The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Second Big Catastrophe

Catastrophe Watch

The original run of the Watch came out in response to our country teetering on the edge of a catastrophe: the invasion of Iraq. The justification and execution of Bush's War violated the principles of a Just War, it violated the Powell Doctrine, and it violated international law. While it has not (yet) spun into a conflagration that involves the entire Middle East, as I had oringally feared, it is a nearly complete and total disaster from every other aspect. Yesterday, we learned that despite the fact that the neocons ignored all of the planning done by the State department and the military parts of the Pentagon, leading predictably to the disaster we have today, the neocons continue to blame the very departments they ignored (see "Catastrophic success: The Strategy to Secure Iraq Did Not Foresee a 2nd War").

The "justifications" for this war have all been shown to be false and misleading. Thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and limbs because "Saddam was gaming the oil-for-food system", now. Oh. Well, that explains and justifies everything, I guess.

But, as if stepping blithely and blindly into one huge fiasco of a disaster is not enough for our population, our country is teetering on the brink of giving the Chimpleton another term. This second catastrophe would be unbearably worse for our country than Bush's War. And so, there will be another, probably much shorter run of the Watch in the coming weeks. If Bush finally gets elected for the first time, it will allow the rest of the world to focus their hatred onto our citizenry, not just on our benighted leaders. That will be great.

Why Things Are Not As Bad As They Seem Watch

Going into the election, the polls are close. But there are at least four factors that I think make a Kerry election victory very likely. First, pollsters do not call cell phone numbers. Many people (especially young people) only have cell phones, have no phone tied to their residence, and therefore are invisible to polls. My assumption is that younger people like this will break for Kerry. Other people live in apartments, and when you live in apartments, you tend to move a lot, usually every year or two. People who move a lot are not listed as "likely voters", those voters who vote year after year at the same address. I don't think it is much of a stretch to think that people who live in apartments will break for Kerry. Finally, most pollsters are not polling newly registered voters, and there are a ton of them this year. I have heard that there have been more than 250,000 newly registered voters in PA this year alone, and that kind of energy will come from the challenger's side, not the incumbent's. Some articles state that in the Philadelphia area, new registrants have broken 9 to 1 in favor of the Democrats.

Finally, I don't believe a lot of the polls are honest. Many of them affiliate themselves with the same corporations that have a stake in getting the corporate party elected. Polls from the Zogby organization tend to be more reliable than polls from the Gallup organization, for example. The reason? Gallup has been oversampling Republicans. In 2000, the makeup of the people who voted is said to have been 39% democratic, 35% republican, and 26% independent. In 1996, those numbers were 39% democratic, 34% republican, and 27% independent. But in Gallup polls this year, they have been basing their results on a projected turnout that is 40% republican, 33% democratic, and 27% independent. If delusional oversampling of the GOP is based on anything besides the Gallup CEO being a GOP donor, I don't know what it is. See this for more details.

So, the reality of the election is that Kerry is likely to win it, certainly in the popular vote, and most likely in the electoral vote as well.

Why Things Are Worse Than They Seem Watch

On the other hand, while Kerry is likely to win the election (as Gore did in 2000 - and by that I mean that Gore actually won both the popular and electoral votes), we have to be realistic about what is going to happen afterwards. Rove will never concede. See this article for what has become for him a pattern. I had thought that the 2000 debacle was something unique, but it was in fact Rove standard operating procedure. The legal and media nightmare we went through last time will probably pale in comparison with the trickery, grandstanding, and accusations coming next month.

The corrupt leaders of the GOP will not concede this election, period. They will claim victory. What will the Democratic party do in the face of a political adversary that won't abide by a peaceful change of regime? This is one of the first times that we in the USA may have to find out the answer to that. My guess is that we will be forced to take it, as we were in 2000, as the corporate media tells us that everything is fine . . . nothing to see here.

Remember, the corporate press is completely on their side. They will say "Kerry will do anything to win", and that Democrats are "sore losers", and on and on, just as they did in 2000. The votes won't matter, the electoral college won't matter. They will dig their heels in.

