Friday, April 30, 2004

Vanishing Votes

Greg Palast in The Nation recalls the now familiar story of how Florida's voter rolls were purged before the 2000 election so that many eligible voters were disqualified for bogus reasons. In October 2002, The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed, supposedly to help Americans vote. Instead, writes Palast:

"HAVA not only blesses such purges, it requires all fifty states to implement a similar search-and-destroy mission against vulnerable voters. Specifically, every state must, by the 2004 election, imitate Florida's system of computerizing voter files. The law then empowers fifty secretaries of state--fifty Katherine Harrises--to purge these lists of "suspect" voters."

Is there no end to the number of grounds on which to lose confidence in the validity and legitimacy of the US electoral system? We are doing something about it. Read the Vote of No Confidence resolution.

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Letter to NYTimes >> Peaceful Dissent is a Patriotic American Birthright

Dear Editors:

I have been detecting a growing trend of people "speaking truth to power." It's happening at all levels and I'm glad that you enabled it with General Wesley Clark's recent editorial ("Medals of Honor", 4/28/04). In this spirit, please permit me to address General Clark's assertion that "After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong." In reality, John Kerry and I both earned the right to speak out by being born American. Peaceful dissent is a core democratic value and it is patriotic.

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The Death of Conspiracy Theory

Wednesday's NYTimes contained an interesting backstory about a 2-man Pentagon team responsible for a lot of questionable intelligence.

This passage jumped out at me:

"Mr. Feith, meanwhile, was eager to continue the work and turned it over to two D.I.A. analysts detailed to him. In the spring and summer of 2002, Christina Shelton, another agency analyst assigned to him, was reviewing old intelligence reports on Al Qaeda when she saw patterns suggesting connections [emphasis by GuvWurld] between the Baghdad regime and the group. "

I've been realizing lately that the Vote of No Confidence resolution has not generated charges of paranoia or conspiracy. I've been wanting to believe this is because of the cumulative credibility of the many serious sources that are speaking out, and the relative vacuum of credibility the administration has intact. Now I see it is a little bit more than this too. "Patterns suggesting connections" seems to be describing, by definition, a conspiracy. The tables are turning.

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Catching up, again

The Arcata Eye has confirmed that next week's edition will contain an editorial I wrote. This sets up next Wednesday's discussion at the Peace and Justice Center. PJC has volunteers putting up fliers and in the next day or two I'll be blasting an invite to over 600 members of their listserv too.

The Vote of No Confidence resolution is also getting some support now from a key member of the local Vets For Peace. I await date/time confirmation for the invitation I've received to speak before their membership.

My persistence with Lynn Landes has shown progress too. We recently spoke for about 30 minutes and though she declined to promote the resolution outright, she said she would likely write about our conversation. The best thing I think I got out of the exchange is a new frame: I am making news worthy of her coverage.

Today I learned from one of my City Council contacts that the letter I wrote to the editor of the Eureka Times-Standard on April 12 appeared in the paper earlier this week. Having not heard from the paper to confirm my authorship, I had given up on this piece. I still haven't seen it. The paper doesn't put letters to its editor on its website so tomorrow I intend to get a hard copy and scan the letter into the GuvWurld news archive.

I'm also attempting some new outreach. The Media Carta project at Adbusters is worth a peek, and it sent me off trying to contact someone there about the synergy with the VNC resolution.

Likewise, this Baltimore Chronicle essay by Dr. Robert Bowman prompted me to spend quite a bit of time on his site. It seems ironic to discover at this time a person who has written an extensive platform reflecting my dream candidate. He appears to be taking all the more aggressive postures I once encouraged Dennis Kucinich to take (to no avail). Dr. Bowman is running for president amid a system set up to discount the mere possibility. It seems likely he knows this. For anyone to emerge at this time as an alternative to Bush and Kerry requires a fundamental shift in the public's willingness to consider new possibilities. The VNC resolution could create this shift and I will be calling Dr. Bowman's office tomorrow.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

This is a general update

I wish this week had afforded me more time to post quick entries. At one point I was thinking about how we've gone from hearing about deflation to inflation in a matter of months.

Mostly I've been focused on the Vote of No Confidence resolution. As I suggested in the last entry, I have been booked to speak at the Redwood Peace and Justice Center in Arcata, CA on May 5th at 6pm.

