Atelier No.15, article 26
 
 

Michael Moore :
(©excerpt from Stupid White Men, 2001)
 

                                                A Very American Coup
 

THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE WAS INTERCEPTED BY U. N. FORCES ON 9/1/01, AT 0600 HOURS, FROM
SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN CONTINENT:

I am a citizen of the United States of America. Our government has been overthrown. Our elected President has been exiled. Old white men wielding martinis and wearing dickies have occupied our nation's capital.

We are under siege. We are the United States Government-in-Exile.

Our numbers are not insignificant. There are over 154 mil-lion adults among us, and 80 million children. That's 234 million people who did not vote for, and are not represented by, the regime that has placed itself in power.

Al Gore is the elected President of the United States. He received 539,898 more votes than George W Bush. But he does not sit tonight in the Oval Office. Instead our elected President roams the country without purpose or mission, surfacing only to lecture college students and replenish his stash of Little Debbie's Snack Cakes.

Al Gore won. Al Gore, President-in-Exile. Long live El Presidente Albertooooooo Gorrrrrrrrrrre!

So who, then, is the man that now occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I'll tell you who:
He is George W Bush, "President" of the United States. The Thief-in-Chief
It used to be that politicians would wait until they were in office before they became crooks. This one came prepackaged. Now he is a trespasser on federal land, a squatter in the Oval Office. If I told you this was Guatemala, you'd believe it in a heartbeat, no matter what your political stripe. But because this coup was wrapped in an American flag, delivered in your choice of red, white, or blue, those responsible believe they're going to get away with it.

That's why, on behalf of 234 million Americans held hostage, I have requested that NATO do what it did in Bosnia and Kosovo, what America did in Haiti, what Lee Marvin did in The Dirty Dozen:

Send in the Marines! Launch the SCUD missiles! Bring us the head of Antonin Scalia!

I have sent a personal request to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to hear our plea. We are no longer able to govern our-selves or to hold free and fair elections. We need U.N. observers, U.N. troops, U.N. resolutions!

Dammit, we need Jimmy Carter!

We are now finally no better than a backwater banana repub-lic. We are asking ourselves why any of us should bother to getup in the morning to work our asses off to produce goods and ser-vices that only serve to make the junta and its cohorts in Corpo-rate America (a separate, autonomous fiefdom within the United States that has been allowed to run on its own for some time) even richer. Why should we pay our taxes to finance their coup? Can we ever again send our sons off into baffle to give their lives defending "our way of life"-when all that really means is the lifestyle of the gray old men holed up in the headquarters they seized by the Potomac?

Oh JesusMaryAndJoseph, I can't take it! Somebody pass me the uni-versal remote! I need to switch hack to the fairy tale that I was a citizen in a democracy with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happy Meals The story I was told as a child said that I mattered, that I was equal to every one of my fellow citizens --and that not a single one of us was to be treated differently or unfairly, that no one was to wield power over others without their consent The will of the people. America the Beautiful. Land that I love. Twilight's'... last  .... gleaming. Oh, say, can you see --are the Belgian peacekeepers on their way? Hurry!

The coup began long before the shenanigans on Election Day 2000. In the summer of 1999 Katherine Harris, an honorary Stupid White Man who was both George W. Bush's presidential campaign co-chairwoman and the Florida secretary of state in charge of elections, paid $4 million to Database Technologies to go through Florida's voter rolls and remove anyone "suspected" of being a former felon. She did so with the blessing of the gover-nor of Florida, George W's brother Jeb Bush-whose own wife was caught by immigration officials trying to sneak $19,000 worth of jewelry into the country without declaring and paying tax on it... a felony in its own right. But hey, this is America. We don't prosecute felons if they're rich or married to a governing Bush.

The law states that ex-felons cannot vote in Florida. And sadly (though I'm confident that Florida's justice system was always unimpeachably fair), that means 31 percent of all black men in Florida are prohibited from voting because they have a felony on their record. Harris and Bush knew that removing the names of ex-felons from the voter rolls would keep thousands of black citi-zens out of the voting booth.

Black Floridians, overwhelming, are Democrats --and sure enough, Al Gore received the votes of more than 90 percent of them on November 7, 2000.

That is, 90 percent of those who were allowed to vote.

In what appears to he a mass fraud committed by the state of Florida, Bush, Harris, and company not only removed thousands of black felons from the rolls, they also removed thousands of black citizens who had never committed a crime in their lives-along with thousands of eligible voters who had committed only misde-meanors.

How did this happen? Harris's office told Database-a firm with strong Republican ties --to cast as wide a net as possible to get rid of these voters. Her minions instructed the company to include even people with "similar" names to those of the actual felons. They insisted Database check people with the same birth dates as known felons, or similar Social Security numbers; an 80 percent match of relevant information, the election office instructed, was sufficient for Database to add a voter to the ineligible list.

These orders were shocking, even to Bush-friendly Database. They would mean that thousands of legitimate voters might be barred from voting on Election Day just because they had a name that sounded like someone else's, or shared a birthday with some unknown bank robber. Marlene Thorogood, the Database proj-ect manager, sent an E-mail to Emmett "Bucky" Mitchell, a lawyer for Katherine Harris's election division, warning him that "Unfortunately  programming in this fashion may supply you with false positives," or misidentifications.

Never mind that, said ol' Bucky. His response. "Obviously, we want to capture more names that possibly aren't matches and let [county election] supervisors make a final determination rather than exclude certain matches altogether."

Database did as they were told. And before long 173,000 reg-istered voters in Florida were permanently wiped off the voter rolls. In Miami-Dade, Florida's largest county; 66 percent of the voters who were removed were black. In Tampa's county; 54 per-cent of those who would be denied the right to vote on Novem-ber 7, 2000, were black.

But culling names from Florida's records alone was not enough for Harris and her department. Eight thousand addi-tional Floridians were thrown off the voting rolls because Data-base used a false list supplied by another state, a state which claimed that all the names on the list were former convicted felons who had since moved to Florida.
It turns out that the felons on the list had served their time and had all their voting privileges reinstated. And there were others on the list who had committed only misdemeanors --such as parking violations or littering. What state was it that offered Jeb and George a helping hand by sending this bogus list to Florida?

Texas.

This entire incident stunk to the high heavens, but the Amer-ican media ignored it. It took the British Broadcasting Corpora-tion to dig deep into this story, running fifteen-minute segments on its prime-time news program revealing all the sordid details and laying responsibility for the scam right at the doorstep of Governor Jeb Bush. It's a sad day when we have to look to a coun-try 5,000 miles away to find out the truth about our own elec-tions. Eventually the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post picked up the story, but it received little attention.)

This assault on the voting rights of minorities was so wide-spread in Florida that it even affected people like Linda Howell. Linda received a letter informing her that she was a felon-and therefore advising her not to bother showing up on Election Day, because she would be barred from voting. The only problem was, Linda Howell wasn't a felon-in fact, she was the elections super-visor of Madison County, Florida! She and other local election officials tried to get the stare to rectify the problem, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. They were told that everyone who complained about being prevented from voting should submit themselves for fingerprinting-and then let the state determine whether or not they were felons.

On November 7, 2000, as black Floridians flocked to the polls in record numbers, many were met at the ballot boxes with a blunt rebuke: "You cannot vote." In a number of precincts in Florida's inner cities, the polling locations were heavily fortified with police to block anyone on Katherine and Jeb's "felons list" from voting. Hundreds of law-abiding citizens looking to exercise their constitutional right to vote, mostly in black and Hispanic communities, were sent away-and threatened with arrest if they protested.

George W Bush would officially be credited with receiving 537 more votes than Al Gore in Florida. Is it safe to assume that the thousands of registered black and Hispanic voters
barred from the polls might have made the difference if they had been allowed to vote-and cost Bush the election? Without a doubt.

On election night, after the polls closed, there was much con-fusion over what was happening with the counting of the votes in Florida. Finally a decision was made by the man m charge of the election night desk for the Fox News Channel. He decided that Fox should go on the air and declare that Bush had won Florida and thus the election. And that's what happened. Fox formally declared Bush the winner.

But down in Tallahassee, the counting of the votes had not yet been completed; in fact, the Associated Press insisted it was still too close to call, and refused to follow Fox's lead.

Not so the other networks. They ran like lemmings after Fox made the call, afraid that they would be seen as slow or out of the loop --even though their own news reporters on the ground were insisting that it was too early to call the election. But who needs reporters when you're playing follow the leader-the leader, in this case, being John Ellis, the man in charge of Fox's election coverage. Who is John Ellis?

He's a first cousin of George W and Jeb Bush.

Once Ellis made the call and everyone followed suit, there was no going back-and nothing was more psychologically devastat-ing for Gore's chances of winning than the sudden perception that HE was being the spoiler by asking for recounts, withdraw-ing his concession of defeat, tying up the courts with lawyers and lawsuits. The truth is that during all of this, Gore actually was ahead-he had the most votes-but that was never how the news media played it.

The one moment from that election night I will never forget came earlier in the evening, after the networks had first-correctly-projected the state of Florida for Gore. The cameras cut to a hotel room in Texas. There sat George W with his father, the former President, and his mother, Barbara. The old man appeared cool as a cucumber; even though it looked like curtains for Sonny. A reporter asked young flush what he thought about the outcome.

"I'm not... conceding anything in Florida," Junior piped up, semicoherently. "I know you've all the projections, but people are actually counting the votes. The networks called this thing awfully earlier and people are actually counting the votes have different perspective so..." It was an odd moment in that crazy night of election result coverage. The Bushes, with their relaxed smiles, looked like a family of cats that had just wolfed down a hunch of canaries-as if they knew something we didn't.

