[Paleopsych] SF Area Independent Media Center: Government Accounting Office takes a big bite out of the Bush cliques pretense of legitimacy

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Sun Dec 4 01:19:15 UTC 2005

Government Accounting Office takes a big bite out of the Bush cliques 
pretense of legitimacy
San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

[This, and the related articles I have appended, are about how the 
Republicans stole the 2004 election by manipulating electronic voting 
machines, esp. in Ohio. I don't have the full URL for the GAO report 
handy, but it's easy to get from http://www.gao.gov. It deals with the 
potential for fraud but does not claim actual fraud. The other articles 
argue for actual fraud.

[Now, elections do get stolen. I'm convinced that Lyndon Johnson and Mayor 
Daley got Kennedy elected. Nixon thought so do but he decided, for the 
good of the country, not to contest it. And it's not unlikely that 
Tilden's victory was taken from him by fraud. I don't think fraud was 
responsible for Bush's victory in Florida in 2000, since the margin was 
well below the difference between Algore and Bush fraudulent (illegal) 
voters (thousands of them and a 2:1 tilt toward Algore). I'm not so sure 
about Ohio, if what the articles below say is plausible.

[Algore's presidency would have made a difference: he's been around 
Washington long enough to know when pressure is being brought to bear on 
him. Rather than listen to neocon arguments for war in Iraq, he would have 
tuned them out. We're less than a year into Bush's second term. Kerry 
would have (or rather will have) bowed to political pressure to pull out 
of Iraq and the media would turn away from whatever disaster happens as a 
result of the pullout.

[What's worth thinking about is why the media are ignoring the GAO report. 
(And also why the isolationist right is ignoring it also. Nothing on 
LewRockwell.com. Maybe they don't much care and certainly think Kerry 
would have been at most a slightly lesser evil than Bush, while the left 
at least hopes that Kerry would have been a significantly lesser evil.) 
The reason is that the mainstream media is, above all else, Establishment. 
Most of them are Democrats, it is true, and some of them make noises about 
how awful Bush is. (They say Reagan "ended" welfare, you know, whereas 
there was at best a decrease in the rate of increase.) But they believe 
mostly in the System. They most definitely do not want there to be a 
widespread belief that something as illegitimate as stealing a 
Presidential election can happen north of the Rio Grande.

[Nor a President assassinated by any other than a lone nut. During the 
40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, talking heads were unanimous in 
upholding the lone nut hypothesis, even though only 20% of the citizens 

[When you think about elites, ask what beliefs are mandated of its 
members. Some must be publicly affirmed. Others may be only privately 
doubted. In what sense is Gary Bauer, the evangelist who gets on lots of 
talk shows, a member of the elite. Would it hurt him to come out against 
the lone-nut theory of the JFK assassination? Is it best for a respectable 
dissident to have only a small number of disagreements? Can Bill Gates 
come out against modern art? Can anyone besides Tom Wolfe do so?

[How big is the elite? How many different elites are there? They 
interlock, like corporate board members serving on art museum boards. 
Ponder these questions as you read what seems to me a plausible case of 
massive voter fraud yet a studious ignoring by the mainstream media.]

    by Joe Baker Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005 at 12:03 PM

      How much will it take before people rise up and force the Repugs in
      Congress to impeach this dangerous thief? Secret CIA torture
      gulags, now secret Shiite torture chambers in Iraq. At least two
      stolen US elections. It boggles the mind.

    GAO report upholds Ohio vote fraud claims
    By Joe Baker, Senior Editor
    As if the indictment of Lewis Scooter Libby wasnt enough to give the
    White House some heavy concerns, a report from the Government
    Accounting Office takes a big bite out of the Bush cliques pretense of
    This powerful and probing report takes a hard look at the election of
    2004 and supports the contention that the election was stolen. The
    report has received almost no coverage in the national media.
    The GAO is the governments lead investigative agency, and is known for
    rock-solid integrity and its penetrating and thorough analysis. The
    agencys agreement with what have been brushed aside as conspiracy
    theories adds even more weight to the conclusion that the Bush regime
    has no business in the White House whatever.
    Almost a year ago, Rep. John Conyers, senior Democrat on the House
    Judiciary Committee, asked the GAO to investigate the use of
    electronic voting machines in the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election.
    That request was made as a flood of protests from Ohio and elsewhere
    deluged Washington with claims that shocking irregularities were
    common in that vote and were linked to the machines.
    CNN said the Judiciary Committee got more than 57,000 complaints after
    Bushs claimed re-election. Many were made under oath in a series of
    statements and affidavits in public hearings and investigations
    carried out in Ohio by the Free Press and other groups seeking to
    maintain transparent elections.
    Online Journal.com reported that the GAO report stated that some of
    [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and
    have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and
    miscount of votes.
    This is the only democratic nation that permits private partisan
    companies to count and tabulate the vote in secret, using
    privately-held software. The public is excluded from the process. Rev.
    Jesse Jackson and others have declared that public elections must not
    be conducted on privately-owned machines. The makers of nearly all
    electronic voting machines are owned by conservative Republicans.
    The chief executive of Diebold, one of the major suppliers of
    electronic voting machines, Warren Wally ODell, went on record in the
    2004 campaign vowing to deliver Ohio and the presidency to George W.
    In Ohio, Bush won by only 118,775 votes out of more than 5.6 million
    cast. Honest election advocates contend that ODells statement to hand
    Ohios vote to Bush still stands as a clear indictment of an apparently
    successful effort to steal the White House.
    Some of the GAOs findings are: 1. Some electronic voting machines did
    not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to
    alter both without being detected. In short, the machines; provided a
    way to manipulate the outcome of the election. In Ohio, more than
    800,000 votes were cast on electronic voting machines, some registered
    seven times Bushs official margin of victory.
    2: the report further stated that: it was possible to alter the files
    that define how a ballot looks and works, so that the votes for one
    candidate could be recorded for a different candidate. Very many sworn
    statements and affidavits claim that did happen in Ohio in 2004.
    Next, the report says, Vendors installed uncertified versions of
    voting system software at the local level. The GAO found that
    falsifying election results without leaving evidence of doing so by
    using altered memory cards could easily be done.
    The GAO additionally found that access to the voting network was very
    easy to compromise because not all electronic voting systems had
    supervisory functions protected by password. That meant access to one
    machine gave access to the whole network. That critical finding showed
    that rigging the election did not take a widespread conspiracy but
    simply the cooperation of a small number of operators with the power
    to tap into the networked machines. They could thus alter the vote
    totals at will. It therefore was no big task for a single programmer
    to flip vote numbers to give Bush the 118,775 votes.
    Another factor in the Ohio election was that access to the voting
    network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user ID,
    coupled with easy-to-guess passwords. Even amateur hackers could have
    gotten into the network and changed the vote.
    System locks were easily picked, and keys were easy to copy, so
    gaining access to the system was a snap.
    One digital machine model was shown to have been networked in such a
    rudimentary manner that if one machine experienced a power failure,
    the entire network would go down. That is too fragile a system to
    decide the presidency of the United States.
    Problems obviously exist with security protocols and screening methods
    for vendor personnel.
    The GAO study clearly shows that no responsible business would operate
    with a computer system as flimsy, fragile and easily manipulated as
    the one used in the 2004 election.
    These findings are even more damning when we understand the election
    in Ohio was run by a secretary of state who also was co-chairman of
    Bushs Ohio campaign. Far from the conclusion of anti-fraud skeptics,
    the GAOs findings confirm that the network, which handled 800,000 Ohio
    votes, was vulnerable enough to permit a handful of purposeful
    operatives to turn the entire election by means of personal computers
    using comparatively simple software.
    One Ohio campaign operative, Tom Noe, a coin dealer, was indicted Oct.
    27 for illegally funneling $45,400 to Bush by writing checks to
    others, who then wrote checks to Bushs re-election campaign, allegedly
    dodging the $2,000 limit on contributions by an individual.
    Its one of the most blatant and excessive finance schemes we have
    encountered, said Noel Hillman, section chief of the U.S. Department
    of Justices public integrity section, as quoted in the Kansas City
    In the 2000 election, Florida was the key; in the 2004 election, Ohio
    was the key.

