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The Voice Of 40-Something Cynical Optimism!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Film News

Just in...Mel Gibson has won the lead role for the blockbuster "Saddam: Lust For Glory" (hat tip to The Huffington Post for pics)...


MEL GIBSON reportedly threatened police officers with a tirade of anti-Semitic and sexually abusive remarks after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving yesterday (28JUL06). The 50-year-old PASSION OF CHRIST director was pulled over for speeding at 80 miles per hour on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California where the limit is 55 miles per hour. He failed both breath and field sobriety tests and spent seven hours locked up before being released on $5,000 (GBP2,700) bail. According to the incident report by Los Angeles County Deputy JAMES MEE, attained by, the actor repeatedly said, "My life is f**ked" before launching into an anti-Semitic outburst. The report claims Gibson said, "F**king Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?" The actor is also reported to have threatened, "You motherf**ker. I'm going to f**k you" to the deputy. Mee's report adds the allegation that Gibson told officers he "owns Malibu" and the star would spend all his money "to get even with me". He is also believed to have said to a female officer on the scene, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar t**ts?" Deputy Mee had originally written an eight-page report on the arrest but the sheriff's department deemed it's content too "inflammatory" to release and would merely serve to incite "Jewish hatred". Los Angeles police would neither confirm or deny the contents of the report and Gibson's representative ALAN NIEROB was unavailable for comment. The actor, a dedicated Catholic, has had to fend off anti-Semitic allegations before, after the release of his controversial 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. His case will be further investigated but no court date has been set.
29/07/2006 14:31

Yultide is just around the corner!

A couple of days back I got my first mailing offering Xmas presents/cards, so I suppose it is time to start thinking about presents for all and sundry. For example, if you know someone who has signed the Euston Manifesto and thinks the occupation of Iraq has nothing to do with control of oil supplies, the book below may be of interest (courtesy of the official Noam Chomsky website):

Remember, it is a lot easier for the Armchair Chickenhawk in your life to slag off Noam Chomsky in print than it is for him (or her) to try and keep the streets safe (outside the Green Zone) in downtown Baghdad ...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Votes at the UN

When the USSR existed it had two extra votes at the UN. That is, the Ukraine and Belarus (Belorussia as then was) had their own seats at the UN, which meant that the Soviets had two votes more than a conventional diplomatic map of the world would suggest they deserved.

Surely with the votes of Israel and the UK on its side, the US now has the same privilege at the UN?

More oil history from Greg Palast

This, via The Konformist, is from his new book Armed Madhouse. I should help the publishing industry asap & buy a copy. I wonder how many signatories of The Euston Manifesto will get around to reading it?

Keeping Iraq's Oil In the Ground By Greg Palast, AlterNet, June 14, 2006

World oil production today stands at more than twice the 15-billion
a-year maximum projected by Shell Oil in 1956 -- and reserves are
climbing at a faster clip yet. That leaves the question, Why this

Did Dick Cheney send us in to seize the last dwindling supplies?
Unlikely. Our world's petroleum reserves have doubled in just twenty-
five years -- and it is in Shell's and the rest of the industry's
interest that this doubling doesn't happen again. The neo-cons were
hell-bent on raising Iraq's oil production. Big Oil's interest was
in suppressing production, that is, keeping Iraq to its OPEC quota
or less. This raises the question, did the petroleum industry, which
had a direct, if hidden, hand, in promoting invasion, cheerlead for
a takeover of Iraq to prevent overproduction?

It wouldn't be the first time. If oil is what we're looking for,
there are, indeed, extra helpings in Iraq. On paper, Iraq, at 112
billion proven barrels, has the second largest reserves in OPEC
after Saudi Arabia. That does not make Saudi Arabia happy. Even more
important is that Iraq has fewer than three thousand operating
wells... compared to one million in Texas.

That makes the Saudis even unhappier. It would take a decade or
more, but start drilling in Iraq and its reserves will about double,
bringing it within gallons of Saudi Arabia's own gargantuan pool.
Should Iraq drill on that scale, the total, when combined with the
Saudis', will drown the oil market. That wouldn't make the Texans
too happy either. So Fadhil Chalabi's plan for Iraq to pump 12
million barrels a day, a million more than Saudi Arabia, is not, to
use Bob Ebel's (Center fro Strategic and International Studies)
terminology, "ridiculous" from a raw resource view, it is ridiculous
politically. It would never be permitted. An international industry
policy of suppressing Iraqi oil production has been in place since
1927. We need again to visit that imp called "history."

It began with a character known as "Mr. 5%"-- Calouste Gulbenkian --
who, in 1925, slicked King Faisal, neophyte ruler of the country
recently created by Churchill, into giving Gulbenkian's "Iraq
Petroleum Company" (IPC) exclusive rights to all of Iraq's oil.
Gulbenkian flipped 95% of his concession to a combine of western oil
giants: Anglo-Persian, Royal Dutch Shell, CFP of France, and the
Standard Oil trust companies (now ExxonMobil and its "sisters.") The
remaining slice Calouste kept for himself -- hence, "Mr. 5%."

The oil majors had a better use for Iraq's oil than drilling it --
not drilling it. The oil bigs had bought Iraq's concession to seal
it up and keep it off the market. To please his buyers' wishes, Mr.
5% spread out a big map of the Middle East on the floor of a hotel
room in Belgium and drew a thick red line around the gulf oil
fields, centered on Iraq. All the oil company executives, gathered
in the hotel room, signed their name on the red line -- vowing not
to drill, except as a group, within the red-lined zone. No one,
therefore, had an incentive to cheat and take red-lined oil. All of
Iraq's oil, sequestered by all, was locked in, and all signers would
enjoy a lift in worldwide prices. Anglo-Persian Company, now British
Petroleum (BP), would pump almost all its oil, reasonably, from
Persia (Iran). Later, the Standard Oil combine, renamed the Arabian-
American Oil Company (Aramco), would limit almost all its drilling
to Saudi Arabia. Anglo-Persian (BP) had begun pulling oil from
Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1927 and, in accordance with the Red-Line
Agreement, shared its Kirkuk and Basra fields with its IPC group --
and drilled no more.

The following was written three decades ago:

Although its original concession of March 14, 1925, cove- red all of
Iraq, the Iraq Petroleum Co., under the owner- ship of BP (23.75%),
Shell (23.75%), CFP [of France] (23.75%), Exxon (11.85%), Mobil
(11.85%), and [Calouste] Gulbenkian (5.0%), limited its production
to fields constituting only one-half of 1 percent of the country's
total area. During the Great Depression, the world was awash with
oil and greater output from Iraq would simply have driven the price
down to even lower levels.

Plus ça change...

When the British Foreign Office fretted that locking up oil would
stoke local nationalist anger, BP-IPC agreed privately to pretend to
drill lots of wells, but make them absurdly shallow and place them
where, wrote a company manager, "there was no danger of striking
oil." This systematic suppression of Iraq's production, begun in
1927, has never ceased. In the early 1960s, Iraq's frustration with
the British-led oil consortium's failure to pump pushed the nation
to cancel the BP-Shell-Exxon concession and seize the oil fields.
Britain was ready to strangle Baghdad, but a cooler, wiser man in
the White House, John F. Kennedy, told the Brits to back off.
President Kennedy refused to call Iraq's seizure an "expropriation"
akin to Castro's seizure of U.S.-owned banana plantations. Kennedy's
view was that Anglo-American companies had it coming to them because
they had refused to honor their legal commitment to drill.

But the freedom Kennedy offered the Iraqis to drill their own oil to
the maximum was swiftly taken away from them by their Arab brethren.

The OPEC cartel, controlled by Saudi Arabia, capped Iraq's
production at a sum equal to Iran's, though the Iranian reserves are
far smaller than Iraq's. The excuse for this quota equality between
Iraq and Iran was to prevent war between them. It didn't. To keep
Iraq's Ba'athists from complaining about the limits, Saudi Arabia
simply bought off the leaders by funding Saddam's war against Iran
and giving the dictator $7 billion for his "Islamic bomb" program.

In 1974, a U.S. politician broke the omerta over the suppression of
Iraq's oil production. It was during the Arab oil embargo that
Senator Edmund Muskie revealed a secret intelligence report
of "fantastic" reserves of oil in Iraq undeveloped because U.S. oil
companies refused to add pipeline capacity. Muskie, who'd just lost
a bid for the Presidency, was dubbed a "loser" and ignored. The
Iranian bombing of the Basra fields (1980-88) put a new kink in
Iraq's oil production. Iraq's frustration under production limits
explodes periodically.

In August 1990, Kuwait's craven siphoning of borderland oil fields
jointly owned with Iraq gave Saddam the excuse to take Kuwait's
share. Here was Saddam's opportunity to increase Iraq's OPEC quota
by taking Kuwait's (most assuredly not approved by the U.S.).
Saddam's plan backfired. The Basra oil fields not crippled by Iran
were demolished in 1991 by American B-52s. Saddam's petro-military
overreach into Kuwait gave the West the authority for a more direct
oil suppression method called the "Sanctions" program, later changed
to "Oil for Food." Now we get to the real reason for the U.N.
embargo on Iraqi oil exports. According to the official U.S.

Sanctions were critical to preventing Iraq from acquiring equipment
that could be used to reconstitute banned weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) programs.

How odd. If cutting Saddam's allowance was the purpose, then
sanctions, limiting oil exports, was a very suspect method indeed.
The nature of the oil market (a cartel) is such that the elimination
of two million barrels a day increased Saddam's revenue. One might
conclude that sanctions were less about WMD and more about EPS
(earnings per share) of oil sellers.

