Source: AP Photo

BETWEEN THE LINESWhen Mitt Romney became the Republican’s designated presidential nominee following his victories in the spring primaries, the party’s conservative wing seemed as lukewarm about the former governor as they were four years ago for maverick Senator John McCain. In a calculated move to counterbalance his moderate credentials, and emulating what McCain did four years ago, Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan, a Tea Party favorite, as his vice presidential running mate.

But even that didn’t seem to matter much because, after weeks of campaigning, until the first presidential debate, Romney trailed or was tied in nearly every poll. As a matter of fact, in the days leading up to the Denver debate, a lack of enthusiasm clouded the GOP.

But the doubt promptly dispersed, and gave Romney a timely jolt, when President Obama’s first debate performance was, at best, mundane, and, at worst, uninspiring. In spite of tightening or eliminating the gap in the polls, after one debate Republicans shouldn’t be too quick to lick their chops or dream of an electoral landslide just because a few voters shifted.

On the campaign trail, “Rappin’” Romney tries to assure conservative crowds he’s worthy of their support, yet during the debate his moderate side was in first gear — another indication that, whichever way the wind blows, Mitt changes direction. Romney had to win over moderate as well as undecided voters or the race for the White House would have stalled even more.

Nevertheless, as the debate wore on, some supporters were in full drool, with some, two hours later, likely doing a triumphant boogie. Out on the stump, Romney’s style is humdrum and hasn’t lived up to expectations, so the post-debate resurgence was requisite or the chance for a GOP November victory was kaput. As it is, Romney’s back in the game — for now.

However, that faint glimmer of GOP optimism was a bit tarnished when the September unemployment rate was reported to be less than eight percent, the lowest since 2008. Nevertheless, as the president and Democrats touted that silver lining, Romney told crowds he was unimpressed with the drop in unemployment.

After pundits and “experts” on Fox News analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) results, they implied it was more likely a statistical manipulation conspiracy than coincidence that justified the reduced numbers with a month to go before the election.

Though it is mind-boggling that the BLS would cook the books to make Obama look good, the president’s relentless antagonists still deny the numbers demonstrate that the economy is improving. It not only reduces the GOP’s chances of moving back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but also reveals the level of cynicism they have embraced since their defeat in 2008.

Ever since then, Republicans repeatedly point to dreadful jobless numbers to attack the president’s performance and ineffectiveness to turn around the nation’s economy. However, now, when the statistics seem to indicate the situation is marginally improving, they not only conveniently refuse to accept them, but have the audacity to insinuate there’s some kind of mischief afoot by the Obama Administration.

Admittedly, most of the new jobs were supposedly due to an increase in low paying, part-time employment, but, significantly, thousands of formerly unemployed citizens will no longer receive government entitlements, which conservatives would love to eliminate all together, as they pay taxes and contribute to the economy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Republicans have consistently criticized and condemned President Obama for almost four years. Before the clear-cut debate triumph and the boost in the polls, the GOP has employed a much more undignified scheme — by passing restrictive voting laws across the country, apparently encouraged it will influence the outcome for success on Election Day.

Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote, even though tens of millions do not — or hardly — exercise that privilege. In some states, recent voter suppression laws reduce the pool of eligible voters and will limit access to polls for the upcoming presidential election, which is obviously the wrong approach to end voter discrimination in this country.

Almost a century after the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which “…prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote…,” unfair practices continued to deprive millions of African Americans — and others the right vote. It took the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 to finally outlaw such repression. That is, until it was revived by the GOP shortly after the Republicans triumphed in the 2010 Congressional elections.

In the last two years, the controversy has centered on a wave of voter ID laws passed by more than a dozen Republican state legislatures, particularly in key swing states that Obama carried in 2008 and might affect this election’s outcome. While Republicans argue the measures ensure voting integrity and prevent fraud, even though such cases are extremely rare, Democrats maintain the rules are sneaky tactics to suppress qualified constituencies, such as the urban poor and the elderly, who lack driver’s licenses and tend to vote Democratic, from voting.

