Archive for the ‘Esquire’ tag
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher was moved to solitary confinement at the behest of a congressman (update: he’s since been released), updates on the Trayvon Martin case, Jamie reads a must-be-heard-to-be-believed sexist Esquire article, and Allison talks about the Spanish General Strike
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Ed. Note: This is the second installment of John H. Richardson’s weekly column, “The Richardson Report.” It will run on Tuesdays. You can view the archive here.
The Republicans Couldn’t Steal the Election Again, Right?Right?
It could get ugly at the polls this November. Although experts agree that voter fraud is not a problem these days — for what it’s worth, the Justice Department convicts an average of eight people a year — Republicans have been using the specter of voter fraud to ramp up their century-long campaign to suppress the votes of minorities, the young and the poor. In Michigan, they tried to block the votes of people who had lost their homes to foreclosure. In Montana, they challenged some six thousand voters for filing change-of-address forms. According to The New York Times, nine states have broken the law by using Social Security data to purge registration lists. CBS found voter purges under way in 19 states. In Ohio, Republicans are fighting a bitter legal battle to challenge 660,000 new voters. There’s a new voter ID law in Indiana. Pima County, Arizona now requires birth certificates at the polls. And so on.
It all came to a head last week with the uproar caused by the Republican campaign against ACORN, a liberal get-out-the-vote group that recently signed up 1.3 million new voters. While it’s true that every year a handful of ACORN canvassers turn in forms with names like Donald Duck, Donald Duck never actually shows up to vote. Nevertheless, election officials are investigating ACORN in eleven battleground states like Ohio, Florida and North Carolina, andlast week the Justice Department announced its own investigation. On his website, John McCain’s accused Barack Obama of both hiding “the true nature of his relationship to ACORN” and bragging that he’d “been fighting alongside ACORN” all his life. In a nutty moment of hysterical overstatement, he said that ACORN was “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” Reports of vandalism against ACORN offices and even death threats soon followed.
But this year, the Democrats are in no mood to back down. In Montana, the public outcry over the six thousand votes was so ferocious the GOP backed off and its executive director resigned. Democrats in Michigan went to court and last week a federal judge ruled the foreclosure challenge illegal. In Ohio, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner fought the Republicans all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Obama’s campaign quickly sent a letter to the Justice Department asking a prosecutor to look into the “specious vote fraud allegations.” And Congressman John Conyers upped the ante with a letter to both Justice and the FBI linking the anti-ACORN campaign to the scandal over the U.S. attorney firings in 2006, two of whom were fired for refusing to pursue equally bogus legal cases against ACORN canvassers.
And if it comes to a fight over who won, Obama has assembled has assembled a coalition of five thousand lawyers in Florida alone.
Three Ways to Make Sure Your Vote Counts
Speaking of which, a recent Zogby poll found that 32 percent of Americans were “not at all” confident that Bush won the 2004 election “fair and square.” Those Americans include Conyers and Brunner and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who wrote this article arguing that Republicans won the election by stealing or suppressing 350,000 votes in Ohio.
More recently, the left-wing corners of the Internet have been buzzing with two recent depositions in a long-running lawsuit against J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary State. The first is from a researcher named Richard Harris Phillips who says he examined 126,000 ballots and 127 poll books and found “much evidence of ballot alternation, ballot substitution, ballot box stuffing, ballot destruction, vote switching, tabulator rigging and old-fashioned vote voter suppression.” The other is an affidavit from Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican expert in data security who detailed his theory on how the votes were switched. More dramatically, he reported a conversation with Michael Connell, the Republican computer whiz who helped set up voting systems in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 and is now the computer expert for John McCain. “Mr. Connell is a devout Catholic. He has admitted to me that in his zeal to ‘save the unborn’ he may have helped others who have compromised elections. He was clearly uncomfortable when I asked directly about Ohio 2004.”
Although none of this has been proven, it was intriguing enough to make me call the attorney fighting the case, Cliff Arnebeck. “We tried to get Connell to come forward and initially thought he was going to cooperate,” he said. “Then we were told — by an anonymous person who is apparently a senior person in the McCain campaign — that he was threatened by Karl Rove, and the nature of the threat was, “If you implicate me, we’re going to prosecute your wife.”
Again, these may all turn out to be wild allegations, but if you’re interested in Arnebeck’s grand unified theory tying Rove to the tobacco companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. attorney firings in a plot to steal both the 2000 and 2004 elections, you can find much of it here. And if you’re just interested in making sure it doesn’t happen this time, you can take the advice of another person who believes the 2004 election was stolen, NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller:
“The spectacle of massive voter turnout is crucial, so they can’t say people didn’t bother to show up. Second, people have to double check and triple check to make sure they’re sure they’re registered — call your secretary of state, or check out a book called Count My Vote, A Citizen’s Guide to Voting. Third, go tovideothevote.org, a grassroots venture that will provide people with cameras so they can interview people who are turned away at the polls. It’s crucial to think ahead of the possibility of a stolen race and collect evidence. And if people have bizarre problems with the machinery, they shouldn’t just go home. They should stay there so the media will see them, and their numbers should grow.”
On the Auction Block, No One’s Bidding on Picasso and Auctioneers Are None Too Pleased About It
For relief from all these paranoid thoughts, I went to an auction on Sunday that was just down the road from my house. The ad said “Financial Collapse of Hedge Fund Guru — Forced Sale of 120 Pieces of Fine Art — Picasso, Pissaro, Chagall, Dali, Miro, Icart, Lautrec, Renoir, Matisse, Levier, etc.” A pastel by H. Claude Pissaro sold for $13,000 and a Warhol silkscreen sold for $10,000, but three beautiful Renoir aquatints sold for only $1,000 each. “I don’t believe this,” the auctioneer said. Daunted by a floor price of $54,000 on a nice Picasso charcoal, nobody even ventured a bid. Then a Dali woodblock titled “Greed” topped out at $1,250, and the auctioneer began to plead. “No further bidding? Hasn’t anybody got greed?”