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excerpts from 'A Very American Coup'

by Michael Moore Friday, Jul. 26, 2002 at 9:21 AM
lrano@m-net.arbornet.org

Michael Moore reports on the Florida 2000 "elections" in his book, STUPID WHITE MEN. There's a lot here but please read the numbers. The full chapter is at: http://phreespeech.blogspot.com/

------

Chapter 1 EXCERPT from Michael Moore's STUPID WHITE MEN titled "A Very American

Coup"

------

"It's amazing I won. I was running against peace, prosperity, and

incumbency." --George W. Bush, June 14, 2001, speaking to Swedish Prime

Minister Goran Perrson, unaware that a live television camera was still

rolling

---

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WAS INTERCEPTED BY U.N. FORCES ON 9/1/01, AT 0600

HOURS, FROM SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT:

I am a citizen of the United States of America. Our government has been

overthrown. Our elected President has been exiled. Old white men wielding

martinis and wearing dickies have occupied our nation's capital.

We are under siege. We are the United States Government-in-Exile.

Our numbers are not insignificant. There are over 154 million adults

amongs us, and 80 million children. That's 234 million people who did not

vote for, and are not represented by, the regime that has placed itself in

power.

Al Gore is the elected President of the United States. He received 539,898

more votes than George W. Bush. But he does not sit tonight in the Oval

Office. Instead our elected President roams the country without purpose or

mission, surfacing only to lecture college students and replenish his

stash of Little Debbie's Snack Cakes.

Al Gore won. Al Gore, President-in-Exile. Long live El Presidente

Albertooooooo Gorrrrrrrrrrre!

So who, then is the man that now occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I'll

tell you who:

He is George W. Bush, "President" of the United States. The

Thief-in-Chief.

It used to be that politicians would wait until they were in office before

they became crooks. This one came prepackaged. Now he is a trespasser on

federal land, a squatter in the Oval Office. If I told you this was

Guatemala, you'd believe it in a heartbeat, no matter what your political

stripe. But because this coup was wrapped in an American flag, delivered

in your choice of red, white, or blue, those responsible believe they're

going to get away with it.

That's why, on behalf of 234 million Americans held hostage, I have

requested that NATO do what it did in Bosnia and Kosovo, what America did

in Haiti, what Lee Marvin did in The Dirty Dozen:

Send in the Marines! Launch the SCUD missiles! Bring us the head of

Antonin Scalia!

I have sent a personal request to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to

hear our plea. We are no longer able to govern ourselves or to hold free

and fair elections. We need U.N. observers, U.N. troops, U.N. resolutions!

Dammit, we need Jimmy Carter!

We are now finally no better than a backwater banana republic. We are

asking ourselves why any of us should bother to get up in the morning to

work our asses off to produce goods and services that only serve to make

the junta and its cohorts in Corporate America (a separate, autonomous

fiefdom within the United States that has been allowed to run on its own

for some time) even richer. Why should we pay our taxes to finance their

coup? Can we ever again send our sons off into battle to give their lives

defending "our way of life"--when all that really means is the lifestyle

of the gray old men holed up in the headquarters they seized by the

Potomac?

Oh JesusMaryAndJoseph, I can't take it! Somebody pass me the universal

remote! I need to switch back to the fairy tale that I was a citizen in a

democracy with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of

Happy Meals. The story I was told as a child said that I mattered, that I

was equal to every one of my fellow citizens--and that not a single one of

us was to be treated differently or unfairly, that no one was to wield

power over others without their consent. The will of the people. America

the Beautiful. Land that I love. Twilight's . . . last . . . gleaming. Oh,

say, can you see--are the Belgian peacekeepers on their way? Hurry!

The coup began long before the shenanigans on Election Day 2000. In the

summer of 1999 Katherine Harris, an honorary Stupid White Man who was both

George W. Bush's presidential campaign cochairwoman and the Florida

secretary of state in charge of elections, paid million to Database

Technologies to go through Florida's voter rolls and remove anyone

"suspected" of being a former felon. She did so with the blessing of the

governor of Florida, George W.'s brother Jeb Bush--whose own wife was

caught by immigration officials trying to sneak ,000 worth of jewelry

into the country without declaring and paying tax on it . . . a felony in

its own right. But hey, this is America. We don't prosecute felons if

they're rich or married to a governing Bush.

