Sunday, December 12, 2010
This Week in Stoopid: Joe Miller
A Salute to Those Who Efforts in Idiocy Go Far Beyond Average for their Height & Weight
For most weeks, competition is quite fierce—and this week was no exception. However, no one tried harder than Alaska’s own Tea Bagger extraordinaire, Joe “I only LOOK like Yasir Arafat” Miller.
If there’s anything to remember about the 2010 primaries, it was that this was the year when the traditional off year low turn outs produced a disproportionate number of low IQ candidates. In particular, four would be Senators really stand out. Delaware’s GOP, obviously untroubled by the candidate never having held a “job” before, introduced Christine O’Donnell to the nation. Nevada searched long & hard to find Sharron Angle: conceivably, the only person who could run against Harry Reid, and still lose. Most notable was the pride of South Carolina, Alvin Greene, selected with a paltry turnout of less than 30 percent of the registered voters, who then went on to garner 28 percent of the vote cast in the general election. Impressive, considering by pretty much all accounts, Mr. Greene appears to be quite mad.
But the star of this saga is Sarah Palin Favorite Son (as opposed to Alaska’s Favorite Son) Joe Miller. In the GOP primary, incumbent Lisa Murkowski showed little to no regard for the Tea Party Express candidate come lately, naively believing that lack of coherent thought and a complete inability to mount a sane campaign enough to doom any candidacy. But a low turnout proved Ms. Murkowski wrong.
Shut out of the traditional GOP, Ms. Murkowski believed that a second generation pork barreler such as herself had brought home the bacon enough times, that a plurality of voters would remember on which side their bread had been over buttered—and who did the buttering (hint: not that nice boy from Sitka, or the crazy man from Fairbanks). Heck, ifAmerica’s champion of apartheid could do it in 1954, why couldn’t the daughter of a former governor become America’s Next Write In Candidate for US Senate?
As the dust began settling in the days after November 2, 2010, the People had Spoken: Joe Miller: 90,740 votes; Write In Candidates: 102,252 votes—leaving 60,007 for that nice boy from Sitka and an additional 2,832 votes cast by people you wouldn’t want to invite to your house, regardless of how wild the party.
The Alaska Department of Elections (DOE) started counting just *who* the write in votes were for. Out of that group, the DOE decided that roughly 2,000 of the write in votes were cast for someone OTHER than “Lisa Murkowski.” In fact, 20 of the write in votes were for “Joe Miller”—which goes to show, that just because your drunk and/or an idiot, you can still muster up enough sense to show voter intent…at least in Alaska. Therefore, DOE declared that roughly 100,800 people voted for Lisa Murkowski. End of story—or so you’d think.
Shades of hanging chads as was, while each write in ballot was eyeballed by DOE, both Mr. Miller and Ms. Murkowski had their own stooges, fixers, and hired guns on hand…just to make sure everything was on the up & up. And Joe Miller’s people were extra diligent, claiming that roughly 8,000 of the votes the DOE credited to “Lisa Murkowski” were for someone else, OTHER than “Lisa Murkowski.” Be that as it may, the DOE was satisfied, and ready to bestow the crown.
But in the tradition of Go Big or Go Home, Mr. Miller declines to return to Fairbanks, and instead goes to court, seeking to have himself—and not “Lisa Murkowski”—crowned Senator from the forty-ninth state.
This week, on December 10, Superior Court Judge William B. Carey granted the State’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and dismissed all of Mr. Miller’s claims. For anyone who doesn't trust me, the link to to a PDF of the opinion.
So what indeed. People file frivolous lawsuits all the time—and some of them even by people who aren’t political candidates. What makes Mr. Miller so special? How about the fact no one connected to the Miller campaign has a basic understanding of simple arithmetic?
This is one of the reasons why lawyers insist on large retainers up front. Here are the numbers again:
Murkowski—100,800 (according to DOE).
Number of votes for “Lisa Murkowski” disputed by Miller: roughly 8,000
…meaning there are 92,700 votes for Murkowski, NOT DISPUTED by Mr. Miller. For the arithmetically challenged among us, allow me to help: 92,700 is bigger than 90,740.
