Click.  Of Bush, the Harris Rumor and James Baker's Junta by Ron Rosenbaum © 2000, The New York Observer




Click. Florida Vote Fraud: ORANGE YOU GLAD THEY'RE COUNTING BY HAND? by Martin Cannon © 2000

by Linda Minor © 2000

By Virginia McCullough, The BayCities Observer.


Internal investigation underway at LAPD over teen kidnapping
Associated Press © 11/30/00

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- An internal affairs investigation is underway at the Los Angeles Police Department into the handling of a 911 call from a woman who says she saw 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz getting kidnapped two days before he was killed, police said.

County grand jury transcripts released this week include statements from a woman who was returning from church Aug. 6 in the West Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles when she saw the boy getting beaten by four youths and thrown in a van.

Pauline Ann Mahoney and her children repeated the van's license plate number to themselves until they got home, then immediately called police. At least one LAPD officer later went to Mahoney's house and took down the number, Mahoney told the grand jury in transcripts reviewed by the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Five people were charged with the abduction and murder of the San Fernando Valley teen-ager, who was killed Aug. 8 after being held two days in Santa Barbara. The crime allegedly was orchestrated by 20-year-old Jesse James Hollywood, who remains a fugitive, because of a drug debt owed by Markowitz's older brother.

Police did not confiscate the van until Aug. 29.

Capt. Jim Cansler said an internal affairs investigation was launched Sept. 5 into how officers responded to Mahoney's call. He said that because of the ongoing investigation, he could not comment on what was done with the license plate number.

A second 911 call was placed by another witness to Markowitz's kidnapping, police said, but grand jury transcripts shed no light on it.

Grand jurors were also told that more than 20 people -- from young men and women to Hollywood's attorney and father -- were aware of the kidnapping in the two days before Markowitz was shot. Instead of informing police, however, they chose to ignore it or urged the kidnappers to return him home.

None of those who failed to call police will be charged, said Ron Zonen, senior deputy district attorney for the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office.

"Simply knowing that a crime is being committed does not mean that you're guilty of that crime," he told The Associated Press. Many of them also were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony, he said.

The abduction and killing allegedly were over a $36,000 drug debt the teen-ager's brother, 22-year-old Benjamin Markowitz, owed Hollywood.

Hikers found Nicholas Markowitz's body Aug. 12 in a shallow grave in Los Padres National Forest north of Santa Barbara. Authorities said he had been shot nine times.

Four people, ranging in age from 17 to 21, were arrested and have pleaded innocent to kidnapping and murder. Authorities believe Hollywood participated in the kidnapping but was not present during the killing.

Hollywood called his attorney, Stephen Hogg of Simi Valley, a few hours after the Sunday afternoon abduction, according to the transcripts.

Hogg called Hollywood's parents and a close family friend, John Roberts, 68. But they were unable to persuade Hollywood to let Markowitz go or to turn himself in, Roberts testified.

Even after Markowitz was killed, more than a week passed before anyone contacted authorities.


By Bev Conover © Onlinejournal 11/29/00

November 29, 2000 | In the ever-escalating revelations about Election 2000, two more potential bombshells for the Republicans turned up in our mailbox this morning: What appears to be vote tampering in Georgia and an effort by the media to cover up Florida Governor Jeb Bush's and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's alleged adulterous affair.

Apologies if this sounds like Drudge sludge, but, unlike the notorious Matt, we don't make this stuff up and the implications of a Jeb-Harris affair go beyond anything Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky did. The Florida governor, after all, is the brother of the Texas governor who has anointed himself president-elect thanks to Harris who certified him as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes.

But first the Georgia incident in the words of our source:

The machine they sent me to was not working properly.  That's the first time this has ever happened to me.  No matter how hard I punched, I couldn't get the needle to go through to make a hole at all (yet, curiously, there was a satisfying but erroneous sound as if the needle were going all the way through).  Then, imagine my surprise when I pulled out the only partially-punched ballot to check it, numbers against names, only to find that the machine had deftly misaligned my card so that I had voted for one person above each name I had actually intended, including that it made me vote for shrub for prez.  I was shocked beyond words!  I could NOT believe this had happened.  I immediately sought a new ballot, complained about the machine, and wondered what the hell was going on that they left an obviously defective machine in place all day like that...  The poll workers said that our poll had long lines all day; and that this machine had been "working fine all day -- as far as [they] knew."

