January 10, 2015

Bushwacked: Election 2000

It is December 5, 2000. A Tuesday. The face of America is changing today whether people believe it or not. It’s just a Presidential election, right? A highly-contested event that has captured the media’s spotlight for the last three weeks. Will it be all that significant three years from now? Far worse crises may present themselves. Terrorist actions, combat strikes, threat of global disease. Judging by the events this week, more than likely, a guy named George W. Bush will be sitting in the highest chair of this land.

Does he have any intellectual capacity or intuitive skills to grasp complex, threatening scenarios and rule with superior discernment above and beyond the wisdom of his inner circle?

One can view the debate videos from October. I won’t spend time detailing all of the points of generalities that Bush sputtered with buckshot focus and the precise, but perhaps longwinded, agendas Albert Gore laid forth to the short-attention span populous of America. Sure Al Gore is an erudite know-it-all. But when the criteria bar for this nation and its pundits rested on the notion that “Gee, Bush sure is folksy, and at least he didn’t say anything really stupid,” we’re in trouble folks. I don’t know about you, but when a Sultan from the Sudan visits the Rose Garden for an afternoon chat with our President, I would prefer our leader to be immersed in the knowledge of the man’s personal background, cultural viewpoints, administrative policies, and hidden customs. Unknown to many, Bill Clinton is someone who truly wanted to know everything he could about his most incidental visitors. So he could dive right into a conversation with them, citing many facts and events concerning their background. He routinely had many books brought over to the White House from the Library of Congress to pore over whenever he had an international guest arriving that he had agreed to receive. Gore, the eager intellectual that he is, seems to seek out this kind of knowledge. He reads voraciously, he is genuinely well-versed in a cornucopia of topics without the benefit of prepared notes. He, in other words, appears to enjoy entertaining avenues of globalism, diversity, alternative solutions, and equality-balanced policies.

We don’t know much about Bush. But judging from the crib note preparation he was forced to learn for the second debate, regarding foreign affairs, this is not a very savvy individual. Yes, he got an MBA from a respectable university. But nowhere in his public speech, off-the-cuff vocabulary, does he elicit pronouncements deeper than a twelfth-grader. Basically, he’s a quick study, a crammer, but he probably doesn’t retain. He’s not a deep thinker. His own staff members from Texas have conceded this. Even more telling, he appears as if he doesn’t CARE if he retains complex issues and knowledge. This is a man who, in the midst of the country’s most tumultuous electoral process, one in which he is a party to, retreated to a remote ranch in the boonies of Texas, without access to cable TV. Yes, he could rely on his advisors to tell him what was going on. A filtered viewpoint. However, shouldn’t a president-to-be want to judge for himself the events going on in the world? Have access to the very technology that delivers images and actual sound bites to every citizen on the planet? Shouldn’t he be hooked into the pulse of situations, not just with this election, but with circumstances involving — oh, I don’t know — let’s say, the Middle East right at the moment? Instead of just isolating himself on a ranch somewhere, detached, listening to blustery partyliners’ plans for what they’re gonna do when they get to the big ol’ White House. This is a man who does not seek knowledge. He does not appear to truly give a damn and throw himself into the details of the nations and continents around him. Let alone our own country’s concerns. The guy’s only been overseas twice.

This kind of arrogance and isolationism is what drives both Mr. Bush, and the Republican party in general, at this juncture of the 21st century. This pomposity is what has effectively snuffed out the notion that an individual’s right to be heard via a vote casting process is now permanently extinguished. For the Republicans are much more concerned about their own necks than anyone else’s, much more than the Democratic party has ever demonstrated in this election. I will expound on that. But know that from here on out, based on all that has occurred, your vote will never be considered completely valid or legitimate to determine the outcome of an election ever again.

The Republican Party and its hardline followers work out of fear, hostility and suppression. Fear is, of course, the most easily-definable of their traits in this election. Notice the tone of their past two administrations. Reagan wound up the country with vitriolic denouncements of the big, bad Soviet Union and those bad Sandinistas and the evil war on drugs. The message of the Republicans is that “forces” are always acting against us. Poor pitiful us. We have to fight back. They’re all out to get US!