They did. They knew Jeb and Katherine had done their job months earlier. They knew cousin John was holding down the fort at Fox election central. And if all else tailed, there was always that team Poppy could count on: the United States Supreme Court.
As we all know; that's exactly what happened for the next thirty-six days. The forces of the Empire struck back, and they did so without mercy. While Gore was stupidly concentrating on getting recounts in a few counties, the Bush team was going after the holy grail-the overseas absentee ballots. Many of these bal-lots would come from the military, which typically votes Republi-can, and would finally give Bush the lead that denying the vote to thousands of blacks and Jewish grandmothers hadn't.

Gore knew this, and tried to make sure the ballots underwent maximum scrutiny before they could be counted. Sure, this ran contrary to the "let every vote be counted" plea he'd made when calling for recounts. But he also had Florida law, which is pretty clear about this, on his side. It states that overseas absentee ballots can only be counted if they were cast and signed on or before election day, and mailed and postmarked from another country by election day.

But while Jim Baker was chanting his mantra --"It is not fair to change the rules and standards governing the counting or recounting of votes after it appears that one side has concluded that is the only way to get the votes it need s"-he and his opera-tives were doing just that.

A July 2001 investigation by the New York Times showed that of the 2,490 overseas ballots that ended up being included in the certified election results, 680 were considered flawed and ques-tionable. Bush got the overseas vote by a ratio of 4 to 5. By that percentage, 544 of the votes that went to Bush should have been thrown out. Got the math? Suddenly Bush's "winning margin" of 537 votes is down to a chilly negative 7.
So how did all these votes end up being counted for Bush? Within hours of the election, the Bush campaign had launched their attack. The first step was to make sure that as many ballots got in as possible. Republican operatives sent out frantic F-mails
to navy ships asking them to dig up any ballots that might be hanging around. They even put in a call to Clinton Defense Sec-retary William S. Cohen (a Republican) to ask him to put pres-sure on the military outposts. He declined, but it didn't matter:
thousands of votes poured in --even some that were signed after election day.
Now all they had to do was make sure that as many of these votes as possible went to W And so the real thievery began.

According to the Times, Katherine Harris had planned to send out a memo to her canvassing boards clarifying the procedure for counting overseas ballots. Included in this memo was a reminder that state law required all ballots to have been "postmarked or signed and dated" by election day. When it was clear that George's lead was rapidly shrinking, she decided not to send the memo. Instead she sent out a note that said ballots "are not required to be postmarked on or prior to" election day. Hmmm.

What caused her to change her mind-and the law? We may never know, since the computer records that showed what hap-pened have been mysteriously erased --a possible violation of Florida's Sunshine Laws. Now, long after the horse has left the barn, Harris has turned over her hard drives to the media for inspection --but only after her own computer consultant "looked them over. This is a woman who is now planning to run for Congress. Can these people get any more shameless?
Armed with the blessing of the secretary of state, the Republi-cans launched an all-out campaign to make sure as broad a stan-dard as possible was used in counting these absentee ballots. "Equal representation," Florida style, meant that the rules gov-erning acceptance or denial of your absentee ballot depended on what county you were from. Perhaps that would explain why in counties where Gore won, only 2 out of 10 absentee ballots with unclear postmarks were counted; in Bush counties, predictably, 6 out of 10 such ballots made it into the final tally.

When the Democrats complained that ballots that didn't follow the rules shouldn't be counted, the Republicans launched a fierce public relations campaign to make it look as if the Demo-crats were trying to screw the men and women who were risking their lives for our country A Republican city council member from Naples was typical in his hyperbole: "If they catch a bullet, or fragment from a terrorist bomb, that fragment does not have any postmark or registration of any kind." Republican Congressman Steve Buyer from Indiana even obtained  (possibly illegally) the phone numbers and E-mail addresses of military personnel so that he could gather tales of ballot-denial woe to garner sympathy for "our fighting men and women." Even Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf weighed in with the reflection that "it's a very sad day in our country" when Democrats start harassing military voters.

All the pressure worked on the wimpy, spineless Democrats. They choked. While appearing on Meet the Press, vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman argued that the Democrats should stop creating a fuss and not be bothered that hundreds of military bal-lots were being counted, just because they weren't "postmarked."

Lieberman, like so many others among this new breed of Democrats, should have fought for principle instead of worrying about image. Why? Well, as the New flrk Times found out:

  * 344 ballots had no evidence that they were cast on or before Election Day

* 183 ballots were postmarked in the United States

* 96 ballots lacked appropriate witness information

* 169 ballots came from unregistered voters, had envelopes that weren't signed
properly, or came from people who hadn't requested a ballot

* 5 ballots came after the November 17 deadline

* 19 overseas voters voted on two ballots-and had both counted

All of these ballots violated Florida law, yet they all were counted. Can I say this any louder? Bush didn't win! Gore did. It has nothing to do with chads, or even the blatant repression of Florida's African-American community and their right to vote. It was a sim-ple matter of breaking the law; all documented, all the evidence sitting there in Tallahassee, clearly marked without question-and all done purposefully to throw the election to Bush.