In other words, there is nothing new under the desert sun. Today's
fight over how much of Iraq's oil to produce (or suppress) simply
extends into this century the last century's pump-or-control
battles. In sum, Big Oil, whether in European or Arab-OPEC dress,
has done its damned best to keep Iraq's oil buried deep in the
ground to keep prices high in the air. Iraq has 74 known fields and
only 15 in production; 526 known "structures" (oil-speak for "pools
of oil"), only 125 drilled.

And they won't be drilled, not unless Iraq says, "Mother, may I?" to
Saudi Arabia, or, as the James Baker/Council on Foreign Relations
paper says, "Saudi Arabia may punish Iraq." And believe me, Iraq
wouldn't want that. The decision to expand production has, for now,
been kept out of Iraqi's hands by the latest method of suppressing
Iraq's oil flow -- the 2003 invasion and resistance to invasion. And
it has been darn effective. Iraq's output in 2003, 2004 and 2005 was
less than produced under the restrictive Oil-for-Food Program.
Whether by design or happenstance, this decline in output has
resulted in tripling the profits of the five U.S. oil majors to $89
billion for a single year, 2005, compared to pre-invasion 2002. That
suggests an interesting arithmetic equation. Big Oil's profits are
up $89 billion a year in the same period the oil industry boosted
contributions to Mr. Bush's reelection campaign to roughly $40

That would make our president "Mr. 0.05%."

A History of Oil in Iraq

Suppressing It, Not Pumping It

1925-28 "Mr. 5%" sells his monopoly on Iraq's oil to British
Petroleum and Exxon, who sign a "Red-Line Agreement" vowing not to
compete by drilling independently in Iraq.

1948 Red-Line Agreement ended, replaced by oil combines' "dog in the
manger" strategy -- taking control of fields, then capping
production--drilling shallow holes where "there was no danger of
striking oil."

1961 OPEC, founded the year before, places quotas on Iraq's exports
equal to Iran's, locking in suppression policy.

1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Iran destroys Basra fields. Iraq cannot meet
OPEC quota. 1991 Desert Storm. Anglo-American bombings cut

1991-2003 United Nations Oil embargo (zero legal exports) followed
by Oil-for-Food Program limiting Iraqi sales to 2 million barrels a

2003-? "Insurgents" sabotage Iraq's pipelines and infrastructure.

2004 Options for Iraqi Oil.The secret plan adopted by U.S. State
Department overturns Pentagon proposal to massively in crease oil
production. State Department plan, adopted by government of occupied
Iraq, limits state oil company to OPEC quotas.

Traditional English Folk Music aka The Sex Pistols

"Never trust a hippy..."

Decent Sex Pistols websites with lots of links can be found at...


Quick comment on Nineteen Eighty-Four

The world in 1984...

For many people, Orwell's novel is an anti-Communist tract par excellence, or, at the very least, an anti-totalitarian piece. However, it is worth noting a press statement Orwell issued via his publisher Frederick Warburg in the summer of 1949 in response to a widespread belief that Nineteen Eighty-Four was an anti-socialist novel and Orwell had abandoned socialism (quoted in Bernard Crick, George Orwell: A Life, Penguin, 1992, p.566):

"George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR come into being there will be several super states....These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are. Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great power blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the USA the phrase 'Americanism' or 'hundred per cent Americanism' is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish."

Just think if the name of The Party in the novel had been abbreviated to TOTALAM, and Britain had been reduced to an offshore "Airstrip One" for a US dominated Empire. Inconceivable!!

Greg Palast on the Middle East

“These are the men who, without virtue, labour, or hazard, are growing rich, as
their country is impoverished; they rejoice, when obstinacy or ambition adds
another year to slaughter and devastation; and laugh, from their desks, at
bravery and science, while they are adding figure to figure, and cipher to
cipher, hoping for a new contract from a new armament, and computing the profits
of a siege or tempest.” Samuel Johnson

I remember when Saddam Hussein misread the signals from Dubya's dad and invaded Kuwait in 1990 some high up in the Bush Senior Adminstration saying that if Kuwait produced carrots not oil "no-one would give a shit about Kuwait." Well, I should have known that oil has a lot to do with stoking up the temperature throughout the region at the moment, as Greg Palast explains...

Blood in Beirut: $75.05 a Barrel
The failure to stop the bloodletting in the Middle East, Exxon’s record second-quarter profits and Iran’s nuclear cat-and-mouse game have something in common — it’s the oil.

I can’t tell you how it started — this is a war that’s been fought since the Levites clashed with the Philistines — but I can tell you why the current mayhem has not been stopped. It’s the oil.

I’m not an expert on Palestine nor Lebanon and I’d rather not pretend to be one. If you want to know what’s going on, read Robert Fisk. He lives there. He speaks Arabic. Stay away from pundits whose only connection to the Middle East is the local falafel stand.

So why am I writing now? The answer is that, while I don’t speak Arabic or Hebrew, I am completely fluent in the language of petroleum.

What? You don’t need a degree in geology to know there’s no oil in Israel, Palestine or Lebanon. (A few weeks ago, I was joking around with Afif Safieh, the Palestinian Authority’s Ambassador to the US, asking him why he was fighting to have a piece of the only place in the Middle East without oil. Well, there’s no joking now.)

Let’s begin with the facts we can agree on: the berserkers are winning. Crazies discredited only a month ago are now in charge, guys with guns bigger than brains and souls smaller still. Here’s a list:

– Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s approval rating in June was down to a Bush-level of 35%. But today, Olmert’s poll numbers among Israeli voters have more than doubled to 78% as he does his bloody John Wayne “cleanin’ out the varmints” routine. But let’s not forget: Olmert can’t pee-pee without George Bush’s approval. Bush can stop Olmert tomorrow. He hasn’t.

– Hezbollah, a political party rejected overwhelmingly by Lebanese voters sickened by their support of Syrian occupation, holds a mere 14 seats out of 128 in the nation’s parliament. Hezbollah was facing demands by both Lebanon’s non-Shia majority and the United Nations to lay down arms. Now, few Lebanese would suggest taking away their rockets. But let’s not forget: Without Iran, Hezbollah is just a fundamentalist street gang. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can stop Hezbollah’s rockets tomorrow. He hasn’t.

– Hamas, just days before it kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers, was facing certain political defeat at the hands of the Palestinian majority ready to accept the existence of Israel as proposed in a manifesto for peace talks penned by influential Palestinian prisoners. Now the Hamas rocket brigade is back in charge. But let’s not forget: Hamas is broke and a joke without the loot and authority of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah can stop these guys tomorrow. He hasn’t.

Why not? Why haven’t what we laughably call “leaders” of the USA, Iran and Saudi Arabia called back their delinquent spawn, cut off their allowances and grounded them for six months?

Maybe because mayhem and murder in the Middle East are very, very profitable to the sponsors of these characters with bombs and rockets. America, Iran and Saudi Arabia share one thing in common: they are run by oil regimes. The higher the price of crude, the higher the profits and the happier the presidents and princelings of these petroleum republics.

This Thursday, Exxon is expected to report the highest second-quarter earnings of any corporation since the days of the Pharaoh, $9.9 billion in pure profit collected in just three months — courtesy of an oil shortage caused by pipelines on fire in Iraq, warlord attacks in Nigeria, the lingering effects of the sabotage of Venezuela’s oil system by a 2002 strike… the list could go on.

Exxon’s brobdingnagian profits simply reflect the cold axiom that oil companies and oil states don’t make their loot by finding oil but by finding trouble. Finding oil increases supply. Increased supply means decreased price. Whereas finding trouble — wars, coup d’etats, hurricanes, whatever can disrupt supply — raises the price of oil.

A couple of examples from today’s Bloomberg newswire are:

“Crude oil traded above $75 a barrel in New York as fighting between Israeli and Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon entered its 14th day… Oil prices rose last month on concern for supplies from Iran, the world’s fourth largest producer, may be disrupted in its dispute with the United Nations over its uranium enrichment … [And, said a trader,] ‘I still think $85 is likely this summer. I’m really surprised we haven’t seen any hurricanes.”’

In Tehran, President Ahmadinejad may or may not have a plan to make a nuclear bomb, but he sure as heck knows that hinting at it raises the price of the one thing he certainly does have — oil. Every time he barks, ‘Mad Mahmoud’ knows that he’s pumping up the price of crude. Just a $10 a barrel “blow-up-in-the-Mideast” premium brings his regime nearly a quarter of a billion dollars each week (including the little kick to the value of Iran’s natural gas). Not a bad pay-off for making a bit of trouble.

Saudi Arabia’s rake-in from The Troubles? Assuming just a $10 a barrel boost for Middle Eastern mayhem and you can calculate that the blood in the sand puts an extra $658 million a week in Abdullah’s hand.

And in Houston, you can hear the cash registers jing-a-ling as explosions in Kirkuk, Beirut and the Niger River Delta sound like the sleigh-bells on Santa’s sled. At $75.05 a barrel, they don’t call it “sweet” crude for nothing. That’s up 27% from a year ago. The big difference between then and now: the rockets’ red glare.

Exxon’s second-quarter profits may bust records, but next quarter’s should put it to shame, as the “Lebanon premium” and Iraq’s insurgency have puffed up prices, up by an average of 11% in the last three months.

So there’s not much incentive for the guys who supply the weaponry to tell their wards to put away their murderous toys. This war’s just too darn profitable.

We are trained to think of Middle Eastern conflicts as just modern flare-ups of ancient tribal animosities. But to uncover why the flames won’t die, the usual rule applies: follow the money.

