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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By John Gideon on 12/20/2006 5:02pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Today's news is dominated with reports from Sarasota County and the first day of court hearings to determine the path of action that will be followed in the disputed Buchanan-Jennings congressional race. Yesterday experts for Jennings and the voters testified about why the machines are at fault. The hope is that the judge will allow an expert to spend a couple weeks reviewing the ES&S source code. Of course ES&S is doing all it can to stop anyone from taking a peak under the hood. Today ES&S's only expert, a political science professor, testified under cross examination that in his opinion if there had been no problems Jennings would have won. ES&S fielded NO computer scientist to testify that there were no problems with the software but that is not unexpected as they wouldn't really want to expose anyone to the possibility of cross examination where they would probably take a beating. Court is done. Both sides have until noon on Friday to submit their closing statements in writing and then it's up to the judge whether the experts get to look at the source-code....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2006 8:35am PT  

Last week we covered the very lame duck, Mallard Filmore, whose right wingnut and unfunny creator Bruce Tinsley had been arrested, yet again, for drunkeness (in this second instance, while driving).

But there was more news of note last week from the rightwing comic strip world as Prickly City's creator Scott Stantis has been recuperating from rotator cuff surgery and Guest Cartoonists have been taking his place.

Here's how things began last week as the strip was taken over by centrist --- and apparently Democratic --- editorial cartoonist Matt Davies...

While Prickly City is nowhere near as strident, cloying, obnoxious, and irrelevant as Mallard, it also has the added benefit of being interesting and even mildly entertaining on occassion. Last week, however, with Davies at the helm, actual humor managed to find its way into just about each day's strip (even if by Thursday, they had gotten a bit knee-jerk.)

Credit is due Stantis for allowing a less-than-Republican to take things over, even if his strip had already become far less Republican-ish over the last year or so. Monday's toon is above, the rest of Davies' strips from last week follow below. The best one --- for our money --- was Wednesday's...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 7:16pm PT  

When will George W. Bush leave office?
View Results

Beyond that, consider this an Open Thread and/or describe the reasons for your vote below...




By Alan Breslauer on 12/19/2006 7:08pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

This clip is from a Noam Chomsky speech given over the weekend titled, "What's Next? Creating Another World in a Time of War, Empire and Devastation," which aired today on Democracy Now! In this excerpt (3:45), Chomsky uses the recent Baker/Hamilton Report as the starting point for his critique of US foreign policy. He questions the selective use of polling data in the Report which fails to mention that the vast majority of both Iraqis and Americans desire an immediate pullout of US troops or a definitive time-line for withdrawal. It's all a bit strange to Chomsky, who states, "In our mission to bring democracy to the world we don't care about the opinions of people --- they're kinda irrelevant."




By John Gideon on 12/19/2006 4:47pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

All US citizens who have not been otherwise disqualified, have the right to vote for President? Not if you live in the US Virgin Islands. They are citizens but residents have no right to vote for President. / "If you needed any more evidence to counter the argument that it would be "too expensive" to dump all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising touch-screen (DRE) voting systems in favor of paper ballots, just take a look at Utah. They're the state which pushed out heroic 23-year Emery County Election Clerk Bruce Funk because he had the temerity to allow independent computer security experts to test the Diebold touch-screen systems the state was forcing him to use. (The experts found massive security flaws described as "the most serious" ever discovered)."...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Sticker Shock May Force Jurisdictions to Revert to Hand Counted Paper Ballots Next Year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 10:05am PT  

If you needed any more evidence to counter the argument that it would be "too expensive" to dump all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising touch-screen (DRE) voting systems in favor of paper ballots, just take a look at Utah. They're the state which pushed out heroic 23-year Emery County Election Clerk Bruce Funk because he had the temerity to allow independent computer security experts to test the Diebold touch-screen systems the state was forcing him to use. (The experts found massive security flaws described as "the most severe" ever discovered.)

Well, now Utah has finally discovered that their switch from punch-cards to shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Diebold touch-screen systems has doubled the cost of their elections. And then some. Get a load of this from the Salt-Lake Tribune...

"I'm not sure any of us realized how much it is going to cost to own and operate this system," said Michael Cragun, elections director for the Lieutenant Governor's Office.

Those costs are so prohibitive that many Utahns in next year's local elections will revert to a voting style used for generations: checking a box on a paper ballot.
...
City leaders are worried, having heard rumors they may have to triple their election budget if they go with the touch-screen machines.
...
in August 2005, [Lt. Gov. Gary] Herbert signed a contract with Texas-based Diebold Election Systems for $24.5 million. He paid the tab with a federal grant issued through HAVA.