The law states that ex-felons cannot vote in Florida. And sadly (thought

I'm confident that Florida's justice system was always unimpeachably

fair), that means 31 percent of all black men in Florida are

prohibited from voting because they have a felony on their record. Harris

and Bush knew that removing the names of ex-felons from the voter rolls

would keep thousands of black citizens out of the voting booth.

Black Floridians, overwhelmingly, are Democrats--and sure enough, Al Gore

received the votes of more than 90 percent of them on November 7, 2000.

That is, 90 percent of those who were allowed to vote.

In what appears to be a mass fraud committed by the state of Florida,

Bush, Harris, and company not only removed thousands of black felons from

the roles. they also removed thousands of black citizens who had never

committed a crime in their lives--along with thousands of eligible

voters who had committed only misdemeanors.

How did this happen? Harris's office told Database--a firm with strong

Republican ties--to cast as wide a net as possible to get rid of these

voters. Her minions instructed the company to include even people with

"similar" names to those of the actual felons. They insisted Database

check people with the same birth dates as known felons, or similar Social

Security numbers; an 80 percent match of relevant information, the

election office instructed, was sufficient for Database to add a voter to

the ineligible list.

These orders were shocking, even to Bush-friendly Database. That would

mean that thousands of legitimate voters might be barred from voting on

Election Day just because they had a name that sounded like someone

else's, or shared a birthday with some unknown bank robber. Marlene

Thorogood, the Database project manager, sent an E-mail to Emmett "Bucky"

Mitchell, a lawyer for Katherine Harris's election division, warning him

that "Unfortunately, programming in this fashion may supply you with false

positives," or misidentifications.

Never mind that, said ol' Bucky. His response: "Obviously, we want to

capture more names that possibly aren't matches and let [county election]

supervisors make a final determination rather than exclude certain matches

altogether."

Database did as they were told. And before long 173,000 registered voters

in Florida were permanently wiped off the voter rolls. In Miami-Dade,

Florida's largest county, 66 percent of the voters who were removed were

black. In Tampa's county, 54 percent of those who would be denied the

right to vote on November 7, 2000, were black.

But culling names from Florida's records alone was not enough for Harris

and her department. Eight thousand additional Floridians were thrown off

the voting rolls because Database used a false list supplied by another

state, a state which claimed that all the names on the list were former

convicted felons who had since moved to Florida.

It turns out that the felons on the list had served their time and had all

their voting privileges reinstated. And there were others on the list who

had committed only misdemeanors--such as parking violations or littering.

What state was it that offered Jeb and George a helping hand by sending

this bogus list to Florida?

Texas.

This entire incident stuck to the high heavens, but the American media

ignored it. It took the British Broadcasting Corporation to dig deep into

this story, running fifteen-minute segments on its prime-time news program

revealing all the sordid details and laying responsibility for the scam

right at the doorstep of Governor Jeb Bush. It's a sad day when we have to

look to a country 5,000 miles away to find out the truth about our own

elections. (Eventually the Los Angeles Times and the Washington

Post picked up the story, but it received little attention.)

This assault on the voting rights of minorities was so widespread in

Florida that it even affected people like Linda Howell. Linda received a

letter informing her that she was a felon--and therefore advising her not

to bother showing up on Election Day, because she would be barred from

voting. The only problem was, Linda Howell wasn't a felon--in fact, she

was the elections supervisor of Madison County, Florida! She and other

local election officials tried to get the state to rectify the problem,

but their pleas fell on deaf ears. They were told that everyone who

complained about being prevented from voting should submit themselves for

fingerprinting--and then let the state determine whether or not they were

felons.

On November 7, 2000, as black Floridians flocked to the polls in record

numbers, many were met at the ballot boxes with a blunt rebuke: "You

cannot vote." In a number of precincts in Florida's inter cities, the

polling locations were heavily fortified with police to block anyone on

Katherine and Jeb's "felons list" from voting. Hundreds of law-abiding

citizens looking to exercise their constitutional right to vote, mostly in

black and Hispanic communities, were sent away--and threatened with arrest

if they protested.

George W. Bush would officially be credited with receiving 537 more votes

than Al Gore in Florida. Is it safe to assume that the thousands of

registered black and Hispanic voters barred from the polls might have made

the difference if they had been allowed to vote--and cost Bush the

election? Without a doubt.

