Donald 'Kirk' Hartle claimed someone stole his dead wife's mail-in-ballot. That 'someone' was (allegedly!) him.
One of the grand ironies of rightwing media constantly pushing the narrative that it is extremely easy to commit voter fraud on both a personal and mass scale is that sometimes the very dimwits who believe that nonsense then go and try to commit voter fraud themselves, thinking they'll never get caught. Just ask Edward Snodgrass, a Republican Party official in Ohio, former Kansas GOP Rep. Steve Watkins, North Carolina Republican/ex-felon Leslie McRae Dowless, Bruce Bartman of Pennsylvania, Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany themselves, and so, so many more.
The latest to fall into this trap is Donald "Kirk" Hartle, whose whole story makes about as much sense as "Kirk" being a nickname for Donald.
After the November election, the Nevada GOP cited the fact that Hartle's wife, Rosemarie Hartle, "voted" in the 2020 election as proof that there was widespread election fraud in the state. This would have been quite the feat, as Rosemarie Hartle had been dead since 2017.
"Kirk was surprised to find that his late wife Rosemarie, a Republican, cast a ballot in this years election despite having passed away in 17'," they tweeted. "The media needs to understand we are finding concrete cases of voter irregularities that they must expose."
According to an interview Hartle did with "the media" following this publicity, a ballot for his deceased wife was apparently issued in October but never made it to his house. He suspected that someone had stolen it and sent it in themselves. Like, some nefarious person knew she was dead and hovered around their mailbox every day for a week or so on the off chance that a ballot got sent to her husband's house in her name. He said he was "sickened" just thinking about how it could have happened.
"Kirk," however, should not have been surprised or sickened at all, because as it turns out, he was the one who (allegedly) forged his deceased wife's signature on a mail-in ballot and sent it in. And now he faces two charges of voter fraud related to the 2020 election, for which he might get up to four years in prison and a fine of $5,000 for each charge.
Guess he's not too happy the media decided to "expose" this concrete case of election fraud that he literally got nothing out of in the end. Not only is he alleged to have committed voter fraud in hopes of stealing the election for Trump, he then (allegedly!) tried to pass his voter fraud off as someone else doing voter fraud to him, in hopes of stealing the election from Trump. And neither of those things worked out for him.
Perhaps by sheer coincidence, Hartle is (was?) the CFO of Ahern Rentals, a company associated with hosting coronavirus protocol violating rallies for Donald Trump. This very weekend, the Ahern Hotel will be the site of the the Patriot Voice "For God & Country Double Down" rally, billed as a "Great Awakening Weekend." The QAnon-adjacent event will feature such luminaries as Ron and Jim Watkins, George Papadapoulos, the demon sperm lady, Jordan Sather, Sheriff David A. Clarke, The Kate Awakening, and a bunch of other kooks. Michael Flynn was supposed to speak, originally, but appears to have been booted from the line-up, perhaps because they think he's a Satanist now.
For real, do not watch this clip if you get migraines or seizures. I actually only made it about halfway through.
Patrons will also be treated to the musical stylings of a guy named Bert Lynch, who wrote a song about the American flag and also needs to tell me where he found a mall that still has a Glamour Shots studio.
Hopefully Donald "Kirk" Hartle will get to enjoy this thrilling weekend full of people just as prone to making shit up as he is before he gets sent off to prison if he is found guilty of having committed this incredibly stupid and avoidable crime.
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Listen to the experts, Democrats!
When Republicans blocked the latest effort to pass a Stop Republicans From Cheating bill, Democrats gave some compelling speeches about democracy and our ongoing constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, former Republican Tom Nichols couldn't understand why Democrats were acting like chumps incapable of rising to the seriousness of the moment.
I have long defended the filibuster because I think there are things that should not be decided 51/49, that should require a greater show of comity. But Barrett's confirmation, in particular, made a mockery of that idea. This is hardball. Mitch plays it. Dems must play it too.
