Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: How could Wayne Williams miss that the voter-fraud panel is the real fraud?

Littwin: How could Wayne Williams miss that the voter-fraud panel is the real fraud?

It’s strange enough that Wayne Williams, Colorado’s Secretary of State, had to call a news conference to try to calm the political waters he had inadvertently roiled by embracing Donald Trump’s phony-baloney voter-fraud commission.

What’s worse is that Williams, even after his huge unforced error, completely misread why people should be outraged. This should not be that hard. Start with mistrust of government, add mistrust of the ever untrustworthy Trump and finish it off with mistrust of phony-baloney commissions. And there, in a country rightly worried about privacy issues, you have it.

Any politician worth the name should have been able to see this one coming. And now that I think of it, nearly every Secretary of State in the country other than Williams did see it coming.

Not only did Williams get it wrong when the survey came out, he got it wrong at the news conference when he unsuccessfully tried to SOS-splain his way out of this. If I had to guess, and I do, I’d guess that more people are upset now than before the news conference began.

Here’s the problem for Williams. There is no widespread voter fraud, and he knows it. There isn’t even much narrow-spread voter fraud. There’s no need for a commission. There would be no commission if Trump hadn’t made his bizarre and totally unsupported claim that the reason he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes is that 3 to 5 million people had voted illegally. The real mystery is how he could have lost by only 3 million.

In any case, once Trump made his fake-news tweet about illegal voters, fact-checkers across the land rushed to be the first to debunk the so-easy-to-debunk lie. Williams should have known there’d be a similar rush to debunk the fraudulent fraud commission. Instead, the best he could do was to mumble something about the survey, saying he would mostly comply, and then praising the seven bonus questions. One bonus question was asking voting officials for advice on how to keep voting results secure. Another was, of course, whether there was any evidence of voter fraud in the state.

When Williams was asked that fraud question at the news conference, he replied, “I have not seen any indication that occurred.” Not seen any indication. Which is not the same as saying, “In my experience, Colorado is the cleanest state in the country. We have great county clerks who oversee the process and we have the highest voting rate of any state. It’s insulting to even get asked that question. And it’s no wonder that Colorado voters are upset. I’m upset. Who wouldn’t be upset?”

Williams has often made statements praising Colorado’s voting record. Why didn’t he this time? I wonder if it has anything to do with, you know, being a Republican-led survey, pushed by a Republican president. I wonder if Williams understands this makes him look like a partisan hack. He couldn’t look worse if he had been caught setting up beach chairs for Chris Christie.

All Williams had to say was that he would comply with the request, but reluctantly, because voter fraud is a bogus issue, certainly in Colorado. Doesn’t Williams understand how unpopular Trump is in the state? If he’s unsure, he should ask Cory Gardner — if, that is, he can find him.

Other Secretaries of State haven’t been quite so diffident. For example, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, told commission members to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.” From Minnesota, Democrats were recommending lakes as a jumping-off alternative. And from Connecticut, Denise Merrill, the Democratic Secretary of State, resisted the water analogy even though her state borders the Atlantic. She said she would provide publicly-available information but that she was deeply skeptical of any commission led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who, she pointed out, “has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.” She points that out only because it’s true.

The nonpartisan Brennan Center offers a list of studies that have investigated the question of voter fraud in America. One comprehensive study, from law professor Justin Levitt, lists all 31 instances of voter impersonation he could find from the years 2000 to 2014. That’s 31 instances out of  approximately one billion votes.

One member of the commission has resigned over the requested survey. Sure, there’s a great danger in overusing the phrase “witch hunt” — we’re not exactly in Joe McCarthy territory here — but you can see the temptation. Some of us can even recall a time when Scott Gessler, who preceded Williams at the job, was, in fact, conducting a witch hunt, claiming he had with him a list of possible fraudulent voters. It was all part of a shameful nationwide Republican effort to suppress the vote. You don’t really think all those voter ID laws are about integrity, do you?

So it’s hardly surprising that many Coloradans would go slightly nuts because it looks like the federal government is collecting private information in one giant snoop-fest. While it’s true that most, but not all, of the information the commission asked for is public information — the same material that you or I could get — that isn’t really the issue. We should all believe that governments can’t pick and choose who gets to receive public information. That’s why it’s, uh, public.

But here are the real issues, the ones that Williams seems to have missed about the commission: like, what the hell are they doing, why are they doing it to us, doesn’t it look like the first step on the road to voter suppression, and why would anyone trust Kris Kobach, who is vice-chair of the commission (Mike Pence is the chair), particularly once we learned that Kobach, a leader among voter-fraud truthers, was just fined $1,000 by a federal judge for “deceptive conduct and lack of candor” on just this issue.

