Acorn and vote fraud

I really should have a nice thorough blog post on all the ridiculous charges of vote fraud that Fox News and desperate right-wingers are throwing around these days.  I don't have time, but Josh Marshall has been all over the issue at TPM.  Here's a great post on the topic.  If you are not familiar with this, you really ought to read the whole thing.  Nonetheless, the highlights:

The Republican party is grasping on to the ACORN story as a way to
delegitimize what now looks like the probable outcome of the November
election. It is also a way to stoke the paranoia of their base, lay the
groundwork for legal challenges of close outcomes in various states and
promote new legal restrictions on legitimate voting by lower income
voters and minorities. The big picture is that these claims of 'voter
fraud' are themselves a fraud, a tool to aid in suppressing Democratic
voter turnout…

ACORN registers lots of lower income and/or minority voters. They
operate all across the country and do a lot of things beside voter
registration. What's key to understand is their method. By and large
they do not rely on volunteers to register voters. They hire people –
often people with low incomes or even the unemployed. This has the dual
effect of not only registering people but also providing some work and
income for people who are out of work. But because a lot of these
people are doing it for the money, inevitably, a few of them cut
corners or even cheat. So someone will end up filling out cards for
nonexistent names and some of those slip through ACORN's own efforts to
catch errors…

I've always had questions about whether this is a good way to do
voter registration. And Democratic campaigns usually keep their
distance. But here's the key. This is fraud against ACORN. They end up paying people for registering more people then they actually signed up. If you register me three times to vote,
the registrar will see two new registrations of an already registered
person and the ones won't count. If I successfully register Mickey
Mouse to vote, on election day, Mickey Mouse will still be a cartoon
character who cannot go to the local voting station and vote. Logically
speaking there's very little way a few phony names on the voting rolls could be used to commit actual vote fraud. And much more importantly, numerous studies and investigations have shown no evidence of anything more than a handful of isolated cases of actual instances of vote fraud.

Long story, short… “vote fraud” is Republican short-hand for voter suppression.

Maverick

You really haven't heard so much about John McCain the “Maverick” lately it seems.  I think that Ezra Klein may be right and Tina Fey's parodies of Sarah Palin may well have turned it into a complete joke.  My favorite: “gonna get mavericky” with it. 

For that matter, there's the fact that McCain really is not quite the maverick he, nor especially Palin, claims.  Rolling Stone ran a big story assessing his maverick record.  (The story actually bugged me a bit, a thought it was really unfair about his time as a POW, actually.  It seemed to suggest he was somehow weak for giving information under torture.  I don't think anybody has the right to make that claim).  Nonetheless, the article makes a compelling case for its primary theme: McCain has always been about his own ambition and putting himself first.  Not a particularly awful revelation for such a successful politician, but one that does not exactly square with the McCain image.

Actually, though, Paul Waldman's February 2008 deconstruction of McCain's claim to Maverickness is much more compelling:

But is John McCain really a maverick? A look beyond the media's
repetition of the word at McCain's actual record suggests that the
answer is no. In fact, McCain is a reliable conservative, and if not a
perfectly loyal Republican, at least a reasonably loyal one.

According to Congressional Quarterly's party unity scores, which
track how often members of Congress side with their party on key votes,
over the course of his career McCain has voted with his party 84
percent of the time?not the highest score in the Senate but hardly
evidence of a great deal of independence. Similarly, the American
Conservative Union gives McCain a lifetime rating of 82.3, making him a
solid friend of the right's. And according to the widely respected Poole-Rosenthal rankings, McCain was the eighth-most conservative senator in the 110th Senate…

Now, here's the key point, and I think it fits quite well with the Rolling Stone case:

There is one other key factor to understand in the making of the
“maverick” myth. Look at the times when McCain has differed with his
Republican colleagues, and what you find is that in almost every case,
the position held by most in the GOP was broadly unpopular with the
public. Campaign finance reform, regulation of tobacco, even the Bush
tax cuts (to which the public was indifferent and which McCain could
hardly support, having criticized them as Bush's opponent in the 2000
presidential race)?in every case, the position McCain took put him on
the right side of public opinion. So what the press calls “maverick”
stands could just as easily be interpreted as highly political efforts
to maintain McCain's strong popularity with the general public. For
someone whose goal was to gain sufficient affection among his
colleagues to rise to become his party's leader in the Senate, these
would be unwise moves. But McCain never demonstrated any interest in a
position in the Senate leadership?his sights were set higher.

So, enough of this maverick business.

Making Palin a verb

A good friend of mine is a co-creator of the “Make Palin a verb” campaign.  (There's also a facebook group).  Here's their definition:

pal·in (p?l??n) v. palined, palin·ing, palins 1.
To flub, fail or otherwise stumble in response to simple, predictable
questions in an interview; to give an off-topic and incoherent or
syntactically suspect response to a simple, pre-dictable question in an
interview; to do likewise in any other human endeavor. 2. To fabricate an untruth, that is easily verifiable as such, in response to a question for which one does not know the answer.

Today's Palin press conference comes pretty close, but not quite, to definition number 2.  From the Post's campaign blog:

In a Saturday conference call with Alaska journalists, Palin said she
was “pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any
kind of unethical activity there.” She denounced the investigation,
calling it “a partisan circus.” The McCain-Palin campaign said that she
and her family had good reason to try to get the trooper fired.

Of course, there's also reality to consider.

An Alaska state legislative investigator found yesterday that Gov. Sarah Palin
abused executive power when she and her husband engaged in a campaign
to oust her former brother-in-law from the state police force.

