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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2005 2:33pm PT  

Thanks again to Radio Left and host Geoff Staples for having us on to discuss Velvet Revolution's "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign! Have you sent your email to the companies yet?

Here's today's interview. About 17 minutes in your choice of three delicious audio flavors: Streaming RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or MP3 Download.

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Brad on the Radio, on the Phone and Conyers on the House Floor...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2005 11:43am PT  

Busy with much this morning, so just a few quick notes for the moment.

- I'll be on Radio Left at 4:20pm ET (1:20pm PT) to discuss VR's "Divestiture for Democracy". You can listen live online, and we'll otherwise try to get a link to the recorded appearance later. For media who'd like more info on the campaign, and to discuss appearances, etc., please write to DV4D@VelvetRevolution.us.

- For media folks who'd like to participate in next Tuesday's BlogCall conference call that I'll be doing, along with Clint Curtis, to discuss developments in his story, please email me and I'll try to get an invitation out to you for the call.

- The great John Conyers (aside from smartly endorsing VR's campaign yesterday!) today has forced the issue of Election Reform onto the floor of Congress during debate of the House's bill to determine what happens to ensure continuity of government during a terror attack.

He used a surprise maneuver to do so known as a "Motion to Recommit". As Will Pitt explains in his TruthOut article an hour or so ago..."Rep. Conyers finds it ridiculous that the House is spending so much energy (and acting with such speed) to solve a hypothetical problem, about a hypothetical election, when there are so many real problems with our real elections." Pitt has the details, and Conyers official statement on the floor. Good on Conyers again!

- A task force assembled by Gov. Christine Gregoire in Washington state "has found that public trust in Washington state's election system was damaged by last year's tight gubernatorial race that took two months to resolve." Do ya think? The AP story is here. What a shame it takes governmental action for anything to happen on Election Reform. Wouldn't it be lovely if the press reported on the problems and the government followed with reform (the way it used to be) instead of vice versa? That is, when the press even bothers to report at all, even on governmental action...which they do, but only when it's Republican governmental action it seems. And so it goes...

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Report based on Investigation Initiated by Clint Curtis Complaints!
Chalk another one up to Curtis!
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2005 2:00pm PT  

The New Times Broward-Palm Beach, who two weeks ago reported on Clint Curtis and his sworn allegations that Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) and Florida software firm Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) conspired to create vote-rigging software when Curtis worked at the company in 2000, has a follow-up today. (Scroll down to the fourth story, "Crazy Guy").

Their latest news item is based on the recently released report from the FL Inspector General's office at the Florida Dept. of Transporation (FDOT) where Curtis had initially made his complaints about both Feeney and YEI. The report was finally released this month after an investigation initiated by Curtis and another whistleblower at FDOT back in 2001. (The BRAD BLOG is currently examining the full report, and will have more on it in upcoming stories.)

From the New Times article...

The troubling charge of vote tampering has yet to be proved, of course, but almost everything else Curtis said about his former employer has been. Curtis charged that Yang Enterprises engaged in a pattern of dirty dealing, including intentionally overbilling the state on the company's contract with the Florida Department of Transportation. Curtis said that he had heard Feeney, who was Yang's former lawyer and lobbyist, airily tell Yang, "Bill them [FDOT] anything you like." And Yang Enterprises did. A report by FDOT Investigations Manager Michael K. Bowen, released earlier this month, found $248,255 in questionable charges, and the state wants a refund.

Bowen also discovered that Curtis was correct when he told state authorities that Yang employed a Chinese spy who was given access to state and NASA data. A former consultant for Yang, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee pleaded guilty in federal court last year after trying to ship Hellfire missile technology to China.

The article also goes on to mention...

Though no major South Florida news organizations have reported on Curtis' charges, Tailpipe has an eerie feeling that we haven't heard the last of them.

Other than a column in The St. Petersburg Times, which got a number of key details wrong, "Tailpipe" is correct.

And BRAD BLOG continues to ask of the MSM (and we know there are many who read this blog) how much more does it take before you realize the importance and veracity of Clint Curtis' story?! Still need more? ... Okay, more will be coming soon. We'd love it if you beat us to punch.

(For a listing of all of the key articles in our Special Coverage series on the Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Vote-Rigging Scandal, please click here.)

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Sends Letters to all 9 Companies Urging them to Take VR Recommendations!
Threatens Legislation to Withhold HAVA Money!
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2005 11:03am PT  

We couldn't be more honored. A stunning and ringing endorsement from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's ranking minority member!

