As you'll note by the increase in items in John Gideon's Daily Voting News, coverage of election concerns is again reaching a fevered pitch. When it comes to election machines, most of those reports come far too late to effect any real change (other than perhaps to help encourage election officials to ensure there will be plenty of paper ballots on hand, to make sure they tell voters and poll workers about them, and then to finally count those damned ballots!)
It's clear, however, that while most election officials likely do their job honestly, there are a great number of them around the country who have little interest in voters --- certain voters --- being allowed to excercise their franchise at all.
While there is little time to do much about the machines, as they prepare to melt down, there is still time do something on the front-end voter suppression issues. Yet sadly, despite a few spotty efforts around the country, it seems those parties that do have an interest in voters actually voting (such as Obama and the DNC) have little clue about what they are facing. At least from what I've been able to learn about coordinated plans --- or lack thereof --- to combat the Republican assault on voting.
And, all the while, as Democrats dither, the well-coordinated Republican War on Democracy continues apace around the country, with new and disturbing reports coming out almost by the hour, revealing the national extent of the GOP's anti-democracy campaign.
The effort, by a number of election officials in so-called "swing states" around the country, meant to keep Democratic-leaning voters, such as students and minorities, from casting votes this year, is remarkable and growing. It is, of course, also appalling...
Today Laura Bush told CNN that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor, lacks experience in foreign policy.
You know, that's not been her role. But I think she is a very quick study, and fortunately John McCain does have that sort of experience.
Asked if she thought Palin's resume included sufficient foreign policy experience, Bush said, "Of course she doesn't have that."
If a similarly striking comment had been made by a powerful Democrat (or their spouse) about Barrack Obama or Joe Biden do you supposed it would have received a bit more coverage?
Nonetheless, I'll look forward to the wingnut commentary all weekend --- from the disingenous propagandists and their kool-aid chugging chumps alike --- following tonight's debate, about how the media is "in the tank" for Obama. And I'll look forward, as well, to the media internalizing that phony criticism and continuing to give every benefit of the doubt to a Republican, that they'd never even consider giving to a Democrat.
From a USA Today article, noting that The Simpsons will now be tied with Gunsmoke's record of 20 seasons on television...
Even though production begins nearly a year before broadcast, some upcoming shows are timely...In a segment of "Treehouse of Horror XIX" (Nov. 2), the annual Halloween trilogy, Homer tries to vote for Barack Obama, but the machine keeps casting ballots before attacking him.
UPDATE 10/2/08: The very funny (were it not so unfunny) clip of Homer trying to vote on Election Day 2008 is now posted here...
The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Washington state has released what he says will be the first of a series of campaign spots, satirizing the well-known "Mac v. PC" commercials, to highlight the differences between touch-screen voting machines and paper ballots.
Jason Osgood, a long-time election integrity advocate and opponent of unverifiable electronic voting systems, is running against the incumbent Republican Sec. of State, Sam Reed. Osgood joins several other citizen advocates across the country --- inlcuding Susan Rose Pynchon in Volusia County, FL, and Ellen Harriet Brodsky in Broward County, FL --- who have stepped up and decided to run this year against incumbent election officials who, they allege, have not been as responsive or transparent, in regard to voter concerns and citizen oversight, as they should be.
The 60-second spot released today by the Osgood campaign is seen below (text transcript is posted at the end of this article). It features two men standing in front of a white background, one who identifies himself as "Paper Ballot" and the other, dressed in a slick white leisure suit with sunglasses and headset, who declares, "I'm a high-tech, touch-screen votin' machine!" It quickly becomes apparent, as the spot begins, as "Voting Machine" searches through his pockets, that he's lost something --- "a few thousand votes is all"...
The comical ad, Osgood tells The BRAD BLOG, is to be the first of several in a series, highlighting the differences between electronic voting systems and paper ballots. "These videos are funny," wrote Osgood in an email this morning. "Each spot highlights just one problem with the voting machines. This is a very effective way to explain a complicated issue."
Osgood believes the ads may also help the issue of election integrity nationally, as they serve to simplify the concerns that advocates, as well as computer scientists and security experts, have been trying to share with the public.
"We're steeped in the arcana of computers and election administration," Osgood, who is himself a software engineer, told us. "When we talk to others [about these issues], we quickly lose them. Which is a shame, because counting votes should be simple! To be effective, we need to tailor our message to reach the broadest audience. We need to engage every voter in the fight to reclaim our democracy and restore integrity to our elections," he said...
Wondering what was discussed during those important, question-free, :30 second photo-ops embarrassingly created by the McCain campaign to display Sarah Palin "meeting" with foreign leaders at the UN, this week? CNN offers some insight...
On entering a room filled with several Pakistani officials this afternoon, Palin was immediately greeted by Sherry Rehman, the country's Information Minister.
"And how does one keep looking that good when one is that busy?," [Pakistani Information Minister Sherry] Rehman asked, drawing friendly laughter from the room when she complimented Palin.
