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Electoral Coup d'Etats


By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 18 October 2010

Electoral Coup d'Etats - by Stephen Lendman

They're commonplace in developing countries in different forms, at times through what Edward Herman calls "Demonstration Elections," the title of his 1980 book on sham ones in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Vietnam. They also occur regularly in countries like Egypt, where for the past 20 years president Hosni Mubarak has gotten around 98% of the vote when he runs. Sadam's Iraq, much of the Middle East, and elsewhere work the same way, holding mock elections pretending to be real, while in the West, especially America, real elections are, in fact, mock ones.

Of course, elections held in occupied countries, like Iraq and Afghanistan, install puppet regimes, not legitimate ones, both countries run from Washington, not Baghdad or Kabul.

America's history is rife with electoral fraud, in 1824 for example, the one called the "Corrupt Bargain." Four major candidates were involved, all from the same Democratic-Republican party, today's Democrats who are also Republicans who are also Democrats in our one-party state with two wings - plus the lunatic fringe Tea Party offshoot likely to send extremist morons to Congress, joining legions of others already there.

When all 1824 votes were tallied, no winner emerged, so under the 12th Amendment, it fell to the House to decide from the top three. On February 9, 1925, after a month of furious lobbying, members chose John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson (later elected president in 1828 and again in 1832), Henry Clay and William Crawford. Outrage followed because deal-makers prevailed over voters. It showed up when Adams nominated Clay as Secretary of State, infuriating Jackson supporters. Thereafter, Clay was dogged for striking a corrupt bargain, depriving Jackson, the highest vote getter of the four.

The 1876 election was even worse because Democrat Samuel Tilden got today's equivalent of over two million more votes than Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, and with 20 disputed Electoral College votes uncounted led by 184 - 165. Yet a secretly struck "bargain of 1877" to abandon Reconstruction and sell out freed Blacks handed the election to Hayes.

Another example was Lyndon Johnson's 1948 senatorial primary win - until the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the most blatant example of electoral theft in US history, according to some observers. Historian Robert Caro is one, documenting how Johnson miraculously overcame a 20,000 vote deficit to gain an 87 vote victory. According to Caro, it wasn't "the only election....ever stolen, but there was never such brazen thievery," and as they say, the rest is history.

With today's modern technology, electoral fraud is easier than ever, Stephen Spoonamore, a leading cyber crime expert explaining how the "structures" of Diebold and other electronic voting machines are inherently flawed. As a result, "There is a very strong argument" that the 2000 and 2004 elections were "electronically stolen, the hanging chads were just a distraction." Diebold machines especially "are brilliantly designed (to) steal elections," so losers are declared winners, and not just for president.

Clear evidence shows the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen, the Supreme Court initially complicit by halting the Florida recount on spurious grounds, and handing the election to Bush. Months later, when it was too late to matter, the final tally showed Gore carried Florida and the election.

The 2004 election was worse because technology stole it with electronic ease. Again Florida and Ohio made the difference, depriving winner Kerry of the presidency. In both elections, media reports produced a daily flow of disinformation masquerading as real news, hailing the illegitimate winner when final results were announced, few knowing at the time they'd been scammed.

The 2008 election mirrored 1976, a year Carter was picked to win, Ford to lose, for a one-term post-Nixon interregnum before Republicans regained command. After eight years under Bush, a planned change of pace anointed Obama. The McCain/Palin ticket was absurd. Discord rankled Republican ranks. Many party faithful despised McCain because of his temperament, unpredictability, legendary temper, and genius for making enemies. As for Palin, AP said she knew more about fishing than world and national affairs. Others called her an extremist, bigoted moron. In combination, they cinched an easy Obama win, decided, in fact, before voters went to the polls

American democracy is pure fantasy, elections and their run-up mere kabuki theater, political consultants, PR wizards, and the major media sharing lead roles. Everything is pre-scripted. Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Party bosses chose candidates. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined, and cheated voters get the best democracy money can buy.

Much of this surprises few, at least those thoughtful enough to understand realpolitic's darker side. What may surprise is another kind of electoral fraud, taking place in condominium board elections, at least in Chicago, a city known for corrupt politics since the 19th century.

