The Real Voter Fraud

Given that extensive and well-documented history, it’s ridiculous to keep claiming that voter fraud occurs on a scale large enough to tilt elections, yet is somehow undetectable by law enforcement. But people keep claiming it and believing it because by doing so, they can keep trying to justify efforts to put more and more hurdles in the way of potential voters and by doing so alter the outcome of elections. That is the true voter fraud.

– Jay Bookman, “The True Voting Fraud

This week’s featured post is “This is why the Founders banned Emoluments“.

This week everybody was talking about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

I focused on the Trump-administration-corruption angle in the featured post. But corruption is contagious. Trump allies in Congress and the media have been reacting as if Khashoggi were a young black man shot by police: They’re spreading negative rumors about him.

“Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump critic. “One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.”

The Khashoggi murder is the latest example of the corruption of Evangelical Christianity. Consider Pat Robertson:

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

In short: Don’t worry about a little murder here and there if you can make some money selling weapons. As the Bible says: “He who lives by the sword is a good customer.” (I believe that’s in Paul’s Epistle to the Ferengi.)

In other Trump administration corruption: The new ambassador to South Africa is a Mar-a-Lago member. That means she wrote Trump a six-figure check to join and has paid fees every year since. She’ll be the fourth Mar-a-Lago member to become an ambassador. You gotta pay to play.

Ambassadorships have been sold before: They often go to big campaign contributors. What’s new in the Trump Era is that the money goes not to the Party or the Campaign, but straight into the President’s pocket.

While he was parroting Saudi rhetoric about Khashoggi, Trump was rallying in Montana with the GOP congressman who assaulted a reporter during his previous campaign. CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes:

even as we are dealing with an international incident revolving around the near-certain murder of a journalist by a government that didn’t like what he said and wrote about them, the President of the United States is praising a member of Congress who assaulted a journalist for asking him questions.

My take on this is that Trump envies MBS. If he could have a few reporters killed here and there, he believes he’d get much more favorable coverage.

and voter suppression

When your party represents a minority of the people, you need to keep people from voting if you want to hang onto power.

Kansas is deciding whether or not Kris Kobach, who basically has Mr. Voter Suppression as Kansas Secretary of State and as vice-chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, should become governor. But that election is already tainted.

Access to the ballot box in November will be more difficult for some people in Dodge City, where Hispanics now make up 60 percent of its population … [T]he city located 160 miles west of Wichita has only one polling site for its 27,000 residents. Since 2002, the lone site was at the civic center just blocks from the local country club — in the wealthy, white part of town. For this November’s election, local officials have moved it outside the city limits to a facility more than a mile from the nearest bus stop, citing road construction that blocked the previous site. …

A Democratic Party database compiled from state voter data shows Hispanic turnout during non-presidential elections is just 17 percent compared to 61 percent turnout for white voters in Ford County in 2014. Dodge City’s turnout is below the national turnout rate of 27 percent among Latino eligible voters in 2014, which in itself was a record low that year for the country, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Washington Post sums up the voter-suppression situation in Georgia, but buries some vital information deep in the article: “There is no evidence of wide-scale voter fraud in Georgia or elsewhere in the country.”

The Guardian goes deeper:

Under Georgia procedures, registered voters who have not cast ballots for three years are sent a notice asking them to confirm they still live at their address. If they don’t return it, they are marked inactive. If they don’t vote for two more general elections after that, they are removed from the rolls.

Georgia removed more than 534,000 voters that way in 2016 and 2017. Using databases employed by commercial mailing firms, analysts commissioned by [the Palast Investigative Fund] found that 334,134 of those citizens actually still live at the address they registered.

Greg Palast elaborates:

Their registration is cancelled. Not pending, not inactive – cancelled. If they show up to vote on 6 November, they will not be allowed to vote. That’s wrong. We can prove they’re still there. They should be allowed to vote.

A similar program has removed 55K voters from the rolls in the 3rd congressional district of Alabama since February, 2017.

North Dakota has a new law that requires you to present ID when you vote. The ID has to include your street address. But there’s a problem:

Many people on Native American reservations don’t have residential addresses; they use P.O. boxes, and that’s not enough at the polls anymore. Native Americans are about 5 percent of North Dakota’s 750,000 residents, and according to the Native American Rights Fund, they’re more than twice as likely as other voters to lack a form of identification acceptable under the new law.

Curiously, there seems to be no law anywhere that disproportionately makes it harder for upper-class white people to vote.

and Elizabeth Warren

I’m struck by how the trajectory of the Pocahontas-slur story is following the Birther myth about Obama. First it was supposed to be a scandal that Obama hadn’t released his birth certificate (which presidential candidates almost never have done in the past). Then he did, and it was the wrong kind of certificate, the short form rather than the long form. Then he released the long form, and there were conspiracy theories about how it was a forgery. When those claims didn’t take off, the scandal was that he wouldn’t release his college transcripts.

Haters gonna hate; no matter what Obama did, the charge that he was hiding something about himself just wouldn’t die. When one form of it was debunked, it just shifted into some other form.