Just like the “Bridge to Nowhere” Sarah Palin won't let the truth slow her down.

The Republican crack-up

Wow– Republicans are just completely losing all sanity at the prospect of Obama becoming president.  We are talking about some people in serious need of a grasp on reality.  The evidence:
1) Washington Post story on the angry crowds
2) A run-down on the nuttiness of at the National Review's group blog, The Corner
3) This amazing video of Republicans outside a Palin rally.

A new political movement takes root

Check this out.

The financial crisis

Really want to understand what's going on?.  Simple, but it will take two hours of your time.  Listen to this “This American Life” podcast that explains how sub-prime mortgages, etc., got us into all this mess and then listen to this more recent one that tells you everything you need to know about the bailout and the evils of Credit Default Swaps.  Nothing else I've read, seen, or listened to has come close to helping me understand all this mess.  Well worth your time.

That said, I just read a really great article in the New York Times about how much Alan Greenspan's slavish devotion to his libertarian ideology is very much at fault.  Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that right-wing ideologues are more likely to be hopelessly beholden to their ideology.  This is a great example of massive harm it has wreaked on the whole country.  My favorite quote from the article:

?The sudden failure or abrupt withdrawal from trading of any of these
large U.S. dealers could cause liquidity problems in the markets and
could also pose risks to others, including federally insured banks and
the financial system as a whole, In some cases intervention has and could result in a
financial bailout paid for or guaranteed by taxpayers.?

Why this?  Because, it is from Congressional testimony in 1994!.  There was ample warning from plenty of smart people that we needed to regulate deriviatives trading.  But Greenspan (and many others, including Democrats, in fairness) were convinced the market could self-regulate.  I don't know what makes anybody ever thing self-regulation will work.  Time and time again, human beings choose risk and short-term profits over sensible long-term strategies.  That's why we have regulation.  Anyway, you really should read the article. 

On a final financial note, I am very pleased to learn that the Fed (seemingly under much more flexible and intelligent leadership than the formerly-revered Greenspan) is moving towards buying up bank shares (nice explanation here).  My sense is that most all economists who are not hopelessly right-wing think this is the smartest solution to the crisis and I am quite encouraged that Bernanke and Paulson seem to be more interested in doing what makes the most sense rather than simply what makes libertarian Republicans happy.

Mainstream media needs love

Washington Post's Dana Milbank goes in search of a hug:

Palin Quotes of the Day

First, from Sarah herself from Tuesday's speech in Greenville, NC:

“Here in North Carolina, you can help put us in D.C. to help put the
government back on your side,” she said. “We are joining you to look
for the future, because that's where you find the solutions.”

Damn!  There go my plans to look for the past, and hope to find solutions there. 

Given that:

Palin spoke for about half an hour, reading mostly from a teleprompter
[emphasis mine] and delivering lines meant to charm along with attacks on Obama.

How does such a dumb line make it into her speech? 

And from David Brooks, on the subject of Sarah Palin:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review
for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the
first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty.
But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was
important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas,
who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that
was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era.
Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a
counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal
ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has
those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

“Game Changer”

That is a phrase I am ready to throw under the bus

The uncommited voters

One of the funny things about these debates is all the attention given to the “uncommitted voters.”  I just finished watching MSNBC and CNN report on their focus groups.  These people are idiots!  What the hell do they want.  There could not be more difference between McCain and Obama on both policy and personality.  Yet, you hear all these comments like, “well, I'm waiting for one of them to show me…”  Or go on about how they didn't see any real differences between the candidates.  Please!   These people all seem to think they are such sober, thoughtful, voters, but if they were, they would have figured who to vote for long ago.

Grow up

I need to read James Fallows' blog more often.  This is blistering (and spot on):

In the short term, a worldwide financial panic and crisis…

In these circumstances, and with a presidential election four weeks away, is it conceivable
that candidates will waste time arguing whether one of them has been in
the same room with a guy who had been a violent extremist at a time
before most of today's U.S. citizens were even born? (William Ayres was
a Weatherman in the late 1960s. Today's median-aged American was born
around 1972.) Of course, it's not only conceivable: it's the Republican plan
for this final push — “turning the page” on economic concerns and
getting to these “character” and “association” questions about Barack
Obama.

Grow up. If John McCain has a better set of plans to deal
with the immediate crisis, and the medium-term real-economy fallout,
and the real global problems of the era — fine, let him win on those.
But it is beneath the dignity he had as a Naval officer to wallow in
this mindless BS. I will say nothing about the dignity of a candidate
who repeatedly winks at the public, Hooters-waitress style.  A great
country acts great when it matters.  This is a time when it matters –
for politicians in the points they raise, for journalists in the
subjects they write about and the questions they ask of candidates.
And, yes, for voters.

The smear-fest continues

It's late, I'm just going to appropriate a quick post from Jonathan Chait:

The McCain campaign has been running misleading commercials
using a portion of of an Obama quote — “just air-raiding villages and
killing civilians” — to sow doubts about Obama's patriotism. Today,
Sarah Palin took the deception a step farther, accusing Obama of having said that American soldiers “target [italics mine] and kill civilians in Afghanistan.” NBC's First Read reports Palin's quote without correcting it.

What Obama actually said was this: “We've got to get the job done
there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not
just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing
enormous pressure over there.” The point was clear and obvious. Without
enough troops on the ground, we're reduced to using too many
airstrikes, which creates more civilian casualties and damages our
standing. No sane person would disagree. And to claim that Obama
charged troops with targeting civilians is a straightforward lie.

These people will say anything to win.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 469 other followers

%d bloggers like this: