Dutchess County to consider a demand for paper ballots

The resolution to be discussed would have the legislature insisting the NYState Board of Elections provide counties with a PB/OS option.
While the public is not allowed to speak at the committee meetings, we are welcome to observe.
The press will be there.
Here’s the text of the resolution:
Legislators GOLDBERG, BUNNELL, FETTES, HIGGINS, JETER-JACKSON, KELLER-COFFEY, KNAPP, MACAVERY, MCCABE, NASH, RAY, and TYNER offers the following and moves its adoption:
WHEREAS, the two main types of voting machine technologies currently available for implementing the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) compliance of our elections are optical scanning of paper ballots (PB//OS) and touch screen direct recording electronic (DRE), and
WHEREAS, the New York State Board of Elections is accepting voting systems for certification testing, and
WHEREAS, the New York State Board of Elections has not yet mandated that the optical scanners be offered for certification testing, and
WHEREAS, the vendor of voting systems may decide to offer only DRE systems for certification testing thus eliminating a reliable and cost-effective option from consideration, and
WHEREAS, the County Election Commissioners and the citizens of Dutchess County expect to have a choice of technologies from which to choose rather than a choice limited by vendors’ fiscal imperatives, now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the New York State Board of Elections needs to include a certified optical scanner/paper ballot option for counties, and, be it further
RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to
Governor George E. Pataki, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Senators Stephen M. Saland and Vincent Leibell, State Senate Democratic Leader
David A. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymen Thomas Kirwan, Joel M. Miller, Patrick R. Manning, Willis H. Stephens Jr., and Kevin Cahill, Commissioner Neil W. Kelleher, Commissioner Evelyn J. Aquila, Commissioner
Helena Moses Donohue, Commissioner Doug Kellner, the Board of Elections Co-Executive Director Peter Kosinski, Board of Elections Co-Executive Director Stanley Zalen, and Dutchess County Election Commissioners David Gamache and Fran Knapp.
This is to certify that I, the undersigned Clerk of the Legislature of the County of Dutchess have compared the foregoing resolution with the original resolution now on file in the office of said clerk, and which was adopted by said Legislature on the th day of , 2006, and that the same is a true and correct transcript of said original resolution and of the whole thereof.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal of said Legislature this th day of , 2006.

"Concerned Alumni of Princeton" should concern us all

Alito’s ugly association

His membership in a racist, reactionary group at Princeton reveals the unsavory face of conservatism.

By Joe Conason

Jan. 13, 2006 | It’s easy to tell when conservatives feel most embarrassed by a particular political revelation because indignation immediately swells while memory grows dim. Whatever the outcome of Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination, his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton is the kind of issue that conservatives clearly prefer to avoid.

They don’t like to be reminded of their historical opposition to civil rights, their continuing hostility to the advancement of minorities, or their bad habit of coddling and cultivating bigots.

That is why Sen. Orrin Hatch angrily demanded to know why anyone would dare ask Alito about CAP, why Sen. Lindsay Graham theatrically apologized to Alito and his family about the controversy, and why author Dinesh D’Souza, who once edited the organization’s magazine, dismissed the subject as a “diversion.” That is why Fox News and the conservative media are exploiting his wife’s tears to suggest that those questions were somehow illegitimate.

That is also why Alito himself has claimed to be unable to recall his decision to join the reactionary group of wealthy Princeton graduates (founded in 1972), which became notorious for its opposition to women and minorities on campus, its vicious bigotry against homosexuals, and its defense of the interests of affluent white male alumni and their sons. A convenient credential back when he was applying for a post in the Reagan administration, where his résumé would be perused only by like-minded right-wingers, membership in CAP became troublesome under the hot lights of a Supreme Court nomination hearing.

Read more.

New Mexico goes for all paper ballots!

Thanks to the many supporters, organizations and active citizens who worked tirelessly on this issue and helped make the following possible. We are very close to achieving our shared goals and are committed to seeing this through to a final and successful conclusion. Three cheers for democracy and New Mexico!

Plaintiffs applaud Governor’s decision.
Lawsuit remains until the plan is fully implemented.
January 13, 2006, Albuquerque – On Thursday, January 12, 2005, New Mexico’s Governor Bill Richardson and Attorney General Patricia Madrid demonstrated bold leadership by announcing a plan to make New Mexico an all-paper-ballot voting state. This is a great day for New Mexicans because it means that we will be able to cast our votes with confidence that a mechanism is in place that will allow all votes to be counted and tallied and the results verified.
The Governor said that he will introduce legislation next week, at the beginning of the 30-day 2006 state legislative session that, if adopted, will accomplish two things: 1) it will mandate the use of optical scan paper ballots in all New Mexico elections, and (2) it will provide $11 million in state funding to purchase the necessary voting systems. If the legislation is adopted by the legislature and implemented before the next election, inaccurate, unreliable and insecure electronic voting machines that produce no voter-verifiable and auditable paper record will be a thing of the past.
This Governor’s proposal is a great victory for the many concerned citizens and organizations who have tirelessly advocated the change to paper ballots. And it is a great victory for the plaintiffs in Lopategui v. Vigil-Giron, a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs sought this very result. The lawsuit, filed in January 2005, seeks an injunction barring future use of the same unreliable, paperless electronic voting machines that will be replaced under the Governor’s plan if the legislature adopts it. A catalyst for the Governor’s decision was the Lopategui plaintiffs’ recent and successful effort to temporarily restrain the Secretary of State and county clerks from beginning the purchase of additional unreliable touch screen machines.
New Mexico‘s next statewide election is in June, 2006. Thus it is critical that the Governor’s proposal be implemented immediately so that all New Mexico voters will have confidence that their votes and will count and can be verified. For this reason, the Lopategui plaintiffs intend to press forward with their lawsuit, particularly with their efforts to gather evidence needed to obtain judicial relief if the legislature does not adopt the Governor’s plan , or if the statutory changes and funding adopted are too little or too late.
In the Lopategui litigation, Plaintiffs have already obtained critical evidence in discovery about the untrustworthiness of touchscreen voting systems and the serious inadequacy of the Secretary of State’s process for auditing election results. By gathering more evidence through depositions and inspection of voting systems, plaintiffs will be in a position to seek timely judicial relief should the Governor’s plan not be implemented. As soon as New Mexico can assure that all voters, regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or their physical ability are able to cast their votes on verifiable, auditable paper ballots, plaintiffs will give final, hearty congratulations to Governor Richardson, Attorney General Madrid, and the state legislature for protecting our democracy.
Voter Action is a project of the International Humanities Center. www.voteraction.org

Everybody get together NOW!

From Rob Kall:
Progressive media need to come together this week like never before. We need to get our readers out in the streets in a legal demonstration calling for a fillibuster against Samuel Alito.

Together we are stronger, more powerful, reach more people than moveon.org or any other organizations.

Let’s make it happen. I wrote an article a few days ago along these lines. I’ve emailed to a few leaders in the progressive movement. They agree. Let me know if you’ll get on board. We need to pick a day, a time and then let our readers know about it. If we pull together on this, we can show the media, show the congress that we’re serious. Please contact me if you have any ideas, if you’re willing to get on board! for this.

As usual, I’ve inluded links to new articles we’ve run.


Rob Kall, OpEdNews.com

Newest Articles

By Doug Thompson
Bush Could Seize Absolute Control Of U.S. Government
President George W. Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits deployment of U.S. troops on American streets. This would give him absolute dictatorial power over the government with no checks and balances.

By Missy Comley Beattie
Grandmothers Against The War Go To Criminal Court
These brave women were arrested after they attempted to enlist in the military.

By Carol Wolman
Do The American People WANT A King?
The ancient Israelites chose to have a king “to lead us in warfare and fight our battles”. Is this what the American people are doing?

Hugh Thompson And My Lai, Broke Ranks And Did The Right Thing
Hugh Thompson rescued Vietnamese victims of infamous William Calley, who was tried for war crimes.

By The Pen
Stop Being A Whiny Defeatist And STOP ALITO
What we must do to defeat all Alito is simply to DO something about it. Talk has no value whatsoever unless the person you are talking TO is a United States senator.

By Ed Menken
Those Despicable, Cowardly Democrats What Ever Happened To Separation Of Church And State?
I cannot understand why not one of the Democrats raised the critical issue of separation of church and state! Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room!

By Susan Van Haitsma
Every Generation Has Its Heroes, And Every War Wants Them
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, ãImmoral means cannot bring moral ends, for the ends are pre-existent in the means.ä The brief statement goes beyond making judgment calls about moral and immoral methods. It reveals a plainer truth that explains the movementâs commitment to nonviolence: means and ends cannot be separated.
By Andy Ostroy
Mrs. Alito Sheds A Tear, And Another Repug Hides Under His Wife’s Skirt
Martha-Ann Alito comes to Sammy’s rescue and takes the heat off the nominee, rousing sympathy and support for Bush’s lying future justice.

By Stephen Crockett
Bush And Republicans Vs. Rule Of Law
Article responds to the spin campaign by Bush Republicans of White House illegal wiretapping. It puts the scandal in historical and Constitutional context.

By Mark S. Tucker
Progressive Rock / Progressive Thought – Part 2
It’s 1967. Classicalism and the Moody Blues commence the nuptials that spawned a genre now slowly, painfully, re-emerging.

By Ernest Partridge
The Erosion Of Trust
Today, when we desperately need to trust our government, trust, that essential moral resource has, like the federal surplus, been squandered to serve private greed and ambition.

By Carol Wolman
The US Is A Laughingstock
Our pResident shamelessly declares that he is above the law, and no one does anything about it.

By Gerald Rellick
ATroop Withdrawal Argument — Tailored For George Bush
Gerald Rellick postulates that King George will put an end to the madness in Iraq if it means saving face (and his miserable skin)….

By JGideon
‘Daily Voting News’ For January 12, 2006
a run-down of the days elections/voting news from across the country and overseas.

By David Swanson
War Lies And Journalistic Constipation
So, what would we have to think if we were to discover that the New York Times has been sitting on a story about who it was that Dearlove met with ö and that it was not “national security aides”?

By Mike Whitney
The Countdown To War With Iran
Behind the nonsense about Iranâs ãnuclear weapons programsä is the vital need of the western financial system to underwrite its burgeoning $9 trillion in debt with the one commodity that will keep the listing Greenback afloat… oil.

By Allen L Roland, Ph.D
An out-of-touch leader presides over a lost foreig
n war and a mo
rass of influence peddling and bribery, as the secret police struggle to keep a lid on growing dissent: Eric Margolis, Toronto Star

Ernest Partridge on that counterpoint

Jonathan Simon is spot on.

Surely one of the most amazing aspects of the election fraud issue is how so many otherwise smart liberals and progressives fail to see what is right in front of their faces — this includes Al Franken, Paul Begalla, Arianna Huffington, Bernie Sanders, every Democrat in the Senate, and with the exception of Rush Holt, John Conyers and a very few others, virtually every Democrat in the House. And so the Democrats, and allied organizations such as PFAW and Move-On prattle on about how they will surely take over the Congress “next time.”