The Soviet Union was well on its way to falling long before Reagan took the opportunity to pronounce “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that Wall!” Soldiers returning from the war in Afghanistan in the early ‘80s were unshakably disenchanted with their peers, just in the same manner as the counterculture movement of our ‘60s generation had responded to Vietnam. They were the true triggers to the transition. Capitalism was running rampant in their black market, and access to everything from cell phones, Nikes, and rock ‘n’ roll pushed the regime from its pedestal. It was inevitable. It wasn’t Reagan. He just liked to sound off, pumping himself up in view of the big, bad world. The Contra situation, as later reports indicated, would’ve worked itself out just in the same fashion, had we helped them or not. And drug usage didn’t go down significantly during either Reagan or Bush’s terms with their angry, finger-pointing campaign at the criminals of narcotics. Drug use actually went down more during Clinton’s deceptively laid-back term.

Republicans have feared all along that Gore truly won the majority of votes in the State of Florida in this year 2000. A basic and uncomplicated fear. Out of that emotion rose the two other traits.

Let’s get one thing out of the way. The networks DO need to stop reporting the election returns until all precincts across the country have closed. Neither candidate could do anything about who the networks called Florida for that night. It was a media screw-up and had it been reversed, hue and cry would equally have come from the Democrats, I’m sure. What is interesting is that the method by which the networks used to call each State, that of exit polls, more than likely was not flawed. Based on the individuals leaving the many precincts in South Florida, who were polled in the same manner as those to the north of the state, all probably thought they voted for Gore. Their belief that they had indeed cast a ballot for the Democrat candidate was duly noted and assimilated with the statistics statewide. The method wasn’t really off the mark. It was, of course, those pesky butterfly ballots and chad build-ups in certain machines. Or, if you’re a staunch Republican, you’ll, of course, believe 14,000 people actually went to the polls to vote for the Light Train and a few local candidates…but not a President. A statistic that is so extremely high in concentration in those few counties, that it is not found anywhere near that level of probability in any other spot in the State. Yeah, sure, whatever.

Now let me get the conspiracy stuff off the desk. It’s Oliver Stone time. Take the following with a hefty grain of salt. But if you can walk away from any of these citations with a feeling that maybe one of these elements could be true, you might be a candidate for behavioral and statistical common sense.

Everyone likes to help out a family member. Especially when you’re in a position to help. It’s no secret that Jeb Bush was heard before the election pledging he would do whatever he could to try to help deliver his State for his brother. All very innocent I’m sure.

Somewhere in Seminole County, there’s an election canvassing office. Before the election, several absentee ballots were incorrectly notated with voter ID numbers, for both Democratic and Republican candidates. The woman in charge, Sandra Goard, under deposition, said she allowed two men representing the Republicans to go into a back room, shut the door, and sit down with those absentee applications, and whatever materials were back there, for 10 whole days! She didn’t even recall the name or credentials of one of these mystery men. When the Democratic representatives requested the same opportunity with their applications, they were denied. There seems to be no alternate language, no conflicting statute anywhere in the lawbooks on this matter. Tampering or altering ballots, even the absentee applications, by individuals other than electors or their immediate family or the board’s immediate members is a felony. Period. It is fraud. Goard said she’d never allowed anyone to do this procedure, ever, in the history of her tenure at that office for over 20 years. Somebody did some very HARD persuading.

The room apparently contained 18 computers tied, ostensibly, to mainframes around the State of Florida. Electoral mainframes. Let’s see, 10 days to alter, maybe, let’s be generous, 6,000 applications. 3,000 each guy. Probably could be done easily in four days. No more than six days, let’s say. What were they doing in there for ten full days? Down in south Florida, on the day of the election, many African-Americans were seen complaining as they arrived to their designated precincts. They had registered, legally obtained their Voter ID cards, and were ready to vote. But the clerks turned them away, saying they were not listed on the computer printout registers. Hmmm. Does anyone want to please investigate this possibly overt link?

Also, as witnessed on videotape during the day of the election, many highway patrolmen had pulled over a highly-skewed proportion of African-Americans on their way to the polls in particular areas. Many were turned away. If these actions don’t suggest anything remotely suspect to you, perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that the South was not always very kind to people with black skin. Look it up. I’ll give you a moment.

To suggest maneuvers such as these were designated specifically from the lips of brother Jeb may be taxing believability of scoffers. But the minions who work for the governor could easily have made some calls. Suggested a few tactics to some ardent supporters holding influential positions. It happens, ya know.

The butterfly ballot is a moot issue. I concede that people should’ve figured it out. Gore did not join that lawsuit. While sympathetic to their befuddlement, he obviously felt the same way as I.

