Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New York Times' Real Betrayal of America Wasn't SWIFT Transactions Story


The Republicans are out in force this week, accusing The New York Times of treason over its recent SWIFT transactions story. Never mind that this story is nothing new, or that the GOP house organ, The Wall Street Journal, reported the same story. It doesn't matter. Hatred of the supposedly "liberal" Times always plays well with the knuckle-dragging, Rush-listening GOP base.

I believe that if The New York Times ever betrayed the American people, it actually occurred back in 2002, during the buildup to the Iraq War. That was when the Bush White House was furiously trying to convince the nation that Iraq posed a threat to Americans and had WMDs.

Instead of doing what a truly free and independent media should do (taking a hard look at Bush's claims to see if they were true), the Times did the worst possible thing. It pretended to investigate Bush's claims and then ultimately gave its blessing to Bush's case for war. The only problem, of course, is that the Times was actually using the same unreliable and false sources that the Bush team was relying on.

Indeed, the likes of the now-discredited Ahmed Chalabi enjoyed warm and cozy ties with the NeoCons behind the Project for the New American Century, including Paul Wolfowitz. Instead of embracing the unreliable Chalabi as a primary source for its stories, the Times should have done what any high school journalist is taught on the first day of class: doublecheck all your sources.

If The New York Times had been properly doing its job, then Bush's case for war would have been exposed for the pack of lies that it was. Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. could have been spared the horrific, ongoing nightmare that the war has become.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Democrats Shouldn't Underestimate GOP's Propaganda Blitz on WMDs


Most Democrats greeted Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's absurd and implausible WMD claims with laughter last week.

The last time I heard such loud laughter from the Democrats was back when Bush's election people initially raised John Kerry's distinguished record in Vietnam as a campaign issue.

At the time, Democrats were stunned that the Bush people would dare raise Kerry's military record as a campaign issue when their own candidate had run away from serving in combat in Vietnam. This initial stunned reaction soon gave way to laughter, with Democrats firmly convinced that Karl Rove's tactic would never possibly work.

Unfortunately, the GOP enjoyed the last laugh in 2004. While any clear-thinking, rational adult knows that Kerry served with distinction, the GOP did find success in raising doubts in the minds of some voters about Kerry's record. And as a result, what should have been a slam-dunk plus in Kerry's favor was diminished somewhat by Election Day.

I fear that Democrats who are laughing at the GOP's recent silly WMD claims may find that the Republicans could get the last laugh this time around, as well.

Anyone who doubts that the GOP can succeed in convincing large numbers of Americans that Iraq did indeed possess WMDs is simply underestimating the awesome power of today's GOP Fox News/talk radio/right-wing propaganda machine.

The truth, of course, is that Bush's case for war was based on a pack of lies. No WMDs were ever found in Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has cost the U.S. more than 2,500 troop deaths and hundreds of billions in dollars, as well as countless Iraqi deaths. The entire enterprise now stands as perhaps the most colossal fiasco in the history of the United States.

With the November elections growing closer, GOP campaign strategists clearly have their work cut out for themselves. If indeed they can succeed in convincing at least some of the voters that the Iraq war was justified and that WMDs were indeed found there, this could well salvage the GOP's hopes in November.

Can the GOP pull it off? I think it's entirely possible. One thing I will give the GOP strategists credit for is that they excel at taking a simple message ("Kerry is a flip-flopper") and ramming it home through endless repetition. It's not the most subtle election campaign trick, but it's highly successful in its brute force simplicity.

This time, the GOP once again has a simple message: "Iraq did have WMDs!" It's a message that we can expect to hear repeated countless times between now and Election Day.

It doesn't matter that the "weapons of mass destruction" in this case are nothing more than useless, degraded, 20-year-old junk. That's not the point. All Rove and his minions have to do is plant the message in the minds of voters that the Iraq war was worthwhile, after all. By ramming home the message that "Iraq had WMDs" a million times between now and Election Day, the GOP could very well tip a number of closes races their way.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether the GOP's claims of WMDs in Iraq are, in fact, absurd. After all, so was their claim that Kerry wasn't really a war hero. The fact is, Democrats underestimate the relentless power of the Republican propaganda machine at their peril.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What Is Progressives' Game Plan If GOP Steals November Election?


