James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bush & Co. vs. Democracy at home and abroad

Can there be a greater irony than George Bush & Co. claiming to be champions of democracy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East?

Or anywhere?

The plan for Iraq, established well before the invasion and documented as such, was to turn that sad country’s economy over to control by U.S. and multinational corporations. Completely. Foreign companies are to be allowed to buy all major industries in Iraq for next to nothing. That includes but is not limited to oil and its support industries.

Under the Bush plan -- now in place though buyers are scarce and profits are limited so far except for direct war profiteers such as Dick Cheney’s Haliburton -- all corporate earnings may be removed from the country. No reinvestment in Iraq is required. Taxes paid to Iraq are to be extremely low or nonexistant. Iraq is not allowed to charge tariffs on imports of foreign (mostly U.S.) goods. Under the only law perpetrated by Saddam Hussein that the U.S. has allowed to stand, government employees are not allowed to join or form labor unions. Several incidents strongly indicate that any union activity will meet with harsh response. Also, very early in the occupation, it was made illegal for workers to demonstrate against the overwhelming unemployment in the country.

The plans for the takeover are clearly stated in a 101-page U.S. State Department document that has been passed to some reporters, notably Greg Palast, an investigative reporter and author of the best seller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." (Speaking of irony, the State Department document’s title is "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth.")

It appears that the official U.S. plan was drafted by representatives of major U.S. corporations. No Iraq citizen had any voice in creating it. No citizens of a democratic country would vote to accept such terms, and, in fact, at least one Bush insider acknowledged that and said the administration had no intention of letting any "democracy" get in the way of the corporate looting.

As sorry a tale as that is, the irony of the Bushies claiming even a smidgeon of loyalty to democracy is even more clear when set up against their activities in these last days of our own election campaign.

A couple of previous articles here have outlined some of the fraud, chicanery and general skullduggery perpetrated by Republicans all over the country to suppress Democratic votes, and, in fact, defraud the electorate. In the past week or so, other than the usually daily stump speeches, the entire Republican focus has been on such activity.

Given the huge effort now underway, it looks like the Republican strategists (read Karl Rove) concluded that they can’t win with just the previous level of cheating and so must greatly increase their efforts steal the election.

Florida, under brother Jeb Bush, isn’t bothering to hide it’s illegal and/or unethical actions. In addition to the many previously reported scams in effect there, the Hightower Lowdown reported for example that the Orlando League of Voters, a largely black organization, is being systematically harassed by Jeb’s state police – the Bush Family Brown Shirts. So far, more than 50 of the Orlando group’s leaders – mostly elderly black women – have had intimidating visits from very obviously armed plain clothes state cops, who roughly question them about their political activities. The cops refuse to say what motivates the interrogations, other than to hint to reporters that there may have been some voter fraud, unspecified, in a mayoral election in March. (The spurious claim was raised by the GOP right after that election and an investigation at the time and found "no basis to support the allegations," Hightower reports.)

The Hightower publication also says that recently, John Ashcroft, the Constitution-hating U.S. attorney general, began sending federal agents to states in which the Democrats and various liberal organizations have registered many new voters – starting with swing states, of course. The agents are questioning newly-registered people in their homes. Supposedly, they’re looking for fraud, although there is no reason to suspect it. Actually, they’re simply intimidating new voters on the probably correct assumption that many of them will be too frightened to vote.

And, again in Florida, as widely reported, 58,000 of 128,000 absentee ballots supposedly mailed to Broward County voters never arrived. Broward County gave Al Gore 67 percent of its votes in 2000.

Gee, said the elections folks, it must be the Post Office’s fault. The Post Office said it processed all of the absentee ballots mailed by the county and delivered them as soon as they were posted. The local Post Office has a special team to do just that, in fact.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement "investigated" for a matter of minutes and found no crimes had been committed. Supposedly the people who didn’t get their ballots can still get them, but many obviously are away and won’t receive ballots in time to vote and, anyway, there is no guarantee that the ballots will be delivered regardless of what the officials say now to reporters. Some citizens who called seeking their ballots have been unable to get through because phone lines and email were jammed.

