No Comment — October 22, 2007, 10:52 pm

More from the ‘Bama Press

Pravda’s Latest
The Birmingham News has done an amazing series over the last couple of weeks. They continue to be the Riley family’s faithful protectors, with the lead played by their vicious, prize-winning Attack Chihuahua. But in the last two weeks, the B’ham News have veered from the predictable Pravda style into something far more exotic. I’d say it has a distinctly North Korean flavor, enough perhaps to win Attack Chihuahua the vaunted Juche Award for political journalism. They’re already calling lawyers with threats to divulge lurid details from their sex lives. Maybe next they’ll try kidnapping movie starlets to fuel the appetite of their masters? In any event, when Hollywood gets the rights to this story, the inept comic relief part will be supplied by the B’ham News and its valiant Attack Chihuahua.

Last week the Attack Chihuahua evidently decided to cash in any pretense of being a journalist. He recorded an interview with a source, in which she explicitly asked him to treat parts of the interview as “off the record,” he agreed. But he then posted the interview on the News’s website. You can listen to it and can clearly hear his agreement to keep much of the conversation off the record. It’s amazing that neither the reporter nor his editors seem to be much concerned about this rather startling lapse of ethics.

Our sleuth has really outdone himself today, however. He’s busy trying to convince us that the 2002 gubernatorial election was marked by voting fraud. That of course is beyond doubt. But wait until you get to the details: the fraud was by Siegelman! We’re talking about the election in which voting machines in Republican-controlled Baldwin County suddenly and dramatically switched their results in the middle of the night, providing exactly the right number of changed votes to deliver the statehouse to Dick Riley.

Here’s what our sleuth reporter has to say:

During the recount challenging Republican Bob Riley’s tiny edge over Siegelman, Rob Riley, the governor’s son, was pursuing claims made in a sworn affidavit that accused Siegelman supporters of possible voter fraud.

Rob Riley took the claims so seriously that he forwarded the allegations to the attorney general’s office. Riley described the claims to a young lawyer in that office named Troy King, who was handling recount issues for then Attorney General Bill Pryor. Riley also contacted a reporter at the time about the allegations and showed her the affidavit.

That’s right. War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength. It’s on Pravda’s masthead. But while we’re tallying the more bombastic deceits, let’s note: Troy King. Yes. Troy King. Note that here he is “handling recount issues for then Attorney General Bill Pryor.” But in fact the records will show something else. Who was serving as legal advisor to the Bob Riley campaign on elections issues? Why, none other than the self-same Troy King. So which hat was Troy King wearing? And in the next grafs, we see that Toby Roth, the former chief of staff to Governor Riley, appears as a party, together with a Montgomery policeman named Eddie Spivey. Now that wouldn’t be the same Eddie Spivey who was involved in the famous Todd Road incident of 1983? That’s an incident in which a couple of cops, one named Spivey, busted in the door of a house in a Black neighborhood. A crowd of people had gathered, and there were cars with many out-of-state people present. The officers said they were convinced it was a gathering of drug kingpins. Of course, it turned out to be a funeral. Spivey was also Mayor Emory Folmar’s bodyguard. Could this be the same guy? And here he’s being presented as someone working for Siegelman? Sounds extremely fishy, like most of the stuff rolling from the pen of our sleuth reporter these days.

Why is he telling us all of this? The author seems to think it discredits Jill Simpson:

[Simpson] made no mention of the voter fraud affidavit that captured the attention of top campaign advisers at the time.

Hmmm. She probably also failed to include the day’s weather forecast for Duluth. Guess that makes her out to be a liar, right? But wait, it gets better.

Simpson told congressional lawyers last month she has no records, documents or other material to corroborate her recollection of telephone calls and meetings with Rob Riley, whom she said gave her all the information.

Small problem with this series of statements. They’re all untrue. Not only did she demonstrate that she had the records, she showed them to the journalists who asked for them. It seems that our ace reporter never bothered to ask her for them when he conducted his tape-recorded interview.

Artur Davis Gets It
The most cautious, level-headed analysis of the Siegelman affair to appear so far in the Montgomery Advertiser comes from the pen of Congressman Artur Davis. Here are some highlights:

Much of the press attention around this case has centered on the explosive allegations of a lawyer with Republican roots, Jill Simpson. She has claimed under oath that in late 2002, she participated in a conference call in which a high-ranking Republican bragged that the U.S. attorney’s office run by his wife would prosecute Siegelman; she has also testified that she was told of direct intervention by the president’s adviser, Karl Rove, to prod the Department of Justice to approve an indictment against the former governor. To date, no one has offered sworn testimony to rebut Simpson, who has twice made her claims under penalty of perjury.

It is true that the individuals whom Simpson links to a conspiracy to prosecute Siegelman are not exactly rogues; to the contrary, while they are all practitioners in the rough-hewn world of Alabama politics, they are well respected and have never been tinged by scandal. Congress’ efforts to prove or disprove Simpson, however, have been thwarted by two roadblocks: Rove’s steadfast refusal to appear before Congress even though he is now a private citizen, and the Justice Department’s insistence that it will not disclose any of the more than 600 documents in its possession regarding Siegelman’s case.

But Simpson is far from the only source of the suspicions around the Siegelman case. There is the recent revelation in Time magazine that the prosecutors who indicted Siegelman failed to aggressively pursue allegations of illegal campaign contributions against Republican officeholders, even though the source of the claims, Lanny Young, was one of their two principal witnesses against Democrat Siegelman.

This is setting the stage. Tomorrow a highly respected former U.S. Attorney will testify that he was told that the case against Siegelman was over. It had come up empty handed. And then the orders came from Washington: go over it again. Find something. Nail him. And chronologically this lines up perfectly with Jill Simpson’s testimony. It matches the time when Simpson recounts Rove spoke with Noel Hillman, the head of Public Integrity, who brought the Siegelman case, and instructed him to go after Siegelman.

Of course, the Birmingham News will insist that this is all unbelievable—because Jill Simpson’s original affidavit failed to include the day’s weather forecast for Duluth. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2017

Document of Barbarism

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Destroyer of Worlds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Crossing Guards

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I am Here Only for Working”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dear Rose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Year of The Frog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Destroyer of Worlds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
Article
Crossing Guards·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
“I am Here Only for Working”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
Article
The Year of The Frog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
Article
Dead Ball Situation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Minimum square footage of San Francisco apartments allowed under new regulations:

220

A Disney behavioral ecologist announced that elephants’ long-range low-frequency vocal rumblings draw elephant friends together and drive elephant enemies apart.

The judge continued to disallow the public release of Brailsford’s body-cam footage, and the jury spent less than six hours in deliberation before returning a verdict of not guilty. The police then released the video, showing Brailsford pointing his AR-15 assault rifle at Shaver while a sergeant asked him if he understood that there was “a very severe possibility” he would “get shot.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today