How can you even have faith in a system when (leading voting machine supplier) "Diebold corporate chief and top Bush fundraiser, Wally O'Dell has publicly committed himself to 'delivering' his home state's key votes to Bush."? How can the same guy run the biggest voting machine company in the country AND be raising money for Bush? Can you imagine the outcry from the right if the shoe were on the other foot?
By William Thomas | 10-10-04
"Those who cast the vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything" - Joseph Stalin
GW Bush has already `won' the 2004 Presidential selection. It doesn't much matter that the actual vote has yet to be held, or that an electorate enraged by the damage done by an ignorant, angry little man is about to throw him out of a stolen White House on his remotely-wired ear.
But there's a hitch. When US voters start tapping computer screens in polling booths next month, more than three-quarters of the machines they'll be using are – how to put this discreetly? – owned by powerful Republican interests.
This time around, state after state is being set up to `do a Florida'. Given the record of America's voting machines in municipal and congressional elections over the past four years, computer malfunctions and malfeasance at polling stations across the land are more certain than the sun continuing to rise in the east.
Whatever happens, post-election headlines are certain to read: "Recounts Called For In Key States." Thousands of lawyers for both camps are already standing by to file legal challenges as soon as the first elusive bytes are electronically tallied. Kerry says his campaign alone is readying 2,000 lawyers to "challenge any place in America where you cannot trace the vote and count the votes."
Which is just about everywhere.
Corporate mass media mesmerizers tout electronic voting machines as "just like ATMs". They are not. Bank machines give users a printed
record of their electronic transactions. Despite pending legislation making it mandatory, none of America's electronic voting machines issue tickertape receipts providing each voter with a record she can immediately check against the vote she electronically cast.
"It's a shell game, with money, companies and corporate brands
switching in a blur of buy-outs and bogus fronts," writes columnist Chris Floyd in the St. Petersburg Times.
"Bigger than Watergate," says the editor of the Sludge Report. "Imagine that you are a political interest group that wishes to control forevermore the levers of power. Imagine further that you know you are likely to implement a highly unpopular political agenda, and you do not wish to be removed by a ballot driven backlash."
Imagine that you could subvert the voting process in ways that would allow you to steal elections without anyone knowing. This is an accurate description of the voting system that will determine the next leader of the most bankrupt and militarily powerful nation on the planet - regardless of how Americans actually vote.
WHO OWNS AMERICA'S VOTING MACHINES?
Last year, some kids "really interested in computers" had clicked onto the unsecured FTP site of the biggest electronic voting machine provider in the USA. One teen helpfully posted the source codes for Diebold voting system and vote counting programs on his top-ranked website, igniting a furor that has yet to subside.
It turns out that Diebold Election Systems' CEO is Bob Urosevich. His brother Todd founded "rival" ES&S. Together, these two companies will tally around 80% of votes cast next November.
Howard Ahmanson bankrolled the Urosevich brothers in the vote- counting business. Ahmanson is also a member of the Council for National Policy, a right wing "steering group" that whispers into Dubya's other ear.
The publicity shy Ahmanson is also a major financial backer behind the extremist "Christian Reconstructionist" movement. The St. Petersburg Times reveals that this group "openly advocates a theocratic takeover of American democracy, placing all Americans under the `dominion' of `Christ the King'" –
personified by God's chosen representative in Washington, holy warrior GW Bush.
As John Kaminski reveals, the family whose machines will be tallying most of the next presidential vote were key financiers behind California's anti-affirmative action law, as well as efforts to ban gay marriage. the unannounced agenda behind Bush's backers include killing all homosexuals, stoning "sinners", excluding all non-Christians from US citizenship, and re-imposing slavery - "one of the most beneficent of Biblical laws."
These fundamentalists are the principal players controlling Diebold and ES&S . November's crucial vote will see some 98 million Americans - five out of every six of the roughly 115 million who will go to the polls - consign their democratic determinations to computers made and serviced by four private corps.
Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia and Hart "are hardwired into the Bushist Party power grid," Floyd writes. Among them are at least two voting machine providers operating under the ownership and philosophy of America's hardcore Republican religious right. Ahmanson-controlled Election Systems & Software will tabulate about a third of the next presidential vote using machines that have already scrambled many US elections.
In 1988, Jeb Bush's first choice for a running mate in his gubernatorial race was ES&S lobbyist Sandra Mortham, who grew rich installing the machines counting Jeb's votes. Faulty ES&S machines used in Hawaii forced that state's first-ever election recount.
Sequoia is also supplying electronic voting machines in this fall's follies. Sequoia featured prominently in a massive corruption court case that sent top Louisiana state officials to jail for taking bribes funneled through Mob connected "front" firms. Sequoia's parent company, Madison Dearborn is – wait for it – a partner in the Carlyle Group.
Sequoia also manufactures casino slot machines. So don't be surprised if your electronic vote wins you a pocketful of change.
