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By David Edwards on 12/28/2005 2:39pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

As previously reported by BRAD BLOG, the violence quickly resumed after the Iraqi election. After preliminary results indicated that Shia-based religious parties will dominate the Iraqi parliament, Sunni's and other secular parties began massive protests demanding a re-vote.

Earlier today, the U.N. declared that the Iraqi election was "transparent and credible" and saw no reason for another vote. This has not cooled the protests and the Sunnis aren't dropping their demands.

In this video, CBS News reports that political pressures are fueling the violence in Iraq.


Video in Windows Media format
Video in QuickTime format

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By David Edwards on 12/28/2005 8:29am PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

James Carville appeared on NBC's Today Show to give his political predictions for 2006.

  • The Senate will make history by doubling the number of African-American senators. Senator Frist has said that he will not run for a third term. Carville predicts that Representative Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) will win Frist's vacated Senate seat.

  • Alito will be confirmed after a big fight in the Senate. Democrats may filibuster but Republicans will refrain from using the 'nuclear option' because it is opposed by most voters. Carville expects a large fight about Alito's position on civil rights. In the end, the Democrats don't have the numbers to block Alito's confirmation.
  • There will be major troop reductions in Iraq. While Bush claims that he will 'stay the course', the political pressure of an election year along with the Shia domination of the Iraqi government will force significant troop reductions.
  • The Abramoff scandal will result in 7 congressmen pleading guilty or being indicted. Sources say that Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with Federal prosecutors. Carville says it will be a good year for Court TV.
  • Carville predicts that the remake of "All the King's Men" will be the hottest political film of 2006... but he's also the executive producer so this is more of a plug than a prediction.

Video in Windows Media format...
Video in QuickTime format...

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By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2005 7:20pm PT  

I've seen the excellent piece by Juan Cole on the "Top 10 Myths about Iraq in 2005" linked by several blogs already, so perhaps you've already seen it. Either way, I think it's well worth linking to here and I recommend you give it a quick read if you haven't already. As Cole points out, there are many complexities in the Iraq situation, which don't necessarily translate well to the sound bites we're accustomed to in the "rough and ready, two-party American political arena."

Cole explains some of those complexities in a very straightforward and informative fashion. Amongst the one or two of the myths that jumped out at me, personally, and have been driving me crazy when I hear them repeated by wingnuts on both TV and in comments here...

7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East. The constitution made Islam the religion of state. It stipulates that the civil parliament may pass no legislation that contradicts the established laws of Islam. It looks forward to clerics serving on court benches. It allows individuals to opt out of secular, civil personal status laws (for marriage, divorce, alimony, inheritance) and to choose relgious canon law instead. Islamic law gives girls, e.g., only half the amount of inheritance received by their brothers. Instead of a federal government, the constitution establishes a loose supervisory role for Baghdad and devolves most powers, including claims on future oil finds, on provinces and provincial confederacies, such that it is difficult to see how the country will be able to hold together.

Got that? Okay, good. So --- wingnuts --- please spare me the crap about how wonderful it is that your man Bush has finally brought democracy and freedom for all to the Middle East. You may be willing to bullshit yourselves, but please don't bother to try and wipe that stench off on me.

In another section of Cole's rather fair and rather balanced assessment, from which both "sides" of the American political food-fight are bound to harvest fresh ammo, is this:

far more Sunni Arabs support the guerrilla movement today than supported it in September of 2004, and more supported it in September of 2004 than had in September of 2003.

Got that one, too? The "terrorists" are increasing, not decreasing vis a vis this pathetically run charade.

Finally, the myth that "The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq" is quickly dispatched by Cole as "simply not true". But the still-more maddening piece of this bit of treacherous wingnut mythology, refers back to the point above about the increasing insurgency. In giving the real history of the Bush Administration's various flip-flops throughout the American occupation in regards to holding free and fair democratic elections in Iraq, Cole points out how the Bushies played their cave to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani (who had demanded free elections back in late 2003) in order to avoid troubles that might effect Bush's own election back here in America. The results of Bush's personal political power play meant the insurgency was allowed to grow worse, so Bush might be allowed to be elected in 2004:

Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to January 2005. This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos

Lovely. And Team Bush has the unmitigated gall to accuse Democrats of "playing politics" with the Iraq War?! Puh-lease.

