Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BANANA REPUBLICANS....Greg Gordon of McClatchy on the politicization of the Justice Department:

For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates.

The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.

....On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the [Civil Rights] division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.

Much more at the link. Read it all.

And over at the LA Times, Jon Chait gets shrill on the subject:

It would be very easy to overreact to all these things and conclude that our democracy is imperiled or that Republicans are wannabe Putins. But almost nobody seems to be overreacting.

Most people are under-reacting. Allowing the security apparatus of the state to help tilt elections is an extremely grave precedent. When the line of acceptable behavior can be moved without much protest, it often can be moved further the next time.

No, we're not becoming Russia. But becoming just a little bit like Russia still ought to be considered a major scandal.

Well, you'd think so. But let's not overreact.

Kevin Drum 1:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Comments

Well duh. Its a major scandal. How do we get the rest of the big time press to notice?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 19, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

It needs "sexing-up" for the networks. Otherwise, there's no place for it between weather and sports.

Posted by: rusrus on April 19, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not Al.

Posted by: Al on April 19, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

People used to say that despite everything else that he had done, Nixon was a smart guy.

I think that you do have to admire the brilliance of these guys for their realization that there is no need for all the instruments of an authoritarian state to transform a country into one that is a close approximation that serves their ends, and that it is more than enough to just own the media and the machinery of justice and some key positions of various regulatory agencies.

Posted by: gregor on April 19, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK


In the run-up to the elections in 2004, a Republican political operative from Arizona was on contract to the RNC in which voter registration was the primary focus and effort.

However, the Republican operative started stiffing his employees for failing to pay them the agreed to wage and the employees began to speak out. To wit, the Republican operative was having his employees process the voter registration papers for the potential Republican Party affiliated and he had his employees tossing the papers of the voters affiliated with the Democratic Party. Thus, the trash cans were full in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Consequently, none sitting on the Senate Judiciary has questioned this Republican political operative as to this egregious behavior.

And if not, the Democratic Senators should slink out of town for being slackers.

Posted by: Jaango on April 19, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Rule 1 in AG AG's playbook:

If I assigned my deputies something to do, of course I trusted their judgement.

Rule 2: If they tried to subvert the Constitution, I'll try to do better.

Posted by: parrot on April 19, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Look just because my party is sick and scandelous is no reason to shove our noses in it.Just like you libruls to go,NAh nah na na nah na.

Posted by: AL on April 19, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

For 8 years under Clinton, the Republicans created an immense fantasy for themselves about how Clinton was running the government - basically using it as his own private police force, in order to quietly enforce the most radical of 'liberal' agendas.

I say it was a fantasy because it had no basis in reality; Clinton's administration was professional, competent, and bipartisan even to a fault.

But the fantasy didn't die when Clinton left. Instead, it became a blueprint for how Republicans thought the government must be run. And so we have the immense institution of the federal government being turned into a giant private police forced, set up to enforce and perpetuate the most radical 'conservative' agenda this country has ever seen.

And so it goes.

Posted by: lampwick on April 19, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

i think gonzales is one of the most honest and competent members of this administration!

Posted by: an al on April 19, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest a lot of the inspiration for Republicans in creating phony voter fraud investigations of Democrats is to obscure the voter fraud they themselves engage in.

They can simply say allegations against them are an attempt to obscure the issue, or, in the event that their phony accusations are disproven, suit up in the attitude that voter fraud is like looking for ufos.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

When, back in 2002, 2003, I told a friend of mine that I suspected these things were going on, she told me I was paranoid. I've long thought that the Bush administration was out to destroy the workings of government and cripple democracy ("voter fraud!") to ensure its ever-lasting hold on power.

Posted by: Debra on April 19, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

i think gonzales is one of the most honest and competent members of this administration!


You know, I completely agree. He's the creamy glob atop the latte.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you'd think so. But let's not overreact.

With you 100%. In fact, let's not react at all. I have decided that any reaction to any action taken by the Bush administration would be partisan.

