be fair, a deliberate assault by a gun is way more likely than either of these events, though still a lower risk than death from cancer, flu, or falling.) And to make it even more worth the exploitative emotional manipulation investment, the company also offers a "Limited Lifetime Warranty." Here's what that entails:

If you get shot (God forbid) with our hoodies on, we'll send you a replacement hoodie FREE of charge. Just include the police report or news clip.

I could see how this might provide some solace to people who are suffering from PTSD after surviving a shooting incident, even if they weren't shot themselves. But it still leaves a largely gross taste in my mouth, even if they do claim to donate one hoodie to a school teacher for every 10 hoodies sold.

Unfortunately, the company only offers a 2 day warranty. Yes, really. "If 2 days have gone by since receiving your Wonder Hoodie product, unfortunately we can’t offer you a refund or exchange." That feels a little sketchy — I've definitely ordered things that I didn't open right away, or didn't have the time to figure out the return process right away. Coupled with the fact that Wonder Hoodie offers no information on the founders of the company, and what (if any) experience they might have in the defense industry, I find this particularly questionable.

Most bulletproof backpack companies at least boast about the founders' experience in the ROTC or National Guard or IDF or local police, etc. Wonder Hoodie offers … nothing. About anyone involved. Their Facebook page was created 2 days after the Las Vegas strip shooting in 2017, but no posts were made until December 30, 2019. Similarly, the first post on their Instagram page commemorates this event on the same day the Facebook page was created, but, with there are no more posts until January 2019.

After a little more digging, I found a possible name for the founder: Vy Tran. According to a Forbes 30 Under 30 profile from 2019:

For Vy Tran, Wonder Hoodie is personal. After her neighbor was shot to death walking home, 26-year-old Tran quit a well-paid management job and poured her savings into a startup in 2018 that designs and manufactures bulletproof hoodies to keep people safer in their communities. "I don't want anyone to have to need my product but if it's what they need to feel safe I'd like to help them do that." Sales topped $500,000 in the first 11 months and should reach $4 million this year as she shakes up the body armor market, offering better head protection and modern fashion.

This sure smells like a scam to me.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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