The Urgency of Now:
Fighting the ‘Hysteria Factory’


Friday, May 27, 2016

Listen to The Best Democracy Money Can Buy podcast with Greg Palast and Flashpoints' Dennis Bernstein. This week they delve into the Hysteria Machine with movie star and Voto Latino spokeswoman Rosario Dawson, who was at UCLA this week with Greg Palast and other media experts for The Urgency of Now panel. Greg kicks it off with this background.
Read the full interview transcript at Reader Supported News.

Rosario Dawson and Greg PalastRosario Dawson and Greg Palast speaking at UCLA event 'The Urgency of Now

Bill O’Reilly from Fox news, and the other foxes in the foxhole, talk about the massive amount of voter fraud in America. Why all these cries of voter fraud? There are about six people in a major election year arrested in the U.S. for committing voter fraud. So why all this hysteria about people voting fraudulently? I call it the hysteria machine.


By saying there are fraudulent voters, they can come up with ways to eliminate the fraudulent voters. If someone is impersonating a dead person (so a dead person walks into a voting booth…?!?), how do you stop the zombies from voting? You require photo ID, which is not so easy. Driver’s license and social security cards don't work. It's very difficult. What is the purpose? Do they have non-citizens voting? In Florida, 181,000 people were accused of being illegal alien voters — and only one Republican from Austria was arrested!

It's not a crime that happens, but it's a very good crime to accuse people of, without any evidence, and not even arrest anyone. However, as things stand, without any voter fraud conviction, you can still take their vote away. Rosario said: "You have this pre-crime thing. You haven't done the crime, but we are gong to anticipate it and penalize you for it. We're going to judge you already and take you off the roster. The idea I grew up with of innocent until proven guilty no longer applies. Now you are guilty until you prove yourself to be innocent."

And she’s right. For example, out of the 181,000 people in Florida, almost all had Hispanic last names. They were sent letters by the Republican administration, headed by Rick Scott, telling them to appear in court and prove their citizenship before they could vote. How did they get those names? They said they had deported somebody with the last name of Hernandez. So everyone with the last name of Hernandez in Florida must prove that they are a citizen.

This is not a joke. People with the last name Koch don't have to prove they are citizens. As Rosario says, in effect, they are being accused of committing a felony, of voting illegally, without any evidence at all.

The Ku Klux Klan used to scare away voters of color by wearing white sheets. Now they use spreadsheets. For example, in Florida, Kansas, Alabama, and other states, they are accusing illegal aliens of voting. We've previously talked about how in Kansas they are running a program for 30 Republican controlled states called CrossCheck where they are accusing people of voting twice. They've arrested two people and accused 7.2 million of voting twice — overwhelmingly voters of color.

They simply run names through computers. For example, in 2000, I uncovered that Katherine Harris had a list of 92,000 names of voters who supposedly were convicted of felonies in Florida so could not vote. If they criminally reregistered, it would send them back to prison. But she removed those people, almost all African-Americans. That elected George Bush as president. They used a computer, knocked off these voters from the voter roles, and in most cases didn't notify them.

One young man, a Gulf War veteran, came back from the war and took his 5-year old kid to the voting station to show him what Martin Luther King, Jr. has done for African-Americans… But they said he couldn’t vote. “You are a felon,” they said, in front of his kid. He had never even gotten a traffic ticket. That was a shameful racist incident — and that's how they stole the vote in 2000.

The lesson the GOP learned from the Florida purge was how to imitate that in other states. So the felon purges spread across the nation. They spread to places like Colorado. When the state was under Republican control, they removed 50,000 voters of color as felons — even though it's not even illegal for a person convicted of a felony to vote in Colorado. In most states it isn't illegal. In New York, California, you can vote if you have a felony conviction, just not from prison. They learned from Katherine Harris how to do it, and they expanded it.

Who pays for the spreadsheets, the research? Follow the money. Where does this come from? There’s a pamphlet put out by the Heritage Foundation, which is at the center of this hysteria machine. It's called Does Your Vote Count? It’s typical of what Heritage puts out. Why do we care about Heritage? That's otherwise known as the Koch Foundation. The Heritage Foundation was founded, funded, and maintained by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch. The pamphlet says types of voter fraud are: impersonation fraud at the polls, false registration, duplicate voting, fraudulent use of absentee ballots, buying votes, illegal assistance at the polls, ineligible voting, altering the vote count. This is their list of terrible voter fraud crimes involving millions of people in a massive conspiracy to vote illegally.

Why are the Koch’s so intent to create and build this hysteria machine that will remove voters? They are not very partisan. Most people think of them as Republicans, but they aren't. David Koch was going to run for governor of Kansas as a Democrat. They've been in other parties, such as the Libertarian Party. They are for the Koch party. They are for themselves. They have an agenda. For example, they need the XL pipeline to be completed, because at the end of the pipeline are their refineries, which would get that discounted filthy Canadian oil. They have a money interest in this.

It’s a lot easier to manipulate the vote than convince somebody to change their position. To put it in the simplest, crudest terms, there ain't enough white guys to elect Donald Trump. So how do you keep a Republican House and Senate, which is their biggest concern, if there aren’t enough white guys who will come out? The answer is you eliminate the non-white guys. You do it through these methods, which couldn't have happened if we still had the full force of the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by Supreme Court in 2013. Look out. This will be the first presidential election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. I've been traveling around the country for Rolling Stone, and it's the ugliest election I have seen since the ‘60s.

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Dennis J. Bernstein is the executive producer of Flashpoints, syndicated on Pacifica Radio, and is the recipient of a 2015 Pillar Award for his work as a journalist whistleblower. He is most recently the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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