I've voted all over the country, never missed a chance once ever since I was legal to vote, and I'm 50 now -- such an odd thing has never happened.  Then, the poll workers said, no problem, they would tell people "'not to use the machine, that it indeed was broken."  Ah, but they did nothing to take it out of action (they did not move it back, cover it, put a sign on it, nothing).  It stayed right there in the middle of the other machines, obviously to be left in full use.  I felt powerless to do anything more about it.  The poll was rather busy and confused, so I took some names, as this distressed me.

And as I left the poll, I had an eerie feeling.  I was quite struck by the whole thing in a very funny way (intuition?).  This was still election day (late afternoon), before all the other stories started pouring in.  You can imagine how I felt when I heard what had happened to others. 

Do I believe there was a concerted effort to have some machines rigged so that the ballot goes askew, making you vote for the wrong candidate (such as Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan in [Palm Beach County] Florida)?  You bet.  Not a doubt in my mind that all of this cannot possibly be 'coincidence,' or old and imperfect machines, or confused people, or anything regular at all.  Not a doubt in my mind.

An isolated incident? Coincidence? Either seems a stretch in view of what we know happened in Florida. The corporatist major media, though, are playing deaf, dumb and blind about what went on in other states, while letting every Republican hack repeat the lie ad nauseum how the Florida vote was counted, recounted and counted again – that is, when the media aren't beating the Bush drum to force Al Gore into conceding.

Little by little, it's all seeping out. Florida. Texas. Georgia. Tennessee…

The Tennessee Tribune reported:

African-American voters in Nashville cited missing pages in books at Gra-Mar Elementary voting precinct.  African-Americans in Chattanooga, Brownsville, and Maury County reportedly went to vote at familiar spots, then found that suddenly these locations were no longer designated voting sites.  Some voters in Memphis have signed and submitted affidavits saying that they were turned away despite having proper credentials, and that rosters were being purged of eligible voters.  Memphis has also reportedly been one location where voters who participated in the motor-voter registration program were not allowed to vote either if they didn't know their particular precinct or their names couldn't be found on the list.

There are also several reports of mistreatment involving students in Nashville and Wilson County.  Some student voters in Wilson County charged they were told to either remove NAACP signs from their vehicles or move their vans from the premises.  Nashville students assert they were denied the chance to vote although they were registered.

Some voters have even reported incidents that smack of overt discrimination.  African-Americans cited one instance in Murfreesboro where white voters were placed ahead of a black women, and an official reportedly said, "You (African-Americans) know what it means to sit at the back of the bus."

If the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of voters wasn't enough, another source alleges, "Newsweek is sitting on allegations that Jeb Bush and Kat Harris have had an adulterous affair" and that CNN has instructed its newswriters "not to report the affair."

The source claimed the following was issued "Tuesday in cnni.readme (a constantly updated file on CNN's computer network):"


Newsweek has an item on an alleged personal relationship among two of the top players in Florida. Under NO circumstances should this be reported on CNN without the approval of senior management.

We'd also recommend that we be prepared in case this gets brought up during a live interview or news conference.

If this allegation proves to be true and even the Bushes can't keep it buried forever, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why George W. and the Republicans are screaming for Gore to concede. Surely even William Bennett would scream, "Where's the outrage?" if Jeb Bush, who promised to deliver Florida to his big brother, and Katherine Harris, who had the gall to tell the Florida Supreme Court it was wrong as she brazenly certified the election results to give George W. Florida's 25 electoral votes, were sleeping together.

"CNN and the rest of the media are digging hard -- but they're squelching it from the public until they can cover their tails," said our source.


Justice Scalia stated during the Supreme Court hearing on December 1, 2000: “I believe the Florida Supreme Court to be saying, ‘Having determined what the legislative intent is, we find that our State Constitution trumps that legislative intent.’

Scalia concludes,

“I see no other way to read it, and that seems to me to be a real problem, under article two (of the US Constitution). THERE IS NO RIGHT OF SUFFRAGE UNDER ARTICLE TWO. That article makes it clear that the legislature itself can appoint the electors.”

