Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
Those conspiracy theorists over at Scientific American just refuse to move on and get over it.
Here's the latest headline from those whackos: "Planning to E-Vote? Read This First", subtitled "With less than three months before the presidential election, the hotly contested state, Ohio, along with others, continue to have problems with E-voting technology."
The tin-foil hatters over there (so-called scientists) have the temerity to report stuff like this:
"None of the systems out there are even remotely adequate given the importance of the data they handle," says Patrick McDaniel, a Penn State professor of information security who led the EVEREST testing [on behalf of the state of Ohio]. A lot of the attacks that McDaniel and his team tested could be carried out at a polling place or county elections office in a matter of seconds. An example: when researchers placed a piece of white tape over part of an e-voting system's scanner, they were able to effectively block it from reading the entire ballot. ... The team also found that the keys to unlock Hart's ballot box could also be used to open the ballot boxes on the Premier [Diebold] systems.
Addendum: To those who didn't get it, yes, my comments above about "conspiracy theorists" were, in fact, satirical. The SA article is right on target, a must-read, and concurs with virtually everything we've been trying to get across here on The BRAD BLOG for about 4 years straight. Even as we, ironically, were tarred by the democracy-haters as "conspiracy theorists". Hope that clarifies.
Today’s general news has articles about an expanded post-election audit in Connecticut. SOS Bysiewicz has ordered an audit of the results of the August 12 primary. This audit will be of 33% of the precincts. This audit plan had input from UConn. We congratulate the state for taking this step.
Meanwhile in Ohio Secretary of State Brunner has taken a huge step toward securing the voting machines in her state. She has outlawed all "sleepovers" of voting systems at poll workers homes prior to election day. We congratulate the Secretary for taking this step....
Glenn Greenwald returns from his vacation rested and ready to keep up his devastating work on the anthrax beat over at Salon. On Monday, he noted how the FBI's timeline for the supposed Anthrax Killer, Bruce Ivans' trip to mail deadly letters in Princeton, NJ, was literally impossible. So the FBI just leaked a different theory to the Washington Post, who had uncritically reported their first one. Again, the new theory was dutifully passed on uncritically, without the reporters even bothering to note that their first reported theory was wholly debunked.
Writes Greenwald (in reference to the Post here, but feel free to replace its name with virtually any other MSM outlet of your choice):
That's because The Post's role here has been and continues to be what the establishment media's role generally is --- to serve government sources and amplify their claims, not to investigate their veracity. That's how it was Saddam Hussein who was the original anthrax culprit, followed by Steven Hatfill, and now Bruce Ivins. It's how Jessica Lynch heroically fought off Iraqi goons in a firefight, how Pat Tillman stood down Al Qaeda monsters until they murdered him, how Iraq possessed mountains of WMDs, and now, how Russia has assaulted the consensus values of the Western World by invading a sovereign country and occupying parts of it for a whole week, etc. etc. All of those narratives came from the Government directly into the pages of The Washington Post, which then uncritically conveyed them, often (as in the case of the Jessica Lynch lies and WMD claims) playing a leading role in doing so.
He then follows up with this eerily all-too familiar refrain, at least for me and likely most long time BRAD BLOG readers:
Similarly, here is an Associated Press article from last week, by AP's Matt Apuzzo, purporting to report on what it admits are many "meticulously researched" questions that have been raised (including by me) about the FBI's case, yet repeatedly demonizes such skepticism with these phrases, laced throughout the article: "the ingredients for a good conspiracy theory"; "skeptics and conspiracy theorists"; "armchair investigators, bloggers and scientists"; "one of the great conspiracy theories, like whether we landed on the moon or whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone"; "anti-Jewish writers blame the attack on a Zionist plot"; "You can't prove aliens didn't mail the letters."
Welcome to my world, Glenn.
As always, in Establishment Media World, nothing is more insane or radical than refusing to believe every word the Government says. Even after Iraqi mushroom clouds and the whole litany of Government falsehoods, the establishment hallmark of Seriousness and Sanity is accepting the Government's word. When it says Iraq was behind the attacks, then it was. When they said Hatfill was the culprit, he was. Now that they say that Ivins is, he is, and only "conspiracy theorists" --- comparable to those who disbelieve we landed on the moon --- would question that or demand to see the actual evidence. The FBI is relying, understandably so, on their mindless allies in the media to depict its case against Ivins as so airtight that no real investigation is necessary.
