In or near Los Angeles tonight (Tuesday)? Please come on by the Fairfax Cinemas (7907 Beverly Blvd.) at 7:30pm for a special screening of Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections. I'll be speaking at a Q&A afterwards, along with filmmaker David Earnhardt, "Diebold Document Whistleblower" Steve Heller (who is both featured in the film and now also an occassional BRAD BLOG guest blogger!), Mimi "Dharma & Greg" Kennedy of PDA, and all of it hosted by the good Jerry Quickley of KPFK/Pacifica.
Oh, and psst...say the super-secret password "NO DIEBOLD!" at the box office tonight, and get $3 off your ticket! But don't tell anyone! We'd like to keep that as much of a secret as Diebold's own passwords for all of their voting systems ("1111").
If you can't make it tonight (for some crazy reason), and if you've yet to see Uncounted (for some crazy reason), and you haven't helped support The BRAD BLOG lately (for some crazy reason), special editions of the DVD, as signed by the filmmaker, are still available for online donations of $50 or more. Snail mail works as well, to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
We'd love the support, and you'll love the film. And we'd all love to see you tonight if you happen to be in the hood.
P.S. The film is also screening at the San Diego Film Festival this Thursday and Saturday at 5pm. I'll be heading down for a Q&A following the Saturday showing there, so I expect to see everybody in person by the end of this week! Thank you.
All in all, we'd rather be in St. Paul. But then again, nobody involved with the Republican National Convention (which we suspect will be much more fun) invited us to speak in Minnesota. We will, however, be speaking on a panel about "Clean, Fair and Transparent Elections" at a forum sponsored by The Nation magazine and the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in Denver, so we're now on our way. Whether we like it or not.
We're also told that press credentials to the big show have been secured for The BRAD BLOG, so who knows what may happen? In truth, we have no idea what we'll find in Denver worth reporting, if anything, but many are the days we often awaken with no clue at all what nightmares and/or hilarity await us, requiring light and focus that sometimes only we seem to be able to help bring. It's with that same sense of wonderment and a not-bad-nose-for-news-found-nowhere-else that we head towards the Rockies.
While we're en route, and even while we're on the ground in Denver, the good Guest Bloggers of The BRAD BLOG will be joining us to keep things lively while your occasionally-humble eponymous blogger-in-chief strolls the grounds either with or without net access.
If you're in the mood to support our DNC efforts, whatever they may be, we'd not turn down a few dollars for a tank of gas or three to help get there and back safely. Donations may be left online here. If you're able to drop $50 or more in that tip jar, we'll be happy to send you a collectors' edition DVD of Uncounted, signed by filmmaker David Earnhardt, as a small thanks. (Our snail mail, for those who asked: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028.)
Wish us luck. We'll do our best to stay away from the water cannons...
Having made all too precious-little headway in overcoming the failures of the U.S. corporate mainstream media --- see these comments from over the weekend on that point --- I guess I need to "go overseas" to see if we can make any headway from over there instead.
I'm now honored to be contributing to the UK's Guardian from time to time. My first column, posted today, picks up on the anthrax case, and the dismal, one-sided case made for the guilt of the now-deceased Bruce Ivins, by both the FBI and the mainstream corporate media outlets in this country, which were all too happy to pass on misleading report after misleading report from those prolific "unnamed government sources."
As with Iraq WMD, Valerie Plame, Torture, Secret Prisons, Spying on Citizens, the U.S. Attorney Purge, Election Integrity, and so many other almost-all-but-lost landmark issues from over the past seven years or so, it has been the remarkable efforts of the citizen media that managed, at least a bit, to mitigate the corporate media-propelled "conventional wisdom" in this entire sorry matter.
Please feel free to put in a good word over there for me.
Wanna help BRAD BLOG stories reach still broader audiences? Hit those DIGG and REDDIT buttons you see at the bottom of stories you think more folks need to know about. (Not necessarily this one.) As the number of folks recommending the stories adds up, the headlines linking to those articles climb higher and higher at those huge sites, which gets them to more and more readers and so on. It really helps a great deal, and it costs you no more than a mouse click!
