ed marszewski on 15 Jan 2001 09:49:05 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] COUP 2K Part 3


The Nixon Myth
      Another propaganda tool was the ubiquitous story of Richard Nixon’s 
"gracious" concession to JFK in 1960.  Amidst charges that the close 
election had been rigged by the Democrats, Nixon purported felt the charges 
could be proved but he didn’t want to "tear the country apart."  Ignoring 
his advisors, the story goes, he chose instead to go quietly and not contest 
the election. The irony was delicious:  the evil reactionary Nixon was more 
of a statesman than liberal Gore. Just as importantly for Bush, with Daley’s 
son serving as Gore’s post-election point man the unspoken implication was 
that this was all just rotten fruit from an old tree.
      But in reality, "magnanimous Nixon" is a fabrication.  Back in 
October, historian David Greenberg revealed in the online magazine, Slate, 
that in 1960 the Republicans had actually "launched a veritable crusade" to 
overturn the election.  The parallels are rather startling.
      Nixon friends in the press pushed the story and helped give the 
charges credibility.  The RNC chairman sent telegrams to state party 
officials urging them to pursue recounts.  A Nixon Recount Committee raised 
some $100,000. Lawsuits were filed in at least three states. "They succeeded 
in obtaining recounts, empanelling grand juries, and involving US attorneys 
and the FBI," Greenberg wrote.58
      Indeed, the legal brawling continued right up to Dec. 12, when the RNC 
lost key cases in Illinois and Texas.  In fairness, the Nixon fairy tale is 
not a new one; Nixon himself had described the episode this way in his both 
of his memoirs.  But even after Greenberg penned a post-election op-ed piece 
for the L.A. Times, none of the major news venues seemed to care about the 
truth. "Dented but not derailed," Greenberg lamented later, "the 
conventional-wisdom juggernaut rolled on."59

