Jonathan Simon on the Brennan Report and HR 550

Election Integrity activists must be very careful about allowing the Brennan Report to be parlayed into a convenient bipartisan rush (sorry) for the shelter of Rep. Holt’s proposed bill HR550.

Please remember, the very cynical syllogism still holds, Brennan or no Brennan: Election Rigging is The Goose That Lays The Golden Eggs; as long as the right can continue to rig (and Holt certainly permits that), they need not fear the electorate; hence, given their governing majority in Congress, they will not kill the Golden Goose, no matter how much apparent “pressure” is brought to bear. With their power secured by compromised elections, all such apparent pressure is illusory. So we can conclude with confidence about federal election “reform” legislation: if it passes, it won’t work; if it would work, it won’t pass.

Going to Congress to fix this mess is a sucker’s play. Allowing even apparently “good” federal legislation to be the chalice carrying our fond hopes leaves those hopes at the mercy of a Conference Committee which will be taking it’s marching orders from Karl Rove. Then the word-up will be “problem solved, move on.”

But it won’t be solved, not by a long shot, it will only be federalized and hence even more under the regime’s control. It won’t be solved until we either: 1) get rid of the machines altogether, or 2) implement an effective mandatory jurisdiction-wide handcount sample protocol to test overall results, not merely the stray machine. Voter verified means NOTHING when dealing with black-box computers. Auditability means virtually NOTHING when chain-of-custody is violated, when there are Blackwells in the picture, when the fees are prohibitive, when results thresholds are set for audits.

If the Brennan Report is used to bring us VVPT, it will be a great boon worse than wasted. Stimulating Congress to act in any way is a critical mistake in the current situation. The only hope of a real solution will come from states, localities, and the people acting at those levels.

It is up to those of us who recognize the distinctions in remedies to rapidly educate those who are first recognizing the problem before they join a stampede in the worst possible direction. We need to put out a position paper, talking points, etc., bridging from the Brennan Report (recognizing the problem) to Effective (i.e., non-Holt, uniform omni-precinct handcount sampling) Audits as THE NEXT STEP.

Let’s get on it. Will have a detailed Effective Audit paper out ASAP.

–Jonathan Simon

"Taken for a Ride"

From Portside:

Taken For A Ride On The Interstate Highway System

Submitted to Portside
by Mike Ferner © 2006

The 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s signing
of the Interstate Highway Act is a good time to dust
off this review of the PBS documentary, “Taken for a
Ride” that I wrote 10 years ago when President Clinton
visited my city during the 1996 presidential campaign.

Riding a “Presidential Special” from Columbus to Toledo
on tracks that no longer carry passenger trains,
Clinton crowed, “I’m goin’ to Chicago (for the
Democratic Party convention) and I’m goin’ on a train!”

I wanted to ask him why the rest of us could no longer
travel to our state capital by train; why we are the
only industrialized nation on earth that refuses to
subsidize its passenger rail system? And I asked a
question that makes me sick to my stomach to read 10
years later: “How many more billions of dollars and how
many more lives will we pay for Mideast oil.?”

Of course I never got to ask him those questions in
person, but luckily, two fellow Ohioans, Dayton-area
independent filmmakers, Jim Klein and Martha Olson,
replied with their film, “Taken for a Ride.”

Their documentary tells the dramatic story of how
America’s passenger trains and streetcars were
systematically and deliberately killed by what we now
call the “highway lobby.” What makes their film so
important is that it goes beyond vague conspiracy
theories to name names.

Klein and Olson weave General Motors promotional films,
Congressional archives, interviews with citizen
activists, and Department of Justice memos into a
compelling pattern of events that make it clear: we
didn’t get into the traffic jam we’re in today by

For example, “Ride” explains, the oft-scorned highway
lobby was not born of fuzzy environmentalist folklore.
The “most powerful pressure group in Washington,” began
in June, 1932, when GM President, Alfred P. Sloan,
created the National Highway Users Conference, inviting
oil and rubber firms to help GM bankroll a propaganda
and lobbying effort that continues to this day.

Sloan, unhappy with a transportation system in which
the majority of people rode streetcars and trains, not
automobiles, bought out Omnibus Corp., the nation’s
largest bus operating company, and Yellow Coach, the
largest bus manufacturer. With these, he began a
campaign to “modernize” New York City’s railways with

With New York as an example, GM formed National City
Lines in 1936 and the assault on mass transit across
America began with a vengeance.

Within ten years, NCL controlled transit systems in
over 80 cities. GM denied any control of NCL, but the
bus line’s Director of Operations came from Yellow
Coach, and board members came from Greyhound, a company
founded by GM. Later, Standard Oil of California, Mack
Truck, Phillips Petroleum, and Firestone joined GM’s
support of NCL.

