Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Michael Collins: Election Fraud and Tyranny

Michael Collins: Election Fraud and Tyranny

Mark Crispin Miller's new book, "Loser Take All," identifies and analyzes election fraud, the foundation of extremist power in the United States since 2000. Manipulated elections have enabled everything we've experienced from the Iraq war to the current economic meltdown. None of that would have been possible without the ongoing series of "surprise" wins for extremists and their enablers following the outright theft of the 2000 presidential election.

Miller illustrates his overarching analysis with a collection of carefully chosen essays. They map the rise of what key figures on the right and left refer to as tyrannical rule by the Bush - Cheney administration. Through a sequence of critical elections from 2000 on, Miller shows the particular outrages in each that enabled the retention and expansion of power. In doing so, he defines the basis for our current troubles.

A Sequence of Outrages

"Loser Take All" is organized sequentially beginning with the critical election of 2000 through 2006. In addition, we're given predictions of anticipated problems in 2008. Just part of what we learn is how: Gore lost Florida 2000 even before election day; key Georgia voting machines were modified before the stunning losses by Gov. Barnes and Sen. Cleland in 2002; and, Bush won 2004 in the big cities, if you believe the national exit poll. Part 1 of this series covers the 2000, 2002, and 2004 federal elections.

2000 Air and Land Assault

Florida 2000

The Bush ascendancy and the tragedies that followed began with the "shock and awe" of a combined air and land assault worthy of our greatest generals. There were no weapons or troops involved just public officials, various bureaucracies, party operatives, and "the machines."

Lance Dehaven-Smith outlines the cooperation between Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Catherine Harris and the national Republican campaign starting well before the election. A database vendor, DBT, was charged with purging felons from the rolls of Florida voters. Like many states, Florida felons were effectively denied the vote for life. The task consisted of matching felon lists from Florida and other states, most prominently Texas, with names on Florida's registration rolls.

The standards used to match registered voters with the combined list of felons were so loose nearly 91,000 legitimate voters were wrongly eliminated as registered voters. When they showed up to vote, they were told to go home. Before and during the process, the Florida Department of Elections was warned by DBT that the criteria was producing "false positives" - voters tagged as felons who were not true matches with the felons on the lists used.

After the lists were distributed to county boards of elections, several election administrators offered serious warnings about inaccuracies. Nothing was done to correct the errors.

The removal of tens of thousands of legitimate voters from Florida's election rolls before the election sealed candidate Al Gore's fate. More than half of those excluded were minority voters, predominantly black. Given the turnout rates and Gore's huge advantage with black voters, nearly 9 to 1 in Florida, a clean election would have given Al Gore the presidency in 2000.

David B. Moore describes the "air" war against democracy in 2000. The critical moment in the public perception of the campaign came when Fox News called the election in Gore's favor. It didn't matter that Gore won the popular vote. That was not "hot news." What did matter was that Fox declared Bush the winner prematurely.

Wasn't there some sophisticated polling analysis to justify this call? Only if you consider this phrase science: "Jebbie says we got it. Jebbie says we got it." That's what John Ellis, head of the Fox decision team, told his crew shortly after 2:00 am. Why would Fox be getting such an odd message from the Governor of Florida, Jeb ("Jebbie") Bush? Because Ellis was his first cousin. Fox made the call based on Gov. "Jebbie" and created a perceived advantage for Bush that remained unchanged even after Fox withdrew its irresponsible election call two hours later.

For the entire election, Gore had been on the defensive as a result of a media tear down that betrayed news reader and network loyalties to their corporate pay masters. It was the perfect lie to accompany the imperfect crime.

Moore and Dehaven-Smith offer much more in their well written essays, required reading for anyone who wants to know how election 2000 began the process of mindless war and torture and domestic neglect.

2002 Surprise Attack

Barnes, Cleland and Their Stunning "Losses"

Robert Kennedy Jr. tells the compelling story of the 2002 Georgia election where two popular incumbents, with solid leads four days before the election, lost in stunning reversals.

Atlanta Journal Constitution - WSB TV Poll, Nov. 1, 2002
Change from Nov. 1 poll to Election Day.
Atlanta Journal Constitution - WSB TV Poll, Nov. 1, 2002
Change from Nov. 1 poll to Election Day.