If you're not already signed up for those services, it takes two seconds for each of them, and then you can remain logged on, so you never have to log back in. Thanks for taking that extra coupla seconds! It matters! And helps the issues we cover --- frequently covered nowhere else --- get seen by a huge new set of eyeballs!
Just minutes ago, the ground gently rattled and rolled a bit here at The BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters in Los Angeles for 15 seconds or so.
Wire services, TV and radio news responded within seconds to report a sizable 5.8 (later downgraded to 5.4) magnitude quake, centered some 28 miles east of downtown.
Don't have much more to offer for the moment, but wanted to report --- particularly for those who know we're back in L.A. --- that we're fine here. While the shake was noticeable, it was either far enough or deep enough (reports now say it was 7.6 miles down) that it didn't even much rattle the cupboards where we're located near Hollywood.
More later if we're able to offer any other notable developments...
The whistleblower lawsuit against voting machine company Hart InterCivic, as filed in federal court on behalf of former employee William Singer, has been withdrawn following a decision by the Supreme Court that makes pursuing the case nearly impossible, according to the law firm who originally filed the complaint.
The suit had been sealed for nearly two years as the Dept. of Justice asked for extension after extension during their decision on whether or not to join the case. Earlier this year, they ultimately decided not to join the case, as we reported last March, leaving the firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor, P.A to proceed on their own. The DoJ declines to join some 76% of such cases.
In the interim, while waiting for the DoJ, the case of Rockwell Intl Corp. v. U.S. [PDF] came before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the findings in that decision, as attorney Mike Papantonio told The BRAD BLOG, has "made it next to impossible to proceed with any and all federal whistleblower (qui tam) cases."
The decision found that Rockwell was required to pay millions of dollars under the federal False Claims Act to the federal government, but that the relator of the case --- the insider who blew the whistle --- was not entitled to any of that money, nor even for the millions of dollars accrued in legal costs since the amended complaint, filed with the Justice Dept., included information about which the relator did not have direct inside knowledge.
The SCOTUS finding, as expressed for the majority by Justice Antonin Scalia, may well hamstring future whistleblower cases in federal courts, according to legal experts.
"I used to think qui tam was the way to go," Papantonio told me as his firm was weighing their decision on how to proceed after the case was finally unsealed, "but now I just don't know anymore."
Papantonio's Florida law firm has used the qui tam laws successfully in the past, and has taken on giants such as the Tobacco Industry. After he and his radio partner Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had learned about Singer's case from The BRAD BLOG --- we originally reported Singer's extraordinary saga back in early 2006 --- they decided to launch the federal fraud suit on his behalf later that year.
(I was interviewed about the withdrawal of the federal case by Mike Papantonio for this weekend's Ring of Fire radio program, which he co-hosts with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.. A video version of the interview is also posted on their GoLeft.TV site. Both versions are now posted in full at the end of this article.)
Though the attorneys working on the case have gone out of their way to express their faith in both Singer and his remarkable complaint --- detailing more than 40 federal fraud allegations, and accusing Hart of doctoring voting machines, covering up system failures, including the loss and miscounting of votes, and other malfeasance, in order to attain contracts and payment under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 --- the chance that millions of dollars spent pursuing the case might be unrecoverable at the end of the process, even if successful, in light of the Rockwell decision, forced them to withdraw the complaint from federal court...
Posting has been light as I've been on the road over the last several days due to a family event up here in the Great Pacific Northwest. In the bargain, I'm trying to sneak in some much needed off-the-grid time between now and the July 4th holiday. No doubt, however, I'll be showing up here from time to time when I just can't help myself.
Our friend Jon Ponder of Pensito Review and others will continue jumping in as they have been over the last several days, and as their time allows.
But for now, a quick heads up: I'll be appearing live and in-studio from Portland tomorrow (Thursday) with the nationally syndicated and far-far Rightwinger Lars Larson. I've done his show several times, and a good rumble between him and me is usually in the offing. (He's appearing, as I type this, tonight on Campell Brown's CNN show, coincidentally, trying to smash up Obama on the desperate premise that he's "arrogant.")