Check out all 10 of the myths as explained by someone who actually knows what's going on on the ground. How refreshing.

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By John Gideon on 12/27/2005 5:11pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

There is very little in the news today. I know there is a lot happening because I have been busy all day today; it's just not getting into the news yet....

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

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(And Everybody Else Who Stands in the Way of Their 'Christian' Agenda)
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2005 11:53am PT  

Now that the War on Christmas is finally over (picture me kissing some random woman in Times Square amidst tons of falling confetti to celebrate VC Day!), shouldn't O'Reilly's War on Chanukah be getting under way? We've got at least 7 days left to object to all of those still-hanging "Happy Holidays!" and "Merry Christmas!" banners at Sears and Target to offend those who believe this is a Judeo-Christian country as the X-Warriors have been claiming for the last several weeks (whenever they are "politically correct" enough to add that "Judeo" part, anyway).

But don't hold your breath for the Maccabean Troops to begin their Fox "News" Circus offensive any time soon. That whole "we support Jews and Israel" thing is (surprise!) just another Rightwing ruse for more votes to further entrench their Christo-Governmental agenda. And if those pesky Christ Killers don't watch it, the Wingnuts may just declare they're not the "Jew Lovers" they've been pretending to be after all!

For you Jews out there who still support the Rightwing Nuts and Christian-Right Religious Zealots (by no means mutually exclusive groups) under the misleading pretense that "they are strong supporters of Israel" take a look at what Media Matters reported last week on recent comments made by Don Wildmon, the President of the extremist religio-political group calling itself The American Family Association.

In reply to to the Anti-Defamation League President, Abraham H. Foxman, who had been critical of Christian Right groups attempting to "Christianize America" Wildmon recently said:

"Well, all right then. If that's the way you feel, then we just won't support Israel anymore."

Wow. Talk about your fair weather "friends".

The Wingnuts --- in whom various Jewish folks have given their support in a Faustian bargain (and that would include several members of my own family!) --- may act as if they are supporters of Israel. But make no mistake, it is not because they are supporters of the Jews.

Any such belief or support for such cynical wingnuttery is wholly misplaced as I have tried to point out for some time. Wildmon's comments above illustrate that fact nicely.

Now if someone would just inform the apparently just-plain-insane Jew, Don Feder of "Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation" that he's being played for a chump by these cretins. Ghengis Don, as he proudly calls himself, recently told his wingnut "press" pals that "America is a Christian Nation." Oh, well...

P.S. The fickle Wildmon and his American Family Ass. have also put Wingnut Sen. Rick Santorum --- of all people --- on notice too! It seems you just can't please some "American" "Families".

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By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2005 11:05pm PT  

Courtesy of Tom Tomorrow...

(Speaking of the above...keep your eyes on that li'l countdown clock on the top right of every BRAD BLOG page. I'm just sayin'.)

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By John Gideon on 12/26/2005 4:41pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

The news today is sparse, to say the least, with news mainly from Connecticut and Pennsylvania, two states that are still trying to figure out what the future of their voting will look like....

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

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2100+ American Troops Dead! 15,000+ Wounded! 30,000+ Iraqis Dead! 300 Billion American Tax-Payer Dollars Spent! Country Inches Ever Closer to Civil War!
Go Team America!
By Brad Friedman on 12/26/2005 2:12pm PT  

Regular BRAD BLOG comment trolls (well, one at least, with little better to do, apparently, then jerk-off to hot Fox News Alerts) have criticized us for lack of coverage of the recent so-called "Historic" Iraqi elections. (Even, we should note, while they don't seem to give a damn about our own American electoral system in desperate tatters.)

We apologize for the oversight.

