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By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2008 11:57am PT  

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"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2008 1:48pm PT  

"Mission: To encourage citizen ownership
of transparent, participatory democracy."

- Creekside Declaration, 3/22/08

The statement is deceptively simple. Yet I think it best underscores all that we fight for here, and what we hope those who claim to be toiling for the same cause will measure themselves against.

I was privileged to spend last weekend with a dozen or so Election Integrity advocates and heroes of mine in Palo Alto, CA, at the Creekside Inn. Those in attendance had experience in election administration, data analysis, media watchdogging, voting rights activism, voter advocacy, computer programming and security, boots-on-the-ground oversight, election auditing, and even voting system vendor perspective. We stayed, after viewing the near-final cut of Dorothy Fadiman's soon-to-be-released Stealing America: Vote by Vote on Thursday night, to chat, strategize, and otherwise spend some time in person with a few of the folks we so often spend only virtual time with.

The declaration was created as several of us determined it would be helpful to define the cause as specifically and directly as possible. Once it was finalized, I signed it first, in large letters, as the Hancock legend goes, "so that King George can read it without his glasses."

My hope is that anyone --- any person or organization, or even candidate for office, claiming to be in the fight for clean, fair, honest, accurate democracy --- would both commit to this simply stated mission, and then measure his or her efforts against it.

Will People for the American Way, Common Cause, Verified Voting, and Rep. Rush Holt sign on to the mission stated above? If so, does advocating for touch-screen voting systems with so-called "paper trails" encourage citizen ownership of transparent, participatory democracy? Does vote-by-mail?

Will our current crop of Presidential candidates, D and R and anything else, pledge to support the mission inherent in the Creekside Declaration? If so, will they then stand up for a paper ballot --- one that is actually counted --- for every vote cast in America?

The BRAD BLOG pledges to adhere, and fight for, the values contained in the Creekside Declaration. Will your Election Integrity group do so? I hope you will ask them, and yourselves. And if so, I hope you'll state as much publicly, and will then proceed to test all that you do, and fight for, and stand for, against the simple, yet monumentally important, ideas in that declaration.

Tribune Media Columnist Bob Koehler, who joined us over the weekend, is one of the few voices within the corporate mainstream media who seem to truly understand what's at stake, the price it may take to ensure it, and the cost of not doing so. He has more in his column this week, on both the weekend, the declaration, and the ideals that I believe we are all duty-bound, as Americans --- and even as World Citizens --- to pledge to fight for.

His column begins this way:

The ground feels a little soft, but we’re going to stand it.

Premise one: Having a fair election — all votes counted, all who are eligible and want to vote allowed to vote — is far, far more important, even in 2008, than who wins.

Premise two: Fair elections are not a given. They never have been, but things are worse now than ever before because of a perfect storm, you might say, of factors that have converged in the new millennium: officialdom’s seduction by unsafe, high-tech voting systems; the seizure of power by a party of ruthless true believers who feel entitled to rule and will do anything to win; a polite, confused opposition party that won’t make a stink about raw injustice; and an arrogantly complacent media embedded in the political and economic status quo.

The result: Benjamin Franklin’s worst nightmare.

I hope you'll read the rest...

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Syndicated Columnist Robert Koehler Writes for Tomorrow's Papers: 'Possibility of Tainted Results, a Prospect Most of Media Can't Bear'
Notes Problems With NH's Diebold Machines 'Remain Unsolved'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2008 4:35pm PT  

Syndicated Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler bumps up our serious concerns about last night's wholly untransparent, and still-uncounted (by anything but a hackable Diebold computer, and a company with an executive criminal past, to say the least) New Hampshire Primary election results, from "blogger conspiracy theory" to mainstream media concern.

Here are the first few grafs of his column, set to run in tomorrow's editions of subscribing mainstream media papers...

PRIMARY CONCERNS
By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services

As the breathless sports coverage of the presidential primaries bursts around me this morning, I’m doing my best to resist surrendering to the contrived drama about “comeback kids” and the flying shrapnel of numbers and hold onto my troubled skepticism about the electoral process, or at least most of it.

First of all, before we get too enthusiastic about feminist solidarity or wax knowingly about New Hampshire Democrats’ traditional soft-heartedness toward the Clinton family, let’s ponder yet again the possibility of tainted results, which is such an unfun prospect most of the media can’t bear to remember that all the problems we’ve had with electronic voting machines — and Diebold machines in particular, which dominate New Hampshire polling places — remain unsolved.