So once again, Lucy props up the football, and says, “c’mon, Charlie Brown, let’s see if you can kick it this time.”

What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know how to recognize plain-fact evidence? Can’t they follow a simple argument to its compelling conclusion? Answer: yes they know, and yes they can. They just refuse. My best guess is that they simply can’t bring themselves to face up to the enormity of the Bush/GOP crime against our democracy.

Germany, c. 1938: “Yes, I know things are tough for us Jews, but surely you can’t believe those stories about death camps. After all, this is our country too!” Some of those who believed the stories and who acted accordingly are now, along with their descendents, our neighbors and compatriots. Those who “couldn’t believe,” perished in the holocaust.

Don’t get your hopes up. The suits against Diebold are going nowhere. Remember the right-wing judiciary? If the plaintiffs win, the case will be thrown out on appeal. Even if a judgment for the plaintiffs is upheld, who will know about it? Sure, Fitrakis and Wasserman, bless ’em, will crow about it, and the progressive blogosphere will shout about it. But what difference will that make?

If we managed to crawl out of this hole, this is how it will happen: it will finally dawn on the poobahs on Wall Street, and through them a few significant voices in the MSM, that they are sinking the ship that they are riding on. And when the great ship goes down, those in the luxury cabins will be as doomed as those in steerage.

Bush’s “pioneers” are, in their own way, as blind to the economic shipwreck ahead as the aforementioned progressives are to election fraud. But the evidence in both cases is compelling. The housing bubble is about to burst, China is abandoning the dollar, we are at peak oil and energy prices are bound to skyrocket. And the 95% of humanity living outside our borders has just about had it with our imperial fantasies and may, at any time, decide to shut down our economy without firing a shot. Europe, OPEC and the Pacific Rim can do it, and they know it even if the Busheviks don’t. (See “The Vulnerable Giant” www.crisispapers.org/essays/vulnerable.htm ).

All this is slowly dawning on a few fat-cat movers and shakers, a very few of whom seem to realize that all their wealth is derived, ultimately, from the education, skill and labor of the rest of us, and from our shared infrastructure, institutions, and political traditions, most notably, the rule of law — all of which are being outsourced, dismantled, and “drowned” in Grover Norquist’s “bathtub.” The recent impeachment editorial in Barrons may suggest that this realization may be dawning on a few of the elites. And so, where the law, the Constitution, simple justice and morality have failed, enlightened self-interest by the powerful and wealthy may yet bail us out. If and when these powers-that-be finally decide to pull the plug on Bush, Inc., they can bring it down, simply by spreading the word, far and wide, that since 2000 (and perhaps before) elections have been irrelevant and that the regime no longer governs “with the consent of the governed.” They, unlike us, have the media access and control to do just that.

But will they wake up in time to rescue our common political-economic enterprise? That’s where we in the progressive blososphere come in. Our voices of protest are weak, but they are grounded in evidence and hard reality. We must write and publish relentlessly, wake up our sleeping and credulous “allies” (Franken, Huffington, Sanders, MoveOn, et al), tell the Democrats that they will get no support from us unless and until they address and deal with the ballot fraud issue, and we must encourage and then publicize any defections from Bushism in the media and among the affluent elites.

As I have noted many times before, the Busheviks and their allies have the wealth and the power, and they control the message. Thus the cause of us dissidents is hopeless: as hopeless as the causes of General George Washington, of Mohandas Gandhi, of Nelson Mandella, of Andrei Sakharov, of Martin Luther King. Somehow, mysteriously, unexpectedly, the forces of history provided opportunities, and they had the wisdom to take advantage of these opportunities. I find no leaders of such stature and wisdom in evidence today, and yet those opportunities may soon be before us.

“The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Martin Luther King).

Ernest Partridge

More on that point/counterpoint

From Earl:

I couldn’t agree with you more, which is why massive organizing on the grass roots level is required.

The Leon County Florida hack of Diebold’s Central Tabulator on 12/13/05 (which our “Votergate” documentary team shot and facilitated by providing the hacker, Harri Hursti) was featured in the Sunday, NY Times editorial of 12/18. The hack was also carried by AP, leading to national and regional coverage including USA Today.

Credible actions like our hack fuel the election reform movement, engage and enrage otherwise quiet citizens, stimulate legislators, and alert establishment entities to the realities you so eloquently describe in your response to Tom Englehardt.

More and more of us are organizing for election reform, peace, social, economic, environmental justice, and true democracy. Our ranks are swelling as never before. As Paul Hawken has demonstrated, this is happening worldwide, and it’s happening in unprecedented numbers. Change will come from the bottom up. It always has. It always will.

Alas, this administration will do anything to consolidate power. Do not underestimate the number of wildcards they hold. Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is now rumored in Washington and in Europe. Another domestic terrorist attack could befall us. Jonathan, should something of that magnitude happen, the result could be, “the full-blown nightmare of American fascism come true” that you describe.

As Americans, organizing to save democracy at home remains our best and only recourse. This administration has clearly lost respect abroad. It’s incumbent upon us to demonstrate to the world that Americans are not in lockstep with our administration. World opinion coupled with massive dissent at home is the one wildcard that can trump everything. The stakes have never been higher. The more engaged citizens we bring to the table, the better our odds to win back our stolen democracy.

So ante up, take courage and organize like there is no tomorrow — or there might not be one.


PA screenings of "Invisible Ballots"

On Sunday, January 15 and Monday, January 16, come to a FREE showing of the landmark documentary:

“Invisible Ballots: A Temptation for Electronic Vote Fraud”

Voting machines ARE changing soon! Will our Commissioners choose the only curently-certified machine with a Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot?