The election ended Tuesday November 7th. By the end of the evening, more than any other complaints in the United States, the media focused on South Florida as having been unusually vocal to many irregularities. This is BEFORE Florida was considered the crucial deciding State in the election. If there had been as much moaning in as concentrated an area somewhere else, say in Idaho or Utah, the media would’ve showcased that. They’re no dummies. They like stories of turmoil and dissension. But there simply wasn’t as big an aberrance anywhere else. It is maybe not so coincidental that the one place people seemed to be voicing valid claims of irregular practices and circumstances before all polls finally closed was also the one area that the entire nation has focused on ever since for the last three weeks. There is a kind of validity to these claims that oozes to the surface in light of how viciously the Bush camp has swooped down to squash the entire area in a Blitzkrieg of denouncements and smears. History has shown that the most telling of truths tends to encounter the harshest of adversities. And usually that adversity is borne out of fear. The Republicans have had the stench of fear on them ever since the voting booths shut their final curtain on November 7th.

While the voting process is designed to ensure the anonymity of each citizen, voting results are intended to be discovered and made known to all. At this point, I can only discuss the generalities. Not being a lawyer, not familiar with every nook, hook, and cranny of Florida statutes and Constitutional concerns, I can only address the surface of the issues that have poured forth from the Sunshine State last month. Reports tell us that three counties, under the auspices of the Democratic Party, asked for the ability to conduct a recount of the vote. Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade all performed a machine recount. Vice President Gore received a net gain in those counties in votes after the performance of this machine recount. The lead between the two candidates was cut to under 1,000. This lead is well below 1% of the State’s 6,000,000 or so ballots cast. With a nation of 100 million watching on, and with Gore leading the popular vote as well as the electoral count in the rest of the nation, this seemed overwhelmingly too close to call. The Gore team felt that those irregularities as reported on Election Day, namely ballots that were spit out by the machine during its count, should be examined. 14,000 of the so-called “undervotes.” Whatever you call ‘em, the machine didn’t call them anything.

Florida law apparently allows hand recounts as do many other States. The three counties – Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade — petitioned for a hand recount. They followed law and did a 1% sampling by hand. Gore’s number went up again. This is where the cloud obscured the light over the Sunshine State. Fear propelled the Republicans into action. And unfortunately, light may never be shed on the true voting results, results that should be open to everyone, ever again. Freedom of Information Act petitioners will eventually have the chance to examine those ballots for themselves and report their findings to the world. But inevitably the Republicans will find a way to slant the ballot results of any re-count to their favor, arguing over chads and indentations, never allowing for a specified legal criteria for assessing ballots in Florida to gain a foothold.

Since they’d never had to conduct a hand recount during a Presidential election, the canvassing boards were understandably seeking some sort of criteria this last month for conducting their procedure the weekend following Vote Day. Now, I’m not going to get into whether the hanging, pregnant or dimpled thing called a chad should be registered. I’m not going to get into procedure. Look to Texas law that allows dimples and what-not if you want my answer. Suffice to say, when they reached out to look for help, the one person, who ostensibly could be perceived as their boss, since it is she who weighs their efforts, Katherine Harris, the Secretary of State, told them they couldn’t recount. She said it during that weekend following the election. Then she put it in writing on Monday. Then she threatened them with the Tuesday deadline. Then she made them hand in a written reason why they should recount. The issue here is not whether she was to act strictly by the law’s literal meaning or whether she was right in imposing a strict reading of a discretionary deadline. The simple fact is she acted as an adversary to the very boards she was supposedly elected to receive ballots from. She strung them along with threats, making them extremely agitated and divided in how they should proceed, which in turn, resulted in a hand recount that could not be undertaken before the deadline.

Is this how we want an elected official who is going to certify an entire State’s vote count to act? Why didn’t she bend over backwards to get them definitive advice, seek out judicial or legislative interpretations, and draw on both parties to come up with a fast, efficient standard or denouncement for the process? Why didn’t she go on the airwaves to voice her concerns and allow for the proper individuals to step forward and help the State rectify its dilemma? Because, inarguably, she did not WANT to help. She did everything she could in her power NOT to help. A man who is committed to helping his brother win election in the State sat on the same hallway as her, 15 paces away from her desk. The candidate was someone she unabashedly supported both financially and voluntarily. This Bush individual was also someone she would truly love to receive a federal position from should he be elected. Do you have any problem ascertaining motive in this scenario? If so, you may be able to align yourself with the same intelligence quotient as the man from Austin.

