Blogging Left

With the darkness now covering the land, the progressive spirit of the Enlightenment is getting dimmer and dimmer. But at the same time, the blogosphere allows folks an alternative means of communication that allows the truth to be known and someday, the progressive agenda will be realized.

Name:
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

When I was an undergraduate, I read Escape From Freedom in an anthropology course, wow did I think that was cool stuff when I was 19, but how can you make a living doing that kind of stuff. Well, somehow I pursued an interdisciplinary education and trained to become a shrink, but with strong social and political values. (I did spend several years at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Well, somehow I got caught up in protesting the war in Viet Nam, moved from a more individualistic perspective to a sociological perspective, and voila, here I am, having made a career in sociology and what am I doing, Frankfurt School critical theory....yes maybe Nietzsche is right about eternal return. If interested in my professional work, see my website-tho it has not been updated lateley. I will soon have a volume of papers on alienatioun out. I am now working on a book on the carnivalization of our culture, how the degeneration of taste destroys the mind and fosters political indifference.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

All I did was say they can't run a fair election

All I did was say they can't run a fair election

'He caters to a British sensibility that sees us as an errant colony run by a gang of thugs'
Published: 29 August 2005
Andrew Gumbel:

I've got bad news for anyone already made queasy by the marathon length of American presidential elections. Not only is the 2008 race already concentrating political minds, it is becoming ever clearer the country has not recovered from the infamous mano a mano between Al Gore and George W Bush in Florida in 2000. In fact, in many important - and depressing - ways, the battle over Florida is still raging.
I've learned this the hard way, by becoming part of the battle myself. This past week, a posse of internet screamers who clearly don't like the idea of an uppity Brit questioning the legitimacy of George W Bush's first election took it upon themselves to denounce me as a "conspiracy journalist", a "left-wing hack" and a bare-faced liar.

The occasion for their fury was a book I've written chronicling, and attempting to explain, the inability of the world's most powerful democracy to conduct fair and transparent elections by any recognisable international standard. It came as no surprise that some people would find the premise of the book troubling, even offensive. My conclusions are hardly tender towards voting machine manufacturers, local and state election officials, or indeed the entire two-party system that underpins US politics.

What I was not expecting, however, was that the object of the internet screamers' fury would be the raw arithmetical data from the 2000 presidential race, something I had naively believed had moved on from the stuff of partisan brick-throwing into the realm of historical research and analysis.

The storm broke out when the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman generously cited my book and argued that many Americans are unaware of some deeply troubling facts about their country's electoral system. He, like me, pointed out what extensive analysis of the Florida ballots after the election had indicated as far back as 2001: that a full statewide recount - an option rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in the heat of the battle even though it was the only democratically responsible thing to do - would have narrowly tipped the balance of the race in Al Gore's favour.

In the book, I use this point as much to attack the Gore campaign's deficient commitment to counting all the votes as I do to argue that he deserved to win. (The case I make on Gore's behalf rests much more strongly on other factors, especially the wholesale disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning African-American voters.)

But the internet screamers didn't appreciate this line of argument, largely because they didn't bother to follow it for themselves. As one blogger revealingly wrote: "I haven't read Gumbel's book, and don't intend to." Rather, they threw themselves right back into the rancour and partisan hostility of four and a half years ago, making the rigid argument that Bush won, Bush deserved to win and any other analysis was no more than sour grapes by a bunch of losers.

Soon, I was subject to wholesale character assassination, by people who didn't know a whole lot about me, and seemed in no hurry to find out. "It's doubtful he's ever written a true story about anything pertaining to the US, as he caters to a certain British sensibility that wants to see us as an errant colony run by a gang of bloodthirsty thugs," wrote my most vehement detractor, a certain Richard Bennett. Mr Bennett went on to argue I was a crackpot who thought al-Qa'ida had blown up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 - an incendiary strike against me except for the inconvenient fact that it is not true.