Read the good congressman's full statement of support on ConyersBlog! But here's a quick quote...[emphasis added]

Do we have to settle for another questionable election where many of us doubt that the official results reflect the true will of the voters?

No. Not if the political movement that brought about the challenge to Ohio's electors has anything to say about it. The activists over at VelvetRevolution want action now in their "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign. Today, I am formally endorsing this campaign and have sent letters to every single voting machine company asking for their support of this effort.

Conyers also sends a very clear message in his letter to the Voting Machine Companies, even threatening to introduce legislation to deny the companies HAVA funds (federal money from the Help America Vote Act which was earmarked to purchase E-Voting machines from these vendors), if they don't follow the recommendations made by VR: [emphasis added]

To avoid another election cycle where there is not widespread confidence in the outcome, they have initiated a “Divestiture for Democracy” campaign which specifically asks your company to take many of the above steps voluntarily because the American people should not have to wait for legislation to feel confident that their vote is counted. I agree with that position and urge you to implement the recommendations that they have recently made to your company. They are essential to our democracy.

Your company has an obligation to take these actions now. Congress has funded the(“HAVA”) with taxpayer money to buy vote counting machines from companies such as yours. Moreover, your company is performing a purely governmental function by counting the vote. Therefore, you have a duty to all Americans to act in a fully transparent way just as would any government entity. It is time for your company to demonstrate good corporate leadership in this area by announcing that you will take these vital steps. It is my position that only companies that take these actions deserve to be funded under HAVA and I will urge my colleagues to support legislation to that effect

Conyers' Letter to the 9 Voting Machine Companies here.
Conyers' Letter to Brad here.

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By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2005 7:48pm PT  

...And it looks like America's Voting Machine Company leaders may be none too happy about VR's DV4D Campaign...

From RAW STORY's article which is now up...

Howard Van Pelt, CEO of Advanced Voting Systems, was more frank about his opposition to the Velvet Revolution campaign. “What in the hell are these people talking about?” asked Van Pelt. “They think we're all crooks, and I resent that!”

We resent losing complete confidence in the most fundamental aspect of democracy, Howard. Voting.

After you've read RAW's story, be sure to send a letter to Howard and the others! It's time that your voice is finally heard!

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The Empire Strikes Back!
Thought it was over in the Buckeye State? Think Again!
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2005 3:05pm PT  

Just breaking via William Rivers Pitt at TruthOut. Looks like Blackwell, who doesn't think he should have to sit for depositions, now thinks Kerry and Edwards should!

OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SECRETARY OF STATE SEEK TO TAKE DEPOSITIONS OF SENATOR KERRY AND FORMER SENATOR EDWARDS IN OHIO RECOUNT CASE

In a filing today in the Ohio recount case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio Attorney General and Ohio Secretary of State asked a federal judge to allow them to take depositions of Senator John Kerry and former Senator John Edwards. Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro and Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell urge the court to dismiss Kerry-Edwards as an intervening party in the recount case. They argue that they should have the right to place Kerry and Edwards under oath for questioning on the grounds that the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential candidates should no longer be allowed involvement in the case.

Full story at TruthOut.

We guess the fat lady hasn't sung yet. Thanks, Ken! Keep up the good work!

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This time, your voice WILL be heard!
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2005 12:59pm PT  

On February 21, 2005 (President's Day), I sent a letter on behalf of Velvet Revolution's directors to each of of the nine major American Voting Machine companies --- (Advanced Voting Solutions, Diebold, Danaher-Guardian, Election Systems & Software [ES&S], HartInterCivic, MicroVote, Sequoia Voting Systems, Triad GSI and UniLect Corp) --- asking them to do the right thing for our country!
In short, our letter gives the companies 60 days to take the following patriotic actions:

  • Voluntarily open their hardware and software for independent public inspection and analysis.
  • Provide auditable, voter-verified paper ballots for all votes cast.
  • Assure that there can be no form of networking on their machines.
  • Allow for non-partisan, independent monitors of the vote tabulation process.
  • Institute a corporate policy prohibiting the company and all of its executives from supporting candidates for public office or political action groups.
  • Disclose all data, codes and records from the last three national elections, if requested.
  • Adopt all feasible best practices suggested by a national committee of experts.
  • Do all of the above at no extra cost to their governmental clients with which they work.
  • If the companies publicly commit to all of the above within the 60 days, we will broadly recognize them for their efforts.

