Thursday, February 16, 2006


They are standing up for freedom of the press despite economic damage to them from Muslim threats. At least in Western Canada there are a few real men

Dear Western Standard reader,

By now you have probably heard about our decision to publish the Danish cartoons -- those same cartoons that have been the excuse for riots around the world. We believe that reprinting the cartoons is essential to properly telling that news story, which is why we did it. We also published them as a symbol of our freedom of the press, and in defiance of those around the world who would censor us through threats of violence. I've never been more proud of our magazine. Not everyone is happy with us, of course.

A Calgary Muslim leader has reported us to the police, trying to get them to charge me with hate crimes. He has also filed a complaint against us with the human rights commission on the same grounds. Ironically, he has called our freedom of the press "intellectual terrorism". Those are nuisance suits, of course. But the idea is to cost us money and time, break our spirit, erode our freedom of speech, and teach a lesson to all other media: that anyone who doesn't censor themselves will be made to wish they did.

The threats are working. Already, many Canadian magazine retailers who normally carry the Western Standard have caved in, announcing -- even before they see our new issue -- that they won't put us on their shelves. Again, the purpose of the censors is obvious: hurt our magazine economically, and make an example of us as a warning to all other media.

That's why I'm writing to you today: to ask for your help. Please do three things:

1. Let me know how you feel. If you support our magazine's decision, let me know. Send me an e-mail to and I'll share it with the rest of our staff, to help buoy their spirits as we face this hurricane, to let them know we're not alone.

2. Encourage your local retailer to stock the Western Standard Magazine retailers need to know that you value freedom of the press and your freedom to make up your own mind, and to not be censored by them or anyone else. Ask them to stock the magazine, or even to order it in just for you. You'll not only help us survive the boycott, but you'll put some steel in the spine of your local retailer.

3. Help us out directly. If you're not yet a subscriber, now's the time to sign up -- a subscription is 37% cheaper than buying the magazine at the newsstand, and the money goes directly to us. If you're already a subscriber, consider renewing your subscription today, or extending your subscription, or even joining one of our clubs for enthusiasts by becoming a Sustaining Subscriber or a member of the Publisher's Circle.

You can find out more and do all of that right online, at Subscribe It's fast, easy and secure -- and it helps us stay strong, and keep growing.

When we started the Western Standard nearly two years ago, I never imagined that we would have been at the center of a fight for our culture's basic freedoms -- or that the rest of Canada's media would be so silent, leaving us to fight this fight by ourselves. But we're not all by ourselves. We have you. Thank you for your help -- I look forward to your e-mails.

Yours truly,

Ezra Levant Publisher

P.S. The best way to help us right now is to click on Subscribe.

Monday, February 13, 2006


By Orla Borg and Lars Norgaard Pedersen

Below is a translation sent in by a reader of an article in the Sunday (February 12) Edition of the now infamous Danish paper "Jyllands-Posten". The article is not available in the internet edition of "Jyllands-Posten" except by subscription. The pages can be viewed in low resolution by going here and pressing the menu item "Indblik" on the left hand side.

They said they would send delegations on a tour of the world to convince Moslem countries to participate in a "defense" of the prophet Muhammed. Instead it turned into an attack. The Danes were described as "infidels", who would neither recognize Islam or allow Mosques to be erected. Since, then the battle cry "Death to Denmark" has sounded in many cities in the Middle East. Most of the persons who participated in the tour are Danish Citizens. Even so, they believe they did the right thing when they became The Travelling Imams.


The evening of November 18, 2005 was when they finally decided. All Danish channels were showing a smiling Anders Fogh Rasmussen opening the doors of Marienborg [Denmark's equivalent of No 10 Downing St.] to the Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali. To the Imams and other representatives of Moslem organizations, who for several weeks had been protesting the Muhammed cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten, it felt like a kick to the face: So, the Prime Minister welcomed her - this /woman/ who had written the manuscript for "Submission Part 1", a film highly critical of Islam. But the ambassadors of 11 Moslem countries who had asked so pleadingly to meet him regarding the caricatures of the prophet Muhammed, were not granted an audience. This was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The inflamed Danish Moslems who had organized in the network "Moslems for the Prophet in the Media" decided to enter phase two: The international phase with travelling delegations to the Middle East, since their first strategy - national actions within the borders of Denmark - had led them nowhere. Since October 2, 2005 - two days after the publication of the drawings - they had tried to make the "Jyllands-Posten" and the Danish government apologize for the drawings and ensure that there would be no repetitions. They had collected 17000 signatures. They had organized a demonstration numbering more than 3000 on Radhuspladsen in Copenhagen. They had written to the Ministry of Culture from which they had not even received an answer. And lastly 11 ambassadors had co-authored a letter asking to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the matter. All in vain.


The 27 organizations called for an emergency meeting where it was decided to put together delegations who would "visit the Islamic World in order to inform them of the danger inherent in the situation and convince them to join in the defense and the support of our prophet," as the published mission statement of the delegations had it. But this defensive action evolved into an attack on Denmark - with the connivance of the diplomats of Moslem countries in Denmark.