A federal government report from the GAO recently found that “significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems” have been raised.

Become informed. Get the facts. Save your $$$

Bristol Township Senior Citizens’ Center

DATE: Sunday, January 15, 2006

TIME: 3:00 pm

LOCATION: 2501 Bath Road

PHONE: 215-785-6322


Newtown Theatre

DATE: Monday, January 16

TIME: 3:00 pm

LOCATION: 120 N. State Street

PHONE: 215-968-3859


Doylestown Library

DATE: Monday, January 16

TIME: 3:00 pm

LOCATION: 150 S. Pine Street

PHONE: 215-348-9081


Michener Library (two showings)

DATE: Monday, January 16

TIME: 3:00 pm AND 7:00 pm

LOCATION: 401 W. Mill Street, Quakertown

Phone: 215-536-3306


Levittown Library

DATE: Monday, January 16

TIME: 7:00 pm

LOCATION: 7311 New Falls Road

PHONE: 215-949-2324


St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

DATE: Monday, January 16

TIME: 7:00 pm

LOCATION: 301 N. Main Street, Doylestown

PHONE: 215-348-4004


Sponsored by the NON-partisan citizens’ group: Coalition for Voting Integrity

email: bucks.voter.verified.paper.ballots@gmail.com

web: http://coalitionforvotingintegrity.org

Some good signs in Arizona

Great News! Ted Downing let me know late last night that his first two election integrity bills have been numbered (HB 2635 and 2638). Accordingly, I have copied them into the bottom of this email for your perusal. Fortunately, there is bi-partisan participation in this important effort, which is, after all, an AMERICAN issue, equally alarming to honest Republicans and Democrats, and Ted is to be commended for working across party lines to right this wrong. Ted reports that “The political situation is complicated, but I am working directly with Karen Johnson, Jack Harper, and others on possible bills or, best of all, folding language and ideas into her bill. “

I also want to take the time here to thank all of the election integrity activists who are working night and day to raise public awareness to this issue, and apply public pressure to get elected officials to take it seriously. Thanks, from the bottom of all of our hearts.

ACTION: a thank you

Please send Ted Downing a brief note of thanks. He is getting very little sleep, and working more than full time on our behalf, and deserves to know there is wide-spread support for his efforts. ( tdowning@azleg.state.az.us )

Please send co-sponsors Steve Gallardo sgallard@azleg.state.az.us and Phil Lopes plopes@azleg.state.az.us , both Democrats, a brief note of thanks.

Please send Karen Johnson and Jack Harper your appreciation for working across the aisle with Ted Downing on this TRANS-PARTISAN American civic issue. (kjohnson@azleg.state.az.us * jharper@azleg.state.az.us )

ACTION: ask your representatives to sign on as co-sponsors
Please send an urgent request for your representative and senator to actively join Rep. Ted Downing, Sen. Karen Johnson (R), and Sen. Jack Harper (R) to restore public confidence in the electoral process. Sen. Johnson’s bill is not yet complete, but she is working with Ted to incorporate language from his 2005 bills. One of our colleagues who did so recently received word back from their representative that they did not even know of this effort, and would meet with the three – AND did not know about the Progressive Caucus.

On our website, www.progressiveazdems.org in the section entitled “Support our elected progressives,” there is a button entitled : “track bills, contact legislators.” Click that, and when you get to the legislative page, there is a link entitled, “How do I find my Legislators?” simply enter your zip code, and “voila: your elected representatives! Simple. (Same process works on the Senate page.)

And, if you believe your representative or senator might be interested in joining the progressive caucus, please invite them to go to our website to sign up for updates. Have them contact Rep. Downing about furthering the legislative progressive caucus, and contact me ( revgerry@progressiveazxems.org ) to be added under “Profiles in courage” on the AZDPC website.

Soon, we will be asking for regular updates from these progressive elected officials, through our caucus, to all of you, their consituents, on the important work they do on our behalf. This way we can provide support with research, issue promotion, public meetings, and the like.

ACTION: Welcome new Democratic Senator Aboud and ask her to participate.

We have a new Democratic senator from LD28, a hard-working Democrat whom most of us know, Paula Aboud. She has been assigned to Appropriations, Commerce and Economic Development, and Government Accountability and Reform.

Although she is brand-new on the job, beyond congratulating her on her new post and offering her any assistance she may need, I hope you will also ask her to work with Senators Johnson and Harper to move this issue forward. paboud@azleg.gov

In addition to working on other issues of interest to us as progressives, on electoral reform, Paula has has already signed on to co-sponsor a bill allowing a mail-in-ballot only election by any jursidiction (SB1108), a bill to institute a permanent list of persons who wish to vote by mail (SB1106), and one to require that if someone requests an early ballot in one election, they automatically be sent for the following two.

These bills above are also sponsored by Sen. Harry Mitchell, who has assumed the leadership of our party, and also chairs the election integrity commission requested by the party by unanimous vote in July (thank you, Harry), and by Sen. Ben Miranda, Minority Whip. This work is important, but is not sufficient to prevent election fraud.

Please contact them and request they also work with Republican Senators Johnson and Harper to co-sponsor strong election integrity legislation. hmitchel@azleg.state.az.us rmiranda@azleg.state.az.us


We (AZDPC) want to track the response you are getting from your representatives on this issue, so please email me when you find out if they are supportive, or not. revgerry@progressiveazdems.org

Thanks so much for all you do.

