Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Revenge, Intimidation & Contempt In Ohio Attack

Bush/Rove's new Ohio attack is about revenge, intimidation and contempt for American democracy

by Harvey Wasserman
January 21, 2005

As the toxic dust settles on George W. Bush's second illegitimate inauguration, his moral legacy has been defined by the GOP's new attack on Ohio's 2004 election challenge legal team.

Republican Attorney General Jim Petro has attacked attorneys Bob Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Cliff Arnebeck and Peter Peckarsky in front of the Ohio Supreme Court. Petro is demanding they be sanctioned and fined for filing the Moss v. Bush lawsuit that challenged the seating of Ohio's Republican Electoral College delegates.

Moss v. Bush has already entered the history books as the suit that set the legal framework for an unprecedented grassroots/ internet campaign that brought the first Congressional challenge in US history to a state's Electoral delegation, a challenge that infuriated the Bush/Rove GOP.

Petro claims that Moss v. Bush suit was "frivolous." He says his punitive attack is about the "serious" nature of the court system.

In fact what Petro's doing is about revenge, intimidation and contempt for democracy and the law.

As has become known throughout the world, international monitors were barred from observing Ohio's 2004 election, which was defined by irregularity, illegality, hypocrisy and fraud.

This marks the second time Bush has been "elected" in a swing state where the balloting was controlled by a Republican Secretary of State serving simultaneously as the state's Bush-Cheney co-chair. In Florida in 2000, it was Katherine Harris; in Ohio 2004 it was J. Kenneth Blackwell. Harris now has a safe congressional seat; Blackwell wants to be governor.

The Moss v. Bush election challenge demanded first and foremost that the laws guaranteeing the public's right to see electoral documents be honored. And it asserted the public's right to hear sworn testimony from public officials about what must, in a democracy, be a free and fair vote count.

But today's Republican Party seems to hold itself above both democracy and the law. With support from Petro and the GOP- dominated Ohio Supreme Court, Blackwell refused to testify openly about the details of how he administered the 2004 election. He locked up files and records from the Ohio vote count and recount that are, by Ohio law, meant to be freely available to all citizens.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer refused to recuse himself from these challenges, even though his own re- election campaign is at the core of many of the assertions in the Moss v. Bush filings.

In short, those who doubted the outcome of the Ohio vote have been called "frivolous" and worse. But those who control the evidence have refused to allow it be seen, or to testify to the realities of the charges.

With the Electoral College now vote gone by, and with the refusal of Blackwell and others to testify, and with the inability to get at public records, the Moss v. Bush lawsuit was withdrawn.

But that wasn't enough for the stonewalling Bush-Rove Republicans. In true totalitarian style, the GOP has attacked as "frivolous" the attorneys who would dare that Ohio voters' rights be respected as citizens in a democracy.

What's anything but frivolous here is the Bush-Rove contempt for the Constitution of the United States. Since 1789 the essence of American democracy has been free and fair elections and due process of law. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts all believed those sacred principles to be at the heart of our nation.

George W. Bush has been inaugurated again amidst a vicious attack on that heart. If this election was free and fair, why won't the elected official who ran it testify under oath? If there was no conspiracy to steal it, why have those in charge conspired to keep the public from seeing what really happened in this election?

The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the actions of the Republican Party in Ohio is that it has something fearsome to hide. The only obvious reason for this attack on those who would look under the rocks is that the GOP never expected an internet-based, grassroots effort to force a Constitutional crisis over their divinely sanctioned control of the American electoral process.

So now the GOP has launched an anti-attorney counter-attack against the unexpected power of an historic grassroots movement aimed at protecting what's left of American democracy.

Revenge against that campaign's success and intimidation is the obvious motive. So is the desire to prevent such challenges from happening again.

Above all, this attack on the core of American justice is the true measure of an administration that simply does not believe in an open electoral process. The Ohio GOP's censure is an official defense of secrecy and intimidation. Its true, profoundly un- American message is an utter contempt for democracy and the law.

And it is with this cancerous self-definition that George W. Bush has most clearly inaugurated his second illegitimate term.


Harvey Wasserman is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of OHIO'S STOLEN ELECTION: VOICES OF THE DISENFRANCHISED, 2004, upcoming from Support is welcome via or at the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism, 1240 Bryden, Columbus, OH 43205. HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available at

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news