    From the Nov. 2-8, 2005, issue

The Free Press -- Independent News Media - Election Issues
The Free Press: Speaking Truth to Power Thu Dec 01 2005

    What John Kerry definitely said about 2004s stolen election and why
    it's killing American democracy
    by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

    November 10, 2005

    The net is abuzz about what John Kerry may or may not be saying now
    about the stolen election of 2004.
    But we can definitively report what he has said about New Mexico and
    electronic voting machines soon after his abrupt "abandon ship" with
    250,000 Ohio votes still uncounted.
    And we must also report that what he's not saying is having a
    catastrophic effect on what's left of American democracy, including
    what has just happened (again) in Ohio 2005.
    In recent days Mark Crispin Miller has reported that he heard from
    Kerry personally that Kerry believes the election was stolen. The
    dialog has been widely reported on the internet. Kerry has since
    seemed to deny it.
    We have every reason to believe Miller. His recent book FOOLED AGAIN,
    has been making headlines along with our own HOW THE GOP STOLE
    As in his campaign for president, Kerry has been ambivalent and
    inconsistent about Ohio's stolen vote count. Soon after the
    presidential election, Kerry was involved in a conference call with
    Rev. Jesse Jackson and a number of attorneys, including co-author Bob
    Fitrakis. In the course of the conversation, Kerry said "You know,
    wherever they used those [e-voting] machines, I lost, regardless if
    the precinct was Democratic or Republican."
    Kerry was referring to New Mexico. But he might just as well have been
    talking about Ohio, where the election was decided, as well as about
    Iowa and Nevada. All four of those "purple" states switched from
    Democratic "blue" in the exit polls as late as 12:20am to Republican
    "red" a few hours later, giving Bush the White House.
    A scant few hours after that, Kerry left tens of thousands of
    volunteers and millions of voters hanging. With Bush apparently
    leading by some 130,000 votes in Ohio, but with a quarter-million
    votes still uncounted here, Kerry abruptly conceded. He was then heard
    from primarily through attorneys from Republican law firms attacking
    grassroots election protection activists who dared question the Ohio
    In the year since that abrupt surrender, Theresa Heinz Kerry has made
    insinuations that she thought the election might have been stolen. But
    there has been no follow-up.
    Now we have this report from M. C. Miller that Kerry said he knew the
    election was stolen, and then denied saying it. Coming from Kerry, the
    inconsistency would be entirely consistent.
    But those committed to democracy and horrified by the on-going carnage
    of the Bush catastrophe still have no credible explanation as to why
    Kerry abandoned ship so abruptly. He had raised many millions
    specifically dedicated to "counting every vote," which clearly never
    happened in Ohio. More than a year after the election, more than
    100,000 votes are STILL uncounted in the Buckeye state.
    And now, tragically, we have had another set of stolen elections. Four
    statewide referenda aimed at reforming Ohio's electoral process have
    been defeated in a manner that is (again) totally inconsistent with
    polling data, One statewide referendum, aimed at handing the corrupt
    Taft Administration a $2 billion windfall, has allegedly passed, again
    in a manner totally inconsistent with polling data, or even a
    rudimentary assessment of Ohio politics.
    We will write more about this tomorrow. But suffice it to say these
    latest "official" vote counts make sense only in the context of a
    powerful recent report issued by the Government Accounting Office
    confirming that electronic voting machines like those used in Ohio can
    be easily hacked by a very few players to deliver a vote count totally
    at odds with the will of the electorate.
    We have seen it in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, in at
    least three Senatorial races in 2002, and now in the referenda in Ohio
    2005, and possibly elsewhere.
    How could this have happened?
    By and large, the nation is in denial, including much of the left.
    Miller recently debated Mark Hertsgaard over a Mother Jones review of
    both our books. The idea that the 2004 election could have been stolen
    has also been attacked by others on the left.
    Some reporters have briefly visited here or made calls from the coasts
    and then taken as gospel anything that mainstream Democratic regulars
    utter, even if its totally implausible and counter-factual.
    For example, they would have you believe that, in direct contradiction
    to how elections have gone in Ohio for decades, its now routine for
    boards of elections to record that 100% of the precincts are
    reporting, and then suddenly add 18,615 more votes at 1:43 a.m. after
    the polls have been closed since 7:30 p.m. and 100% of the precincts
    had been reporting since approximately 9 p.m.
    Or that 18,615 Miami County votes could come in late with an
    impossibly consistent 33.92% for Kerry, as if somebody had pushed a
    button on a computer with a pre-set percentage---just as the GAO says
    it can be done.
    Or that it's ok for a Democratic county election official, with a
    lucrative contract from the Republican-controlled Board of Elections
    (BOE), to admit he doesn't really know whether the vote count had been
    Or it's fine for BOE officials take election data home to report on
    from their personal PCs. Or for central tabulators to run on
    corporate-owned proprietary software with no public access. Or for BOE
    officials to hold up vote counts late into the night that time and
    again miraculously provide sufficient margins for GOP victories, as
    with Paul Hackett's recent failed Congressional race in southwestern
    Or for one precinct to claim a 97.55% turnout when a Free
    Press/Pacifica canvass quickly found far too many people who didn't
    vote to make that possible.
    There is clearly no end to this story, and there is no indication the
    dialog on the net will diminish, even though the mainstream
    media---like the mainstream Democratic Party---absolutely refuses to
    touch this issue.
    But ultimately, whatever John Kerry or the bloviators or even the left
    press say about these stolen elections, America is very close to
    crossing the line that permanently defines the loss of our democracy.
    As we will show tomorrow, this week's theft of five referendum issues
    in Ohio is yet another tragic by-product of the unwillingness of John
    Kerry and so many others to stand up for a fair and reliable electoral
    process in this country.
    Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of HOW THE GOP STOLE
    AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at
    www.freepress.org, and, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN
    OHIO, to be published this spring by The New Press.

A Discussion with Mark Crispin Miller - Democratic Underground

                               November 5, 2005

      [05_mcm.jpg] On November 3-4, 2005, Mark Crispin Miller, author of
        Fooled Again, took part in an online discussion at Democratic
     Underground, answering questions from members of our message board.
     This is a lightly edited transcript of that discussion. The original
      discussion thread can be found [9]here. Mark might even return to
                           continue the discussion.

     Skinner: Today we are very excited to host an online discussion with
                             Mark Crispin Miller.

     Mark is a professor of media ecology at New York University. Some of
        you may remember him from our online discussion on Democratic
     Underground in May of 2002. He is well known for his writings on all
      aspects of the media and for his activism on behalf of democratic
     media reform. He has written a number of books, including Boxed in:
      The Culture of TV, The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National
      Disorder, and Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order. He
           writes regularly on his blog, [10]News From Underground.

      [11][05_fooledagain.gif] Mark has a brand new book about the 2004
    election, [12]Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election, and
          Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them).

      This discussion is going to be pretty informal. Mark has some book
      signings and other events today, so he might be checking in a few
    different times throughout the day, and he is not going to be able to
    answer every question that is posted here. He will pick the questions
     that he considers most relevant and answer those. All DU members are
    welcome to participate. If you have a question or topic that you would
    like to discuss with Mark, just click "Reply" on this message to post

     Mark, thank you so much for being with us. The first question is an
                  easy one. Please tell us about your book.

     Mark Crispin Miller: Hi, everyone. It's a pleasure to be here. Many
               warm thanks, Stephanie, for making this happen.
     Why I wrote Fooled Again: The scandal of last year's election never
     resonated as it should have done, because the national Democrats AND
    "the liberal media" refused to face, or even to discuss, the facts. We
    very badly need electoral reform, but we won't get it if that mammoth
     scandal doesn't finally resonate. My aim in writing Fooled Again was
        to lay out the evidence that Bush & Co. stole their so-called
     "mandate," so that the scandal might at last resound, so that we'll
     all be motivated to repair the system. If we don't, it seems to me,
                             we're really cooked.
     Let me add that I myself am not a Democrat but a proud independent.
      This is not a partisan endeavor but a crucial civic issue. There's
    evidence that many a Republican did NOT vote for Bush/Cheney in 2004.
     Those folks too were disenfranchised, along with countless voters on
                               the other side.
                       I await your questions/comments.