Am I saying that Tehran, Riyadh and Houston oil chieftains conspired to ignite a war to boost their petroleum profits? I can’t imagine it. But I do wonder if Bush would let Olmert have an extra week of bombings, or if the potentates of the Persian Gulf would allow Hamas and Hezbollah to continue their deadly fireworks if it caused the price of crude to crash. You know and I know that if this war took a bite out of Exxon or the House of Saud, a ceasefire would be imposed quicker than you can say, “Let’s drill in the Arctic.”

Eventually, there will be another ceasefire. But Exxon shareholders need not worry. Global warming has heated the seas sufficiently to make certain that they can look forward to a hellacious — and profitable — season of hurricanes.

Preface to a Free Market Anti-Capitalist Manifesto?

This from Larry Gambone...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Withdraw Corporate Life Support

It isn't necessary to control corporate capitalism with legislation that restricts its harmful aspects. Simply pull the plug on it – abolish corporate law, patents, eliminate all forms of government assistance, no more state as capitalist goon squad, repeal all anti-worker legislation.

What about corporate law? Limited liability shifts the burden of debt away from the officers of a corporation to the corporation itself. If a corporation with limited liability goes belly-up, you can't grab the CEO's personal bank account and mansion. Small shareholders might lose everything, and the workers their jobs and pension funds, but not the bosses.

Limited liability creates a situation like a gambling addict with a rich parent who funds the addiction. When the gambler loses, the parent pays, when the gambler wins, he keeps his winnings. Corporate officers have a free hand to speculate with other people's money. Such speculation can lose, but it can also win big. Such "big wins" inflate the market share and size of a corporation, furthering the process of concentration and centralization. Put another way, without limited liability, corporate officers would be very conservative with other people's money and high-risk speculation would not exist. Corporations would tend to be a lot smaller and many would not exist at all.

Eliminating the fraud known as the corporation as the “fictitious individual” would have far-reaching effects. Rights and freedoms were meant for INDIVIDUALS, not corporations. In order to give corporations these rights they invented the lie that a corporation is an individual. Thus, attempts to control corporate advertising and Korporate Krap Kulture are met with loud shrieks of censorship, and since the corporation has the rights of an individual, it cannot be touched. With rights reserved only for living, breathing people, changes might occur within corporate media. If a corporation is no longer an individual, and thus no longer has rights, corporate media can no longer directly censor the editorial staff. The real living individuals working for them could then demand THEIR freedom of speech.

Patents are harmful because they allow the patent holder a monopoly. With a monopoly they can gouge customers through artificially high prices or inferior goods. Patents waste a lot of energy as people invent procedures to get around the patent. A royalty system, like that of song-writing, would allow inventors a good return without these harmful effects. Patents made Bill Gates the richest man in the world. Without patents, he would still be rich, but not anywhere near the same extent.

Government assistance to Big Business comes in a host of ways; tax breaks, cheap loans, free land, government paid R and D, corporate-aiding infrastructure. The right-wingers want to cut government expense, well start here. The fact remains, that without the state hog trough, many corporations wouldn't exist at all.

Stop the state from acting as a goon squad for the corporations. No more injunctions, no more rubbish about “illegal” strikes. Yes, the government can mediate if it wishes, but quit taking sides with the corporations. No more using the police to break up picket lines or bully demonstrators. The police should only intervene if an actual crime is being committed, and then only with the individual doing it. One person smashing a window should not be an excuse for beating and arresting 50 people. The procedure for union recognition is absurd and only helps the bosses. The moment the majority in a shop are signed up, they become the union, period. No dragging it out for months allowing the boss time to bully the employees.

Freed from state restrictions on striking and union recognition, free from state thuggery, the labor movement would begin to seriously challenge the corporations.

Without its state provided life support systems, corporate capitalism would gradually disappear, in the same way the Mom and Pop hamburger joint faded away thanks to MacDonalds. Only this time the evolution would be in the opposite direction. Nature abhors a vacuum, with the state's vicious pets dying off, small businesses, small farms and local production would return. I suspect many new ventures would be cooperatives. With a high level of local production and local consumption the vagaries of the corporate created world market would lessen and we could evolve into a “steady state economy” rather than the ecological insanity of “growth as God.”

Hey Greens, Hey NDP, are ya listening?

A book I had heard a lot about over the past decade but never actually got around to buying/reading until a couple of months back is David C. Korten's When Corporations Rule the World (1999 [1995 original edition], Earthscan Books, London). What follows is not so much a review ("It's good- read it yourself!") as taking various facts/quotes/arguments in it which others may find of use/interest. I wouldn't call the Korten's work a free market anti-capitalist tract, as Korten in one of many on "the Left" who confuses "corporate capitalism" with "the free market". He calls those who support corporate capitalism "corporate libertarians"; clearly no genuine libertarian should be apologising for the corporations! This caveat aside, Korten recognises that the vision of a market economy proposed by Adam Smith and David Ricardo is the antithesis of the racket run by the corporate behemoths who now bestride the globe.

Anyway, here's some Adam Smithisms Korten cites (page numbers from When Corporations...):

"It is to prevent this reduction of price and consequently of wages and profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion it, that all corporations, and the greater part of corporation laws, have been established."- Wealth of Nations(p.56.)

Smith believed that trade secrets confer a monopoly advantage and are contrary to the principles of a free market(p.74).

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all." Wealth of Nations (p.75).

"By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he [the entrepreneur] intends only his own security, and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand, to promote an endwhich was no part of his intention." Wealth of Nations (p.77). Note that the "invisible hand" for Smith only works for the benefit of society at the level of the domestic, national economy. To say such an "invisible hand" works through the vehicle of transnational corporations operating on a global scale is a complete travesty of Smith's arguments.

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Wealth of Nations (p.222).

It seems clear from Korten's work that Adam Smith would hardly be a fan of Actual Existing Capitalism. Neither does it appear that David Ricardo would be enthusiastic about it. As Korten shows (p.78), Ricardo writing in 1817 said that three conditions were needed for free trade between two countries to work for the benefit of the people in both:

(1) capital must not be allowed to cross national borders from a high-wage to a low-wage country;
(2) trade between the participating countries must be balanced; &
(3) each country must have full employment.

Are there any examples of these three criteria for free trade existing under Actual Existing Capitalism?

Korten also shows that the rise of the corporation took place during the Nineteenth Century. He identifies the American Civil War as the period when corporations in the USA started to dominate the economy and quotes Abraham Lincoln in evidence (p.58):

"Corporations have been enthroned....An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavour to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people...until wealth is aggregated in a few hands...and the Republic is destroyed."

Korten identifies the moment when the corporations took their modern form as 1886 (p.59). This was the year that the US Supreme Court ruled in the Santa Clara County V Southern Pacific Railroad case that a private corporation is a natural person under the US Constitution. Consequently a corporation is entitled to protection under the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech and other constitutional protections extended to individuals.

Over a century later, Korten argues, we are living in a world dominated by the corporations. Furthermore, the corporations will fail, Kortern asserts, due to their similarity to the so-called Marxist regimes failed in Eastern Europe (p.89):

"Both lead to the concentration of economic power in unaccountable centralised institutions- the state in the case of Marxism, and the transnational corporation in the case of capitalism.
"Both create economic systems that destroy the living systems of the earth in the name of economic progress.
"Both produce a disempowering dependence on mega-institutions that erodes the social capital on which the efficient function of markets, government, and society depends.
"Both take a narrow economistic view of human needs that undermines...the community of life that is essential to maintaining the moral fabric of society."

To combat the corporations, Korten recognises the need for a new anti-corporate, anti-big government political movement (p.116):

"The time is ripe for a realignment of political alliances, which is likely to come into full flower only when the true populists [of "the Right"?] realise that their enemy is not only big central government but also the giant corporations that owe no allegiance to place, people, or the human interest."

Thoughts on the latest Mid-East war

Well, we have a proper 1980s revival: Israel bombing the hell out of Lebanon with implicit US backing. With the Gaza/West Bank situation, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sabre rattling over Iran and India basically blaming Pakistan for the recent Mumbai bombings, we have, to use a phrase of Zbigniew Brzezinski's from the equally groovy 1970s, an "Arc of Crisis" in the Near East.

I have mixed feelings about the whole Israel/Lebanon situation. I refuse to see it as a battle between Democracy V Terrorism. Nor do I see it purely as Western Imperialism V Islamic Resistance. The only two things I do know is (1) there should be an immediate ceasefire & (2) it has nothing to do with us (classic Little Englander worldview there). In the media here, among both the columnists and the letter writers, both the Israelis and Hezbollah have their cheerleaders. My attitude towards these armchair generals is: if the fighting over there is such an important matter for you, why won't don't you go over there and fight? However, as George Orwell wrote in Homage to Catalonia (back in the 1930s writers did put their rifles where their pens were and physically took part in fighting for causes they professed to believe in): "The people who write that kind of stuff never fight: possibly they believe that to write it is a substitute for fighting. It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours" ["embedded reporting", as it is known these days](Penguin, 2000 edition, page 209).

I don't like the way a lot of people over here seem to automatically line up behind Israel or however is fighting them. Some people think that because they are Jewish or Muslim, they should cheer on or condone whatever actions, including quite sickening atrocities, "their side" takes, because to use that old lie, "the ends justifies the means". I think that because you are Jewish or Muslim you should be supporting uncritically Israel or Hezbollah is total cobblers. It's like saying that because you have Irish blood (like my good self) you should have supported everything the IRA and other Irish Republican groups did during "The Troubles". It's an utterly cretinous line to take.

Moreover, no-one seems to take heed one of the great lessons of Twentieth Century warfare: if you want to win the hearts and minds of your opponent's civilian populations, don't try and bomb them into submission. Whenever civilians are the targets of bombing (whether from the air or in bars/trains/buses/the street etc) they rally around their national leadership. Every Israeli civilian killed justifies the IDF going further into Lebanon, most Israelis believe; every Lebanese civilian killed hardens Lebanese support for Hezbollah.