Last time I was up in Portland, he and I went mano-a-mano live in-studio for two hours (the last hour of his local show, and the first hour of his nationally syndicated show), prompting David Edwards, who guest blogged my appearance for The BRAD BLOG that day, in late 2005, to write:
During the course of the show, Lars' tone seems to change from mature discussion to outright brawling anger. At one point during the second hour, Lars may have been briefly channeling the venomous Bill O'Reilly.
The contentious audio from that appearance is back here, if you're interested.
We'll see what tomorrow brings, but I hope you'll tune in, call in, or whatever ya can --- not that I don't love taking on Lars' usual wingnut callers!
I'll be on his local Oregon/Washington show tomorrow (Thursday) at 2:30pm PT (call-in#: 866-HEY-LARS) and the nationally syndicated show beginning at 3:00pm PT (866-509-LARS). You can listen live here, if his show is not broadcast in your local area.
And no matter what happens, I'm happy to go on the record right now to say that Larson scores big points for having folks like me --- who strongly disagree with just about everything he has to say --- on his show. Wish one could say the same for cowards like O'Reilly, Hannity, Rush, et al., but oh well.
So, Kudos to Lars in advance. We'll see how I feel about him tomorrow Either way, looking forward to it! You'll let me know how I did, as usual!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Old Lars was obsessed with the SCOTUS decision today lifting the ban on handguns in D.C.. So that, despite my own personal interests in stuff that actually matters (versus grist for cynical political divisiveness) is what we talked about, for what seemed to be the bulk of the show. It was his house after all, and I appreciate his generosity in welcoming me to it. We did get a few other things in here and there however.
I was on for the full final hour of his local show, and the first half-hour of his national broadcast. With commercials and news removed (courtesy of LarsLarson.com) the audio archive is just 50 minutes. Download the MP3 or listen online below...
If you haven't noticed, as part of the new upgrades to The BRAD BLOG, the Voters Unite "Daily Voting News" items that John Gideon faithfully shares with us each day, are now featured in the sidebar of every page, instead of on the main page index. The latest DVN will always be available in the right sidebar, allowing for one click access to both the complete list of the day's notable voting news links and/or the entire DVN archive.
There are a number of reasons for the move, among them, my hope that it might help to get the DVN in front of even more eyeballs, since more folks tend to come to The BRAD BLOG each day via links from other sites to specific pages here. Those folks might otherwise never see the DVN at all when they visit.
It will also allow us to post more to the front page without fear that it'll be moved quickly down the page by the each day's DVN. The move, I hope, will also have other added benefits that will hopefully become more obvious in the future.
For now, I hope you'll take the time to note John's very helpful link to VotersUnite's voter registration info database from yesterday's DVN. The VU database contains convenient info for many states on how to quickly check to make sure you haven't accidentally been purged. Like John, I urge you to make use of it now (and again, once or twice, between here and November), as opposed to waiting to be surprised on Election Day!
As ever, your input, thoughts, suggestions, ideas, complaints and wish lists for the site as I continue to strive to improve things whenever I'm able to find a minute or two to do so are always very welcome!
I'll be on the road for a few weeks, as mentioned previously, so may be here a touch less than usual (if I'm lucky!), but Jon Ponder of Pensito Review, Arlen Parsa of The Daily Background, the very busy Alan Breslauer of HotPotatoMash, John and undoubtedly others will be jumping in to to keep things more than lively around here in my "absense".
And speaking of keeping things lively around here, below is a bit of very good news, in the form of an inside joke for frequent BRAD BLOG commenters, courtesy of yesterday's USA Today. Enjoy...
All that, just since the first few days of January this year.
We promised to keep an eye on the track conditions, even as everyone else was obsessed with the horse race, and so far, I think we've delivered.
If you are able to express your support with an online donation, it would be as appreciated as it is needed.
