How far will George W. Bush go to become President?
by Wm. Ruha
Let us conduct our own recount of last week's and continuing events:
To show you how desperate and power-hungry are George Bush and the Republican Party, they resorted to challenging in federal court every result from last Tuesday's election that did not favor their candidate.
Bush lost the popular vote.
A state-mandated recount in Florida that includes the right to hand-count ballots would show that Al Gore actually won Florida. The Republicans know this. Despite signing into law Texas legislation stating that manual recounts must take precedence over machine recounts, Bush desperately mounted a federal court challenge against Florida's similar law. It failed. (As the DNC Chairman asked, what is so feared in a manual recount? Accuracy?)
However close, among other states, Bush also lost Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Oregon.
In short, George W. Bush lost last Tuesday's presidential election. The networks knew it, the voters knew it, the Republican Party knew it, and George W. Bush knew it. But they couldn't accept it. Despite all the character attacks, the negative ads, the outrageous spending of a record $138 million, Bush lost. So with nothing more to lose, they resorted to dirty tricks.
When Al Gore took New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, the New England industrial states, and was projected to capture Illinois as well, the Bush forces knew that the projected Gore win in Florida provided the over-the-top electoral college majority to defeat their candidate. Florida's exit polls showed it. The networks knew it. The election was over.
Frantic to revive Bush's chances by any means, the candidate, his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and cousin John Ellis of the Fox Network devised a hastily-arranged strategy to salvage the election of a losing candidate.
As a senior Fox News Channel executive subsequently acknowledged, Bush's first cousin, John Ellis, played the key role in the first decision on election night to project that the Republican had won the White House. Ellis spoke to his cousin, Republican George W. Bush several times that night. As reported in The New York Times and the Washington Post, Fox senior vice president of editorial news John Moody admitted that Fox had been unaware on election night of the contact between election desk executive John Ellis and Bush, and that Ellis "may have misused his role with the network." (No kidding! The first word in "Dubyah" is "Duh." Helllooo!)
Fox was the first to call the still-contested presidential election for Bush and (not wishing to be scooped, herd-mentality that there is,) each of the other main networks followed minutes later, giving the wrong impression on a seesaw election night that Bush had beaten Democratic Vice President Al Gore. When contacted, Fox spokesman Robert Zimmerman the network had "nothing to add" and that the statements attributed to Moody by the newspapers were accurate.
Thus, on election night, providing the cover story for the fraud that was being perpetrated, Ellis turned matters over to cousins Jeb and George.
Immediately, the Bush forces declared victory, sought a Gore concession, and instant legitimacy of the G.O.P. candidate's election - even before absentee ballots had been counted.
Act as if you won, was the advice. Talk about Cabinet appointments. Translate Florida's mandatory state law on automatic recounts into a "sour grapes" ploy by Gore forces to challenge your election. Shift the focus. Continue to attack. Say it's more evidence of questionable Gore character. All this was done, while elsewhere, Republicans attacked the media, the networks, the reporters who, based on legitimate exit polls had predicted a Gore victory in Florida. Sycophants like Chris Cox and Billy Tauzin quickly picked up the Republican Party cover story with calls for a congressional investigation of the networks.
Meanwhile, over succeeding days, subsequent investigations in Florida uncovered ballot boxes found in hotel rooms and the trunks of automobiles. Thousands of votes were disallowed even though Al Gore's name was hand-written on the ballot to avoid any confusion of voter intent. In Volusia County, Socialist candidate Jim Harris received 9,888 votes as opposed to 0, 1, or 2 in other counties. Other gross "Vote-o-mat" errors were beginning to surface. These irregularities were after-the-fact efforts of earlier attempts to suppress Democratic returns. A unique "butterfly ballot" proven in the last election to confuse voters trying to vote for the Democratic candidate owing to the odd zigzag non-alignment of Democratic candidate names below the top-placed Republican name, was used to outlaw 19,120 votes and otherwise shift thousands of votes to Pat Buchanan. A disturbing number of blacks and other ethnic minorities had been turned away from polling places, told that polls had closed or ballots were unavailable. A number of Democratic voters kept waiting for hours after being told that ballots had yet to arrive, returned home in disgust without voting.
