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COUP WATCH: Propaganda War & Nov. 21 Links From Red Rock Eater News Service

by Phil Agre Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2000 at 1:30 PM

A brief, incisive analysis of where the Republican propaganda war stands right now. Plus the latest links from the Red Rock Eater News Service.

COUP WATCH: Propaganda War & Nov. 21 Links From Red Rock Eater News Service COUP WATCH: Propaganda War & Nov. 21 Links From Red Rock Eater News Service

By Phil Agre

Tue Nov 21 15:57:35 2000

Here are some more URL's relating to the election controversy in Florida. Please pass them along to anyone who can use them. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

The Propaganda War

"We're ahead, so stop the counting!" is the cry, and the operatives are in full fury. You can see how it works. The leadership selects what the PR people call a "message" and political people call a "strategy": a vague but emotionally charged theme that can be expressed in simple language. Examples might include "Gore exaggerates his record" or "the hand counts are out of control". The call then goes out to find factoids that support the message. It doesn't matter if they are true or not, or whether they are exaggerated or trivial, taken out of context, or otherwise misleading.

The idea is to accumulate enough of these carefully chosen factoids that attempts to refute them singly will seem futile. It is then the job of the pundits to repeat the message over and over, lovingly reiterating each supporting factoid until it becomes ingrained in the culture. This works best if the message is paraphrased in as many ways as possible -- some of the pundits even explicitly said that they were working their way through the thesaurus to come up with new and different ways to say "exaggerate". The message should also be interwoven in every possible way with the other messaages that constitute the party line at a given time. None of this is subtle or complicated: the messages go out by fax and e-mail at least daily.

Public Isn't Buying

The striking thing is that the American public isn't buying the messages of their elite betters. The public is sitting calmly waiting for the votes to get counted. This shouldn't be surprising. After all, the pundits are trying to portray as strange and corrupt a practice that goes back hundreds of years and is written into the law in many states: when the vote is close, look at all the ballots and count the ones where it is reasonably possible to discern voter's intent. This is plain common sense, and normal Americans know that it is.

Running Out The Clock

But if the public can't be swayed then the clock can be run out, and that's the real danger now. With enough spurious protests and other legal shenanigans, the constitutional deadlines will creep up. That's clearly what the Florida Supreme Court is worried about. The bottom line is to stop the counting. Everyone's falling over backwards to change the rules for military people, even though as the Wall Street Journal observes this is entirely improper, and even though the same Florida Republican who fabricated large numbers of absentee ballots in the last election was participating in preparing Republican absentee ballots in this one.

The sheer backwardness of it all is stunning: falsely denouncing as "selective" a process in which every party had the right to ask for recounts, trying to change the rules while accusing others of the same, denouncing lawyers while hiring twice as many as anyone else, generally engaging in a campaign of disinformation and doubletalk while falsely accusing your opponent of exaggerating, and above all trying to steal an election while issuing the same accusation against others. The punditry is happy with all this, whether through malice or mindlessness, and they may even succeed for now. But in the long term it's not going to wash.


GOP Grumbles about Miami-Dade Count
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/miamidade.htm

Americans Willing to Wait for Final Tally
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/pres81.htm

Officials List Reasons for Rejected Ballots
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/pres89.htm

Kerrey Calls for GOP to Retract Military Ballot Accusations
      http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/21/overseas.ballots/

The Mode of Electing the President
      http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_68.html

Texans Challenge Cheney's Residency Status
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/vote2000/cheney2.htm

Cheney's Residency Challenged
      http://www.salon.com/politics/wire/2000/11/21/cheney_residency/

Jeb Bush Complained Phone Calls Were Attempt to "Destroy Our State"
      http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/21/recount.emails/

Complaints Target DL Offices' Vote Sign-Up
      http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/epaper/editions/today/news_13.html

Ballot Counting a Tense, but Orderly Process
      http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/epaper/editions/today/news_11.html

Events Day by Day
      http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/epaper/editions/today/news_8.html

Bush's Potential Dilemma
      http://www.law.com/cgi-bin/gx.cgi/AppLogic+FTContentServer?pagename=law/View&c=Article&cid=ZZZD5W2OSFC&cst=1

"Results-Oriented" Court Gets Down to Business
      http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46392-2000Nov20.html

"Recount" Means to Count Again, Florida Official Ruled in '99
      http://www.latimes.com/print/asection/20001121/t000111836.html

Newshour discussion of the Florida Supreme Court
      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/july-dec00/legal_11-20.html

The Twelfth Amendment: A Time Bomb
      http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20000816_levinson.html

Can Gore Ever Win?
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/opinion/21FRIE.html

In Eye of Recount Hurricane, There's Nary a Hint of a Storm
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/politics/21CREW.html

Patriot Missile
      http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2000/11/21/schwarzkopf/

15,000 Absentee Ballots at Stake as Lawsuit Gains
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/politics/21SEMI.html

Florida Supreme Court Takes Center Stage
      http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/11/21/supreme_court/

Divergent Views Are Argued on the Function of the Court
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/politics/21LEGA.html

Florida's Justices Zero In on Recount Deadlines
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/politics/21ELEC.html

No One Spared as the Justices Look for an End
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/21/politics/21COUR.html

nonsensical Palm Beach fraud conspiracy theory
      http://www.reagan.com/HotTopics.main/document-11.16.2000.0.html

How Better Machines May Have Helped Bush
      http://orlandosentinel.com/elections/1118vote.htm

The Mislaid Election
      http://www.beliefnet.com/frameset.asp?boardID=7408&pageloc=/story/52/story_5260_1.html

Judge Won't Order Revote
      http://www.gopbi.com/shared/news/politics/florida_gopbi.html

Registration Problems Plague Alachua County
      http://gainesvillesun.com/articles/2000-11-10a.shtml

Florida's Differing Vote-Counting Machines Resulted in More GOP Votes
      http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/daily/detail/0,1136,36000000000129817,00.html

See-Saw Farce Grips the Sunshine State
      http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,399830,00.html

the famous Democratic memo on military ballots
      http://www.drudgereport.com/absent.htm

end

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