"Oh, thank you," Palin said.
Pakistan's recently-elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, entered the room seconds later. Palin rose to shake his hand, saying she was “honored” to meet him.
Zardari then called her "gorgeous" and said: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," Palin said, smiling. "Thank you."
A handler from Zardari's entourage then told the two politicians to keep shaking hands for the cameras.
Telegraphing panic over the economic crisis to his fear-addicted followers, John McCain has announced he is suspending his campaign and that he wants to delay the debate Friday night, according to Washington Post...
Republican presidential nominee John McCain this afternoon said he would suspend his presidential campaign tomorrow to return to Washington and help reach agreement on a plan to solve the financial crisis on Wall Street, and called for a delay of Friday night's presidential debate.
"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal,'' McCain said in a brief statement to reporters. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.''
It's not as if John McCain has announced any sort of definitive measure to resolve the crisis that he needs to be in Washington to push --- or that he has a record of providing leadership on the economy in the past. (Quite the opposite, in fact. He was an advocate of the deregulation that underlies the failures.)
More importantly, if John McCain can't juggle a debate with Barack Obama while simultaneously working on the economic collapse, how can he possibly handle the multiple world crises that inevitably come with the presidency?
It's likely that what's really going on here is that the campaign has seen some dire polling numbers --- today even the new Fox "News" poll shows Obama support widening nationally, with a full 6-point lead, 45% to 39%, beyond the poll's margin of error --- and they want to push the debate forward, with the hope that the issues that are dragging him down have turned around.
(Please note, however, in re: the Fox "News" poll released today, FNC's "Fox News Polls Home" on their website currently ledes with a headline screaming that "McCain Leads Obama 45% to 42%". Click on that top headline, and one finds that it's headlined Sept. 10. Guess they're in no rush to update their polls page for some reason.)
Beginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now the unit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.
The report from Army Times is certainly troubling, given the timing and the Constitution-hating evil-doers still allowed by Congress to continue holding the reins of our military. Back in 2005, an AP report headlined: "Bush: Boost military role in domestic emergencies" discussed the Constitutional issues that would block such domestic deployments of the U.S. military. Guess they got that all worked out? Or Bush just decided that following (and defending) the Constitution is a bit too quaint for him at this point in his failed "Presidency".
The brigade, according to the report, will be "known for the next year as...Consequence Management Response Force." Rest easy, kids!
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) --- cited for the third year in a row by a public interest watchdog as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" --- has finally decided to "apologize" for going on that $75,000 lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland in 2003, along with the disgraced, and convicted, Jack Abramoff. The "apology" comes in the form of a desperate, 30-second campaign ad (at left.)
Feeney is the last remaining member of Congress to have gone on one of those Abramoff-funded private jet trips to hit the links in St. Andrews. The other two, Tom Delay (R-TX), who went in 2001, and Bob Ney (R-OH), who went in 2002, have both left Congress in disgrace and under indictment.
You'll note that the ad --- in which Feeney never bothers to mention that he's a Republican --- ends, laughably, with: "Because public service is about being honest, even when you make a mistake."
That line might more appropriately, at least for Feeney, have been: "Public service is about admitting that you broke the law, five years after you took a huge favor from a corrupt lobbyist and were finally forced to admit it outloud in a desperate, last-ditch attempt, to save your Congressional meal ticket."
But he might have had trouble getting all of that into his :30 spot.
The ad also says, on screen: "Get the facts: Tom Feeney.com" Might we suggest if you really want the facts on Tom Feeney, one of the filthiest players remaining in Congress, that you see instead our special coverage page about him, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis worked at the same company as Feeney, back when Feeney was both the powerful Speaker of the Florida House and a lobbyist for the software firm with millions of dollars in state contracts. The same company also employed undocumented Chinese aliens working on systems for NASA and others, even as Feeney has continued to protect that company to this day (he was also their one-time general counsel) and has housed his campaign headquarters in their building.
A remarkable documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies, covering that story, and The BRAD BLOG's attempts to tell it over the last four years, has just been released. If you'd rather learn the facts in movie form, please check out that film! NOTE: It's terrifying and includes untold details on at least two grizzly deaths related to the Curtis/Feeney scandal.
Curtis himself eventually switched to the Democratic Party following the incident and, after Congress refused to take action on Feeney, he ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006. His attempts to do so again this year were derailed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backed wealthy opponent Suzanne Kosmas in the primary. With polls showing the well-funded Kosmas in a tight race with Feeney, clearly, one of the dirtiest Republicans in America is now running very scared.
I sat down with Ohio's Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, for an exclusive, detailed, one-on-one interview while in Denver at the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago. We chatted for nearly an hour and a half in what was the first opportunity we'd had to speak, in detail, since my interview with her last December, following the release of Ohio's landmark "EVEREST" testing of e-voting systems finding "critical security failures" on virtually all fronts.