Endemic in more recent times, it's because lax Illinois campaign finance laws allow it. State residents say it's just the way it is, and since 1972 alone, three governors (besides Blagojevich), state legislators, two congressmen, 19 Cook County judges, 30 aldermen, and many others were convicted of corruption.

Since 1970, in fact, around 1,000 public officials and complicit businessmen were caught and convicted, proving former Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler right when he said, "Chicago ain't ready for reform." Over time, only its form, methods, and stakes have changed under a one-party system run by Democrats governing like Republicans.

Condo Board Electoral Coups

At 100 stories, Chicago landmark John Hancock Center is America's sixth tallest building home to offices, retailers, restaurants, other services, and about 700 condominiums in its upper floors. Opened in 1969 as rental units, they became condos in 1973 under Sudler Property Management, Inc., its web site saying:

"Over the years we have learned that providing our clients with superior service means re-defining our 'responsibility' as 'the ability to respond,' " among other ways through "efficient daily operations, well-managed capital improvements, accurate accounting records, and effective financial planning."

Omitted was Sudler's dark side through over-assessments, sweetheart deal contracts, lucrative kickback arrangements, and cheated residents through blatant profiteering and rigged elections to assure enough board members go along, don't object, or aren't informed so don't know.

Preferred are a committed hard core, supplemented by uninformed indifferent members, others who rarely attend meetings, many who live part or most of the year away, and overall know little about building activities or how Sudler mismanages them - for its benefit, not residents to be exploited for maximum profit.

The 40 year saga is too long and involved for an article.
As a result, it's simplified, focusing on selected events and important recent ones, but make no mistake. They reflect decades of mismanagement, misrepresentation, manipulation, a lack of ethics, and blatant fraud at the expense of residents, most unaware they've been scammed.

On October 26, 1991, Chicago's Near North News headlined, "Judge halts election at Hancock Center." Judge Monica Doyle issued a restraining order following charges that the election was illegal under a 1991 Illinois law, mandating all candidates be treated equally.

Specifically, "official slates" (including management endorsed ones) are prohibited, and all candidates must run at-large, not one per floor as then Hancock bylaws stipulated. As a result then, and in the 2009 (and perhaps 2010) election(s), legitimate candidates were improperly bumped to exclude ones Sudler designated persona non grata.

On January 19, 2003, former Hancock attorney Mark Pearlstein headlined a Chicago Tribune article, "Validity of board election may be challenged," saying he ran for his building's board, then belatedly discovered election irregularities, including:

-- the building manager (also an owner) solicited residents through proxies to support certain candidates;

-- asked at least one resident to change her vote pre-election; and

-- improperly counted most ballots privately in her office, rendering the election invalid.

Under Section 18(b)(10) of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, candidates may be present during tabulations. However, managers are prohibited from participating. Doing so is illegal. It's why most associations use independent accountants.

The 2009 board election had many irregularities, one affecting this writer, a 40 year resident, directly. Enlisted, under false pretenses against an alleged building manager conspiracy/smear campaign, it was, in fact, a scheme to elect Sudler's handpicked slate.

As a result, unwittingly, a supportive letter was written and distributed to building residents, my instructions clearly saying it was to be from me alone, with no letterhead, unconnected to Sudler, other residents, or building politics - specifically the days away condo board election and a Sudler endorsed slate, one vetted as rubber-stamp.

Events unfolded as follows:

A phone call alerted me that a cabal of residents, including board members, wanted the building manager smeared and ousted for selfish reasons they best could explain. Appalled, I agreed to write and have distributed a letter endorsing him, urging residents back candidates supporting us, not their self-interest, demanding the manager be retained, and stressing it's our building and our choice.

The conspiracy was bogus. No smear campaign existed then or now. I was defrauded and unscrupulously used. As a result, I acted unwittingly against my own best interests and that of most residents. It gets worse.

Without my knowledge or consent, my content was altered, saying I endorsed an enclosed slate. Doing so constituted fraud and perhaps forgery. Sudler's preferred candidates won. Good ones representing all residents lost, and the responsible individual became board president, a position letting him manipulate board activities advantageously, unethically and fraudulently for Sudler, not us, what, in fact, he's done.