Last spring, Republican-controlled Diebold Election Systems malfunctioned across California, disqualifying thousands of voters. Citing concerns over its security and reliability, California's top elections official called for a criminal investigation in Diebold.
When he started quality-checking Diebold's "AccuVote" machines arriving at the company's Atlanta warehouse, former Diebold programmer Rob Behler and his crew found problems with "every single one" of them. About one in five Diebold voting machines couldn't be fixed and were discarded as unusable.
Nevertheless, in November's national elections at least 50 million voters are expected to "play the slots" using Diebold's dud machines. Diebold corporate chief and top Bush fundraiser, Wally O'Dell has publicly committed himself to "delivering" his home state's key votes to Bush. Nine Ohio counties will be using the paperless machines.
Run by Admiral Bill Owens, former military aide to Dick Cheney; Carlyle crony Frank Carlucci, and ex-CIA chief Robert Gates, weapons contractor SAIC aims to become a major player in the vote-counting roulette now going global in places like England, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India, and Asia.
SAIC's long history of fraud charges and "security lapses" in its electronic systems has helped it become one of the largest contractors for the CIA and the Pentagon, where several trillion dollars of taxpayers' money is still missing.
FOR DISCRIMINATING VOTERS …
The move to convert the USA to unverifiable computer voting machines was launched by the same man who benefited most from the last rigged presidential selection. In 2003, Bush signed the Help America Vote Act at the behest of Northrop-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin.
The two arms making giants also lobbied hard for a law ordering all states to adopt the same computerized "voter purge" system used by Jeb Bush to hand the 2000 election to his brother after eliminating 91,000 eligible, democrat-favoring black voters from the Florida rolls.
Having reintroduced segregation where it matters most, the same Republican-run company – ChoicePoint – has handled most of the new Bush-ordered "voter purge" state efforts in the run-up to this year's selection.
I SAID, YOUR RECEIPT PLEASE
The Nation's Ronnie Dugger reports, "About a third of the votes, 36 million, will be tabulated completely inside the new paperless, direct-recording-electronic (DRE) voting systems, on which you vote directly on a touch-screen."
Dugger observes that because there no paper receipts available for cross-checking and probable recounts, DRE voters "never know, despite what the touch-screen says, whether the computer is counting your vote as you think you are casting it or, either by error or fraud, it is giving it to another candidate."
Not surprising to anyone who uses a computer, America's Big Four "election engineers" are running into a few…`er …glitches. Companies handed billions by Bush to "computerize" the nation's vote will not finish installing machines controlled by the powerful Republican-military-Christian Right before next November – when
50 to 70 million voters will gamble their democratic rights on touch-screen
Next month, three American voters out of four will confront the same voting machines they used in 2000.
A VOTE TOO BIG TO RIG?
Considering the millions of Americans who have repeatedly protested Bush's policies in cities across the nation - and what could be a massive first-time vote by university-age Americans whose collective co-ed anatomies are definitely feeling a draft – and the resulting Kerry victory could be too overwhelming to be rigged.
But the contest cannot be contested if Republican judges rule requested recounts to be illegal invasions into "proprietary" software already available on the Internet.
Florida officials have already refused to allow independent audits of electronic voting machines. And they are not alone. In 2000, just before the US Supreme Court intervened, a judge was pre-empted from announcing that previously untabulated ballots would be counted after a Jeb Bush spokesman accused those seeking audits of trying to "undermine voters' confidence."
Also that year in Dallas, 18 faulty machines were finally pulled after registering "Republican" when voters pushed "Democrat". A judge blocked investigation into the accuracy of the tally.
In 2002, a Democrat handily won the Alabama governor's race. But the winning tally was flipped to the Republican contender after ES&S optical scan machines "lost" 6,300 Democratic votes overnight. When a recount was requested, the state's Attorney General ruled that anyone recounting the ballots would be subject to arrest.
AMERICA'S ELECTRONIC APARTHEID
As award-winning elections investigator Greg Palast discovered, in the last presidential election 1.9 million Americans cast ballots that were never counted. About a million of these rejected ballots were cast by African Americans who make up only 12 percent of the US electorate.
Florida, asserts the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,"is typical of the nation."
And this year, it could get worse, Palast pronounces. Both bills holding machine votes accountable are stalled in the Republican congress.
Why vote in a rigged election? Because in America's most crucial hour,the most important things you can do are:
1. Vote on November 2nd
2. Contact your Congressional representatives immediately - and repeatedly - demanding that legislation currently before the House and Senate be passed in time to assure that proper paper receipts are issued for each electronic ballot passed.
