America is in terrible danger. There is a rogue nation that creates and uses weapons of mass-destruction, that flaunts United Nations resolutions at will, and threatens the peace and stability of the world. This outlaw state is arrogant, caring for nothing but its own power and greed. It is willing to turn against its own citizens, to censor, punish and imprison at will. A regime change is desperately needed to bring this country back to sanity.
I speak of the United States under the iron thumb of the Bush Regime. We have met the enemy and he is us.
A Concerned Citizen
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president... is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
"Violence is the last resort of the incompetent."
"Patriotism is the last resort of a scoundrel."
"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
Martin Luthor King Jr.
"'My country right or wrong'" is like saying, 'My mother drunk or sober.'"
"If you have the right to overthrow or abolish the government, as our Declaration of Independence asserts you do, you have the right to disobey it."
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
"They [the Bush administration] think they're the only power in the world.... One country wants to bully the world."
"Today the world is the victim of propaganda because people
are not intellectually competent. More than anything the
United States needs effective citizens competent to do their
William Mather Lewis
"Democracy dies behind closed doors."
Senior Judge Damon J Keith
"Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it."
"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I've been trying to decide what to do with this blog after the election debacle. We did not bring about the desperately need regime change. Millions of voters decided to maintain a right-wing, intolerant, ideologue wing of the mutated Republican party.
They voted for disdain for individual and civil rights, disregard of women's rights, pillaging and raping of the environment, continued dependence on an outmoded energy policy, outright corporate pandering and corporate control of the government, corruption, greed, intolerant religious ideology and a secretive dictatorial executive branch. They voted to be an arrogant global bully and to practice irresponsible financial schemes that will destroy our childrens' future.
They voted as willfully ignorant, blinkered, fearful sheep.
That is not MY America. That is not the America I was raised to believe in. That is not the America I will stand by and allow them to create without a fight.
I'm not giving up, but I doubt that keeping up this blog is of much practical use. I've never had a large audience here, probably due to the reality that I don't have time to for it and the best I could do was post what others had written. I appreciate those of you who have come here and those who have written to me. Unfortunately, I am mostly preaching to the converted.
What time I have must now be given over to doing something more concrete.
Less blogging, more action.
I encourage all of you to find a group that you can believe in -- whether it's MoveOn or Planned Parenthood or Howard Dean's efforts or the NRDC -- whatever it is, GET INVOLVED.
Less blogging, more action.
I'll see you in the trenches.
P.S. Okay, one last link for y'all.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
VOTE!!! VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!
Monday, November 01, 2004
Political thuggery in vogue
By HOWELL RAINES
If George Bush wins the presidential election, Americans can mark it down as a triumph of thug politics. If John Kerry wins, as I believe he will, that conversely will not mean that thug politics will be finished as the dominant style of modern American presidential campaigns.
What is political thuggery as it has been practiced throughout the 2004 campaign? How does it differ from the slanders of 18th and 19th century campaigns, the strong-arm bossism of 50 years ago in Chicago and New York, or the more recent demagoguery Southern and Western politicians used to incite racial hatred and paranoia about Big Government?
By thug politics, I mean the tireless repetition of misleading "facts" designed to depict an opponent as personally despicable and, in regard to governance, dangerous to the physical and spiritual life of the nation.
Certainly, campaigning of this rough sort has a root system that reaches back to earlier outbreaks of ignorance, nativism and intolerance in American politics. But starting with the Reagan campaign of 1980, thug politics has developed in such a way as to deserve classification as the distinctive style of an era.
Just as the Progressive Era followed the Gilded Age, we can now say that the New Politics birthed in the '60s, which stressed altruism and good government, has been displaced by an intellectual crudeness that was inherent in the modern American conservatism that began slouching toward Washington after the Republican convention in San Francisco in 1964.
Even if Kerry wins, this brutish political era will continue, in part because many Democratic political professionals have become would-be imitators eager to reassert their party's prior title to ruthless, "hardball" politics. More important in a causative sense, however, are deeper sociological factors.
For one, the United States is in the throes of one of its periodic religious "awakenings."
For another, we have seen the emergence of a new quasi-journalism driven by technology and marked by a politically driven shift in the nature of "facts."
Also, the GOP has shown that it knows how to trump economic self-interest and socioeconomic class as prime determinants of party affiliation.
Finally, the "anything-to-win" mentality, while always a feature of hard-fought democratic elections, has been perfected by the Bush family into a monumentally amoral strategic doctrine.
I have no argument with the term "Culture Wars" as a catch-all term for these developments. But constant use of the jargon term implies that we are in the midst of some transient contest between the Wal-Mart Baptists and the Academic Secularists. That inhibits analysis of a trend-setting change of historic importance in the nation.
Let's review some of the points cited above:
* RELIGION: Few cycles are more prominent in colonial and postrevolutionary history than that of frenzied national revivals. But in the past, the contending parties - the Presbyterians, Calvinists, Anglicans and Catholics of colonial times - eventually suppressed their legalistic, rulemaking impulses in favor of securing spiritual space.
But today, the divisions and the tolerance of a new religious monolith, "God's People," as they call themselves, have broken down. With the succession of born-again or ostentatiously religious presidents - Carter, Reagan, Clinton, the younger Bush - a united American laity can reach a goal that eluded them as denominational separatists. That goal is the legislation of social, education, sexual and medical standards that reflect theologically based cultural norms.
* JOURNALISM: Facts may not be entirely dead as shaping forces in American public life, but the vital signs are not good. Students of the press have tended to focus on two villains - corporate ownership of newspaper chains and the speed of the broadcast, cable and digital news cycle. But the journalistic taste buds of the nation are numbed for more complex reasons.
The most dangerous trait of the Internet is not merely its speed, but its creation of demand and credulity for unverified information. Perhaps for the first time since invention of the printing press, a new information technology has become more efficient at spreading disinformation than knowledge.
Propaganda, speculation and rumor once traveled in compartments of the print and broadcast world. Now all move with viral speed through all venues of communication. The decline of critical powers among the generation conditioned by this information environment has been viral, as well.
In another amazing shift, a foreigner, Rupert Murdoch, and his handpicked chairman of Fox News, the campaign strategist Roger Ailes, have become the most important standard setters in the nation's political journalism.
In its most triumphant period, the American press invented the postwar model of journalism that sought to be both fair and analytical and that was admired globally throughout the last half of the 20th century. Fox - and its enablers on the comedy news shows and among neoconservative intellectuals - have destroyed public trust in that traditional model.
Murdoch is open about his goal. He wants the same prize he got in Britain for facilitating Margaret Thatcher's election - a deregulated broadcast environment. Any thought that a second Bush administration or Michael Powell's FCC is going to deny his ambition is delusional.
* THE BUSHES: My generation of political reporters bear some responsibility for this ethically bankrupt dynasty. We helped glorify big-city rogues like Richard Daley and urban icons like Rudy Giuliani as colorful character actors in the drama of democracy.
We treated George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, even Goldwater and Reagan as comic regional curiosities. We did not predict that their operatives - think of Lee Atwater as Exhibit A - would make their DNA the dominant strain in America's political gene pool.
Another reason that America's voters and journalists were lulled into underestimating the Bush threat was that it came from an unexpected source. We expected venality from buccaneers like the Kennedys or lurkers from the fringe like Nixon. Who could have guessed that such a proud, powerful know-nothing as George W. Bush would be a scion of the great Industrial Age fortunes and a graduate of our second oldest university?
Am I overestimating the process of debasement we've seen in 2004? I hope so, but look at the most salient trends of this campaign. Bush campaign surrogates falsely attack Kerry's patriotism and then the president accuses him of "dividing the country" when he defends himself.
Kerry points out Bush's failure to secure Iraqi explosives and Cheney snarls that Kerry is trying to "scare the American people." Thousands of Americans are denied flu vaccine because of bumbling in the Bush Cabinet, and Bush warns that Kerry will destroy our health delivery system. Bush pledges to end feuding in Washington, and the capital is frozen in a partisan gridlock that neither Reagan nor Tip O'Neill could have imagined.
The Bush-Cheney-Rove technique of treating any reasoned response as an opponent's attempt to divide America has proven so effective that momentous issues - the dismantling of federal environmental enforcement, Halliburton's war profiteering, the Vietnam-like disenchantment of professional military officers - are inadequately addressed on the stump or in campaign coverage.
