excerpts from 'A Very American Coup'
Michael Moore reports on the Florida 2000 "elections" in his book, STUPID WHITE MEN.
There's a lot here but please read the numbers. The full chapter is at: http://phreespeech.blogspot.com/
Chapter 1 from Michael Moore's STUPID WHITE MEN titled "A Very American
"It's amazing I won. I was running against peace, prosperity, and
incumbency." --George W. Bush, June 14, 2001, speaking to Swedish Prime
Minister Goran Perrson, unaware that a live television camera was still
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WAS INTERCEPTED BY U.N. FORCES ON 9/1/01, AT 0600
HOURS, FROM SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT:
I am a citizen of the United States of America. Our government has been
overthrown. Our elected President has been exiled. Old white men wielding
martinis and wearing dickies have occupied our nation's capital.
We are under siege. We are the United States Government-in-Exile.
Our numbers are not insignificant. There are over 154 million adults
amongs us, and 80 million children. That's 234 million people who did not
vote for, and are not represented by, the regime that has placed itself in
Al Gore is the elected President of the United States. He received 539,898
more votes than George W. Bush. But he does not sit tonight in the Oval
Office. Instead our elected President roams the country without purpose or
mission, surfacing only to lecture college students and replenish his
stash of Little Debbie's Snack Cakes.
Al Gore won. Al Gore, President-in-Exile. Long live El Presidente
So who, then is the man that now occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I'll
tell you who:
He is George W. Bush, "President" of the United States. The
It used to be that politicians would wait until they were in office before
they became crooks. This one came prepackaged. Now he is a trespasser on
federal land, a squatter in the Oval Office. If I told you this was
Guatemala, you'd believe it in a heartbeat, no matter what your political
stripe. But because this coup was wrapped in an American flag, delivered
in your choice of red, white, or blue, those responsible believe they're
going to get away with it.
That's why, on behalf of 234 million Americans held hostage, I have
requested that NATO do what it did in Bosnia and Kosovo, what America did
in Haiti, what Lee Marvin did in The Dirty Dozen:
Send in the Marines! Launch the SCUD missiles! Bring us the head of
I have sent a personal request to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to
hear our plea. We are no longer able to govern ourselves or to hold free
and fair elections. We need U.N. observers, U.N. troops, U.N. resolutions!
Dammit, we need Jimmy Carter!
We are now finally no better than a backwater banana republic. We are
asking ourselves why any of us should bother to get up in the morning to
work our asses off to produce goods and services that only serve to make
the junta and its cohorts in Corporate America (a separate, autonomous
fiefdom within the United States that has been allowed to run on its own
for some time) even richer. Why should we pay our taxes to finance their
coup? Can we ever again send our sons off into battle to give their lives
defending "our way of life"--when all that really means is the lifestyle
of the gray old men holed up in the headquarters they seized by the
Oh JesusMaryAndJoseph, I can't take it! Somebody pass me the universal
remote! I need to switch back to the fairy tale that I was a citizen in a
democracy with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Happy Meals. The story I was told as a child said that I mattered, that I
was equal to every one of my fellow citizens--and that not a single one of
us was to be treated differently or unfairly, that no one was to wield
power over others without their consent. The will of the people. America
the Beautiful. Land that I love. Twilight's . . . last . . . gleaming. Oh,
say, can you see--are the Belgian peacekeepers on their way? Hurry!
The coup began long before the shenanigans on Election Day 2000. In the
summer of 1999 Katherine Harris, an honorary Stupid White Man who was both
George W. Bush's presidential campaign cochairwoman and the Florida
secretary of state in charge of elections, paid $4 million to Database
Technologies to go through Florida's voter rolls and remove anyone
"suspected" of being a former felon. She did so with the blessing of the
governor of Florida, George W.'s brother Jeb Bush--whose own wife was
caught by immigration officials trying to sneak $19,000 worth of jewelry
into the country without declaring and paying tax on it . . . a felony in
its own right. But hey, this is America. We don't prosecute felons if
they're rich or married to a governing Bush.
The law states that ex-felons cannot vote in Florida. And sadly (thought
I'm confident that Florida's justice system was always unimpeachably
fair), that means 31 percent of all black men in Florida are
prohibited from voting because they have a felony on their record. Harris
and Bush knew that removing the names of ex-felons from the voter rolls
would keep thousands of black citizens out of the voting booth.