Evidence of increasingly blatant GOP setups in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan and elsewhere also continues to mount. New touch-screen voting machines produced and programmed by companies headed by Bush cronies figure prominently in several states.

In Ohio, where the vote obviously is going to be as fraud-ridden as in Florida, the Republican Party is trying every trick it can come up with to keep low-income and minority citizens from voting. The party has appealed a quick and firm local court dismissal of a phony challenge of new voter registrations – in Democratic-leaning areas only, of course.

Also, the Ohio GOP has recruited hundreds of lawyers and others to challenge voters in precincts with heavy Democrat-leaning populations. As one party official acknowledged, they don’t really expect to find many, if any, people voting illegally; the goal is to slow down the functioning of the polls in those areas to such a degree that thousands of people get tired of standing in line and leave without voting..

As reported by the New York Times first, the Bush camp (Karl Rove at his cutest) has pointed the Internal Revenue Service at the NAACP. The IRS is examining the civil rights organization’s tax exempt status on the grounds that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond made "statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the office of presidency" and "condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush in education, the economy and the war in Iraq."

That is so absurd the entire nation should be giving the Bushies the horse laugh. Compare Bond’s statements with those by leaders of any of several hundred tax-exempt organizations that are barely-concealed right-wing and Republican campaign and policy groups. Oh, and let’s not forget the "churches" run by Bush sycophants. Of course, the aim is intimidation, to silence the voices of Bush critics who are connected with nonprofits.

Bond reasonably pointed out that his statements were focused on policies, not politics, but the IRS attack isn’t about truth or justice; it’s about dirty tricks and using government agencies as political enforcers.

So here, finally, is the point.

The Republican Party of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, et al, the Republican Party of the power-grubbing television preachers and insanely greedy corporate executives, is utterly without morals or decency. It has no value but winning. It gives not a damn for honesty or integrity. It despises democracy and spits on the U.S. Constitution. It will do anything it can get away with to win and it wants to win solely because of the power and wealth that its leading members can accrue. And, very sadly, a great many ordinary folks who traditionally vote Republican seem to think all the dirty tricks are just fine, sorta cute, in fact, and that cheating is OK. "Everybody does it." Wink, wink.

Given those facts, there is serious doubt at this point that the Democrats can recapture the White House, let alone Congress. Kerry and Edwards may win the vote, as Gore did, and perhaps by a greater margin, and still be kept out of office by fraud, theft and possibly the complicity of our already seriously damaged Supreme Court.

What then, folks? If a second theft of the presidency is allowed and the current bunch of thugs holds office for another four years, American democracy could be so nearly dismantled that it may be impossible for liberal and/or centrist Americans ever again to have a full voice in the running of this country. It is conceivable that even if they suffer a clear electoral loss, the Bush Mob will refuse to step aside.

Better start thinking now about how you will respond to a clearly stolen election or a coup d’etat, should either of those occur.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Polling for politics

By Jody Tanji

There's little question that popular media have a disproportionate amount of influence on the slice of the electorate that is lazy, gullible, apathetic, or – wonder of wonders -- still doesn't know which candidate they support. Many of these voters, in deciding whether or not they are going to expend the calories required to actually get off the sofa, pick up their car keys, and get themselves to their polling place on Nov. 2 are looking for justification, any justification, to skip it.

How about, say, a seven-word headline or a 20-second sound bite? Suppose that headline or sound bite was about recent poll results in swing states. Suppose those poll results purported to show that one of the candidates in this historically close race was pulling away from the other by a margin significant enough to allow the members of this voting bloc to say to themselves, "Well, it looks like Candidate X is going to win anyway, so I'm not going to bother."? And that would be it.