    If, however, they choose not to take these steps to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in America, then VR --- along, we hope, with all of you! --- will encourage all Americans to (1) divest from these companies and those with which they are affiliated, and (2) participate in a massive national boycott targeting them, their affiliates and their clients. We will also launch an extensive education campaign for the American public explaining the ways in which these companies are secretly doing the public's business of handling elections in the world's most important democracy!

    VR has the support of more than 80 Affiliate organizations in this effort, representing millions of Americans, and more are joining up every day! Please join the revolution by stopping by the site to send an email to all nine companies stating your support of this campaign! It'll take you less than a minute!

    We're all in this democracy together, and without you, we're nothing!

    And so begins the revolution...

    The Official Press Release for this campaign is available here online or may be downloaded here in WORD format.

    For more information on VR's "Divestiture for Democracy" please visit:
    http://www.VelvetRevolution.us/Campaigns/DV4D
    or write to:
    DV4D@VelvetRevolution.us

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    At least for juveniles...
    By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2005 12:26pm PT  

    Good news from the Supreme Court for a change. America may be entering into the community of civilized countries...Though it's been a long and slow process, and we've still got a ways to go.

    According to The NY Times...

    The Supreme Court ruled today, in one of the most closely watched capital punishment cases in years, that imposing the death penalty on convicted murderers who were younger than 18 at the time of their crimes is unconstitutional.

    The 5-to-4 decision, arising from a Missouri case, holds that executing young killers violates "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society," and that American society has come to regard juveniles as less culpable than adult criminals.

    The ruling, which acknowledged "the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty," erases the death sentences imposed on about 70 defendants who were juveniles at the time they killed. Although 19 states nominally permit the execution of juvenile murderers, only Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma have executed any in the past decade.

    Well, good for us. For once.

    And on "International Death Penalty Abolition Day" of all days! Details on that and more at fine organizations here and here.

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    Party/Reception Thrown for Feeney in 2003 by YEI!
    The year after Feeney claims to have ended his ?connection? with the scandal-plagued FL software firm!
    By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2005 3:01pm PT  

    After an interview with Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL), The New Times Broward-Palm Beach reported:

    He ended the professional relationship [with Yang Enterprises, Inc], which had extended through all 12 years of his time in the state House, only after he was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2002.

    After another interview with Feeney, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC reported:

    In short, Feeney says he doesn't remember meeting Mr. Curtis; that his only connection to Yang Enterprises was as an attorney prior to 2002.

    Despite the reports above, we've discussed the fact several times that Feeney's Campaign Headquarters is still located in the YEI building, and that the Yangs and their attorney Michael O'Quinn continue to be huge campaign donors to Feeney...

    But --- other than that --- no ?connection to Yang Enteprises" since 2002?

    Well, that's interesting, because it looks like the truth is --- again --- somewhat different from what Feeney would have folks believe. Look what we seem to have found here (Screencaptured, just in case it disappears from the net like so much else these days.):

    There are several more photos of Feeney with Dr. and Mrs. Yang at this YEI-sponsored event in 2003 along with members of ATAYAL on the linked page above.

    Feeney's questionable --- and apparently, continuing --- connections with YEI were brought to light in early December when we first reported exclusively on programmer Clint Curtis' sworn affidavit alleging that Feeney had asked him to create a "vote-rigging software prototype" during an October 2000 meeting at YEI in Oviedo, Florida.

    The key articles from our series of reports on that matter can be read here.

    Our call to Feeney's press spokesperson seeking explanation about the 2003 party thrown for Feeney by YEI has not yet been returned. We have not yet been able to ascertain who actually paid for Feeney's trip to Asia, but, of course, we will continue to look into this story and report any new developments.

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    Tom Delay is but one of the Recipients...
    To the tune of some $130,000 in cash and prizes!
    By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2005 1:30pm PT  

    Our understanding was that it was supposed to have been Democrats who liked to "scare old people about Social Security". At least according to Rush, Sean, Fox and Friends.

    Turns out it's the Rightwingnuts who have actually turned the practice into both an art form, and a cash cow. The shadowy rightwing group, National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) has been quietly sending scare letters to the nation's elderly for years in which they ask recipients to keep the letter a secret, while they terrify them about their Social Security benefits.

    And, again, --- surprise! --- House Majority Leader Tom Delay seems to be one of the biggest beneficiaries thereof! Delay is reported today, in a RAW STORY Exclusive, to have received some $130,000 from the NCPPR who has been paying for "posh" Delay vacations!

