Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This was in the SF Chronicle this morning;

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Like others in the Bay Area, I was huddled with friends around the television set Tuesday night, my son pressing a blue-donkey or red-elephant sticker on each state as the returns rolled in. As we held out hope for Ohio, one friend related a story that, in retrospect, helped me understand Bush's convincing victory as well as any I have heard.

A young man, my friend said, was walking door to door on her street a few weeks ago to raise money for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. When he knocked on the door of one house, the owner responded to the young man in a huff.

"I'm a Republican!'' she said. "Didn't you see my flag?'' That, in the end, is what it boiled down to. Somehow, as Bush and his party cut taxes to the rich, sent young Americans to their deaths in a war based on untruths (and managed with stunning incompetence), reneged on its financial commitment to education, and plunged the nation into crushing debt, they became symbols of morality and patriotism. They sold themselves as the party of God and country, offering comfort to people who wouldn't need comforting if the Bush administration had not created the very problems for which it then offered spiritual refuge. Give them credit. They are like PG&E nabbing the candle concession for a blackout the company caused itself. It is a confounding time to live in a place like the Bay Area. Watching the returns Tuesday night, and listening to voters across the country, I saw that John Edwards was right about the two Americas. But the two Americas are not divided by money but by belief systems that have drifted so far apart we barely recognize each other anymore. In exit polls Tuesday, morals topped the list of voter concerns, and an overwhelming majority believed Bush is more moral than Kerry. Thus the resounding victory for the incumbent. Here in the Bay Area, we, too, place a high priority on values and morality. But clearly, many of us define morality differently from much of America. It is not about church membership. The evidence of morality is in one's actions, not one's Sunday-morning rituals. Morality means more than prayer and more than proclaiming a personal relationship with God. It is social as well as religious. Is it moral to wage war on a country that did not attack us, and to wage it on false pretenses? Is it moral to stuff more money into the pockets of the wealthy while teachers buy their own crayons and patch their own classroom walls, and while people with mental illness live on the streets and in prison cells for lack of services? Is it moral to deny two people the joy of committing their lives to one another in marriage? Is it moral to prevent scientists from pursuing cures to devastating diseases because of our leaders' personal religious convictions? Our country has always included a mix of religious and political beliefs. But we shared a foundation of certain "truths to be self-evident'' that allowed us to meet on common ground. Today, I don't know. Our belief systems - - what is right and wrong, what is patriotic and what is not, what is truth and what is not -- are so different and so dramatically shape how we interpret news and information that we seem no longer to be living within the same culture. I can't for the life of me, for instance, figure out how anyone could watch those three presidential debates and even entertain the thought that Bush is qualified to lead the free world.

I am puzzled, too, by the reaction to the bin Laden tape. When bin Laden showed up on a video just days before the election, I figured it would remind Americans that Bush had yet to capture the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, that he got us sidetracked in Iraq, which had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Instead, the tape seemed to deepen many Americans' belief that ... what? Bush is doing such a good job on terrorism that we should renew his contract? Some have suggested that the Democratic Party needs to reconnect with middle America and its values, that we should take a page from the Republican playbook and talk more about God and faith. Yes, the Democrats need to revamp their strategy. But I would hate to think we would try to win next time around by emulating politicians who get away with destructive and amoral acts by passing them off as directives from God. Faith and flags won this election. But I haven't lost my belief in another f-word -- facts. They're bound to come back into fashion sooner or later.>>
Kristin Cobb, Ph.D.>> http://www.stanford.edu/~kcobb>>
Stanford University>>
Department of Health Research and Policy>>
650-723-6879 (Stanford)>> 650-269-2896 (cell)>>