I just hope the killing and wounding stops, and that includes, Israelis, Lebanese and everybody. It would also help if those who get a guilty pleasure from seeing Israelis/Arabs being killed by "their" side in the war would shut up. If you must, have your Two Minute Hate in private!

The Joy of Idleness

"Beneath the paving stones - the beach!" - Sous les paves, la plage! - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968.

English Bay Beach, Vancouver

"Since 1991 we've been through massive cultural, social, technological changes, and the only thing that protects me or you or anyone, the only thing that can protect you in all this is figuring out what it is you like to do, and then sticking with it. Because once you start to do what people expect you to do, or what your parents expect you to do, or whoever in your life thinks you should do, you're sunk."-Douglas Coupland, Vancouver native and resident (easier said than done, Doug, but the sentiment is sound).

When I was away in Brugge, one of the books I read as the heavens bucketed it down was Tom Hodgkinson's How To Be Idle. Well worth a read if you can be bothered to wander down to the bookshop and buy it. My main caveat is, subversive tract as it is, don't take all the recommendations to heart, otherwise you will end up staying in bed all day with a glass of beer by the side of the bed. ("What's wrong with that?", I hear you cry...) However, there is a lot of sage advice from Hodgkinson. For example (I'm currently lending my copy to another wannabe idler, so I paraphrase), instead of joining a gym to keep fit, walk a mile to a decent pub, have a few drinks and walk back. In the process, you walk two miles (every adult is supposed to walk 3 miles a week to prevent obesity, or so I've heard) and you have an enjoyable few hours in the process.

On a slightly more serious note, I'm old enough to remember back in the 70s people being told that, with so much new technology coming along, by the start of the Twenty-First Century (apart from walking around in space suits) we'd have so much free time to do what we want. It hasn't turned out like that, though, has it? We tend to be either time rich and money poor or vice versa. Perhaps I'm being hopelessly naive, but surely we can all aspire to something better than that?

Anyway, here's some stuff by Mr. Hodgkinson. As well as being editor of The Idler magazine, he has been given a weekly column in the "Work" section of Saturday's Guardian. I'm not sure if his subversive outpourings makes the "time is money" types who I imagine read "Work" pause for thought. However, anyone who can positively namecheck some of the icons of Punk deserves an airing...

Idle thoughts: Teenage rebels and philosophers alike used to protest against the dull daily grind - and they had it easy compared with modern wage slaves. Tom Hodgkinson predicts a riot
The Guardian,Saturday June 24, 2006

'Ne travaillez jamais". That was the graffiti scrawled on a Paris wall in 1953. This fine piece of anti-work propaganda was the work of the Situationist International, a group of hard-drinking French intellectuals who attacked consumer capitalism, the jobs system and the leisure industry.

The situationist Raoul Vaneigem also wrote: "From adolescence to retirement, each 24-hour cycle repeats the same shattering bombardment, like bullets hitting a window: mechanical repetition, time-which-is-money, submission to bosses, boredom, exhaustion."

It was this sort of anger which led to the Paris riots of 1968, a revolt against boredom, work, suffering, loneliness and humiliation. The next really significant outcry was a few years later, in the great literary, artistic and political movement called punk. The Sex Pistols and the Clash took up situationist themes: "I don't want a holiday in the sun" sang Johnny Rotten. "We don't work, I just feed, that's all I need." And Joe Strummer shouted defiantly: "I won't open a letter bomb for you," and "London's burning with boredom now."

The Buzzcocks and Iggy Pop both sang about boredom, too.

Punk was a protest against work and against boredom. It was a sign of life, a rant, a scream, a rejection of bourgeois morals. But have things improved since then? Arguably, they've got worse. The 60s and the 70s now look to us like a veritable paradise of dossy jobs and everyday freedoms. Unions were strong and therefore wages were often high and conditions often good. You could smoke wherever you wanted and kids played on the streets. There were no CCTV cameras and there was a nice relic of dandyism in men's clothing.

These days we seem more bound to our bosses than ever before. We even identify our own selves with the jobs we do: "What do you do?" is the first question we ask each other at parties, as if a job title could express a fundamental truth about our personality.

"What have you been thinking about?" - that is what we should ask. And if asked: "What do you do?" simply reply: "I'm a neo-situationist currently engaged in a total overhaul of the oppressive wages system."

Someone has to, before we all die of boredom.

The following piece is a review by Tom Hodgkinson of various "How to be a great manager" tomes.

The winner takes it all: Management guides claim that anyone can make it, if they work hard enough. By promoting this false dream, such books threaten to turn us into slaves. By Tom Hodgkinson, New Statesman, Monday 3rd July 2006

Winning: the ultimate business how-to book
Jack Welch with Suzy Welch HarperCollins, 372pp, £12.99
ISBN 0007197675

You Can't Win a Fight With Your Boss and 55 Other Rules for Success
Tom Markert HarperCollins, 146pp, £9.99
ISBN 0007227515

The Servant Leader: unleashing the power of your people
50 Cautionary Tales for Managers Peter Honey, How To Books, 262pp, £12.99
ISBN 0749445335

Bonjour Laziness: why hard work doesn't pay
Corinne Maier, Orion, 208pp, £6.99
ISBN 1400096286

In 1736, the American Puritan Benjamin Franklin published a pamphlet called "Necessary Hints to Those That Would Be Rich"; this was followed in 1748 by "Advice to a Young Tradesman". In these early management training guides, Franklin outlines the principles of a new kind of capitalism, then in its infancy: riches are to be pursued for their own sake; it must be remembered that "time is money".

Franklin goes on to recommend hard work and stresses the importance of appearing industrious: "The most trifling actions that affect a man's credit are to be regarded. The sound of your hammer at five in the morning, or eight at night, heard by a creditor, makes him easy six months longer; but if he sees you at a billiard table, or hears your voice at a tavern, when you should be at work, he sends for his money the next day . . . it makes you appear a careful as well as an honest tradesman."

As Max Weber pointed out in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Franklin promotes avarice, hypocrisy and the accumulation of wealth as if they were ethical principles. The emphasis is on how you are perceived. It doesn't matter if you go to the tavern - just don't let your boss see you there. Qualities such as honesty are promoted not because they are essential virtues, but because they might be useful business tools.

Nearly three centuries later, the same principles are being taught to the young and ambitious. Greed is good. Everything you do must be in the service of profit, growth and share price. Today this ideology is promoted through management books, which in recent years have become a publishing phenomenon (nearly a million are sold in the UK each year; many more are sold in the US). Clearly there is a huge desire to discover the secrets of "doing well" in business. Unfortunately these books are unlikely to help anyone discover them. What they promote is one of the central myths of capitalism - that, purely by virtue of hard work, anybody can get to the top.

The books under review recommend all sorts of immoral actions. In the old days, greed and covetousness were seen as sinful; now they are encouraged. Jack Welch's Winning sets the tone. The author grins manically from the cover - despite the silver hair, manicured nails and perfect teeth, he looks like Beelzebub incarnate. Welch became CEO of General Electric after beginning his corporate life in plastics. He is well known in the business world as a "great CEO" - which, roughly translated, means that he has made loads of money. So now he feels qualified to advise young men and women how to "win". As Welch explains in his grammar-free prose:

"And that is what this book is about - winning. Probably no other topic could have made me want to write again! Because I think winning is great. Not good - great."

But why is "winning" so great? Because, says Welch, it enables people to make lots of money which . . . erm . . . enables them to "get better healthcare, buy vacation homes, and secure a comfortable retirement". That's it. Those are the three goals of our mortal existence, otherwise known as more pills, more mortgages and more burglar alarms. Whatever happened to joy, pleasure, brotherhood? Whatever happened to enjoying life? Whatever happened to creativity? Whatever happened to love?

To be fair, Welch does think workers should be happy. Except that, in his world, happiness is called "employee satisfaction results". The better the results, the more money is made. Therefore, happiness is a good idea. It's the same with honesty. "I have always been a huge proponent of candor," he says, before going on to explain why honesty is the best policy in business. Displaying his trademark Franklinesque hypocrisy, he advocates honesty in your dealings with others not because it is ethical, but because it can be useful for making money.

Some of the traits Welch looks for in potential staff are a little worrying: "They're sports trivia nuts or they're fanatical supporters of their alma maters or they're political junkies." Nuts, fanatical, junkies: in the everyday world, being insane, a fundamentalist or a drug addict might be considered bad; in business, it seems, the crazier you are the better. All of which summons up a picture of a madhouse office, with grinning employees giving each other high-fives, shouting "whoop!" and exploding with joy because they have just beaten someone else to a pulp. And Welch warns that you can't be too mad: "Hire and promote only true believers and get-on-with-it types . . . ferret out and get rid of resisters, even if their performance is satisfactory."

The problem with this is that not everybody can be a winner. There is no room at the top of the pyramid. For every feudal overlord like Welch, there are a million toiling serfs, sweatshop workers, hamburger flippers and debt- ridden losers. It's a similar story in You Can't Win a Fight With Your Boss, in which Tom Markert, described as "global chief marketing and client service officer for information giant ACNielsen", tells us to work, work, work, because time is money: "You can forget lunch breaks. You can't make money for a company while you're eating lunch . . . if you don't put in the hours, someone just as smart and clever as you will. Fact of life: the strong survive." Life is a brutal competition: ignore Markert's rules, "and you might just end up as roadkill - lying dead by the side of the corporate highway as others drive right past you". The man even takes pride in behaving like an arsehole: "I have always made a habit of walking around early and late to personally see who's pumping it out. If they are getting results and working harder than everyone else, I promote them."