Will a Kerry victory bring the promised end to the much-discussed division among the American electorate? Just last week I heard Sen. John Edwards promise that it would if he and Kerry can do the job. I'm not sure that will happen with the best of wills. For even if the Bush family dynasty gets chopped off at this last, best chance, the underlying dynamics that created this historical moment - religion run amok, informational decay in the mass media and in the appetites of its audience, a campaign environment of insulting irrationality - will still be in place.
Howell Raines is the former executive editor of the New York Times and former political editor of the St. Petersburg Times.
Get out there and vote for Kerry. Here's another reminder why, from a long-time Republican.
A FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATOR FOR KERRY 'Frightened to death' of Bush
By Marlow W. CookSpecial to The Courier-Journal
I shall cast my vote for John Kerry come Nov 2.
I have been, and will continue to be, a Republican. But when we as a party send the wrong person to the White House, then it is our responsibility to send him home if our nation suffers as a result of his actions. I fall in the category of good conservative thinkers, like George F. Will, for instance, who wrote: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and having thought, to have second thoughts."
I say, well done George Will, or, even better, from the mouth of the numero uno of conservatives, William F. Buckley Jr.: "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
First, let's talk about George Bush's moral standards.
In 2000, to defeat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — a man who was shot down in Vietnam and imprisoned for over five years — they used Carl Rove's "East Texas special." They started the rumor that he was gay, saying he had spent too much time in the Hanoi Hilton. They said he was crazy. They said his wife was on drugs. Then, to top it off, they spread pictures of his adopted daughter, who was born in Bangladesh and thus dark skinned, to the sons and daughters of the Confederacy in rural South Carolina.
To show he was not just picking on Republicans, he went after Sen. Max Cleland from Georgia, a Democrat seeking re-election. Bush henchmen said he wasn't patriotic because Cleland did not agree 100 percent on how to handle homeland security. They published his picture along with Cuba's Castro, questioning Cleland's patriotism and commitment to America's security. Never mind that his Republican challenger was a Vietnam deferment case and Cleland, who had served in Vietnam, came home in a wheel chair having lost three limbs fighting for his country. Anyone who wants to win an election and control of the legislative body that badly has no moral character at all.
We know his father got him in the Texas Air National Guard so he would not have to go to Vietnam. The religious right can have him with those moral standards. We also have Vice President Dick Cheney, who deferred his way out of Vietnam because, as he says, he "had more important things to do."
I have just turned 78. During my lifetime, we have sent 31,377,741 Americans to war, not including whatever will be the final figures for the Iraq fiasco. Of those, 502,722 died and 928,980 came home without legs, arms or what have you.
Those wars were to defend freedom throughout the free world from communism, dictators and tyrants. Now Americans are the aggressors — we start the wars, we blow up all the infrastructure in those countries, and then turn around and spend tax dollars denying our nation an excellent education system, medical and drug programs, and the list goes on. ...
I hope you all have noticed the Bush administration's style in the campaign so far. All negative, trashing Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards and Democrats in general. Not once have they said what they have done right, what they have done wrong or what they have not done at all.
Lyndon Johnson said America could have guns and butter at the same time. This administration says you can have guns, butter and no taxes at the same time. God help us if we are not smart enough to know that is wrong, and we live by it to our peril. We in this nation have a serious problem. Its almost worse than terrorism: We are broke. Our government is borrowing a billion dollars a day. They are now borrowing from the government pension program, for apparently they have gotten as much out of the Social Security Trust as it can take. Our House and Senate announce weekly grants for every kind of favorite local programs to save legislative seats, and it's all borrowed money.
If you listened to the President confirming the value of our war with Iraq, you heard him say, "If no weapons of mass destruction were found, at least we know we have stopped his future distribution of same to terrorists." If that is his justification, then, if he is re-elected our next war will be against Iran and at the same time North Korea, for indeed they have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, which they have readily admitted. Those wars will require a draft of men and women. ...
I am not enamored with John Kerry, but I am frightened to death of George Bush. I fear a secret government. I abhor a government that refuses to supply the Congress with requested information. I am against a government that refuses to tell the country with whom the leaders of our country sat down and determined our energy policy, and to prove how much they want to keep that secret, they took it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Those of you who are fiscal conservatives and abhor our staggering debt, tell your conservative friends, "Vote for Kerry," because without Bush to control the Congress, the first thing lawmakers will demand Kerry do is balance the budget.
The wonderful thing about this country is its gift of citizenship, then it's freedom to register as one sees fit. For me, as a Republican, I feel that when my party gives me a dangerous leader who flouts the truth, takes the country into an undeclared war and then adds a war on terrorism to it without debate by the Congress, we have a duty to rid ourselves of those who are taking our country on a perilous ride in the wrong direction.
If we are indeed the party of Lincoln (I paraphrase his words), a president who deems to have the right to declare war at will without the consent of the Congress is a president who far exceeds his power under our Constitution.
I will take John Kerry for four years to put our country on the right path.
The writer, a Republican formerly of Louisville, was Jefferson County judge from 1962-1968 and U.S. senator from Kentucky from 1968-1975.
I hope you are all registered and ready to vote.
Here's info you can print out and take with you, if you anticipate challenges or trouble. This is courtesy of truemajority.com.
A QUICK GUIDE TO AVOIDING PROBLEMS AT THE POLLS
Before you go to the polls:
Find your correct polling place. Click here: http://www.mypollingplace.com. They are getting crushed with requests, so if you don't get through right away, try again later or just call your local Board of Elections.
To avoid confusion and save time, study the ballot. Check your local newspaper for a copy.
Find a form of identification to bring to the polls. Unless you are a first-time voter who registered by mail without sending identification, you have the right to vote without providing ID. However, to avoid hassles just bring ID anyway. A government-issued ID is best (such as a driver's license), but you can also bring a utility bill, paycheck stub, phone bill, or similar papers with your name on them. If your ID does not have a signature, bring two forms of identification.
Allow plenty of time to vote, preferably in the morning. There may be lines. Bring something to read. If the line is really long, consider getting a box of donuts or cookies to share to lighten the mood. Someone might be challenging voters just to slow things up in the hope that long lines will scare away voters. If this is happening, let folks in line know so it stiffens their resolve to stay and cast vote.
Learn your voting rights:
Even if you are not on the voter list, federal law gives you the right to a "provisional ballot." Insist on one and vote. A regular ballot is preferable, so you should do whatever you can to get a regular ballot first, like going home and getting a second form of identification or going to the polling place where you are definitely on the voter list. But rather than be turned away, demand a provisional ballot.
You have the right to vote if you are in line when the polls close. Stay in line until you vote.
Find out if your employer will give you time off to vote, if necessary.
At the polls:
If you are confused about ANYTHING or feel you are being harassed, ask the official poll workers to help. Do not rely on fellow citizens for advice about the ballot, how the voting machines work, or why you are not on the rolls. If someone is challenging your right to vote, ask the poll workers to intervene.
If someone harasses you, don't cause a ruckus. Just ignore the harasser, report it to a poll worker, and let the voting process continue. What kinds of things might somebody try? Well, in the past people have insisted on more ID than is required or argued that someone is at the wrong polling place.
If something goes wrong, document it. Write down what happened, when, and descriptions of the people involved, including their names, if you can get them. If you have a camera or camera-phone, take pictures.
Report voting problems to an organization ready to respond to problems at the polls:
Common Cause: Call 1-866-MYVOTE1. This is a hotline you can call to report any voting problems.
1-866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has been set up by a coalition of nonpartisan groups to deal with the most serious problems on Election Day. They have hundreds of lawyers standing by to immediately respond to the most egregious problems. 1-866-OUR-VOTE is the "911" of voter suppression hotlines. Please don't call unless your problem is serious enough that you have to talk to a lawyer immediately.
Contact the media. If something is going terribly wrong at a polling site and you have reported it to the folks above, you might want to then call local radio, television, and newspaper reporters. Often problems clear up quickly after a reporter arrives.
It's odd that it's come to this. But given how hard Americans have fought for the freedom to pick our government, it ought to take a lot more than these inconveniences and ham-handed attempts by desperate political operatives to dissuade us from casting a ballot. See you at the polls.
What's On Your Ballot?
