The news today was overwhelmed by the announcement that Florida’s Governor has said he will recommend replacing all of the state’s Direct Recording Electronic voting machines with optical-scan machines. According to the Miami Herald [see below] Gov. Charlie Crist will recommend on Thursday that Florida's problem-plagued touchscreen voting machines should go the way of the butterfly ballot --- the trash heap --- and his proposed budget will recommend replacing them all with optical scan machines, which produce a paper trail, at a cost of up to $35 million....
Are the wheels finally beginning to come off this thing?
TruthOut's Jason Leopold and Marc Ash get a great scoop from the Libby/CIA Leak Trial as George W. Bush appears to be dragged into protecting the identity of the CIA leak via a hand-written note from Dick Cheney...
Copies of handwritten notes by Vice President Dick Cheney, introduced at trial by defense attorneys for former White House staffer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, would appear to implicate George W. Bush in the Plame CIA Leak case.
LATE UPDATE: All the audio archives of my Guest Host stints last week on both the Malloy and PBC shows are now available here for your listening pleasure...
Please join me this Thursday and Friday 3p-6p PT (6p-9p ET) as I'll be sitting in as Guest Host on the Peter B. Collins Show.
The good PBC is on a much-deserved vacation this week, and I'm delighted that he's been foolish enough to hand the keys over to me to ruin his otherwise excellent reputation.
I'm in Phoenix where I'll be "Bradcasting" from the studios of affiliate station 1480 KPHX (Phoenix's Air America affiliate and the flagship station for the Nova M Radio Network). If you don't pick up PBC on a local affiliate, you can listen online via either of the links above and, of course feel free to call in at 1-888-5PeterB.
Friday's show will feature a very special remote LIVE Townhall Forum on Election Integrity issues here in Arizona. If you're in the Phoenix area, please joins us for the LIVE broadcast beginning at 4pm AZ time. We'll be at the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union Hall at 24th Street & Earl, just north of Thomas. All are welcome! We'd love to see ya there!
Florida's new Republican Governor Charlie Crist, working with Democratic U.S. House Member Robert Wexler, will reportedly be recommending millions of dollars to replace every one of Florida's horrendous touch-screen voting machines with optical-scan systems featuring: A PAPER BALLOT FOR EVERY VOTE CAST!
Gov. Charlie Crist is preparing to recommend that the controversial touch-screen voting machines used in Broward, Palm Beach, and 13 other Florida counties be scrapped and replaced with optical scanners that would count paper ballots.
U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, said the governor would recommend spending at least $20 million on optical scanners for the 15 counties with touch-screen machines when he presents his proposed budget to the state Legislature on Friday.
Don't be confused by the references to "paper trails" in the linked articles. Optical scan systems use a paper BALLOT, not a "paper trail".
Free at last? Free at last? Thank God Almighty the Sunshine State may be free at last!?
We shall see. But this could be the best news to come down the pike for democracy fans since Woman's Suffrage. We'll be watching. And then, of course, we've got to make certain there are appropriate audits and other measures to ensure the op-scan systems aren't hacked as they were in Leon County, Florida, last December.
But a path is built one stone at a time. And this could be a very big stone. So for tonight, we'll go to sleep, for a change, with a smile on our face...God Bless America.
...And the rest is history. Or at least current history as it is unspooling in Courtroom 16 of the Prettyman Courthouse in D.C., in the Perjury Trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Today, following a long, leisurely courtroom session with witness David Addington, the government lawyer for Vice President Cheney as opposed to Cheney’s private attorney, prosecution witness Judith Miller was escorted into the courtroom a little after 2:00 p.m.
Just in time to contradict her previously friendly “deeper-background” “former Hill staffer” source, Libby. The one who was Chief of Staff to the Vice-President of the United States.
Giving her current occupation as “freelance journalist” and her former employer as the NYTimes, Miller laid out under prosecution questioning the basic chronology of her acquaintance with Libby. Miller testified that she came to know Libby through her book Germs, co-authored with Stephen Engelberg and William Broad. The book, basically a highly torqued argument in favor of being very afraid of bioweapons, came out on September 10, 2001. In spite of being given a free taxpayer-funded boost by then-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, it did not rocket to the top of the bestseller lists immediately; however, the anthrax attacks, which began a few weeks after 9/11, did enhance sales. At least the book mentions (eventually) that anthrax spores can be killed by direct sunlight, a fact that boosters of war with Iraq seem to have overlooked.
