- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 18, 2000

'Will of the people' democracy or 'mobocracy'?

"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." Josef Stalin

Thank you for the Nov. 17 editorial "The Gore 'compromise.'" I can remember when it was the "will of the people" that blacks ride in the back of the bus and use "colored" bathrooms in public places. My parents can remember when it was the "will of the people" in Germany that Jews and other undesirables be gathered up and exterminated in Hitler's "final solution." My grandparents, were they still living, would remember when it was the "will of the people" that women be prohibited from voting and holding public office.

Now I'm being told by many in the media, the current administration and Gore campaign representatives that it is the will of the people that Vice President Al Gore be installed as the next president of the United States because Mr. Gore and vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman won the popular vote.

When will our elected and appointed officials recall and their actions respect that the U.S. Constitution established a nation based on the rule of law, not the inconstant "will of the people"?

I am a citizen of a constitutional republic and will resist with all means at my disposal the dangerous incitement to "mobocracy" that is poisoning our country and jeopardizing its future. Thank you for helping to uphold the Constitution, not the "will of the people."

CATHARINE VINSON

Atlanta

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Vice President Al Gore is no Adolf Hitler, but the team of Warren Christopher, William Daley, Jesse Jackson and Robert Wexler does remind me of Joseph Goebbels, who taught us that if a lie is repeated often enough, people will believe it. That is the Achilles heel of democracy.

CHARLES STEWART

Washington

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Gore campaign manager William Daley has assured us again and again that his only concern in the outcome of the Florida vote count is satisfying the "will of the people." However, it is not the job of election officials to determine the will of the people.

Each adult citizen has the right to express his or her will by casting a vote and the right to request and receive an election judge's assistance in correctly completing a ballot. These rights are well-known and widely advertised, but no one can compel a citizen to exercise either of them. If a voter fails to do so, no one can say the right to express his will has been denied him. It is the duty of election officials only to carefully count the votes of those citizens who have expressed their will unambiguously by properly completing ballots and to faithfully record the results.

The Gore gang asks us to believe that in addition to tallying the votes, these officials have both the ability and the responsibility to fairly and impartially convert each "oops" into a decisive "aye" or "nay." Any American who knows what the definition of "is" is can see the absurdity of admitting as valid these telepathically augmented counts.

JEFFREY D. MUELLER

Eldersburg, Md.

Count them again, just like they did in 'Key Largo'

I can't help but notice the similarity of the selected and partial hand recount of votes in Florida to some comments made in the 1948 Warner Brothers movie "Key Largo."

In the film, Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), a notorious gangster, and several henchmen are holding ex-Army Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart), James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and his war-widowed daughter-in-law, Nora (Lauren Bacall), hostage during a hurricane in Key Largo, Fla. Rocco plans to deliver some counterfeit money and then escape to Cuba. While being shaved and readied for the escape by a member of his gang, Rocco expresses his disdain for electoral politics.

Johnny Rocco:

"Yeah. How many of those guys in office owe everything to me? I made them. Yeah, I made 'em just like a, like a tailor makes a suit of clothes. I take a nobody, see, teach him what to say, get his name in the papers, yeah, pay for his campaign expenses, dish out a lot of groceries and coal, get my boys to bring the voters out, and then count the votes over and over again until they added up right and he was elected. Yeah."

If you only hand recount previously uncounted (i.e., computer-rejected ballots) votes in the highly Democratic precincts, what else can be expected but a larger vote count on average for Vice President Al Gore? Why should we put up with a conniving attempt by Mr. Gore to increase only his side of the vote ledger? There are plenty of computer-rejected votes in the predominantly Republican precincts as well. Only now, after the sleight of hand has come under public scrutiny, does Mr. Gore ask to generalize the counting of previously uncounted ballots to the whole state of Florida.

The Aesopian moral: "Any excuse serves a tyrant."

JOHN R. SMITH

Davis, Calif.

No sympathy for Israeli settlers in West Bank

The Nov. 16 article "Life precarious for West Bank settlers" is symptomatic of recent coverage in U.S. media that sympathizes fully with Israel's crisis but not with the Palestinians' hardships. This sort of selective objectivity and manipulative emotionalism lacks journalistic honesty. Specifically, I was disturbed that the piece dwelt so heavily on the precarious position of Israeli settlers but failed to mention even once that their settlements, encouraged by the Israeli government, are illegal according to international law. Nonetheless, the building of illegal Jewish settlements since the Oslo accords were signed has increased by 40 percent. No wonder the Palestinians are angry: They see no peace, only further encroachment on their land.

The article states, "Israel has built more than 140 settlements in the West Bank since capturing the areas in the 1967 war." However, it ignores the fact that the lands captured by Israel in 1967 do not rightfully belong to Israel, according to U.N. mandates and resolutions. It is against international law to occupy and annex territories during war. Life for the Palestinians means living under Israeli occupation. Occupation is a fact. Nowhere in the entire article is the word "occupation" used. These days, many journalists are afraid of using the "O" word, precisely because Israeli occupation resembles so closely South African apartheid.

Life may be precarious for the Israeli settlers, but what the article does not mention is that it is a life that they have chosen. Jewish settlers have the freedom to make the decision to live in illegal and dangerous settlements. Palestinians, on the other hand, do not have the luxury of choosing where to live. The vast majority of them are crammed into refugee camps with squalid conditions. Their water, their land, their food, their economy, their very movements are controlled by Israel. Not once in the piece was it mentioned that Palestinians are forced to live in these conditions. If Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza feel threatened, it is largely of their own and their government's doing, not because Palestinians crave violence.

To constantly draw support and feel sympathy for Israel's settlement dwellers while ignoring Palestinian conditions is to tell only one side of the story: the occupier's side.

SARAH F. WAHEED

Chicago

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