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COUP WATCH: Upside-Down-Backwards Land -- From Red Rock Eater News Service

by Phil Agre Monday, Dec. 11, 2000 at 11:05 PM

Anybody who was surprised by the Florida Supreme Court's order to finally count the votes in the presidential election has been sucking right-wing media exhaust. Al Gore won the election, except that the Republican machine in Florida insists on counting illegal ballots and not counting legal ballots, and accuses the Democrats of stealing the election for insisting otherwise.

COUP WATCH: Upside-Down-Backwards Land -- From Red Rock Eater News Service COUP WATCH: Upside-Down-Backwards Land -- From Red Rock Eater News Service

By Phil Agre

Sat Dec 09 16:28:45 2000

[Anybody who was surprised by the Florida Supreme Court's order to finally count the votes in the presidential election has been sucking right-wing media exhaust. Al Gore won the election, except that the Republican machine in Florida insists on counting illegal ballots and not counting legal ballots, and accuses the Democrats of stealing the election for insisting otherwise. Florida Republicans stole the 1998 Miami mayor's race using illegal absentee ballots, and now they insist that illegal absentee ballots be counted in the 2000 race, and excoriate the Democrats for circulating a memo that summarizes Florida absentee ballot laws. It's incredible. Welcome to Planet Whacko.

Meanwhile the Republicans accuse the Democrats of trying to change the rules after the election simply for going to court to make the election boards follow the Florida election law, even as the Republican Florida legislature attempts to change the rules after their election with their utterly illegal attempt to replace the citizens' votes with their own.

We see here the central principle of the new jargon: whatever you're doing, falsely accuse your opponents of doing it. Now the far-right wing of the US Supreme Court has engaged in the most extreme case of judicial activism in American history, staying action by the Florida Supreme Court under the very clear authority granted to the Florida courts by the Florida legislature, shutting down the contest procedure that Florida law provides and thus effectively throwing the election to its preferred conservative choice. In response to all of this, the sidewalk of the federal building in Los Angeles is filled with right-wing protesters whose signs use words like "fascism" and "evil" -- to describe what the *Florida* court did.

America is now Upside-Down-Backwards Land; it is filled with people who are capable of doing *anything*, because whatever they do, no matter how crazy or extreme, they hallucinate that it is really being done to them. How do they get themselves into that state? Let me give you an example. Looking at the map of which American states voted for which presidential candidate, conservative pundit Mike Barnicle remarked on MSNBC that the southern and middle states, which voted for Bush, represented "family values", and that the northeastern and west-coast states, which voted for Gore, represented "entitlement".

In a normal country this sort of thing would be denounced as ugly and divisive stereotyping. Instead, Gore supporter Paul Begala responded in a polite way by arguing that the situation is more complicated, and that every state has both good and bad aspects. To illustrate this, and clearly in that context, he pointed out that the states that Barnicle praised where also the states where James Byrd was lynched, Matthew Shepard was crucified, a federal office building was blown up, and so on. He continued by repeating that each of those states also has good attributes, and repeated that the picture is complicated. He concluded by calling Barnicle a "gifted commentator".

Then Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall St. Journal, took out of context the bit about the Bush states being places where people got lynched and crucified and so on, and presented it as if Begala were claiming that those events defined the states they happened in. She mentioned nothing of Barnicle's comments, or of the message about things being complicated. Noonan's out-of-context quote was then repeated over and over by the conservative media echo chamber, Michael Kelly in the Washington Post for example. The quote bounced all over the Internet, and was mailed to me by several different people.

In each case, starting with Noonan, the argument was the same: this is the viciousness of Democrats to which we must respond in kind. Can you see the projection? Republican columnist issues vicious stereotype of Democratic states. Nobody expresses outrage. Democrat responds that the picture is complicated and that stereotypes do not apply. Republicans quote Democrat out of context, accusing *him* of issuing vicious stereotype of *Republican* states, using said accusation to justify further vicious behavior of their own. That's how it works.