If you’ve inched through traffic on a city bus or
followed one for any distance, you know why people
abandoned NCL’s buses for cars whenever they could. It
doesn’t take a rabid conspiracy nut to see the
subsequent benefit to GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil.

“Ride” is most compelling when it documents how the
U.S. Justice Department prosecuted NCL, General Motors,
and other companies for combining to destroy America’s
transit systems.

Brad Snell, an auto industry historian who spent 16
years researching GM, said that key lawyers involved
with the case told him “there wasn’t a scintilla of
doubt that the defendants had set out to destroy the

For eliminating a system “worth $300 billion today,”
Snell laments, the corporations were eventually found
guilty and fined $5,000. Key individuals, such as the
Treasurer of GM, were fined one dollar.

The post-war boom in housing, suburbs, and freeways is
a familiar story. Not so familiar is the highway
lobby’s high-level efforts to determine our
transportation future.

In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed then-GM
President Charles Wilson as his Secretary of Defense,
who pushed relentlessly for a system of interstate
highways. Francis DuPont, whose family owned the
largest share of GM stock, was appointed chief
administrator of federal highways.

Funding for this largest of all U.S. public works
programs came from the Highway Trust Fund’s tax on
gasoline, to be used only for highways. Its formula
assured that more highways meant more driving, more
money from the gasoline tax, and more highways.

Helping to keep the driving spirit alive, Dow Chemical,
producer of asphalt, entered the PR campaign with a
film featuring a staged testimonial from a grade school
teacher standing up to her anti-highway neighbors with
quiet indignation. “Can’t you see this highway means a
whole new way of life for the children?”

Citizens might agree that highways meant a whole new
way of life, but not necessarily for the better. The
wrecking ball cleared whole neighborhoods for the
interstate highways and public protest grew
accordingly. One Washington, D.C. activist recalls,
“this was a brutal period in our history; a very brutal

The documentary concludes with a peek into the future,
interviewing corporate sponsors of the Intelligent
Vehicle Highway System, a computer-controlled vision of
travel which currently receives the lion’s share of
federal transportation research funding.

“Taken for a Ride” is more timely today than when it
was made a decade ago. Watch it.


Mike Ferner is a Toledo freelance writer.

You can purchase “Taken For a Ride” at:


portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a news,
discussion and debate service of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It aims to
provide varied material of interest to people on the

To subscribe to the list:

To search the portside archive:

Thom Hartmann puts it to Salon

“Some readers take issue with his tone, but none have identified an error in his reporting.”


I’m amazed you’d even put such a breathtakingly inaccurate statement into an on-the-record email. I’m assuming you’re a sales flack who hasn’t been reading the discussions, and am now even more certain that Salon is so lacking in credibility that it’s a waste of my time to read it. Please process my cancellation.

Thom Hartmann

—–Original Message—–
From: Salon Premium Help
Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 12:14 PM
To: thom
Subject: Re: Special Bonus for Salon Premium Members

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for writing in about our recent coverage of Ohio’s voting irregularities in 2004. If you’ll reply to this message with a confirmation, we’ll process your cancellation request promptly. Before we close out your Salon membership, I’d like to point you towards RFK’s rebuttal, if you haven’t already seen it, Farhad Manjoo’s response, and an editor’s letter from Joan Walsh about this debate. You can find them here:

As our editor notes, Farhad Manjoo has covered the controversies surrounding electronic voting since November 2002, making him one of the first reporters to sound the alarm. His Salon directory page ( lists the many stories he’s
written documenting potential problems with electronic voting, as well as
the other pedestrian ways Americans are routinely disenfranchised. He’s
interviewed a whistleblower who documented security flaws in Diebold systems, studied independent and partisan election analyses and investigated claims that the GOP stole the 2002 Georgia governor’s race and a Senate seat. He found plenty to worry about in that state’s, and others’, embrace of electronic voting systems, but he did not find evidence that Republicans have illegally manipulated elections.

Some readers take issue with his tone, but none have identified an error in his reporting. I know Farhad approached Bobby Kennedy’s article with respect and an open mind — and so did I. It was disappointing to find such a disturbing claim made with insufficient evidence. If you’ve found any factual errors in Farhad’s piece, please let us know. Ultimately, I hope that the great reporting we do every day would overcome your irritation with a piece like this on which we apparently disagree. Thanks for taking the time to let us know how you feel.


