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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By John Gideon on 12/5/2006 5:00pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

"Donetta Davidson, a member of the Election Assistance Commission, said only a few dozen of about 6,700 election jurisdictions in the United States reported voting problems on Election Day. She said local governments undertake exhaustive testing on their computer equipment before and after elections. "Our voters should feel very confident," she said." [See Below - PA: Doubts persist on electronic vote machines] It's apparent that Ms. Davidson has ignored the results of this past election. It's time she opened her eyes and saw what is happening around her. ...

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




Founder of Phony Anti-Democracy GOP Front Group, Bush/Cheney Operative, Welcomed Again as 'Expert' at America's Federal Elections Oversight Commission Hearings...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 4:30pm PT  

Need any more proof that the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) which was formed by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is hopelessly compromised and utterly ineffective beyond repair?

Here's the agenda [PDF] for their Dec. 7th "Public Meeting." On Panel 2 for the "Assessing the 2006 Election" is, of course, the wholly discredited, democracy-loathing, high-level GOP operative scam artist and Bush/Cheney '04 national counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne. Again.

Apparently he has a bought and paid for permanent seat at the table, next to his St. Louis colleague and partner in Anti-Americanism, the outgoing EAC chair Paul DeGregorio.

You'll note Hearne no longer even bills himself as being the founder of the phony, self-declared "non-partisan" "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) anymore since his GOP front group astroturf organization --- created solely to deflect from real Election Fraud concerns and push a contrived "epidemic" of Voter Fraud on an unsuspecting public so as to establish disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at polls across the country --- has been so thoroughly discredited. (You're welcome.)

As I frequently say, this democracy ain't gonna save itself. Particularly with cretins such as "Thor" doing all they can to game your American democracy for their own contemptible partisan interests.




Fortunately, We're Not at War or Anything...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 11:09am PT  

The Senate confirmation hearings for the nomination of Robert Gates to be the next Secretary of Defense were not carried live on any broadcast or cable news networks. Neither C-SPAN 1 or 2 carried it live either, although they have an excuse (by charter, as we understand it, they must carry live coverage from the House and Senate floor when in session.)

It's a good thing we're not at war, that we have a broad national consensus about the direction of the nation and its military, and that the matter of who will lead the Pentagon as the next Sec. of Defense isn't all that important to the country at this time.

Otherwise, we might have suggested the cable news outlets' decision to carry live coverage of a press conference on a missing man in Oregon (he's still missing), the auction of Princess Diana's death car (she's still dead), and Gwyneth Paltrow's comments about America (she didn't say them), was somewhat less than responsible or in the best interests of the nation they like to suggest they are serving.

Just one of the benefits of being at peace around the globe. Thank you, media.

(P.S. We were able to listen to the hearings live on the radio via NPR. Gates says we're not winning the War in Iraq, blah, blah, blah, who cares...)

UPDATE: Who needs cable? David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org decides to be the media, he's live blogging the event from within the hearing room.




PLUS: Sequoia's Spokehole Lies Again and Rush Holt Disappoints...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2006 2:41am PT  

At a panel discussion this week at Rutgers University, an unusually frank admission was made by an Elections Official. Then, less surprisingly, a Voting Machine company spokesperson told a lie. And finally, Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) made a disappointing admission. All according to a report in New Jersey's Herald News.

New Jersey's Passaic County Clerk Karen Brown admitted --- out loud --- at the forum that she has no way to prove votes are counted accurately as reported by her Sequoia DRE [Direct Recording Electronic] touch-screen voting systems, since they employ proprietary software which she has no access to. Even after the election was certified, she expressed reservations:

"How do I prove that all of the votes have been counted properly? How do we determine whether the software is working properly?" Brown asked. "We have to rely on the vendor and their software."

We're happy to see another honest Election Official make herself heard and making a point we've been trying to make here for some time nonetheless. Such officials who tell the truth, out loud, are a far too-rare breed.

But there were problems in Brown's county. Amongst them, two voting districts where results where transferred electronically from the precinct to the clerk's office and the tallies failed to match the vote totals as reported by the machines.

Naturally, the spokeshole from Sequoia refused to take responsibility...For anything...

Michelle Shafer, a Sequoia spokeswoman, said that the company was not the manufacturer of the technology that transmitted the results to the county clerk's office and therefore could not vouch for its performance.

...Before going on to simply lie to the reporter with a few chestnuts or two, circa 2005, which have long since been discredited...

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




NPR Reports on Soldiers 'Dishonorably' Discharged from the Army Rather Than Receiving the Help They Deserve for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2006 6:35pm PT  

This story really ticks me off.