Here's another example. The Republicans have incessantly used the word "selective" to suggest that there is something wrong with the Florida law that allows a party to an election to ask for recounts in particular counties. This law is not remotely unusual, and Republicans have asked for recounts under similar laws in many jurisdictions. Now, however, they claim to discern a 14th amendment equal-protection problem, an idea that the courts have basically laughed at.

Like so many words of the new jargon, the word "selective" is nicely ambiguous: it has one meaning that is true but trivial, and another meaning that is menacing but false. The true-but-trivial meaning is simply that the recounts are to be held in some jurisdictions and not others; a more suitable word might perhaps be "selected". But "selective" carries a negative connotation that the selection has been made in an arbitrary, unfair, or biased way, and this is the second, menacing, false meaning -- false because, as everyone on a sane planet would clearly recognize, the Republicans had a perfectly equal right to ask for recounts of their own, and simply declined to do so. They've even been criticized by some Republican lawyers for this decision.

But asking for their own recounts would have legitimized the very idea of recounts, and by any kind of fair recounting the Republicans would lose. No, their strategy throughout has been to twist language so as to delegitimate perfectly ordinary statutes and procedures, including some that reflect practices that have been commonplace for hundreds of years. So they endlessly repeat this word "selective" that is balanced between the trivial and the false, hoping to wear down rational thought and replace it with blurry connotations. Notice the projection: the fact that only Democratic areas are being recounted is a choice that the *Republicans* made by their own conscious acts of omission, and yet they are presenting it as some unfair thing that is being done to them.

Evidence of the Republicans' great success in this blurring of rational thought has flowed into my mailbox since the controversy started, in the form of indignant messages about the unfairness of these "selective" recounts. People will say things like "Democrats insist on selective recounts only in heavily Democratic counties -- what could be fair about that?". Do you see how twisted that is?

Or listen to George W. Bush himself: "Unfortunately, what the vice president proposed is exactly what he has been proposing all along: continuing with selective hand recounts that are neither fair nor accurate" (NY Times 11/16/00). Or Karen Hughes: "we are increasingly convinced that a manual recount, which is now underway in selective, heavily Democratic, hand-selected counties cannot produce that fair and accurate result" (NY Times 11/14/00) -- she manages to get in both "selective" and the extra- pejorative "hand-selected". This kind of strategic ambiguity is very common in the new jargon, and it helps to account for the distressing state of confusion that many otherwise healthy people experience when they are exposed to it.

I want finally to point to the irony of Judge Nikki Clark's decision in the Seminole County absentee ballot case. Republicans defamed Judge Clark, as is their habit, because she is a liberal judge. But precisely because she is a liberal judge, she didn't strictly apply the law and precedents that dictate throwing out the absentee votes whose applications had been improperly prepared and illegally tampered with. Instead, and precisely because she is a liberal judge, she tried to be fair.

She tried so hard to be fair that she even suggested that the Democrats hadn't been treated unfairly because they hadn't asked for the same treatment that the Republicans got, even though the treatment that they should supposely have asked for was a felony! A principled conservative judge -- if principled conservative judges exist, as opposed to judges who always rule in favor of conservatives -- would have thrown the book at the defective absentee ballots and imprisoned the people who modified the applications. But Judge Clark, soft on crime, gave them a break.

One small correction. The Supreme Court decision that invented a new protection for states against lawsuits by their citizens under federal law was in June 1999, not a few months ago as I said. The case was Alden vs. Maine . This decision was not a fluke, and the same activism can be found in another decision issued at the same time as Alden, College Savings Bank vs. Florida Prepaid, and in a 1996 case, Seminole Tribe of Florida vs. Florida. (Observe that two of these three cases both came from Florida.)

The big picture couldn't be clearer: Bill Rehnquist got his start as a Republican lawyer agitating against minority voting rights, and now the Rehnquist Court is returning the United States to the "states rights" era before the civil rights movement, and ultimately back to the political world of the Articles of Confederation. The same majority that decided those federalism cases has now thrown the election in Florida, and if they succeed in their rampage then the United States of America will effectively cease to exist.