In the middle of November, representatives of the Moslem organizations first met the Moslem ambassadors in Copenhagen. Mona Omar, the Ambassador of Egypt - who was later elected spokesman of the 11 ambassadors - in November received a handful of representatives of the Moslem organizations. They presented to her the plan of sending delegations to the Middle East. The embassy approved of the idea and arranged for them to meet in Cairo Muhammed Shaaban, an advisor to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, former Ambassador and a member of the board of the Danish-Egyptian institute for Dialogue in Cairo. The Egyptian embassy also helped with visas and provided contact to the League of Arab States in Cairo.

Two main delegations were sent in the first round. The first delegation of five landed in Egypt on December 3, 2005 and returned December 11, 2005. The second delegation comprising four Danish Moslems travelled to Lebanon December 17, 2005 and returned to Denmark December 31, 2005. During that time, Imam Ahmed Akkari from the Lebanon delegation visited Syria to present their case to Grand Mufti Ahmed Badr-Eddine Hassoun. Furthermore a smaller delegation travelled to Turkey while individuals visited Sudan, Morocco and Algeria.

The fact that the two main delegations were sent to Lebanon and Egypt, Imam Ahmed Akkari ascribes to several factors: The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports 'The Arab Initiative', designed to improve cooperation in the Middle East, and specifically on Lebanon. Furthermore they noted that Lebanon, in spite of civil war, had diverse religious communities, which might increase the likelihood of their being understood. And when Nicholas Sarkozy specifically had visited the Grand Mufti Muhammed Said Tantawi in Cairo during the debate over hijabs (headscarves) in France, it had made a great impression on them. And finally, several of the members of the delegation descend from the two countries: The businessman Ahmed Harby and Nour-Edin Fattah of the first delegation are of Egyptian descent while Raed Hlayhel and Ahmed Akkari of the second delegation are of Lebanese descent.


According to Ahmed Akkari, one of the goals of the delegations was to avoid "a new Van Gogh-case" - referring to the Dutch director who was murdered by an Islamist extremist in 2004. "The trip to Egypt was needed to create a response to be used in Denmark," Ahmed Akkari says. The delegations brought stacks of a document 43 pages long containing pages of text and photos. The document contained the 12 cartoons from the Jyllands-Posten, 10 cartoons from the Weekendavisen and 4 derogatory photos, which according to the Moslems had been sent anonymously to Moslems in Denmark.

The delegation to Egypt achieved a great impact. It was headed by Abu Bashar of The Community of Islam and amongst the leaders were also leaders of Pakistani and Turkish organizations. During the meeting with the League of Arab States, which took place on December 11, 2005, the Danish Imam Abu Bashar showed the photo depicting the prophet as a pig. Alaa Roushdy, the first secretary of Amr Moussa, participated in the meeting. The two Danish-Moslem representatives described the pig photo. They also talked about an announced movie critical of Islam, to be produced by Denmark, says Alaa Roushdy. The alleged movie was later to be one of many untrue rumours to circulate in the Middle East.

The delegation also met the presidentially appointed Grand Mufti Muhammed Said Tantawy, who is also the leader of Al Azhar University, one of the world most renowned institutes for higher learning in the Sunni Moslem world.


The Grand Mufti released a statement condemning the cartoons. A fatwa to boycot Danish goods was threatened unless the drawing were withdrawn. And more important: The Egyptian Foreign Minister promised to raise the issue during the coming islamic conference when the 57 countries of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) was to meet at the end of December.

Symbolically, it was to be in Mecca - the home of Muhammed - that things took a turn. The second delegation got the Lebanese Foreign Minister, Fawzi Salloukh, to contact his Egyptian counterpart in view of a common response. The third and lesser delegation travelled to Turkey. Led by Zeki Kocer of DMGT - a union of Turkish immigrant organization - it is unknown with whom they met. In none of the countries visited by the delegations did demonstrators take to the street. But a meeting in Mecca set wheels in motion.

The 57 Moslem countries of the OIC met in the home city of Muhammed in December. The Egyptian Foreign Minister brought the 43 pages from the Danish Delegation. The cartoons of Muhammed circulated in the corridors and became THE topic of conversation during the conference. In the final communiqué, the OIC noted that the 57 countries were worried about the growing hatred against Islam and condemned "the latest incident where the media of some countries have desecrated the holy prophet Muhammed."

Now the case had gained traction. The end of January saw protests against Denmark erupting volcanically. First came the boycot of Danish products in Saudi-Arabia and Kuwait beginning January 26, 2006 - a boycot which quickly spread to other Islamic countries. After that, the cartoons became the theme of the Friday Sermon everywhere. The same weekend Moslem protesters burned down down the Danish embassy in Syria, attacked the offices of the Danish deputation in Beirut and since then death threats have been made against Danes in several Moslem countries. Thursday the ninth, the beginning of the Ashura holidays in the Shiite world, the cry went out "Death to Denmark" in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon.


In Denmark criticism of the delegations has grown. They have been accused of showing false cartoons and spreading disinformation. But the 43 pages the delegations brought with them contained a text that has gone unnoticed so far. The text labels the Danes as "Infidels": "Though they are nominally Christian, secularization has submerged them to a degree where to say that they are infidels would not be a lie." Furthermore the text contains specific disinformation:

* Of the situation of the Moslems in Denmark: "Those of the true faith are opressed in a number of ways, mainly the Islamic faith is not officially recognized in Denmark."