To clear my name and set the record straight, I insisted that a new letter I'd write be immediately distributed to all residents. I later learned many didn't get it, but it was too late to matter. The damage was done. My initial letter had impact. As a result, Sudler's slate won convincingly. The building remained mismanaged. My name was besmirched, and it took many months to regain my reputation, those angered by my action realizing I'd been had, and unwittingly used to represent Sudler, not building residents.

In addition, prior to the election, an endorsed building manager slate went to about 200 residents, attorney Pearlstein calling it "improper because it exceed(ed) the authority of the Agent under the existing management contract. Further, the manager is an agent of the Board of Directors, and the Board....is barred from endorsing candidates."

However, the aspirant board president, subsequently elected, did so ahead of the 2009 and 2010 elections. Without saying so specifically, Pearlstein suggested the 2009 (and perhaps 2010) one was invalid because Illinois condo law was violated. Results should thus be annulled. Residents should be notified, and a new election held in strict compliance with state law.

Action so far taken includes an ethics complaint filed against the condo manager with the Community Associations Institute (CAI), "a national organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious community associations (by) providing education and resources to the volunteer homeowners who govern community associations and the professional managers, community management firms and other professionals and companies that provide products and services to associations."

CAI has power to sanction or defrock condo managers if ethics or other serious code of conduct violations are proved. Its Professional Manager Code of Ethics is detailed and specific, requiring managers among other duties to:

-- "Comply with current (CAI) bylaws, standards and practices....subject to all federal, state and local laws, ordinances, and regulations in effect where the Manager practices;" and

-- "Act in the best interests of the client (meaning condo residents); refrain from making inaccurate or misleading representations or statements; not knowingly misrepresent facts to benefit the Manager" or his/her employer - in this case, Sudler.

A lawsuit was also filed, now in "voluntary dismissal without prejudice" status pending further developments to proceed any time. Above all, aggrieved residents want others informed of shenanigans committed harming their interests. Our home should be run for everyone, not Sudler or complicit board members alone.

Dirty federal, state and local politics are commonplace. Surprisingly, condo elections are also tainted, at least in at Chicago's Hancock Center, a city landmark for more than one reason.

A Final Comment

On May 6, 2009, Chicago Sun Times columnist David Roeder headlined, "Condos to kick kickbacks?" saying area condo management companies and building managers may be profiting from "contracts (let to) preferred vendors."

"Call it a procurement fee," he said, "a kickback, or pay-to-play for the private sector," a practice that's disturbingly common. According to Tim Sack, plumbing operations vice president for TMS Mechanical, Inc., a city high-rise vendor:

"To me, it's stealing from the people you are working for," up to 15% or more of let contracts that over time to enough vendors can amount to enormous sums, and it's one reason assessments are so high.

Without admitting wrongdoing, Joe Armenio, president of Sudler Management Services, acknowledges that the company maintains a preferred vendor list. Roeder, however, explained that property management firms like the Habitat Co, Draper & Kramer (D & K), and the Building Group have no "payback" schemes. D & K's CEO, Forrest Bailey, said he negotiates bulk purchase deals with different vendors and passes on savings to its buildings. Other firms, like Sudler, exploit them and their residents for profit, most unit owners unaware they've been scammed, let alone for decades like at Hancock.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

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Very good and interesting article. I had no idea about the history of stolen elections in the U.S., not before 2000 anyway, though have read that Clinton winning his first election was rather an arranged outcome and the "arrangers" weren't the electorate or population.

Clear evidence shows the 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen, the Supreme Court initially complicit by halting the Florida recount on spurious grounds, and handing the election to Bush. Months later, when it was too late to matter, the final tally showed Gore carried Florida and the election.

I'm not sure how Bush got the 2004 election, however I've always considered that it was probably or surely stolen. The 2000 one was definitely stolen, but not electronically, since a count was finally done by Fall 2001 and it proved that Gore won.

"Gore's Victory"
by Robert Parry, Nov. 12th, 2001

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2001/111201a.html

So Al Gore was the choice of Florida’s voters -- whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. That was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. By any chad measure, Gore won.

