Former Governor Don Siegelman continues to point to Karl Rove and the Bush White House in connection with his conviction and imprisonment. (Photo: impeachforpeace.org)
Also see, Election Fraud and Tyranny: Part 1
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.
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.