On the morning of Saturday, December 9, 2000, the Supreme Court got word that the recounts in Florida, in spite of everything the Bush camp had done to fix the elections, were going in favor of Al Gore. By 2 PM., the unofficial tally showed that Gore was catching up to Bush-"only 66 votes down, and gaining!" as one breathless newscaster put it. It was critical to Bush that the words "Al Gore is in the lead" never be heard on American television: With only moments to spare, they did what they had to do. At 2:45 that afternoon, the Supreme Court stopped the recount.

On the Court sat Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor and Nixon appointee Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Both in their seventies, they were hoping to retire under a Republican adminis-tration so that their replacements would share their conservative ideology. On election night, O'Connor was heard lamenting at a party in Georgetown that she couldn't hold out another four or eight-years. Junior Bush was their only hope for securing a con-tented retirement in their home state of Arizona.

Meanwhile, two other justices with extremist right-wing view-points found themselves with a conflict of interest. Justice Clarence Thomas's wife, Virginia Lamp Thomas, worked at the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank in D.C.; now; she has just been hired by George W. Bush to help recruit people to serve in his impending administration. And Eugene Scalia, the son of Justice Antonin Scalia, was a lawyer with the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher --the very law firm represent-ing Hush before the Supreme Court!

But neither Thomas nor Scalia saw any conflict of interest, and they refused to remove themselves from the case. In fact, when the Court convened later; it was Scalia who issued the now-infamous explanation of why the ballot-counting had to be halted: "The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does, in my view, threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [Bush], and to the country; by casting a cloud upon what he [Bush] claims to be the legitimacy of his election." In other words, if we let aH the votes be counted and they come out in Gore's favor; and Gore wins, well, that will impair Bush's ability to govern once we install him as "President."

True enough: if the ballots proved that Gore had won-which they eventually would-then I guess that would tend to dampen the country's feelings of legitimacy about a Bush presidency.

In their decision, the Court used the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment-the same amendment they've loudly disclaimed when used by blacks over the years to halt dis-crimination based on race-to justify the theft. Because of the variation in the recount methods, they argued, voters in each dis-trict weren't being treated equally, and therefore their rights were being violated. Funny, but only the dissenters on the court men-tioned that the antiquated voting equipment found dispropor-tionately in poor and minority Florida neighborhoods had created an entirely different-and far more disturbing- -inequal-ity in the system.)

Eventually the press got around to conducting their own recounts of the votes, doing their best to spin the jumbled ball of public confusion into orbit. The headline in the Miami Herald read: "Review of ballots finds Bush's win would have endured man-ual recount." But if yon read the entire story, buried deep inside was this paragraph: "Bush's lead would have vanished if the recount had been conducted under the severely restrictive standards that some Republicans advocated.... The review found that the result would have been different if every canvassing board in every county had examined every undervote... [Under] the most inclusive standard [that is, a standard that sought to include the true will of ALL the people] Gore would have won by 393 votes.... On ballots that [suggested] a fault with either the machine or the voter's ability to use it... Gore would have won by 299 votes."

I did not vote for Al Gore, but I think any fair person would conclude that the will of the people in Florida clearly went his way. Whether it was the counting debacle or the exclusion of thousands of black citizens that corrupted the results, there is lit-tle doubt that Gore was the people's choice.

There was perhaps no worse example of the wholesale denial of the right of each voter to have his vote properly counted than in Palm Beach County. Much has been made of the "butterfly ballot," which made it easy to vote for the wrong person because candidates' names and punch holes were crammed unevenly onto facing pages. The media went out of its way to point out that the ballot was designed by one of the county's election commission-ers, a Democrat, and then approved by the majority-Democrat local board. What right did Gore have to complain if his own party was responsible for the faulty design of the ballot?

Had anyone bothered to check, they would have discovered that one of the two "Democrats" on the committee-the ballot's designer, Theresa LePore had actually been a registered Repub-lican. She switched her affiliation to Democrat in 1996; then, just three months after Bush seized office, she resigned as a Democrat and switched her voter registration to Independent. No one in the press bothered to question what was really going on.

Thus, the Palm Beach Post estimates that more than 3,000 vot-ers, mostly elderly and Jewish, who thought they were voting for Al Gore ended up punching the wrong hole-for Pat Buchanan. Even Buchanan went on TV to declare that no way in hell did those Jewish voters vote for him.

On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush, positioned with his junta on the Capitol steps, stood in front of Chief Justice Rehnquist and took the oath that Presidents take at their inaugurations. A cold and steady rain fell over Washington throughout the day. Dark clouds obscured the sun, and the parade route, usually jammed with tens of thousands of citizens all the way to the White House, was eerily bare.