Consider this scenario:

It's Nov. 8, 2006, the day after the midterm elections, and the Republicans are jubilant. Although pre-election polls showed that Americans were deeply dissatisfied with the performance of the GOP-led Congress, the Republicans have somehow managed to retain control of both the House and the Senate in a stunning setback for the Democrats. The GOP even managed to pick up a few seats.

Meanwhile, a few commentators pointed out troubling problems with the election. Just as in 2004, the exit polls turned out to be wildly inaccurate. GOP candidates in a number of races triumphed, despite lagging in both pre-election polls and in exit polls.

Many progressives and independents across the country have a sinking feeling that, once again, the vote has been rigged and/or stolen. A furious discussion about the prospect of a stolen election erupts on blogs and progressive sites across the Web. However, the story is ignored by the mainstream media, except for a couple of minor articles here and there that simply dismiss such talk as "conspiracy nut" speculation.

Could the above scenario happen?

Yes, it could. In fact, anyone who doubts this is naive.

Consider: there is a growing body of solid evidence that indicates that the GOP stole the elections in 2000 and 2004 while the mainstream media looked the other way. I find it incredible that any clear-thinking, rational adult could believe otherwise after reading Mark Crispin Miller's brilliant book, Fooled Again or Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" article in Rolling Stone.

And as far as the upcoming November election goes, not only is it clear that the election will be stolen, investigative journalist Greg Palast has already documented how the election theft will occur.

I think it's clear that we progressives should not only assume the GOP will steal the November election, we should already be making plans to counter this theft.


The progressive blog-o-sphere will no doubt engage in a lively discussion and analysis of the election theft. But the mainstream media can be counted on to once again snooze through this story. And without the MSM, it's almost certain that nothing will be done to address the election theft by the Powers That Be.

I'm sure there will be a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth by progressives. And, no doubt, there will be protests and demonstrations here and there across the country. But I suspect these demonstrations will be as ignored and as ineffective as were the gigantic, record-setting demonstrations that preceded the Iraq War.

What to do, then? I have a suggestion. Concerned Americans should indeed take to the streets when the GOP steals the November election. But we ought to protest in the immediate vicinity of nation's newspapers and other mainstream media outlets. Protests that happen right outside the door of the likes of The New York Times and CNN will be awfully hard for the MSM to ignore.

Such a series of protests would serve two purposes. One, it'd be such an in-your-face action that America's corporate media will have a difficult time ignoring it. The second purpose would be to send a very clear message to America's MSM that we're not going to allow them to snooze through yet another stolen election.

It is indeed a bleak and depressing prospect to think that the November elections will almost certainly be stolen once again. But I'd like to emphasize that I'm not suggesting that anyone not bother to vote in November. Not by any means. I still urge everyone to get out and vote.

As Palast has written:

How many times am I asked, "Why vote if they're going to steal the election?" That's the point: Make them STEAL it. Make them know they can't win UNLESS they steal it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Congress Gives Itself Another Pay Hike While Refusing To Increase Minimum Wage


For the past 10 years, Congress has stubbornly refused to raise the minimum wage, which is $5.15/hour. During this same period, Congress has voted to give itself one fat pay raise after another. This week, the GOP-led Congress awarded itself another generous raise----this time for $3,300 (which brings lawmakers' annual salaries to $168,500/year).

With the U.S. government facing a record budget deficit of over $8 trillion, it's disturbing that Congress is so generous with our tax dollars in giving itself raises. Surely, members of Congress aren't deluding themselves into believing that the American public approves of their job performance. In fact, polls show that the public has a dismal opinion of the way Congress is performing its job these days.