3. State officials should also be contacted with similar demands for an "accountable" vote.
To me, religion is something that is between one man or one woman and their God or supreme being or whatever. It has nothing to do with politics, and the less of it I see, the better. Religious extremists of all stripes are more similar to me than different, and religious zealotry in general is a hurtful force in this world. Faith and worship are not. These are powerful things. But when you lapse over into zealotry and self-righteousness, then there's nothing good to come from it. As my friend Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers said, and I'm paraphrasing, he loves Christ and he loves his faith, but religious people still get on his nerves.
The lowest ignorance takes charge
Having helped Bush to office, the religious right is exerting its
Thursday November 11, 2004
The 2004 election marks the rise of a quasi-clerical party for the
first time in the United States. Ecclesiastical organisation has
become the sinew and muscle of the Republican party, essential in
George Bush's re-election. His narrow margins in the key states of
Florida, Iowa and Ohio, and elsewhere, were dependent on the direct
imposition of the churches. None of this occurred suddenly or by
happenstance. For years, Bush has schooled himself in the
machinations of the religious right.
Bush's clerisy is an unprecedented alliance of historically anti-
Catholic nativist evangelical Protestants with the most reactionary
elements of the Catholic hierarchy. Preacher, priest and politician
have combined on the grounds that John Kennedy disputed in his famous
speech before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in
September 1960. Kennedy's every principle is flouted and contradicted
by Bush: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and
state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the
president - should he be Catholic - how to act, and no Protestant
minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no
church or church school is granted any public funds or political
preference. ... where no religious body seeks to impose its will
directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts
of its officials..."
From the White House, Karl Rove held a weekly conference call with
religious leaders. Evangelical churches handed over membership
directories to the Bush campaign for voter registration drives. A
group associated with the Rev Pat Robertson advised 45,000 churches
how to work for Bush. One popular preacher alone sent letters to
136,000 pastors advising them on "non-negotiable" issues - gay
marriage, stem cell research, abortion - to mobilise the faithful.
Perhaps the most influential figure of all was the Rev James Dobson,
whose programmes broadcast daily on more than 3,000 radio stations
and 80 TV stations, and whose organisation has affiliates in 36
On June 4, Bush travelled to see the Pope. In another meeting that
day, with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano,
according to a Vatican official, Bush "complained that the US bishops
were not being vocal enough in supporting [Bush] on social issues
like gay marriage, and abortion," and remonstrated with Sodano that
the Vatican "push the bishops".
The Vatican was astonished at the brazen pressure and did not accede.
None the less, more than 40 conservative bishops worked with the Bush
campaign against John Kerry - part of a crusade against their own
declining moral authority.
The American church is in crisis, as Catholic opinion on abortion and
stem cell research is no different than that of the general public.
And the exposure of rampant paedophilia among priests has undermined
traditional belief in the church's sanctity. Electing a liberal
Catholic as president would have been a severe blow. So conservative
bishops denounced Kerry, spoke of denying him communion, and even
talked of ex-communication.
The Catholic Kerry received 5% less of the Catholic vote than the
Southern Baptist Gore four years earlier. In the crucial state of
Ohio, where an anti-gay marriage initiative was on the ballot, Bush
won two-thirds of the "faithful" Catholic vote and 55% of the
Catholic total. Combined with 79% of white evangelicals, this gave
him his critical margin nationally and in the swing states.
The religious right is not a majority, but it was indispensable to
Bush's victory. Across the country, it has become the most energetic,
reliable and productive part of the Republican organisation. The
worth of its values-based politics is power, just as it was worldly
power that sustained the medieval church, and the assertion of that
power began within days after the election.
When moderate Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania,
chairman of the judiciary committee, said he would oppose any nominee
to the supreme court who would seek to outlaw abortion - and one
might come soon, as Chief Justice William Rehnquist is dying - the
Rev Dobson said of Specter: "He is a problem and he must be
derailed." Almost instantly, Specter clarified his position,
announcing that he meant no such thing and that he had approved many
judges who were against abortion.
"History," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "furnishes no example of a priest-
ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the
lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious
leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." But
we're not all Jeffersonians now.
· Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton,
is Washington bureau chief of salon.com
Labels: The politics
See, I'm a guy who thinks JFK beat Nixon because the mob helped get out the vote-- living and dead-- in Chicago in 1960. It is a fact of political life that in any election entity (county, district, state), the party in power does whatever they can to make election results favorable to their party. It was thus with Mayor Daly; it was thus with Boss Tweed; it probably goes back to Washington and Jefferson. It is simply a fact of political life; we learned about it in Social Studies in 12th grade. And it knows no party affiliation.
Where does aggressive pro-party action become cheating, become illegal? It isn't as black and white as we'd like to think. If Florida 2000 taught us anything, it was not that our system worked; rather, it taught us how fragile our system really is when you look at the details. As an old co-worker used to say, "No one wants to see how you make the sausage." We learned about hanging chads, about ballots that could actually physically change over time (honestly, who ever thought about such a thing before 2000?) We had a presidential election decided in one state by 537 votes, which is one hell of a statistical anomalie (the nature of the closeness).