X-UID: 27725
> Content-Length: 1711
> X-Keywords:
> Given your recent attack on RFJ, Jr., please cancel my Salon account. Your
> standards have fallen so low, I no longer have any interest in
> Thomas Hartmann
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Premium Help
> Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2006 3:48 AM
> Subject: Special Bonus for Salon Premium Members
> Dear Salon Premium member:
> Expiration of your Salon Premium membership is coming up fast:
> Only 3 Weeks Left!
> Fortunately, it’s easy to renew . . . and if you click this link now
> you’ll get 3 additional Bonus Months of membership with all access
> privileges and benefits* – 15 months in all for the price of 12.
> That’s only $2.33 a month for full 24/7 access to the ground-breaking web
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> Don’t risk interruption of service. Just click here
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> Warm Regards,
> Joan Walsh
> Editor,

The sleeping giant stirs


Regarding the batch of notes that you have posted today: I also
sense some significant movement on the election fraud issue. Last
year I wrote that (1) given the conditions at that time, the GOP was
certain to win in 2006 and 2008 regardless of the will of the voters,
(2) provided that those conditions remained in place (e.g. “black
box” DREs in place, MSM indifference, and public apathy and
ignorance). But I also wrote (3) that it was likely that those
conditions would not remain in place.

There are four factors which, together, might tip the balance:

1. Bush/Cheney have pissed-off the New York Times, which has
heretofore been a Bush enabler. Will more of the print media follow?
To the Busheviks, it is not enough that the media be net-asset
supporters, their obedience must be total. Now the high-voltage
Bushevik charges of “treason” over the NYT’s disclosure of the latest
Bushevik outrage may pull the Times back into line, or it might be
the final straw that chases the Times off the reservation. If so,
where the Times leads others (e.g. the Boston Globe) will follow.

2. The solid front in the mainstream broadcast media is
beginning to break, as heretofore Bush supporters are beginning to
stray, most notably Joe Scarborough and Lou Dobbs. Dobbs especially
is raising holy hell about election security. In addition, aggrieved
“victims” can become formidable opponents: cf. Dan Rather.

3. I sense that at last some significant Wall Street
movers-and-shakers are finally beginning to appreciate that where the
Busheviks lead, they should not want to follow. They appreciate
this, not out of any loyalty to the Constitution or our political
institutions, nor for any pangs of conscience over economic
injustice. Their concern is rooted in those most significant Wall
Street motives: greed and self-interest. They understand that in the
economic armageddon toward which Bush is leading the economy, there
will be no winners.

4. The public is waking up at last. A sizeable minority has
always suspected that the elections were fraudulent. But that
minority appears to be growing, and equally important, the salience
of the election fraud issue is growing — from “yeah, so what?”
toward “omigawd, we’ve been screwed!” If the economy continues to
sour, that increase in public outrage will accelerate.

As we learned from the era of Joe McCarthy, and also from the fall of
the Soviet Union, a regime based on fear and intimidation, however
formidable it may appear (hence its effectiveness), can be very
fragile. No one wants to face the beast alone, but when a few step
forward, say an Ed Murrow or an Andrei Sakharov, hordes of the
reluctant and the intimidated join in, and the regime collapses like
a breached levee.

I’m not saying that this will happen. But it could, as it has so
many times in history. And in this case (unlike Dubya’s “faith-based
reality”), believing can make it so. Si se puede!

Ernie Partridge



Dear NY State friends and activists,

The signature gathering drive to get Jonathan Tasini’s name on the
ballot in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator from New York is in
high gear. Why should the voters of the State of New York NOT have
the option of voting for a candidate who is standing strong calling
for our troops to come home from Iraq NOW? And we have had many
inquiries from people asking what they could do to help in this
mobilization effort in their own cities and towns.

In the next two weeks, we are asking each of our participants to
collect at least 10 signatures from people you know who would like to
have a true PEACE alternative choice. You can download a copy of the
official designating petition here:

Just print out as as many copies as you like on your own printer and
GO for it. Jonathan’s name and address should appear already printed
at the top along with the date of the election, party, etc .You must
personally observe each person who signs one of the designation
petitions and have them enter the following:

1) The date they signed in the column on the left

2) Their signature in the upper space in the next column, and they
should print their name in the lower space of that line.

3) In the next column they put in their RESIDENCE address as
registered to vote, NOT a P.O Box or other mailing address.

4) In the last column on the right they put their city or town,
except in New York City put their county.

5) All entries must be in INK.

When you have gotten as many signatures as you can on a particular
sheet, complete the statement of witness at the bottom, including
your name, residence address, the actual number of signatures on that
sheet, the date, your sighature, and just below that your city or
town and your county.