By Thursday, a state-mandated mechanical recount revealed George Bush's paper-thin margin had narrowed further to a razor-edge 327 votes. Bush's Florida campaign co-chairperson, Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, acknowledged only 66 of 67 counties and maintained that Bush had a certifiable lead of 1785 votes. Even before absentee ballots were counted, Bush forces again began demanding Gore's concession, trying to obfuscate and misdirect. While the recounts continued, George Bush announced that "First Lady Laura Bush" was coming to the ranch
By Sunday, after a mere 1% of Palm Beach County votes were hand counted, Bush's margin shrunk further, down to 310 votes. It would eventually dip to a mere 300 out of almost 6 million votes cast.
Under Florida law, a candidate can ask for a manual recount, provided he files the request within 72 hours. The Democrats did so in 4 counties. The Republicans, believing Jeb Bush et al had matters well in hand declined to exercise this option. Later of course, they would cry "14th Amendment violation" - a ludicrous claim in that they had equal protection under the law for manual recounts elsewhere. They had simply failed to request them within the mandated 72-hour post-election period.
Election commissioners voted for a complete manual recounting of ballots in Palm Beach County, Dade County, and Broward County - a total of 1,704,350 ballots.
Desperately, Bush forces turned litigious, filing in federal court to stop the hand counts.
Perhaps George W. "Bush-wah" Bush doesn't carry his father's other middle initial H. because people might misconstrue the letter as being short for Hypocrisy.
"Dubyah's" pathetic legal attempt to prevent manual counting of voters' ballots in Florida was laughably hypocritical. Consider: in months of campaigning he peered into the cameras telling voters in his soft neo-Texas drawl of feigned sincerity how much he trusted "the people, while Al Gore trusts the federal government."
Then, when he decided it was to his own advantage, he did the exact opposite - desperately calling upon the federal government to void the hand counted votes of the people.
The H surfaced again when Daddy's former Secretary of State, James Baker, tried to explain that the basis of the Bush law suit against Florida is that a machine count is more accurate and impartial than a hand count that will simply introduce inaccuracies into the counting process.
How's that? Come again? Uh, wasn't it just two years ago in Texas, that "Dubyah" signed a bill into law that stated just the opposite, affirming that a hand count is more accurate than a machine count? Perhaps Bush should have re-read the relevant passage of the bill he signed into law:
"(d) If different counting methods are chosen under Section 214.042(a) among multiple requests for a recount of electronic voting system results, only one method may be used in the recount. A manual recount shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount and an electronic recount using a corrected program shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount."
Dubyah's H was showing. He was contradicting his own recorded beliefs.
The H-factor again surfaced Saturday when mouthpiece Jim Baker and other Bush minions stated that legal actions only prolong and delay, and that Gore should not do so. Yet, it has been Bush, Baker, their legal team, and Katherine Harris - not Gore - who precipitated the lengthy ordeal of court cases.
In an incredulous desperate statement aimed at again misdirecting, Baker repeated if Gore agrees that Bush won, he would withdraw the request for an injunction. Hello?! Reality check!
Reporters inquiring about the Bush-backed injunction attempt were given another lie. Baker said Bush did not initiate legal activities first, since voters have already filed legal actions. Baker identified any such suit as being created by Gore "supporters" rather than by a person who feels that his voting right has been violated. There is not one shred of evidence in support of this claim. A Florida Sentinel reporter, interviewed on CNN stated that in her entire news career that extended back to the years of the Vietnam War, she had never witnessed such citizen outrage in the state of Florida as that following the deployment of the distracting butterfly ballot in last Tuesday's election. People took to the streets demanding that their intended votes be properly and legally recognized. Al Gore and the Democratic Party didn't need to foster litigation; a flood of it had already arrived spontaneously via citizen outrage.
