What a difference an “R” makes.
In talking to people around me and reading blog comments, I’ve realized that there’s a significant misunderstanding about our voting problems and it all revolves around a single letter: R.
People seem to think that the phrases “vote fraud” and “voter fraud” mean the same thing. They don’t. We need to clear that up before we can move on to the main business here – that the firing of the USA’s is about stealing the 2008 election.
Voter fraud: fraud perpetrated by voters. IOW, somebody pretending to be somebody s/he’s not or pretending to be eligible when s/he’s not. You know, like in Chicago in the old days when the Mayor’s Machine turned out hundreds of people who used phony documents to vote numerous times in the same election.
But that was in the pre-electronic days (almost the pre-electric days) when such things were not just possible but easy. Voter fraud hasn’t been a problem since the 50’s, pretty much, and recent investigations of suspected voter fraud turned up NOTHING. No evidence of a widespread movement. No evidence of a tiny organized cadre. No evidence. Period. As Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, put it in the Houston Chronicle, among Republicans it is an “article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections.” Not fact. Not proof. Certainly not on the basis of evidence. Faith.
Voter fraud simply doesn’t exist except in the paranoid ravings of rabid Republican extremists – you know, the people who run the GOP these days: Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, James Dobson, Karl Rove, the Texas Republican party, and everybody who reports to Karl Rove – which is, as we’ve been learning lately, pretty much everybody in the Bush govt.
Vote fraud (no “r”): fraud perpetrated on the voting process. IOW, an attempt – usually by a political party and its operatives – to subvert an election in order to obtain a victory they would otherwise not enjoy. IOOW, to steal it.
Unlike voter fraud, vote fraud is very, very real. The evidence isn’t just available, it’s overwhelming.
Which brings us to Greg Palast.
In an interview with the online zine BUZZFLASH’s Mark Karlin, Palast – who broke the story of the wholesale suppression of minority voting rights in Florida in 2000 – was asked if the 2008 election was going to be stolen and replied, “It already has been.”
The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections — not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. The administration team couldn’t tolerate appointees who wouldn’t go along with crime. In the book I present the evidence that Karl Rove directed a guy named Tim Griffin to target suppressing the votes of African American students, homeless men, and soldiers. Nice guy. They actually challenged the votes and successfully removed tens of thousands of legal voters from the voter rolls, same as they did in 2000. But instead of calling them felons, they said that they had suspect addresses.
BuzzFlash: In which election cycle?
Greg Palast: 2004. And in 2006 and 2004, they challenged tens of thousands of black soldiers. They stopped their votes from being counted when they were mailed in from Baghdad. Go to Baghdad and lose your vote — mission accomplished.
BuzzFlash: How did they do that?
Greg Palast: By sending letters to the homes of soldiers, marked “do not forward.” When they came back undelivered, they said: Aha! Illegal voter registered from a false address. And when their ballot came in from Fallujah, it was challenged. The soldier didn’t know it. Their vote was lost. Over half a million votes were challenged and lost by the Republicans — absentee ballots. Three million voters who went to the polls found themselves challenged by the Republicans. This was not a small operation. It was a multi-million dollar, wholesale theft operation.
Palast says the USA firings were about laying the groundwork for the theft of the 2008 elections by making sure Rove operatives would have political protection (think Tony Soprano) while they went about their work suppressing the votes of anyone, especially minorities, likely to vote Democratic.
BuzzFlash: You have been questioned about prosecutor-gate and about the theft of the election of 2008. But these replacement prosecutors are still in place, not to mention the ones who have cooperated with Bush. Gonzales has basically told the House Judiciary Committee, make my day. I’m staying on. It’s over with. You asked me questions. I didn’t give you answers, but you don’t have the courage to impeach me, so I’m staying.
Greg Palast: That’s the game, too. Congress is shooting at the glove puppet. I shoot at the puppeteers. It’s not Gonzales. He’s meaningless. He’s a nothing. He should go because he allowed it to happen, and that’s a crime. When I was a racketeering investigator, we used to call it “willful failure to know.” He can’t just say to his staff, I know what Rove is doing, but don’t tell me about it. He would still be liable for criminal conspiracy of obstruction of justice. That’s why Monica Goodling took the Fifth. Not knowing doesn’t mean you’re not guilty, especially when you went out of your way not to know.