     Bruce McAuley: Hi Mark! Given what has happened so far with the Bush
        administratio9n, what do you foresee for the future? Will the
      neo-conservatives have a final triumph, or will liberalism make a
    resurgence? Or neither of the above? Best guesses, please, and thanks
                              for participating!

      Mark Crispin Miller: Bruce, liberalism will make a resurgence; or,
      rather, it is resurgent already, although many liberals out there
    don't know they're liberals. It's an odd situation. The word itself is
       now pejorative, thanks to the far-right propaganda drive that's
     overwhelmed our politics and culture for last few decades. So folks
    are often quick to say that they're not liberalsbut their politics, on
      nearly every score, ARE, by any definition, liberal: economically,
     environmentally, on foreign policy, on healthcare, abortion rights,
                                 you name it.

     Because the word has been so badly tarnished, I'd prefer to say that
     our Enlightenment ideals will re-assert themselves. I deem myself a
    follower of Jefferson and Paine. The world-view of those framers will
     prevail, if we promote it and defend it just as zealously as BushCo
                               has attacked it.

     underpants: How susceptible to the "first story out there" is MSM? I
        haven't read your work so excuse me if this has been covered.

      It appears that the news media in this country all follow the very
     first wire report written on an event or an issue. Is it really that
       cut and dry? and does the right really have packaged ready to go
      versions of what I just saw ready to go (it would appear that they

    Mark Crispin Miller: The right has the propaganda thing down cold. The
         MSM, moreover, will certainly not follow any story that it's
     disinclined to follow, however hot it may appear. Every day amazing
     pieces come from the Associated Press, with no follow-up whatsoever.
    AP did a good story on the GAO report on electronic touchscreen voting
                   machines. There was no follow-up at all.

    mzmolly: What is the first thing we CAN/should do to secure our voting
        system? Just want some tangible ideas for Democrats and other
                             concerned citizens.

          Mark Crispin Miller: The first thing to do is to campaign
    relentlessly, in every way at hand, to get the scandal of last year's
      election on the national radar screen. Unless we do that, all our
                    policy suggestions will mean nothing.

     As we do that, though, we should also be resisting the proliferation
    of touch-screen voting machines sold by private vendorsDiebold, ES&S,
     Sequoiaand agitating on behalf of paper ballots, unless and until we
         learn about a tamper-proof computer-based system (if such is
    possible). That would be a local matter, by and large. We also should
    be working very hard to get the Voting Rights Act renewed completely.
     (The Busheviks want to remove certain provisions from it, so that it
      can then be junked by the Scalito Court.) And we must support Rep.
       Jesse Jackson III's call for a constitutional amendment formally
     confirming every adult American's right to vote, and establishing a
        uniform federal voting system. We should also enable same-day
     registration, extend the voting period to, say, a week, advocate for
    Instant Run-off Voting (IRV), and do whatever else it take to make the
                           system truly democratic.

     sfexpat2000: I'd like to ask Mark, was there a moment, or an event,
      that you can identify as the one that spurred you to write on this
                                topic? Thanks.

       Mark Crispin Miller: That moment was Election Day, and the huge
     screaming gap between the propaganda ("It's all gone really well!")
                and what was really happening coast to coast.

            IndyOp: Praise: Loved the Harpers' article! Thank you!

     My Question: Do we have the votes? Are you convinced that all of the
      fraudulent actions stole the election from Kerry? Do you estimate
                    numbers of votes stolen in your book?

     Also, MCM - Stephanie said that you wanted the link for the Petition
      to keep Marc Maron on Morning Sedition: [13]Petition to Keep Marc
       Maron on Morning Sedition More [14]Contact Information for Danny
    Goldberg at AAR - A call from Mark Crispin Miller might get Goldberg's

     Mark Crispin Miller: It's very hard to come up with precise figures.
    That's the problem. But consider, for example, that the Census Bureau
    came out in late May with an astounding revelation. According to their
      survey, 3.4 million more Americans claimed to have cast ballots in
    2004 than the official toll of those who voted. So maybe some of them
    were lying. OK, let's say half were lying. That still leaves some 1.7
                million votes that somehow never got recorded.

      And that number does not include those (countless) voters who knew
     very wll that they could not vote, or even register. And neither of
     those sums include those US citizens abroad who tried and failed to
      vote. (The last chapter of Fooled Again is all about Bush/Cheney's
    interference with the expatriate vote, which includes up to 7 million

    Put it all together, and what does it spell? "IT CAN HAPPEN HERE, AND

    And EVERYONE out there, PLEASE contact Air America, and urge the board
            NOT to allow the cancellation of Marc Maron's show!!!

                       wrathofkahn: Now I'm confused...

     "And that number does not include those (countless) voters who knew
            very well that they could not vote, or even register."

     Umm... If they knew that they could not vote or register (vs. simply
     choosing not to do so), then I must assume that they were ineligible
     to vote. How is it that someone who couldn't have voted anyway could
      have affected the outcome of the election (other than campaigning,

       Mark Crispin Miller: Those who tried to register and/or vote and
     couldn't. Not because they were ineligible. They were eligible, and
                       yet could not register or vote.

    Arkana: Mr. Miller, I read "The Bush Dyslexicon" and loved it, BTW. I
     wanted to ask you: What is your proposal to deal with companies such
          as Diebold, ES&S, Triad, and others that "hack the vote"?

         Mark Crispin Miller: All private vendors should be outlawed.

    nashville_brook: Can you please speak to the importance of EXIT POLLS
    in our case for ELECTION FRAUD. what's the appropriate weight to give
               exit poll discrepancies in the on-going debate?

       And (follow-up) Do you have a response to EXIT POLL DISCREPANCY
    deniers; those who claim we either don't have all the information yet,
                   or that we don't understand the numbers.

      Thank you -- and I just have to say... everyone we've loaned your
     Patriot Act video to has compared you to the late Spaulding Gray. We
                       look forward to more monologues.

    Mark Crispin Miller: The exit poll/"official" count discrepancies are
    certainly significant although the issue is extremely complicated. Let
       me recommend the writings of Steve Freeman at the University of
    Pennsylvania. He has a book, co-written with Joel Bleifuss, coming out
     from Seven Stories in a month or so. A must-read. Steve is expert on
    the subject of those polls. He's debated Warren Mitofsky, who came off
                              the worse for it.

     Just Me: Numerous states have enacted "paper trail" laws. Will such
    laws be sufficient to protect our votes? If not, what other actions do
                         you suggest should be taken?

      Mark Crispin Miller: Paper trails per se are not enough. Certainly
    it's better to have paper trails than none, but the mere existence of
    such disparate slips of paper is no panacea. I think that thre should
    be a paper BALLOT, so that the ballots can be stored indefinitely and
      counted or recounted as required. The TruVote machine looks like a
    very good idea. (That's the company whose CEO was evidently Silkwooded
                                 last year.)

    ignatzmouse: Many Threads Into an Unmistakable Case: I'm sorry that I
     can't stay long, but I wanted to at least give a high recommendation
      to "Fooled Again." As with all of Mark's books, it is exhaustively
     researched, insightful, and has teeth. Mark does cite a couple of my
       studies including the "Unofficial Audit of the NC Election" that
    initially appeared here at DU. I'm deeply honored to be included, but
    it makes it even better for I have read and respected Mark for years.
     To paraphrase Van Morrison (the way I like to hear it), "If you pull
       your punches, you don't push the river." Mark pushes the river.

     "Cruel and Unusual" is the benchmark for me in getting at who these
      people are and what partially concealed agenda they seek. It's an
         important book. Likewise, "Fooled Again" pulls together the
     many-pronged RNC attack on the election process and exposes it in a
    way that is hard to marginalize. That is critically important because
    the culprits utilize marginalization of facts to elude media focus and
    cover their trail. They'll say... "but there were reported electronic
    discrepancies that favored Kerry too. See, it all amounts to much ado
      about a few electronic glitches." But, in fact, if you look at the
    EIRS data, the electronic vote switching favors Bush by a ridiculously
       large percentage. It is also interesting to see how often these
     reports are centered in minority districts. To have someone of Mark
    Cripsin Miller's credentials to not be fooled by the marginalizations
    and not carry the comfortable disdain for populism that seems embedded
    in most of the national media is necessary and validating if the story
       of what happened in the 2004 election is to reach out and enable
                            reform in the future.

