again, the scene is a courtroom – practically every courtroom
in the state of Florida, it seems. So far, 42
separate lawsuits have been filed by both sides in this increasingly
acrimonious – and troubling – dispute, with more on the way.
A lawyer's paradise, said one of the legal eagles for Team
Bush – but a hellish experience for the rest of us. And please
don't give me any of the garbage being spouted
by some "libertarians," who hail the electoral gridlock
and ensuing paralysis as a supposed respite from the murderous
tyranny of the federal Leviathan.
It ain't happening, my friends – Clinton has just unveiled
a rash of last-minute executive orders seizing
hundreds of thousands of acres in the West and Midwest.
The stock market is plunging, and could at any moment go into
meltdown mode and a new and perhaps radical economic
downturn will not bode well for the doctine free-markets and
small government. On the overseas front, US foreign policy
is barreling down the path to perdition at an ever-accelerating
rate. As Nebojsa
Malic pointed out in an excellent column the other day,
KLA provocateurs are doing their best to lure President Vojislav
Kostunica into a trap by means of numerous provocations, and
the Serbian-Kosovo border is about to blow. In the Middle
East, the likelihood of an all-out Arab-Israeli war grows
with each passing day, and the ghosts of our sailors killed
aboard the USS Cole that fateful day are restless, haunting
the national conscience.
– AND DEAD
Gore campaign's concerted effort to disqualify overseas military
ballots on technical grounds was very successful: some Florida
counties rejected as many as 75% of such ballots. According
to Colonel David Hackworth, among the disqualified ballots
was that of Ronald
Scott Owens, of Vero Beach, Florida, who was killed along
with 16 others when the USS Cole was bombed. As many as 700
Florida military voters may have been disqualified by Gore's
lawyers, who were dispatched to every county election board
with a five-page memo outlining various strategies for disenfranchising
the votes of American soldiers stationed overseas. The backlash
was not long in coming, and it was so severe that the Democrats
had to backtrack a bit, with Joe Lieberman denying everything
– but still, the Democrats did not drop their opposition on
the local level, and the GOP is now in court fighting
for the voting rights of overseas military personnel.
The rank hypocrisy of raising the battle-cry "let every vote
count!" while authoring and financing this vote-suppression
campaign has enraged many in the military: a number have called
in anonymously to talk radio, and communicated their anger
via email and on military posting boards, so much so that
the Pentagon has had to take steps to quell the rising tide
ON THE POTOMAC?
Washington Post reports that military
commanders are reminding the ranks that "it is a crime
for officers to express contempt for the nation's political
leaders, either in speech or in e-mail correspondence." Brigadier
General Jack Rives, whom the Post describes as "the
top lawyer for the Air Force's Air Combat Command," sent out
an edict to 89,000 troops, advising them that "this is not
the time to send e-mails or otherwise get involved in an improper
or unprofessional manner with the continuing controversy over
the presidential election." Even in the military, lawyers
reign supreme. These guys are everywhere, clearly they're
taking over the country – and if a single disenfranchised
US soldier dares to object they will throw him or her in the
brig and throw away the key. The emptiness of this threat
is, of course, laughable. Will they track down every e-mail,
trace every phone call, monitor the mail and personal contacts
of each and every grunt? Just as the high command couldn't
control the growing rebellion in the ranks during the Vietnam
war, so the same mutinous spirit is developing during the
battle for the US Presidency. Why else would the military
establishment at the behest of the Clinton administration
clamp down on the First Amendment rights of our citizen-soldiers?
They're scared to death that if Gore's platoon of lawyers
seizes the White House the Marines just may retake it.
James Rosenblatt, staff judge advocate at the Army Training
and Doctrine Command, sent out an even lengthier warning,
and also decided that what the 67,000 soldiers and civilian
employees in his command require at the moment is a series
of indoctrination sessions "on the question of civilian control
of the military." Rosenblatt cited Article 88 of the Uniform
Code of Military Justice which forbids military personnel
from using "contemptuous words against the President, Vice
President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary
of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation,
or the Governor or legislature of any state." What about the
Postmaster General? Surely he deserves a few mildly critical
words in this case. In the Post article, Rosenblatt
is quoted as saying that in all the 28 years of his service,
this was the first time he had ever had to remind his soldiers
of this particular provision. If the Gore coup succeeds, it
won't be the last. Contemptuous words are the very least "President"
Gore could expect for his contemptible actions.