Justice Scalia spoke plainly that as far as he and probably his right wing supporters (Rehnquist and the silent Clarence Thomas) are concerned, the Presidential election is a matter for the State Legislatures to determine, and there is no right to 'VOTE" (suffrage means VOTE) under Article II in Presidential elections.  Don't kid yourself.  The right-wingers on the Supreme Court want to strip Americans of the "one man one vote" franchise and want to strip Americans of  the right to vote itself in this election for President.  As far as Scalia is concerned the drug-soaked, money-laundering, Florida legislature, overwhelmingly owned and operated by the Bush family, via surrogate Jeb, can chose the next President.   


Lito Pena is sure of his memory. Thirty-six years ago he, then a Democratic Party poll watcher, got into a shoving match with a Republican who had spent the opening hours of the 1964 election doing his damnedest to keep people from voting in south Phoenix. "He was holding up minority voters because he knew they were going to vote Democratic," said Pena. The guy called himself Bill. He knew the law and applied it with the precision of a swordsman. He sat at the table at the Bethune School, a polling place brimming with black citizens, and quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they'd lived there -- every question in the book. A passage of the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote. By the time Pena arrived at Bethune, he said, the line to vote was four abreast and a block long. People were giving up and going home. Pena told the guy to leave. They got into an argument. Shoving followed. Arizona politics can be raw. Finally, Pena said, the guy raised a fist as if he was fixing to throw a punch I said 'If that's what you want, I'll get someone to take you out of here' "

"Party leaders told him not to get physical, but this was the second straight election in which Republicans had sent out people to intellectually rough up the voters. The project even had a name: Operation Eagle Eye. Pena had a group of 20 iron workers holed up in a motel nearby. He dispatched one who grabbed Bill and hustled him out of the school....Pena went on to serve 30 years in the Arizona State Legislature. Stevens became a prosperous and well-regarded lawyer in Phoenix and helped Sandra Day O'Connor get her start in law. The guy Pena remembers tossing out of Bethune School prospered, too. Bill Rehnquist, now better known as William H. Rehnquist, chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, presided yesterday over a case that centers on whether every vote for president was properly recorded in the state of Florida. In his confirmation hearings for the court in 1971, Rehnquist denied personally intimidating voters and gave the explanation that he might have been called to polling places on Election Day to arbitrate disputes over voter qualifications. Fifteen years later, three more witnesses, including a deputy U.S. attorney, told of being called to polling places and having angry voters point to Rehnquist as their tormentor." --Dennis Roddy, © 12/2/00

Dear Editor of NewsMakingNews:

Thank you for providing some of the best election coverage from both
conventional and alternative media sources.

While on occasions not delving into some of the wicked details, on other occasions "The New York Times" leads the way.  Where else can one find a county-by-county breakdown in Florida that shows the heavily democratic counties saddled with punch card ballots (with a 1.3% undervote rate) compared to the republican counties using optical scanners (with a .3% undervote).  One clearly sees why Gore has every legal basis for selecting the counties he did for recounts.

The New York Times is available on line at  Today's EDITORIALS are particularly noteworthy ...

A fan

By the Editorial Board © 24 November 2000, World Socialist Web

The frenzied response of the Bush campaign and its allies in the media to Tuesday's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court has highlighted a political fact of immense significance: the Republican Party has become the organ of extreme right-wing forces that are prepared to use extra-parliamentary and violent methods to achieve their aims.

Spokesmen for George W. Bush and pro-Republican media outlets reacted to the court's decision, which simply affirmed the constitutional requirement that all votes be fairly counted, with calls for the Florida legislature to defy the court and appeals to the military of a semi-insurrectionary character.

The barrage of lies and misinformation—charging the court with “changing the rules” and “rewriting the election statutes,” denouncing Democratic candidate Al Gore as a thug out to steal the election, appealing to racist and anti-Semitic sentiments—had its intended effect. On Wednesday morning a mob of Bush supporters besieged the Miami/Dade County board of canvassers, grabbing a Democratic lawyer and threatening to assault those involved in manually recounting the ballots. A few hours later the Democratic-controlled board announced it was abandoning its recount, effectively disenfranchising hundreds of Gore supporters whose votes were not registered in the original machine tally.