How could two popular incumbents, in the same state, with leads like these, both experience rarely seen reversals?

Under pressure due to uncounted votes in the 2000 election, the Georgia Secretary of State virtually turned over the election to the state's touch screen e-voting vendor, Diebold. Chris Hood was a Diebold technical consultant who bravely reported that he and others applied a software "patch" to Diebold voting machines just before the election.

This patch was so important that the president of Diebold, Bob Urosevich delivered it in person to Diebold technical personnel in Georgia. State law required that any changes to e-voting machines be cleared by the state. This was not done. When questions were raised after these highly improbable election results, Urosevich claimed the patch simply changed the clock on the voting machines, a claim deemed not serious by whistle blower Hood. The state failed to mount a thorough investigation and the Democrats were largely silent.

This bold move in the Georgia elections was a major alarm that was ignored and dismissed by the press and Democratic leadership.

The Beginning of the End for Don Siegelman

There was another 2002 outrage that also failed to gain the attention of the national media and federal authorities. Larisa Alexandrovna and James H. Gundlach provide the narrative and analytic proof that incumbent Democratic Governor Don Siegelman's 2002 election night win was, in fact, just that. On election eve, state wide results showed that Siegelman taking a narrow victory in a hard fought campaign.

That wasn't good enough for heavily Republican Baldwin County. Election officials there recounted the votes in the very early morning after Election Day. The wee hours recount reduced Siegelman's Baldwin County total from 19,000 to 12, 000 votes, just enough to give the Republican challenger a 3,000 vote victory. Gundlach efficiently deconstructs the improbable election and turns it into a case study of high probability election fraud.

2004 Sealing our Fate

Bush Wins it in the Big Cities

Miller reveals a more sophisticated election theft in 2004 I wrote the chapter, "Election 2004: The Urban Legend" (by Michael Collins, see disclosure*) based on research by Internet poster " anaxarchos " who discovered some remarkable anomalies in the final exit poll for 2004: Bush won reelection in the nation's "big cities" (500,000 > pop.).

The national exit poll is sponsored by the Media Consortium consisting of the Associated Press ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and CNN. It provides the acknowledged source of national data on who voted, where, and why. There was great controversy generated by the unintentional release of a late Election Day exit poll showing Kerry winning by 3%. The official version, released the day after the election had Bush winning by 3%.

We examined the official exit poll and discovered data that casts serious doubt on the claimed vote totals. According to the official version of the exit poll:

2004 was not a red versus blue election, as reported. The rural sector in 2000 was 23% of the total vote but in 2004, it was just 16%. Bush total votes were down by two million in 2004 compared to 2000 in that segment. Bush lost significant ground in red states in 2004 and started the election in the hole.

Bush made spectacular gains in "big cities" (pop. 500,000 or greater) going from 26% to 39% of the total votes in that segment. According to the official exit poll, he picked up these gains largely with the help of four million white big city voters, ghosts so to speak, who rose from their graves and other hiding places to hand the election to Bush.

According to the official exit poll, the Bush big city magic took place amidst a 66% increase in big city voter turnout compared to a more modest 16% national turnout increase using reported vote totals.

There was no 66% increase in big city turnout. Actual big city vote totals, available election eve or shortly thereafter, show big city turnout slightly below the national average. The exit poll's 66% turnout increase and the four million white ghosts were the only way to make the poll agree with the election results, neither of which was accurate.

According to the official exits, Bush became the first president to be re-elected while both losing significant ground in his base and, at the same time, making it up in hostile territory, the nation's big cities. The same people who gave us this mess did the exit polling for the 2008 primaries and will conduct the 2008 national exit poll in November.

Electronic Ballot Box Stuffing

On a more pragmatic level, Miller includes two chapters that define how things were done at the state and local level. Activist John R. Brakey was so shocked at what he saw on Election Day 2004, he began gathering extensive data. The more he saw, the more he was convinced that there was systematic election manipulation in Arizona's Legislative District 27 located in Pima County, Arizona.

When the distinguished research physicist David L. Griscom came on the scene, he had more than enough data to demonstrate the specific techniques that switched votes from Kerry to Bush. The model on "how to stuff an electronic ballot box" is sufficiently detailed for application across the nation in case anyone in the government is interested. Credence for The Griscom-Brakey findings was just provided by recent events in Pima County.