Markert shares Welch's view that certain moral qualities can be useful in business - sincerity, for example, when sucking up to the boss ("The trick is to simply be sincere and charming"). He advises that "having friends at work is not a great idea", and he offers a staggering homily about plane travel. Markert claims that he always introduces himself to the person sitting next to him on the plane. Oh, that's sweet, you think. But then he explains this is "not to be nice"; it's because he wants to find out whether the other guy is a competitor before he gets out his laptop and displays confidential information. In such a world, even eating is seen as a business tool: "I'm a recent convert to eating well . . . food is fuel. Fuel is an element of performance. Bad fuel means low performance."

In The Servant Leader: unleashing the power of your people, Robert P Neuschel trots out more of the same. The book's philosophy is based on the following goals: "become the best . . . come out a winner and stay alive". The goal of "survival" is frequently mentioned. Again, there is a euphemistic reframing of moral virtues in the language of competitive commerce. What most people would describe as friendliness Neuschel calls "success in interpersonal relations".

The same tenets are repeated in these books: all variety in life is subservient to the goal of making money; individual character traits are fine so long as they don't hinder profits and share prices. "Eccentricities are welcome provided they do not have a detrimental effect on people's performance," warns Peter Honey in 50 Cautionary Tales for Managers. None of these authors ever mentions what the company he works for actually makes. Not once does Welch or Markert talk of quality of craftsmanship or the satisfaction of creativity; their sole interest is in growth, success and profits. Where the profits come from is immaterial. It could be cat food, computers or cars, any old stuff - as long as it makes money.

Given that only a tiny handful of us can ever "win", it is clear that the real function of these books is to act as sophisticated whips for slaves. The idea that we will one day be "successful" keeps us working hard. "Every call for productivity under the conditions chosen by capitalist economics is a call to slavery," wrote the Situationist Raoul Vaneigem in his great 1967 book Traite de savoir-vivre a  l'usage des jeunes generations, whose title is a brilliant parody of these advice-to-a-young-tradesman-type books. "Nowadays ambition and the love of a job well done are the indelible mark of defeat and of the most mindless submission."

These architects of misery never exhibit the slightest concern for ecological issues: these are the sorts of guys who have been wrecking the planet, yet they present themselves as heroes. Nor, unsurprisingly, do they acknowledge the role of good fortune in business. They never say: I was just lucky in that, for 20 years, the markets went my way and I have no idea why.

We should be grateful, then, for Corinne Maier's Bonjour Laziness: why hard work doesn't pay. Written by a French intellectual who worked for many years for a big corporation, it picks up the Situationists' credo of "ne travaillez jamais". Maier exposes the reality behind the myth promoted by the rest of these books: the capitalist dream is, in fact, a nightmare for most. The good news is that, of all of these works, Bonjour Laziness is proving most popular, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in 30 countries. Maybe we are realising that the road Franklin led us down is a dead end.

Bilderberging it

This from UKIP Uncovered...

A written question submitted to the European Commission by Jeffrey Titford MEP [UKIP], is as follows:

To ask the Commission whether Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes attended the Bilderberg Conference in Ottawa on 8-11 June 2006. If so, did she attend in her official capacity, as is implied by her listing on the official list of participants?

If she was present, please provide details of the items on the agenda to which she contributed (the items themselves and the substance of her contribution). What specific tasks was she given during the conference?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

If Respect is the answer, it must have been a fu...

Respect's Annual Conference applauds George Galloway by videolink. Meanwhile new Respect member W. Smith wonders "Is chess institutionally Islamophobic?"

If the only "radical" alternative to the BNP is Respect, I might as well leave the country now. Seriously, how can an organisation which wants to relive the Bolshevik daydream AND embrace political Islam going to do well outside of the Muslim ghettoes of a few inner cities?

Dave Osler's blog shows that the SWP's political trajectory is one which embraces Allah rather than Marx:

Socialist Worker on Somalia
So ... has Britain's largest revolutionary socialist organisation really adapted its politics to Islamism since establishing Respect?

Let's consider this portrayal of the recent takeover of Mogadishu by the Union of Islamic Courts, published in the latest Socialist Worker:

'For the first time for many years there is a sense of relief and hope among many people in Somalia,' we are told in the opening sentence, which pretty much sets the tone of the entire article. There is not one single word of critique, not one indication that this development is anything other than entirely positive.

True, it is incontestable that the UIC have considerable popular support. The SWP attributes this to what it sees as the organisation's quasi-social democratic politics. The UIC are depicted essentially as armed reformists, delivering pavement politics through the barrel of an AK-47:

'Key to the success of the UIC was the fact that it was already an established and accepted presence in local communities, with a demonstrated social welfare policy.

'Apart from bringing security to areas under its control, through its own militia and justice system, it had also set up farms, schools, water points, health clinics and orphanages.

'Although the UIC did not initially have strong popular support, there was a feeling that it upheld moral standards and discipline, and had a unifying and familiar ideology in Islam ...'

Read that again. Slowly. Upholding moral standards and discipline, eh? Sound chaps. Most rightwing Tories would approve. But is it truly the job of revolutionary socialists to cheerlead for such moral standards as forcing women to wear the veil and the amputation of the limbs of thieves?

It's also open to question whether or not the UIC are capable of mounting a challenge to the clan system, as the SWP maintains. All but one of the Islamic Courts are associated with one single clan, the Hawiye.

And class analysis is nowhere to be seen. What is the movement's social basis? In the interests of which classes does it operate? We are not told. An astonishing omission on the part of what still claims to be a Marxist publication.

Ultimately, the definitive evaluation of what the UIC represents, from a socialist perspective, will have to wait until it has been in power for some period of time. Let's just see what the future brings, although I have to say the portents don't look too promising.

But even as a preliminary assessment, the SWP's position is at the very least imbalanced. The article's final sentence explains why any sense of perspective has been lost:

'There is no doubt imperialism has suffered a blow.'

And that's all anyone needs to know.

Meanwhile, Tribune journalist Paul Anderson's blog shows that George Galloway would do well as a member of Ingsoc's Inner Party...


My thanks to Ken Weller for alerting me to this, a nasty little piece by Galloway in...Counterpunch to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Spanish civil war. It purports to be an appreciation of John Cornford, the communist poet who died while fighting for the International Brigade in Spain at the age of 21 – but it is laced with venom.

“But for a bullet in the brain on the Ebro,” he declares, “Rupert John Cornford might have loomed as large as George Orwell in the British left-wing lexicon.” Fair enough. I’m not a great fan of Cornford as a poet, but he’s undoubtedly worth reading (and Orwell thought so too). But then Galloway goes on:

Orwell would probably have informed on him to his bosses in British Intelligence. For Cornford was a Communist.

And he continues, a propos the volunteers for the International Brigades:

their memory has been sullied by Orwell's slanders, unfortunately reinforced by Ken Loach's film Land and Freedom.

This is disgusting Stalinist drivel. Orwell did not have “bosses in British Intelligence”, and he did not inform on anyone: the famous list he handed over in the late 1940s to his friend Celia Kirwan, then working for a Foreign Office propaganda operation set up by a democratic socialist Labour government, was of people he considered should not be approached to write for it because of their pro-Soviet sympathies. Big deal.

And Orwell did nothing to sully the memory of the International Brigade volunteers. He did expose the vile role of the Stalinists in suppressing the Spanish revolution in 1937 – and his disgust at the failure of the British left to recognise what they did remained with him throughout his life. But that is not the same thing. There is not a word against the International Brigades volunteers anywhere in his work. Indeed, he became friendly with at least two veterans of the brigades, Hugh Slater and Tom Wintringham – both of whom parted company with the Communist Party soon after their experience in Spain and played key roles in the Home Guard in 1940-41 when the CP was defending the Hitler-Stalin pact. In the leftist jargon of the time, which of course Orwell hated and would never have used, his attitude to the International Brigades was that they were lions led by jackals. Which is a bit like the ordinary members of the Respect coalition.

Thinking about the BNP

"The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting 'Heil, Spode!' and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: 'Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?'"
—Bertie Wooster speaking to Roderick Spode, leader of the Black Shorts, in The Code of the Woosters

As a race-mixer (although on the whole I prefer curvy blondes with...sorry, I'll stick to the point) I have no wish, particularly as I don't like being a hypocrite, to see the British National Party come to power. The fact that the BNP are doing better than any race-obsessed political party has done for decades shows what a state politics has got into here. The rise in support for the BNP in recent years is partly to do with "traditional" working class Labour voters seeing themselves betrayed by New Labour. At the same time, I think a fair share of BNP voters are "traditional" working class Conservative voters, who have been disorientated by the collapse of the Conservative Party since the early 1990s. Nick Griffin, the post-modernist Roderick Spode, is a well-spoken pulbic school & Cambridge educated middle-class type with a Tory background. It seems that the BNP see a Blair/Cameron clone, sacrificing some of the Party's traditional sacred cows, will get them somewhere politically.

To be frank, the response of "the Left" has been pretty pathetic towards the rise of the BNP. Just calling them "Nazis" and telling people not to vote BNP has hardly stopped them. Showing how awful BNP councillors are when they win office seems to be one way of making people think twice. However, there are a lot of issues where "the Left" hasn't a clue. No-one seems to see how multi-racial "England" sports teams embarrass the BNP. Also being an all-British party, does no-one on the left see that the mass flying of England flags at the time of the World Cup is potentially a challenge to how the BNP operates? Instead we get ridiculous claims that anyone who flies a Saint George flag is a de facto racist or BNP supporter. Patriotism is the antithesis of racism: will you need Nick Griffin to be given the keys to Number 10 before certain people realise this?

