November 10, 2004
By The Plaid Adder
I wake up excited, as if it's Christmas morning. I go out to vote
as soon as I'm dressed, before I even eat breakfast. After that
I kill the whole day getting ready for the victory party I'm hosting.
I clean the house. I bake challah for the first time in forever.
It's the only kind of bread I feel safe making because even if something
goes terribly wrong with the yeast the enormous number of eggs involved
will take care of the rising. When everything is done and it's finally
time for the network news coverage of Smackdown 2004 to begin, I
turn on the television.
As soon as I see Peter Jennings on the screen surrounded by that
election-night set, my gut turns into a cold, shuddering lump.
My head is still hopeful. I have been reading all the polls. I
know Bush's support hasn't broken 50% in a long time. I know about
the incumbent factor. I know what all the battleground states are
and how many Kerry needs to put together 271 electoral votes. I
know we can afford to lose either Ohio or Florida if we get Pennsylvania.
I know it can be done. For weeks I have been sure that Kerry will
win. But I haven't been watching television much lately. I don't
have cable, and all the network shows I used to watch are either
canceled or in the toilet. Most of the time the TV is a black box
that just sits there in the family room, brooding.
Now that the black box is awake, I find that my body is reacting
to it as if it were a cobra coiled up and ready to spring. My head
knows all about the process and how long it will be before we have
the results. But all my body has to go on is the conditioning it's
learned through experience. And my body is telling me loud and clear:
nothing good ever comes out of that box.
November 3, 2004
I pass by a USA Today, and though I try to avert my eyes
I still see the headline. "Bush calls win 'historic.'"
It's historic all right.
By his math, he's now the most beloved president ever. By my math,
he's the most hated president ever. According to the constantly-being-adjusted-yet-mysteriously-final
vote tally, the country is so bitterly, and almost evenly,
divided that both of those things are true.
The question of how we managed to give Bush another four years
in office after he embroiled us in a disastrous and unnecessary
war, presided over the tanking of our economy, lied repeatedly to
the American people about stuff that really mattered, and performed
so badly in all three of his presidential debates that a story about
a mysterious 'bulge' that might have been the battery pack for a
wireless earpiece through which his handlers were transmitting his
answers actually went mainstream for a while, will be of intense
interest to historians. Right now, to me, that question is just
a yawning black hole of depression waiting to swallow me whole.
How did it happen? This is a man whose advisors openly stated,
in the final days of the campaign, that "anything that makes people
fear for their personal safety helps" bolster his popularity. It
didn't occur to 51% of my fellow Americans that it is not a good
idea to elect someone whose own political survival depends on keeping
us all scared shitless? 51% of the people I share this country with
thought he was doing a good job? 51% of Americans want another four
years of color-coded terror alerts, gay-baiting, outsourcing, surveillance,
detention without trial, deficit spending, profiteering, corruption,
torture, and unending, expensive, and ineffective war? What the
hell is the matter with people?
I remember the theories my partner and I talked about in the small
hours, as we lay there trying to sleep, but really just holding
each other and bracing ourselves against the coming shock of the
morning news. We did everything we could, I said, but this country
has just beaten us. There are not enough of us. All through history,
I said, it's the same story: nobody ever walks away from a chance
to rule the world. People love being part of an empire - at least
until it falls. The Romans loved it, the British loved it. Why did
I think we would be any different?
Of course "Do you want to be the Empire?" is not a question they
ask on the exit polls. It's always about security, or terrorism,
or weapons of mass destruction. Nobody in that black box ever talks
whether all this fear is justified, or whether having sustained
a devastating terrorist attack once three years ago inevitably compels
us to conquer the world. For the people in the black box, it is
always enough that we are afraid, that we feel a need
for greater security, that we believe that the way to be
safe is not to clean our own house but to go abroad raiding other
But when people say that they believe Bush will protect them from
terrorism - despite his not having been able to do it on September
11, 2001 - what they really mean is that the more conquering we
do, the safer they will feel. The more war we make, the better off
Maybe that's all it was, in the end: the fear that anything less
than all-out war on the world would lead to another terrorist attack.
The exit polls seem to indicate that voters for whom terrorism was
the #1 issue voted overwhelmingly for Bush, perhaps because for
the last month or so of the campaign, every time you turned on the
black box you saw either Bush or Cheney insisting that John Kerry's
election would lead immediately to another terrorist attack. I always
wondered how they knew. Maybe it's best I won't find out.
In the light of day, though, that just doesn't seem like enough
to me. And anyhow I hear the exit polls were kind of screwy this
November 2, 2004
It's late in the evening. We are all waiting for the battleground
states to be called; but so far, the only results up there seem
to be the foregone conclusions and Pennsylvania, which has gone
for Kerry. The networks are not announcing the results of the exit
polls but they know what they are, of course, and so apparently
does the Kerry campaign, because they seem cheerful and ready to
talk to anyone, whereas the Bush campaign has been oddly silent.
Suddenly, apropos of nothing, Peter Jennings announces that the
Bush campaign has broken with tradition and is inviting the media
up to his hideout in the White House for a photo-opportunity. There
is a shot on the screen of a pack of camera and sound men charging
up the steps toward the door, surging forward, bursting with the
excitement of the chase.
One of the guests says, "Look at them. They're like a pack of
dogs that just heard their master's voice."
In fact, Bush has nothing to say. He just wants them to film him
as he sits there being happy and confident. He does at some point
say that he thinks he's going to win. Later, Vanessa Kerry comes
on the screen. She predicts a decisive victory, but she does not
look happy. All of a sudden, subtly but surely, the tone of the
coversation on the ABC set shifts. They're no longer considering
possible reasons why Bush might lose. They're now talking about
possible reasons why Kerry might not win.
Something just happened, but nobody in the box will tell us what
November 6, 2004
I happen upon a piece at the BBC
online site that credits Rove as the "architect" of this victory:
Early exit polls quoted by media seemed to give Mr Kerry the
edge, but colleagues said Mr Rove indicated right away that they
did not tally with his information.
He used his own data to put Ohio and Florida in the Bush column
- bringing cheers from the president and his family when he went
into the Roosevelt Room and told them.
And when the TV networks gave either Ohio or Nevada to Mr
Bush but not both - which would have led him to be declared as
the winner - Mr Rove was one of the president's aides who got
on the phone to news chiefs to try to pressure them to change
So that's what happened. Rove went into the Roosevelt room and
called Ohio and Florida for Bush, and the media went running up
to record the happy event. He did this based on "his own data."
Then he called up all the heads of all the network news shows to
try to get them to call the election for Bush.
None of this surprises me, really. But I do have one question.
Where did Karl Rove's data come from?
Does he have informants working the polls? Is his PC hooked up
to the vote tabulators in Columbus? Has he learned how to astral
project so that he can know the secret conscience and intention
of every one of Ohio's voters? Does he have thousands of surveillance
cameras positioned in ward offices all over the swing states secretly
recording each ballot and transmitting the information to him instantaneously?
Is the Secretary of State for Ohio giving a running commentary to
Rove but not to anyone else?
How is it that a man who was never elected to any public office,
is not supposed to be part of the mainstream media, and has made
his name and fortune based primarily on ruthlessness and a complete
lack of moral scruples, gets to be the one man in the country who
can call a presidential election? Why in the name of anything should
he have been the only person in America who really
knew what the Ohio results were?
Or was he just making them up?
* * * * * * * *
We can indeed count on the Bush team trying to steal Florida
again, and who knows what else; but we can also count on Kerry
not to be bullied into conceding the election, or to be suckered
by any sweet talk about how he has to give up a legitimate victory
so as not to divide the country. Four years after the candidate
who won the majority of the popular vote accepted the Supreme
Court's decision in favor of his rival because he thought it would
be the best thing for the nation, we now know better. The best
thing for the nation is to bring integrity back to the democratic
- The Plaid Adder, "October
Surprise," October 20, 2004.
Earlier today, I spoke to President Bush, and I offered him and
Laura our congratulations on their victory. We had a good conversation
and we talked about the danger of division in our country and
the need - the desperate need - for unity, for finding the common
ground, coming together. Today, I hope that we can begin the healing.
In America it is vital that every vote count, and that every vote
be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a
protracted legal process.
- John Kerry, November 3, 2004.
* * * * * * * *
November 8, 2004
I still wake up every day thinking about election fraud.
Is it possible that Bush 'won' this election through fraud? Absolutely.
The folks over at BlackBoxVoting.org
will be happy to tell you all about how easy it would be to hack
the vote. Diebold comes in for a lot of the criticism, but we can
also thank Bill Gates; the votes are tabluated, it appears, on PCs
running Windows. How many security patches have you had to
download to fix holes in Windows that MicroSoft didn't know about
until some asshole wrote a virus that exploited them? Sure it's
Is it likely? Well, that's what's waking me up at 4:00 a.m. every
After watching Rove in action for four years, I have absolutely
no doubt in my mind on at least this one point: if he thought he
needed to steal the election, he absolutely would. I know most of
America finds that unthinkable; but you know what, Rove got to where
he is today by being willing to do the unthinkable.
The Swift Vet smears show you how willing he is to lie; the nationwide
campaign of misinformation and intimidation that was directed at
poor and minority voters in the run-up to this election shows you
how comfortable he and his minions are with cheating; so why should
we believe that, with not only his candidate's second term but his
own ass on the line, he would have any problem with stealing? What
would stop him? His conscience? Oh my God, get back to me in an
hour after I'm done laughing. Fear of getting caught and exposed
by the media? OK, now you're going to have to give me three.
