Archive for March 27th, 2007


This Politico story is simultaneously chilling and encouraging:

[Voter fraud is] an issue the White House had fixated on since the Supreme Court ended the 2000 Florida recount and settled the presidential campaign amid charges that if the ballots of the Sunshine State’s black voters had been counted, Democrat Al Gore would have won.

Bush’s allies were obsessed with ensuring that his reelection couldn’t be questioned as well. [Not quite the wording I would have chosen…] So, in the fall of 2004, Republican operatives tucked thick folders of newspaper clippings and other fraud tips under their arms and pitched to reporters their claims that the Democrats’ registration program would lead to rampant voter fraud. Their passion was clear, but their evidence was slim, consisting mostly of isolated incidents of voter registration irregularities that were handled by local police or election officials.

What wasn’t mentioned in those conversations with reporters was a Republican National Committee strategy, already underway, to work with state parties to identify and challenge questionable voters at the polling precincts. Among those working at the RNC was Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove aide who recently replaced fired U.S. attorney Bud Cummins. Then, with the vast federal law enforcement community acting as the new sheriff, Republicans hoped to pocket the evidence they longed for: a string of high-profile investigations and convictions.

Failure of some U.S. attorneys to pursue the final plank in that strategy now appears to have helped trigger an internal debate over whether to fire all or some of them, administration comments and e-mails suggest.


Behind the scenes, court records show, the RNC worked with state parties to send letters to newly registered voters in some states, including hotly contested Ohio. Letters returned as undeliverable were then used to create a list of voters’ names to challenge at the polls on Election Day. In Wisconsin, Republicans conducted background checks on roughly 100,000 newly registered voters and trained more than 50,000 volunteers to monitor precincts or lodge challenges against voters.

At the Justice Department, Ashcroft instructed U.S. attorneys to meet with top election officials and make themselves available for fraud investigations on Election Day, if necessary.

Media disclosures of the Ohio and Wisconsin projects had upset and embarrassed local Republican leaders, who publicly urged an end to the program.

…[E]-mails released by Congress in recent weeks show that, within two months, the White House was debating whether to fire all or some of the U.S. attorneys. One reason: They didn’t pursue voter fraud cases.

The way I’m reading this story is that Rove and the RNC (assuming there’s a meaningful difference) latched onto “voter fraud” as their vote-suppression magic bullet, and pushed hard to disenfranchise a whole bunch of low-income and newly-registered voters, and to collect some high-profile scalps to make Democrats think twice about voter registration efforts, and to make minority voters afraid to even vote at all.

But they went too far. The local Republicans in OH and WI were appalled, or at least fearful of backlash, and none of BushCo’s handpicked US Attorneys were willing to gin up fake voter fraud cases to score political points for the bossman. And Karl, every bit as much a petulant crybaby as his boss, wanted to fire them all for not doing his bidding; for not being utterly soulless, amoral party hacks like him and his minions.

I don’t really have a point here, other than that it’s a relief to know that not all Republicans are corrupt all of the time, and it’s frightening to contemplate what might have been if they were.

March 27th, 2007 at 05:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Rove

The Fifth

Okay, I think I’m slow on the uptake and probably the last person to explicitly make this connection, but since Monica Goodling’s attempt to take the fifth to avoid testifying to Congress essentially signals that the US Attorney firings are an honest-to-God criminal matter now, as opposed to just inappropriate behavior…

Doesn’t this remove one of the distinctions the Bushies could make about this investigation vs. other investigations where senior WH aides were compelled to testify; namely, that it was not a criminal matter?

This would be an even richer irony than the idea that Dubya would have to admit to being involved in the decision process in order to claim executive privilege. (I suspect that it will ultimately come down to Dubya simply asserting that he has “fuck all y’all” privilege…)

I’m sure I’m probably the last person on Earth to make the connection, but I’ve been a bit out of the loop the past couple of days.

2 comments March 27th, 2007 at 05:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Republicans

Atrios Almost Gets It Right

Atrios on the media:

There is good journalism out there, and dirty bloggers generally would have little to talk about if there wasn’t. Well, except for all the wankery.

Still, there’s a difference between those who report the news and those who talk about it. The former generally takes of the form of quality print journalism, which is then given wings on the various cable news channels, political/news talk radio, by the Sunday Bobbleheads, in unctuous Fred Hiatt Op-Eds, etc. It is in these forums that news is turned into narratives, where certain facts and spin are privileged or diminished, where The Story becomes A Story, where conventional wisdom is created and disseminated both to political insiders and to the rest of us. It’s where supposedly knowledgeable people make sense of all of the news for the rest of us, by telling us what is important (or at least relevant and interesting) and why it is important.

In many of these forums the True Elites of Elite journalism put on their peacock feathers and strut around, proudly sporting their faux-cynicism and horrifying vacuity.