The official responses of the Gore and Bush campaigns to the court ruling provided a stark contrast. Gore went on national television late Tuesday to appeal for a show of national unity and a public commitment by the Bush campaign to abide by the ultimate result of the Florida recount. Repeating his offer to meet with his Republican opponent, Gore spoke as a bourgeois politician worried over the prospect of an open breach within the political establishment that could undermine an orderly transfer of power, with unpredictable and potentially explosive consequences.

Bush's representative, former Secretary of State James Baker, did not even bother to acknowledge Gore's appeals for unity or his offer to meet with the Texas governor. Instead he denounced the Supreme Court ruling as “unacceptable” and incited the Republican-controlled state legislature to defy the court, saying, “One should not now be surprised if the Florida legislature seeks to affirm the original rules.”

Baker was taking his cue from the Wall Street Journal, which had editorialized in advance of the court decision: “The legislature has an option, it seems to us a duty, to make clear that it stands ready to resolve any dispute between Mrs. Harris [the Republican Secretary of State and co-chair of the Bush campaign in Florida] and the Supreme Court Democrats. Since the Republicans now solidly control the legislature, they hold the winning hand.”

Paralleling its role in the impeachment conspiracy against Bill Clinton, the Wall Street Journal has served as the mouthpiece for the extreme-right forces that have sought from election day on to pollute public opinion with wild accusations and disinformation and hijack the election for the Republicans. It has spearheaded the effort to foster a veritable mutiny within the military against a possible Gore victory, using as the pretext the rejection of several hundred legally deficient absentee ballots from overseas military personnel.

On Wednesday the Journal carried an incendiary column entitled “The Democratic Party's War on the Military.” Calling the exclusion of the military ballots “one more battle in the ongoing culture war between the core of the Democratic Party and the US military,” the column exuded racism, homophobia and hatred for the working class. The author spoke of the “twitching carcass” of the Democratic Party's “left”—“teachers' unions, feminist activists, gay victimologists, black churches, faculty clubs.”

As the election crisis has progressed, thinly disguised appeals to racism and anti-Semitism have with increasing frequency appeared in the broadsides of Bush supporters. Republican backers have seized on the role of Jesse Jackson to whip up anti-black prejudice and fastened on the large number of Jewish retirees in Palm Beach to galvanize their fundamentalist partisans.

The Journal has not refrained from such methods. In the editorial cited above it employed loaded terms to take a swipe at Florida's Jewish population, charging that Mrs. Harris is “under fire for being a Southern aristocrat rather than a New York sophisticate.” It went on to denounce the Democrats for “import[ing] Jesse Jackson for some race-baiting.”

The editorial as a whole was a call for the Republican Party to forego traditional constitutional restraints in its drive to capture the White House. It concluded with a barely disguised injunction for a victorious Bush campaign to fashion an administration along authoritarian lines:

“The conventional wisdom is that if with this hassle Governor Bush does become President he will be a crippled one. Perhaps. But we find it equally plausible that facing down the kind of assault now being waged in Florida would be precisely the best preparation for what may lie ahead. It is Governor Bush's nature to extend the velvet glove, but he will be much more successful if he and his party can show that within it there is some steel.”

Significantly, the editorial was entitled “The Squeamish GOP?” The Journal chooses its words advisedly, in this case employing a term that connotes an aversion to bloodshed. The meaning of the newspaper's editors was unmistakable—a Republican president must be prepared to use violence and repression to impose its reactionary social agenda. Gaining the White House by suppressing votes and riding roughshod over the popular will is an excellent preparation for dealing with “what may lie ahead”—i.e., widespread popular opposition.

It is high time to stop masking the character of the Republican right with the complacent term “conservative.” These are fascistic elements who are breaking with the traditional methods of bourgeois democracy.

There is a logic to politics. Once influential sections of the ruling elite conclude they cannot achieve their aims through democratic means and take the path of conspiracy and repression, they are well on the way to civil war.

It is not here a matter of predicting the imminent imposition of a military dictatorship. But it would be the height of folly to ignore the signposts of such a danger looming ahead. If the campaign the Republicans are waging to gain the White House begins to resemble a covert operation akin to those mounted by the CIA against US imperialism's liberal and leftist opponents in Latin America—for example, in Chile—then it must follow that an option under serious consideration is the Pinochet solution. No one should doubt that Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley and the reactionaries on his staff are already working out the arguments to justify the use of violence against their political opponents and the working class.

