Roy Moore lost because most Christians are better than the Bible

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I’ve said before that the alleged behavior of Alabama Senate Candidate Roy “10 Commandments” Moore toward teenage girls was perfectly biblical. I’ll stand by that, citing chapter and verse.  (Other Christians or former Christians have made similar observations.) The Bible is a mishmash of texts that were written and assembled over the course of several hundred years by men with varied objectives. All manner of behavior and misbehavior can be and has been justified from the contradictory stories and commandments between its covers. Men like Roy Moore who think they speak for God, who think their end justifies any means, play this to their own advantage.

Moore rides horse to vote in Alabama Senate runoff

Image: Getty

Fortunately, most Christians are better than that. Where the Bible contradicts itself or endorses archaic cruelties or tribal thinking, their own conscience guides them toward something higher. Since the Iron Age, when most of the Bible texts were written, humanity has gotten clearer about kindness and justice and how people in power should behave toward those who are less powerful. We have evolved a more expansive view of who deserves to be treated according to the Golden Rule.

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Doug Jones Would Have Won by Tens of Thousands More Votes If Participation Hadn’t Been Blocked and Undermined An extraordinary Twitter thread explains how GOP Secretary of State John Merrill deprived many of their right to vote.

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Alabama Democrat Doug Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by a mere 21,000 votes. That margin would have been much larger if Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a strident partisan Republican, would have taken steps to inform his state’s voters than thousands of ex-felons were eligible to vote under a 2017 state law. But Merrill didn’t do that, as an extraordinary Twitter thread by Danielle Lang explains. Lang is an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, a bipartisan-led Washington-based voting rights law firm that has fought for expanded rights for years, especially across southern states. Her remarkable thread is below.
Steven Rosenfeld

1. Folks, a few thoughts on the extraordinary turnout among black voters in last night’s #ALSEN special election and about how much greater it could have been.

2. Here are the numbers on the photo ID law:118,000 registered Alabama voters do not have a photo ID they can use to vote; Black and Latino voters are about twice as likely as white voters to not have ID. Last night’s #ALSEN election was decided by under 21,000 votes.

3. While in AL in November, I personally ran into several voters w/o ID who thought there was no point in registering for that reason.

4. And just as the #Alabama legislature put this new ID hurdle in place, it closed down DMVs in the black belt.

5. But not to worry, AL SOS Merrill thinks only voters who try harder should be able to vote: “As long as I’m secretary of state of Alabama, you’re going to have to show some initiative to become a registered voter in this state.” Cool. (But I didn’t even come here to talk about the voter ID law. I’m not the expert on that case but @RossDeuel and my friends at @NAACP_LDF are.)

6. I’m here to talk about Alabama’s outrageous locking out of people with convictions (disproportionately people of color) from the electoral franchise.

7. Hundreds of thousands of people in Alabama either couldn’t vote yesterday in the #ALSEN election or thought they couldn’t vote bc of AL SOS’s failure to communicate the law.

8. Here’s a long but important timeline. In 1901, #alabama created a criminal disenfranchisement law designed to disenfranchise blacks. They said as much right in the record.

9. They chose to disenfranchise ppl with crimes “involving moral turpitude” b/c that standard was mushy enough to let their friends vote while disenfranchising blacks for violations of the “black code” crimes they made up.

10. In 1985, the Supreme Court struck down the moral turpitude phrase as racially discriminatory because duh. But in 1996, the #AL legislature put the “moral turpitude” standard BACK INTO THE LAW.

11. From 1996 to 2017, there was absolutely NO standard for what convictions were disqualifying. There was no set list of crimes that “involved moral turpitude” and individual registrars county to county decided who got to vote. Many treated ALL felonies as disqualifying.

12. Remember how the standard was chosen in the first place because it could be applied to hurt minorities? (And by the way, Alabama is one of only 12 states that still permanently disenfranchises anyone after their convictions are complete and their time is served.)

13. Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support letting people vote after they have completed their sentences (although apparently #RoyMoore does not).

14. Since disenfranchisement based on registrars’ whims is not constitutional, we sued in September 2016: Thompson v. Alabama

15. In May 2017, Alabama passed a law finally defining what convictions take away your right to vote. And while it’s a long list, it excludes some important ones like most nonviolent drug crimes. #progress !

