[Update 12/22/10: Alaska Supreme Court decides against Joe Miller on all counts. Details here...]
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Having paper ballots is one thing. Seeing them actually be counted, unfortunately, continues to be quite another matter.
For those of you who may not understand why it's not enough to merely have hand-marked paper ballots that are tallied only by oft-failed, easily-manipulated computers --- even if those paper ballots could be counted by human beings "in the event there are questions about the results", as supporters of such systems like to say --- need look no further than the extraordinary finding on Monday from New York's highest court, its Court of Appeals.
And, for that matter, what is likely to happen in Alaska very soon, where Republican Joe Miller continues to wait for a similar decision from that state's Supreme Court in his fight for a hand-count of all paper ballots in his still-uncertified U.S. Senate race against Republican write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski and Democratic candidate Scott McAdams...
Problems with New York's new electronic voting system are being reported across the state today, according to the New York Times. Today's primary elections mark the first statewide use of the new, paper-based optical-scan systems which have been been the cause of much controversy among election officials and Election Integrity advocates over the last several months and years in the Empire State.
New York is the last state in the union to replace their older election system --- much of the state, as well as all of New York City had previously used mechanical lever machines --- with new-fangled, failure-prone, easily-manipulated computerized systems following the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which was enacted in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election debacle.
In New York City, where Wall Street Journal reports the problems are "most severe" --- including reports from Mayor Bloomberg on "reports of broken and missing scanners, poor customer service and poll sites opening two to four hours late" --- the new systems are made by ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine company, and one with a storied history of election failures.
The systems used in other parts of the state are largely manufactured by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting, formerly as a partnership with Sequoia Voting Systems. Dominion eventually bought out cash-strapped Sequoia's portion of the NY state deal before buying out Sequoia entirely earlier this year. The purchase of Sequoia, then the nation's third-largest e-voting firm, on the heels of their purchase of Diebold/Premiere just weeks prior, has vaulted Dominion, virtually overnight, to one of the largest e-voting vendors in the U.S..
Some state election officials and Election Integrity advocates alike had long-warned against the implementation of these new systems, going so far as to take the issue to court and to testify to the inability of certifying the accuracy of elections run on the new machines.
According to the Times this morning, some polling places "did not open for more than 90 minutes" in Brooklyn; elsewhere, every ballot scanned "was returning a the 'system error'" message; and across the state, there have been reports of "longer-than-usual delays and troubles with the scanners that are supposed to swallow and tabulate the new, SAT-style ballots"...
[Late Update: Quran burning back on? Maybe. Late, Late Update: "We will definitely not burn the Quran. Not today, not ever." "Pastor" Terry Jones. Despite the cancellation, deadly protests are staged in Afghanistan. See updates at end.]
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Burn the light to satisfy your darkness….
Burn the love to satisfy your hatred….
Burn the peace to satisfy your anger….
Burn the compassion to satisfy your cruelty….
Burn the knowledge to satisfy your ignorance.
Their email, published in full below, notes the group is "concerned by an upsurge in Islamophobia, religious intolerance, hate crimes and attacks on religious freedoms in the United States in recent weeks," and highlights both the planned Quran burning as well as the protests against the planned "Park 51" Muslim community center in downtown New York City, near "Ground Zero." The group also condemned their fellow Jewish organizations, the Anti-Defamation League and Zionist Organization of America for their efforts to derail the community center.
While near universal condemnation appears to have put a halt to "Pastor" Terry Jones' planned "International Burn-a-Quran Day," late today --- along with a bizarre attempt to intercede by Donald Trump --- actions and words by good people remain essential in order to counter the virulent and dangerous Islamophobia that has been propagated by hard-right demagogues and their dehumanized followers...
Sorry this took a few days to get posted. Have been busy. As noted last week, on Saturday I made my third appearance in as many years at the annual "L.A. Media Reform Summit" sponsored by CA Common Cause. It was again held at Occidental College, and I was honored to serve as their keynote speaker for the first time this year.
Below is the video of my full speech, in which I discussed the serious crisis we now face as our corporate mainstream media hit full fail mode. That point, as I argued, is exemplified by 1) the massive failures of the old "dead tree" media to meet their constitutional responsibilities to help protect the public from bad guys (as illustrated by the NYTime's months of damaging and flagrant misreporting on the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax, as we've been covering at The BRAD BLOG for months), and 2) the full, rightwing take-over of nearly every inch of the public's broadcast spectrum by a handful of corporations that do not meet their FCC license obligations to manage those airwaves in the public's interest (as we've been covering at The BRAD BLOG and elsewhere for years).
I also discussed your responsibility in doing something about both of those serious problems!