Then all you need to do is get your sheets to the campaign NO LATER
that July 12 so they can be timely filed, and the sooner the better
to be safe. Send your completed sheets to:

Jonathan B. Tasini Campaign
Attn: Julius
P.O. Box 302
New York, NY 10040

If you want to find out more about Jonathan Tasini and his campaign
for peace, and the other things he is standing strong for, please
visit his web site at

Can Jonathan win? SURE he can, if only WE get involved and support
him. In any case, a Democrat WILL win this seat regardless, so what
do we have to lose? In the CA primary in District 36, Marcy Winograd
pulled 38% against another entrenched, powerful incumbent, and SINCE
then Jane Harman has been a lot more vocal about bringing our troops
home. Marcy was within striking distance and could have won if only
she had gotten more help earlier in her campaign. We are starting
that early for THIS campaign now.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed
to be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at

Or if you want to cease receiving our messages, just use the function

WashPost runs an excellent article!

Washington Post: ‘A Single Person Could Swing an Election’
Plus Lou Dobbs and 97% of his viewers vote to do away with E-Voting, last night’s emergency townhall briefly and other quick news applicable to the highly-questionable Busby/Bilbray results

(The Democracy Train moves down to San Diego/Oceanside tonight! Please be there!) Must hit the road shortly to take the Democracy Train down to San Diego for tonight’s Emergency Townhall on the Busby/Bilbray election results fiasco. If you’re anywhere near San Diego or Oceanside please come out tonight! We had a great time last night in Los Angeles!

Lou Dobbs report last night on the Brennan Center’s year-in-the-making report on 120 threats to E-Voting Security was fan-damn-tastic. When I can catch my breath, I hope to get it, along with the video, posted in full. And more thoughts on that Brennan Center report. But for now, by way of teaser, Dobbs started it this way: “More evidence tonight that an increasing number of elections in this country can be outright stolen. And no one would ever know. It’s incredible.”

And, as of this hour, here are the results from his “Quick Poll” on this topic last night (you can still vote yourselves if you want)


An exchange with Farhad Manjoo

From Jason Aaron Osgood:

I used to subscribe to Salon. Every now and then, they try to get me to sign back up. I periodically explain to Farhad Manjoo and editor Joan Walsh exactly why I’m no longer a subscriber. Yes, I’m bitterly disappointed in both Manjoo and Salon.

I was thrilled when they covered the potential problems leading up to 2004. I’m at a complete loss why they’ve gone from “if there was a problem, you’d never be able to prove it” to “unless you can prove there was a problem, go away”.

Below is my most recent (mostly one-sided) exchange with Manjoo.


On 6/27/06, Jason Osgood wrote:

Hi Farhad-

I suppose I should be grateful. Your repeated attempts to refute the idea that the 2004 presidential election was stolen has done more to keep the issue alive than any other effort. A cunning plan?

I used to subscribe to Now I rarely even visit. As I told your boss, you guys start watching my back, I’ll start watching yours. Until then, you’re on your own.

Cheers, Jason


On Jun 27, 2006, at 10:12 AM, Farhad Manjoo wrote:

What do you mean by “watching your back”?


On 6/27/06, Jason Osgood wrote:

There was a time when Salon defended our democracy. You guys resume fighting the good fight, I’ll resume my subscription. Meanwhile, my money is going towards worthy efforts. Like,, and others. For instance, I subscribe to Scientific American because they’re defending the Enlightenment. (Not that I have time to read it, mind you.)


On Jun 27, 2006, at 11:38 AM, Farhad Manjoo wrote:


It’s terrible that you’re no longer a subscriber. But how honest/ethical do you think it would be for me to rethink my disagreements with someone like Kennedy because you are no longer giving me money? I believe you have an honest difference with me, and I respect that. But I don’t write because I’m being paid to toe to a certain line, and I don’t think you’d want me to, either.

All I’m saying is, this is not about money. It doesn’t seem very enlightened to say, “Please conform to my point of view or I’ll stop giving you money.”



On Jun 27, 2006, at 12:24 PM, Jason Osgood wrote:

Nope. It’s not enlightened. It’s not even altruistic. It’s self preservation. Voting with my dollars.

I don’t mind your criticisms. I swing between 50% and 80% certainty that 2004 was stolen. I get along fine with the people in our group who don’t think 2004 was stolen. (

I just wish you could find a way to be constructive. There’s SO MUCH going on nationwide regarding election integrity. We only hear from you and Salon when it’s time to poke holes in someone else’s efforts.

The net effect is that you appear to be a denier. No problems here, move along. Nothing could be further from the truth. Election integrity has worsened since 2004. 2006 is shaping up to be a catastrophe, a train wreck. Yet salon is mum.

