November 15, 2000


A whole new terminology is coming into vogue this election year 2000: suddenly the buzz is all about "chads" – no, not the African country, but the little bit of paper that results when voters using the punch-card system cast their votes. Now pay attention, class, because the future of American democracy hinges on it: there are, first of all, "hanging chads" – little bits of paper hanging from the ballot that cause the automatic vote-counting machines to not count these votes. Then there are "swing door chads" – little bits of paper hanging by two corners – and "tri-chads," little bits of paper hanging by three corners. Got that? OK, but we're not done yet: what about those "pregnant chads" – unperforated ballots that nevertheless have a large indentation indicating either 1) The voter tried but failed to perforate the ballot, or 2) The voter had second thoughts. And last, but not least, there are those cute and cuddly little "dimpled chads," ballots with a "dimple" indicating – well, indicating whatever some local Democratic official thinks it indicates. And then there are all those ballots that were marked twice, perhaps deliberately spoiled as a protest, or left blank – perhaps on purpose, but this abstention is characterized as somehow mysterious and even "suspicious" by Democratic election officials in the disputed counties. Could a vote for Nobody really have meant – metaphorically, at the very least – a vote for the pandering chameleon-like Al Gore?


This whole sleazy story might have come out of Milosevic's Serbia: the de facto incumbent loses an election and then mobilizes a goon squad (of ambulance-chasing lawyers in this case) to overturn the results. How? When two machine re-counts didn't do the trick in Palm Beach County, Florida, then the answer was obvious: a hand-count, whereby Democratic election officials divined the intent of anonymous voters, and literally jiggled and shook the ballots until the chads (hanging, swing-door, and tri) simply fell out from being handled so much. Republican observers of this fraudulent process report seeing chads all over the floor in many instances. The legal maneuvering continues, but the upshot is this: the Republicans' goose is cooked. It just isn't well-done quite yet. The hand-counts (only in heavily-Democratic counties, of course) continue, in spite of Republican lawsuits and in spite of Florida's Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, and her deadline of 5 PM yesterday for all the results to be in – the state's Attorney General does not agree. Al Gore's beer-hall putsch is moving right along, still on schedule in spite of the GOP counterattack – indeed, in an important sense, because of the peculiar weakness of the GOP counterattack. If I were George W. Bush I would stop announcing cabinet appointments and start thinking about forming a government-in-exile.


The Republicans' aristocratic disdain for legal action kept them two steps behind the Democrats, who, hours after the first results came in, moved into Florida with no less than 75 lawyers, including the famed liberal Lawrence Tribe, who was expected to earn his Supreme Court appointment – and did so gladly. The irony is that the dictatorship of the judiciary attacked so fiercely by conservatives – who were silenced, this election season, and kept locked up in the basement by the Bushies – will have deprived Dubya and his fellow moderates (now known as "compassionate conservatives") of their long-awaited triumph.


Speaking of the concept of judicial dictatorship, the Democratic coup d'etat we are witnessing reminds me of an old controversy on the Right, one recently brought back up again by Norman Podhoretz in his latest screed, My Love Affair With America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative. His book, naturally enough – considering we are talking about Norman Podhoretz here – is all about him, his family, his intellectual journey from warmed-over Shachtmanism to the "neo"-conservative ideology that provided what slight intellectual ballast the Bush campaign had to offer; but, most of all, it is about his enemies – Gore Vidal, number one, but also including a whole host of others: Pat Buchanan, the paleoconservatives, the Rockford Institute, and other right-wing "bomb-throwers" (not to mention "dangerous extremists") who dared question the legitimacy of the Clintonian regime early on. In November 1996, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the editor of First Things – up until this point a neoconservative house organ on religion – set off a storm of controversy on the American Right by publishing a symposium in which a number of contributors began to sound less like Barry Goldwater circa 1964 and more like Mario Savio circa 1968. In an introductory essay, the editors declared:

"This symposium addresses many similarly troubling judicial actions that add up to an entrenched pattern of government by judges that is nothing less than the usurpation of politics. The question here explored, in full awareness of its far-reaching consequences, is whether we have reached or are reaching the point where conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime. Americans are not accustomed to speaking of a regime. Regimes are what other nations have. The American tradition abhors the notion of the rulers and the ruled. We do not live under a government, never mind under a regime; we are the government. The traditions of democratic self-governance are powerful in our civics textbooks and in popular consciousness. This symposium asks whether we may be deceiving ourselves and, if we are, what are the implications of that self- deception. By the word "regime" we mean the actual, existing system of government. The question that is the title of this symposium is in no way hyperbolic. The subject before us is the end of democracy."