But what if those poll results were substantially different from results of all the other polls conducted in the same states, with approximately the same number of participants, over the same time periods, with the same margin for error? And what if this "outlier" poll was conducted by an affiliation of three of the most-recognized, powerful media and public opinion names of our time: CNN/USA Today/Gallup? Wouldn't you wonder about that? And wouldn't you wonder, further, why there's been no real reporting on this in the major metropolitan dailies?

Follow this link for an excellent analysis done by people who still seem to understand what reporting is. No need to be a conspiracy theorist to smell something.


For the polls in question:


Jody Tanji is a former employee of the Minneapolis Star Tribune now working in business. She is a keen observer of politics and American society.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Registration fraud at a state near you

After I wrote and posted the article below about election fraud and suppression of Democratic votes, I learned that the same outfit caught in the voter registration scam in Nevada and Oregon is operating in Minnesota.

In fact, there is reason to believe it’s committing the same kind of fraud in virtually every so-called battleground state.

The phony company, using several names, actually is Sproul & Associates, a Phoenix-based dirty-tricks outfit owned by Nathan Sproul and financed by the Republican National Committee.

Sproul is a former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and former head of the state’s Christian Coalition. He has been involved in political dirty tricks for many years.

In states like Minnesota, where citizens register to vote without declaring party affiliation, Sproul employees dealing directly with the public – mostly temps and part-timers -- are told to question potential voters about their party affiliations and presidential preference. The worker bees are paid bonuses for registering Republicans, but are discouraged from signing up Democrats and get no bonuses for signing them. Democrats and/or potential Kerry voters either aren’t given registration forms to fill out or their forms are trashed once they’re out of sight of the Sproul employees.

This is known because a number of people hired by Sproul to register people have quit and talked once they found out what was expected of them. Others talked because Sproul failed to pay them and they got angry. (Not paying is a Sproul characteristic. People in several states have complained that they weren’t paid for their work, and the company left its Las Vegas landlord unpaid after it was caught in its con game by a local television station.)

People hired by Sproul to work in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have spilled the beans, and Web sites based elsewhere have made similar reports.

I tipped daily and weekly newspapers in the Twin Cities Monday. Wednesday, the Star Tribune published a rather feeble story, which tried so hard for "balance" that it all but covered the fact that the Sproul operation is defrauding would-be Democratic voters. That’s something the Minneapolis newspaper does regularly these days: creating "balance" where there is none in order to placate the right, minimize the unpleasant contacts with its big advertisers and the publisher’s cronies and keep the phone calls, emails and letters down.

It also is interesting that the Minnesota Republican Party denied any wrongdoing and said, in its own defense, that the phony registration program is a national party endeavor, as though that makes it legitimate.

The state party people also used boilerplate language quoted, exactly, in every Republican denial of every fraud so far uncovered, regardless of the evidence: That Democrats "allege fraud where none exists and get the media to cover it." Deny, deny, deny.

City Pages, a large Twin Cities weekly – what used to be called an alternative newspaper, but now more genuinely main stream than the dailies – was working on an article as of Tuesday (Oct. 26).

Another voter suppression game came to my attention Tuesday.

The Guardian, the venerable English newspaper, reported that registrations by U.S. citizens living abroad is roughly 400 percent higher this year than it was in 2000. Total overseas registration may be a million votes higher this year than four years ago, the newspaper said.

Various evidence indicates that a high percentage of the new overseas registrations are Kerry voters, and about 40 percent of them are from swing states. (The votes of Americans living abroad are counted in their home states.) At least two web sites, one based in Munich and the other in Hong Kong, have been very active in registering overseas voters.

So – gee, you’ll be surprised – turns out that the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which once was a Pentagon operation, failed to get ballots to thousands of those civilian overseas voters, most of whom are "outraged" over the Bush administration’s war, the Guardian says.

The FVAP "lost" several thousand of overseas votes in 2000, but, like Florida, claimed the
problems were corrected. Yet, somehow, those mostly Kerry backers abroad have been prevented from voting this year.

