Ohio recount moves from conspiracy to reality
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There's nothing the "liberal" media loves better than writing breathless, fact-free prose ridiculing progressive Internet activists as tin-foil-hatted conspiracy theorists.
Latest Conspiracy Theory -- Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether
By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 11, 2004; Page A02
Even as Sen. John Kerry's campaign is steadfastly refusing to challenge the results of the presidential election, the bloggers and the mortally wounded party loyalists and the spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists are filling the Internet with head-turning allegations.
Are these tree-killing, Rove-kissing stenographers still so utterly clueless about the power of progressive Internet activists?
Memo to the Washington Post and the rest of the corporate-owned media: the progressive Internet is bigger and more powerful than you are when the truth is on our side - as it almost always is.
How many times do we have to prove this before they get it?
- In the fall of 2002, the Bush administration and the "liberal" media began pounding the drums for war in Iraq. Progressives on the Internet exposed every Bush claim as a lie, including Iraq's alleged WMD's - and the American public's alleged support for war. (I personally debated Bill O'Reilly on this point, and kicked his ass before he threw me off his show.) In the dead of winter, progressive organizers used the Internet to mobilize millions for anti-war marches all around the world. In fact, it was the growing opposition to the war at home and abroad that forced Bush to rush to war, because he knew the momentum - and the truth - were on our side.
- In early 2003, as the war began and the "rally around the flag" effect pushed Bush's approval ratings into the 70's, the "liberal" media gravely warned Democratic candidates to support the Iraq War to be "credible." But unknown candidate Howard Dean used the Internet to enlist 640,000 devoted supporters, raise $50 million, and surge to the head of the Democratic field - on an anti-war platform. (It's all explained in Joe Trippi's excellent book, The Revolution Will Not be Televised.)
- In early 2004, Bush planned to raise an unprecedented $200 million to blow the Democratic nominee out of the water, starting with an immediate vicious attack on the winner of the winter primaries. But John Kerry, the Democratic Party, and Moveon all raised tens of millions over the Internet, and fought the ruthless Bush campaign to a draw.
- In early October, Sinclair Broadcasting Group announced plans to force its swing-state affiliates to broadcast the lie-filled Kerry-bashing film "Stolen Honor." Within days, progressive activists persuaded advertisers and investors to rebel, and Sinclair beat a speedy retreat.
On Election Day, progressive hopes soared as pre-election polls and mid-day exit polls all pointed to a Kerry victory. But as the evening dragged on, the returns from Florida and Ohio showed the election going to Bush. The next morning, while progressives struggled to understand the unlikely numbers, Kerry offered a quick and gracious concession. The Busheviks immediately celebrated their "triumph" and proclaimed their imaginary "mandate" for privatizing Social Security, eliminating the progressive income tax, and outlawing abortion.
But on the Internet, progressives said: wait a minute.
We started with the exit polls. We could understand some inaccuracies - but why did they all favor Bush by several points? The media's official explanation - that Democrats were more likely to talk to exit pollsters - was ludicrous on its face.
Then we heard from the voters. We heard stories about lines that were hours long, forcing some voters to give up without voting. We heard stories about provisional ballots being denied to voters whose registrations had never been received. We heard stories about touchscreen voters whose votes for Kerry mysteriously turned into votes for Bush, requiring numerous touches to correct.
Then we looked at the vote-counting machines. We knew the electronic machines could fail without leaving a trace, because we fought for two years to get Congress and state officials to require paper trails. Sure enough, we quickly got reports that computer errors resulted in major voting errors, ranging from several thousand to tens of thousands of votes - even votes counting backwards.
Then we pored over the county-by-county election returns. Why did Bush do so well in rural Democratic counties? Why did Kerry run behind down-ballot candidates in rural Republican counties?
As these anomalies accumulated, we started blogging and writing articles to connect the dots. As the evidence accumulated, we gradually came to a conclusion: there were enough problems to justify a serious examination of the election results.
This conclusion was reached by individual voters, not by the Kerry campaign or the Democrats. In fact, they were entirely MIA, with the exception of three Congressmen who asked the GAO for a study of voting problems - a study that would take months to complete and thus have no impact on this election.
Indeed, if any one person played a pivotal role, it was MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who noticed the most significant problems and did what journalists are supposed to do - try to get the facts. Another crucial person was Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes, who broadcast Internet findings to her passionate and growing radio audience.
On Thursday, the collective efforts of progressive Internet activists reached a critical mass - but in an entirely unexpected way. Green candidate David Cobb and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik jointly announced their intentions to file a formal demand for a recount of the presidential ballots cast in Ohio - and called upon Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who chaired the Ohio Bush campaign, to recuse himself from the recount process.
This announcement is political dynamite. In 2000, Al Gore spent weeks in court trying to get a statewide recount. When the Florida Supreme Court finally ordered one on December 8, rightwing Justice Antonin Scalia immediately stopped it with an infamous injunction claiming it would harm Bush - taking sides in a dispute and violating all principles of injunctive relief. Three days later, 5 partisan Republican Justices declared the election over in their infamous Bush v. Gore decision, thus throwing out 175,000 never-counted votes and making Bush's Presidency a judicial coup d'etat, not an election.
But now, as soon as Cobb and Badnarik raise $110,000 (I'll guess 48 hours), John Kerry will get the unexpected and astonishing gift of a recount in Ohio. And because Ohio law is more specific than Florida law, that recount will be orderly and (hopefully) accurate, and the American people will find out who really won the election.
This is a huge victory for progressive Internet activists, for American Democracy - and possibly for President John Kerry.