What WAS Mr. Miller’s Gripe?
If you guessed Miller filed an action for intentional infliction of emotional distress against the DOE, for suggesting that Murkowski handed Miller a ten thousand (or better than six percent) ass whoopin’, instead of a mild two thousand vote butt kicking—you’d be wrong. No, Mr. Miller insisted that Ms. Murkowski should NOT be declared the winner, because Mr. Miller still MIGHT have actually won. And a moron says “what?”
Here’s how Miller says he might have won. First, he needs to get just over ten thousand votes for “Lisa Murkowski” thrown out. To do that, his opening salvo is aimed at the 8,000 his people objected to, during the counting. The basis for this objection lies with the reading of Alaska Statute 15.15.360(a)(11), which provides “a vote for a write in candidate…shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.” Judge Carey concluded to be a valid “vote,” a write in vote needed to have:
1) the oval next to the name filled in, and
2) written on the line next to the filled in oval, either:
a) the name of the candidate as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy; or
b) the last name of the candidate.
Miller and his legions insisted that the statute meant that UNLESS the write in voter wrote down the candidate’s name as it EXACTLY appeared on the write-in declaration, then the vote was invalid. Why not? However, the court notes that even in Mr. Miller’s own pleadings, his arguments are inconsistent. On the one hand, Miller concedes that a vote for “Lisa Murkowski” would be sufficient, but Ms. Murkowski’s name “appears” on the write-in declaration of candidacy as “Murkowski, Lisa.” The substance of Miller’s contention, though, is that the DOE should not be able to use any discretion in regard to permutation of misspellings of “Murkowski.”
Forget it, is Judge Carey’s ruling--not surprisingly. To adopt Miller’s position, the court would have to do two things. First, the statute does not use the word “exactly,” denying any discretion by the DOE to divine voter intent. The court (correctly) declined to re-write the statute to fit Miller’s desires. Second, under Millers interpretation, a significant percentage of Alaskans would be denied their vote. The history of statutory interpretation in Alaska (as everywhere else) holds that statutes are should not be interpreted such that the law disenfranchises large numbers of people.
In conclusion, the court held the eight thousand votes Miller’s people disputed in fact do count as votes for Ms. Murkowski, meaning Miller did lose by an ass whooping, as opposed to a simple butt kicking.
But What IF Miller Won on his Complaint about the 8,000? Wouldn’t He Still Have Lost?
Well—yeah. And the court noted as much, saying “Murkowski has won the election by over 2,000 unchallenged votes … No matter what interpretation this court makes, and even if the court finds that Miler (sic) is correct and only correctly spelled ballots for Murkowski are to be counted, Miller would not be entitled to relief because the outcome does not change.”
Technically, courts do not issue an opinion if there is no case and controversy. Where a claim is “moot” (i.e. filed by an idiot), courts will decline to rule. Nevertheless, Judge Carey did reach a decision on the eight thousand votes disputed by Miller, because of the strong “public interest” involved. Miller originally filed his claim in federal court. The federal court then remanded the case to state court, in part to get the state court’s interpretation of the state’s own statute. In general, federal courts defer to state court’s interpretation of that state’s statutes (which the most notable, bullshit exception is Bush v. Gore). So, Judge Carey does the heavy lifting on this case, and decides the issue.
And yet—had the court agreed with Miller, where was Miller going to find another two thousand votes? How about:
A. “My People Were All Really Stupid, So They Missed Two Thousand Otherwise Invalid Votes”
I’m not making that up; that was one of Miller’s arguments. It takes a special breed of weasel to throw all your people under the bus, wholesale, like that. Specifically, Miller claimed that when the DOE started counting the write in ballots on November 20, the DOE had “moved the date up by a number of days and that the preparation, training, and coordination of his observer team were thereby impaired.” Opinion, n.3. Not even a nice try, Joe: “This court finds no prejudice to Miller has been demonstrated or can be inferred by the timing of the count.”
B. It Was the Machines, Damn It! THE MACHINES!
So much for a “Constitutional conservative” who opposes “activist judges,” Miller insists there is an issue of “fundamental fairness” in that write in ballots get a hand count, but non-write ins are machine counted. The machines could be way off. Maybe. The court gives three responses to this argument. First, the Alaska legislature has written different statutes governing how “write in ballots” and “machine ballots” are to be counted. The role of the court is to interpret those statutes—not write them.