Bush's H-factor flew higher on Saturday when others pointed out that the manual vote count in Republican Seminole County gained Bush 98 of his 327 vote lead. This hand count of course has not questioned by Bush, Baker and Jeb's minions.
On Saturday, one NBC reporter had the temerity to subtly question the Texas governor's tactics. Standing in Crawford, Texas, the crossroads town just outside the Bush ranch, she reminded viewers that in a story she did on the woman in charge of elections in Austin, Texas, the city where Bush votes, this elections official said that she uses manual counting rather than machine counting to resolve election disputes, because machine counting is more subject to error.
Dubyah and his Bush-wah boys were in trouble. The proverbial genie was out of the bottle and the G.O.P. couldn't stuff it back in. All their attempts at instant legitimacy, and hypocritical cries that hand counts and court cases serve to delay and damage our democratic system don't wash.
A hand count doesn't mean that each ballot must be examined. It means only that the ballots rejected by the machine need to be reviewed for two things. One, that the human counter looks for evidence that the ballot had been punched, but that the little paper square, called the "chad," has not fallen off. In such cases, the machine would read that ballot as "no vote."
The Washington Post reports that "In Palm Beach County, there are about 10,000 such ballots, known as "undervote" ballots. In Miami-Dade there are perhaps 11,000, and in Broward County about 6,700. All three counties are heavily Democratic, and "some Gore officials believe a thorough hand counting of the undervote ballots might yield additional votes for the vice president."
Two, when ballots are double-punched, either by the voter or by someone who had the ballot prior to the voter, voters often take a pencil or a pen and indicate their choice with a circle or an arrow. Once the machine has rejected the ballot, the observing counter can easily see such markings.
Since Republican Seminole County has established that such decisions are perfectly legal in Florida, having engaged in such a count just the other day, and since we are three days from the Florida state deadline for finishing the recount, there is little doubt that any attempt to legally prevent such hand counting from taking place is an attempt on the part of George W. Bush to steal the presidency by negating the will of the people.
Central to all this of course, has been Bush's Florida campaign co-chairperson, Katherine Harris. She should have recused herself and should now step down or be subjected to impeachment. Her actions have been wholly arbitrary, unduly biased, exceedingly partisan and repeatedly ruled illegal. Republicans should ask that she be relieved of her duties in favor of a temporary bipartisan-approved independent arbiter in the certification of Florida's 2000 Presidential election.
Under Florida law recounting is mandatory if neither candidate has received a margin greater than 2%. Law further states that manual recounts are permissible provided a candidate files the request in a county within 72 hours of the closing of the polls. Both sides had the equal right to do this. The Gore forces did so in 4 Democratic counties. Bush's forces failed to file requests. Thus it is not a 14th Amendment "equal protection under the law" application at all, as Republicans have sought to contend.
Katherine Harris attempted to stop the process of manual recounts, stating that George Bush had won with a 1784 vote margin. Following the machine recount, she stated that officially accepted results of the recount were: 66 of 67 counties accepted and the same 1784 vote margin for George Bush.
Palm Beach County sought a partial manual recount. She then imposed her arbitrary interpretation of conditions under which manual recounts could be conducted. This interpretation was knowingly without merit as it contradicted heretofore accepted conditions for manual recounting of ballots that had been routinely and frequently conducted in Florida. She then dispatched attorneys to intervene with the county election officials within the four contested counties. This temporarily halted the manual recounting process. Under Florida law this arbitrary decision to interpret and impose law is not her purview, but rather that of the State Attorney General. The role of the Florida Secretary of State is simply to certify the election results.
When her case and that of the Republican Party was rejected in court, she next sought to impose a deadline on certification that precluded the manual counting of ballots. This official statement was her second attempt to find a way to deny the legitimacy of manual recounts, and it again stopped the manual recounting of ballots in the 4 contested counties.
The circuit court ruled she had the right to impose the deadline, but could only disallow submission of manual totals after the deadline provided that she has not acted arbitrarily and has been shown to have exercised discretion. The Palm Beach County judge on Tuesday had instructed Harris to exercise discretion in considering the counties' requests to conduct hand recounts. With this ruling the manual recounting was again continued.