The media will never expose Rove. They will never expose him because
he exerts some kind of fascinating power over them that forces them
to do his bidding even as they marvel at his moral bankruptcy and
their own fawning submission. It's as if they would rather be bamboozled
by him than get the truth from someone else. It goes beyond the
pressures of having to produce a disposable product every hour on
the hour, beyond laziness, beyond a taste for melodrama and sensation.
It's a romance; it's a seduction; it's an unholy coupling that has
given birth to this bastard of a future.
After all, there is more than one way of fixing an election. Stumping
on the campaign trail is all very well, but the vast majority of
Americans who go to the polls will vote based on what they have
seen on television. The print media endorsed Kerry by an overwhelming
margin, but that doesn't reach that segment of the American population
that has long ago given up on print. If you control what comes out
of that black box, and if the people sitting in front of it have
nothing else to go on, then you control the opinions they form.
And that's what Rove has always relied on.
It bothers me to wonder whether the results of this election are
legitimate. In what is supposed to be the greatest country in the
world, we shouldn't even have to ask that question. It bothers me
that so many of our votes our counted on machines that do not produce
a material, verifiable, auditable record, and that so many of the
people responsible for tallying those votes are Republican operatives
who are up to their eyeballs in Bush's campaign. And until we solve
those two problems, I maintain that we do not have a process that
we can trust, and that there will always be some doubt, amongst
the dissident 49%, about whether the election we just had was real
or whether we are being put through the motions in order that we
might not realize that democracy is dead in this country, and that
there is no chance that anything we do with our ballots will actually
cause power to change hands.
But what bothers me more than the still-nagging doubt about the
election's legitimacy is my absolute certainty about one thing.
If clear evidence of fraud did ever emerge, the mainstream media
would exclude it as irrelevant and incredible, the way they have
excluded the results of their own exit polls. We do not own the
media; they are owned by the money that pays them, the money that
buys their networks and funds their air time and produces the crap
they sell us. And the money, like any spoiled rich brat, likes the
people who worship it and let it have its way all the time, and
hates people who try to discipline it.
And that's why the money will always be against us, on everything
from terrorism to moral values. After all, Republican moral values
are really all about sex; and sex doesn't cost anyone anything.
The money doesn't care who you have sex with as long as you buy
plenty of cosmetics and trendy clothing and Viagra before you do
it. If you're a Republican you get to be as moral as you want and
it doesn't cost you a dime. If you're a Democrat, well, being moral
involves helping the poor, working for equality, striving for social
and economic justice, that kind of thing. The money doesn't like
that. That's why our politicians are afraid to talk about their
moral values; they don't want to make the money nervous. And so
that's why, according to the black box, Republican moral values
are the only ones that exist.
And since the money is what owns the mainstream media, the mainstream
media will not do anything that's going to upset the money. Money
likes stability. It likes decisive elections that don't fluster
the stock market too much. It likes continuity, and it likes defense
spending, and it likes tax cuts and deregulation and the 'ownership
society.' And so like many other stories, election fraud is a story
that simply will never come out of that black box. Whether or not
November 10, 2004
My partner works in a blue state. I work in a red state. We live
our lives along a line stretched between them. For us, civil war
is not an option.
Bush did not get a second term because the red overwhelmed the
blue. No matter what you read in the papers, 51% is not a mandate.
It is, however, a controlling interest.
For anyone else, the margin of victory would matter; but as far
as the Bush team is concerned, as long as they own 51% of this country,
they get to control it, and the minority can go piss up a rope,
even if the 'minority' is almost half the country. That's not how
a republic is supposed to work; but that's how a corporation works,
and as long as it's red against blue, that's all this country is
going to be.
I don't know how we get out of here. Right now, I feel like it
will be a miracle if I live through the next four years. We all
know how the Bush administration treats a conquered enemy; and every
time I see one of our Democratic leaders using the word "unity"
right now, I want to throw up.
But I have been banging my head against the heinosity of this
election all day long and all I can come up with is this.
Red against blue is what Rove counts on; it's what keeps the elections
close enough to steal. Or win, if you call it 'winning' when you
direct the media to assassinate your opponent and then suppress
his party's turnout by paying people to destroy registration forms,
call people up and tell them their polling places have been moved,
deliberately spread misinformation about who's eligible to vote,
and let faulty equipment and malfunctioning machines tie up the
polls so long that working people can't afford to wait to get to
the voting booth.
Bush's victory on Tuesday happened because red and blue were so
busy strangling each other that neither one noticed they both got
screwed by green. Money is what ran off with this election. Money
is what owns the black box; and so money is what holds our party
leadership captive, and what carries Bush and Rove and the rest
of the moral values crowd back into office. Until red and blue -
not the party leaders, but the voters themselves - can unite against
green, our choices and our future will always come to us straight
from the black box.
The Plaid Adder's demented ravings have been delighting an equally
demented online audience since 1996. More of the same can be found
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