liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune had a great story on Tuesday, covering the inauguration planning and funding.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Back to the main issue

The Star Tribune has a nice summary of questions and comments about recount observations in Ohio:

Last update: December 28, 2004 at 7:11 PM
Mark Halvorson and Kirk Lund: We may never know what happened in the Ohio vote

Halvorson and Lund introduce their thesis in the first paragraph by stating:
The right to vote and to have each vote count is the cornerstone of democracy, but deep cracks are showing in this cornerstone.

This is an interesting remark. Their subsequent recitation of facts lends a lot of support to the "deep cracks" part of their thesis. Those facts are well known and summarized very succinctly by the Nashua Advocate. Many others have detailed this list of offenses to the American electorate, so I don't want to revisit familiar ground ad nauseum.

The particulars of the Ohio election legal battle are still being contested in lawsuits by some dedicated Americans, including the Green and Libertarian candidates. Today the Columbus, Ohio Free Press ran this column -- faithfully keeping us informed about the latest legal developments and voter complaints. While the "little people" battle it out in the trenches below the radar of the national media and beyond the ennui threshold of the average American, some stunning -- and perhaps historically significant -- cultural shaping is taking place.

The question is, "Is the right to vote the 'cornerstone of democracy?'" If it is, does our apathy about voting signal the death of democracy in America?

Clearly, the state of voting in America is substandard, as evidenced by this past election. Does it matter? To whom?

Many of us believe that it is our individual responsibility as citizens to actively participate in community self-government at the local, state and federal levels. This participation goes beyond voting, to actively communicating with elected officials, participating in campaigns and all aspects of fair elections. Otherwise, this mandate for citizenship marches beside the banner of "Civic Duty." It can mean volunteer work with children or the environment, auxiliary police, any community service work or public activism. This is the ingredient in American society that de Tocqueville saw as the sine qua non of our vital civilization. Without volunteer citizen action, we would be indolent and vulnerable to corrupt political and economic forces.

So, public action is important. Public involvement is key in preserving a healthy society. Does that necessarily mean we have to bust our chops about elections? Can't we delegate that to "the proper authorities?"

As quoted before on this weblog, Alexander Keyssar documents the contested history of democracy in America. In the flood of suffrage expansion throughout our history, racist and sexist beliefs and attitudes, ethnic antagonism, partisan interests, and political theories and ideological convictions, along with class tension, linked the health of the state to a narrow franchise. (Keyssar, Alexander, The Right to Vote, Basic Books, NY 2000; p. xxi).

The forces of "voter suppression," as they are termed today, are associated with the Republican party and are considered by most as partisan. But these are embodiments of historically important and powerful forces that have worked to limit voting throughout our history. In other words, the "right to vote" has always been a matter of strong contest in the United States. The "suppression" we experience now is only a flickering shadow of the gloomy blackness of disfranchisement that covered the country in past centuries.

So we are living in a cross section of dynamic conflict over suffrage that has played on the stage of American politics since the beginning of the colonial era. The wealthy have always sought to limit the right to vote and the poor have always tried to expand it. One group fears the loss of responsibility and commitment among the voting population, the other fears exclusion from the political process.

This conflict is very much an element on the landscape of the 2004 election. To pretend that it isn't a factor in Ohio, Florida and all the swing states -- if not in the red and blue states -- would be blindness to history.

So the issue is, "How do we monitor the process of these historical forces at work today in our election?"

Is there any way to get an objective bearing on what the events of the 2004 election say about fairness, justice and progress in the United States?

We rely on the media.

Monday, December 27, 2004

washington times

Yahoo news offered this tidbit about the Washington Times. It is a profile of News World Communications, Inc. News World is the publisher of the WT.

The question everyone should be asking, but of course isn't, is, "What is the relationship between Sun Myung Moon -- the owner and publisher of the Times -- and the Republican Party?

Perhaps there's an explanation in this report about an incident in the Dirksen Office Building last Spring. Gorenfeld's Moon watch is still surviving here.

There are some inscrutable but fascinating remarks from Rev. Kwak on what took place in the Senate office building last May. These remarks come to us courtesy of True Parents

I'm beginning to suspect that driving the vast majority of Americans into poverty and destitution through loss of medical insurance, social security privatization, environmental destruction, and war is to provide membership for Reverend Moon's family.

More on Fascism

Tomtech is continuing his informative series over at Dkos. His offering this week is the abbreviated for the holidays version. The highlights are about the ACLU email discovery linking the White House to sanctioning torture. He points out that if the President issued an Executive Order permitting use of certain torture techniques, then use of the techniques was "within the law."

The blogger also does some introspective blogging on the question of exploitation of women, women's rights and sexism in the Bush regime. What he will have to say on this subject, he admits, depends somewhat on his own education and sensitizing to the issues women are dealing with now.

Of course, the great contribution to this school of thought is still the Orcinus treatise, or "essay," as he calls it. I have continued to read it, and find it engrossing. I will have to go back to the beginning of Part I and start all over again, as soon as I am finished. His links serve as a kind of bibliography, but there are too many to follow right away. So there will be at least one additional course through the essay for running through the links, too.

wait a second, please ...

I have decided to jump on the Social Security train. My first stop is the information found at The Outlook For Social Security at the Congressional Budget Office website.

The Bush Administration is making such a big deal about the urgency of fixing Social Security that everybody needs to take a look at it in order to put in their two cents. After all, we can't have government doing our thinking and making our decisions for us, can we?

The CBO does state that outlays will surpass revenues in 2019 -- that's 15 years from now. They don't say that the trust fund will be unable to pay for the difference.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

sounds like ...

According to OpEd News, our President has taken to quoting a former German Chancellor:
"Protect the homeland" is the SAME phrase that Hitler used when he proposed the creation of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. Hitler said, "An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland."

All American Patriots

This new website looks like a CIA storefront for the Republican Veterans of Desert Storm. Supposedly, they are not officially launched yet, but I would appreciate your checking them out and getting back to me on who they hell you think they are and what the hell you think they're doing on the internet.

Election Reform is launching a Right to Vote Initiative along with a number of other grass roots, non-partisan, public activist organizations. This is clearly the issue of the decade and will be -- as it has been for the last two months -- the main thrust of this writer's screed. The FairVote initiative is originating under the auspices of Right to Vote Initiative, The Center for Voting and Democracy, contact Andrew Kirshenbaum at / (301) 270-4616 /

I first read about the Initiative in an editorial by Steven Hill and Rob Richie at Truth Out. They posted Kerry and Brokaw's comments on the need to fix the election system, and then included detailed versions of the Fair Vote Initiative's points.

I will have much more to say on this point in the days ahead, holidays notwithstanding, but for now a couple of points stand out and require comment.

The Fair Vote Initiative does not mention anything about campaign finance reform. In my view, campaign finance reform is an indispensable ingredient to any formula for fair elections in America. Right now, the people are voting on the corporate candidates, not the peoples' candidates. Congress is supposed to be our lobbying organization, but they have been completely bought off. Without meaningful campaign finance reform -- taking corporate money out of the elections -- we will not be to "pry open our democracy" to more representative candidates.

The other issue is that voting in the United States is a state-level right. Enfranchisement is not guaranteed by the Federal government because originally, the union was formed by compromises that left a lot of questions of sovereignty and liberty to the states. Otherwise, the framers of the Constitution would never have been able to cobble together a deal. Every state had different rules for who gets to vote.

Eventually, as states competed for settlers, taxpayers, professionals, farmers, tradesmen, and skilled and unskilled laborers, they began expanding the franchise. First it went to anyone who owned enough property, then people with the correct pedigree who paid enough taxes, then people who fought in the army, then people of color, then women, and then young adults. This movement was seen as a way of insuring involvement of local interest groups in politics, as well as insuring the state credited constituencies for the contributions they made.

To propose a Federal law guaranteeing the right to vote will be such a revolutionary departure from the expansion process that the franchise has thus far undergone that it will be very hard to force it to gain traction in Washington. Indeed, Washington is the last place we can expect any support for such a movement. Washington is the locus of the most concentrated political and economic power in the country. Any dilution of that concentration is going to be rejected by lawmakers. The only way the right to vote has ever expanded in the United States is by local and state governments seizing upon the issue through grass roots activism, and then indirectly forcing other localities and states to do likewise by a form of "confederate pressure."

One of the main obstacles to popular reforms in any area of American society since Vietnam has been the disparate effort of reformers in the teeth of an ever more unified conservative, corporate financed and media controlled public discourse. If we try to change the system from the top down, we may play right into the hands of the Republican/corporate hegemonies. Freedom is messy. Let's keep it that way and start the national movement for fair elections on the state and local level, so we can REALLY bury the powers in Washington beneath an irresistible and surging tidal wave of popular support for democratic reforms.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


I had to search for ten minutes before I was able to find the key quotation by Jesus about humility and self. I was looking for the teaching about being a guest at a great feast, where the lesson is to sit in the lowest place and be called up to a higher one by the host. Don't sit in the highest place and then be asked to move to a lower one by the host when someone of greater dignity and virtue than you arrives.

Then in Luke 14:11 we read the verse that we should all remember, but that I only record here because I stumbled upon it in my search for the teachings about where to sit at the feast.
For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

How could I have forgotten this?

Todd Huffman jogged my memory with This Christmas, Where is Our National Conscience? in Common Dreams. This is one of the more penetrating essays I have read this season. Huffman begins by invoking God and the blessings He is commonly understood to have bestowed upon the United States, and that we have learned to take our good fortune for granted. But the essayist goes on to inveigh that
as a nation obsessed with money and possessions, celebrity and sport, we are not advanced morally or spiritually.
He iterates that we have "established monetary criteria for success or failure ... and increasingly misuse[] religion as justification for intolerance and division."

He criticizes us for "silently tolerat[ing] widespread poverty and blatant inequalities."
We give tax cuts to the wealthy, and budget cuts to the poor. We allow forty percent of our fellow citizens to go without health care. We demand lower levels of government spending, thereby allowing higher levels of economic inequality. All this, even though the provision of decent subsistence, shelter, and health care are well within our national capacity to provide.

He tries to remind us that religion is for helping us "rediscover" the value of each individual, our inter"connectedness" and "the common good." He wants us to be conscientious about caring for each other, not about assuming a holier-than-thou posture from which to accuse one another of immorality or unworthiness.

He quotes Jacob Marley, Ebeneezer Scrooge's old, haunting business partner in his claim that living on earth, "Mankind was my business."

Huffman opens the piece with FDR's statement that, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It's whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

These are ideas that have vanished from the national conscience today in America. We seek to defend ourselves, to righteously vanquish our enemies no matter the cost in suffering and misery to them. We seek to hold others to an ideal standard of morality that we choose for ourselves but seek to impose by any means necessary upon those who disagree with our "moral values."

