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Your Weekly Longform Read


Jane Mayer, invaluable as always, on vote suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky:

Congressman John Lewis, the Democrat from Georgia, says of recent efforts to tighten voting requirements, “I thought we’d passed this long ago. But it seems we must fight this fight over and over.” In the nineteen-sixties, Lewis was beaten by police while demonstrating in support of civil-rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act. He said of von Spakovsky, “He’s been the moving force behind photo I.D.s. I don’t know if it’s something in the water he’s been drinking . . . but over the years he’s been hellbent to make it more difficult—always, always—for people to vote. It’s like he goes to bed dreaming about this, and gets up in the morning wondering, What can I do today to make it more difficult for people to vote? When you pull back the covers, peel back the onion, he’s the one who’s gotten the Republican legislatures, and the Republican Party, to go along with this—even though there is no voter fraud to speak of. He’s trying to create a cure where there is no sickness.”

In fairness, I think we can be quite confident that the DOJ of that reasonable, moderate Mitt Romney would continue to file lawsuits trying to stop as much of this as possible. The fact that von Spakovsky was employed by the last Republican administration is central to my point.

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  • Keaaukane

    It’s always so nice when your James Bond villain has a name like a James Bond villain.

    • Marc

      It does seem as if he should own a white Persian.

      • c u n d gulag

        And wear a monocle – especially if he doesn’t need one.

  • R. Porrofatto

    And when the GOP/ALEC laws, billboards, and dirty tricks don’t work, there’s always shit like this.

  • Woodrowfan

    and he’s now an election official in my county. Gad.

  • TT

    No doubt the moderate Romney administration will also moderately appoint hordes of moderate judges to the federal bench who are not the least bit sympathetic to von Spakovsky’s crusade.

  • SP

    Shit like this makes me want to just stop reading political stories before I have an artery explode. Take about burying the lede- All this back and forth about how voter fraud may affect an election vs. overstating how many people would be disenfranchised ignores that fact that it’s already worked for the Republicans- George Bush was president because thousands of people were disenfranchised in Florida. Somehow mentioning that proven fact makes you a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, while arguing that Franken really lost (& therefore Obamacare shouldn’t have passed) even though those allegations were examined and thrown out makes you a Very Serious Person who gets a New Yorker profile.

    • BobS

      Bob Fitrakis has made a good case that the 2004 election results in Ohio were fraudulent as well.
      I would be alright with requiring photo ID for voting, but only if the requirement went into effect after a 3-5 year preparation period in which free photo IDs were made easily available at all voting precincts.

  • DrDick

    This is a case where the “cure” is the disease. It is, of course, completely understandable that Republicans would want to make it harder to vote, given that their policies are hugely unpopular with the vast majority of Americans. Oddly the core GOP constituencies are never much impacted by these voter suppression laws.

  • Antonio Conselheiro

    Godwin be damned, there’s a reasonable supposition that Spakovsky’s father was a Nazi. Hans grew up in Huntsville among the rocket scientists, though his father was an academic of some sort. Father Spakovsky was a White Russian in exile in Yugoslavia at the time of the German invasion of that country, and then he disappears from the record, reappears in Germany a number of years later, and then is admitted to the US as a refugee. He wrote books in German.

    This information can be found on the internet with a little digging. With a more diligent effort I’m sure that more could be found. Someone posted it a Talking Points Memo some time ago with no response, and I posted it myself more recently, also with no response.

    The evidence I’ve seen isn’t strong enough to prove the case but certainly strong enough to justify further investigation. And yes, I think that if HvS’s father was a Nazi it should be brought to the attention of the public.

    • Hogan

      Anatol von Spakovsky taught sociology at Jacksonville State and humanities at Athens State College. None of his books is on anything related to STEM; they’re more about culture, religion and philosophy.

    • witless chum

      I guess maybe people think his father’s politics is of small to no importance?

      The guy’s vote suppression guru, he damns himself so why bother trying to damn him by multi-generational association?

      • Antonio Conselheiro

        Why not? It’s his father, not his great grandfather. Are two immediately adjacent generations multi-generational?

        The guy damns himself. I guess that’s why he and his grew have passed bills in about half the state legislatures.

        And of course, someone teaching about culture, religion, and philosophy must certainly be harmless and perhaps wonderful.

        Every Democrat who has ever been in the same room with a Communist, but a racist Republican operative is the son of a Nazi and it isn’t even mentioned. That stuff works, and in this case it wouyld be legitimate, but we’re too fine a class of people to do it. We have faith that the American people will see through Spakovsky without our help, sooner or later. Hasn’t happened so far, but let’s fold our hands and wait.

        • Antonio Conselheiro

          Spakovsky’s story, relayed by Mayer, is that his father fought against both Communists and Nazis. That would mean that he was a Chetnik (monarchist nationalist).

          However, the Chetniks often collaborated with the Nazis, and for that reason the Allies gave their support to Tito. (The main people fighting against Tito were the Germans). There’s a blank spot in the elder Spakovsky’s resume 1941-1950, but he ended up in Germany.

          • Hogan

            Were there a lot of Slovenian Chetniks? Spakovsky was at Ljublana University from 1927 to 1941.

        • Antonio Conselheiro

          Every Democrat who has ever been in the same room with a Communist is a Communist,”

        • Hogan

          And of course, someone teaching about culture, religion, and philosophy must certainly be harmless and perhaps wonderful.

          I’m not the one who said he was probably working with von Braun, since he lived in Huntsville.

          • Antonio Conselheiro

            He joined Huntsville’s very small immigrant/refugee German community as a refugee slightly after the rocket scientists arrived. I doubt that it was unconnected. I was not accusing him of being a rocket scientist, just a Nazi.

  • Antonio Conselheiro


    Look for the June 14, 2007 10:00 PM comment.

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