Gore won even if one doesn’t count the 15,000-25,000 votes that USA Today estimated Gore lost because of illegally designed “butterfly ballots,” or the hundreds of predominantly African-American voters who were falsely identified by the state as felons and turned away from the polls.

Gore won even if there’s no adjustment for George W. Bush’s windfall of about 290 votes from improperly counted military absentee ballots where lax standards were applied to Republican counties and strict standards to Democratic ones, a violation of fairness reported earlier by the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Put differently, George W. Bush was not the choice of Florida’s voters anymore than he was the choice of the American people who cast a half million more ballots for Gore than Bush nationwide. [For more details on studies of the election, see Consortiumnews.com stories of May 12, June 2 and July 16.]

The Spin

Yet, possibly for reasons of “patriotism” in this time of crisis, the news organizations that financed the Florida ballot study structured their stories on the ballot review to indicate that Bush was the legitimate winner, with headlines such as “Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush” [Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2001].

Post media critic Howard Kurtz took the spin one cycle further with a story headlined, “George W. Bush, Now More Than Ever,” in which Kurtz ridiculed as “conspiracy theorists” those who thought Gore had won.

“The conspiracy theorists have been out in force, convinced that the media were covering up the Florida election results to protect President Bush,” Kurtz wrote. “That gets put to rest today, with the finding by eight news organizations that Bush would have beaten Gore under both of the recount plans being considered at the time.”

Kurtz also mocked those who believed that winning an election fairly, based on the will of the voters, was important in a democracy. “Now the question is: How many people still care about the election deadlock that last fall felt like the story of the century – and now faintly echoes like some distant Civil War battle?” he wrote.

In other words, the elite media’s judgment is in: "Bush won, get over it." Only "Gore partisans" – as both the Washington Post and the New York Times called critics of the official Florida election tallies – would insist on looking at the fine print.

The Actual Findings

While that was the tone of coverage in these leading news outlets, it’s still a bit jarring to go outside the articles and read the actual results of the statewide review of 175,010 disputed ballots.

“Full Review Favors Gore,” the Washington Post said in a box on page 10, showing that under all standards applied to the ballots, Gore came out on top. The New York Times' graphic revealed the same outcome.

Earlier, less comprehensive ballot studies by the Miami Herald and USA Today had found that Bush and Gore split the four categories of disputed ballots depending on what standard was applied to assessing the ballots – punched-through chads, hanging chads, etc. Bush won under two standards and Gore under two standards.

The new, fuller study found that Gore won regardless of which standard was applied and even when varying county judgments were factored in. Counting fully punched chads and limited marks on optical ballots, Gore won by 115 votes. With any dimple or optical mark, Gore won by 107 votes. With one corner of a chad detached or any optical mark, Gore won by 60 votes. Applying the standards set by each county, Gore won by 171 votes.

This core finding of Gore’s Florida victory in the unofficial ballot recount might surprise many readers who skimmed only the headlines and the top paragraphs of the articles. The headlines and leads highlighted hypothetical, partial recounts that supposedly favored Bush.

Buried deeper in the stories or referenced in subheads was the fact that the new recount determined that Gore was the winner statewide, even ignoring the “butterfly ballot” and other irregularities that cost him thousands of ballots.

The news organizations opted for the pro-Bush leads by focusing on two partial recounts that were proposed – but not completed – in the chaotic, often ugly environment of last November and December.

The new articles make much of Gore’s decision to seek recounts in only four counties and the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to examine only “undervotes,” those rejected by voting machines for supposedly lacking a presidential vote. A recurring undercurrent in the articles is that Gore was to blame for his defeat, even if he may have actually won the election.

"Mr. Gore might have eked out a victory if he had pursued in court a course like the one he publicly advocated when he called on the state to 'count all the votes,'" the New York Times wrote, with a clear suggestion that Gore was hypocritical as well as foolish.

The Washington Post recalled that Gore "did at one point call on Bush to join him in asking for a statewide recount" and accepting the results without further legal challenge, but that Bush rejected the proposal as "a public relations gesture."

The Bush Strategy

Instead of supporting a full and fair recount, Bush chose to cling to his official lead of 537 votes out of some 6 million cast, Bush counted on his brother Jeb’s state officials to ensure the Bush family’s return to national power.