Except for the 20,000 protesters who jeered Bush every inch of the way. Holding signs denouncing Bush for stealing the elec-tion, the rain-soaked demonstrators were the conscience of the nation. Bush's limousine could not avoid them. Instead of cheer-ing crowds of supporters, he was greeted by good people moved to remind this illegitimate ruler that he did not win the election and that the people would never forget.

At the traditional point where Presidents since Jimmy Carter have stopped their limos and emerged to walk the last four blocks (as a reminder that we are a nation ruled not by kings but by, uh, equals), Bush's triple-armored black car with its dark-tinted windows-favored by mobsters everywhere came to an abrupt halt. The crowd grew louder-"HAIL TO THE THIEF." You could see the Secret Service and Bush's advisers huddling in the freezing rain, trying to figure out what to do. If Bush got out and walked, he would be booed, shouted down, and pelted with eggs the rest of the way The limousine sat there for what must have been five minutes. The rain poured. Eggs and tomatoes hit the car. The protesters dared Bush to step out and face them.

Then, suddenly, the President's car bolted and tore down the street. The decision had been made-hit the gas and get past this rabble as quickly as possible. The Secret Service agents running beside the limo were left behind, the car's tires splashing dirty rain from the street onto the men who were there to protect its passen-ger. It might have been the finest thing I have ever witnessed in Washington, D.C.-a pretender to the American throne forced to turn tail and run from thousands of American citizens armed only with the Truth and the ingredients of a decent omelet.

Once the American Lie put the pedal to the metal, it ran for cover to the bulletproof reviewing stand in front of the White House. Many of Bush's family and invited guests had already left to get dry But George stood there and waved proudly at the marching bands, their instruments disabled by the rain, the long parade of floats wilted and crumbled by the time they arrived at the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. Every so often a lucky convertible passed by, carrying the few dampened celebrities Hush had convinced to honor him --Kelsey Grammer, Drew Carey, Chuck Norris. By parade's end Bush stood alone in the stands, drenched, even his parents having deserted him for shel-ter. It was a pathetic sight-the poor little rich boy who came in second showing up to claim his prize, with no one there to cheer him on.

Sadder still were the 154 million of us who had not voted for him. In a nation of 200 million voters, I would say we constitute the majority.

And yet what could George W. have been thinking, other than "What, me worry?" There were plenty of hired hands to be installed in the White House, pulling the strings for their puppet President. With Daddy's old buddies called back to D.C. to lend a hand, Georgie could sit back and tell the public he was "dele-gating." The puppetmasters moved in, and the business of run-ning the world could easily be left to them.

And who are these fine, patriotic pillars of the Bush junta? They represent the modest and selfless ranks of corporate Amer-ica, and they are listed below, for easy reference, to help the United Nations and NATO forces round them up when they arrive to restore order and democracy. Grateful citizens will line the boulevards and avenues and cheer their arrival.

Personally, I will settle for nothing less than multiple show tri-als and their immediate deportation to a real banana republic. God Bless America!
 
 

WHO'S WHO IN THE COUP

Acting President/"Vice President"-Dick Cheney

I'm not sure yet where the "compassionate" part of "compassion-ate conservatism" comes from, but I do know where the conser-vatism resides. For six terms Dick Cheney was a congressman representing Wyoming, and he had one of the most conservative voting records of all 435 members of Congress. Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, against funding the Head Start program, against a House resolution calling for South Africa to release Nelson Mandela from prison, and against fed-eral funding for abortions even in cases of rape or incest. And his record doesn't stop there. Cheney has had his hand in all of the recent Republican administrations, including that of Richard Nixon, when he was deputy White House counsel under Don "Rummy" Rumsfeld. He replaced Rumsfeld as President Ford's chief of staff. Under George Bush I, Cheney was defense sec-retary, leading the country in two of the largest military cam-paigns in recent history: the invasion of Panama and the war against Iraq.

In between Bush regimes, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton Industries, an oil services company that has dealings with re-pressive governments like Burma and fraq. During the 2000 campaign, Cheney denied that Halliburton had a business rela-tionship with Saddam Hussein. Then, in June 2001, the Washing-ton Post revealed that in fact two Halliburton subsidiaries were doing business with Iraq. Can you imagine the field day Repub-licans would have had if they'd ever discovered such a thing about Clinton or Gore? And Alaska isn't the only place Cheney has suggested we dig up: Halliburton has a major construction deal in the development of Mexico's Cantarell offshore oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. When nominated for the vice presidency, Cheney hemmed and hawed about divesting himself of his Halliburton stock. I guess he knew that good times were still to come.
 

