WE FUCKIN' STOLE IT, MAN

Many viewers expressed disappointment with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the Bill Murray / Wes Anderson follow-up to the wildly successful The Royal Tenenbaums. That I enjoyed the movie as a whole is beside the point; even if it was terrible, this made me laugh harder than any single scene from a movie made in the last decade:

For the audio-less, the Zissou crew has pilfered the workplace of his professional enemy Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum). After a series of events brings Hennessey to Zissou's ship, he spots his stolen coffee maker and demands to know why they have it. After a short pause to consider potential lies and excuses, Bond Company Stooge Bill Ubell (Bud Cort) shrugs and says "Well, uh…we fuckin' stole it, man." Despite having been robbed, even Hennessey must appreciate the straightforward nature of this response. Never before have we seen a bond company stooge stick his neck out like that.

We can all appreciate the value of honesty in tense situations. In my professional life I much prefer hearing "Uh, I slept through the exam" to some melodramatic fiction about dead relatives or life-threatening illnesses. There's rarely anything to gain from lying, primarily because lying usually is quite transparent. Good liars are rare. For most people, lying accomplishes little beyond insulting the intelligence of the listener.

This is at the forefront of my thought process as I watch Florida's latest attempt to pull ahead of Arizona in the race to see which state can get back to the 19th Century first: yet another blatant attempt at voter suppression. Despite a Federal Court injunction (Nullification! States Rights! Loud Noises!) the Secretary of State continues to send letters to registered voters demanding proof of citizenship within 30 days. Leaving aside the obvious "Huh?" of putting the burden of proving their eligibility on voters, Florida's ingenious methodology is to compare Social Security records with state drivers' license databases. Since it's, like, totally impossible for anyone to become a citizen and register to vote after getting a license, that should be foolproof and result in no false positives.

No one is surprised. I mean, voter suppression is an integral part of the modern GOP playbook. True, Florida is taking it much farther than usual – shutting down early voting locations, indiscriminately purging ex-felons, targeting Hispanics (while magically missing all of the Cubans) – but this is standard operating procedure at this point. I'll give every reader a dollar if we don't have another round of fake robocalls as Election Day approaches. The media will barely bother to mention it (try to find stories about the Florida purge outside of the state), although we'll certainly hear about it if two black guys stand in front of a single polling place in Philadelphia again.

We get it. This is how it works. It would be nice, however, if the GOP could spare the rest of us the bullshit about "voter fraud". Aside from their repeated, decade-long inability to come up with actual examples that would be prevented by their proposed changes in the law, we know they don't really care about fraud per se. If we suddenly uncovered cases of teabaggers voting twice, the GOP would trip over itself to excuse it. So the best course of action would seem to be to carry on and own up to their motives. Don't feed us the fraud story when Florida Republicans threaten the League of Women Voters out of registering college students – just say "We want fewer college students to vote." Don't make up ludicrous tales of illegal immigrants swarming the polling places – just say "We're hoping fewer Hispanics will turn out." Don't pretend that clerical errors resulted in some mildly overzealous purging of the voter rolls based on criminal records – say "We don't want black people to vote." Stop with the winking and the nudging and the grave warnings about voter fraud. We know what you're doing. It's really obvious.

An honesty-first policy won't change any outcomes, but it certainly will be refreshing.

27 thoughts on “WE FUCKIN' STOLE IT, MAN”

  • Perhaps when a state is this blatantly opposed to the Constitution and wants to behave like a banana republic then it should be treated as such and marginalised.

    One way would be to remove electoral college votes from the state, and boot it down to a minimum number say, three.

    This way candidates and parties won't feel the need to pander to the lowest common denominator as much. At present there's a reward mechanism for Mittens to pander to these cretins. Imagine if despite its population FL only had a weight of 3 in the electoral college. If a state has a large anti-Federation secessionist movement (TX I'm looking at you), well you only get 3.

    This way the system doesn't complicity endorse and reward this kind of anti-social behaviour.

  • Some good-ish news is that all the county election supervisors have agreed to not implement the heinous shit the governor's office is handing down.

    That doesn't stop the governor's cronies from doing stuff directly (like the Sec. of State letters sent directly to voters) but it is nice to see civil servants take a stand against this stuff.

    Also along the lines of the "bond company stooge honesty is arrestingly refreshing", I really don't see why eg Brian Williams or whoever the ABC fuck is or Katie Couric or walking cliche Ed Bradley or somebody doesn't just throw down on this stuff. There's no possible way for the GOP flacks to spin it in a way that people outside the 27% will listen to, and it's a story they can stretch out for weeks and weeks, and there's natural drama and tension built in as the election gets closer and presumably tighter and the low-information assheads start paying attention. Ah, but there are inspirational stories of a cat owner adopting a dog with three legs, aren't there, must make room for those.

