John McCain finally deigned to appear on David Letterman's little show last night, even boarding an elitist helicopter to get there when his private plane wouldn't do the trick. Sure, he expected to just make an apology and crack a bunch of jokes, but Letterman brought his A-game and asked him about how he pals around with G. Gordon Liddy, who has gleefully committed felonies, plotted violent attacks against his political enemies and called for the assassination of federal law enforcement officers. But he's a Republican, so it's apparently okay. Spencer Ackerman and I wonder why exactly that is and why ACORN is the new terrorism while voter suppression is the best new thing to ignore.MEGAN: Is it just me, or is your mind blown that David Letterman managed to beat journalists and political strategists to the whole McCain pals around with a dude that liked to bomb crap, too thing? SPENCER: Remember, it's not the ASSOCIATION, it's the LYING. MEGAN: Oh, you mean like how McCain did initially when asked about it? SPENCER: And when McCain pauses for a moment, apparently unable to remember whether he attended any fundraisers thrown by G Gordon Liddy. MEGAN: Actually, we can just go to the tape, where it's 3 minutes in. After that, he cops to more than just "knowing" the guy. SPENCER: Well, let's give credit to the ChicTrib's Steve Chapman, who did write "McCain Has His Own Ayers" on Oct. 7

Liddy has contributed thousands of dollars to his campaigns, held a fundraiser for McCain at his home and hosted the senator on his radio show, where McCain said, "I'm proud of you." Exactly which part of Liddy's record is McCain proud of?

MEGAN: Maybe this part?

After the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, he endorsed the shooting of federal agents: "Kill the sons of bitches."


SPENCER: But this is the interesting part. You've seen exactly one liberal, Tom Frank, defend Ayers, in the WSJ, and that was on the grounds of pure friendship. Meanwhile, Liddy emerged unrepentant from Watergate, which Chapman reminds us was "-part of a broader plot to steal the 1972 election through sabotage, illegal spying and other dirty tricks," to become a widely beloved right-wing talk radio host. To answer Chapman's rhetorical question, that's the part McCain is "proud of," or at least has to display fealty toward. MEGAN: Also, by the way, let's not forget how Liddy plotted a fucking POLITICAL ASSASSINATION. Or the bombing he wanted to do at the Brookings Institute. The guy is a fucking psycho, that's probably why he and McCain are all BFF. SPENCER: But they're not, really. It's a transactional relationship โ€” McCain needs to kiss a ring to stay in the good graces of Fever Swamp America. That's why the whole thing is so tawdry and contempt-inducing. MEGAN: But, back to stealing elections and voter intimidation. So, ACORN. Former Republican US attorney David Iglesias admits they were the target in 2004 and 2006 and they didn't do anything illegal but he was asked to gun for them. SPENCER: Yes ABOUT that attempted election theft. MEGAN: Oh, well, it's not really theft if they can keep voters from the polls in the first place! SPENCER: Here's something that consumed my former TPM colleague Paul Kiel, the hardest working muckraker in the business, while we were there. Everyone remember that Alberto Gonzales fired nine US attorneys, most of them Republicans, because, among other things, they wouldn't accede to pressure to prosecute Democrats or bring bogus election-fraud cases ahead of the vote, a longstanding tradition of countries that aren't, say, Venezuela. MEGAN: I mean, if you can't bring political prosecutions to solidify your grip on power, what's the point of packing the Justice Department with underqualified political hacks? Duh. SPENCER: And Gonzo, thanks to the intrepid work of Paul and Justin Rood and Josh Marshall (with some help from Pat Leahy and John Conyers), resigned in disgrace last year. But before he left, Gonzo changed the rules in the DOJ voter manual precisely so his legacy would live on. F'rinstance:

The new version (pdf), which replaced the 1995 manual, lowers the bar in terms of voter fraud prosecutions โ€” no longer cautioning against pursuing isolated, individual cases of fraud and softening language that had all but prohibited pursuing such cases before an election.