Some BRAD BLOG readers may recall the story of Army Specialist Douglas Barber, who committed suicide last January after suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning from Iraq. We followed up with a letter that Barber himself had written in 2005 describing what some of the troops coming home from Iraq were dealing with. One graf:

We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. They kill themselves because they are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out.

In his letter, Barber wrote about the struggle that soldiers face in dealing with PTSD when they return stateside: "PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy." He then goes on to excoriate those in the media who claim to "support the troops" even while they ignore this enormous problem and the administration's lack of funding for VA programs:

Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.

Well, were it up to Sean and O'Reilly and Limbaugh, there would be no more NPR either. But thank god, they are still there.

Love 'em or hate 'em, they seem to be the only media outlet to have followed up on a GAO report [PDF] from back in May which they report says "that about 80 percent of the soldiers who showed potential signs of PTSD were not referred for mental health follow-ups" by the military.

While the Pentagon apparently disputes those numbers, according to the report from NPR's Morning Edition today, "Army studies show that at least 20 percent to 25 percent of the soldiers who have served in Iraq display symptoms of" PTSD.

And yet, with all of that, NPR's investigation of the treatment soldiers are (or aren't) receiving in at least one location, Colorado's Fort Carson, reveals a shameful reality. These troops who have been putting themselves in harm's way to serve their country are simply not getting the mental health support they deserve upon returning home. That, even while many of them are run out of the Army with less-than-honorable discharges --- which makes re-adjusting to civilian life even more difficult for them --- in order to mask the problem and avoid having to pay them benefits.

Shameful. The gauntlet such troops are reportedly forced to run in order to receive appropriate treatment is to all of our eternal shame.

I recall while broadcasting from Crawford, Texas, during the summer of 2005 --- even with Iraq and Afghanistan vets inside the tent at Camp Casey supporting Cindy Sheehan's stand --- the creeps who would drive by, honking horns, giving us the finger and yelling epithets as they waved their "Support the Troops!" signs in ignorance.

While I'd like to believe those days are coming to an end --- where the insidious chicken-hawk cowards and opportunists like Rush, O'Reilly, Hannity, and George W. Bush were able to use their microphones to manipulate American citizens into believing those who were against the war were somehow against the troops --- I fear it'll be a long and hard battle to ensure the men and women of our armed forces actually receive the support they are due from this Administration, this military, and those in the future.

The NPR report does not bode well. I can't do it justice here and urge you to read their written report and/or listen to their audio report (linked from the same page) in full. But here are just a few examples of the shameful treatment some of the troops at Fort Carson have had to deal with...

For instance, soldiers fill out questionnaires when they return from Iraq that are supposed to warn officials if they might be getting depressed, or suffering from PTSD, or abusing alcohol or drugs. But many soldiers at Ft. Carson say that even though they acknowledged on the questionnaires that they were having disturbing symptoms, nobody at the base followed up to make sure they got appropriate support.
...
Soldiers at Ft. Carson also say that even when they request support, the mental-health unit is so overwhelmed that they can't get the help they need. Corey Davis, who was a machine gunner in Iraq, says he began "freaking out" after he came back to Ft. Carson; he had constant nightmares and began using drugs. He says he finally got up the courage to go to the Army hospital to beg for help.

"They said I had to wait a month and a half before I'd be seen," Davis said. "I almost started crying right there."

Perhaps most disturbingly, there are the ones who are treated like pariahs by friends, employers, and yes...the Army itself:

Almost all of the soldiers said that their worst problem is that their supervisors and friends turned them into pariahs when they learned that they were having an emotional crisis. Supervisors said it's true: They are giving some soldiers with problems a hard time, because they don't belong in the Army.

Jennings called a supervisor at Ft. Carson to say that he had almost killed himself, so he was going to skip formation to check into a psychiatric ward. The Defense Department's clinical guidelines say that when a soldier has been planning suicide, one of the main ways to help is to put him in the hospital. Instead, officers sent a team of soldiers to his house to put him in jail, saying that Jennings was AWOL for missing work.

And the purges of these troops from the ranks seem to be more than simply isolated incidents...

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




By John Gideon on 12/4/2006 4:42pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

Citizens in King Co. Washington wanted to exercise their right within state law and asked for a hand recount of two precincts in the county. They filed the proper paper work and turned over a down payment of $.50 per ballot for the 922 ballots that would be included in the recount. The county accepted the money and the paper work and then informed the citizens that they needed $2500 per day with a minimum of four days for security. These are ballots that have already been counted. The citizens are not contesting an election, just asking for their state's given right of a hand recount. The county clearly does not want that recount to take place. What is the county hiding? / One of the TGDC members who voted against "Software Independence" had this to say today; "I'm not sure that we've really proven that the processes that state election officials have used for a few decades now of testing and verifying that the systems work ... are failing," said Paul Miller, voting systems manager at the Washington state Secretary of State's Office. "Now we're adding another requirement." It seems Miller has joined the throng of vendors and elections officials who have their heads buried in the sand and ignore the election failures going on around them....