The Wall Street Journal speaks for powerful sections of American big business. These forces within the financial elite have increasingly adopted the standpoint of the extreme right, and sponsored, financially and otherwise, the growth of this fascistic element, precisely because they have come to realize that they cannot impose their social agenda through normal democratic channels.

They rely on the right-wing rabble that populate the corporate-controlled media to conceal their anti-democratic aims and fill the airwaves with half-truths and lies. Their strength does not lie in any great popular support—on the contrary, their support in the general population is marginal.

Rather, the strength of the Republican right consists in the fact that it articulates more consistently and uncompromisingly than any other bourgeois political grouping the requirements of the American corporate elite. The radical right knows what it wants and is prepared to ride roughshod over public opinion in order to get it. The Republicans do not play by the normal constitutional rules, while their bourgeois opponents in the Democratic Party wring their hands as impotent and passive onlookers. They embody a demoralized liberalism, whose watered-down perspective of reform has been discarded by the ruling class.

At the same time the Republican right senses that it has a narrow window of opportunity for realizing its ambitions. It was staggered by the results of the election, which registered a victory in the popular vote for Gore and, if the intent of Florida voters were officially acknowledged, a Democratic victory in the electoral vote as well. The combined vote for Gore and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader showed, broadly speaking, that a significant majority of the electorate supported policies of a liberal and leftist character, and opposed the increasingly naked domination of corporate power over American politics.

A look at the electoral map underscores the fact that the overall trajectory of American society does not favor the forces of the radical right. Bush piled up the vast majority of his electoral votes in the more backward and rural regions of the country—the South, the Southwest, sections of the Midwest. The more urbanized, industrialized, densely populated and culturally vibrant regions went for Gore. Within this general scheme, the decisive pro-Gore margin in the popular vote was provided by blacks and other highly oppressed sections of the working class, whose vote expressed deep distrust of the Republicans and a determination to defend past gains in civil rights and social conditions.

Moreover, the economic conditions fostering the rise of nouveau riche layers that comprise a critical component of the Republican right's social base are clearly receding. The stock market boom, based to a considerable extent on speculative capital, parasitism and outright swindling, is breaking up, leaving in its wake a society more economically polarized than at any other period in the past half-century, and a spectacle of corporate greed and criminality of unprecedented dimensions.

The response of the Republican right is growing hysteria. Its frenzy and recklessness bespeak a rebellion by a minority that feels it must stake all on immediate victory, because its future prospects are dwindling. The Republicans sense that the 2000 election is their best, and perhaps last, chance to seize hold of all the branches of government. If they lose the White House, they face the prospect of internal warfare and political disintegration.

Notwithstanding the many obvious differences, there are striking parallels between the political crisis arising from the 2000 election and the convulsive period that led up to the Civil War of 1861. One of these is the similarity in psychology and methods between the Republican right of today and the political representatives of the Southern slave owners 150 years ago. In both cases, the most reactionary social forces in the nation were driven by a sense of desperation, arising from the fact that the momentum of historical development was moving against them, to employ the most provocative and reckless methods.

One great difference, to extend the historical analogy, is the absence within any faction of bourgeois politics today of a force either willing or able to take on and defeat the radical right. As they have repeatedly demonstrated, the flaccid ranks of liberalism, institutionalized in the Democratic Party, are organically incapable of waging a serious struggle in defense of democratic rights. That task now falls to the working class, which must construct its own mass, socialist party to carry it out.

See Also:

The US Elections: Democrats bow to bullying from the Republican right
[23 November 2000]

Right to vote upheld in Florida Supreme Court decision on recounts
[23 November 2000]

Hand recounts in the US elections: fact and fiction
[21 November 2000]

Florida presidential recount: Bush campaign makes appeal to military and extreme right [20 November 2000]

by Ron Rosenbaum © 2000, The New York Observer


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"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." attributed to Communist Tyrant Josef Stalin.

Of Bush, the Harris Rumor and James Baker's Junta
by Ron Rosenbaum © 2000, The New York Observer

The world will little note, nor long remember, this petty crime. It was accomplished in a small county under cover of darkness—or at least beneath the cloak of confusion that the clash over votes in the larger counties afforded.