In peace and solidarity,
Gerry and Sherry

Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, MSW, and Sherry Bohlen
Co-Chairs, AZ Democratic Progressive Caucus

Albany Times Union on DOJ threat to sue NY

Feds warn state over vote systems

New York threatened with lawsuit for failing to meet deadlines for new standards
By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
Albany Times Union
First published: Friday, January 13, 2006
ALBANY — Advocates for optical scanning voting machines say their arguments in favor of paper ballots got a boost when the Justice Department threatened to sue the state for failing to meet deadlines for new voting system standards.
Bo Lipari, director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting, and Aimee Allaud, of the League of Women Voters, said the Department of Justice could pull federal funds from New York meant for equipment purchases. The state, which is supposed to receive about $200 million to meet Help America Vote Act requirements, should focus on purchasing optical scan machines, which are not only more reliable, but cheaper, the advocates said Thursday.
They estimate that optical scan machines, which read paper ballots, would save New York $100 million because the technology is cheaper than touch-screen electronic machines known as DREs. DRE manufacturers say their machines also can meet the objectives of the Help America Vote Act and that the cost analysis is not conclusive.

Read more.

An excellent point, a crucial counterpoint

strongly recommend Tom Engelhardt’s sharp essay, “Bush v. Reality”– and the commentary on it just below: Jonathan Simon’s response is crucial. It’s time (past time) for all progressives, and indeed all rational Americans, to wake up to the danger looming over this republic, and the planet.
As incisive and comprehensive as your Bush v. Reality piece (below) was, you did not mention or factor in a huge wildcard (the ultimate ace up the sleeve) there for the playing in 2006. You correctly characterize Election 2006 as a “down and dirty. . .street brawl,” because of its capacity, among other things, to turn the investigatory power of Congress over to the Democrats (whose biggest question at that point would be “where the hell do we begin?”). It will be all that and more.
But what you stubbornly refuse to consider is why a regime which has gone to the extreme lengths of foul play that you so brilliantly catalog–and having effective control (through Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, and Hart) of the computerized voting machinery that will be counting (or miscounting) the votes in 2006, with more than ample opportunity to program in the result desired and desperately needed by BushCo–why this regime would even think about drawing the line at election theft in this context?
The check mechanisms are simply not there: exit polling (the subject of a rightwing campaign to discredit not coincidently since the advent of touchscreens) finally succumbed in 2004 (the successful spin, evidence be damned, was that the exit polls must have been off, can no longer be trusted, and are the potential source of great and dangerous instability); the various protective audit and recount schemes out there are a thin and laughably porous patchwork that any determined rigger could drive a digital Mack truck through; and hand-counted paper ballots for at least the federal races, which could be implemented and executed without any problem, are not even a gleam in the reformers’ eye.
The 2006 election is riggable (ask any computer expert not on the Bush payroll) and your fine column gives every reason why it will be rigged. If you observe the aggressive behavior of BushCo, politcally irrational by any standard which assumes the people actually still have a biennial right of review, it only confirms this prognosis. The results will be “shocking” (once again) but not absolutely unbelievable because a “cover” theme will have been contrived (2002 it was NASCAR Dads, 2004 the phantom evangelicals). There will be a lot of impotent head-scratching (once again), and a collective shrug from the MSM (once again). Bush will gloat that “the only poll that matters is on Election Day.” Not only will the right remain firmly entrenched in power, but the election will be hailed as indisputable evidence that the American public (perhaps unhinged by the terrible threat of “terror”) actually supports the regime’s policies and modus operandi. The curtain (perhaps the final curtain) will come down on rational debate (even the pale imitation that currently passes for it).
Are you willing to sit back and watch this happen? Do you disagree that the next election is riggable? If so, what facts or expert analyses can you cite in support? Do you disagree that this regime has a direct pipeline to the voting machines through their vendors? If so, you have not been paying attention to the revelations of the past few years, or the way the regime and its pet industries work together (none more crucial to their success than the computerized vote-counting vendors). Do you disagree that the demonstable modus operandi of the regime is restrained by no ethical seawall and that rigging the vote fits without a hitch into their pattern of activities? Obviously not: you make the case for an unconstrained, all-means-justified pattern of behavior yourself, and do it brilliantly.
Then why stop at calling out the biggest wildcard of them all, the mother of all wildcards in a putative democracy? It is the one with the capacity to make the full-blown nightmare of American fascism come true. You avoid it at your own and at our peril.
All the best–Jonathan Simon