As I've said before, the Republicans "stole" Florida from Gore fair and square, and there is nothing to whine about (if he'd taken his own state of Tenessee or Clinton's Arkansas he'd have still won; Clinton took both in '96.) You have to figure in a state run by your opponent's brother, if you don't win convincingly, there is enough wiggle room to cost you the state. Maybe the best, fastest election workers go to the districts where incumbent support is strongest. Maybe the best machines go to these districts. Hell, of course they do; it is naive to think otherwise. Ordinarily no one fusses because both sides do it, and because 537 votes shouldn't sway a national election-- only this time they did. In a state the size of Florida, if Democrats had been in power in 2000, then Gore would have done at least 538 votes better than he did. (See, that's a non-partisan comment; did I say the Reps cheated 537 votes worth, or that the Dems would have cheated 538 votes worth-- or somewhere in between? Your call.)
But I don't blame the Republicans for this. I blame Gore, because if you don't plan on needing at least 51.5% in that state, you messed up. And the same goes for Kerry, although I can't imagine he ever thought he was going to win Florida. Certainly not after the hurricanes.
So back to the question of when does it become cheating. And the answer is-- who knows? Maybe it never does. Consider a baseball analogy. The spitball is illegal. OK, so you can't go to your mouth before you throw a pitch. But what if a drop of sweat runs down your arm to your index finger, where it collects, and you can use it to make the ball dance and swoop? Have you cheated because you can make a ball do that with a drop of sweat? Me, I think not. Now, say you wear a heavy sweat shirt on a 70 degree day under your uniform in order to make you sweat. Now have you cheated? Or have you simply worked the system to your advantage? I'd still say the latter.
Labels: The politics
Also, please don't take the author's word on any of this; do your own research. There are two sides to this story. I'm just not motivated to post both. (The other side is probably less interesting.) But the least I can do is point it out.
Labels: The politics
I Smell a Rat
By Colin Shea
Friday 12 November 2004
I smell a rat. It has that distinctive and all-too-familiar odor of
the species Republicanus floridius. We got a nasty bite from this pest
four years ago and never quite recovered. Symptoms of a long-term
infection are becoming distressingly apparent.
The first sign of the rat was on election night. The jubilation of
early exit polling had given way to rising anxiety as states fell one
by one to the Red Tide. It was getting late in the smoky cellar of a
Prague sports bar where a crowd of expats had gathered. We had been
hoping to go home to bed early, confident of victory. Those hopes had
evaporated in a flurry of early precinct reports from Florida and Ohio.
By 3 AM, conversation had died and we were grimly sipping beers and
watching as those two key states seemed to be slipping further and
further to crimson. Suddenly, a friend who had left two hours earlier
rushed in and handed us a printout.
"Zogby's calling it for Kerry." He smacked the sheet decisively.
"Definitely. He's got both Florida and Ohio in the Kerry column. Kerry
only needs one." Satisfied, we went to bed, confident we would wake
with the world a better place. Victory was at hand.
The morning told a different story, of course. No Florida victory for
Kerry - Bush had a decisive margin of nearly 400,000 votes. Ohio was
not even close enough for Kerry to demand that all the votes be
counted. The pollsters had been dead wrong, Bush had four more years
and a powerful mandate. Onward Christian soldiers - next stop, Tehran.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
I work with statistics and polling data every day. Something rubbed
me the wrong way. I checked the exit polls for Florida - all wrong.
CNN's results indicated a Kerry win: turnout matched voter
registration, and independents had broken 59% to 41% for Kerry.
Polling is an imprecise science. Yet its very imprecision is itself
quantifiable and follows regular patterns. Differences between actual
results and those expected from polling data must be explainable by
identifiable factors if the polling sample is robust enough. With
almost 3.000 respondents in Florida alone, the CNN poll sample was
The first signs of the rat were identified by Kathy Dopp, who
conducted a simple analysis of voter registrations by party in Florida
and compared them to presidential vote results. Basically she
multiplied the total votes cast in a county by the percentage of voters
registered Republican: this gave an expected Republican vote. She then
compared this to the actual result.
Her analysis is startling. Certain counties voted for Bush far in
excess of what one would expect based on the share of Republican
registrations in that county. They key phrase is "certain counties" -
there is extraordinary variance between individual counties. Most
counties fall more or less in line with what one would expect based on
the share of Republican registrations, but some differ wildly.
How to explain this incredible variance? Dopp found one over-riding
factor: whether the county used electronic touch-screen voting, or
paper ballots which were optically scanned into a computer. All of
those with touch-screen voting had results relatively in line with her
expected results, while all of those with extreme variance were in
counties with optical scanning.
