The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has completed its preliminary report about how pathetic our elections are (though it is not as critical as that). I’ll have more to say about the report, but I got hung up on this passage:
In line with the decentralized nature of the US political system, general elections are administered at the state level and there is no federal election management body with oversight responsibilities. Administrative authority is vested in the respective state secretary or state election board. However, the greater part of election administration is typically delegated to county or lower-level election officials, 6 resulting in a wide variety of electoral practices across the country. While some election officials are appointed, others are elected, which raises possible conflicts of interest. Women and minorities are well represented at all levels of election administration. Overall, the election administration performed their duties in a professional and transparent manner and enjoyed the trust of the majority of stakeholders.
While training of polling staff was extensive, a number of counties experienced problems identifying a sufficient number of experienced poll workers. In some counties, this led to a reduced number of polling stations or less poll workers. 7
7 For example, in Jackson county in Kansas, Leon and Duval counties in Florida, and Fairfax county in Virginia.
Fairfax, VA claims it could not find enough qualified poll workers.
Fairfax county is, of course, the second richest county in the country, with one of the highest levels of education. Out of this county, our government finds people capable of the most amazing feats of analysis, engineering, and leadership to run our war machine. But it can’t find enough people to run its poll machines?
Though maybe this is the reason why: with over 57% of the vote, Obama beat Mitt by almost 87,000 votes just in same-day voting in the county, even in spite of long lines in Fairfax. Obama beat Mitt statewide by less than that: 81,707.
And so it is that one of the most affluent, best educated counties on earth claims to be unable to find people capable of running polling machines.
Arlen "Scottish Haggis" Specter–whose political obituary was written yesterday in the form of a dismal poll result and a renewed threat from Pat Toomey—says we don’t need a truth commission because all the details on Bush era crimes are contained in some file cabinets that we need only waltz up to and empty out.
And in case you were wondering, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Presumably because he believes we need only waltz up to those file cabinets and take out the Cheney indictment, the sole contribution Scottish Haggis made in today’s Truth Commission Hearing was to enter this Hans von Spakovsky column into the record. Given that Hans von Spak accused Leahy of pitching a House Un-American Activities Commission, I can only interpret Haggis’ action as a profoundly cowardly attempt to get back in the good graces of the Club for Growth.
The column itself shows the depths to which the Heritage Foundation has stooped in these, the declining years of the Conservative Movement. Even setting aside the horrible optics of having someone under investigation for abridging minority civil rights for political gain squawking about "political prosecutions," the column is just of pathetically bad quality.
Hans von Spak begins by exactly repeating (the Heritage Foundation, defender of private property, apparently doesn’t even require original work anymore) an error the WSJ made in January, claiming that nothing resulted from Carl Levin’s 18 month investigation into torture in DOD.
Moreover, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) held hearings, under oath, over a 2½- year period looking into many of the same issues. His report, though predictably partisan, found no criminal violations.
Aside from this apparent inability to even count (18? 30? no difference to today’s conservative), Hans von Spak apparently believes that the Committee’s findings–that Bush’s dismissal of Article Three and Rummy’s approval of aggressive technique were the "direct cause of detainee abuse" in Gitmo–doesn’t amount to a criminal violation.
And of course, Hans von Spak, like the WSJ, basically endorsed Levin’s approach while ignoring his call for "an outside commission appointed to take this out of politics, that … would have the clear subpoena authority to get to the parts of this which are not yet clear, and that is the role of the CIA." Hans von Spak and WSJ try to fight the idea of a Truth Commission by pointing to the good work of someone effectively supporting a Truth Commission.
I’m not surprised that the RNC is hiring former insta-US Attorney and expert vote cager Tim Griffin.
Indicating what lies ahead is the McCain campaign’s plan to bring in Tim Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove, who is a leading practitioner of opposition research — digging up derogatory information about opponents. Although final arrangements have not been pinned down, Griffin would work at the Republican National Committee, as he did in Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.
I’m rather more struck by the timing.