     Absentees and aborting votes: I've read the accounts of the missing
    absentee ballots in Florida (which you also nicely document) and have
     likewise noted in several states the unlawful collection of absentee
     ballots by mysterious persons and groups. In Georgia, we've just had
      the Republican legislature attempt to restrict minority voting by
        creating a voter ID requirement where no documented fraud has
    occurred. Interestingly, however, the voter ID restrictions would not
      apply to absentee ballots. To me, that's a tip that one method of
      rigging is to either create phantom absentee voters or revote for
      "captured" absentee ballots. Something very fishy is going on with
        absentees. I noted this particularly in Nevada where they have
    verified voting. Absentee fraud could be a way to circumvent all other
    measures of safeguarding the vote. Did you get a sense of rank in the
     types and methods of vote fraud -- electronic, vote switching DRE's,
             absentee, various types of disenfranchisement, etc.?

     And finally, at the old Kerry-Edwards forum on election day, one of
      the regulars posted an odd firsthand account that I have not seen
         since. While on the phone to Blackwell's Secretary of State
       headquarters, she was put on hold and could hear a phone bank of
       numerous people in the SoS's office making phone calls to voters
    stating that they were calling from Planned Parenthood and asking that
    they vote for John Kerry in order to keep abortion legal. My take was
     that they were calling identified Catholic voters in order to anger
         them to the polls to vote for Bush. That sort of illegal and
     underhanded tactic is Rovian by nature (or Mehlman-esque as the case
     may be) and I would guess prosecution worthy. The old Kerry-Edwards
    forum is long gone, and I have no way of researching it further. Have
       you heard of similar Ohio accounts, or is that state so awash in
               corruption that it almost gets lost in the mix?

    Mark Crispin Miller: I salute you, ignatzmouse. A thousand thanks for
    your kind words. I think your work is indispensable, and was delighted
    to be able to include it in my book, which seems all the stronger for
                                your research.

    I had not heard anything about that phone bank. If you find it, could
                              you send it to me?

     cry baby: Thank you for coming online with us! Do you think that the
       states will actually entertain the idea of replacing the voting
     machines that they just purchased to be in compliance with HAVA? Can
     those machines be retrofitted with a "proof of vote" certificate and
      would that keep our elections from being stolen? How likely do you
     believe it is that states will actually go to a voter verified paper
                   ballot (which is what I'd like to see)?

     Mark Crispin Miller: The states will do what their residents demand
      they do. if the demand is long and loud enough. HAVA, furthermore,
                           should be repealed ASAP.

       SteppingRazor: I haven't read the book -- yet -- but from what I
    understand... you rely fairly heavily on anecdotal evidence, which --
    while certain to stir the proper response -- doesn't carry much weight
             in scientific or (more importantly) legal analysis.

    I ran into the same problem while looking into the 2000 election here
      in Florida -- plenty of people willing to talk, but little direct
                      evidence of willful manipulation.

      My question is, do you believe that, if given to a prosecutor with
    subpoena power, real evidence not relying on circumstance or anecdote
       could be found, such that either this administration and/or the
     leaders of the Republican Party could be held criminally liable? If
     so, what would it mean for both parties in the long term (the short
                   term conclusions being fairly obvious)?

     In other words, if taken into the ostensibly objective realm of the
                       courtroom, could this dog hunt?

     Mark Crispin Miller: I have far more than anecdotal evidence, which,
         as you note, works better in a narrative composed for broad
     consumption than it would in court. If you'd like a good example of
      non-anecdotal evidence, please let me recommend the section of the
    book that deals with Sproul and Associates. There is solid evidence of
     fraud committed by the GOPand also evidence of a bald effort by the
                party to conceal all trace of that wrongdoing.

     Fly by night: A few more questions. But first, thanks kindly for all
     you do. I would like to know your impressions of how your piece has
      been received, both among other journalists and among the general
    public. Any feel for the impact on sales of Harper's at the newsstand,
    LTTEs or hits on Harper's and your web-sites. (I'm trying to gauge the
                             legs of this story.)

     What evidence from other states besides Ohio (or the behavior of the
       Rethugs in Congress and elsewhere) during and after the election
            confirms your suspicions that the election was stolen.

    What are your reactions to the recent piece o' shit article in Mother
     Jones or the older piece o' shit article in TomPaine which dismissed
                         the election fraud evidence.

        Why do you believe there is still such resistance (even among
      progressives) to acknowledging that our elections are being stolen
                                 these days?

     Any responses to any of these questions would be appreciated. Thanks
     again from Tennessee. We're not a red state or a blue state -- we're
                               an Orange State.

    Mark Crispin Miller: That issue of Harper's broke a lot of records for
    newsstand sales. It sold more than any prior issue since the one that
     published Norman Mailer's Prisoner of Sex in 1972, and may well have
     outsold that one too. (We don't know yet.) In any case, the response
                              was exhilarating.

     The evidence of nationwide vote theft is vast. It's in the book. (In
                         large part, it IS the book.)

      I was disappointed in Mark Hertsgaard's pieceespecially as he's a
    friend of mine, and generally a very good reporter. He really blew it
      there. For one thing, my book is not based largely on the Conyers
      Report: a characterization that implies that my focus is Ohio. In
    fact, I devote only ten pages to the Conyers Report, and another five
    to scandals in Ohio NOT discussed by Conyers et al. The book is nearly
       300 pages long, with copious evidence from many states. And more
       generally, Mark's piece badly distorted not just my book but the
         Conyers Report (WHAT WENT WRONG IN OHIO?) and the excellent
       compilation of documents put together by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey
       Wasserman (DID GEORGE W. BUSH STEAL THE ELECTION IN 2004?). The
       evidence speaks for itself. I wish that Mark had worked a little
                            harder on that piece.

       The resistance is based partly on corruption, in some cases, and
     careerism, and very largely on denial. The implications of the theft
         last year are very grave. Better to deny them categorically.

          The whole red state/blue state dichotomy is pure crapola.

    ms liberty: Hi Mark! Thanks for chatting with us... The GAO report on
      miselection 04 came out last week to virtual silence from the main
      stream media, but BushCo is (finally) getting a more critical look
     from them, thanks to Mr. Fitzgerald. Isn't this the perfect time to
    push this issue, with this corrupt regime already vulnerable? How can
                we get this issue more attention from the MSM?

        Are you going to be on The Daily Show, or do you have any MSM
       interviews scheduled? What I would really enjoy is to see you on
                             Washington Journal!

     Loved the Dyslexicon, and Cruel and Unusual. I'm looking forward to
                            reading your new one!

    Anything you can do to help us save Marc Maron is REALLY appreciated!

      Mark Crispin Miller: These questions are terrific I wish I had the
                    time to answer all of them in detail!

    The GAO report is an important document. The press's silence on it is
                    appalling, and, I'm afraid, revealing.

     The Daily Show said they would have me on if a relevant "big story"
      should break sometime soon. I'm not sure what that means. The GAO
      report is such a story, except that, as you noticed, it was not a
    story. So what would such a story be, I wonder? Anyway, I'd love to be
     invited on. (Feel free to pester them on my behalf!) I think the MSM
    will be a tough sell for this book, although not as tough as it was a
    few months ago. The Florida Sun-Sentinel gave me a pretty good review,
        and I got good reviews as well in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus
     Reviews. The peoples at Basic Books are working overtime to get the
                           word out, so we'll see.

     readmoreoften: Professor Miller, There are SO MANY wildly outrageous
     events occuring simultaneously-- the death of our democracy through
    stolen elections, the prospect of never-ending war, an unprotected and
         abused labor force (yes, I will be striking next week), the
     normalization of torture and rape, the loss of civil liberties, the
     suspicion surrounding the Bush Adminstration's culpability in 9-11--
     why is the public so RESOUNDINGLY SILENT? I believe this resounding
              silence would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

     I went to the World Can't Wait rally at Union Square yesterday and I
     was perplexed at that so few New Yorkers were willing to take to the
     streets to protest this regime. As undergrads in the late 80s/early
       90s, we occupied the administration building because of a slight
    increase in tuition for low-income students. At this point, I swear I
         can't imagine undergraduates taking action to stop a college
     administration from forcing low income students to sell their organs
                             to pay for tuition.