The intimation, clearly, is fraud. Ballots are scanned; results are
fed into precinct computers; these are sent to a county-wide database,
whose results are fed into the statewide electoral totals. At any point
after physical ballots become databases, the system is vulnerable to
It seemed too easy, and Dopp's method seemed simplistic. I re-ran the
results using CNN's exit polling data. In each county, I took the
number of registrations and assigned correctional factors based on the
CNN poll to predict turnout among Republicans, Democrats, and
independents. I then used the vote shares from the polls to predict a
likely number of Republican votes per county. I compared this
'expected' Republican vote to the actual Republican vote.
The results are shocking. Overall, Bush received 2% fewer votes in
counties with electronic touch-screen voting than expected. In counties
with optical scanning, he received 16% more. This 16% would not be
strange if it were spread across counties more or less evenly. It is
not. In 11 different counties, the 'actual' Bush vote was at least
twice higher than the expected vote. 13 counties had Bush vote tallies
50 - 100% higher than expected. In one county where 88% of voters are
registered Democrats, Bush got nearly two thirds of the vote - three
times more than predicted by my model.
Again, polling can be wrong. It is difficult to believe it can be
that wrong. Fortunately, however, we can test how wrong it would have
to be to give the 'actual' result.
I tested two alternative scenarios to see how wrong CNN would have to
have been to explain the election result. In the first, I assumed they
had been wildly off the mark in the turnout figures - i.e. far more
Republicans and independents had come out than Democrats. In the second
I assumed the voting shares were completely wrong, and that the
Republicans had been able to massively poach voters from the Democrat
In the first scenario, I assumed 90% of Republicans and independents
voted, and the remaining ballots were cast by Democrats. This explains
the result in counties with optical scanning to within 5%. However, in
this scenario Democratic turnout would have been only 51% in the
optical scanning counties - barely exceeding half of Republican
turnout. It also does not solve the enormous problems in individual
counties. 7 counties in this scenario still have actual vote tallies
for Bush that are at least 100% higher than predicted by the model - an
extremely unlikely result.
In the second scenario I assumed that Bush had actually got 100% of
the vote from Republicans and 50% from independents (versus CNN polling
results which were 93% and 41% respectively). If this gave enough votes
for Bush to explain the county's results, I left the amount of
Democratic registered voters ballots cast for Bush as they were
predicted by CNN (14% voted for Bush). If this did not explain the
result, I calculated how many Democrats would have to vote for Bush.
In 41 of 52 counties, this did not explain the result and Bush must
have gotten more than CNN's predicted 14% of Democratic ballots - not
an unreasonable assumption by itself. However, in 21 counties more than
50% of Democratic votes would have to have defected to Bush to account
for the county result - in four counties, at least 70% would have been
required. These results are absurdly unlikely.
The Second Rat
A previously undiscovered species of rat, Republicanus cuyahogus, has
been found in Ohio. Before the election, I wrote snide letters to a
state legislator for Cuyahoga county who, according to media reports,
was preparing an army of enforcers to keep 'suspect' (read: minority)
voters away from the polls. One of his assistants wrote me back very
pleasant mails to the effect that they had no intention of trying to
suppress voter turnout, and in fact only wanted to encourage people to
They did their job too well. According to the official statistics for
Cuyahoga county, a number of precincts had voter turnout well above the
national average: in fact, turnout was well over 100% of registered
voters, and in several cases well above the total number of people who
have lived in the precinct in the last century or so.
In 30 precincts, more ballots were cast than voters were registered
in the county. According to county regulations, voters must cast their
ballot in the precinct in which they are registered. Yet in these
thirty precincts, nearly 100.000 more people voted than are registered
to vote - this out of a total of 251.946 registrations. These are not
marginal differences - this is a 39% over-vote. In some precincts the
over-vote was well over 100%. One precinct with 558 registered voters
cast nearly 9,000 ballots. As one astute observer noted, it's the
ballot-box equivalent of Jesus' miracle of the fishes. Bush being such
a man of God, perhaps we should not be surprised.
What to Do?
This is not an idle statistical exercise. Either the raw data from
two critical battleground states is completely erroneous, or something
has gone horribly awry in our electoral system - again. Like many
Americans, I was dissatisfied with and suspicious of the way the
Florida recount was resolved in 2000. But at the same time, I was
convinced of one thing: we must let the system work, and accept its
result, no matter how unjust it might appear.
With this acceptance, we placed our implicit faith in the Bush
Administration that it would not abuse its position: that it would
recognize its fragile mandate for what it was, respect the will of the
majority of people who voted against them, and move to build consensus
wherever possible and effect change cautiously when needed. Above all,
we believed that both Democrats and Republicans would recognize the
over-riding importance of revitalizing the integrity of the electoral
system and healing the bruised faith of both constituencies.
This faith has been shattered. Bush has not led the nation to unity,
but ruled through fear and division. Dishonesty and deceit in areas
critical to the public interest have been the hallmark of his
Administration. I state this not to throw gratuitous insults, but to
place the Florida and Ohio electoral results in their proper context.