So congratulations to the Iraqi Shiite Mullahs who have gained control of the country's parliament with the singular help of $300 billion in tax payer dollars ("That's your money, you should get to keep it." - GWB) and at the expense of more than 2100+ American lives!

Yeah, Team America! Spreading Freedom and Democracy around the globe!

The BRAD BLOG congratulates George W. Bush for his unwaivering optimism and steely resolve in "staying the course" in light of all those freedom-hating Liberal nay-sayers who didn't believe that another Iran in the Middle East was such a great idea. You sure showed them!

But the biggest congratulations of all, are reserved for Iraq's new leader! The peace, freedom and democracy-loving Muqtada al-Sadr!

CONGRATULATIONS! Way to go, Muqtada!

Or, to quote from the 'Iraq Rising' blog (oft-linked by Neo-Con wingnut blogs, btw) as run by a "Pro-Liberation" Iraqi, here's what he posted a few days ago:

Congratulations America,

welcome to the Islamic devided wartorn republic of Shit hole Iraq.. Watch your Petrol Gas pomp prices go up.. A bunch off idiots, the whole lot of ya....

Iraq Rising.. More like Iraq dying..

Blogg closed.

Of course, if you've been paying attention to the under-reported rumblings out of Iraq, you know that the pro-Western(ish) factions (well, the factions that the American government supports anyway, like the one-time CIA asset, one-time prime minister, Ayad Allawi) performed miserably in the election. And they, like the Sunni's who also didn't care for the results, are now rumbling about armed rebellion against the newly elected theocratic majority in parliament as the country inches ever closer towards finally setting a very hot match to the powder keg of full-blown civil war that continues to loom.

All of that, while Christians in the country are reportedly fleeing to Syria and elsewhere. Ironic, as Juan Cole points out, as "the secular Arab nationalist regimes like the Syrian Baath have typically been favorable to local Christians, since they downplay religious identity." (But we'll get them next!) It was not an especially very merry for the Christians who still remained in Iraq this year.

Even the wingnut Pajamas Media is having a tough time finding anybody amongst their bevvy of Pro-War bloggers who are happy about the results. (UPDATE: For more on the Rightwing Welfare to Pajamas Media bloggers, see Jane's thoughts today, btw.)

But, hey, who can forget those purple fingers, huh?! What a triumph!!!

So much for "Peace on Earth"...Oh, well, we tried. It was Christmas. So we tried.

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A Look Back at the Most Notable Stories from the Week That Was In Our Continually Crumbling Democracy...
By John Gideon on 12/25/2005 5:25pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon, of VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

As an introduction, the "DVN Top 5" is a feature in the weekly voting newsletter of VoteTrustUSA. The December 19 edition can be found here. The selection of what will be the "Top 5" for each week and where it goes on the list is all mine. The fact that you may disagree with my choices is great because it shows that you have been reading the DVN articles that I've posted throughout the week here on The BRAD BLOG!...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/25/2005 12:07pm PT  

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By John Gideon on 12/24/2005 5:10pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

There is not much in the way of new news today. I guess this is to be expected. Have a great Christmas. ...

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

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Yellow Dog Blog Calls it Hands Down for Ritter...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2005 12:26pm PT  

"I am as opposed to this war as strongly as one can possibly be against this war," said Ritter firmly. "I cannot come up with one justification worthy of a single American life for why we're in Iraq. And we cannot solve Iraq until we get some answers about the war's foundation. And, I'll tell you right now, it's the most corrupt foundation imaginable."
...
Ritter ended the debate with passion that brought the most enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.

"This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," he said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American."

From Bob Geiger's excellent coverage of the recent debate between Scott Ritter and Christopher Hitchens. By Geiger's account at least, it sounds like Ritter cleaned Hitchens' clock. (A clock, we might add, which could well use some cleaning...even if a filthy, dirty, broken one still manages to be right twice a day.)