Elected offices are not the only things up for grabs on Nov. 2. This year, 163 statewide measures qualified for the ballot and are helping to frame policy debates for the progressive community, distinguish candidates, increase voter turnout and, of course, reform state law. Essential issues are at stake – from minimum wage increases in Florida
to medical malpractice caps in Oregon
, Wyoming, Florida and Nevada, from renewable energy in Colorado
to employer provided health care and stem cell research in California
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Go to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center's Initiative and Referendum 2004 Election Preview
for a comprehensive look at this year's initiative landscape. It provides a breakdown of all qualified measures by state, in-depth analysis of major initiative issues and trends, states to watch in this election, and an analysis of how this election compares to past years. And check out BISC's In Your State Page
to find out what's on the ballot in your state. Another great resource is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' special report
on the fiscal implications of the state-level ballot measures. Also, if you're from Maine or Florida, go to the American Progress Action Fund
to take immediate action in these states.
VOTING – VOTER SUPPRESSION IN WEST VIRGINIA: In West Virginia, "calls from a cell phone were made to Eastern Panhandle democrats telling them...they wouldn't be able to vote on Election Day
." After receiving the calls, "upset citizens called the voter registration office to make sure they were registered to vote [and] indeed they were." The calls were traced back to the "Eastern Panhandle Republican Headquarters." Republican spokesman Mary Diamond said that "The purpose of the calls is to make sure everyone is registered to vote. If they are, then great. That's exactly what we need."
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Get Out And Vote And Scream Now that we're all completely fried and bitter and media punch-drunk, it's time to act
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
So here we are, staring down a rather historic moment amidst the sputtering ideological orgy that is the American experiment and if you're paying any sort of attention at all you're doubtlessly drunk on election hype and saturated with Bush/Kerry platitudes and you wish a white-hot death upon every screeching TV pundit who is right now analyzing yet another insidious national poll that seems to reveal everything and nothing at the exact same time.
And Bush is out there right this very second stumping and sweating and blinking fast and defending his useless hideous little war and hurling snide little invectives and completely fabricated exaggerations at John Kerry, and Kerry is returning the favor by casually mentioning how Bush has ruined the goddamn nation and decimated our self-respect and run roughshod over our international relations all while raping the environment like no president in history and racking up a world-record deficit and mangling the language like a child on too much Ritalin.
It has been, in short, the longest and most painful episode of "American Idol" ever, wherein the two finalists have belted every cheesy American standard and regurgitated every lame disco-era stage move and hit every warbly high note and sacrificed every shred of dignity and integrity and true individuality they might've once possessed, all in the desperate hope that you are finally sufficiently numbed to where you are finally ready press the right 800 number on your AT&T wireless service and place your stupefied vote.
We are almost there. We are so very on the cusp. This is where it all comes down to your intuition and your intelligence and a sheer force of will, your ability to overcome the media-induced nausea and deeply inbred American political ennui and hoist yourself out of this election stupor and go to your polling place and punch the little card or push the little button, and then pray you don't live in a state where the GOP has rigged the touch screens or shredded all the Democratic voter registrations as you think, wow, world's foremost democracy and yet why does it feel like I'm voting in, like, Yugoslavia? Why does it feel that this election is so incredibly messy and loaded and rife with snakes and spit and hissing corruption? Weird. Sad. Telling.
It has become surreal, this election. It has become beyond coherent. We are at a point where our election system has become suspect and deeply flawed and our ideology has come unraveled and we as a nation no longer fully understand our role in the world and the bloom is way, way off the patriotic rose, so much so that it's no longer just a matter of which candidate will put a shinier coat of paint on the massive ship of bureaucracy, but who will stop us from sinking too abruptly into the quicksand of abuse and arrogance and ever increasing irrelevance. Go, U-S-A!
So then. As we stare down this uncanny and indelible moment in American history, there are two angles of approach. One: sit back and reflect on how the hell we got here, what bizarre machinations and demonic falling dominos managed to put BushCo in power, just what sort of humiliating and positively satanic chain reaction lo these past 50 years led up to where we are now, to this bitter yet oddly amusing spectacle of a massive and awe-inspiring empire in full crumble.
This approach, it is the more depressing and fatalistic and painful of the two and will result in much sighing and the supping of wine and the licking of lovers to deflect the pain and energize the skin and try and put it all in perspective, and is recommended only in small doses. Except for the drinking and licking part.
Conversely and perhaps more enjoyably, you can project forward, then reminisce. You can, that is to say, imagine it's a short 20 years hence and it's about 2024 and we're sitting there sipping our laudanum/Vicodin Colas and injecting Nexium straight into our eyeballs and watching our 10-foot plasma-TV walls and looking back and saying my god, 2004, that was a weird one, wasn't it?
Remember that ugly time? Remember when that smirking dolt Bush Jr. was president and we went through that dark dank tunnel of spiritual dread and international humiliation and we bombed Iraq for no reason and killed all those people for no reason and gutted our own economy for no reason other than to line the pockets of the Bush WASP mafia's corporate cronies? Wasn't that just so, like, crazy?
We will make jokes and shake our heads and sigh. We will say oh man remember that defense guy? Rumsfeld? Remember his black and ominous eyes? His savage abuse of power and complete lack of accountability? Remember that demon-god Ashcroft and his oiled feet, didn't dance and didn't smoke and didn't drink and didn't have sex and wanted to crack down on nipples and scan our e-mail and check our library books and tap our phones? Remember Condi Rice, that lost and desperate look, lonely and sad and a creepy veneer of doomed longing over her soul? Weird times, my friend. Sip.
We know that 20 years hence, there will be no Reagan-like legacy for Shrub. There will be no renamed airports or honorary expressways or revisionist rose-colored history books arguing the good and the bad of his epic much-loved presidency, because there is so little good and so very, very much bad and there is absolutely no love anywhere.
We already know that history will look very, very unkindly upon this most booblike, lie-torn, appallingly underqualified of American presidents. Of this we can rest assured. Of this we will only look back and be incredibly grateful it didn't last all that long.
This angle, it is the moderately healing and perspective-adjusting one. It's comfortable and helpful to project in such a manner, especially given how it's almost too hot right now, just too frustrating and painful to remain in this moment, to sit here and wait for the election returns and the potential lawsuits and Supreme Court riggings all the while knowing the GOP is trying everything short of launching another terrorist attack to maintain power and will stop at almost nothing to instill fear and dread and Dick Cheney deeper into the numb American psyche.
You cannot stay here. You cannot sit in this moment any longer. You simply have to get out and vote and scream and then roll up this ugly hunk of living history into a tight little ball of hot gelatinous goo and hurl it at the wall of time and see what sticks.
This is my recommendation. That and the wine thing. And voting. Voting is mandatory. Do it. Do it so you have something to talk about in 20 years. So you can say you were there and you participated and you tried like hell to change history. Because of course, you can.
A long, important article about voting fraud.
WARNING: If you live in Colorado (and maybe elsewhere), be very, very careful if you vote a straight Democratic ticket on a Diebold machine. It's set up so that voting that way causes a glitch that changes your vote to Bush-Cheney! This has already happened to more than one person who went to vote early. Double-check your vote before finishing!!! Get your paper receipt and check it. If it comes out wrong, RAISE HELL and notify the FBI, the DNC, and the media.
Hacking The Presidency
A dishonest presidential election sets aside the future economic, social and military will of the American people. There is substantial evidence that electronic voting machine corporations and political forces in some states could turn aside the electoral wishes of the U.S. populace on November 2 by means of election fraud.
by Tom Flocco
Philadelphia -- October 30, 2002 -- TomFlocco.com -- A series of curious election upsets in 2002, allegedly linked to untraceable vote fraud, could well have set the stage for another November presidential legal conundrum.
This, as certain proprietary software secrets inherent in electronic voting machine technology--supervised in some cases by a criminal element, are engendering a growing public outcry for enforceable ‘paper-trails,’ properly certified software, but also a complete separation of campaign contributions and private investment ties from those companies that count American votes.
According to Beverly Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century, a manipulation technique she found in Diebold Elections Systems’ AccuVote central vote tabulator is able to read totals from an untraceable bogus vote set within its software.
"By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created; and this set of votes can be changed in a matter of seconds, so that it no longer matches the correct votes," said the voting activist.
Election industry officials say their voting systems are secure because they are protected by passwords and tamperproof audit logs; but Harris says the passwords can easily be bypassed and the audit logs can be changed--even without the county election supervisor knowing about it.