Making Nevada Safe for Touch Screens

2004 also featured the state of Nevada as a demonstration project to legitimize the now totally discredited touch screen voting devices. Brad Friedman and Michael Richardson tell us how touch screens were introduced to Nevada with claims of accuracy and federal certification, when neither claim applied. This is a cautionary tale repeated across the country in the era of elections out sourced to vendors and unelected bureaucrats. Ironically, in the gaming capitol of the world, the voting machines were not nearly as secure as the slots.

Bush drive-by at the Jan 20, 2005 inauguration Image

"Mission Accomplished"

By Nov. 2, 2004, the mission of returning the extremists to power and retaining their agenda was complete. The process of distortions began with the smears of Kerry by the "swift boaters," Bush partisans who mounted a relentless campaign against Sen. John F. Kerry. This wasn't new. Marginal groups attacking candidates are common in our elections.

Full cooperation by the mainstream media with the vicious attacks was a first. The worst elements of partisan politics were willingly incorporated into the national dialog by the network talking heads and the shouting cable clones. And they treated it as business as usual instead of an unfair but devastating attack on the core character issue of Sen. Kerry's campaign, his service to the nation.

At the same time, the 2004 reporting of the networks and press consistently ignored the obvious signs of looming election disasters around the country. Coverage of the partisan set up in Ohio for an Election Day melt down was inadequate. Little attention was paid to the biased Department of Justice handling of voting and civil rights violations. And, of course, there had been no correction whatsoever of the problems of Florida 2000, which were characterized by 175,000 spoiled ballots, largely in minority precincts.

When it came time to vote on Nov. 2, 2004, the forces working for a perpetuation of illegitimate power swung into action and sealed our fate without even bothering to consult us. We were guaranteed four more years of decline and debasement, all enabled through election fraud on a scale never seen. It became the new business as usual with a bonus of more war, more torture, and a yet to be delivered economic melt down that would affect us all.

Miller's latest effort bears witness to his ability to inspire others to investigation and action after looking into the abyss of extremist corruption that he has observed so well in the past.

He provides an elegant framework for the collection of essays with his ongoing commentary forming the articles into a persuasive whole. If you want to understand how the tragedy of the last eight years began and developed into the current crisis, this book is one of your key resources.

In part 2 of this series, we'll see how "Loser Take All" unmasks the real surprise of the 2006 elections and provides a cogent warning about what awaits us in 2008.

Part 2

Go To Original

How did we reach our current state of decline in just eight excruciating years? Aren't we working hard enough? Was there some millennial shift in consciousness and morality? How could we elect leaders like Bush and Cheney and their minions on Capitol Hill?

Mark Crispin Miller's latest book, "Loser Take All," provides an explanation that precedes any other: election fraud. In his collection of essays, Miller shows that the losers took everything in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. That made all the difference.

We're working harder than ever. Citizens are no less concerned and compassionate than they were in 1999. But as Miller demonstrates, the way we elect leaders is inherently unreliable and corrupt. He shows how the current group of extremists who dominate public policy used a loosely regulated, unwatched election system to create the results they willed in order to achieve the power they craved.

Part 1 of this review of "Loser Take All" discussed how Miller's theme showed up in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections. In Part II, we'll take a look at Miller's explanation of events in 2006 and the system in place for the November 2008 elections.

2006 - Landslide Denied

The Big Picture - the U.S. House of Representatives

The 2006 election resulted in major pickups for the Democratic Party in the House, enough to return them to power with a significant but not overwhelming margin. Senate seats were a tougher fight but the Democrats managed to gain a one seat majority in the Senate with surprise wins in Virginia and Montana. But that's wasn't the whole story.

Election Defense Alliance researchers Jonathan Simon and Bruce O'Dell studied the 2006 results and found that there was a net shift of at least three million votes away from the Democratic candidates in the 2006 elections for the House of Representatives. The Democratic victory margin was shaved by 4% according this highly persuasive analysis.