The video is posted below the fold, since it's about 40 minutes in all, and might otherwise get interupted by the main page's auto-refresh routines. Enjoy. And get to work!...
"The Times was wrong…and I have been wrong in defending the paper's phrasing."
Even as the New York Times once again misreported the ACORN "Pimp" Hoax on its pages in a report on the community organization's possible declaration of bankruptcy in Saturday's paper, their Public Editor (ombudsman) Clark Hoyt finally admits in his column tonight, for tomorrow's paper, that both he and the paper were "wrong" in their reports about rightwing dirty trickster James O'Keefe's "pimp" costume, adding that "editors say they are considering a correction."
Considering?! What exactly would be the hold up?
The paper and Hoyt, as The BRAD BLOG has been detailing for nearly two months now, were out and out wrong in their reports about O'Keefe, and what his highly-edited, heavily-overdubbed, secretly-taped videos misleadingly suggested to show, and in their failure to report exculpatory information, such as the refusal to release the unedited raw videos made by the rightwing propagandists, as well as the results of an investigation by MA's former Attorney General [PDF] finding no "pattern of illegal conduct" by ACORN employees as seen in the videos as published by the rightwing media mogul and fabulist Andrew Breitbart.
More than a month and a half after the paper's Senior Editor for Standards, Greg Brock, first attempted to defend the "paper of record's" reporting by pointing to Fox "News" and the accused felon O'Keefe himself in support of their inaccurate reports, as we exclusively detailed here, and more than a month and a half after Hoyt himself offered similar excuses and was shown that he was absolutely wrong, as we exclusively detailed here, the Public Editor offers his extremely reluctant mea culpa tonight in "The Acorn Sting Revisited" [emphasis added]:
Here is what I found: O'Keefe almost certainly did not go into the Acorn offices in the outlandish costume - fur coat, goggle-like sunglasses, walking stick and broad-brimmed hat - in which he appeared at the beginning and end of most of his videos. It is easy to see why The Times and other news organizations got a different impression. At one point, as the videos were being released, O'Keefe wore the get-up on Fox News, and a host said he was "dressed exactly in the same outfit he wore to these Acorn offices." He did not argue.
The Times was wrong on this point, and I have been wrong in defending the paper's phrasing. Editors say they are considering a correction.
Hoyt also conceded in his long-overdue admission that the paper erred in failing to ever mention (until a story in today's paper finally!) the independent findings of former MA Attorney General Scott Harshbarger which were released on December 7th of last year....
Much more soon on Rightwing propagandist Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe's quickly unraveling ACORN "Pimp" Hoax, just how much of a hoax it really was, how the media and Democrats shamefully failed their due diligence in reporting and/or acting on it, and coverage of a lot of new commentary on it all that has been coming in rapidly from the Left, Right, and Other over the last week or so.
Until then --- and as we still wait for Breitbart and O'Keefe to release the unedited versions of the videos which they've charged for six months demonstrate serious crimes they apparently don't want to show us, and while we continue to wait for the embarrassingly discredited hard rightwing L.A. County District Attorney Patrick Frey, who blogs pseudonymously as "Patterico" both at his own site and in comments at The BRAD BLOG and at Breitbart's websites, to explain how it is that as a Deputy D.A. he's authenticated the "unedited audio" that he claims proves some form of criminality by ACORN that neither the Brooklyn D.A. nor the former MA Attorney General [PDF] nor the Congressional Research Service have been able to find --- here is a short, instructive video worth a quick look.
It's from 2007 and demonstrates just how simple it is to edit raw video in order to show something other than what actually occurred...
Given her own history of documented voter fraud felonies, you'd think Ann Coulter would want to stay away from the whole ACORN issue (particularly since there is no evidence that, unlike her, they've ever committed any).
So what did Coulter do to shore up the wingnut hoax that is falling apart faster than Andrew Breitbart himself? She quoted some "seemingly crime-encouraging answers" from the video, "out of context so as to appear more sinister," naturally. And, even more naturally, those folks who have been played and conned by "Andrew Breitbart Presents...Big Journalism" and "Andrew Breitbart Presents...Big Government," etc., ate it all up...
Kings County, New York District Attorney Joe Hynes put out a statement just now:
On Sept. 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees. The three had been secretly videotaped by two people posing as a pimp and prostitute, who came to ACORN’S Brooklyn office, seeking advice about how to purchase a house with money generated by their ‘business.’ The ‘couple’ later made the recording public. That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found.
Brooklyn prosecutors on Monday cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money.
While the video by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.
"They edited the tape to meet their agenda," said the source.
