"Anarchy" unloosed in Arizona!

Jan Brewer is Arizona Secretary of State (and, in 2004, was also co-chair of that state’s BushCo “re-election” drive). Yesterday she formally announced her bid for re-election–and lost her cool when challenged by a vocal group of demonstrators. They were there to protest Brewer’s very stealthy move, late on Dec. 31, to force DRE machines down the collective throat of Arizona’s voters.
She called the demonstrators “anarchists” (and, of course, “conspiracy theorists”). While it was hardly an appropriate term for citizens intent on making our election system function properly (“patriots” would be more like it), Brewer’s use of that preposterous epithet was quite appropriate for Brewer herself, a staunch commando of the Christian right.
I’m pleased to say that I played a small role in yesterday’s brief drama. Those “comments made Thursday morning about Diebold” on the radio were made not only by the “talk show host” (Charles Goyette on Air America) but by yours truly. As a guest on Goyette’s morning show, I called for Arizonans to turn out for Brewer’s announcement and say no to her promotion of the DRE machines.
She’s trying to buck an ever-growing tide against the use of such suspicious gizmos: New Mexico’s Secretary of State just halted a purchase of 800 Sequoia Edge machines that had been planned by several counties, and Connecticut’s SoS announced a similar delay, citing a number of “security concerns.” As you should know from these emails, the same “concerns” are having an impact in several other states, including California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
But let us not get lost in the minutiae of each state’s laws and politics. The real problem here is that each state–and, often, each county–is on its own. We badly need a uniform election system, non-partisan and federally supervised.

As a good friend put it to me in an e-mail this a.m.:
This whole goddam process has got to be federalized. You can’t have states with different political interests making piecemeal decisions that affect the popular vote. Looking at it from a state by state point of view is like looking at which cantons in Switzerland want to remain neutral and which ones want to go with the nazis. It doesn’t fucking matter.
State secretary defends purchase of voting machines

By Howard Fischer
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES

PHOENIX – Secretary of State Jan Brewer on Thursday defended the decision to purchase touch-screen voting equipment from the Diebold Corp.
Her comments came during and after what was supposed to be a routine announcement by the Glendale Republican who wants another four years in office.

But a small group of protestors, apparently mobilized by comments made Thursday morning about Diebold by a Phoenix radio talk show host, showed up with hand-made signs decrying the purchase.

A Brewer campaign worker had to call Capitol police to have the protestors moved back so Brewer could give her speech – a speech which boasted of the state getting rid of the last punch card ballots as part of her accomplishments since being elected in 2002 but one that never mentioned the Diebold contract.

But Brewer, responding to media questions, called the noisy protestors “anarchists” and said they were off base.

“I don’t think there is a problem with the Diebold equipment,” she said. Brewer said a committee investigated the bids and the machines passed on the guidelines.

“I think that there are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there that are trying to blow this completely, totally out of proportion,” she said.

Read more.

James Moore is on the No-Fly List

This is a Direct Blog Entry by the author, James Moore posted on
http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Jan 4, 2006

James Moore is an Emmy-winning former television news correspondent and the co-author of the bestselling, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential. He has been writing and reporting from Texas for the past 25 years on the rise of Rove and Bush and has traveled extensively on every presidential campaign since 1976.

This author was placed on the no fly list.

Two points: there’s nothing you or I can do to help him but make this public, and two- we are all targets here. This should make you scared and pissed at the same time. If it doesn’t, check your pulse.

James Moore:

“I made it a point to arrive very early at the airport. My reservation was confirmed before I left home. I went to the electronic kiosk and punched in my confirmation number to print out my boarding pass and luggage tags. Another error message appeared, “Please see agent.”

I did. She took my Texas driver’s license and punched in the relevant information to her computer system.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said. “There seems to be a problem. You’ve been placed on the No Fly Watch List.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m afraid there isn’t much more that I can tell you,” she explained. “It’s just the list that’s maintained by TSA to check for people who might haveterrorist connections.”

“You’re serious?”

“I’m afraid so, sir. Here’s an 800 number in Washington. You need to call them before I can clear you for the flight.”

Exasperated, I dialed the number from my cell, determined to clear up what I was sure was a clerical error. The woman who answered offered me no more information than the ticket agent.

“Ma’am, I’d like to know how I got on the No Fly Watch List.”

“I’m not really authorized to tell you that, sir,” she explained after taking down my social security and Texas driver’s license numbers.

“What can you tell me?”

“All I can tell you is that there is something in your background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for.”

“Well, let me get this straight then,” I said. “Our government is looking for a guy who may have a mundane Anglo name, who pays tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxes, has never been arrested or even late on a credit card payment, is more uninteresting than a Tupperware party, and cries after the first two notes of the national anthem? We need to find this guy. He sounds dangerous to me.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I’ve already told you everything I can.”

“Oh, wait,” I said. “One last thing: this guy they are looking for? Did he write books critical of the Bush administration, too?”

I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information.

Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.

The news from Wisconsin is not so good after all

New Wisconsin Election Bill Not as Positive as Originally Reported By Activists and Others
Contrary to reports, bill does NOT allow for examination of source code!
Original version — which did — was changed during amendment process to remove important clause!

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA.Org
Additional Reporting by Brad Friedman

The voting activist and election reform advocacy community was excited yesterday upon release of news about the signing of a new bill in Wisconsin, AB267, that originally included wording that would allow munipalities to “provide to any person, upon request, at the expense of the municipality, the coding for the software that the municipality uses to operate the system and to tally the votes cast”. Indeed, The BRAD BLOG received many email reports last night about the “good news” concerning this bill.

The bill, as understood and reported by many, would have been the first time that voting activists would have been afforded the opportunity to actually “look under the hood” of voting machines by examining the source code used in the software in order to see what was really being done on the equipment supplied by Voting Machine Companies. So far, those companies have managed keep such source code secret and proprietary and away from the ‘prying eyes’ of the pesky public who has been forced — by the corporate privatization of America’s public elections — to rely on such secret software to accurately record and count their votes.

Read more.

Pat Robertson: "God has smitten Ariel Sharon"

Jan. 5, 2006, 3:48PM
Robertson Links Sharon’s Stroke to Wrath
By SONJA BARISIC Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. – Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine punishment for “dividing God’s land.”

“God considers this land to be his,” Robertson said on his TV program “The 700 Club.” “You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'”

Sharon, who ordered Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

In Robertson’s broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, the evangelist said he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called “a very tender-hearted man and a good friend.” He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.

He also said, however, that in the Bible, the prophet Joel “makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who ‘divide my land.'”

Read more.

Bad Faith: Media Silence and the Assault on Democracy

A review by Bob Koehler, appears in January 10 issue of Christian Century

Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them).
By Mark Crispin Miller. Basic Books, 364 pp., $24.95.

In early 2004, Pat Robertson divined the outcome of the presidential election, then 10 months away. “I think George Bush is going to win in a walk,” he said on a broadcast of The 700 Club. “I really believe I’m hearing from the Lord it’s going to be like a blowout election in 2004.”

God—or at least the fervent, all-justifying, “Christian soldier” belief in God, and of course God’s opposite, evil—is the real topic of Mark Crispin Miller’s new book. The volume is a primer for the many appalled students of the last presidential election, which was won by the incumbent not exactly “in a walk,” as Robertson predicted, but by a healthy enough margin that Bush could declare the next day, “America has spoken,” and claim, as though he needed one, a mandate. A meticulously researched explication of the case that there was serious fraud in that election, both blatant (myriad dirty tricks) and invisible (manipulation of electronic voting), Fooled Again is like several other recent books that examine the topic in gory detail. But what Miller also does is place election fraud—or election theft—in a psychological and religious context.

Referring to Robertson’s faith-based prediction, Miller comments sardonically: “That the statement was a little crass does not make it wrong. Certainly no other worldly factor can account for that amazing win, which no human pollster could foresee, and which no mortal has been able to explain in rational terms.”