The most recent congressional pay hike comes on top of numerous other hefty pay hikes Congress has awarded itself in recent years. For example, in 2003, Congress voted to give itself a pay hike of $4,700. In 2002, the pay hike was $4,900. In 2001, it was $3,800. In 2000, it was $4,600. And on and on.

By refusing to increase the nation's Scrooge-like minimum wage, Congress is in effect annually cutting the wages of the millions of workers who struggle to get by on $5.15 an hour. Raising the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour would benefit 7.4 million workers directly, and another 8.2 million workers indirectly, according to a report on Almanac of Policy Issues.

Minimum wage isn't the only area in which Congress has been Scrooge-like. For example, the House has voted to cut health care and benefit programs for our nation's veterans by $85 billion. Clearly, members of Congress believe Americans need to tighten their belts---our lawmakers just don't want to share in the sacrifice themselves.

In real terms, America's current minimum wage is worth less than ever. Think Progress has pointed out that if the minimum wage today was worth what it was worth in 1968 (its peak value), it would be $8.88 an hour.

Nor are only minimum wage earners taking it on the chin in today's economy. In 2005, real wages for all the nation's civilian workers declined 2.3 percent, the largest such loss since 1981.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) recently introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years. To add your voice to a petition supporting this effort, go here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What The Left Can Learn From Ann Coulter


I'd never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but, in a way, Ann Coulter is brilliant and I think the Left in this country could learn a thing or two from her.

Bear in mind, I'm not praising Coulter's nutcase, Neo-Nazi, right-wing ramblings that she spews forth periodically in her books and articles. I'm talking about her technique. I think the Left has a lot to learn from the technique employed by Coulter (as well as the rest of the Fox News/Limbaugh/O'Reilly/Talk Radio GOP propaganda machine).

Let me explain:

In doing the publicity rounds to promote her latest piece-of-filth missive, Coulter generated a lot of (predictable and tiresome) publicity over a few choice excerpts from her book that attacked some of the widows of 9/11 victims.

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis," Coulter wrote. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

The furor over Coulter's comments about the 9/11 widows focused exclusively on the nasty attacks like the preceding passage. What you didn't hear in the media debate was much discussion of Coulter's main complaint about the 9/11 widows: namely that they were "using their grief in order to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding."

Among other targets, Coulter took aim at Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the Iraq War. Coulter claimed that when Sheehan speaks out, no one is allowed to challenge or respond to her.

This is the central point in Coulter's argument: if you lost a loved one on 9/11 or in the War in Iraq, you're allowed to say whatever you want and no one on the Right can respond.

There's only one problem. As usual, Coulter is full of crap. If indeed, no one is allowed to respond to Cindy Sheehan, then it would seem like there's a few folks on the Right who didn't get Coulter's memo.

Sheehan, was in fact "responded to" by the Right. Was she ever. She was the recipient of a massive, ugly tidal wave of Right Wing hatred, venom, insults and death threats.

In fact, I'd bet money that most Americans are not even aware of Sheehan's message, or what she's had to say about Bush and the Iraq War. By contrast, 99 percent of what has flooded the nation's airwaves about Sheehan hasn't been her own message, but rather the Right's extraordinary attacks on her.

Despite what Coulter says, the Right has always felt free to respond to, and attack, anyone who dared to question Bush, the government's response to 9/11, or the Iraq War.

However, by claiming that the Right is somehow prevented from responding to Bush's critics, Coulter has engaged in a brilliant piece of political strategy that I think the Left ought to study and learn from.

To sum up Coulter's technique: Siege Mentality.

You see, the Right has a bit of a problem right now. It controls all branches of government: the White House, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court. It controls the corporate mainstream media. It controls a majority of federal judgeships and most of the governorships in the U.S.

This raises a challenge for the GOP: how to motivate and rally the troops when you already have all the levers of power?

This is where siege mentality comes in. If you want to rally the troops, pretend that you're actually struggling and that you desperately need all the support you can get. Exaggerate the power of your opponent. Pretend that your hands are tied. Act as though the Left is dominant and has unbridled power---even to the point where liberals can prevent you from responding to those who would "lie" about President Bush.