     It seems to be more than just a chilling effect. We are living in a
         media bubble-- a bubble of disinformation. As a people under
    undemocratic rule, who currently have no ability to manage or confront
    our mediated environment... how can we cut through the apathy? how do
    we debrief our fellow Americans? how do we address the fact that even
     those who are critical of the Bush administration will not confront
                        the gravity of the situation?

           Do you have any ideas on how to burst the media bubble?

     Can you share with us any particular strategies you have used to cut
     through normally thoughtful people's overwhelming desire to pull the
                    covers over heads and go back to bed?

     And thank you for signing the faculty democracy statement in support
                          of TA's freedom to strike!

     Mark Crispin Miller: It isn't necessarily apathy. Discontent is more
      widespread than we are generally led to think. BushCo's popularity
     among the military, for example, and among military families, is not
    at all impressive; and he has lost a lot of ground even among his own
     erstwhile constituents. His current "STRONG approval" rating is now
      around 22%, with a four-point margin of error, which means that it
      could be as low as 18%the same percentage of Americans who did not
     disapprove of how Bush/Cheney and their Congress tried to meddle in
                           the Terri Schiavo case.

    We tend to think of many of our fellow-citizens as apathetic because,
    let's face it, we too live inside "the media bubble," which represents
    us to ourselves (and to the whole wide world) as far less discontented
                             than we really are.

     Now, it is surely true that people should be more than discontented.
    They should be actively protesting and resisting. (Although there too
    the media tunes out what protest and resistance HAS welled up.) On the
    other hand, the system has radically depoliticized us, training us to
    watch and, if we can afford it, shop, and little else. We've therefore
    long since lost our civic virtue, and the necessary habit of saying NO
                        when things become oppressive.

    Just remember that the situation is a lot more fluid, and potentially
    explosive, than it appears to be on CNN and in the New York Times. The
     elites have fallen out with one anothera clash that now provides us
        with a most important opportunity to say things that have been
    verboten for too long. The iron is hot. It's therefore crucial that we
     not despair, or paralyze ourselves with undue worries vis-a-vis the
               seeming or alleged indifference of "the masses."

      DUBYASCREWEDUS: I live in Cleveland, Ohio - Land of Blackwell the
      Evil. I know he stole the 2004 election. How can we - as ordinary
    citizens - stop them from doing it again? Are you familiar with State
      Issues 2, 3, 4 and 5? We have been receiving conflicting views on
     whether or not to vote for them. Do you know of them, and if so, do
                             you have an opinion?

      Mark Crispin Miller: I don't know about those issues. What do Bob
      Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman say? Free Press is terrific. I trust
            them all implicitly re: all electoral issues in Ohio.

     Bill Bored: Why do you favor Early Voting? You say we should "extend
        the voting period to, say, a week." If we are concerned about
     security, early voting is not advisable. The longer the machines are
    available to accept votes, the greater the temptation and opportunity
      to screw around with them. Also, early voting gives any potential
      fraudster the knowledge of how the election is going so that vote
     rigging can be targeted to areas on election day in which the early
     results were "disappointing" and in need of reversal. Wouldn't it be
    safer/better to have an Election Day holiday to allow everyone to get
                                to the polls?

    Mark Crispin Miller: I don't think we should be using those machines.

     althecat: Hi Mark.... Alastair from Scoop NZ here.... I will have to
    buy your book ASAP. And am delighted you have decided to come and chat
                                 here in DU.

                        Is Volusia County in the book?

        I was always very disappointed after we followed up your story
      ([15]Diebold Memos Disclose Florida 2000 E-Voting Fraud) that Dana
       Millbank didn't go back and dig a bit deeper into this. For me I
        thought this discovery was a bit of a breakthrough in terms of
      indicating that fraud had quite probably occurred at a fairly high
                         level in the 2000 election.

      P.S. I will have a scout around the thread to figure out the best
                            place to buy the book.

    Mark Crispin Miller: Alastair, I'm honored by your praise. Scoop.co.nz
                       is indispensable! 1,000 thanks.

    Yes, in Fooled Again I do deal with Volusia Countyespecially with the
     fact that Fox News called the race for Bush just at that moment when
    those 16,000+ Democratic votes had temporarily zipped down the rabbit

     You can get the book from my own blog, at [16]markcrispinmiller.com,
                              or from Buzzflash.


Mark Crispin Miller interview

    Mark Crispin Miller on conspiracies, media, and mad scientists

    Interview by Carrie McLaren | [8]Issue #19

    After years of dropping Mark Crispin Miller's name in Stay Free!, I
    figured it was time to interview him. Miller is, after all, one of the
    sharpest thinkers around. His writings on television predicted the
    cult of irony-or whatever you call it when actual Presidential
    candidates mock themselves on Saturday Night Live, when sitcoms
    ridicule sitcoms, and when advertisements attack advertising. More
    recently, he has authored The Bush Dyslexicon, aided by his humble and
    ever-devoted assistant (me).

    [mcm2.gif] Miller works at New York University in the Department of
    Media Ecology. Though he bristles at being called an academic, Miller
    is exactly the sort of person that should be leading classrooms. He's
    an excellent speaker, with a genius for taking cultural products-be
    they Jell-O commercials or George W. Bush press conferences-and
    teasing out hidden meanings. (He's also funny, articulate, and knows
    how to swear.)

    I talked to Mark at his home in November, between NPR appearances and
    babysitting duty. He is currently writing about the Marlboro Man for
    American Icons, a Yale University Press series that he also happens to
    be editing. His book Mad Scientists: Paranoid Delusion and the Craft
    of Propaganda (W. Norton) is due out in 2004.-CM

    STAY FREE: Let's start with a simple one: Why are conspiracy theories
    so popular?

    MCM: People are fascinated by the fundamental evil that seems to
    explain everything. Lately, this is why we've had the anomaly of, say,
    Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox releasing films that feature
    media moguls as villains out to rule the world-villains much like
    Rupert Murdoch. Who's a bigger conspirator than he is? And yet he's
    given us The X-Files. Another example: Time Warner released Oliver
    Stone's JFK, that crackpot-classic statement of the case that American
    history was hijacked by a great cabal of devious manipulators. It just
    so happens that Stone himself, with Time Warner behind him, was
    instrumental in suppressing two rival projects on the Kennedy
    assassination. These are trivial examples of a genuine danger, which
    is that those most convinced that there is an evil world conspiracy
    tend to be the most evil world conspirators.

    STAY FREE: Because they know what's inside their own heads?

    MCM: Yes and no. The evil that they imagine is inside their heads-but
    they can't be said to know it, at least not consciously. What we're
    discussing is the tendency to paranoid projection. Out of your own
    deep hostility you envision a conspiracy so deep and hostile that
    you're justified in using any tactics to shatter it.

    If you look at those who have propagated the most noxious doctrines of
    the twentieth century, you will find that they've been motivated by
    the fierce conviction that they have been the targets of a grand
    conspiracy against them. Hitler believed he was fighting back,
    righteously, against "the Jewish world conspiracy." [See pp. 30-31]
    Lenin and Stalin both believed they were fighting back against the
    capitalist powers-a view that had some basis in reality, of course,
    but that those Bolsheviks embraced to an insane degree. (In 1941, for
    example, Stalin actually believed that England posed a greater danger
    to the Soviet Union than the Nazis did.)

    We see the same sort of paranoid projection among many of the leading
    lights of our Cold War-the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James
    Forrestal, who was in fact clinically insane; the CIA's James
    Angleton; Richard Nixon; J. Edgar Hoover; Frank Wisner, who was in
    charge of the CIA's propaganda operations worldwide. Forrestal and
    Wisner both committed suicide because they were convinced the
    Communists were after them. Now, there was a grain of truth to this
    since the Soviet Union did exist and it was a hostile power. But it
    wasn't on the rise, and it wasn't trying to take over the world, and
    it certainly wasn't trying to destroy James Forrestal personally. We
    have to understand that there was just as much insanity in our own
    government as there was with the Nazis and the Bolsheviks.

    This paranoid dynamic did not vanish when the Cold War ended. The U.S.
    is now dominated, once again, by rightists who believe themselves
    besieged. And the same conviction motivates Osama bin Laden and his
    followers. They see themselves as the victims of an expansionist

    STAY FREE: Al Qaeda is itself a conspiracy.

