Thursday, April 12, 2007

Banana Republic Watch

Josh Marshall has been at the vanguard of the US attorneys story, following its nefarious twists and turns and sniffing out conspiracies theories that, however unlikely, always turn out to have a kernel of truth. Today, he focuses on the real story behind the story: the Rovian voter suppression machine. He starts by noting a New York Times story that shows precious little evidence of voter fraud, despite the best efforts of the Republican noise machine to play up the issue over the past few years. Last year, there were only 86 convictions for voter fraud, and most of these were the result of simple mistakes. Possibly the most tragic case is that of Usman Ali, a Pakistani immigrant who filled out a voter registration form alongside the other forms he was handed by a brusque official at the DMV while renewing his driving license. For this "crime", he was deported to Pakistan. Charming.

This strategy was orchestrated by the Rovian machine, with the backing of the Republican National Committee. But what did they hope to accomplish? Again, Marshall is pretty clear:
"Republican party officials and elected officials use bogus claims of vote fraud to do three things: 1) to stymie voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in poor and minority neighborhoods, 2) purge voter rolls of legitimate voters and 3) institute voter ID laws aimed at making it harder for low-income and minority voters to vote."
In other words, it's all about keeping potential Democrats away from the polls. Remember those stories of posters plastered around black neighborhoods giving the wrong day to vote? Remember the stories of too few voting machines in minority areas, along with surpluses in Republican-leaning enclaves? Remember the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, in which Republicans were indicted for deliberately sabotaging the Democrat's get-out-the-vote campaign? And remember John Thune's narrow victory over Tom Daschle in South Dakota, that came on the back of massive intimidation of native American voters as Republicans harped on and on about voter fraud on the reservations? And, of course, who can forget the ur-scandal that opened the eyes of Republicans to the voter suppression potential, the 2000 voter debacle in Florida?

So, this strategy works. But the Republicans need compliant legal officials to keep pressing these bogus claims. And, as Marshall diligently points out, the US attorneys scandal leads back directly this strategy. As he puts it:
"Only most of the relatively non-partisan and professional US Attorneys simply didn't find any actual fraud. Choosing not to indict people on bogus charges got at least two of the US Attorneys (Iglesias and McKay) fired. And we are seeing evidence that others may have been nudged out less directly for the same reasons. In turn they've been replaced by a new crop of highly-political party operative prosecutors who, in the gentle wording of the Times, "may not be so reticent" about issuing indictments against people who have committed technical voting infractions with no intent to cast a fraudulent ballot."
Welcome to the Banana Republic...


Anonymous said...

In the name of voting "pro-life" this type of corruption (and worse) is what virtually all of the of the Catholic media along with a handfull of attention-grabbing bishops are telling us to endorse with our votes, often under implied pain of mortal sin. Check your brains at the door, folks, and vote for Gods Own Party. Is it any wonder Rove always has a smirk on his face?

Franklin Jennings said...

So 86 convictions versus a few indictments in one incident?

That's your case? I wonder who checked their brain at the door...

Mark said...

yes, this stuff is no big deal at all. Just a minor blip on the radar compared to 650,000 innocent civilians and 3,300 Americans dead in the unjust and illegal invasion of Iraq based on a pack of lies.