The River

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Why read The New Yorker when you have the Internet?

Hendrik Hertzberg, self-satisfied elite journalist, writes in The Talk of the Town this week:

More than any other single person, Ralph Nader is responsible for the fact that George W. Bush is President of the United States. Nader is more responsible than Al Gore, who, in 2000, put himself in the clear by persuading more of his fellow-citizens to vote for him than for anybody else, which normally—in thirty-nine of the forty-two previous Presidential elections, or ninety-three per cent—had been considered adequate to fulfill the candidate’s electoral duty.

This, folks, is unconscionably bad journalism. Is Hertzberg really saying that Al Gore had no responsibility for giving in to election theft? That to fulfill his electoral duty, Al Gore only had to behave like a child? To declare, "if you're going to be a mean ol bully, I'm taking my ball and going home"?

Hertzberg concludes, "But if Nader once again succeeds in making himself the decisive factor in a Bush victory, then his legacy will be less than zero. His legacy will be George W. Bush."

In between the hysterical bogeyman bromides, there is a discussion of Nader's accomplishments, in which, curiously, credit is granted to more than just Ralph Nader. But most importantly, there is not one mention of thousands of voters deliberately disenfranchised through Database Technology's purge of eligible black voters from the voter rolls. Nor is there acknowledgement of the organized harrasment and obstruction of black voters trying to make it to the polls. And no mention of the invalid overseas military ballots that Republicans berrated a feeble Democratic party into accepting. No, with nothing to back him up, Hertzberg merely parrots the lame "it's all Naders fault!" canard. My four-year-old daughter could mount an argument with greater depth.

By way of contrast, and as a free service, here's Greg Palast, great journalist/American hero, on how the Bushies stold the election, from an April 22, 2003, interview with Boston's The Weekly Dig:

What really happened in Florida?

Five months before the election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris ordered the removal of 57,700 names from Florida’s voter rolls on grounds that they were felons. Voter rolls contain the names of all eligible, registered voters. If you’re not on the list, you don’t get to vote.

If you commit a felony in Florida, you lose your right to vote there, and you‘re “scrubbed” from the rolls. You become a non-citizen, like in the old Soviet Union. This is not the case in most other states; it’s an uncivilized vestige of the Deep South.

My office carefully went through the scrub list and discovered that at minimum, 90.2 percent of the people were completely innocent of any crime – except for being African American. We didn’t have to guess about that, because next to each voter’s name was their race.

When I questioned Harris’ office about the high percentage of African Americans on the scrub list, they responded, “Well, you know how many black people commit crimes.”

But these people weren’t felons, so why were they scrubbed?

The Florida Republicans wanted to block African Americans, who largely vote as Democrats, from voting. In 1999 they fired the company they were paying $5,700 to compile their felony “scrub” lists and replaced them with Database Technologies [DBT], who they paid $2.3 million to do the same job. [DBT is the Florida division of Choicepoint, a massive database company that does extensive work for the FBI.]

There are a lot of Joe Smiths in the Florida phonebook. DBT was hired to verify which Joe Smith was a felon and which was not. They were supposed to use their extensive databases to check credit cards, bank information, addresses and phone numbers, in addition to names, ages, and social security numbers. But they didn’t. They didn’t use one of their 1,200 databases to verify personal information, nor did they make a single phone call to verify the identity of scrubbed names.

Hertzberg again: "Nader is more responsible than George W. Bush, whose alibi complements Gore’s: by attracting fewer votes, both nationally and (according to the preponderance of scientific opinion) in Florida, Bush absolved himself of guilt for his own elevation. A post-election rogues’ gallery—Jeb Bush, James Baker, Katherine Harris, William Rehnquist and four of his Supreme Court colleagues—helped, each rogue in his or her own way, but no single one of them could have pulled off the heist without the help of the others. Nader was sufficient unto himself."

Huh? Nader was more important to the installation of George W. Bush as President than the entire attack on democracy that went down in 2000? People, this is just unbelievably stupid.

The rarefiled New Yorker air must do something to one's brain. I need air....let's return to the sharp Mr. Palast. So, Greg...

What happened to Choicepoint?

Bush is handing them the big contracts in the War on Terror; immigration reviews, DNA cataloging, airport profiling, and their voting systems are being rolled out across the country.

It wasn’t reported in mainstream press, but the NAACP sued Harris and the gang for the black purge, and won. The state threw up its hands immediately and said, ‘You got us! We’ll put these people back as soon as we can.’ We’re still waiting.

Meanwhile, Hendrik Hertzberg wants you to go on thinking it's all Nader's fault.

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