Tomgram: The Year of Living Dangerously
Bush v. Reality
War, Trials, Leakers, Investigations, Packed Courts, and a Constitutional Crisis
By Tom Engelhardt
2006 is sure to be the year of living dangerously — for the Bush administration and for the rest of us. In the wake of revelations of warrantless spying by the National Security Agency, we have already embarked on what looks distinctly like a constitutional crisis (which may not come to a full boil until 2007). In the meantime, the President, Vice President, Secretaries of Defense and State, various lesser officials, crony appointees, acolytes, legal advisors, leftover neocons, spy-masters, strategists, spin doctors, ideologues, lobbyists, Republican Party officials, and congressional backers are intent on packing the Supreme Court with supporters of an “obscure philosophy” of unfettered Presidential power called “the unitary executive theory” and then foisting a virtual cult of the imperial presidency on the country.
On the other hand, determined as this administration has been to impose its version of reality on us, the President faces a traffic jam of reality piling up in the environs of the White House. The question is: How long will the omniscient and dominatrix-style fantasies of Bushworld, ranging from “complete victory” in Iraq to non-existent constitutional powers to ignore Congress, the courts, and treaties of every sort, triumph over the realities of the world the rest of humanity inhabits. Will an unconstrained presidency continue to grow — or not?
Here are just a few of the explosive areas where Bush v. Reality is likely to play out, generating roiling crises which could chase the President through the rest of this year. Keep in mind, this just accounts for the modestly predictable, not for the element of surprise which — as with Ariel Sharon’s recent stroke — remains ever present.
Who, after all, can predict what will hit our country this year. From a natural-gas shock to Chinese financial decisions on the dollar, from oil terrorism to the next set of fierce fall hurricanes, from the bursting of the housing bubble to the arrival of the avian flu, so much is possible — but one post-9/11 truth, revealed with special vividness by hurricane Katrina, should by now be self-evident: Whatever the top officials of this administration are capable of doing, they and their cronies in various posts throughout the federal bureaucracy are absolutely incapable of (and perhaps largely uninterested in) running a government. Let’s give this phenomenon a fitting name: FEMAtization. You could almost offer a guarantee that no major problem is likely to arise this year, domestic or foreign, that they will not be quite incapable of handling reasonably, efficiently, or thoughtfully — to hell with compassionately (for anyone who still remembers that museum-piece label, “compassionate conservative,” from the Bush version of the Neolithic era). So here are just four of the most expectable crisis areas of 2006 as well as three wild cards that may remain in the administration’s hand and that could

chase all of us through this year — adding up, in one way or the other, to the political tsunami of 2006.

1. Iraq. Bush’s war (and occupation) of choice has shadowed him like a boogeyman from the moment that banner over his head on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln announced “Mission Accomplished” and he declared “major combat operations” at an end on May 2, 2003. On that very day, in news hardly noticed by a soul, one of the first acts of insurgency against American troops occurred and seven GIs were wounded in a grenade attack in Falluja. As either a prophet of the future or a master of wish-fulfillment, the President was never more accurate than when, in July 2003, he taunted the Iraqi guerrillas, saying, “Bring ’em on.” Well, they’ve been bringing it on ever since.
Unwilling to face the realities of its trillion-dollar folly of a war and dealing with presidential polling figures entering free fall, the administration did the one thing it has been eternally successful at — it launched a fantasy offensive, not in Iraq, but here at home against the American people and especially the media. A series of aggressive speeches, news conferences, spin-doctored policy papers, and attacks on the opposition as “defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right,” all circling around an election likely to put an Islamic theocratic regime in power in Baghdad, pumped up the President’s polling numbers modestly and, more importantly, caused reporters and pundits to back off, wondering yet again whether we weren’t finally seeing the crack of light at the end of that tunnel. (Wasn’t the President implicitly admitting to the odd mistake in Iraq policy? Wasn’t he secretly preparing his own version of withdrawal? Weren’t the Iraqis turning some corner or other?)
It’s been a strange, brain-dead media era in which, far more than the American people, the pundits never seem to learn. Most pathetic of all, in what might have been a straightforward parody of the famed moment when a group of senior advisors from past administrations (“the Wise Men”) met with President Lyndon Johnson and urged him to reconsider his Vietnam policy, the Bush administration gathered together 13 former secretaries of state and defense (including Robert McNamara and Melvin Laird from the Vietnam era) for a photo with the President. Also offered was an Iraq dog-and-pony show involving painfully upbeat reports from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace and Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalizhad. In return, the 13 former officials, including Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright, got a full 5-10 minute “interchange” with the President or (as the Dreyfuss Report did the math) all of 23 seconds of consultation time per secretary. It was the Wise Men (and Woman) Photo Op and it caught something of Bushworld and its peculiar allure.
However complicated the situation in Iraq may be, here’s an uncomplicated formula for considering administration policy there in the coming year. After every “milestone” from the killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons and the capture of Saddam himself through the “handing over” of sovereignty and various elections, things have only gotten worse. Remind me why it should be different this time? In fact, while the President warned endlessly about violence before the recent election, the violence since has been far worse with 28 Americans and hundreds of Iraqis dying in just a single tumultuous four-day period. Or put another way, whatever government may be formed in Baghdad’s Green Zone, it will preside over a Bush-installed failed state, utterly corrupt (billions of dollars have already been stolen from it) and thoroughly inept, incapable of providing its people with anything like security. In fact, just the other day, two suicide bombers, dressed in the uniforms of “senior police officers” and with the correct security passes, made it through numerous checkpoints and into the well-guarded compound of the Interior Ministry where they blew themselves and many policemen up. Iraq’s government, such as it is, has also proved incapable of delivering electricity or potable water, or of running its only industry of significance, the oil business (overseen by, of all people, Ahmed Chalabi), which is now producing less energy than in the worst moments of the Saddam Hussein/sanctions era. The country is already in a low-level civil war; its American-supported military made up of rival militias preparing to engage in various forms of ethnic cleansing; its police evidently heavily infiltrated by the insurgency; and its most important leaders are Shiite theocrats closely allied with Iran. The insurgency itself shows not the slightest sign of lessening.
Meanwhile, at home, figures as disparate as Congressman John Murtha and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski are demanding a military disengagement by the end of 2006 and in Brzezinski’s case calling on the Democrats to come out against the war. (“Finally, Democratic leaders should stop equivocating while carping. Those who want to lead in 2008 are particularly unwilling to state clearly that ending the war soon is both desirable and feasible.”)
Iraq is a minefield for the Bush administration. Prepare for it to blow this year.
2. Trials (and Tribulations) of Every Sort. Of course some of the description of Iraq above has become increasingly applicable to the Bush administration as well. It is, after all, run by fundamentalists and presidential cultists, presiding over what increasingly looks like a FEMA-tized, failed state, riddled with corruption, and at war with itself. In 2006, Bush and his associates face a quagmire of potential scandals, exposures of corrupt and illegal practices, and trials and tribulations of all sorts. There is, as a start, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, still on the Plame case job.
After a brief flurry of activity in November when the National Law Journal’s 2005 “lawyer of the year” convened a new grand jury to hear further evidence, the Fitzgerald investigation dropped off just about everyone’s radar screen. Fitzgerald, however, is a dogged character, playing things very close to the vest. No one can know what exactly he will do, but he is reportedly preparing material on Karl Rove for the new grand jury. It would be reasonable to expect that, sometime in the next two or three months, he might indeed indict “Bush’s brain” and then, rather than winding down his investigation, turn from those who attempted to obstruct his view of the Plame case to the case itself. In other words, if you happen to be a betting soul, you might consider putting your money on the possibility that the Plame case investigation will reach ever higher in the administration — and Fitzgerald seems carefully shielded within the Justice Department from administration tampering.
At the same time, even though former House Majority Leader Tom (the Hammer) DeLay got hammered and officially ended his bid to regain his leadership post last week, the Texas and Washington parts of the Delay corruption scandal are likely only to grow and spread. In Texas, DeLay’s money-laundering case was not, despite his deepest wishes, thrown out of court and is now expanding into an election spending scandal involving the National

