MARK KARLIN'S EDITOR'S BLOG
What’s the Difference Between the McCain Campaign and George Wallace?
Wallace Didn’t Code His Language
Sure, the Obama campaign had to denounce a comparison between McCain’s campaign and George Wallace, because otherwise Obama would be seen as playing the "black victim," which is what the McCain campaign has been baiting him to do.
But does anyone doubt for a moment that the virtually sole fuel running the demagogic engine of the McCain-Palin campaign now is race? The only difference is that Wallace (who later repented of his race baiting) didn’t code his words, while the McCain camp is all winks and nods when it comes to igniting the reptilian heritage of racism in America.
The latest racially-charged target of McCain has been the community organizing group (and remember what disdain Palin showed for community organizers in her VP red meat acceptance speech) A.C.O.R.N. The news releases from the RNC implying voting irregularities by A.C.O.R.N. have, as we have detailed, been coming sometimes three or four times a day for weeks into the BuzzFlash e-mail account.
The GOP is using the effectiveness of A.C.O.R.N (signing up 1.3 million new voters) to create a context for voter suppression. This is nothing new. The Republicans did it in 2004 and 2006, but this year it has taken on even more of a racially charged context.
The coordinated GOP attack on A.C.O.R.N. extends through FOX News and even talking points spouted by mini-me thugs at Palin rallies. But all A.C.O.R.N. is doing is to help people register to vote, just as numerous firms in California gather petition signatures for ballot initiatives there.
BuzzFlash has noted that A.C.O.R.N. has never been convicted of voter fraud, nor is anyone who has ever registered to vote through the organization been known to have been convicted of voter fraud, not a single person.
As Bertha Lewis and Steve Kest of A.C.O.R.N. recently confirmed: "There has never been a single proven case of anyone, anywhere, casting an illegal vote as a result of a phony voter registration. Even if someone wanted to influence the election this way, it would not work."
Basically, the GOP and McCain hope to accomplish three objectives in their voter suppression strategy by falsely attacking A.C.O.R.N.
They want to tie Obama to a black group and taint both as doing something illegal. It’s the "black men are criminals" fear that the McCain campaign is trying to arouse, when there is no instance of A.C.O.R.N.-related actual voting fraud that exists.
They are appealing to the most primal white middle and wealthy class base instinct that a white vote is worth more than a black vote, that poor people and minorities (unless they have enough money) aren’t really entitled to vote.
It creates the context for suppressing minority and low-income votes before and during voting.
We’ll offer just one example, although there is such a multi-faceted GOP assault on voting rights that it was even the key feature of what has become known as "ProsecutorGate."
Just this weekend in Ohio, a local paper ran a story headlined: "Ohio sheriff rekindles voter suppression fears. Attempts to probe new registrants jeopardize system." What basically happened – and again this is just one example of what the Republicans are pulling all across the country – is that a GOP-elected sheriff demanded to receive all sorts of information on new voters:
The mostly rural setting is home to five institutions of higher education, including Wilberforce University, the nation's oldest private African-American school founded before the Civil War, and 120-year-old Central State University, Ohio's only historically black public university.
No one knows at this point how many students from these two African-American schools are among the 300 adults in Greene County to take advantage of an early registration law in Ohio that allows someone to sign up and cast his or her ballot on the same day, but the local sheriff is bound and determined to find out.
Greene Sheriff Gene Fischer decided last week that he had heard enough rumors regarding potential voter fraud, so he investigated.
Fischer, a Republican, went to the local elections board and asked for all the information on the roughly 300 recently registered voters.
These are public records, but Fischer wanted everything, including nonpublic information like Social Security and driver's license numbers.
If Fischer was launching a formal investigation, armed with some evidence of wrongdoing, he could have easily procured a subpoena for the complete records.
Instead, Fischer moved ahead buoyed only by hearsay, rumor and speculation — and the elections board properly denied the request for the nonpublic information.
What the Republican sheriff was doing was just what George Wallace and his Jim Crow cronies did in the South back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In fact, his request, without a subpoena, was probably illegal.
This is not an isolated incident of illegal GOP voter suppression efforts, not by a long shot. In fact, as I am writing this editor’s blog, I was also looking through e-mail and came across this October 13th AP article, "Ohio GOP plays voter fraud card":
If Republican lawsuits and rhetoric are any indication, the specter of voting fraud is looming large over the November election.
A weeklong period in which new voters can register and immediately cast a ballot? Ripe for voting fraud. The state's method of verifying voter registration information? Insufficient to prevent voter fraud.
Voter fraud was a buzz phrase for the Ohio GOP when it pushed voter identification requirements through the state Legislature in 2005. It's now a driving factor behind a flurry of GOP lawsuits leveled against Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, seeking either to restrict early voting or mandate how voter information should be checked.
But do the arguments come with supporting evidence that voter fraud is prominent, or that the current election system isn't catching it when it does happen? No.
Voter fraud is not a widely studied phenomenon, but the vast majority who have studied allegations say that it's extremely rare.
"There's a lot more rhetoric than reality when it comes to actual voter fraud," said Dan Tokaji, an elections law expert at Ohio State University. "There's this public perception that voter fraud is common when the reality is that it's quite rare."
A 2005 report by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio found that of about 9 million votes cast in the state from 2002-2004, there were four fraudulent ballots. The data was collected from interviews with all 88 county boards of elections.
Furthermore, figuring that they could get a racist two-fer, the RNC and McCain campaign -- along with their media shills -- have been blaming A.C.O.R.N. and minorities for bringing down the U.S. economy.
Are we to believe that the Masters of the Universe, worth billions of dollars, who run Wall Street were mugged by some inner city blacks? Apparently the Republicans believe that racism will emotionally override the ludicrous illogic and absurdity of their racist bamboozle.
In an October 12th article, McClatchy news service thoroughly debunked the preposterous notion of community organizers/A.C.O.R.N./poor blacks sinking our economy:
Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis ...
But these loans, and those to low- and moderate-income families represent a small portion of overall lending. And at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership.
Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication. One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble.
During those same explosive three years, private investment banks — not Fannie and Freddie — dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.
But, of course, as the McClatchy and other analysis has proven, it was the Phil Gramms (McCain’s de facto advisor on the economy) and the Wall Street casino gamblers who have brought the world economy to the brink of collapse. They played "craps" (McCain’s favorite game) with financial instruments that were nothing more than games of chance, unsecured by assets. And when investors started requesting money for their "paper," there wasn’t enough of it to keep our financial system solvent.
But if the Republicans can rekindle the fires of racial fear and bigotry, they can create an unsubstantiated emotional context for voter suppression while also blaming the economic collapse that grew out of radical Reagan de-regulation on poor black people and "criminal activity."
And it just so happens that the Democratic candidate for President happens to be a black man.
Are you connecting the dots now?