Partisan! Oooga bugga bugga!

Posted by: David Broder on April 19, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is what Gonzogate is all about, the USA firings were one facet of Rove's plan to use federal law enforcement to swing elections.

And the Dems are all over this, believe me. They can read the papers too. And they are getting a lot of help from knowledgeable insiders who are coming forward.

Posted by: grytpype on April 19, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Republican voter suppression efforts are one of their defining Party characteristics.
...One of the few public declarations of their intent came in 2004, when then state Rep. John Pappageorge of Michigan, who's now running for a state Senate seat, was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: "If we do not suppress the Detroit [read: black ] vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election cycle."...

Posted by: Mike on April 19, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

From TPM: Breaking: Rep. Doolittle (R-CA) resigning from Approps committee in the wake of FBI raid.

Wooo hoooo!

Posted by: anonymous on April 19, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

All they say is 'both sides do it', and the issue disappears like a fart in the wind.

Posted by: jg on April 19, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican 25% Strategy of divide, suppress and conquer is simple. First, fire up the base with red meat issues, while using the proven conservative "distribution" channel of churches and single issue advocacy groups to get them to the polls. Second, drive down the participation of potential Democratic and independent voters through curbs on registration, onerous new ID requirements, and polling place eligibility challenges. Last but certainly not least for the Republican party of Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, when in doubt, just cheat.

For the analysis, see:
"Divide, Suppress and Conquer: The GOP's 25% Strategy."

Posted by: AngryOne on April 19, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking Republicans and voter fraud, when is Ann Coulter going to jail?

The only people who seriously do it are always Republicans.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

What would happen if the USAs actually started investigating absentee voting -- you know the voter fraud that studies actually shows happens?

Posted by: lou on April 19, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The Polling Report collects polls on Gonzales.

Note the "never heard of him" columns. Way I see it, despite the best attempts of the media to make this a crisis, most Americans don't care about this issue.

Posted by: harry on April 19, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK
The Polling Report collects polls on Gonzales.

Recent ones show between 3:2 and 2:1 unfavorable:favorable, with 52% - 73% of those polled taking a stand. (64% - 73% if you exclude the polls that refer to Gonzales by name without job title.)


Note the "never heard of him" columns. Way I see it, despite the best attempts of the media to make this a crisis, most Americans don't care about this issue.

That's a fairly desperate attempt at spin, but with unfavorable ratings from 35 to 48% and favorables from 17 to 26% in the recent ones of the polls you point to, I don't think its that credible.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 19, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

You know, we do have to admit something: It's kinda funny that, for all their efforts to rig the '06 elections, the GOP still lost.

Their incompetence truly knows no bounds ...

Posted by: Mark D on April 19, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans' actions are especially ironic given conservatives' ridiculous obsession with Communism...oh, hi, mhr!

Posted by: Gregory on April 19, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

They don't have to send Ann Coulter to jail. Just throw a bucket of water on her.

Posted by: chance on April 19, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

We took our party back, mhr. You need to do the same.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Chance - Or drop a house...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

We're not becoming Russia, we're turning into the Soviet Union. The followup to the REAL IDs will be some kind of pandemic scare (actual pandemic sold separately) that will require showing IDs to cross state lines and to use any kind of long-distance transit (that latter one may already be true). In other words, internal passports. Which can be revoked. The Incumbent Party has held power for generations and shows no sign of losing its grip on power (on reality, well, no comment).

Posted by: tatere on April 19, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

We took our party back, mhr.

Not that I disagree with the thought, BGRS, but your statement kind of validates mhr's scurrilous charges, most of which are bullshit straight out of the John Birch Society. Objections to a US-assisted military coup against an elected government -- andthe dictatorial atrocities that followed -- becomes "Liberals whined when the Stalinist Allende government in Chile fell." (Never mind that Allende was hardly "Stalinist".)

mhr's charges are simply dishonest and do not deserve validation. Much as the US formed an alliance with the USSR during WWII, some American liberals once wondered if some synthesis of ideas would correct some of the corrupt excesses of the american system. As BGRS correctly notes, the revleation of Stalin's horrors put paid to that.