* Of mosques in Denmark "Which brings about a series of problems; most significantly permissions to build mosques are not granted and Moslems thus have to reuse old commercial properties and storage facilities as places of worship"

This information is wrong: The Ministry of Religion recognizes 19 Islamic denominations in Denmark. No Moslems are prevented from building Mosques. That it has not happened is caused by fraternal dissent in the Moslem communities: Agreement can not be reached as to who is to run the Mosque and thus sufficient money has not been raised for the building of a mosque.

The debate about the delegations runs high. Few defend them. Some do, including one of the 11 ambassadors which the Prime Minister declined to meet. The Ambassador wishes to remain anonymous but says: "We encouraged none of the actions the delegations took, nor did they encourage us. They made their own choices and none of the ambassadors participated in any of their meetings. People are now trying to pin it on the delegations but it was already an issue when they left for Egypt."

Alaa Roushdy, First Secretary of the influential leader of The League of Arab States in Cairo defends the delegations too: "I have been following the discussion as to whether the delegations hold responsibility for what is happening in the Middle East. But the truth is that the real reaction came one and a half month after their visit." Roushdy adds that the issue would have exploded under any circumstances once the League of Arab States and the OIC had been informed.

Many criticised the delegations. One of their sharpest detractors is Ben Haddou of Moroccan ancestry, a former City Councillor in Copenhagen for the Centrist Democrats and later the Conservatives. He calls the delegations "half treason" and thinks that the delegations and protests have been staged to attract money from the rich Arab Gulf States. "They are fighting for their own Kingdom in Denmark and their own Mosques. Why does the Community of Islam call press conferences? Why do they so want to go with Danish Industry [Umbrella Organization for Danish employers in the industrial sector] to the Middle East? Why do they want public servants on the trip? Because it will give them a rubber stamp of approval. If they go to the Middle East with Officials of the Danish State, it will be seen as an official mark of approval and then the flow of money from the Gulf States will be without end."


The members of the delegations reject the claim that they carry the main responsibility for the attacks on Danish interests. Most members refuse to comment and refer to spokesman Ahmed Akkari. He has no regrets. "We never wanted this development or the violent actions which we have distanced ourselves from" (sic). On the matter of whether the delegations have achieved the exact opposite of what they set out to do, if the goal of the delegations was to strengthen the Islamic position in Denmark, answers Ahmed Akkari: "We will not accept that it was our responsibility. When Bush goes to the Middle East it often causes new riots, but nobody tells him not to go. We feel stigmatized as second- or third-class citizens."

Do you feel as a second- or third-rate citizen? "I feel that the public discourse in Denmark is harsh towards the Muslims and that our voice is not heard. That goes for me personally as well."

But you HAVE been heard the last couple of weeks, haven't you? "When finally we do get our say, we are portrayed as villains. We want to be represented properly," says Ahmed Akkari.

He predicts two endgames for the prophet-case: Either Moslems will be properly and fully recognized in Denmark or else portrayal of them as villains will be intensified. "I believe in the former. I am an optimist."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mark Crispin Miller Connects the Dots on Election Problems

Part 2


That refusal to confront the evidence, and to concede that Bush & Co. were not elected, is certainly not based on reason. It’s based, rather, on deep denial and fearful ideology. It’s based on the absurd conviction that it can’t happen here. But ... our whole system of government is based on the assumption that it can happen anywhere, at any time—that it can happen here, and surely will unless we keep this system going with all its checks and balances. The Framers studied history, and saw “it” happening repeatedly, wherever power was concentrated in one person or one body or one mob. That’s why they designed the system as they did.

* * *

Mark Crispin Miller, professor of culture and communication at New York University, is an expert in propaganda and mass persuasion. Having scrutinized the election of 2004, he concludes that team Bush wants to permanently disenfranchise the majority. In his "J'accuse" book on the 2004 election, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), Miller documents how the Republicans likely stole a second presidential election, just in a more complicated way than they did in 2000.

To those who dismiss such claims as "over the top," BuzzFlash responds, if the Republicans stole the presidency in 2000 by hot-wiring the Supreme Court of the United States, why wouldn't they do it again? They would -- and they probably did. If we could transplant Mark Crispin Miller's passion and stamina into the backbones of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, we wouldn't have a silent coup taking place now in the United States. In this, Part 2 of a two-part interview, Miller looks at the voting machines, and at our collective refusal to see and acknowledge what has happened to our democracy. (Part 1 is here.)

* * *

BuzzFlash: Let’s talk about a major problem that the press refuses to discuss: the privatization of the voting process. That’s really what the spread of computerized voting machines is all about. Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia—the three largest manufacturers of such machines—are private vendors. They keep their programming codes secret as “proprietary information,” and, worse, all three are extremely close to the Republican Party. There is no way to determine whether these machines are accurate. Using them is tantamount to having secret vote counts.

Diebold in particular has been in the news. Some months before Election Day, 2004, Wally O’Dell, Diebold’s CEO, sent a Bush/Cheney fundraising letter out to other rich Ohio Republicans, promising to do everything he could to “deliver Ohio’s electoral vote to the President.” In December, he suddenly resigned. What’s going on?

Mark Crispin Miller: O’Dell quit in the face of a class-action suit, brought by Diebold shareholders, over securities fraud and other crimes. Diebold is in big trouble, both legally and financially—just at the moment that they’re pushing hard to get their DRE [direct recording electronic] machines into virgin territory. Diebold is not the only company that’s doing this. All three of the top private vendors—Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia—have been in collusion with corrupt state officials nationwide to get the DRE machines set up in states that haven’t used them, or more extensively established in those states that have been using them. This drive has been ongoing for the last few months, because of the Help America Vote Act [HAVA] deadline of Jan. 1, 2006 for all states to commit themselves to a particular voting system.