On election night, after the polls closed, there was much confusion over

what was happening with the counting of the votes in Florida. Finally a

decision was made by the man in charge of the election night desk for the

Fox News Channel. He decided that Fox should go on the air and declare

that Bush had won Florida and thus the election. And that's what happened.

Fox formally declared Bush the winner.

But down in Tallahassee, the counting of the votes had not yet been

completed; in fact, the Associated Press insisted it was still too close

to call, and refused to follow Fox's lead.

Not so the other networks. They ran like lemmings after Fox made the call,

afraid that they would be seen as slow or out of the loop--even though

their own news reporters on the ground were insisting that it was too

early to call the election. But who needs reporters when you're playing

follow the leader--the leader, in this case, being John Ellis, the man in

charge of Fox's election coverage. Who is John Ellis?

He's a first cousin of George W. and Jeb Bush.

Once Ellis made the call and everyone followed suit, there was no going

back--and nothing was more psychologically devastating for Gore's changes

of winning than the sudden perception that HE was being the spoiler by

asking for recounts, withdrawing his concession of defeat, tying up the

courts with lawyers and lawsuits. The truth is that during all of this,

Gore actually was ahead--he had the most votes--but that was never

how the news media played it.

The one moment from the election night I will never forget came earlier in

the evening, after the networks had first--correctly--projected the state

of Florida for Gore. The cameras cut to a hotel room in Texas. There sat

George W. with his father, the former President, and his mother, Barbara.

The old man appeared cool as a cucumber, even though it looked like

curtains for Sonny. A reporter asked young Bush what he thought about the

outcome.

"I'm not . . . conceding anything in Florida," Junior piped up,

semicoherently. "I know you've all the projections, but people are

actually counting the votes. . . . The networks called this thing awfully

earlier and people are actually counting the votes have different

perspective so . . ." It was an odd moment in that crazy night of election

result coverage. The Bushes, with their relaxed smiles, looked like a

family of cats that had just wolfed down a bunch of canaries--as if they

knew something we didn't.

They did. They knew Jeb and Katherine had done their job months earlier.

They knew cousin John was holding down the fort at Fox election central.

And if all else failed, there was always that team Poppy could count on:

the United States Supreme Court.

As we all know, that's exactly what happened for the next thirty-six days.

The forces of the Empire struck back, and they did so without mercy. While

Gore was stupidly concentrating on getting recounts in a few counties, the

Bush team was going after the holy grail--the overseas absentee ballots.

Many of these ballots would come from the military, which typically votes

Republican, and would finally give Bush the lead that denying the vote to

thousands of blacks and Jewish grandmothers hadn't.

Gore knew this, and tried to make sure the ballots underwent maximum

scrutiny before they could be counted. Sure, this ran contrary to the "let

every vote be counted" plea he'd made when calling for recounts. But he

also had Florida law, which is pretty clear about this, on his side. It

states that overseas absentee ballots can only be counted if they were

cast and signed on or before election day, and mailed and postmarked from

another country by election day.

But while Jim Baker was chanting his mantra--"it is not fair to change the

rules and standards governing the counting or recounting of votes after it

appears that one side has concluded that is the only way to get the votes

it needs"--he and his operative were doing just that.

A July 2001 investigation by the New York Times showed that of the

2,490 overseas ballots that ended up being included in the certified

election results, 680 were considered flawed and questionable. Bush got

the overseas vote by a ratio of 4 to 5. By that percentage, 544 of the

votes that went to Bush should have been thrown out. Got the math?

Suddenly Bush's "winning margin" of 537 votes is down to a chilly negative

7.

So how did all these votes end up being counted for Bush? Within hours of

the election, the Bush campaign had launched their attack. The first step

was to make sure that as many ballots got in as possible. Republican

operatives sent out frantic E-mails to navy ships asking them to dig up

any ballots that might be hanging around. They even put in a call to

Clinton Defense Secretary William S. Cohen (a Republican) to ask him to

put pressure on the military outposts. He declined, but it didn't matter:

thousands of votes poured in--even some that were signed after

election day.

Now all they had to do was make sure that as many of these votes as

possible went to W. And so the real thievery began.

According to the Times, Katherine Harris had planned to send out a

memo to her canvassing boards clarifying the procedure for counting

overseas ballots. Included in this memo was a reminder that state law

required all ballots to have been "postmarked or signed and dated" by

election day. When it was clear that George's lead was rapidly shrinking,

she decided not to send the memo. Instead she sent out a note that said

ballots "are not required to be postmarked on or prior to" election day.