After a disappointing response to my first communique, I am again reaching out to Lynn Landes (her latest: Republicans Walk Out Of Federal Hearing On Voting Machines). The above event will be a community discussion which I will be leading, and which I have asked Lynn to cover as a newsworthy event rather than a petition or other activist project. (Besides, I embrace the re-frame of activism as public service.)

If you haven't been reading Axis of lately, I direct your attention there. I'll soon be announcing more about this site as there is something new happening each day with this resolution.

I am encountering a steady stream of validation. I highly recommend it. It feels quite good.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Terror Strike in U.S. Before Vote Is a Big Concern, Rice Says

NYTimes Article (in GuvWurld archive, links to original)

I think it would have been more appropriate to call this article "Terror Threats Issued by Condi Rice." This is not a new tactic. What makes this worthy of note is that now the official line is fostering concern over an election with an uncertain outcome. Every new basis for expecting election uncertainty is yet another reason to support the Vote of No Confidence resolution.

In the past several days I have had promising conversations with several organizations interested in promoting the resolution. I won't give away anything right now but tomorrow night I expect I'll have some details to share. Please leave comments here or e-mail me to get involved.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Threat of Draft Becoming Campaign Issue

Independent Ralph Nader and Libertarian candidate Aaron Russo are urging students to organize and pre-emptively protest the return of the draft. Bush says he'll send more troops if his top generals ask him. Kerry argues for 40,000 more boots on the ground already. This is another good issue on which to galvanize resistance.

Washington Times Article (in GuvWurld archive, links to original)

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Debunking the Myth of Productivity

Thom Hartmann is sharp (GuvWurld archive, contains link to Common Dreams).

Much of this intersects the evidence demonstrating the myth of the free market. Once you see this forest for its trees, it then becomes clear that both democracy and capitalism are grand illusions.

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Monday, April 12, 2004

"We're stuck with the incumbent strategy," this adviser added. "Unless he steps down..."

Bush News Conference Set Amid Campaign Concerns (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to NYTimes)

Why is Bush calling this press conference? This article does not say. It does stress what a "tough two weeks" its been. And then, in examining the various ways the Bush campaign people are contemplating the situation, "a senior Republican close to the Bush campaign" says "We're stuck with the incumbent strategy...Unless he steps down, it's going to be hard to run as anything but as an incumbent."

What a giant hole to drive through.

No doubt this unnamed Republican would insist the following interpretation is wrong, nonetheless, I submit the possibility that the campaign on behalf of the party is sensing that it may become necessary for Bush to fall on his sword for the good of the party and/or the nation.

Read Nixon's resignation speech.

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Americans Don't Vote, Machines Do

Lynn Landes appears a few times in the Voting section of the GuvWurld archive. But she is also now the first permanent sidebar link for this blog. Please explore.

Americans Don't Vote, Machines Do is Lynn's latest, dated 4/6/04. This great analysis complements without much duplication the Vote of No Confidence resolution.

I will be e-mailing her...

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Letter to Eureka Times-Standard: County Registrar Must Explore Basis For No Confidence in Voting

To: Eureka Times-Standard (website submission form)

Dear Editor:

Regarding the confidence level voters have in using touch screen voting machines ("Supervisors to protest possible shutdown of voting system," 4/12/04), I respectfully submit that County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich has missed the point. The issue is really whether voters have a BASIS for having confidence in these machines. Considering the following four points, it is clear this basis for confidence does not exist.

1. Touch screen voting machines are already known to have experienced or caused many errors around the country;
2. Several of the machine manufacturers have executives with appalling conflicts of interest;
3. Bush administration lies of epic proportions have been exposed;
4. Delays by America's corporate media in exposing these lies have clearly led to manipulation of public opinion, seen easily with support for the war in Iraq.

These points obliterate any basis any American has for maintaining confidence in any news reporting, but especially vote results. This applies regardless of the type of voting machine used, but especially when there is no voter-verified paper trail, and even more especially when the machines are made by Diebold (whose CEO has pledged Ohio's electoral votes to Mr. Bush). This may be the first you're hearing of it, but there is a growing movement pressing for a Vote of No Confidence on the US electoral system. Watch for a tipping point coming to a City Council meeting near you.

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Here's a noodle scratcher

For atheists, agnostics and other non believers: if lots of people start claiming that Jesus has returned (as seems likely to happen any day), what questions would you ask? What would convince you, either way?

Given the ground covered in the Vote of No Confidence resolution, I see skepticism at record heights and reality no longer an agreed upon certainty. Never mind revisionist history, we're experiencing revisionist pres(id)ent.