The Spoiler
      Leading up to the election, one of the greatest fears of Republican 
strategists must have been the possibility of Jesse Ventura running for the 
White House on the Reform Party ticket.  Judging by what happened, one 
cannot help but wonder whether that party’s spectacular implosion was truly 
      In 1992, Ross Perot’s Reform Party bid was the Republican’s version of 
Ralph Nader. By Republican reckoning, the eccentric billionaire’s 8% showing 
had both cost President Bush the reelection and had ushered in their worst 
nightmare:  the Clinton presidency.  In 1999, Gov. Ventura potentially posed 
an even more serious threat.  The former wrestler, as we all know, had 
surprised everyone by handily winning the Minnesota governor’s race and then 
delighted the press and public alike with his bluntly honest style.  Even 
more surprising, he did a pretty good job.  Ventura was wildly popular, and 
as the 2000 campaign grew closer there was wide speculation about whether he 
would run for the presidency.  Some felt he might even win.
      Suddenly, in October 1999, archconservative and one-time Nixon protégé 
Patrick Buchanan made a big show of defecting from the Republican Party, 
leaping into the reluctant arms of the Reform Party.  He announced he would 
seek Reform’s nomination for president, and then proceeded to publicly spew 
a steady stream of rhetoric that was extreme even for him.  Meanwhile, 
Buchanan brought with him a coterie of other reactionaries, who soon wormed 
their way into the Reform Party infrastructure.
      In short order, the Reform Party was viciously split between the 
extreme right-wingers loyal to Buchanan and pretty much everyone else.  Gov. 
Ventura, the Reform Party’s golden boy, quit the party in disgust and held a 
press conference to pin it on Buchanan.  He then announced there was "no 
way" he would run for president.
      Still, internal tensions continued to escalate, and the drama 
dominated media coverage of the party.  By the time their national 
convention finally convened last August, the disagreements had become 
full-blown warfare.  Rival nominee John Hagelin and his moderate supporters 
stormed out and formed a new coalition, pledged to fight Buchanan to the 
bitter end, and filed lawsuits to secure desperately needed federal campaign 
matching funds. In the end, the Federal Election Committee settled the 
matter when it awarded the $12.6 million in matching funds to Buchanan’s 
faction.  By this time, there were less than two months until the election, 
the Reform Party’s message had been completely usurped and discredited by 
the strange brawling, and Buchanan was polling a mere 2% thanks to his 
fascistic pronouncements.  For all intents and purposes, the Reform Party 
had been destroyed from the inside, and any possibility that it would 
receive federal matching funds in the 2004 election had been safely 
      Such spoiler campaigns have been a common tactic used in CIA covert 
action.  For example, in Chile’s 1964 campaign the main recipient of CIA 
covert support was the conservative Christian Democratic Party.  But as a 
Senate investigation later revealed, the CIA also threw considerable support 
to the more extreme right-wing Radical Party "in order to enhance the 
Christian Democrats’ image as a moderate progressive party being attacked 
from the right as well as the left."60   Buchanan served this function 
perfectly, regularly spearing even the most extremist Republican positions 
as namby-pamby liberalism that betrayed the party’s "true heritage."
      Historically, the CIA has not limited such activities to foreign 
countries.  In 1967, elements working under the Agency’s notorious Operation 
CHAOS61 were used to destroy a new third-party coalition forming to back a 
presidential bid by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., with pediatrician/author 
Benjamin Spock as his VP. When the National Conference for New Politics held 
a national convention at Chicago’s Palmer House, agents provocateur with 
ties to the CIA used tactics nearly identical to those displayed during the 
2000 Reform Party convention to stir up arguments, hammer on divisive 
issues, and actively prevent any kind of consensus.  At one point, one group 
even (supposedly) threatened to kidnap Dr. King.  The sure-fire King-Spock 
ticket was strangled in the cradle, and their third party died along with 
it.  Less than a year later, King was assassinated while trying to organize 
a Poor People’s March on Washington.62
     Buchanan himself is no stranger to covert action disguised as electoral 
politics.  For example, in April 1972, while working for the Nixon 
administration, he wrote a secret memo outlining a comprehensive plan for 
what he termed "covert operations" to be directed against the Democrats 
during their national convention in Miami. Buchanan’s secret plan included 
"harassment exercises, and embarrassment exercises for the Democrats."  
Their secret operative would "put demonstrations together, get leaflets out, 
start rumors, and generally foul up scheduled events."  The plan also called 
for extensive media ops, including false stories that would then have to be 
denied by the Democrats.63

Supreme Court (In)Justice
     On Friday, Dec. 8, when the Florida Supreme Court issued its final 
order to count the votes in accordance with Florida statutes, Bush’s top 
supporters took to the airwaves. Echoing the 1989 call to arms against Iraq, 
"This judicial aggression must not stand," growled Tom DeLay.64  Within a 
few days, a different kind of "judicial aggression" ended it all.
     Spearheading the Bush cause inside the Court was Justice Antonin 
Scalia, Bush’s favorite to be the next Chief Justice.  When the fateful 
emergency stay of the Florida Court’s order issued Dec. 9, it was Scalia who 
took the unusual step of writing a concurring opinion.  It was he who 
invoked imminent "irreparable harm…to the country" should all the votes be 
tallied.  Even more unusual, Scalia’s concurrence made it clear that Bush 
had "a substantial probability of success" before the briefs were even 
filed.  This set the stage for eventual Bush victory
     A protégé of Robert Bork, Scalia entered federal service under 
President Nixon in 1971. When Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, President 
Ford assigned Scalia to determine legal ownership of the Nixon tapes and 
documents.  He ruled in favor of Nixon.65
     In 1977, Scalia quit rather than work under President Carter, returning 
to the Beltway in 1982 when Reagan appointed him to the US Court of Appeals 
for Washington, DC.  During his tenure there, Judge Scalia played a 
questionable role in another controversial vote-fraud case.
     Since 1970, brothers Ken and Jim Collier have obsessively hunted a 
massive conspiracy they have christened "Votescam."66
     In 1985, the Collier brothers filed a series of pro se civil suits 
targeting those they believed were behind an effort to suppress their 
evidence of nationwide voter fraud.  Their suit against the Republican 
National Committee fell in the jurisdiction of the Washington Court of 
Appeals. The RNC tried to get the case dismissed, but a two-judge panel (not 
including Scalia) unanimously decided to send the case to trial in District 
     Weeks after the ruling, Scalia quietly slipped a signed "killer memo" 
into the case file stating that in his view it was obvious the case had no 
merit and recommending "the district court’s dismissal of the action."67 
When the Colliers discovered the existence of Scalia’s "counterfeit 
concurrence," they sued him on the grounds that he had violated legal 
     Shortly after the episode, Reagan appointed Scalia to the US Supreme 
Court. During the confirmation hearings Ken Collier testified about the 
affair but, obviously, the Senators were unmoved and approved Scalia anyway. 
  Ironically, when the Colliers lost their suit against the RNC, they 
appealed to the Supreme Court.  It declined to hear the case.68