But love, generosity, or what the Apostle Paul called, "charity," is only something that can be given by those who feel an abundance of grace. If we live in the richest country in the world, blessed beyond proportion of any people in history, we can still live like scrooges and act like curmudgeons. Being good requires being grateful to God for what we have, and for the less fortunate with whom we can share and know God better by becoming more like Him.

ohio election challenge refiled

Cliff Arnebeck and 40 Ohio voters have refiled a challenge to the state's November 2, 2004 election results. The Free Press has a page with both filing links, the second of which is this one.

Medina County

It's looking as if most of the counties in Ohio are trying to skimp on the recount. This blog records just such an instance in Medina County yesterday.

Mahoning County

Counterpunch has a very comprehensive article by Ann Harrison from December 8th, in which she mentions numerous electronic voting irregularities. The one that seems to be the story with the biggest impact is the Mahoning County counting anomaly. That story is picked up for detailed analysis by our old friend, the lyric poet, Dr. Phillips.

Monday, December 20, 2004

the character issue

Remember the accusation of drunk driving that surfaced just before the 2000 election? Or, the accusations about the National Guard duty on AWOL that were never denied by Bush? Is honesty important? How important?

How many people know Laura Bush smokes?

06/15/01 (12:28PM): Smoking Bush "More Liked"
E-talking with Reliable Source author, Lloyd Grove over at the Washington Post, he, of course doubts my concern about ". . . liberal bias . . ." for the DeMedia not (ever) exposing Jackie Kennedy to her adoring public as a pack-a-day smoker, but yet inside of 100 days ". . . smoking Laura Bush out . . ." He adds however, that Laura is more liked by ". . . a number of people. . ." now that they know she's a smoker. That 'revelation' was surprising to me, because I thought all smokers (other than crack, meth and opium) were being stoned to death in D.C.

Character is important because it signifies quality of life and trustworthiness. That is why Jesus emphasized character above other traits.

I don't know anything about Richard Reeves, but he seems to be getting at a kernel of truth in Lying Kills. He's referring to Donald Rumsfeld, but aren't we all guilty by association with whomever we conspire?

election fraud 2004

Great slideshow on election fraud 2004 from Free Speech Zone.

cultural guerilla war at the strip mall

Please call Roosevelt in Hyde Park, Lyceum in Red Hook, and New Paltz Cinemas to register your outrage!

This amazing letter was transmitted in an email digest from As a part-time resident of New Paltz and a progressive Democrat proud of the gay marriages performed there, I am very offended by this.

The whole thing has an I Love Huckabees (which I saw at the rival New Paltz Plaza Cinemas) flavor to it. I am really looking forward to the fight over this one:

Hilary Kramer, from New Paltz New York:

"Some of you may be aware that a few weeks ago WGHQ-Kingston, 920 AM, formerly an American Pop Standards-type music station owned by Clear Channel, was converted to a 24-hour far-right talk format (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc.). Having subjected myself to a few hours of close listening over the past 2 days, I have stumbled upon some very disconcerting news. The prime local sponsor of the new format is our own New Paltz Cinemas, and they are not advertising in a benign "enjoy the movies" type manner. Here is the text of their ad, allowing for the fact that this transcription cannot convey the obnoxious tone of the announcer:
"'Here is some important news for movie lovers in the Hudson Valley: Hollywood has gone insane, and our values are not often reflected on the silver screen. But three locally owned movie theaters in our area are looking out for you. While we can't bring back the Hollywood of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, or Ronald Reagan, the Lyceum Cinemas in Red Hook, the Roosevelt Cinemas in Hyde Park, and the New Paltz Cinemas all refused to play Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 this year. We promise to provide the best family film fare that we possibly can at prices you and your family can afford. So when it is movie time, remember who's looking out for you at the Roosevelt Cinemas in Hyde Park, the Lyceum in Red Hook, or the New Paltz Cinemas on Route 299. (contact info removed) And we'll see you at the movies. Hollywood may be insane, but the Lyceum Cinemas in Red Hook, the Roosevelt in Hyde Park, and the New Paltz Cinemas are looking out for you.'

"Right now only one other regional sponsor has ads on the station, Hannaford, although their ad is a simple "shop at Hannaford's, our prices and quality are good" sort of thing without political content. The rest of the ads are the usual baldness cures, eat-without-getting-fat pills, "invention" kits, Vioxx lawsuits, Walmart, etc. associated with the national syndication of these programs. The New Paltz Cinemas and its sister theaters Lyceum and Roosevelt are the sole local account supporting this radio station, and the ad shows they actively support the station's new content.

"Further, as any local resident can attest, the NP Cinemas doesn't restrict itself to Disney movies. It is clear that they are actively blocking progressive political speech as a business practice, and soliciting customers on that basis. Considering the political leanings of our community, this hardly seems like a sensible business practice, unless they are relying on us not finding out about it by placing the ad only on a station they assume we will not hear. I urge you to contact the owner and tell them that you will withhold your business until they change their advertising and movie booking policies."

The owner/operator is:
Independent Cinemas
7270 South Broadway
Red Hook, NY 12571

I have not yet been able to discover their phone number. However, here is a listing of Hudson Valley Cinemas.

Please call Roosevelt in Hyde Park, Lyceum in Red Hook, and New Paltz Cinemas to register your outrage!

Friday, December 17, 2004

challange: throwing down the GLUV

Thursday, December 16, 2004

NY free press

The New York Free Press is an interesting little weekly that is distributed free in New York City.

Their cover story this week examines raising environmental consciousness in the U.S. Christian political voting block.