Black Floridians, overwhelmingly, are Democrats--and sure enough, Al Gore
received the votes of more than 90 percent of them on November 7, 2000.
That is, 90 percent of those who were allowed to vote.
In what appears to be a mass fraud committed by the state of Florida,
Bush, Harris, and company not only removed thousands of black felons from
the roles. they also removed thousands of black citizens who had never
committed a crime in their lives--along with thousands of eligible
voters who had committed only misdemeanors.
How did this happen? Harris's office told Database--a firm with strong
Republican ties--to cast as wide a net as possible to get rid of these
voters. Her minions instructed the company to include even people with
"similar" names to those of the actual felons. They insisted Database
check people with the same birth dates as known felons, or similar Social
Security numbers; an 80 percent match of relevant information, the
election office instructed, was sufficient for Database to add a voter to
the ineligible list.
These orders were shocking, even to Bush-friendly Database. That would
mean that thousands of legitimate voters might be barred from voting on
Election Day just because they had a name that sounded like someone
else's, or shared a birthday with some unknown bank robber. Marlene
Thorogood, the Database project manager, sent an E-mail to Emmett "Bucky"
Mitchell, a lawyer for Katherine Harris's election division, warning him
that "Unfortunately, programming in this fashion may supply you with false
positives," or misidentifications.
Never mind that, said ol' Bucky. His response: "Obviously, we want to
capture more names that possibly aren't matches and let [county election]
supervisors make a final determination rather than exclude certain matches
Database did as they were told. And before long 173,000 registered voters
in Florida were permanently wiped off the voter rolls. In Miami-Dade,
Florida's largest county, 66 percent of the voters who were removed were
black. In Tampa's county, 54 percent of those who would be denied the
right to vote on November 7, 2000, were black.
But culling names from Florida's records alone was not enough for Harris
and her department. Eight thousand additional Floridians were thrown off
the voting rolls because Database used a false list supplied by another
state, a state which claimed that all the names on the list were former
convicted felons who had since moved to Florida.
It turns out that the felons on the list had served their time and had all
their voting privileges reinstated. And there were others on the list who
had committed only misdemeanors--such as parking violations or littering.
What state was it that offered Jeb and George a helping hand by sending
this bogus list to Florida?
This entire incident stuck to the high heavens, but the American media
ignored it. It took the British Broadcasting Corporation to dig deep into
this story, running fifteen-minute segments on its prime-time news program
revealing all the sordid details and laying responsibility for the scam
right at the doorstep of Governor Jeb Bush. It's a sad day when we have to
look to a country 5,000 miles away to find out the truth about our own
elections. (Eventually the Los Angeles Times and the Washington
Post picked up the story, but it received little attention.)
This assault on the voting rights of minorities was so widespread in
Florida that it even affected people like Linda Howell. Linda received a
letter informing her that she was a felon--and therefore advising her not
to bother showing up on Election Day, because she would be barred from
voting. The only problem was, Linda Howell wasn't a felon--in fact, she
was the elections supervisor of Madison County, Florida! She and other
local election officials tried to get the state to rectify the problem,
but their pleas fell on deaf ears. They were told that everyone who
complained about being prevented from voting should submit themselves for
fingerprinting--and then let the state determine whether or not they were
On November 7, 2000, as black Floridians flocked to the polls in record
numbers, many were met at the ballot boxes with a blunt rebuke: "You
cannot vote." In a number of precincts in Florida's inter cities, the
polling locations were heavily fortified with police to block anyone on
Katherine and Jeb's "felons list" from voting. Hundreds of law-abiding
citizens looking to exercise their constitutional right to vote, mostly in
black and Hispanic communities, were sent away--and threatened with arrest
if they protested.
George W. Bush would officially be credited with receiving 537 more votes
than Al Gore in Florida. Is it safe to assume that the thousands of
registered black and Hispanic voters barred from the polls might have made
the difference if they had been allowed to vote--and cost Bush the
election? Without a doubt.
On election night, after the polls closed, there was much confusion over
what was happening with the counting of the votes in Florida. Finally a
decision was made by the man in charge of the election night desk for the
Fox News Channel. He decided that Fox should go on the air and declare
that Bush had won Florida and thus the election. And that's what happened.
