Day of the dead

Looking for some laughs over the weekend, I re-watched the gruesome but hilarious zombie-movie parody, Shaun of the Dead. It was supposed to be a diversion. But inevitably, as the dead trudged across the screen, I wondered if any of them were registered to vote in Detroit.

Thanks to some tasty reporting by The Detroit News, we were told shortly before this month’s general election that voter rolls maintained by now-lame duck City Clerk Jackie “Vote Early, Vote Often” Currie and her minions (“ambassadors”) included 380,000 flaky names and addresses. Among them were the quick — those who moved out of the city — and the dead.

In other cases, some who filed absentee ballots listed vacant lots and abandoned buildings as their addresses. Others were legally incapacitated. Almost three dozen AB applications were sent to a detention facility for kids who need hospitalization.

Before long, other reports revealed that Currie’s staff included tax cheats, ex-cons and her relatives.

It went — and goes — on and on, including some other tasty reporting in our own pages that revealed the counting of absentee ballots by Currie’s team to be, at best, a clown show or, at worst, so thoroughly corrupt that no one — except those who were in on it — could have even a sliver of confidence in the results of either the August primary or the general election.

Right on cue, one of the first opposition reactions to Freman Hendrix’s call for a recount last week was that the financial cost would be too much to bear by a city that’s looking bankruptcy and possible state receivership square in the eyes. This, in a town whose mayor spent a couple of hundred grand, just one of many documented profligate acts, to spiff up his City Hall office.

Most discouraging of all is our tendency now, as a city, a state and a country full of voters, to react to the lowlife manipulation of our uncertainties and fears by well- and questionably financed politicians, letting the real stuff of elective office fall by the wayside.

When did we stop looking at candidates’ platforms and officeholders’ records and simply react to ugly and cynically engineered smoke screens put in place to divert us from that very study?

The “swift boat” smear campaign against John Kerry in the last presidential election was so vile and rigged as to seem laughable. It was engineered by a presidential cadre whose own candidate had, at best, a spotty record even in substitute service to his country, while Kerry did his bit in Vietnam. The fact that Kerry served while Bush used one of the wealthy’s loopholes to duck active military service was largely lost in the sewage.

Locally, it’s hard to land on only one such example in the just-finished mayoral campaign, but the “lynching ad,” which clearly came from the Kilpatrick camp while the mayor publicly disavowed any knowledge of its source, is as good as any.

Why can’t we dismiss all the crap that now holds sway in American elections, large and small, and stick to the cold hard facts that will allow us to sort out the hacks?

I tried asking some Detroit voters that very question. But the dead tell no tales.

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