16. But then, for reasons I still can’t attribute to anything but indifference to certain voters, the AL SOS refused to take basic steps to inform voters with past convictions of their rights.

17. The current Alabama voter registration form requires people to sign under penalty of perjury that they have not been convicted of a “disqualifying felony” and then NOWHERE describes what felonies are disqualifying.

18. There are likely thousands of voters that were previously told by their registrars that they could not vote b/c of their conviction but under the 2017 law clearly are eligible. The SOS refused to notify these people of their rights.

20. We took them to court and continue to fight that issue but the court did not order them to act for these elections. So we and SO MANY others — Pastor Glasgow @anvoo2 @ACLUAlabama @LSAlabama — did Secretary Merrill’s job for him the best we could. We’ve been helping train community leaders on the law so they can register eligible people with past convictions to vote.

21. We created a toolkit for folks to use to navigate the law. Here is one voter that voted for the first time yesterday in the #ALSEN election. He had been blocked for decades from voting because of convictions in his youth.

22. B/c of the hard work of so many advocates, a lot of new voters were able to cast ballots yesterday in the #ALSen election. But this was in spite of Secretary Merrill’s failure to clear up the confusion his office created after decades of arbitrary disenfranchisement.

23. Just think of how many more voters he could have reached if he’d used his office to make sure every voter understood her rights. We have a list of over 75k voters that were previously denied the right to vote bc of past convictions. the myth that these individuals arent interested in voting is just false.

24. I’ll close by saying that the 2017 law, despite the confusion, was progress but it did not fix the problems in Alabama. Alabama is still one of only a handful of states that permanently disenfranchise people for past convictions. The list of “disqualifying” crimes is still long and includes many low level theft crimes that sweep tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals into its net.

25. Again, this law likely continues to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Alabama citizens. Yesterday’s election was decided by less than 21k votes.

By Steven Rosenfeld/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ainsley Earhardt: Roy Moore loss is a referendum on Harvey Weinstein

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Read the story at Mediate

Posted by Libergirl

Doug Jones, Roy Moore, and the Politics of the Lesser Evil No one earns a mandate by merely being less awful than the other guy.

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Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama’s special election yesterday was another win for the lesser evil.

That’s not to suggest that Jones is evil. Far from it. He seems a perfectly adequate politician who ran an excellent race that few of his peers would have considered winnable when he started campaigning. He seemed genuinely grateful—to his staff and to the voters—in his victory speech. But even after following the much-watched campaign and hearing Jones’ speech, you’d have a hard time nailing down exactly what it is that he believes, or how he thinks the country should be run. He won not because he convinced the voters of deep red Alabama to suddenly transform into liberal Democrats (or even conservative Democrats), but because of who he was running against.

Alabamans had not come close to rejecting a Republican senatorial candidate in a quarter-century. The nearest thing to a close call was a 19-point victory in for Jeff Sessions in 2002. Their rejection of Roy Moore, then, is a stunning result, but it’s one that points mostly to just how terrible the GOP candidate was. Leave aside the allegations of child molestation if you want, and there was still a long, long list of reasons why he should never have been allowed access to one of the most powerful governing bodies in the world.

The politics of the lesser evil are very much in vogue right now—though not usually in terms as stark as what we just witnessed in Alabama—because neither major party has much in the way of a compelling vision to win support. Demonizing the other side and hardening tribal lines over issues of race, class, and social policy is, if not the only way to win in that environment, then certainly the easiest. This “negative partisanship” has infected all parts of the political dynamic, and it’s getting worse.

But winning elections isn’t supposed to be the goal of politics. Creating policy is. And the politics of the lesser evil are not good for the creation of policy, because whoever wins gains power and therefore quickly becomes the greater evil.

Voters last year rejected Hillary Clinton—just as they previously rejected Jeb Bush and the rest of the Republican clown car—and Donald Trump happened to be the guy who struck just enough voters as being slightly less awful. The “Trump phenomenon” that the media and political class have spent the last 12 months trying to decode and repurpose for other elections was never the dominant force in the GOP. Indeed, Trump still struggles to elucidate any clear governing philosophy. Many of the votes for Trump, like many of the votes for Jones, were cast not out of any particular love for the man or his political avatar, but as a rejection of his opponent.