Covering up vote fraud?
Harris appeared before the California Voting Systems Panel (CVSP) on April 21, 2004, presenting a smoking gun Diebold internal memo proving the company had not corrected Diebold’s Global Election Systems (GEMS) software flaws even though it had updated and upgraded the GEMS program. She also showed Democrat Howard Dean how to fraudulently alter the GEMS system on CNBC-TV.
In a convened August 11, 2004 CVSP meeting, member Jim March formally requested a demonstration of the double set of books in GEMS; and while the short 3-minute demonstration had been scheduled, the panel refused to watch it and would not look at Harris’ presentation.
Curiously, the panel met privately afterwards with Diebold officials--but without informing the public or issuing a report about the potential for vote fraud this fall.
Harris and her associate director Andy Stephenson, along with computer security expert Dr. Hugh Thompson and former King County, Washington elections supervisor Julie Anne Kempf, met with members of CVSP and the California Attorney General’s office to demonstrate the double set of books in the GEMS system.
The Secretary of State’s office stopped the meeting, called in the general counsel for their office and a defense attorney from the California Attorney General’s office--refusing to allow Harris and Stephenson to videotape their own GEMS demonstration, while also prohibiting any audiotape and specifying that no notes of the meeting could be requested in public records (Freedom of Information Act--F.O.I.A.) requests.
Harris told us that Diebold knew about the problem too--or should have known--because the company issued a "cease and desist" action against her website when she originally reported the problem in 2003. Harris also offered to show the problem to Marvin Singleton, Diebold’s damage control expert and other Diebold executives; however she said they refused to look at it.
The state of Maryland commissioned its own report regarding Diebold’s system from Science Application International Corporation (SAIC) of California, with Diebold allowing SAIC to examine the system using its touch-screen source code.
Consistent with Black Box Voting assertions of election accuracy risk, SAIC also said the Diebold system was subject to "several high risks of vulnerabilities."
Curiously, Maryland went ahead anyway and purchased $55 million worth of the Diebold electronic touch-screen machines--despite the evidence in their own report.
The state’s recently hired computer experts have been able to hack the Diebold machines with ease; and they were able to change the vote counts directly on precinct machines--but also by using a modem. Again, these machines count 50% of the presidential vote in 37 states! And there are still no legal challenges regarding the vulnerability of the machines.
In a move with likely far-reaching ramifications for the whole country, the presidential battleground state of Ohio cited the same security risks that Maryland found. But curiously, Ohio also gave its counties the ok to purchase electronic systems, despite the demonstrated ease of vote fraud: Diebold (40 counties), ES&S (11), Hart InterCivic (7), and Sequoia (4). Again, no one has promulgated litigation--despite prior evidence and knowledge of voting security risks.
Stealing a presidential election?
"The Diebold Global Elections System voting software, which runs on a Microsoft Access database, can read election vote totals from a false vote set," says Harris, who added that Diebold purchased Texas-based GEMS in 2002.
GEMS stores the votes in a ledger built in Microsoft Access; but while accounting firms have programs which only allow one set of books, Diebold’s GEMS system contained three sets of "books," according to Harris’ findings.
Please go here to read the rest.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
It's Not Just Al Qaqaa
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: October 29, 2004
New York Times
Just in case, the right is already explaining away President Bush's defeat: it's all the fault of the "liberal media," particularly The New York Times, which, so the conspiracy theory goes, deliberately timed its report on the looted Al Qaqaa explosives - a report all the more dastardly because it was true - for the week before the election.
It's remarkable that the right-wingers who dominate cable news and talk radio are still complaining about a liberal stranglehold over the media. But, that absurdity aside, they're missing a crucial point: Al Qaqaa is hardly the only tale of incompetence and mendacity to break to the surface in the last few days. Here's a quick look at some of the others:
Letting Osama get away Just before the story about Al Qaqaa broke, the Bush-Cheney campaign was frantically trying to debunk John Kerry's statement that Mr. Bush let Osama bin Laden get away when he was cornered at Tora Bora. That getaway, Mr. Kerry asserts, was possible because the administration "outsourced" the job of closing off escape routes to local Afghan warlords.
In response, Gen. Tommy Franks claimed that we don't know that Osama was at Tora Bora, and, anyway, we didn't outsource the work of catching him. Dick Cheney called Mr. Kerry's claims "absolute garbage." But multiple reports from 2001 and early 2002 confirm Mr. Kerry's version. As Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert, writes, Mr. Kerry's charge is "an accurate reflection of the historical record."
Letting Zarqawi get away On Monday The Wall Street Journal confirmed an earlier report that in 2002 the military drew up plans for a strike on the base of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an area of Iraq not under Saddam's control. But civilian officials vetoed the attack - probably because they thought it might undermine political support for the war against Saddam. So Mr. Zarqawi, like Osama, was given the chance to kill another day.
The situation in Iraq Dick Cheney is telling supporters that Iraq is a "remarkable success story." But the news from Iraq just keeps getting worse. After 49 Iraqi National Guard recruits were killed, execution style, even Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister - who usually acts as a de facto spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign - accused coalition forces of "gross negligence." It's now clear that the insurgency is much larger than U.S. officials initially acknowledged, and that Iraqi security forces have been heavily infiltrated.
$70 billion more Earlier this week The Washington Post reported that administration officials were planning to seek an additional $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan after the election. Whatever the precise number, it has long been obvious to knowledgeable observers that this was coming, but the news will come as a shock to many people who still don't realize how deep a quagmire Mr. Bush has gotten us into.
All of these stories would be getting more play right now if it weren't for the Al Qaqaa mess. Still, one can understand why the right is so upset.
After all, Al Qaqaa illustrates in a particularly graphic way the failures of Mr. Bush's national security leadership. U.S. soldiers passed through Al Qaqaa, a crucial munitions dump, but were never told that it was important to secure the site. If administration officials object that they couldn't have spared enough troops to guard the site, they're admitting that they went in without enough troops. And the fact that these explosives fell into unknown hands is a perfect example of how the Iraq war has worsened the terrorist threat.
The story of Al Qaqaa has brought out the worst in a campaign dedicated to the proposition that the president is infallible - and that it's always someone else's fault when things go wrong. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" Support the troops!
But worst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.
Friday, October 29, 2004
The Security of Checks and Balances
by Bruce Schneier
Much of the political rhetoric surrounding the US presidential election centers around the relative security posturings of President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, with each side loudly proclaiming that his opponent will do irrevocable harm to national security.
Terrorism is a serious issue facing our nation in the early 21st century, and the contrasting views of these candidates is important. But this debate obscures another security risk, one much more central to the US: the increasing centralisation of American political power in the hands of the executive branch of the government.
Over 200 years ago, the framers of the US Constitution established an ingenious security device against tyrannical government: they divided government power among three different bodies. A carefully thought-out system of checks and balances in the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch, ensured that no single branch became too powerful. After watching tyrannies rise and fall throughout Europe, this seemed like a prudent way to form a government.
Since 9/11, the United States has seen an enormous power grab by the executive branch. From denying suspects the right to a trial -- and sometimes to an attorney -- to the law-free zone established at Guantanamo, from deciding which ratified treaties to ignore to flouting laws designed to foster open government, the Bush administration has consistently moved to increase its power at the expense of the rest of the government. The so-called "Torture Memos," prepared at the request of the president, assert that the president can claim unlimited power as long as it is somehow connected with counterterrorism.
Presidential power as a security issue will not play a role in the upcoming US election. Bush has shown through his actions during his first term that he favours increasing the powers of the executive branch over the legislative and the judicial branches. Kerry's words show that he is in agreement with the president on this issue. And largely, the legislative and judicial branches are allowing themselves to be trampled over.
In times of crisis, the natural human reaction is to look for safety in a single strong leader. This is why Bush's rhetoric of strength has been so well-received by the American people, and why Kerry is also campaigning on a platform of strength. Unfortunately, consolidating power in one person is dangerous. History shows again and again that power is a corrupting influence, and that more power is more corrupting. The loss of the American system of checks and balances is more of a security danger than any terrorist risk.
