Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- August 12, 2008


The Fix is In – Again!

Ernest Partridge

August 12, 2008

Better get used to the idea: John McCain will probably be the next President of the United States.

The fix is in, as it has been in every election since 2000.

This follows from two overarching facts that the corporate media will not report, and the Democrats choose to ignore:

1. The ruling oligarchy can not allow a reformist Democrat to occupy the White House.

2. They have the means to prevent it, as they did in 2000, in 2004, and as they might do again in 2008.

All other aspects of this “election” – issues, personalities, media blitzes – are secondary and perhaps even irrelevant.

The Stakes

What “oligarchy”? It’s the “military-industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned us about in 1961, now expanded into a “military-industrial-academic-media-congressional complex.” These include corporate CEOs who earn more, in half a day, than their median workers earn in an entire year. These are among the one-tenth of one-percent richest Americans (annual income of more than $1.6 million) whose income from 1980 to 2002 increased two and a half times, while the median family income was essentially unchanged; the same super-rich 0.1 percent that received 15% of Bush’s tax cuts. These oligarchs sit on each others’ Boards of Directors, and on University Boards of Regents. They own the mass media and thus control the “news” that is fed the general public. (See theyrule.net).  And they fund political candidates before elections and, quid-pro-quo, dictate policy after elections.

To be sure, the super-rich (and getting richer) include a few progressive individuals such as Warren Buffet and George Soros, but they are the “mavericks.”  However, by and large, the “hyper-rich” (David Kay Johnson’s term), own, operate and control America.inc.

And they have benefitted enormously from both Democratic and Republican administrations, but most notoriously, from the administration of Bush the Lesser. They have looted the U.S. Treasury, increased the national debt to almost ten trillion dollars, hollowed-out and exported the manufacturing base, promulgated foreign imperialistic wars and sent the bill to future generations, and they have installed a tax structure that systematically draws the national wealth “upward” from the middle class that creates the wealth, into the pockets of those who own and control the wealth.

The oligarchy’s surrogates in Washington have, in defense of this corporatocracy, effectively put themselves above the law. Acts of Congress, when found inconvenient to “the unitary executive” President, are nullified by “signing statements.” Citizen rights, enumerated by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, have been swept aside, as have numerous international treaties which have the force of law. The list of illegal acts by the current administration is long and agonizingly familiar.  (See Dennis Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment).  And the Congress has steadfastly refused to apply the Constitutional remedy of impeachment.

The oligarchs are not about to give up all this ill-gotten loot, and in some cases find themselves before the bar of justice, by submitting to something called “reform,” instigated by “the will of the people.”

And they are quite capable of preventing such reform, and frustrating the people’s will.

Because, you see, they also own the privatized enterprises that count the votes with no independent means of validation.

Hidden in Plain Sight

The undisputed facts about “direct electronic recording” (DRE) voting machines should add up to a scandal. Instead of a scandal, we get a yawn.

These are the facts: the software that records the individual votes, and the software that “compiles” (collects) the vote totals, is “proprietary” which means, in a word, secret.  It is known only to the private companies that write the codes, and these companies are owned and managed by Republican partisans. Accordingly, if the software is programmed to “fix” an election, there is no direct way to expose the fraud. Conversely, even if the vote tabulation is entirely accurate and honest, there is still no way to validate the vote. It is, as some have called it, “faith-based voting.” (See my “The Greatest Story Never Told”).

Last April, the Democratic Congress attempted to pass a bill that would fund state efforts to replace DREs with paper ballots.  The GOP members, at the request of George Bush, defeated the measure.

Now why would they want to do that?  With all the suspicion of GOP election fraud at large in the public, one might suppose that the Republicans would be eager to require means of validation.  Yet somehow they are not.

For while there is no direct means of validating DRE totals, there is abundant statistical, circumstantial and anecdotal evidence that numerous elections, including the past two presidential elections, have in fact been stolen. (Because I have presented this evidence in numerous articles on the internet, I won’t repeat it here. But for documentation of these allegations, see my “Where’s the Outrage?”  and “Evidence? We Don’t Want Your Stinkin’ Evidence!," then follow the links therein).

