Mississippi Smouldering
June 24, 2014 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Fifty years ago this week Andrew Goodman, James Cheney, and Michael Schwerner, three voting rights workers were savagely beaten and shot to death by klansmen after being stopped by a Neshoba County, Mississippi Sheriff's Deputies. Today, sheriff's deputies across Mississippi have been tasked with preventing voter intimidation in the ugly Republican primary runoff election between incumbern Thad Cochran and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel.

The McDaniel campaign and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's Senate Conservatives Fund pledged earlier this week to send "poll watchers" to observe the election and prevent crossover voting, illegal under Mississippi law. According to the law only those who voted in the earier Republican Party primary and who "intend to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates" are permitted to cast a vote in the run off.

So how does one spot an intending Democratic Party voter in Mississippi? In most cases, by the color of their skin. Reacting to the pledge, US and Mississippi Attorneys General have issued guidance, this time for deputies and the DOJ and NAACP to work together.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot (57 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was listening to the Rachel Maddow podcast this morning, and she was talking about the fact that there have been signs put up saying that it is illegal for a Mississippi Democrat to vote in a Republican primary. (It isn't, unless you also voted in the Democratic primary) It's really freaking disgusting for certain politicians to attempt to pass new voter laws, intimating fraud when uh, this seems like fraud.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:41 AM on June 24, 2014


"No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates." Miss. Code section 23-15-575.

This seems unenforceable on the face of it. How is a poll observer supposed to be able to tell, exactly, that a voter intends to support the nominations made in the primary? Not to mention that there are any number of reasons why somebody might change their mind between now and November.
posted by gauche at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ugly appears to be an understatement.

Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.
posted by winna at 8:44 AM on June 24, 2014


That whole filming Cochran's wife saga is so amazingly hilarious and stupid.

But it gets even better - some of McDaniels staffers ended up locked in a courthouse overnight.

If McDaniels isn't an idiot, he has certainly surrounded himself with them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:48 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


So how does one spot an intending Democratic Party voter in Mississippi? In most cases, by the color of their skin.

Well, that can't be true, because the Supreme Court told me when they overturned the Voting Rights Act that there's no racism against black people anymore.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


What in the ever-living fuck. And yet I am not surprised.
posted by rtha at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2014


This is such a clusterfuck. Cochran seems to barely know where he is at this point, and McDaniel seems like the worst sort of scumbag. And given Mississippi's toxic politics and penchant for vote suppression, we're still probably going to be stuck with one of them as senator.

The Democratic candidate, Travis Childers isn't much better, determined as he is to make sure Mississippians don't have access to any of the benefits of the ACA.

Voting in Mississippi is a ridiculously frustrating experience. Though at least last I checked they had a very functional machine/ballot setup, so the mechanics are better than in a lot of other states.
posted by asperity at 9:01 AM on June 24, 2014


determined as he is to make sure Mississippians don't have access

In fairness, it's impossible to get elected in Mississippi without promising to make everything worse for everybody.
posted by aramaic at 9:08 AM on June 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


It's eating itself, and this is schadenfreude, and no, I'm not apologetic in the least. I mean, seriously, these are the dirty-pool tactics that have been waged against southern Dems for ages. If you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the 'us vs. them' mentality, does it really surprise you that they're being used against you?

Voting in Mississippi is a ridiculously frustrating experience. Though at least last I checked they had a very functional machine/ballot setup, so the mechanics are better than in a lot of other states.

Isn't it funny, a year ago (almost to the day) The Supreme Court ... effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval
posted by eclectist at 9:09 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dr. King would weep at the failure of anything to change in a meaningful way in Mississippi in the past fifty years. And I feel like joining his virtual spirit.
posted by bearwife at 9:15 AM on June 24, 2014


Oh, there's been meaningful change, alright. It's just been backwards rather than forwards.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:19 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


You also had a political shout-fest at Kroger in Northeast Jackson, when a 77-year-old Democratic voting, retired teacher dude decided to confront McDaniel and ask him about specific plan, how he planned to do anything being a junior senator, what he would cut, etc. McDaniel, who was bringing doughnuts to the old coots at the Coffee Club table, yelled at the man, ordered him to get his finger out of the his (the candidate's) face.

