Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 7, 2009

CASTING DOUBT.... Several high-profile, far-right voices have stumbled upon a new hobby: convincing as many people as possible that Al Franken's success in Minnesota is illegitimate.

Joe Scarborough and Ann Coulter are repeating all kinds of nonsense, and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which has never been truth-oriented, is apparently trying to lead the parade with this wretched editorial.

Not surprisingly, the far-right arguments don't stand up well to scrutiny. Which is to say, their complaints are baseless. Earlier this week, Nate Silver went paragraph by paragraph, highlighting exactly why the WSJ editorial is completely wrong. Just as good, Minnesota Assistant Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary, a member of the state canvassing board, wrote an entertaining letter to the Journal, questioning the editorial board's integrity.

As a member of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board, appointed pursuant to statute, I have attended all nine Board open meetings held the past seven weeks. I am knowledgeable about the proceedings as well as Minnesota's election laws. Our members (two Supreme Court Justices, two District Court Judges, and Secretary of State Ritchie) came from all political backgrounds, openly expressed our opinions at the meetings, and can hardly be accurately described as "meek", unless you mean "meek" by New York in-your-face standards. Your groundless attack on Secretary Ritchie reflects poorly on the author; Ritchie worked assiduously at avoiding partisanship in these proceedings.

As to the Board as a whole, all of our major votes were unanimous. We consistently followed the law in limiting our involvement to a non-adjudicative role, declining both candidates' attempts to expand our mandate. Further, we painstakingly reviewed each challenged ballot, some more than once, to confirm that we were ruling in a consistent manner.

One can only assume, based on the tone of the editorial, the numerous inaccuracies, and the over-the-top slam at Al Franken ("tainted and undeserving?") that had Norm Coleman come out on top in this recount, the members of the Board would have been praised as "strong-willed, intelligent, and perceptive."

We won't hold our breath waiting for that editorial to appear.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Good on ya, Eddie!

Maybe one of the best things to emerge from this election's record participation is that more people will take the time and make the effort to assert themselves in this way, refuting lies and fallacious arguments wherever they are found.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on January 7, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Well if that doesn't put the final nail in WSJ's formerly impressive reputation, nothing will.

Posted by: Franklin on January 7, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

and can hardly be accurately described as "meek"

I'm a bit surprised the WSJ called the canvassing board meek instead of the Minnesota Supreme Court. 1) The SC has been much harder on Coleman than the CB 2) "Meek" would be a great word to describe the decision that Coleman and Franken would have to agree on which absentee ballots to count. But that decision was made by the Supreme Court, not the canvassing board.

I suspect the reason the WSJ made this sloppy charge, is that the SC still has juristiction over the election challenge and wants to shame the justices into standing up for the partei.

Posted by: Danp on January 7, 2009 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ is a mere shell of it's former editorial prowess. It has been reduced to the role of PRAVDA for the Corporate Ruling Class. Any candidate for office who advocates on behalf of the American public is deemed an enemy of Corporate Hegemony and portrayed as a lefty nutcase of dubious circumstances. The WSF is a fraudulent confidence game masquerading as a newspaper.

Posted by: c6Logic on January 7, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

sad how the WSJ has become the Fox News of newsprint ... I wonder why that is????

Posted by: sjw on January 7, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ Comics, er, Opinion Pages, haven't had a tolerable reputation for years. They have always been full of dishonesty, lies, delusional thinking, foolishness and silliness. They have had opinion pieces that were contradicted by the news in that paper on that day. It is only that this particular opinion piece was hopelessly bad, even by the pathetically low standards of the WSJ Opinion editors and Edward Clearly did an excellent job of defending the work his Board did. Of course Nate had already shown how mendacious the WSJ Opinion page had been in their editorial, but people who care about facts need to gang up on the liars who try to persuade others that their lies are the right way to run things.

Thanks to Nate and Edward Cleary and the rest of the people who are reality-based for fighting back against the WSJ Opinion fools.

Posted by: freelunch on January 7, 2009 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Here's hoping that Edward J. Cleary is just the tip of an iceberg that is poised to rip apart the media Titanic that is Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation.

Posted by: majun on January 7, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Nice debunking of Republican Zombie Lies. Ann Althouse is also pushing these myths.

What party is the letter writer from?

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on January 7, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

When the WSJ decided to lie down with Murdoch and company it should have realized it would arise with fleas! The entire editorial board now needs some flea powder if it wants to get back to being a good clean hunting dog during this most wonderous period of time we call the informatio revolution.

You'd think the "rightwing intelligencia" would realize now that we are in the post-Bush(ed) era there will be no more making up the facts to fit the agenda! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 7, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK


Don't blame Murdoch for this mendacious editorial, the WSJ has been writing such tripe for decades on their Opinion pages. It may be that Murdoch doesn't mind that they write such nonsense, but he didn't start this.

