Saturday, November 11

Freeper Madness Rising

When you start to feel overwhelmed by the thought that we have finally arrived at the grown-up table, and wonder if any of the righteous anger that helped get us here might begin to fade.  Just take a second to remember the type of mind-set that we have been fighting against the the last six twelve years.  Remember the completely mental, fantasy addled frothing freeper nut-balls that have been running the Congress - and this Country - during that time.


This is a an example of Rabid Freeper Madness that will either bring you to stitches or outrage... possibly both.
From Democratic Underground.


I know you probably get a lot of messages asking you to read stuff on your show, but I BEG you to read this...... I would like you to tell America exactly what they did to their soldiers on Tuesday, and what WE think about our countrymen right now.


"I hope you are satisfied with what you have done...


Today in the mess hall, where there is usually jovial conversation, there was silence, long faces, and broken spirits... Everyone, to include all American soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, Iraqi Nationals, Bulgarian Soldiers, etc, etc... was speechless, tired, demoralized and stunned.... all ate in erie silence.....


Last night, while we watched the press conference with the President, there was utter discust, and the common feeling amongst us all that we soldiers are now the loneliest people on Earth.... we fight an enemy over here, and we have a country full of enemies to go home to that are our countrymen. We watched President Bush say his own political funeral, our commander and chief.. as well as ours..... He tried so hard to spin it, but... well.. there is no way to soften such a morale blow.


While you sit and Monday morning quarterback what we work so hard to do for you out here, just know that the spirit of your team is wounded..... YOU liberals, you America have done a great job of demoralizing us... Thank you.


Do us a favor though, when we do come home, spare us the ceremony....... We all now know that it is a bunch of crap, and what you think of us.......


I have to say that right now, I would rather be a pussy ass Frenchman, even though they have no will to fight, at least they have the balls to make a decision and stick with it...... They stuck to thier guns about staying out of this war, even if it was the wrong decision......America on the other hand, goes off half cocked, and when the decision appears to be a hard one, or something that might cost a little bit, they turn tail and run.....


WHAT A NATION OF PUSSIES!!!!


This week I am NOT proud to say that I am an American..........I think it is obvious why... See, we just have told the world that we are not a nation of people who are tough, and will fight for what we believe in... We have told the world that we are a giant coward that will shy away from any difficult challenge...


So, while you eat your cheetos, and sit there and watch your lazy ass get fatter, dumber and happier Joe Citizen.. Just remember this, I, and all my commrades payed a dear price to come this far and have you decide that we should fail...


Realize this, because of your action this week America.... do not expect so many men to be so willing to stand up for your next little whim just to be cut down in the middle of it all............


Realize this also.. you have just put a heavy price on the heads of us all...... Now that we are branded as cowards, we are an easy target, oh so inviting for the taking....... I swore to protect your children in your beds.... yet you fling the door wide open inspite of me to invite the scourge.... Well.... have it your way then.


Because of this, September 11th will soon be overshadowed by these same enemies.. my advice to you is get your lazy, self centered ass up and make peace with your God, and your family.. cause, time will come when they may not be there for you................Because you kicked me in the teeth, and so many others, I know I won't any more.. "


Aaron.


What has been already pointed out on the DU thread is that Bulgaria left Iraq in December of 2005. (Although it's fair to point out that they also sent back 140 troops guard a refugee camp in February) - the odds that this letter has any basis in fact remain very low.


That someone would dishonor our troops in this way, making them into petulant children is disgraceful.  Their duty is to  serve the civilian leadership faithfully and to the best of their ability.  If that leadership changes, so be it.


When the days go long and the battle to correct the path of our ship of state seems endless - just remember that we voted to protect our soldiers, we voted to restore their healthcare, to bring them the armor the need - to give them a plan to win rather than the empty rhetoric of continued failure.


Remember "Aaron" and his inane freeper nonesense - and keep up the good fight.


Vyan

Friday, November 10

Why Rummy is the New Brownie!