The ancient Roman Senate had a similar way of dealing with major crises. When there was a serious military threat against the safety and security of the Republic, the long debates and compromise legislation that accompanied the democratic process seemed a needless luxury. The Senate would appoint a single person, called a "dictator" (Latin for "one who orders") to have absolute power over Rome in order to more efficiently deal with the crisis. He was appointed for a period of six months or for the duration of the emergency, whichever period was shorter. Sometimes the process worked, but often the injustices that resulted from having a dictator were worse than the original crisis.
Today, the principles of democracy enshrined in the US constitution are more important than ever. In order to prevail over global terrorism while preserving the values that have made America great, the constitutional system of checks and balances is critical.
This is not a partisan issue; I don't believe that John Kerry, if elected, would willingly lessen his own power any more than second-term President Bush would. What the US needs is a strong Congress and a strong court system to balance the presidency, not weak ones ceding ever more power to the presidency.
THE DAILY MIS-LEAD
< http://www.misleader.org/ >
BUSH GHOST WRITER SHOWS TRUTH ABOUT FATHER AND SON
Mickey Herskowitz - a ghost writer for both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush - has revealed startling information about both men, which he learned from extensive candid conversations with the 41st and the 43rd presidents. Herskowitz revealed the information in a series of interviews with investigative reporter Russ Baker, which Baker tape recorded.
Baker's article reveals that "in 2003, Bush's father indicated to [Herskowitz] that he disagreed with his son's invasion of Iraq."
George W. Bush was reluctant to talk to Herskowitz about his National Guard service. But Bush did tell him "that after transferring from his Texas Guard unit two-thirds through his six-year military obligation to work on an Alabama political campaign, he did not attend any Alabama National Guard drills at all, because he was 'excused.'" Bush's comments to Herskowitz "directly contradicts his public statements that he participated in obligatory training with the Alabama National Guard."
According to Herskowitz, "two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about attacking Iraq." In 1999, Bush said to Herskowitz, "My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade.... if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
1. "Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000," Russ Baker, 10/27/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
2. Ibid., http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
3. Ibid., http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
4. Ibid., http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
5. Ibid., http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
6. Ibid., http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65896.
SCIENCE – STEM CELL: President Bush has said he hopes the stem cell lines he has approved will help "discover cures
," but two new studies indicate the available lines may be largely ineffectual. According to one report, all the embryonic stem cells available to federally funded scientists under Bush's three-year-old research policy "share a previously unrecognized trait that fosters rejection by the immune systems, diminishing their potential as medical treatments
. A second study has concluded that at least a quarter of the Bush-approved cell colonies are so difficult to keep alive they have little potential even as research tools." Stem cell research proponents "said yesterday that the findings strengthen the case for letting federally funded researchers work on newer stem cell colonies," an option the president has rejected.
ECONOMY – UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS JUMP UP: According to Labor Department data, "The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by 20,000, the largest jump in a month. The bigger-than-expected increase pushed total new claims to 350,000 last week and provided fresh evidence
that the labor market is still under pressure even though the economic recovery is about to celebrate its third anniversary." There are "821,000 fewer people on payrolls than when Bush took office in January 2001."
HOMELAND SECURITY – A TOY STORY: Wondering what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been up to these days? Well, Pufferbelly Toys owner Stephanie Cox could catch you up: six weeks ago, she was visited by two DHS agents at her small store just north of Portland. "The lead agent asked Cox whether she carried a toy called the Magic Cube, which he said was an illegal copy of the Rubik's Cube, one of the most popular toys of all time. He told her to remove the Magic Cube from her shelves, and he watched to make sure she complied
." As DHS says, "obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications." Nevertheless, six weeks later Cox told The Oregonian "she is still bewildered by the experience. 'Aren't there any terrorists out there?' she said."
HEALTH CARE – AMERICANS PAY MORE FOR DRUGS: According to a report issued Thursday, "Americans on average paid 81 percent more for patented brand-name drugs last year
than buyers in Canada and six western European countries. That gap represents a significant increase from 2000, when the cost differential between the United States and the seven other countries was 60 percent." The cost difference results mostly from America's policy of allowing pharmaceutical companies to freely set their prices. "Other countries impose cost controls, such as negotiated price levels and profit limits." The president's Medicare reform law, "which provides a drug benefit starting in 2006, specifically prohibits negotiating drug prices" and drug importation from cheaper markets. Some states are nevertheless pushing forward with importation
FASHION – BATTLE OF THE BULGE: NASA scientists, apparently with some free time on their hands after funding was cut
for the administration's ambitious Mars exploration program, have taken aim at the president's bulge. According to Salon, senior NASA scientist Dr. Robert M. Nelson has spent the past week at his home analyzing images of the mysterious bulge in the president's back during the debates. Bush has joked he must have had a poorly tailored suit
. Not so, Nelson says. "I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate," he said. Nelson stressed he's "not certain" what it is, but "that it could be some type of electronic device – it's consistent with the appearance of an electronic device worn in that manner
Thursday, October 28, 2004
"President Bush announced he has a five-point strategy for getting out of Iraq. Points six through 10 will be handled by the Kerry administration." -- David Letterman
"President Bush's campaign is now attacking John Kerry for throwing away some of his medals to protest the Vietnam War. Bush did not have any medals to throw away, but in his defense he did have all his services records thrown out." -- Jay Leno
"President Bush says in the last month he has created 300,000 new jobs. Yeah, they're called Kerry campaign workers." -- Craig Kilborn
"Is it me or is Bush going everywhere Kerry goes? So far in the past week, President Bush has followed John Kerry to Davenport, Iowa; New Mexico; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; and he follows him to Portland, Oregon. ...The only place he never followed John Kerry was Vietnam." -- Jay Leno
"President Bush said that the people who are attacking our forces in Iraq are getting more and more desperate because we're making so much progress. So just remember, the worse it gets, the better it is." -- Jay Leno
"As of yesterday, the Bush administration still hadn't found the source of the White House leak that outed a woman as a CIA operative. To recap, here are the things President Bush can't find: The source of the leak, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Osama bin Laden, the link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden, the guy who sent the anthrax through the mail, and his butt with two hands and a flashlight." -- Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"
"The White House now has disputed allegations by members of the House Intelligence Committee that President Bush went to war with Iraq based on vague intelligence. Of course he did: EVERYTHING Bush does is based on vague intelligence." -- Jay Leno
"Bush is smart. I don't think that Bush will ever be impeached, 'cause unlike Clinton, Reagan, or even his father, George W. is immune from scandal. Because, if George W. testifies that he had no idea what was going on, wouldn't you believe him?" --Jay Leno
Bush voted "Movie Villain of the Year"
Wed 27 October, 2004
LONDON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush may see himself as defender of democracy and compassionate conservatism but film fans have voted him "Movie Villain of the Year".
The American "Axis of Evil" fighter is wooing voters with security pledges ahead of the presidential election next week, but it was Bush's role in Michael Moore's anti-war film "Fahrenheit 9/11" that won him the villainous title.
In a poll for Total Film magazine, the U.S. leader fought off competition from such well-known baddies as atomic scientist Doctor Octopus from "Spider-Man 2" and fellow Texan Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
"The overwhelming response of our readers voting Bush top villain just goes to show how frightening people found him in Fahrenheit 9/11," Total Film's editor Matt Mueller told Reuters.
"He was absolutely terrifying in that film. The infamous scene where he's informed about the Twin Towers attack while visiting a school, and sits there absolutely paralysed, is enough to strike fear into anyone's heart," he said.
Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action'
Hot off the presses this week: a new report published by The Century Foundation that provides a detailed examination of the international jihadist network of terrorism. That network of radical Islamic terrorist groups has "conducted twice as many attacks in the three years since September 2001 as it did in the three years prior to that date." "Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action
," the result of a task force chaired by Richard Clarke, provides an assessment of the success and failures of the current strategy along with an action plan for the future. The book is available online at www.centuryfoundation.org
A PLAN OF ACTION: All is not lost. The Century Foundation report has positive recommendations
for a specific strategy to win the battle against the jihadists. These include: Invest in education and development in Islamic nations; reinvigorate efforts to combat terrorist financing; strengthen oversight of nuclear terrorism prevention efforts, accelerate security investments for ports, trains and chemical plants; and defuse sources of Islamic hatred for the United States.
