Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Russian v. US Elections

by Steve Lendman

Russia's December 4 elections filled 450 State Duma seats, Russia's Federal Assembly lower house.

Claims of electoral fraud followed. All elections have irregularities. At issue is whether results are comprised. Election monitor Golos accusations were spurious. America's National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds it. It supports regime change in non-US client states.

It backs opposition groups, conducts propaganda campaigns, and does openly what CIA operatives do covertly to destabilize sitting governments.

Its mission is subverting, not promoting democracy. It operates with State Department funding and direction. It serves US imperial interests destructively against targeted countries.

So do USAID, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). They meddle internally against sitting governments. One way is by funding Golos.

It calls itself a Russian NGO established in 2000 to defend democratic rights and civil liberties. Claiming it's Russia's only "independent" electoral watchdog is duplicitous. It represents imperial Washington's interests against those of Russia's people and government. Moreover, by taking foreign funding, it violated Russian law.

Since early December, Russia's seen on and off street protests. On December 25, RIA Novesti headlined, "Tens of thousands rally in new election protest in Russia," saying:

Peaceful crowds filled "Moscow's Sakharov Avenue on Saturday to demand a rerun of parliamentary elections they claimed had been rigged, as well as liberal reforms in Russia, turning the temperature up on Vladimir Putin and his plans to return to the Kremlin."

Nonetheless, a VTsIOM December 10 - 11 poll showed most Russians support him. However, his 51% job approval rating dropped from 61% in late November and 68% in January. Street protests and legitimate social justice grievances are responsible.

Even though Russia's GDP rose 70% and living standards improved markedly during his tenure as president, millions of Russians still suffer from Yeltsin's post-soviet era "shock therapy."

As a result, 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt, 70,000 state factories closed, an epidemic of unemployment raged, half or more of all Russians became impoverished, a permanent underclass was created, and crime, suicides, mortality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS soared to intolerable levels.

GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth at the expense of millions of harmed Russians.

Ignoring essential needs, Yeltsin let corruption and criminality flourish. One scandal followed another. Money-laundering became sport. Billions in stolen wealth were hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens.

Many problems remain unresolved, especially given today's global economic crisis. In April, Pravda.ru headlined, "Poverty in Russia grows faster than expected," saying:

According to the Russian Federal Statistics Agency, another 2.3 million joined the ranks of Russia's 22.9 million impoverished population. However, "(m)any experts believe that official statistics (don't) reflect the real state of affairs and (are) very often" understated.

Therefore, poverty remains a major growing problem. For millions, wages and pensions aren't enough to get by. Economic weakness exacerbates conditions. As a result, street protests perhaps reflect hard times more than anger over election results.

In contrast to Russia, America's electoral process is scandalously flawed. More on it below.

Major Media Scoundrels Bash Russia

America's media target all non-US client states, including China and Russia. On December 8, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Mr. Putin Seeks a Scapegoat," saying:

He's "determined to resurrect the Soviet playbook. His United Russia Party tried to steal a parliamentary election on Sunday, and, when the results still delivered a stinging rebuke, he claimed the United States was whipping up protests and demonstrations."

Fact check

Though not a decisive majority, United Russia won 49.67% of the vote, compared to the Communist Party's 19.15% second place finish. Hardly a "stinging rebuke." Moreover, independent analysts and observers explained a free and fair process. Results weren't compromised by relatively few regularities.

As explained above, Washington very much interfered as it's done repeatedly in numerous other elections. In Haiti's 2010 first round and 2011 runoff, brazen manipulation rigged the process to install stealth Duvalierist Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly president. New York Times editorials ignored his illegitimacy, backed fraud, and effectively said Haitians need to move on.

Washington indeed may be behind on and off Russian street protests. The pattern's familiar. Over decades, America advanced the technique. In the 1990s, RAND Corporation strategists developed the concept of "swarming" to explain "communication patterns and movement of" bees and other insects which they applied to military conflict by other means.