You might have overlooked it; references to it were buried in the midst of a long piece on a jump page in the Saturday, Nov. 25 New York Times. It involved a decision by the election board of Nassau County, “a Republican enclave in Florida’s northeast corner.” With no legal notice, the Republican election board head threw out the results of the legally mandated machine re-count. There were no hand-count or hanging-chad issues here; this was the automatic re-count every Florida county was required to perform the day after the election because of the closeness of the vote.

The legally mandated re-count had slightly increased Al Gore’s totals. The county board’s decision to discard the re-count and certify the original count, The Times reported, “cost Mr. Gore 52 votes.” Not much, but enough—if included with other re-count totals in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade that were also excluded—to give Mr. Gore a nine-vote lead, his lawyers claimed.

And why this sudden last-minute decision to ignore the re-count total? “Ms. [Shirley] King [the Republican election-board head] acted on advice from Ms. [Katherine] Harris, the secretary of state who was also co-chairwoman of the Bush campaign in Florida .... [Ms. Harris] advised Ms. King she could certify either count....”

Hey, why not? Nobody’s looking. You go, girl! It’s just a few votes. If it feels good, do it. Does anyone doubt that if the county board had wanted to add votes for Al Gore, Ms. Harris would have laughed at a last- minute switch?

Well, at the last minute, some Democrat in the sleepy burg woke up and protested this little emblematic act of pure theft, and it’s likely to be included in the lawsuit contesting the Florida election along with Miami-Dade County’s aborted recount. But the Gore challenge is likely to fail or run out of time, and it doesn’t seem likely that those votes will ever be restored or the theft punished.

The late Lars-Erik Nelson characterized the post-election tactics used by Ms. Harris and the Bush campaign in Florida as “a mugging.” When you consider the massive pre-election fraud in Seminole County—in which Republican registrars altered thousands of absentee-ballot applications in order to qualify G.O.P. voters and disqualify Democrats—you could call it a Republican wilding. If you want to know the truth, I blame the Bush campaign for the death of Nelson, one of the best journalists in America, someone who deserves a posthumous Pulitzer not just for his powerful, skeptical reporting on the Wen Ho Lee case, but for his consistently brilliant and iconoclastic commentary over the course of a career.

Nelson saw what was going on in Florida early on, and he didn’t see it with any equanimity: One of his colleagues at the Daily News called him on the day of his death, the afternoon of the televised Florida Supreme Court argument, and recalled Nelson crying out, “I can’t believe they said that!” over some outrageous assertion by the lawyers for Ms. Harris and Mr. Bush.

A few hours later, he was found in front of his television set, dead of a stroke. No one will convince me it was unrelated. I know the experience of watching developments in Florida—and I would venture to guess that no one in America has devoted (or wasted) more hours to nonstop “all re-count all the time” TV than I have—has frequently driven my blood pressure to dangerous, if not yet stroke-like, levels.

Yes, I’ve become a partisan—not out of any admiration for that patronizing robot Al Gore, but because of the infuriating arrogance and self-righteousness of the Bush-Baker-Harris operation. Their smarmy piety about “the rule of law” until the law rules against them. Their willingness to use the Big Lie (“I have exercised due discretion”; “The votes have been counted and re-counted and re-counted again,” when in fact the issue in dispute are the tens of thousands of votes that demonstrably inadequate machines failed to register). And, as the Nassau County episode demonstrates, their willingness to countenance outright theft.

But again, it probably won’t matter, the Nassau County theft. The decks are stacked against a Gore lawsuit to contest the election. The Democratic Party mediocrities who don the spurious mantle of “statesmen” will come out of the woodwork this week to urge “closure” on Mr. Gore and Mr. Boies. Senator Bob (“Profile in Courage”) Torricelli was the first out of the box and into the tank. They’ll all be eager to get the approbation of the edit-page pundits, who are ever ready to stand up for national niceness and bring-us-together platitudes. Too many statesmen and their pundit lackeys and nannies will urge Mr. Gore to drop the fight, will urge us all to ignore the thefts, the putsch-like behavior of the Republican mob that terrified the Miami-Dade re-count officials into fleeing from their responsibility (no matter how they’ve changed their story now to deny their cowardice). As Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt pointed out the day after Katherine Harris’ certification, we will eventually know the truth about the 9,000-plus undercounted Miami votes. Florida’s Freedom of Information Act will sooner or later make those ballots available for inspection—probably after it’s too late to prevent the inauguration of the wrong man. But the pundits say, “Time to pack it in and forget it all.” Just when it’s getting good; just when we’re seeing the true snarling face of the illegitimate Bush Presidency. I say pursue the facts, pursue the truth to the bitter end.

