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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

November Surprise 

Courtesy of our esteemed colleague Carolyn Kay at Make Them Accountable: Lefty bloggers and others who profess a sentimental attachment to the notion of participatory democracy have spent six years now screaming about the prospect, and the practice, of election fraud, but the issue, alas, has barely penetrated the sluggish saurian consciousness of the general public. Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon and Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), has figured out exactly what it will take to rouse the American voter's long-dormant sense of outrage -- major Democratic gains in the 2006 midterm elections:
If the GOP should lose the House and/or the Senate on Election Day, they will pick out a handful of the "closest" races--as many as they need to hang on to majority control--and start to scream like hell about ELECTION FRAUD.

That's right: the major perpetrators of such fraud will cast themselves as victims of the very crime that put them where they are, and charge the Democrats with having used the very tactics that the Bush Republicans have now perfected: legal/bureaucratic disenfranchisement, e-voting manipulation, hostile challenges to would-be voters, covert efforts at disinformation, countless ballots thrown away, and so on.

This, of course, is how the Busheviks routinely operate; and yet I'm basing this prediction not just on their history as war-propagandists, but on the blunt admission of a certain high-placed GOP insider, who recently told Thom Hartmann that this is the party's plan, if they should lose control of either side of Congress. It's very easy to imagine such a plan succeeding, with the party's Mighty Propaganda Wurlitzer ahowl day after day, night after night, with all its stops pulled out; and with the mainstream press too busy being "balanced" to point out the truth (and no doubt piously harrumphing that such dirty deeds have surely been committed "on both sides"); and with the Democrats, as ever, playing feeble defense, fighting back too little and too late when they ought to have been out there slugging all along.

In other words, the Bush Republicans will certainly succeed--unless the Democrats, and others to their left, start working to pre-empt that strategy right now. The only way to foil that plan is to define the conflict truthfully and clearly, and to begin to do it now. However low the Bush regime may sink in the opinion polls, the Democrats, and all the rest of us, are simply cooked, if they do not stand up like vertebrates, and speak as patriots, and tell the nation the unpleasant truth: that these BushRepublicans are where they are today because they have committed vast election fraud, in 2000, and in 2002, and in 2004; and that they lately have committed it again in San Diego, and have more planned in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia, and wherever else they have the system rigged, whether at the state or county level. In short, it's time to cut the crap, stop worrying about the epithet "sore losers" (the Republicans would never let that stop them), and trot out all the evidence that the Establishment has thus far largely waved away.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is apparently unwilling to wait for November. Through his law firm he has filed a qui tam lawsuit alleging that Diebold and other manufacturers of electronic voting machines made fraudulent misrepresentations to state election boards and to the federal government:
Kennedy claims to have witnesses “centrally located, deep within the corporations,” who will confirm that company officials withheld their knowledge of problems with accuracy, reliability and security of EVMs in order to procure government contracts. Since going into service, many of these machines have been linked to allegations of election fraud . . . .

“The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system,” warns Kennedy. “Whoever controls the voting machines can control who wins the votes.”
And of course, the free flow of information is also a factor. From an interview with RFK, Jr., posted yesterday at BradBlog:
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Well, my opinion hasn't changed, that the press has been negligent, and that the large amount of support for the President, and for the people that did vote for the President, that large numbers of them would not have done so, had they known the truth about his policies, and his record . . . . I made the conclusion many years ago that there's not a huge values difference between Red State Republicans and Blue State Democrats. The distinction is really informational. 80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on. And my anecdotal conclusion was confirmed by a survey done immediately after the 2004 election called the PIPA report, which tested Bush supporters and Kerry supporters based upon their knowledge of current events. It found that among Bush supporters, they were widespread in its interpretations, or there were factual errors in the way that they viewed Bush's major public policy initiatives.

For example, 75% of the Republican respondents believed that Saddam Hussein bombed the World Trade Center, and 72% believed that WMD had been found in Iraq. And most of them believed that the war in Iraq had strong support among Iraq's Muslim neighbors and our traditional allies in Europe, which of course is wrong. The Democrats as a whole had a much more accurate view of those events. And then PIPA went back twice to these same people. The first time it went back to the people that had these misinterpretations, and asked them where they were getting their news, and invariably they said talk radio and FOX news.