Anybody else out there suffering from whiplash?

Wed Nov 1.

President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain in his administration until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most criticized members of his team.

One Week Later (and just one day after the Mid-Term Thumpin')

As the Commander-in-Chief, I take these responsibilities seriously. And so does the man who served this nation honorably for almost six years as our Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Now, after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the timing is right for new leadership at the Pentagon.

We all have heard the Presidents claims that he simply wanted to get the "next question" when he blatantly lied about Rumsfeld staying on last week - but the timing of the firing - and it was a firing - portends far far more.

Please note the Rumsfeld had resigned twice before - the first time was after Abu Ghraib was revealed. That's not coincidence.

Rumsfeld got taken out with the trash strategically and purposefully. Yes, it's true that over a dozen retierd generals had called for his resignation, and that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Times had published a joint editorial calling for Rumsfeld to leave - but I don't think those were ultimately the reasons.

The reality of a Democratic Congress with genuine investigative and subpeona power - and a powerful mad-on after 12 years off being kicked and stomped in the face by Republicans - required a sacrifice.

Rumsfeld is that sacrifice, but more importantly - he's bait.

Neo-Cons and their enabling lackey's like O'Leilly are already trotting out their brand shiny new "Democrats have to be moderate" meme.

Now the unintended consequence of the power shift in D.C. is that some Democrats will try to impose a secular-progressive agenda on the country.

First, there will be an attempt to raise taxes -- Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel will lead that.

Second, new speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will encourage investigations of the Bush administration, seeking to create a scandal which would help the Democrat presidential nominee in 2008.

But that could backfire on the Democrats as most Americans do not want Mr. Bush attacked. They want to see if the Democrats can do better. They do not want to see their government ripped apart in a time of war.

Create a Scandal?

The Iraq War itself - how and we why got into it, the missing WMD's, the Armor problems, the outsourcing of basic functions, the missing $8.8 Billion, the total $500 price tag, the body count, the failed reconstruction, Haditha , Mahmoudiya and the rising suicide rate among our troops - is the greatest Scandal this nation has seen in a century.

Then you have Gannon/Guckert, paying journalist to write pro-Administration puff pieces, manufacturing phony news stories, the failure to respond to the Cole Bombing and ignoring warnings about bin Laden, the illegal NSA wiretaps and datamining, Abramoff, the Plame-Wilson outing, the Robo-calling and phone jamming, publishing Nuclear Secrets on the Web, the muzzling of scientists by political appointees, the bait and switch of Bush's Faith Based Initiatives...

Democrats don't have to "make up a scandal" - they have a all you can eat buffet of scandals laid out right in front of them.

But the juiciest scandal is Rumsfeld and his involvement in War Crimes including the U.S. performing Kidnappings, Secret Dentention, Torture and Murder. This is the hottest potato in the patch, because there's a paper trail a mile wide that leads directly to Rumsfelds Desk - and a War Crime which results in murder is a Capital Offense.

  • In October 2002 Gitmo commanders request "that additional techniques beyond those in the field manual be approved for use.""

  • In December of 2002 SecDef Rumsfeld allows for ""stress positions," hooding, 20-hour interrogations, removal of clothing, exploiting phobias to induce stress (e.g., fear of dogs), prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and forced grooming. These techniques soon spread to Afghanistan and later to Iraq." according to documents obtain by the ACLU.

  • Also in December of 2002 the FBI begins complaining to the Defense Department about the conditions at Gitmo, and in Afghanistan some detainees are "killed during interrogation" at Bagram AFB.

Since then we've had over two dozen War on Terror detainees - Tortured to Death. That's 26 Times the Death Penalty, all under Rumsfeld's command.

This is why Bush was so fired up to have the Military Commissions Act passed before the election - that act not only allows the President to re-write Geneva on the back of a piece of toilet paper, he can redefine War Crimes. (But even under the new and not-so-improved version of the Act - Murder is still a Crime) So now he's dumped Rumsfeld (hoping that none of Rummy's stink will be able to stick to the ongoing administration) he'll have his brand new SecDef in place and confirmed before the Democrats actually move into their new offices in the Senate in January. This is replay of the scapegoat shuffle he pulled with Brownie, managing to walk away scott-free from any responsibility for the Katrina mess.