Alexander Zaitchik pens a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of why environmental stewardship hasn't been a big issue to mainstream Republican Christians. In one of the most well-crafted pieces of journalism I have found on this emerging concept, Zaitchik deftly steers a path through the layers of subject matter, from the Biblical mandate in Genesis 2:15 to the UN Climate Change conference in Buenos Aires. He shows some very incisive evidence about the divisive nature of Christian denominations in America, especially as such divisions apply to reasoned discourse, the larger community of faith and political wedge issues, such as Environmentalism.

Zaitchik eases us along in the transitions from issue to issue and interest group to interest group, pinpointing hopeful spokesman Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), who points out how the minds of evangelicals are opening up, slowly and cautiously.
"Care for the created order is indeed one hallmark of evangelicalism," he says. "If we outline a policy that says that climate change is real, and that it poses a sincere threat to the earth, then you can no longer say, 'This is just hokum,' if you're an evangelical and you want to be with the leadership.

As optimistic as Cizik's view may be, as illustrated in the above paragraph, Cizik sets off a couple of deafening alarms. The first one screams that Cizik seems to be drawing a distinction between 'evangelicalism' and "Christianity." The second red-alert is the familiar paean that Cizik doesn't consider 'evangelicals' to be capable of thinking critically about important social issues without guidance from other 'evangelical' policymakers.

All Christians are evangelical. Anyone purporting to be a follower of Jesus Christ is charged with the "Great commission": "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

Although Protestantism in the United States has become divided and subdivided between a spectrum of more or less autonomous groups, all are "evangelical" by virtue of being Christian. Common parlance refers to Baptists, non-denominational Congregationalist or independent Protestant churches and most fundamentalist denominations, such as Pentecostal, as the "Evangelicals." This is a misnomer. The more moderate, liberal "main line" or mainstream Protestant churches, such as the Presbyterians and the Methodists. Evangelism or, spreading the gospel, is the sine qua non of the Christian life. For "evangelicals" to refer to themselves as such, in opposition to other Christian denominations, speaks volumes -- as Cizik does in Zaitchik's quotation, above, about how uninformed Americans are about religious groups, politics, and probably everything else (alarm no. 1).

The second cause for concern in Cizik's statement is the "Big Brother" paternalism among so-called evangelical policymakers who want to tell their unthinking, uneducated or otherwise naive brethren how to think and vote. After all, anyone who calls some Christians "evangelicals" based on their denomination is clearly in the habit of peddling falsehoods and stereotypes. Therefore, the Ciziks of the Christian universe have to micro manage the thinking of their lambs lest they stray into the swamp of Reason and Enlightenment. Under the current organization of Protestantism in America, this would be catastrophic. Artificial distinctions between believers and non-believers would no longer frighten church members into unquestioning loyalty to pulpit and party.

This is one of the powerful trademarks of this Zaitchik piece. He pinpoints people, organizations, cultural tendencies and thought patterns by laying them delicately and plainly before the reader, like an onion waiting to be diced on a gourmet chef's cutting board. The reader is free to behold the facts in all their living, palpable horror.

Zaitchik caps this missile with a monstrous warhead. In piecing together a "chicken or egg" question to ask if it is industry or religion that drives the Republican right, he mentions that Christian Right advocacy groups' favorite Republicans are the League of Conservation Voters' nemeses. But he probes this dichotomy further.
A better explanation of this synchronicity between God and chainsaw is found in Michael Lind's pithy description of the current Republican Party coalition: "A Frankenstein operation [has] stitched the bodiless head of Northeastern neoconservatism onto the headless body of Southern fundamentalism. Though incomplete, the image explains the rough flow of ideas in today's Republican Party. Southern evangelicals set the social agenda at the grassroots level, while secular forces in the north (and west) set he economic and foreign policy agendas. These policies are then fed back to the religious base through industry-subsidized Christian Right leaders in Congress and the media, who reinforce the idea that pollution controls are part of the same godless liberal plot that wants gay porn and home-abortion kits distributed in the public school system.

Instead of using Madison Avenue to sell democracy to Islamic fundamentalist cultures, we're packaging Corporatism to God fearing, law abiding Americans.

Zaitchik doesn't mention television and the corporate media publicity and information monopoly on behalf of corporate interests. But again, he shows the reader the soft underbelly of the Republican axis.

Christians such as the Reverend Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) started the "What would Jesus Drive?" campaign. Zaitchik reports:
This past July, Rev. Ball gathered evangelical pastors to a weekend conference at Chesapeake Bay, VA.... The conference concluded with attendees committing to the goal of forging an official evangelical consensus on climate change within the next year.

"In dismissing environmental activism, many Christians are just going along with what their allies are telling them," says Ball. "They haven't really taken a serious look at issues like climate change. but when they hear people ... who can talk to them as a brother and a scientist, they think, 'Well if a brother is saying it, there's gotta be something to this.'"

The New York Press shows the kind of clout, reasoning and informative value in this piece that are so desperately lacking in mainstream media. Another hopeful facet to this article is that we're all waking up to reality. If more Americans read articles like Zaitchik's and supported newspapers like the Press, maybe then more progressive Christians could sing gospel overtures to the secular, unsaved progressives.

He who has ears, let him hear (Mt 13:9).

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Needless to say, with the Ohio recount dragging on and all of us helplessly standing by watching and waiting for the next wave of partisan skirmishing, Media Matters for America has taken the gambit and launched a grass roots fairness campaign against Sinclair Broadcasting, Inc.

