Saturday, June 03, 2006


Why the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. article alleging the election was stolen is substantially right and the critics substantially wrong, part 1

Robert Kennedy, Jr. published an article in Rolling Stone on Election 2004. He concluded that it was stolen and gave reasons for that belief. That conclusion has been challenged by those reliable opponents of the Bush regime, Salon Magazine, and assorted right wingers such as James Joyner. The nub of the problem lies in understanding the role of the Kennedy article. Manjoo thinks that Kennedy must prove to a courtroom standard that Kerry would have won Ohio: But to prove Blackwell stole the state for Bush, Kennedy's got to do more than show instances of Blackwell's mischief. He's got to outline where Blackwell's actions could possibly have added up to enough votes to put the wrong man in office. But this is a ridiculous standard. Kennedy is not in a position depose witnesses nor sanction perjurers nor find people guilty and deprive them of property or liberty. He can only use his voice to try to urge a formal investigation, so that justice is done. Justice has not been done. As I pointed out in a thread below, horrific ethical violations were committed by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Thomas Moyer and Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell in suppressing a lawsuit that could have exposed wrongdoing. A judge ruling on a case in which he is named as a beneficiary of wrongdoing? A public official refusing to give testimony? These are the actions one expects in a banana republic, not a democracy. So, in the end, the only investigations that have been possible have been informal ones, notably the Conyers investigation. This has predictable and very dangerous consequences. Somewhere between a third and half of the American people think that George Bush illegally obtained the presidency, that all of the laws he has written, the wars he has undertaken, the taxes he has failed to collect-- that every one of his actions is, at root, criminal. The United States has in the course of this presidency, started belligerency against five nations and hundreds of millions of people, spending hundreds of billions of dollars drawn against the nation's future. We have not been more deeply divided as a people since the Civil War. And yet we have real enemies-- not so much the terrorists, a real but much overblown threat in my opinion, but environmental threats, economic rivals, deficits, and public health disasters waiting to happen. The failure to have an open investigation of the last two elections means that Americans can no longer work with one another. We may very well fail as a nation because we are so consumed by internal rancor that we cannot face outside threats. And so the burden falls on those who find every reason not to have an investigation. Give one good reason why it is better to risk destroying the country rather than have an open investigation.
This is a fine piece, Charles. And a point that I haven't seen yet today. It's the case for an investegation not an investegation.

The "rebuttal" has the feel of a concerted effort to it. And Salon would be the "left" end of that. I'm reminded about how the entire and then much more 'liberal' press immediately tried to restore their version of normal after Nixon resigned. They are invested in the way things go now, they will never do anything to call the crimes of the Republican-fascists into question.

If Democrats do somehow manage to get power again we have to destroy their hold on the media and we have to change the way we do elections.
None of us want to believe that the election was stolen, O. The implications are just too huge.

Some people apparently think that this represents a rough patch in American democracy and if we just get through it, everything will be all right.

My belief is that the division sown by the failure to investigate will lead to a national breakdown. I believe that we will eventually be forced into the position of declaring that the first American Republic ended under Bush simply to clean up the legal thicket that has been created.

None of us can see the future. If the others are right, then those of us who argue in favor of an investigation are just preventing us from getting things back on track. If we're right, then they are making the inevitable crash more dangerous. But I assume that our opponents in this, exclusive of the right, have honorable intentions. I only wish they would offer the same respect in return.

So, rather than say, "They're wrong and we're right," I ask this:

What harm would an investigation do?
It's fear, Charles.

People like the folks who run Salon (and the less-clever-than-he-thinks-he-is Manjoo) are scared to death of being called "kooks".

Never mind that they're going to be called "kooks" no matter what.
PW, it's not just fear of being called a kook. It's the fear of not being invited on panel shows or to cocktail parties. While Salon is not part of that collective visible media that feeds the masses, it aspires to be and, as such, those who write for it aspire to sit down with the likes of Blitzer and Timmeh to discuss their side of things. Should they begin to seriously call into question the complicity of the visible media in the theft of the White House, they may well never get a byline in that very same visible media that needs to be overthrown even more that the current administration/congress.

If an election was stolen in Ohio and CNN did nor report it, did it happen?
Dan Tokaji is a progressive law professor at Moritz Law School in Ohio. He is a leading election law authority and has followed the Ohio election issues closely since before the 2004 election. He recently won an important U.S. Court of Appeals decision ruling Ohio's use of unreliable voting machines unconstitutional (based on Bush v. Gore!), and publishes the Equal Vote blog.

He has posted an analysis of the RFK, Jr. article on his election law blog.

Bottom line:
"I don't think [RFK, Jr.] makes a persuasive case that the election was "stolen" (i.e., that Kerry really won). The article is nevertheless useful in exposing how shoddy election administration practices can result in lost votes, and how some recently enacted laws will make things worse rather than better."
Thanks for this information, MikeM. I hadn't really thought of Tokaji as an expert on elections. He's a young lawyer and junior professor of law who has handled some election issues. However, his CV suggests that he has focused on other areas of discrimination until recently.

But: there's no argument he's one of the more reasonable voices discussing the election. And, when it comes down to it, there are few real experts in elections, though lots of people who say they are. I certainly wouldn't call myself any sort of elections expert, just someone who reads widely and skeptically.

Tokaji is correct that Kennedy hasn't made the case to a courtroom standard. But, as I argue, the standard for opening an investigation is much lower than when property, liberty, or life are at stake.
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