There’s nothing innately wrong with voting against a candidate instead of voting for a different candidate. The mistake comes higher up. Both major political parties see results that aren’t really there. The Republicans headed into 2017 believing they had a mandate from the American people because they had been given control of all three parts of the legislative process, but that was hardly true. Trump, after all, got a scant 62 million votes last year, and far more voters picked other candidates.

Now that Republicans hold all the power in Washington, D.C. (and in most states too, for that matter), Democrats have set about demonizing their policy ideas as outright evil. The GOP is in charge and suddenly the lesser evil is the greater one. The wheel turns and crushes those who rode it to the top.

Democrats may make the same mistake in the wake of the Jones victory—liberal pundits are already excitedly talking about what Tuesday’s election means for the 2018 midterms—but their reactions will likely be tempered by the fact that they are still a minority party in the federal government and they are facing an uphill battle in next year’s Senate races even with Trump driving voters into their arms. Still, if they are successful in retaking Congress in next year’s midterms, I have little doubt that it will be because voters suddenly see them as the lesser evil. Republicans can lend a hand by continuing to nominate noxious candidates like Moore.

Building a mandate requires a vision for how the country should be, and getting voters to back that vision. Republicans don’t have a mandate now, and haven’t had one all year. Nor did Democrats win in Alabama because scores of conservatives suddenly changed their minds about which direction the country should go. Neither major party has the makings of a mandate, and neither will unless it moves past the politics of the lesser evil.

By Eric Boehm/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist


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Worried about Russian hackers or other outsiders meddling in US elections? Arguably, the greatest threat to our democratic system comes not from the outside but from forces within our own two-party system that are trying, and often succeeding, to prevent American citizens from voting.

In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Jeff Schechtman talks to journalist Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, about “caging” and “crosscheck” — two species of “dirty tricks” that are being used ever more frequently to suppress votes. While the primary practitioners have been Republicans, encouraged for years by Karl Rove, Palast explains that Democrats are using similar tricks to gain advantages in primary elections.

In “caging,” letters are sent out to voters who must spend time away from their primary addresses, such as minority soldiers stationed abroad or students during summer recess. When the letters come back as “undeliverable,” the senders can use this as a reason to get those voters taken off the rolls.

Over the years, caging has led to millions of eligible voters being purged from voting rolls, Palast says. He adds that this and other stratagems are very much in use today by operatives like Brett Doster, a onetime Rove operative who is now running Roy Moore’s senatorial campaign in Alabama.

The story that Palast tells is truly one of “birds of a feather” getting together to undermine what’s left of our electoral democracy.

Full Text Transcript:

As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to resource constraints, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like, and we hope that you will excuse any errors that slipped through.

Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to Radio WhoWhatWhy. I’m Jeff Schechtman. If you hang around politics long enough, if you look at the patterns of money, dirty tricks, and sleazy people that are in politics for all the wrong reasons, it’s amazing how often it all circles back to some of the very same people. The same billionaires and their political hacks appear over and over again, and yet it’s not just running sleazy campaigns or disseminating misinformation. Today the goal, if it can’t be achieved with the help of the Russians, is voter suppression. The techniques have been being perfected election after election, and my guest Greg Palast has been looking at this in his books and his films.
Greg Palast is a reporter whose stories have appeared on BBC Television, the Guardian, and in Rolling Stone Magazine. He’s just released the updated post-election edition of his movie The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. It is my pleasure to welcome Greg Palast to Radio WhoWhatWhy.
Greg Palast: Glad to be back with you, Jeff.
Jeff Schechtman: One of the things that you’ve looked at recently in a recent Rolling Stone article is this character of Brett Doster, who was involved in the Bush campaign in Florida back many years ago and surfaces again in the Roy Moore campaign. Talk about who this guy is.
Greg Palast: Yes, Judge Roy Moore … Well, you know, by the way, let’s … I know everyone’s been attacking Roy Moore, and when he was judge he put up the 10 Commandments and they’re saying he’s not living up to it, and that’s not really true. The 10 Commandments say “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” It didn’t say anything about your neighbor’s daughter.
Jeff Schechtman: Good point.
Greg Palast: But his … But the attack dog he has, a guy named Brett Doster, he’s his campaign chief and the guy’s who’s been attacking the women accusing … Not just accusing. Who were molested. Let’s cut this accusing stuff. Who were molested when they were teenagers. And so why do we care about Brett Doster? Because obviously this is a type of character that will be running our government. He’ll be in the United States … He’ll be running Moore’s operation in the United States Senate. Doster, I’ve been hunting this guy for years, for 10 years tracking his mischief operations for right-wing candidates, including one … He ran the political operation for George W. Bush in Florida.
One of the tricks he used to stop voters of color from voting — and when I say “voters of color,” I mean blue, like democrats — is a trick called “caging.” Now, what is caging? Caging is a trick … Which, by the way, it’s illegal. What you do is you send out letters. What Doster did was send out letters to people he knew were not home, would not be at their home address where they’re registered to vote. Now, who’s not at home at their voter registration address? Well, he would claim that they’re ghost voters, that they’re people who don’t exist and people are casting votes for these non-existent voters. Actually, people who are not at home at their home address includes soldiers who are overseas. It includes students, and in his case he sent letters to students at the black colleges throughout Florida, students at black colleges who were away from Florida — away from their home address, they’re somewhere else in Florida — during the summer vacation. Sent letters to elderly Jews in Miami. I can’t make this up. Sent letters to elderly Jews in Miami who are known as snowbirds. They’re in Miami for the winter, but then they go back home and visit their families in the summer up North. They’re legal voters of Florida, but they aren’t there when the letter arrives, and it says “Do not forward.”
So what’s the problem with that? When that letter comes back, Brett Doster and the Republican National Committee were challenging these voters’ votes as non-existent voters, as ghost voters. They sent … And I kid you not, I have the list that I got my hands on, sent by Karl Rove’s office to Brett Doster in Florida with the caging list, and these are lists of soldiers, one soldier after another at the naval air station in Jacksonville Florida. These are African-American and Hispanic soldiers who were overseas. We even found … We contacted one family. You know, said, “You’re on this list.” And here’s the evil thing: you don’t even know you’ve lost your vote. You send in an absentee ballot. Your ballot’s been challenged, and you don’t know it, and so your vote doesn’t get counted. And this is against the law.
The Republican Party was found to have done this many years ago. They entered into a consent decree with the Justice Department saying they will never do this racist trick again. It’s against the law. You can’t steal people’s votes, especially when you’re targeting voters of color or you’re targeting Jewish voters, which is targeting a religion. You cannot do that in the United States of America. But he did it anyway. And now this guy’s running Judge Moore’s campaign and attacking women who have stepped forward to talk about Judge Molester.
Jeff Schechtman: How did this practice of caging get started? Where does it come from?
Greg Palast: It started out many years ago. I don’t even … I think it was in the ’60s with the Republican Party sending out letters to voters. As I say, they pick out democrats, but particularly they can go by ethnicity. And they know when voters are not going to be home. And so they got caught doing this. You cannot systematically target voters because of their religion. You can’t target voters because of their race. And by the way, you can’t illegally block someone from voting no matter what their race or religion. But the Republicans were caught doing this, and under both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other voting rights laws which apply to everyone, they agreed not to ever do this trick again where they would get these caging …