Second, if Mr. Miller is unhappy with the way the Diebold machines work (and, as the court notes in n.43, many people ARE unhappy), Miller’s remedy is to go to the legislature—not ask the courts to wholly redraft Alaska’s voting statutes.
Finally, Alaska responded to this “fairness” argument by explaining in the event of a ballot being rejected by the machine for being an “overvote” or an “undervote,” a poll person personally reviews that ballot to see if voter intent can be determined. So, there is no question of “fundamental unfairness.”
C. A Really Stupid Argument about Alaska’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA) that Doesn’t Bear Repeating (trust me on this).
D. VOTER FRAUD!
Miller tries to insist that his claim should not be dismissed, because he hasn’t had time to get all the dirt. APPARENTLY, at some precincts, the polling people did NOT check the little box next to where the voter signs the voter’s name, affirming voter identification: “[D]iscovery is necessary to ascertain why election officials at certain precincts neglected to check the box” because “there are various reasons why election officials … may have checked an identification option … for most voters, but declined to do so for certain voters.” J’ACCUSE!
The court notes that Miller “received notice of fraud allegations” by his observers on November 17. From November 17 to December 2, Miller had time to secure evidence to show that election officials not only acted illegally, but also engaged in malconduct. Instead, “Miller’s affidavits do not provide any facts of wrongful conduct at polling stations and not even circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing … Nowhere does Miller provide facts showing a genuine issue of fraud or election misfeasance. Instead, the majority of the problematic statements included in the affidavits are inadmissible hearsay, speculation, and occasional complaints of sarcasm expressed by DOE workers” Opinion, p.32.
But was Miller’s Argument on Statutory Interpretation Really THAT Stupid?
Yes: “The only support Miller provides for his interpretation is based on the nature of Murkowski’s campaign. Miller argues that Murkowski went to great lengths to advise voters of the spelling of her name and to make it easy as possible for voters to get her name right.” Opinion, p. 16.
Was there Anything Extra Stupid about Miller’s lawsuit?
As a matter of fact, yes…..Alaska is a “big” state in terms of size, but tiny in terms of population: 47th out of 50. The whole state is smaller than the city of San Francisco. The vote differential we’re talking here seems close: two, eight, or even ten thousand votes. But that’s out of a total of roughly 253,000 votes. In Washington State, where Patty Murray handed Dino Rossi his third beatdown, over 2,251,000 people voted for senator. In my state of Oregon, 534,000 people voted for a sad sack Republican for Senator—and that was less than 40% of the vote. In the 2004 Washington State gubernatorial election, where they really WERE scratching for individual votes, out of a total of over 2,750,000 votes cast, Christine Gregoire won by 129 votes. Unless there is something grotesquely stupid going on, or you’re in Florida, Illinois, or Ohio (there’s some overlap between those two groups), you’re not going to flip a roughly six percent loss. Or show that over ten percent of the people who voted for the winner were somehow “wrong.”
But What if Miller IS Crazy—Crazy Like a Fox!
Could there be some other, nefarious reason for Mr. Miller to delay Ms. Murkowski’s retaking her senate seat? MAYBE………!
In the December 3 edition of the Moonie-Owned, Arch-Conservative Washington Times (a brand name), Joe Miller published a bizarre editorial, Writing in Corruption. In it, Miller attacked Ms. Murkowski for “learn[ing] nothing from the message of the midterm elections.” What did Ms. Murkowski not learn? Millerfingers (sic) the Alaska Native Regional Corporations, whom he calls “multibillion-dollar (sic) corporations, formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.” Those bandits are “repeatedly protected from shareholder oversight by legislation shepherded by the Murkowski-Stevens-Young delegation.” Those self-same corporations “poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the tiny Alaska media market in a slimy, no-holds-barred effort to keep Ms. Murkowski in office.”