They are targeting Sinclair's conservative, biased news coverage, particularly a commentary section entitled, "The Point." The action against Sinclair is being presented on a website, SinclairAction.Com. The Sinclair Action is a joint effort by AlterNet,, MediaMatters, Working Assets, Institute For America's Future, and Media Channel.

Monday, December 13, 2004

greg palast strikes again

Greg Palast is reported to have spoken on election fraud at NY Society for Ethical Culture on December 10, 2004. I link to daily Kos story re same. Why didn't I read about this in the paper? What did Richard Clarke say?

Here is a link to Society of Secular Humanism article on fourteen characteristics of fascism in a society. How many can you identify from your hometown, state, or country in 2004?

Common Sense Voting Reform
As usual, Common Cause is in the forefront of the voting reform debate by virtue of reason and organizing skill. This is a shout out to their column in favor of election reform: one of the few such internet sites that mentions that the 109th Congress will be required to re-promulgate the Voting Rights Act. Common Cause also stipulates some very practical and efficient suggestions for expanding election fairness.

Friday, December 10, 2004

on voting and the 2004 election

Last night I went to sleep in an extreme state of depression. It is beginning to sink in that no matter what we prove, do, demonstrate, illustrate, expose or cause to happen, George Bush will be reinaugurated in January 2005.

I believe in miracles and there is always the hope of a long shot series of events culminating in a reversal of the election results. However, I don't see that outcome as probable now.

Elections in America are flawed, at best, and possibly corrupted by partisanship and tampering in certain times and places to a greater or lesser degree. There is not enough transparency, standardization, non-partisanship and accountability for the elections in America, or any state in America -- for that matter -- to be termed, "fair."

So, I am going to pursue the issue of fairness in elections, because otherwise we have no democracy. If there is not transparency, standardization, nonpartisanship and accountability, then there is not democracy.

This group seems to understand that, too.

Two Articles

The Washington Post and the New York Times published two articles on exit polls that are of great importance in assessing the credibility of the 2004 election. These two articles on exit polls go a long way toward explaining why voters became alarmed at the reported results and lack of subsequent media coverage.

The Times

WEEK IN REVIEW DESK | October 17, 2004, Sunday

The Nation: Checking Up; Exit Polls To Protect The Vote

Late Edition - Final , Section 4 , Page 4 , Column 5

SINCE the 1960's, the exit poll, that staple of election-night television, has been used along with other tools to declare winners when the polls close in each state, and its accuracy is noted later when the actual vote count proves it right. A landmark exception, of course, came in 2000,...more...

The Post
Correction to This Article
The number of randomly selected voters who were interviewed Tuesday for the National Election Pool's exit poll was incorrect in an earlier version of this article. The correct number is 13,047.
New Woes Surface in Use of Estimates

By Richard Morin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 4, 2004; Page A29

An Election Day filled with unexpected twists ended with a familiar question: What went wrong with the network exit polls?

In two previous national elections, the exit polls had behaved badly. Premature calls by the networks in Florida led to a congressional investigation in 2000. Two years later, a computer meltdown resulted in no release of data on Election Day.

On Tuesday, new problems surfaced: a 2 1/2-hour data blackout and samples that at one point or another included too many women, too few Westerners, not enough Republicans and a lead for Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry in the national survey that persisted until late in the evening.

In two instances on election night -- the results for Virginia and South Carolina -- the networks held off projecting a winner when voting ended because exit polls showed that the races were too close to call, only to see President Bush win easily in both states.

"The exit polls got it flat wrong," asserted Charles Gibson yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

That is wrong, countered Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research, which conducted Tuesday's exit poll with Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool, a consortium of the major television networks and the Associated Press. "No wrong projections [of winners] were made; the projections were spot on," he said. "The members used this data with sophistication and understanding of what data can and cannot be used for."

Election Day 2004 was a roller-coaster ride for the two presidential candidates and for the political press corps. Successive waves of the national exit poll in the afternoon and evening reported that Kerry had a two- or three-percentage-point lead over Bush nationally and in several key states, including Ohio.

Preliminary exit poll results had leaked throughout the day and were posted on a number of Web sites, including the widely viewed Drudge Report site, which added to the confusion and fanned the media frenzy.

To compound the problem further, a server at Edison/Mitofsky malfunctioned shortly before 11 p.m. The glitch prevented access to any exit poll results until technicians got a backup system operational at 1:33 a.m. yesterday.

The crash occurred barely minutes before the consortium was to update its exit polling with the results of later interviewing that found Bush with a one-point lead. Instead, journalists were left relying on preliminary exit poll results released at 8:15 p.m., which still showed Kerry ahead by three percentage points.

It was only after the polls had closed in most states and the vote count was well underway in the East that it became clear that Bush was in a stronger position in several key battlegrounds, including Ohio, than early exit polls suggested.

Some problems are inevitable. A total of 13,047 randomly selected voters were interviewed Tuesday as they left their polling places, and those results were fed into computers. The accumulated results were reported several times over the course of Election Day.

Results based on the first few rounds of interviewing are usually only approximations of the final vote. Printouts warn that estimates of each candidate's support are unreliable and not for on-air use. Those estimates are untrustworthy because people who vote earlier in the day tend to be different from those who vote in the middle of the day or the evening. For instance, the early national sample Tuesday that was 59 percent female probably reflected that more women vote in the day than the evening.

That is why the early leaks anger Lenski. "The basic issue here is the leaking of this information without any sophisticated understanding or analysis, in a way that makes it look inaccurate," he said.