Having twice interrupted manual recounting that is legally sanctioned under Florida law, Harris next demanded almost immediate written arguments from election officials in the 4 contested counties as to why the manual recounting should be accepted beyond her stated deadline. This further interrupted the manual recount.
On Wednesday the Florida State Supreme Court denied Republican lawsuits designed to halt the recounts. Election officials in Palm Beach next complied with a state-ordered explanation by issuing a statement that statistical extrapolations from the manual recounting of sample precincts constituted sufficient evidence supporting the possibility of altering the nation's presidential election. Further, in a ruling on the chad issue, Palm Beach Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga said county election officials have authority to decide whether a "dimpled chad" ballot -- where the punch card was not perforated -- constitutes a vote. The county then informed the state it would proceed with a hand recount. Upon learning of this decision, Harris then fired off an arbitrary decision void of any discretion, to reject the county election officials' written reasons for conducting manual recounts, stating that her office would not recognize the manual recounting results in any of the 4 contested counties. Although this constituted direct defiance of the conditions set forth the day before by Judge Terry P. Lewis of Leon County Circuit Court in his court ruling that precluded her acting arbitrarily without discretion, Lewis upheld her right, before the Florida Supreme Court of its volition stepped in by unanimous vote to halt her rush to certify without inclusion of the manually recounted votes.
Katherine Harris, a Republican who actively campaigned in Maine for George W. Bush, a political ally and supporter of his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has shown by her statements and actions to be intrusive, obstructive, wholly partisan and biased, overreaching of official authority, arbitrary in the exercise of her duties, completely without discretion in the application of her official capacity in the election process, and thus unsuited to the duties of her office.
As an active campaigner for George Bush she should have stepped aside from the election certification process in favor of an independent arbiter temporarily appointed via a bipartisan committee comprised of officials from both Republican and Democratic camps. Having shown herself to be wholly incapable of acting independently in the public interest, she should be relieved of her office either by the Governor, the Florida Supreme Court, or via the impeachment process.
Bush's attempts to swiftly seek legitimacy for his election have all but collapsed. Should a recount of the 4 Democratic counties be conducted, despite absentee ballots, Florida - and the presidency - will be lost to George W. Bush.
Which is why Bush and his forces have elected to shift direction. Continuing to shamelessly misdirect with attacks on Al Gore and the Democrats who began to uncover the fraud, Bush and his forces have yet been desperately seeking to make up Florida's lost votes with Republican-dominated recounts elsewhere.
Lo and behold, New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson announced three days after the election that officials had begun to tally absentee votes missed in the original count because of a computer glitch that did not detect straight-party votes. (Ah yes, the omnipresent utilitarian computer error!)
With only 600 of the 67,000 ballots left to count, Johnson reported on CNN's ''Larry King Live'' that Gore's lead over Bush was dwindling. Johnson said that the remaining votes would likely continue to shave Gore's margin of victory, but he did not predict a winner. (tongue firmly in cheek.) ''If trends continue, it's going to be one vote, Gore or Bush,'' said Johnson, a Republican.
Briefly the Republican governor's state recount provided a brief 17 vote margin in favor of George Bush after County Attorney Tito Chavez told reporters that they had lately discovered 355 damaged ballots and 257 that went missing earlier. The ballots were found late on Friday in a locked ballot box in a side room of the guarded warehouse where the recount has been under way since Thursday (wink, wink.) This was subsequently countered by discovery that election officials had "mistakenly" not counted 500 votes for Al Gore.
Knowing that Jeb Bush and his operatives may not be able steal Florida's 25 electoral votes for brother George, the Bush campaign then began to seek recounts in other states where Al Gore received narrow victories, such as Iowa, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Already the Bush campaign has dispatched forces to Des Moines to try to assess a possible recount in Iowa, where Gore won by 5,069 votes.
Because absentee ballots are counted over ten days following the election, further G.O.P. dirty trick's can be expected. Already, they filed reports with Republican-owned news media that absentee ballots would result in Bush's win in other Gore states, including California with its insurmountable 54 electoral votes.