  • The Mad Dreamer says:

    It has been coming up on MSNBC, from what I've seen while my fiancee's uncle flips through the channels.

    Also, it is about voter fraud in a weird way. If the GOP can completely purge the voters from the list of voters there will be no voters to commit voter fraud. It's the nuke it from orbit tactic. Once we eliminate enough voters, we can quietly do away with the whole voting thing because it's inefficient to have a possibility of not being in power.

  • A.B.A.B.D. says:

    Why the hell aren't federal troops being sent to the Florida Secretary of State's office to stop this illegal activity? If the tip of a bayonet is required to get this pathetic excuse for a state to comely with federal law, so be it.

    Oh, right—because too many white folks would be offended by seeing this action authorized by Obama and Holder. How far we've come…

  • Middle Seaman says:

    In a world without global warming, with Darwin believing in creationism, with a Kenyan president and Florida governed by a non convicted felon honesty is defined as a lie and lie is defined as the word of god.

    Cutting taxes decreases the deficit. (You can experiment by taking a loan; it will lower your debt.) Women get equal rights by being denied rights. Romney, a Harvard graduate, tags Obama with being a Harvard graduate.

    Guns don't kill people, the GOP does. Piss on earth.

  • Number Three says:

    Isn't this one of those areas where the aging nature of the GOP works hand-in-hand with their (untrue) talking points to cement the narrative? Because there was a time, in the living memory of the Tea Party, when there was voter fraud–perhaps not as much as popular belief might make out, but certainly much, much more than there is today. And the "well-known" fraud tended to help Democrats–largely, Democratic political machines (which have, needless to say, largely gone the way of the dodo bird).

    So 60-something Tea Party folks "know" there is voter fraud, because what about Mayor Daley in Chicago (the father)? Look at the section in the new Caro book on Texas in the 1960 election . . .

    This may be just another way in which the Tea Party lives in an imaginary past.

  • Major Kong says:

    This was predictable.

    When you elect a supervillain as your governor, you shouldn't be surprised when he starts building the giant, kryptonite-powered death ray on top of the state capitol.

  • Florida was the centerpiece of a literally stolen Presidential election, which gave us GW Bush. There was no uproar. Indeed, the loudest comments became, after a few months, "get over it" and "sore loser." It's not unlikely that Mr. Obama could win this upcoming election by millions and millions of votes, and lose in the Electoral College because of states like Florida. If this occurs will there then be serious objections from the electorate? And what would such serious objections look like? And would drone aircraft be relevant?

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Yes, Conservatives, be honest about your motivations.

    Hang the following sign at every polling place – along with a paint-color swatch.
    "TO VOTE – You must be:
    Over 30.
    Male, and married – to a person of the opposite sex.
    Own property.
    And be lighter than this (and have a light color designated – nothing darker than, say, "Peach.").

    And if you're a female, you may vote. Just have your male husband fill-out the ballot for you, to cast your vote.

    The (Name of State) Board of Elections would like to thank all of the "right" citizens for doing their Civic Duty."

    There – that works!

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Both Sides Do It,
    Er… uhm… Here's why the TV news hasn't made a really bit deal out of this:
    Brian Williams is a Conservative f*cktard. He's actually called-in to Rush's show a few times.
    So, I presume, is the ABC person – I don't know about calling-in to Rush's show.
    Katie Couric is no longer the CBS news anchorwoman. And the new guy, Scott Pelley, while a fairly solid TV journalist, ain't exactly Dan Rather, either.
    And Ed Bradley's been dead for 5 1/2 years – so he's got a really solid excuse.

    MSNBC is the only place you'll likely hear about this.
    And only in the evenings, and weekend mornings.
    Don't look for 'Cup O' Schmoe' and his 'Stockholm Syndrome' sidekick, Mika, and their feckin' idjit guests, to talk about this in the mornings.

    For the rest of the TV news clowns, why cover that which the 6 corporations that own 90% of the news mediums, and for which they work, don't want covered?
    They're paid handsomely to tow the company line and spin the news – not actually cover it.

  • Major Kong says:

    I've been voting in Ohio since 1994. The 2004 election in Ohio was like nothing I've seen before or since.

    You'll never convince there wasn't something hinky with that election.