After the survey is completed and the votes are counted, the exit poll results are adjusted to reflect the actual vote, which in theory improves the accuracy of all the exit poll results, including the breakdown of the vote by age, gender and other characteristics.

© 2004 The Washington

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Like pygmies on the battlefield of history, we cower like whipped dogs in the face of political pressure when it comes to issues like intelligence reform.
-- Sen. Robert Byrd, December 8, 2004.

There is a litany of complaints about the bill and the run-up to its passage in the U.S. Senate. Given the content of the criticisms, for example,
The 9/11 Commission recognized that its recommendations call for the government to increase its presence in people's lives, and so it wisely endorsed the creation of an independent Civil Liberties Board to defend our privacy rights and liberties. The Senate-passed bill embraced this recommendation and included additional protections to help ensure that executive agencies could not exert undue influence on the Board. This conference agreement scuttles those protections by burying the Board deep inside of the Office of the President, subjecting Board members to White House pressure
it's hard to imagine that this bill passed so easily!

The text of Byrd's critique from the Senate floor can be found here.

More hits by the "Great One-O-Eight": The Nethercutt Amendment

Then there's the Omnibus Budget Bill that was held up for two weeks because of the Congressional tax return snooping clause that wasn't supposed to have been noticed to have been inserted by Istook. Well, it turns out there are some other nasty provisions in there, only these provisions didn't get flagged before Dubya got his meathooks on it.

There's another provision in there that authorizes Congress to cut aid to allies who support the World Court authority to try U.S. soldiers for war crimes.

Did Somebody say, "Voting?"

The Baltimore Sun has the best mainstream media editorial I have seen yet on the Ohio problem.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

election 2004

There is a database website on "voting incidents" that I just found out about in connection with the hearings that Conyers is holding in Washington today. See also his online documentation of Ohio voting and election problems.

I listened to the hearings. They are not official Judiciary Committee "hearings" because only the Democrats -- and not even all the Democrats -- sanctioned them. In any case, it was the most riveting, inspiring thing I've heard in American politics since Kerry's acceptance speech.

After listending to the "hearings," I heard about this Associated Press article on Democratic Underground. In the article, journalist Brent Kallestad writes:

More than nine in 10 respondents said they had no problems, other than having to wait in long lines, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

While 75 percent of voters described themselves as "very confident" or "somewhat confident" their vote was correctly counted, the degree of satisfaction varied between winners and losers, according to assistant poll director Clay Richards.

He said 95 percent of the Republicans quizzed said they were very or somewhat confident in the result, compared with only 58 percent of Democrats. President Bush (news - web sites) carried the state with 52 percent of the vote over Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites).

This all under a headline: "Poll: Fla. Voters Had No Voting Problems." This strikes me as blatant mendacity. So I wrote the AP this email in response:
I am amused by the article you published today under the headline:

Poll: Fla. Voters Had No Voting Problems.

Then Brent Kallestad went on to state:

"only 58 percent of Democrats" said they were very or somewhat confident in the results.

No problem?

You are the problem. This is blatant deception of the American public, whitewashing, and disinformation.

Ha! Ha! Ha! you hypocrites! You're supposed to be the last line of defense against tyranny in this country, but instead you're the first to betray your responsibilities.

You are responsible for the anger and fallout that could result from millions of fed-up, disfranchised Americans.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bev Harris speaks about Curtis, Madsen

Bev Harris at Black Box Voting provided a reasonable criticism of the Curtis and Madsen stories.

She coolly reminds us that audits take time and that jumping to conclusions about a large and intricate process is unwise.

In addition, she is careful to note that Madsen and Curtis attract a lot of attention but don't really speak to the hard issues of Votergate 2004, namely Ohio, voteswitching, specific programs and systems, and auditing.

She's not always agreeable, and she can also seem like a grandstander. At least we know her and her work. I think she has more credibility here than any of the other parties. The clincher is that she
  • recognizes the impact of the Madsen articles and the Curtis Affidavit,

  • sagaciously points out what's credible and what's questionable and why,

  • demonstrates how disinformation [in this instance] distracts, and

  • sounds logical and eminently cogent throughout.

The thing to do now is not take the bait, wait for the legitimate processes that are in place to work themselves out: the Conyers hearings, the Ohio recount, the Ahrenbeck challenge, Bev Harris's research. Jumping at a red herring could undermine the whole voting - investigative venture. Err with caution.

Additionally, Cannonfire has a lengthy summary of the election issues of the day. His work is not only broad in perspective, but the language is accessible. And he has a sense of humor. He introduces a link in his entry today that I had never heard of before, a muckraking work entitled Votescam, by the Collier brothers.

Monday, December 06, 2004

good news

Grit used to brag that it was, "America's hometown newspaper." The mantle, though, is now passing to the Crawford, TX Iconoclast.

Ever since they endorsed Kerry in 2004, they've been living up to their name with kudos. We would like to see more American journalists follow their brave example.

This week, they even take a progressive stand on the Ohio recount.

Personally, I'm considering giving one of my close friends a subscription for Christmas.

Austin Chronicle
Another Texas newspaper that seems to have balls is the Austin Chronicle. They are running an eye-popping column by Lucius Lomax entitled, "Mutual Interests," about Veridian, a Texas defense contractor.

The story concludes thusly:
As we're all becoming aware, this conflict is less about ideology or security than it is about money. In fact, in some ways George W. Bush is best understood as a business himself, a corporation, a conglomerate, with offices in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Washington, suburban Virginia, and now, Baghdad.