This is no longer a civic competition between two political parties. This is a direct competition between a coalition in favor of the rule of law and liberal democracy vs a party that has become Trump's weird cult of personality and an authoritarian political movement.
The GOP is using a Senate rule to forestall legislative action against state-level authoritarian measures from a GOP base that is enraged at losing a fair election. So if it comes down to that one Senate rule or democracy itself, dump the rule and pass the bill. Mitch would.
Whenever it's suggested that Democrats should go gangster on Republicans, the predictable response is that this would alienate independent voters, whom Democrats need in order to win in 2022 and 2024. We shouldn't make former Republicans feel too bad about themselves, so let's politely lie to them about "bipartisanship."
Every Senate Democrat, starting with @SenSchumer, every Senate independent, and everyone in the Biden white house s… https://t.co/Ymu7FIw0q8— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷) 1634819642.0
What's weird about this argument is that actual former Republicans are usually the most vocal about telling us that the current GOP is hot garbage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked that "good" Republicans take back their party, but Nichols has repeatedly stated that the party is irredeemable. He worked for Republicans and voted Republican for 40 years, but he declared in a Washington Post op-ed prior to the 2018 midterms that the only way to truly cleanse the GOP was to vote against Republicans "in every race, at every level."
The tough medicine Nichols prescribed was prescient. The GOP didn't just blink in the face of Donald Trump's moral abyss. Republicans who share his contempt for democracy have infiltrated school boards and state legislatures. All the while Democrats made the quixotic choice to treat Trump as an outlier. In 2019, candidate Joe Biden claimed that Republicans would have an "epiphany" after Trump was gone and magically become the decent people they never were in the first place.
"I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends," Biden said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "It's already beginning in the House now ... If we can't change, we're in trouble."
And if we can't accept reality, we're in trouble.
Even worse Republicans took office in 2021 — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Tommy Tuberville. And supposed "good" Republicans such as Nancy Mace and Elise Stefanik doubled-down on MAGA because it was politically convenient.
Nicolle Wallace, once George W. Bush's White House communications director, noted on her MSNBC show Wednesday that Democrats are deluding themselves if they believe there are any Republicans who might support voting rights legislation, in any form.
"If someone landed on this planet from outer space and asked, may I see the majority leader of the United States Se… https://t.co/SBH1mIom5K— Deadline White House (@Deadline White House) 1634772627.0
Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee chair, agreed. He doesn't understand why Democrats dither over the filibuster while Mitch McConnell kick their asses on the regular. Shouldn't they act like they won an election or three?
STEELE: This is raw power. That's what this is ... So the reality for Democrat is how do you want to play the power? What are you waiting for? ... When it comes down to power and getting your agenda through ... Mitch McConnell wouldn't take a second breath about jettisoning the filibuster if it meant the GOP agenda would get done. I don't see why the Democrats don't see this. I get the niceties but baby I don't get it, because you're losing. You're losing.
Pro-filibuster Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are a lost cause. We get that, but the clock is nonetheless ticking. Maybe it was never Republicans who needed to have a political epiphany. They saw reality quite clearly.
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'We are at a hinge of history.'
Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked the bipartisan Stop Republicans From Cheating bill that Joe Manchin had worked so hard to craft in a way that would win approval from Republicans. This is because Joe Manchin is far more committed to the fiction of bipartisanship than to any objective reality. For all Manchin's absurd fantasies that Republicans might vote to prevent their own party from cheating, the bill itself is actually quite good, and it really ought to become law.
Tuesday, with that vote still pending, Sen. Angus King, the independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, delivered one hell of a speech on why we need the bill — and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — to protect democracy from some very real threats. It was passionate in all the right ways, invoking the long struggle to make democracy work, and pointing out just how easy it is for democracies to fail. If you have 24 minutes to feel inspired about saving American democracy, give it a watch, and if you don't read what we wrote about it below!