Engelberg had interviewed Libby in the course of writing the book, Miller testified, and found him helpful, so Miller later – “some time between 9/11 and the beginning of the war with Iraq” – phoned Libby and asked to see him. She and Libby met in the Old Executive Office Building; he said he liked her writing on WMDs and terrorism; she expressed a wish to talk with him often; he said “fine” but on condition that his name not appear in print; she said “fine” to that.
A neocon marriage of minds between government official and sympathetic journalist, one might think, and one would be right...
Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution [see below] reported, “Some key components of one of Georgia's most sacred institutions — that had been discovered in discarded office furniture — were recently auctioned on eBay. About 40 voter access cards and three electronic ballot encoders belonging to DeKalb County were purchased earlier this month on the auction Web site, according to Secretary of State Karen Handel. Another seven supervisor's cards, used to activate the encoders, also were up for bid.” // The revolving door is in effect in Williamson Co. Texas where an ex-Hart Intercivic and Sequoia employee has just been named to be their county elections chief. // According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel [see below] the new Florida Gov. Crist will recommend that DRE voting systems be replaced by optical-scan voting systems throughout the state....
To be clear, despite the headline, we don't mean to call Princeton's computer science professor Ed Felten "stupid" by any means. We do, however, mean to make clear --- in no uncertain terms --- that the oft-floated idea that adding so-called "paper trails" to failed, paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines, such as those used in last November's U.S. House race in Sarasota between Christine Jennings (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), would not have avoided the situation we're now in. In fact, such "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" (VVPAT) added to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE/touch-screen) systems would likely make our current crisis of democracy worse instead of better.
As we've said before, DREs with or without a VVPAT are a threat to democracy. VVPATs are little more than a band-aid at best, and more likely serve only as a panacea to offer a false sense of security.
Adding a "paper trail" to a DRE/touch-screen system is like requiring a seat belt in a Ford Pinto; what good will the seat belts do when the Pinto explodes?
Today then, Princeton's Felten (he of the infamous Diebold Touch-Screen Virus Hack) has posted an article on his blog looking at what may have happened in the contested U.S. House race in Florida's 13th Congressional District between Jennings and Buchanan, in which some 18,000 votes seem to have disappeared completely on the paperless ES&S touch-screen voting machines. Just 369 votes separate the two candidates in the flawed state-certified final results.
In his essay, the first of a promised series to come this week, Felten correctly points out that the situation can only be attributed to problems with the ES&S voting machines themselves, since the undervote rate for the very same race in the very same county was a reasonable 2.5% on the paper absentee ballots, but jumped nearly 15% as recorded on the ES&S touch-screen machines.
Even ES&S's only expert witness so far to take the stand --- Dartmouth College's political (not computer) scientist, Michael Herron --- in the election contest down in Florida admitted that were it not for problems voters encountered in using those voting machines, Jennings likely would have been named the winner. That point was reported by Sarasota Herald Tribune who reported on the testimony this way: "Had those ballots been cast without problems, Jennings would have won by as many as 3,000 votes, according to the ES&S expert's statistical 'best guess.'" Reporting from both Wired News and our own discussions just after the testimony with Lowell Finley, the attorney for VoterAction.org, one of several non-partisan groups who argued the case on behalf of the Florida voter plaintiffs who joined Christine Jennings in filing an election contest, confirmed that point as well.
So the question --- for those legitimately trying to figure out what went wrong, as opposed to Buchanan and his supporters who simply want to claim the House seat as their own, even if it's an aberration of democracy --- is whether the problem was due to bad ballot design, machine malfunction, or, most likely, some combination of both. With just 369 votes between the two candidates in the state-certified final result (which is being challenged in both Florida courts and the U.S. House), virtually every analysis has determined that even a minor machine malfunction would likely have thrown the race to the Republican in the Democrat's strongest areas in Sarasota. That's where the largest undervote rates occured.