Hmmm.

What caused her to change her mind--and the law? We may never know, since

the computer records that showed what happened have been mysteriously

erased--a possible violation of Florida's Sunshine Laws. Now, long after

the horse has left the barn, Harris has turned over her hard drives to the

media for inspection--but only after her own computer consultant "looked

them over." This is a woman who is now planning to run for Congress. Can

these people get any more shameless?

Armed with the blessing of the secretary of state, the Republicans

launched an all-out campaign to make sure as broad a standard as possible

was used in counting these absentee ballots. "Equal representation,"

Florida style, meant that the rules governing acceptance or denial of your

absentee ballot depended on what county you were from. Perhaps that would

explain why in counties where Gore won, only 2 out of 10 absentee ballots

with unclear postmarks were counted; in Bush counties, predictably, 6 out

of 10 such ballots made it into the final tally.

When the Democrats complained that ballots that didn't follow the rules

shouldn't be counted, the Republicans launched a fierce public relations

campaign to make it look as if the Democrats were trying to scare the men

and women who were risking their lives for our country. A Republican city

council member from Naples was typical in his hyperbole: "If they catch a

bullet, or fragment from a terrorist bomb, that fragment does not have any

postmark or registration of any kind." Republican Congressman Steve Buyer

from Indiana even obtained (possibly illegally) the phone numbers and

E-mail addresses of military personnel so that he could gather tales of

ballot-denial woe to garner sympathy for "our fighting men and women."

Even Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf weighed in with the reflection that "it's

a very sad day in our country" when Democrats start harassing military

voters.

All the pressure worked on the wimpy, spineless Democrats. They choked.

While appearing on Meet the Press, vice presidential candidate Joe

Lieberman argued that the Democrats should stop creating a fuss and not be

bothered that hundreds of military ballots were being counted, just

because they weren't "postmarked."

Lieberman, like so many other among this new breed of Democrats, should

have fought for principle instead of worrying about image. Why? Well, as

the New York Times found out:

* 344 ballots had no evidence that they were cast on or before Election

Day

* 183 ballots were postmarked in the United States

* 96 ballots lacked appropriate witness information

* 169 ballots came from unregistered voters, had envelopes that weren't

signed properly, or came from people who hadn't requested a ballot

* 5 ballots came after the November 17 deadline

* 19 overseas voters voted on two ballots--and had both counted

All of these ballots violated Florida law, yet they all were counted. Can

I say this any louder? Bush didn't win! Gore did. It has nothing to

do with chads, or even the blatant repression of Florida's

African-American community and their right to vote. It was a simple matter

of breaking the law, all documented, all the evidence sitting there in

Tallahassee, clearly marked without question--and all done purposefully to

throw the election to Bush.

On the morning of Saturday, December 9, 2000, the Supreme Court got word

that the recounts in Florida, in spite of everything the Bush camp had

done to fix the elections, were going in favor of Al Gore. By 2 P.M., the

unofficial tally showed that Gore was catching up to Bush--"only 66 votes

down, and gaining!" as one breathless newscaster put it. It was critical

to Bush that the word "Al Gore is in the lead" never be heard on American

television: With only moments to spare, they did what they had to do. At

2:45 that afternoon, the Supreme Court stopped the recount.

On the Court sat Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor and Nixon appointee

Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Both in their seventies, they were hoping

to retire under a Republican administration so that their replacements

would share their conservative ideology. On election night, O'Connor was

heard lamenting at a party in Georgetown that she couldn't hold out

another four--or eight--years. Junior Bush was their only hope for

securing a contented retirement in their home state of Arizona.

Meanwhile, two other justices with extremist right-wing viewpoints found

themselves with a conflict of interest. Justice Clarence Thomas's wife,

Virginia Lamp Thomas, worked at the Heritage Foundation, a leading

conservative think tank in D.C.; now, she has just been hired by George W.

Bush to help recruit people to serve in his impending administration. And

Eugene Scalia, the son of Justice Antonin Scalia, was a lawyer with the

firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher--the very law firm representing Bush

before the Supreme Court!

But neither Thomas nor Scalia saw any conflict of interest, and they

refused to remove themselves from the case. In fact, when the Court

convened later, it was Scalia who issued the now-infamous explanation of

why the ballot-counting had to be halted: "The counting of votes

that are of questionable legality does, in my view, threaten irreparable

harm to petitioner [Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon

what he [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election." In other

words, if we let all the votes be counted and they come out in Gore's

favor, and Gore wins, well, that will impair Bush's ability to govern once

we install him as "President."

