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A Hidden Hand?
November 14, 2001
by Margaret Shanks

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I have a question and a great fear. Are we now seeing a dark underbelly of our country that has always been there, but was hidden deep and rarely glimpsed by our citizens in years gone by? Have we seen this shadow more frequently and more clearly not really realizing what we were witnessing? Is there a hidden hand behind everything, controlling, guiding, while we slumber under the misconception that we live in a democracy?

Let's start with 1963. I was 10 years old and John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas. It was the first time I ever saw my father cry. I remember being sent home from school and even at the age of 10, I understood the enormity of the tragedy. As I played outside I remember carefully avoiding stepping on any cracks on the sidewalk, because I was convinced that by not stepping on the cracks, the news wouldn't, couldn't possibly be true.

Since then I've read a lot about that day in Dallas. I've wanted to believe the government's story but I've never been able to. I fervently believe that some dark, shadowy forces in Texas were involved and that they were aided and abetted by the news media. It's not that hard to find evidence that the Warren Report is not true and that the press knew that it wasn't true. They asked no questions. Why? National Security? Fear of riots in the street? I just don't know.

Fast forward thirty four years. Past Vietnam, past Watergate to the impeachment. The same dark shadowy mentality that showed itself in Dallas was at work again. No, they didn't kill President Clinton, but it was an attempt at a political assassination none the less. Every piece of dirt, true or untrue was aired incessantly and non stop. I sat stunned while Clinton's poll numbers climbed and the incessant chatter on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and CCN roared on. "We don't want this,' screamed the American people. "You WILL have this,' roared the pundits and the Republicans, "we don't care about the will of the people." The dark shadowy forces have become more bold and more vocal.

Fast forward three years. There is an election. From the start the Democratic candidate is pilloried. He wears earth tones, he lies, he exaggerates. The Republican candidate is an upright straight talker from Texas, son of a president, good bloodline. Election night, the race in the state of Florida (governed by the Republican's brother) is too close to call. But it is called anyway by the Republican's cousin. A recount is called and the dark, shadowy forces come out in full force. They shut down a recount in Miami. "The votes have been counted, recounted, and counted again, Bush wins every time," is the mantra. The media stands idly by while the man who gets the fewer votes is inaugurated, sworn in by one of the men on the Supreme Court who selected him. There are people in the streets. Angry, frustrated people whose votes and rights were thrown out like dirty bathwater. The media ignores them. For months and months the protests are ignored and go unreported.

Yesterday, the media recount was scheduled to be released. As a Floridian, I know what went on here. I know more people intended to vote for Gore and I know that more people tried to vote for Gore. I know that people were disenfranchised, threatened, and blocked from going to the polls (that right in here in the Tallahassee, the capital). And I know that there was a concerted effort before the election by Bush and Katherine Harris to purge the rolls of alleged felons-who turned out not to be felons at all. I also knew that no matter what the report said, it would be spun as a victory for Bush.

Here are some quotes from the newspapers articles concerning the media recount (taken from Media Whores Online.)

A close examination of the ballots suggests that more Floridians attempted to choose Gore over Bush.
     - Chicago Tribune

Gore would have won most recount scenarios that included "overvotes," ballots that showed votes for more than one candidate. Democrats long have contended that a plurality of Florida voters intended to cast their ballots for Gore but that thousands spoiled their votes because of confusing instructions, badly designed ballots or other obstacles. The study adds evidence to bolster that case.
     - LA Times

One of the most compelling questions since the election has been: Who would have won if all the uncounted ballots were hand-counted using the same standards?
     If that had happened using the counting methods most widely used in the state, the study shows, Bush would have gotten an extra 3,607 votes, Gore an extra 4,204 -- giving Gore the state by a scant 60-vote margin.
     -Orlando Sentinel

But if Gore had found a way to trigger a statewide recount of all disputed ballots, or if the courts had required it, the result likely would have been different. An examination of uncounted ballots throughout Florida found enough where voter intent was clear to give Gore the narrowest of margins.
     -Washington Post

But what grabs people's attention? The headlines. What did most headlines say? Bush Wins. No need to read further. What did I see on the crawler on CNN? "Bush wins even if all votes counted on a statewide hand recount." No need to listen, it's decided. Distortions and outright lies.

And Bush's executive order sealing presidential records? Move along, nothing to see here.

Back to my question, is there a hidden hand? I don't know and I'm not sure that I want to know more than I do. You figure it out, I'm going out to play, carefully avoiding any cracks on the sidewalk.

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