Same thing with Warren. The original charge was that her claim of Native American ancestry was an affirmative-action fraud to advance her career. Then the Boston Globe investigated and found that, no, she hadn’t gotten any of her law-school professorships by claiming to be a Native American; in fact, the people who hired her didn’t know anything about that.

Then the charge morphed into a more general she-lied-about-who-she-is claim, and Trump dared her to take a DNA test. Now she’s taken the test, which supports her claim (and Trump now says he never offered to give her favorite charity $1 million if that happened). (BTW: The assertion in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that she has a typical amount of Native American DNA for European-Americans was debunked by the science journalist the article quoted.)

So now she’s supposedly misusing DNA tests, because being a Native American depends on tribal membership. I sympathize with the underlying point, when it’s being made by actual Native Americans and not opportunistic Republicans (who in other venues are trying to stop Native Americans from voting): You shouldn’t get to claim some share of the centuries-long suffering of oppressed peoples just because you had some distant ancestor nobody would ever know about if you didn’t tell them. (Suppose, for example, that my DNA test turned up some Jewish ancestry in addition to the Germans I know about. That lab result wouldn’t entitle me to a share of the victimhood of the Holocaust.)

But I don’t see what that point has to do with Warren, who simply has been telling her family’s stories without staking any claims on them. I’ve been listening to Warren’s speeches since she got into politics, and I have never heard her claim victimhood as a descendant of Native Americans, or urge people to vote for her because she’s Native American. Her heritage comes up in campaigns because her opponents bring it up.

The other day I challenged somebody on Facebook who claimed Warren benefited from claiming Native American ancestry, and in response  I got a reference to a Boston Herald story from 1996 saying that Harvard (not Warren) answered criticism about its diversity by quoting statistics that counted her as a Native American. That’s what the issue has shrunk to.

So the goal posts keep moving, as the Warren-haters stretch to find anything they can use as a reason to hate her.

but this strikes me as important

Eight Stories of Men’s Regrets” in Thursday’s New York Times.

A few weeks ago in “Two Ways Brett Kavanaugh Could Be a Hero“, I indulged in a fantasy where Kavanaugh confessed and apologized — or at the very least admitted that he did have a high school drinking problem and may have done things he doesn’t remember —  allowing the nation to have an honest discussion about whether he should still be held accountable for what he did when he was 17. We were having that conversation anyway, after all, but his continuing denials made it unserious in some fundamental way.

That honest public debate would be a step in the direction of healing the wounds that the #MeToo movement has revealed. However it came out — whether Kavanaugh ascended to the Supreme Court, remained where he is, or left public life entirely — it would be a service to the nation.

In a sermon “Men and #MeToo” that I gave September 30 at the Unitarian Church of Quincy, Illinois, I hit that point a little harder

Male shame has been the missing piece of the #MeToo phenomenon. When the #MeToo hashtag went viral almost exactly a year ago, what was shocking about it wasn’t any particular story of some man harassing or assaulting some woman. It was that almost every woman seemed to have a story to tell. Almost every woman had some direct experience that put her on her guard, that made her feel unsettled or insecure in a way that men have a hard time imagining.

What was eye-opening to men was to look around and realize that the women in their own lives – their friends and wives and mothers and sisters and daughters – had stories to tell. But very few men took the next step, and recognized that this can’t just be the work of a few bad men in ski masks. It has to be some large percentage of the male population.

And if President Trump’s defenders are right, that his bragging about all the sexual assaults he’s committed is just “locker room talk”, then millions and millions of men must have been in those locker rooms, talking like that, or approving of such talk, or at the very least letting it go by without comment. Where are the tweets of all those confessions? Where is that sense of shame about that?

What’s really needed, I think, to complete the #MeToo movement, is for men to confess and express our shame about what we’ve done or watched being done or allowed other men to do.

Somebody at The New York Times must have had the same thought.

and you also might be interested in …

Trump is pulling out of a nuclear treaty that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987. He’s also threatening to pull out of the Universal Postal Union Treaty, which goes back to the Grant administration. (Seriously. We joined the UPU in 1875.) Vox explains what the UPU does and what Trump has against it.

You have to wonder if we’ll have any treaties at all by the time Trump leaves office.

The administration is also working on a sweeping plan to deal with transgender folk: Change the definitions so that they don’t exist any more! I want to make some snide suggestions about the groups they’ll want to define away next, but my sarcasm is failing me.

Mitch McConnell has finally noticed the rising federal deficit, but ignores what caused it: the massive tax cut for the rich that he passed last year. Here’s his comment:

[The deficit is] very disturbing, and it’s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. That’s 70 percent of what we spend every year. There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully at some point here we’ll get serious about this.

This opens an I-told-you-so opportunity too big for me to pass up. From the 10-2-2017 Weekly Sift:

For decades now, Republicans have been dancing a two-step on taxes and spending:

  1. Cut taxes a little bit for most people and hugely for the very rich, promising that economic growth will make up the lost revenue.
  2. When the lost revenue stays lost, claim that the resulting deficits are an existential threat to the Republic, necessitating previously unthinkable spending cuts.