The following piece comes from the Socialist Unity website. It shows that some people on "the Left" have woken up.

Is the BNP Nazi? No, it's worse: it isn't, by Andrew McKibben

With the increased BNP vote in the last local elections, a chorus of 'these Nazis must be stopped' has gone up, along with suggestions concerning what organising tactics might be effective against it. Unfortunately, most such tactics are presently handicapped by a misapprehension about the BNP that leads well-intentioned activists into ineffective tactics. This suspicion is bolstered by the failure of the brave and sincere efforts of Stop the BNP (publisher of Searchlight magazine), Unite Against Fascism, the Anti-Nazi League, and others to stop the party's growth.

The problem? While it is morally satisfying to call the BNP Nazis, and while their ideology is indeed racist, xenophobic, and abhorrent, it's starting to become clear that this rather slippery political beast has in fact shed its old skin, and is no longer plausibly describable as a Nazi, or fascist, party at all. Why is this 'worse'? Because, although one must rejoice in the abandonment of this diabolical ideology by anyone, it also increases their chances of success.

The likelihood of real, live, goose-stepping Nazis actually winning much support in Britain is far less than that of some better-packaged and locally-palatable variety of racist extremism. Unfortunately, after 40 years (if you count its National Front predecessor) the BNP seems to have finally figured this out. So the Nazi business has been junked. This is logical: racial hatred is their only political bedrock, and the swastika is just one expendable way of expressing it.

Before I discuss the evidence they really have done this, it's important to remind ourselves that 'Nazi' isn't just a word to toss around, even at people who richly deserve any insult they get. Nazism is a real, historical, political ideology, like Marxism, with a specific content and specific criteria for who is one. It is National Socialism, the philosophy of the National Socialist German Workers Party. There's some leeway to include people who don't literally fit, but not every racist demagogue is a Nazi, not even remotely. Some, especially in foreign countries that fought Hitler in WWII, are even anti-Nazi.

Why care about being so precise? Because attacking the BNP for being Nazis will backfire, if they're not. It only invites them to prove to the public that they aren't, and, because this is now probably technically true, they can then just sit back, smile, and say to the public, 'See. Our opponents told you we were bad because we were Nazis, and we've now proved we're not Nazis. So we must not be bad. Furthermore, our opponents are liars and you can't believe anything else they say about us.'

This is not good. When the public hears, 'don't vote for them, they're Nazis,' and then, partly out of sheer titillation at the naughtiness of somebody daring to be such an evil thing, goes and looks at the BNP website and starts reading their propaganda, they will discover fairly quickly a group that has gotten rid of the old swastika trappings, and adopted the image of nice British patriots. If they are taken in, they may then conclude they're a legitimate party, merely being attacked by silly and hysterical left-wing cranks who exaggerate things.

I realise some readers will believe the BNP is still Nazi, and maybe they really have taken it deep enough underground that I'm fooled. But I think not, as some signs are just tell-tales. One of them is the reported expulsion of hardcore Nazis from the party, something loudly complained about on openly-Nazi websites, accompanied with howling accusations of betraying their cause directed at BNP chairman Nick Griffin. Another is the BNP's sudden change in attitude towards Jews, after having vilified them since the earliest days of the National Front. Basically, they now seem to be openly proclaiming they don't consider them evil anymore, and have even publicly mocked Nazi and other anti-Semitic ideas about Jewish world conspiracies and the like.

Take a look at this article by their chairman, for example:


' If the neo-cons didn’t have the baggage-laden anti-Semites, especially in America, as bogeymen, they’d have to invent them… The neo-cons are mainly Jewish, but they are not “the Jews”. When it comes to Middle Eastern policy, they are a particular faction, an unofficial overseas agitprop department of Israel’s ruling Likud party. To oppose their war is not to oppose “the Jews”, but only one group of Jews and their Christian-Zionist and plutocrat allies….'

One could read the above words in the Guardian! Something is definitely going on. Or look at this article by John Bean, one of the longest-lived right-wing cranks in Britain, and a major BNP ideological guru:


' … there is no factual basis for anti-Semitism, i.e. the belief that Jews are intrinsically our enemy. The worst one can truthfully say of the Jews is that they are intrinsically opportunistic. To survive in other people's countries for 2,000 years, they obviously have to be. But this doesn't make them intrinsically bad; only people who will, like anyone else, pursue their self-interest according to the circumstances of the time. We shouldn't surrender to their pursuit of self-interest . We should, naturally, pursue our own, but in a calm and rational way in the same manner as we deal with other foreign societies, without hatred, mythology, or hostile intent.'

Unless this is completely invented out of whole cloth, something fundamental has changed. And I suspect it isn't a complete put-on, as at least one (extreme right-wing) Zionist magazine seems to have picked up on it, and seems to believe it, or most of it:


'… today [the BNP] is, by world standards, a fairly conventional right-wing populist ethno-nationalist party, having abandoned the fascistic trappings, tendency to violence, and weird obsessions that once characterized it. The party's transformation is not wholly complete as of this writing. Some of the rank-and-file membership is clearly not as far along as its leadership. But, after four years of reform, the BNP seems to have managed a decisive break with its past …The BNP's new ideological complexion is generally denied by its opponents, both on the left and on the establishment "right" … but it seems to be real. The accusations of "sell-out" hurled at present BNP leadership by devotees of the old ways make this clear, if nothing else does.'

Now a change like this doesn't just happen. I think some kind of deal has been done between the BNP and some extreme-right-wing Zionists. It's a pity that a people who suffered so much from fascism should produce fascists of their own, but we have all seen enough of Israel's behaviour in recent years to know that some Jews are not exempt from this.

It's obvious that the BNP's foaming-at-the-mouth Islamophobia must have something to do with this unexpected rapprochement. Even they are bright enough to appreciate the logic of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. They may, in fact, be rather jealous of the treatment Israel routinely hands out to its Muslim population on the West Bank. Or perhaps the anti-Semitic mind just needs someone to hate, and they just find Muslims a juicier target these days.

The BNP still says it's not pro-Israel – they claim to be isolationists, who don't want to side with either side – but one has to wonder, if they're resolutely uninterested in the whole thing, and simply want to ignore Jews entirely, why they've gone to the trouble of making sure everyone knows. The giveaway: they've made clear statements that they're against Britain's funding the Palestinian Authority, which is a de facto pro-Israel position if anything is, given that we currently do fund it, through the EU.

Maybe they've been paid to do this, maybe it's pure ideology, I don't know. But don’t be surprised if this apparent new alliance lasts. Israel and Zionists have been happy to do business with any number of extreme-right parties, from the Afrikaner Nationalists in apartheid South Africa to the Falangists in Lebanon to the Kuomintang in Taiwan. Historically, actual fascists (as opposed to Nazis) can go either way on the Jewish Question: some have been raving anti-Semites, others blasé about Jews, or sympathetic to fascistic elements in Zionism. Extremes do meet.

So should we simply substitute the word 'fascist' for 'Nazi' in anti-BNP campaigns? Unfortunately, I don't think the BNP is really fascist, either. Fascism means espousing a lot of things, like military glory and massive accumulation of state power, that the BNP sniffs at these days. Whether or not it is sincere, it has become so good at playing this tune that it has even managed to con a significant section of libertarian opinion in the UK, like Sean Gabb, into supporting it, at least tacitly. So calling it fascist suffers the same liability of calling it Nazi: it's too easy for them to convince people they're not.

In the end, I think our best bet is simply to classify the contemporary BNP as a right-wing populist racist and xenophobic party, of no stable ideological substance beyond that. Don't try to fit it into a box in which it doesn't really belong, and will wriggle out of if accused. The truth about it is bad enough, without having to dress it up in an ideological costume drama from 1936.

'Racist' is good enough for me, adding 'xenophobe' when one needs to elaborate. And, of course, there's always 'thuggish' and 'criminal'. This sheep smells bad enough without having to tell people it's really a wolf.

Yo! Is Ohio Big?

Of course, it may be that life isn't fair because it's fixed. This is the article wrtten by Robert F. Kennedy Jr for Rolling Stone which makes a solid case for arguing that the 2004 US Presidential Election was stolen by the Bushites. Again, thanks to The Konformist.

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting
ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John
Kerry in the White House.
BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.,, Jun 01, 2006

The complete article, with Web-only citations, follows. Talk about
it in our National Affairs blog, or see exclusive documents,
sources, charts and commentary.

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election
watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls,
which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten
it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive
lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal
evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided
anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases
in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions,
did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington
Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy
theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no
evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that
something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of
the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their
ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the
Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to
file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul &
Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to
register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered
shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was
decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously
failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000
ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged
with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots
were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical
battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral
college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters
from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by
Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they
allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that
could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical
church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-
eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland
recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In
Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent
terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote

Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America's voting
system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county
and city officials. ''We didn't have one election for president in
2004,'' says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and
Election Management at American University. ''We didn't have fifty
elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000
independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.''

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was
their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt
John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the
evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a
massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in
2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party
stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to
fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in
Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of
them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have
their votes counted in 2004(12) -- more than enough to shift the
results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio's
Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from
the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote
in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not
listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented
flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn?t even
take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which
indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted
instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes --
enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)

''It was terrible,'' says Sen. Christopher Dodd, who helped craft
reforms in 2002 that were supposed to prevent such electoral
abuses. ''People waiting in line for twelve hours to cast their
ballots, people not being allowed to vote because they were in the
wrong precinct -- it was an outrage. In Ohio, you had a secretary of
state who was determined to guarantee a Republican outcome. I'm
terribly disheartened.''