I shall never understand how the WSJ Opinion page writers can remain so ignorant of what the WSJ reports every day.

Posted by: freelunch on January 7, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

freelunch, I'm with you regarding the legacy of the WSJ op/ed strangeness, but Murdoch has no doubt up-ticked its rabid irrationalities. -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 7, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Coulter , Scarborough , Carlson et. al. Idiots who make their living by being idiots. They don't even have to play one on TeeVee

Posted by: John R on January 7, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

The most honest thing that the editorial board of the WSJ, and Joe Scarborough et all , could do is put some DEPENDS on their delusional and evil heads with a slit for their assholes, whoops ... mouths. That way the shit can be contained instead of spilling out for all to be repulsed by .......

Posted by: stormskies on January 7, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I shall never understand how the WSJ Opinion page writers can remain so ignorant of what the WSJ reports every day.

You assume honesty where there is none.

Posted by: DH Walker on January 7, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know, is "meek" such a bad thing to be? After all, the Bible tells us that the meek shall inherit the earth.

Or maybe just Minnesota.

People can argue that WSJ reporting is meek for having failed to investigate Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers, AIG, the securities rating services, etc. etc. until after Wall Street had already collapsed. It was all happening within yards of their desks and hardly a peep out of them until the poop hit the fan.

At least the Minnesota State Canvassing Board faced their controversy forthrightly.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 7, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ Op-Ed pages have been a cesspool of rightwing hackery for years now. It has nothing to do with Murdoch, although I'm sure that doesn't help much either.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on January 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

What party is the letter writer from?

He's an indepedent, appointed by Jesse Ventura in 2002.

Before you start snickering about the Ventura connection, the Mn Bar said at the end of his term that Ventura made the best judicial appointments of any recent governor. Probably becasue he wasn't paying off any political debts, just looking for the best candidates.

Posted by: tomeck on January 7, 2009 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I hereby argue with equal vigor that Ann Coulter's success as a female member of the human species is both illegitimate, and irrelevant. As for Scar, he's just the mold that forms atop a week-old cup of Sanka and exhibits momentary locomotion prior to collapsing into a heap of putrid gunk....

Posted by: Steve W. on January 7, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bravo, Judge Cleary!

Posted by: Carol on January 7, 2009 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

To paraphrase an old saying that is still pretty popular in my home town. "Give em hell, Cleary."

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 7, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Now there is a real American!

Posted by: Bob M on January 7, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

What party is the letter writer from? -- AlphaLiberal, @10:43

Interesting question... In his quote of the Cleary letter, Steve omitted the first para, which runs:

Dear Sirs:

As a subscriber of your newspaper for almost three decades, I don't expect to always agree with your editorial viewpoint. Yet I am nevertheless very disappointed when I read an editorial long on partisan tone and short on accurate reporting.

Doesn't really answer your question unequivocally but, in my experience, the most dedicated readers of WSJ are, usually, moderate, traditionally conservative (not neo-), Republicans.

Posted by: exlibra on January 7, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Scarborough is stunningly superfical and racist to try to keep his ratings up. Mika B ia stunningly stupid for not taking Joe Scarborough to task for his malicious meanderings.

Posted by: Ml johnston on January 7, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Not surprisingly, [strike]the[/strike] far-right arguments don't stand up well to scrutiny


Posted by: Gregory on January 7, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"the Mn Bar said... "
Posted by: tomeck on January 7, 2009 at 11:54 AM

Well there you have it. As with its Big Brother, the national Bar Association, (only more so) the Mn Bar is populated by nothing but DFHs. (The law, as is well known, has a clear liberal bias.)
The only real American lawyers are in the Federalist Society.
But you knew that.

Posted by: smartalek on January 7, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Truthfully, Franken's victory may be legit, but it's pretty embarassing. We remember a big disappointment who won a single state by a three digit vote margin in 2000, don't we? Don't forget, either, that 11% voted for a third candidate. Franken won with less than 45%. He is damned thoroughly with the faintest praise.

This is a very good time for Franken to show sincere humility, work hard, put any doubts to rest, and reach out to independents if he means to run in 2014.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on January 7, 2009 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Best thing about this? The Right can whine all it wants. It just doesn't matter.

Doesn't matter!



Congrats, Senator Franken.

Posted by: north_aufzoo on January 8, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, & P.S., toowearyforoutrage? Franken is a challenger who beat an incumbent, and the fact that he won 45% percent of the vote when a third party candidate was involved is actually a measure of his achievement (and is far from "embarrassing")...
Thanks for your concern, troll.

Posted by: north_aufzoo on January 8, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK



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