Miller’s not done yet: “Alaska Native 8(a) corporations … are no-bid federal contractors. They get billions in federal taxpayer dollars to undertake building and other projects not just throughout the state of Alaska, but across the country and overseas. … I argued during the campaign that this 8(a) program demanded reform, in large part because it was ripping off the American taxpayer. But I also argued that while the native corporations made dizzying profits using their 'disadvantaged' status to gain federal work, in practice they did very little to lift the lives of most Alaskan natives.” Damn those brown people! There they go, ripping off the white folks—and then they’re too dumb to even hang on to all that money.
It gets worse: “There is something odious to the American political experiment in having corporations dependent upon taxpayer money for their very existence turn around and use that money to hire workers to teach people how to vote for one candidate over another.” Well, I certainly think so—that’s why I’m so furious about Citizens’ United v. Federal Elections Commission: defense contractors, oil companies, the banking industry, the insurance industry, the chemical companies…all of them are “dependent upon taxpayer money for their very existence,” and pour truckloads of cash into elections. But I don’t think that’s what Joe Miller is complaining about.
“The native population apparently got the message. Supermajorities of numerous villages that had gone strongly Democratic in previous elections voted for Mrs. Murkowski last month.” Damn those Murkowski-Stevens-Young Democrats!
You think I’m taking this quotes out of context? “If Mrs. Murkowski survives the inevitable recount of ballots (ballots that were transported and ‘secured’ by an Alaska Native corporation) …” Gee Joe—are you suggesting those brown people stuffed the ballot box, just to fix your wagon? Don’t be so subtle.
Now here’s where we’re at: here’s a guy who insists he’s an Alaskan politician, who hates the Alaska Natives corporations, Lisa Murkowski (and family), Ted Stevens, and Don Young. He then accuses all of them of ripping off “the American taxpayer” for the benefit of Alaska—and being “Democrats.” While I think Joe’s got a point (except for that “Democrat” thing), I live in Oregon, and believe that what’s bad for Alaska is good for me. But if I lived in Alaska, I’m throwing my gloves and stick to the ice and pulling his shirt up over his head. It’s ON, big daddy!
Could Miller be pissing in his own nest, at the bidding of some nefarious Dr. Evil?
Enter Dr. Evil
Currently, there’s a struggle for the heart of the Grand Old Party (the soul was brokered away to the devil, forthe Willie Horton campaign for George HW Bush). On the one side, there are the totally disgusting, lying hypocritical sleazeball opportunists, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. The challengers are the batshit crazy wing, led by South Carolina’s Jim DeMint. Say what you want about Senator DeMint: the man’s not just merely stupid, he’s positively, truly & sincerely stupid. McConnell’s the kind of guy who’d sell his own mother into white slavery—if only his father hadn’t beat him to it—but will have some private reservations that MAYBE that’s not the best idea. He’s still doing it, mind you; but he knows he’s going to have to put some spin on that. DeMint, on the other hand, sells his mom and is damn proud of it, because he heard somewhere that it was a good idea to do so. Spin hell—he’s got it on his resume!
For reasons known only to people who think like Senator DeMint, Senator Murkowski is a RINO (Republican in Name Only—I guess sort of like Rudolph Hess was a NINO), so she and good ol’ Ted Stevens were tight with the Mitch McConnell people. Having lost Delaware’s O’Donnell, Nevada’s Angle, Washington State’s Rossi, California’s Fiorina (but he did win a few places—like Wisconsin. Bastard), DeMint is struggling, getting his ducks in a row. If DeMint is going to step up and be the kingmaker he wants to be, he'll need his people in as many positions of power as he can get.
So, if the certification of Senator Murkowski’s election can be put off long enough, could it be possible that she’ll lose her share of choice committee assignments?
Senator DeMint is raising money for Joe Miller, and standing behind him—unlike a certain former governor of Alaska who’s long forgotten who Miller is. Could Miller be playing the good soldier, crapping all over his soon to be former home state, damaging Senator Murkowski’s committee assignments, all in an effort to ingratiate himself to Senator DeMint and the Republican National Committee? Is Joe Miller the Manchuria Alaskan Candidate? Will Joe Miller fulfill his lifelong ambition, and become an apparatchik stooge for the RNC?
No. Joe Miller’s just stoopid.