Felten's thesis, however, as he begins to discuss today in his first article on the topic, would seem to suggest --- incorrectly, in our view --- that a "paper trail" on those paperless touch-screens would have avoided this problem. We'll answer by suggesting it would only have made it worse.
In the meantime, an as-yet under-reported affidavit obtained by The BRAD BLOG from a poll worker, which accompanied a complaint filed by a Republican (yep, you read that right) in Sarasota who believes machine malfunction was clearly the culprit, seems to demonstrate clearly that a problem with the ES&S iVotronic system, not a problem finding the race on the ballot, was to blame for the massive undervote rate.
Couple that with two excellent reports from Daniel Hopsicker as filed last week (one here, the second here) analyzing, in crystal-clear detail, a number of contemporaneous news reports from Sarasota before, during, and after the election, it becomes very clear that machine failure was the problem in the FL-13 election and not "bad ballot design" --- the favored theory of folks hoping to keep the "provisionally seated" Buchanan in power.
Hopsicker's excellent review of those news reports, both as the problem was first emerging and just after the election, when voters' and poll workers' recollections were still fresh, reveals that voter and poll worker complaints at that time overwhelmingly focused on problems voters had casting their votes in particular races and not on problems finding particular races on the ballots!
We'll take a look at the complaint filed by the Republican mentioned above, along with the poll-worker affidavit, in a future report this week. But for now, we'll look at Felten's "Paper Trails Would Have Avoided the Problem" theory.
Michael Richardson, in an article posted to The BRAD BLOG, writes, “Hours after reports last week on threatened subpoenas against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and its banned voting machine test laboratory, CIBER, Inc., by the New York State Board of Elections, the company supplied information concerning its lack of accreditation to New York officials. Enraged NY State Election Commissioner Doug Kellner called the secret reports “soiled laundry” that both the company and EAC had been trying to hide. Friday, the EAC reacted to the disclosure by CIBER of confidential EAC documents by releasing the assessment reports upon which last summer’s decision for non-accreditation of CIBER was based. The documents, kept secret by the EAC for half a year, reveal a shocking level of incompetence and negligence by the “independent testing authority” (ITA) lab which tested electronic voting machines used by 68.5% of the registered voters in the November 2006 election.”...
Melinda Henneberg at HuffPo reports Air America Radio, currently under bankruptcy protection, will be bailed out by a new investor. As well, she reports that Al Franken is officially leaving to explore a bid for the U.S. Senate up in Minnesota. (But who is funnier? Franken or his expected Republican opponent, Sen. Norm Coleman? Tough call.0 UPDATE: Since asking the aforementioned question, as if the gods wished to underscore it, see this just-in hilarious Coleman-related story.)
Perhaps without the need to cover Franken's large salary --- his noon-3pm ET show slot is expected to be filled by our friend, the good Thom Hartmann --- AAR's top-down business model, which has crippled them from the beginning, may be eased a bit and bring a chance for profitability to the only large non-Rightwing media outlet of note.
Of course, with media monster Clear Channel putting AAR onto stations with some of the weakest signals in many of the major markets --- in our estimation, in order to limit their feasibility in such markets and keep other stations with stronger signals from carrying AAR programming --- it could still be an uphill climb.
On a related note: We're currently in Phoenix where we'll be Guest Hosting The Peter B. Collins Show later this week. The indie-owned Air America affiliate station out here, 1480 KPHX (flagship station for the new Nova M Radio network), is very difficult to pick up cleanly after sundown, even just on the outskirts of the city.
If the Fairness Doctrine ever returns --- as may be introduced soon in the Congress --- perhaps such stations and non-Rightwing programming will be given a legitimate shot to compete on a level playing field with their Republican-owned counterparts. They've not been allowed such a fair and balanced shot since Reagan dissolved the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 in order to make way for the Republican-owned media take-over of our public airwaves.
The disastrous decision --- along with subsequent vetoes by both Reagan and Bush I of Congressionally-passed legislation to restore fairness and balance to the publicly-owned airwaves --- has had an inestimably negative impact on America and our once-respected position of leadership in the world.