  • How do I actually prove that I am a citizen? The only thing that I can think of is a birth certificate, and the president couldn't even make that work for him. Seriously, what chance do I have?

  • And remember that Premiere Radio and Clear Channel are both owned by Bain Capital. I've largely given up on radio.

  • The only reason the Tea Party was ever taken seriously was low turnout. Rick Scott, in particular, does not want to find out what most Floridians under 80 think of him.

  • xynzee raises a potentially good point–Florida and Arizona are edging perilously close to triggering the Second Clause of the 14th Amendment. There's no way, of course, that they'll be penalized as, according to the Amendment, they should ("Oh–those people can't vote? Well, then, you can't count them towards your population when tallying your number of representatives!") But it would be *awesome*. It would also require a Supreme Court that actually gave a shit about the impartial application of Constitutional protection to all citizens, so, you know, that.

  • Conservatives obviously aren't going to be honest because they don't want to have that conversation. But any progressive who gets into a discussion on this topic should be required to state at the outset. "Could we please stop talking about these laws as 'vote fraud' laws since they have absolutely zero to do with interfering with voter fraud. None, zero, zilch, nada. The effect, every time and everywhere is about interfering with legal citizens who might want to vote Democratic. These dishonest vote suppression laws are the only way that a Party as unpopular as the Republican Party can compete with Democrats." Then we can have a debate from there.

  • I was kind of wondering if there was any way I could vote for my mother in the upcoming primary and general elections. She died last July, but isn't it at least worth trying to see if she's been taken off the voter polls and if not, have some fun?

  • @xynzee

    perhaps you were just running a thought experiment/vent, but any change in electoral vote assignment can only happen through population shift (quite regularly happens) or through constitutional amendment enacting your penalty.

    Any extra-constitutional method of instituting your idea is as a bad as the condition you are complaining about.

    //bb

  • @bb: I was considering the Amendment process — an impossible task I know.

    The Founding Fathers being children of the Enlightenment ignored an important part of human nature (ie sin), and didn't put any clauses in the Constitution that censured poorly behaving members of the Federation. They seemed to think that the States would just be excellent to each other. The Civil War and Reunification highlighted how ill equipped it was for these situations. Nor were they properly addressed as the secessionist talk from TX proves. They seemed to think the issue was settled. Instead we got the "South Will Rise Again" cult. Letting states keep the Stars n Bars? At least Germany had the sense to outlaw that crap. Doesn't go away, but it certainly isn't encouraged by having a bind eye turned on it.

    Short of kicking a member out, what do we do w/ members who are either acting in bad faith towards other members or denying its citizens their duly Constituted Rights. All societies have rules and norms. Most people learn this from their parents at a young age and that's that. Others are socially shamed into "correct" behaviour, "Dude! Pulling the wings off flies. Uncool!" The extreme situation requires removal from society.

    So what do we do when a member is being this blatant?

    At present there's nothing but a reward system in place, and no one is keen to exercise kicking a member out. Matching the penalty to the crime seems fitting. Marginalise and deny voting rights? Then marginalise the state's voting influence.

    It's an idea, but if others have suggestions please do.

  • Major Kong says:

    But! But! I thought the 2nd Amendment was supposed to protect me from this sort of thing?

  • We are living in a time characterized by the ascendency of 'action in bad faith'. What more can be said?

    PS check out 'The Fourth Turning' by Strauss and Howe

  • "..perilously close to triggering the Second Clause of the 14th Amendment.."

    First of all, so what? No consequences, no foul.
    Secondly, you seem to have forgotten that nowadays the Constitution is just another Humpty-Dumpty paper – it means whatever the people in power want it to mean, no more and no less. Call it a Rohrschach blot if you wish, the idea is the same. The upshot is, the Constitution is now like a law in a corrupt town – it only means whatever and is only enforced whenever and in whatever manner the people in power desire. Since the GOP essentially controls all three branches of government, there is no further recourse – if the the state courts disagree, they can be over-ridden with no consequences, since the outcome is that desired by the GOP. The President, if he tries really, really hard, can do whatever the GOP allows him to do with the understanding that they can take it away from him one way or another later on. We're living through the split between the Leninists and the Trotskyites, or the Shiites and Sunnis; both camps agree on the fundamentals of the ideology, but disagree on the pesky details (which, of course, means war to the death).

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    The reason they insist on lying about their true motivations is precisely BECAUSE their true motivations are NOT obvious to the average person. If you went on TV and said, "We don't think black people should be able to vote, and we want to make it extremely difficult for them to do so," there would be a massive backlash. But "preventing fraud" sounds like a good thing, right? Duh.

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