If the law demands that Williams turns over certain information to the panel, it’s completely understandable that he would. But that’s not where Williams’ responsibility ends. There is still such a thing in America as public integrity. If Williams hopes to make any claim for his own integrity, he must say what he knows to be true. This is a dishonest commission, set up by a dishonest president, led by a voter-fraud zealot, designed to fool people into believing there’s a problem where no problem exists.

 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

12 Comments

  1. Julia A. Ripley on said:

    Mike, thank you ever so much for the response to our dopey Secretary of State’s caving to the Trump nutcases. The Indy told me what I could do and how to do it and even so, I’m stuck with the premise: “What if they change the rules?” ***Did we elect Williams? Is he impeachable? Can we fire him? I’m assuming tar and feathers are too extreme. Maybe he’ll give another press conference and get laughed out of state.

  2. Toni Aguilar on said:

    Thanks for a good article. I did not know that kobach had already had his hand slapped by a federal judge. Shoulda whacked him upside the head with a 2X4. It’s my understanding that Williams intends to show his lack of spine and conscience by sending in the information July 14. Is there anything we can do to convince him to back off, refuse to comply, and defend democracy?

    My other question is why aren’t progressives and their media calling out the deliberate, if incremental, growth of fascism being gifted to us by the swamp-dwellers? I frequently see the word ‘authoritarianism’ but almost never ‘fascism.’ This gathering of voter information by the federal government is definitely a step straight out of the Nazi playbook.

    It Can’t Happen Here? Right.

  3. Will Morrison on said:

    What an incredible lack of spine Williams is showing. Considering that his job is supposed to be protecting US, I don’t see how caving in to a clearly ILLEGAL request is in his job description.

    If you think Kobach has ANYTHING in mind but eliminating people’s right to vote, you’re dreaming. This is what he entire political career has been about. He is completely without honor or shame. He’s been turning Kansass into a virtual wasteland along with Brownback, and now he is getting his chance to do the same to the whole country. What an unmitigated shame that OUR man in charge doesn’t have the brains to see it, or even understand why WE would be upset about this. It’s nothing but a stab at our right of self determination, and that’s just NOT anything we should be going along with.

    Time for Mr Williams to GO. He’s NOT on the side of the people of Colorado.

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin
    }{

    Let’s be clear about two things:

    – Mr. Littwin is peddling fear

    – Fear is all Mr. Littwin has to offer

    Whether it’s Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams or President Trump, Mr. Littwin wants you to fear everything they say, do or ask for.

    To support his claim that, “voter fraud (in Colorado) is a bogus issue,” Mr. Littwin had to ignore this CBS4 report from last September:

    “A CBS4 investigation has found multiple cases of dead men and women voting in Colorado months and in some cases years after their deaths, a revelation that calls into question safeguards designed to prevent such occurrences.

    One of the most glaring cases was that of Sara Sosa in Colorado Springs. She died on Oct. 14, 2009. However, CBS4 uncovered voting records that showed ballots cast for Sosa in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Her husband, Miguel, died on Sept. 26, 2008. But CBS4 unearthed records showing that a vote was cast in his name the next year, 2009.”

    That’s a hard report to ignore but Mr. Littwin has gotten very good at ignoring facts that contradict his parochial narrative.

    And it’s sad, just sad.

    On the day America celebrated its birthday with picnics, parades, pride and patriotism, Mr. Littwin was selling doom and gloom: Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Ignoring his own hypocrisy, Mr. Littwin is now doing exactly what he so often criticized President Trump of doing: Fear-mongering. In fact, Mr. Littwin once accused President Trump of fear-mongering “at a historic level.” It appears from his 4th of July column that Mr. Littwin may take President Trump’s place in the history books:

    “No president as unfit for the job (as President Trump). No president less informed on, or less interested in, policy. No president who operates so openly as a xenophobic demagogue. No president whose assaults on a free press are as sophomoric as they are dangerously ill-considered. No president who, if he had chopped down a cherry tree and was caught with the hatchet in hand, would shamelessly lie about it and then tweet about #fakenews.”

    That, of course, is merely a longer and revised version of how Mr. Littwin described President Trump last year:

    “You can call Trump a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party..”

    This year Mr. Littwin has increased the level and tempo of hysteria to this:

    “What I’m arguing, is that Trump’s presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.”

    The purpose of repeating that rather simplistic theme is to generate fear. It’s a pathetic attempt to nullify the will of the American people as expressed last November 8th. After all, doesn’t Mr. Littwin, a former sportswriter, know better than anyone what’s best for America?

    Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t but journalism today involves more than just providing who, what, why, where and when it involves injecting personal agendas into what should be objective reporting and even the New York Times practices this perverted version of journalism. This is how New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg began a story:

    “If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”

    The answer is simple, you shouldn’t. Except, of course, at the New York Times where slanted reporting is not only encouraged it’s rewarded provided, of course, it’s slanted to the left.

