Thursday, October 25, 2012

Problems Keep Cropping Up With Maricopa Misinformation

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Remember how, last week, we reported that Maricopa County, Arizona, had handed out voter ID cards in Spanish with the wrong date on them -- but were assured that the problem was limited to only fifty or so people.

Now a second incident makes clear that the problem may be more widespread than at first glance:
Last week, the department made the same mistake on a Spanish-language voter registration card it issued to a Hispanic woman. Yesterday it was on a bookmark the department distributed to Spanish-speaking voters.

Maricopa County’s latest error angered many leaders from various Latino organizations across the state, including members from two large organizations that have registered thousands of Latinos to vote.
As Stephen Lemons notes, the elections office, led by a Republican named Helen Purcell, has come under siege for these and other misinformation problems, which included a false media report by a local CBS station that may well have harmed the work of local GOTV volunteers.

In response, Purcell has promised a public-relations campaign to try to dispel any misinformation that it may have inadvertently issued.

An investigation, frankly, would be more reassuring.

Todd Akin's Militia Past Exposes His Profound Radicalism

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It seems Washington's John Koster isn't the only Republican Tea Party candidate who has ties to old far-right "Patriot"/militia organizations. Thanks to superb reporting by Josh Glastetter at RightWingWatch and Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon, we now know that Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for the Senate seat in Missouri, also has some old and deep militia connections -- mostly on behalf of some violent anti-abortion radicals with whom he was once arrested.

Akin, you see, was invited to speak at a militia gathering in 1995, and instead sent a laudatory letter that was read at the gathering. When Buzzfeed first reported this in August, Akin claimed he barely knew these people and that it was all a mishap. But Seitz-Wald dug into it further:

The full Post-Dispatch story, which was not included in the BuzzFeed story, also reported that “a flier promoting the 1995 event billed Akin as speaker.” Salon obtained the flier (view it here); it advertises a regional conference to teach participants “how to organize Missouri militias.” Akin is listed among the “special guest speakers.” How did Akin end up on the flier for the event and why did he write a gushing letter to a group he wanted nothing to do with? Further undermining his account: The only contemporaneous news report, a 1995 article not available online from The Springfield News-Leader, reported that Akin canceled because of “scheduling conflicts,” not discomfort with the militia’s leaders.

Akin’s account that he “didn’t know who they were” becomes even harder to believe in light of the news of his arrest. First, the commander of the now-defunct militia, John Moore, told Salon in August that he had known Akin long before the rally. Moore said the two had met to discuss gun-rights legislation Moore was pushing when Akin was a state representative in the later 1980s: “I’ve known Todd a long time,” he said.

Then there’s Tim Dreste, the milita’s chaplain and captain, whom Akin worked with in the pro-life movement and who, as it turns out, may even have been arrested along with him.
As Ed Kilgore says:
Now it’s not like Akin was some “idealistic” college student getting caught up in some ideological hijinks: he was in his late 30s, and was soon (in 1988) to be elected to the Missouri legislature. He was, and is, a stone fanatic on the subject, and his famous views on rape and abortion are entirely within the mainstream of “thinking” among the kind of antichoice activists who represent his political base. I’d even admire him a bit if he just came out loud ‘n’ proud right now and admitted a principal reason he’s in politics is to impose God’s Law on all the slatternly women who keep “killing their babies” by taking The Pill or using an IUD or having clinical abortions.

Truth is, the GOP’s longstanding compact with anti-choice activists and other elements of the Christian Right has politically legitimized folks who are much better suited to be marching in front of abortion clinics waving bloody fetus posters and screaming obscenities at women, than to be strolling the aisles of state legislatures or the U.S. Senate.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dickhead Willard: Romney's Worst Persona Reveals A Smug, Self-Important Jerk

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

"You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking."
-- Willard "Mitt" Romney, to President Obama in the Oct. 16 debate
I'm with Charles Pierce on this:
Wow. To me, this was a revelatory, epochal moment. It was a look at the real Willard Romney, the Bain cutthroat who could get rich ruining lives and not lose a moment's sleep. But those people are merely the anonymous Help. The guy he was speaking to on Tuesday night is a man of considerable international influence. Outside of street protestors, and that Iraqi guy who threw a shoe at George W. Bush, I have never seen a more lucid example of manifest public disrespect for a sitting president than the hair-curling contempt with which Romney invested those words. (I've certainly never seen one from another candidate.) He's lucky Barack Obama prizes cool over everything else. LBJ would have taken out his heart with a pair of salad tongs and Harry Truman would have bitten off his nose.

And Romney bitched endlessly — endlessly — about the rules, and why this uppity fellow on the other stool was allowed to speak before he was spoken to, and why he didn't get to speak at length on whatever he wanted to speak on because, after all, he is the CEO of the stage. Jesus Christ, I'd hate to play golf with the man. He's the guy who counts to make sure you don't have too many wedges in your bag. He knows every cheap subsection of every cheap ground rule, and he'll call you on every one of them. You couldn't get a free drop out of him with thumbscrews, and forget about conceding any putt outside two inches. And then, on the 18th hole, with all the money on the line, he kicks his ball out of the rough and denies up and down to the rules committee that he did it. Then he goes into the clubhouse bar and nobody sits with him.
This, as Pierce explains, is the "Dickhead Willard" who periodically pops up among Romney's known public personae -- toppling over from "Snippy Willard", who sometimes is just an exchange away from "Lofty Willard," the schmoozy salesman who has suckered every Republican in the country and a few independents too.

Dickhead Willard has a habit of showing up whenever some plebeian has the audacity to challenge him or put him on the spot. He appeared twice during Tuesday's debate -- first during the whole snide attack by Romney that led up to the "You'll get your chance" moment, then later, when Romney began haranguing Obama about his pension, before the president's snappy retort ("I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours") shut him up.

The last was Romney kicking his ball out of the rough: The rules of the debate stipulated that the candidates would not direct questions at each other, and yet there Romney was, haranguing the president of the United States like a petulant child about to roll on the floor in a tantrum. But then, we already know that for guys like Romney, the rules are for everyone else.

I dunno about you, but as bad as Romney's politics and policies are, the worst aspect of his prospective presidency might be having to put up with this guy on my TV for the next four years.

Dickhead Willard has been around a long time. We've seen him many times before: Back when Ted Kennedy dubbed him "Multiple Choice" in 1994; when a reporter in 2008 challenged him on his "lobbyist free" baloney; when audience members in Iowa laughed at his claim that "corporations are people"; when he explained how he liked to fire people.

So I made a mashup of all those great Dickhead Willard moments, punctuated by the now-definitive "You'll get your chance" moment.

And let's hope we see more of Dickhead Willard tonight. Because he makes it obvious that the whole "Lofty Willard" persona is as much a lie as his claim to not want to overturn Roe v. Wade.