The reason, by the way, it’s called caging, it’s a term of art used in direct mail. When you send out letters to people and they return usually the letters with money in them, believe it or not, people who work in direct mail industry, when they’re taking checks out of an envelope they do so in a locked cage, and that’s why it’s called caging.
Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit the degree to which this has expanded beyond some of these small efforts of Doster’s in Florida. How big a problem is it?
Greg Palast: Massive. We just found out in states where … See, ’cause the thing is so many elections are actually quite close. We knew that in Florida in 2000. The Presidency of the United States was determined by 537 votes. That’s it, 537 votes. Now, I know Doster’s operation … I actually have the internal emails sent to Doster, which are supposed to be highly confidential. How I got them is kind of a funny story, but it has a tremendous effect. They were challenging hundreds of thousands of voters in Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and several other states, and this is enough to literally swing the presidency. We just had a vote in Virginia. Right now we are facing recounts in three races where Democrats seem to have come up short anywhere from 14 votes to 89 votes, so a few votes makes a big difference.
Jeff Schechtman: To what extent is Doster operating on his own, or is it part of a larger scheme?
Greg Palast: Very much a larger scheme. And if this were just about one bad apple, Brett Doster, you could say, “Okay, him and Moore are a creepy pair. Let them go off in the sunset.” But that’s not what’s happening. Doster was not minor. He was acting in Florida with this caging game. He was acting at the behest of Karl Rove’s office at the Republican National Committee. In fact, the guy that sent him the email is a guy named Tim Griffin, who was what they call Research Director. In other words, he does … He’s the hitman. Gets dirt on the opposition. It was sent by this guy Tim Griffin. I put the emails from Tim Griffin to Brett Doster on the air on BBC Television at the top of the nightly news. By the next morning, Tim Griffin, the guy who sent the emails who’s Karl Rove’s assistant, resigned as a US Prosecutor. So he lost his job. But Brett Doster was not on the US payroll. He was on the Bush campaign. He’s always a campaign operative, so his job was not in danger.
I should tell you, I tried to reach Doster. I flew to Tallahassee and literally physically chased him around the capital. He was dodging me. Finally, he sent out a PR person to say that the lists of people he was mailing letters to, it was not to find, to come up with a way to get them knocked off the voter rolls. Remember, he sends letters to people who aren’t home. He says do not forward. The letters come back and he says, “That’s evidence they don’t exist.” He said, “We were actually sending letters to our Republican donors, Republican Party donors.” I showed his spokeswoman a list of hundreds of names of voters registered out of a homeless shelter in Florida. A homeless shelter. I said, “These are your Republican donors? Really?” So that’s the type of gameplay.
And so it was done at the behest of Republican National Committee Tim Griffin, Head of Research for the RNC, and Griffin … And by the way, I’m going to… Griffin said he never sent the emails, even though it’s from his machine. It says, “From Tim Griffin.” There are 50 emails that I captured. He says he never did it. He never sent those emails. Now how does that happen? The answer that I have, and I’ve never gotten a “no” from Karl Rove, he was Karl Rove’s assistant. Karl Rove, a computer genius, does not and will never have a computer because it could always be grabbed by law enforcement. So Karl Rove has no computer. His assistant does. His assistant says he never sent out these letters, these caging letters. Karl Rove is a known expert at caging. By the way, which is … By the … When it’s not used in political purposes, if it’s just used to sell you toothbrushes through the mail, it’s perfect … caging is legal. He is a caging expert.
So was it Karl Rove who sent out the emails? Anyway, it came from the top of the Republican Party. Doster is a top operative of the Republican Party. And they were targeting black voters, black students, black soldiers, Jewish voters, not because they have a particular hatred of Jewish, black, or Hispanic voters, they just don’t like the color of their vote, which is blue.
Jeff Schechtman: Is there any reason to think that similar tactics are done by Democratic operatives anywhere?
Greg Palast: Absolutely. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has its hands in a lot of these Jim Crow operations. …[?] say, “Wait a minute, they’re knocking off black voters?” Yes they do, because when Democrats remove voters it’s usually the same targeted group, which is black voters, poor Hispanics, Native American voters, because Democrats usually do their purging and games, playing games with the voter rolls, in primaries when it’s battles between Democrats. So for example, the Secretary of State of New Mexico some years ago, Rebecca Vigil-Giron, Hispanic Democrat. I caught her removing and not counting the votes of Hispanic soldiers sending in their absentee ballots from overseas. Now, why would a Hispanic Democrat stop the count of Hispanic voters? The answer is because of war inside the Democratic Party in New Mexico.
So that’s what happens. We saw that, and in fact David Iglesias, who was fired by George Bush and at Karl Rove’s request. This is a special prosecutor, or a US Prosecutor for New Mexico. He refused to go along with these vote suppression tactics. And we use the term “suppression.” We don’t mean vote theft. Vote suppression tactics. He refused to go along, so he got fired. But he did actually arrest Democratic officials who were deliberately blocking the vote of Native Americans, of … in the pueblos of New Mexico because they didn’t like the way that they were voting within the Democratic Party.
