Bill To Fix Voting Machines

I just learned that Congressman Rush Holt has introduced legislation to require a voter-verified paper trail for electronic voting machines. There is a description of the bill here.


Agents of "The Party"

You can see the controversial commencement speech where Chris Hedges was "booed off the stage" online now. You'll see that while some people stood and turned their backs it was actually just a few of the typically nasty and disruptive right-wing thug types who were shouting and blasting air-horns, even sneaking up and pulling the plug on the microphone. Most of the crowd was sitting calmly, wishing the ruffnecks would shut up. Some were shouting back at them "freedom of speech!" When the Dean asked the disrupting Party Members to allow the speaker to continue the crowd clapped and cheered. When Hedges finished there were as many people clapping as booing. Then some of the thugs rushed the state to threaten Hedges. (Keep in mind as you watch this that Hedges' message was simply, "war is bad.")

The message-amplification organs of The Party, fresh from their corporate-sponsored national trashing of the Dixie Chicks, trumpeted this event as another triumph for Bush and The Party, encouraging more of this sort of activity.

So here we have another example of what I'll call "agents of The Party" using thuggery - violating the rights of the rest of the crowd, shouting down a speaker for opposing The Party, and disrupting the graduation ceremony of a college - only to be praised in the media as heroes. Why do I call them "agents of The Party?" Because this behavior is occurring more and more in Bush's America, encouraged by "The Wurlitzer." Drudge shouts headlines of another pansy liberal "booed off the stage." Rush and Sean and all of AM radio talk about the elitist limousine liberal speaker out of touch with or hating America. Fox tells viewers of the heroes of Rockford patriotically rejecting the anti-American rant. Certainly no one from The Party has spoken up to denounce this type of behavior!

Bush's failure to condemn this signals his support and understanding of how it benefits his agenda. And occasionally he goes beyond silent approval, as he did with his endorsement the organized, coordinated campaign of intimidation against countries threatening to vote against us at the U.N.
While Bush said he did not expect "significant retribution from the government" against Security Council member nations that didn't line up with the United States, he pointedly left open the possibility of a popular backlash.
This is not a man condemning thuggery, this is a man gratefully utilizing it.

Blog Hero - Slactivist

I want to announce another Seeing the Forest Blog Hero award. Go read this by Fred Clark at Slacktivist, and you'll know why weblogs are important.

Thanks to Atrios for pointing to this.

A Short Poem

It just doesn't seem
that God's chosen one
would be a creature of
lies and arrogance and privilege
and secrecy and war


These Things MATTER!

An excellent column in today's NY Times, by Bob Herbert, Dancing With the Devil. Companies like Haliburton do business with America's enemies, and cheat our government. Meanwhile, the Dixie Chicks (and France and so many others) are subjected to an orchestrated campaign of derision from agents of The Party, with the press playing along.

All this energy and public attention focused on political protection of The Party. So little energy and attention focused on actually protecting the country and its people. No probe of the failures of our government to prevent the 9/11 attack, and how we can improve the government's efforts to stop such attacks, and the relevant documents all classified. No press coverage of The Party blocking the probe. But Haliburton and others are left alone, even rewarded with huge government contracts.

Here's what I think. 9/11 did "change everything." 9/11 showed why these things matter. 9/11 showed that the people of our country are vulnerable to attack and why we don't have time for this political nonsense that the right is subjecting us to. Before 9/11 we got used to orchestrated character assassination campaigns, like that conducted against President Clinton. After 9/11 we should all understand that it is important to stop this kind of nonsense, and restore a free press, because a REAL free press looks into the weaknesses of our government's efforts to protect us! But instead we get a double dose of propaganda and ass-covering. We get an administration with "no policy apparatus at all" -- only political manipulation.

For example, here is why it is important to know if the lack of WMD in Iraq is the result of an intelligence screw-up: If they could screw up that bad on such an important issue, then we have absolutely no assurance that they are effectively protecting us from terrorist attack.

These things MATTER! There ARE people attacking us, and right now we need an honest government and an honest press more than ever.

Today's Google Experiment

Anyone else old enough to remember just after Reagan took office, one of his "kitchen cabinet" was revealed to be involved in an orgy scene with a model who was later killed with a baseball bat? It's an intriguing story, and reveals a lot about the history of right-wingers campaigning on "morality" to get votes, then once in office divide up the loot from the US treasury.