It's become fashionable to say that 11 September 2001 was the day that changed everything in American politics. But I'm not sure the bigger watershed didn't come nine months earlier when the Supreme Court pulled the plug on the Florida battle and installed George W Bush in the White House.

Given the trauma and upheaval of everything that has happened since - the Iraq war, of course, but also spiralling deficits, huge tax cuts for the rich, a stark widening of the income gap between rich and poor, and on and on - it is perhaps natural for Bush supporters to dig in their heels and claim full democratic legitimacy for what the administration has wrought.

Likewise, it is natural for Bush opponents to wonder how much of it might have been avoided - how many military deaths, how much anti-American anger and resentment around the world, how many detentions, deportations and torture scandals - if the 2000 election had concluded differently.

No wonder the passions continue to rage. It is, or should be, beyond dispute that the Florida election was fought dirtily and that there is at least a case to be made that the wrong man ended up in the Oval Office. Contrary to received wisdom, the problem was not ultimately with deficient voting machines or even the respective merits and demerits of the Republican and Democratic causes. What Florida suggested - and continues to suggest - is that the very foundation of the American democratic system is corrupted and rotten. And that's a reality many Americans may not yet be ready to confront.
The writer is Los Angeles correspondent for the 'The Independent. 'Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America' is out in the US from Nation Books and available at amazon.co.uk

I've got bad news for anyone already made queasy by the marathon length of American presidential elections. Not only is the 2008 race already concentrating political minds, it is becoming ever clearer the country has not recovered from the infamous mano a mano between Al Gore and George W Bush in Florida in 2000. In fact, in many important - and depressing - ways, the battle over Florida is still raging.
I've learned this the hard way, by becoming part of the battle myself. This past week, a posse of internet screamers who clearly don't like the idea of an uppity Brit questioning the legitimacy of George W Bush's first election took it upon themselves to denounce me as a "conspiracy journalist", a "left-wing hack" and a bare-faced liar.

The occasion for their fury was a book I've written chronicling, and attempting to explain, the inability of the world's most powerful democracy to conduct fair and transparent elections by any recognisable international standard. It came as no surprise that some people would find the premise of the book troubling, even offensive. My conclusions are hardly tender towards voting machine manufacturers, local and state election officials, or indeed the entire two-party system that underpins US politics.

What I was not expecting, however, was that the object of the internet screamers' fury would be the raw arithmetical data from the 2000 presidential race, something I had naively believed had moved on from the stuff of partisan brick-throwing into the realm of historical research and analysis.

The storm broke out when the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman generously cited my book and argued that many Americans are unaware of some deeply troubling facts about their country's electoral system. He, like me, pointed out what extensive analysis of the Florida ballots after the election had indicated as far back as 2001: that a full statewide recount - an option rejected by both Democrats and Republicans in the heat of the battle even though it was the only democratically responsible thing to do - would have narrowly tipped the balance of the race in Al Gore's favour.


In the book, I use this point as much to attack the Gore campaign's deficient commitment to counting all the votes as I do to argue that he deserved to win. (The case I make on Gore's behalf rests much more strongly on other factors, especially the wholesale disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning African-American voters.)

But the internet screamers didn't appreciate this line of argument, largely because they didn't bother to follow it for themselves. As one blogger revealingly wrote: "I haven't read Gumbel's book, and don't intend to." Rather, they threw themselves right back into the rancour and partisan hostility of four and a half years ago, making the rigid argument that Bush won, Bush deserved to win and any other analysis was no more than sour grapes by a bunch of losers.

Soon, I was subject to wholesale character assassination, by people who didn't know a whole lot about me, and seemed in no hurry to find out. "It's doubtful he's ever written a true story about anything pertaining to the US, as he caters to a certain British sensibility that wants to see us as an errant colony run by a gang of bloodthirsty thugs," wrote my most vehement detractor, a certain Richard Bennett. Mr Bennett went on to argue I was a crackpot who thought al-Qa'ida had blown up the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 - an incendiary strike against me except for the inconvenient fact that it is not true.

It's become fashionable to say that 11 September 2001 was the day that changed everything in American politics. But I'm not sure the bigger watershed didn't come nine months earlier when the Supreme Court pulled the plug on the Florida battle and installed George W Bush in the White House.

Given the trauma and upheaval of everything that has happened since - the Iraq war, of course, but also spiralling deficits, huge tax cuts for the rich, a stark widening of the income gap between rich and poor, and on and on - it is perhaps natural for Bush supporters to dig in their heels and claim full democratic legitimacy for what the administration has wrought.

Likewise, it is natural for Bush opponents to wonder how much of it might have been avoided - how many military deaths, how much anti-American anger and resentment around the world, how many detentions, deportations and torture scandals - if the 2000 election had concluded differently.

No wonder the passions continue to rage. It is, or should be, beyond dispute that the Florida election was fought dirtily and that there is at least a case to be made that the wrong man ended up in the Oval Office. Contrary to received wisdom, the problem was not ultimately with deficient voting machines or even the respective merits and demerits of the Republican and Democratic causes. What Florida suggested - and continues to suggest - is that the very foundation of the American democratic system is corrupted and rotten. And that's a reality many Americans may not yet be ready to confront.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Don't Prettify Our History

Don't Prettify Our History
By Paul Krugman The New York Times
Monday 22 August 2005

The 2000 election is still an open sore on the body politic. That was clear from the outraged reaction to my mention last week of what would have happened with a full statewide manual recount of Florida.
This reaction seems to confuse three questions. One is what would have happened if the U.S. Supreme Court hadn't intervened; the answer is that unless the judge overseeing the recount had revised his order (which is a possibility), George W. Bush would still have been declared the winner.
The second is what would have happened if there had been a full, statewide manual recount - as there should have been. The probable answer is that Al Gore would have won, by a tiny margin.
The third is what would have happened if the intentions of the voters hadn't been frustrated by butterfly ballots, felon purges and more; the answer is that Mr. Gore would have won by a much larger margin.
About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of "undervotes," which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore. The third involved a standard that would have discarded some ballots on which the intended vote was clear. Since Florida law seemed to require counting such ballots, this standard almost certainly wouldn't have been used in a statewide recount.
The Herald group later did an analysis of "overvotes," in which more than one choice was recorded, but this wasn't a true recount, because some of it was based on computer records rather than the ballots themselves.
In November 2001 a larger consortium, which included The New York Times, produced more definitive results that allowed assessment of nine hypothetical recounts. (You can see the results at www.norc.uchicago.edu/fl - under articles.) The three recounts that had been most widely discussed during the battle of Florida, including the partial recount requested by the Gore campaign and two interpretations of the Florida Supreme Court order, would have given the vote to Mr. Bush.
But the six hypothetical manual recounts that would have covered the whole state - including both loose and strict standards - would have given the election to Mr. Gore. And other evidence makes it clear that many intended votes for Mr. Gore were frustrated.
So why do so many people believe the Bush win was rock solid?
One answer is that many editorials and op-ed articles have claimed that no possible recount would have changed the outcome. Let's be charitable and assume that those who write such things are victims of the echo chamber, and believe that what everyone they talk to says must be true.
The other answer is that many though not all reports of the results of the ballot reviews conveyed a false impression about what those reviews said. A few reports got the facts wrong, but for the most part they simply stressed the likelihood - in some cases presented as a certainty - that Mr. Bush would have won even if the U.S. Supreme Court hadn't intervened. But even if a proper recount wasn't in the cards given the political realities, that says nothing about what such a recount would have found.
The tone of these reports may have been influenced by the timing: the second consortium's report came out just two months after 9/11. The country wanted very badly to believe in its leadership. Nobody wanted to write stories suggesting that the wrong man was sitting in the White House.
More broadly, the story of the 2000 election remains deeply disturbing - not just the fact that a man the voters tried to reject ended up as president, but the ugliness of the fight itself. There was an understandable urge to put the story behind us.
But we aren't doing the country a favor when we present recent history in a way that makes our system look better than it is. Sometimes the public needs to hear unpleasant truths, even if those truths make them feel worse about their country.
Not to be coy: election 2000 may be receding into the past, but the Iraq war isn't. As the truth about the origins of that war comes out, there may be a temptation, once again, to prettify the story. The American people deserve better.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

More on Ohio Vote Theft

WWW.NYPRESS.COM JULY 27, 2005
MATT TAIBBINEWS & COLUMNS


I was in Washington last week, covering a story in Congress, when a friend invited me to a panel discussion in the basement of the Capitol building. I agreed before he told me what the subject was. Boy was I bummed when I saw the title on the e-circular:
What went wrong in Ohio? A Harper's Magazine Forum on Voting Irregularities in the 2004 Election.
Oh, Christ, not that, I thought. Like a lot of people in this country (and like most all of my colleagues in the journalism world), my instinctual reaction to the Ohio electoral-mess story has always been one of revulsion and irritation. Almost on principle I had refused even to look at any of the news stories surrounding the Ohio vote; there is a part of me that did not want to be associated with any sore-loser hysteria of the political margins, and in particular with this story, the great conspiratorial Snuffleupagus of the defeated left.
It had always seemed to me that I understood the psychology of the Ohio story without having to examine the facts involved. I thought the story appealed most directly to a group of people who were still reeling after 2000, an election which George W. Bush not only lost according to the popular vote, but plainly stole in the electoral college. The evidence for this theft has been there for everyone to see for five years now; few serious thinkers even dispute the matter anymore, just as few Democrats would even bother denying now that John Kennedy stole the 1960 election.
Yet, Bush remains president. And not only has he remained president, he hasn't even had the decency to act embarrassed about it. He's remained president right out in the open, in front of our faces, like he's proud of that shit.
For a certain segment of the population, this state of affairs must have been psychologically unacceptable. Somewhere deep inside, they must have been clinging to the absurd notion that if the president is caught stealing an election, he is to be automatically removed from office, and perhaps even jailed. And so they nursed this notion in their breasts through 2000, and then—just like that, like the hansom magically appearing at Cinderella's door—the Ohio story fell in their laps. Ohio, it always seemed to me, was a wish their hearts made.
That in itself didn't make the Ohio story illegitimate. It did, however, make it something I wanted to avoid precisely because I disliked George Bush. On some level I suspected that the more publicity the Ohio mess got, the more discredited Bush's political opponents would be in the end. The media, I knew, would dismiss the Ohio story in exactly the casually vicious manner described above—as hysteria, as the delusional work of professional conspiracy theorists, as the behavior of sore losers unable to accept George Bush's clear popular victory.
That last part, incidentally, was the formulation most journalists used when picking their official excuse for ignoring the '04 Ohio story. Because Bush really did win the popular vote, they argued, there was no point in investigating a possible electoral fraud in Ohio, because no one had really been cheated out of office.
That idea allowed the media simply sidestep the entire issue, and escape having to make a pronouncement about the legitimacy of the Ohio elections—something they seemed hell bent on avoiding.
Even when they had a completely plausible excuse to at least investigate the Ohio charges on their own—after Michigan congressman John Conyers issued a lengthy report detailing the Ohio indiscretions—the big dailies still blew off the case. The New York Times mentioned the Conyers report only in the context of a 381-word page A16 item in January about John Kerry endorsing the election results ("Election Results to Be Certified, With Little Fuss From Kerry," 1/16/05). That piece ended with a quote by Dennis Hastert, who dismissed the Conyers report as the work of the "loony left."