Miller, a professor of media studies at New York University and a frequent political commentator on radio and TV, makes a compelling case that virulent antidemocratic forces fueled by religious fervor are making an all-out assault on American democracy, but to my mind the most troubling aspect of Fooled Again is its indictment of the media, democracy’s watchdog, which is letting it happen.

This is the part of the story that hits home hardest for me and pushes the crisis into “oh my God” mode: The institutions that are supposed to be protecting us for the most part simply aren’t. On one hand we have what Miller calls the “Christo-fascist right,” a determined army of zealots who have nothing but contempt for secular, pluralistic, tolerant and democratic American society and feel called upon by a higher power to subvert it; on the other hand we have a meek and blandly “balanced” punditocracy that refuses to stand on principle or seriously challenge the right.

Consider, for example, how the media covered the heart-stopping news that Al Gore did indeed win Florida, and hence the presidency, in 2000, according to a recount commissioned by the media itself—or a consortium of its most prominent names, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and CNN. The New York Times, for instance, not only buried the news in paragraph 14 of its November 12, 2001, story headlined “Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote,” but phrased it with such glib dismissiveness (“In a finding rich with irony . . .”) that a reader needed several passes through the verbiage to grasp what was being said.

But here’s the heart of the New York Times story: “An approach Mr. Gore and his lawyers rejected as impractical—a statewide recount—could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent.”

Come again? If Gore had recounted all the votes he would have won? The paper’s point of view seems almost extraterrestrial in its indifference to these findings. Want a good laugh, America? Gore blew it! The Times betrays not the least concern that the voters who cast their ballots for him, not to mention the democratic process itself, are also interested parties, who, according to the apparent rules of this preposterous game, are hostage to the candidate’s choice of legal strategies. This story was not written on their behalf.

“The voices of sanity were few,” writes Miller, speaking of the coverage of the 2000 recount fiasco, “and even fewer those sane voices that spoke with the requisite bluntness.”

What we have in this country are media that believe in nothing, and are therefore ripe for manipulation by zealots who believe utterly in themselves. Miller puts the zealots’ movement into historical context:

If the Soviet threat was dangerous to this country, so too were the consequences of its disappearance. When that occurred, surprisingly, in 1991, that old crusading animus, all stoked up but with no place to go, exploded here, affecting U.S. politics and culture with a kind of blowback not envisioned by the CIA. The disaster started with the evangelical crusade against Bill Clinton and continues with the full complicity of Bush & Co., whose soldiers now crusade against their fellow citizens, and against democracy itself.

Most of the book is documentation of this phenomenon. Miller collected news accounts from all over the country of the irregularities and wholesale disfranchisement that occurred on November 2, 2004, culminating in the reelection of George W. Bush, which, though foreseen by Pat Robertson, was at statistically outrageous variance with state-of-the-art poll results, especially in such swing states as Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Mexico. How did this happen? Fooled Again is an exercise in dot-connecting, a mosaic of isolated answers gathered together to reveal the larger pattern. For instance:

· “In South Carolina, a posse of Republicans converged on Benedict College, a black institution in Columbia, demanding to see drivers’ licenses and challenging the right of several dozen people, mostly students, to cast votes. . . . Some of the students left in tears, according to . . . the college president, who also noted that the operation slowed things down so much—there was a four-hour wait at one point—that would-be voters had to call it quits.”

· “The Republicans were especially active in South Florida, doing all they could to frighten Kerry voters into going home, or staying home. This sort of intimidation was already going on throughout the early-voting period. The early voters [in a predominantly black section of Jacksonville] . . . found themselves under surveillance as they came to cast their ballots, a private detective filming everyone from behind a car with blacked-out windows.”

· “Forty-three percent of expatriate voters, or would-be voters, never received their ballots or received them too late, according to the Overseas Voting Foundation. . . . While thousands of expatriates had no way to vote for president, the military had a great surplus of write-in ballots—enough to give each service member two. . . . According to [a high-ranking officer in the military], the Pentagon is uninterested in helping ‘non-propagandized people’ vote.”