Since then, the Soviet Union has been mostly useful to extremist reactionary conservatives -- as a convenient external threat, as the basis for countless straw man arguments (hi again, mhr!) and, most recently, as the model for how an authoritarian government was wrong.

They looked into the abyss, and the abyss looked also into them.

Posted by: Gregory on April 19, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

mhr's a-historical tantrum aside, his point is that Putin is just fine with him, and ought to be just fine for everyone else.

Posted by: cld on April 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

It needs "sexing-up" for the networks. Otherwise, there's no place for it between weather and sports.

I'm photoshopping Monica Goodling into interracial girl-on-girl porn as I write this....

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, ya knobwit:

Ya gotta do more than just skim Kevin's posts before ya leave a comment.

Don't want us to think yer an idjit, do ya?

Posted by: skeg on April 19, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

they did everything they could to help Castro, approved of Ortega of the sandinistas in Nicaragua and passed a law forbidding aid to those who wanted to overthrow that Stalinist government.

Oh good lawd. The Sandinistas were populists, who did horrible Stalinist things like increase literacy from 10% to 90%. Thatcherite England was more socialist than they were.

Posted by: Disputo on April 19, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I really shouldn't commit drive-by postings in this forum...

Apologies. I'll refrain until I can actually engage. I'm stuck in the template code at my place. When I installed haloscan for comments I lost all my widgets and gadgets.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 19, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I'd like to see some actual links to the "Stalinist" excesses of the Allende and Sandanista (v.1) governments. I haven't been able to find any except State Department accounts of the time. Given the USG's investment in opposition to those governments, I don't find that a very satisfying single source.

Anybody got anything to back it up, or can we just chalk them up as more right wing myths?

Posted by: just sayin on April 19, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I really shouldn't commit drive-by postings in this forum.... Apologies.

No worries, BGRS. It isn't that you're wrong about either the Democrats taking their party back or the GOP's need to (and how).

It's just that, despite mhr's warmed-over John Birch bullshit, the Soviet Union has been more important to the Republicans than the Democrats for more than 50 years now.

Posted by: Gregory on April 19, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Mark D >"...Their incompetence truly knows no bounds ..."

Give credit where credit is due.

"...For every action there is an equal & opposite reaction..." but, sometimes, it takes a while to kick in. The next few years are going to be very interesting

"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.

Posted by: daCascadian on April 19, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK
...stop asking for photo ID....george w. orwell at 2:28 PM
Studies have shown it's not a problem, therefore it needs no expensive government non-solution.
.... real live Stalinists tyrannies mh rat 3:04 PM
The idea is to keep them over there so we don't get 'em over here.

In the meantime, Republican down:
Doolittle gives up Appropriations seat
Less than a week after the FBI raided the Northern Virginia home of his wife, Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) gave up his coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee today amid concerns that he had used that post to advance the interest of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other allies.
"I understand how the most recent circumstances may lead some to question my tenure on the Appropriations Committee," the nine-term conservative wrote in a letter to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "Therefore, I feel it may be in the best interest of the House that I take a temporary leave with seniority from this Committee until this matter can be resolved."...

Another Republican down: McCloskey leaves Republican Party
Lifelong Republican, Marine veteran and former congressman Pete McCloskey has left the GOP and registered with the Democratic Party.
McCloskey says he is disgusted with the "succession of ethical scandals, congressmen taking bribes and abuse of power by both the Republican House leadership and the highest appointees of the White House."
"A pox on (Republicans) and their values," he wrote....

Dang that Nancy Pelosi and her seductive San Francisco values.

Posted by: Mike on April 19, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

tatere >"...In other words, internal passports. Which can be revoked..."

Tokugawa Japan worked this way. One needed, in some instances, a pass to move from one neighborhood to another. Very effective methodology. Also very ripe for bribery & all sorts of corruption.