We have been forced to scale back our Summer travel plans for shortage of funds, and prices of fuel. But we've still got places we have to get to, beginning with a family commitment this coming week that will put us on the road again for the next several weeks.
Our 2008 Election Integrity Fund Drive continues, allowing you --- for as little as a $5/monthly commitment --- to receive any one of three items described at that link. If you can spare more per month, we'll toss in more Premium gifts in return.
If you can contribute at least $50 one time, we'll send you a collector's edition DVD of the remarkable documentary, Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, hand-signed by the filmmaker, David Earnhardt. (DISCLOSURE: I'm in it, but it's a good film anyway.)
I can't express how much I hate asking folks for help here. Especially these days. But as blog ads have largely dried up for much of the blogosphere so far this season, and as The BRAD BLOG has no corporate or foundational funding, we have nowhere to go but to you.
If you can help us keep going, I commit to continuing the same investigative, muckraking, cry-till-ya-laugh, laugh-till-ya-cry coverage of our American democracy that you will find nowhere else. Although if I can find a few days off between now and the conventions, I'm gonna try to take 'em. Not that I usually have much luck at that sort of thing. But it won't stop me from trying.
As always, your support means the world. Thank you, in advance... --- Brad
In all my "free time," I've been working for quite a while on programming a number of updates and reformatting to the site. I'm rolling some of that out today, and welcome your feedback.
Some of the updates are meant to freshen up the format a bit, allow for more future additions and expansion, and, hopefully, to improve the speed issues a bit.
You may need to hit shift-refresh once to get all the updated graphics and such, but thereafter I hope you enjoy the new changes, along with more to come as mentioned. If you have any problems on any pages, or any other concerns, complaints, other thoughts (even positive ones) or requests for the future here, I hope you'll feel free to share them in comments.
Thanks for your patience as I smooth out any bumps and, as always, for your continuing support, without which we'd have never even made it this far.
Given the primary in PA this week and other considerations, as I noted then, it seemed wiser for me to stay back here in LA rather than travel to and from DC this week. So I asked computer security expert and e-voting specialist Dr. Rebecca Mercuri to sit in for us. She did so yesterday, and will be joining Peter B. Collins and me tonight on his radio show, during my weekly Friday guest appearance (5pm PT, 8pm ET, listen online here) to report on how things went.
I was, at least, able to submit my own written statement to the EAC, with my fairly direct thoughts on the VVSG and the nightmare such federal certification standards have wrought. The statement is now posted [PDF] at the EAC website, along with some of the statements from some of the other participants, and it's also posted in full below.
I'll try to update this item with the audio from the PBC show later tonight, and Dr. Mercuri will likely post her own report in full here at The BRAD BLOG in the coming days.
Update: Audio from the PBC Show, with myself and Dr. Mercuri discussing the EAC roundtable, now available for download [MP3], or online listening here (commercials removed, appx 42 mins)...
My written testimony/statement to the EAC follows in full below. Please enjoy, and feel free to let me know what you think in comments...
We were both pleased and mildly surprised to see the invitation arrive from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) a few weeks back, asking us to come to DC, on their dime, to participate this coming Thursday in a one day "Voting Advocate Roundtable Discussion" on the proposed 2007 federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG).
Our invitation, from EAC Chair Rosemary Rodriguez, is posted at the end of this article.
Even while we've been nothing short of merciless in our criticism of the EAC, over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, the outreach is both welcome and appreciated, even as we are always very aware of all of the pitfalls associated with participating in such a process. Yet, with our eyes wide open, we see the opportunity to participate in the process, in hopes --- futile or otherwise --- of attempting to steer it back towards the rails which were jumped at the federal level long ago, as a hopefully positive one. Call us eternal optimists, but, as long time readers here likely recognize, we have never been one to slap down an olive branch offered, for whatever reason it may have been offered in the first place.
For a number of reasons, not the least of which was today's important primary in PA, we thought it better to be in or near the BRAD BLOG Anchor Desk this week, rather than in the air all day Wednesday, off the grid all day Thursday for the meeting, and back in the air all day Friday...