In this light, the conquest of Iraq can be simply but accurately viewed as the ultimate hostile takeover.

Wayne Madsen
Meanwhile, Wayne Madsen is back at Online Journal with his most exciting offering yet on Votergate 2004. He's starting to name names and give details that, if they are true, are likely to either get him killed, sued, or both.

As I told Joseph Cannon, there is a revenge motive reported by Madsen, attributable to CIA operatives angered over George W. Bush's purge of the agency non-loyal personnel. Madsen now says,
People may wonder why a group of intelligence insiders would come forward to a non-major media outlet with such tantalizing information at this time. The corporate-beholden media cannot be trusted to report such a news story. A common theme from all the intelligence and ex-intelligence officials with whom I have communicated is that George W. Bush made a major mistake in attacking and purging the clandestine service of the CIA. The "agency," which extends far beyond the confines of Langley, Virginia, is having its revenge. It has willingly exposed a portion of a traditional clandestine CIA money route to expose the vote scam that was used to ensure Bush's election.

What concerns me is that this motive is too perfect. Is the software going to be examined and debunked publicly by Cliff Ahrenbeck and the other Ohio attorneys challenging the election? It's conceivable to me that this story goes nowhere because everybody is afraid to talk. It's going to take a computer software guru to break the story to the mainstream media, otherwise, we'll have to wait until the next election for another chance to blow this cover.

I sure have enjoyed reading these pieces by Madsen. I hope he follows up soon.

Roy Teixeira
This blogger has an exceptionally respectable quality to his work, especially in terms of hard data research, humble self referencing, and an overall tone of integrity and honest hard work to his reasonable words.

He raises an interesting question in this (12/05/04) blog, and he gives credit for ideas and research to this WP article.

As I write, these pieces are one day old already. Blackwell is certifying, Cobb and Alliance for Democracy are challenging, Madsen's newest piece with the "sworn affidavit" is out, and the fringe media are about to run with the Ohio election reprise. Teixeira has nothing to do with that. He is level, traditional, sober in his conclusions. He's no wild-eyed liberal extremist promulgating weekly conspiracy theories.

But Teixeira echoes an important question that the Post raises, and which everybody is going to be asking in the next week: "Where did those extra Bush votes come from?"

Friday, December 03, 2004


Subverting human rights concepts and practices turns legitimate authority into tyranny.

The authority of the government to govern our society, wage war and capture and try enemy combatants is not an authority created by the current administration, or even by this generation of Americans.

The authority of the American government rests on principles that are greater than any member of the government, any group in the society, and greater than any one generation of Americans, no matter how self-important.

That is why our government is now a tyranny, and why the world needs to consider whether it can safely allow the United States full participation in the community of civilized nations.

Colleen Redman
I never heard of this author before, but new lights in the sky are appearing every day of this season of reflection and soul searching.

Redman mentions the highlights in summarizing the genesis of the 2004 Votergate scandal. She doesn't have any breaking news, with the possible exception that a Harris poll (this one?) found one fifth of Americans mistrusting the election results.

She proceeds from the exit polls discrepancies and the statistical analysis from U of P, Berkeley and MIT, to the electronic "irregularities" that cropped up one at a time around the country.

With the backdrop of suppression and misinformation in Ohio and Florida, she appeals to reason and common sense by saying that we haven't heard more because the media haven't covered it. If they had, more Americans would doubt the fairness of the 2004 election.

You know, I agree. The Brad Menfils and Wayne Madsens aside, there's something about this whole election that hasn't added up since November 2nd. There's no turning away from it. It just sits there like a plastic bouquet.

One of the problems I had with Bush from 2000 was his disinterest in emphasizing the necessity of transparent, fair elections. During that Florida recount he never iterated a concern with fairness and the importance of every vote being counted. He was concerned about getting his recognition as the winner.

That attitude coupled with this passage from Redmann, makes me queasey:
Voting fraud is nothing new. It's part of our history and something both parties have been guilty of. If it's easy enough to do, you can be assured someone will do it. And never has it been so easy. Our voting system has been privatized by Republican-owned companies that have no meaningful federal or state regulations. It was Republicans who blocked legislation requiring that electronic voting machines produce a backup paper trail, and some are now calling for an end to exit polls.

Read her article in The Roanoke Times.

Election Fraud Conspiracy
I found another reference to the Madsen Votergate story on American Chronicle.

The Buying of Former and FBI and Republican "Vote Riggers": This article looks like something Madsen or one of his friends wrote for either more publicity/exposure, or to try to disseminate the story even further.

The thing is that this story has that spy-sour flavor to it: after the recent cia shakeup, the spooks are spilling the beans.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


These returns seem just as questionable -- if not more -- than the original, unofficial numbers. The returns on the provisionals are very very suspect, in my humble opinion.

I think the blogosphere is going to masticate these until at least Inauguration Day!

Meanwhile there's more from Madsen:

Special Report

Votergate: More details emerge
By Wayne Madsen Online Journal Contributing Writer

Does he make this stuff up as he goes along? It is so cloak and dagger!

This is the kind of quotation that challenges the credence of readers, but also stirs our imaginations:

New information obtained from knowledgeable U.S. intelligence sources reveal...

The thrust of the "Votergate" story is this:

The use of foreign nationals as election machine technicians on Election Day has also been confirmed. Sources with details of the vote rigging stated that some foreign nationals were involved in the reprogramming of Diebold and other machines in the four key states of Florida, Ohio, Texas, and California. The technicians successfully padded votes in Ohio to ensure that state's 20 electoral votes went to the Bush column. In populous counties in Florida, Texas, and California, the vote padding ensured that Bush's nationwide popular vote margin was well in excess of 3 million votes, giving him 51 percent of the national vote over John Kerry.