Very, very ReThuglican.

"...A democracy which makes or effectively prepares for modern scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic." - Aldous Huxley

Posted by: daCascadian on April 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Mike >"...Another Republican down: McCloskey leaves Republican Party Lifelong Republican, Marine veteran and former congressman Pete McCloskey has left the GOP and registered with the Democratic Party..."A pox on (Republicans) and their values," he wrote...."

Semper Fi !

One brick at a time.

"Small men follow the letter of the law, great men seek justice" - Buck Rodgers

Posted by: daCascadian on April 19, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

If you agree with Chait -- I do -- doesn't this subject warrant more than a sarcastic comment?

Posted by: Martin Gale on April 19, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Don't quite understand the dustup.

When asked by Congress, whether the Justice Department had only gone after Democrats in voting fraud cases, Gonzo replied "Nyet".

When asked about his preparations for his hearing, he replied, "Well, I did spend time at my Dacha with my staff."

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 19, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

You know, we do have to admit something: It's kinda funny that, for all their efforts to rig the '06 elections, the GOP still lost. "by Mark D"

There is only one thing worse than vote rigging and that's being caught doing it. In the 2006 election there were reports of many new voting machines that just simply did not work and they went back to paper ballots. Oddly a different twist than the 2004 problems. Using rigged vote machines in a big landslide loss would look too incriminating. Actually being caught would bring jail sentences, so they had to pull the machines out of service.

Posted by: Artemusc on April 19, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

lou- I was fetching a link for you on the investigation they closed last year on voter fraud that said they didn't really find anything.
Then this.....

Panel Said to Alter Finding on Voter Fraud
By Ian Urbina
The New York Times

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Washington - A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.

Instead, the panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

Rest of the read is at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041107N.shtml

Posted by: Zit on April 19, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Paper ballots ONLY, Ever, Everywhere!!!

Because Republicans aren't the only ones who can rig an election!!!!!!

Those darn Independents might try it too.

[insert smiley emoticon here][but only if you want to]

Posted by: Zit on April 19, 2007 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK


This story made the front page above-the-fold in the Sacramento Bee this morning, notwithstanding the FBI raid on Rep. Doolittle's office (which was the main attraction), and Cho Seung-Hui's bid for artistic immortality. Also note the fact that Gonzales flatly could not give the Senate Judiciary Committee any coherent reason for the firings of the US Attorneys, despite his immortal statement that "I believe it was my plan." I think we now know whose plan it ultimately was, or at least who gave final official approval to it.

It won't do to be premature; but this is one of several current threads that -- if pulled on long enough -- just might lead to Presidential impeachment hearings before the 2008 election.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on April 19, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

It is a big deal, and Senator Chuck Schumer nails it:

“I mean, you can’t have it both ways. If your chief of staff is implementing a major plan that contradicts what you just told the U.S. senator from that state, in my view, you shouldn’t be attorney general. And if, on the other hand, what you said to Senator Pryor contradicts the plan, you also shouldn’t be attorney general.”

Posted by: consider wisely on April 19, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

One thing this all means: even more people wanted the Repiglicans out than the voting "results" seem to indicate...

Posted by: Neil B. on April 19, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if that's what you think is shrill, then you're a goddamn pansy.

Wait, why am I even qualifying this with a conditional? Now, look what you've done! You got your wimpitude all over me!

Posted by: s9 on April 19, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

This is important too--I found it on halfnixon.com

"The New Mexico Senator who apparently requested and received Pres. Bush’s OK for the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias is under investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Sen. Pete Domenici made several calls in what appears to have been an effort to press for unwarranted indictments against his political opponents in New Mexico, and the appearance of impropriety abounds.

Domenici has retained specialist lawyer K. Lee Blalack, best known as loser to Carol Lam’s winning prosecution of filthy crybaby Randyduke Cunningham, who resigned in disgrace from Congress in 2005 and was convicted of being an evil, sold-out f***wad who made a killing from defense profiteering in a time of war. (Lam was axed among the “Gonzales 8,” quite possibly because her investigation was about to lead up the ladder.)"