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Letter to Center for Public Integrity: Requesting Inquiry of FCC Fine Collections

To: Center For Public Integrity (website submission form)

I am writing to ask that you investigate the routing of fines collected by the FCC. First, what is the mandate for the collection of this money and in turn how is it spent? Second, with the increased tendency to levy fines, are these procedures being followed properly? Finally, in case you're not quite sure of the motivation for such an investigation, consider that Clear Channel has recently paid record amounts without insisting on the customary appeal process. Clear Channel executives and the corporation itself have a long history of financial support for Mr. Bush and the Republican party as a whole. During this election year, eagerly paying fines that are then easily misdirected would be a clever way to skirt campaign finance limitations.

I look forward to the results of your investigation.

(See background data)

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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Journalist Assoc. Lodges Complaint w/Ashcroft re: Scalia Taping Ban

While extolling the virtues of the First Amendment, Supreme Court Justice Scalia insisted that journalists' tape recordings of his speech be erased. For the back story, see Friday's NYTimes story in the GuvWurld archive.

In response, the Society of Professional Journalists has filed a complaint with Ashcroft. Of course, ignoring calls for recusal in the Cheney energy commission case has also had Scalia under pressure lately.

The brazenness here is almost cartoonish or at least of epic fictional proportion. Suggested reading, if you can find a copy: It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.

I am correcting the omission of Scalia from the list of necessary resignations at the end of the Vote of No Confidence resolution.

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Liberal Radio - What would be better?

Liberal icons Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo are now anchoring new talk radio shows on the Air America radio network. I have always enjoyed the style and persona of these guys but I do not expect that their approach to talk radio will "Take Back America," as the slogan goes. IMHO, Air America is offering stereotyped left wing vitriol that merely mirrors the cacophony of hate speech on the right.

What I am about to write is among the defining principles of GuvWurld.

It is unacceptable merely to find fault without also addressing "what would be better?" This is not a rhetorical question as it prompts the imagination, suggests abandoning apathy, and allows every individual's response to qualify as a vision for benchmarking progress. Any political leader seeking to stake out the high ground on optimism would do well to moderate a debate among divided people on the definition of "better."

So in an era of admitted self-censorship by the media, and at a time when Clear Channel and Rupert Murdoch are exhibiting an agenda that flies in the face of traditional journalistic balance and integrity, what would indeed be better?

The Project-Based Format

Imagine your job title is Project Coordinator. You might call a staff meeting in your conference room. With a dozen, or twenty or even 100 other people, you could then go over goals and objectives, brainstorm on strategies, and dole out assignments. Participants would then go on their way, committed to doing their part. As Project Coordinator, your job would be to track the progress and make sure results get produced on time and under budget. Now, instead of your office staff in a conference room, imagine a global audience listening to a web-based talk radio show where the host is the Project Coordinator and the approach used is called the Project-Based Format.

This approach to radio defines success by its ability to organize actions that generate tangible change.

This is how Progressives will beat the corporate media at their own game - abandon the antiquated journalistic credo of media neutrality, and use the airwaves to organize.

To update Gandhi, we must be the media we want to see.

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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Vote of No Confidence Resolution

The No Confidence Resolution has a new permalink:

Everything below pertains to phase 1 of the No Confidence Movement in the spring and summer of 2004. The link above represents the beginning of phase 2 and goes to a fully re-written Resolution contemplating the "election" that just happened to us. (11/9/04)

There is a growing body of supporting material for the proposed No Confidence resolution below. If you are interested in tracing the development, this movement was first contemplated here, and in more detail in The Wolf Test. The first draft of the resolution is here, this is version 2.0, v.2.1, v.2.2, v.3.0. Editorials have been published in both the Arcata Eye and Eureka Times-Standard. The No Confidence Campaign Primer was designed to help supporters get comfortable with the talking points and strategy.

The URL below will always link to this entry and this entry will always contain the current version (4.0) of the resolution. Please freely circulate the link.

Whereas, the evidence increasingly reveals fraud being perpetrated in the voting process by preventing or purging voters through illegal and devious means;

Whereas, voting exclusively by electronic and computer voting machines is subject to manipulation and alterations;

Whereas, private financing of campaigns, candidacies, and election machine manufacturing leads to ownership of the political process by a few wealthy people and corporations;

Whereas, winner take all elections deny the diverse points of view in the political decision-making process so necessary in a democracy.