I was feeling pretty good about our chances for regime change until I read this article, and realized this is exactly what we face, and exactly what we will face, in every election from now until the grip of the corporate media is broken. The GOP no longer has any shame. They don't even seem to care about being caught. No one is reprimanded. Dirty tricksters are just hired on to the Bush campaign, and the whorporate media snores.

A clip from the article:

In the race for chief justice, which had been neck and neck the evening before, Hooper awoke to discover himself trailing by 698 votes. Throughout the day ballots trickled in from remote corners of the state, until at last an unofficial tally showed that Rove's client had lost—by 304 votes. Hornsby's campaign declared victory.

Rove had other plans, and immediately moved for a recount. "Karl called the next morning," says a former Rove staffer. "He said, 'We came real close. You guys did a great job. But now we really need to rally around Perry Hooper. We've got a real good shot at this, but we need to win over the people of Alabama.'" Rove explained how this was to be done. "Our role was to try to keep people motivated about Perry Hooper's election," the staffer continued, "and then to undermine the other side's support by casting them as liars, cheaters, stealers, immoral—all of that." (Rove did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.)

The campaign quickly obtained a restraining order to preserve the ballots. Then the tactical battle began. Rather than focus on a handful of Republican counties that might yield extra votes, Rove dispatched campaign staffers and hired investigators to every county to observe the counting and turn up evidence of fraud. In one county a probate judge was discovered to have erroneously excluded 100 votes for Hooper. Voting machines in two others had failed to count all the returns. Mindful of public opinion, according to staffers, the campaign spread tales of poll watchers threatened with arrest; probate judges locking themselves in their offices and refusing to admit campaign workers; votes being cast in absentia for comatose nursing-home patients; and Democrats caught in a cemetery writing down the names of the dead in order to put them on absentee ballots.

As the recount progressed, the margin continued to narrow. Three days after the election Hooper held a press conference to drive home the idea that the election was being stolen. He declared, "We have endured lies in this campaign, but I'll be damned if I will accept outright thievery." The recount stretched on, and Hooper's campaign continued to chip away at Hornsby's lead. By November 21 one tally had it at nine votes.

The race came down to a dispute over absentee ballots. Hornsby's campaign fought to include approximately 2,000 late-arriving ballots that had been excluded because they weren't notarized or witnessed, as required by law. Also mindful of public relations, the Hornsby campaign brought forward a man who claimed that the absentee ballot of his son, overseas in the military, was in danger of being disallowed. The matter wound up in court. "The last marching order we had from Karl," says a former employee, "was 'Make sure you continue to talk this up. The only way we're going to be successful is if the Alabama public continues to care about it.'"

Initially, things looked grim for Hooper. A circuit-court judge ruled that the absentee ballots should be counted, reasoning that voters' intent was the issue, and that by merely signing them, those who had cast them had "substantially complied" with the law. Hooper's lawyers appealed to a federal court. By Thanksgiving his campaign believed he was ahead—but also believed that the disputed absentee ballots, from heavily Democratic counties, would cost him the election. The campaign went so far as to sue every probate judge, circuit clerk, and sheriff in the state, alleging discrimination. Hooper continued to hold rallies throughout it all. On his behalf the business community bought ads in newspapers across the state that said, "They steal elections they don't like." Public opinion began tilting toward him.

The recount stretched into the following year. On Inauguration Day both candidates appeared for the ceremonies. By March the all-Democratic Alabama Supreme Court had ordered that the absentee ballots be counted. By April the matter was before the Eleventh Federal Circuit Court. The byzantine legal maneuvering continued for months. In mid-October a federal appeals-court judge finally ruled that the ballots could not be counted, and ordered the secretary of state to certify Hooper as the winner—only to have Hornsby's legal team appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily stayed the case. By now the recount had dragged on for almost a year.

When I went to visit Hooper, not long ago, we sat in the parlor of his Montgomery home as he described the denouement of Karl Rove's closest race. "On the afternoon of October the nineteenth," Hooper recalled, "I was in the back yard planting five hundred pink sweet Williams in my wife's garden, and she hollered out the back door, 'Your secretary just called—the Supreme Court just made a ruling that you're the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court!'" In the final tally he had prevailed by just 262 votes. Hooper smiled broadly and handed me a large photo of his swearing-in ceremony the next day. "That Karl Rove was a very impressive fellow," he said.

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