Where Harris marched, so followed the entire Republican Party. And with them rose forth the two other traits outside of fear. Hostility and suppression. Suppression was easy to spot. Where Gore simply wanted those votes to be looked at, Bush wanted them locked away. The battle leapt about the courts and as of this writing it’s on its last legs. Procedure and adherence to one particular reading of the law were hammered at the Gore lines like shells on Normandy. The Florida Supreme Court, in my estimation, did screw up when they extended the deadline. That resulted in the contest period being shortened. But what’s the underlying message in what they ultimately were trying to do? They were trying to ensure that these votes, that had not been tabulated for either candidate during a machine count, could just be looked at by the human eye. Provide a forum whereby discernment of votes could be ascertained. They only wished to shed light on the matter, make it open for all. And the variance in this notion is what clearly delineated the two camps throughout.

The hand recounts conducted in Broward and Palm Beach were completely fair. Those that were counting, the Judges in charge, concurred with this assumption. It was only Republican “observers” on the sidelines that argued some sort of alleged mishandling notions that unfortunately gained exposure on the airwaves. To say that they were partisan-minded is to say that Goofy talks funny. The recounts were conducted under the scrutiny of so many individuals and video cameras that it’s absolutely impossible that the allegations these Republicans made could be deemed anything other than fantasy. Show me one piece of videotape of someone swallowing a chad or stomping ballots like a hyena, and I’ll give Cheney mouth-to-mouth. On the contrary, juxtapose the process that took place in those counties with the one which occurred in Seminole, in the back office of Sandra Goard, and one will find a truer shade of secrecy and subterfuge in its execution and fairness.

Everyone knows that the Republican Party paid for airline tickets and hotel rooms to accommodate out-of-State partisan protesters to descend on South Florida. Look at the signs each Republican protester held. “Sore Loserman,” “Gore must concede,” “Gore is stealing the election,” “Gore is the evil one.” Now scan the signs held by Democratic protestors. “Gore Lieberman,” and “Every vote should count.” Do you feel the hate? Do you connect with the arrogance and pomposity associated with a particular party? This is the climate that was with us throughout the 1980s. Get ready for a return to that subtext in the 2000s.

After Jesse Jackson led a peaceful street march of protest for those African-Americans, most of them Democratic, who felt they’d been wronged and harassed during the vote proceedings, a mob of fresh-scrubbed white boys screamed at the canvassing board of Miami-Dade outside their office and banged violently on the full-glass doors, scaring the vote counters within. Now, do you honestly believe that if that hallway had been filled with African-American men screaming and banging the doors violently that the policemen and security wouldn’t swoop in with nightsticks and pepper spray, and pummel them to the floor? You know in your heart they would’ve. But frat-boy, white Republicans can get away with it. The hate filled the hallway and the airwaves with this hackneyed suppression tactic. No light was to be shed on those ballots.

Finally, the ballots themselves were under attack at every turn. The Vota-matic designer himself said under testimony that chad build-up on those old machines could very easily block the stylus from breaking through a punch card. He recommended a hand count. The claim that continued handling of the cards was deteriorating their condition is logic unfounded. Chads were seen around the machine count areas (by Republican observers, I have to add), and thus, they said the ballots were being altered. If there were to be a ballot that showed more than one vote for President, hand counters would’ve discarded it anyway. This notion would help the Bushies one would think. Chads that had fallen away were more than likely to be one’s that had already been pushed on at an earlier occurrence. In other words, if the Bush camp truly believes that an affixed chad, one that hasn’t been touched before in anyway, can simply fall to the floor after a machine count, then that particular ballot card itself is completely flawed and should be omitted from the count. An affixed chad could’ve fallen away from a ballot as it was originally placed in its product box at the factory. Or one could have fluttered off when canvassing officials at precincts originally set them out to hand to incoming voters. This is a harebrained argument for people who are truly desperate to close the lid on discovery.

I could go on with many other instances of suppression tactics that were pulled from the Bush hat during this post-election skirmish, but suffice to say, the legitimacy of the vote count was never, and probably will never, be properly revealed. It could have easily been conducted after the petition for recount initially came in. As for the Republicans’ argument that selecting a few counties is wrong, well, we all saw Al Gore offer them the opportunity to get together on this and just recount the whole State. His was a conjoining effort. The Republicans have always pushed away. They declined. The nature of a contest or a dispute on the outcome tally of votes is to select those that you feel are in any way undercounted. And yes, you choose the ones, since it is a dispute (duh), that will invariably sway the lead to your favor. The Bush camp always knew this. They could’ve recount counties favorable to them, quite legally. But, we know, of course, that they ran on fear. Furtive and aware of a looming defeat, they were on the side of non-disclosure. (A funny contradiction, in light of their hyper-vocal calls for disclosure on the Clinton-Lewinsky matter – a far more personal, yet non-nationally-related revelation).