Here are some more election-related URL's:

Supreme Court order stopping recount
      http://www.cspan.org/campaign2000/Florida/00-949x.pdf

W Stands for Wrongful
      http://www.skirsch.com/politics/whowon.htm

____________________________________________________________

*************ACTIVIST LINKS*******************
____________________________________________________________

The Florida Republican leadership needs to know that
the rest of the country does not want the Florida
legislature to select our next President.Tell the
Florida legislature to respect the courts and honor
each voter and each vote.
      http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=9012

_____________________________________________________________

Respectfully submitted,
Jane C.
Altroute66@yahoo.com
offleash@hotmail.com

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 18:32:23 -0800 (PST)
From: "jane c."
Subject: Jane's handy gator-gate links 12/8/00

****JANE'S HANDY GATOR-GATE LINKS 12/8/00*******
______________________________________

Please feel free to copy and cross post:
_______________________________

Revenge of the Democratic governors? If the Florida
Legislature picks its electors, others states could
follow suit -- and give the election to Al
      Gore.http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/12/08/legislature/index.htm
________________________________

David Bois: Poster Boy for the Lamest Generation Gets
Battered But N.Y. Lawyers Say They Couldn't Have
Done Better
      http://www.observer.com/pages/frontpage5.asp
________________________________

Today on "The Connection" Heather Gerkin and Lani
Guiner discuss the right to vote:
      http://www.theconnection.org/archive/2000/12/1208a.shtm

errata: The Connection is on in NYC at NPR AM
      820http://www.theconnection.org
_______________________________

Sic 'em: Republican's Bash Seminole County Judge
Nikki Clark
      http://www.prospect.org/webarchives/00-12/sobel-l1206.htm
________________________________

Do courts give results legitimacy?
      http://www.consortiumnews.com/120600a.htm
_________________________________

"The Nation" magazine gets tough w/ electoral college:
      http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20001225&s=editors
_______________________________

Wasted labor - The Democrats told AFL-CIO activists in
Florida to take affidavits and act "nice," while the
GOP mobilized its troops and got tough -- and won the
political battle.
      http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/12/07/labor/index.htm
_________________________________

Eliminating fraud -- or Democrats? Florida's
controversial crusade to purge its voter rolls has
revived an old partisan debate: Can states crack down
on fraud without disqualifying eligible voters?
      http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/12/08/integrity/index.htm
________________________________

NY Times 12/8 Storm Over Election Casts Cloud on
Prospects of the Younger Bush - By RICHARD L. BERKE
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/08/politics/08JEB.htm
_______________________________

The Last Green Mile By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN With Gov.
George W. Bush likely to be declared president, a
couple of things are becoming clear: Bush voters are
the winners. Gore voters are the losers. And all those
people who voted for Ralph Nader are the really big
losers.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/08/opinion/08FRIE.html
__________________________________

For more information about exit poll results -
      http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results
__________________________________

For a more detailed discussion on Social Security and
Gore's late surge,see this article in the Weekly
Standard from the Nov. 27 issue:
      http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_6_11_00/bell_cannon_feat_6_11_00.as
________________________________

For info on the CNN-Larry Flynt item, see
      http://www.american-politics.com/20001022CNNCensorsFlynt.htm
________________________________

Complaint filed against Bush DWI tipster:
      http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20001207/el/bush_dui_complaint_1.htm
_____________________________

Expose on Bush family:

      http://www.almartinraw.com
______________________________

Dem activists pressuring electors to switch votes to
Gore:
      http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/343/nation/Activists_lobby_electors_to_switch_to_GoreP.shtm
_____________________________

a Bush-connected media company is under FBI
investigation for the delivery of a videotape of Bush
practicing
for the debates to a Gore campaign advisor. This
happened while
the debates were still going on in October.

      http://www.abilene2000.com/elec/tape1003.htm
      http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/DEBATETAPE001008.htm
      http://www.king5.com/elections/storydetail.html?StoryID=7331
______________________________

