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November 6, 2006

Cheat to Win-- part 2

I forgot to write about this a couple weeks back, but with everyone going to the polls tomorrow, I figured it was important to get it out there. According to my counterparts at BvW, the Republicans are mounting a "poll-watching" operation tomorrow. Ostensibly, they will be there "to ensure that election laws are followed at the polls on Election Day" and "to back up the election judges on enforcing election laws." But remember Ohio, 2004? We all know what the real purpose of the Republican challengers was there: to decrease Democratic turnout by intimidating and disenfranchising voters in "strategically targeted precincts" (read: black urban neighborhoods.) From a great investigative report by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that appeared in Rolling Stone:

In another move certain to add to the traffic jam at the polls, the GOP deployed 3,600 operatives on Election Day to challenge voters in thirty-one counties — most of them in predominantly black and urban areas.(157) Although it was billed as a means to ‘’ensure that voters are not disenfranchised by fraud,'’(158) Republicans knew that the challengers would inevitably create delays for eligible voters. Even Mark Weaver, the GOP’s attorney in Ohio, predicted in late October that the move would ‘’create chaos, longer lines and frustration.'’(159)

The day before the election, Judge Dlott attempted to halt the challengers, ruling that ‘’there exists an enormous risk of chaos, delay, intimidation and pandemonium inside the polls and in the lines out the doors.'’ Dlott was also troubled by the placement of Republican challengers: In Hamilton County, fourteen percent of new voters in white areas would be confronted at the polls, compared to ninety-seven percent of new voters in black areas.(160) But when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court on Election Day, Justice John Paul Stevens allowed the challenges to go forward. ‘’I have faith,'’ he ruled, ‘’that the elected officials and numerous election volunteers on the ground will carry out their responsibilities in a way that will enable qualified voters to cast their ballots.'’(161)

In fact, Blackwell gave Republican challengers unprecedented access to polling stations, where they intimidated voters, worsening delays in Democratic precincts. By the end of the day, thanks to a whirlwind of legal wrangling, the GOP had even gotten permission to use the discredited list of 35,000 names from its illegal caging effort to challenge would-be voters.(162) According to the survey by the DNC, nearly 5,000 voters across the state were turned away at the polls because of registration challenges — even though federal law required that they be provided with provisional ballots.(163)

I don't know the extent of the planned Republican vote-challenging operation in the Sixth District, but you should go to the polls knowing that you may be challenged. Don't let yourself be stopped from exercising your Constitutional right to vote. Do not leave the polling place until you have voted. If they do not let you vote, do not go quietly. If you are not allowed to vote, call the national Democratic voter assistance line at 1-888-DEM-VOTE for assistance and advice.

Report Suspicious Phone Calls

The Wetterling campaign has set up a hotline to collect information about the reports of suspicious robo-calls apparently coming from either the Bachmann campaign or the state or national Republican (read the post below this one for details.) If you get a call like this, collect all the information you can-- a recording would be the best, if you have both time and motivation-- and call Wetterling headquarters.

ALERT: REPORT SUSPICIOUS CALLS TO 763-323-1803

Dear Friends,

We are continuing to receive reports of suspicious robo-calls, falsely claiming to be from the Wetterling campaign.

If you receive one of these calls or notice other suspicious activity, we ask you to call the Wetterling campaign headquarters at 763-323-1803.

This is a very serious matter and your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

With regards,
Corey Day

Wetterling Campaign Manager

Stop these despicable Republican tactics.

Let's make 'em pay at the polls! Vote Patty Wetterling for Congress!

Bachmann, Repubs: Cheat to win!

If you need another reason to vote Patty Wetterling, consider the despicable tactics the Republicans are resorting to in the final hours of the campaign in a desperate attempt to eke out a win. The Wetterling campaign says Bachmann and her buddies are robo-calling households in the Sixth District. These calls are masquerading as information about Patty Wetterling; when the voter picks up the phone, the hope is, he or she will think it's a call from the Wetterling campaign.

Massive numbers of pre-recorded 'robo' calls are going into the homes of voters from Bachmann and her friends.

Reports are coming in that households are receiving phone calls in rapid succession with the false impression they are from our campaign.

We are even receiving reports of calls from special interest groups on the East and West Coasts; people who can't even properly pronounce "Wetterling" but who can, nonetheless, spew forth their venom of lies and false accusations about Patty.

The Bachmann goal is to create anger and confusion.

The release doesn't give specifics, but this account of the robocall fits the description of a despicable GOP campaign tactic that has been afflicting races around the country. People are getting tons of these calls at this time of year, so most of the time they just hang up. The trouble with these GOP phone calls is, if the voter hangs up, the robodialer immediately calls them back--up to seven or eight times, according to reports from other parts of the country. There have even been reports that these robodialers will make calls very early in the morning or very late at night, waking people up. The hope is that those receiving the calls will become angry and direct their blame at the Democratic candidate (in this case, Wetterling). Only when you make it to the end of the message (which contains negative slurs against Wetterling) do you find out who the call is really from (a company contracted by the candidate or the national party.) Josh Marshall & Co. over at TPM have been covering the GOP robo-call story extensively for the past few days; head over there for new developments. Here's a great summary:

Both parties deliver millions of robocalls during election season. You've probably gotten the calls from both parties and many outside groups. It happens every cycle.

Only one party has a nationwide campaign to deliver millions of intentionally-harassing calls disguised to appear that they're from the opposite party. That party is the Republican party. And the calls are funded by the NRCC -- the House GOP election committee.