Recently, the courts have overturned more voter ID laws than they let stand, including in Texas, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, because of their barefaced political expediency and intent to keep certain registered voters from the polls. Some of the rulings may be further examined — following the 2012 election.

Concern about ballot integrity would be better directed toward the potential for fraud with the growing use of absentee ballots — as a rule used more by Republican than Democratic voters — particularly the “chain of custody” for a ballot once it’s mailed to voters.

As a matter of fact, more states require identification to vote than require equivalent credentials to buy a gun. To them, the Second Amendment is obviously more important than the 15th!

Shenanigans and suppression of ballot access are nothing new to the democratic voting process, but it neither inspires faith in the process, nor encourages the ambivalent or the indifferent, who rationalize their pretext to avoid participating in a constitutional right on an appointed day.

For the last decade, Americans have been valiantly fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our sovereignty. It is particularly shameful and undignified that, in the 21st century, Republicans dare to employ — or much less have success with — such an underhanded technique as voter suppression that not only infringes and restrains, but also disgraces, our precious right to elect a president.

Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent 15 years as an editor for a Brooklyn weekly newspaper. He also did public relations work for Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. Friedman contributes a weekly column called “Between the Lines” on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  • Imperialist2012

    Ahh yes it is “Voter Suppression” when the dead, illegal aliens and convicted felons are not allowed to vote and when rabid Liberals only can vote once. The horror.

    How anyone can write a piece like this with even a modicum of honest literary ability and logic is beyond me. Since you are clearly writing for “your” audience of rabid Liberals, Communists, Thieves, Liars, Welfare Cheats, Crooks and the rest of the typical Brooklyn Voter- You performed your cheer-leading services quite well.

    I look forward to meeting up with an armed Black Panther as I cast my Vote for President Romney. I am not a little old lady who will be intimidated by thugs.

    God Bless America and The Real Americans who built her, not the ones who rape her daily!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Berardelli/1173482469 Gene Berardelli

      I can think of any least 30 different activities that require ID in the everyday lives of Americans. I have a list ready if challenged! :-) Check out Project Veritas if you don’t think they can be fraud and irregularities without verification of voter identity.

      • NSF

        So how come Republicans are only working this voter ID law in swing states? Why not in sates that are primarily red, too?

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          Because the Koch Brothers didn’t give them enough money to work those states as well.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Berardelli/1173482469 Gene Berardelli

            Right, and OFA isn’t taking advantage… oh wait. Yeah it is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q_iJfnbMzI0

          • levp

            First of all, those guys’ reputation as a source was shot long time ago (and their leader is a convicted federal offender).

            Secondly, Republicans are worried about Texas now? Good news, everybody!..

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            What is sad is that there are people who should know better using groups like this as valid reporters of fact.

            Luckily, for the most part the people who watch faked videos like this one are pretty hard core right wing nuts.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Berardelli/1173482469 Gene Berardelli

          I think Republicans want fair elections in every state. Some organizations are more zealous in pursuing it than others – like the King Street Patriots in Texas. I’d love to see a Voter ID effort here in NY.

          Just today, there was a video out of Houston where campaign workers were showing voters how to vote twice! If all of these instances in all of these states are outliers, then there are a LOT of outliers!

          In New York, all you have to do is sign the poll book – the poll inspectors don’t even check the signature. (let alone give the right ballot in a lot of cases, but that’s just a sore point for me!) Is it really so much to ask to verify that the person voting is who they say they are?

      • LennyM

        Are these 30 activities civic duties or rights of citizens? I’m pretty sure you’re not obligated to show ID to exercise free speech and even still free speech doesn’t have low turnouts where any form of discouragement would be detrimental to the fundamental ideas of representation on which this country is founded. As a politician you should know better than to support any action that might prevent Americans from being able to vote. Shame on you.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gene-Berardelli/1173482469 Gene Berardelli

          Actually, to exercise organized free speech, you need ID to get the permit for assembling.