Did the Hillary campaign really defy the pollsters? She had been trailing Barack Obama by 13 percentage points, 42 to 29, in a recent Zogby poll, as election watchdog Brad Friedman pointed out. And the weekend’s “rapturous packed rallies for Mr. Obama,” as the New York Times put it, “suggested Mrs. Clinton was in dire shape.”

So when she emerged from the Tuesday primary with an 8,000-vote and 3-percentage-point victory over Obama, perhaps — considering the notorious unreliability, not to mention hackability, of Diebold machines — the media might have hoisted a few red flags in the coverage, rather than immediately chalk the results up to Clinton’s tears and voter unpredictability. (Oh, if only more reporters considered red flags patriotic.)

The fact is, whatever actually happened in New Hampshire voting booths on Tuesday, our elections are horrifically insecure. For instance, Bev Harris, of the highly respected voting watchdog organization Black Box Voting, recently wrote that the Diebold 1.94w optical scan machines used in some 55 percent of New Hampshire precincts (representing more than 80 percent of the state’s voters) are “the exact same make, model and version hacked in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County (Florida)” a few years ago. They haven’t been upgraded; the security problems haven’t been fixed.

National, or at least media, denial about this situation doesn’t say much for the strength of our democracy.

The rest of the column is just as good, in which he discusses the MSM's "inability to incorporate news of ongoing voting-machine insecurity into actual election coverage."

Full column now posted here...

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The Astute E&P Watchdogs Stay Alert While the Mainstream Media They Watch Stay Asleep...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2005 11:38am PT  

Dave Astor of the excellent and respected Editor & Publisher covers two matters we've discussed here recently.

Last night he did a quick item on the Ann Coulter/Lydia Cornell outrage. For the record, Coulter still has Lydia's private information posted publicly on her website some 48 hours after it was posted there. She has been asked politely to remove it. She has chosen not to.

As Cornell pointed out in her response yesterday, that sort of thing helped Bill O'Reilly blow his stack recently when he thought (incorrectly, of course) that a "liberal" group had posted a private email address on their website. Of course, it doesn't take much for the increasingly unstable O'Reilly to blow his stack these days.

As well, Astor covered Robert Koehler's latest Tribune Media Services' "Poll Shock" column that we briefly reported on last week. His coverage gathers additional comments from both the Dispatch Public Affairs Editor Darrel Rowland and Koehler on the "staggeringly impossible" results of Ohio's recent Nov. 8th 2005:

Will the Dispatch look into possible fraud or malfunctions connected with electronic voting technology? "We need solid evidence that there's something untoward," replied Rowland.

I love that. It's the exact same thing we heard after the '04 Presidential Election: Once someone else finds the "solid evidence" the media will be happy to report on it. Note to Mainstream Media: It's your job to investigate the smoke and find out if there's a fire! Otherwise, what the hell do we need investigative reporters for at all? Oh, yeah. Apparently, we don't. The bloggers will do it for you. (But don't come running to us wondering why it is that your readership is falling over a cliff in the meantime!)

Koehler's reponse to Rowland in E&P:

Koehler wrote: "Why, I wonder, in a state that made a national spectacle of itself with widespread irregularities and voter disenfranchisement a year ago, would there be so little interest in investigating whether the 'voting chaos' reported by the Toledo Blade or the 'night of surprises' reported by the Dayton Daily News could have produced tainted results?"

And Koehler concluded sarcastically that "the spark won't jump in the media mind. You know: Hmm, we have widespread confusion in the voting process, a recent GAO report that cites many glaring insecurities in e-voting, and our own polls indicating big victories that turn into big defeats. Could it be? Nah! What are we thinking? This is the world's greatest democracy."

Go Bob. And thank you, E&P.

UPDATE: And speaking of Koehler, this just in from his latest column which will be published tomorrow and available then to read at this location:

"Our goal . . . is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way."

Dig up an old lie from one of George Bush's forgotten speeches and the stench is asphyxiating, as though it's coming from the rotting corpse of democracy itself. The words quoted above are from the president's inaugural address in January - the odor intensified by recent news that the president allegedly wanted to bomb the headquarters of al-Jazeera

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