Republican Congressional Committee and linked to the Abramoff case. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who plied endless (mostly Republican) congressional reps with favors and perks in return for influence, pled guilty last week to public corruption charges and turned state’s evidence. He has claimed he possesses incriminating material on 60 congressional lawmakers (as well as many of their aides).
Last week, the Washington Post reported, federal prosecutors turned “up the pressure on a former senior aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in the clearest signal yet that the sprawling public corruption investigation is now focusing on House Republican leadership offices.” Though the career prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity who turned Abramoff, seem to have been reasonably insulated from administration pressure, the case threatens to hit the Republican Congress hard, just as the Plame case threatens to empty the higher realms of administration power. It looks like at least a limited number of cases will be brought against lawmakers this election year. Unlike Fitzgerald, however, the career prosecutors in the Abramoff case are overseen by a notorious Bush recess appointee, Alice Fisher. Her nomination was opposed even in a Republican-controlled Senate as she is without prosecutorial experience (though she has some experience in the subject area of Guantanamo interrogations and is tied to Tom DeLay’s defense team). So look for future fireworks, conflicts, scandals, and plenty of leaks on this one.

In the meantime, the courts will be busy indeed. Just count a few of the ways: The question of whether Bush’s warrantless NSA wiretaps have polluted other terrorism cases will hit the courts this year, while the kangaroo “military” tribunals in Guantanamo have just started up again, and various cases having to do with the limits of presidential power (or the lack of them) are likely to arrive, not to speak of the four Texas gerrymandering cases (think, once again, Tom DeLay) the Supreme Court has agreed to take up before the 2006 elections that could put five now-Republican seats in the House up for grabs. (A court already tarred by the 2000 election might rule surprisingly on this one.)
3. War with the Bureaucracy. Until quite recently, with an oppositionless Congress, increasingly right-wing courts, and a cowed media, traditional Constitutional checks and balances on administration claims of massive presidential powers and prerogatives have been missing in action. However, the founding fathers of this nation, who could not have imagined our present National Security State or the size of this imperial presidency, could have had no way of imagining the governmental bureaucracy that has grown up around these either. So how could they have dreamed that the only significant check-and-balance in our system since September 11, 2001 has been that very bureaucracy? Parts of it have been involved in a bitter, shadowy war with the administration for years now. It’s been a take-no-prisoners affair, as Tomdispatch has recorded in the first two posts in its Fallen Legion series, focusing on the startling numbers of men and women who were honorable or steadfast enough in their governmental duties that they found themselves with little alternative but to resign in protest, quit, retire, or simply be pushed off some cliff. This administration has done everything in its power to take control of the bureaucracy. As hurricane Katrina showed with a previously impressive federal agency, FEMA, Bush and his officials have put their pals (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”), often without particular qualifications other than loyalty to this President, into leading positions, while trying to curb or purge their opponents. At the CIA, for instance, just before the last election former Representative Porter Goss, a loyal political hack, was installed to purge and cleanse what had become an agency of leakers and bring it into line. Administration officials have, in fact, conducted little short of a war against leaks and leakers. To give but a single example, the origins of the Plame case lie in part in an attempt by top officials to administer punishment to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for revealing administration lies about an aspect of Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction program. What those officials (as leakers, of course) did to his wife was clearly meant as a warning to others in the bureaucracy that coming forward would mean being whacked.
And yet, despite the carnage, as Frank Rich pointed out last Sunday (The Wiretappers That Couldn’t Shoot Straight), the New York Times reporters who finally broke the NSA story did so based not on one or two sources but on “nearly a dozen current and former officials.” Doug Ireland laid out at his blog recently how, despite fears of possible prosecution — the first thing the President did in the wake of these revelations was to denounce the “shameful act” of leaking and the Justice Department almost immediately opened an investigation into who did it — one of them, former NSA analyst Russell Tice, has gone very public with his discontent. He has already been on Democracy Now! and ABC’s Nightline, saying that “he is prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs run by the Defense Department and the National Security Agency in the post-9/11 efforts to go after terrorists.” He claims that the NSA spied on “millions” of Americans, including, it was revealed recently, a Baltimore peace group.
The war with the bureaucracy and even, to some extent, with the military — high-level officers, for instance, clearly leaked crucial information to Rep. Murtha before his withdrawal news conference — will certainly continue this year, probably at an elevated level. The CIA has been a sieve; the NSA clearly will be; at the first sign of pressure, expect the same from career people in the Justice Department; and an unhappy military has already been passing out administration-unfriendly Iraq info left and right. Administration punitive acts only drive this process forward. Any signs of further administration weakness will do the same.
