Subscribe via RSS Feed

The Vote Fraud Fraud: Actual Fraud Edition

[ 3 ] December 20, 2007 |

In addition to pressuring U.S. Attorneys to pursue isolated cases of vote fraud for which there was no actual evidence, the DOJ made sure to delay the investigation of actual systematic electoral theft which may have won the GOP the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race before the slime would be spotted on GOP elites:

The Justice Department delayed prosecuting a key Republican official for jamming the phones of New Hampshire Democrats until after the 2004 election, protecting top GOP officials from the scandal until the voting was over.

An official with detailed knowledge of the investigation into the 2002 Election-Day scheme said the inquiry sputtered for months after a prosecutor sought approval to indict James Tobin, the northeast regional coordinator for the Republican National Committee.

The phone-jamming operation was aimed at preventing New Hampshire Democrats from rounding up voters in the close U.S. Senate race between Republican Rep. John Sununu and Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu’s 19,000-vote victory helped the GOP regain control of the Senate.


Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the state Democratic Party, said the delay spared Republicans embarrassment at the peak of the campaign because a pending deposition would have revealed that several state GOP officials knew about the scheme, which was hatched by their executive director, Charles McGee. The delay also stalled the case beyond its statute of limitations, depriving Democrats of full discovery, he said.

Meanwhile, Blue Girl points us to the forthcoming book How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative. Alas, I suspect it may serve more as a GOP instruction manual than as a cautionary tale…

Share with Sociable

Precedents For A Farce

[ 1 ] December 20, 2007 |

Michael Berube notes the obvious predecessors of Jonah Goldberg’s major new contribution to American letters, Mussolini Was Nice To Kittens, Just Like Many…Liberals!!1!!ONE11!!111.
I note as well that most of the worthless and frequently racist books under discussion — just like Goldberg’s — were edited by Adam Bellow, whose praise for nepotism is eminently understandable. I particularly enjoyed this explanation of Bellow’s rightward turn, which apparently was bereft of any intellectual content even by neoconservative standards. Everything is there: a guy whose worldview seems to be driven entirely by seething ressentiment against something called “Zabar’s liberals” accusing others of shallow prejudice and parochialism; congratulating oneself about attacks on “identity politics” in the context of a defense of Clarence Thomas; concern trolling about how he was merely “attacking liberalism from the right to preserve it from its own dogmatic tendencies,” etc. In other words, exactly the kind of guy I would expect to proudly edit Liberal Fascism.

Share with Sociable

Giving an Inch, but not a Mile

[ 27 ] December 20, 2007 |

So, I’m late to the Liptak love this week. I blame it on…whatever. It’s time. Only 2 days late.

This week, Liptak joins the crack/cocaine sentencing fray with a column noting how little the Supreme Court’s big holdings in Kimbrough and Gall last week will actually mean. Liptak rightly points out that, without Congressional action, Gall/Kimbrough and the Sentencing Commission’s decision on retroactivity won’t mean a whole hell of a lot. The real problem — and the thing Congress can fix — is mandatory minimums.

Neither the [sentencing] commission nor judges can do anything about the mandatory minimum sentences that retain the same disparities. The sentences are required by a 1986 law, enacted when crack was new, terrifying and seemingly unstoppable. Only Congress can change it.

Paul G. Cassell, an authority on sentencing who was until recently a federal trial judge, said the focus on the sentencing guidelines was in some ways a distraction.

“The mandatory minimums are so draconian,” he said. “I’m a believer in a good guidelines system. And I would much rather trade a much tougher guidelines system and get rid of mandatory minimums.”

The mandatory minimum sentence for crimes involving five grams of crack — a little more than a sugar packet — remains five years. For powder, the five-year mandatory sentence does not kick in until 500 grams, or more than a pound.

Fifty grams of crack equals a guaranteed 10 years. It takes five kilograms of powder to mandate the same sentence. Five kilos is a lot of cocaine.

Indeed. While the Court’s recent decisions are a good step, and the retroactivity decision will help a lot of people get out of prison earlier than they would otherwise (but still later than they should have), the only permanent and full fix would be to repeal the mandatory minimums.

Of course, this leaves some judges (including 9th Circuit Chief Judge Kozinski) uncomfortable.