It’s been a major struggle nationwide, with lots of grass-roots resistance to the spread or imposition of the DRE machines. In some states, the movements have successfully challenged the deadline, arguing correctly that the voting process is far too important for the people to be hustled into making any binding choices by some arbitrary date. In Connecticut, the secretary of state recently put off the purchase of any new machines for a whole year, and there’s a fierce campaign to do the same in Pennsylvania. Bush’s “Justice Department” now intends to sue New York for noncompliance with HAVA, because New Yorkers won’t be hurried into the machines. The Busheviks have always rushed the process, so as to buffalo us all into submission. That’s not only how they forced the passage of the Patriot Act and dragged us into war. It’s also how they got themselves “elected.” Remember how they kept on bellowing for an immediate surrender by Al Gore throughout the post-election stand-off in 2000?

By insisting on the HAVA deadline as if it were God’s law, they’re doing the same thing.
It’s a giant hustle. BushCo has to push us into using these machines, as no well-informed believer in democracy would ever do voluntarily. According to a recent Zogby poll commissioned by Op-Ed News, over 80% of the American people want to return to paper ballots.

Where election officials have done their civic duty, subjecting the machines to careful scrutiny, the defects in those corporate wares have been made clear to all. There was an explosive case not long ago in Leon County, Florida, when the insecurity of Diebold’s systems was demonstrated publicly by an efficient hacker. [The demonstration had been organized by Earl Katz and Sarah Teale for "Votergate," their upcoming documentary on election fraud.] The demonstration was so powerful that Ion Sancho, supervisor of the Leon County Board of Elections, declared a ban on Diebold’s goods in future races. Volusia County then did likewise. The blow was so dramatic that Jeb Bush himself came out deploring Diebold’s shoddy merchandise. This was not exactly staggering, since Florida deploys ES&S machines instead of Diebold’s, but it was still significant.

As there is no good reason to use DRE machines, and as a huge American majority does not support our using them, the Bush Republicans have had to bend or break the law to get them forced down our collective throats. In North Carolina, for example, Diebold filed suit to be absolved from the requirement that all vendors seeking to do business in the state put their programming codes in escrow. A judge refused. Diebold announced that they were going pull out of North Carolina. And then, almost at once, the Board of Elections approved Diebold’s doing business there despite the judge’s ruling.

To say the fix was in would be a whopping understatement. To oversee the machine selection process, the board had hired Keith Long, who had helped Diebold get 22,000 DRE machines into Georgia in 2002. (The whole sordid history is available online at North Carolina, let me add, is basically a Democratic state—John Edwards’ state. I’ve sent him a copy of Fooled Again, and also have been forwarding his office all the news I get about the situation in his state. Since he wants to run for president, I’m hoping that he’ll seize the issue.

These battles are raging nationwide, and everything’s at stake, and yet the press won’t deal with it. It’s unbelievable.

BuzzFlash: These private vendors essentially count our votes in secret. They withhold their programming codes; they refuse to provide a paper trail; and they’re in tight with the Republican Party. How can the world’s greatest democracy allow it?

Mark Crispin Miller: It’s staggering. If you tell a Canadian about this, you’ll see a jaw drop nearly to the floor. It tells us quite a lot about the civic atmosphere today in the United States. We are long since estranged from our own revolutionary heritage, and all those principles on which this republic was first founded. If democracy had any meaning for us—if it weren’t just a catchword flung about by quasi-fascist propagandists—we’d know that mere elections in themselves aren’t necessarily democratic. Even Saddam Hussein held elections. What makes elections democratic is their absolute transparency and popular control. Where the people have to fight pitched battles nationwide to get the sort of voting system they prefer, there cannot be what anybody rational would call “democracy.”

BuzzFlash: Let’s talk about Fooled Again. There have been some negative reviews, and what’s surprising is that they appeared in progressive outlets. In both Salon and Mother Jones, the criticisms turned on fairly trivial matters, and you answered those attacks. But something perplexes me about the general refusal of the media to talk about your book. The book’s called Fooled AGAIN. It raises the essential issue, which seems to me to be a hard one to deny: that the 2000 election was stolen, and that the Bush regime was illegitimate to start with.

That first theft was ignored completely by the media. After 9/11, a consortium of major news outlets released their long-awaited study of the vote in Florida, downplaying the inconvenient fact that Gore would have won Florida if all the votes were counted there. And the Democrats just shrugged. Even Al Gore refused to recognize the Congressional Black Caucus’ protests. All that crime went unacknowledged. A mob of party goons used violence to halt the vote count in Miami. They did it right on camera. They were all party operatives sent down from Washington by Tom DeLay. We know exactly who they are. Thugs openly stole the election in 2000, and yet not one charge was ever filed.

Mark Crispin Miller: Don’t remind me.

BuzzFlash: Yet now the media suggests that it’s absurd even to wonder whether the 2004 election was legitimate. But, hey—“fooled again.” In other words, didn’t this also happen four years ago?

Mark Crispin Miller: I’d say that, given such a history—and also given the extreme statistical improbability of Bush’s second victory—the burden of proof should not be on those with qualms about that win, but on those who claim that this disastrous president was really re-elected.