    MCM: Yes. We have to realize that the wildest notions of a deliberate
    plot are themselves tinged with the same dangerous energy that drives
    such plots. What we need today, therefore, is not just more alarmism,
    but a rational appraisal of the terrorist danger, a clear recognition
    of our own contribution to that danger, and a realistic examination of
    the weak spots in our system. Unfortunately, George W. Bush is
    motivated by an adolescent version of the same fantasy that drives the
    terrorists. He divides the whole world into Good and Evil, and has no
    doubt that God is on his side-just like bin Laden. So how can Bush
    guide the nation through this danger, when he himself sounds
    dangerous? How can he oversee the necessary national self-examination,
    when he's incapable of looking critically within? In this sense the
    media merely echoes him. Amid all the media's fulminations against al
    Qaeda, there has been no sober accounting of how the FBI and CIA
    screwed up. Those bureaucracies have done a lousy job, but that fact
    hasn't been investigated because too many of us are very comfortably
    locked into this hypnotic narrative of ourselves as the good victims
    and the enemy as purely evil.

    STAY FREE: There's so much contradictory information out there. Tommy
    Thompson was on 60 Minutes the other night saying that we were
    prepared for biological warfare, that there was nothing to worry
    about. Yet The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have quoted
    experts saying the exact opposite. Do you think this kind of confusion
    contributes to conspiratorial thinking? I see some conspiratorial
    thinking as a normal function of getting along in the world. When, on
    September 11th, the plane in Pennsylvania went down, there was lots of
    speculation that the U.S. military shot it down.

    MCM: Which I tend to think is true, by the way. I've heard from some
    folks in the military that that plane was shot down.

    STAY FREE: But we have no real way of knowing, no expertise.

    MCM: Yes, conspiratorial thinking is a normal response to a world in
    which information is either missing or untrustworthy. I think that
    quite a few Americans subscribe to some pretty wild notions of what's
    going on. There's nothing new in this, of course. There's always been
    a certain demented plurality that's bought just about any explanation
    that comes along. That explains the centuries-old mythology of
    anti-Semitism. There will always be people who believe that kind of
    thing. To a certain extent, religion itself makes people susceptible
    to such theorizing.

    STAY FREE: How so?

    [mcm1.gif] MCM: Because it tends a propagate that Manichean picture of
    the universe as split between the good people and "the evil-doers."
    Christianity has spread this vision-even though it's considered a
    heresy to believe that evil is an active force in God's universe.
    According to orthodox Christianity, evil is not a positive force but
    the absence of God.

    STAY FREE: A lot of religious people believe what they want to
    believe, anyway. Christianity is negotiable.

    MCM: Absolutely. But when it comes to the paranoid world view, all
    ethical and moral tenets are negotiable, just as all facts are easily
    disposable. Here we need to make a distinction. On the one hand, there
    have been, and there are, conspiracies. Since the Cold War, our
    government has been addicted to secrecy and dangerously fixated on
    covert action all around the world. So it would be a mistake to
    dismiss all conspiracy theory. At the same time, you can't accept
    everything-that's just as naïve and dangerous as dismissing

    Vincent Bugliosi, who wrote The Betrayal of America, is finishing up a
    book on the conspiracy theories of the Kennedy assassination. He has
    meticulously gone through the case and has decided that the Warren
    Report is right. Now, Bugliosi is no knee-jerk debunker. He recognizes
    that a big conspiracy landed George W. Bush in the White House.

    STAY FREE: So I take it you don't buy the conspiracy theories about

    MCM: I think there's something pathological about the obsession with
    JFK's death. Some students of the case have raised legitimate
    questions, certainly, but people like Stone are really less concerned
    about the facts than with constructing an idealized myth.

    STAY FREE: Critics of the war in Afghanistan have called for more
    covert action as an alternative to bombing. That's an unusual thing
    for the left to be advocating, isn't it?

    MCM: It is. On the one hand, any nation would appear to be within its
    rights to try to track down and kill these mass murderers. I would
    personally prefer to see the whole thing done legally, but that may
    not be realistic. So, if it would work as a covert program without
    harm to any innocents I wouldn't be against it. But that presumes a
    level of right-mindedness and competence that I don't see in our
    government right now. I don't think that we can trust Bush/Cheney to
    carry out such dirty business. Because they have a paranoid
    world-view-just like the terrorists-they must abuse their mandate to
    "do what it takes" to keep us safe. By now they have bombed more
    innocents than perished in the World Trade Center, and they're also
    busily trashing many of our rights.

    The "intelligence community" itself, far from being chastened by their
    failure, has used the great disaster to empower itself. That
    bureaucracy has asked for still more money, but that request is wholly
    disingenuous. They didn't blow it because they didn't have enough
    money-they blew it because they're inept! They coasted along for years
    in a cozy symbiosis with the Soviet Union. The two superpowers needed
    one another to justify all this military and intelligence spending,
    and it made them complacent. Also, they succumbed to the fatal
    tendency to emphasize technological intelligence while de-emphasizing
    human intelligence.

    STAY FREE: Yeah, the Green Berets sent to Afghanistan are equipped
    with all sorts of crazy equipment. They each wear gigantic puffy suits
    with pockets fit to carry a GPS, various hi-tech gizmos, and arms.

    MCM: That's just terrific. Meanwhile, the terrorists used boxcutters!

    STAY FREE: Did you see that the U.S. Army has asked Hollywood to come
    up with possible terrorist scenarios to help prepare the military for

    MCM: Yeah, it sent a chill right through me. If that's what they're
    reduced to doing to protect us from the scourge of terrorism, they're
    completely clueless. They might as well be hiring psychics-which, for
    all we know, they are!

    STAY FREE: The Bush administration also asked Al Jazeera, the Arab TV
    station, to censor its programming.

    MCM: Right. And, you know, every oppressive move we make, from trying
    to muzzle that network to dropping bombs all over Afghanistan, is like
    a gift to the terrorists. Al Jazeera is the only independent TV
    network in the Arab world. It has managed to piss off just about every
    powerful interest in the Middle East, which is a sign of genuine
    independence. In 1998, the network applied for membership in the Arab
    Press Union, and the application was rejected because Al Jazeera
    refused to abide by the stricture that it would do everything it can
    to champion "Arab brotherhood."

    STAY FREE: What do you think our government should have done instead
    of bombing?

    MCM: I rather wish they had responded with a little more imagination.
    Doing nothing was not an option. But bombing the hell out of
    Afghanistan was not the only alternative-and it was a very big
    mistake, however much it may have gratified a lot of anxious TV
    viewers in this country. By bombing, the U.S. quickly squandered its
    advantage in the propaganda war. We had attracted quite a lot of
    sympathy worldwide, but that lessened markedly once we killed Afghan
    civilians by the hundreds, then the thousands. Americans have tended
    not to want to know about those foreign victims. But elsewhere in the
    world, where 9/11 doesn't resonate as much, the spectacle of all those
    people killed by us can only build more sympathy for our opponents.
    That is, the bombing only helps the terrorists in the long run. And so
    has our government's decision to define the 9/11 crimes as acts of
    war. That definition has served only to exalt the perpetrators, who
    should be treated as mass murderers, not as soldiers.

    But the strongest argument against our policy is this-that it is
    exactly what the terrorists were hoping for. Eager to accelerate the
    global split between the faithful and the infidels, they wanted to
    provoke us into a response that might inflame the faithful to take
    arms against us. I think we can agree that, if they wanted it, we
    should have done something else.

    STAY FREE: You've written that, before the Gulf War, Bush the elder's
    administration made the Iraqi army sound a lot more threatening than
    it really was. Bush referred to Iraq's scanty, dwindling troops as the
    "elite Republican guard." Do you think that kind of exaggeration could
    happen with this war?

    MCM: No, because the great given in this case is that we are rousing
    ourselves from our stupor and dealing an almighty and completely
    righteous blow against those who have hurt us. Now we have to seem
    invincible, whereas ten years ago, they wanted to make us very scared
    that those Iraqi troops might beat us. By terrorizing us ahead of
    time, the Pentagon and White House made our rapid, easy victory seem
    like a holy miracle.