Conflicts of Interest Violated the Law
     Whenever any election-related case was heard by a Democratic judge, 
Republican cries of conflict of interest received wide media play. But 
curiously, when it came to the US Supreme Court, serious conflicts of 
interest barely made a ripple.
     In fact, Justice Scalia violated federal statutes when he failed to 
recuse himself from both of the election cases.  Two of his sons work for 
law firms that worked on the Bush post-election challenges.
     Eugene Scalia, for example, is a partner in the Washington office of 
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the law firm that represented the Bush campaign in 
oral arguments before the Court.  When the press got wind of this, Eugene 
told reporters that he was not working directly on the case.69
     However, the law is quite clear on this matter.  It requires that a 
justice recuse himself from any case in which their spouse or child is 
"known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected 
by the outcome of the proceeding."70  Whether or not the child is working 
directly on a given case is irrelevant: the defining concern is an affected 
interest.  Clearly, as a partner in a firm delivering historic cases before 
the Supreme Court, Eugene Scalia’s "interest" would indeed be "substantially 
affected" by either winning or losing.  Having won, just imagine the fees 
his firm can now charge, the prestige it now enjoys.  As a partner, Eugene 
Scalia profits directly from this, both financially and professionally.
     A former White House special counsel joined the call for Justice Scalia 
to recuse himself.  When reporters pressed the issue, Court spokeswoman 
Kathy Arberg said only that "the court would have no comment on the 
matter."71  And that was that.
     Justice Clarence Thomas had an even more serious conflict of interest 
which violated federal law.  His wife, Virginia Lamp Thomas, was (and is) 
gathering and processing applications for the Bush cabinet. Perversely, a 
Bush spokesman implied the charges were nothing more than veiled sexism. 
"Like many professional women, Mrs. Thomas should not be judged by her 
spouse," he said.72
     Mrs. Thomas, a former Republican Congressional aide, works for the 
Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org).  The conservative think-tank first 
made its first real mark in 1981 when it’s Mandate for Leadership was 
adopted as the "bible" of the incoming Reagan Administration.  Since then, 
the Heritage Foundation has been a cornerstone of Republican presidencies, 
strongly influencing everything from domestic policy to national security to 
the very structure of the government itself.
     It also happens to enjoy a revolving-door relationship with US 
intelligence.  Its Board of Trustees73 includes: Richard Mellon Scaife, the 
right-wing billionaire and Reagan-era propagandist who has personally 
bankrolled most of the "Clinton Scandal" industry; Holland H. Coors, beer 
heiress and trustee of the Adolph Coors Foundation, which helped fund the 
Contra war; Midge Dector, former chair of the anti-communist Committee for a 
Free World; and Frank Shakespeare, who served as Reagan’s ambassador to the 
Vatican during the P2 Lodge74 scandal, and director of Radio Free Europe.
     In her own job at the Heritage Foundation, Mrs. Thomas has solicited 
resumes "for transition purposes" from the government oversight committees 
of Congress.75  By press time, no fewer than eight of Bush’s top cabinet 
designees have worked for or have ties to the Heritage Foundation.76
     Despite all this, Mrs. Thomas sternly told the NY Times, "There is no 
conflict here."  She explained that because she "rarely discusses" Court 
matters with her husband, there was no reason for Justice Thomas to recuse 
himself from the landmark Bush cases.77
     But again, the federal statutes are crystal clear that it is the 
relationship itself and not whether any "discussions" take place that 
determines when a justice is required to recuse himself.  Despite the 
clear-cut violation, of course, Justice Thomas heard the case and voted with 
the majority in favor of his wife’s ultimate patron.
     Lastly, although this pales by comparison, press reports indicate clear 
signs of early prejudice on the part of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a key 
swing vote in the Bush v. Gore case.  As Time’s web site recently reported, 
"according to the Wall Street Journal, O'Connor's husband said at an 
election-night party that his wife, a 70-year-old breast-cancer survivor, 
would like to retire but that she would be reluctant to leave if a Democrat 
won the presidency and got to select her successor."78