The fraudulent after-the-fact absentee ballot is an ingenious device; it serves as the losing candidate's collective trump card. Bush and his forces were already setting the stage for acceptance of their fraudulent absentee ballots, and thus ultimate legitimacy of his ill-gotten election.
In Florida, the absentee ballots were counted on Friday and Saturday. Katherine Harris had already sanctioned GOP fraud. In an incredible decision, she issued a memorandum that absentee ballots do not have to be postmarked by Election Day. The postmark can be ignored even if it is dated well beyond Election Day, as long as there is a hand-written date and a signature from a witness verifying that the ballot was completed by Election Day.
What this means of course is that thousands of fraudulent ballots for Bush were filled in by duplicitous Republicans after the fact - as attested to by the post-election postmarks. In Democratic counties these ballots were of course rejected for the frauds they are. But in Republican counties they were counted, thus increasing Bush's lead from 300 to 926 votes.
It goes to show you how desperate, devious, and dishonest are the members of the Republican Party from the grass roots level up to the state house. They will attempt anything and everything to obtain what they seek in the mistaken belief that they are somehow entitled by mere birth, wealth and privilege.
Shenanigans were being played out after the first absentees were counted and Bush's numbers weren't what they had hoped for. With 52 of 67 counties reported in, there was a scant pick-up of a mere 149 votes for Dubyah. Obviously, by the time the last 15 counties were counted a flood of post-marked GOP ballots were included. Counted in Bush's total Florida vote are at least 4,700 of the 15,000 already counted absentee GOP ballots cast by residents of Seminole County prior to Election Day, upon which Sandra Goard, the Republican county elections supervisor allowed Republicans to change absentee ballot requests.
And as first reported by NY Times reporters Michael Moss and Ford Fessenden, Republicans, with the aim to drive up absentee voting for Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, mailed party voters tens of thousands of requests for absentee ballots that were virtually completed, requiring only the applicant's signature and Social Security number. Oops! Many of the forms provided by the Republicans lacked the voter registration number required by Florida's tough anti-fraud election laws. In short, they were fraudulent - illegal ballots. Goard then allowed Republican workers to camp out in her offices for as long as 10 days to make handwritten corrections on these fraudulent pre-printed applications sent out by the Republican Party.
Clearly, throughout all of the Republican efforts - from Jim Baker's rhetoric and proposals, to Katherine Harris's refusal to certify manual recounts - was aimed at certifying the Bush mechanical recount lead followed by certification of the absentee votes owing to GOP fraud.
What does all this tell us?
Simply, that George W. (Texas Stadium land-grab, funeral home scandal) Bush, like his great grandfather Sam "Merchant of Death" Bush, (so-cited by Republican Senator Nye's Committee), his grandfather Prescott "Trading With The Enemies" Bush, his father, George H.W. "CIA-Kennedy Assassination Cover-up Team Member / Iran Hostages / Iran/Contra" George W. Bush is an illegal operator.
Like the cyborg assassin in the film, "The Terminator" he will stop at nothing in order to occupy the most powerful political office in the world.
He is backed by immensely powerful political and financial forces: transnational corporate interests intent on controlling the multi-trillion dollar global economy. This is the party of Allen Dulles and his 1950s Nixon-sanctioned CIA coups and assassination plots, of Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon and Watergate infamy, of George Bush's secret dealings to hold hostages for the election of Ronald Reagan, of Bush's illegal Iranian arms dealings to finance the Contras, of Bush's immense financial drains on the economy in order to bail out such failed S & L's as Neil Bush's' Silverado S&L in Colorado, and of George W. Bush's Texas stadium land-grabs, funeral home payoff scandals, and illegal oil dealings during the Gulf War.
Dressed up in expensive Brooks Brothers subtle pinstriped suits, propped up by powerful backers, instructed in the use of spin, these people are still assassins. Only now, they peer into television cameras rather than riflescopes, and in place of bullets, they use ballots.