Fox formally declared Bush the winner.
But down in Tallahassee, the counting of the votes had not yet been
completed; in fact, the Associated Press insisted it was still too close
to call, and refused to follow Fox's lead.
Not so the other networks. They ran like lemmings after Fox made the call,
afraid that they would be seen as slow or out of the loop--even though
their own news reporters on the ground were insisting that it was too
early to call the election. But who needs reporters when you're playing
follow the leader--the leader, in this case, being John Ellis, the man in
charge of Fox's election coverage. Who is John Ellis?
He's a first cousin of George W. and Jeb Bush.
Once Ellis made the call and everyone followed suit, there was no going
back--and nothing was more psychologically devastating for Gore's changes
of winning than the sudden perception that HE was being the spoiler by
asking for recounts, withdrawing his concession of defeat, tying up the
courts with lawyers and lawsuits. The truth is that during all of this,
Gore actually was ahead--he had the most votes--but that was never
how the news media played it.
The one moment from the election night I will never forget came earlier in
the evening, after the networks had first--correctly--projected the state
of Florida for Gore. The cameras cut to a hotel room in Texas. There sat
George W. with his father, the former President, and his mother, Barbara.
The old man appeared cool as a cucumber, even though it looked like
curtains for Sonny. A reporter asked young Bush what he thought about the
"I'm not . . . conceding anything in Florida," Junior piped up,
semicoherently. "I know you've all the projections, but people are
actually counting the votes. . . . The networks called this thing awfully
earlier and people are actually counting the votes have different
perspective so . . ." It was an odd moment in that crazy night of election
result coverage. The Bushes, with their relaxed smiles, looked like a
family of cats that had just wolfed down a bunch of canaries--as if they
knew something we didn't.
They did. They knew Jeb and Katherine had done their job months earlier.
They knew cousin John was holding down the fort at Fox election central.
And if all else failed, there was always that team Poppy could count on:
the United States Supreme Court.
As we all know, that's exactly what happened for the next thirty-six days.
The forces of the Empire struck back, and they did so without mercy. While
Gore was stupidly concentrating on getting recounts in a few counties, the
Bush team was going after the holy grail--the overseas absentee ballots.
Many of these ballots would come from the military, which typically votes
Republican, and would finally give Bush the lead that denying the vote to
thousands of blacks and Jewish grandmothers hadn't.
Gore knew this, and tried to make sure the ballots underwent maximum
scrutiny before they could be counted. Sure, this ran contrary to the "let
every vote be counted" plea he'd made when calling for recounts. But he
also had Florida law, which is pretty clear about this, on his side. It
states that overseas absentee ballots can only be counted if they were
cast and signed on or before election day, and mailed and postmarked from
another country by election day.
But while Jim Baker was chanting his mantra--"it is not fair to change the
rules and standards governing the counting or recounting of votes after it
appears that one side has concluded that is the only way to get the votes
it needs"--he and his operative were doing just that.
A July 2001 investigation by the New York Times showed that of the
2,490 overseas ballots that ended up being included in the certified
election results, 680 were considered flawed and questionable. Bush got
the overseas vote by a ratio of 4 to 5. By that percentage, 544 of the
votes that went to Bush should have been thrown out. Got the math?
Suddenly Bush's "winning margin" of 537 votes is down to a chilly negative
So how did all these votes end up being counted for Bush? Within hours of
the election, the Bush campaign had launched their attack. The first step
was to make sure that as many ballots got in as possible. Republican
operatives sent out frantic E-mails to navy ships asking them to dig up
any ballots that might be hanging around. They even put in a call to
Clinton Defense Secretary William S. Cohen (a Republican) to ask him to
put pressure on the military outposts. He declined, but it didn't matter:
thousands of votes poured in--even some that were signed after
Now all they had to do was make sure that as many of these votes as
possible went to W. And so the real thievery began.
According to the Times, Katherine Harris had planned to send out a
memo to her canvassing boards clarifying the procedure for counting
overseas ballots. Included in this memo was a reminder that state law
required all ballots to have been "postmarked or signed and dated" by
election day. When it was clear that George's lead was rapidly shrinking,
she decided not to send the memo. Instead she sent out a note that said
ballots "are not required to be postmarked on or prior to" election day.