I can only speak for myself, but I think that as a result of all of this, I was inclined to dismiss as a waste of time any discussion of what happened in Ohio. The story wasn't going anywhere. Even if there was evidence of wrongdoing, how could it possibly be more incontrovertible than the evidence in Florida? And given that nothing happened when Bush stole the election in front of the entire world in Florida, why bother making a fuss now in Ohio—especially since John Kerry was clearly many millions of votes less of a victim than Al Gore?
Well, I don't think that way anymore. After attending this panel, and speaking to the congressmen involved in the preparation of the Conyers report (in particular Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a former Ohio secretary of state) I'm convinced that Ohio was a far more brazen and frightening subversion of democracy than Florida.
Here's the thing about Ohio. Until you really look at it, you won't understand its significance, which is this: the techniques used in this particular theft have the capacity to alter elections not by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of votes, but by tens of thousands.
And if we ignore this now, we're putting proven methods for easily ripping off major elections in the hands of the same party that had no qualms whatsoever about lying its way into a war in Iraq. In the hands of a merely corrupt political party, a bad election or two would be no big deal. But these clowns we have in power now imagine themselves to be revolutionaries, and their psychology is a lot like that of the leadership of Enron, pre-meltdown—with each passing day that they get away with it, they become more convinced by a delusion of righteousness.
Obviously people who have followed this story before know the basic facts already, but for those who ignored Ohio until now, here's a very brief greatest hits of Ohio irregularities:
• As was the case in Florida, the secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell, in Ohio), who is in charge of elections, was also the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign.
• In a technique reminiscent of the semantic gymnastics of pre-Civil Rights Act election officials, Blackwell replaced the word "jurisdiction" with "precinct" in an
electoral directive that would ultimately result in perhaps tens of thousands of provisional ballots—votes cast mainly by low-income residents—being disallowed.
• Blackwell initially rejected thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that was, according to him, the wrong weight.
• In conservative, Bush-friendly Miami County, voter turnout was an Uzbekistan-esque 98.55 percent.
• In Warren county, election officials locked down the administration building and prevented reporters from observing the ballot counting, citing a "terrorist threat" (described as being a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10) that had been reported to them by the FBI. The FBI made no such report. Recounts conducted during this lockdown resulted in increased votes for Bush.
• In Franklin County, 4,258 votes were cast for Bush in a precinct where there were only 800 registered voters.
And so on. There are dozens more such glitches, which taken together suggest that the exit polls in Ohio, showing Kerry the victor, were probably accurate. But this is just a primer. More facts next week, plus an interview with Sherrod Brown—and a guide to what to do next.
Volume 18, Issue 30
© 2005 New York Press