We’ve heard the rebuttal from the right: “These allegations of election fraud are paranoid fantasies. The Republicans, and their friends in the voting machine industry, wouldn’t dare fix a national election. Such a conspiracy would be too massive to keep secret, and once it came to light, it would destroy the GOP.”

Quite frankly, I once believed that eventually the truth would out, and that it would devastate the Republicans.

But if the truth of election fraud were revealed, who would report it? The corporate media? Gimme a break!

In fact, the truth has come out, and from the inside of the DRE industry. A programmer, Clint Curtis, has testified under oath that he was asked by Congressional Candidate, Tom Feeney, to write a program that would fix an election and leave no trace of the crime.  He replied that it would be a simple matter to do so, but refused the offer.  Curtis later lost to Feeney in an election that posted totals at odds with post-election surveys.  (The Democratic Congress declined to investigate).  In California, word processor Steven Heller  released confidential legal documents proving that Diebold violated state law by installing uncertified software in state elections. For this act of civil disobedience, Heller pled guilty to a felony and was fined $10,000. And finally Steven Spoonamore, a McCain advisor and security researcher, disclosed that Diebold tampered with the 2006 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections, in which the Republican candidates overcame huge polling deficits to win the election. (Follow this link for the first of an eight segment interview with Spoonamore).

So the evidence of stolen elections, some from inside whistleblowers, is “out there,” reported by citizen groups and by the progressive internet. But not by the corporate media. And amazingly, the victims of this fraud, the Democratic Party and its candidates, are also silent.

So the system remains in place:  In the November election, 80% of the votes will be cast or tabulated by computer, including 38% on DRE machines with “proprietary” software.

Will the announced vote totals be accurate? Will the oligarchy-friendly manufacturers and programmers be tempted to “fix” the results? You can count on it. Will they in fact yield to the temptation, facing no legal consequences if they do? Unknown and unknowable.

But given the evidence from past elections, I have grave forebodings about the next.

The Diebold Zone

If, as in previous elections, the GOP friendly privatized election industry is up to its undetectable dirty tricks, then John McCain need not tally a majority of votes in key states to win the election. All he needs is to gather as many as 45% – into “the Diebold Zone” – and the DRE’s and the proprietary software codes will take care of the rest. Just as, arguably, Bush and the Republicans did in 2004. In a stunning essay, read by very few, Michael Collins explains how they did it. The DRE machines switched and stuffed millions of GOP votes in the big cities, where they would be least likely to be noticed. Collins’ evidence is compelling.

Again, not a word about this in the corporate media, and no investigations by law enforcement or by the Democratic Congress.

And so, to put the matter bluntly, McCain does not need a majority to win. Just plausibility.  As in 2000 and 2004, a plausible win is a win.

The media will not dispute it, much less investigate it.

But what if, once again, both pre-election polling and exit polling indicate an Obama victory, only to be overcome by a McCain “upset.”

When this happened in Ohio in 2004, the media and the GOP came up with “the reluctant voter theory,” whereby it was suggested that Bush voters were somehow less inclined than Kerry voters to talk with exit pollsters. No independent evidence was offered to explain this remarkable phenomenon, which seemed to be confined to precincts with DRE machines. 

This time, if John McCain achieves a stunning upset, there will be a more plausible explanation on hand to deal with any discrepancy with poll projections: “the Tom Bradley effect.” This phenomenon, which gets its name from the 1982 California gubernatorial race between Tom Bradley and George Deukmejian, indicates that a sizeable number of white voters who tell pollsters that race is not a factor in their voting choices, will in fact vote against a “person of color” when alone in the voting booth.

“The Bradley Effect” is extremely accommodating to the Republicans, since there is no way whatever to gauge its extent, if any. Thus almost any imaginable degree of “upset” can be explained away by this “effect.”