In case you care, the effort that I’m most interested in at this very moment are Voter Action’s lawsuits preventing the use and procurement of electronic voting machines. Holly Jacobson and I were interviewed on KEXP last Saturday.

You could do worse than to cover Voter Action’s efforts.

All I’m saying is that if you guys care about democracy, you could start pulling your weight. Versus criticizing others who are trying to figure stuff out.

There’s A LOT of disagreement within the election integrity “community”. What I say to everyone is that even though we disagree on the details, we agree on the principle of fair, open, and verifiable elections. And that we’ll work out the details in a constructive manner.

And, no, I don’t think your criticisms have been constructive. Though I do think they’ve been helpful in a twisted way. It’s definitely kept the issue alive and prompted everyone to tighten up their arguments. So maybe you’re playing devil’s advocate. In which case I should be thanking you. We’ll see.


On Jun 28, 2006, at 7:33:49 AM, Jason Osgood wrote:

Hi Farhad-

Last night, I had a thought.

Our activists group met last night. I’m sure you’re aware that Busby lost her race in CA-50. The uncertified, error prone voting machines were used. (Thanks for covering that! Good job!) The GOP had a sophisticated GOTV, basically tracking and harassing absentee voters until they voted. (Everyone does it. Dems do it here in King County.) So in response there’s these emergency townhall meetings. [For our part,] We’re trying to figure out how to push the party to take election integrity seriously.

The Dems among us are always being hassled for more money. The DNC, DCCC, Cantwell, our state party chair Dwight Pelz, etc.

A number of us have stopped giving money. We write back saying “We’ll give you money when you fight for us.” The candidates that do “get it” also get our money. Bowen, Tester, Burner, a few others.

Why should I, or anyone else, treat you and Salon any differently? You’re a pundit. Not a journalist. Not a reporter. You write opinion pieces. You can’t even pretend to be objective. Nor would I want you to.

So please spare me the song and dance about your ethics.

And, yes, it’s only about money. The big bad wolf is robbing us blind. And I’m using my money to fight back however I can.

When you guys figure that out, I’ll resume supporting you.

Cheers, Jason

How to deal with the '06 elections

My advice for this year’s race(s):

Alright, let’s pretend, just for the sake of argument, that the Repubs are right,
as are most Democrats and the media, when they insist that the election was
legitimate. Fine.

We’re going to give them one more chance to hold elections that are credible.
We’re going to throw ourselves into this next election, getting out as many
voters as we can. The turn-out will be huge, especially by the standard of
off-year elections. Americans will come out to vote, in part, as a way to
take a stand on behalf of free and fair elections.

No early voting, and as little absentee voting as possible. The point here is
to have a massive turn-out on Election Day.

We’ll not only work to boost the turn-out, but we also plan to monitor this
thing with an unprecedented thoroughness. We’re going to watch the polls,
and watch them count the votes. We’re going to keep track of every wrong
or merely screwy incident, every startling trend, every weird anomaly.
We’re also going to pay close heed to all the relevant statistics: newspaper polls,
independent exit polls (we cannot trust the NEP) and so on.

And so, when the Repubs win yet again, surprisingly maintaining their control
of Congress, notwithstanding their subterranean approval ratings, we will be
prepared to note all the anomalies and improprieties–and, at long last,
to SAY NO. As this will have been the fourth election cycle ravaged by
Bush/Cheney since 2000, Americans must finally go Ukrainian, and just refuse
to acknowledge BushCo’s latest “win.”

Where that may take us I can’t say. But it is something that, it seems to me,
we have to do, or else we don’t deserve to call ourselves the citizens of a


Brennan Center report sweeping US media!

NYU’s Brennan Center has released a (pardon my French!) kick-ass study of the dangerous insecurity of e-voting systems. It is an excellent piece of work– and it has legs!
From Kathy Dopp:
The three major U.S. voting systems that the Brennan Center task force report discusses are:

1. DRE voting systems (touchscreens without paper),

2. DRE voting systems with VVPT (voter verifiable paper trail), and

3. Precinct-based Optical Scan voting systems

The Brennan Center Press Release has now been reported in dozens of major nationwide and international news articles. State newspapers in places like Utah have yet to inform their citizens with the exception of Ohio, Massachusettes, and Washington DC. Even the highly conservative Washington Times reported on the security threat to U.S. voting systems. Here is the list of newspapers which have now reported on this with links to all these articles available here:


< /span>

As reported in Germany’s “Short News”:

The task force also said that a paper trail is ineffective if routine audits through random checks are not performed. Other recommendations included banning wireless technology and checking random machines the same day they are used.