(I've seen James Meredith, the man who integrated the University of Miss., at that table on occasion. He's pretty much always wearing an Ole Miss baseball cap. So, more Civil Rights Era background there for you! Anyway, you want absurdity. It's Kroger! The same place where I saw Barbies for sale, stacked right next to whole wheat pasta. And Valentine's balloons perched over taco shell boxes.)

Also, Cochran's team has hired a Democratic operative whose nickname is "Scooby Doo" to help bring out votes for him. I am not making this up.

Of further interest: A post by Cochran daughter Kate Cochran on current Mississippi politics, which garnered this response from McDaniel's people and the suggested hashtag, Who'syadaddy?
posted by raysmj at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, and meanwhile, talk is that if McDaniel gets the nod, other Tea Party people will run against the incumbent governor, who has openly courted the Tea Party people and been the most right-wing governor in post-Civil Rights Era Mississippi, hands down. All he's cared about, seemingly, is abortion and getting "In God We Trust" on the state logo. I've also heard talk about recruiting Tea Party people to go up against all incumbents for top executive offices, all of whom are Republicans, except for the attorney general. (One McDaniel supporter and prime Common Core opponent's talk of taking down Gov. Phil Bryant is discussed here.)
posted by raysmj at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2014


Mississippi, bless our hearts.
posted by echocollate at 9:58 AM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


One of the things I will never understand is why there's the world's biggest shitfight over the (apologies to our MS members) proverbial shithole of the country. There's very little money to be looted, little prestige in running the place, no real power to be held unless you're just trying to see how far you can push racism until SCOTUS starts giving a shit.
posted by Talez at 10:14 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the things I will never understand is why there's the world's biggest shitfight over the (apologies to our MS members) proverbial shithole of the country.

Maybe it's because you get to move out of Mississippi and into DC?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Folks, this is for the U.S. Senate. One out of the one hundred most powerful people in our Federal Government. Laugh all you want; they're going to be running your country.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


benito.strauss, it's very unlikely this Congress will do much of anything other than waste our time and money.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:23 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think that "the ability to decide to waste others' time and money" is a valid definition of power.
posted by Benjy at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


There's very little money to be looted

Oh? Here's Thad's answer to your question.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2014


Mississippi, Goddamn: The Goddamnerung:
The master class in Ratfcking For Dummies that is the Mississippi Republican senatorial primary comes to a conclusion, clattering and clanging down the marble steps of Democracy like copper pots down a subway stairwell. It's all over now. There's no more time for cockfighting. There's no more time for fond reminiscences of interspecies barnyard puppy love...with real puppies. There's no chance for the kind of last minute visit to a geriatric ward that might turn the whole thing around. There's very little chance that officials are going to fall for the ol' we-got-accidentally-locked-in-here-with-all-the-votes scam again, but it's Mississippi, goddamn, so who can really tell? All that's left is the actual balloting, which is going to be ugly enough as it is.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think that "the ability to decide to waste others' time and money" is a valid definition of power

Sure, but what Congress accomplishes in the next two years is not dependent on this election.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2014


As a Mississippian I just avoid the whole fucking mess and don't Vote.
posted by GreatValhalla at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2014


Double?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:41 AM on June 24, 2014


It's not a double. This is about the MS Senate primary.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:45 AM on June 24, 2014


I voted in county primaries in May. There were lively races for judgeships, county council seats and a real hot contest for highway superintendent. There was also a countywide referendum on increasing sales tax to fund the school system.

Without even thinking about it, I requested a Democratic ballot. There was one question on my ballot: the sales tax referendum. Every single other race was amongst Republicans. In hindsight, I clearly should've requested a Republican ballot.

"No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates." Miss. Code section 23-15-575.

This law would fundamentally disenfranchise most Democrats in my area, if it were enforceable.
posted by workerant at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rarely has the double meaning of runoff felt so apt.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]



"No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates." Miss. Code section 23-15-575.

So send all the DEM women to vote in the GOP primaries, since that would not be prohited by this law.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:07 AM on June 24, 2014 [9 favorites]




Not that I necessarily think it needs to, but with that title alone, Buzzfeed has justified its existence to me for at least another year.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


and a real hot contest for highway superintendent

This is just one of those Things I Will Never Understand About The USA. Why on earth would you vote for a highway superintendent (let alone judges)? Up here we vote for our municipal, provincial, and federal legislators. (There are occasional other votes but that's essentially it). A highway superintendent is the kind of position that would be filled by a bureaucrat, almost certainly one with actual understanding of highway construction or traffic theory or at least experience in the field. Thus ensuring continuity from one administration to another.

Maybe this is something contributing to the polarization in the USA? Way, way too many bureaucratic/civil servant positions are politicized? As opposed to merely being jobs one can apply for with the right credentials?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:23 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


"No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates." Miss. Code section 23-15-575.

So send all the DEM women to vote in the GOP primaries, since that would not be prohited by this law.


Unfortunately*, despite the pronoun and lack of a gender neutrality specific clause in the election law, women are still "persons" under the general provisions of the MS Code.

*Note: It is not unfortunate that women are considered persons.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:25 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Democracy is seen as more of a religion here than a practical system of fair and effective government.
posted by ryanrs at 11:26 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Democracy is seen as more of a religion here than a practical system of fair and effective government.

And you want to talk about f-ed up just look at religion in MS!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:28 AM on June 24, 2014


feckless fecal fear mongering: It's the legacy of Jacksonian democracy. In many southern states, governors and executive officials were also kept weak due to loss of white elite control of government after the Civil War and during Reconstruction and the years of regaining such control. (Miss. has only allowed governors to run for two terms since the 1980s. And when Bill Clinton first ran for governor in Arkansas, he ran for two-year terms. Pretty typical of the South.)
posted by raysmj at 11:43 AM on June 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


I learned something today. Thank you!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:46 AM on June 24, 2014


By Jacksonian democracy, I mean the idea of extending democracy and the franchise. Mississippi and other southern states overwhelmingly favored Andrew Jackson in 1832, a landmark presidential election in the United States.(On preview: You're welcome!)
posted by raysmj at 11:46 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


no real power to be held unless you're just trying to see how far you can push racism until SCOTUS starts giving a shit.

I think you just answered your own question right there.
posted by jonp72 at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seems like a good place to mention that PBS is airing Freedom Summer, which I highly recommend based on the episode I watched earlier. Many details of what happened then that I had never heard. They are just about to get to the Mississippi episode next I think.
posted by emjaybee at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mississippi, Goddamn: The Goddamnerung:

Let's have the real thing. (Nina Simone, Holland, 1965)
posted by spitbull at 2:16 PM on June 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


dirigibleman:
So how does one spot an intending Democratic Party voter in Mississippi? In most cases, by the color of their skin.

Well, that can't be true, because the Supreme Court told me when they overturned the Voting Rights Act that there's no racism against black people anymore.


That's as idiotic a claim as the right's claim that Obama getting elected means there's no racism. Not at all what the SCOTUS decision said (which was itself stupid and wrong, but two stupids don't make a smart).
posted by IAmBroom at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2014


I understand Mississippi politics less than I do pulsar physics, but in general I get the general subtext of fear, entitlement, corruption and all the good people running away to nicer places. However, I'm having a really hard time working out the back story to Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.

In what godforsaken hellhole of a parallel universe does this even begin to parse?
posted by Devonian at 2:56 PM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, Neil Young never saw this coming.
posted by breadbox at 3:17 PM on June 24, 2014


Instead, felony charges of conspiracy and photo voyeurism were added...

Huh. Never heard of that particular charge before. I've learned something today!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:59 PM on June 24, 2014


Devonian: "o Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.