If McCain does win in a stunning upset, count on the corporate media to grab onto “The Bradley Effect” in an instant. The pundits will deplore the “fact” that racism still plays such a large part in our elections. But it will all be a charade.

Just remember: thanks to “faith-based” voting and compliant media, for McCain and the GOP a plausible victory is a victory. And “the Bradley Effect” provides the plausibility.

Is There Any Hope?

Due to the aforementioned circumstances, an Obama victory in November is unlikely. But it is not impossible.

The election is three months away, and the party conventions are just ahead. Three months in politics can be an eternity.

First of all, the oligarchs might decide that a Democratic win might not be all that troublesome, and thus might tell their friends in the voting machine industry to cool it and let the voters have their way. After all, there is an economic shit-storm in the offing, and the corporatocracy might be more than willing to see it happen on the Democrats’ watch.

Besides, as Matt Taibbi has argued this week, the corporatocracy pretty much owns Barack Obama anyway, and as the aftermath of the 2006 Congressional elections has proven, even when in control the Democratic party can be tamed and contained without much strain.

Second, the Obama campaign might come up with a brilliant strategy, though there is little indication so far of any such development. The Democrats have had four years to study the 2004 debacle and to plan a counteroffensive. For sure enough, 2008 is turning out to be 2004 redux, as Karl Rove and his acolytes dust off the old playbook and proceed accordingly. They know full well that McCain can not win legitimately on his merits, so instead, and predictably, they are attacking Obama: “an elitist,” “a celebrity,” “not one of us” (i.e., he’s black and maybe a Muslim), “he’s posing as ‘The One’” (i.e., he’s the anti-Christ).  As in 2000 and 2004, the Republican campaign is attempting to define its opposition.  And once again, they appear to be succeeding.

So has the Obama camp at last come up with an effective way to deal with the Sigretti-Atwater-Rove brand of gutter politics? To date, they have largely responded by being “positive” and concentrating on “the issues.” They should ask John Kerry how all that worked out for him.

It won’t do. It’s time for a Willie Stark moment. During his week-long retreat, Barack Obama should read Chapter 2 (in particular, pages 136-144) of Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men,” wherein Stark throws away his wonky, issue-clogged speech, speaks from his anguished and angry heart, and turns his fortunes around.

Strange to say, in this strangest of political years, Paris Hilton has shown the way. John McCain has to be taken down, and with ridicule. He is, after all, a ridiculous figure, spewing forth gaffes and errors almost daily, thus revealing his incompetence each and every time.. The McCain campaign, with its smears, innuendoes and outright lies, has given Obama the license to go negative. McCain has reversed himself on so many issues that his stand on any of them is not credible. So show video clips of McCain vs. McCain. He is tied to the despised Bush regime, so show those images of the Bush-McCain hug, and do so repeatedly as the media did with the Clinton-Monica hug at the rope line. Collect damaging video clips from You-Tube and let McCain speak his own refutation and condemnation. Then offer something better: an “audacity of hope.”

Can Obama and the Democrats overcome a rigged voting system and a hostile corporate media?

Unlikely, but not impossible.

The public clamor for change combined with the widespread disgust with McCain, Bush and the Republicans, must become so enormous as to overwhelm the propaganda of the corporate media and the finagling of the voting machines. Recall that despite all the media slander of 2000 ("inventing the internet," "discovering Love Canal"), Al Gore received a half million more votes than George Bush. And there is good reason to believe that in 2006, the Democratic Senatorial candidates in Montana, Virginia, and Missouri overcame GOP “fixes” in those contests.

In short, to win at all, the Democrats must win big.  A close contest within “The Diebold Zone” will likely go to John McCain.

And that is reason enough for progressives to stay in the fight and to redouble their efforts.


Copyright 2008 by Ernest Partridge


Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications

Conscience of a Progressive:  A book in progress. 

Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".   His e-mail is: gadfly@igc.org .





Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .