Issue 114 - November 18 2004



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“The Confederacy has finally won,” declared Dr. Michael Dawson, Harvard Professor of Government and African American Studies. “Forget about Red vs. Blue. The states that voted for  President Bush were the territories and states which allowed slavery (with one or two small exceptions at the border – Iowa and Maryland).” Indiana and Ohio are also “free state” anomalies that don’t match the pre-Civil War map – but the Green and Libertarian parties are set for a recount that just might turn Ohio from Red to Blue, no thanks whatsoever to the Democratic standard-dropper, John Kerry.

The Greens, who don’t stand to win anything except the respect and admiration of all decent people, raised nearly $150,000 in only four days to challenge George Bush’s unofficial 136,000 vote margin in each of Ohio’s poll precincts. Kerry had the same option and plenty of cash on hand ($15 million in unspent campaign funds), but took the Skull and Bones path, fearing a contested outcome might damage the legitimacy of a system that he values just as dearly as his erstwhile opponent, George Bush – Black voters be damned. There is no law against making a concession speech and getting a recount, but oligarchs like Kerry treasure stability above all else – it keeps them on top.

Dr. Dawson’s Confederate analogy is also applicable to the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee, captives of the Dixie-born and bred Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Founded in the mid-Eighties for the sole purpose of retaining white southern voters by weakening the influence of African Americans and labor, the DLC has failed miserably in its home region while tightening its death grip on the national party. Loathing constituencies – especially the Black base – the DLC cares not a whit for the morale of the African American citizens who bore the brunt of Republicans’ Election Day abuse, or for the tens of thousands of volunteers who worked so hard to overload Bush’s theft machinery with votes. Untold thousands had their rights amputated on November 2, yet Kerry doesn’t even care to locate the missing limbs.

God Save The Greens! 

"I don't expect to win Ohio," said Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, stating the obvious. "But the Green Party has been standing up for democracy and the right for all voters to cast their votes." In addition to the $113,600 filing fee, the Greens and Libertarians must quickly train and field a small army to unravel what happened in Ohio's 11,306 precincts. They will confront the infinitely devious Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who should by now rival Clarence Thomas as the Black man most hated by African Americans. Blackwell is employing every trick in the book – and off the books – to shrink the 150,000-plus pool of provisional ballots that he never intended to count, judging by his dismissive comments on election night. The Greens and Libertarians have demanded that Blackwell “recuse himself from the recount process."

Less than 10 percent of Ohio’s provisional ballots were thrown out in 2000. However, according to the Associated Press, Blackwell’s minions are rejecting 19 percent this time around, and about a third of the provisional ballots cast in Cuyahoga County, where heavily Black Cleveland is located.  A majority of all provisional ballots, “came from the 15 counties Kerry won,” the Free Press reported.

Over 90,000 ballots were thrown out on November 2 for “over-vote” or “under-vote” problems. "This suggests another hanging chad problem," said Cobb, the Green. "To simply discard 92,000 votes when only 136,000 votes separate the winner from the loser is problematic at best."

At the Daily Kos, one of the best nitty-gritty politics sites on the web, a visiting trial lawyer on Sunday calculated the odds that Kerry could overcome Bush:

“Let's say only 70% of the provisionals count – a bit higher than the 2/3 being reported in Cleveland – but let's go with it. 70% of 155,000 is 108,500. Let's assume 90% are for Kerry [he claims Gore got 90 percent of provisional votes in 2000].That would mean 97,650 votes for Kerry and 10,850 votes for Bush, a lead for Kerry of 86,800. Subtracting that from Bush's current lead of 132,000 yields a Bush lead of 45,200.

”Now we move on to the undervotes. If 90% is too high for the number to be counted (unlike provos, there is a standard and a history to go with it), let's use 80% instead, to be conservative (no pun intended). 80% of 93,000 is 74,400. Use the same percentage (80%) for Kerry (again, no reason to change here – the ballots are what they are). 59,520 votes for Kerry, 14,880 for Bush, a net of 44,640. So now the lead for Bush is 560 votes – gee, isn't that really close to 537? [Bush’s 2000 Florida margin.] And remember, we haven't even touched the other aspects of a recount (some overvotes may count, not as many as we'd like, and who knows what may be under those voting machine rocks when they get turned over in the recount). We are still in the game!”

His figures do not include absentee and military ballots.

The “game” is more than just about winning; it is about resistance to state criminality and racial oppression. Journalist Greg Palast warns that Secretary of State Blackwell “will ultimately decide which spoiled and provisional ballots get tallied.” But at least there will be a wrestling match – a spectacle that is owed to the Democratic voters of Ohio and the nation. It is an awesome indictment of Kerry and the DNC that two minor parties are doing the Democrat’s – and democracy’s – work. As is Ralph Nader, whose recount in New Hampshire may lead him to do the same in Florida.

The criminals’ footprints

John Kerry narrowly won New Hampshire, matching or bettering Al Gore’s 2000 performance in 229 out of 300 voting wards. However, a Michigan software programmer named Ida Briggs noticed that, in 71 wards, George Bush “did better in 2004 than he did in 2000.” Wired News reports:

When Briggs broke the 71 wards down by voting equipment – separating wards into those that used traditional paper ballots and those that used optical-scan machines – she discovered that 73 percent of the wards used optical-scan equipment, while only 27 percent used traditional paper ballots. Even more interesting was the breakdown per brand of voting equipment. New Hampshire wards used optical-scan equipment made by Diebold Election Systems and Election Systems & Software. About 62 percent of the wards with anomalous results used Diebold machines.

“Thank God New Hampshire has a paper trail so we can just sit down and count the paper ballots," said Briggs. Ralph Nader only had to plunk down a $2,000 deposit to initiate a recount in 11 selected wards to determine if there is a problem with the machines. Much of Florida uses Diebold Election Systems and Election Systems & Software equipment, but Nader will have to sue that state to get a recount. He’s waiting on the results from New Hampshire to decide if there is “a compelling reason” to put Florida’s machines to the test.

BlackBoxVoting activist Bev Harris and a team of researchers and video camerapersons are already in Florida, bagging evidence of fraud in Volusia County, where Harris documented electronic irregularities in 2000. Despite hostility and some stonewalling from the rednecks-in-charge, Harris salvaged what may be proof of federal crimes, cavalierly committed.

”We began to compare the special printouts given to us with the signed polling tapes from election night. Lo and behold, some were missing. We also found some that didn't match. In fact, in one location, precinct 215, an African-American precinct, the votes were off by hundreds, in favor of George W. Bush and other Republicans….

”So, we compared these with the Nov. 2 signed ones and the "special' ones from Nov. 15 given to us, unsigned, and we found several of the MISSING poll tapes. There they were: In the garbage.

”So, Kathleen went to the car and got the polling place tapes we had pulled from the warehouse garbage. My my my. There were not only discrepancies, but a polling place tape that was signed by six officials.

”This was a bit disturbing, since the employees there told us that bag was destined for the shredder.

Investigations like Harris’s, combined with statistical analyses and various legal actions, may not in the end send the Bush II administration to the shredder – but they are critical to undermining the regime’s legitimacy and to serve those who have been disenfranchised by the Bush men. Moreover, as with the Watergate investigation of 1972-1974 (see November 11, 2004 “Rule by Theft: Reconstructing the Crime”), political crimes should be treated as criminal conspiracies, not mere “power games.” If a tenth of the fraud that is suspected turns out to be true, hundreds of Republican operatives (and voting machine company executives and employees) should be headed toward prison by the end of Bush II, ratting each other out all the way.  There is immense value in putting the “fear of God” (and prison) into Republican and corporate ranks.

Statistical investigation is key: Just as street gang territories are marked by graffiti, patterns of vote tampering can be discerned by statistical analysis. As we wrote last week: “There may soon be compelling circumstantial evidence of how the crimes were committed and, by deduction, the identity of the conspirators.”

International assistance

Much of the world wants to prosecute the Bush men. New Zealand’s Scoop Internet News Agency released the results of its study of a “full set of 4pm exit poll data” retrieved before the corporate media began doctoring the numbers to conform to election results. The election returns diverge dramatically from the exit poll numbers, revealing a glaring anomaly. “We can see that 42 of 51 states in the union [counting DC] swung towards George Bush while only nine swung towards Kerry,” Scoop reports. “Ordinarily in the absence of an obvious mistabulation error, roughly the same number of states should have swung towards each candidate.” The article continues:

Moreover many of the states that swung against Democratic Party hopeful John Kerry swung to an extent that is well beyond the margin of error in exit polls. Exit polls by their nature - they ask voters how they actually voted rather than about their intentions - are typically considered highly accurate.

”Last week in an analysis of a similar, but incomplete set of data, Dr Stephen F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania calculated that the odds of just three of the major swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania all swinging as far as they did against their respective exit polls were 250 million to 1.”

Behind such anomalies lie packs of criminals. We must flush them out.

Misplaced faith in counsel

“Everybody was ‘doing’ lawyers,” said Patricia Ford, Unity ’04 co-chair, and chair-elect of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), a who’s who of traditional national African American organizations. “But when you need the lawyers, it’s too late.”

Ford, a former Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union who came up through the ranks of labor, said Democrats “should have known that the Republicans were going to steal the election. The strategy should have been, let’s protect that vote the best that we can.” She lamented the meager funding that traditional Black organizations received for “voter protection” activities. “I don’t believe we did enough to ensure that the votes that were in those machines would be protected. For the legal effort, we did a great job – the lawyers in the field and at the command centers. What we did not do was anything to ensure whether that vote was accurate.” While amply-funded “527” organizations scoured Black neighborhoods signing up voters, little thought was given to whether those votes would be counted.

If one is to believe the official numbers, time-tested voting patterns reversed themselves on November 2. “Urban precincts tend to come in late,” said Ford, “so if the candidates supported in the urban areas are holding their own early in the day, they win.  By the end of the day, the numbers begin to change drastically in their favor.” Instead, Bush’s numbers got bigger.

Connecticut lawyer Ian H. Solomon, among the thousands of attorneys doing pro bono democracy work on Election Day, muses: “Could we have been so naive?” It’s a rhetorical question. Solomon had reckoned that “by my presence, along with other Democratic lawyers, I lent an air of legitimacy to the voting process, which, by and large, seemed fair enough. But one thing troubled me: who was checking to make sure the data contained in the digital memory cards actually matched the voters’ intentions marked on the paper ballots?” wrote Solomon in the Hartford Courant. “We had been so worried about voting law that we neglected voting technology. Most important, we had been so worried about voter suppression in poor and minority areas that we didn’t pay attention to voter inflation in Republican areas [italics ours].”

Patricia Ford faults the monied people who dominated the Democratic electoral apparatus and insisted that they knew best. “Until Blacks raise the fundamental issue of racism and come up with our own agenda, this is going to continue to happen,” said Ford.

Statistical nonsense

There were about half-million more Black Republican presidential voters in 2004 than in 2000 – bad news, but not nearly as pivotal a development as claimed by the GOP, the corporate media and even some segments of the Black press. The conventional wisdom is that Black churchgoers joined religious whites in defense of “moral values” and, especially, in opposition to gay marriage, which was on the ballot in a number of “battleground” states. Republicans go further, proclaiming that the 11 percent GOP slice of the Black electorate in 2004 (up from 9 percent or less in 2000) is proof that a “new Black conservatism” is emerging – a phenomenon supposedly fueled by, depending on the “spin” of the moment, disenchanted younger Blacks or highly religious older African Americans or comfortable middle-class Blacks of all ages.

Nothing of the kind has occurred. This election cycle was the most expensive and intensive in recent history – it brought out lots of everybody, voters of all sorts. And lots of people were paid to turn out voters, most notably a class of Black preachers coaxed out of the apolitical woodwork by millions of dollars in faith-based bribes from the Bush administration. The Black vote soared from 10.5 million (including about a million Republicans) in 2000 to 13.2 million in 2004, an increase of more than 25 percent. By ’s calculations, almost 20 percent of the new Black voters were Republicans, boosting the GOP’s share of a much larger 2004 Black vote to 11 percent, including about 1.5 million Republicans.

Put another way, the increase of roughly half a million Black Republicans among the 2.6-plus million additional Black voters in 2004 amounted to twice as many additional Black votes as Bush would have gotten had he been kept to 9 percent Black support, as in 2000. With 11 percent of a much larger Black electorate, Bush picked up about a quarter million more Black votes than he should have. In raw numbers, that’s not an eye-popping return on the huge Republican investment in propaganda and bribery in the Black community.

To the extent that these quarter million unexpected Black voters were drawn from previously politically inactive churches, they represent no real “shift” in the Black electorate at all, but merely the Election Day activation of a relatively small but heavily shepherded flock that had not heretofore been involved in the shaping of the historical Black Political Consensus. The ground is not shaking. Yet, to hear the corporate media tell it, one would think an earthquake had rocked the African American world. Clarence Page, the Chicago Tribune’s syndicated Black columnist, spun a tale of massive Black desertion of Democrats:

”When the final votes came in, President George W. Bush's black vote looked like a drop in the bucket amid his national flood, but it looked like a big hole in the bucket for his Democratic opponent.

”In a black vote that surged upward about 25 percent from 2000 to 13.2 million voters, 11 percent of it went to Bush, compared to 8 percent in 2000.

”But the real cost to Sen. John Kerry appeared in key battleground states like Ohio, where Bush received an impressive 16 percent of the black vote, 7 points more than he received in 2000. In Florida, 13 percent of the black vote went to Bush, almost twice what received there four years ago. And in Pennsylvania, which Kerry won, Bush still took 16 percent of the black vote, up from 7 percent in 2000.

”Since African-Americans are the Democratic Party's most loyal major ethnic or racial group, that's a lot of Kerry's political base that jumped the fence.”

Note the outsized Black GOP turnout in the battleground states, where the money was. In a curious turn of phrase, Page says that “many of those fence-jumpers appear to be new voters, part of Bush political advisor Karl Rove's success in mobilizing the 4 million evangelical Christians who reportedly stayed home in 2000.” In a single sentence, Page reveals the emptiness of the premise of his headline – “To recapture their mojo, Dems must reassert their values” – since “new voters” cannot properly be called “fence-jumpers.” A battalion of corrupt Black preachers sold their compliant congregations, who will do whatever the minister exhorts them to do, including adopting the new role of voter. Such congregations are not informed by reason or history, but by their relationship to the ministers, who are motivated by dollars, period. There is no basis whatever to mangle Black politics for the sake of a deaf audience – especially one that, in raw numbers, was massively outnumbered by new Black Democratic voters.

Page cites a recent poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) that “forecast a surprisingly large black turnout for Bush.” He does not mention that the JCPES’s conclusion that 18 percent of Blacks wanted to see Bush win the election proved to be grossly misleading. The faulty October JCPES study – similar in effect to a fatally flawed 2002 Joint Center poll on school vouchers (see , November 21, 2002) –  primed the corporate media to search the election data for huge cracks in Black political solidarity, and to magnify them further. On November 7, the Newhouse newspaper chain proclaimed that Black voters were “crucial” to Bush’s win in Ohio! The JCPES supplied the convoluted statistical interpretation:

“David Bositis, an analyst of black politics at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, calculates that if Kerry had won black votes at the same rate as Al Gore, he would have gained 55,000 that instead went to Bush, a net switch of 110,000.

”Kerry was trailing Bush by 136,000 votes in Ohio when he conceded, having concluded that counting the more than 100,000 provisional ballots couldn't change the outcome. With those additional 110,000 black votes, Bositis said, the identity of the next president might still be in doubt.

”Bush scored a similar gain with black voters in the battleground states of Florida, where the 13 percent contributed to his comfortable victory, and in Pennsylvania, where Democrats were able to absorb the 16 percent and still win.

This kind of logic – doubling the impact of every non-Democratic Black vote, even in Pennsylvania, where it is universally recognized that Kerry owed his victory to a record Black Democratic turnout – serves only to grossly over-empower the quarter million new Black Republican voters. It is a cheap numbers trick, designed to obscure larger realities by bestowing critical importance to small statistical groups, such as Black Republicans. We expect that type of behavior from the corporate media, but are dismayed that JCPES has been far too eager to encourage such distortions. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, located in the heart of the Great Suppression and Theft of 2004, declared that “it was the Republicans who perhaps got the biggest boost…. Black voters may have given President Bush the edge in Ohio.” Again, Dr. Bositis was cited, peddling the same formula: small (Black Republicans) is equal to or more than large (Black Democrats). does not lightly criticize an institution so central to Black political discourse as the JCPES. We do so because the Joint Center has in recent years sometimes contributed as much fog as light. Having covered the Joint Center since its founding in 1970, our concerns over methodology, question-phrasing (most glaringly on the voucher issue) and statistically skewed emphases, are professional as well as political. As a final example, the 2004 JCPES National Opinion Poll reported that Hillary Clinton got an 80 percent approval rating from Blacks; John Kerry, 78 percent; and John Edwards, 68 percent. Jesse Jackson, Sr. scored 58 percent approval. Does this mean that African Americans are far more likely to follow the leadership of three white Senators than to heed the words of Rev. Jackson? Of course not.  Blacks assess Jackson on his history as a Black leader; the three white Senators are not Black leaders, and are scored by Blacks on an entirely different, white folks scale. Yet the JCPES mixes apples and oranges in the same bin, allowing any right-winger or simpleton to conclude that Rev. Jackson is held in lower esteem among Blacks than Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards. In this instance, the JCPES does injury to both Rev. Jackson and to Black political discourse – the last thing we need at this critical juncture in history.

Misreading Hispanics

Latino political leanings may have also been distorted this election cycle – by the network-commissioned election exit polls. Republicans made hay from data that showed Hispanics favoring Kerry over Bush by only 53 to 44 percent – a more than 10 percent tilt to the GOP since 2000. The corporate pollsters got a quick rebuke from some of their Latino counterparts, as reported by the People’s Weekly World:

“It’s simply not so,’ said Antonio Gonzalez, who as president of both the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project (SWVREP) and its research arm, the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), is a foremost authority on Latino voting trends. The WCVI conducted its own exit poll that showed a 68-31 margin for Kerry.

While the majority of the national population is non-urban, Latinos have the highest urban concentration of all national groups, Gonzalez said. The 2000 census had Latinos making up 12.5 percent of the nation’s population, but 19.3 percent of the population in the country’s cities. While the majority of Latinos vote Democratic, non-urban Latinos do so proportionately less. Most polls survey a larger number of non-urban voters. The East LA area has the most concentrated Latino population at over 96 percent. The area voted 84 percent for Kerry.

Despite the facts on the ground in East LA, the dramatic political “whitening” of Latinos has already been written in stone by the corporate media, transformed into a “reality” in just two weeks, with no mainstream opportunity for response or rebuttal. It is part of the received wisdom that is woven into the narrative of Power, like the growing “conservatism” of African Americans. The leaders of the Republican Party clearly don’t believe these “facts” – if they did, they wouldn’t suppress the Black and Latino vote at every opportunity.  Sadly, many members of oppressed communities embrace such hostile inventions, and think themselves sophisticated and worldly, when in truth they have entered a fabricated landscape in which all the signposts point towards defeat.

Warped religiosity

The 2004 election’s biggest billboard is “Moral Values,” written in apocalyptic bold letters although based on a mere 22 percent response in exit polls. The message is meant to signal the end of progressive politics and total defeat for any notions of Black self-determination. John Kerry rushed towards the blinding light, even before the sun came up on November 3rd.

Back in late October, Rev. Jesse Jackson said, “Mr. Kerry stands clearly for equal opportunity and basic justice.” Now everyone, including Rev. Jackson, knows that Kerry stands for nothing at all. Meanwhile, the electoral near-majority is exhorted to bow down before the righteous “values” of a euphemistic “Middle America” that is racist to the core. We have heard that song before, sung to the tinny tune of a white Southern Baptist hymn. In our June 10, 2004 issue, we wrote:

“The Hayes-Tilden Compromise [of 1877] signaled that white southern ‘Redemption’ from the threat of full Black citizenship rights was all but complete.  This mutual understanding among the great majority of whites – North, South, East and West – would remain intact for nearly a century. In the warped religiosity of the white southern sense of the word, America as a nation was ‘Redeemed.’ A suffocating peace would reign among white men.”