          I don’t want to prevent anyone from voting. I want to make sure the voting system has integrity – that valid votes count and illegal votes do not. Everyone should be in favor of that.

          • levp

            Indeed, voting integrity is important.

            But, if that is the case, why don’t we start with absentee voter fraud, which is provable and does happen even in New York (allegedly… Remember that recent state election where a certain Republican has won by a few votes)?

            As opposed to trying to find a black cat in a dark room (read: in-person voter fraud) that, as expression goes, may not be there…

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            Oh no, absentee votes are always legitimate when collected by a campaign operative.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            You do not need ID to assemble. If you are planning an event of some size you might as an organizer. But if four or five people decide to protest in front of the local congressman’s office that is a protected right.

    • Tinman

      You obviously swallow the “fair and balanced” reporting and comment dribble that Fox News has all day. Show me where the dead, illegals or felons voted in 2008? By condemning “Brooklyn voters” as a whole your two-digit IQ is showing.

    • levp

      I hope I fall into the “rabid Liberals” category…

    • Arthur Borko

      Why do you hate Big Bird?

  • theguywhocare

    well done

    • NSF

      Thank you!

  • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

    The whole first half of this “op-ed” has nothing to do with the title; it is the usual rambling of “Democrat=good, Republican=evil” that one would expect. It is the usual rambling of the cult members (it is a cult, not a political group, since they all agree with each other 100%, parrot each others words exactly)

    I chuckle when I particularly read the usual Foxnews putdown. You guys have the entire mass media pushing DESPERATELY for Obama. Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Bloomberg: every single article I read favors Obama in every comparison to Romney. And this is only the FINANCIAL media. You guys have CBS, NBC, ABC, AP, Reuters, MSNBC, CNN as part of the Obama campaign to re-elect President Obama. But you cannot STAND a SINGLE news outlet that doesn’t agree with you. Can’t stand it. Can’t tolerate it. It must be nuts, idiots, retards, racists, stupidx, for a news outlet to not follow the cult. It’s that close-minded elitism that is so endearing..I don’t watch Foxnews, but I’m told they have a couple of people on that are not conservative. Didn’t that guy Juan Williams come from PBS, do I have that name right? Where are the conservatives on MSNBC? Or Cnn?.

    .

    I’m not going to address every one of the ridiculously one-sided points made in this “article”, which sounds more like a sour-grapes monologue delivered after downing a few beers.. The people have addressed it. Apparently the people got a good look at Romney, and many decided he’s not the evil, woman-killing, racist, Hitler-like monster that 90% of the journalists desperately portrayed him as. No wonder distrust of the mass media grows every year. And with op-eds like this, distrust of Sheepshead Bites could suffer the same fate.

    If you were fair, you might also point out that President Obama has waged the most negative campaign for president that I remember, and that goes back to Johnson-Goldwater. I defy you to name a more negative campaign, Democrat or Republican. It must be because of the fine record on the economy and foreign-policy that the president has amassed for the past 3 1/2 years. Guess he doesn’t have much positive to run on. Hope and change has suddenly become “well, I’m not as bad as the other guy”. What a platform.

    • NSF

      Talk about irrational ravings! For someone who doesn’t watch Fox News, how can you criticize that which you know nothing!
      You obviously missed the point of the headline. The first half is about Romney’s debate surge and the latter is about how, despite that improvement, the GOP is still trying to manipulate votes in order to win next month.
      And your allegations about how the left views Romney (“evil, woman-killing, racist, Hitler-like monster”) has no basis of fact.
      More importantly, you clearly don’t understand the purpose of an Op-ED. It is the sole viewpoint of the writer, not the medium or source that publishes it.
      But, thank you for reading my humble opinion. I appreciate the feedback, regardless of how inane the rant is.

