Tune in to Voice of the Voters this Wednesday, May 2 at 8PM EDT (5PM PDT) to listen to an hour devoted to three American heroes - whistleblowers, who, based on their experiences on the ground, will paint a comprehensive picture of electronic voting in America, the deceptive practices of corporations, the often misguided relationships between election officials and electronic voting machine vendors, the various system inadequacies and how the voice of the citizen is left out of the elections process. Go here to find out how to hear Ion Sancho, Bruce Funk and Stephen Heller live this Wed.
That, and more on the voting news front today, all linked below...
The FL House is currently in the throes of either adding poison pills to, or otherwise trying to fend off Gov. Charlie Crist's long-overdue and responsible plan to bring paper ballots to the beleaguered voters of the Sunshine State. His courageous plan would do away with all of the state's horrible, disenfranchising, touch-screen DRE voting machines in time for 2008, something which even Democrats in the U.S. House, so far, have been shamefully afraid to do.
Please go visit the site and take action --- whether you're from Florida or not, you can help their campaign...which will help us all.
When asked to explain the similarity [between the cost of his trip to play golf in Scotland with Abramoff and the amount which Abramoff's office told him to report, despite claims by Feeney that he didn't know Abramoff had paid for the trip] his press secretary would say only that: "Representative Feeney is anxious to discuss this matter further when the time is appropriate."
If the congressman believes his constituents and a public fed up with scandal can wait until "the time is appropriate, " he is mistaken. Eleven people now have been convicted in the Abramoff investigation, and Feeney is being labeled in court records as "Representative #3." He has said he was "duped and lied to, " but these records make his office look complicit.
Feeney's attorney may be urging him to keep quiet, but his legal tactic is at odds with his official responsibilities. He is a congressman with a cloud over his head, and the public is owed some answers.
While over at the Orlando Sentinel, Scott Maxwell --- who has historically been far too kind to Feeney in light of his storied transgressions --- is still being very kind. Even if he's finally beginning to show some doubts as of yesterday:
Tom Feeney is smart, thorough and careful.
Smart, thorough and careful people don't usually get duped --- which is essentially Feeney's defense in this whole mess.
The emailer who forwarded us the following toon, marking the 4th Anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech, aptly commented: "The amazing thing about this is that all of these people still have their jobs and appear as expert pundits in the media, while the people who were right all along are often portrayed as left-wing out-of-touch-with-reality naive nutty fools, and they don't get on the talk shows very much."
No kidding. The failure of our current corporate mainstream media in a nutshell.
But be sure to read through to the bottom of this post, for an additional stunning quote from Cal Thomas' April 15, 2003 column which Tom Tomorrow, the creator of this toon, mentioned he wasn't able to fit into this strip...
On HBO's Real Time Friday night (click to play the video at left) Bill Maher was going over the basics of the US Attorney scandal with former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias when conservative guest Lisa Schiffren chimed in that Iglesias was failing to understand that US Attorney jobs were political. A surprised Maher tried to clarify by differentiating the appointment of US Attorneys from their actual law enforcement duties, but Schiffren stuck to her point. In addition to condoning the selective enforcement of the law, Schiffren implies that the oath to uphold the Constitution, taken by political appointees, was also secondary to politics. And she speaks from experience as a former political apppointee!
Clearly Schriffren just earned herself a jury duty pass for the rest of her life. To understand the outrageousness of her suggestion one need not look any further than the statement Iglesias made about his firing two minutes earlier:
Iglesias: What they wanted me to do was come up with some bogus prosecutions with no evidence of voter fraud. That's number one. And number two, they wanted me to rush indictments against democrats who were engaging in corrupt activities. I couldn't do that because the case wasn't ready. It's that simple.
Essentially the White House, along with Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Senator Pete Domenci (R-NM), who pressured Iglesias directly, were upset that Igesias refused to use the power of his office to help them fraudulently win elections. In other words, Iglesias was fired because he would not help the Republican party circumvent our Democracy. And that is okay according to Schiffren!
Schiffren: You know, with all due respect, it's a political, you're in a political job, you're a political appointee.
Maher: Woh, it's not a political job, it's a political appointment. Once you get the job, shouldn't it not be political?
Schiffren: You know what, I have been a political appointee also and sworn the same oath to the Constitution, and the truth is, you can't take politics out of politics, you were there to serve an administration that will have its own ends some of which are stupid, petty and trivial and sometimes the guy above you wants to put his guy in your slot...
"Tom has never written a letter for Abramoff," Tom Feeney's former Chief of Staff, Jason Roe insisted in an email to the St. Petersburg Times last year. "There is no accusation of a quid pro quo. No quid pro quo exists," he claimed.