Attorney General-John Ashcroft

The man in charge of overseeing our justice system is a man who has opposed all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest; who is against providing job discrimination protection for homosexuals; who voted to limit the death penalty appeals process (and then oversaw seven executions as governor); and who has been a staunch supporter of out-of control, over-the-top drug laws. Perhaps this record could explain why he lost his Senate reelec-tion bid against a dead man. For his efforts, however, Ashcroft received substantial donations from AT&T Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Monsanto. The Schering-Plough pharmaceutical com-pany contributed $50,00~perhaps as a thank-you for the bill he had introduced that would have extended the company's patent on the allergy pill Claritin. (The bill ultimately failed.) All this pharmaceutical funding may also explain why Ashcroft has voted against including prescription drugs under the Medicare pro-gram. Another campaign contributor, Microsoft, gave Ashcroft $10,000 through his joint 62nd-raising committee with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Lucky for them he lost the Senate race, so that he can turn his full attention to run-ning the Justice Department --or, that is, standing back while the software giant, newly freed of the court ruling that would have split the company in two, is allowed to run amok under his watchful eye.

Ashcroft is also to the right (if such a thing is possible) of the National Rifle Association when it comes to gun control. His first pro-gun act as attorney general was to announce that within twenty-four hours of a purchase and background check, all background-check files on persons who purchase guns will be destroyed by the Justice Department (leaving the government with NO record of who has a gun or what kind of gun they have).
 

Secretary of the Treasury-Paul O'Neill

This champion of the abolition of corporate taxes served as pres-ident and CEO of Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum manufac-turer (and one of the biggest polluters in Texas) before joining the Bush administration. Alcoa no longer has its own Political Action Committee (PAC) hut instead does its lobbying through the law firm of Vinson & Elkins. That firm, the third largest con-tributor to Bush's campaign, was able to work a loophole into Texas environmental regulations that allowed Alcoa to emit 60,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year. Alcoa has also been a big contributor to O'Neill's pockets. O'Neill recently sold off his shares in Alcoa-which make up a large portion of his $62 million in assets --but did so only begrudgingly and very slowly, first watching them rise 30 percent during his time in office. As Treasury chief, O'Neill has said that Social Security and Medicare are not necessary. Perhaps that's because he receives an annual pension from Alcoa of $926,000.
 

Secretary of Agriculture-Ann Veneman

Like many in the Bush cabinet, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has a long career within Republican administrations. She worked for both Ronald Reagan and Poppy Bush
and then served as director of California's Food and Agriculture Department under Governor Pete Wilson. In California she encouraged policies that have helped giant corporate farms squeeze out family-owned farms --so that now, for example, a mere four companies process 80 percent of American-produced beef. One of the least wealthy of the cabinet members (worth a mere $680,000), Veneman supplemented her income by serving on the board of Calgene --the first company to market geneti-cally engineered foods to stores. Calgene was bought out by Monsanto, the nation's leading biotech company. Monsanto was then bought by Pharmacia. Monsanto, which gave $12,000 to Bush's presidential campaign, is trying to block legislation that would require food labels to identify biotech ingredients. Veneman has also served on the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade, a group funded by major food manufacturers such as Nestlé and Archer Daniels Midland.
 

Secretary of commerce-Don Evans

Before coming to the Bush administration, Evans was chairman and CEO of Tom Brown, Inc., a $1.2 billion oil and gas company. Evans also sat on the board of TMBR/Sharp Drilling. As finance chair for Bush's campaign, he set a hind-raising record of more than $190 million. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-which controls the country's coastlines-falls within this oil man's domain.
 

Secretary of Defense-Don Rumsfeld

Don Rumsfeld is an old-school Republican hawk. He was White House counsel to Richard Nixon, where he worked alongside Dick Cheney. While serving as President Ford's secretary of defense and then as Ford's chief of staff Rumsfeld was able,
almost single-handedly, to kill the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union. He has consistently opposed any arms control, calling the ARM treaty "ancient history" during his 2001 confirmation hear-ing. A longtime supporter of "Star Wars" defense schemes, Rumsfeld oversaw a 1998 commission that measured the ballistic missile threat to the United States. Rumsfeld, aka Chicken Little, claimed that the United States would feel such threats from rogue nations within five years {half the amount of time the CIA predicted). When not pushing B-I bombs or MX missiles, Rumsfeld has been CEO of the G. D. Searle pharmaceutical company (now owned by Pharmacia) and General Instrument (now owned by Motorola). Before joining the Hush administra-tion, he sat on several boards, including Kellogg's, Sears, Allstate, and the Tribune Company (which publishes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times and owns a chain of TV stations, including New York's Channel 11).

Secretary of Energy-Spencer Abraham

As a senator from Michigan, Abraham had such a strong antien-vironment record that the League of Conservation Voters gave him a zero rating. He opposed research into renewable energy, wanted to repeal the federal gas tax, and thought oil drilling in Alaska was a good idea. Perhaps that's why he voted in 2000 to abolish the department he now leads. Abraham received more from the automotive industry-$700,000-ffian any other candi-date. One of the largest contributors was DaimlerChrysler, which is part of the Coalition for Vehicle Choice, a trade group trying to stop an increase in fuel economy standards. This year DaimlerChrysler has plans to introduce a longer-body SUV that gets about 10 miles per gallon. No worries: when he was a sena-tor; Abraham also voted against increasing fuel-efficiency requirements for SUVs.