Glad to hear it's not just us. Apparently, we're now in very good company, even as our Outlaw Nation continues to crumble around us. To the corporate MSM, however, everything is just fine.
Now, as the coverage fades and the story once again threatens to head for obscurity (despite doubts about Ivins's role in the attacks), I thought it might be worth mentioning a few questions that came to my mind as I read through recent coverage --- not on Ivins's guilt or innocence, but on matters that are so much a part of our American landscape that normally no one even thinks to ask about them.
His overall thesis is encapsulated in the first question:
Why wasn't the Bush administration's War on Terror modus operandi applied to the anthrax case?
Engelhardt first cites the hardships that suspects endured during the course of the investigation:
On August 10th, William J. Broad and Scott Shane reported on some of the human costs of the FBI anthrax investigation in a front-page New York Times piece headlined, "For Suspects, Anthrax Case Had Big Costs, Scores of the Innocent in a Wide F.B.I. Net." They did a fine job of establishing that those who serially came under suspicion had a tough time of it: "lost jobs, canceled visas, broken marriages, frayed friendships." According to the Times (and others), under the pressure of FBI surveillance, several had their careers wrecked; most were interviewed and re-interviewed numerous times in a "heavy-handed" manner, as well as polygraphed; some were tailed and trailed, their homes searched, and their workplaces ransacked.
Under the pressure of FBI "interest," anthrax specialist and "biodefense insider" Perry Mikesell evidently turned into an alcoholic and drank himself to death. Steven Hatfill, while his life was being turned inside out, had an agent trailing him in a car run over his foot, for which, Broad and Shane add, he, not the agent, was issued a ticket. And finally, of course, Dr. Ivins, growing ever more distressed and evidently ever less balanced, committed suicide on the day his lawyer was meeting with the FBI about a possible plea bargain that could have left him in jail for life, but would have taken the death penalty off the table.
But he then offers a chilling reminder of how Bush's War on Terror affected those accused of far less than masterminding the deadliest bio-terror attack on U.S. soil in our nation's history...
The Executive Summary of a new report from VotersUnite.Org, and our Featured article, begins: “As we approach the 2008 general election, the structure of elections in the United States — once reliant on local representatives accountable to the public — has become almost wholly dependent on large corporations, which are not accountable to the public. Most local officials charged with running elections are now unable to administer elections without the equipment, services, and trade-secret software of a small number of corporations.
If the vendors withdrew their support for elections now, our election structure would collapse.
However, some states and localities are recognizing the threat that vendor-dependency poses to elections. They are using ingenuity and determination to begin reversing the direction.”...
A lot of voting zeitgeist in the media of late. What took ya so long, folks? Wanted to wait until it was largely too damned late to do anything about it? Same story. New year.
In any case, on the road to Denver right now, so time enough only to round up some of the most notable must-reads on everything from: The GOP "voter fraud" scam growing in intensity between here and November (a theme I'll also be discussing in my column for the UK's Guardian this week); Election officials finally acknowledging their machines don't work, but remaining unwilling to correctly place the blame or otherwise do much about it; Faint glimmers of actual improvement at the previously dreadful U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC); A bit of news from the "Rove Cybergate" election fraud case in OH, and; The one phrase you'll want to get very well familiar with between here and November 2 (hint: my name is in it, but it has nothing to do with me.)
MCCAIN: Could I --- are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention --
WARREN: We will get to that.
MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.
WARREN: You're jumping ahead...
The McCain campaign is fighting hard against charges that McCain cheated on the rules of debate at a rightwing evangelical forum in a California megachurch over the weekend by cribbing the questions in advance. They are so desperate, apparently, that a McCain operative even played the POW card, citing McCain's imprisonment by the Vietnamese 40 years ago as evidence somehow that he did not cheat Saturday night.
Even "Pastor Rick" Warren, the multimillionaire evangelist who hosted the event --- and who clearly favored McCain in the questioning --- has admitted that despite his assertion to the audience that McCain was sequestered in a "cone of silence" during the live session with Obama, McCain was, in fact, in his car during much of Obama's session, where he certainly could have listened to the interview.