This is what's behind this apparent federal investigation of ACORN. Now, ACORN says that despite a leak from the FBI (!) it's not under investigation. MEGAN: It's so tawdry, even the FBI feels used by Republicans. Their assholes haven't hurt this bad since J. Edgar died. Plus, yeah, what happened to conducting an investigation in secret and not leaking stupid shit? Did they learn nothing from having to pay out the ass to Stephen Hatfill? SPENCER: But whoever leaked this shit โ€” Lara Jakes Jordan of the AP (she got the Santorum "man on dog" interview, fun fact) says it's two "senior law enforcement officials" โ€”- is obviously trying to spread the smear that there is a widespread voter-fraud effort underway on the left. FBI best practices are not the point. This is what Nixon's operatives โ€” like Liddy! โ€” called a "ratfuck": you politicize and smear and introduce toxins into the news bloodstream, all in the interest of creating a Big Lie MEGAN: Or an alternate truth. A truthiness. SPENCER: The vote-fraud manual changes are designed to build corruption into the system. And I wonder I wonder I wonder how the right will appreciate a vigorous Feingold Justice Department effort at disenfranchising conservative voters in September or October of 2012. MEGAN: I do have to say, I actually think Republican efforts to keep people from voting are a little ironic, because I really think everyone should vote, but I'm actually concerned what would happen in they did. I like that Republicans think the country would move left, and I'm scared it would head far, far to the right. Does that mean Republicans are actually less misanthropic than me? Or just that I've spent more time talking to Real Americans(TM) than them? SPENCER: It strikes me that that's a bit besides the point of the effort. Winning elections through designed-in fraud is only one part of it. The larger part โ€” if I can use a Nixonland term โ€” is to persecute, confuse and weaken the left and its constituent parts. Everything else is academic. They recognize that you could probably build a center-right coalition that could win honest elections โ€” with some hiccups or interregnum periods of Democratic revival โ€” but you can't build a far-right governing coalition of any durability. The last time that was attempted... why, we're living through it, and it ends in multiple quagmire-y wars and global financial catastrophe and a 90-percent wrong-track poll rating. So you get shit like this:

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, after the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 9-6 on Tuesday that Ms. Brunner must notify election boards of all voter records containing information that doesn't match driver's license or Social Security databases. Ms. Brunner's appeal said many mismatches will appear for trivial reasons, such as typographical errors. She said Wednesday that as many as 200,000 of Ohio's 660,000 new registrants this year could be affected. The order โ€” stemming from a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Republican Party โ€” gave her until Friday to either provide lists of mismatches to election officials or give them an easy way to search a state database. In her court filing, she said early efforts to reprogram state computers have turned up glitches in the matching process.


I don't want to be hysterical about this, but liberal circles are starting to wonder whether Ohio could be stolen for real this time, with 2004 as a warm-up act. MEGAN: And what's worse is most of those 200,000 disenfranchised people might never vote again. Fuck "might," they won't. SPENCER: Explain that please MEGAN: I mean, most people in this country don't vote. And if your first voting experience is to show up at the polls only to be told to fuck off, why would you? It takes at least two and usually 3 elections to solidify the voter participation habit among people that aren't fucked out of voting by a corrupt system. SPENCER: ... and this indeed would be three. MEGAN: So, in theory, the Republicans aren't just stealing this election, they're insuring Democratic voters don't show up for years to come. SPENCER: And here's where I'm tied in knots: on the one hand, you have the good-government, pro-democracy position that retaliation by a liberal administration would be an unalloyed evil, a net loss for the country. But on the other. If the Republican Party is going to act like a criminal cartel, then persecution โ€” and I'm not going to whitewash this through euphemism; let's be clear about this โ€” makes sense. What's to stop them from doing this if they don't pay a price? And I don't mean just an electoral price, because in January 2009 they'll just start preparing for the next round of fraud. What do you think? MEGAN: I mean, do you have to persecute when/if you can prosecute? In addition, they continue to justify these voter-fraud "initiatives" (a.k.a., voter disenfranchisement efforts) by raising the specter of fucking 1960 and the then-Mayor Daley and dead people voting. that's almost 50 years ago, but that's what they'll argue every single fucking time In fact, I had that argument with a Republican friend of mine this weekend, that they're just doing it to "make sure" things are fair because Democrats "have a history" of this. That's my concern with persecution, that it'll just become this century-long tit-for-tat game that makes the electoral process even more fucked up than it has to be and discourages even more people from participating. That said, yes, I would love to see some asses kicked and some heads fucking roll. SPENCER: OH SHIT CNN is saying that ACORN's Boston offices were broken into. Does G Gordon Liddy have an alibi? MEGAN: Fuck Gordon Libby, check the Romneys. And Kevin Madden, who I think I should really be forced to strip search. Those are, like, the only Republicans in the area.