Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Raiders of the lost recount.

By Capt. Fogg

I've yet to read any reviews of HBO's latest creation Recount. It's about the deep, wide and muddy river of corruption that runs through Southern politics and about how democracy was torn from the banks and washed away while America looked the other way or snickered or gloated -- or participated in what may have been the most shameful election meddling in the last 50 years.

The reviews, I'm certain, will fault it for bias, because it damns the Bush organization and the Florida political machine of Jeb Bush. They're certain to say that it's fiction, loosely based on the truth and that there are (hold your nose) always two sides to a story.

There aren't, of course. There's the truth and as many lies as there are liars to tell them and truth is not to be found by bracketing it with lies or finding the mean between the false extremes. It's not fiction that Katherine Harris, who represented both the State of Florida and George Bush's campaign, used $4 million dollars to commission a list of names similar to the names of convicted felons and without confirming the data or informing anyone on the list, used it to turn away tens of thousands of registered voters from the polls without letting them cast provisional ballots. It's not bias to assert that she used every trick she could employ to stall and obfuscate the recount she was required by law to make.

It's not fiction that 80 years of precedent was overturned and replaced by contrived new rules for counting ballots. It's not fiction that minority voters in Florida were warned by people identifying themselves as State Police to stay away from the polls. The infamous butterfly ballots that the nattering nitwits on Fox told us were without problems had major problems. I have 20:20 vision and had difficulty making them line up properly and difficulty making the worn and dull stylus punch cleanly and even in being sure the beat up machine was holding the ballot properly. If you want to believe I can't read or that I think Pat Buchanan is a Democrat or that I'm just plain stupid, go ahead -- but you know better. This is, however, the age of marketing magic and with a wave of the wand and a flap of the jawbone it all becomes the result of stupid, old (the same thing) grandmothers who can't follow instructions and unsavory far left liberal America hating effete Volvo driving welfare abusing Democrats.

It's not fiction that recounts weren't performed as requested, that gangs of Republican thugs, flown in from out of state by courtesy of Bush's best friends at Enron, physically halted the Miami-Dade recount or that the legally mandated recount was deliberately stalled by Republican operatives so as to run out the clock.

It's not fiction that The Republicans on the US Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of this mess, but none the less permitted it "just this one time."

The 2 hour production did cover the invalidation and subsequent re-validation of absentee ballots that had no postmarks, no witnesses and no dates by Republican election commissioners anxious to obtain as many military votes as possible. It didn't mention my county where the Republican commissioner actually took the ballots home without supervision and decided on her own that they must have been valid. There were never any repercussions.

"Democrats go wah. They go wah wah wah" said Ann of the Thousand Lies. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a snicker.

2000 was the year I gave up on the United States of America and although I've since repented to a degree, I will never again have faith in the ability of our democratic Republic to operate as it was designed to do, free of the ability of entrenched power to bend it to their will and against the will and control of the electorate. Since that day, the ability of our government to control what we know, what we believe, and whether or not our votes get counted has grown further. Their power to know what we read and who we talk to has grown and their power to create false history is unmitigated and all but unchallenged.

Recount ends with a dolly shot of a vast warehouse full of boxes containing all the Florida ballots and perhaps it deliberately parallels the famous final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, slowly revealing, as the camera recedes, the vastness of the endless stacks of crates of artifacts relegated to the dust and official oblivion. It's a metaphor -- a powerful one.

It's not hard to look at history and see the pivotal moments when civilizations begin to fail, governments begin to fall and liberty begins an inexorable slide into the spider hole of authoritarianism and corruption. So far, the presidential election of 2000 seems likely to feature as such in some future volume of the Decline and Fall of the United States of America.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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7 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

One thing that the movie showed was how wimpy those on the Gore team could be in fighting their cause.

Its been said a million times, but I'll say it again, because its true: If the stakes had been reversed, if Gore (or any Democract) had won a squeaker in a state whose governor was the candidate's brother, a state where the person in charge of counting votes just happened to be the co-chair of the candidate's campaign in that state, the Republicans would have called it a coup-de-tat. Congressional hearings would have been held, Supreme Court justices would have been impeached, and FoxNews would open each hour of news with graphics that read "Democracy held hostage, Day 720..".

But no, insetead we hear the Republicans tell us to "get over it".

There is a line in the movie when James Baker III is calling the Bush victory a victory for our constitution and American democracy, because there was, in the end, a peaceful transfer of power, and no "tanks in the streets".