Just after Fooled Again came out, I debated with Mark Hertsgaard, author of the Mother Jones piece, on “Democracy Now!” He said then, and claims also in the piece, that he does not doubt that Bush/Cheney stole the first election.

I’m sure he does believe that, but it was really a rhetorical maneuver, meant to augment his authority as a debunker of the “theory” that Bush/Cheney stole the last election, too. (His piece in Mother Jones was an attack not just on Fooled Again, but also on The Conyers Report and big book on Ohio compiled by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman.) “I believe Bush/Cheney stole the first one,” Mark was saying, “so what I’m saying now about the second race should be authoritative.”

But I don’t think Mark really does believe that it was stolen in 2000; or rather, I don’t think that he’s accepted the appalling truth. Because if he really grasped the implications of that theft, he would not be bending over backwards trying to poke holes in the case that there was vast election fraud committed by the Bush Republicans in 2004.

Let me note that I think very highly of Mark Hertsgaard’s work, and he’s an old friend of mine. But I think it’s an illuminating episode. Here’s a very smart and gifted journalist, and a staunch progressive. On Bended Knee, about the US press’ capitulation in the Reagan years, is a terrific book. The first time we had lunch together, it was on the birthday of James Madison, and we drank a toast in honor of that great American. And yet Mark’s piece on the election of 2004 was both sloppy and reactionary. It was embarrassing, full of half-truths and slanted quotations. At one point he quoted Sherole Eaton, a whistle-blower in Ohio, to make the argument that she’s not really sure that any fraud occurred in Hocking County, where she’d blown the whistle. She fired off a sharp email to Mother Jones, saying that he had quoted her out of context, although she had asked him not to do it, and also asking why they hadn’t had someone unbiased write such a piece about Ohio.

Why would Mark, of all people, make such crude mistakes? And why would Salon repeat those shaky claims as if they were authoritative?

The Salon piece was also weird. It was pretty vicious, calling Fooled Again “a fraud” and “pseudo-journalism.” That was quite a judgment coming from Farhad Manjoo—whom I thank in the book’s acknowledgements, because I learned so much from his reporting prior to Election Day. Before Election Day, he did some great reporting on the fraud committed by the GOP—and then, after Election Day, he started writing pieces jeering at the notion that the GOP committed fraud. He seems to feel compelled to distance himself now from what he had himself reported. What’s going on here?

Let me tell another story that may shed some light on such denial—because I think that’s what we’re dealing with. At the end of my book tour in late November, I was taking a night train back to New York from Washington, and saw Rep. Jerry Nadler in the club car. He’s my congressman, and a genuine progressive, and, as it happens, one of the few folks in Congress who clearly recognizes the problem of election fraud. He’s one of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, and so took part in the investigation that resulted in the Conyers Report. I introduced myself to him, and gave him a copy of Fooled Again.

We chatted about the election, and the need for election reform. “Where’s the issue now?” I asked him. His answer floored me. He said that it was going nowhere, since the fraud committed in Ohio, he suggested, wasn’t so extensive as to have given Bush his victory. He said: “Bush won by, what?—400,000 votes?” In fact, Bush allegedly won Ohio by just 118,000 votes; and the GOP’s malfeasance there, from the numerous constraints on Democratic voter registration to the statewide under-supply of voting machines in Democratic areas, and the systematic flipping of Kerry votes into Bush votes, and that bogus “terrorist alert” in Warren County, and the subversion of the recount, among many other dirty tricks—all that monkey business certainly gave Bush his victory margin, and then some. And yet here was Jerry Nadler—one of the good guys, and, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, surely well-informed about Ohio—coming up with this enormously inflated figure, as if to justify, in his own mind, not going any further.

All these cases illustrate the vast repressive impact of denial. Somewhere deep inside (or maybe not so deep), Hertsgaard and Manjoo and Nadler all know better. But they don’t want to know. And it seems to me that that disinclination on the part of reasonable people is more dangerous than all the fervor of the Christo-fascist right. I hate to say it, but this is also how Nazism prevailed in Germany. Anyone who doubts this ought to check out Martin Mayer’s "They Thought They Were Free," which was published in 1955. To read it here and now is an uncanny experience.

BuzzFlash: Some day, if we’re lucky, we’ll look back at all of this and wonder how so many clever people could have been so blind to what was happening all around them. We’ll all agree that Bush v. Gore was an outright stroke of anti-democratic activism. Certainly it made no logical or legal sense: Justice Scalia halts the counting of the vote in Florida, because the vote count might do damage to the reputation of the presumptive winner, George W. Bush, when Bush could be the winner only through completion of that very count. In other words, Scalia and his cohorts were presuming that George W. Bush would be the winner—and so Bush “won.” You can’t put in a bigger fix than that.

That was only the beginning of the Busheviks’ subversion of democracy. They’ve been at it whole hog ever since, from the spread of Diebold and ES&S machines throughout the nation, to the gratuitous gerrymandering of Texas, and the recall of Gray Davis (a venture masterminded by the White House). Repeatedly they’ve tried to quash democracy not just in the United States but all over the world, as in Haiti, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Iraq.

Yet when you fully document the Busheviks’ subversion of the 2004 election, you get all this static from the left..

