Republicans are hair-on-fire howling about the surge of refugees from Central America … because they hate losing elections. (More)

The twins, Nancy and Michelle, love to listen to music, so Mrs. Squirrel and I got them iPawds. But we cautioned them to keep their music quiet enough to hear us chittering, because these devices increase the risk of hearing loss when kids turn the volume too high or listen for too long without taking a break.

“But dad,” Nancy complained, “you listen to political nuttitude and they’re always screaming.”

“They’re louder than a Metyl Guirrels concert,” Michelle agreed, “and you hear fine.”

“Huh?” I replied.

She had a point. If the right were a rock band, they’d strum electric guitars with band saws in front of jet engines. For the rhythm section they’d use guns. Their vocals would sound like they’d fallen off a cliff after setting their hair on fire. And their debut album would be titled White Noise.

A team of reporters at the Guardian do a great job of debunking their wild-eyed howling over the flow of refugees from Central America, and Maryland state police are investigating this graffiti as a hate crime:

“The tone of the crime is what we’re really concerned with. Again, you are targeting a specific group just based on their nationality,” said Sgt. Marc Black, Maryland State Police.

Some in Westminster say the graffiti is not the opinion of the entire town.

“We have to have mercy for these folks. You know they’re trying to escape a horrible situation and we need to have love and mercy for them,” said Donna Krommer.

In a statement, Senator Ben Cardin said, “There needs to be a respectful debate about immigration but we cannot allow such a conversation to devolve to the lowest common denominator of xenophobia and ignorance.”

He should have added “and partisan politics.”

Conservatives have been screeching about “non-citizen voting” for years. In 2009 right-wing blogger Jim Kouri claimed that undocumented immigrants in Florida almost gave Al Gore the presidency:

In 2000, the presidential race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush was decided by a few hundred votes in Florida.

“While the news media perpetuated the assertion that Bush and the GOP ‘stole’ the election, it could very well have been illegal aliens voting in Florida that made the outcome so close,” said former NYPD cop, now security firm owner, Sid Francis.

Note that phrase “could very well have been.” In fact an exhaustive investigation by the Commission on Civil Rights reached exactly the opposite conclusion:

Perhaps the most dramatic undercount in this election was the nonexistent ballots of the countless unknown eligible voters, who were wrongfully purged from the voter registration rolls, turned away from the polls, and by various other means prevented from exercising the franchise. While statistical data, reinforced by credible anecdotal evidence, point to widespread disenfranchisement and denial of voting rights, it is impossible to determine the extent of the disenfranchisement or to provide an adequate remedy to the persons whose voices were silenced in this historic election by a pattern and practice of injustice, ineptitude and inefficiency.

Republicans routinely cite a website that documents every voter fraud accusation as if it were fact, but many of those cases are merely complaints filed by losing candidates. That’s very common, according to a comprehensive study for Project Vote by Columbia University professor Lorraine Minnite:

A review of news stories over a recent two year period found that reports of voter fraud were most often limited to local races and individual acts and fell into three categories: unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief, and administrative or voter error.
[W]hen we probe most allegations of voter fraud we find errors, incompetence and partisanship.

A 2012 report by the Immigration Policy Center titled “Chicken Little in the Voting Booth” thoroughly debunks the right-wing paranoia:

Proponents of harsh voter laws often assert, without a shred of hard evidence, that hordes of immigrants are swaying election results by wheedling their way into the voting booth. However, repeated investigations over the years have found no indication that systematic vote fraud by non-citizens is anything other than the product of overactive imaginations.

A two-year investigation in Iowa found only 77 possible cases of non-citizens voting in the 2012 election … and 70 cases where “suspected non-citizens” were in fact citizens legally registered to vote. That’s out of 1,589,951 votes cast.

The Arizona Republic found the same non-problem:

In response to an Arizona Republic records request, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office provided a list of 21 criminal cases since January 2005 in which the suspect was charged with a felony related to voter fraud. A search of court records found 13 other cases.

Of the 34 Maricopa County cases, two of the suspects were in the country illegally and 12 were not citizens but living in the U.S. legally, court records showed. One of the suspect’s legal-residency status was unclear from the records.

The non-citizens came from around the world – Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Yugoslavia, the Philippines and Thailand. Most had been living legally in the U.S. for decades. Several stated in court documents that they thought they were permitted to vote because they were legal permanent residents of the United States.

Ahh, but that’s only the ones that get caught, Republicans insist:

Presented with this information, [Attorney General Tom] Horne maintained that voter fraud by illegal immigrants is a problem in Arizona.

“There are thousands of people who were non-citizens who registered to vote, and many of them voted,” he said.

He said he based his statements on court testimony by county recorders, who said more than 200 people in a single year had stated on a jury-duty summons that they weren’t citizens. “And jury forms only go to a small percentage of residents, so you have to multiply that to get the number of non-citizens who actually registered statewide,” Horne said.

But Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said Horne’s numbers aren’t accurate.

She agreed there are a couple of hundred instances each year in which the county jury commissioner notifies her that someone has stated on a jury form that he or she is not a citizen. But Purcell said not all of those are cases involve a person who is illegally registered to vote, much less one who has illegally cast a ballot.

“The jury summons is a combination of voter registration and driver’s licenses,” she said, explaining that an individual does not have to be a registered voter to be summoned for jury duty. “They may go to some people that have a driver’s license and are not citizens but are legal aliens.”

If they are registered to vote, Purcell said she immediately removes them from the registration rolls.

The ugly graffiti in Baltimore would probably shock Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

A nation that truly honored its history would repeat that message of hope to this Honduran teen:

But that would mean listening to her. And you can’t listen when you’re screeching at the top of your lungs.

Good day and good nuts