I think today's Republican Party is, in a word, evil. It's the most evil major political party that has emerged in a First World nation since World War II. The GOP not only poses a major threat to working-class Americans, it is also a major threat to the rest of the world.

But there's an old saying "In order to defeat your enemy, you must know him." If the Left is ever going to regain power from the GOP, we must understand their bare-knuckled strategies and take the gloves off ourselves. I don't see that happening with today's Dems.

A lot of the Democrats I see are already smug about winning in November. Apparently, they believe that, just because Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet and the nation has gone to hell in a handbasket, that this alone means it's the Dems turn to run Congress.

But the Dems have seriously underestimated the GOP, time and time again. Despite the fact that they control all the levers of power, it's the GOP that has all the rage, anger and passion these days and it's the GOP that is working furiously to rally the troops, using techniques like Coulter's siege mentality. I get the feeling that, come November, once again the Democrats will wonder what hit them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Right-Wing Supreme Court's Latest Outrage: Handcuffing Whistleblowers


The stacking of the U.S. Supreme Court with a 5-4 right-wing majority has already been having a chilling effect on free speech and civil liberties in general. The latest outrage was in the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos, which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and the four dissenting justices, was in effect a ruling that First Amendment protections do not apply to public employees who report government misconduct.

Now, not only free speech but also clean, open government is in peril, because our high court has, by design, lurched so sharply to the hard-core, authoritarian right.

The case stemmed from an attempt by Richard Ceballos, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County, to expose police misconduct. He wrote a memo to his supervisors, the ACLU says, reporting that he believed that a deputy sheriff had falsified an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant.

The prosecution went ahead with the case, and Ceballos told the defense counsel of his findings. He was subpoenaed to testify at a hearing to dismiss the case, but the judge denied the motion, and Ceballos was taken off the prosecution team.

He was later denied a promotion, then demoted and transferred to another branch.

Writing for the court's majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said, "We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline."

The New York Times reported that in the dissents, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "The notion that there is a categorical difference between speaking as a citizen and speaking in the course of one's employment is quite wrong." He said, as the Times reported, that the ruling could have a "perverse" effect of giving public employees the incentive to speak publicly, as citizens, before taking matters up with supervisors.

The more likely effect will be that, because public employees will fear reprisals and firings, they won't report abuses. There will be great increases in official misconduct and governmental crime, undisclosed threats to public health, and more and more sinister government secrecy.

As Justice David Souter wrote in a separate dissent, this kind of speech "lies at the heart" of the kind of expression, in the public interest, that the First Amendment was intended to protect.

Once more, in the guise of the right's increasingly transparent pseudo-constructionism, the high court has moved the U.S. a big step closer to the kind of banana republic regime our "conservative" movement seems to lust for.

My wife has experienced the kind of harassment and discrimination that whistleblowers are subjected to. She survived such a climate for years. After nearly a decade in a public-sector job, she opted for early retirement, probably just a step or two ahead of being wrongfully fired by a supervisor. I suspect that the only reason she got out just in time was officials' fear of a lawsuit.

Now, any such restraint on the actions of vindictive supervisors has been stripped away. It will be open season on whistleblowers. And, chalk up another win for those who, while giving lots of lip service to "freedom," are doing all they can to hasten its demise.

Expect Roe v. Wade to be coming into the crosshairs very soon.


Friday, June 09, 2006

U.S. Guilty Of The Same Crimes As al-Zarqawi


It seems like all the talking heads in Pundit Land are overjoyed at the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Even a lot of liberal Web sites are gleeful. I have to admit, I was a bit baffled by the Daily Kos post that happily celebrated al-Zarqawi's death. For a moment there, I thought I'd mistakenly clicked into or some other right-wing nutcase site.

Curiously, the one person you'd expect to be more grateful than anyone for al-Zarqawi's death, Michael Berg, father of slain hostage Nick Berg, emphasized Thursday that he wasn't happy at all and called it a "tragedy." Instead of expressing bloodthirsty glee, Michael was a rare voice of reason on a day when America's pampered, overpaid talking heads were expressing happiness.

"Zarqawi felt my son's breath on his hand as held the knife against his throat. Zarqawi had to look in his eyes when he did it," Berg said in an Associated Press interview. "George Bush sits there glassy-eyed in his office with pieces of paper and condemns people to death. That to me is a real terrorist."

Let's assume that al-Zarqawi was indeed an evil bastard who tortured people and blew up civilians. Does the U.S.--or Bush--have a moral leg to stand on in criticizing him?

I don't think we do. The fact is: our leaders are guilty of the same crimes that we accused al-Zarqawi of----and on a much grander scale. The only difference is that, instead of being inspired by religious fanaticism, our leaders are motivated by plain, old grubby money (in the form of Iraq's oil).

Al-Zarqawi was accused of being behind a wave of terror, including such acts as torture, the slaughtering of civilians and the beheading of hostages.

Hmmmm. Torture. The killing of civilians. Assassinations.

Does that ring a bell? Actually, that is something the U.S. was doing long before Bush's illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq.

You want torture? How about Abu Ghraib prison?

How about the killing of civilians? Try Haditha. And if you want to open the discussion up beyond Iraq, the U.S. has killed many civilians worldwide over the years (millions in Vietnam alone).

Assassinations? The U.S. is guilty of too many to list here. However, I will mention that ironically, the CIA once contracted none other than Saddam Hussein himself to attempt an assassination of Iraq's prime minister in 1959.

How about U.S. bombings that have killed tens of thousands of men, women and children in Iraq? The carnage from U.S. bombs dwarfs al-Zarqawi's death toll many times over.

Granted, we haven't beheaded any hostages. But we have done crimes that even al-Zarqawi never did (such as using horrifying chemical weapons that melt human flesh on the people of Fallujah).

And we've probably also done a million other things that our lazy, incompetent media has never bothered to report.

Bottom line: the U.S. has committed the very same crimes that it accused al-Zarqawi of. Instead of celebrating his death, we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and consider whether we've sunk to the same depth of evil as our enemies.

Frankly, the likes of bloodthirsty, hate-spewers like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck scare me every bit as much as al-Zarqawi and bin Laden. The only difference is that the latter are willing to die for their beliefs, while Coulter and Beck cynically exploit Bush's "war on terror" with their hate-filled jingoistic tirades, so that they can fund their millionaire's lifestyles of luxury and comfort.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

10 Issues Bush Ignores While Pushing Amendment Banning Gay Marriage


While George W. Bush is spending his time pushing for a "marriage protection" constitutional amendment (which an ABC News poll this week showed that a majority of Americans oppose) here are some issues that he could be addressing instead:

1. America is going broke. Our nation's total fiscal obligation, in current dollars, now totals at least $44.2 trillion. (That's trillion, with a "T"). America's snowballing government deficit is unprecedented in world history and is so massive that it costs the U.S. over $300 billion a year just to service the debt interest.

2. Osama bin Laden roams free, and continues to rally supporters with video dispatches, nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on The World Trade Center.

3. Global warming is a ticking time bomb. The vast majority of scientists say we have only 10 years to "avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced."

4. The U.S. dollar is in jeopardy. That's the view of an increasing number of economic commentators, including the second-richest man in the world, Warren Buffett, who warns the the U.S. is at risk of becoming a "sharecropper’s society." If the dollar melts down, America's reign as a superpower will end.

5. Forecasters predict another harsh hurricane season. And despite what Bush says, the U.S. is ill-prepared.

6. The U.S. is not adequately protected from another terrorist attack. That's the view of the former Sept. 11 Commission, which in a report in December, charged the Bush White House with failing to protect the country against another terrorist attack.

7."One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." That's not a quote from Howard Dean. It's from William F. Buckley Jr., the dean of conservative American authors, writing in National Review, the bible of American conservative thought.

8. Terrorist attacks worldwide are at an all-time high. Despite Bush's claims that "we're winning" the war on terror, the U.S. State Department reported in April that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total. The attacks killed more than 14,600 noncombatants, including 56 Americans.

9. The most recent U.S. Census data shows that 45.8 million Americans (about 15% of the total population) had no health insurance coverage in 2004, a rise of 850,000 from the previous year. Overall U.S. health care performance is ranked 37th by the World Health Organization, far below the average of developed nations.

10. A May CBS news poll showed that Americans say "the most important problems" facing the country are: the war in Iraq (28 percent), economy/jobs (15 percent), immigration (12 percent), gas/heating oil crisis (6 percent), terrorism (5 percent), health care (4 percent), defense/military (3 percent) and Bush himself (3 percent).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bush's Lies To Troops To Blame For Haditha


At first glance, the following two stories about Iraq seem to be about totally different topics:

If you stop and think about it, the above two seemingly unrelated stories may well be connected.

I don't pretend to know what may have caused the troops to kill women and children. But it might be possible to get insight into this by taking a look at what it is that motivates our troops in Iraq, period.

And just what does motivate our troops in Iraq?

Vengeance. Hatred. Seething anger. A desire for "payback" for 9/11.

As Mark Crispin Miller notes in his 2004 book, Cruel and Unusual:

"Bush sent a very different message to our harping on Iraq's alleged complicity in 9/11, and by hyping the fictitious `terrorist threat' posed by that nation. Because of such inflammatory propaganda, our troops were motivated mainly by a craving for revenge, as after the destruction of Pearl Harbor. Throughout the march to war, and through the first year of the war itself, payback was on everybody's mind. `The only thing that motivates all the soldiers fighting in Iraq is payback for Sept. 11, 2001,' reported Reuters."

Miller continues:
"That lust for righteous vengeance has helped push our troops toward barbarism---which is often frightening even to themselves."

Personally, I find it astonishing that, to this day, 90 percent of U.S. soldiers believe the Iraq war is retaliation for Saddam’s non-existent role in 9/11. The fact is, the Bush White House has deliberately lied to our soldiers in Iraq. By feeding them a steady stream of BS about Iraq's "ties" to 9/11, our corrupt leadership has created a situation in which our troops are filled with rage and hell-bent on vengeance: a situation that has been directly responsible for the barbaric acts that we've seen committed by U.S. troops in Iraq.

In the weeks ahead, our media can be counted on to ponder endlessly about "what could have led to the tragedy at Haditha?" But I think the finger of blame should be pointed at the Bush White House for the steady diet of lies and deliberate misinformation it has fed to our troops.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Taking A Look At The Theft Of The 2004 Election


This week, we've seen a resurgence of interest in the topic of the theft of the 2004 election, thanks to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s massive "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" article in Rolling Stone, (which you can read online here).

Additionally, investigative reporter Greg Palast has posted his latest investigative piece on the topic of the 2004 election theft. As Palast notes in his article, "239,127 votes for President of the United States were dumped, rejected, blocked, lost and left to rot uncounted."

With the recent resurgence of interest in the topic of the 2004 election theft, I figure this would be a good time to re-visit an interview that did with author Mark Crispin Miller, who wrote a whole book, Fooled Again, on the topic of the 2004 election theft. Below is our interview with Miller, which we first published last December:


In the following interview with, author Mark Crispin Miller talks about his new book, Fooled Again, which takes a look at the 2004 election. In this interview, Miller describes how America's current election system is "rotten to the core." He explains why American democracy is finished if the nation doesn't implement serious electoral reform immediately.

In a nutshell, what is your new book, Fooled Again, about?

Miller: The theft of the 2004 election. The book provides an overview of all the many tactics and devices that were used nationwide--indeed, worldwide--to cut the Kerry vote and pad the Bush vote. It's also an analysis of the fanatical mentality behind that vast crusade against American democracy.

What motivated you to write this book?

Miller: A sense of civic outrage, not only at the fraud itself but at the general silence over it. With just a few exceptions here and there, the whole political establishment, the press included, steadfastly refuses even to acknowledge the grave danger of election fraud.

If we don't have serious electoral reform ASAP, American democracy is finished; and yet both parties and the press are largely unified in deeming last year's race legitimate. So there's been next to no debate over a major danger to American democracy, and, therefore, to our very lives and liberty.

That silence is a grave betrayal of American ideals, and an insult to common sense, and I wrote Fooled Again to break it.

At what point did you first become aware of problems in the 2004 election?

Miller: Big problems were already popping up before Election Day--not just in Ohio, but in Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and a lot of other places.

There was evidence of a concerted effort to disenfranchise Democrats by using fake opinion pollsters in Nevada, Oregon, New Jersey, West Virginia and elsewhere. There were intimidation tactics, blunt obstructionism, state disinformation drives, and even break-ins, all over the country.

There was interference with the huge vote of Americans abroad. All such evidence was on the public record--not in any prominent place, but out there on the record--prior to Nov. 2. After Bush & Co. miraculously won, all memory of those problems seemed to disappear completely from the national radar screen.

Did you encounter many obstacles in writing this book? For example, did you find that officials were reluctant to talk, or that records were difficult to obtain?

Miller: A lot of evidence was missing when I wrote the book and is still missing now.

For instance, we still don't have the raw precinct-level data that was used by the official exit pollsters. The media corporations that paid for it won't make it available to independent scholars. And certainly the politicians and the bureaucrats, the party operatives and corporate personnel, observed a stubborn silence on a broad range of electoral concerns.

Across the board, Republicans refused to answer questions; and a lot of Democrats were strangely eager not to talk about the numerous anomalies, contradictions, improprieties. Such stonewalling was a given, something that you had to work around.

The evidence in Fooled Again comes either from the public record, or from people not afraid or disinclined to tell the truth.

The mainstream media in this country have been reluctant to examine problems with the 2004 election. Why do you think this is?

Miller: The U.S. media does not provide the crucial civic service that the Framers had in mind when they extended constitutional protection to the press.

The U.S. press today, in other words, does not inform the people for the purpose of republican self-government. It answers not to us, but to its parent companies, their shareholders and advertisers, and, not least, the government, which keeps the cartel well-protected from the people.

Whereas America's free and independent press was meant to function as a major part of our great system of checks and balances, and thereby help to keep us free from state dominion, the juggernaut that we now call "the media" is itself an instrument of such dominion. It does not report the news so much as it determines which news is, and which news isn't, beneficial to those managing the state. (By and large, this process works not through conscious and deliberate policing from on high, but far more subtly, through the fears and needs and aspirations of the people working in the media at every level.)

This is why the U.S. press will not report whatever news might pose a threat to the political establishment. It's why they never did report the truth about Bush/Cheney's drive for war against Iraq, even though there always was abundant evidence against the claims that Bush & Co. were making. It's why they've quickly veered away from every story that, if followed through, could well have blown the Bush regime to smithereens: 9/11, Gannongate, Katrina.

And, worst of all, it's why the press refuses to report the ever-worsening condition of American democracy: last year's election fraud; the current push by Diebold to get its DRE machines into more precincts coast to coast, despite a growing wave of popular resistance; the mammoth money-laundering operation that was used to pay for the subversion of the race last year; the Bush regime's attempts to gut the Voting Rights Act; and so on.

Do you believe that our nation's election system problems will be fixed in time for the 2006 elections?

Miller: There simply isn't enough time. We do have time to get a good start on improving things considerably by 2008. Before the next election, there is time to organize a national grass-roots polling operation in the most important places. Such an effort--which ought to be bipartisan, or non-partisan--would at least provide us with a rough idea as to how accurate the final vote-count really is.

