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Some updates on past items.
- Mississippi is going with a proper ballot design after all.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the special election to replace Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) – who resigned last December – will appear near the top of the November ballot. The court ruled 8 to 1 that the ballot layout approved by Republican Governor Haley Barbour violated state election law by listing the race at the very bottom of the ballot. Barbour was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997.I’m glad the court rejected it so emphatically. Now we need to work on making this kind of manipulation something to be ashamed of. No one attempts poll taxes or literacy tests anymore. Tactics like this deserve the same general opprobrium.
- Ohio is getting sued over its effort to throw out some of the absentee ballots it’s received:
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, issued a memo on Sept. 5 to all 88 county boards of election instructing officials to reject the applications if that box is unchecked because it leaves to question whether the person who filled out the application is indeed qualified to vote in Ohio. Brunner said she is only following Ohio law. She blamed the McCain camp for the confusion because it added the box to the form, which was not needed. But because it is there it must be checked or applications are invalid, her office contends.Knock it off, Sec. Brunner. Count the votes and redouble education and outreach.
- The lawsuit against journalists detained at the RNC has been dropped. I’m happy to give Amy Goodman the last word:
The St. Paul City Attorney’s office announced Friday it will not prosecute Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also issued a statement Friday that “the city will decline to prosecute misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention.”…Upon learning of the news, Democracy Now! Host, Amy Goodman said, “It’s good that these false charges have finally been dropped, but we never should have been arrested to begin with. These violent and unlawful arrests disrupted our work and had a chilling effect on the reporting of dissent. Freedom of the press is also about the public’s right to know what is happening on their streets. There needs to be a full investigation of law enforcement activities during the convention.”
That was the good news at the ballot box. Here’s the bad: New tactics to exclude voters based on a novel tactic called “exact matching” of names:
Exact matching, however, could mean that a woman who recently married and changed her name would fail to match government records containing her maiden name. Voters who have double last names or unusually spelled names might also fail. Everything depends on how a state’s matching algorithm is designed.This kind of abuse of discretion is exactly the sort of bad faith that encourages calls for an inflexible, uniform national standard. It’s hard to argue for local autonomy, deference or home rule when questionable (to put it generously) tactics are used to “shape” the electorate.
This week’s reason why I have the Electronic Frontier Foundation on my Liberty Huggers blogroll:
Plaintiffs who had been pursuing a suit against AT&T have shifted their focus to government officials to circumvent Congress’s grant of immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program. A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is continuing to pursue its case against AT&T. “Today we’ve opened a second front in our battle to stop the NSA’s illegal surveillance,” EFF attorney Kevin Bankston told reporters during a conference call Thursday….Bankston said the lawsuit’s aim is to “obtain personal accountability from the architects” of the warrantless surveillance and to say to future government officials, “If you break the law and violate people’s privacy, there will be consequences.”…Congress also has been complicit. When it adopted several amendments to FISA earlier this summer, the Democratic-led Congress gave in to Bush’s demands that the updated spy law provide immunity for participating telecoms like AT&T. Bankston said EFF is arguing that the immunity grant itself was unconstitutional and has not given up its original case, Hepting v. AT&T, but the group is pursuing the separate case against the government officials to avoid getting bogged down with the fight over immunity.I love how they keep fighting.
I like Russ Feingold, so it pains me to write this: Senator, in the face of Democratic Congress’ relentless capitulations to the President and ominous signs of another one this week maybe citizens have started taking matters into their own hands because they wish you and your fellow party leaders would just slink off the stage. And maybe if you were interested in fixing problems now we might not feel that way.
UPDATE: I forgot to include the following comment from Mark Kernes a couple weeks ago:
It’s been my observation that when Repugnicans are in power, they sound like fascists, and when they’re out of power (or going out), they do their best to sound like libertarians. It’s about time less-observant people quit being fooled by that crap.I would have worded it differently but in light of the coming Wall Street bailout it’s probably become even more accurate in just the last week.
UNPACKING JANE: On pp. 156-7 Mayer describes how James Mitchell, a former military psychologist, was apparently in charge of the interrogation of terror suspect Abu Zubayda. He had no background in the middle east, the Muslim religion or Islamic terrorism. And he spoke no Arabic. Mayer delicately uses the word “oddly” to characterize putting someone like that as a lead interrogator. When the torture of Zubayda is proposed Mayer writes:
Fearful that they would be implicated, and adamantly opposed to what Mitchell proposed doing, the FBI agents picked up and left. In the following days, reports of deliberate prisoner abuse reached the top rungs of the FBI, causing the Director, Mueller, to bar the Bureau’s personnel from participating in the CIA’s coercive interrogations. The use of these controversial methods thus deprived the United States of many of its most experienced terrorism experts. It also abandoned the interrogations of the most valuable suspects to the intelligence officials with no great interest in prosecuting them, lessening the incentive to play by the rules.The people in charge of terrorist interrogations were more interested in cruelty than in effectively extracting information with an eye on getting the suspects into a court of law. In other words, there was no desire or intent for these detainees to be handled or processed according to the rule of law.