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Did the GOP steal another Ohio Election?

Did the GOP steal another Ohio Election?
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey WassermanAugust 5, 2005
The Republican Party has -- barely -- snatched another election in Ohio. And once again there are telltale symptoms of the kind of vote theft that put George W. Bush in the White House in 2000 and then kept him there in 2004. This time an outspoken Iraqi War vet named Paul Hackett led the charge for a Cincinnati-area Congressional seat, earning 48% of the vote. The spot was open because Bush appointed his pal Rep. Rob Portman to be a trade representative. Hackett is a rarity among today's Democrats---a blunt, hard-driving truth talker who blasted Bush's attack on Iraq. Hackett labeled W. "a chicken hawk." He's the first Iraqi war vet to run for Congress. He made no bones about the incompetence and cynicism that define the GOP strategy there. In particular Hackett attacked Bush's attacks on veterans benefits while claiming patriotic support of the war. In return, GOP candidate Jean Schmidt lied about Hackett's war record. Unlike John Kerry, Hackett fought back immediately. The Ohio GOP is now being thoroughly roasted by a Coingate scandal in which Republican high roller Tom Noe seems to have walked off with at least $4 million in state funds, and possibly $16.5 million in theft and unauthorized administrative charges from a $50 million rare coin investment fund. Noe is a Bush Pioneer/Ranger level donor, and a supporter of Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the point man in Bush's theft of Ohio's 20 electoral votes and thus the presidency last November. As his friends and supporters flee him, Noe's role as long-time chair of the Lucas County (Toledo) Board of Elections has come under intense scrutiny. Noe turned the seat over to his wife, Bernadette, in time for a 2004 election rife with disenfranchisement and fraud. Long lines, computer breakdowns, intimidation, harassment and hacked vote counts were the defining characteristics of the election the Noe's administered in the Toledo area last November. In one instance, an entire precinct was shut down because the voting machines were locked in the office of a school principal, who called in sick. Someone also placed the wrong type of ballot scan markers in heavily Democratic Toledo precincts, causing a high rate of uncounted, machine-rejected votes without the voters knowing it. Overall, experts estimate more than 7,000 votes were stolen outright from John Kerry under the Noe's supervision in Lucas County 2004. Whether similar theft defeated Paul Hackett remains to be seen. Hackett ran extremely well in a district thoroughly gerrymandered as a permanent Republican safe seat. Democrats are now crowing about how well Hackett did in "serving notice" that the GOP may be in trouble. But the bottom line is that the Republicans still won the election. As of 1 am this past Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Hackett was within 3600 votes---about four percent---of Schmidt. But election officials announced a mysterious "computer glitch" that delayed reports from Clermont County, which accounted for roughly a quarter of all the ballots cast in the district. When things finally settled out, Clermont gave Schmidt 58%, and a 5,000 vote margin there. And thus the election. Earlier in the evening---around 9pm---Hackett and Schmidt had been in a virtual dead heat, according to sources in the Cincinnati area (see among them http://billmon.org/archives/002073.html ). A full 88% of the district's precincts had then reported, including more than half those in Clermont. As in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, it looked like a cliffhanger. Schmidt's lead was less than 900 votes. Clermont's "technical malfunction" with optical scan readers was blamed on the humidity. Election officials said the southern Ohio summer had soaked into the ballots, making it hard to pass them through opti-scan machines. Once the problem was "solved," Schmidt picked up more than enough votes to guarantee victory. The percentages by which she won in the post-glitch vote count were far higher than those by which she had been winning prior to the glitch. Vote counts were also higher than expected in the strongest Schmidt precincts. Clermont and neighboring Butler and Warren Counties gave George W. Bush a margin in 2004 that exceeded his entire statewide margin over John Kerry. Warren County became infamous on election night, when its supervisors suddenly declared a "Homeland Emergency" and dismissed all media and Democrats from the vote count. Bush then emerged with a huge, unexpected and unmonitored majority. Clermont, Butler and Warren Counties' totals were also suspect because a Democratic candidate for Ohio Supreme Court implausibly out-polled John Kerry. As would be expected, Bush vastly out ran the Republican candidate for Supreme Court Chief Justice in those three counties. But Democrat C. Ellen Connelly, a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage African-American from Cleveland somehow got a higher vote count than Kerry in these conservative, predominantly white southern Ohio counties. Richard Hayes Philips and other experts who have assessed that vote say it is beyond implausible, indicating a high likelihood of fraud. But along with Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, Paul Hackett has become another Democratic candidate whose campaign went suddenly and mysteriously down to defeat late in the evening of a close election. Amidst the obligatory computer glitches, the GOP candidate was declared the winner before the vote count could be investigated. Did Clermont County do for Schmidt in 2005 what it did for Bush in 2004? Did that "glitch" in the evening vote count give GOP dirty tricksters time to once again hack the machines they needed to win? Who in the Bush/Rove Justice Department or major media will even ask the question? --

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-editors of DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION?, published by www.freepress.org, along with THE FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available through www.harveywasserman.com, along with A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT: LOSING PARENTS, FINDING SPIRIT. For more on Clermont County, see http://billmon.org/archives/002073.html.

None Dare Call It Stolen

Ohio, the election, and America's servile press

Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2005. Originally from August 2005. By Mark Crispin Miller.