Simon and O'Dell conclude:

"there was gross vote count manipulation [that] had a great impact on the results of E2006, significantly decreasing the magnitude of what would have been, accurately tabulated, a [Democratic] landslide of epic proportions." (Emphasis added)

How do we know that a landslide was denied? Simon and O'Dell persuade us in two rather simple steps. First, they show that the 2006 Election Night national exit poll sample gave the Democrats a victory margin at least 3 million votes greater nationwide than that tabulated by the vote-counting computers. Then they examine the exit poll sample itself and very simply and persuasively refute the charge that it over-sampled Democrats. This is the excuse that corporate media used to dismiss the obvious signs of election fraud and justify their own silence. Their analysis is based not on a general assertion of the reliability of exit polls, but on the specific and publicly available evidence that this particular exit poll was highly reliable.

Their thorough handling of these necessary and logical steps builds a strong foundation of credibility for their analysis. By the end of this process, which turns into an engaging narrative, they've established these remarkable findings regarding vote manipulation.

A 12% victory margin measured on Election Day 2006 was
reduced to 7.6% through the vote counting process. This meant
3 million less votes for Democrats in House races

In a separate paper, "Fingerprints of Election Theft," Simon, O'Dell, et al established a clear pattern indicating that certain competitive races were targeted for manipulation. Adding that information, a 3 million vote shift nationwide would likely determine the outcome of dozens of targeted competitive races.

Simon and O'Dell are a quantitative version of Holmes and Watson and like those two sleuths, they're right. Election 2006 was a "landslide denied."

A 14 Point Lead Vanishes at the Last Minute

This meticulous high level analysis was brought into reality in Jean Kaczmarek's chapter on "Fighting Dem" Tammy Duckworth's race for the U.S. House of Representatives, centered in DuPage County, Illinois. In addition to strong civic credentials, Duckworth served in Iraq with her National Guard unit. She lost both legs when her helicopter was attacked.

This looked like a sure Democratic win of the seat formerly held by Henry Hyde. Duckworth was ahead of her opponent. 54% to 40% right before the election Somehow, Republican Peter Roskam pulled a win out right at the last minute.

Kaczmarek and her partner Melisa Urda had been looking at election problems in DuPage for some time. They'd discovered the improper destruction of public records; cronyism and political bias in contract awards; tens of thousands of purged voters; and "Suspiciously large voter turnout in many elections, affecting the outcomes in local and state races." An observer reported that a representative of Robis, DuPage's election manager in 2006, was in the tabulation room and appeared to have access to memory cards and the tabulator. Robis also was in charge of election night web hosting.

Does all of this add up to a fair out come for Tammy Duckworth? Does it help us understand how a 14 point lead turns into a 2 point loss?

More Trials for Don Siegelman

2006 also saw the return of Don Siegelman to the political scene after losing the governor's race in a dead of night recount in 2002. Larisa Alexandrovna's chapter tells this story with revelations that should have created a national scandal and mandated an investigation. In 2005, the Bush Department of Justice ended Seligman's attempt to retake the governorship by indicting Siegelman and gaining a conviction in October 2006 amidst rumors of jury tampering.

This was a death sentence for this once popular governor's political comeback. With help from the extremist establishment, Siegelman has gone from a broad majority win of 57% in 2002 to a seven year sentence in a federal prison.

Alexandrovna reports on the subsequent deposition and testimony by Dana Jill Simpson, an Alabama lawyer and opposition researcher who targeted Siegelman in 2002. Simpson told of White House involvement in the 2002 election and 2006 prosecution. She offered information on threats of federal prosecution in 2002 if Siegelman chose to contest the highly questionable recount that cost him the election. There was more. Simpson's car was run off the road and her home burned down before her testimony given to the House Judiciary Committee.

Siegelman has been freed from jail and the investigation continues with Karl Rove traveling overseas instead of honoring a House subpoena to testify on this matter. This series of attacks on Siegelman has turned him into a real world political version of Job.

2008 And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Given this sorry decline of elections since 2000, what can we anticipate in 2008?

Activists Nancy Tobi and Paul Lehto outline the regulatory and legal hurdles facing us.

Tobi has been a fierce advocate for clean elections for years. Her assessment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and the nearly dictatorial powers of the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) have favorably influenced national policy. In her chapter, she shows the connection between the lobbyist friendly HAVA, the politically appointed EAC, and the series of election disasters experienced under the rule of partisans with little regard for democracy. Her solution is both simple and practical, a return to citizen run elections with hand counted paper ballots.