I put "****" in there because I decided to never post the f word again

Posted by: consider wisely on April 19, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Chait's line, "Allowing the security apparatus of the state to help tilt elections is an extremely grave precedent. " is probably the most succinct description yet penned about this whole mess.

mhr, you are not even worth responding to. And your breath stinks.

Posted by: Kenji on April 19, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

AND YET, THE KENNEDY ELECTION THEFT OF 1960:

There is only one virtually proven case of voter-fraud, election theft in US history; that was when the great hero of Democrats, JFK, and his father stole the 1960 election. What is even more paradoxical, is that if W. is similar to any president in recent history it is JFK (education reform, aggressive foreign policy, large tax cuts), but that is side issue.

Republicans have a CIVIL RIGHT to exercise strict voting rules to prevent fraud and any conception of justice would insist that election integrity trumps voter turn-out. Else why is Jimmy Carter going all over the world to verify/legitimize elections? He's not there to assure voter turnout.

If you want to win, play by the rules and stop crying.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on April 20, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Objective Historian, do you have any idea how corrosive using the power of the justice department to aid either party's election efforts is to American democracy? Do you care?

I am not endorsing election fraud, and if there is a clear case of election fraud the Justice Department should prove it and send the perp to jail.

I am saying that timing prosecutions to impact voter turn out is an evil that threatens the very foundations of the American experiment. If the country does not believe the justice department is truly rendering justice and the law is about the rule of law and not the rule of men, the very underpinnings of democracy is destroyed, and America would be in for a long, long night. What you endorse is nothing less that treason. That is why Alberto Gonzales went out of his way (to the point of telling obvious lies) to deny it happened in any of the cases of the 7 fired prosecutors. That is why Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson aren't screaming too loudly and are trying to fuzz up the facts.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, you did a good job of refuting The Obtuse Histrionic for the lurkers - but he is an ineducable dolt.

And I keep pointing out that Western Civ I at a community college, passed on the third try in a pass/fail effort, does not a historian make.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 20, 2007 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

...If you want to win, play by the rules and stop crying....The Ignorant Historian on at 12:10 AM
Apparently, you don't realize that after many Republican claims that Kennedy stole the election, it still remains untrue. While you can't prove a negative, changing Illinois would not have won the election for Nixon. This is an old Republican whine that you have never been able to prove.

What would happen if the USAs actually started investigating absentee voting ...lou at 2:44 PM

daCascadian: Another brick from the wall:

(If you don't usually click a link, this one is special.)
The man who got Bush reelected is ousted.
...Ohio's Bob "Ballots for Bush" Bennett, an essential player in putting George W. Bush back in the White House in 2004, is no long chair of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. His milestone resignation leaves a legacy of scandal, recrimination, massive voter purges, felony convictions and a pivotal role in a stolen presidential election....
Leading up to the 2004 vote, Bennett oversaw the quiet purge of some 168,000 registered voters from the Cuyahoga rolls, including 24.93% of the entire city of Cleveland, which voted 83% for Kerry. In one inner city majority African American ward, 51% of the voters were purged. Centered on precincts that voted more than 80% for John Kerry, this purge may well have meant a net loss to the Democrats of tens of thousands of votes in an election that was officially decided statewide by less than 119,000....
Hayes also found that Cuyahoga County reported 30,791 uncounted absentee and provisional ballots. After these ballots were counted, they reported 39,262 votes, an outcome Phillips terms mathematically "impossible."...
Meanwhile, new evidence is emerging that Karl Rove and the GOP had real-time computer access to both the actual vote numbers in Ohio as well as the exit polling data that would have allowed them to direct how many votes they needed from the suspect Ohio southwestern Republican counties that gave Bush his official margin of victory in the 2004 election. Stay tuned.

The whole article is an essential read.

Posted by: Mike on April 20, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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