While the rest of the mainstream media is chasing the tweet of the moment, Charles P. Pierce, Digby, and Tom Sullivan have been watching the shenanigans going on in New Hampshire concerning the 2016 elections. The Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity has been looking into bogus claims the 2016 New Hampshire senate race was stolen by illegal votes.
The commission was put together by Donald Trump to investigate his claims that millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote — a claim with absolutely no evidence to back it up. The membership of the commission nominally headed by Mike Pence includes people like Kris Kobach, Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams.
Pierce’s initial report referred to the trio as “...the most remarkable collection of vote-suppressors since the last time that Ross Barnett dined alone.” He continued in that vein with more detail Wednesday:
...vice chairman Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, a guy who’s based his entire political career on knuckling immigrants and inventing tales of voter fraud, even as he keeps getting swatted upside his head in various courts. The commission is larded with people like Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams and Ken Blackwell, all of whom have been enthusiastic pitchmen for the voter-fraud mythology ever since they slimed into the public eye. What we got on Tuesday was a visit to a fantastical world so detached from actual reality that the Hubble couldn’t pick it up, a universe of non-fact and ideological incest so round and complete that it was like wandering into something from Gulliver's Travels.
Among other interesting details is an email about proposed commission membership from the Heritage Foundation — what it says, according to Pierce, is:
There isn’t a single Democratic official who will do anything other than obstruct any investigation of voter fraud and issue constant public announcements criticizing the commission… If they are picking mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to man this commission then it will be an abject failure because there aren’t any that know anything about this or who have paid any attention to this issue over the years.
In other words, the aim as the commission was being put together was to ensure that voter fraud would be the main focus — even though the biggest questions about the election turn on Russian interference, a topic strangely absent from the commission’s agenda so far…
Oh, and the person who wrote the email? Hans von Spakovsky is employed by the Heritage Foundation and was asked by reporters if he knew anything about it. He denied all knowledge of it — but was subsequently revealed as the author of it by the Foundation.
He spent the morning sitting as a member of the commission — and the afternoon as a witness testifying to it. Garbage in, garbage out.
Digby has more on the deliberations of the commission, and just how blatantly skewed it is, including trolling Democrats to consider using the system used for gun background checks to verify voters.
The sophomoric Republican commission members could barely keep from snickering and high-fiving each other over how they’d totally pwned those libs. It’ll be a cold day in hell before they try to pass gun control legislation again!
Oh, wait: This was about voter fraud. And they want to stop people from voting, don’t they? What are they talking about?
To recap: our election campaign was clearly tampered with by a foreign country. The president of the United States may or may not have been in on it, but he’s certainly been active in trying to cover it up. Meanwhile, he’s convened a commission that’s completely lacking in credibility to investigate election fraud that doesn’t exist, and they’re spending their time trolling Democrats about gun control.
It’s Breitbart’s world. We just live in it.
Tom Sullivan references The Music Man’s “Trouble in River City” number, comparing it to the GOP’s strategy of creating a false narrative about an imaginary danger while they rig voting in this country — and gets into how far back it goes.
You'd think the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky would be in Iowa selling boys bands. But no. The godfather of the voter fraud myth was in New Hampshire yesterday as part of Kris Kobach's crack Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity selling voter ID. The commission's true goal is, as Mother Jones reports, "focused on building up a narrative about widespread voter fraud—and potentially laying the groundwork to impose new restrictions on voting in order to combat it."
This has been the holy grail for Republicans at least since since Heritage Foundation co-founder Paul Weyrich publicly declared in 1980, "I don't want everybody to vote," adding "our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." Reducing that populace has probably been a goal since the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965.
Meanwhile, Pierce also reports the Supreme Court with the Gorsuch Majority has blocked court rulings that would force Texas to redraw voting district maps.
While the Charlatans Cotillion was underway in New Hampshire on Tuesday, the Supreme Court gave voting rights another smackdown, this time concerning the gerrymandering undertaken in Texas. The new Gorsuch majority performed the way that the Gorsuch majority was designed to behave as soon as it was determined by Mitch McConnell that the Garland majority was something up with which he would not put. From The Texas Tribune:
In separate orders issued Tuesday, the high court blocked two lower court rulings that invalidated parts of Texas' maps where lawmakers were found to have discriminated against voters of color. The justices’ 5-4 decisions stay the rulings — which would have required new maps — as they take up an appeal from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissented from the majority opinion.
This, of course, will give the people who drew the old maps exactly what they were aiming for.