Mark Crispin Miller: Yes. The liberals and progressives who reject the “theory” of Republican election fraud have tended to deploy the same rhetorical technique. We can’t call it a counter-argument because it’s really not an argument at all, but mere ad hominem attack: “Anyone who says this is insane.”

What’s especially disturbing about that reaction is that it repeats the primary talking point of the Bush Republicans, who from the start have changed the subject by smearing those who try to talk about it.

The Bush Republicans relied entirely on ad hominem attack in their highly organized response to The Conyers Report on Jan. 6, 2005. That was the day the Congress formally recorded each state’s electoral votes, and there was a Democratic challenge to Ohio’s numbers, thanks to Barbara Boxer. Following that challenge, each house retired to debate the challenge—which meant debating the abundant evidence compiled by Conyers and his Democratic colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee. It was a remarkable debate, although it wasn’t really a debate, since there was no exchange about the evidence. The Democrats kept trying to focus on the evidence in the report, while the Republicans would just deny that there was any evidence in the report, and heap abuse on those who had the gall to note the evidence. As I point out in Fooled Again, the House “debate” was very tightly scripted, with the same incendiary phrases popping out of different speakers’ mouths, to make the point that anyone who tried to talk about the evidence was a “conspiracy theorist,” “paranoid,” “sore loser,” etc. To all the evidence in the report the Bush Republicans replied by shouting that there wasn’t any, and that whoever said there was, should be on medication in a padded cell.

I want to point out here that I’ve been an Independent for a long time, so I don’t have any partisan intentions. I see the Bush administration as profoundly un-American and deeply dangerous, but my motivation is not partisan. It’s civic, and it’s moral. I am frankly staggered by the fact that Democrats like Donna Brazile, and Hillary Clinton, and Christopher Dodd, and Al Franken, and progressives like Mark Hertsgaard, and reporters like Manjoo, have all responded to the evidence of vast electoral fraud exactly as the perpetrators have themselves responded to it.

BuzzFlash: Their position on election fraud is similar to the Democrats’ position on the war. Those who oppose it don’t dare come out and say so—even though our presence in Iraq has badly jeopardized our national security.

It’s much the same with the integrity of our elections. I’m sure that most of the Democrats would like to see the last election thoroughly investigated, and would support electoral reform as soon as possible. But God forbid they should come out and say so. "Profiles in Courage" this is definitely not. In fact, that stance only enables the Republicans to do their thing. If you’re an eyewitness to a mugging, and you only tell your friends about it and refuse to go to the police with what you know, you’re an accessory after the fact. You could conceivably be prosecuted.

That’s the story with John Kerry, for example. He told you privately, and has told others privately, that he believes the race was stolen, then lets his staff deny he ever said so. He likewise told a Democratic gathering that Bush should be impeached, and then his office took it back. It isn’t leadership to make such statements privately and then deny them publicly.

Mark Crispin Miller: When I briefly met with Kerry on Oct. 28, I tried to tell him, very tactfully, that there was only one way that he might win back the millions who were turned off by his quick concession on Nov. 3, and that would be to openly discuss the danger of election fraud, and push hard for electoral reform. I told him that, if he would take the time to study all the evidence, he would be able to say, quite sincerely, “At the time I conceded, I believed that there was no chance we could win. But I’ve been studying that election very carefully since then, and I have had to come, regretfully, to the conclusion that the race was not legitimate. This is not about me, or my political future. It’s about the American republic, which will not stand unless its citizens can vote, and every vote is counted.”

But he is too intimidated to take so bold a step. I’d suggest that what John Kerry fears is not the people’s disapproval, but the odium of the political establishment—the national parties and the press, and their corporate paymasters. If he wants to talk about election fraud, he hasn’t anything to fear from the grass roots. I sampled plenty of grass-roots opinion on my book tour. I went all over the country, and the crowds showed fierce enthusiasm for some truth about the last election, and for blunt talk of the need for thorough electoral reform. These were very mainstream crowds.

The issue is far more important than John Kerry’s political career, or the future prospects for any other over-cautious Democrat. It has everything to do with the enormous crisis now confronting this—I was going to call it a “democracy,” but that’s the problem, isn’t it? The US isn’t a democracy. It’s something else. Today, both parties and the press comprise a single entity that’s floating miles above the surface of the earth, where all the rest of us are trying to get by. It represents an absolute perversion of the system as envisioned by the Framers.

The press, which is supposed to function as a check on governmental power, and thereby help to keep the people free, now protects the government against the people; and in this enterprise they are allied with both national parties, which run not on the energy and discipline of their grass-roots constituents but on a great flood-tide of corporate contributions, and other, shadier disbursements. Add to this the factor of dominionist fanaticism—which, again, the Democratic party and the press will not acknowledge or discuss—and you have the system that we’re struggling with today: a system of “soft” fascism, hurtling toward theocracy.

It’s those insiders who are most invested in this system—the party operatives and media people—who will roll their eyes and snicker when they hear the slightest peep about election fraud. It’s not the people who react like that. I believe that there’s a deep commitment to democracy at the grass roots. That’s why I wrote the book: to make it clear that, if you sensed that there was something badly wrong with that election, you were not being paranoid but rational. You weren’t hallucinating when you saw democracy get mugged.

BuzzFlash: We saw it. We saw it happen in 2000, and again in 2004. It happened in broad daylight. You’d have to have been fast asleep, or blind, or crazy, not to notice it. It’s all meticulously documented in your book, but anybody who was paying attention at the time would have to see that something very bad was happening.