Indeed, the extent of the GOP's effort to rig the vote shocked even
the most experienced observers of American elections. ''Ohio was as
dirty an election as America has ever seen,'' Lou Harris, the father
of modern political polling, told me. ''You look at the turnout and
votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in
those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They
stand out like a sore thumb.''

I. The Exit Polls
The first indication that something was gravely amiss on November
2nd, 2004, was the inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and
actual vote counts. Polls in thirty states weren't just off the
mark -- they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by
their margin of error. In all but four states, the discrepancy
favored President Bush.(16)

Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact
science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are
thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which
voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the
future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an
action they just executed. The results are exquisitely accurate:
Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by
more than three-tenths of one percent.(17) ''Exit polls are almost
never wrong,'' Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked
for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such
surveys are ''so reliable,'' he added, ''that they are used as
guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World
countries.''(18) In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in
the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down.(19)
And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine -- paid for by the
Bush administration -- exposed election fraud that denied Viktor
Yushchenko the presidency.(20)

But that same month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities
in the U.S. election, the six media organizations that had
commissioned the survey treated its very existence as an
embarrassment. Instead of treating the discrepancies as a story
meriting investigation, the networks scrubbed the offending results
from their Web sites and substituted them with ''corrected'' numbers
that had been weighted, retroactively, to match the official vote
count. Rather than finding fault with the election results, the
mainstream media preferred to dismiss the polls as flawed.(21)

''The people who ran the exit polling, and all those of us who were
their clients, recognized that it was deeply flawed,'' says Tom
Brokaw, who served as anchor for NBC News during the 2004
election. ''They were really screwed up -- the old models just don't
work anymore. I would not go on the air with them again.''

In fact, the exit poll created for the 2004 election was designed to
be the most reliable voter survey in history. The six news
organizations -- running the ideological gamut from CBS to Fox News -
- retained Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International,(22)
whose principal, Warren Mitofsky, pioneered the exit poll for CBS in
1967(23) and is widely credited with assuring the credibility of
Mexico's elections in 1994.(24) For its nationwide poll,
Edison/Mitofsky selected a random subsample of 12,219 voters(25) --
approximately six times larger than those normally used in national
polls(26) -- driving the margin of error down to approximately plus
or minus one percent.(27)

On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks
were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed,
had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309
electoral votes to Bush's 174, with fifty-five too close to call.
(28) In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating
his relationship with President-elect Kerry.(29)

As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls
showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states -- including
commanding leads in Ohio and Florida -- and winning by a million and
a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing
down Bush's neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North
Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of
Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.(31) ''Either the exit
polls, by and large, are completely wrong,'' a Fox News analyst
declared, ''or George Bush loses.''(32)

But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show
implausible disparities -- as much as 9.5 percent -- with the exit
polls. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins
departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift
favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating
Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election
results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also
tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in
Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.(33)

According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University
of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds
against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in
660,000. ''As much as we can say in sound science that something is
impossible,'' he says, ''it is impossible that the discrepancies
between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical
battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to
chance or random error.'' (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)

Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw
polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. ''I'm not
even political -- I despise the Democrats,'' he says. ''I'm a survey
expert. I got into this because I was mystified about how the exit
polls could have been so wrong.'' In his forthcoming book, Was the
2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and
the Official Count, Freeman lays out a statistical analysis of the
polls that is deeply troubling.

In its official postmortem report issued two months after the
election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its
methodology -- so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the
electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply
disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd(34) --
displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that
skewed the polls in Kerry's favor by a margin of 6.5 percent

Industry peers didn't buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation's
leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky's ''reluctant responder''
hypothesis is ''preposterous.''(36) Even Mitofsky, in his official
report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: ''It is difficult
to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters
were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman
and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the
theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who
were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election
Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found
that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey --
compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) ''The
data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate
it,'' observes Freeman, ''but actually contradicts it.''

What's more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit
polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In
precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote,
the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast,
in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the
exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent -- a
pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the
ballot box in Bush country.(39)

''When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data
that supports the supposition of election fraud,'' concludes
Freeman. ''The discrepancies are higher in battleground states,
higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with
greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in
states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these
are strong indicators of fraud -- and yet this supposition has been
utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party.''

The evidence is especially strong in Ohio. In January, a team of
mathematicians from the National Election Data Archive, a
nonpartisan watchdog group, compared the state's exit polls against
the certified vote count in each of the forty-nine precincts polled
by Edison/Mitofsky. In twenty-two of those precincts -- nearly half
of those polled -- they discovered results that differed widely from
the official tally. Once again -- against all odds -- the widespread
discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush's favor: In only two of
the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry.
The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky
numbered ''27,'' in order to protect the anonymity of those
surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received
sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified
tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds
against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.(40)

Such results, according to the archive, provide ''virtually
irrefutable evidence of vote miscount.'' The discrepancies, the
experts add, ''are consistent with the hypothesis that Kerry would
have won Ohio's electoral votes if Ohio's official vote counts had
accurately reflected voter intent.''(41) According to Ron Baiman,
vice president of the archive and a public policy analyst at Loyola
University in Chicago, ''No rigorous statistical explanation'' can
explain the ''completely nonrandom'' disparities that almost
uniformly benefited Bush. The final results, he adds,
are ''completely consistent with election fraud -- specifically vote

II. The Partisan Official
No state was more important in the 2004 election than Ohio. The
state has been key to every Republican presidential victory since
Abraham Lincoln's, and both parties overwhelmed the state with
television ads, field organizers and volunteers in an effort to
register new voters and energize old ones. Bush and Kerry traveled
to Ohio a total of forty-nine times during the campaign -- more than
to any other state.(42)

But in the battle for Ohio, Republicans had a distinct advantage:
The man in charge of the counting was Kenneth Blackwell, the co-
chair of President Bush's re-election committee.(43) As Ohio's
secretary of state, Blackwell had broad powers to interpret and
implement state and federal election laws -- setting standards for
everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct
of official recounts.(44) And as Bush's re-election chair in Ohio,
he had a powerful motivation to rig the rules for his candidate.
Blackwell, in fact, served as the ''principal electoral system
adviser'' for Bush during the 2000 recount in Florida,(45) where he
witnessed firsthand the success of his counterpart Katherine Harris,
the Florida secretary of state who co-chaired Bush's campaign there.

Blackwell -- now the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio(47) --
is well-known in the state as a fierce partisan eager to rise in
the GOP. An outspoken leader of Ohio's right-wing fundamentalists,
he opposes abortion even in cases of rape(48) and was the chief
cheerleader for the anti-gay-marriage amendment that Republicans
employed to spark turnout in rural counties(49). He has openly
denounced Kerry as ''an unapologetic liberal Democrat,''(50) and
during the 2004 election he used his official powers to
disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens in Democratic
strongholds. In a ruling issued two weeks before the election, a
federal judge rebuked Blackwell for seeking to ''accomplish the same
result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000.''(51)

''The secretary of state is supposed to administer elections -- not
throw them,'' says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Cleveland
who has dealt with Blackwell for years. ''The election in Ohio in
2004 stands out as an example of how, under color of law, a state
election official can frustrate the exercise of the right to vote.''

The most extensive investigation of what happened in Ohio was
conducted by Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House
Judiciary Committee.(52) Frustrated by his party's failure to follow
up on the widespread evidence of voter intimidation and fraud,
Conyers and the committee's minority staff held public hearings in
Ohio, where they looked into more than 50,000 complaints from voters.
(53) In January 2005, Conyers issued a detailed report that
outlined ''massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and
anomalies in Ohio.'' The problems, the report concludes,
were ''caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much
of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.''(54)

''Blackwell made Katherine Harris look like a cupcake,'' Conyers
told me. ''He saw his role as limiting the participation of
Democratic voters. We had hearings in Columbus for two days. We
could have stayed two weeks, the level of fury was so high.
Thousands of people wanted to testify. Nothing like this had ever
happened to them before.''

When ROLLING STONE confronted Blackwell about his overtly partisan
attempts to subvert the election, he dismissed any such claim
as ''silly on its face.'' Ohio, he insisted in a telephone
interview, set a ''gold standard'' for electoral fairness. In fact,
his campaign to subvert the will of the voters had begun long before
Election Day. Instead of welcoming the avalanche of citizen
involvement sparked by the campaign, Blackwell permitted election
officials in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo to conduct a massive
purge of their voter rolls, summarily expunging the names of more
than 300,000 voters who had failed to cast ballots in the previous
two national elections.(55) In Cleveland, which went five-to-one for
Kerry, nearly one in four voters were wiped from the rolls between
2000 and 2004.(56)

There were legitimate reasons to clean up voting lists: Many of the
names undoubtedly belonged to people who had moved or died. But
thousands more were duly registered voters who were deprived of
their constitutional right to vote -- often without any
notification -- simply because they had decided not to go to the
polls in prior elections.(57) In Cleveland's precinct 6C, where more
than half the voters on the rolls were deleted,(58) turnout was only
7.1 percent(59) -- the lowest in the state.