[This front page story at Kos by Stephen Wolf spells it out in more detail.]
The GOP has been playing a long game, as Sullivan notes. Some of the other elements were spelled out in this diary about Clinton’s loss as part of a much bigger story. (Scroll down to the section The Story Behind the Story Is Even Worse) What happened to voting districts in Texas is part of Project REDMAP — a nationwide effort to skew voting to the GOP’s advantage.
This article in the New York Times, The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math shows how effectively Wisconsin was gerrymandered to ensure Republican control of what used to be one of the most progressive states in the country. Effectively, districts are laid out so that Republicans get a majority of seats from a minority of total voters. This is not democracy
It’s a well-financed effort. The Heritage Foundation and other actors in this didn’t just happen. Follow The Damn Money!!! from the aforementioned post gets into the details of how big money has been following a strategy of funding voting suppression for years, along with other unsavory goals.
To summarize, the Republican Party has had a long-running voting strategy to swing elections their way with several tactics, financed by Big Money.
Add this to the other GOP favorite manipulation tools, like violent crime on the rise, illegal immigrants stealing jobs, rampant immorality, drugs everywhere, Muslim terrorists under every bed, the lying media that can’t be trusted — and if all else fails, get the country into a war — and it’s easy to see how easily we’re sliding into fascism or worse. If they’re getting really blatant about it, it’s partly due to one thing they’re well aware of: they have no other way to win.
For years, the GOP has been running a hidden agenda with a deliberate campaign of lies, half-truths, and slander; it’s all they’ve got. Tax cuts don’t create jobs — they just make the rich richer. Deregulation doesn’t create jobs — it just boosts corporate profits while externalizing the costs to others. (And what’s the point of creating jobs if the pay is kept as low as possible?)
Running government like a business means turning it into a dictatorship — because damn few businesses allow the workers or customers a say in running things, especially in a monopoly. The politics of resentment, of division, of destruction — it’s their business model. Big Money has ways to get what it wants, sometimes by violence, sometimes by sheer persistence, but always moving its antidemocratic agenda ahead by all possible means.
There are some signs Democrats may be getting some ideas on how to push back against all this, but it’s going to be a long slog to daylight. Let me make a few suggestions.
IF there’s a wave election in which Democrats take back one or more houses of Congress, that’d be a good thing. (Signs and portents?) MORE important is to take back the states and redraw those damn districts. (And let’s find out how the GOP judges react when the maps are going the other way. More liberal judges. Better judges — but I repeat myself.) (Let’s go after those local elections too! That’s the farm club for the big leagues.)
While we’re doing that — make voting as easy as possible. There’s all kind of things that can be done. Also — PAPER BALLOTS and REAL voting audits. And if we can do that and start taking the government back...
NO MORE FREAKING BIPARTISANSHIP! If Democrats get government back, let’s appoint only Democrats and at worst qualified independents to key positions. We don’t have to prove we’re better than them by reaching across the aisle.
- We ARE better than them.
- The Republican Party is an anti-democratic, authoritarian conspiracy that needs to be kept as far away from the levers of power as possible.
ACCOUNTABILITY. President Obama missed a huge freaking opportunity when he let Wall Street walk after crashing the economy. There should have been prosecutions and perp walks. There should have been jail time, not just fines. We need REAL anti-trust enforcement again. No more consolidation — and raise those damn corporate taxes. It was a huge chance to push back against Big Money — and it was squandered.
ACCOUNTABILITY TOO. How many crimes were committed by the George W. Bush administration? George H.W. Bush with his pardons? Reagan’s international cowboys with Iran-Contra and more? All that looking forward and not back means that they just come back stronger than ever, every time. Nixon should still have been impeached — letting him resign and go away didn’t cure the underlying corruption — and it’s been festering ever since.
It’s like lancing a boil. It hurts like hell, but it’s the only way to get real healing and learn real lessons. Donald J. Trump would not have been possible without all the defining deviancy down that’s been going on since then..
The surest indication of GOP guilt is how hard they project that Democrats are the real criminals. No more! Time for some GOP Perp Walks. They should be concentrating on keeping their heads down instead of how much money they can make as ‘consultants’ on FOX, selling books, and pimping on talk radio.
The surest sign they know their policies are garbage is how much energy they put into proclaiming Democratic policies failures. No more pre-emptive concessions. If you aim for the stars, you may stumble — but you’re far less likely to shoot yourself in the foot.
We’re going to need Democrats with real backbone to carry this out, of course. L’audace. Toujours l’audace.
What do you think?