FVAP, claiming it was overwhelmed by faxes, emails and phone calls from would-be voters
abroad, blocked civilian access to its Web site. It has given military voters access to the electronic ballot-request systems, however. (It’s merely coincidence that military folks, who often know little of world affairs other than what they are told by their superior officers, tend to vote Republican. That has nothing to do with the missing ballots. Ya sure, you betcha.)

And isn’t it fascinating that one has to read the foreign press to learn such things?


In case you also missed this in your local press: Defense Department officials admitted in interviews on National Public Radio that while the "official" number of American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan through September was 7,500 – the number used by all news operations in this country – the actual number was more than 20,200.

That’s the total number of service people so badly injured that they had to be flown out of the two war-torn countries to hospitals in Europe and the United States. And the 20,200 number doesn’t include 800 service people evacuated because of depression or "post-traumatic stress disorder." Nor does it including another 600 evacuated for treatment of foul skin diseases caused by insects and parasites.

As I said several months ago when noting that the reported numbers of injuries were lies, a large part of the disparity in "official" and real numbers are attributable to the phony way in which "combat injuries" are defined by our Bushy Pentagon. And injuries not defined as resulting from "combat" are not reported to the public.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

GOP election fraud is a certainty

For the past couple of weeks, people have been asking me whether I think John Kerry can win the presidential election or, simply, who I think will win. I don’t know if many people are asking each other those questions or whether I’m approached so often because I frequently shoot off my mouth (and blog) on politics.

In any case, I have a ready answer. It seems to me obvious, and it is this:

I believe that if we could have an honest election, Kerry would win by a margin that would shock the public, which has been badly misled by poll takers who have failed miserably to keep up with reality.

However, I think it likely that George W. Bush will retain the presidency.

Note that I did not say win the election.

We are about to see the most crooked election in the history of this country. Widespread fraud probably will keep Bush and his crowd in power. Say bye-bye to representative democracy, folks.

The Republicans are so cocky, so sure that they will not be prosecuted and that their pet courts will shut down attempts to reverse illegally-obtained election results that they’re hardly bothering to cover their tracks. The ever sillier and more desperate George Will came out with his damage control column Sunday (Oct. 24), charging that Democrats and others who plan to challenge election fraud around the country are just making trouble because they won’t accept reality. (The reality is blatant, frequently felonious cheating on the part of the Republicans, but Will didn’t say that.)

Let’s do what the cowering press is failing to do and put some of the available evidence together in one place, so that the pattern is evident. Unfortunately, a complete list will take months to compile, and can’t be achieved before the election. Yet I don’t have room here to include even a third of the frauds already known.

Here’s just some of what your president and his friends, and the Republican Party, are up to:

*In Nevada, a Las Vegas television station (obviously not a Sinclair station) discovered that a "private company" called Voters Outreach of America, or sometimes America Votes, was running a Republican-sponsored voter registration scam of major proportions.

The company worked in Las Vegas and Reno for months, registering citizens at shopping malls and other places where many people gather. It employed about 300 part-time and temp workers, who helped citizens fill out their voter registration forms. However, at the end of each day, the company’s full-time supervisors went around, collected the registration forms and systematically tore up and threw away all the forms filled out by Democrats. (In Nevada, as in a number of other mostly western states, people must register by party affiliation.)

Some of the workers readily testified to seeing the destruction of the Democrats’ forms. The television station’s news personnel also witnessed the crimes. Shredded Democrat forms were found in trash bins, and the television reporters confirmed with county election officials that the Democrat forms had not been filed, although forms completed by Republicans were turned in for registration.

That means thousands of Democrats who show up at the polls will be turned away because they are not registered to vote, although they did what they were supposed to do to register.
Caught by the television crew, Voters Outreach of America abandoned its Nevada offices – without paying the rent – and disappeared. The company soon turned up doing "voter registration" in Oregon.