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - On the eve of a special
session with
national implications, a leader of Florida's
Legislature acknowledged Thursday he has received
advice from intermediaries of George W. Bush as
lawmakers move toward appointing a slate of electors
loyal to the Republican
presidential candidate.
      http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20001207_1910.htm
_______________________________

*********ACTIVIST LINKS*******
_______________________________

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams has been airing audio of
Rush Limbaugh's hate radio shows with absolutely no
commentary to
balance it out as part of their Election 2000 coverage
-

email : thenews@msnbc.com
Phone : 1-888-MSNBCUSA
____________________________

If you wish to support the recount committee, you can do so on line at:
      https://www1518.boca15-verio.com/gorel8/secure
______________________________

- Florida Vote News
      http://andrys.com/flballot.html
_______________________________

boycott Florida petition
      http://www.boycott-republicans.com
________________________________

Leadership of the Florida State Senate

John McKay
President of the Senate
941/727-6349
850/487-5078
mckay.john.web@leg.state.fl.us

Ginny Brown-Waite
President Pro Tempore
352/544-2344
850/487-5040
brown-waite.g.web@leg.state.fl.us

James King, Jr.
Senate Majority Leader
904/727-3600
850/487-5030
king.james.web@leg.state.fl.us


Leadership of the Florida State House

Tom Feeney
Speaker of the House
407/977-6500
850/488-0468
feeney.tom@leg.state.fl.us

Mike Fasano
House Majority Leader
727/848-5885
850/488-8528
__________________________________


______________________________
FL LEGISLATOR'S FAX NUMBERS

Florida:
Governor Jeb Bush
850-487-0801
Governor Jeb Bush
850-348-6873
Secretary of State Katherine Harris
850-487-2214
Attorney General Bob Butterworth
850-487-2564


Speaker of the House Tom Feeney (Rep)
850-488-1456
Speaker of the House Tom Feeney (Rep)
407-977-6504
Speaker of the House Tom Feeney (Rep)
850-488-6074
House of Representatives Majority Office - Republican
850-922-5912
House of Representatives Minority Office - Democratic
850-922-6002


FL Senator Mandy Dawson-White (Dem)
954-467-4331
FL Senator Buddy Dyer (Dem)
850-487-5418
FL Senator Buddy Dyer (Dem)
407-317-7399
FL Senator Steve Geller (Dem)
954-893-5091
FL Senator Ron Klein (Dem)
561-279-1990
FL Senator Bill Myers (Rep)
561-221-4059
FL Senator Tom Rossin (Dem)
561-837-5716
FL Senator Jim Scott (Rep)
954-566-0618
FL Senator Daniel Webster (Rep)
850-487-5527
FL Senator Daniel Webster (Rep)
407-297-2064

FL Representative Bill Andrews (Rep)
561-279-1618
FL Representative Fred Brummer (Rep)
407-884-2025
FL Representative Lee Constantine (Rep)
850-413-0401
FL Representative Lee Constantine (Rep)
407-262-7580
FL Representative Lois Frankel (Dem)
561-681-2599
FL Representative Addie Greene (Dem)
561-837-5254
FL Representative Ed Healey (Dem)
561-434-3953
FL Representative Suzanne Jacobs (Dem)
561-433-3668
FL Representative Randy Johnson (Rep)
850-922-5334
FL Representative Randy Johnson (Rep)
407-877-2816
FL Representative Curt Levine (Dem)
561-637-7060
FL Representative Sharon Merchant (Rep)
561-625-5103
FL Representative Rick Minton (Dem)
561-279-1634
FL Representative Rick Minton (Dem)
561-595-1382
FL Representative Bill Posey (Rep)
407-690-3486
FL Representative Alzo Reddick (Dem)
407-858-5965
FL Representative Debby Sanderson (Rep)
954-958-5505
FL Representative Bob Starks (Rep)
850-922-6002
FL Representative Bob Starks (Rep)
407-623-1129
FL Representative Bill Sublette (Rep)
850-922-7664
FL Representative Bill Sublette (Rep)
407-897-4389
FL Representative Tom Warner (Rep)
561-221-4906

______________________________

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