What caused her to change her mind--and the law? We may never know, since
the computer records that showed what happened have been mysteriously
erased--a possible violation of Florida's Sunshine Laws. Now, long after
the horse has left the barn, Harris has turned over her hard drives to the
media for inspection--but only after her own computer consultant "looked
them over." This is a woman who is now planning to run for Congress. Can
these people get any more shameless?
Armed with the blessing of the secretary of state, the Republicans
launched an all-out campaign to make sure as broad a standard as possible
was used in counting these absentee ballots. "Equal representation,"
Florida style, meant that the rules governing acceptance or denial of your
absentee ballot depended on what county you were from. Perhaps that would
explain why in counties where Gore won, only 2 out of 10 absentee ballots
with unclear postmarks were counted; in Bush counties, predictably, 6 out
of 10 such ballots made it into the final tally.
When the Democrats complained that ballots that didn't follow the rules
shouldn't be counted, the Republicans launched a fierce public relations
campaign to make it look as if the Democrats were trying to scare the men
and women who were risking their lives for our country. A Republican city
council member from Naples was typical in his hyperbole: "If they catch a
bullet, or fragment from a terrorist bomb, that fragment does not have any
postmark or registration of any kind." Republican Congressman Steve Buyer
from Indiana even obtained (possibly illegally) the phone numbers and
E-mail addresses of military personnel so that he could gather tales of
ballot-denial woe to garner sympathy for "our fighting men and women."
Even Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf weighed in with the reflection that "it's
a very sad day in our country" when Democrats start harassing military
All the pressure worked on the wimpy, spineless Democrats. They choked.
While appearing on Meet the Press, vice presidential candidate Joe
Lieberman argued that the Democrats should stop creating a fuss and not be
bothered that hundreds of military ballots were being counted, just
because they weren't "postmarked."
Lieberman, like so many other among this new breed of Democrats, should
have fought for principle instead of worrying about image. Why? Well, as
the New York Times found out:
* 344 ballots had no evidence that they were cast on or before Election
* 183 ballots were postmarked in the United States
* 96 ballots lacked appropriate witness information
* 169 ballots came from unregistered voters, had envelopes that weren't
signed properly, or came from people who hadn't requested a ballot
* 5 ballots came after the November 17 deadline
* 19 overseas voters voted on two ballots--and had both counted
All of these ballots violated Florida law, yet they all were counted. Can
I say this any louder? Bush didn't win! Gore did. It has nothing to
do with chads, or even the blatant repression of Florida's
African-American community and their right to vote. It was a simple matter
of breaking the law, all documented, all the evidence sitting there in
Tallahassee, clearly marked without question--and all done purposefully to
throw the election to Bush.
On the morning of Saturday, December 9, 2000, the Supreme Court got word
that the recounts in Florida, in spite of everything the Bush camp had
done to fix the elections, were going in favor of Al Gore. By 2 P.M., the
unofficial tally showed that Gore was catching up to Bush--"only 66 votes
down, and gaining!" as one breathless newscaster put it. It was critical
to Bush that the word "Al Gore is in the lead" never be heard on American
television: With only moments to spare, they did what they had to do. At
2:45 that afternoon, the Supreme Court stopped the recount.
On the Court sat Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor and Nixon appointee
Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Both in their seventies, they were hoping
to retire under a Republican administration so that their replacements
would share their conservative ideology. On election night, O'Connor was
heard lamenting at a party in Georgetown that she couldn't hold out
another four--or eight--years. Junior Bush was their only hope for
securing a contented retirement in their home state of Arizona.
Meanwhile, two other justices with extremist right-wing viewpoints found
themselves with a conflict of interest. Justice Clarence Thomas's wife,
Virginia Lamp Thomas, worked at the Heritage Foundation, a leading
conservative think tank in D.C.; now, she has just been hired by George W.
Bush to help recruit people to serve in his impending administration. And
Eugene Scalia, the son of Justice Antonin Scalia, was a lawyer with the
firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher--the very law firm representing Bush
before the Supreme Court!
But neither Thomas nor Scalia saw any conflict of interest, and they
refused to remove themselves from the case. In fact, when the Court
convened later, it was Scalia who issued the now-infamous explanation of
why the ballot-counting had to be halted: "The counting of votes
that are of questionable legality does, in my view, threaten irreparable
harm to petitioner [Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon
what he [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election." In other
words, if we let all the votes be counted and they come out in Gore's
favor, and Gore wins, well, that will impair Bush's ability to govern once
we install him as "President."