And this exchange from the forum appears to indicate that McCain knew that Warren was going to ask him a very specific question about the Supreme Court. Notice how McCain asks if he can go "back" to a question about the court:
There were two interesting admissions in yesterday’s New York Times article and today’s “Featured” article. Chris Nelson, Secretary of State of South Dakota, admitted that the voting machines used in his state for voters with disabilities do not always mark ballots accurately. Also election officials in Chicago admit their voting machines do not always accurately count the vote. Both jurisdictions admit inaccurate vote counting by their voting machines yet neither of them has done anything about it. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates that accurate voting systems be used in our elections. These, and other comments about the NYTimes article, are discussed in the second “Featured” article....
The New York Times has again given a platform to the voting machine vendors to voice their displeasure with a system that is forcing them to actually provide voting systems that are fully tested and certified. The vendors, and some election officials, seem to want to continue the old system of poorly tested and rubber-stamped voting systems counting our votes.
In his article, Ian Urbina, quotes Jennifer Brunner, who says:
“We need the federal oversight to create consistent standards and to hold the manufacturers to a certain level of quality, but we also have to be able to get the equipment when we need it. Right now, that equipment is not coming, and we’re left making contingency plans.”
If Brunner expects high quality and consistent standards, all she needs to do is look to the vendors and question them on why they put out a product that fails in testing. Her state's recent countersuit of Premier/Diebold was a start, but why did she wait until she was sued by the vendor before taking that step? As we asked recently, why did she ignore the pleadings of Election Integrity Attorneys and computer scientists who counseled her to file a suit against Premier/Diebold for breach of contract for so long?
Brunner also needs to question the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) qualification system (most often referred to as "federal certification" by most officials and vendors) and those involved in the process as to why they allowed non-compliant voting systems to be given their stamp of approval on behalf of the federal government in the first place. If the so-called federal Independent Test Authorities and NASED had done their jobs prior to 2007, the machines used in Ohio and the rest of the nation would not now be constantly failing, and the voters would have far more confidence in the electoral system.
Doug Chapin of the Pew Center project electionline.org must have just come from last week's Election Center conference, where election officials and vendor representatives gather and talk about issues of importance to the lucrative American Voting Industry. He is quoted in the Times with this remarkable comment...
In today’s “Featured” article Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America voices the opinion shared by many veterans, including this writer, with regards to actions by the Department of Veterans Affairs with regards to voter registration help to our nation’s veterans. For some reason the DVA just does not want our veterans to be able to vote....
In an article at Huffington Post, Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), has spoken out against the Bush Administration's ban on voter registration activities in our nation's Veterans Affairs facilities. Writes Rieckhoff:
The irony is almost too great. Disabled veterans, who have made such tremendous sacrifices in defense of democracy, are now being denied assistance in voting.
The VA is claiming that voter registration drives are partisan, and would interfere with the functioning of their facilities. But hundreds of nonpartisan organizations regularly participate in voter registration drives --- everyone from the League of Women Voters to the Elks Club. Helping people vote is a civic duty, not a partisan activity.
Readers of The BRAD BLOG will know, this is a very important issue for us and we thank Rieckhoff for adding his important voice to this most important of American issues.
I'll be appearing tonight (Friday) for a Q&A following the 7:20 showing of Dorothy Fadiman's new documentary Stealing America: Vote-by-Vote, at the Laemmle's Music Hall in Beverly Hills where the film will be playing for through the 21st (see the website linked above for where and when else it's playing around both CA and the rest of the country). I'll also be sticking around to introduce the 9:50pm showing.
If the prospect of reliving 2004's U.S. presidential election --- or any of the other key domestic political races from the last dozen years --- is too much to bear, then Dorothy Fadiman's documentary "Stealing America: Vote by Vote" might seem like homework. Settle in for 90 brief minutes, though, and this persuasive refresher course on our increasingly sketchy electoral process will prove essential viewing for any constitutionally minded American.
And from an earlier capsure review, posted by the Times earlier this month (a reprint from NY's Newsday), the wrote:
"Stealing America: Vote by Vote" is well-timed and certainly puts a stake through the heart of Diebold and any advocate of electronic voting
Sounds good to me! If you're in the 'hood, please come on by tonight and say hello! [DISCLOSURE: I'm in the film itself, though only briefly. So don't let that keep you from checking it out!]
Eric Shawn, on behalf of Fox "News," on behalf of the RNC, continued their disingenuous and misleading "voter fraud" series over the weekend. As usual, they highlight phony fears of Democratic "voter fraud," naturally, while noting that there are "increasing cases" at what "some consider an alarming rate."