For the GOP to claim now that we must take anything on faith, let alone
astonishingly suspicious results in a hard-fought and extraordinarily
bitter election, is pure fantasy. It does not even merit discussion.
The facts as I see them now defy all logical explanations save one -
massive and systematic vote fraud. We cannot accept the result of the
2004 presidential election as legitimate until these discrepancies are
rigorously and completely explained. From the Valerie Plame case to the
horrors of Abu Ghraib, George Bush has been reluctant to seek answers
and assign accountability when it does not suit his purposes. But this
is one time when no American should accept not getting a straight
answer. Until then, George Bush is still, and will remain, the
'Accidental President' of 2000. One of his many enduring and shameful
legacies will be that of seizing power through two illegitimate
elections conducted on his brother's watch, and engineering a
fundamental corruption at the very heart of the greatest democracy the
world has known. We must not permit this to happen again.
Labels: The politics
With thanks to Scruffy, Bob Jones's letter to the president:
congratulatory letter to the prez:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular
votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!
In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she
doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have
been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the
clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily,
we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.
Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil.
You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise
your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.
Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the
Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but
because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I
would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has
allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential
term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many
conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress
in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the
family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of
speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time
only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings
with it the blessings of Almighty God.
Christ said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am,
there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father
honour” (John 12:26).
The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit
ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior.
Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings
around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of
them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who
doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does
Sincerely your friend,
Bob Jones III
PS: A few moments ago I read this letter to the students in Chapel.
They applauded loudly their approval.
When I told them that Tom Daschle was no longer the minority leader of
the Senate, they cheered again.
On occasion, Christians have not agreed with things you said during
your first term. Nonetheless, we could not be more thankful that God
has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House, never
taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off
a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows
the Bible to be eternally true.
Labels: The politics
It is time to take the lesson of this-- and the 2002-- election to heart and realize that the party is ideologically bankrupt. Sure, there is a base in NY, LA, Chicago and San Francisco. But as far as the rest of the country is concerned, "Anybody but Bush!" is not a base. It is time for new party leadership. It is time to re-define what it means to be a Democrat, what it means to be a liberal, what it means to be on the left. Until "liberal" has ceased to be a political insult, you have failed. So many people have told me over the past week, "I didn't leave the Democrats; the Democrats left me." The fact that turnout was so high, and that this HURT Kerry, is unfathomable, unconscionable, and proves conclusively that there is an irreparable disconnect between the party and America. Are we going to rise to the challenge-- or will we fall back on politics as usual (obviously a bad idea-- politics as usual today means lots of red states.)
Where is the religious left? We need to be able to walk into any church in America, make the case for Democrats and liberalism to the faith-based community, and have the congregation say, "You know, that city feller makes some sense."
It would also be nice if for once the Democrats weren't outgunned on the airwaves. Kerry chose to make Viet Nam an issue, and the Swift Boat Vets made sure that the man who served with distinction lost the "what I did during the war" issue to the guy who dodged Viet Nam and went AWOL from his cushy no-risk gig. Can we honestly look in the mirror and blame anyone but ourselves for this?
Is the Democratic Party going to hear this clarion call-- or will you drift away to the margins of history? Because the choice is that stark. Your destiny is in your own hands, and I pray (and I'm not a religious man) that you have what it takes to do the hard work to get back to a place where you have a message, an ideology, a set of values that resonates with Americans.
It is essential that you do not simply plant Edwards and Obama in party leadership roles and wait for them to ripen and for the pendulum to swing back. Because it won't be swinging back. There is no pendulum anymore, just a train, and it has left the station without you. No, you must wholly recast the very essence of the party. People get ready, there's a train a-comin.' Don't miss the next one.
Labels: The politics
There are other issues, of course, but they pale in comparison.
Now I have to tell you, I have never been a Kerry fan. I hope the Democrats have the good sense to put him, Gephardt, and Gore on an ice floe, push it out to sea, and never show me a one of them again. (Hillary can stay off the floe if she promises to stay in the senate,) Because while the Bushanistas have their holy war agenda, Kerry never demonstrated that he understood the Middle East any better. Its just that I believed before the election, and still do, that if I have to choose between two clueless administrations, the one throwing gasoline on the fire was worse than the one asking, “I smell smoke. Is something burning?”
While I grow angrier and angrier at Kerry for his incompetence, I’m actually starting to think his loss was potentially a positive outcome—if, as I said in the previous post, the Democrats correctly interpret the wake-up call. First, on incompetence: can you believe that one candidate dodged Viet Nam by using his family connections to get a soft National Guard gig, then went AWOL from that; while the other guy served in combat and was decorated numerous times, then took a political stand on the war; and the SECOND guy was the guy undone by the “What I did during the war” issue? The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were one of the most insidious, despicable examples of political attack ads in history—but at what point do you blame Kerry for simply not having the wherewithal to take back the issue? Or to have avoided the issue in the first place?