RFK JR.: Well, you see [the move to electronic voting] was just another corporate boondoggle that gave the most venal mendacious corporations charge of our most sacred public trust, which is the right to vote. These corporations were making hundreds of millions of dollars. The machines, as it turns out, were manufactured by wireless companies and were just a cheap piece of junk that cost less than $100 to manufacture, and they were selling them for $2400 apiece. And they were using Jack Abramoff and other corrupt lobbyists to persuade federal officials to pass the federal act to appropriate the money and then to persuade state and local officials to purchase the defective machines.

BB: Jack Abramoff was involved in this?

RFK JR.: Oh yes. Jack Abramoff, and Bob Ney (R-Oh), the principle figure in the Abramoff scandal and he's the author of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). And Diebold contributed millions of dollars to these guys, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to Abramoff to lobby on behalf of HAVA, and to lobby states like New York and the other states, to adopt the Diebold machines.

BB: So HAVA was "created specifically to disenfranchise voters and verfication"?

RFK JR.: HAVA was written specifically to require the states to buy Diebold machines. I mean one company basically had control of the whole legislative process. That's why HAVA has a provision in it that discourages vote verification by paper ballots. Both Republicans and Democrats tried to reform the HAVA, saying of course we should have paper verification of the vote. Paper verification would allow you to go in, make your vote on the electronic machine, and you get a receipt that is a copy of who you voted for and you are allowed to examine that receipt. You deposit it in a locked box in the voting area. That way, if there's ever any question, if you need to count, you can count the papers, and see if it compares to what the machine says.

But Bob Ney fought tooth and nail against that provision because Diebold made a machine that does not provide a paper ballot. And he went so far, because Diebold contributed a million dollars to an organization that purportedly protects the rights of blind people. And in exchange for that, that organization got one of its officers to testify on Capitol Hill at the HAVA hearings, that blind people in America did not want paper ballots - voter verified ballots - because it would deprive someone of the right to vote secretly. Now the other organizations that support handicapped rights and rights of the blind, do not take that position. This was a position that that organization adopted after accepting a million dollars from Diebold. The whole operation was corrupt and now Bob Ney is going to jail for it.

BB: We watched
Howard Dean on television having a hack demonstrated to him by Bev Harris, and he doesn't seem to say anything… I guess we'll have to ask them! But there seems to have been a pattern here in the leadership of the Democratic Party….What I was getting to in those questions was not for you to interpret the actions of the those in the DNC and so forth, but there seems to be a pattern in the leadership of the Dem Party that shies away from direct conflict in this….

RFK JR.: The Democratic leadership on this issue has been abysmal. And particularly since this is a civil rights issue and it's a racial issue. The machines themselves are kind of a distraction because the machines are recent innovations. The Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, has been using, old-fashioned, Jim Crow, apartheid-type maneuvers to steal the last two national elections.

BB: Like in Georgia, who were trying to establish the Poll Tax again…

RFK JR.: And this has been happening all over the country. If you look at who's being denied the right to vote, on absentee ballots, on provisional ballots, it's Hispanics, it's Blacks and it's Native Americans, and the Democratic Party ought to be touting this as the biggest civil rights issue of our time. But they are ignoring it, and that really is shocking. It's shocking that the Republicans are not up in arms about this too, because this should not be a partisan issue. This is a fundamental basis of our American value system, which is representative Democracy. For a party that claims to speak for "American Values" to ignore the fact that other members of the party, that the leadership of the party is involved in an active national campaign to stop black people from voting, and to steal elections, shows the moral bankruptcy of everybody in that party!

Why aren't Republicans standing up and speaking on this issue? Why isn't Republican leadership standing up and speaking on this issue?
Give them time, sir. Just give them time.

Also of note, an excellent roundup of voting-related items by our venerated colleague Avedon Carol.

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