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




FAREWELL FLASHBACK VIDEO: On the UN Building in NYC...'It has 30 stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference'
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2006 12:55pm PT  

As the unravelling of the NeoCons continues, today its John Bolton's turn to flee the sinking ship.

Though just two weeks ago Bolton said he expected to be re-upped, Bush today accepted his resignation. From AP today...

While Bush could not give Bolton another recess appointment, the White House was believed to be exploring other ways of keeping him in the job, perhaps by giving him a title other than ambassador. But Bolton informed the White House he intended to leave when his current appointment expires, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.

Bush planned to meet with Bolton and his wife later Monday in the Oval Office.

Bush said he accepted Bolton's decision with deep regret.

The resignation, of course, comes in the wake of a new Democratic Congress which was not about to let Bolton's nomination get out of committee. One of the annoyances of that whole "checks and balances" thing, which D.C. politicos have now been forced to go back and look up for reference in the history books to freshen up on the concept.

For his part, Bush was busy freshening up on that concept called "reality" which is showing its ugly face more and more in the White House of late, despite the best efforts of dead-enders in the administration (led by Dead-Ender-in-Chief, George W. Bush) to pretend this is still 2003.

As late as last month, Bush, through his top aides, said he would not relent in his defense of Bolton, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy.

In a letter to Bush, dated last Friday, Bolton offered no reason for his decision. "After careful consideration, I have concluded that my service in your administration should end when the current recess appoint expires," Bolton wrote.

For one small reminder of Bush's obnoxiously inappropriate recess appointment of Bolton to the U.N. in the first place, we refer you --- hopefully for the last time --- to this short video of Bolton, as we wave goodbye to the mustachioed Ambassador and await the inevitable announcement of his new job as an "analyst" for Fox "News".




By John Gideon on 12/3/2006 5:06pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

"Among the supposed benefits of electronic voting ---- of which Riverside County was a pioneer, and for which it spent in excess of $30 million ---- were greater accuracy, reliability and speed. What we appear to have gotten for that money was less reliability and slower results. The question of accuracy remains unanswered and here we are, almost four weeks after the election, and the Registrar of Voters office just posted what appear to be final numbers late Saturday." / “What is the point if you run it through the machine again?” said Mary Kiffmeyer, the Minnesota secretary of state, who instituted hand recounts in 2000. “If you do it by hand, you’re doing an audit on the machine.”...

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




By John Gideon on 12/2/2006 4:45pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

"The most important thing for Congress is to take a deep breath," says Dan Tokaji, an election-law expert at Ohio State University. He worries that momentum is building for something that could prove to be a mistake. "Passing paper trails at this stage, based on what we know right now is really fool's gold. It may provide an initial sense of confidence. But that confidence won't be long-lasting unless we resolve some deeper issues." Tokaji is absolutely correct. He just didn't go far enough and say that with no confidence in the paper trail there should also be no confidence in Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. They are both, together or singly, "fool's gold". / In Maryland "Barbara Samorajczyk, who lost to Ronald A. George by 53 votes in House of Delegates District 30, said she conceded by phone yesterday after deciding that "there wasn't any meaningful way to do a recount" with electronic voting machines. "We cannot recount the machine," Samorajczyk said." ...

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




By John Gideon on 12/1/2006 4:35pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

There is already a scheduled recount in the OH-15 District that will begin next Tuesday. Now a Franklin Co judge has also asked for a recount of her loss due to suspected machine problems. / It seems that Sequoia VP Howard Cramer may have been less than honest in statements made to the Denver Election Commission which is investigating why they had miserable failures in last month's election. He tried to say that Sequoia was only asked for "voter registration" software and the county misused that software as an e-poll book. Documents now show that Sequoia was contracted to provide what is clearly e-poll book software. Oh what a tangled web we weave…… / ...

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




By Alan Breslauer on 12/1/2006 3:29pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer


Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan have at each other debating President Bush's stay the course policy in Iraq in this entertaining clip (10:00) from yesterday's Scarborough Country. Buchanan actually defends Bush despite calling the war a "horrible mistake" and suggesting that the President may be acting with his legacy in mind.

Scarborough finds Buchanan's stance perplexing since he knows that "there are not ten Republicans on Capitol Hill that agree with this President" and that the "President stands alone in the world in his view on Iraq".