UPDATE 3:24PM ACORN issues a statement following the announcement from the King County, D.A. noting what The BRAD BLOG has been reporting for years:
O'Keefe and the Fox attack machine targeted ACORN because of our successful work to empower hundreds of thousands of low and moderate families as voters and active citizens.
Observers who looked closely at the filmmakers' own transcripts have already noted that O'Keefe presented low level employees with a bogus scenario in which he presented himself as a boyfriend trying to rescue a prostitute from a violent pimp. Although no employees took any actual action to file papers for loans or taxes, ACORN already conducted its own review in order to move forward serving our communities.
Hopefully today's announcement, and similar results from independent reviews, will make politicians and media examine the facts more carefully the next time a valuable community organization is attacked.
I recently attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in D.C., with video camera in hand, to report on the attendees. I was particularly interested in interviewing James O'Keefe, the miscreant (and accused felon) responsible for the ACORN video media hoax that The BRAD BLOG has been meticulously detailing for several weeks, including the important focus on how the mainstream corporate media (the old-media) have been had by the scam.
O'Keefe's phony "pimp" story has been debunked, but, as Brad Friedman has shown, the old-media remain remarkably reticent to admit their errors, and the publisher of the videos, O'Keefe's employer and promoter Andrew Breitbart, has been unwilling to help them off the hook. Witness the outrageous email responses from the NYTimes' Senior Editor for Standards Greg Brock and then from their Public Editor Clark Hoyt, when it was shown to them that "the paper of record" had been had --- that O'Keefe had never "visited Acorn offices...dressed so outlandishly" in the now-infamous "pimp" costume as the paper had reported, as O'Keefe had represented, and as Breitbart himself had claimed in his own column, to the public.
While I didn't get the chance to speak with O'Keefe, I did catch up with his partner in fraud, Hannah Giles. Alas, she was surrounded by a protective coterie and fled without answering any questions when one of her entourage recognized me.
But then my luck turned. I trekked to the basement to cover the "XPAC" party and found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with Breitbart, O'Keefe's promoter, publisher, and employer, and owner of the website which launched the infamously damaging, misleading, deceptive, and highly doctored video tapes. I had previously questioned Breitbart at a press conference at the National Press Club press last October. He's had a pretty easy ride of it since then, facing questioning only from a largely adulatory press.
Though old-media, as Brad has shown, have been remarkably reluctant to demand answers to hard questions from Breitbart --- or any of the players involved in the ACORN secret video scheme --- I felt it important to do so for a number of reasons. The results were revealing, both in Breitbart's insanely manic demeanor, and in the substantive content of his answers to my questions.
Ultimately, as I believe you'll find in the video, he reveals a lot about his own editorial judgment, professionalism, and reliability --- none of it is good...
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The Breitbart/O'Keefe media fraud has been wildly successful for the pair, helping to launch Breitbart's BigGovernment.com site late last year. But, unfortunately, it's hurt a great number of innocents.
Lost in the outrage against the New York Times for having fallen for the scam without bothering to fact-check, as The BRAD BLOG has been detailing for the past several weeks, is the fact that Breitbart and his ward O'Keefe have accomplished a despicable goal: They've all but destroyed an organization committed to helping those Americans most in need. Real people --- thousands of children amongst them --- will suffer hardship as a direct consequence of Breitbart's and O'Keefe's mendacious and malicious hoax, and singularly partisan political agenda. When will the media get around to telling that story?
And what of the damage that disreputable propagandists like Breitbart and O'Keefe bring to the real citizen journalists in the new media --- those of us striving not to sell a political agenda under false pretenses, but, rather, hoping to document facts, truth, and on-the-record positions of those who would corrupt our system through disingenuousness, self-enrichment, and lies?...
Following the recent federal felony arrest of his Rightwing dirty trickster employee, Rightwing propagandist and flim-flam artist Andrew Breitbart has had difficulty keeping his story straight. In two recent radio interviews, Breitbart offered two directly contradictory descriptions of his business relationship with the 25-year-old accused felon who remains on payroll while facing federal charges.
During a recent live appearance on the Internet radio show African-American Conservatives (AACONS), Breitbart was asked about his ongoing relationship with James O'Keefe. O'Keefe was recently arrested in Louisiana, along with three others (one the son of the acting U.S. Attorney), for allegedly heading up a scheme to "maliciously interfere" with the telephone system of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
He's "technically not salaried," Breitbart told AACONS host Marie Stroughter during the interview last week, in reply to her question about O'Keefe.
Breitbart's answer, however, was in direct contradiction to an an admission he offered on-air on the nationally syndicated radio program of fellow Rightwing propagandist Hugh Hewitt just weeks ago, on January 26th, on the night of O'Keefe's arrest.