    From RAW STORY's investigative report:

    The group's letters target seniors of both parties, aiming to convince them their Social Security benefits are in jeopardy and thereby induce them to donate money. The mailings also encourage seniors to keep the mailing secret from others, perhaps even from family members.

    "Inside your sealed envelope is information regarding the potential collapse of the Social Security system – and how it can endanger you and the entire United States senior citizen population,” NCPPR president Amy Ridenour writes in one such letter obtained by RAW STORY (Read the letter here). “It is also critical that you share this pertinent information ONLY [sic] with other trustworthy individuals.”

    “Should we put most of our time and effort into fighting to prevent liberal big-spenders from draining an estimated $100 billion from the trust fund?” Ridenour asks. “Or should I go head to head against the left-wing's reckless use of $70 billion tax surplus when they promised to put our Social Security first?”

    "The liberal monster is primed to rip your Social Security to shreds,” reads another hyperbolic letter reported on by the San Francisco Examiner in 1998.

    The group uses at least four different letterheads to solicit money; all of the money is funneled into the same organization.

    And just when you thought these guys had scraped the bottom of the "Moral Values” barrel. Think again.

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    Plus, Other Open-Thread-Worthy Sunday Notes...
    And more Feeney/Yang Shenanigans Coming Monday...
    By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2005 10:49pm PT  

    We live close enough to the Kodak Theater that the persistent buzz of the Oscars' Goodyear blimp was echoing through our windows all morning. Thankfully, we had a date in Santa Monica at the Election Reform Teach-in sponsored by CitizensAct.org which kept us busy most of the day and night and well out of range of the constant copters, blimps and Joan Rivers.

    On the other hand, it also meant that we missed the entire Awards show. Did we actually miss anything? Or did we just not see it? Feel free to blog back in comments and let us know.

    We're a bit too tired to blog too much more this evening other than a quick report from Santa Monica and one quick tease for a story coming tomorrow...

    The event was tremendous, and packed to the gills. Standing room only. The speakers were all Election Reform All-Stars plus yours truly. Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press lit the joint on fire as he opened in lieu of Rep. Maxine Waters who was late coming from the airport. She made it, and followed in fine fettle. As did the Green Party's Blair Bobier (spokesman for David Cobb), Bev Harris of BBV, Kevin Spidel of PDA and other illuminaries too numerous to mention before the orchestra plays us off.

    We had a great time talking about some of the adventures here on BRAD BLOG and Velvet Revolution's brand-spanking-new "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign which seemed to make a tremendously good impression. (Have you signed the letter there yet?...No worries, it's so brand-spanking-new we've hardly given it a proper introduction here, but we will).

    Thanks to those of you who came out to say hello. It was great to put some faces to some of the user names. Even to those of DU'ers ;-)

    It was also a delight to learn we have so many loyal readers who we didn't know (too shy to post in comments?!), but we're happy to have made some swell new friends and a couple of interesting connections to boot. We even picked up some inside Clint Curtis skinny from a few folks who shall remain nameless for the moment...and for their own safety.

    And before we drop off from exhaustion, or you do, we'll just tease briefly that ... on Monday ... only on The BRAD BLOG ... our friend Tom Feeney gets caught once again flashing his Yang in public... This time with pictures to help set the scene. More on that tomorrow...

    Until then, please consider this thread now open until further notice...

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    She's not just obnoxious, she's apparently a racist sleaze as well!
    By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2005 10:57am PT  

    In re: the Ann Coulter column we mentioned several times as running over at World Net Daily. It turns out the original version of her column was even more appalling than the one which was first edited before being sent out by her syndicator, Universal Press Syndicate (UExpress).

    As MoveLeft points out, here is the phrase from the distributed version of her column, as seen at hate publication, World Net Daily (emphasis added):

    Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.

    And here is the phrase as written in Coulter's original version, still posted on her website (emphasis added):

    Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.

    "That old Arab"?...What a disgusting, slimy, little bitch. Feel free to send a note of complaint to Coulter's syndicator here.

    We've got some business for much of the day, but perhaps later if time allows we'll try to collect a list of Email addresses for all of the "news" outlets that carry the words of this obnoxious, horrible, hate-filled, racist "woman" so you can let them all know what you think of them carrying her column. This woman is begging to be put out of business.