For today's Google experiment let's search on "bloomingdale vicki morgan baseball bat" and see what turns up.


The right wingers now say that the reason for invading Iraq was to topple the dictator and liberate the Iraqi people.

OK, fine. So, in answer to the pre-war question, "Won't any Iraq war be a distraction from the war on terrorism, taking necessary resources from the battle to protect the country from al-Queda?," their answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

In the middle of this "war on terrorism" they took time out "free the Iraqi people." Great. What about US?


Savage Sleaze

A friend of mine has a website, www.savagestupidity.com. From the website:
Stuck Listening to the Savage Nation,
Even Though You're a Liberal (or Leftist)?
Or Just a Conservative Fed Up With Michael Savage?
This web site is for you!
Well, he's getting SUED by Michael Savage! Savage is also trying to take away his domain name savagestupidity.com as a trademark infringement! Go to the savagestupidity website for details.

He needs some help. He doesn't have the money to get a lawyer to defend himself and to get organized, contact organizations, etc. If you have even an extra $5, please go to his site and donate to help him out! Of course a larger amount would help even more.

I'll post more as I find out more information.


Remember the tax cut that passed the Senate because Republican gimmicks made it appear to be "only" $350 billion, which the Democrats had already been tricked into approving? Well, oops, it was really $420 billion. But it's too late to be stopped now because it has already passed out of the Senate.

And the reason for the oops was that the amount was calculated as if the dividend tax cut applied only to dividends paid out of "current-year earnings." But, from the same story, "Due to a drafting error, the tax cut actually covered dividends based on accumulated earnings." This is a BIG oops here. It means that companies like Microsoft can issue a huge dividend out of the $40 billion they are sitting on with NO TAXES paid by the recipients! By making this apply to money already saved up in corporations this is just a huge windfall with no policy incentives whatsoever, because whatever reasons for encouraging corporations to start to operate in a way that causes them to start paying dividends certainly doesn't apply to however they operated in the past, when they saved up the accumulated earnings. Oops. An accident. Right.

A previous "accident" made the tax cut cover companies that do not pay any taxes - meaning the money is never taxed - as well as companies that do pay taxes. This makes the "taxed twice" argument out to be a lie.

Se everything about this dividend tax cut has been a lie or a trick! They just say a bunch of stuff, and then go ahead and do something entirely different.

Creating Jobs

How about this? We launch a Federal program to hire people to retrofit federal, then state, then municipal buildings to be more energy efficient. Then start on private commercial buildings, then homes. Just think about the incredible benefits this would bring to all of us. Lower payments for energy, meaning more to spend on other priorities, public and personal. Lower costs for all U.S.-produced goods because all businesses would be paying less for energy. Lower overall demand for energy, bringing the costs down for the remaining amounts purchased. Lower demand for oil from the Middle-East. Not to mention the boost to the economy from hiring everyone who needs a job (and giving them a good wage and health insurance.)

Pay for this with a tax on wealth. The tax would be, perhaps, 10% of holdings over $100 million. Shucks! A person with $100 million would "only" have $90 million left! But that would quickly be made up by the incredibly boosted economy.


DLC Increases Attack on Dean

The DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) increased their attack on Governor Dean today with a memo saying that the "intensity of their favorable reaction" of union members to hearing Dean speak proves that Dean is unelectable because union members "reflect views that are vastly different from those of rank-and-file Democrats around the country, not to mention the Independents who often dominate not only general elections but even primaries."

I think that says a LOT more about the DLC than it says about Dean.

The "Aspirin Factory"

How many of you have heard (and possibly even repeated) the story that President Clinton "bombed an aspirin factory" to distract the public from the Monica Lewinsky story? I just heard it repeated on the Peter Werbe radio show.

In light of current events I think it's a good idea to let people know what really happened. On August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by al-Queda, killing 257 people. In response, on August 20, 1998, President Clinton ordered a massive cruise missile attack on an al-Queda training camp in Afghanistan, and an attack on a chemical plant in Sudan. The attack missed killing bin Laden by a very short time. Here is a USA Today story on the attack. Here is a 1999 BBC roundup of stories about this.

