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Becoming A Dissident

Sunday, July 25, 2004
Becoming A Dissident
Votergate Election Theft

Becoming A Dissident
By E. OConnell
May 15, 2003

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The stolen 2000 election politicized me.

Oh, I'd always had political opinions, I'd always voted, but I had never sent a telegram to an elected official, or called a representative, or marched in a rally. The social movements of my generation seemed pale, anemic things. Divestiture in South Africa is all I can remember being drawn to support in a public, vocal way. And I never bothered.

I discovered my political identity over a period of years as a young man. I always voted against the greater of two evils. I had opinions, but I didn't engage, didn't march, didn't contribute, and didn't write articles to thousands of strangers on email lists.

Then they stole the 2000 election.

We couldn't know at first that Florida was being stolen--but it seemed likely, knowing the Bush family's previous criminal record. From Iran-contra to Silverado Savings and more. No, the conclusive evidence of the theft would have to wait until I discovered the work of Journalist Greg Palast, and the media consortium recount was completed.

It didn't take that long, though, to activate me. I sent the first telegram of my life to Sandra Day O'Connor. I knew she was the lynch pin, the key, to whatever decision would come out of the Supreme Court.


But Sandra wanted to retire and hand off her seat to a Republican. She publicly burst into tears when, momentarily, Florida turned blue for Gore. Rather than wait an entire 4 or 8 year span she caved and signed off on the theft of the presidency.

The bushoccupation had begun.

We had a website up within a few weeks, http://www.bushoccupation.com/. I was working a full-time corporate job and couldn't afford to spend much time on the site. We all had our reasons for not taking to the streets back then, for not doing what it would have taken to nip this thing in the bud. My first public political act was to create a single web-page broadside, with a downloadable PDF, which read as follows:

For the Rape and Murder of Democracy in the United States of America

Five thumbnail mug shots of the felonious five followed the headline, with a scathing capsule rap sheet for each.

Ok, it wasn't subtle.

Neither did I explicitly call for anything other than impeachment. I invoked nonviolence in a line at the bottom, in case anybody didn't get the idea that this was poster, an Op Ed piece, not a hit list.

Events set in motion by this single act precipitated a visit by the secret service which became a long session of harassment for my partner activist Mike Hersh.

We believe the SS paid him a visit because right-wing vigilantes phoned death threats in our names or otherwise set us up, using the website as "evidence." This is an illegal but unpunished and therefore popular 'freeper' technique they developed during the Clinton Administration.

We persevered. We got email from all over the world. People were downloading and posting the poster. People wanted to volunteer. People joined the mailing lists.

I was too busy to do very much. My Mike worked his heart out with the email list communities using freeware web infrastructure, with the website acting as a small attractive signpost.

Well, my corporate job ended with the collapse of the IT Sector, as the old economy -- led by right wing dinosaurs like GE -- defunded the computer industry. This strangled thousands of infant businesses to death in their cradles.

Our contacts high in GE's management told me that GE was laying off 10% of its workforce because of the economic downturn. I found this fascinating because the economy supposedly still hadn't 'turned down' yet. But that is the subject of another article.

After struggling with volunteer developers for months trying to create some kind of on-line publishing / content management system, I found a company called Interactive Tools, and its product Article Manager. I bought a license, and a few weeks later we launched http://www.mikehersh.com/, so he could take his list content to the web for a whole new audience.

Sept 11 came and went. We pulled down BO, replaced it with a naïve appeal for positive world change, a hopeful note thinking that perhaps Bush would grow as a person and become worthy of the office he had stolen.

I was responsible, personally for that mistake.

When it became obvious that not only was Bush exploiting the disaster to whore for ruinous tax cuts and shred the constitution, granting himself unprecedented powers, but that the administration was actively blocking any investigation into the events of 911, we re-opened Bushoccupation.

We demanded a real investigation, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans, including survivors and family members of those who died in the attack.

We're still waiting for that investigation. The 3 million dollars set aside for feel good press conferences and steam venting sessions for the families doesn't scratch the surface. We need to fully understand the events of that day.

We have dropped the naiveté, at this point. We no longer assume that the Bush administration will ever stop blocking, much less cooperate with the vital investigation.

Bush's stonewalling and cover-up means something. Exactly what? That's hard to say. The conspiracy community is rife with tantalizing clues--and utter nonsense--mixed in equal measure.

One must assume, as with the Kennedy assassination, that disinformation is being fed into this mix to discredit any theory arising from this community. Maybe 911, like the Kennedy assassination, can never be fully understood or explained.

The official story makes no sense, but the conspiracies are so terrifying. Both reside outside the consensus reality of the mainstream, with the same political import as the competing government denials vying with stories of crashed flying saucers.

Bush won't even allow us a Warren Commission white wash to assuage our concerns. Many people suspect "Bush Knew" but with "conspiracy theory" effectively discredited, the public lapses into a post-traumatic state of disbelief and denial, confusion and despair.

Which brings us to the wars.

The wars, like 911, are complex events, where the official story makes very little sense. In the case of Iraq, the various official stories were publicly and irrefutably exposed an out and out lie.

There aren't weapons of mass destruction in sufficient quantity to warrant invasion; diplomatic means were not exhausted; Iraq was never a significant threat to the American people.

We know this now, but are bombarded daily with Polls that tell us We Don't Care if the War Was Built on Lies, and with op-eds explaining why It's OK Not To Care That The War Was Built on Lies.

Since 911, the mental climate has deteriorated. When the SS stormed our homes, we didn't really blame the government--nothing much had changed by then. We'd been targeted by amateur democrat-bashers, remnants of the Arkansas Project Clinton haters looking for someone to smear.

Let me tell you, though, as bad as it is out there, that the climate isn't as bad as the polls would have you believe.

Don't believe me? Buy an Impeach Bush T-shirt and walk around, and see what happens. I dare you.

I'll admit, I live in Boston, in a one-time one-party state, but we've had Republican governors for years now. I have been walking urban streets, not suburban malls, but what I get, are mild frowns, open smiles, thumbs up, honking horns, and people who are worried for my safety.

"You have a lot of nerve, wearing that," a man said at the post office today, as I bought the PO Box I am now using to attempt to protect my family from the threat I can't help but imagine. He was smiling. "You must take a lot of heat."

I laughed, but wanted to tell him, "I haven't taken any heat, yet."

No one has said a single negative word to me.

The fear has been in my own head, projected into the eyes of those around me. I have feared the polls. The polls that have told me I would be laughed at, sucker punched, destroyed, for daring to defy 'the president'.

I have experienced only support. People have stopped me and bought shirts from me on the street.

Let me tell you. I am a real walking, talking, breathing Poll. What I lack in scientific validity I make up for in the fact that I am real, and not corporate sponsored.

The Polls are lies; the truth will not be televised. Don't be afraid. This is still your country. It will stay your country if you speak out, now, for what you believe in. Be visible. Be active, do the work. Support each other.

E. OConnell
Resist the Bush Occupation

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