"Millions of conscientious Americans," Neuhaus wrote, "are reflecting upon whether this (American government) is a legitimate regime. ... Law as is presently made by the judiciary has declared its independence from morality." Three Supreme Court decisions of recent years had stretched conservative patience to the breaking point: The 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which failed to overturn legalized abortion, the 1996 ruling in Romer v. Evans, which rejected a Colorado referendum limiting gay rights, and the 1996 ruling of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a right to euthanasia. What a rush to see stodgy old Robert Bork, the defeated Supreme Court nominee and a hero to conservatives, advocating civil disobedience! It was all too much for poor Podhoretz, who wailed that Neuhaus's editorial "offered aid and comfort to the bomb-throwers among us. I did not become a conservative to preach revolution against this country"! This was the signal for a mass neocon exodus from the editorial board: three resigned, including historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, who hissed that the First Things editorial was "extremist, even subversive" and pompously proclaimed that it says it "only seems to confirm that cultural conservatism is outside the mainstream."


But who's outside the mainstream now, Gertrude? We're not talking about a few Supreme Court decisions here: what's happening is that they're stealing the White House, and they're using the courts to do it – that and their control at the local level in four of Florida's most heavily Democratic precincts. The tried and true methods of Tammany Hall, combined with the more up-to-date tactics employed by Lawrence Tribe in the courtroom and Jesse Jackson in the streets, have apparently pulled off a left-wing coup d'etat. Now is it OK to challenge the legitimacy of the regime? Or do thieves deserve our allegiance? Neuhaus's essential insight is, today, more than verified: the subject before us is indeed "the end of democracy." Now when right-wing "bomb-throwers" and other "dangerous extremists" refer to "the Gore regime," Norm and the neocons will have some small understanding of what us "dangerous extremists" have in mind.


If I was a betting man, and without any shame, I'd put my money (if I had any) on Gore. As it is, assuming the absence of divine intervention, it looks as if Al Gore is going to claim the American presidency. Of course, anyone can claim anything: here in San Francisco, we used to have a local character who stood out in a town chock full of colorful characters: the Emperor Norton, who proclaimed himself the Emperor of the United States of America, and it was true, he had an imperial air about him, so he was tolerated and even honored, as the unofficial town madman. This should be the guide of Republican legislators and other officeholders in regard to relations with the Great Pretender. You can go to his faux-"Inauguration" Day ceremony, and even address him as "Mr. President" – after all, who knows what the power-mad maniac may do if his illusions are rudely challenged?


Remember that cover of Rolling Stone (or was it Esquire?) featuring a full-on shot of Al Gore where they had to (somewhat incompletely) airbrush out the raging hard-on clearly visible through his trousers? What could he have been thinking of, the more salacious among us wondered? Now, we know.


Having f***k*d over George W. Bush, the grinning leering Alpha Gore is going to turn around and perform an encore, only this time he's gong to f**k the whole country. But there will be resistance: a coup such as the one Gore wants to pull off requires the unconditional and united support not only of the political establishment, but also of the military: and I'm not talking about the big brass, the boys in the Pentagon, or even the mid-level officers. These are career soldiers who might grumble, loudly on occasion, as they did during the Clinton years, but mutiny? Don't even think about it. And yet ...


There are widespread reports of absentee ballots that never reached American servicemen and women stationed overseas, and were somehow mysteriously "lost" in the bulk-rate 4th-class mail, with magazines and newspapers. Understaffing at US military post offices means that 4th-class mail is delivered at least a month late. According to a startling report in WorldNetDaily by Jon E. Dougherty, the disenfranchisement of the American military stationed overseas is so widespread that

"Some American military families in Germany are reportedly flying the American flag upside down – a traditional sign of distress – at their places of residence, as a result of the presidential election and the subsequent balloting difficulties. In some cases, local military police have forced personnel to take the inverted flags down."


Gee, how come Jesse Jackson, the great champion of "voting rights" and champion of "the disenfranchised" hightails it straight to Palm Beach, and somehow neglects Germany – it isn't just the weather, you can be sure about that. Everybody knows that military personnel vote overwhelmingly Republican, and if Team Bush doesn't believe this is a Democratic dirty trick, then they deserve to lose.