We covered a lot of interesting, and even newsworthy topics in our recent discussion, just published at AlterNet, as the Buckeye State barrels towards either redemption or disaster in the 2008 election. In my Q&A with the Secretary of State we discuss, among other things:
Challenges and surprises she's faced since becoming SoS in 2007, even by constituencies one might think would otherwise be supportive of her;
Concerns about her tie-breaking decision to move Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) to an all paper ballot system, just 73 days before the state's primary election last March;
Directives she's issued (and will be issueing) for this year's general election, such as requiring counties to inform all voters that they may vote on paper ballots; that there must be two lines created at polling places --- one for those who wish to vote on paper, and another for those who prefer to vote on touch-screen; the end of voting machine "sleepovers" at poll workers' houses prior to elections, and other new security requirements;
Whether or not there has ever been any accountability for so much that went wrong in 2004 in places like Warren County, where press and public were famously locked out of the counting room on Election Night, or in Knox County, where the last vote was not cast at Kenyon College until 4am on the morning following Election Day;
Concerns about student access to polling places this year, and steps being taken to try to help assure it;
Whether citizens may use video cameras in the polling place to document what may go on there this year;
And beyond all of that: Will Ohio be ready for whatever may come this November, and will it be the Buckeye State again in 2008, or the "blackeye" state that it became in 2004?
As you'll see, Brunner seems to feel confident that Ohio "will be ready" this year, even as the challenges sure to come will be monumental. Of course, I hope she's right. Undoubtedly, as I hope you'll agree after reading the piece, the voters of the state --- of all parties --- are surely in far better hands than they were with the criminal J. Kenneth Blackwell (former SoS, co-chair of Bush/Cheney '04) at the helm four years ago. Still, there are many reasons for worry, and I do my best, in the interview, to ask tough questions and push for answers where I can.
As noted in my intro to the Q&A over there, we also discussed a number of more complicated issues, better suited for technical/computer/election junkies (such as myself, and perhaps readers of The BRAD BLOG.) I'll be running the shorter, geekier portions of our interview, in which we discussed lawsuits with Diebold, the future of e-voting and the possibility of hand-counting in Ohio, elsewhere shortly. [Update 10/8/08: That portion of the interview now published at ComputerWorld here...]
Working on a number of deadlines today, so pardon the light posting for the moment. In the meantime, the blizzard of anti-democracy GOP voter-caging/suppression reports continue to come in from around the country.
While we will, no doubt, have more on all of the latest soon, I wanted to quickly point out the brand new Voter Suppression Wiki that was set up late last week, by Baratunde Thurston, to track some of the stuff now rolling in at an alarming pace (with vastly inadequate Obama/Dem response, as far as I can tell.)
Thurston introduced the new participatory Wiki in a HuffPo article late last week. He included, along with it, a quick introductory video that pulls just together just some of the reports piling in from just the day or two before he finally decided such a site was very much needed. That short video alone is worth a quick view, as it offers a pretty astounding collection of just a few of the most appalling incidents rolling in the news late last week, courtesy of the well-organized GOP troops marshaling the latest full-frontal assualt (surge!) in the coordinated Republican War on Democracy. Here the short video...
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The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, is calling on the John McCain campaign to "immediately halt Republican vote suppression efforts," as seen recently in Michigan --- where a county GOP chair announced his intention to use home foreclosure lists to challenge voter eligibility at the polls on Election Day --- and elsewhere.
Conyers has announced hearings on these issues, and is calling on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to launch an immediate "full scale investigation" into these matters. He has sent letters both to McCain [PDF] and to Mukasey [PDF] (the latter signed by 23 members of Congress) to that effect, as well as issuing the following statement today...
Tribune Media Services' Bob Koehler was one of the first voices, from within the corporate mainstream media, to speak about the bastardization of our current electoral system. He did so, beginning way back in the darkest days of 2005, when writing and/or saying such things aloud got folks fired, spiked, and otherwise Dixie Chicked for daring to speak such truths in a country which once claimed to believe in "freedom of speech" and "freedom of the press."
From Ohio's 2004 abberation of democracy, to voting systems that don't work, to those who would do anything to win, such as keep voters from voting however they can, Koehler has continued to bang the drum, no matter the heat he has taken in return.
This week he continues to beat that drum, and offers us a few kind words in the bargain, yet again. Here's a few key grafs from his latest, headlined "Goo Goo Government"...
TALLAHASSEE — A new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.
The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."
"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000.
The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.
The article goes on to note that FL's Republican SoS Kurt Browning believes the mailing is "confusing" and "unfortunate", but does not note whether or not he plans to do anything about it. We're not holding our breath. Neither are we holding it for Democrats down there to do much about it either.
The mailings sent to registered Democrats appear to be classic "caging" letters, marked as "Do Not Forward", so that they will then be returned to the GOP if there is any problem with delivery. Those returned letters will likely then be used as a basis to challenge the legitimacy of those particular voters on Election Day....