True enough: if the ballots proved that Gore had won--which they

eventually would--then I guess that would tend to dampen the country's

feeling of legitimacy about a Bush presidency.

In their decision, the Court used the equal protection clause of the

Fourteenth Amendment--the same amendment they've loudly disclaimed when

used by blacks over the years to halt discrimination based on race--to

justify the theft. Because of the variation in the recount methods, they

argued, voters in each district weren't being treated equally, and

therefore their rights were being violated. (Funny, but only the

dissenters on the court mentioned that the antiquated voting equipment

found disproportionately in poor and minority Florida neighborhoods had

created an entirely different--and far more disturbing--inequality in the

system.)

Eventually the press got around to conducting their own recounts of the

votes, doing their best to spin the jumbled ball of public confusion into

orbit. The headline in the Miami Herald read: "Review of ballots

finds Bush's win would have endured manual recount." But if you read the

entire story, buried deep inside was this paragraph: "Bush's lead

would have vanished if the recount had been conducted under the severely

restrictive standards that some Republicans advocated. . . . The review

found that the result would have been different if every canvassing board

in every county had examined every undervote . . . [Under] the most

inclusive standard [that is, a standard that sought to include the

true will of ALL the people] Gore would have won by 393 votes. . . . On

ballots that [suggested] a fault with either the machine or the voter's

ability to use it . . . Gore would have won by 299 votes."

I did not vote for Al Gore, but I think any fair person would conclude

that the will of the people in Florida clearly went his way. Whether it

was the counting debacle or the exclusion of thousands of black citizens

that corrupted the results, there is little doubt that Gore was the

people's choice.

There was perhaps no worse example of the wholesale denial of the right of

each voter to have his vote properly counted than in Palm Beach County.

Much has been made of the "butterfly ballot," which made it easy to vote

for the wrong person because candidate's names and punch holes were

crammed unevenly onto facing pages. The media went out of its way to point

out that the ballot was designed by one of the county's election

commissioners, a Democrat, and then approved by the majority-Democrat

local board. What right did Gore have to complain if his own party was

responsible for the faulty design of the ballot?

Had anyone bothered to check, they would have discovered that one of the

two "Democrats" on the committee--the ballot's designer, Theresa

LePore--had actually been a registered Republican. She switched her

affiliation to Democrat in 1996; then, just three months after Bush seized

office, she resigned as a Democrat and switched her voter registration to

Independent. No one in the press bothered to question what was really

going on.

Thus, the Palm Beach Post estimates that more than 3,000 voters,

mostly elderly and Jewish, who thought they were voting for Al Gore ended

up punching the wrong hole--for Pat Buchanan. Even Buchanan went on TV to

declare that no way in hell did those Jewish voters vote for him.



* * *

On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush, positioned with his junta on the

Capitol steps, stood in front of Chief Justice Rehnquist and took the oath

that Presidents take at their inaugurations. A cold and steady rain

fell over Washington throughout the day. Dark clouds obscured the sun, and

the parade route, usually jammed with tens of thousands of citizens all

the way to the White House, was eerily bare.

Except for the 20,000 protesters who jeered Bush every inch of the way.

Holding signs denouncing Bush for stealing the election, the rain-soaked

demonstrators were the conscience of the nation. Bush's limousine could

not avoid them. Instead of cheering crowds of supporters, he was greeted

by good people moved to remind this illegitimate ruler that he did not win

the election--and that the people would never forget.

At the traditional point where Presidents since Jimmy Carter have stopped

their limos and emerged to walk the last four blocks (as a reminder that

we are a nation ruled not by kings but by, uh, equals), Bush's

triple-armored black car with its dark-tinted windows--favored by mobsters

everywhere--came to an abrupt halt. The crowd grew louder--"HAIL TO THE

THIEF!" You could see the Secret Service and Bush's advisers huddling in

the freezing rain, trying to figure out what to do. If Bush got out and

walked, he would be booed, shouted down, and pelted with eggs the rest of

the way. The limousine sat there for what must have been five minutes. The

rain poured. Eggs and tomatoes hit the car. The protesters dared Bush to

step out and face them ...

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and jonathon Friday, Jul. 26, 2002 at 10:12 AM

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