Griffin’s return comes just days after Mark McKinnon, who refused to use smear tactics to campaign against Obama, stepped down.
More alarming still, it comes just days after Hans von Spakovsky, whom Bush had selected to be the FEC’s expert in disenfranchising brown people, gave up his bid for that position.
I guess the Republicans felt they couldn’t run this year without having somebody in charge of disenfranchising brown people.
All of which leaves me wondering. If Tim Griffin helps McCain win the Presidency using the same methods he did in 2000 and 2004, how will President McCain reward him? Will he try to illegally fire Justice Souter and replace him with Tim Griffin?
Dear George Bush:
Thank you for giving this son of immigrants the opportunity to deprive brown people of their right to vote. I’m just sorry I won’t have the opportunity to do so during the 2008 election.
I’m sorry. That’s not exactly what Han von Spakovsky said in his letter withdrawing from consideration for FEC. He did mention being the son of immigrants:
The day that I was sworn in as a Commissioner in January of 2006 was almost exactly 55 years to the day from the date that my parents arrived in the United States as penniless war refugees. It says a great deal about what a wonderful country we live in that a first-generation son of immigrants could be appointed by the President to such a post of public service.
And he did boast about his service in the Civil Rights Division of DOJ.
I am very proud of the work that I did as a career lawyer at the Department of Justice, which has been validated by numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Spakovsky must have forgotten the "sometimes" in that last sentence, as he was also reversed by those same courts.
Mostly, though, this letter is all about victimization–his victimization, not those whose votes or civil rights he ignored. He explains as his reason for withdrawing that his family does "not have the financial resources to continue to wait until this matter is resolved" (which I’m frankly fairly sympathetic to). No mention of Mitch McConnell’s refusal to let Spakovsky get an upperdown vote of his very own, without yoking him to other, more palatable nominees. To hear Spakovsky tell it, he was due this nomination, and unfair mean opposition ruined it for him.
That’s a stance that Harry Reid does not agree with, to say the least.
I welcome the President’s decision to withdraw the controversial nomination of Mr. von Spakovsky. It is an action I have repeatedly urged the President to take for more than six months. Democrats stood united in their opposition to von Spakovsky because of his long and well-documented history of working to suppress the rights of minorities and the elderly to vote. He was not qualified to hold any position of trust in our government.
As I understand it, the Senate has a Rules Committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, at which they will be prepared to discuss the three other nominees. Continue reading
George Will, voicing the position of those (like Mitch McConnell) who don’t like getting attacked for doing things their attacker has done, captures the state of McCain’s hypocrisy regarding lobbyists and campaign finance.
First, the Times muddied, with unsubstantiated sexual innuendo about a female lobbyist, a story about McCain’s flights on jets owned by corporations with business before the Senate Commerce Committee, and his meeting with a broadcaster (McCain at first denied it happened; the broadcaster insists it did, and McCain now agrees) who sought and received McCain’s help in pressuring the Federal Communications Commission. Perhaps McCain did nothing corrupt, but he promiscuously accuses others of corruption, or the "appearance" thereof. And he insists that the appearance of corruption justifies laws criminalizing political behavior — e.g., broadcasting an electioneering communication that "refers to" a federal candidate during the McCain-Feingold blackout period close to an election.
Although his campaign is run by lobbyists; and although his dealings with lobbyists have generated what he, when judging the behavior of others, calls corrupt appearances; and although he has profited from his manipulation of the taxpayer-funding system that is celebrated by reformers — still, he probably is innocent of insincerity. Such is his towering moral vanity, he seems sincerely to consider it theoretically impossible for him to commit the offenses of appearances that he incessantly ascribes to others.
Such certitude is, however, not merely an unattractive trait. It is disturbing righteousness in someone grasping for presidential powers.
Will adds a little detail to the dynamics of the Von Spakovsky nomination I laid out the other day. The guy who originally mobilized opposition to Von Spakovsky, Trevor Potter, is the same guy McCain will rely on to argue that–in spite of receiving benefits from his decision to accept matching funds–McCain should not be held to the requirements imposed by that decision.