Washington used it successfully against Serbia's Milosevic. NED, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute were involved.

It repeated during Georgia's Rose Revolution, ousting Edouard Shevardnadze for Mikhail Saakashvili. A US-installed stooge, he's governed ruthlessly and repressively in office.

Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution was similar, ousting Viktor Yanukovych for Viktor Yushchenko, Washington's man.

America's manipulated 2007 Myanmar Saffron Revolution and Iran's 2009 Green Revolution failed. Both countries remain targeted for regime change.

Very possibly, Russia's street protests are made-in-the-USA. It wouldn't be the first time nor last. Supportively, America's media pretend otherwise. Putin accused Hillary Clinton of meddling. The Times editorial called his charge "bizarre," saying:

"Mrs. Clinton and the White House did the right thing (by) critici(zing Russia's) vote. She also expressed support for the 'rights and aspirations' of the Russian people."

In fact, political Washington abhors democracy at home and abroad. Imperial wars, numerous coups, internal subversion and destabilization, homeland repression, and rigged elections prevent it. Major media scoundrels approve.

On December 24, they featured Russian protests. New York Times writers Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz headlined, "Vast Rally in Moscow Is a Challenge to Putin's Power," claiming 120,000 turned out. Other reports estimated crowd size at from 50 - 80,000.

Ria Novosti said "tens of thousands." So did the Washington Post in an article headlined, "Protesters flood Moscow demanding reforms." It focused on social needs, not electoral fraud in contrast to The Times highlighting comments about dissolving Parliament, holding new elections, and comparing Putin to Brezhnev.

Managed news, misinformation, and hyperbole characterize America's media. Truth and full disclosure aren't their long suit. Or Washington's.

Notorious US Electoral Fraud

Duopoly power runs America. Democrats are interchangeable with Republicans. Differences between them are minor.
  • On major issues mattering most, they agree, including: war and peace;
  • capital's divine right to exploit workers, new markets, and global resources;
  • enriching the nation's aristocracy;
  • forced austerity when stimulus is needed; and
  • targeting dissenters challenging political corruption, corporate crooks, or abuse of power lawlessness.
Moreover, today's technology makes election rigging easy. The entire process lacks legitimacy. Elections and their run-up are mere kabuki theater. Major media and PR industry scoundrels play lead roles. Everything's pre-scripted.

Secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process. Candidates are pre-selected. Big money owns them. Key outcomes are predetermined. Power brokers share fault.

Partisan politics serve privileged elites. They get the best democracy money can buy. Elections give them cover. Independents are shut out. Major media scoundrels ignore them.

Issues are unaddressed. Horse race journalism and trivia substitute. Voter disenfranchisement is rife. Many are peremptorily stricken from rolls. Others are intimidated not to vote or are detered by various illegal practices.

"Vote caging" is one. It suppresses minority voters by delisting them for not answering "do not forward" registered mail sent to homes they're not living at - because they're at school, in the military, or away for other reasons.

Millions can't vote because of past criminal records or current incarceration in the world's largest gulag at around 2.4 million. Around two-thirds are Blacks and Latinos. Most committed minor nonviolent crimes, including illicit drug possession.

Moreover, half of eligible voters opt out because their concerns aren't addressed. Today they include impoverishment, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and government ignoring their needs.

Post-9/11, elections were privatized. Touchscreen electronic machines vote, not citizens. Over 80% of all 2004 and 2008 votes were cast and counted on corporate-owned, programmed, and operated ones. No verification receipts were provided, and no vetting of corporate "trade secret" software was permitted.

Corporate-run machines are easily manipulated. Votes can be erased, added or changed electronically. As a result, losers are declared winners, and not just for president. Power wins. People lose, and America's democracy is pure fantasy.

Moreover, Western and other governments have proportionally representative (PR) government unlike America's winner-take-all system. PR represents all voters and political parties commensurately with their electoral strength. Thus if candidates from one party win 30% of the votes, they get 30% of legislative seats so that government represents all segments of society fairly.