King pointed out that American Democracy is a fragile thing, an "anomaly" among systems of government, not because America is uniquely good or right or exceptional, but because we've spent nearly two and a half centuries trying to make it work, even if it's only really become a government for all Americans since sometime after the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Now, King argued, we're facing the greatest threat to the Republic since 1860, thanks to the efforts by Donald Trump and his supporters to negate the 2020 election.
Two interrelated things are happening right now with regard to this system that are unprecedented in my lifetime and that are profoundly dangerous to our fragile republic; one is the breakdown of trust in the system itself, and the other is an overtly partisan attempt to use this loss of trust as a pretext to change the results of future elections by limiting the participation of voters deemed unworthy (although this is rarely said out loud) or unlikely to vote for your particular political party.
All the talk of "election integrity" and the need to stop "voter fraud," King pointed out, is nothing more than a cynical ploy to make elections less fair, less inclusive, by suppressing the votes of people who might thwart one party's desire to stay in power. Bills passed in the name of "election integrity," he says, aren't addressing any real problems in the electoral system. There just isn't any substantial "voter fraud" to root out, and even bogus efforts like the Arizona "audit" couldn't find any. "The only fraud," King said, "is the allegations themselves."
Even worse than the efforts to suppress the vote, which is pretty damned bad, the manipulation of election laws by Republican state legislatures actually worsens the problem they're supposedly fixing, spreading a "massive and unprecedented erosion of trust in the electoral system itself, the beating heart of our democracy."
King appealed to very recent historical precedents:
It's important to remember that most failures of democracy started with legitimate elections, but once in office, the leader manipulated the electoral process to consolidate their hold on power, just as was attempted here last winter. And once power is seized, the control and reach of the modern surveillance state is truly terrifying. Ask the Uighurs in China, or members of the opposition in Russia, if you can find any alive.
Russia, Turkey, Venezuela, and Hungary are examples of the slide into authoritarianism just in our lifetimes; those countries still have elections, but they don't mean much.
Worse, he said, it can happen here. Republican state legislatures are already passing laws that would allow it:
And what if the current wave of voter suppression legislation succeeds and keeps tens of thousands of people from voting, or what if in 2024 a partisan legislature in a swing state votes to override the election results and send its own set of electors to Congress? Then it won't just be Republicans who distrust elections, and we will be left with a downward spiral toward a hollow shell of democracy, where only raw power prevails and its peaceful transfer becomes a distant memory.
There has been a great deal of talk in recent months of a possible constitutional crisis in 2022 or 2024; Madame President, we don't have to wait that long; we are in the midst of such a crisis right now. One of our great political parties has embraced the idea that our last election was fraudulent, that our president is illegitimate, and that they must move legislatures across the country to "fix" the results of future elections.
A substantial proportion of our population has lost faith in our democratic system and seems prepared to accept authoritarianism; all but the most extreme sources of information have been devalued; and violence bubbles just below the surface.
But it doesn't have to be that way. There's still the chance to stop it, by protecting everyone's right to vote. Democracy, King said, is fragile, relying not only on the Constitution and the law, but "even more so on the trust our people place in our democratic system — and in us."
Deliberately undermining that trust for short-term political advantage — which is exactly what is happening right now — is a tragic and dangerous game. No election, no endorsement, no Senate seat, no presidency is worth it.
Well sure, easy to say if you know that if everyone is allowed to vote, they'll prefer your ideas. How are Republicans supposed to compete on a crazy basis like that?
For good measure, King invoked the Battle of Gettysburg, noting that the Union's survival was "a near thing," and said that the challenge of protecting democracy today is nearly as great, particularly if we want to avoid a similar national catastrophe. He said that he truly believes America is "at a hinge in history," when the "fate of the American experiment hangs in the balance."
