BOOK COMMENTARY:

A Government Hijacked

Reviewed by William E. Betz
Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them)
by Mark Crispin Miller
364 pages; New York, Basic Books, 2005; $24.95 hardback

The basic premise of this book is extremely painful to admit in spite of the overwhelming proof: Our government has been hijacked by undemocratic forces that manipulated election results to reinstall the Bush administration.
There is no joy in this book. It documents in excruciating detail overwhelming evidence of the broad-ranging election fraud that took place in the United States in connection with the 2004 national election. Unfortunately, the reaction of the typical naïve American to the fact that the election was stolen by the right-wing Republicans who are currently in power in this country has been an insistent disbelief. The indisputable facts have been either roundly disputed or assiduously ignored by the mainstream print and broadcast media, and the proponents of this ugliest of truths have been relegated to the status of tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists.

The subject of this book is self-marginalizing. It utterly destroys the reflexive "It can't happen here" response of those of us who refuse to believe that it HAS happened here. I say "those of us" because acknowledgement of the basic premise of the book is the most revolutionary of thoughts for anyone who has learned to believe in the sanctity of our electoral system, and the basic premise is extremely painful to admit in spite of the overwhelming proof: Our government has been hijacked by undemocratic forces that manipulated election results to reinstall the Bush administration, an illegitimate administration initially installed by a Supreme Court decision that invalidated the results of the 2000 election, an administration dedicated to world domination and the destruction of American democracy, the U.S. Constitution and the individual rights that made this country the envy of striving people throughout the world.

"And what if it's true?" people ask. "What can we do?" Indeed, what can we do? Can we go on as before? Certainly not. Can we ignore it? No.

Why do we refuse to believe that it can happen here and, indeed, that it has happened here? The reason is that the inevitable conclusion that American democracy has been fatally compromised can lead to only one reaction: and that reaction is action. "And what if it's true?" people ask. "What can we do?" Indeed, what can we do? Can we go on as before? Certainly not. Can we ignore it? No. (Only the press can ignore it.) We as citizens have several options: vote the bastards out, have them removed by impeachment, or take up arms against them. Yet if elections, with the help of Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S and the other private machine proprietors and counters of votes, are permanently fixed, the first option is eliminated. In that case, we are truly doomed.

But, as Bush suggested in the days immediately following September 11, 2001, we have yet another option: we can go shopping. We can drink the Kool-Aid. Congress, by all indications, has opted for this most comfortable option. The author of this book thankfully has not.

Whether Bush is a Machiavellian manipulator of people or the unwitting beneficiary of forces far greater than he is...the conclusion is inescapable that he is getting away with murder, figuratively and literally, including the murder of our democracy and the murders of innocents caught up in his serial military adventures.

The author of Fooled Again (the title is based on Bush's famous garbling of a saying that should have come out "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," a saying Bush is psychologically incapable of repeating accurately [see The Bush Dyslexicon, by the same author]), Mark Crispin Miller, is an indefatigable democratic (small "d") activist on a level I've never previously seen in my lifetime, a lifetime that includes exposure to the work and ideals of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Miller seems to understand Bush. In the Dyslexicon and in a later book entitled Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order, Miller delves further into the psychology of this imposter than others are willing to do. And it is scary in there. Whether Bush is a Machiavellian manipulator of people or the unwitting beneficiary of forces far greater than he is, forces that include the religious right and defense, medical, pharmaceutical, petro-chemical and other dominant corporate interests, the conclusion is inescapable that he is getting away with murder, figuratively and literally, including the murder of our democracy and the murders of innocents caught up in his serial military adventures.

The American spirit is optimistic. We believe in the goodness of our government and its people. We believe that people who vote differently from us still play by the same rules. We are willing to endorse the results of elections that result in the election of candidates we did not support. This is the essence of democracy. This is also the fundamental weakness in our ability to acknowledge exactly what went on in 2004. The inescapable and terrifying fact is that the right-wing NeoCon branch of the Republican party, which includes religious and corporate interests that are motivated by something other than democracy, does not play by the rules. This was obvious in Florida in 2000, when Republican functionaries and activists and Bush campaign workers and PNAC suporters converged on state offices to force a halt to the vote recount. To them it was a game. It was the same game Segretti and Rove & Co. developed while they were in college, pretending to pursue an education they never received. And the only rule in this game is that there are no rules, that the ends always justify the means. If the preferred candidate is elected or installed by any means, then it doesn't matter how he gets there.

...if the Busheviks are inclined to steal elections or manipulate the vote counts, or suppress the vote, or engage in any kind of election mischief, their justification is that they are only doing what their opponents do--or would do, if they could get away with it. This is the essential justification in the minds of the people who are coldbloodedly destroying this country--to save it.

Miller hits the nail on the head in describing how Bush supporters, in this instance, and right-wing activists in general, are able to perpetuate their "dirty tricks" and how they are able to justify their activities in their own minds. The key is projection. Like lawless psychotics throughout history, the Busheviks and Republican evil-doers are able to persuade themselves that they are only doing what their opponents always do, are planning to do this time, and will or would do in the future if they, the defenders of liberty, let down their guard. They are right and their opponents are wrong. They are, they truly believe, motivated by higher values, and their opponents, conversely, are motivated by selfish interests. The Bushevik true believers "project" onto anyone who disagrees with them the same qualities and motivations that they themselves possess. Therefore, if the Busheviks are inclined to steal elections or manipulate the vote counts, or suppress the vote, or engage in any kind of election mischief, their justification is that they are only doing what their opponents do--or would do, if they could get away with it. This is the essential justification in the minds of the people who are coldbloodedly destroying this country--to save it.

We can't believe the election was stolen because it is too painful to admit. The co-opted press has dutifully fallen in line because it has been taught that to challenge this administration is to invite retaliation. Besides, it is now part of the corporate elite, and has other interests. A primary interest is going along to get along, not to upset its own comfort level. It is still "embedded," in every sense of the word, and promises to remain embedded. There are facts that exist, however, and facts will continue to be promulgated on the Internet and elsewhere. But the truth-tellers who actually care about facts and the truth will, by the same token, continue to be marginalized. Why? Simple: they do not control the debate.

This book belongs on the desk of every Congressman in this country, for every one of whom it should be required reading. But comfort, unfortunately, has also become a principal value of our elected national representatives. So they will not read it. They will not learn the painful truths that the author exposes, proves and insists be recognized. But there is, thankfully, the occasional John Conyers, and the occasional hero who will see and acknowledge the truth when it bites him in the nose. Let's hope one or two get bitten so we can reverse the disastrous course this country has taken without further delay.

If there is a modern Thomas Paine it is Mark Crispin Miller. His work deserves to be read and considered. Someone, purportedly Gloria Steinem, said "The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off." It had better.


William Betz is a lawyer practicing in New York. At the time of the 2000 election he was living in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Because he could not vote in the U.S. elections from that American territory (the reason is complicated), he blames himself for the 2000 debacle and Bush's theft of the presidency. He returned to New York in January 2002 and has been actively engaged since then in a small way in trying to educate a complacent populace to the fascist putsch now going on in America. His hero is Mark Crispin Miller. He may be reached at BetzLaw@aol.com.



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This story was published on December 21, 2005.