It's the party of election subversion. Deal with it.

The Bachmann campaign and anyone else associated with them ought to be ashamed of themselves for utilizing such a dishonest, repulsive tactic. This campaign has been rough and both sides are guilty of exaggerating or distorting the facts, but this has to be the most despicable tactic of the race so far. Tellingly, they waited until the bitter end to pull this scam, so voters won't have time to dig up all the facts--the GOP's hope is that voters will go to the polls angry at Wetterling. You should be angry when you go to the polls tomorrow--angry that the Republican Party thinks so little of you that they are willing to cheat, deceive, and lie to win. VOTE PATTY WETTERLING.

Be on the lookout for calls like this, or any suspicious-sounding calls that might be dirty tricks. The Republicans will stop at nothing to win this election.

October 20, 2006

Quote of the day

"Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There is a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools... These issues are intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic."

Who could have said such a thing? It must have been a High Tax Liberal Politician We Can't Trust. No? Perhaps an anti-Christian bigot? Guess again, it's former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, quoted in Ryan Sager's book The Elephant in the Room. NYTimes today has an article about the "blame game" between Republicans over their upcoming losses in November.

Apparently Armey has sparred with Dobson in the past:

According to Armey, he also sparred with Focus on the Family leader James Dobson while in office. Armey wrote, "As Majority Leader, I remember vividly a meeting with the House leadership where Dobson scolded us for having failed to 'deliver' for Christian conservatives, that we owed our majority to him, and that he had the power to take our jobs back. This offended me, and I told him so." Armey claims that Focus on the Family targeted him politically after the incident, writing, "... Focus on the Family deliberately perpetuates the lie that I am a consultant to the ACLU."

October 19, 2006

Do you want these people in control of Congress?

I've noticed a lot of Republican commentators, knowing that the vast majority of voters are feeling dissatisfied with and dejected by the record of our Republican-controlled government over the last few years, start to play the fear card. Their argument basically seems to be this:

I know our Republican-controlled government has screwed up royally in pretty much every conceivable way over the past few years, and there's no reason to think that anything will change if our party stays in power. But please, I'm begging you, don't stay home this year, don't cast a "protest vote," and for the love of God DON'T vote for the Democrat. Do you really want NANCY PELOSI, A HIGH-TAX SAN FRANCISCO (=gay!) LIBERAL POLITICIAN BABY-KILLER CUT-AND-RUNNER WE CAN'T TRUST, to become Majority Leader?!?!?!?!

They then proceed to list all of Pelosi's sins, and raise the fear factor by telling us what CRAZY LIBERALS will come to positions of power if the Democrats win control of the House.

As an antidote, consider the Republican fools that hold significant positions of power in our government right now. Here are a couple of examples from a recent op-ed in the New York Times:

[T]o his credit, Mr. Hulon, a distinguished agent who is up nights worrying about Al Qaeda while we safely sleep, did at least know that the vicious struggle between Islam’s Abel and Cain was driving Iraq into civil war. But then we pay him to know things like that, the same as some members of Congress.

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?? I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.?

To his credit, he asked me to explain the differences. I told him briefly about the schism that developed after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and how Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite nations while the rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni. “Now that you’ve explained it to me,? he replied, “what occurs to me is that it makes what we’re doing over there extremely difficult, not only in Iraq but that whole area.?

"Extremely difficult"--Ya think?! This also begs the question... what exactly are we doing over there? No one seems to know. "Stay the course" is not a plan that will help us "win" the occupation of Iraq. He's not the only Republican leader on national security who doesn't know the difference between Sunni and Shiite:

Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?? she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.? She took a stab at it: “It’s a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it’s the Sunnis who’re more radical than the Shia.?

Did she know which branch Al Qaeda’s leaders follow?

“Al Qaeda is the one that’s most radical, so I think they’re Sunni,? she replied. “I may be wrong, but I think that’s right.?

Did she think that it was important, I asked, for members of Congress charged with oversight of the intelligence agencies, to know the answer to such questions, so they can cut through officials’ puffery when they came up to the Hill?

“Oh, I think it’s very important,? said Ms. Davis, “because Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs. And you’ve got to understand, and to know your enemy.?

It’s not all so grimly humorous. Some agency officials and members of Congress have easily handled my “gotcha? question. But as I keep asking it around Capitol Hill and the agencies, I get more and more blank stares. Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting. And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.

People, these are two of the Republican leaders that are supposed to know about this stuff. They hold important positions charged with overseeing our national security apparatus, but they are completely clueless. They don't believe the news from Iraq, challenging every piece of bad news with something like, "well, what about all the progress we've made over there? Why isn't the media reporting the positive stuff?"

Rather than try to make a real plan to deal with the chaos in Iraq, Republicans would rather rely on empty slogans like "stay the course!" and "support our troops!", and questioning those who dissent by asking, "Why do you hate America?" They gloss over their failures and deflect blame with ridiculous oversimplifications like this classic from Rick Santorum:

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

— Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), comparing the Iraq War with The Lord of the Rings, in an interview with the Bucks County Courier Times editorial board late last week [via Salon]

Somehow I doubt that "positive news" from Iraq is much consolation to the families of the 70 American soldiers killed this month in Iraq. Oversimplified and idiotic Lord of the Rings analogies are not much help to the families of the 655,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the invasion.

We need leaders who are serious, who know their stuff, and who have the guts and intellect to see that we need a change of course in Iraq. Our Republican-controlled government has failed us. Vote Patty Wetterling for Congress.