The point is that these are not isolated incidents. Many, many precincts around the country—especially in minority and student areas—were plagued with troubles: “epidemic dysfunction” . . . “statistically impossible bad luck” . . . “reminiscent less of democratic process than of martial law.” There were too few voting machines; the machines broke down. Republican challengers and poll watchers were rude a
nd intimidating. Voters were directed to the wrong polling places, the wrong lines. People tried to vote for Kerry and their machines registered Bush. This happened over and over and over.

These antidemocratic machinations are not a conspiracy in the normally understood, easily dismissed
sense, anymore than the Jim Crow South of yesteryear was a conspiracy. Most of the tactics are out in the open or, at best, thinly veiled. They have the enthusiastic participation of ordinary, everyday Americans who happen to believe they’re doing what they must.

“The project here is ultimately pathological and essentially anti-political, albeit Machiavellian on a scale, and to a degree, that would have staggered Machiavelli,” writes Miller. “The aim is not to master politics but to annihilate it. Bush, Rove, DeLay, Ralph Reed et al. believe in ‘politics’ in the same way that they and their corporate beneficiaries believe in ‘competition.’ In both cases the intention is not to play the game but to end it—because the game requires some tolerance of the Other, and tolerance is what these bitter-enders most despise.”

Fooled Again is a wake-up call. Just because the mainstream media—and the mainstream Democratic Party—refuse to be appalled and can at best summon an occasional and perfunctory defense of our democratic principles, doesn’t mean the danger isn’t real. If we want our children to inherit a free, democratic and open society, the time to start rebuilding it is now.

Reviewed by Bob Koehler, a Chicago-based journalist and editor at Tribune Media Services, whose columns are nationally syndicated by TMS and appear in major newspapers throughout the country.

New Mexico halts purchase of DRE machines

New Mexico: State Halts Purchase of Sequoia Edge

By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA
January 04, 2006

According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal, Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron has delayed the purchase of 800 Sequoia Edge touchscreen machines that some New Mexico counties had chosen to meet federal accessibility requirments. The machines are subject to a pending motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction .

Lawyers for the Attorney General’s Office advised Vigil-Giron to delay purchase until after a court hearing later this month in Albuquerque, Ernest Marquez, the secretary of state’s elections director, said Tuesday.

Eight New Mexico voters who sued the state in January 2005 filed a motion in December asking state District Judge Eugenio Mathis to block New Mexico’s purchase of more than 800 Sequoia Edge machines. The plaintiffs have argued that touchscreen machines such as the Edge are error prone.

A court hearing is scheduled for January 18th. For more information about the lawsuit visit the VoterAction website.

The state has about $9 million in federal money to purchase one machine for each precinct in state to provide disabled voters with the ability to vote privately and independently as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Each of New Mexico’s 33 county clerks were given the choice of three voting machines that had been certified by the state. Fourteen counties, including the largest: Bernalillo, Do–a Ana, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties had chosen the Sequoia Edge.

Initially, Vigil-Giron has only certified two touchscreen options. In November, after pressure from some county officials, representatives of the disabled community, and constituents, she later certified the ES&S AutoMark, a ballot-marking device that provides a similar accessibility interface for disabled voters but records votes by marking an optical scan ballot, rather than recording them electronically.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that optical scan technology is less expensive, more accurate, and less prone to malfunction. The Automark also complies with a state law that will go into effect in 2007, that requires a voter verified paper record of every vote.

Approximately $3 million of the federal money, has been alloted to purchase more than 500 AutoMArks for the 19 New Mexico counties that chose them. The AutoMark is not effected by the pending lawsuit.

Read more.

Connecticut pulls back from the abyss

Two important items here:

1. From Mary Ann Gould of the PA Coalition for Voting Integrity:

As the Coalition for Voting Integrity prepares to enter suit to preserve the security of our voting and retain existing voting machines preferably or at least have time to get better voting machines rather than the current rush to meet an arbitrary deadline, it is of special interest to note that the State of Connecticut – with whom we have been working and sharing information – has decided that HAVA allows them to keep existing voting machines thru at least 2006 and that the Department of Justice will work with them on this action. (See story below)

Why shouldn’t Pennsylvania voters have the same opportunity?