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By John Gideon on 12/23/2005 8:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of the readers of "Daily Voting News" a wonderful holiday season. As long as there is voting news over this weekend DVN will continue to publish it. It is with a mixture of sadness and immense pride in my associate of over two years that I post this announcement regarding VotersUnite: "December 23, 2005. After two years of providing the public with accurate information about voting systems and related issues, Ellen Theisen is now working toward election transparency in a different way - by offering the Vote-PAD as an accessible alternative to computerized voting devices. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Ellen is terminating her association with VotersUnite.Org, effective immediately." In today's news the AP has announced that the SoS of CA has warned ES&S about problems with their voting machines and has threatened that proceedings to decertify will begin if the problems are not solved....

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

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Letter from SoS to Voting Machine Co. Warns of Numerous Problems Discovered on Touch-Screen, Optical Scan Machines!
State Senator Outraged, Comments to BRAD BLOG, Calls for Full Release of Information by State!...And Releases Statement on Related Matters...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2005 5:05pm PT  

Holy cow...perhaps this explains why California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson suddenly started turning inexplicably back to Diebold some time around mid-November of this year after having decertified them already back in 2004, and then finding them to have failed massively in a recent mock election test over the summer.

"Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking," half-joked State Senator Debra Bowen to The BRAD BLOG upon reading the following astounding new story.

AP's Juliet Williams reports today on a letter written by McPherson's office to voting machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) after the recent Special Election here on Nov. 8th. The letter documents a number of very serious problems discovered on ES&S voting equipment during the election. Apparently the SoS threatened ES&S with decertification in the bargain, similar to the one Diebold faced in the state back in 2004 under the previous Sec. of State Kevin Shelley...

SACRAMENTO - California election officials have told one of the country's largest manufacturers of voting machines to repair its software after problems with vote counts and verification surfaced during California's November special election.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Bradley J. Clark threatened to start the process of decertifying Election Systems and Software machines for use in California if senior officials didn't address the concerns immediately.

"The California Secretary of State is deeply concerned about problems experienced by counties utilizing ES&S voting equipment and software," Clark wrote in a letter addressed to company president Aldo Tesi nine days after the Nov. 8 election.

Software problems included incorrect counting of turnout figures, a malfunction that prevented voters from verifying that their choices were registered accurately and one machine recording the wrong vote during a test, according to the letter.

Eleven California counties used the company's voting machines during the special election. Election Systems and Software equipment also is used in 45 other states.

The problems in California are similar to ones the company has experienced elsewhere. During a 2004 primary election in Hawaii, glitches with the company's optical scanners led to a miscount of about 6,000 votes.
...
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson declined to elaborate further on the Election Day mishaps, the problems discussed in the letter or the company's assertion that state officials are pleased with its proposed solutions.

In other words, it's none of the voters damned business what problems occurred in their own elections just five weeks ago! And had Williams not discovered the letter, none of the citizens in California, or for that matter States and Counties around the country --- all of whom are making their last minute decisions on which vendors to sign with prior to the Jan 1, 2006 HAVA deadline --- would have ever known about any of these problems with ES&S machinery!

CA State Senator Debra Bowen, who has been a leader in the state on issues of election integrity, was clearly irked upon reading this news, as reflected in this comment she just shared with The BRAD BLOG, asking [emphasis hers]: "WHY IS IT THAT WE HAVE BEEN IN THE DARK ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH ES&S FOR FIVE WEEKS?"

She went on to call on the SoS to release all pertinent information on these matters in her missive:

When is the public entitled to know? This kind of secrecy is completely unacceptable.

I call on the Secretary of State to immediately release all correspondence to all vendors, and all documentation related to the certification of any and all voting equipment and voting systems. Information about problems with voting machines should not have been delayed long enough to become a lump of coal in California's Christmas stocking.

As well, she promised to reiterate those concerns with a "formal request" in her official capacity soon.