Anyway...As we reported initially, Diebold --- incredibly --- posted a picture of the actual key which --- incredibly --- opens all Diebold touch-screen voting systems on their website. Not so incredibly, the photo was subsequently used to hack the key and create working duplicates by an IT expert. Just the latest jaw-dropping chapter in the incredible series of blunders by one of America's largest, and most irresponsible, voting machine companies...the same ones who are --- incredibly --- contracted to protect the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence at the National Archives and who, in early January, --- incredibly --- received certification from George W. Bush's U.S. Homeland Security department for high-security contracts.
As the notable updates to the original story came after you may have read it, but they deserve to be noticed, we re-run them here in full just to make sure everyone is able to play along at home and that Diebold enjoys the maximum amount of shame that they've worked so hard to earn.
Read on. Watch Diebold run. Be amused or horrified as you see fit...
Hours after our report last week on threatened subpoenas against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and its banned voting machine test laboratory, CIBER, Inc., by the New York State Board of Elections, the company supplied information concerning its lack of accreditation to New York officials. Enraged NY State Election Commissioner Doug Kellner called the secret reports “soiled laundry” that both the company and EAC had been trying to hide.
Friday, the EAC reacted to the disclosure by CIBER of confidential EAC documents by releasing the assessment reports upon which last summer’s decision for non-accreditation of CIBER was based. The documents, kept secret by the EAC for half a year, reveal a shocking level of incompetence and negligence by the “independent testing authority” (ITA) lab which tested electronic voting machines used by 68.5% of the registered voters in the November 2006 election.
By way of reminder, CIBER is one of three labs that had been testing all American voting machines as part of the ITA structure; the group of labs selected and paid for by the voting machine companies themselves to test their hardware and software --- in secret --- for Federal "authorities."
The EAC assessment report from July 2006 of the CIBER test lab in Huntsville, Alabama --- also kept secret until the matter was reported by the NY Times last month --- found “critical processes were not implemented nor procedures followed.”
The finally-released EAC documents reveal a mess at the lab which federal, state and local officials around the country had been relying on for assurance that voting machines actually worked for many years...
This Heartland clip is the perfect complement to the extended threaded discussion BRAD BLOG commenter Big Dan has been leading on corporatism and the media. In this short segment, host John Kasich uses the new home of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards as the pretext for attacking his two Americas campaign. Surprisingly, Kasich doesn't disagree with Edwards that two Americas exist and even calls Edwards an expert on the subject. The problem, as Kasich sees it, is that Edwards speaks of the great wealth divide when he should use his "sunny disposition" and own experience to "celebrate" all the opportunities afforded Americans. With "some elbow grease and a little ingenuity" even the "John Edwards dream" is possible!***
And that is as simple and clear a delineation of the two sides battling for America that one is likely to get in a 1:37 clip. In the red, white and blue, and incessantly patriotic corner, are Fox News, giant corporations and the super rich that own them. The masses, according to this corner and as articulated by Kasich, should just accept their lot in life without complaint yet remain motivated by the unlikely prospect of striking gold. In the other corner is John Edwards and others not controlled by the vast corporate system that has engulfed society. They are fighting incredible odds to try to revive the principle of equal opportunity for all Americans as well as adopt more equitable economic policies necessary to maintain a healthy democracy.
Which side are you on?
***This is not a guarantee and we make no claim as to the veracity of this statement. By law we are required to state that the odds of this occurring, even with "elbow grease" and "ingenuity," are less than the chances of George W. Bush telling the truth on any subject. This does not minimize the point, however, that the John Edwards dream is real and can happen to you. And that is what America is all about.
This week marked BRAD BLOG's third anniversary and looked initially as if it might be a slow State of the Union rehash week, but quickly moved into red-hot territory as the Libby Perjury Trial got underway, serving up a daily courtroom dish chock full of juicy bits (and not a damn thing this famously secretive White House can do about it). Dems in da House are turning up the heat as well, cooking up a stew of investigations to right the imbalance of power between our Constitutionally-designated co-equal branches of government. Though Diebold, again, managed to outdo them all in the "incompetence" category.