He's stalling for time until the end of his Administration, trying to sweep all this stuff under the rug, quickly, so that even if Democrats manage to pry it up and drag Rummy back out, they'll have to slow roast him on a spit under subpeona (he's a gammy old bird and he won't crack easily). The hearings will drag on and on, meanwhile Bush's Administration will be able to continue functioning unhampered and own hands will look (relatively) clean.

But they aren't.

The War Crimes implemented by Rumsfeld still lead directly back to the Bush's own office due to the Bybee Memo and Abu Gonzales' recommendation that detainees be denied Geneva status simply to avoid vulnerability to the War Crimes Act.

They knew they were going to commit War Crimes, they just didn't want to get caught.

Next to go - will probably be Cheney who also have his fingerprints all over this torture stuff. There's one thing we can count on, Bush will do whatever it takes to save his own ass. If he could dump Rummy, he can dump Shooter too - and that I think, would be a very interesting situation because I don't think Cheney will simply walk away.

He'll fight back and it could get pretty darn ugly.

I plan to bring pop-corn.

Vyan

Thursday, November 9

Election Night After Action Report

My Interview with Video The Vote on Election Eve.


On this YouTube Video as a Pollworker I describe the two new voting machines which were used during the 2006 Midterm Elections in Los Angeles Country, which had been sitting in my living room for over a week prior to November 7th.

On tape I discuss the various security concerns and safeguards which have been put in place to protect the vote and these machines from possible tampering.

On election night our Precinct ran smoothly. We had approximately 280 Voters come through, 20 of those had to use provisional ballots because they were not listed on our voter roster. (Most had come to the wrong polling location - as the County gradually shifts the precincts around in preparation for full electronic voting at "Neighborhood Voting Centers" (NVCs).

Overall turnout (number of signatures in roster vs total registerd voters in the precinct) was about 23%. 18 ballots were cast with Overvotes (Two or more choices selected for the same race) and were rejected by our Precinct Ballot Reader. (Which is a failure rate of about 7%) In all but two of those cases the voter cast a new ballot and it was accepted, the others simply let the ballot go through as it was with the mistakes intact. In previous years a ballot with an overvote would have been entirely rejected and not counted, but this year for the first time only the race which includes the overvote will be ignored.

Two voters entered blank ballots and had those ballots rejected. They successfully revoted.

This means that voter "turnout" should have increased by between 5-10% across the entire county due to the use of these machines, simply because ballots that would have been rejected would now be counted and included in the final tally.

On the tape I mention that voters essentially had "Three Strikes and your out" - meaning they had three chances to successfully vote. This became a bit of a discussion with the people at Election Protection, but the bottom line was that I was correct - technically. California State Law only allows a voter to have two correction ballots (three total). We didn't have anyone go to the third ballot - but we did have one person who had significant errors twice in a row. He walked out in disgust and we entered his ballot with the "Override" so that his remaining errors would be ignored. This could also have been done if he'd tried to use a third ballot and still had received errors.

My own mother, who was the Precinct Inspector, made an overvote mistake on her ballot which the machine caught. In as many cases as we could we would manually verify the overvote reported by the machine and show this to the voter so that they could understand what the mistake had been and how to correct it. Usually people with weaker eyesight had simply punched one hole above or below where they intended and created an overvote.

Overall for us, things went smoothly - we ran into no significant problems. As it turned out though - we were lucky.

Some of the other poll workers interviewed by Video the Vote from West Hollywood (a Very Heavily Democratic District I think - since the Polls were at the Gay and Lesbian Center!) were going through a veritable nightmare with these machines at their NVC which included three precincts in one location. I actually talked to this pollworker myself on election day and the situations was that one of the inspectors and all their materials were sent to another location, so every voter who arrived for that precinct had to be put on provisional ballots (which ended up being around 200) because they had no Roster to verify if those people were legal voters or not.