From President Clinton's statement to the public, at the time -- remember, this is 1998, three years before 9/11:
Our target was terror. Our mission was clear -- to strike at the network of radical groups affiliated with and funded by Osama bin Laden, perhaps the preeminent organizer and financier of international terrorism in the world today.
Earlier today, the United States carried out simultaneous strikes against terrorist facilities and infrastructure in Afghanistan. Our forces targeted one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. It contained key elements of the bin Laden network's infrastructure and has served as a training camp for literally thousands of terrorists from around the globe.

We have reason to believe that a gathering of key terrorist leaders was to take place there today, thus underscoring the urgency of our actions.

Our forces also attacked a factory in Sudan associated with the bin Laden network. The factory was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.
So when you hear that Clinton "bombed an aspirin factory," think about how this fits into the pattern of Republican lies claiming that President Clinton did little to fight terrorism and WMD (it was a chemical plant that they thought was making nerve gas components for bin Laden) in general and bin-Laden in particular. Think about how Republican criticism of Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts actually helped al-Queda and helped keep us unprepared for what happened on 9/11. And think about how their furthering this story is part of an attempt to cover up their own share of the responsibility for what happened.

Making the Integrity of Electronic Voting Into a National Issue

The Commonweal Institute, (http://www.commonwealinstitute.org) is launching a project to publicize the problems with electronic voting machines, and to make this a national issue.

For a description of this project please see "Making the Integrity of Electronic Voting Into a National Issue," online at http://www.commonwealinstitute.org/VotingMachinesProject.htm.

Also, Commonweal is introducing a collection of links to articles and resources on this subject. This collection is online at http://www.commonwealinstitute.org/VotingMachineLinks.html. This is a good collection to refer people to if they want to learn about this issue.

You can help bring this important issue to the attention of the public by making a tax-free donation to help launch this project online at http://www.commonwealinstitute.org/youcanhelp.html.

If you are in a position or know someone who is in a position to contribute a substantial amount to help launch this project, please contact Kate Forrest at Commonweal at 650-330-1395 or by e-mail at kforrest@commonwealinstitute.org.

Please consider copying this and sending it as an e-mail message to people who you know who are aware of this issue.

They Get It!

Here is a voting machines op-ed piece,"Voters must have faith in the vote count," by my local chief elections officer, in San Mateo County, California. I recommend printing this out and mailing it to the elections official in YOUR county! (And the link is to the version formatted for printing!)
The answer is so that California can have an accurate vote count and avoid the chaotic election scenarios that other states have experienced. The verification of the vote can help ensure the integrity of election results.

The way a voter would check his or her vote is simple. After he or she completes the electronic ballot, a paper summary prints out, and the paper record is compared to the electronic record. Once satisfied, the voter pushes a button, and the ballot is cast. The electronic ballot gets stored in computer memory, and the paper ballot is deposited into a locked ballot box.

The choice of providing voters an opportunity to check their votes is upon us. The consequences are serious. One computer scientist has said, ``Touch-screen voting systems have fatal security flaws so dangerous that they could allow people with access to the software to modify election results on a national level, and without detection. It is a matter of national security that we fix these flaws.''
And here is the San Jose Mercury News' editorial today on the subject.
Dozens of computer scientists, led by Stanford University Professor David Dill, have been calling for this reform. It's disappointing that most county election officials have been defensive instead of open-minded. They don't want to admit that they've been bamboozled by vendors' claims that the touch-screen systems are infallible. They don't want to concede that the software glitches and malfunctions that impeded elections in Florida last year and elsewhere could happen here.

Slocum has suggested how a paper audit might work. After you voted electronically, the machine would print out a copy of your ballot for you to look at but not touch. The printed ballots would be machine-readable (no more hand recounts), in large print and capable of being printed in many languages. If you or the touch-screen machine made a mistake, you'd catch the error and fix it before casting a final ballot.
Hooray for the San Jose Mercury News! They get it!


Dean on C-SPAN

I'm watching Governor Dean doing a town meeting in Iowa, on C-SPAN right now. It's on again at 6:30pm tonite Pacific time. This guy is great! I can't imagine any Democrat watching this and voting for anyone else.

Update - I can't wait to see the next Iowa poll!!!

Update - You can now watch it online here.