Secretary of Health and Human Services-Tommy Thompson

The man who will have perhaps the greatest role in dealing with the tobacco industry should have no trouble being objective about policy. After all, just because Thompson served on the advisory board of the Washington Legal Fund as it filed briefs on behalf of those who would promote smoking --or because as gov-ernor he received about $72,000 in campaign contributions from Philip Morris, or because Philip Morris paid for several trips abroad that Thompson made to promote free trade-is no reason to think he won't be able to act impartially on this health issue. Too bad he recently sold his Philip Morris stock for an amount between $15,000 and $50,OOCWas these should be very good years for Big Tobacco.

Good times ahead for wire hanger manufacturers, too. Tommy T is what they like to call "pro-life," putting up as many roadblocks to a women's right to an abortion as possible. As gov-ernor of Wisconsin he required women to seek counseling and wait three days before having the procedure.

Secretary of the Interior-Gale Norton

Gale Norton is already following in the footsteps of her mentor and predecessor, James Watt. She started her legal career with the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative environ-mental think tank funded by oil companies and founded by Watt. Working closely with this group, Norton helped the state of Alaska challenge an Interior Department fisheries law. She has declared the Endangered Species Act unconstitutional and written legal opinions against the National Environmental Pro-tection Act. As a lawyer with Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber, Norton represented Delta Petroleum and lobbied for NL Industries (formerly known as National Lead) while it defended itself in lawsuits over children's exposure to lead paint. She was also national chairwoman of the Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates, a group funded by Ford Motor Company and BP Amoco.
 

Secretary of Labor-Elaine Chao

Chao has worked primarily in the nonprofit sector, with United Way and the Peace Corps, but has also sat on the boards of Dole Food, Clorox, and health care companies C. R. Bard (who pleaded guilty in the 1990s to manufacturing faulty heart catheters and conducting illegal experiments on the devices) and the behemoth Hospital Corporation of America (PICA). She also sat on the board of Northwest Airlines. She is married to conservative Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Secretary of State-Colin Powell

When not fighting wars, Powell sat on the boards of Gulfstream Aerospace and AOL. Gulfstream makes jets for both Hollywood honchos and foreign governments like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. During his time at AOL the company merged with Time Warner, and Powell's stock rose in value by $4 million. At the time, Colin's son, Michael Powell, had been the only Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member who advocated that the AOL/Time Warner merger go through without ques-tion. Powell's son has since been named chairman of the FCC by George W Bush; part of his job is to oversee the activities of AOL/Time Warner. He will also oversee any regulation of AOL's monopolistic "instant messaging" technology.

Secretary of Transportation-Norman Y. Mineta

A leftover from the Clinton administration, the only "Democrat" in Bush's cabinet, Mineta has his own corporate connections. When he was a congressman representing Silicon Valley, he received campaign contributions from Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, Greyhound, Boeing, and Union Pacific. After retiring from the House, he went to work at Lockheed Martin. What better place to park himself now than at the cabinet department that "oversees" all of them?
 

White House Chief of Staff-Andrew H. Card Jr.

Card was General Motors's chief lobbyist before leaving to work in the Bush administration. He was also CEO of the now-defunct American Automobile Manufacturers Association, which lobbied against stricter fuel emissions standards and fought over trade issues with Japan. Card testified before Congress on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Lobbying Group against the "Passenger's Bill of Rights." He personally contributed $1,000 each to the losing campaigns of John Ashcroft and Spencer Abraham.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget-Mitch Daniels Jr.

Daniels was formerly a senior vice president of Eli Lilly pharma-ceuticals. In his present position, Daniels will oversee the draft-ing of the federal budget, including how much money (if any) will be earmarked for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare patients~a provision Eli Lilly and other pharmaceutical com-panies are lobbying against. Daniels also owns stock worth between $50,000 and $100,000 in GE, Citigroup, and Merck. The chances of this administration allowing a prescription drug benefit for seniors to pass in the next year are about as good as those of me setting myself on fire in front of a Rite Aid.

National Security Adviser-Condoleezza Rice

For her service on Chevron's board of directors, Rice had a 130,000-ton oil tanker named after her. She was also a director at Charles Schwab and Transamerica, and has served as an adviser for J. P Morgan; she also served on Hush the Elder's National
Security team.

Senior Adviser to the President-Karl Rove

A longtime supporter and friend of Bush, Rove was once an adviser to Philip Morris. For five years, while he was an adviser to Governor Bush, the tobacco company paid him $3,000 a month to get his inside opinion on what was happening in the elections and with the candidates. Since Rove took the job at the White House, he has been under constant fire for using his posi-tion to further the interests of companies in which he owns stock. Recently Rove was criticized for holding meetings with Intel executives about a prospective merger while at the same time he held Intel stock (part of an overall portfolio valued at between $1 million and $2.5 minion). The merger was approved two months after the meetings, and Rove sold his stock a month later.