In response to Hewitt's query about whether O'Keefe was "in your employ in any way," Breitbart admitted that O'Keefe was "paid a fair salary" for content published on Breitbart's various websites.
So, according to Breitbart, his accused felon employee O'Keefe is both "technically not salaried" and "paid a fair salary" at the same time. A neat trick.
So, was he lying to Hewitt on January 26th? Or to Stroughter on February 9th?
Or, perhaps there's a third way for Breitbart to try and thread his impossible needle in his continuing successful series of hoaxes on both the American public and the mainstream corporate media. He could pull out a tortured, Clintonian reliance on what the meaning of the word "salary" is...
Some folks have been ringing in on my exclusive yesterday on the embarrassing emails from Greg Brock, the NYTimes' Senior Editor of Standards, explaining why the once-great "paper of record" stands behind its gross misreporting on rightwing operative and accused federal felon, James O'Keefe as having "posed" as a pimp inside ACORN offices when he secretly made his highly-edited and apparently illegally-recorded hit videos --- since all public evidence shows that he was never dressed as a pimp in those offices!
I expect to have an official statement from ACORN soon on the Times' disastrous reporting of this key and oft-repeated element of O'Keefe's scam, as well as on Brock's extraordinary excuses for it (quickly summarized below).
For those who didn't get the time to read yesterday's lengthy, detailed story, which includes the amazing, complete email thread with the Times' veteran Senior Editor of Standards(!) who, in 2007, after working for the paper since 1995, identified himself as the "senior editor who oversees corrections," here's my best attempt at the very quickest of summaries of those remarkable emails...
"There is nothing for us to correct ... We stand by our reporting." That was the innocuous enough position from Greg Brock, New York Times "Senior Editor/Standards," in reply to a Letter to the Editor sent to the Times by a reader of The BRAD BLOG requesting a correction to recent reportage from the "paper of record" concerning rightwing activist James O'Keefe, on the heels of his federal felony arrest late last month. O'Keefe was arrested in New Orleans as an alleged ringleader in a conspiracy with three others, attempting to gain access, for reasons still unknown, to the phone system of Louisiana's Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
Incredibly, Brock originally cited claims by Fox News and O'Keefe himself as sources for why the New York Times stood by their apparently unverified and apparently incorrect report. "We believe him," Brock wrote, because he said as much on Fox News, apparently.
But the matter went from the absurd to the ridiculous in fairly short order, as Brock then seemed to contradict himself by claiming their source wasn't actually Fox or O'Keefe, but that the Times stood by their reporting because of a mysterious, unpublished video said to back up the claim, along with testimony from ACORN employees.
Though both the video and statements from ACORN employees were cited as evidence their story was right, Brock would refuse to share evidence for either of the claims. That, even after an independent report from the former Attorney General of Massachusetts --- released in early December, but never mentioned in the Times' recent report (or any report at the paper to my knowledge) --- directly contradicts their reportage....
My latest special to the Right-leaning Gouverneur Times of Upstate NY details multiple "urgent" warnings that state and federal officials received over the last year from multiple election advocacy groups concerning the dangers and pitfalls of the state's e-voting pilot program which came crashing down on voters during the recent NY-23 Special Election for the U.S. House.
They were warned, over and over and over again, about the dangers of using uncertified e-voting systems in real live elections, yet, despite the concerns expressed by experts about using real voters "as guinea pigs," it appears officials took no action in response.
I've covered the problems and failures in NY-23's recent Special Election for U.S. House in a number of previous articles here at The BRAD BLOG, detailing some of the early problems with results as they emerged, pointing out that, thanks to Republican precedent in 2006, it now no longer really matters whom the actual voters may have voted for, but arguing that a full manual hand-count of paper ballots would be appropriate nonetheless.
Over the holiday weekend, the good Richard Hayes Phillips --- author of the book Witness to a Crime, in which he painstakingly detailed, ballot by ballot, the scandal which was the Ohio 2004 Presidential Election --- reported on some curious numbers he's now found in that election, over at the right-leaning Gouverneur Times. As luck would have it, Richard is a resident of NY-23 himself, and seems to be finding that both "impossible" and then many more "improbable" tallies were certified, as NY tested its Seqouia/Dominion e-voting systems on live voters, in a real, live election, for the first time earlier this month.
Both of his pieces are worth a quick read over there.
And now, the Gouverneur Times has asked me to put together a bit of a "backgrounder" for them on all of these e-voting nightmares, and how they pertain to NY-23, since it seems that right-wingers, for some odd reason, are somewhat lacking (up until now anyway) in real information on just how dangerously insane our privatized system of e-voting in public elections has become. Too much time spent being fooled by ACORN-conspiracists like Andrew Breitbart and Fox "News," I guess.