The company, it turned out, was set up by Republicans and was largely or totally financed by the Republican National Committee.

*In Arkansas and West Virginia, voters received mailings from the Republican Party stating flatly that if John Kerry and other Democrats are elected, they will ban the Bible in this country.
It didn’t say they aren’t respectful enough of Christianity, mind you, but that the Bible will be "banned." Some of the country folk obviously took the threat seriously (thus proving something about the quality of schools in West Virginia and Arkansas, among other things).

The Republican Party briefly denied responsibility for the mailing, but the evidence was such that the national party quickly gave in and admitted it produced and mailed the brochures. A spokeswoman "stood behind them," on the fictitious grounds that Christianity is in danger if Democrats are elected.

*In Minnesota and Wisconsin, 166,000 snowmobilers received a four-color beautifully produced mailing from the House Resources Committee in mid October, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The mailing also went to about 10,000 snowmobilers in Montana and Wyoming. The brochure claimed that Congressional Republicans are "working with President Bush" to make sure that the recipients can use their toys without restraint in national parks and forests. Snowmobilers are as paranoid about their polluting toys as are members of the National Rifle Association, and as easily swayed by lies.

The kicker is that the campaign brochure was paid for by you and me, to the tune of $68,000. It was produced and mailed at taxpayer expense. Six earlier Resources Committee mailings with equally political content cost somewhere between $78,000 and $90,000 of taxpayers’ money, the Star Tribune reported.

*You could call Ohio "Fraud Central" were it not for the fact that even more egregious plans to steal the election are in place in Florida and Texas – and Pennsylvania also qualifies for an international team to monitor the elections.

Ohio is the state where the chief election official – a Republican, of course – tried to disqualify thousands of new voter registrations on the grounds that the forms the citizens filled out were not printed on 80-pound paper, as required by a long-forgotten and doubtful rule adopted when all records were kept on paper. A court rejected that attempt, which was made because it is credibly assumed that a large majority of new registrations come from Kerry supporters.

Not to worry, Republicans. That was a mere blip. The big phony is in the state’s use of new touch-screen voting machines. There are two major producers of the machines, and the biggest, which sold the majority of the machines Ohio is using, is Diebold. The board chairman of Diebold is Walden O’Dell, who is one of George W. Bush’s most successful fund raisers and one of the top dogs in Bush’s Ohio campaign organization, a man who told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he is "committed to help Ohio deliver its electors’ votes" to Bush.

As has been widely reported – though not widely enough – the machines in question are incredibly open to manipulation and fraud – and only the manufacturer -- nope, not state election officials -- has access to the software. Diebold successfully put down attempts to have the machines set up to produce paper copies of votes cast, although that is easily done. Go to the right side of this page and click on Feb. 27 under "archives" for more explanation of the coming voting machine scam. It’s the second article under that date.

*Most Republican incumbents and a number of GOP challengers for congressional seats have received money from the personal PACs of Tom DeLay, Republican congressman from Texas and the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. DeLay has been unanimously rebuked an astonishing four times recently by the House Ethics Committee – a bipartisan committee, I must emphasize.

DeLay was admonished because: he made it clear that donors to his PACs would receive special treatment in energy legislation; because he used the resources of the Federal Aviation Administration for partisan purposes; because he offered a "political favor" (read bribe) to Michigan Congressman Nick Smith in exchange for support on the Medicare prescription drug bill; because he denied a lobbying organization access to Republican members of Congress because the organization hired a Democrat as its president, and because Delay made statements that indicated contributions to him and his political committees would earn the contributors special Congressional access and favors.

Three of DeLay’s associates/employees in Texas have been indicted for money laundering. The alleged crimes involved illegal use of money for political purposes. Fact: Nobody who works for DeLay scratches his behind without the boss’s approval.