I suspect that this theory will be in circulation for decades, if not generations, and possibly never be fully disproven. Every few months or years some new, break-open evidence will surface. I believe it, but I don't think it will be possible to convince the American public. That is, unless a 5 star prosecutor like John Kerry can drag the witnesses into the light and compel the media to roll the cameras!

Brad Menfil

Cannonfire had written about "Brad Menfil" right after the election: "Brad Is At It Again: Vote Fraud"

Cannon says:

Bottom line: I think the guy's a fraud.

So why am I wasting space reprinting his current "revelations" about the election? Because I don't know with 100% certainty that he is a fraud. And even if he is, his scenarios are, if nothing else, interesting.

Here is Menfil's post on DU

Voter Fraud - Please Read My Explanation Below
27.Nov.2004 19:38
Brad Menfil

Brad Menfil is not my real name. I work for the RNC. I fear reprisals
if I'm found out.

The truth about this election is this: Florida and Ohio had to go for
Bush in order for him to "win" the election. In reality he lost both
states. In fact, he did not even win the popular vote. He lost the
national popular vote by at least 1,750,000. This shows you the scale
of the fraud.

The exit polls were not wrong. Kerry was the clear winner, but victory
was snatched from him.

Florida first. The 200,000+ margin of victory for Bush made this state
uncontestable. Everybody assumes that even with some fraud, Kerry could
never have made up the difference in a recount. But Kerry actually won
by about 750,000 votes. The numbers were changed by a computer program
(in both electronic and scan-tron voting systems) called "KerryLite."
"KerryLite" of course is not actual name of the program. The actual
name is 11-5-18-18 etc. For additional encryption, the numbers were
jumbled but I'm not sure in which order. The numbers replace the
letters of the alphabet. For example, K is the eleventh letter of the

So the if-then statement goes something like this: "if total true
Kerry>total true Bush, Bush x 1.04x (.04 is a random number)(total true
Kerry), total true Bush". The second part of the equation takes the
total number of votes cast and subtracts the new Bush total, subtracts
the third party totals and leaves the rest for Kerry.

Sometimes the program would also reduce third party votes and award
them to Bush. And even where Bush legitimately won, he was still
awarded additional votes. The big Democratic counties (Broward for
example) went to Kerry because it had to appear that everything was on
the up and up. It's interesting to see this unfold. Does anybody wonder
why the Republican counties were mostly counted after the Democratic
counties? You should wonder, and also know that this was no accident.
The Bush team had to make up the votes as the night went on.

In Ohio, computer voting fraud, vote tossing and voter suppression were
the main methods. Vote tossing was simply the removal of Kerry votes
and some third party votes. In some areas, the Bush vs. Kerry votes
were absurd. Nine to one, eight to two.

Voter suppression took the form of making voters stand in four hour
long lines. This of course took place in Democratic areas. The simplest
thing to do was to have too few voting machines. Sometimes that's all
it takes. People eventually lose patience and leave without casting a

In other states such as New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire,
Kerry's leads evaporated very quickly once the polls were shut down.
Kerry only won New Hampshire, but barely. As it turned out, the lead
was 6% for Kerry in that state and not enough fraudulent activity took
place to flip the state to Bush.

So this will all come out and be known to everyone. Nothing this
massive can be kept a secret. You're already beginning to see these
"irregularities" and the whisper will become a roar.

Hang in there!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ohio and 2004 election

The Institute for Public Accuracy has a clear and timely webpage entitled, "Was the Ohio Election Honest and Fair?" It is dated November 3, 2004, and provides a comprehensive summary of the problem.

We'll find out soon whether or not there will be a solution to the problem, but since denial is such a contagious disorder among voting age adults in this society, it seems unlikely there will be any recognition of the problem, let alone a solution.

There is a nice list on DU about compendiums that I ran across today. The book on this thing is writing itself!

Up from the underworld this Daily Kos diary by Major Tom encourages us to trust our best judgment and not to be shy about it. We have a right, an obligation to make a stink about this election. There's historical precedent for such behavior under the circumstances, and it will likely serve the interests of the public very well.

More specifically, Tom says:

"Res Ipsa Loquitor," What It Means:

There is something else that I should discuss at this point. There is an old legal doctrine on the books known as "Res Ipsa Loquitor." It is a Latin phrase which basically means, "Let the object speak for itself."

Where's the Burden of Proof?

How is Res Ipsa Loquitor applicable here? Well, in theory, when something goes awry concerning an object or instrumentality which is in the exclusive control of a person or persons, be it equipment or the like, and that failure does not normally occur without fault or without negligence, then the burden to prove that the object or the machine did not malfunction in a certain way then legally shifts to the owner or exclusive possessor of that very object or machine.

Respectfully, under the principles of this specific, time-tested legal doctrine, I would contend that Diebold, et al., should be required to prove how any of its vote machines malfunctioned in any given instance, or put another way, they should have the burden of proof to demonstrate that all of its machines functioned properly, just as they were intended to function. You know, when you really think about the fact that our democracy itself happens to be at stake, that isn't asking a whole lot.

I hadn't heard anything about Cleveland v. Hancock in fifteen to twenty years. Maybe we're coming around to the end of one of those cycles in history where we have a chance to get things right if we're willing to do the work.