Yet, there's still more that SoS's office doesn't feel, apparently, that voter's have the right to know. Back to the AP coverage:

Clark's letter said that on Nov. 8 a state monitoring team "experienced an alarming error on the iVotronic system in Merced County, where a voter chose one candidate but the vote was recorded for another candidate. This error is documented on videotape and demonstrates that it was not an operator error, but was, rather, an error in the system."
...
Fields said company officials have reviewed the state's videotape and blamed the problem on the tester's long fingernails.
...
"The iVotronic touch screens are designed to be used by soft-touched objects," he said. "We do not recommend sharp, hard objects like a stylus, a pen or fingernails."

Lovely. A device created to be used by touching the screen with ones finger, won't work if fingernails are used. Good thinking!

In all honesty, however, the entire "fingernail" defense from ES&S sounds like a bunch of nonsense to us. Once again, we've got a documented and video-taped report of "Vote Hopping", not unlike the thousands of similar reports that American's testified to back in November of 2004 after the Presidential Election --- only to be dismissed and called "conspiracy theorists" later when they testified to the incidents, and signed official affidavits along with it.

And just a bit more from the article:

According to the secretary of state's letter, other problems discovered in California Nov. 8 include:

_ The company's software incorrectly counting the total turnout figures for counties that used multiple ballot cards: "This problem was a recurrence of a problem experienced by your customers in November 2004; you have had a year to correct this known problem, and have not done so," the letter stated.
...
_ The touch-screen machine used in Merced County did not properly display the summary of votes, "making it impossible for voters to confirm their vote choices in those contests," the letter stated.

We had more on the troubles with the ES&S company --- just in case they were under the impression that Diebold deserved all the BRAD BLOG "love" --- in this previous item.

Between ES&S and Diebold, the two companies currently tally more than 80% of America's votes. They have each been run by two brothers named Urosevich. And while Diebold, Inc. in total, is a larger company than ES&S, the latter is actually a larger provider of Voting Systems and Machinery around the country.

AP's Williams deserves big props her reporting here! So...thank you to her! Please put us out of "business" entirely! And soon if you don't mind!

On further related matters from Sen. Bowen, who is running for Sec. of State in 2006 herself, she's been a rather busy bee of late, even if everyone else in Sacramento has already knocked off for the holidays.

A "Letter to the Editor" of hers was published in today's Tallahassee Democrat down in Florida, lauding Leon County's Ion Sancho for his leadership on the recent Diebold "Hack Test" which revealed that an Electronic Election could be entirely flipped by a hacker without as much as a trace being left behind.

As well, she issued a press release late yesterday spelling out how California's law requiring Voting Machine Companies to place their source code in escrow is virtually identical to the law in North Carolina which Diebold yesterday said they could not abide by and thus stated their intention to withdraw from the state completely. If that was the case in NC, suggests Bowen, then apparently Diebold needs to withdraw from CA as well.

She also states her serious concerns about the so-called "Independent Testing Authority" (not so "independent", they're chosen and paid for by the Voting Machine Vendors, and not so "authoritative" since they seem to rubber-stamp just about anything the companies send to them!) The ITA's are supposed to certify all of this software and hardware on the Federal level. Recently, as Bowen points out, Sec. of State McPherson opted to "punt" the matter of Diebold's hackable memory cards back to the ITA rather than doing what Sancho did; Simply decertify them and their crappy machines once and for all from all further elections!

As her press release on the ITA matters has not yet been published anywhere as far as we know, we offer her our Christmas gift by doing so here, in full, below...Happy Holidays, Senator...We look forward to coming to Sacramento in '07 for your Inaugural as the next California SoS...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2005 9:35pm PT  

The widely-read inside-the-beltway "Hotline" from National Journal notices our series of reports, of late, and seems to recognize (finally) that there may be something rotten in the State of Diebold.

They "assign" further coverage on these matters to Tom Edsall (WaPo), Scott Shane (NY Times), Sharon Theimer (AP), Mark Memmott (USA Today), and Bloomberg News. We'll see who takes them up on it.

Any of the above may feel free to contact me if they'd like to know where a few of the bodies are buried. I'm happy to help. And, otherwise, here's a friendly starter page to help fill you in on on what you missed "while you were out."

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