If the mass media ever did its job, Brad Friedman could go back to his former life, the one before 2004 when election scandals became his full-time vocation...
We're greatly appreciative of Campana's coverage. Not only because he's very kind to us, but because --- as a total of four of his stories filed over the last two days reveal --- he has actually done what so few corporate journalists seem able to do today: Actual journalism.
Before we saw the piece mentioned above today, we had kind words about his coverage yesterday of the wholly under-reported Hart InterCivic federal fraud suit. But beyond that detailed piece, his follow-up story today and "related coverage" offered on both days has been top-notch. Here are links to each of his stories today and yesterday...
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what journalism is supposed to look like. And yes, if we had a few more hundred (we'd settle for a few more dozen) like Campana, we'd be more than thrilled to go back to what we were doing prior to falling into this remarkable American Nightmare. We look forward to the day we can take down our shingle entirely and leave all of the heavy lifting to folks like him who actually get paid to do this stuff.
(But until then, whatever support you can afford to help keep us going is appreciated...You are all we've actually got. So, please see below, and please keep spreading the word.)
Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!
Sitting in this week for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, David Bender joins Ring of Fire co-host/attorney Mike Papantonio to discuss, in the first five minutes of the show, the finally-unsealed qui tam fraud suit brought by Pap and RFK Jr's law firms against voting machine company Hart InterCivic, on behalf of former employee/computer technician turned whistleblower William Singer.
We had originally broken Singer's remarkable story back in 2006. Our conversations shortly thereafter with Kennedy, and then with Papantonio's lawfirm, led to the filing of the suit, alleging a host of improprieties and criminally fraudulent behavior by the voting machine company as they dummied up voting machines during sales presentations, and concealed known failures, such as the possibilities of lost and miscounted votes, in their systems.
Pap also notes, during discussion of the case, that the nearly-two years it had to stay sealed by law --- while the DoJ ate up time in deciding whether or not to join the case --- is unusual in and of itself. Normally, in such qui tam cases, the DoJ is given just 60 days to decide whether or not to join with the whistleblower on behalf of the United States. Pap also goes on to note what may, or may not, be a coincidence: the US Attorney in CO, where the suit was filed, was removed shortly after this case was brought in his district, but before the decision was ultimately made by the DoJ not to join the suit...For now...
UPDATE: Here is an audio version of the first five minutes of the show, for those who had problems using the video player above...
Military Report: Secretly 'Recruit or Hire Bloggers'
A study written for U.S. Special Operations Command suggested "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers."
Since the start of the Iraq war, there's been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs --- and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops' time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers
blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary
troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.
This 2006 report for the Joint Special Operations University, "Blogs and Military Information Strategy," offers a third approach --- co-opting bloggers, or even putting them on the payroll. "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering," write the report's co-authors, James Kinniburgh and Dororthy Denning.
Seriously, people. Why won't somebody please buy me off?! I'm a "prominent blogger," or close enough to it. I'm starving over here. Where are you, CIA? Military? George Soros? It's tax time for crying out loud, and rent is due!
In lieu of the big bucks, hopefully you will consider buying me off. Therefore, with plenty of premiums to "sell" you in return, I am now cutting the price for 'em!
See this post for how you can receive your choice of any or all of the following, beginning at just $5...
DVD of Uncounted, signed by the filmmaker, David Earnhardt
CD of Duhmocracy, signed by the singer/songwriter Victoria Parks
Copy of Politics as Usual board game, signed by nobody (though I'll sign it if you really want me to!)
Take your pick from the premiums above, most available beginning at just $5/month sustaining subscription to The BRAD BLOG. We could use it. Seriously.
...At least until Wal-Mart, Diebold, or the U.S. Army come knocking.
And if you don't wish to become a sustaining monthly supporter but still want to support, you can, of course, just toss us a few bucks. We'll take that too. $50 or more tossed this way, will get you that signed copy of Uncounted, a gazillion dollar value!