In return, Utah received about 3,000 voting machines and the technical support to run statewide elections this year and in 2008.

But it is now becoming clear that was just the start of the costs.

"We are not sure everyone understood what happened when they flicked that first domino over," Cragun said.
...
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says she had to double the pay for poll workers because of the necessary training. She now spends $12,000 per month storing the bulky machines. And all of the memory cards, batteries and other essential machine accessories cost her office an extra $138,000 this year.

These costs will continue to accrue as Swensen and other county clerks say they need more machines for the 2008 presidential election.

Unbelievable. I love how they're running around and saying "we had no idea!"... Idiots.

Have I mentioned lately how important it is that you --- and everybody you know --- sign this petition to demand Congress require a paper BALLOT for every vote cast (and get rid, once and for all, of all the shitty, unreliable, inaccurate, hackable, disenfranchising Direct Recording Electronic touch-screen voting systems in the bargain)?! As they say...Don't wait! ACT NOW!

(Hat-tip John Gideon)




By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2006 9:05am PT  

Concerning Riverside County, California, Supervisor Jeff Stone's public, video taped "thousand to one" bet to Election Integrity advocates that they couldn't find a hacker who could manipulate the county's Sequoia voting system, and the acceptance of that challenge by noted Finnish hacker of Diebold systems Harri Hursti, the Press Enterprise's Dan Bernstein wrote an amusing column last week which we meant to run previously. Here's a bit of it now in any case...

What will the famed Harri Hursti (reputed defanger of Diebold touch screens) attempt to hack? A Sequoia machine? A vote-counting nerve center? How much time will he have? Will it be a realistic test, proving that nefarious elections workers could pull an inside job?

And if Harri the Hacker succeeds, what then? Sayonara Sequoia? Hello Hanging Chad? And what's this 1,000-to-1 odds business? Would Harri be paid in tax dollars? "I Voted" stickers? Jeff Stone press releases?

Even bigger question: Once Hot Rod Harri has hacked (or gotten thwacked), will we know once and for all that RivCo touch screens are untouchable or need to be touched up?

Also of note, last week the unapologetically rightwing San Diego Union-Tribune also ran an item on the challenge. Though it ran prior to the announcement that Hursti was happy to play along. We don't believe they've followed it up since with the additional news.

Still waiting for Stone's reply to the acceptance of the challenge, on Hursti's behalf, by the DFA-Temecula/SAVE R VOTE folks. Last week, Stone and the rest of the RivCo supes were going wobbly on the offer. We'll see if they wobble off the cliff entirely (and admitting, in the bargain, that their voting systems are not secure) before or after the holidays. The final public meeting, until after the new year, is this morning. We'll let ya know if anything of note comes about.




Finally, Someone in the 'Media' Demands Some Accountability...But it Wasn't CBS...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2006 10:13pm PT  

Yesterday, at CBS, a reporter with a camera crew asked a number of very tough, very overdue questions of Colin Powell, who has received an inexplicable Get Out of Jail Free card from the media and almost everyone else. No, we're not referring to his much ballyhooed --- and also very overdue --- admissions on Face the Nation that "we are losing" in Iraq, and that he's "not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad...will work."

The very tough questions, which obviously irritated Powell, concerned his own complicity in getting us into this mess in the first place. But the questions weren't asked by CBS's Bob Schieffer during his own televised "exclusive." Nor were they asked by a determined reporter from the NY Times or Washington Post or Newsweek or any of the networks.

The questions were asked by a guy named Sam Husseini of Washington Stakeout. He stands outside the network studios on Sunday mornings trying to ask actual questions of the "newsmakers" after they've left their softball interviews with Bob and Tim and George.

Jonathan Schwartz highlights the questions for Powell and his answers (both caught in short video segments) in which Husseini simply nails Powell on his UN garbage.

Imagine if the corporate mainstream media actually asked such questions --- before we end up in intractable wars at unspeakable cost...though we'd settle for them asking such questions now. Any takers out there?

Until then, thank you, Sam. Keep up the good work. We'll try to keep watching.

(Hat-tip David Swanson for the heads up.)