The guidelines were a sort of relief, Judge Kozinski said. They established relatively narrow ranges and “presumably take into account all those factors I don’t feel competent to weigh: punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation, harm to society, contrition — they’re all engineered into the machine; all I have to do is wind the key.”

It’s true that sentencing is a huge responsibility to place at the feet of a single person. But a judge seems to me to be better equipped than Congress; my sense is that it’s not a super idea for a political body to be deciding how to punish society’s “undesirables.”

If mandatory minimums were repealed, judges would no longer be able to blame Congress for making them impose harsh sentences. They would be fully responsible for the sentences they mete out.Their sentencing would be their own. To me, this seems like a positive development that could potentially lead to more lenient drug sentences and the imposition of harsh penalties only when really warranted (say, for a major drug trafficker not a low-level user or dealer).

But as Liptak notes, now that the Supreme Court has acted, even if only incrementally, it seems less and less likely that Congress will mobilize to implement the changes that could really make a difference.

Share with Sociable

Further Photographic Record of the Nuptials

[ 0 ] December 19, 2007 |

The Groom and the Best Man:

The Groom attempts to accelerate the cake cutting process:

More here, here, and here.

Share with Sociable

Not. Going. To. Happen.

[ 10 ] December 19, 2007 |

Although this is a great primary season for political junkies because of two closely contested primaries — made more interesting because it one party none of the candidates should logically be able to win — the one downside is the amount of silly discussion from the Tony Blankleys of the world about a brokered convention. Joyner is right: it’s not going to happen. You can’t keep losing and remain competitive in the modern primary process. Admittedly, nothing can top the wankery of claims that Hillary Clinton was going to win a brokered convention in ’04. But do remember how that Democratic race 1)seemed really close and interesting, and 2)was effectively over after New Hampshire. GOP ’08 won’t be settled that early but there’s not going to be a brokered convention.

Share with Sociable

Only Ten?

[ 0 ] December 19, 2007 |

Erik Loomis, like many of us, has been snubbed yet again by Jason Rantz, whose list of “America’s [Ten] Most Dangerous College Courses” is dangerously incomplete. Saith Erik:

I know I’m new and everything, but I hate America as much as these other professors (which is to say not at all). Certainly my “Hurricane Katrina in Historical Perspective” course this spring should be competitive. After all, I’m assigning a chapter from Michael Eric Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water, entitled “Does George W. Bush Care About Black People?” Of course, the answer is no. But hey, telling the truth means you hate America.

I, too, have little hope of making the list, even though I strive constantly to “teach courses that lie, manipulate facts, propagandize students, or express a dishonest and fact-deficient extremist view on the class topic,” and most of my lectures are carefully crafted to demonstrate “fascination with silly topics that offer little academic value to students.” Seriously — it’s like Rantz has been reading my course evaluations. Alas, I think my colleagues in New York and Kentucky are more likely to be included; Rob in particular would seem like an especially dangerous candidate, given his recent adoption of heterosexual matrimony to disguise his dangeous anti-militarism.

But in my own meager defense, it appears that the esteemed neoconservative blogger and Associate Professor of political science Donald Douglas has recently exposed me as a purveyor of “postmodern, radical multicultural blather” and an adherent to a “radical, class-analysis historical frame.” His dissection of my work was not quite as persuasive as Tigerhawk’s deconstruction of the LGM logo, but he makes a pretty good case that I’m at least as dangerous as anyone out there. If Mr. Rantz is interested, I have syllabi (1, 2, 3, 4) that would, I think, bear out Professor Douglas’ argument more completely.

I’m simply asking for a chance.

Share with Sociable

What Surge?

[ 1 ] December 19, 2007 |

This phenomenon was also evident in yesterday’s NYT article about McCain. One searches the article in vain for evidence that voters — as opposed the elite editorial writers with an extensive history of swooning for the Straight Talk Express — are showing more support for McCain. The same thing goes for talk about a Fred Thompson surge in Iowa; if it starts actually reaching voters, then let me know.