SIN OF COMMISSION: "Defeating the Jihadists" finds that the Iraq war has been "counter productive" to the war on terrorism. "As a sin of commission," the report states, "the Iraq war alienated crucial allies in the battle against jihadists, made friendly Muslims into skeptics, made skeptics into radicals and created a sanctuary for itinerant jihadist insurgents." The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London found "the occupation of Iraq has helped al Qaeda recruit more members
." Diverting money and attention into Iraq allowed al Qaeda to reconstitute, and today "the group has 18,000 potential operatives and is present in more than 60 countries."
SIN OF OMISSION: The report also finds that, as a sin of omission, "the Iraq war diverted massive and much-needed resources from the fight against jihadists." The report found, for example, that the war in Iraq gave Iran and Syria the "breathing room" they desperately needed to avoid an international response to their own terrorist activities. Similarly, the International Institute for Strategic Studies found "the threat of nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran has increased
over the past year and will probably get worse because of continued US difficulties in Iraq."
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Just sitting next to a friend who expresses an anti-Bush opinion can get you into big Secret Service trouble in George W. Bush’s United States.
By Frederick Sweet
Recently on Michael Feldman’s National Public Radio show “Whaddya Know?” a high school junior told the audience how he and his friend had recently been stopped on a city bus by the Secret Service.
The two high school students had obtained tickets from an insurance company to attend a pro-Bush campaign rally. Evidently, before the students could get off the bus, the Secret Service already knew who they were and that they had worked for John Kerry’s campaign. That was enough for the students to be labeled “national security risks.” Unless they turned around and went home, they would be arrested, warned the Secret Service agents.
Carrying out President George W. Bush’s violation of American citizens’ civil rights is something of a cottage industry for the Secret Service, abbreviated SS.
These unfortunate initials recall Nazi Germany’s defensive security organization, die Schutzstaffeln, abbreviated SS. Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS units became the backbone of the ruling Nazi party’s private military force. Hitler put them in charge of suppressing his regime’s opponents within Germany (and eventually abroad). Now the American SS is running Bush’s police state.
“Police state?” Think I’m exaggerating? Is it too harsh .... too off the wall ... to suggest that America is becoming a police state like Nazi Germany? Think again. The Bush process had its beginnings long before the 2004 election campaigns began. Moreover, creation of a police state is a gradual process.
Bush’s First Year
Fully ten days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC, the Houston Chronicle had already run its chilling story under the banner headline, “Danger Zone: Justice Department Looking More Like Secret Police.” The Chronicle expressed its outrage over John Ashcroft’s attacks on two journalists, Vanessa Leggett and John Solomon.
“The Justice Department must immediately stop its attempts at threatening and intimidating journalists and writers,” said Ray Marcano, president of the Society of Professional Journalists and managing editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. “Someone at Justice needs to be held accountable for these outrageous acts.”
The Chronicle wrote: “What’s going on here? Why the reluctance on the part of the government to at least explain itself? Targeting journalists for simply doing their jobs. These secret police tactics are more appropriate for some Third World, fascist regime.”
Police states do not happen overnight. John Ashcroft had already established the groundwork for Bush’s police state before the “war on terrorism” provided him and his regime with a credible pretext. Since then, consolidating and reorganizing all of the government intelligence and police agencies under the Office of Homeland Security was proposed by the Bush administration. The Republican Congress quickly approved and funded the proposal, and the Bush administration implemented it.
Totalitarianism: “ ... imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed [emphasis added].” -- The American Heritage Dictionary
Bush Years Three and Four
As the November presidential election approaches, Bush’s police state tactics for silencing dissent and eliminating opposition has been accelerated. Of the hundreds of examples--thousands if the suppression of dissent in New York City during last month’s Republican National Convention is counted--here are a few recent examples of “opposing political and cultural expression [being] suppressed”:
(A short list of recent Secret Service actions against peaceful dissenters is posted at http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/dreamweaver/bannedbks/censorbushbashers.html)
• September 23, 2003
The American Civil Liberties Union charged, in the first nationwide lawsuit of its kind, that at events attended by Bush and other senior federal officials around the country, the Secret Service has been discriminating against protesters in violation of their free speech rights.
According to the ACLU lawsuit, local police, acting at the direction of the Secret Service, violated the rights of protesters in two ways. People expressing views critical of the government were moved further away from public officials, while those with pro-Bush views were allowed to remain closer. Those clearly expressing anti-Bush views were herded into a “protest zone,” while those who merely observed, but did not express a view, were allowed to remain closer.
The ACLU emphasized that security is not at issue because anyone wishing to harm officials would simply carry a sign with a supportive message or no sign at all. “The individuals we are talking about didn’t pose a security threat; they posed a political threat,” the ACLU’s Witold Walczak said.
When last year Bush came to Neville Island, PA, protesters were herded behind a chain-link fence in a remote area out of sight of the press corps and the President, while supporters were allowed to line the motorcade route. One man, who refused to be corralled, was arrested.
“There is nothing more American than raising your voice in protest, and there is nothing more un-American than a government that attempts to hit the mute button when it doesn’t like what it hears,” said Witold Walczak, Legal Director of the ACLU of Greater Pittsburgh and a member of the national ACLU legal team that filed the September 23 lawsuit.
The ACLU said it had seen a significant spike in such incidents under the Bush Administration, prompting it to charge officials with a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against those who disagree with government policies.
Totalitarianism: “ ... opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.”
• May 11, 2004
The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Marshals Service over an incident in April in which a federal marshal erased reporters’ recordings of a speech Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave to high school students.
• August 29, 2004
The Secret Service barred private citizens who had already gotten tickets from attending a Republican campaign event. This had been the third such incident in West Virginia alone. Students Jeff Rogers and Jessica Williams, both of Wheeling, WV, got tickets for the Bush rally from a friend. But when they got to the ticket table, a Secret Service agent accused Rogers of working for Kerry’s advance team, which Rogers denied. However, he had interned with the Ohio County Democratic Party. Ms. Williams was undecided. The two thought they would compare Bush’s speech with what they’d heard from Kerry on his July 31 visit to the city. Mr. Rogers was quoted: “I was just there to listen ... and get a perspective of what he [Bush] thinks about the issues. Neither one of us was going to cause any disturbance. We were just going to respectfully listen and, afterward, process through what we agreed with and disagreed with.” He added, “They said, ‘We’re not going to let you in. Nice try, though.’”
Totalitarianism: “ ... opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.”
• September 4, 2004
Derek Kjar was visited by the Secret Service after his neighbors had complained to the SS about the anti-Bush sticker on his car. The decal, which Kjar had printed from a web source, had a cartoon depiction of Bush’s head wearing a crown, with the words “King George--off with his head.” Special agent Lon Garner, in charge of the SS Denver field office, confirmed the investigation. He said agents had ruled out a threat to the president. Garner also said it was the agency’s job to investigate all reported threats to figures under Secret Service protection: “We are bound by law. We take them very seriously, regardless of who the protectee [sic] is.”
However, Kjar’s neighborhood snitches had turned in a false alarm and were not chastised for abuse of due process. This sort of thing, by the way, is a perfect example of why the TIPS program could never have worked. The SS would not have the manpower to processes all the complaints by snitches against their neighborhood dissenters.
• September 8, 2004
Bush was in Kansas City at a suburban high school. Two girls who attended the school were in the stands at the stadium to hear the president speak. One of the girls was wearing a T-shirt that had a W with an X through it. Two Secret Service agents told the girl wearing the shirt and her girlfriend sitting next to her that they had to leave. The SS escorted both girls out of the stadium. The girlfriend had not been wearing an “offensive” T-shirt. She was just quietly sitting next to the girl with the no-Bush T-shirt. When the SS said they had to leave, the girls said they had to stay at school because their attendance was required. But the SS told them that they had to get off school property! The SS then forced these two 15-year-old girls to walk across a busy highway and wait until Bush had finished speaking and had left. Only then were the girls allowed back into school.
The high school kids had been warned before the rally that no anti Bush T-shirts were allowed, and one girl had broken that rule. However, the other girl, her friend--who was not dressed inappropriately--was also forced by the SS to leave simply for being her companion.
Is that any way to treat American kids? The other 15-year-old girl was doing nothing wrong except sitting next to her friend. But she learned a big lesson and will never forget it as long as she lives: In George W. Bush’s United States, sitting next to a friend who expresses an opposing political viewpoint can get you into big trouble.
Totalitarianism: “ ... opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.”
New Florida vote scandal feared
By Greg Palast Reporting for Newsnight
A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.
Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".
It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.
An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."
Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.
They may then only vote "provisionally" after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status.
Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not one challenge has been made to a voter "in the 16 years I've been supervisor of elections."
"Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting."
Sancho calls it "intimidation." And it may be illegal.
In Washington, well-known civil rights attorney, Ralph Neas, noted that US federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.
The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents.
When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature.
Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together "in order to create" a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner.
Rather, she did acknowledge that the party's poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, "Where it's stated in the law."
There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.
In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.
The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services.
On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the Republican Party to intimidate and scare off African American voters, almost all of whom are registered Democrats.
Greg Palast's film will be broadcast by Newsnight on Tuesday, 26 October, 2004.
Hunter S. Thompson gives us more good gonzo. Here's just a small taste.
Read the whole thing at rollingstone.com
Of course I will vote for John Kerry. I have known him for thirty years as a good man with a brave heart -- which is more than even the president's friends will tell you about George W. Bush, who is also an old acquaintance from the white-knuckle days of yesteryear. He is hated all over the world, including large parts of Texas, and he is taking us all down with him.
Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all.
I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, but I will not make that mistake again. The joke is over for Nader. He was funny once, but now he belongs to the dead. There is nothing funny about helping George Bush win Florida again. Nader is a fool, and so is anybody who votes for him in November -- with the obvious exception of professional Republicans who have paid big money to turn poor Ralph into a world-famous Judas Goat.
THE DAILY MIS-LEAD
< www.Misleader.org >
ADMINISTRATION MISLEADS ON COST OF WAR
Before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration told the American people that it could be fought on the cheap. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said "We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Iraq will be "an affordable endeavor," "that will not require sustained aid" and cost "in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion." Defense Policy Board Member Richard Perle said, "Iraq is a very wealthy country...They can finance, largely finance, the reconstruction of their own country." They were all wrong.
The Washington Post reports "the Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year."
1. "Dems charge 'bait and switch' on Iraq," UPI, 10/03/03, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65222.
2. Ibid, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65222.
3. "U.S. says oil in Iraq to pay for rebuilding," Washington Post, 3/28/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65223.
4. "Estimated cost of Iraq war reduced," New York Times, 12/31/02, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65224.
5. "Saddam's Ultimate Solution," PBS, 07/11/02, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65225.
6. "Increase in War Funding Sought," Washington Post, 10/26/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=65226.
Breaking All the Sprouls
Voter Outreach of America – a front group run by Republican operative Nathan Sproul and financed with more than $600,000 from the RNC
– hired Tyrone Mrasek to register voters. The LA Times reports, Mrasek "was given a written script to ask people whether they favored Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry. To those favoring the Massachusetts senator, Mrasek replied that he was just taking a poll and thanked them for stopping." He was told to offer registrations to people who favored Bush and tell them "George Bush really needs your help this election." There was a backup plan for anyone who inadvertently signed up a Democrat: outside Sproul's office Mrasek "found a stack of signed registrations for Democratic voters in a trash can.
" Similar stories of partisan dirty tricks by Sproul have been documented in Oregon, West Virginia and Pennsylvania
SPROUL'S COMPANY USES CONNECTION TO BUSH TO GET CONTRACTS: The Public Advocate of the City of New York accused Voyager of using "politics to gain contracts," including close ties to Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
. The Public Advocate notes, "as Texas Governor, George W. Bush pushed a proposal giving $25 million in state money to after school programs that would aid Voyager, which had contributed more than $45,000 to Bush and over $20,000 to Bush's lieutenant governor running mate."
SPROUL'S COMPANY MANIPULATES RESEARCH TO PUSH PRODUCT: There is controversy on the effectiveness of the Voyager reading curriculum. Most of the research that does exist has been conducted by people with "connections to, or financial interest in, the company.
" The research is described by university scholars who specialize in reading curriculum as "flimsy and unscientific."
ED DEPARTMENT PRESSURES SCHOOLS TO HIRE SPROUL'S COMPANY: Many education experts believe "the research used to justify Voyager's claims to success were unscientific and produced very little results." Nevertheless "the U.S Education Department led applicants for federal reading funds to believe that approval of their application would be speeded up
if they indicated a preference for particular commercial programs, including Voyager."
Yesterday, new evidence emerged that high ranking members of the Bush campaign are engaged in an orchestrated effort to disrupt voting
in predominately African-American precincts. But don't expect to read about it in your morning newspaper – the only major news organization that has bothered to report the story is the BBC. Two e-mails, obtained from the Bush campaign, contain a 15-page "caging list," containing "1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida." Ion Sancho, an elections supervisor in Tallahassee, said, "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day." Civil rights attorney Ralph Neas noted, "US federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters." Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher said that the list was not created to challenge voters "but refused to say it would not be used in that manner." Similar efforts are taking place in other battleground states, such as Ohio. According to ACORN, a non-profit group, "46 percent of the Republican challenges
in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, were against black people, who represent only 27 percent of the county's population." (Don't let tactics like these keep you from the polls. Remember, if you don't vote, this election will not be stolen; it will be given away
THE MYTH OF VOTER FRAUD: The Republican talking points manipulate the facts to create a false impression of widespread voter fraud
in key states. For example, appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie said that "If you look at Franklin County [Ohio]... a very important county in the election, there are 815,000 people according to the census, 18 or older eligible to vote. There are 845,000 registered voters." Gillespie suggests that the only way this can be explained is voter fraud. That isn't true. Federal law prohibits purging records
of voters who have moved out of the state – or should otherwise not be on the rolls – for four years. So if there are more registered voters than eligible voters, that doesn't mean scores of people are attempting to commit fraud. It means the state is complying with the National Voter Registration Act.
VOTER FRAUD IS RARE: According to a new study
by Demos finds that "election fraud is at most a minor problem across the 50 U.S. states, and does not affect election outcomes." For example, election officials in Arizona "say voter fraud involving undocumented immigrants is rare." Karen Osborne, Maricopa County's director of elections, said, "if we have one case a year, it's an amazement.
" Officials in Arizona are concerned that a new ballot measure – which would require proof of citizenship to vote – "could end up blocking legitimate voters from exercising their rights."
IRAQ – ALLAWI BLAMES U.S. FOR MASSACRE: Prime Minister Ayad Allawi blamed American-led military forces on Tuesday for the weekend massacre of 49 freshly trained Iraqi soldiers by insurgent forces in Iraq. In a speech before the interim National Assembly, Allawi accused multinational forces of "major negligence," saying, "It was a way to damage Iraq and the Iraqi people
." Allawi's criticism "marked the first time he has publicly criticized the American-led forces, disclosing his profound frustration at the assault and perhaps the deteriorating security situation as well." The Bush administration has tried to downplay Allawi's accusations
, but an anonymous official told the New York Times his division was "baffled by the utter lack of protection given the Iraqi soldiers."
NORTH KOREA – BUSH ADMINISTRATION CHIDED AS MISSILE TEST LOOMS: South Korea's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said in a press conference with Colin Powell on Tuesday that the U.S. "must come up with a more creative and realistic proposal
" to get North Korea to resume talks on its nuclear program. The comments, which were omitted by a State Department translator until South Korean reporters demanded the record be corrected, come at the same time the U.S., Japan and South Korea are boosting their monitoring of a missile base in North Korea because "military intelligence indicates that the communist nation might be preparing to test missiles
." According to a South Korean newspaper, "North Koreans began making moves at the Jeongju base, such as moving mobile missile launch stations," which could lead to a test – a report South Korea's Defense Ministry "neither confirms nor denies."
JUSTICE: ASHCROFT'S DEATH PENALTY CAMPAIGN: Mother Jones reports "federal prosecutors across the country have become demoralized and infuriated" by Attorney General John Ashcroft's unprecedented attempts to push the federal death penalty
. "Since Ashcroft took office in February 2001, he has imposed the formerly rare federal death penalty in nearly 100 cases across the country. In 37 of them to date, he took the unprecedented step of overriding the wishes of local prosecutors who had not sought the death penalty. He has also asked for the federal death penalty in cases in seven states that don't allow capital punishment." Judges and prosecutors quoted in the article accused Ashcroft of "undermining the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes" in America.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Center for American Progress:
The $225 Billion Mess
The Washington Post reported this morning that the White House is planning to seek another $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, bringing the total cost close to $225 billion. Also, USA Today reports, "Pentagon officials are considering increasing the current U.S. force by delaying the departures of some U.S. troops now in Iraq and accelerating the deployment of others scheduled to go there next year." This will affect more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers. The new numbers "underscore that the [Iraq] war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested." Unfortunately, the war has also been made longer and tougher in part by a series of serious mistakes and errors in judgment by the administration. (For an idea of just how much the war in Iraq has already cost your state, take a look at this map.)