Let me repeat my earlier question: If they could get away with stealing their “election” in the first place, from Al Gore, why would they not do everything they could to steal their “re-election” in 2004? Did they have a change of heart or something?

Mark Crispin Miller: This idea that Bush/Cheney surely never would protract their rule through fraud—talk about a faith-based notion! Look at what we now agree they’ve done! We concede that they lied us into a losing war. We concede that they did nothing after many warnings prior to 9/11. They didn’t even quietly arrange the reinforcement of the cockpit doors on US airliners. We concede that they did not nothing to prevent the devastation of New Orleans by Katrina, and that they then did nothing after the deluge. We concede that they plotted to expose a secret agent who was working to protect the USA from terrorist attacks. We concede that they insist on torturing anyone they like. We concede that they have countless numbers of us under surveillance, and that it’s illegal, and that Bush thinks he can do it anyway. We concede that they are packing the Supreme Court with far-right extremists who would give this president the powers of an emperor.

We concede all this—but not that they would commit election fraud (again)! “My goodness, no, they’d never do that!” Where does such self-delusion come from? Subverting our democracy is not just one more of this administration’s many crimes; it’s their essential crime. It’s what they’re all about. It’s how they got themselves positioned to commit their countless other crimes. And it’s not just what they did to place themselves in power, it’s what they’re now continuing to do, so that they never lose that power again.

That refusal to confront the evidence, and to concede that Bush & Co. were not elected, is certainly not based on reason. It’s based, rather, on deep denial and fearful ideology. It’s based on the absurd conviction that it can’t happen here. But anyone who tells himself that it can’t happen here has failed to grasp the meaning of this great republican experiment. Our whole system of government is based on the assumption that it can happen anywhere, at any time—that it can happen here, and surely will unless we keep this system going with all its checks and balances. The Framers studied history, and saw “it” happening repeatedly, wherever power was concentrated in one person or one body or one mob. That’s why they designed the system as they did. And that’s why BushCo’s slow destruction of that system is so very dangerous, and why we must fight back in every way we can. But we can’t accomplish anything until we face the facts.

BuzzFlash: Which both parties and the media have suppressed. Meanwhile, they out-shout us. They have more media outlets, and they lie relentlessly.

Mark Crispin Miller: They have to, because they can’t take power honestly. They’re trying to impose an alien agenda on the people of this country. A movement that attempts to win legitimately, by building mass consensus, does not need to buy the media, does not need to stun the nation with big lies, does not need to neutralize its critics and dissenters with outrageous smears, does not need to gerrymander states, and does not need to win elections through the systematic use of dirty tricks.

There is no other way for these Republicans to win, because they don’t appeal to anyone but billionaires and theocratic lunatics. The current situation may be bleak, but it would be a whole lot bleaker if this regime had the popular support that it pretends to have, and that the Democrats and press imagine that it has. As Fooled Again makes clear, the people of this country did not vote to re-elect this president, any more than they elected him four years before. I think that’s damned good news.

BuzzFlash: Let me mention just one disorienting double standard that permits this madness to continue. In Ukraine’s election, the exit polls were used as solid evidence of vast election fraud by the regime. We had no qualms about those exit polls, as we whole-heartedly embraced the seeming losers there. Here, on the other hand, the exit polls suggest that Kerry won the presidential race—but we dismiss those exit polls and somehow accept that the official numbers were correct. Why are exit polls reliable in Ukraine but defective here?

Mark Crispin Miller: Well, why are DRE machines okay to use in the United States, but not okay in Venezuela? Hugo Chavez’ government signed a contract with a company called Smartmatic (which lately bought Sequoia, the big touch-screen machine manufacturer that’s been used by the Republicans to steal votes here). Some of the conservative parties down there chose to boycott the election, because they were alarmed to see the government deploy those DRE machines. So, there, the shoe is on the other foot. Next time some apologist for Bush & Co. scoffs at anybody’s qualms about the paperless touch-screen machines, ask him what he thinks of Chavez using them.

Double standards of that sort have now become routine—because the Bushevik worldview is paranoid, and the press keeps echoing that worldview. It’s like the double standard that obtained throughout the Cold War, when only they were “terrorists,” only they did “propaganda,” whereas our terrorists were “freedom fighters,” and our propaganda purely “educational.” Under Bush & Co., self-contradiction is incessant and ubiquitous. As I note in Fooled Again (and demonstrate in Cruel and Unusual), that sort of warped perception comes from extreme paranoid projectivity: the tendency to rail at others for traits or longings that one hates and fears inside oneself.

It’s a pathological reflex, based on extreme repression and violent self-loathing. It underlies the Busheviks’ insane hostility toward Bill Clinton, whose every misdemeanor, real or imaginary, roused a toxic rage in people who actually had done and were doing (and still are doing) far more evil things themselves. The Bushevik response to the Islamist enemy is pretty much the same, with Bush consistently attacking them for crimes that his own regime has committed, or is planning to commit, and for repressive tendencies that mark his own government. Again, the source of that pathology isn’t simply economic, but psycho-sexual.

We can catalogue the double standards till the cows come home, but it won’t make any difference whatsoever. Because such rational argument is only that—and the movement we’re fighting isn’t rational. This is something that a lot of savvy people can’t or won’t perceive.