To add some muscle to the legal maneuvering, the Bush campaign dispatched thugs to Florida to intimidate vote counters and jacked up the decibel level in the powerful conservative media, which accused Gore of trying to steal the election and labeled him "Sore Loserman."

With Bush rejecting a full recount and media pundits calling for Gore to concede, Gore opted for recounts in four southern Florida counties where irregularities seemed greatest. Those recounts were opposed by Bush’s supporters, both inside Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration and in the streets by Republican hooligans flown in from Washington. [For more details, see stories from Nov. 24, 2000 and Nov. 27, 2000]

Stymied on that recount front, Gore carried the fight to the state courts, where pro-Bush forces engaged in more delaying tactics, leaving the Florida Supreme Court only days to fashion a recount remedy.

Finally, on Dec. 8, facing an imminent deadline for submitting the presidential election returns, the state Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of “undervotes.” This tally would have excluded so-called “overvotes” – which were kicked out for supposedly indicating two choices for president.

Bush fought this court-ordered recount, too, sending his lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, five Republican justices stopped the recount on Dec. 9 and gave a sympathetic hearing to Bush’s claim that the varying ballot standards in Florida violated constitutional equal-protection requirements.

At 10 p.m. on Dec. 12, two hours before a deadline to submit voting results, the Republican-controlled U.S. Supreme Court instructed the state courts to devise a recount method that would apply equal standards, a move that would have included all ballots where the intent of the voter was clear. The hitch was that the U.S. Supreme Court gave the state only two hours to complete this assignment, effectively handing Florida’s 25 electoral votes and the White House to Republican George W. Bush.

A Third Hypothetical

The articles about the new recount tallies make much of the two hypothetical cases in which Bush supposedly would have prevailed: the limited recounts of the four southern Florida counties – by 225 votes – and the state Supreme Court’s order – by 430 votes. Those hypothetical cases dominated the news stories, while Gore’s statewide-recount victory was played down.

Yet, the newspapers made little or nothing of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision represented a third hypothetical. Assuming that a brief extension were granted to permit a full-and-fair Florida recount, the U.S. Supreme Court decision might well have resulted in the same result that the news organizations discovered: a Gore victory.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s proposed standards mirrored the standards applied in the new recount of the disputed ballots. The Post buries this important fact in the 22nd paragraph of its story.

“Ironically, it was Bush’s lawyers who argued that recounting only the undervotes violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. And the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Dec. 12 ruling that ended the dispute, also questioned whether the Florida court should have limited a statewide recount only to undervotes,” the Post wrote. “Had the high court acted on that, and had there been enough time left for the Florida Supreme Court to require yet another statewide recount, Gore’s chances would have been dramatically improved.”

In other words, if the U.S. Supreme Court had given the state enough time to fashion a comprehensive remedy or if Bush had agreed to a full-and-fair recount earlier, the popular will of the American voters – both nationally and in Florida – might well have been respected. Al Gore might well have been inaugurated president of the United States.

Favored Outcome

But this outcome was not the favored hypothetical of the news organizations, which apparently wanted to avoid questions about their patriotism. If they had simply given the American people the unvarnished facts, the reality that the voters of Florida favored Al Gore might have bolstered the belief that Bush indeed did steal the White House. That, in turn, could have undermined his legitimacy during the current crisis over terrorism.

In its coverage of the latest recount numbers, the national news media also showed little regard for the fundamental principle of democracy: that leaders derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, not from legalistic tricks, physical intimidation and public-relations maneuvers.

It is that understanding that is most missing in the news accounts of the latest recount figures.

Presumably, the American people are supposed to accept that everything just turned out right – the Bush dynasty was restored to power, the proper order was back in place. Anyone who begs to differ is a “conspiracy theorist” or a “Gore partisan.”

That seems like history worth being reminded of even if Gore is criminal. His criminality, which is ignored by his supporters and fan club, is a separate matter or issue than how democratic elections should end up with only truly elected people really getting the elections.

"The Afghan, El Salvador, and Iraq Elections
U.S. managed elections, with the threat of violence, are called "democratic""

by Edward S. Herman, Z magazine, Dec. 2004

www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/Afghan_ESal_Iraq_Elections.html

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