In what godforsaken hellhole of a parallel universe does this even begin to parse?
"

Throw some muck to the effect of, while Cochran's wife is bedridden, he's tomcattin' around (or, maybe, just "spending time with") with a staffer or something.
posted by notsnot at 7:39 PM on June 24, 2014




Throw some muck to the effect of, while Cochran's wife is bedridden, he's tomcattin' around (or, maybe, just "spending time with") with a staffer or something.

I've heard that explanation and I still don't get it. If McDaniel's minions post a picture of Cochran's bedridden wife I don't worry about Cochran's sex life. I worry about how foolish and depraved McDaniel is. I'd like to think most Mississippi voters would share my reaction.
posted by rdr at 11:57 PM on June 24, 2014


McDaniel defiant in defeat
McDaniel’s voice was quiet, quivering at times with emotion. He spoke about his father and about his political education, frequently citing Ronald Reagan as an inspiration. Then, his face darkening, he said he and others have come to feel like “strangers” in their party.

Then his voice rose, angry as he recounted Cochran’s outreach to Democrats, saying the senator and his supporters had “abandoned the conservative movement.” He pledged to fight on, not once mentioning Cochran’s name or conceding from the race.

“It’s our job to make sure the sanctity of the vote is upheld,” he said. “There were dozens of irregularities reported.” Some in the crowd, cheering him on, yelled, “Tell us! Tell us!”

“We’re not prone to surrender,” he said. “We’ll see you soon.”
/cue ominous music
posted by rtha at 5:37 AM on June 25, 2014


Well, this is certainly a result. And while I'm enjoying my schadenfreude and the irony that black Democrats helped defeat a Tea Party challenger (the vote differential in Hinds County alone was 11,000, with an increase of 6000 votes from the primary), I'm also depressed that the Tea Party has jerked my already conservative state so far to the right that black Democrats helped elect an already pretty conservative Republican.
posted by echocollate at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


In what godforsaken hellhole of a parallel universe does this even begin to parse?

There wasn't any political strategy behind trying to photograph Cochran's wife, it was just bullying and harassment. And they did it for the same reason anyone bullies and harasses: intimidation. Might as well leave a dead dog on his porch or burn a cross in his yard.

“We’re not prone to surrender,” he said. “We’ll see you soon.”

Yeah, if McDaniel had won, then the state Republican establishment would've had to kiss and make-up with him. But McDaniel's not under any reciprocal obligation. In fact, getting "stabbed in the back" by a coalition of establishment Republicans and Democrats—to whatever degree such a coalition existed—is confirmation of the Tea Party's most persecutory fantasies. Actual action will depend on what McDaniel decides he has to lose by not sucking it up and how much money he can spend on revenge, but I could see a summer's worth of legal challenges.

Or maybe, given his taste for intimidation, he'll just start bombing polling places.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:28 AM on June 25, 2014


MS Democratic Party chairman Ricky Cole, master political troll.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]




With all the complaints from McDaniel and his supporters about Democrats voting for Cochran in the Republican primary, it's pretty damn funny to have it come out that McDaniel voted in the Democratic primary in 2003.
posted by asperity at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Authorities say the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and two other men conspired with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home and create a political video against Cochran.

"A prominent leader of the Mississippi Tea Party who was arrested in connection with photos posted online of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran's bedridden wife died on Friday of an apparent suicide, the man’s lawyer said."
posted by figurant at 9:48 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


“I guess just being charged, for a man of Mark’s kind sensibilities, was too much.”

So apparently with this latest turn, and especially that quote, John Grisham used some sort of Dark Magic to work with the Ghost of William Faulkner to write a 21st century political potboiler and somehow the Dark Magic backfired and made the story come to life and this is it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:22 AM on June 27, 2014




Mississippi, Goddamn, Cont'd: The Omigoddening

I give it until the end of next week until one of the big names in the conservative blogosphere or media makes this into "Obama's Vince Foster."
posted by zombieflanders at 2:00 PM on June 27, 2014


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