Shadow Adviser to the President-Kenneth L. Lay

Lay is the head of Enron, the largest electricity trader in the United States and a top contributor to the Bush presidential campaign. Lay has used his close relationship with the President to pressure the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed up energy deregulation. Lay has apparently provided Bush with a list of preferred candidates for key commis-sion posts. Thanks in part to the California energy crisis, Enron has quickly grown into a $100 billion company. Bush and Cheney rely on Lay for advice; some administration appointees must first be "interviewed" by Lay before getting the job.

As you can see, friends and neighbors, this is a regime that is intent on lining its pockets-and who won't leave office without a fight. It is their mission to combine their economic and (newly acquired) political power to rule the country and help their friends get even richer along the way.

These Stupid White Men must be stopped. I have informed Kofi Annan of the various locations where these (mostly) men can be found and apprehended by U.N. troops. Mr. Annan, I beseech you. You have invaded other countries for less grievous offenses. Do not ignore our plight. We plead with you: Save the United States of America! Demand that new, clean elections be held. Give the junta forty-eight hours to agree --and, if they don't, then treat them to a U.S. Air Force-style laser light show!
 
 

HOW TO STAGE THE COUNTERCOUP.
We, the people, can start a groundswell that will eventually top-ple the Bush/Cheney junta-with a commitment of only a couple of hours a week. Here's how:

1. Contact your representatives on a weekly basis, and get three friends to do the same. Senators, members of congress, and other elected officials PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION to the calls, letters, and telegrams they receive. Each day they receive a tally of their constituents' messages. Take just a few minutes each week, and let your thoughts be known.

The Bush agenda can be brought to a grinding halt by a public outcry --and even a
few hundred letters can consti-tute an outcry. Several Bush policies have already
been shelved after public disapproval. IT WORKS! We all whine too much; why
not put itto good use? Pick an issue you care about and do the following today:

a. Call 202-224-3121-the U.S. Capitol switchboard. Just tell them your zip code, and they'll transfer you to your representanve.
b. Write to: Office of Senator[Name], United States
 Senate, Washington, DC 20510; or to: Office of
 Representative [Name], United States House of
 Representatives, Washington DC, 20515.
c. E-mail: For Senators, go to <www.senate.gov/
       contacting/index_by_state.cfm>;
       for Representatives, go to <www.house.gov/writerep/>
d. Send a telegram: call Western Union-1-800-325-6000~or visit their
       Web site: <www.westernunion. com>

2. Dog Bush wherever He Goes. If you hear Junior's com-ing to town, organize a group of friends to protest the event. Remind the media that Bush doesn't govern by the will of the people. Be loud. Be funny. Signs, street theater, mock trials-show him there's no safe haven from the Truth.

1. Force the Democrats to do their job. Obviously, the eas-iest way to counter the coup is to get the "opposition" to fight the good fight. But it won't be easy: today's Democrats have little time for those who can't make their $1,000-a-plate dinners. So here's how to start a little Democratic behavior modification program:

· Take the Pledge. Go to my Web site (www. michaelmoore.com) and sign the
        on-line petition that challenges the Democrats in Congress to stand up to
        Bush/Cheney and fast --or we'll work to deny them Congressional leadership
        next year by running Greens in close races where the Democrat's just a
        Republican in a bad suit.
· Take over your local Democratic Party; Inmost counties the local Democratic
      Party is run by just a few people, 'cause most citizens would never think of
      showing up. Go the next county or town Party meeting, and bring ten friends.
      In most cases your bunch will constitute a majority. Use the rules and the state
      party by-laws (which can often be found on the Web) and seize control.
 

1. YOU must run for office. That's right-YOU, the person reading this book. It's the only way things are ever going to change. Unless normal, decent people run for govern-ment office, the job is left to rascals. How can we carp about crooked politicians if we won't do the job ourselves? It's time for YOU to throw your hat in the ring-and to do it next year. You can run for school board, city council, county treasurer, drain commissioner, city or county clerk, state representative, state senate, state board of education, secretary of state, governor, member of Congress, U.S. Senator, even dogcatcher --or any number of other offices. The one you should definitely run for is precinct delegate. Every precinct in America elects delegates from each party; it may be the lowliest office, but it's also the foun-dation on which the whole house of cards is built. Selected delegates attend the national party conventions to nomi-nate the presidential candidates; you should he among them.

And I'm not just saying this --I'm doing it, this year, and getting a dozen friends to run in their precincts too. It requires collecting enough signatures to get your name on the ballot, and qualifications vary. But so few people vote in primaries --and so many precincts end up with no candi-dates-- that often getting elected isn't much harder than just showing up. So head down to your board of elections or county clerk's office and pick up some petitions before the deadline passes.

These are only a few of the measures we can take to stage our countercoup. Whether you do it as a Democrat, or a Green, or just one pissed-off citizen, the important thing is to rise up and do it.