They didn't have any ballots for that precinct - so they had to use the sample ballots that were only supposed to used for demostration purposes. (But are still a valid backup).

They had two voting machines - but one of them failed totally, while the second was having a wiring problem and would short out and restart. As a result they were only using one machine for three precincts and some of the ballots were generating a message "Ballot Error" when entered.

As these Precinct Ballot Reader machines are started and initialized, a special card has to be put into the machine. I examined this card and found that it was very much like an old school IBM Punch Card (I mean real... old school - like from the 70's. Admittedly my computer experience actually does go back that far - I was pratically a blastocyst with an Atari). The punch holes on the ballots matched this card exactly, and the ballots themselves included a unique Serial Number which matched the Serial Number for the Precinct.

From a programming and systems design background it seems to me that each machine was probably pre-programmed with the ballot for every portion of L.A.County, including any local initiatives which would only be valid in certain cities. On election day the reader would read the setup card, and use it to identify which precinct it was currently located in, then call up the approprate ballot template to check for overvotes. From what I could tell this was the only way things could have been functioning, or else they would have had to preload only one precinct per machine and then make sure they gave the right machine to the correct inspector. (Em, I don't think so...)

This of course made me suspect that the West Hollywood "Ballot Error" was the result of trying to place two precincts ballots through the same reader. I haven't yet been able to confirm this yet, but I strongly suspect this was the case.

I don't know if the fact that our district is almost equally split between Democrats and Republicans is part of why things went fine without a glitch while a heavily Democratic District went through veritable hell. Was it simply human error or more? Hard to say at this point. But as more and more Election After Action Reports come through, we might eventually be able to see a pattern emerge or not.

One thing we can't afford to do - is not pay attention.

Vyan

Security Note: On the Video I discuss the security tabs which is used to cover an RS-232 ethernet port on the Ballot Reader. When I got a better look I discovered that those tabs were reenforced and individually numbered. Also I stated that the machine had no memory card - but during the election I discovered a second security tab which was placed over a locked door on the lower left side of the machine, below the touchscreen (I tried to get a picture of it above). Exactly what is behind that door, I don't know - but it clearly means that there might have been more externally adjustable elements than I had previously seen.

Wednesday, November 8

Hey GOP - Welcome to the New Permanent Republican Minority

Congrats to House Speaker Pelosi - and god willing and the crick don't rise - Senate Majority Leader Reid.


People we just did what they said - repeatedly - we couldn't do. We have just crushed the Gingrich Revolution into dust. What I'm thinking right now is Permanent Republican Minority, because lets be honest - people didn't vote the Democrats in - they voted the Republcans out. They took out moderate anti-War Republicans like Chaffee and Dewine just to make sure they lost power. Period.


After $500 Billion being tossed out like the morning trash in Iraq, after Katrina and practically no hearings, after Downing Street, after NSAT&T, after Terri Schiavo, Gitmo, Habaes Corpus and Due Process on a stick, the nation finally screamed -- ENOUGH!


And it was a beautiful sound to hear.
What we've learned over the last six years, and particularly the last two - is that these bastard's can't be trusted.


I for one do not believe that it is simply in the nature of holding power that corruption festers. It's also in the nature of ones character, and in the natura of ones worldview.


We saw the character of the Gingrichians when they nearly caused the country to default on it's loans by refusing to raise the debt ceiling in 1995. If President Clinton's then Treasury Secretary hadn't done some fast and furious money shifting THIS COUNTRY WOULD HAVE GONE INTO DEFAULT simply to satify their rabid lust for tax cuts.


It was clear then that their primary desire was to generate tax kickbacks to their pals, cronies, buddies and donors. The Hiltons. The Lays. The Skillings. The Trumps. The Blue Blooded American Aristocrat Money Whore Dilitants were and are the only true masters of the Republican Party.