Bush and Cheney have been goading Gore to concede the last few days. I suspect he will before the week is out. Bully tactics, smoke and mirrors, and possible partisan rigging have been their game plan to this point. The Republican-led Florida Legislature, along with brother Jeb, have assured the country that their Man is going to the White House come hell or high water. Those 14,000 or so votes will sit quietly. Cast by folks like you and me. They don’t mean anything. In such a tight race, the legislatures of this country are going to determine who runs the nation. The Constitution does not support the people’s right to vote and for that vote to be heard. A fellow by the name of George W. Bush has seen to that, and he will be our 43rd president.


January 18, 2002

Alas, it wasn’t the legislatures who named George W. our 43rd head honcho. It was, of course, five members of the nation’s Supreme Court. Five people picked our current President of the United States. The rest of the votes in this country — yours, mine, your great granddaddy’s — did not matter. That was the thesis of my original article…it remains the same today, over a year later.

Obviously, the world has changed around us. My statement about our country eventually not caring much about the botched election due to potential terrorist threats or biological warfare has eerily come true. After last autumn’s 9/11, polls show that Bush has an approval rating in the 90th percentile. Republicans love to point to that and say, “see, the right man won. Everyone accepts him now.” But, ask anyone who viewed Bush as a privileged goob before 9/11, one who skated by on daddy’s money and dubiously skirted through graduate school, what they think of him today, and I bet they’ll concur he’s still a goob. A man they didn’t want in the White House. Sure, he’s given a rousing speech or two to rally our country. These are meticulous speeches written for him by professionals. And yes, his advisors were adept in planning and striking against Afghanistan. Plus, last time I checked, it was about 100,000 men and woman outside the radar of Washington that were truly fighting for justice overseas.

Nevertheless, listen to Bush talk, unscripted, and to this day, he appears to be a man who has limited intellectual capacity and a veneer of someone who desperately fears being challenged to expound on any one subject. The press has recently commended him for his “simplistic” talk regarding our war on terrorism. This is rhetoric reminiscent of his campaign debates. The subtext to this praise suggests something other than a commendation for his knowledgeable insight and commanding zeal. Each time Bush appears onscreen, there’s a natural tendency to flinch, awaiting a misstep in speech and a short-wire fizzle in thought patterns. It is exactly the same reaction one gets from his debate days. “Gee, at least he didn’t fumble on an Afghan leader’s name or mispronounce a Pakistani city.” The expectations watermark for this man is still set mercifully low.

Who is to say Gore would’ve been a better leader in these times of crises? The attack against our country was so blatant and horrifying that I have to believe any President, Democrat or Republican, would have responded in a firm and unrelenting manner. The idea that Democrats are pussyfoots is truly shortsighted when one recalls the grand glory of Donkey Presidents past, such as FDR and Truman during WWII. I would bet any money in the world that Gore would’ve found his voice and strength in convincingly rallying our nation as one force.

As of this writing, Democrats are starting to look at the Bush legacy, pre-9/11, and are beginning to rattle a sabre or two. When the Texas oilman assumed office in January 2000, gas prices shot through the roof in this country. We in California were raked over the coals by greedy Texas electricity magnates. Talk of alternative energy sources were swept under the White House rug, as Bush tapped a bill to drill in environmentally sensitive areas of Alaska. The pollution standards set internationally in the Kyoto treaty — standards that have remarkably helped cities like LA over the last decade curtail its smog — were wiped off the books to aid industry bigwigs with their problems in adhering to strict emission guidelines. This country felt like it took a major step backwards the second “W” entered office. And this is not to be overly reactionary, but I swear that the day the Supreme Court handed Bush the election, I began noticing more homeless people on our streets in LA. After the Inauguration, I honestly spotted and was accosted by more homeless people than I had ever seen in the ‘90s. It reminded me very much of the Reagan ‘80s here in town.

Perhaps the Enron scandal will blow through the White House halls and smear the good feeling the Bush administration has achieved over our recent tragedy. (Isn’t it saying something that this administration’s highest approval marks were achieved not during tax cuts and education proposals, but instead during the period when the country feels absolutely skittish, fearful, and excruciatingly vulnerable? Not a very cheery reflection on the nature of his approval, is it?). It is, however, laughable how Bush, who was such a friend to Enron chief and fellow Texan, Kenneth Lay, is vexingly distancing himself from his big-business buddy. Actually, it would be laughable, if it weren’t so darn sad for our country and its economy. The economy that George W. Bush sent into the toilet.