Share with Sociable

Today in Right-Wing Trolling

[ 9 ] December 19, 2007 |

Everyone who reads blogs knows that no discussion of contemporary GOP racism will take place without some idiot mentioning that Robert Byrd was a member of the Klan during the Roosevelt administration. To pre-empt this response. Yglesias makes the obvious point about why the Byrd analogy fails as a defense of Trent Lott’s praise of Strom Thurmond’s white supremacy and Gordon Smith’s defense of Lott: the analogy would only hold if someone not only attended a birthday party for Robert Byrd but specifically cited his membership in the Klan and his filibusterting the Civil Rights Act as things to be proud of. In response, some trollbot dutifully intones: “And yet you ignore former KKK member Robert Byrd.” My favorite Robert Byrd tu quoque ever!

In addition, this is a crucial bottom-line point: “Meanwhile, with regard to both Lott and now to Smith, it should be said that indifference to racism is, when taken to these levels, itself a form of racism. Nobody who took the interests or attitudes of black people seriously would be saying this stuff.” Yes, Oregon can do a great deal better than a Senator who thinks it’s horribly unfair to criticize someone for praising a single-issue white supremacist campaign and saying that its victory would have been good for the country in 2002.

Share with Sociable

Shallow Misogynist of the Day

[ 4 ] December 19, 2007 |


Share with Sociable

And The Thigh-Rubbing Begins

[ 18 ] December 19, 2007 |

Good question:

If Mickey Kaus wants to use Slate — a professional, well-regarded political “magazine” — to parrot the National Enquirer’s “story” on John Edwards, shouldn’t Slate fire him if this story turns out to be wrong? I mean, if a reporter from Kaus’s hated NYT ran with something like this, he or she would certainly be risking their career on it. Seems like what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Of course, if this were the standard, Kaus’s services would have ceased to be required many years ago.

Share with Sociable

Gordon Smith: Man of the Left

[ 15 ] December 19, 2007 |

IN the midst of lying about his own reaction at the time, here’s Gordon Smith in 2007 on Trent Lott in 2002 on Strom Thurmond in 1948:

I watched over international news as his words were misconstrued, words which we had heard him utter many times in his big warm-heartedness trying to make one of our colleagues, Strom Thurmond, feel good at 100 years old.

Strom Thurmond, if I recall my history properly, was a Southern Democrat at the time and thus advocated the massive imposition of the state to prevent blacks from swimming in public pools. By defending such this fascist monster, Gordon Smith reveals himself as a closeted man of The Left. Look, my post isn’t like Scott’s latest post, or Rob’s. It isn’t like any Bean or DJW post. This is a very serious, thoughtful — ok, ok, fine, I’ll stop.

Anyhoo. This bullshit about making Strom Thurmond happy has to end somewhere. If the point of Lott’s remarks was to make an old man feel good on his birthday, banana pudding and a sponge bath would have done the trick. Lott was, and remains, an egregious racist. He’d made identical remarks numerous times over his career, including at a campaign appearance for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Lott argued over the years that racial discrimination was not necessarily unconstitutional, and he actively supported neo-Confederate organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens — a group that descends directly from the segregationist White Citizens’ Councils of the 1950s. There was nothing innocent or naive about Lott’s remarks. He clearly meant them.

I suppose that Smith, at least, doesn’t have that to hang around his neck, since he clearly believes or means nothing that comes out of his mouth anyway.

Share with Sociable

The Man Under the Hood Speaks

[ 5 ] December 18, 2007 |

As I’ve noted before, being an executioner is not necessarily considered the most respectable of professions (which is, I think, a sign of waning for support for capital punishment. So what if the numbers have yet to bear me out). Because of that, and because of fears of vengeance, it’s unusual for executioners to speak out. But not unheard of. ABC news is featuring an exclusive interview with Jerry Givens, the man who used to be the head executioner for the state of Virginia.

Givens has no formal medical training, but he gave lethal injections. He guessed on the amount of voltage necessary to electrocute condemned men. He prayed with the men before he executed them. And he now opposes the death penalty.

I’m wary of putting too much stock in the reformation arguments — the ones that say we should pay more attention to what Mr. Givens has to say because he used to perform executions and now thinks they’re bad. Take Norma McCorvey, for example. She was Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. She now fights to ban abortion. Or, Dr. Giebink, a South Dakota Ob/Gyn who spent one year performing abortions and is now leading the charge to ban them (again) in South Dakota. Should their opinion mean more than that of a person who had an abortion and supports the right to abortion and always has? No. To me, the answer is easy. That said, Mr. Givens’s voice can be another part of the chorus of people calling for an end to the death penalty.

(via ACS)

Share with Sociable