And Now We Return to 'Dead Men Suffer No Bias' . . .

Alberto Gonzales: back at the Rose Garden, and still listed as attorney general on the White House Web site.
Alberto Gonzales: back at the Rose Garden, and still listed as attorney general on the White House Web site. (By Win Mcnamee -- Getty Images)
By Al Kamen
Friday, October 12, 2007

Back in 2005, when last we checked with John K. Tanner, chief of the voting rights section in the Justice Department's civil rights division, he was rippin' about the leak of a document that showed most of the section's lawyers -- but not Tanner -- thought a Georgia voter-ID law discriminated against black voters.

"Despicable," "clear breach of ethics," "unprofessional" and so forth, he railed in his e-mail -- which was promptly leaked. Anyway, the courts in effect struck down that law as -- whaddaya know? -- discriminatory.

Last week, the Brad Blog posted a video of Tanner's more recent musings on voter-ID laws -- laws needed to combat the endemic and growing problem of illegal voting, apparently by vote-deprived Canadians sneaking across the border.

These laws, Tanner told the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles, do not, in fact, discriminate against minorities.

"It's primarily elderly persons" who don't have photo IDs, he said. "And that's a shame. You know, creating problems for elderly persons just is not good under any circumstance."

But that "also ties in to the racial aspect," he continued, "because our society is such that minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."

"And so," he said, "anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities -- just the math is such as that." See? These laws actually help minorities.

In fact, it could well be that minorities and poor people are the very folks who benefit from having photo IDs. A couple days before the Los Angeles speech, Tanner spoke to the Georgia NAACP. "You think you get asked for ID more than I do?" he asked, according to the Associated Press. "I've never heard anyone talk about driving while white."

And poor people certainly have photo IDs. "When someone goes to a check-cashing business," he said, "God help them if they don't have a photo ID." And: "People who are poor are poor. They are not stupid. They are not helpless."

Please, take a moment -- you owe it to yourself as a citizen -- to watch Tanner's illuminating analysis on this issue at

Like He Never Left

He's baaack! After a brief spell as former attorney general and as everyone's favorite congressional witness, Alberto Gonzales was back at the White House this week and, as far as some folks were concerned, was still America's top lawyer.

The odyssey started Oct. 2, when Timothy Noah of Slate (which is owned by The Washington Post) wrote about the "seat-warmers" occupying the lower-tier Bush Cabinet jobs -- that is, the positions excluding State, Defense, Treasury and Justice.

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