Remember my assertion, from over a year ago, which referred to the negativity and hostility Bush, and the Republicans in general, displayed in the election fiasco? And how that tone would set the mood for the 2000s? Well, Bush first pronounced his death-knell forecast of an imminent declining economy in his debate speeches. We, as Americans, were coasting still from a wonderful buzz of growth and prosperity from the Clinton years. We laughed at how he was spouting economic sour grapes. But, as soon as the deal was done, and he sneaked into the office of the presidency, Bush amped up his rhetoric tenfold. Negative, negative, negative. To say that the highest leader in our land doesn’t affect big business and, most importantly, Investors(!), with his views and pronouncements of our country’s state of affairs is to wield the hand of naivete. Within weeks, stocks plummeted, gas prices soared, unemployment rose, and companies tumbled. We’ve been on that path, on the downslope, ever since. Bush was the clarion call for this disaster of an economy. From his lips to our reality, it became truth. I firmly believe he is a very negative influence on our country and its economic outlook. His tax cuts are a joke. What the economy needs is what Clinton afforded. More help to small business and lower interest rates for borrowing in these risky endeavors. Big business is a disaster for this country now. We learned that lesson from Bush Sr.’s legacy. The middle class needs to continue to be nurtured. We do not need a $500 tax rebate to every man, woman and child, so Bubba can upgrade the fiberglass beer cooler on the back of his Evinrude outboard.

A lot of people I know still have a bad taste in their mouths about the election. I plan on voting nothing but Democrat for the 2002 House and Senate seats. Do I want Gore to run for 2004? I’m not sure. He’s been out of sight longer than the Hollow Man and donned such a bearded, Fed-protection-program-kind-of-countenance since the first of 2001 that I’m not sure who he is anymore. He may not know who he is anymore. But if I had to pick between him, Lieberman, Biden, Gephart, or Kerry, Gore might get my nomination. Daschle’s up there with him.

A final note to this postscript:
Talk magazine featured an article on Lieberman recently. Apparently many Democrats were angered back in December 2000 by Joe’s statement that he did not wish to toss out the absentee ballots sent in by the military from overseas. In his eyes, and perhaps rightfully so, it would seem contrary to the “every vote should count” chant the party was emitting from the southern sandpit State. While various news organizations from around the country have performed independent counts of all of Florida’s vote cards since the election, and depending on “chad” criteria, have shown varying results, there are many factors that still hover on the periphery of discovery that I continue to find intriguing. One of those factors involves the absentee ballots. According to the magazine, “In the thick of the recount fight, Nick Baldick, the Gore-Lieberman Florida field director, heard a rumor that Bush operatives had been contacting military personnel to get them to vote via absentee ballot after the election. These ballots had until November 17 to reach county election boards. Whether or not that rumor was accurate, hundreds of these absentee ballots, most of them for Bush, came in suspiciously late for ballots that were to have been mailed on November 7. And hundreds (!) of them could have been disqualified for not meeting election requirements.”

Do you still recall how adamant the Bush party was in adhering to all the rules and regulations of Florida law concerning election requirements? How they argued that the butterfly ballot controversy could not be an aberrance in the proceedings ripe for discussion? How they wanted to square off the controversial debate about chads? How they wanted to run the whole thing into the Florida legislature for a final deciding vote based on their interpretation of election rules? This absentee ballot tardiness could have easily and validly been interpreted as being a violation in election requirement rules. Strictly by the rulebook, without question, it could have invalidated a majority of those tardy absentee ballots. Yet, Lieberman’s comments, said on a “Meet The Press” program in the thick of the scuffle, effectively snuffed out a huge number of Democrat’s desire to pursue this suspicious violation, and the absentee ballots were subsequently counted. Bush won Florida, and thus the election, by only 537 votes (without the count, of course, of those 14,000 voting cards still laying dormant somewhere). Those 537 votes came from the absentee ballots. Ballots without which Gore-Lieberman would have won Florida by 202 votes.

I’m still awaiting this century’s Woodward-Bernstein to dig into all of these intriguing blind alleys and uncover some truths to the quickly fading discrepancies and actions undertaken by the Republicans over a year ago. Time is both my, and any determined reporter’s, enemy. May the country rebound in its determination to stomp out terrorism. May it also have the backbone to stomach some of the horrible excesses wrought by the Republicans in the 2000 elections should they ever be unearthed.

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