Oh sure, they provided plenty of lip service and red meat to the Christian "Wackos" (via Mike Scanlon and David Kuo), siddling up to people like Randal Terry, they exploited every young female blonde in jeapardy ™, baited every gay-basher they could find, played the Deliverance Card all through the south, but they were simply using all of them to service one thing - their own greed.


It was all about greed. Greed, Power and self-gratification. It's a story that ran through Abramoff, Cunningham, Ney, Safavian, (ex White House Domestic Policy Head Claude) Allen, Gannon/Guckert, Haggard, Foley, Reynolds, Hastert and Tom DeLay.


Now Those Days are Over. America wanted them out! They're toast.


In the last days of the election there were definate signs that every rat in the elephant boat was looking for their own personal dingy. The outcome was truly never in doubt (and I'm proud to say I predicted a 30-seat pickup in the house over 3 weeks ago)


From Vanity Fair you had the neo-con Architects of the Iraq War ready to fire the Contractors - Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney - for building a broken house.


As he looks into my eyes, speaking slowly and with obvious deliberation, Perle is unrecognizable as the confident hawk who, as chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, had invited the exiled Iraqi dissident Ahmad Chalabi to its first meeting after 9/11. "The levels of brutality that we've seen are truly horrifying, and I have to say, I underestimated the depravity," Perle says now, adding that total defeat--an American withdrawal that leaves Iraq as an anarchic "failed state"--is not yet inevitable but is becoming more likely. "And then," says Perle, "you'll get all the mayhem that the world is capable of creating."


According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.... At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.... I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."


To people like Pearle and Frum, it wasn't that the idea of invading an unarmed nation was fucking stupid thing to do - it was a problem with "execution". Er right. How 'bout admitting that there was problem with Both, eh sparky?


Not likely.


The American Conservative Magazine, run by that xenophobic nutbag Pat Buchanan, actually endorsed the Democrats.


They lost the fiscal conservatives with their run-away spending. They lost the social conservatives with their blatant hypocrasy. They lost the Christian Right with their closeted gay self-loathing. They lost the War Hawks with their total combat command incompetence.


There were hundreds of reasons to toss this Congress under the bus, back up and hit 'em again.


And you can't say that Republicans didn't fight back. Hard.


They pulled every trick in the book, then went and got a few new books. You had Radio Host Laura Ingraham endorsing the phone jamming of a voter protection hotline. Massive Robo-calling by the NRCC all over the country (which eerily targeted vulnerable Republican Districts). Phony Voter ID requirements in Georgia. Voter intimidation in Virginia.


We fought back - with a massive Election Protection campaign, and organizations such as Video the Vote. (Who actually interviewed me in my capacity as a Poll Worker over the issue of housing Voting Machines in my home for over a week).


This time we were ready for their B.S.


Still some of these efforts were effective. We saw great candidates like Tammy Duckworth and Harold Ford Jr. (whose concession speach was truly inspiring) taken down.


But on the other hand seeing Rick "Man on Dog/Yeah sure we found WMD's" Sanitorium hitting the mat for a 10 count was more than worth the price of admission.


Does it sound like I'm gloating? Damn straight. I'm doing the Snoopy Dance on the grave of Bush/Gingrich's Legacy. Cue Linus. Time to boogey down.


We've got a lot of work ahead of us dismantling and fixing all of Bush and the Gopers massive fuck-ups. The Minimum Wage, Health Care, Alternative Energy Developement, Gulf Coast Recovery, The Deficit and Social Security Solvency - not to mention the Wars on Iraq, Terror and American Liberty which still need to be fought and each - Won.


Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We may not always be happy with the results, but two things are for sure...


Dems couldn't possibly do a worse job than the GOP has for the past 6 years - and we can't EVER let them get back into Power again.


Vyan

Monday, November 6

Protecting the Vote - Once Precinct at a Time

Although the daunting prospect of electronic voting as well as organized voter suppression looms on the eve of the 2006 election, there are still a great many things that we individuals can do to protect the vote.