INSURGENT THREAT IGNORED: USA Today reports the administration was repeatedly warned about the strong possibility of Iraqi insurgency in the days before the war. These warnings, however, were ignored. For example, two reports by the National Intelligence Council "warned Bush in January 2003, two months before the invasion, that the conflict could spark factional violence and an anti-U.S. insurgency." A separate report by the Army War College a month before the invasion predicted, "The longer U.S. presence is maintained, the more likely violent resistance will develop." The war plan put together by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Army Gen. Tommy Franks, however, "discounted these warnings."
LOSING FALLUJAH: The Los Angeles Times reports the administration's inconsistent, politically motivated response to the insurgency "turned Fallujah from a troublesome, little-known city on the edge of Iraq's western desert to an embodiment of almost everything that has gone wrong for the United States in Iraq." Today, Fallujah is a "haven for anti-American guerrillas, a base for suicide bombers, and a headquarters for the man U.S. officials consider the most dangerous terrorist in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi."
ZARQAWI GOT AWAY: The White House passed up the chance to take out Zarqawi before the war in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal reports that in June 2002, the Pentagon drew up detailed plans for a military strike designed to hit the terrorist in his camp. Gen. John Keane, the Army's vice chief of staff, called the camp "one of the best targets we ever had." The White House, however, quashed the plan, unwilling to cause any international controversy in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. Zarqawi got away and used the war in Iraq to spearhead a terrorist insurgency. He is responsible for a string of deadly car bombings, beheadings as well as the recent massacre of more than 40 Iraqi army recruits.
REAL THREATS IGNORED: In its zeal to chase down phantom weapons of mass destruction – which did not exist – the White House left dangerous explosives – which did exist – unguarded and open to looting by terrorists. Pentagon officials said the facility "was not high on U.S. commanders' list of sites to guard because survey teams found no nuclear or biological materials." Scott McClellan also stated yesterday, "There is not a nuclear proliferation risk," he said. "We're talking about conventional explosives." These "conventional explosives" have been widely used in the car bombs and suicide bombs that are killing U.S. troops in Iraq. They are also powerful enough to bring down entire buildings or "shatter" airplanes.
ADMINISTRATION PUSHES BOGUS THEORY: Yesterday, in an attempt to downplay the looting of the dangerous explosives, the administration tried to sell the theory that the weapons were already gone by the time the U.S. forces reached the Al Qaqaa military facility, leaving the U.S. no chance to safeguard the material. The LA Times reports, "Given the size of the missing cache, it would have been difficult to relocate undetected before the invasion, when U.S. spy satellites were monitoring activity." One former U.S. intelligence official who worked in Baghdad concurred: "You don't just move this stuff in the middle of the night." On top of that, Iraqi officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this month "that the explosives were looted after April 9, 2003, when U.S. forces entered Baghdad."
OIL WAS THE PRIORITY: The administration has had to fight the perception that the United States invaded Iraq for the oil, a perception that has fueled Iraqi anger at the U.S. presence. In a press conference yesterday, however, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked why the U.S. had left the dangerous explosives unguarded. He responded, "At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields."
THE DAILY MIS-LEAD
< www.Misleader.org >
ADMINISTRATION MISLEADS ON MISSING EXPLOSIVES
In Iraq, 380 tons of powerful explosives have been looted and may have fallen into the hands of insurgents. In an effort to deflect blame, administration officials are pushing the theory that when "U.S. forces...reached the Al Qaqaa military facility in early April 2003, the weapons cache was already gone." This theory is not credible.
According to an AP report, U.S. solders visited the Al Qaqaa in April 2003 and "found thousands of five-centimetre by 12-centimetre boxes, each containing three vials of white powder." Officials who tested the powder said it was "believed to be explosives." Yesterday, "an official who monitors developments in Iraq" confirmed that "US-led coalition troops had searched Al Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact." Thereafter, according to the official, "the site was not secured by U.S. forces."
It makes sense that the explosives were there when the U.S. solders arrived because, as the LA Times notes, "given the size of the missing cache, it would have been difficult to relocate undetected before the invasion, when U.S. spy satellites were monitoring activity."
1. "White House Downplays Missing Iraq Explosives," Los Angeles Times, 10/26/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64882.
2. "U.S. troops find signs of chemical readiness," Associated Press, 4/05/03, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64883.
3. Ibid, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64883.
4. "380 tons of explosives missing in Iraq," Associated Press, 10/25/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64884.
5. Ibid, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64884.
6. "White House Downplays Missing Iraq Explosives," Los Angeles Times, 10/26/04, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1169359&l=64882.
Visit www.Misleader.org for more about Bush Administration distortion.
Bush's Kerry Comments Go Unchecked
October 26, 2004
George W. Bush's new claims about Kerry "flip-flopping" on the war in
Afghanistan quickly moved yesterday from the campaign trail to the nightly
news. But some journalists who repeated Bush's charges made no effort to
examine the truth behind Bush's claims-- claims which turn out, like many
other Bush lines of attack, to be deceptive.
Bush charged that while Kerry now criticizes how the administration
managed the search for Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, Kerry made comments
at the time that were much different. "In the fall of 2001," Bush
charged, "on national TV, he said this about Tora Bora: 'I think we've
been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that
way.' At the time, the senator said about Tora Bora, 'I think we've been
smart. I think the administration leadership has done it well, and we are
on the right track.'"
But Bush is taking Kerry's words grossly out of context. Both comments he
cited came from an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live (12/14/01). When a
viewer asked "why they don't use napalm or flamethrowers on those tunnels
and caves up there in Afghanistan," Kerry replied: "Well, I think it depends on where you are tactically. They may well be doing that at some point in time. But for the moment, what we are doing, I think, is having its impact and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively and we should continue to do it that way." In other words, Kerry was suggesting that napalm and flamethrowers might be ill-suited for the mission to find Osama bin Laden.
Bush is incorrect in saying that the other quote was "about Tora Bora";
in fact, that comment came in response to this question from host Larry
King: "Senator Kerry-- and this is for all of you-- how goes it so far in
Afghanistan, in your opinion?" A moment's thought reveals the absurdity
of comparing one assessment of the situation in Afghanistan-- made shortly
after the capture of Kabul, when it was believed that bin Laden was
surrounded and would soon be captured-- with an assessment made later,
after bin Laden had slipped away to parts unknown.
Unfortunately, some journalists covering the Bush campaign appearance
passed along his allegations, but failed to inform viewers about their
accuracy. CNN's John King (10/25/04) talked up the Bush campaign
strategy, noting that "another part of their strategy to keep voters
moving from Bush to Kerry is to make the case that Senator Kerry has been
inconsistent on Iraq." As evidence, King explained that "as part of that
message today, one of Senator Kerry's arguments on the campaign trail has
been that the United States military let Osama bin Laden away at Tora Bora
-- let him escape from Tora Bora, Afghanistan. Senator Kerry says that is
proof that Mr. Bush has mismanaged the war on terrorism. President Bush
today in his speech is quoting something very different Senator Kerry said
back in the fall of 2001." He then quoted from Bush's speech, but failed
to provide the context of Kerry's statements, made on his own network.
NBC Nightly News correspondent David Gregory (10/25/04) also failed to
challenge Bush's claims, opting instead to explain Bush's strategy to NBC
viewers: "The president also took aim today at one of Kerry's main
attacks, that the administration let Osama bin Laden get away during the
war in Afghanistan. Today, the Bush campaign tracked down an interview
Kerry gave at the time, praising the effort to find bin Laden at Tora
Bora. The president quoted Kerry's words." Unfortunately, Gregory did not
compare Bush's description of Kerry's words with Kerry's actual remarks.
ACTION: Please contact CNN and NBC News and remind them how critical it is to check the accuracy of charges made in the closing days of the presidential campaign.
As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you
maintain a polite tone. Please send a copy of your correspondence to