In the meantime, we must do everything we can to force the scandal of last year's election out into the light of day. Once people know what really happened, they will demand electoral reform, and then we can debate how best to do it. If, on the other hand, the people keep on thinking, or half-thinking, that that election was legitimate, reform will seem unnecessary.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We have to tell the nation--and the world--that things are badly broken here. If we do not, American democracy will soon be past repair.

I'd imagine that, after reading your book, there will be many alarmed citizens out there who will be wondering what they can do to help ensure honest elections in the future in America. What would be your advice to them?

Miller: The effort must be local as well as national. Those concerned should learn about the voting system where they live and vote (or try to vote), and work to make it as efficient and transparent as possible.

There are currently aggressive efforts under way to get Diebold machines approved, or their use extended, in New York, Pennsylvania (Bucks County), North Carolina, Arizona and New Mexico. In all those places there are grass-roots movements dedicated to genuinely democratic systems and procedures.

If you live in such a place, join that movement. If there's no such movement and you see the need for one, start one up. If you don't think there's any need for one, devote yourself to working on the problem at the national level. (For a sense of the broad range of possibilities, check out

The national effort must begin with--again--a vast campaign to tell the people what went down last year. Be relentless. Tell your elected(?) representatives, and the media, to investigate the fraud last year, deal openly and thoroughly with the danger of election fraud right now, and to pursue the issue of electoral reform ASAP.

It simply will not happen if you don't demand it.

Overall, are you optimistic or pessimistic, long-term, about the fairness of elections in America?

Miller: The current system's rotten to the core. As far as the people are concerned, however, I'm an optimist. I'm confident that, when they learn the truth, they'll make the right decisions. That's why I wrote Fooled Again.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

FEMA's 600 Prison Concentration Camps: Who Are They For?


"The truth is yes--—you do have these standby provisions, and the plans are here...whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism, evoke the military and arrest Americans and put them in detention camps."
---Late Democratic Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez

Does George W. Bush's illegal wiretap program have you worried these days? How about the NSA's massive effort to document all your phone calls?

If that doesn't send chills down your back, how about Bush's Orwellian "Patriot" Act, that gives Big Brother the right to sift through your medical, library and financial records? Or Bush's Justice Department, which could well be snooping on your online activities at this very moment?

Still not spooked?

OK, if the following doesn't give you the chills, nothing will: currently there are more than 600 prison camps in America, ready to receive occupants. The government is tight-lipped about the purpose of these prison camps. But one thing's clear. They most definitely exist. And although the camps are currently empty, they clearly exist for some purpose. But what?

Some analysts believe the camps are connected to Rex 84, a program launched by the Reagan administration in (appropriately enough) the year 1984. It was a plan by U.S. government officials to "test their ability to detain large numbers of American citizens in case of massive civil unrest or national emergency."

Additionally, in January 2006, Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root) received a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to build "temporary detention" centers in the U.S.

As the investigative journalist Ritt Goldstein has noted:

(When Reagan) "was considering invading Nicaragua, he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a "crisis" such as "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad". They were never used.

Fast-forward two decades and the situation we face today has gone from bad to worse. America is currently mired in an increasingly unpopular bloody quagmire in Iraq, thanks to Bush's lies. More and more Americans are speaking out against this senseless, illegal war. And Bush has cynically used 9/11 to systematically crack down on our civil liberties.

Considering his utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution, do you think Bush would hesitate to lock up his opponents in a massive crackdown on dissidents in America? Recall that this is the same administration that never hesitated to crush its opposition, whether it is slandering war heroes or treasonously outing CIA agents. This is an administration that already operates secret prisons in Eastern Europe and has embraced torture as an official instrument of U.S. policy.

The Bush/Cheney junta has never hesitated to do whatever it takes to consolidate its power and crush its opponents. I don't think these thugs would hesitate for a second to lock up dissidents in America, if they felt their power was threatened. It's easy to imagine what could trigger a state of martial law in this country (another 9/11-style attack, for example). And when the day comes when Bush cracks down on us dissidents, the prison camps are already prepared and ready to go.