The men and women of the US military, especially those stationed overseas, are perfectly well aware of the corruption and hubris of their imperial overlords: they know they are standing guard at the borders of a decadent empire that seems to be rotten at its center. The traditional insulation of the American military from civilian life, a trend exacerbated by the abolition of the draft, and especially its distance from political concerns could very well be reversed in the heat of a constitutional crisis. If war breaks out in the Middle East, or in the Balkans, or anywhere, will these troops willingly obey the orders of their phony "commander-in-chief"? And I'm not just talking about those who were prevented from voting, but those who voted Republican or Reform (oh, alright then, and also those who voted Libertarian). How much legitimacy will President Gore have in their eyes? Not enough, I would venture, to pull off a major intervention anytime soon.


There have already been a spate of articles in the leftist press about how great it is that the United States won't be able to go around the world claiming to "export democracy" without being laughed out of town and denounced as brazenly hypocritical. Or was that George Szameuly's last column? Oh well, anyway, I think the answer is that it is kind of a high price to pay for such a mean little satisfaction. But I guess if I want to look on the bright side of the decline and fall of the American republic, then I might as well get in the proper spirit, and harden myself to the new reality, which is this: The DOG – the Democratic Occupation Government – has usurped the Presidency through outright fraud. Once in power, the DOG will launch an all-out assault on what is left of the Constitution, abolishing the Electoral College, crushing the rights of the sovereign states and centralizing all power in the federal government. Now do you see why the Democrats, and especially their dominant left-wing, have been so insistently campaigning for gun control legislation? The Founders knew that no would-be Caesar would dare try to seize power over a people armed.


Yes, let's look on the bright side of America's decline: the so-called Neocon-Theocon debate is now settled, for all time, in favor of the latter. Fr. Neuhaus, we salute you! You saw it all coming. The great thing about the DOG is that, unlike the first phase of the Clintonian regime, it doesn't have to be delegitimized, either by the actions of its chief executive or the propaganda of the Republican opposition: this time, the regime has no legitimacy to begin with. Oh, no doubt a few Republican Senators and members of the House majority leadership will show up for the Inaugural Ball. But if, at the end of President Gore's inaugural address, some fail to rise – or, worse, rise and turn their backs on the Great Pretender – it would signal the revival the GOP as a political force to be reckoned with. Is this too much to hope for? With or without the Republicans, however, opposition to the DOG is bound to develop on a massive scale. What is needed, now, is leadership – and direct action along the lines of a general strike. What the European fuel tax protesters found out was that they have the power to humble elected heads of state: someday, the Great American Middle Class is going to discover the same thing – and that it has nothing to lose but its chains.

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

In Occupied America: Rage Against "The Regime"

Al Gore's Beer Hall Putsch

A Message to My Readers

The Real Victors: Nader & Buchanan

Buchanan's "Hail Mary" Pass May Work

Doubletalkin' Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo

The Nader Moment

The Smearing of Ralph Nader

Nader Sells Out

America's Fifth Column

Bush, the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
Gore-Milosevic Connection

Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisited

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cartagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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This isn't over yet, not by a long-shot, not even if and when Al Gore takes the oath of office. To hell with bipartisanship, "healing," and the alleged virtues of national reconciliation: Republican leaders stood by while the Democrats stole the Presidency out from under their noses. Chris Matthews rightly compared them to the fat rich kid who gets his lunch taken away from him. How long before these same losers tell us that we have to "reach out" across the aisle and "work together" for the good of the country? No good can ever be served by tolerating theft, or by encouraging and rewarding thieves – especially when they are stealing the Oval Office, the Constitution, and the country.


There are coups – and then there are counter-revolutions. The Bolshevik regime, in its first years, was a fragile creature, and only persisted because of German aid and a regime of relentless terror. The DOG, too, will be weak at first – but we must act quickly. As Neuhaus said in 1996, "Millions of conscientious Americans are reflecting upon whether this (American government) is a legitimate regime." When the DOG starts barking orders at them, taxing them, regulating them, and marching their sons and daughters off to war – who knows how the millions who despise and revile the Great Pretender will react? The job of conservatives, of Greens, of Reform party members and Libertarians, of all Americans who naturally oppose the DOG, and want to organize a national and entirely legal resistance, is to persuade the American people that the regime is not only illegitimate but also, like its predecessor, rotten to the core – and must be overthrown.

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