And look at the top two issues affecting us today. By any measure, aren’t they the economy and our relations with the Middle East (a broader question than just the war in Iraq)? Yet the Republicans managed, when you get right down to it, to make this election (after tarring Kerry via the Swift Boaters) about Gay marriage and stem cell research. If one lesson of the election was that there really are two Americas, I’d like to visit that other America, where people are inured from terrorism and the economy is great, where stem cell research is conducted on aborted fetuses (and where somehow diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other debilitating diseases have been miraculously eradicated); and where hordes of gay couples are streaming into town, kidnapping children, and forcing unnatural acts upon them before eating their flesh. (I wonder if this America could live with using gay people for stem cell research.)
Anti-gay initiatives on 11 state ballots. Republican mailings that Kerry would ban the bible. And Kerry let it just happen to him. As I said before, the man is simply not as smart as he seems to think he is. (To Bush’s credit, he is indeed precisely as dumb as he thinks he is.)
So where’s the good news in all this? Well, the course America is locked onto is not a good one. It can only end, as I say (and will elaborate on is a future screed), in all-out holy war. Polls showed that “not Bush” would have beaten Bush in an election head-to-head. Unfortunately Kerry wasn’t as effective a candidate as “not Bush.” In the final analysis, I don’t think Americans decided they liked the way the country is going. Rather, I think they decided that they may not like the way the country is going, but since the other guy doesn’t seem to have any idea either about how to set things right, might as well stick with the devil you know.
This means, I truly believe, that Americans are ripe for a new alternative. I can’t tell you how many people have told me in the last few days, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; they left me.” It is a cliché, but it is also a truth. My friend Dan, a gun-loving, Ah-nuld-voting conservative, tells that he is actually still registered Democrat because he never bothered to change. People we once called Reagan Democrats, we now call Republicans. The Democrats no longer have a base; it is only a testimony to the unpopularity of Republican policies that elections aren’t 80/20 in their favor. Yet.
I want to see a Democratic party that doesn’t just embrace politics as usual (that should be a given; they “usually” lose.) I want to see a party that has a sensible, logical platform and set of ideologies that make sense to the average American for the 21st century. I want to see a party that can send a representative into any church in America and say to the congregation, “Let me tell you what it means to be on the religious left” and walk away with a room full of people saying, “Hmm, that city feller made a lot of sense.” I want to see a party that can nominate a candidate that the other party can’t simply dismiss by pointing and saying, “He’s gonna raise your taxes; I’m gonna lower them.” In short, I want to see a party with a freaking clue.
I’ve heard talk that the Democrats are looking at John Edwards as party chairman. Aargh! Good grief! If that happens these people are bigger idiots than I thought. There is no party insider qualified to oversee the zero-based planning that must go on for Democrats to avoid continued slippage toward marginality. The process is simple: Assess the situation in America today. Develop a set of core values and beliefs that address this situation, and which resonate in the hearts and minds of Americans. Learn how to communicate these values and beliefs concisely—in speeches, on TV, in ads. Then develop specific policies that turn these beliefs and values into action plans.
Oh, and by the way—to do this right, you probably aren’t done by the mid-term elections.
But this is what the party must do. Anything less, and we will be a one-party nation. But if the Democrats can accomplish this feat, the result will be a better America for all of us.
Labels: The politics
But the overwhelming takeaway from last night-- and, if you were paying attention, 2002-- is that the Democratic party is officially ideologically bankrupt. With all the talk about people voting "against Bush" (as I did), what was lost in the shuffle was how many voters voted "against Kerry." It is unfathomable to me that the turnout was so high-- and that this HURT Kerry. If marginal voters (the additional voters; marginal in the economic sense) were for Bush, than the dems really have lost touch with America.
You look at the election map, and see how much red (as in red states) is on it, and it becomes clear that the pockets of democratic support are really few and far between. NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco. That's basically it. That vast "America" out there-- they don't know what to make of the democrats, and vice versa. Remember, it wasn't long ago that the south was a solid democratic block, dating back to the fact that Lincoln had been a republican. Now you almost automatically put every southern state in red.
It is so easy to second guess. Why nominate Kerry in the first place? He's Gore, if Gore was from Massachusetts and less likable. Dean (hindsight being 20/20) would at least been an alternative that people could really consider; instead of pleading how he wasn't that different from Bush, he'd have offered a real alternative. He still might have lost, but at least he wouldn't have been the same old generic dem candidate. Of course, Kerry swept through the primaries like a hurricane, and won the nomination fair and square. OK then, why Edwards? Because he balances the ticket and might bring in some southern states? Edwards comes off as a well-coiffed kid, not ready for national politics, and oh yeah, he couldn't even deliver his own state.
