The Bush Landslide of 2004
By Charles Cutter
May 6, 2004, 20:38
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By connecting the dots, we can see into the future that’s envisioned by George W. Bush’s corporate sponsors. Control the media; control the vote; control the military. Conspiracy theory? Not really; a good portion of it is being done right out in the open. It’s being done with a double-edged arrogance, with the conviction that most people are so disinterested or propagandized they won’t care anyway – call it a “coup d’etat of the willing” – and that those who do care are helpless to prevent it.
Control the media: The FCC is working to consolidate the power and reach of media conglomerates. As this issue unfolds, we witness the eagerness of these conglomerates in striking down voices of dissent. Clear Channel Communications fires Howard Stern (following the FCC’s partisan demonstration of selective enforcement). The Disney Company refuses to distribute Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, a documentary film critical of Bush & Co. Sinclair Broadcasting Group forbids its ABC affiliates to air a Nightline episode honoring America’s fallen soldiers in Iraq. Executives at Sinclair – Bush supporters, of course – refer to the episode as a “so-called tribute…designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” Senator John McCain calls Sinclair’s actions “…unpatriotic…a gross disservice to the public, and to…the United States Armed Forces.”
It’s not necessary that a media conglomerate hew to a right-wing agenda. For effective control, it’s only necessary that a company’s vested interests be threatened. In the case of Disney, for instance, Moore’s film is small potatoes compared to the risk of losing tax breaks for their other ventures in Jeb Bush’s Florida. This is the problem with large companies – there’s always a branch somewhere that can be threatened. Governor Bush (and Disney) deny this is a factor, but they can’t deny that extortion works best when it’s unspoken. Nor can they deny what Richard Clarke, Valerie Plame, Paul O’Neill and many others know so well – that those expressing criticism of this administration can expect retribution.
Control the vote: Why rely on the Supreme Court to prevent a ballot recount, when right-wing corporations can do it much more efficiently? Walden O’Dell, chairman of the board of Diebold Election Systems – one of the largest suppliers of touch-screen voting machines in the country – is a huge Bush supporter. He claims he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to [George W. Bush] in 2004.” Certainly he’s just offering donations and activism, right?
Let’s forget that, in 2002, Senate Democrat Max Cleland went from a 49-44 lead in the polls to a 53-46 loss a week later. Diebold fraud? We’ll never know. “Computer experts say that software at Diebold and other manufacturers is full of security flaws, which would easily allow an insider to rig the election…And here’s the crucial point: even if there are strong reasons to suspect that electronic machines miscounted votes, nothing can be done about it. There is no paper trail; there is nothing to recount.” (Paul Krugman, “Democracy at Risk,” New York Times, 1/23/04)
Control the military: The second largest military force serving in Iraq (after the United States) consists of corporate soldiers. Many of these mercenaries – provided by Titan, Blackwater, etc. – reportedly make in excess of $100,000 per year (compare that with salaries paid to U.S. soldiers). Bush’s war for “freedom” is – to a large degree – being staffed by soldiers of fortune; hired killers.
We’ve moving well beyond the “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned about. The future now holds an added threat – not only will the armored tank be the product of private industry, but the soldiers inside it will be working for a private corporation as well (with the companies themselves funded by – and this is the kicker – American taxpayers). In which direction does a corporate soldier point his gun, when conflicted between defending the Constitution and defending a mission statement?
This unfolding future – it’s called a “capitalist theocracy,” where the object of worship is money – will not be stopped simply by replacing George W. Bush. It is, however, an essential first step, which forces us to confront two difficult questions.
First, is there any way to persuade a solid majority of the American public of the true damage this administration has wrought on this country, and on the world? Putting some faith in polling results, there is evidence of erosion in support for Mr. Bush’s policies; but this erosion has not translated into support for his opponent, Senator Kerry. At the moment, we’re looking at a dead-even presidential race. So this first question is still undecided.
But the second question is by far the more disturbing: If so inclined, could an activist electorate successfully vote Mr. Bush out of office? In other words – to face our worst fears – has the presidential election of 2004 already been “fixed?” Certainly Mr. Bush’s supporters have both the means and the motive to steal another election. How can we – with less than six months remaining – guarantee a legitimate outcome? Suppose that pre-election polling shows an imminent Kerry victory, but touch-screen results deliver the election to Bush. How do you prove (or disprove) charges of fraud and corruption? As we’ve seen, these issues are difficult enough to resolve under normal circumstances. But without a paper trail, it’s like trying to match a pistol to a crime scene – when the bullet used was made of ice.
Charles Cutter can be reached at http://cuttersway.com.
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