The result of the two-step is a set of policies that could never pass as a unit. …

The rhetoric selling the idea of the [tax cut] has been populist, but the actual bill will be elitist: The rich will profit, the middle class will get a pittance (probably only temporarily), and the deficit will skyrocket. That will set up new “emergency” proposals to slash benefits the middle class would never have agreed to sacrifice to the rich, if the tax cuts hadn’t created an artificial budget “emergency”.

Not that this prediction required brilliant insight. As Paul Krugman put it Thursday:

Any political analyst who didn’t see this coming should find a different profession. After all, “starve the beast” — cut taxes on the rich, then use the resulting deficits as an excuse to hack away at the safety net — has been G.O.P. strategy for decades.

Krugman goes on to point out something else: Paul Ryan’s superPAC is airing ads accusing Democrats of wanting to cut Medicare, as if Republicans were Medicare’s protectors. But it gets worse: Dean Heller, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz

voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which protects Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, or supported a lawsuit trying to strip that protection out of the act, and are now running on the claim that they want to … protect people with pre-existing conditions.

The point is that we’re now in a political campaign where one side’s claimed position on every major policy issue is the opposite of its true position.

When Trump referred to Stormy Daniels as “Horseface“, I thought: “Dude, you’re the one who had sex with her.”

During Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview, we got a glimpse of this painting, showing Trump hanging out with previous Republican presidents:

In the Age of Photoshop, you knew what had to happen. People just couldn’t keep their hands off. Here’s my favorite fix: Trump hanging around with other abusers of women (though I wish they hadn’t left Lincoln in).

This one was pretty good too:

Russian interference in our political process continues. This week we learned of a new criminal complaint filed against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova.

So who is Khusyaynova? According to the government, she has been employed by a constellation of limited-liability companies linked to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin—whose companies are said to have funded the IRA troll farm—and she has worked for the chief accountant of an overarching Russian influence campaign known as “Project Lakhta” since around April 2014.

And the conspiracy didn’t end when Trump was elected. It continues.

In total, the government alleges, Khusyaynova’s reports reveal that the project spent more than $35 million between January 2016 and June 2018, according to the complaint. From January to June 2018 alone, Concord records reveal more than $60,000 in spending on Facebook advertising, $6,000 on Instagram advertising, and $18,000 on “bloggers,” the complaint alleges.

and let’s close with something old made new

James Corden helps Alanis Morissette update “Ironic”.

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  • Irene Cullen Gravina  On October 22, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    This article lays out the history behind the Saudi prince purging all of his enemies, and how Khashoggi fits into that. He was a credible ally of one of the prince’s main rivals. Worth the read.

  • velvinette  On October 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Also you missed the portrait of Trump with the other fascists with bars over the front, as if they’re all sharing a jail cell.

  • velvinette  On October 22, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Also the allegations against Woody Allen were gone over several times and no evidence was available to positively affirm the abuse. If you are going to post people like that, I’d stick with those found guilty, or at least those who have paid out settlements or talked about it themselves, like Trump.

  • Xan  On October 22, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    “What’s really needed, I think, to complete the #MeToo movement, is for men to confess and express our shame about what we’ve done or watched being done or allowed other men to do”

    We’re waiting, Doug.

    • Chris  On October 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      @Xan: did you click the link to read the rest of the sermon? He tells his own stories immediately after the lines quoted here.

    • ccyager  On October 27, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      Doug is in a minority of men who are stepping up to talk about this issue in this way. I truly admire his courage. He sees that if all these women in the country — millions — have revealed their experiences and that we feel threatened everyday because of male behavior, then men are wrong in their behavior. Is it that men don’t want to change their behavior? Or is it that men don’t want to admit that they’re doing something wrong toward women? Or both?

  • Roger  On October 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    When the E Warren DNA thing came out, I made the observation on FB that it reminded me of the Obama birther stuff. My ex-wife, who identifies as part Native American, was having none of this. Her actions were an insult to the Cherokee, the Indian gets the short end of the stick, et al. I was TEMPTED to send her your article, but I wouldn’t do that to you.

  • Dan  On October 22, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    “There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs.” It scares me that he is literally saying Republicans need to find a way to circumvent the will of the people. If the programs are that popular, they should be championed.

    • ccyager  On October 27, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      Exactly. I agree with Dan. McConnell has spewed the GOP line so often that he’s lost all comprehension of its true meaning. In my humble opinion. Here in Minnesota, the GOP has stolen Democrats’ talking points and turned them against them in election ads. This is a very disheartening time.

  • Guest  On October 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Always nice to see Pat Robertson getting called out for corruption and hypocrisy, Doug, but let’s not get too smug. When Saudi Arabia started their human rights atrocities in Yemen it was with weapons provided under the Obama administration and with the same tacit approval from DNC power brokers that you’re now calling out Pat for.

    A little question for those looking for leadership on the Saudi Arabia issue – who is the sole American politician with the guts and moral clarity to stand up to the Saudis? None other than Jamal Khashoggi gave the answer in his final interview. Bernie Sanders. Who else?

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