Taking the oath of office, August 1897
Whichever candidate you voted for (or think you voted for), or even if you did not vote (or could not vote), you must admit that last year's presidential race was—if nothing else—pretty interesting. True, the press has dropped the subject, and the Democrats, with very few exceptions, have “moved on.” Yet this contest may have been the most unusual in U.S. history; it was certainly among those with the strangest outcomes. You may remember being surprised yourself. The infamously factious Democrats were fiercely unified—Ralph Nader garnered only about 0.38 percent of the national vote while the Republicans were split, with a vocal anti-Bush front that included anti-Clinton warrior Bob Barr of Georgia; Ike's son John Eisenhower; Ronald Reagan's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, William J. Crowe Jr.; former Air Force Chief of Staff and onetime “Veteran for Bush” General Merrill “Tony” McPeak; founding neocon Francis Fukuyama; Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, and various large alliances of military officers, diplomats, and business professors. The American Conservative, co-founded by Pat Buchanan, endorsed five candidates for president, including both Bush and Kerry, while the Financial Times and The Economist came out for Kerry alone. At least fifty-nine daily newspapers that backed Bush in the previous election endorsed Kerry (or no one) in this election. The national turnout in 2004 was the highest since 1968, when another unpopular war had swept the ruling party from the White House. And on Election Day, twenty-six state exit polls incorrectly predicted wins for Kerry, a statistical failure so colossal and unprecedented that the odds against its happening, according to a report last May by the National Election Data Archive Project, were 16.5 million to 1. Yet this ever-less beloved president, this president who had united liberals and conservatives and nearly all the world against himself—this president somehow bested his opponent by 3,000,176 votes. How did he do it? To that most important question the commentariat, briskly prompted by Republicans, supplied an answer. Americans of faith—a silent majority heretofore unmoved by any other politician—had poured forth by the millions to vote “Yes!” for Jesus' buddy in the White House. Bush's 51 percent, according to this thesis, were roused primarily by “family values.” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called gay marriage “the hood ornament on the family values wagon that carried the president to a second term.” The pundits eagerly pronounced their amens—“Moral values,” Tucker Carlson said on CNN, “drove President Bush and other Republican candidates to victory this week”—although it is not clear why. The primary evidence of our Great Awakening was a post-election poll by the Pew Research Center in which 27 percent of the respondents, when asked which issue “mattered most” to them in the election, selected something called “moral values.” This slight plurality of impulse becomes still less impressive when we note that, as the pollsters went to great pains to make clear, “the relative importance of moral values depends greatly on how the question is framed.” In fact, when voters were asked to “name in their own words the most important factor in their vote,” only 14 percent managed to come up with “moral values.” Strangely, this detail went little mentioned in the postelectoral commentary.
[1]
The press has had little to say about most of the strange details of the election—except, that is, to ridicule all efforts to discuss them. This animus appeared soon after November 2, in a spate of caustic articles dismissing any critical discussion of the outcome as crazed speculation: “Election paranoia surfaces: Conspiracy theorists call results rigged,” chuckled the Baltimore Sun on November 5. “Internet Buzz on Vote Fraud Is Dismissed,” proclaimed the Boston Globe on November 10. “Latest Conspiracy Theory—Kerry Won—Hits the Ether,” the Washington Post chortled on November 11. The New York Times weighed in with “Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly Buried”—making mock not only of the “post-election theorizing” but of cyberspace itself, the fons et origo of all such loony tunes, according to the Times.
Such was the news that most Americans received. Although the tone was scientific, “realistic,” skeptical, and “middle-of-the-road,” the explanations offered by the press were weak and immaterial. It was as if they were reporting from inside a forest fire without acknowledging the fire, except to keep insisting that there was no fire.
[2] Since Kerry has conceded, they argued, and since “no smoking gun” had come to light, there was no story to report. This is an oddly passive argument. Even so, the evidence that something went extremely wrong last fall is copious, and not hard to find. Much of it was noted at the time, albeit by local papers and haphazardly. Concerning the decisive contest in Ohio, the evidence is lucidly compiled in a single congressional report, released by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, which, for the last half-year, has been available to anyone inclined to read it. It is a veritable arsenal of “smoking guns”—and yet its findings may be less extraordinary than the fact that no one in this country seems to care about them.