So unfortunately Democrats are not as sophisticated. They’re not as good at it. They don’t use the massive computer-driven techniques like caging. We have another system called crosscheck that removes hundreds of thousands of voters across the nation. But Democrats still do it, unfortunately.
Jeff Schechtman: To what degree can any of this be monitored by the other political party or by the public in general?
Greg Palast: Well, it can be monitored by any political party, and I would say … John Kerry believed that he lost the election because of this caging trick, and he put in legislation with the late Ted Kennedy to make it a crime. It already is a crime, but he wanted to tighten up the law. But, you know, Kerry didn’t raise hell during the election. He didn’t raise hell right after the election. The Democratic Party’s very, very reluctant to take on these issues. So the public has to do it, and you have great groups like the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. I can tell you that the Brennan Center for Justice and the ACLU are bringing legal actions against the State of Indiana. I just got off the phone with a lawyer bringing a case against the State of Virginia, where they just had this vote. Democrats say, “Oh, we won despite the … And there’s no vote suppression there.” Well, yes there is. In fact, you’d have a Democratic legislature if there weren’t more racial suppression tricks afoot in Virginia.
So, yeah, the parties can do it, but the parties don’t do it because they each have their … Both parties have dirty hands. The Republicans … The fact that the Republicans are better at it doesn’t … The Democrats don’t want to bring this up. And as you know, Hillary Clinton said, ridiculously, “No presidential candidate has ever challenged the electoral … the election vote for President,” forgetting that Al Gore went to the Supreme Court in 2000. I mean, many elections in America have been contested bitterly over the last two centuries. So the Democratic Party’s put itself in a corner saying, “Our election system is wonderful,” and it ain’t.
Jeff Schechtman: Are there new tricks coming along for voter suppression?
Greg Palast: Absolutely. The worst trick, no question, that’s pretty new that is, it’s now widespread … You have to understand that the Voting Rights Act in 2013 was gutted by the Supreme Court, and with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act a new trick called crosscheck was implemented, and that was created by a guy named Kris Kobach of Kansas. If that sounds familiar, this is the guy in charge of Trump’s so-called Vote Fraud Commission. Trump and his guy Kris Kobach claimed that there are three million voters, three million voters, who voted twice in America or are registered in two different states to vote twice. So the same guy voting in two states, same woman voting in two different states. Three million. And it would not …
It’s been derided by the press as a bad joke, but it’s not a joke because they actually have the list of three million, and it’s people with names like Maria Hernandez. This is a real example. They say Maria Hernandez of Georgia is the same voter as Maria Hernandez of Virginia. Now, I know, Jeff, you’re going to say, “Hey, isn’t that just a common Hispanic name, Maria Hernandez?” Well it’s not common for a Republican. They’re saying that if your name is Maria Hernandez and they see that on two different states’ voter rolls, it’s got to be the same person. In fact, in this case it’s Maria Inez Hernandez in one state and it’s Maria Cristina Hernandez in another state, and they’re saying that that’s the same voter. And I’ve got to tell you, I went … I had experts go through the actual list. We ran it through computers, the whole list. Two million names are mismatched on middle name alone. You’ve got junior and senior, in other words father and son, are listed as the same person. They are challenging the votes of these people, about one in eight is getting knocked off the vote rolls.
And so in the last election, 2016 election, we had about 1.1 million people who were removed from the voter rolls by this system called crosscheck, and I’ve got to tell you, they’re not just any people. Who has common names, okay? It’s like Martinez … So you see a lot of Maria Martinez. You see Jose Garcia. You see John Black. You see Joseph Washington. And you see a lot of people with the last name Kim, a lot of Asian-Americans. There’s like four main names for all of Korean-Americans, and they all vote … These are groups that vote heavily Democratic, and so when you remove a million names you’re removing a huge Democratic constituency, and it made the difference in states like Michigan.
Jeff Schechtman: What do you find in terms of the degree to which citizens, average people, care about this, are willing to really focus on this issue?
Greg Palast: When people are told about it, one thing … The reason why this stuff is secret, the reason why Brett Doster’s caging operation was secret, the reason why crosscheck operates in secrecy, is that Americans really believe the vote should be fair. Democrats, Republican, doesn’t matter. Most … Overwhelmingly, Americans believe everyone has a right to vote, every legitimate vote should be counted. And people get angry, and people do want to do something about it. The problem is that we don’t have much discussion about it in the US because we want to maintain this myth that we have the most wonderful democracy on the planet, and I wish that were true.
Jeff Schechtman: Greg Palast, thanks so much for spending time with us here on Radio WhoWhatWhy.
Greg Palast: You’re terrific. Thanks, Jeff.
Jeff Schechtman: Thank you.