Monday, November 08, 2004

Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

by Thom Hartmann / Common Dreams

When I spoke with Jeff Fisher this morning (Saturday, November 06, 2004), the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 16th District said he was waiting for the FBI to show up. Fisher has evidence, he says, not only that the Florida election was hacked, but of who hacked it and how. And not just this year, he said, but that these same people had previously hacked the Democratic primary race in 2002 so that Jeb Bush would not have to run against Janet Reno, who presented a real threat to Jeb, but instead against Bill McBride, who Jeb beat.
"It was practice for a national effort," Fisher told me.
And evidence is accumulating that the national effort happened on November 2, 2004.
The State of Florida, for example, publishes a county-by-county record of votes cast and people registered to vote by party affiliation. Net denizen Kathy Dopp compiled the official state information into a table, available at http://ustogether.org/Florida_Election.htm, and noticed something startling.
While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios matched the Kerry/Bush vote, and so did the optically-scanned paper ballots in the larger counties, in Florida's smaller counties the results from the optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking - seem to have been reversed.
In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.
In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.
The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the smaller counties where, it was probably assumed, the small voter numbers wouldn't be much noticed. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.
Yet in the larger counties, where such anomalies would be more obvious to the news media, high percentages of registered Democrats equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry.
More visual analysis of the results can be seen at http://ustogether.org/election04/FloridaDataStats.htm, and www.rubberbug.com/temp/Florida2004chart.htm.
And, although elections officials didn't notice these anomalies, in aggregate they were enough to swing Florida from Kerry to Bush. If you simply go through the analysis of these counties and reverse the "anomalous" numbers in those counties that appear to have been hacked, suddenly the Florida election results resemble the Florida exit poll results: Kerry won, and won big.
Those exit poll results have been a problem for reporters ever since Election Day.
Election night, I'd been doing live election coverage for WDEV, one of the radio stations that carries my syndicated show, and, just after midnight, during the 12:20 a.m. Associated Press Radio News feed, I was startled to hear the reporter detail how Karen Hughes had earlier sat George W. Bush down to inform him that he'd lost the election. The exit polls were clear: Kerry was winning in a landslide. "Bush took the news stoically," noted the AP report.
But then the computers reported something different. In several pivotal states.
Conservatives see a conspiracy here: They think the exit polls were rigged.
Dick Morris, the infamous political consultant to the first Clinton campaign who became a Republican consultant and Fox News regular, wrote an article for The Hill, the publication read by every political junkie in Washington, DC, in which he made a couple of brilliant points.
"Exit Polls are almost never wrong," Morris wrote. "They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state."
He added: "So, according to ABC-TVs exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points."
Yet a few hours after the exit polls were showing a clear Kerry sweep, as the computerized vote numbers began to come in from the various states the election was called for Bush.
How could this happen?
On the CNBC TV show "Topic A With Tina Brown," several months ago, Howard Dean had filled in for Tina Brown as guest host. His guest was Bev Harris, the Seattle grandmother who started www.blackboxvoting.org from her living room. Bev pointed out that regardless of how votes were tabulated (other than hand counts, only done in odd places like small towns in Vermont), the real "counting" is done by computers. Be they Diebold Opti-Scan machines, which read paper ballots filled in by pencil or ink in the voter's hand, or the scanners that read punch cards, or the machines that simply record a touch of the screen, in all cases the final tally is sent to a "central tabulator" machine.
That central tabulator computer is a Windows-based PC.
"In a voting system," Harris explained to Dean on national television, "you have all the different voting machines at all the different polling places, sometimes, as in a county like mine, there's a thousand polling places in a single county. All those machines feed into the one machine so it can add up all the votes. So, of course, if you were going to do something you shouldn't to a voting machine, would it be more convenient to do it to each of the 4000 machines, or just come in here and deal with all of them at once?"
Dean nodded in rhetorical agreement, and Harris continued. "What surprises people is that the central tabulator is just a PC, like what you and I use. It's just a regular computer."