According to the Conyers report, improper purging ''likely
disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide.''(60) If only
one in ten of the 300,000 purged voters showed up on Election Day --
a conservative estimate, according to election scholars -- that is
30,000 citizens who were unfairly denied the opportunity to cast

III. The Strike Force
In the months leading up to the election, Ohio was in the midst of
the biggest registration drive in its history. Tens of thousands of
volunteers and paid political operatives from both parties canvassed
the state, racing to register new voters in advance of the October
4th deadline. To those on the ground, it was clear that Democrats
were outpacing their Republican counterparts: A New York Times
analysis before the election found that new registrations in
traditional Democratic strongholds were up 250 percent, compared to
only twenty-five percent in Republican-leaning counties.(61) ''The
Democrats have been beating the pants off us in the air and on the
ground,'' a GOP county official in Columbus confessed to The
Washington Times.(62)

To stem the tide of new registrations, the Republican National
Committee and the Ohio Republican Party attempted to knock tens of
thousands of predominantly minority and urban voters off the rolls
through illegal mailings known in electioneering jargon
as ''caging.'' During the Eighties, after the GOP used such mailings
to disenfranchise nearly 76,000 black voters in New Jersey and
Louisiana, it was forced to sign two separate court orders agreeing
to abstain from caging.(63) But during the summer of 2004, the GOP
targeted minority voters in Ohio by zip code, sending registered
letters to more than 200,000 newly registered voters(64) in sixty-
five counties.(65) On October 22nd, a mere eleven days before the
election, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett -- who also
chairs the board of elections in Cuyahoga County -- sought to
invalidate the registrations of 35,427 voters who had refused to
sign for the letters or whose mail came back as undeliverable.(66)
Almost half of the challenged voters were from Democratic
strongholds in and around Cleveland.(67)

There were plenty of valid reasons that voters had failed to respond
to the mailings: The list included people who couldn't sign for the
letters because they were serving in the U.S. military, college
students whose school and home addresses differed,(68) and more than
1,000 homeless people who had no permanent mailing address.(69) But
the undeliverable mail, Bennett claimed, proved the new
registrations were fraudulent.

By law, each voter was supposed to receive a hearing before being
stricken from the rolls.(70) Instead, in the week before the
election, kangaroo courts were rapidly set up across the state at
Blackwell's direction that would inevitably disenfranchise thousands
of voters at a time(71) -- a process that one Democratic election
official in Toledo likened to an ''inquisition.''(72) Not that
anyone was given a chance to actually show up and defend their right
to vote: Notices to challenged voters were not only sent out
impossibly late in the process, they were mailed to the very
addresses that the Republicans contended were faulty.(73) Adding to
the atmosphere of intimidation, sheriff's detectives in Sandusky
County were dispatched to the homes of challenged voters to
investigate the GOP's claims of fraud.(74)
1) Manual Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating, ''Latest Conspiracy Theory --
Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether,'' The Washington Post, November 11,

2) The New York Times Editorial Desk, ''About Those Election
Results,'' The New York Times, November 14, 2004.

3) United States Department of Defense, August 6, 2004.

4) Overseas Vote Foundation, ''2004 Post Election Survey Results,''
June 2005, page 11.

5) Jennifer Joan Lee, ''Pentagon Blocks Site for Voters Outside
U.S.,'' International Herald Tribune, September 20, 2004.

6) Meg Landers, ''Librarian Bares Possible Voter Registration
Dodge,'' Mail Tribune (Jackson County, OR), September 21, 2004.

7) Mark Brunswick and Pat Doyle, ''Voter Registration; 3 former
workers: Firm paid pro-Bush bonuses; One said he was told his job
was to bring back cards for GOP voters,'' Star Tribune (Minneapolis,
MN), October 27, 2004.

8) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election
Results for the U.S. President.

9) Ellen Theisen and Warren Stewart, Summary Report on New Mexico
State Election Data, January 4, 2005, pg. 2

James W. Bronsan, ''In 2004, New Mexico Worst at Counting Votes,''
Scripps Howard News Service, December 22, 2004. 10) ''A Summary of
the 2004 Election Day Survey; How We Voted: People, Ballots &
Polling Places; A Report to the American People by the United States
Election Assistance Commission'', September 2005, pg. 10.

11) Facts mentioned in this paragraph are subsequently cited
throughout the story.

12) See ''Ohio's Missing Votes''

13) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election
Results for the U.S. President.

14) Democratic National Committee, Voting Rights
Institute, ''Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio'', June
22, 2005. Page 5

15) See ''VIII. Rural Counties.''

16) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004'' prepared by
Edison Media Research and Mitofksy International for the National
Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3

17) This refers to data for German national elections in 1994, 1998
and 2002, previously cited by Steven F. Freeman.

18) Dick Morris, ''Those Faulty Exit Polls Were Sabotage,'' The
Hill, November 4, 2004.

19) Martin Plissner, ''Exit Polls to Protect the Vote,'' The New
York Times, October 17, 2004.

20) Matt Kelley, ''U.S. Money has Helped Opposition in Ukraine,''
Associated Press, December 11, 2004.

Daniel Williams, ''Court Rejects Ukraine Vote; Justices Cite Massive
Fraud in Runoff, Set New Election,'' The Washington Post, December
4, 2004.

21) Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, ''Was the 2004 Presidential
Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official
Count,'' Seven Stories Press, July 2006, Page 102.

22) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by
Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National
Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3.

23) Mitofsky International

24) Tim Golden, ''Election Near, Mexicans Question the
Questioners,'' The New York Times, August 10, 1994.

25) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by
Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National
Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 59.

26) Jonathan D. Simon, J.D., and Ron P. Baiman, Ph.D., ''The 2004
Presidential Election: Who Won the Popular Vote? An Examination of
the Comparative Validity of Exit Poll and Vote Count Data.'', December 29, 2004, P. 9

27) Analysis by Steven F. Freeman.

28) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134

29) Jim Rutenberg, ''Report Says Problems Led to Skewing Survey
Data,'' The New York Times, November 5, 2004.

30) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134

31) Analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Poll
Discrepancies. U.S. Count Votes. Baiman R, et al. March 31, 2005.
Page 3.

32) Notes From Campaign Trail, Fox News Network, Live Event, 8:00
p.m. EST, November 2, 2004.

33) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 101-102

34) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by
Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National
Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.

35) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 120.

36) Interview with John Zogby

37) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by
Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National
Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.

38) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 128.

39) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 130.

40) ''The Gun is Smoking: 2004 Ohio Precinct-level Exit Poll Data
Show Virtually Irrefutable Evidence of Vote Miscount,'' U.S. Count
Votes, National Election Data Archive, January 23, 2006.

41) ''The Gun is Smoking,'' pg. 16.

42) The Washington Post, ''Charting the Campaign: Top Five Most
Visited States,'' November 2, 2004.

43) John McCarthy, ''Nearly a Month Later, Ohio Fight Goes On,''
Associated Press Online, November 30, 2004.

44) Ohio Revised Code, 3501.04, Chief Election Officer''

45) Joe Hallett, ''Blackwell Joins GOP's Spin Team,'' The Columbus
Dispatch, November 30, 2004.

46) Gary Fineout, ''Records Indicate Harris on Defense,'' Ledger
(Lakeland, Florida), November 18, 2000.


48) Joe Hallett, ''Governor; Aggressive First Round Culminates
Tuesday,'' Columbus Dispatch, April 30, 2006.

49) Sandy Theis, ''Blackwell Accused of Breaking Law by Pushing Same-
Sex Marriage Ban,'' Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), October 29, 2004.

50) Raw Story, ''Republican Ohio Secretary of State Boasts About
Delivering Ohio to Bush.''

51) In the United States District Court For the Northern District of
Ohio Northern Division, The Sandusky County Democratic Party et al.
v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case No. 3:04CV7582, Page 8.

52) Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, Status Report of
the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff (Rep. John Conyers,
Jr.), January 5, 2005.

53) Preserving Democracy, pg. 8.

54) Preserving Democracy, pg. 4.

55) The board of elections in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton

56) Analysis by Richard Hayes Phillips, a voting rights advocate.

57) Fritz Wenzel, ''Purging of Rolls, Confusion Anger Voters; 41% of
Nov. 2 Provisional Ballots Axed in Lucas County,'' Toledo Blade,
January 9, 2005.

58) Analysis by Hayes Phillips.

59) Cuyahoga County Board of Elections

60) Preserving Democracy, pg. 6.

61) Ford Fessenden, ''A Big Increase of New Voters in Swing
States,'' The New York Times, September 26, 2004.

62) Ralph Z. Hallow, ''Republicans Go 'Under the Radar' in Rural
Ohio,'' The Washington Times, October 28, 2004.

63) Jo Becker, ''GOP Challenging Voter Registrations,'' The
Washington Post, October 29, 2004.

64) Janet Babin, ''Voter Registrations Challenged in Ohio,'' NPR,
All Things Considered, October 28, 2004.

65) In the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Ohio, Western Division, Amy Miller et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell,
Case no. C-1-04-735, Page 2.

66) Sandy Theis, ''Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP's Blanket Challenge
Backfires in a Big Way,'' Plain Dealer, October 31, 2004.

67) Daniel Tokaji, ''Early Returns on Election Reform,'' George
Washington Law Review, Vol. 74, 2005, page 1235

68) Sandy Theis, ''Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP's Blanket Challenge
Backfires in a Big Way,'' Plain Dealer, October 31, 2004.

69) Andrew Welsh-Huggins, ''Out of Country, Off Beaten Path; Reason
for Voting Challenges Vary,'' Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), October
27, 2004.

70) Ohio Revised Code; 3505.19

71) Directive No. 2004-44 from J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Sec'y of
State, to All County Boards of Elections Members, Directors, and
Deputy Directors 1 (Oct. 26, 2004).

72) Fritz Wenzel, ''Challenges Filed Against 931 Lucas County
Voters,'' Toledo Blade, October 27, 2004.

73) In the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Ohio, Western Division, Amy Miller et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell,
Case no. C-1-04-735, Page 4.

74) LaRaye Brown, ''Elections Board Plans Hearing For Challenges,''
The News Messenger, October 26, 2004.