By John Gideon on 12/18/2006 4:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

If there was ever any reluctance to point a finger at Sequoia Voting for the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters in Denver Colorado last month then the time to admit the failure is now. A recently released by city-officials 32-page report found enough blame for county and state officials but pointed the finger squarely at Sequoia. The report blasted Sequoia for “decidedly subprofessional architecture and construction” work on the ePollBook software. “The ePollBook is a poorly designed and fundamentally flawed application that demonstrates little familiarity with basic tenets of Web development,” consultants Fred Hessler and Matt Smith wrote. Is there any reason at all to believe that their voting machine software is any better?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




The Diebold Whistleblower Looks Back with Gratitude and Forward with Hope...
By Steve Heller on 12/17/2006 7:13pm PT  

Special to The BRAD BLOG by Guest Blogger Stephen Heller

Hi, my name is Steve Heller. Some have referred to me as the "Diebold Whistleblower." For those unfamiliar with my case, you can find a good summation here. You can read articles about the resolution of the case https://bradblog.com/?p=3826\">here, here and here.

Brad has been kind enough to allow me this chance to thank you, the progressive community, for all the help and support you gave my wife and me during this very difficult time. We could hardly believe the incredible amount of emotional sustenance and encouragement, as well as all the financial donations to my defense fund, that we received.

We heard from people from all parts of the United States (including Guam and Puerto Rico), and from many parts of the world; the United Kingdom, Japan, Holland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Brazil, New Zealand, and quite a handful from Canada. Of particular pride to us were the handful of notes and even donations from U.S. military personnel; those really meant a lot to us. We know that soldiers don't make any money, and for some of them to kick in a few bucks for my defense fund really touched me. They're being asked to give so much, and here they were trying to help me and my wife. Truly, we were astounded at the support we received, and I cannot begin to thank all of you enough. Thank you so very, very much. A thousand, million times over, I thank you, and my wife thanks you.

I can't find the words to express our appreciation and thanks to all who donated to the defense fund. In mostly small amounts, the donations added up to enough to cover all the legal expenses we incurred after the fund was established, and that was an astounding thing. Such an outpouring from the world wide progressive community was humbling. I don't know if I would have been as generous to someone in my situation as people were to me, and for me that's a lesson learned.

In many ways, the smaller donations meant more to us than the larger ones. I'll never forget getting a card with a crumpled $5 bill inside and a note written in the quavery handwriting of an elderly person. The note said "I'm sorry this donation is so small, but my monthly check will only go so far. Good luck and God bless you." I can't even begin to describe how much that note, and so many notes and emails like it, whether accompanied by a donation or not, meant to me and my wife. Everyone who contacted us received a reply, either by email or letter, but please allow me to thank you all yet again.

At the risk of embarrassing some people, I want to mention a few names of those who really were exceptionally kind and generous with their time and in many cases even with their hard-earned money…

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2006 7:09pm PT  

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




By John Gideon on 12/17/2006 4:05pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Many in the Election Integrity community have been telling anyone who would listen that the new voting technology is expensive. Utah didn't listen but now they are learning. The cost of this year's election on Diebold DREs is twice what it was in previous elections using punch-cards. AND the taxpayer gets to continue paying millions of dollars to Diebold for the privilege of using their machines. The costs are so high that many Utah jurisdictions will revert to hand-counted paper ballots in local elections....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




(Well, Sorta...And So Are You, By the Way! Congratulations!)
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2006 7:14pm PT  

AP covers here. Time's cover story best sums up their reasoning for choosing us for the award this way:

...for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is [The BRAD BLOG].

Thank you, Time. We are humbly honored to accept this prestigious award.




By John Gideon on 12/16/2006 3:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

NOTE: Our apologies for the lack of a DVN yesterday. We were one of the million, or so, households in the Pac.Nor.West who lost power during the big Thursday night storm. QUOTE: “The e-voting machines are a threat to democracy. Putting a VVPAT on them is nothing more than a band-aid. It’s like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto. What good does it do when the Pinto explodes?” Brad Friedman...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Cites Republican Big Government, Unconstitutional Invasion of Privacy, Civil Rights
Wins BRAD BLOG 'Intellectually Honest Conservative Award' in the Bargain...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2006 1:25pm PT  

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr was wrong on impeachment (of Clinton), but has been right on a number of things ever since, including joining Al Gore to condemn Bush's assault on privacy and civil rights vis a vis his unconstitutional domestic spying and other such programs.

Barr has now announced he has quit the Republican Party and is joining the Libertarians citing out of control GOP big government spending, and the aforementioned disregard for privacy and civil rights of U.S. citizens.

For that, he earns the too-rarely-bestowed BRAD BLOG "Intellectually Honest Conservative Award" today.




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