"So," Dean said, "anybody who can hack into a PC can hack into a central tabulator?"
Harris nodded affirmation, and pointed out how Diebold uses a program called GEMS, which fills the screen of the PC and effectively turns it into the central tabulator system. "This is the official program that the County Supervisor sees," she said, pointing to a PC that was sitting between them loaded with Diebold's software.
Bev then had Dean open the GEMS program to see the results of a test election. They went to the screen titled "Election Summary Report" and waited a moment while the PC "adds up all the votes from all the various precincts," and then saw that in this faux election Howard Dean had 1000 votes, Lex Luthor had 500, and Tiger Woods had none. Dean was winning.
"Of course, you can't tamper with this software," Harris noted. Diebold wrote a pretty good program.
But, it's running on a Windows PC.
So Harris had Dean close the Diebold GEMS software, go back to the normal Windows PC desktop, click on the "My Computer" icon, choose "Local Disk C:," open the folder titled GEMS, and open the sub-folder "LocalDB" which, Harris noted, "stands for local database, that's where they keep the votes." Harris then had Dean double-click on a file in that folder titled "Central Tabulator Votes," which caused the PC to open the vote count in a database program like Excel.
In the "Sum of the Candidates" row of numbers, she found that in one precinct Dean had received 800 votes and Lex Luthor had gotten 400.
"Let's just flip those," Harris said, as Dean cut and pasted the numbers from one cell into the other. "And," she added magnanimously, "let's give 100 votes to Tiger."
They closed the database, went back into the official GEMS software "the legitimate way, you're the county supervisor and you're checking on the progress of your election."
As the screen displayed the official voter tabulation, Harris said, "And you can see now that Howard Dean has only 500 votes, Lex Luthor has 900, and Tiger Woods has 100." Dean, the winner, was now the loser.
Harris sat up a bit straighter, smiled, and said, "We just edited an election, and it took us 90 seconds."
On live national television. (You can see the clip on www.votergate.tv)
Which brings us back to Morris and those pesky exit polls that had Karen Hughes telling George W. Bush that he'd lost the election in a landslide.
Morris's conspiracy theory is that the exit polls "were sabotage" to cause people in the western states to not bother voting for Bush, since the networks would call the election based on the exit polls for Kerry. But the networks didn't do that, and had never intended to. It makes far more sense that the exit polls were right - they weren't done on Diebold PCs - and that the vote itself was hacked.
And not only for the presidential candidate - Jeff Fisher thinks this hit him and pretty much every other Democratic candidate for national office in the most-hacked swing states.
So far, the only national "mainstream" media to come close to this story was Keith Olbermann on his show Friday night, November 5th, when he noted that it was curious that all the voting machine irregularities so far uncovered seem to favor Bush. In the meantime, the Washington Post and other media are now going through single-bullet-theory-like contortions to explain how the exit polls had failed.
But I agree with Fox's Dick Morris on this one, at least in large part. Wrapping up his story for The Hill, Morris wrote in his final paragraph, "This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night. I suspect foul play."

Thanks to Betsy B for the input.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

A Soldiers view of 'W's' re-election. Excuse the langauge, he said it not me!

"4 more years America
If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted. I hope they stick you in my unit, and you go with me to Iraq when my unit goes back in September. I will laugh when you see what soldiers in that country face on a daily basis. I hope you work with gay soldiers too. I did. One of them saved my life. Think he shouldn't have the right to get married? Fuck you. He fought just as hard as I did and on most days, did his job better than me. Don't tell me gays don't have the same rights you do.Think the war in Iraq is a good thing? I'll donate my M-16 to you and you can go in my place".


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The following is an extract from a letter sent to Eric Alterman (co-author of the "Book on Bush"):

quote: "I just have one thing I want to say to everyone whether Kerry wins or not: DON'T STOP. STAY INVOLVED. Every American -- all those Reagan Democrats, all the misbegotten working people who consistently vote against their own interests -- needs to understand what liberal really means and what us liberals have given to this country. It's our political tradition that's full of riches and we need to start telling that to people again -- yelling it from the mountaintops because it's true. And to do that we need to keep on organizing." end quote.

Well said and after seeing the huge turn out of volunteers at the Club today for the GOTV effort, I have not doubt that Green Valley will indeed stay involved.


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