Posted by The NON-Conformist

Sexual Harassment and Accountability: Al Franken vs. Roy Moore

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Two politicians, on polar opposites of the spectrum, were disgraced with charges of sexual harassment this month.

First, we had Roy Moore, the brash, Bible-thumping, Supreme Court-ignoring former Alabama chief justice. Before five women came forward with stories of being molested by Moore in their teens, he was poised to beat Democrat Doug Jones in the race to fill the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Second, enter Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who was accused of molesting Los Angeles-based KABC radio anchor Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO tour, two years before he was elected to the Senate. In her statement, Tweeden recalled the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian had written some sketches as part of the show, including a scene where the two kiss.

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

In addition to Franken’s behavior backstage, he took a photo during the flight home, smiling at the camera with his hands over Tweeden’s chest while she slept. His response to her accusations was immediate, issuing an apology and assuming responsibility for his actions:

The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.

I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.

While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did just that, calling for an ethics investigation.

As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic leaders will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.

Al Franken was among the Democrats who joined him. The first to condemn him was embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore, who responded via Twitter.


Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces.

Mitch: “Let’s investigate.”

In Alabama, ZERO evidence, allegations 100% rejected.

Mitch: “Moore must quit immediately or be expelled.”

President Trump, who has remained silent on the accusations leveled against Moore, was quick to comment on Franken’s case through Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with the spokesperson telling reporters the Senate ethics probe is the “appropriate action.”

These events come on the heels of a bipartisan effort this week to reform the way sexual harassment is treated on Capitol Hill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., unveiled separate bills addressing the complaint process and boosting transparency. The actions came a day after Speier (who revealed her own #MeToo story in October) testified in congressional hearings Tuesday on the subject following last week’s passage of a Senate measure calling for more sexual harassment training.

Speier said:

I have had numerous meetings with phone calls with staffers, both present and former, women and men who have been subjected to this inexcusable and often illegal behavior. In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who … have engaged in sexual harassment.

These harasser propositions such as, ‘are you going to be a good girl,’ to perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor. All they ask as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment. They want the system fixed, and the perpetrators held accountable.

Speier went on to note that Congress paid out $15 million of taxpayer money in harassment settlements over more than a decade with guilty parties remaining anonymous. A member of the first House Administration Committee’s hearing to review sexual misconduct policy in the House, Barbara Comstock, R-Va., brought the point home:

There is new recognition of this problem and the need for change of a culture that looks the other way because of who the offenders are. Whether it’s Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Roger Ailes, Kevin Spacey or one of our own, it’s time to say no more.n

Now that the sexual harassment issue is public, what kind of impact will new measures and prevention training make? The hope is that the #MeToo moment is not squandered.

By Jordan Riefe/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Hannity Calls On Moore To Explain His ‘Inconsistent’ Answers In 24 Hours

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Image: Talking Points Memo

As more companies pulled ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Hannity on Tuesday night called on Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore to explain his inconsistent responses to allegations of inappropriate conduct with teenage girls or drop out of the race.

Since Hannity interviewed Moore on his radio program last week, the Fox host has faced pressure from advertisers. Several companies, including Green Mountain, Hebrew National, and Reddi Whip, have pulled their ads from “Hannity.” The Fox host on Monday night blamed the advertiser boycott on the liberal group Media Matters, who he accused of launching an unfair smear campaign against him.

However, on Tuesday night, Hannity came down harder on Moore, several days after his initial interview with the Republican candidate.

More from Talking Points Memo

Posted by Libergirl

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