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Nation of Sheep, Turkey of an Election

Urkainians Show the Way

by DAVE LINDORFF

The Bush administration’s incredible hypocrisy regarding the vote in the Ukraine continues, along with the mainstream media’s stunning avoidance of any discussion of the unseemly parallels between what happened there and what happened in the recent US election.

Last night, CNN had Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who had been sent as an observer of the Ukraine presidential campaign and election, on to discuss the situation. Lugar cited exit polls as his explanation for disbelieving the election win by the incumbent party’s candidate Victor Yanukovich.

Today, the N.Y. Times weighed in with a headline blaring that the Ukraine vote was "Full of Fraud." The article was accompanied by a Ukraine state map highlighting 10 states where fraud had been alleged.

That list of such frauds would sound rather familiar to critics of the campaign shenanigans that Republican-led governments engaged in in Ohio and Florida:

* In Volynska and Lviv, public employees, including firemen, policemen, teachers and other workers were tricked into handing in absentee ballots to their bosses thus precluding them from voting on election day. It is not known what happened to the absentee ballots they handed in. This is a close parallel to the Republicans’ bogus registration drives that had people registering to vote only to have their registration forms shredded and tossed out, and that had students signing "petitions" that turned out to be voter address changes that blocked them from voting where they were going to school.

* In Ivano-Frankovosk, Chernivtsi, Ternopil and Chmelnytskyy, local prosecutors filed criminal cases against local election officials. Not much different from Florida, where the Republican-led state government sicced state police troopers on Democratic Party voter registrars (especially African Americans), actually sending armed officers to people’s homes to interrogate them.

* In Mykolayiv, party activists working for opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s campaign were arrested and manhandled by local police, and charged with such offenses as littering. Not much difference from towns in the U.S. where local police in Republican communities went to local homeowners and ordered them to remove John Kerry signs from their lawns, citing local sign ordinances, or where protesters at Bush/Cheney campaign events were arrested and removed merely for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts or for carrying small Kerry/Edwards signs.

* In Sumska, during the first round of voting in the Ukraine, hundreds of votes were shifted from Mr. Yuschenko to Viktor Yanukovich. This relatively minor example of fraud is simply dwarfed by the tense of thousands of known votes that were shifted by voting machines from Kerry to Bush (at least 20,000 discovered in North Carolina and thousands in Ohio), not to mention evidence that election officials were keeping double paper record tallies from machines in many Florida counties, and were caught trying to throw out the ones that showed higher totals for Kerry. How much more such vote shifting occurred in the U.S. vote is not known, but if the small example found in Sumska can be used to condemn the validity of the whole election there, why is the much larger concrete evidence of fraud in the U.S. being ignored?

* In Donetsk and Luhansk "suspiciously high turnouts" of about 90 percent of voters is cited as evidence of possible fraud, though no concerns get expressed in the mainstream media in the U.S.–indeed artful excuses are offered in an effort to explain away–the staggering and improbable majorities–as much as 85 percent–racked up by Bush in some Florida districts where Democrats vastly outnumbered Republicans among registered voters.

Given the remarkable similarities between the types of frauds being mentioned in the Ukraine election and those that are known to have occurred in the U.S–particularly in the key states of Ohio and Florida, a victory in either one of which would have given a victory to Kerry–it is a grotesque scandal that the U.S. media is not calling the U.S. election a fraud in the same way it is reporting the Ukraine election as a fraud.

It is particularly shocking that much of the fraud that is getting attention in the Ukraine, and that is being cited as grounds for annulling the election results there, involve incidents that related to the campaigning and the registering of voters, i.e.: campaign misconduct and efforts to depress the opposition vote. Here in the U.S., what concerns as are expressed in the media are limited to those, such as the provisional ballots in Ohio, that could affect the vote count. Pre-vote fraud and misconduct, such as deliberate and well-documented efforts by the Republican Secretary of State of Ohio and various Republican-led county election officials to depress Democratic votes by limiting the number of voting machines available in minority districts so that waiting times to vote sometimes stretched beyond eight hours, or the posting of Republican "challengers" to slow down the voting process in Democratic election districts, or efforts by the Republican Florida Secretary of State to use faulty lists to bar alleged felons from registering to vote, are considered irrelevant to the election itself, as they cannot be used to overturn the result.

In the Ukraine, such pre-balloting fraud is considered by the Bush Administration, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as convincing grounds for the election results there to be ignored, on pain of U.S. sanctions of some sort. Not in the U.S., however.

In the view of the Bush administration, the Ukrainian election should be invalidated because it "did not meet international standards."

Now there’s a laugh. Does anyone really think that the recent U.S. election met even minimal international standards?

A nation of sheep in America is getting a lesson in democracy from the former Soviet state of Ukraine. While Americans, Republican and Democrat, sit down to their Thanksgiving dinners and give thanks for living in a nation that deliberately discourages voting, that cuts aid to the poor, and that is currently the aggressor in a brutal war that has already killed 100,000 innocent civilians, hundreds of thousands of voters in the Ukraine are taking to the streets to protest the hijacking of their election. While American leaders, including the defeated Democratic candidate John Kerry, call for national reconciliation, and for acceptance of the tainted victory of George Bush, Ukrainians are being called on by their opposition leader to join in a nation-wide strike. Some states where support for Yushchenko is strongest have actually said they will refuse to recognize the victory of Yanukovich.

You’ve got to ask, who would Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine and Abe Lincoln be cheering for today?

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com