So, yes, there are plenty of good journalists out there doing important work. They need to understand that they’re being publicly represented by a cast of fools. And, no, we’re not just talking about the various flunkies and hacks that fill time during the day on MSNBC. We’re talking about people with very prestigious titles and roles, such as editors of major newsweekly magazines and hosts of Well Respected Sunday Talk Shows.

I think it’s unfair to suggest that the pundits’ cynicism isn’t genuine. What’s false is the sophistication which their cynicism masquerades as, and that’s what makes them so amoral and repellent.

2 comments March 27th, 2007 at 11:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics,Wankers

Another Day, Another Coverup

Donna and HopeSpringsATurtle are both blogging about the sad and sickening case of LaVena Johnson, a female soldier who was beaten savagely, possibly raped, and shot in the head – and whose death was then ruled a “suicide.” Beating and raping yourself seems like awfully peculiar pre-suicide behavior, but I’m no psychiatrist. Unless the DoD isn’t claiming that the beating and raping were part of the suicide, in which case, why aren’t they investigating that part of it? If she didn’t do it to herself, then someone must have done it to her, even if she did kill herself afterwards… which I don’t buy. Maybe the rape and beating don’t matter if she kills herself afterwards – like a reset button or something.

On the one hand, perhaps this tragedy doesn’t tell us anything new: War is hell; war brutalizes people and makes them capable of terrible things; the military will cover up anything that makes them look less than admirable (coughcoughPatrick Tillmancough!). But what’s different here is that the military’s desperation for recruits (for some reason, hardly any of the Republicans who think this is The Most Important War Ever seem very eager to enlist) has led them to drastically reduce their standards, so that now they’ll enlist people with criminal records and mental health problems (but not gays – some things are just unacceptable).

Which leads me to speculate: Perhaps the troop who did this didn’t become a monster because of the war – perhaps he was a monster already, and the military gave him a weapon because they needed a warm body to lug it around and shoot it at people. You know, like they did with the soldier who raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killed her entire family.

Which leads me to speculate: Perhaps this is additional motive for the military to cover up? It’s bad enough to admit that they have a mad-dog killer and rapist in their midst, but if it comes out that this woman died from the military’s lax enlistment standards? Because the Bush administration doesn’t have the balls to either bring the troops home or institute a draft? (Political suicide, I know, but this is The Most Important War Ever, and we all know how Bush is a Steely Resolute Decider who doesn’t care about polls…)

Just something to ponder.

1 comment March 27th, 2007 at 11:29am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,War


Just a couple of items I intended to blog yesterday, but was too distracted by the voices in my head to get to…

I love to see Republicans writing about Republicans turning on Republicans.

And The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin reminds us all why it’s so much better to be your own person:

Why did Attorney General Alberto Gonzales go before the television cameras two weeks ago and deny that he knew anything about last year’s firings of U.S. attorneys, when — as we just learned from yet another Friday-night document dump — he approved them during an hour-long meeting in November?

Did that meeting not make an impression? Did he choose to lie about it? Was he secretly drawing a distinction between giving his approval and knowing anything about what he had given his approval for?

Or was he just reading whatever was put in front of him?

It’s no secret in Washington that Gonzales is not an autonomous player. His entire career has been as an enabler of George Bush. He does what he’s told.


It’s not as obvious who has been his minder since he became attorney general two years ago. But presumably either he or, more to the point, the staffers who write his speeches and draw up his talking points still get their marching orders directly from the West Wing.


[N]ow, with his central talking point exposed as clumsy dishonesty, it’s clear that whoever prepped Gonzales and sent him out to face the media was more focused on White House interests than on telling the truth.

If Gonzo had had a spine and a conscience back then, maybe he refuses to fire the USAs. If he had a spine and a conscience now, maybe he tells the truth about what happened. But having neither, he’s going to take the fall for Karl Rove’s master plan to complete the politicization of the DoJ.

March 27th, 2007 at 11:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Oakland Photoblogging?

Some more architectural photography fun from Pittsburgh’s college district:

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It’s a building reflected in a thingy that I have no recollection of…

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A more interesting perspective on that building column.

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A somewhat less interesting perspective, but I always like to save my verticals for last.

3 comments March 27th, 2007 at 07:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Eli’s Obsession With The Google

My old blog is the only Google search result for “Look who’s got the front seat to the Mexican hat dance”.

(The full quote is actually “Look who’s got the front seat to the Mexican hat dance now! Just like a bunch of spiders in a birthday cake!”, from Nothing But Trouble, in case you were wondering)

And my current blog is the only Yahoo search result for “nipples like Bobo”. Truly, I lead a blessed life.

March 27th, 2007 at 06:48am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

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