the Vietnam war, military personnel were actively
recruited by the antiwar movement and GI coffeehouses
were set up near military bases in the US to attract soldiers
disaffected by the war. Movement lawyers defended the rights
of soldiers to have political opinions, and express them while
in uniform. Our leaders told us we were fighting for "freedom"
in the jungles of Southeast Asia, but those who were doing
the fighting were told to shut up and obey orders. It was
unenforceable and illegal then, just as it is now. "US soldiers
are citizens, too," says Colonel Hackworth, "who keep our
great country on course with their ballots as well as their
bullets, especially of late, have been fired at all manner
of "enemies," from the Iraqis to the Serbs to the Sudanese
and the Afghans – and who knows whom else they have in mind?
A military "crisis" overseas would sure come in handy for
the Gore forces about now: it would remind us all that he
is, after all, still the Vice President, as he confers
with Clinton in the White House and preens in front of the
camera. Last time it was an
aspirin factory in the Sudan; this time, who knows, maybe
the Afghans will get their turn, or perhaps US investigators
will suddenly "discover" the identity and whereabouts of the
group behind the bombing of the USS Cole.
RADICALIZATION OF BILL KRISTOL
am glad to see that I am not the only one reminded of the
debate by this crisis: a
recent column by Rod Dreher in the New York Post
[November 29] recalls the debate pitting Norman
Podhoretz against Richard John Neuhaus of First Things,
the conservative religious magazine, in which the latter was
condemned by the former for the heresy of believing that the
Clintonian State had lost its legitimacy. In the now famous
published by the magazine, conservative legal theorist
Robert Bork advocated civil disobedience against the dictatorship
of the judiciary and Newhaus spoke of "the regime" as if he
were describing the junta of a Third World banana republic.
"I did not become a conservative to preach revolution against
this country!" ranted Podhoretz. Gertrude
Himmelfarb, the grande dame of the New York neocons,
took the opportunity to declare that this only confirmed her
suspicion that conservatives out in the heartland are "out
of the mainstream." As I asked in my
November 15 column: who's outside the mainstream now,
Gertrude? Why, according to Dreher, even Bill Kristol
McCainite, and self-appointed pallbearer of a conservative
once declared to be "dead" – has been radicalized by the
Gore coup. Of course, the Weekly Standard sided with
Podhoretz and Midge
Decter when the First Things symposium was originally
published, but Dreher plays down this aspect of it by writing
that "four years ago, Weekly Standard publisher Bill
Kristol was sympathetic to the symposiasts, but not keen on
their strong language." That is putting it mildly: the Weekly
Neuhaus and not only for his language but for engaging
in "New Left-style" subversion. Neuhaus and his followers
on the Right, declared Kristol's editorialist, David Brooks,
has succumbed to "The Anti-American Temptation." But these
days Kristol & Co. are singing a different tune:
having described Gore's post-election maneuvering as an attempted
'coup,' Kristol acknowledges that heated rhetoric is needed
to arouse people to a serious threat. 'Others are now seeing
what they were so upset about,' Kristol says. 'Finally, mainstream
Republican types are waking up to it.'"
well, better late than never, especially at this crucial time.
Welcome, Bill, to the populist army of peasants with pitchforks!
But us right-wing extremists have not made a clean sweep of
and I am sad – but not surprised – to report that not even
a socialist coup d'etat has the power to move Norman
Podhoretz from a position once he is settled on it. In my
November 24 column, noting the Weekly Standard's
radicalized stance, I asked: "What's next? – will Norman Podhoretz
and Midge Decter now organize the Upper West Side Militia?"
Unfortunately, this task will have to be left to others: not
even the lawyers' putsch has the power to move Norman
and Midge a single millimeter from their principled passivity.
Dreher reports that:
their part, Podhoretz and Decter say they're as steamed by
the Florida Supremes' actions as anybody, but they still firmly
reject any speculation on the legitimacy of the American government
– even if judges ultimately install Gore into the presidency.
America has always suffered from bad judges, says Decter,
and yet 'The country goes on. The system goes on. And I'd
like to know what system would be better.'"
COULD BE WORSE?
"system" is Decter talking about? If Gore seizes the White
House with his phalanx of lawyers without a shot being fired
– metaphorically speaking, that is – then what "system" will
be in operation? Surely not the old American republic, but
a Gore-Lieberman-Clinton junta, a tyrannous triumvirate to
rule over the shattered remnants of our democracy. I ask you:
What system could be worse than that?