Again, and predictably, they recycle the same old, previously debunked ACORN bullshit in the latest segment. Prepare to hear more of the same, always mentioning ACORN by name, non-stop between here and November.
Trouble is, there are a few important points that Fox seems to forget to note when they join the Republicans in their misleading swiftboat campaign against ACORN. And then there's that one, rather notorious case of voter fraud felony that, for some odd reason, they seem unwilling to discuss in their continuing "investigative reports"...
[Update 8/15/08 5:05pm PT: The offending death threats discussed below, though not all of them, have now been removed by Townhall.com, and the writer's Townhall blog has had all comments scrubbed as well. So O'Reilly should therefore know about it all now, and can report on it next time Townhall's Amanda Carpenter joins him to dishonestly bash "far-left" blogs. Our cached version of the webpage still shows the offending more-than-month-old comments, as does the graphic at the bottom of this article.]
On Wednesday night, Fox "News'" Bill O'Reilly continued his dishonest and deceptive attacks on websites, such as Huffington Post and Daily Kos, which he misleadingly describes as "hate sites" featuring "vicious far-left attacks" as based on selective reader comments he's discovered posted on those sites.
In the latest of his continuing segments with "Internet Cop" Amanda Carpenter, of the rightwing website Townhall.com, O'Reilly pointed to a number of objectionable comments at the two sites, from "far-left kooks," before tepidly lauding both HuffPo and Daily Kos for having removed some of them, presumably after they were brought to the attention of site moderators.
"Where is that rocket propelled grenade launcher when you need one," O'Reilly displayed on a chyron, and then "Let's hope the dissidents aim is good!" Both of the quotes are purported to be from a "Blog Posting" at HuffPo, according to the Fox "News" graphic, posted in regard to a group of Iraq War Veterans who support the war effort.
Failing to note any distinction between actual articles posted by contributors to the two sites versus comments from anonymous and pseudonymous users, O'Reilly accuses "bloggers" at the two sites of posting "despicable" material, even though it's unknown whether the commenters in question are actually rightwing posters, or even O'Reilly supporters, writing under a pseudonym. The entire segment is posted at left, as recorded yesterday by The BRAD BLOG's Alan Breslauer.
"These people are out of control and that's where they live," O'Reilly notes indignantly before tossing it to Townhall's Carpenter for comment.
"It's a good step that they are moderating the comments section more, and we've applauded that," Carpenter says in reply, before noting the "deeper issue...of posting blogs" critical of the Iraq vet group, which is reportedly going back to the war-zone to report on the country's status following George W. Bush's "troop surge."
But O'Reilly and Carpenter clearly have been protesting a bit too much, as it turns out Carpenter's own website is guilty of the same --- and even far worse --- "vicious" attacks, and potentially even illegal ones, including death threats issued against Barack Obama and "traitorous liberals."
Despite the mock outrage of the Fox rightwingers, The BRAD BLOG has been pointed, by a reader, to a number of out-and-out (and repeated) death threats issued by "bloggers" at Carpenter's own Townhall site.
The multiple threatening comments are posted on the Townhall blog of rightwing radio host and blogger Hugh Hewitt, and include death threats against the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama. They were posted on July 10th of this year at Townhall and, as of this posting on August 14th, still remain on the popular rightwing website which requires registration before commenters are allowed to post...
If I lived in Butler Co Ohio I would be very concerned about whether my vote was going to be counted this November. If you recall Butler Co uses Diebold/Premier DREs and in the March primary and April recount over 200 votes nearly went uncounted. The cause of the problem proved to be a conflict between the voting system software and anti-virus software. Rather than take action against Diebold/Premier, as recommended by Election Integrity attorneys, the state sat back until the vendor sued them and nearly forced the state to counter-sue. But the county, and many others in the state, will be using the same voting system with the same software in November.
Diebold/Premier claims to have a software patch but also claims it will be years before they can use it because it has to have federal approval. Meanwhile, Secretary of State spokesman Kevin Kidder says, "We've never lost a vote because of the problems we cite in the counterclaim because election officials have caught them. We can't prevent it. We can only catch the problem and correct it."
As good as election officials may be they cannot and will not catch everything and when they don’t find a problem it means votes are lost or incorrectly tabulated. The solution should have been to force the counties involved to go to paper based systems. It’s too late for that now...