If you haven't already - Take Tomorrow Off From Work and plan to spend all day at the Polls.

As a citizen it is your right to be able to watch your Democracy and progress. the only way that the vote can be tampered with or stolen is when no one is looking.

Go to the Polls and keep Watch on our Democracy, but most importantly - you must document what you see!

Depending on the rules in your state, some of the details may vary slightly - but in general there is no reason why you can not go to your local voting place and simply watch.

Here are some simple rules of thumb and suggestions.

    Bring a Lunch.

    Bring a Camera (preferably video).

    Bring a Phone.

    Bring a Notepad.

    Bring a portable radio with earphones so you can hear the local and nation news without disturbing others.

    Do NOT discuss preferences on the ballots measure or specific races while within 40-100 ft (depending on the state) of the polling place. That is Electioneering and is prohibited by law. Make note and document anyone else you see violating this law.

    Poll workers should be courteous and helpful. They should not object to your watching as long as you don't interfere with their work or the voters.

    Make a note of excessive delays or lines, note the precinct and average wait times.

    As the day progresses Read and Review the Street Index, which should be updated each hour by poll workers to indicate which persons in the precinct have already voted and posted near the entrance. This can used for last-minute GOTV as the index should include the name, address, phone number and party affiliation of each registered voter. If you have a phone (tip #2 above) you can call any voter and remind them of the election and ask them if they plan to vote today, but you can not suggest to them how they should vote while in the polling place. Some people might be put-off by a cold-calling of this type (even if they aren't already getting robo-bombed) - so use your best judgement and always be courteous.

    Pay attention to voter ID challenges. (I'm a poll-worker in California so I can speak to their laws primarily, and in California you do not need ID to vote as long as your are listed in the Roster as an "Active" Voter - one who has voted at least once during the past two Presidential election cycles. If you have not, you should be listed as an "Inactive" voter and you still don't need ID, only to verify your name and address - then recite a voter oath. New Voters who've recently registered must show ID - or proof of address - if they can't they can still vote provisionally.

    Pay attention to how and when voters are shunted toward provisional ballots. Voters Should Not Be Harrassed The rules may vary from state to state, but generally provisional ballots should only be issued for people who are a) New without ID or b) Voting outside their normal precinct. Provisional voters should be given a receipt which tells them that they can call a number or check a website 30 days after the election to verify that their vote was or wasn't counted.

    Each voter should sign the roster individually. If someone comes to the poll and finds that someone else has already signed their slot on the roster - that's not a good sign. Document it.

    Document any reports of "Vote Flipping" with Electronic Vote Machines.

    Document, if you can, the details of votes which have been rejected by Ballot Readers. (Units made by ES&S have been distributed to all 5000 precincts in LA.) For this election the readers will not be counting the votes, only checking them for errors - votes missing or overvotes - and generating a report. The voter should have the option to override the error report if they don't care about those particular races , or redo their ballot to fix any problems. The Ballot Readers I've seen Do not have Memory Cards, but they do have an Ethernet Cable Port which should be covered by a piece of security tape. If you can, ensure sure that this tape has not been tampered with in order to hide unauthorized access to the machine's internals.

    New Audio Booths are now available which function like an automatic phone system and allows people who may be visually impaired, unable to read or not speak english to vote. These Audio Booths are controlled by through the Ballot Reader device and will print their own ballots once the voter has completed making their selections. Unfortunately these devices have a limit of only 25 ballots - one of which is automatically printed when the device is booted - so only 24 persons per precinct will be able to use this device.

    If you see questionable activity and don't have a camera of your own you can contact 1-866-OUR-VOTE which is national hotline associated with Video the Vote.org who may be able to send a voluanteer camera crew out depending on your location.

    If you do have a Camera you can upload your video and observations to forums like this one, Youtube or Oped News.com

There's no real excuse for sitting on your hands and not taking part in your democracy. Voting itself is least you can do.

Other suggestions welcome...

Vyan