Tucker Carlson, who strikes me generally as a smarmy little putz (is there any other takeaway from a grown man who wears a bowtie and isn't in the popcorn business?) aptly compared this election to 1964 for the republicans. He suggested that after Goldwater got trounced by LBJ, the party embarked on a 12-year process of redifinition that reaped dividends. It is time for the democrats to go back to the drawing board and redefine the party. Kerry, Gore, Gephardt-- the democratic leaders are all of a piece, and they are all insufficient to win a national election. Look at me-- I hate Bush, I can't abide the way he has misunderstood and bungled the Middle East. Does that make me a democrat? Nope. Because they are a bunch of directionless screw-ups. Look, I am a hopeless idealist. I'd like to see a political party that I could say, "Hey, I want to be one of those guys." And its never happened. I've been an independent since I was 18 (Todd Rundgren touring for Jon Anderson in 1980 helped). It would be nice if I could look at the democrats and say, "I'm one of those guys." Instead of, "I'm voting against Bush." Would Kerry have made a good president? Honestly, my best guess is no-- I have him pegged for mediocre at best, with the possibility that he could have risen to the challenge. But I think he would have done less damage than Bush will. And diffused the powder keg of the war in the middle east, making us somewhat safer. But he has no vision-- just the same old same old hackneyed rhetoric.
When Carlson said what he said about the party needing to redefine itself, Carville and Begalia were there (it was the Crossfire gang.) Both of them agreed. Begalia impresses me not, but I think Carville (and Stephanopolous) are the two brightest lights in the democratic party froma strategic perspective. I respect Carville's savvy immensely. I hope he can be a leader in the redefining of the party. Because no one on that side of the aisle seems to have a clue.
Clearly this is a conservative country. I don't know why, I don't understand why. It wasn't always thus. My best guess is that the republicans have done a better job of defining what liberal is than the democrats have; indeed you can call a politician liberal and it is accepted to be an insult. As long as this is true, democrats cannot win the hearts and minds of the country. They must redefine what liberal means.
My armchair quarterback advice to the dems would be to charge them with two key assignments:
1. The religious left. This is not an option. I know plenty of good church going people who are democrats. Politically the right seems to have a monoopoly on Jesus. I would mandate the democrats to find and nurture and develop a religious left that is as powerful and well-funded and prominent as the religious right, that can speak to the people of faith in this country as effectively as the religious right does. And for the love of God, I amnot talking about Jesse Jackson. I mean, wasn't Jesus the original bleeding heart liberal? This mandate may seem impossible; indeed it is imperative.
2. Take back the word "liberal." Re-define it. As long as liberal is a dirty word, the dems have a problem. On the one side you have republican, conservative, right. On the other, you have deomocrat, liberal, left. Both liberal and left are considered dirty words. Why? Basically, because the democrats have been totally outplayed by the republican political operatives. These terms must be redefined in a way that positions liberal as distinctly different from conservative, resonates in a positive way with middle America, and perhaps even presents the opportunity to do a little demonizing of "conservative."
These seem like tall orders. They are. They are also essential if the democratic party intends to continue running candidates in major elections. And if they put the same old people on the job of redefining the party's vision, the effort will be for naught.
Finally, let me say that I am still opposed to the Electoral College. Some have accused us lefties of only knocking the EC because in 2000 it hurt our guy (Gore wasn't actually my guy; I voted for Nader.) But in this day and age it doesn't make any sense. If we had a popular vote, then Ohio's provisional votes wouldn't matter; Bush won enough of the popular vote to be president. So even though the "lose the EC" hurts Kerry this time, I still believe in it. The catch is, in the Gore versus Bush Supreme Court decision, it was written that there is no federally guaranteed right to vote. This sounded horribly Big Brother and conservatively demonic, except that a little digging revealed that the right to vote exists at the state level, not the federal. So it will be difficult legislatively to lose the EC because our right to vote is bestowed upon us by our states, not by the feds. Which sort of explains the EC. I think the best we can do is have all states apportion their EC votes based on the way the popular vote in the state goes, as opposed to winner take all.
OK, two more things. We all have this happy expectation that we should know the outcome of the election day-of. But why? Think about it. There are millions of votes that simply CAN'T be counted in time. So what actually signals to us as Americans that one candidate has won? There are two things. One, the loser calls the winner and offers congratulations. Two, the networks call (declare) the winner. Neither of these things have anything to do with counting votes, but both have been the things we've grown up expecting as the deciding factors in the election. With neither occuring on election day for the second time in a row, we are discovering just how much more fragile this process is than we like to believe. This is unconfortable.
And finally: should Kerry concede? In my opinion, yes. He can't win Ohio. There simply aren't enough provisional votes to tip the state his way. He has lost the election. The sooner he cops to it and goes away quietly, the quicker the party can begin to heal its deep, deep wounds.
By the way, Montana approved medical marijuana; Oregon and Alaska voted it down. Way to go Montana. Good to know if you ever get glaucoma in Butte.
Labels: The politics
Labels: The politics