Paul Lehto presents an engaging analysis of the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision. The court claimed it was a one time only decision and not to be used as a precedent. This decision effectively terminated the 2000 recounts in Florida. Lehto sees bigger things coming out of that ruling and questions the court's ability to resist the political power offered by expanding that precedent. He sees a malevolent future for the court and argues that by re-animating Bush v. Gore, the court will assume a new function -- "election termination."

Attorney, journalist and college professor Bob Fitrakis has been in the trenches opposing election fraud well before the 2004 Ohio travesty. During that post election controversy, he faced down threats of contempt of court for even speaking of a stolen election. Fitrakis summarizes the sad history of Ohio before, during and after 2004 from a position of real authority and uses it to anticipate what we can expect in the future.

By skillfully illustrating the latest outrage, Fitrakis tells us why Ohio's election problems continue. In 2007, we discovered that 56 of 88 Ohio counties destroyed 2004 ballots; evidence in a federal law suit on election fraud. Ballot preservation was ordered by a federal court and required by both Ohio and federal law. The same people in the 56 counties who wrongfully destroyed ballots from 2004 are in charge of running the elections in 2008. This is not a comforting situation.

What should we anticipate in 2008? We'll have at least more of the same according to journalist Steven Rosenfeld. He reminds us that election fraud almost always begins with the race-based strategy of contracting the vote of minority citizens. This is accomplished through voter suppression tactics like voter identification laws, active campaigning to restrict the right to vote by the Bush Department of Justice, and the ever present, unreliable, and always secret voting machines.

Rosenfeld reveals that the U.S. Department of Justice has made proactive requests for a number of states to "purge" their voting roles. This is exceptionally bad news since "purges" are inherently biased against poor and minority citizens. It was the Florida pre-election "purge" that got us into our current troubles.

Election 2008 will have all of the effective voter suppression tactics from the past and the lock step support of corporate media. There will, no doubt, be some new tricks to dazzle and amaze all of us in the multilevel, three dimensional magic show that passes for open and fair elections.

Mark Crispin Miller's Contributions

Without any doubt, Mark Crispin Miller is one of our most astute, accurate, and prolific critics of the Bush administration. He provided a dire warning in 2001 and two critical analyses of the 2004 election. Combined, these explain the shift from human rights to torture as the defining feature of our approach to the world and the relentless diminishment of the vast majority in order to subsidize the decadent elements of the corporate elite.

The Bush Dyslexicon by Miller was an early roadmap to the little explored territory of the Bush mind. Miller knew what few would admit. We had a president who could barely speak the English language when dealing with just about any topic other than war and revenge. On those topics, the brain fog cleared and Bush became alarmingly coherent.

Miller's compilation of Bush distortions was a source of humor for many. At the same time, it served as one of the great warnings for the next seven years: Bush and his cabal were extremists with a radical plan that would bring the nation to its knees.

Bush had won by losing in 2000. He did it again in 2004 but with better planning and support. Miller had no illusions about the "integrity" of the 2004 election. His efforts gave broad credibility to the notion of a stolen presidential election. He wrote a ground breaking article for the respected Harpers Magazine in August 2005, "None dare call it stolen: Ohio, the election, and America's servile press."

After showing the rampant fraud and irregularities in Ohio, all readily available to those who chose to look, Miller concluded that "the press has unilaterally disarmed" in the battle to maintain our very best national values.

Miller followed up with one of the great exposes of modern political commentary, "Fooled Again: The Case for Electoral Reform." He documented and analyzed the connection between the Republican extremists, corporate interests, and the political-religious factions that chose to serve as foot soldiers for a world view characterized by violence abroad and greed everywhere.

Miller's latest effort, Loser Take All, documents this sorry but powerful chapter of election fraud that started with the 2000 election. The carefully chosen articles and cogent narrative provided by Miller form a whole that is required reading for those interested in the restoration of our lost rights and the mobilization needed to put citizens in charge of their fate. Elections are the point at which capital, greed, and personal ambition dominate the field. It's not all about elections, but that's where it starts.

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