Kerry and the DLC wing of the Democratic Party want to re-seal the deal on that Great White Peace. But a large section of white America – those who proudly call themselves “Blue” and even speak (foolishly) of secession from the “Red” regions – see their own subjugation and humiliation in the Republicans’ proposed arrangement. This white current – to some degree estranged from the racist narrative of American Manifest Destiny – appears deeper than even during the supposedly “counter-cultural” Sixties.

When, for example, a mostly white city like Seattle votes 82 percent against Bush, this indicates that large numbers of its white citizens feel themselves threatened by the Bush men – just as white Free Soilers of the North felt threatened by the institution of slavery. If this white revulsion to Bush is to be of any practical political value, “Blue” whites must make common cause with their fellow citizens who have always been, in the words of the old song, “So Black and Blue” – African Americans whose disenfranchisement strengthens the (now common) enemy. In that sense, the corporate media may be making a big mistake in beating up on the sensibilities of "Blue" whites, threatening to consign them to the dust bin of U.S. political culture. The outpouring of white volunteers for ghetto work in the past election is in some ways reminiscent of the Freedom Summers of four decades ago. Something is “happening here” – a palpable crystallization of thought – among a very significant minority of whites.

But only disaster looms unless African Americans provide the vision for national salvation in the face of what is clearly an emerging fascist mass movement in America, organized and empowered by the Bush Pirates. We must have no illusions about the enemy that is massed against us.

A solid survey

Dr. Michael Dawson and his Harvard colleague, Dr. Lawrence Bobo – whose pre-election survey was precisely correct on the Black Republican vote: 11 percent – provide good evidence of the general dimensions of hard-core racism in “Red” America. Their four-year study of racial divisions under President Bush found that 59 percent of whites thought disruption of Black voter activity in Florida in 2000 was a “fabrication of Democrats” (37 percent), “not a problem” (9 percent) or “not so big a problem” (13 percent).  Certainly, the “fabrication of Democrats” group and their fuzzy cousins are abject racists, who more or less aggressively deny the existence of crimes against their fellow citizens. (More accurately, they favor Black disenfranchisement.) The 41 percent of whites who recognized the reality of the assaults on Black voting rights meet at least minimal cognitive standards – a baseline starting point for dialogue.

Click for larger image of graph

When Blacks and whites were questioned this past October on the likelihood of disruptions of Black voter activity on November 2, an even higher number of whites – 62 percent – dismissed or minimized the problem. Only 38 percent thought threats to Black voting rights were a “very important problem.” In terms of potential usefulness in the uphill struggle for domestic social justice, the white glass is nowhere near half full.

(Dawson and Bobo’s study, “Rage and Resilience: The Racial Divide During the George W. Bush Era,” will soon be accessible at the website of their new journal, Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race.)

How will African Americans ultimately react to John Kerry’s craven collapse in the face of Bush-Power on November 3rd? The Dawson-Bobo study indicates increased demands for independent Black political structures. “Blacks support the formation of an independent black political party in greater numbers than anytime since the Reagan years,” said Dr. Dawson, in a presentation to African American journalists of The Trotter Group. “In general blacks are showing strong support for an independent political agenda, based on control of black communities, which includes strong support for reparations.”

Nevertheless, the threat represented by Bush’s far-right, racist legions requires a broad response, said Dawson:

”A strong effort is needed to mobilize and organize an independent progressive Black political movement that must be coupled with a parallel effort to unite with the other forces that oppose what many I know are calling a proto-fascist social movement that will roll back what remains of the New Deal and Great Society as well as bury the racial and gender gains of much of the 1960s. 

”These forces include youth, who did come out in much  larger numbers, the largest since 1972, and who broke for Kerry; all non-white groups voted against Bush although the change toward Bush among Latinos is very disturbing; and the unions, remain a major organizational force, particularly the service unions which include many non-white leaders, organizers and members who are progressive.

“The main lesson is one that earlier generations of African Americans knew the hard way: we can’t wait for election years to begin organizing.  Progress is only made when organizing is sustained, even knowing that the cost will be high.”

Black America remains the nation’s last, best hope. The election didn’t change that.

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