True enough: if the ballots proved that Gore had won--which they
eventually would--then I guess that would tend to dampen the country's
feeling of legitimacy about a Bush presidency.
In their decision, the Court used the equal protection clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment--the same amendment they've loudly disclaimed when
used by blacks over the years to halt discrimination based on race--to
justify the theft. Because of the variation in the recount methods, they
argued, voters in each district weren't being treated equally, and
therefore their rights were being violated. (Funny, but only the
dissenters on the court mentioned that the antiquated voting equipment
found disproportionately in poor and minority Florida neighborhoods had
created an entirely different--and far more disturbing--inequality in the
Eventually the press got around to conducting their own recounts of the
votes, doing their best to spin the jumbled ball of public confusion into
orbit. The headline in the Miami Herald read: "Review of ballots
finds Bush's win would have endured manual recount." But if you read the
entire story, buried deep inside was this paragraph: "Bush's lead
would have vanished if the recount had been conducted under the severely
restrictive standards that some Republicans advocated. . . . The review
found that the result would have been different if every canvassing board
in every county had examined every undervote . . . [Under] the most
inclusive standard [that is, a standard that sought to include the
true will of ALL the people] Gore would have won by 393 votes. . . . On
ballots that [suggested] a fault with either the machine or the voter's
ability to use it . . . Gore would have won by 299 votes."
I did not vote for Al Gore, but I think any fair person would conclude
that the will of the people in Florida clearly went his way. Whether it
was the counting debacle or the exclusion of thousands of black citizens
that corrupted the results, there is little doubt that Gore was the
There was perhaps no worse example of the wholesale denial of the right of
each voter to have his vote properly counted than in Palm Beach County.
Much has been made of the "butterfly ballot," which made it easy to vote
for the wrong person because candidate's names and punch holes were
crammed unevenly onto facing pages. The media went out of its way to point
out that the ballot was designed by one of the county's election
commissioners, a Democrat, and then approved by the majority-Democrat
local board. What right did Gore have to complain if his own party was
responsible for the faulty design of the ballot?
Had anyone bothered to check, they would have discovered that one of the
two "Democrats" on the committee--the ballot's designer, Theresa
LePore--had actually been a registered Republican. She switched her
affiliation to Democrat in 1996; then, just three months after Bush seized
office, she resigned as a Democrat and switched her voter registration to
Independent. No one in the press bothered to question what was really
Thus, the Palm Beach Post estimates that more than 3,000 voters,
mostly elderly and Jewish, who thought they were voting for Al Gore ended
up punching the wrong hole--for Pat Buchanan. Even Buchanan went on TV to
declare that no way in hell did those Jewish voters vote for him.
* * *
On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush, positioned with his junta on the
Capitol steps, stood in front of Chief Justice Rehnquist and took the oath
that Presidents take at their inaugurations. A cold and steady rain
fell over Washington throughout the day. Dark clouds obscured the sun, and
the parade route, usually jammed with tens of thousands of citizens all
the way to the White House, was eerily bare.
Except for the 20,000 protesters who jeered Bush every inch of the way.
Holding signs denouncing Bush for stealing the election, the rain-soaked
demonstrators were the conscience of the nation. Bush's limousine could
not avoid them. Instead of cheering crowds of supporters, he was greeted
by good people moved to remind this illegitimate ruler that he did not win
the election--and that the people would never forget.
At the traditional point where Presidents since Jimmy Carter have stopped
their limos and emerged to walk the last four blocks (as a reminder that
we are a nation ruled not by kings but by, uh, equals), Bush's
triple-armored black car with its dark-tinted windows--favored by mobsters
everywhere--came to an abrupt halt. The crowd grew louder--"HAIL TO THE
THIEF!" You could see the Secret Service and Bush's advisers huddling in
the freezing rain, trying to figure out what to do. If Bush got out and
walked, he would be booed, shouted down, and pelted with eggs the rest of
the way. The limousine sat there for what must have been five minutes. The
rain poured. Eggs and tomatoes hit the car. The protesters dared Bush to
step out and face them ...
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