No Justice, No Peace
     When Katherine Harris certified the Florida vote the Sunday after 
Thanksgiving, she illegally closed off the state Capitol from the press and 
public.  When a few reporters managed to get in with the help of a state 
employee, Harris tried to have them all arrested.  As the Miami Herald 
related, the reporters "had to call lawyers to stay in a public building 
even while state business was being conducted."79  While attorneys and 
security officers squabbled, Harris unilaterally disqualified most of the 
recounts that had been mandated and sanctioned by the Florida courts.
     The US Supreme Court had based its controversial final ruling on the 
premise on the immutability of Dec. 12th as the deadline for certifying 
electors.  Yet by that date, no fewer than 20 states – nearly half the 
country – still had not submitted their lists of electors to the federal 
government. "We consider the deadline to be Dec. 18 with no penalty," said 
National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper.80  No one noticed or seemed to 
     The final indignity came on Saturday, Jan. 6, when Congress met in 
joint session to officially count and certify the electoral votes.  But 
fewer than half of our elected officials bothered to even show up. Legally, 
at least 50% must be in attendance for there to be a quorum.  Without a 
quorum, the session is not legally recognized and any actions taken are, 
technically, null and void.
     Florida Representatives Peter Deutsch and Alcee Hastings mounted a 
formal complaint, rightly claiming that this was not even a legal meeting of 
Congress.  But the rules require that a Senator – any Senator – must also 
sign the complaint for it to be recognized.  None would.
     One by one, members of the Congressional Black Caucus took the podium 
to protest the Florida controversies and the sham certification about to 
take place. "I don't care that [our complaint] is not signed by a senator," 
cried Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who worked so hard to 
expose CIA-Contra drug dealing.  Vice President Gore himself, presiding over 
the joint session, banged his gavel.  "The chair would advise that the rules 
do care," he said. 81  It did not seem to matter that those same rules 
called for a quorum.
     Finally, the Black Caucus and a few others stood and walked out.  A 
smattering of applause followed them.  Then the no-quorum Congress proceeded 
to illegally certify the electoral vote.
     "May God bless our new president and vice president, and may God bless 
the United States of America," a stoic Gore declared when it was done.82
     At press time, an unofficial count of all the Florida votes by 
independent news organizations shows Bush’s lead shriveling into 

Prepare for the Weirdness
     Perhaps Hunter S. Thompson summed it up best in his Nov. 20 column for 
ESPN.com.  "If this were the world of sports," he observed, "it would be 
like playing a Super Bowl that goes into 19 scoreless Overtimes and never 
actually Ends. …or four LA Lakers stars being murdered in different places 
on the same day. Guaranteed Fear and Loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for 
the Weirdness. Get familiar with Cannibalism.  Good luck, Doc."83
     A word to the wise: get your passport while you still can.

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