By and large, people who live in the “reality-based community” are often blind to the irrationality of their opponents. They think that merely pointing out a lie, or a double standard, or a contradiction, is enough to get all parties nodding in agreement. But it doesn’t work that way. We’re dealing with a movement that is anti-rational. It’s faith-based. To paraphrase Bush, it’s a movement that believes what it believes, and it believes what it believes is right.

BuzzFlash: It’s elitist.

Mark Crispin Miller: Profoundly so. It believes what it wants to believe. If it hears contrary evidence, it comes up with evidence of its own. That is what the Busheviks have done across the board—in foreign policy, in environmental policy, in education, in (or against) science. They’re going to believe it, come what may, because they think that God is with them, God has blessed their enterprise, God supports their propaganda.

There’s a stubborn myth throughout the left that all Bush/Cheney’s theocratic noises are pure humbug, intended just to fool the pious masses of the right so that the super-rich can keep on stealing all the nation’s wealth. Well, certainly the super-rich are making out like bandits, siphoning the national wealth into their bank accounts, and there’s no doubt at all that the cartels are busily exploiting the far right’s religiosity. But this idea that all the theocratic hubbub is mere window-dressing, cleverly exploited by a tight cabal of rational manipulators somewhere at the top, is simply wrong.

There is a powerful apocalyptic streak in Bush’s government, which wants to “bring it on”—to use up all the earth’s resources, to let the super-hurricanes and AIDS kill off as many evil-doers as possible, to touch off World War III at Armageddon. That suicidal impetus is not a pretense, nor, clearly, does it serve the interests of Capital. It is an even greater threat to world peace, US national security and planetary welfare than the whole Islamist movement, which only wants a global caliphate, whereas the Christianists would like to see the world go up in flames, because then Jesus will return, to give them permanent dominion and deep-fry their enemies.

So this is not a movement that the rational can ever shame into surrendering by merely demonstrating its illogic to its followers. The movement can’t be shamed, because it’s shameless; and it can’t be cowed by clear analyses of its unreasonable views, because it’s proudly wedded to unreason.

What we must do is recognize this movement as the latest resurgence of that atavistic paranoia that has, throughout our history as a species, always posed the gravest danger to democracy. Republics and democracy have always foundered on the rocks of paranoia: thus it was in Athens, and in Rome, and wherever else a rational community has given way to the demand for war and empire. Democracy depends on reason, on a reasonable sense of mutuality and common enterprise, and therefore on the possibility of trusting others not to trash the rules or otherwise subvert the general good. Paranoia, on the other hand, is based on fear, and therefore on a kind of “logic” that’s impervious to evidence and quite incapable of learning from experience.

Unless we face the fact that this is what we’re up against, we’ll be no more successful at defeating it than Bush will ever be at trying to wipe out Islamism.

Paranoia cannot be wiped out, any more than “terrorism” could be ended through a greater use of terror. Paranoia is an atavism, deep within us all, and so the only way to end it would be to annihilate the human race. Paranoia can, however, be contained; and a functional democracy is one in which the paranoid component is suppressed, restricted to the woodwork, by the workings of a governmental system maintained by the rational majority.

Only in times of extreme terror and anxiety—times of general paranoia—do majorities become irrational; and that lasts only for a while. It’s what happened after 9/11. That national mood has long since passed; and now it’s time to face the facts, marshal all the evidence of what is really going down, and fight it as we must.

This means that the political establishment must face the facts. It means we should tell people the truth instead of trying to spin them, trying to figure out what they would like to hear so we can feed it to them. We should just face reality, and speak out publicly. If our fellow-citizens are grown-ups, worthy of democracy, then they can handle it. If not, then there’s no point in even trying.

We have to say, “This is what’s happened. This is why it happened, and this is what we must do to get through it.” We have to be uncompromising in our commitment to reason, to democracy, to pluralism, compromise, deliberation. We must get back to a system based on checks and balances, the separation of church and state, the Bill of Rights and the pursuit of happiness. And in order to do that we have to re-embrace our revolutionary heritage. And that means saying no to ignorance and superstition.

I know that sounds old-fashioned. I mean, here we are just after the long twilight struggle between capitalism and socialism, which we mistakenly believed to be “the end of history.” Now it turns out that the Enlightenment was not a done deal after all. We’re right back where we started in the 18th century, fighting all those old battles once again—and this time without slavery and patriarchy (but with the burden of gigantic corporations). We have to win those battles once again.

The Framers understood that all free people have to fight and win those battles endlessly. This is what we’re doing now, and what we have to keep on doing; and to do it, we must have the courage of our convictions. It’s finally up to us, just as it was in 1776. The Democrats won’t do it, and the press won’t help, so it’s up to us. And I think the people largely understand that it is in their own best interests to be rational and face reality at last. I think it’s possible. I think it’s necessary. That’s why I wrote the book.

Interview Conducted by BuzzFlash Editor Mark Karlin.

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Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), by Mark Crispin Miller (A BuzzFlash Premium).

Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them), a BuzzFlash Review.

A Conversation With Mark Crispin Miller 12/13

Mark Crispin Miller Talks About the Last Stolen Election, the One in 2004 11/5

Mark Crispin Miller Examines Mainstream Media's Blind Eye Towards the Gannongate Sex Scandal - February 23, 2005

NYU's Mark Crispin Miller biography

The above interview originally appeared here. It is a good example of how paranoids can sound almost rational