      • imperialist2012@aol.com

        Typical Liberal response “FOX NEWS!!” “GEORGE W BUSH!!!!” “RACIST!!!!!” And when that fails to silence an opposing viewpoint resort to questioning their IQ, education and mental state. Amazing how those who scream for tolerance have none and resort to using the very epithets they want everyone else to abandon.

        Brooklyn is nothing more than a den of corruption run by Democrats who repeatedly elect the likes of Chucky Schumer, Anthony Weiner and The Cuomo Crime Family. I always warn others never to trust anyone that comes from here.

        The two minute hate has been ingrained in the Democrats by their agitators for decades now, it is to be expected.

        As for “showing” where the dead and felons voted, the dead keep quiet about their voting and the felons, if they are smart, don’t broadcast their latest acts.

        Where did you people learn your debating and logic skills? Following the David Axelrod method does not qualify as an honest intellectual debate. You darlings have been watching MSNBC and identifying with Chris Mathews “Tingling Leg” Syndrome far too well.

        • levp

          The fact that you are posting your response means that nobody is trying to “silence an opposing viewpoint”. In fact, sometimes it serves our purpose to amplify your viewpoint, just so that people on the sidelines would see it better for what it is.

          Back to the subject.

          Let’s say there is an alleged event that we will name X (in this case, in-person voter fraud).
          There is absolutely no evidence of X – which all of us agree with.

          My logic, therefore, suggests that X doesn’t exist.
          Your logic instead says there is a conspiracy that hides X so well that no one can observe it.

          You might want to stick to Martians – they did land in Rosewell, you know.

          • Imperialist2012

            Gee thanks for “letting” us post our responses. Berating our intelligence, screaming “racist” and demeaning everything we say… but allowing us to post… Even ruthless dictatorship allow opposition groups for a little while…

          • levp

            Hey, Ned – you are a Dictator!
            Well, the good news is, for once I’m in a ruling class – at least according to Imperialist2012…

            Poor persecuted imperialists of the world, unite!

      • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B

        “Despite Debate Win, GOP Seeks Edge With Voter Suppression”. Come on. What’s the main thrust of that title? Anyone versed in English would say that such an article would be 90% about voter issues, and not 8 paragraphs about alleged voter registration issues out of about 20.

        Those 12 or so paragraphs not pertaining to voter registration issues are every bit as much rambling as mine. It’s just that the prevailing local viewpoint will regard yours as “the truth” and mine as “that FoxNews ranting”.

        I thank you for the offer, Ned, but, I’m not sure I have the consistent time to do an Op-Ed. And quite frankly, I feel that a column from me with my viewpoints would actually decrease your readership. Not too many people want to read anything that disagrees too much with them at this point….. The offer is extremely gracious and open-minded, and I do appreciate it.

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      I will note that you are more than welcome to submit an op-ed, and, if you meet certain criteria, even become a regularly featured columnist on the site. You know how to reach me, Bruce.

  • Local Broker

    “As a matter of fact, more states require identification to vote than
    require equivalent credentials to buy a gun. To them, the Second
    Amendment is obviously more important than the 15th!”
    I would like to see you prove this fact.

    • NSF

      When you are buy a gun from a private seller, which is estimated accounts for 40 percent of U.S. gun sales, there is absolutely no requirement for the seller to check ID, conduct a background check, etc.
      Yet, more than a dozen states require a photo ID to vote.

      • Local Broker

        What does a private sale between 2 people have to do with the government? Every state requires a background check when you purchase in a store. Where did you get 40% from if there is no paper trail to prove it? Its a number with nothing backing it up. A photo ID is required to pick up my own mail from the post office. Its also required to buy booze and cigarettes. I dont think its such a big deal to show an ID to vote for our president.

        • NSF

          The government allows this to happen, meaning anyone can buy a gun without oversight. Just what this country needs when you have red states trying to suppress the vote. Ballots or bullets is not a choice. It’s a death sentence!

  • kool4coney

    Supreme court just struck down OHIO Governor attempt to stop early voting on the 3 days before the election… Ohio republicans wanted to appeal, USSC said NO.