    Here is a short rundown of some of the unhinged efforts made to delegitimize President Trump:

    – abandoning the Electoral College (pending)

    – so-called Hamilton electors or faithless electors who would not cast their vote for President Trump (failed)

    – questioning the legitimacy of 50 Electoral College members who voted for Donald Trump but were allegedly ineligible to serve as presidential electors (failed)

    – urging Congress not to ratify the Electoral College results (failed)

    – recount in five states sponsored by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein (failed)

    Those were all prior to President Trump being sworn in but the delegitimizing efforts continued unabated: President Trump has been accused of treason (unproven), colluding with the Russians (unproven) and some members of Congress have called for impeachment (failed). But apparently desperation begets more desperation.

    The latest, but certainly not the last, quixotic attempt to delegitimize President Trump and remove him from office involves use of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. Democrats, led by freshman Rep. Jamie Raskin, have proposed a bill to create an 11-member panel that would assess President Trump’s fitness to serve as president. The bill has 20 Democrat co-sponsors and a snowball’s chance in hell of passing because as observed by Slate “The most practical problem with the 25th Amendment option is that it won’t happen.”

    Those Democrats seeking President Trump’s removal are doing so for one singular political reason: They lack a viable 2020 presidential candidate. How desperate are Democrats? Well, recent reports have suggested that Maxine Waters, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will all enter the 2020 presidential race.

    You can’t make this stuff up! All are now generously beyond the age of 70 and running at that age can be problematic. In 2015 Mr. Littwin described Senator Sanders’ presidential candidacy as “a benign summer fling” and that assessment is unlikely to improve three years from now.

    Mr. Littwin never tires of reporting how unpopular President Trump is but what he never mentions is Democrats are even less popular. This from Vox:

    “Yet the Democrats face an uphill battle to gaining power again. Trump is unpopular, but he’s more popular than the Democrats. (Sound familiar?) A recent poll has a 40 percent favorable rating for Trump, but only 35 percent for the Democratic Party. An April 2017 poll surprisingly found that Trump would win in a rematch against Clinton. Democrats haven’t gained in popularity or gained in party identification. The Republican Party as a whole hasn’t been this powerful since the 1920s. The Democrats have collapsed in state governments, now controlling only 31 of 98 state legislative chambers. Some rethinking is necessary.”

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Foundational
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2017

  5. Carl T Hammerdorfer on said:

    Don Lopez ignores the Brennan Center studies, Pew, FactCheck, Politifact, and every other credible organization’s conclusion on the absence of meaningful voter flag. He disgraces the very men and women whom he claims to support, the veterans who died or were wounded fighting for truth and justice in America and around the world. Don Lopez is an emblem of the brainwashed ignorance that will eventually be defeated by decent people going out to vote. Like his fascist masters, he’d like to keep them away from the polls.

  6. Will Morrison on said:

    Fear is the ONLY thing besides lying that gets republicans elected. Cute how some think the left are the fear mongers.

    Only thing is, when we say to be afraid of something, we actually have reasons for it. We’re not telling you to be afraid of your fellow citizen because of who they are sleeping with. We’re not telling you that the biggest threat to our country is single mothers. What we are telling you is that there is a TRAITOR in the white house, and that IS something to worry about. Then DO something about it, rather than whine and hide under your bed like the right tells you to do.

    The other plan of action is to do what the right is doing: NOTHING. Which sounds like a better course of action? I know which I prefer.

  7. Jay D on said:

    Both parties are in a dead heat when it comes to lies and fear mongering. And both parties (and their vocal, can’t see the other side at all ardent supporters), can’t see the truth if it hit them in the face. There is enough blame for everyone. Throw them out. Throw them ALL out.

  8. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr./Mrs./Ms. FIN,

    I apologize for using the word “patriotism”.

    I failed to realize how deeply offensive that word is to Mr.
    Littwin’s audience.

    I hope in the spirit of bi-partisanship you can forgive me.

    God Bless America!

  9. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Hammerdorfer,

    What does “meaningful voter flag” mean?

    Are you a vet?

    Are you suggesting that those voters who elected our president did so out of “brainwashed ignorance” and he is opposed only by “decent people”?

  10. Terry L. Case on said:

    Four.
    Four votes.
    That’s the “terrible, enormous, destructive and horrifying” extent of voter fraud in Colorado. According to the unsubstantiated report from CBS4.
    4 votes. So yes, that totally justifies the hysterical Republican response, which ALWAYS…EVERY SINGLE TIME…involves disenfranchising thousands of legally registered Democratic voters.
    Keep trying Mr. Lopez. The American people know ACTUAL FRAUD when they see it. Republican voter suppression is the real crime here.

  11. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Case,

    I agree with you on one point, “The American people know actual fraud when they see it.”

    Which is why Mrs. Clinton was NEVER going to be President of the United States and why in last year’s election she received only five (that’s right, f-i-v-e) votes from Texas’s King County.

    It’s so enjoyable to see the unhinged responses to my comments.

    Thank you for your contribution.

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