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    (They must be doing something right!)
    By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2005 10:57pm PT  

    At the end of a fun read over at Watching the Watchers on "horrible fiendish cackling harpy" Ann Coulter's latest pile of self-serving venomous horsehit slash apology vis a vis the Gannon/Guckert Scandal, the good (though hard to type) ~A! picks up on a subtle shot that Fox "News" seemed to toss at the Right's favorite new whipping boy, Raw Story.

    As ~A! noticed...

    Oh, and as an aside, FOX News, is a bunch of assholes again. They wrote a piece about the whole CIA affair, in which they cite RawStory for all their hard work and diligent reporting. They also mentioned Talon ?News', and linked to their site. They did not, however, link to RawStory. Why not, I wonder? Why link to Talon, whose site is actually down while they're on ?hiatus?, and not RawStory, which gave them something to write about in the first place?

    Why, ~A!? Because Raw is in the business of reporting news and, of late, they are doing it like no other site on or off the net. You'll note that Fox also took the time to link to faux "news" organization GOPUSA in their article as well. We suppose they'd hate for any of their reader/zombies to start noticing the difference between real news and Fox "News".

    While you're watching the Watcher Watchers, you may also want to check out what they've uncovered from Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, whose great offering to history will have been his instructions to his GOP clients to use such words as "Death Tax" instead of "Inheritance/Estate Tax" when hypnotizing their zombies. Well, it worked. And the "Death Tax", along with many other clever turns of lexicographical trickery has made its way into the daily GOP parlance. Yes, language does matter. Especially to zombies.

    And as our own aside, by way of reminder, we'll be panelling tomorrow (Sunday) at the Election Reform Teach-in in Santa Monica, with an esteemed group including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and a bunch of other Election Reform All-Stars. If you're local to So-Cal, and the rain has still stopped, come on out and say hey!

    We'll be talking, amongst other things, about VR's "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign the creation of which is just one of the too-many reasons we've had less time than usual to blog of late. We've quietly launched the VR DV4D campaign this morning and plan to plan to make quite a bit of noise about it this coming week.

    But you, dear BRAD BLOGGERS, have heard about it before just about anybody else! So check it out, and send the bad guys a letter while you're there! You'll be glad you did!

    More...as ever...later.

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    1972 = 2005
    By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2005 2:38pm PT  

    We caught the excellent new documentary, Inside Deep Throat, yesterday afternoon while on “gf bday duty" and found it to be simply fascinating on innumerable levels.

    The most notable of which, at least for BRAD BLOG readers, will be the remarkable parallels pointed up --- no accident, we'd think --- between the oppressive political atmosphere of 1972 and that of 2005.

    The film covers the emergence and subsequent legacy of hairdress-cum-director Gerard Damiano ‘s Deep Throat in the early 70's as it rose out of the back alleys to become "Porno Chic" after it was described as such by a New York Times article.

    Then, as now, one NY Times article officially declares something as "newsworthy", and then, as now, we had a politically damaged President who managed to get himself re-elected and then, as now, felt himself the holder of a mandate to be the personal guardian of all that is moral for the American people.

    As Harry Reems, the male star of Throat was told at the time when he was chosen to be made an example of and put on trial under newly created obsenity laws --- specifically brought about by agents of the Nixon Administration in a futile attempt to stuff the genie back into the exploding bottle --- "If the Republicans win the next election, you're going to jail. If the Democrats win, you'll walk.”

    Why is it that Republicans, for decades, have always claimed (with a straight face, mind you) that they want to get the Federal Government off the backs of American citizens, yet whenever they manage to come to power they are invariably the most intrusive with their use of that Government which they claim to hate?

    Anway, there was much more to discuss about the film which kept us yackin' and ponderin' all throughout dinner afters. It's an incredibly thought-provoking and timely film, filled with a host of fascinating and often hilarious characters! It's well-worth your time should be lucky enough to live in a town with a theater willing to exhibit NC-17 films. Even one created by mainstream Universal Pictures.

    Sadly, we have a feeling there are not many towns like that left in "the land of the free", so we have a feeling most of you out there in “Bush Country” may just have to wait for it to show up on HBO or at your local DVD store. (That is, if even they are willing to help spread the "liberty" that Dubya acts as if he's so interested in.)

    ReddIt this story!



    By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2005 2:55pm PT  

    "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us." -George W. Bush, Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

    Welcome to Russia, Mr. Bush...

    (Hat tip to regular BRAD BLOG linking commenter, Cheryl!)

    ReddIt this story!



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