Why should we be forced to spend millions upon millions for machines that our own government (GAO) recently found “significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems” (p. 22). GAO indicated that “some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes” (p. 23).

Let’s stop this waste…this threat now! If you don’t want to vote on machines where there is no way to prove your vote, where programming is done by vendors, then let’s get Pennsylvania to join CT.

Let’s keep existing voting machines!

Please circulate this email to all concerned citizens and groups. We need support and contributions of even the smallest amount for our legal action being filed this week.

It’s your vote …your taxpayer money…our Democracy!

Time to take action NOW! A small contribution may save you tax dollars and even more importantly the 2006 election integrityÉand your vote!

Please send checks to Coalition for Voting Integrity -legal

Coalition for Voting Integrity, P.O. Box 536, Doylestown, PA 18901. Or contribute now online: http://www.coalitionforvotingintegrity.org

2. From courant.com

——————–
State Scraps Bid Process For New Voting Machines
——————–

The Hartford Courant

January 4, 2006, 1:24 PM EST

Connecticut voters will have to use the state’s old lever voting machines for one more election.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said today that she is delaying by one year plans to buy new computerized voting machines.

The state learned recently that the company it had tentatively chosen to supply the new machines had not obtained the necessary federal certification.

The federal Help America Vote Act requires states to use voting machines that are handicapped accessible and product a paper audit trail.

The state plans to contact all voting machine companies across the country and ask them to apply or reapply to provide new machines.

Bysiewicz said she hopes that new electronic voting machines will be in place for the 2007 election.

The state’s decision to stop the procurement process comes after a federal agency said Connecticut’s old mechanical machines do not comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, which requires voting machines to be fully accessible to disabled voters.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure it understands Connecticut’s situation and does not penalize the state for the delay.

“We’re satisfied that this decision is legally sound,” he said, referring to Bysiewicz’s decision to stop the process.

In a letter to state officials, the Department of Justice said it is willing to “work cooperatively with Connecticut” on achieving full compliance with the federal law.

An Associated Press report is included
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

SWAT team was in place to protect mining officials

from the miners’ families

From: “CLG News”
Date: January 4, 2006 4:06:31 PM EST
To: “CLG News”
Subject: SWAT team, state police were positioned near W. Va. church

News Update from Citizens for Legitimate Government
04 January 2006
http://www.legitgov.org

SWAT team, state police were positioned near W. Va. church 04 Jan 2006 In a stunning and heartbreaking reversal, family members were told early Wednesday that 12 of 13 trapped coal miners were dead – three hours after they began celebrating news that they were alive… International Coal Group Chief Executive Officer Ben Hatfield blamed the wrong information on a “miscommunication.” …”There was no apology. There was no nothing. It was immediately out the door,” said Nick Helms, son of miner Terry Helms. Chaos broke out in the church and a fight started. About a dozen state troopers and a SWAT team were positioned along the road near the church because police were concerned about violence. Witnesses said one man had to be wrestled to the ground when he lunged for mining officials. [The ‘violence’ is the violence that is perpetrated on workers in the U.S. (and all over the world) every day, due to the Bush regime’s expansion of predatory capitalism.]

Good news from Wisconsin!

Electronic voting machines must be open-sourced
By WTN News . 01/04/06

Madison, Wis. – Among the 15 bills governor Jim Doyle signed into law
on Wednesday will require the software of touch-screen voting
machines used in elections have its source code opened up to public
viewing.

Municipalities that use electronic voting machines are responsible
for providing to the public, on request, the code used.

Any voting machines to be used in the state already had to pass State
Elections Board tests. Electronic voting machines, in particular,
already were required to maintain their results tallies even if the
power goes out, and to produce paper ballots that could be used in
case of a recount. The new law also requires the paper ballots to be
presented to voters for verification before being stored.

But of this bill’s provisions, perhaps the more influential in a
wider sense is the requirement that municipalities provide source
code, and the more general condition that “the coding for the
software that is used to operate the system on election day and to
tally the votes cast is publicly accessible and may be used to
independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the operating
and tallying procedures to be employed at any election.”

Read more.