So let’s linger for a moment on that little operation in Nassau County, on this ugly new evidence of extralegal intervention by Katherine Harris. Some will say the story’s moved on beyond her. Some might say that the more urgent, egregious issue—the one that sealed the Big Steal—was the mob intimidation of the Miami-Dade counting board. The ignorant army whipped to a frenzy by the demagoguery of the pinstriped thug, James Baker, and the Austin pinhead in chief, the mob that invaded the Miami re-count site and engaged in the kind of threatening behavior that may well have changed American history by denying Gore the legally mandated hand re-count there. The first Presidential election to be won by a mob, a mob we’ve now learned (from the Nov. 27 Wall Street Journal) was bought and paid for (and put up in Hiltons) by G.O.P. House whip Tom DeLay.

(One of the most sickening examples of the Big Lie tactics employed by the Bush campaign and their camp followers is the utterly irrelevant comparison of the Miami-Dade invasion to Jesse Jackson’s street demonstrations in Palm Beach. The Jackson dem-onstrators did not invade, break the windows and pound violently on the doors of re-count officials; they didn’t surround and harass an official legal observer from the other side, or punch and kick people in the vicinity of the count, as the Miami mob did.)

So yes, the story has moved on from Katherine Harris—although she briefly returned to center stage on Nov. 26 to deny the Palm Beach election board a chance to include their marathon count in the total, and then staged her junta-like Sunday-night certification spectacle after taking a few last shots at the Florida Supreme Court (and signing off with a fervent “God bless America”).

Let’s linger a bit more on Ms. Harris, because it’s clear she’s been busy as a bee backstage, helping to engineer the clandestine operation in Nassau County and smuggling the apparently illicit acceptance of absentee-ballot Bush votes in several scattered counties into the final count.

I’ve felt from the beginning that the ridicule of Ms. Harris’ appearance was sexist, ageist and looks-ist. And perhaps a new phenomenon—makeup-ist..Mascara Marx-ism: the belief, most explicitly articulated in a catty makeup analysis in the Washington Post Style section, that bad makeup decisions are a sure sign of bad politics. As if a failure to be styled by Kevin Aucoin disqualifies one from being taken seriously (when often the opposite is true).

If the makeup matter is a red herring— and I believe it is—the question of Ms. Harris’ naked partisanship and its source is not. Because it has been so excessive and self-destructive, and did so much damage initially to her own cause, it has given rise to some wild theories to explain it. That’s the only way to explain what I’ll call “The Rumor.” The Rumor is also worth examining (or at least mentioning) as an index of the way America is still divided into two nations: Media and Media Consumers. Almost everyone in the media I know has heard The Rumor, and yet only one paragraph about it has appeared in print.

It’s an index as well of the partisanship of rumorology. Think of all the rumors about Hillary and Bill the right-wing press has rushed into print without corroboration, up to and including murder.

It’s interesting: If it were a rumor about Hillary, you know Matt Drudge would have rushed into print with it. He would have justified it by saying that people at The Times are buzzing about The Rumor but refusing to print it because they’re all liberals. Well, people at The Times are buzzing about the Harris Rumor, and I suspect Matt Drudge himself knows about it. I wonder, why his sudden attack of reticence? Could it be because she’s a Republican?

Personally, I think reporting on rumors and the agendas behind them can be a legitimate subject of journalism, or at least of cultural history. The kind of rumors that fly about in times of national crisis, true or not, are often valuable clues to deeper currents in the national psyche. Someday after someone else prints The Rumor, I may have more to say on the matter. For the moment, I will merely quote one paragraph from a New York Times story on Katherine Harris which, a source at The Times told me, was an oblique and laundered reference to The Rumor—and part of a paragraph from the New York Post.