There were also a few notable developments in the fight to protect the integrity of our elections --- oh, nothing major, just a few Ohio elections officials finally CONVICTED of rigging the 2004 Presidential recount --- nothing to see here, folks! Just move along...Or, take a look at just a few of the most notable stories we ran last week...
Meanwhile, as Bush prepares to serve up another 21,500 American troops to Iraq, it's worth taking a look at who the hell came up with the "augmentation" plan in the first place, what it said before the Bush spin machine grabbed hold of it, and what the plan's author has had to say since Bush revealed it to the country on January 10, 2007.
"Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists."
Frank Luntz is a Liar Shame on Huffington Post for Giving Him a Platform to Do So...
Treacherous Republican wordsmith/pollster/spinman Frank Luntz sinks to new depths in pretending to offer "advice" for the Democratic Party in a condescending little screed posted at Huff Po on Sunday.
“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”
While the logistics of having Senator Webb give the Democratic Response in the Chamber tonight make it impossible at this late date, he will be addressing the American people directly from the Capitol and he will speak with authority for all Democrats in committing to a New Direction here and abroad. His strong voice will be heard.
DIEBOLD VOTING MACHINE KEY COPIED FROM PHOTO AT COMPANY'S OWN ONLINE STORE! Princeton University Computer Scientists Confirm 'Secret' Key For Every Diebold Voting Machine 'Revealed' on Company Website! [UPDATED THRICE] Shutting the Barn Door After Horse Has Left: Diebold Removes Photo, PLUS: Receives Certification for U.S. Homeland Security Contracts... NOW BAIT & SWITCH: Diebold Puts Digital Key Online Where Mechanical Key Was Previously!
According to an article in The Hill: “A new academic study of voting in Florida’s 13th district congressional race refutes the prevailing opinion of experts that the large undervote in the race in November was likely due to poor ballot design. The new study points to an error message that the experts say correlates with the undervotes, as well as to voting patterns that show unusually high undervote rates for Democratic voters. The study’s authors say more information, specifically the secret software used by the voting machines, is required to draw any real conclusions.”
These convictions occurred in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold of some 600,000 voters. Kerry "lost" the state of Ohio, according to the history books anyway, by just 118,000 out of some 5.5 million votes cast in the Buckeye State.
And the Hearings Begin... Conyers and Feingold Announce Judiciary Hearings on Bush Admistration Policy in Both Senate and House...
In the House, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee --- the one which would lead the way concerning any Articles of Impeachment for a sitting U.S. President or Vice-President --- announced today that hearings would be held next Wednesday in the committee on "Presidential Signing Statements under the Bush Administration: A Threat to Checks and Balances and the Rule of Law?" (Complete media release, with details, scheduled witnesses, etc. at end of this article.)
In the Senate, Russ Feingold (D-WI) will chair Judiciary Committee hearings on "Congress's Power to End a War." In a media advisory just released, (posted in full below) Feingold refers to Congress's "power of the purse to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq so that we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten our national security."
And as we enter Year 4 here, I suspect we'll enjoy many more breathtaking plunges, climbs and g-force brownouts on the unpredictable roller coaster that is The BRAD BLOG....Thanks to all BRAD BLOG readers and supporters for three years of unimaginable "success"! Couldn't be prouder to know you're here. Onward!
The BRAD BLOG has now obtained details from Feingold's office concerning what his proposal to exercise Congressional control of the purse strings over military deployment in Iraq will and won't do. A fact sheet concerning his upcoming legislation and how the defunding and re-deployment of U.S. troops would be conducted is included.
There are three things that I can count on in life beginning with the sun coming up tomorrow and that when it comes up I will be a day older. A close third, is that every Saturday night on the McLaughlin Group, Tony Blankley will make a hypocritical statement. And tonight proved typical.
In this 1:55 clip (January 27, 2007), McLaughlin asks the panel whether Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who delivered an impressive rebuttal to Bush's lackluster State of the Union speech last week, has the credentials to be President. Eleanore Clift then sets Blankley off by calling his chickenhawk friends in the White House chickenhawks.