    STAY FREE: Let's get back to conspiracy theories. Do people ever call
    you a conspiracy theorist?

    MCM: Readers have accused me of paranoia. People who attacked me for
    The Bush Dyslexicon seized on the fact that my next book is subtitled
    Paranoid Delusion and the Craft of Propaganda, and they said, "He's
    writing about himself!" But I don't get that kind of thing often
    because most people see that there's a lot of propaganda out there. I
    don't write as if people are sitting around with sly smiles plotting
    evil-they're just doing their jobs.

    The word propaganda has an interesting history, you know. It was
    coined by the Vatican. It comes from propagare, which means grafting a
    shoot onto a plant to make it grow. It's an apt derivation, because
    propaganda only works when there is fertile ground for it. History's
    first great propagandist was St. Paul, who saw himself as bringing the
    word of God to people who needed to hear it. The word wasn't
    pejorative until the first World War, when the Allies used it to refer
    to what the Germans did, while casting their own output as
    "education," or "information."

    There was a promising period after the war when it got out that our
    government had done a lot of lying. The word propaganda came to
    connote domestic propaganda, and there were a number of progressive
    efforts to analyze and debunk it. But with the start of World War II,
    propaganda analysis disappeared. Since we were fighting Nazi
    propaganda with our own, it wasn't fruitful to be criticizing

    STAY FREE: I read that the word "propaganda" fell out of fashion among
    academics around that time, so social scientists started referring to
    their work as "communications." It was no longer politically safe to
    study how to improve propaganda.

    MCM: Experts in propaganda started doing "communications" studies
    after the war. Since then, "communication" has been the most common
    euphemism used for "propaganda," as in "political communication."
    There's also "psychological warfare" and, of course, "spin."

    The Cold War was when "propaganda" became firmly linked to Communism.
    "Communist propaganda" was like "tax-and-spend Democrats" or "elite
    Republican guard." The two elements were inseparable. If the
    Communists said it, it was considered propaganda; and if it was
    propaganda, there were Communists behind it. Only now that the Cold
    War is over is it possible to talk about U.S. propaganda without
    running the risk of people looking at you funny. The word does still
    tend to be used more readily in reference to liberals or Democrats.
    The right was always quick to charge Bill Clinton-that leftist!-with
    doing propaganda. In fact, his right-wing enemies, whose propaganda
    skills were awesome, would routinely fault him for his "propaganda."
    You never heard anybody say Ronald Reagan was as a master
    propagandist, though. He was "the Great Communicator."

    STAY FREE: Talk a bit about how conspiracy is used to delegitimize
    someone who's doing critical analysis. I've heard you on TV saying, "I
    don't mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but . . . " People
    even do this in regular conversation. A friend of mine was telling me
    about going to Bush's inauguration in D.C. He was stunned that none of
    the protests were covered by the media but prefaced his comments by
    saying, "I want don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but
    [the press completely ignored the protests]." It's almost as if people
    feel the need to apologize if they don't follow some party line.

    MCM: I wouldn't say that, because there are people who are conspiracy
    theorists. And I think the emphasis there should not be on the
    conspiracy but on the theory. A theorist is a speculator. It's always
    much easier to construct a convincing conspiracy theory if you don't
    bother looking at reality. The web is filled with stuff like this. So,
    if you want cover yourself, you should say something like: "I don't
    subscribe to every crackpot notion that comes along, but in this case
    there's something funny going on-and here's the evidence." It really
    is a rhetorical necessity. Especially when you're on TV.

    STAY FREE: Maybe it's more of a necessity, too, when you're talking
    about propaganda.

    MCM: I'll tell you something: it's necessary when you're talking about
    real conspiracies. You know who benefited big time from the cavalier
    dismissal of certain conspiracies? The Nazis. The Nazis were expert at
    countering true reports of their atrocities by recalling the
    outrageous lies the Allies had told about the Germans back in World
    War I. The Allies had spread insane rumors about Germans bayoneting
    Belgian babies, and crucifying Canadian soldiers on barn doors, and on
    and on. So, when it first got out that the Nazis were carrying out
    this horrible scheme, their flacks would roll their eyes and say, "Oh
    yeah-just like the atrocity stories we heard in WWI, right?"

    STAY FREE: I once attended a lecture on Channel One [an
    advertising-funded, in-school "news" program], where a professor
    dissected several broadcasts. He talked about how Channel One stories
    always emphasize "oneness" and individuality. Collective efforts or
    activism is framed in the negative sense, while business and
    governmental sources are portrayed positively and authoritatively.
    Now, someone listening to this lecture might say, "That just your
    reading into it. You sound conspiratorial." So where do you think this
    sort of media analysis or literary analysis and conspiracy-mongering

    MCM: That's a very good question. For years I've encountered the same
    problem as a professor. You've got to make the point that any critical
    interpretation has to abide by the rules of evidence-it must be based
    on a credible argument. If you think I'm "reading into it," tell me
    where my reading's weak. Otherwise, grant that, since the evidence
    that I adduce supports my point, I might be onto something. Where it
    gets complicated with propaganda is around the question of intention,
    because an intention doesn't have to be entirely conscious. The people
    who make ads, for example, are imbedded in a larger system; they've
    internalized its imperatives. So they may not be conscious
    intellectually of certain moves they make. If you said to somebody at
    Channel One, "You're hostile to the collective and you insult the
    individual," he'd say, reasonably, "What are you talking about? I'm
    just doing the news." So you have to explain what ideology is. I'm
    acutely sensitive to this whole problem. When I teach advertising, for
    example, I proceed by using as many examples as possible, to show that
    there is a trend, whatever any individual art director or photographer
    might insist about his or her own deliberate aims.

    Take liquor advertising, which appeals to the infant within every
    alcoholic by associating drink with mother's milk. This is clearly a
    deliberate strategy because we see it in ad after ad-some babe holding
    a glass of some brew right at nipple level. She's invariably
    small-breasted so that the actual mammary does not upstage the
    all-important product. If that's an accident, it's a pretty amazing
    accident. Now, does this mean that the ad people sit down and study
    the pathology of alcoholics, or is it something they've discovered
    through trial and error? My point is that it ultimately makes no
    difference. We see it over and over-and if I can show you that,
    according to experts, visual association speaks to a desire in
    alcoholics, a regressive impulse, then you have to admit I have a
    point. Of course, there are going to be people who'll accuse you of
    "reading into it" no matter what you say because they don't want to
    hear the argument. This is where we come up against the fundamental
    importance of anti-intellectualism on the right. They hate any kind of
    explanation. They feel affronted by the very act of thinking. I ran
    into this when I promoted The Bush Dyslexicon on talk shows-which I
    could do before 9/11. Bush's partisans would fault me just for
    scrutinizing what he'd said.

    STAY FREE: I recently read Richard Hofstadter's famous essay about
    political paranoia. He argued that conspiracy is not specific to any
    culture or country. Would you agree with that, or do you think there
    is something about America that makes it particularly hospitable to
    conspiracy theories?

    MCM: Well, there's a lot of argument about this. There's a whole
    school of thought that holds that England's Civil War brought about a
    great explosion of paranoid partisanship. Bernard Baylin's book The
    Ideological Origins of the American Revolution includes a chapter on
    the peculiar paranoid orientation of the American revolutionaries. But
    I think paranoia is universal. It's an eternal, regressive impulse,
    and it poses a special danger to democracy.

    STAY FREE: Why, specifically, is it dangerous to democracy?

    MCM: Because democracies have always been undone by paranoia. You
    cannot have a functioning democracy where everyone is ruled by mutual
    distrust. A democratic polity requires a certain degree of
    rationality, a tolerance of others, and a willingness to listen to
    opposing views without assuming people are out to kill you. There's a
    guy named Eli Sagan who wrote a book on the destructive effect of
    paranoia on Athenian democracy. And I think that the American
    experiment may also fail; America has always come closest to betraying
    its founding principles at moments of widespread xenophobic paranoia.
    In wartime, people want to sink to their knees and feel protected.
    They give up thinking for themselves-an impulse fatal to democracy but
    quite appropriate for fascism and Stalinism.