Just to put it in context, I first heard The Rumor when a woman I know called and told me that “everyone at The Times is buzzing about it.” When I spoke to someone at The Times I was told that, yes, in fact everyone was talking about it, and I was referred to the cryptic paragraph in the Monday, Nov. 20 edition of The Times, the third paragraph in a profile of Katherine Harris headlined “A Human Lightning Rod In a Vote-Counting Storm.” A paragraph that read:

“She is reviled by some as Gov. Jeb Bush’s ignorant puppet (actually, far more unflattering terms have been used) and heralded by others as an icon of grace and courage.”

“Far more unflattering terms”? As in Jeb’s “extremely ignorant puppet”? I’m not going to say any more. I will leave The Rumor—which I’m told is now being investigated by The Washington Post and other newspapers and newsweeklies—buried in those parentheses for now, except to add this item from Neal Travis’ Nov. 22 column in the New York Post: “I hear that some major magazines—and I don’t mean the tabloids—are delving deeply into [The Rumor about] Katherine Harris.”

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that those on the right who profess to be horrified by the treatment of Katherine Harris should now rethink and repent their savage treatment of Hillary. The fact that major news outlets may be investigating The Rumor doesn’t mean there’s any truth to it. And I don’t think I would have mentioned The Rumor at all if the news of this most recent, most egregious petty theft in Nassau County hadn’t revealed that, even after the Florida Supreme Court rebuffed her, Ms. Harris has been relentlessly maneuvering for every advantage behind the scenes. Jeb’s “ignorant puppet”? More like Jeb’s ventriloquist; she’s the one pulling the Bush brothers’ strings.

Have I become too much of a partisan? Am I seeing only one side of this amazing story? Have I lost my skeptical Mysterian detachment? I have to admit I’ve found myself in a constant state of outrage ever since the 24-hour period that began with James (“Generalissimo”) Baker’s snarling, sneering midnight press conference, the moment the mask dropped from the Bush campaign (as it did once before, when they savaged John McCain in South Carolina), the moment when this thuggish mouthpiece capped his distorted and dishonest denunciation of the just-announced Flor-ida Supreme Court decision with a threat to abrogate the democratic voting process entirely by a resort to the Republican legislature to overturn any result he didn’t like, electoral or judicial.

Baker’s vicious diatribe against judicial review kicked off a shameful period of demagoguery and mob intimidation that seems to have won the election for George Bush by extralegal means. The Day of the Big Steal.

Baker’s Big Lie—that the Florida Su-preme Court “rewrote the law,” when it was merely trying to reconcile two conflicting laws—was echoed by his pinhead boss in Austin the following day, when George W., looking ever more like a hollow, wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, emerged from his rigorous schedule of workouts and games of fetch with his dog Spot to display his ignorance of the American judicial system. (One of the late-night comics said that George W. turned to playing fetch with Spot “after he lost two out of three to him in Scrabble.”)

The court used “legalistic language,” George W. claimed. Um, excuse me, George W.— courts often use what is known as legal language when they’re interpreting the law. Just because words of more than one syllable confuse you doesn’t mean they were designed to confuse. The “legalistic language” (does anyone believe he actually even tried to read it?) “rewrote the law,” George W. whined—thus delegitimizing the routine work of the judicial system, which is to interpret and reconcile the law.

But it was this poisonous and ignorant demagoguery, I’m convinced, that in the hours following the Florida Supreme Court decision helped whip the equally ignorant Republican mob into storming the Miami-Dade re-count site, frightening the election workers off their job and thereby hijacking the election by force.

I know Representative Jerry Nadler was going way too far when he said this sequence of events had “the whiff of fascism” about it. But the midnight threat of extra-legal means to delegitimize the judicial process by the pinstriped thug, and the ignorant echoing of it by the Austin pinhead, must be held accountable for the “mob action” (Joe Lieberman’s words) that followed and sealed the Big Steal. The mask is off, and beneath the mask I don’t see “fascism”—but I did get a Costa-Gavras vibe. Mr. Baker’s snarling thuggish rage, his poison-ous effort to delegitimize the judicial system, reminded me of Costa-Gavras’ Z, the thriller about the Greek colonels’ coup.

Okay, I agree that’s going too far. This is not Athens under the Greek colonels. It’s far more crummy and second-rate than that. It’s not Z; it’s not even X or Y. It’s W.

This column ran on page 15 in the 12/4/2000 edition of The New York Observer.