DeLay is the author of the already established election theft in Texas, which will replace about eight Democratic congressmen with Republicans this year because of the most egregious gerrymandering since the Civil War. The re-fixing of congressional district boundaries – which effectively disenfranchises almost all of the state’s Hispanic and black voters – is so incredibly unethical and outlandish that even Business Week howled in protest last spring, rightly maintaining that such actions grossly undermine the American political system.

The Texan retains his leadership position because most Republican members of Congress owe him for his PAC money, and he continues to be a big force behind campaign tactics featuring lies, smears and dirty tricks.

For the presidential election, the Bushies and DeLay have drawn much from brother Jeb in Florida, and have in place a system to prevent many minority folks and other Democrat-leaners from voting in Texas. As in Florida it involves false lists of "felons," intimidation, establishing too few polling places in out-of-the-way places, all the Jeb tricks, and almost certainly voting machine "breakdowns" and fixing.

*In Michigan in July, State Rep. John Pappageorge -- a Republican, of course-- told the Detroit Free Press he was a little worried about how the state would vote this fall and that "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election." More than 80 percent of Detroit voters are black, and they tend to vote Democrat.

Pappageorge probably didn’t need to worry overmuch. His party had plans to suppress minority and liberal voting all over the country, and they’re very much in play right now.

Those of us in Minnesota who pay attention to such things thought our Minnesota secretary of state – the notoriously dim-witted and partisan Mary Kiffmeyer – was making up her own little games, probably with the help of someone a little brighter, perhaps someone in the governor's office.

She ordered signs be put up at polling places warning the public that terrorists might attack such places (a silly attempt to frighten voters away). Most county election officials refused to post the signs and after she was hit in the media, Kiffmeyer rescinded the order.

She set up all sorts of new regulations involving identification papers and such to make it very difficult for first-time voters to register and vote, claiming they were aimed at preventing wide-spread fraud – in Minnesota, which throughout its history has had the cleanest elections in the country.

Signs were posted at driver’s license examining stations and places where license plate tabs are purchased stating that "It is too late to register for the November 2, 2004, General Election." What they didn’t say is that it was too late ONLY to register at those places and that voters still could register at county auditors’ offices, the secretary of state’s office or at the polls on Nov. 2. Caught again, state officials had the signs taken down, although they already had done an unknown amount of damage.

What some of us have learned by scanning the Internet and newspapers here and there around the country is that such games are being played in every state that has Republicans in charge of voter registration and running elections. There is a nationwide program to keep new voters and likely Democratic voters away from the polls, and public officials are doing the dirty work.

* Sinclair Broadcast’s attempt to air a blatant political attack on Kerry on all 62 of its television stations and claim it is a "documentary," took a hit. The program has been revised, but there’s still dirty work afoot at Sinclair. And does anyone out there really believe the plan was hatched without any input, or even approval, from Karl Rove, the White House master of filthy campaign methods? I suppose so. Some folks are terribly naive, and some or too partisan to recognize truth when it slaps them in the face.

* And, of course, we’ll always have Florida. Rather than being embarrassed by what happened in 2000, Jeb Bush and his little playmates are using precisely the same tactics again this year – the phony felony lists, the blocking of access to polling places in poor neighborhoods, all of it. Plus this year they have those nifty, oh-so-fixable electronic voting machines. It will all play out before your eyes again, and it seems likely that the radical right judges will make nice with Jeb and his cheats.

Jimmy Carter, the most respected living public figure this country has, recently said he would not agree to oversee the Florida election as he has done in so many war-torn and otherwise messed up third world countries. Why? Because the Florida election system is so bent that it would be impossible to assure an honest vote, Carter said.

In another interview, he extended his oversight refusal to cover the entire United States.

Newspapers in other countries already have told their readers that fraud will be the rule in this country’s presidential election, and they have printed many undeniable examples of such fraud. They’re universally "hoping" Bush will somehow be beaten, but most admit they don’t have much faith that the election rigging can be overcome.

Welcome to the United States of Bush.

(I apologize for the length of this piece, but I feel that all of it had to be said. There is so much more that I’ve left out.)