    The question now is whether paranoia can remain confined to that
    thirty-or-so percent of the electorate who are permanently crazy.
    That's what Nixon himself said, by the way-that "one third of the
    American electorate is nuts." About a third of the German people voted
    for the Nazis. I think there's something to that. It's sort of a magic

    STAY FREE: Come to think of it, public opinion polls repeatedly show
    that 70% of the public are skeptical of advertising claims. I guess
    that means about 30% believe anything.

    MCM: Wow. I wonder if that lack of skepticism toward advertising
    correlates in any way with this collective paranoia. That would be
    interesting to know.

    STAY FREE: Well, during the Gulf War, a market research firm conducted
    a study that found that the more hawkish people were, the more likely
    they were to be rampant consumers. Warmongers, in other words,
    consumed more than peaceniks. Why do you think these two reactions
    might be correlated?

    MCM: One could argue that this mild, collective paranoia often finds
    expression in promiscuous consumption. Eli Sagan talks about the
    "paranoidia of greed" as well as the "paranoidia of domination." Both
    arise out of suspicion of the enemy. You either try to take over all
    his territory forcibly, or you try to buy everything up and wall
    yourself within the fortress of your property.

    STAY FREE: Those two reactions also practically dominate American
    culture. When people from other countries think of America, they think
    of us being materialistic and violent. We buy stuff and kill people.
    Do you think there's any positive form of paranoia? Any advantage to

    MCM: No, I don't, because paranoids have a fatal tendency to look for
    the enemy in the wrong place. James Angleton of the CIA was so very
    destructive because he was paranoid. I mean, he should have been in a
    hospital-and I'm not being facetious. Just like James Forrestal, our
    first defense secretary. These people were unable to protect
    themselves, much less serve their country. I think paranoia is only
    useful if you're in combat and need to be constantly ready to kill.
    Whether it's left-wing or right-wing paranoia, the drive is ultimately

    STAY FREE: Our government is weak compared to the corporations that
    run our country. What role do you see for corporations in the
    anti-terrorist effort?

    MCM: Well, corporations do largely run the country, and yet we can't
    trust them with our security. The private sector wants to cut costs,
    so you don't trust them with your life. Our welfare is not uppermost
    in their minds; our money is. So what role can the corporations play?

    STAY FREE: They can make the puffy suits!

    MCM: The puffy suits and whatever else the Pentagon claims to need.
    Those players have a vested interest in eternal war.

    STAY FREE: Did you read that article about Wal-Mart? After September
    11, sales shot up for televisions, guns, and canned goods.

    MCM: Paranoia can be very good for business.

    STAY FREE: Have you ever watched one of those television news shows
    that interpret current events in terms of Christian eschatology? They
    analyze everyday events as signs of the Second Coming.

    MCM: No. I bet they're really excited now, though. I wonder what our
    president thinks of that big Happy Ending, since he's a born-again.
    You know, Reagan thought it was the end times.

    STAY FREE: But those are minority beliefs, even among born-again

    [mcm4.gif] MCM: It depends on what you mean by "minority." Why are
    books by Tim LaHayes selling millions? He's a far-right
    fundamentalist, co-author of a series of novels all about the end
    times-the Rapture and so on. And Pat Robertson's best-seller, the New
    World Order, sounds the same apocalyptic note.

    STAY FREE: He's crazy. He can't really believe all that stuff.

    MCM: No, he's crazy and therefore he can believe that stuff. His nurse
    told him years ago that he was showing symptoms of paranoid

    STAY FREE: I recently read a chapter from Empire of Conspiracy-an
    intelligent book about conspiracy theories. But it struck me that the
    author considered Vance Packard, who wrote Hidden Persuaders, a
    conspiracy theorist. Packard's book was straightforward journalism. He
    interviewed advertising psychologists and simply reported their
    claims. There was very little that was speculative about it.

    MCM: The author should have written about Subliminal Seduction and the
    other books by Wilson Brian Key.

    STAY FREE: Exactly! That nonsense about subliminal advertising was a
    perfect example of paranoid conspiracy. Yet he picked on Vance
    Packard, who conducted his research as any good journalist would.

    MCM: Again, we must distinguish between idle, lunatic conspiracy
    theorizing, and well-informed historical discussion. There have been
    quite a few conspiracies in U.S. history-and if you don't know that,
    you're either ignorant or in denial. Since 1947, for example, we have
    conspiratorially fomented counter-revolutions and repression the world
    over. That's not conspiracy theory. That's fact-which is precisely why
    it meets the charge of speculation. How better to discredit someone
    than to say she's chasing phantoms-or that she has an axe to grind?
    When James Loewen's book Lies Across America was reviewed in The New
    York Times, for example, the reviewer said it revealed an ideological
    bias because it mentions the bombing of civilians in Vietnam. Loewen
    wrote back a killer letter to the editor pointing out that he had
    learned about those bombings from The New York Times. Simply
    mentioning such inconvenient facts is to be dismissed as a wild-eyed

    When someone tells me I'm conspiracy-mongering I usually reply, "It
    isn't a conspiracy, it's just business as usual."

    STAY FREE: That's like what Noam Chomsky says about his work: "This is
    not conspiracy theory, it is institutional analysis." Institutions do
    what is necessary to assure the survival of the institution. It's
    built into the process.

    MCM: That's true. There's a problem with Chomsky's position,
    though-and I say this with all due respect because I really love
    Chomsky. When talking about U.S. press coverage, Chomsky will say that
    reporters have internalized the bias of the system. He says this, but
    the claim is belied by the moralistic tone of Chomsky's critique-he
    charges journalists with telling "lies" and lying "knowingly." There
    is an important contradiction here. Either journalists believe they're
    reporting truthfully, which is what Chomsky suggests when he talks
    about internalizing institutional bias. Or they're lying-and that, I
    think, is what Chomsky actually believes because his prose is most
    energetic when he's calling people liars.

    One of the purposes of my next book, Mad Scientists, will be to
    suggest that all the best-known and most edifying works on propaganda
    are slightly flawed by their assumption that the propagandist is a
    wholly rational, detached, and calculating player. Most critics-not
    just Chomsky, but Jacques Ellul and Hannah Arendt, among others-tend
    to project their own rationality onto the propagandist. But you can't
    study the Nazis or the Bolsheviks or the Republicans without noticing
    the crucial strain of mad sincerity that runs throughout their work,
    even at its most cynical.

    [mcm3.gif] STAY FREE: You have written that even worse than the
    possibility that a conspiracy exists may be the possibility that no
    conspiracy is needed. What do you mean by that?

    MCM: The fantasy of one big, bad cabal out there is terrifying but
    also comforting. Not only does it help make sense of a bewildering
    reality, but it also suggests a fairly neat solution. If we could just
    find all the members of the network and kill them, everything will be
    okay. It's more frightening to me that there are no knowing authors.
    No one is at the top handling the controls. Rather, the system is on
    auto-pilot, with cadres just going about their business, vaguely
    assuming that they're doing good and telling truths-when in fact they
    are carrying out what could objectively be considered evil. What do
    you do, then? Who is there to kill? How do you expose the
    perpetrators? Whom do you bring before the bar of justice-and who
    believes in "justice"?

    And yet I do think that a lot of participants in this enterprise know
    they're doing wrong. One reason people who work for the tobacco
    companies make so much money, for example, is to still the voice of
    conscience, make them feel like they're doing something valuable. But
    the voice is very deeply buried.

    Ultimately, though, it is the machine itself that's in command, acting
    through those workers. They let themselves become the media's own
    media-the instruments whereby the system does its thing. I finally
    learned this when I studied the Gulf War, or rather, the TV spectacle
    that we all watched in early 1991. There was a moment on the war's
    first night when Ron Dellums was just about to speak against the war.
    He was on the Capitol steps, ready to be interviewed on ABC-and then
    he disappeared. They cut to something else. I was certain that
    someone, somewhere, had ordered them to pull the plug because the
    congressman was threatening to spoil the party. But it wasn't that at
    all. We looked into it and found the guy who'd made that decision,
    which was a split-second thing based on the gut instinct that Dellums'
    comments would make bad TV. So that was that-a quick, unconscious act
    of censorship, effected not by any big conspiracy but by one eager
    employee. No doubt many of his colleagues would have done the same.
    And that, I think, is scarier than any interference from on high.

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