Well, maybe thats the problem. Maybe there should have been a little less peace when it came to what happened in Florida. Maybe we as Democrats should have been loading up on buses by hundreds of thousands with torches demanding that each and every ballot in every county was counted.

We didn't though, and, for the most part, we Dems just sat back engorged with our own righteous indignation at what the GOP has done. Just like after the Dems took back Congress, we still are funding the war in Iraq, we still haven't properly investigated all of the crimes against the constitution of the Bush administration, and the list goes on.


I think our party is more interested in being right than being in power.

11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Yes, you make depressingly good points. That Baker line about there not being tanks in the streets had me reaching for a blunt instrument: how many tyrants have taken over without tanks?

I'm sick of the "don't make waves" attitude too and we're still too busy analyzing the nuances and sniffing the underpants of our own candidates to bother to try to set right what's wrong. Is it that we've started to believe the Republican crap about being the lunatic fringe when 80% of the country thinks the country has gone off the rails?

11:42:00 AM  
Blogger ECOPHOTOS said...

It didn't mention my county where the Republican commissioner actually took the ballots home without supervision and decided on her own that they must have been valid.

Captain, are you referring to Theresa Lapore, one of 3 commissioners on the Palm Beach Canvassing Board? It is not clear to me what her party affiliation was. It was my understanding that Theresa Lapore apprenticed herself into that position but was ostensibly apolitical. Theresa did vote "yea" along with Carol Roberts when voting for the initial recount.

Or are you thinking of Judge Burton, supposedly a Democrat newly appointed to the bench by Jeb Bush, the same judge who delayed the PBC recount and acted as if he were Republican (in fact, he was thoroughly unfamiliar with election law and inept in his position on the board)?

The only real hero of the story was Carol Roberts, former Mayor of West Palm, the only one who demanded the recount and declared angrily: "I don't care of they send me to prison."

Carol received thousands of death threats in November 2000 and was placed under police protection. She is till haunted by memories of that time, as are the rest of us.

8:55:00 PM  
OpenID expatbrian said...

Well, its an excellent post, Fogg and a perceptive comment, Kevin. Much of what you say could easily have been said in a post about Uganda under Amin or Zimbabwe under Mugabe or Chili under Pinochet. Or many, many others.

The US, with all of its problems has historically been the one shining light, the one hope for hope for oppressed people that freedom and liberty and the pursuit of happiness is still achievable, still possible in the world. When the US falls under such a regime and it becomes blatantly clear that even there, liberty is nothing more than a distant dream, it not only purges that hope, it opens the door for other countries that may have been hesitant, to follow the same corrupt course. In other words, there can and probably will be a domino effect of the loss of human rights and freedoms.

It is exactly the opposite of everyting this country is supposed to stand for and sets a course that may not be reversible. The lying propoganda is just too powerful and sophisticated to overcome.

I see little if any hope for America no matter what the regime change because the people will still believe anything they are told no matter how outragious and will allow their government to behave in any manner no matter how corrupt or unconstititional. And I don't think the president, no matter who it is, has the power to change that.

9:18:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Eco,

I'm talking about Martin county where defective ballots were "fixed" by the supervisor of elections and her staff.

From the NY Times:

"The Martin County supervisor of elections, a Republican, let Republican Party workers take away the ballot requests on a daily basis, add missing voter identification numbers and resubmit them, a deputy elections supervisor said."

As Bush had only a few hundred vote margin, that in itself may have been enough to change history.

Brian

I'm sorry to say I agree.

11:07:00 PM  
Blogger ECOPHOTOS said...

Captain, this was "the book" I was alluding to when we last met. It was originally commissioned to me but illness and regrettable logistics prevented it from seeing the light of day.

Nevertheless, I am fascinated with your account of chicanery in Martin County. It seems there were hotspots everywhere in Florida that year. In Volusia, there were lost ballots. In Jacksonville, sample ballots did not match actual ones causing confusion among voters.

Another Republican trick was the use of "caging," an attempt to challenge and disqualify voters whose registration addresses did not match postal addresses on absentee ballots. This technique was targeted at minority voters from specific districts, i.e., those serving overseas with APO addresses. Karl Rove rewarded his "caging experts" with district DOJ jobs, i.e., the Gonzo-Gate scandal.

Bottom line: Republican chicanery and corruption was widespread and massive. They were determined to steal the election at all costs.

11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

And they did. It's entirely coincidental of course, that Ann Coulter got away with signing a fraudulent declaration of address in from of witnesses and was never prosecuted even though the DOJ fired attorneys for not finding enough Democrats to prosecute for voter fraud.

It could almost make one a cynic.

9:40:00 AM  

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