The “warriors” in the bureaucracy will, in turn, fuel further media and congressional criticism. Congress, worried about next year’s election, is an exceedingly fragile pillar of support for the President. Conservatives, as Todd Gitlin pointed out in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, are alienated or worse; certain Republican senators are angry over the way the administration is sidelining Congress. Even some right-wing judges have been acting out. And, of course, there’s the possibility that, in some chain-reaction-like fashion, the dike will simply burst and we will catch sight of something closer to the fullness of Bush administration illegality — sure to be far beyond anything we now imagine.
4. Election 2006. Count on it being down and dirty. This could be a street brawl because, with the Republican loss of even one house of Congress, the power to investigate is turned over to the Democrats as we head into a presidential election cycle.
Consider points 1-3 above: Iraq as a rolling,
roiling, ongoing disaster, Republican congressional representatives and administration figures under indictment, bureaucrats leaking madly, possible seats put into play in Texas, presidential polls dropping — all having the potential to threaten an administration already filled with the biggest gamblers in our history and capable of doing almost anything if they think themselves in danger. So what can the President and his pals draw on?
Administration Wildcards
Court-packing: As Noah Feldman pointed out recently in the New York Times Magazine, the rise of the imperial presidency has a history that goes back to Thomas Jefferson’s decision to conclude the Louisiana Purchase, while the presidency’s outsized “war powers” go back at least to Abraham Lincoln. The President has long had powers unimagined by the founding fathers, but the Bush administration still represents a new stage in the obliteration of a checks-and-balances system of government. Last week, in an important, if somewhat overlooked, front-page piece in the Wall Street Journal (“Judge Alito’s View of the Presidency: Expansive Powers”), Jess Bravin reported on a speech Sam Alito gave to the right-wing Federalist Society in 2000 in which he subscribed to the “unitary executive theory” of the presidency (“gospel,” he called it) which puts its money on the supposedly unfettered powers of the President as commander-in-chief. This theory has been pushed by administration figures ranging from the Vice President and his Chief of Staff David Addington to former assistant attorney general and torture-memo writer John Yoo. As Alito put the matter in his speech: “[The Constitution] makes the president the head of the executive branch, but it does more than that. The president has not just some executive powers, but the executive power — the whole thing.” And Yoo put it even more bluntly while debating the unitary executive theory recently. In answering the question, “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?” he responded, “No treaty.”
Evidently, John Roberts subscribes to the same view of presidential powers (as Harriet Meirs certainly did, at least when it came to George Bush). In other words, the administration is trying to pack the Supreme Court with judges who are, above all, guaranteed to come down on the side of the President in any ultimate face-off with Congress or the courts. This is surely the real significance of the Alito nomination, should it go through. In any Constitutional crisis-to-come the “commander-in-chief” is trying to predetermine how things will fall out if his own power is at stake.
Terrorism: From September 11, 2001, the terrorism/fear card has certainly been the most powerful domestic weapon in the administration’s arsenal. In the event of a major (or several smaller) terrorist strikes in this country, the Bush administration could certainly be the major beneficiary, but even that is no longer a given. History tends not to happen quite the same way twice and no one knows whether, under the shock of such an event or events, the post-9/11 moment would simply be repeated or whether Americans might feel that this administration had completely betrayed them. A terrible war, lousy government, hideous crisis management, and then, on the one thing they swore they did best — protecting the country from terror — failure. Still this is certainly an administration wild card.
Wag the Dog Strategies: In a crisis of power, there is no reason to believe that the officials who already led us into Iraq might not be willing to gamble on a Wag the Dog strategy – that is, launching an operation they had been hankering for anyway that might also turn attention elsewhere. Rumors and speculation about a massive air attack on Iran (or on “regime change” in Syria) have been kicking around since at least the spring of 2005. These have begun circulating again recently. Such a thing is certainly possible (more so, obviously, should Benjamin Netanyahu happen to win the Israeli election in March), but whether the effect of this on the administration’s fortunes would be positive for long is also unknown. It certainly seems one path to madness, not just in Iraq but also on the oil markets. (If you happen to be a devotee of oil at $100 a barrel, you might quickly get your wish.)
Is a Constitutional Crisis in the Cards?
Until 2005, it wasn’t that the Bush administration didn’t make more than its share of mistakes; thanks to 9/11, it simply had plenty of wiggle room. It could always turn attention elsewhere. It always had the fear and terror cards ready to be played. These days, turn people’s attention elsewhere and they’re likely to see yet more disaster, corruption, incompetence, and illegality. In 2006, the administration has a lot less wiggle room than it used to. Polling figures reflect that vividly. When new disasters hit, whether in Iraq or New Orleans, it’s becoming harder to take American eyes off them.
Let me then offer one of those predictions — surrounded by qualifications and caveats — that all writers should be wary of. If in a bitter, dirty mid-term election, filled with “irregularities,” one house of Congress or both nonetheless go to the Democrats, which I believe possible (despite their low polling figures at the moment), expect the investigations to begin. Expect as well that the Bush administration will then trot out that “obscure” presidential philosophy of power and claim that the Congress has no right to investigate the President in his guise as Commander-in-Chief.
That is why the Alito nomination is so crucial and why 2007 may prove the year of constitutional crisis in the United States.