Gonzales should be read his rights and carted away. But it’s the puppeteers behind him — Rove and Harriet Miers — who were deeply involved in the prosecutor hits.
Palast minimizes the electronic voting machine threat, and then, when asked why House Democrats refused to investigate the election that kept Katherine’s Harris’ seat for the Pubs, lays in on the line about as bluntly as it can be done: racism and class warfare.
BuzzFlash: Let’s focus for the moment on voter suppression, and we’ll return later to other elements of the voter manipulation story.
Greg Palast: I have it all in Armed Madhouse, including in the three new chapters. First and foremost, is that it’s not one thing. It ain’t just electronic voting, guys. You go, oh, we have paper ballots, we’re saved, we’re saved. Bulls***! Wake up! Hello! Let’s remember that in Florida and Ohio, they didn’t have computer voting. So all the stuff about Diebold — Ohio was not stolen by computers, because they didn’t have computers there. In fact, they were thrilled when people complained about computers because they could keep the junky punch cards in. That doesn’t mean that computers are safe. As I point out in the new chapter, the Republicans held on to Katherine Harris’ seat — and we don’t want to think too carefully about that image — they held onto Katherine Harris’ seat with 300 votes, while 18,000 votes disappeared in the computers. So they do use computers. That was a pure, straight-up, shoplift of the Congressional seat.
BuzzFlash: A House committee just voted not to pursue an investigation of that election, despite the disappearance of 18,000 votes.
Greg Palast: That’s sick — deeply, deviously sick. First of all, in New York and other states, when votes are in question, they simply redo them. People talk about recount — forget it. Redo the vote. When the machines collapse, then there’s no question that there was monkey business.
BuzzFlash: Then why do you think —
Greg Palast: — why don’t Democrats stand up?
BuzzFlash: The U.S. House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats. It’s like saying, well, $320 million is missing from a bank but we’re not going to investigate that.
Greg Palast: You’re forgetting it’s not about the two parties. Vote theft is mainly a racial issue in America, and it’s a class issue. The white caucus is a lot bigger than the black caucus. They don’t call the Congress a millionaire’s club for nothing. There aren’t many guys in there — or women — who are not millionaires. So it’s the millionaires versus us. It’s the white caucus versus the black caucus, which is of great concern. So the vote is along racial class and economic lines, not along party lines. Party lines are pretty much meaningless. There’s pretty much one party — the party of the cash. But I’m not one of these people that says there’s no difference between the Democratic and Republican Party. The question is: is the difference meaningful? That’s all. When it comes down to voter issues, remember that the Democrats in power there were elected under the racist, broken, classist system. If you fix the voting system, a third of those Democrats could never win a primary. The last thing that they want is poor people to vote.
He’s right, of course. Ultimately, the Dems are just as trapped by a crooked system as the Pubs. It’s a Honey Trap, though: it may lock them up but their cells are lined with fur and gold leaf and lobbyists keep shoving wads of $$$ through the bars. That’s a major disincentive to changing the system.
If you believe there’s any real difference between the Elephants and the Mules when it comes to getting elected, you might want to look at the midnight back-room deal on trade agreements between the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership who sold unions, the working class, and the environment down the river for a momentary advantage and the illusion of a victory. David Sirota – who has been all over this from the beginning – reported yesterday that the White House is now bragging that the labor protections and environmental standards they supposedly agreed to add to the upcoming trade pacts won’t mean anything.
The White House now says the secret trade deal between a handful of Democratic congressional leaders and Bush administration officials will most likely not mean adding labor and environmental standards into the core text of trade agreements, but instead will mean merely unenforceable NAFTA-esque “side agreements” or even weaker “letters” of understanding.
So much for the vaunted Democratic “protection” of workers and the environment.
Of course it will matter who wins the election but – as I think people are finally beginning to realize as they watch the Democrats dick around with Bush instead of ending the war in Iraq – not nearly as much as we all hoped. Both parties are, to one degree or another, complicit in the thievery. The Pubs are actual thieves, the Dems are theft-enablers.
We may never see another honest election unless we demand it.