WASHINGTON - Rep. Tom Feeney insists he never helped convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but in 2003 Feeney was among several lawmakers who wrote to the Energy Department opposing changes to a federal program that also were being fought by an Abramoff client.
Five months later, Abramoff treated a small group of people, including Feeney, to a luxury golf trip to Scotland that began with a trans-Atlantic flight on a private jet and featured twice-daily golf at world-famous locales.
It's unclear why Feeney, an Orlando area Republican, took a position on the rule change in the Energy Star program [that rates consumer products for energy efficiency].
Congress had no say in the decision but a letter obtained by the Times shows that 10 Republican members, including Feeney, urged the department not to change certain criteria.
Among the other members who signed the letter was California Rep. John Doolittle, whose Virginia home was raided recently by FBI agents investigating fundraising by his wife as part of the Abramoff case.
In a related item, which we didn't get to pick up late last week, Feeney's golf junket to Scotland with Abramoff --- or as he called it, a "fact-finding trip" --- was paid for out of an Abramoff slush fund, according to documents obtained by Senate investigators as reported by the Sun-Sentinel...
In an open letter calling on former CIA Director, George Tenet to return his Medal of Freedom and donate royalties from his new book, six former intelligence officers excoriate the former Director of Central Intelligence for his complicity in overseeing the Bush Administration's misuse of intelligence to send America into an unnecessary war where more than 3,300 troops have so far been killed.
28 April 2007
Mr. George Tenet
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York City, New York 10022
ATTN: Ms. Tina Andredis
Dear Mr. Tenet:
We write to you on the occasion of the release of your book, At the Center of the Storm. You are on the record complaining about the “damage to your reputation”. In our view the damage to your reputation is inconsequential compared to the harm your actions have caused for the U.S. soldiers engaged in combat in Iraq and the national security of the United States. We believe you have a moral obligation to return the Medal of Freedom you received from President George Bush. We also call for you to dedicate a significant percentage of the royalties from your book to the U.S. soldiers and their families who have been killed and wounded in Iraq.
[Y]our lament that you are a victim in a process you helped direct is self-serving, misleading and, as head of the intelligence community, an admission of failed leadership. You were not a victim. You were a willing participant in a poorly considered policy to start an unnecessary war and you share culpability with Dick Cheney and George Bush for the debacle in Iraq.
It now turns out that you were the Alberto Gonzales of the intelligence community--a grotesque mixture of incompetence and sycophancy shielded by a genial personality. Decisions were made, you were in charge, but you have no idea how decisions were made even though you were in charge.
Most importantly and tragically, you failed to meet your obligations to the people of the United States. Instead of resigning in protest, when it could have made a difference in the public debate, you remained silent and allowed the Bush Administration to cite your participation in these deliberations to justify their decision to go to war. Your silence contributed to the willingness of the public to support the disastrous war in Iraq, which has killed more than 3300 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Mr. Tenet, you cannot undo what has been done. It is doubly sad that you seem still to lack an adequate appreciation of the enormous amount of death and carnage you have facilitated. If reflection on these matters serves to prick your conscience we encourage you to donate at least half of the royalties from your book sales to the veterans and their families, who have paid and are paying the price for your failure to speak up when you could have made a difference. That would be the decent and honorable thing to do.
One of the newspapers often attacked by Bill O'Reilly as an example of the "liberal" media is the Los Angeles Times, currently owned by the Rightwing Chicago Tribune.
On Saturday, LA Times ran a story by Chris Kraul on the reaction of Iraqi citizens to the Iraq War spending bill battle. But no need to click on the link. Here's the summary of the "fair and balanced" story as kindly provided on the inside page of the paper edition:
Iraqis uneasy over funding battle
With Congress passing spending bills with timelines for U.S. troop withdrawal, some Iraqis fear further chaos if American soldiers leave Iraq. Others hope President Bush, who has threatened a veto, will prevail and the U.S. will stay, if only for its own strategic interests. Page A5
So...if the bill is signed into law, some Iraqis fear it will make things worse. While on the other hand, some of them hope Bush vetoes it so US troops will stay.
That would be the "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" school of journalism, I guess.
Those quoted in the story were among the "20 Iraqis interviewed Friday in several cities after both houses of Congress passed measures that set timelines for a withdrawal of U.S. troops as a condition of funding for the war effort."
Kraul failed to quote any Iraqis who are in favor of withdrawal of U.S. troops, despite polls of Iraqis in 2004, 2005 and 2006 all showing a majority of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave. That last one found "70% of Iraqis favor setting a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces."
On the other hand, a story on George Tenet's new criticism of the Administration for ignoring pre-9/11 terrorism warnings and failing to plan for postwar Iraq is featured...on Page 18.
Darn those America/Bush hating "liberals" at the Los Angeles Times!
The state of Texas has taken action to close the elections office in Waller County. The state will be providing monitors who will be closely watching the election process in the county. This as a result of numerous complaints from citizens of the county, including students of Prairie View A&M University, who were disenfranchised last November. Meanwhile yesterday the Florida state Senate passed a bill that may finally give the voters a paper ballot and end the use of DREs.
Those, and the other notable voting news stories today, all linked below...
An incredibly busy week this last week went turbo-charged with the sudden re-emergence of the Abramoff Lobbying Scandal, now starring our favorite as-yet-unindicted Republican, Tom Delay's Rep. Tom Feeney (FL-24). Naturally, The BRAD BLOG has been following Feeney's follies for years, along with the heroic efforts of whistleblower, computer programmer, and now challenger for the 24th District, Clint Curtis... Click on our "Special Coverage" to catch up on all the fun in this twisted tale of corruption and vote-rigging...
The scandals continue to roll fast and furious: this last week, The BRAD BLOG exposed the connection between the cynical Republican myth of "voter fraud" and the ongoing scandal of the firings (and near-firings) of U.S. Attorneys. And the extraordinary failures of the Election Assistance Commission were already compounded when they were caught trying to hide and change the results of their own report debunking the Republican myth of "voter fraud", but now they're silencing their researchers when they don't like the results!
It's a "harmonic convergence" of scandals (or a Unified Field Theory of Corruption, if you will, plenty of snarky nicknames for this debacle to go around). Read on, dear reader, and do your best to keep up with this Great Unraveling of the Republican Culture of Corruption.
The headlines from many of last week's most notable articles follow after the jump...
Yesterday we provided a link to an opinion piece by Dr. David Dill of Stanford University and Verified Voting. Dr. Dill gave his opinion on why he supports HR-811. Today I have provided you a link to Dr. Dill’s article as posted to OpEdNews and a counter opinion from Nancy Tobi of Democracy for New Hampshire. Read them both and make up your own mind.
And for links to many of the other notable voting news stories today, see below...
WASHINGTON - A senior Justice Department official has resigned after coming under scrutiny in the Department’s expanding investigation of convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a Justice Department official with knowledge of the case.
Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Department, the official, Robert E. Coughlin II, was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the Department’s probe of Abramoff.
He stepped down effective April 6 as investigators in Coughlin’s own division ratcheted up their investigation of lobbyist Kevin Ring, Coughlin’s long-time friend and a key associate of Abramoff.
When contacted at his home in Washington, Coughlin said he resigned voluntarily because he was relocating to Texas. “I was not asked to resign,” he said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. “It’s important to me that it's made clear that I left voluntarily.”
He said he couldn’t comment on the Abramoff investigation, nor on whether he has a job lined up in Texas. He referred all other questions to friend Michael Horowitz.
Horowitz, a criminal defense attorney and former Justice Department official and public corruption prosecutor, did not respond to questions, including about whether he is representing Coughlin.
Get your brain around all of that if ya can, as we head into the weekend with the wheels continuing to come off this thing, with a new shoe dropping, it seems, every hour or so of late.
And if you're having trouble keeping score --- at least in the Abramoff game --- McClatchy summarizes our story so far this way:
Coughlin appears to be the first Justice Department official to come under scrutiny in the wide-ranging probe that has implicated a veteran congressman, a deputy Cabinet secretary, a White House aide and eight others.
To which we'll add: So far.
It's gonna get much worse before it gets anything close to better.
According to Sherril Huff, who has been nominated by County Executive Ron Sims to become elections director, Diebold products represent "the solution with the least amount of risk."
Sherril Huff, nominated by County Executive Ron Sims to become elections director, on Monday told the Metropolitan King County Council that Diebold's tabulators are the lowest-cost option, are compatible with King County's existing Diebold products and represent "the solution with the least amount of risk."
I am astounded (although I guess as a regular reader of The BRAD BLOG I shouldn't be) that any election official can, at this point in time, say that ANY Diebold product is "the solution with the least amount of risk."
And Ms. Huff is recommending the purchase of Diebold tabulators BEFORE they have received federal certification.
Has Ms. Huff been living in a cave?
I'm glad to say some council members are awake enough to know this is a bad idea. They are worried about the lack of federal certification, and they seem to be aware of the various computer experts' tests showing Diebold machines to be hack-friendly and about as risk-free as Dick Cheney's hunting partners....