In contrast, America's system gives a 50.1% majority total power. The other 49.9% is shut out. Democracy is fantasy, not real, especially when results are rigged.

In presidential elections, America's Electoral College system is also systemically flawed, especially when popular totals exceed its count. Examples include Bush v. Gore in 2000 (before months later recount totals showed Gore winning both ways), 1824, 1876, and 1888.

Moreover, in 16 presidential elections, winning candidates fell short of majorities. Under a winner-take-all system excluding runoffs, potential second round favorites lost out.

Bush v. Gore: 2000

On December 12, the Supreme Court hijacked Election 2000. In choosing Bush over Gore, it was the first time in US history a High Court reversed a popular vote (5 - 4) to install its own favorite.

It settled a rigged process to elect Bush. Its outcome hung on Florida's electoral vote. Gross irregularities corrupted it, including:
  • Floridians purged (without verification) because their names, gender, birthplace and race matched countless ex-felons who show up multiple times in state phone directories;
  • alleged crimes listed as committed in future years; and
  • ex-felons of other states removed whose voting rights were restored.
As a result, thousands of names were incorrectly listed and removed from voter rolls pre-election.

Under orders from Governor Jeb Bush, other obstructive practices occurred before and on election day, including:
  • African-American district ballot boxes missing and uncounted;
  • in black precincts, state troopers (near polling sites) intimidating and delaying voters for hours by searching cars and setting up roadblocks;
  • some precincts asking for two photo IDs; Florida law requires only one;
  • obstructing African-American students illegally at polling stations;
  • turning away Black voters for fabricated reasons;
  • failing to mail requested absentee ballots; and
  • forging those received for Bush.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act bans discriminatory practices, disenfranchising blacks, other minorities or anyone. Florida did it egregiously.

Bush v Kerry: 2004

Election 2004 was worse than 2000. The 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA) smoothed the way with electronic ease. It was the first electoral law designed to facilitate fraud. It initiated privatized voting.

Kerry was heavily favored. Florida and Ohio proved decisive. Both were stolen for Bush. Incontrovertible evidence proved it. Voter  disenfranchisement was rife.

Nearly half those requesting absentee ballots never got them. However, military personnel expected to support Bush received theirs.

The Republican National Committee hired consulting firm Sproul & Associates to register voters in six battleground states. They refused to register Democrats.

Malfunctioning New Mexico voting machines wiped out 20,000 votes to let Bush carry the state by a 5,988 margin.

Faulty voting equipment spoiled one million or more ballots. Another three million Black and Latino district ones weren't counted.

Exit polls in 30 or more states differed from final results by amounts beyond margins of error. In all but four states, discrepancies favored Bush. Exit polling is acknowledged to be highly reliable. Election 2004 was the exception to reelect Bush when, in fact, Kerry won handily.

Ohio was especially rigged. Tens of thousands of eligible voters were illegally purged from rolls. Nearly 360,000 overwhelmingly Democrat voters were prevented from casting ballots or didn't get theirs counted. Bush's victory margin was 118,599.

Republican precincts outnumbered Democrat ones. Democrat precincts got fewer voting machines than Republican ones. People waited up to 12 hours to vote. Some gave up and went home. Others were told they were at the wrong precinct.

One in four registrants were told they weren't listed. Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell purged them illegally.

These and other practices were rampant in Ohio, Florida, and other key battleground states. As a result, voter preferences didn't count. Major media scoundrels suppressed truth to reelect Bush over Kerry who won handily but gave it up without protest.

A Final Comment

America's democracy is pure fantasy. Rigged elections lack credibility. Either way, duopoly power runs things. People have no say whatever.

In September, OWS erupted. Change depends on them. Organized people can beat organized money when they fight back and won't quit.

It's how all great battles are won. Millions are in this together. Given the state of today's America, the stakes are too high for failure. There's no turning back now, and they know it.

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.