The clip begins about 3 minutes into the segment while the real fireworks start at approximately the 7 minute mark. Finally, despite all appearances, the clip is not cut off at the end as Scarborough only goes on to thank his guests.




Information on Sunday's 'Revote Rally' and Video Testimony from Voters Who Had Trouble in Sarasota on November 7th
ALSO: Lead Attorney on Lawsuit Says Court-Allowed Testing Will Corrupt the Voting Machines...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 3:15pm PT  

People for the American Way (PFAW) just released the following update on the latest goings on in the FL-13 battle where their lawsuit (filed along with several Election Integrity organizations) has now been joined by the court with Democratic candidate Christine Jennings's own suit. Both are calling for a revote.

The press release (posted in full below) says that the state-run audit testing of a few of the machines in use on Election Day is an "excercise in futility" due to the small sampling size of the tests and the fact that the commission chosen to carry it out has reasons to ensure that nothing is actually found to be "wrong" with the paperless ES&S voting machines on which some 18,000 votes disappeared in the U.S. House race down there.

By the way, I recently spoke with Lowell Finley, the lead attorney from VoterAction.org, one of the groups filing the lawsuit on behalf of voters down there. He confirmed that the machines being used for today's testing --- two chosen by Buchanan, two by Jennings (from precincts with the highest undervote rate) --- will essentially be compromised by today's state-run audit testing. Though Finley and the others tried to make that point to the judge assigned to the matter, that testing these machines in this way would corrupt the original data, the court decided to allow the state to use them in this way nonetheless.

PFAW's news release, issued moments ago, also gives details and a link for more info concerning this Sunday's planned "Revote Rally" in Sarasota, as well as a link to video testimony from more than 50 voters who had trouble voting in the Jennings/Buchanan race on November 7th.

The PFAW press release follows in full below...

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




While We're Grateful for the WaPo Coverage of the New NIST Recommendations for Voting Systems, They Overlook --- as Have Others --- the Call to Also Scrap DRE/Touch-Screen Systems Even With So-Called 'Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 12:49pm PT  

Concerning the NIST reports we highlighted Wednesday night...the Washington Post catches up today with a front page article on them which begins this way...

Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.

Decent coverage, though they --- like some of the other folks who've looked into the draft NIST whitepaper recommendations (two of them: here and here, both PDF) --- seem to be overlooking NIST's other recommendation that even DRE/touch-screen systems with so-called paper trails should not be used either.

For those who wonder why, Wall Street Journal (yes, Wall Street Journal!) explained just one of the reasons why in an article yesterday covering the mess in Florida's 13th district U.S. House race where some 18,000 votes disappeared on Sarasota County's paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines:

A paper-trail law probably wouldn't have prevented the Sarasota mishap, where about 18,000 voters apparently didn't notice that they hadn't voted in the House race, even though a summary page at the end of the ballot flagged their oversight. A paper record would have carried the same information and could also have been ignored.

I hope to have more analysis and clarification for you, hopefully, later on NIST's overlooked recommendation to not use DRE/touch-screens even with the so-called Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) paper rolls.

In the meantime though, there's this little item from the WaPo article for those who don't click through to the full story...but need to be reminded anyway:

The report repeats the contention of the computer security community that "a single programmer could 'rig' a major election."

Are we all finally clear on at least that much by now?




On Election Meltdown 2006...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 12:01pm PT  

I appeared on the "Week in Review" program, hosted by Bob Jimenez, a week or two ago out here in Los Angeles to discuss fallout from the 2006 Election Meltdown. The show was taped on November 17th and aired the following week. Thanks to Alan Breslauer, the video is now finally available below here at The BRAD BLOG.

Discussion included problems in California from Riverside to Monterey, Sequoia's yellow button, Diebold's sleepovers in San Diego, lack of paper ballots and voters turned away without being allowed to vote by the thousands around the country, Sarasota's mess, the failures of Bruce McPherson, Michael Haas, and other lousy elections officials, the need for reform, the mainstream corporate media's dismal failure, and more.

It's about 15 minutes of mind-blowing information, crackling wit, rapier-like rejoinders to the skeptics on the 5-person panel program, and generally brilliant repartee from yours truly...Well, it's about 15 minutes anyway.

On a side note, the show airs on the Time-Warner Channel out here since they swallowed up Adelphia over the summer. Though the public-affairs program has been running for nearly 20 years in LA, it looks like T-W is about to stop airing it all together. A great pity, that. Yet another casualty of unchecked mass media consolidation.


-- Streaming Flash version...




By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2006 7:35am PT  

...Bob Geiger gets it exactly right.

(Someone remind me to read him more often. He gets quite a bit right.)




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