Therefore, be it resolved that: without public financing preempting any further private financing of elections; without a uniform and transparent method of recording and verifying, including the requirement of paper trails, for every vote cast in federal elections; without proportional representation and instant runoff voting to provide maximum freedom in voting one’s conscience; and without a neutral election oversight commission assuring the fairness of all voting processes, the consent of the governed is being denied and this community declares there is no BASIS for confidence in the legitimacy of federal elections in the United States.

Be it further resolved, that this community urges other communities around the United States to adopt "No Confidence" resolutions, such that sufficient consensus emerges to take heed of our nation's original Declaration Of Independence which authorizes "the Right of the People to alter or abolish" our "Form of Government" when it "becomes destructive" of its requirement to derive its "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed."

(last update: 7/1/04 5:20pm PST)

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Protest challenges archbishop's ban on washing women's feet

This story is about more than a protest and more than religion.

AP Story (in GuvWurld archive, links to multiple sources)

This story shows people protesting their religious leaders for excluding females from participating in a Holy Thursday foot washing ritual. I am struck by this quote:

"I keep telling her she can do anything the boys can do. It's difficult when the church tells her she can't."

This from a mom brought to the protest by her 13 year old daughter. Here's the leap I'm making on the significance. Much publicized recently have been the gay weddings (click here for the Gay Rights section of the GuvWurld archive). I have seen less press on the abortion bans pushed in Tennessee and South Dakota. In my recent essay, The Wolf Test, I drew a connection between these issues on the basis that both are about "throwing down the gauntlet and refusing to abide by laws [that] can no longer [be] conscience[d]."

I think the church protest fits that because we see people questioning those who they probably have never even considered questioning. In each of these examples, the questions themselves go right to challenging the myths among our prevailing paradigms and I suspect it would appear that way from any political orientation.

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Friday, April 09, 2004

U.S. Won't Let Company Test All Its Cattle for Mad Cow

This is as good an example as any to show what the GuvWurld news archive category "Sabotage" is all about.

NYTimes Article (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to original)

The Mad Cow problem is far worse than most Americans realize. More background reading from the archive.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Murdoch Plans to Move News Corp. to U.S.

"In many respects, News Corporation's move will catch the company up with reality."

"Analysts said the timing of the move was not completely clear."

New York Times Article (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to original)

Corporate media of America are already airing manufactured news reflecting the conflicted interests of the ownership. Murdoch's move creates opportunity for a greater number of misguided American power mongers to find themselves with an incentive to distort the news.

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Monday, April 05, 2004

If You're Revolted, REVOLT!

Author Beth Henry has reached her limit and she's not going to take it anymore.

Axis of Logic Essay (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to original)

While not identical, Beth's position is not too far from mine and I am going to write to her with the "No Confidence" resolution idea.

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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Depleted Uranium Found in Returning Soldiers

NY Daily News Article (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to original)

The sabotage performed by the US on its own troops is staggering. DU has been around a while but it doesn't get the coverage it deserves. For more background, read the transcript of Congressional testimony given by military Dr. Doug Rokke.

Any serious campaign for change would do well to press the issue of DU. Support our troops indeed.

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

FL Debates Ban on e-Vote Recounts

Should manual recounts be allowed if the votes were cast on touch-screen machines?

Miami Herald Article (in GuvWurld news archive, contains link to original)

By choosing to debate this question, the certainty of uncertainty is strengthened. This joins the long list of reasons to expect a lack of consensus to follow the next election. This is worse than willingly walking into a mine field. This is being "brave" enough to play Russian Roulette with a bullet in every chamber.

American democracy empowers leaders through the consent of the governed. Who is willing to consent to elections where the preparation consists of making sure the will of the people will be reasonably called into question? We can see the setup from a mile away - the so-called opponents are "debating" the rules of their contest. This is simulated competition, in the grand tradition of professional wrestling and the Harlem Globetrotters.

It is an insufficient response merely to refuse to participate in the charade - I do not advocate boycotting elections when they are held. We need the determined resolve to stop the charade itself. Politicians on the local level must be encouraged to pass resolutions (ala the 270 anti-Patriot act resolutions) that voice a "Vote of No Confidence." The first one may be mocked or ridiculed, but by the 50th or 100th No Confidence resolution, the crux of the debate will then have become the line in the sand at which this administration loses its legitimacy (such as it never was).

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