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Manjoo, Kennedy, election fraud, and the burden of proof

I've been a little slow to formulate this rebuttal to Manjoo's response, in Salon, to Robert Kennedy's article on the Republican theft of Ohio 2004--perhaps because there's so much detail (and rebuttal (never mind the obfuscation)).

But if you boil it down, it seems to me that what Manjoo is saying is that Kennedy didn't prove there was fraud, therefore there was no fraud.

But the essence of fraud is concealment; Kennedy can't produce absolute proof (absent confession, or an investigation by Democrats with subpoena power). So Manjoo's article sets up a straw man.

But it really seems to be that the burden of proof is on the Republicans and their apologists to prove the election was clean.

Let's simplify the example, leave out Ohio and votes, and do a little thought experiment.

Let's say your friend was going to count out some money for you, that both you and your friend agree that you are owed. But you don't know the exact amount of money you are owed. Can you trust your friend? I'd like to say yes, but let's see. Here are the conditions:

1. You know roughly how much money you've gotten in the past--say $1,000,000.

2. Your friend has the money in a big sack. As he counts, he puts the money that you are owed on a table.

3. As your friend counts the money, he keeps records of the count. You've agreed that if there's a question about the the count, you will both check the records.

4. Your friend has gotten tired of counting out the money by hand, so he's gotten a new electronic scale that is going to weigh the money.

5. Some of the money is going to be counted by hand; the rest is going to be counted on the scale.

6. About halfway through the handcount, your friend unlocks the door into a room and goes in, carrying the sack. Later, your friend comes out, still carrying the sack, and puts some of your money on the table.

7. About halfway through the scale count, your friend stops counting. A technician comes in, connects his laptop to your friend's scale with a cable, types something, disconnects the cable, and walks out. Your friend does some more weighing, then does

8. The count is over. Based on past experience--and your guesstimate based on the size of the sack--your friend will have counted out $1,000,000 on the table for you.

9. In fact, there is $950,000.

10. Plot twist here: Your friend and you are in business together--If you have $1,000,000 you can buy out his interest and take control. If you don't, your friend takes control of the company, and and you get nothing.

11. So you ask for a recount: $50,000 is not much, out of $1,000,000.

12. Your friend agrees to the recount, based on a random sampling of the records, where the sample excludes the records after he went into the locked room, and after the technician came and adjusted the scales.

Question: Would you still trust your friend?

Manjoo says Yes! After all, there's no actual evidence of fraud. "So get over it. And an investigation might bother the neighhors."

Kennedy (and we) say No! Our friend has motive, means, and opportunity. And if he's innocent, he's acting in a very strange way.

Surely there is prima facie evidence that our friend stole $50,000 to take control of the company.

And surely there is prima facie evidence that Ohio 2004 was stolen.

So why not investigate?

NOTE A detailed response at Kos.

Ceterum censeo, Bush delenda est!

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