So like we say, good speech. Not enough to change any Republican minds, but plenty to energize the next phase in the fight to save voting rights. Last night, following yesterday's Republican filibuster of the bill, King appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and explained that, for all his prior skepticism about ending the filibuster, he absolutely supports passing an exception that would allow protections of the vote to pass with 51 votes.
The filibuster, he noted, isn't in the Constitution, and in the face of the GOP's "pure unadulterated obstruction," we're in a crisis of democracy, and "now, I say, you know, democracy has to trump a rule."
Here's hoping Angus King can schedule a lunch date soon with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.
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Heaven help us all.
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore announced Tuesday that she's running for governor of Nevada, an American state. The press describes her as a “GOP firebrand," which is the journalistic way of saying she's off her rocker. Fiore's campaign launch video is all kinds of “woo boy." She's got a “three shot plan" for Nevada that involves her shooting at objects like an emotionally well-adjusted human.
The ad opens with Fiore arriving in the middle of nowhere in a pickup truck. That's the vehicle of choice for badass conservatives and possibly Las Vegas-area mobsters who want to dispose of a body. There's a "Trump 2024" sticker on the truck's backside, which is fitting, and Fiore boasts about her devotion to the insurrectionist in chief and constitutional scholar.
FIORE: I was one of the first electeds to endorse Donald J. Trump, and you better believe I was attacked for it. The Washington Post called me a "gun-toting calendar girl," and Politico magazine said that I was the "Lady Trump." And I don't care!
Yes, she cares so little she devotes air time in her own campaign ad to how much the media think she sucks instead of sharing anything remotely positive about herself. Bold strategy, Councilwoman.
Fiore claims Nevada needs “outsiders" and “fighters" not the “same old, boring moderate compromise blue-blazer politicians." Her example of such a loathsome creature is Senator Mitt Romney from Utah, who admittedly is pretty dull and rocks blue blazers but he's hardly a moderate. Fiore's “proof" of Romney's compromising positions is a video of him denouncing the January 6 MAGA attack on the Capitol. She then pushes over the TV set playing the video. Romney go boom! Fiore's fully on Team Insurrection.
Her three-shot plan is simple, like a not especially bright child. She pulls her handgun and fires at socialism-branded beer bottles (no, really) labeled “vaccine mandates," “critical race theory," and “voter fraud." Nevada's Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske completed a review of the 2020 election in April and her office found no evidence supporting her party's claims of rampant voter fraud. Fiore could've saved that bottle of beer.
Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak is up for re-election in 2022, and this summer he signed into law Assembly Bill 261, which requires K-through-12 schools to "teach the histories and contributions of frequently marginalized groups, such as immigrants, Native Americans, religious organizations, and the LGBTQ community." Dolts like Fiore will attack this as “critical race theory," a popular rightwing bogeyman right now.
Just 52 percent of Nevada's population is fully vaccinated, and large groups of strangers gathering together are what fuels Nevada's entertainment, tourism and hospitality industries. A little more than a third of Nevada's Clark County was fully vaccinated when the state re-opened in June. The result was predictable. COVID-19 cases surged almost 200 percent by July. Las Vegas was declared a “sustained hot spot" and potential tourists were warned to stay away for their own safety. The unemployment rate was 10 percent in September.
Vaccine mandates are obviously critical to ensuring the state's economic recovery, but Fiore would prefer to literally open fire on the concept. The frustrating irony is that if Fiore and her fellow Republicans had actively encouraged vaccination instead of promoting conspiracy theories, maybe mandates wouldn't be necessary. (Fiore has been anti-vax for a while, even before COVID-19.) Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, an independent, still downplays the severity of the pandemic and pushes back against most COVID-19 mitigation measures. This is like Miami's mayor shrugging off the threat from hurricanes.
Sisolak won by just four points in 2018, a banner year for Democrats. We shouldn't take anything for granted in 2022. Nevada voters should consider Andrew Shepherd's words from The American President: "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them." Fiore isn't a serious person. She's only interested in blowing shit up.
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