Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Why Old Election Numbers No Longer Matter

This apocryphal parable contains only true facts. I know because I made them up myself.
The date was Sept 33, 1965. Samdy Kouflax ate eight live pigs, a new record among those in his Pagan cult. This sign of virility and luck soon paid dividends as Kouflax threw one of golf's most memorable games. Going all nine chuckers, Kouflax completed a no-hitter to lead his Chicago Whitehawks to the Super Bowl with a victory over the Boston Celtics. Kouflax's solo grand-slam leading off the first inning was all the offense needed that season. Many also remember this game for the unusual brawl that broke out between two Celtic mid-fielders. The ensuing power play enabled the 'Hawks to expand their zone defense with 20 men on the ice. All in all, it was a fabulous year for Samdy and his wife Whora.
Can you imagine yourself getting into a debate about who won this game or what was the final score? Any such discussion would validate the legitimacy of the idea that there was an actual game with a winner, a loser, and a knowable point tally. If you were asked who won, or what was the final score, the only reasonable answer is that it cannot be known from such nonsensical reporting. There is nothing in this story to suggest that a real game of any sort was actually played.

U.S. federal elections are held under conditions that are equally farcical. At this point, any discussion of the numbers, or the outcome, is only serving to reinforce that an actual election took place. It is imperative that we make it conventional wisdom that no actual election took place, that instead we witnessed and partook in simulated competition. The core argument that summarizes this frame is: there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections.

This is the nucleus of the Voter Confidence Resolution, recently adopted by Arcata, CA, and also the essence of Land Shark's post at the start of this DU thread (where now more than 100 other posts willfully miss the point). It is long past time to stop the bickering and to stop allowing ourselves to be drawn into specious debates. We say we will demand the truth yet we have a difficult enough time telling it to ourselves. The U.S. government is run by people who have perpetuated many charades against us. We are at the dawn of the new, peaceful American Revolution, or our extinction.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Speaking Engagement Confirmed With Humboldt Republicans

I have been invited to be the featured speaker at next month's meeting of the Humboldt County Republican Party. The date is Thursday, September 8, at 7pm at O-H's Town House in Eureka.

The backstory:

On April 28, the Voter Confidence Committee conducted a town hall forum on preferential voting sponsored by Eureka City Councilmembers Chris Kerrigan and Mike Jones. Kevin Matlock was in attendance. He was then the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Humboldt County. As part of our routine follow-up on the event, we called all those who attended and signed in. By luck of the draw, I got to call Kevin. Our great conversation turned into a meeting for coffee and from there an invitation to address his group.

It was understood at the time that it would be a while before the speaking opportunity would come up as they book speakers rather far in advance. I had been given today's date, August 11, as a tentative date and chose not to publicize it until I knew it was confirmed. This past Monday I contacted Kevin and learned that three weeks ago he resigned his position with the Party in order to sit on the County grand jury without a conflict of interest (though his former credential has not been removed from the Party website as of this writing). Kevin said he could not confirm my appearance and referred me to the Republican Party County Chairwoman, Lori Metheny.

My immediate efforts to reach Lori were unsuccessful and so I continued to mostly avoid mentioning the tentative presentation (apologies to everyone at last week's Communities For Peace meeting; I hope you'll come on Sept. 8). Finally, today I did speak with Lori and she gave me the choice of speaking for up to 10 minutes tonight during the casual dinner hour, or being the featured speaker for 20-30 minutes during the main agenda of next month's meeting. I chose next month for various reasons, not the least of which is that Lori confirmed the meetings are open and I am welcome to promote my appearance as much as I want. She added the caveat that they do reserve the right to go into closed session if the meeting is disrupted. I do not foresee that being necessary.

This is an amazing opportunity for the Voter Confidence Committee to continue escalating its non-partisan community profile. My presentation will focus on what our group is about, why we choose the projects that we do, and a bit about each of our three main "fronts": the Election Advisory Committee being developed on the County level, the preferential voting campaign for Eureka, and the Voter Confidence Resolution already adopted by Arcata and now being promoted around the country. My appeal to the Republicans is simple: we seek systemic reforms that will benefit all voters equally; if you embrace this posture too then we can build what many will consider to be a very unlikely bridge, and the Party will be seen taking the "big tent" approach it fancies for itself.

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How Cool Is This?

At the Smirking Chimp discussion board, user upu8 has quoted from the Voter Confidence Resolution in his signature line!

"There is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections." --Voter Confidence Resolution (v6.1, 5/14/05)

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Big Day For Outreach

On May 9, I posted the following list of Cities:
Ann Arbor, MI
Asheville, NC
Berkeley, CA
Boulder, CO
Burlington, VT
Ithaca, NY
New Paltz, NY
Portland, ME
Portland, OR
Santa Cruz, CA
San Francisco, CA
Today I sent an e-mail to every Councilmember or Supervisor in each of these Cities, plus a snail mail letter to all the Mayors. In each case the point was to inform them of Arcata's adoption of the Voter Confidence Resolution, to link to and/or provide a copy of the VCR, and to get them thinking about the key frames: can there really be a basis for confidence in election results when 30% of the votes are unverifiable?; is the Consent of the Governed really being sought?

The contact info for all these people is in the GuvWurld News Archive. I'm trying to make it as easy as possible for people in these places to lobby their most locally elected officials. Of course, I whole heartedly encourage everyone in every other part of the U.S. to pursue this as well. If anybody wants to help build the contact lists (or organize into a database), I will gladly accept the help.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Voter Confidence Resolution Finding Wider Recognition

The latest endorsement for the Voter Confidence Resolution comes from Bev Harris at Black Box Voting. HERE she posted the recent press release announcing Arcata's adoption of the resolution, following it with a mention that it would be the lead story of the day, featured HERE with further commentary.

Also running the press release is the Lone Star Iconoclast, the pesky little paper in Crawford, TX - the town where Mr. Bush keeps a ranch.

The Open Voting Consortium added the press release to their home page as the top story. It is a bit lower down now that newer announcements have been added but it also has an archived link.

Somebody added the press release to the Portland Indymedia site HERE.

A Seattle-based moderator posted the resolution on this Kucinich bulletin board.

A Brad Blog reader posted the press release in this discussion about California's decision not to certify Diebold election machines. posted a teaser from the press release, linking to the Iconoclast page for the rest.

The Cannonfire Blog excerpts the press release and links back to the GuvWurld Blog home page.

Dr. Ernest Partridge published a worthwhile essay on The Crisis Papers site ("The GOP is Certain to win in 2006, unless..."), and then included my letter among the responses published on this page.

The SoHum-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Project has a link to the initial posting of the resolution's adoption.

My old pal John in Berkeley has a post titled Arcata Adopts Voter Confidence Resolution on his antiMandate Blog.

Surely more to come...

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Monday, August 08, 2005

The Resignation Frame

Here's the thing I don't get about George Lakoff, called "the father of framing" by the New York Times. Lakoff understands the severity of the current American condition yet he continues to offer his services to the Democratic party. I do not see him as a shill. He is genuinely progressive and sincere in his passions. I am simply dumbfounded that he looks out at the world and thinks his best chance to improve it is by working with people who are resigned to many aspects of the status quo.This last bit is what got me thinking about this. Yesterday I attended my first Communities for Peace meeting in a while and I heard the report back from Humboldt's two latest Peace Ambassadors. Thanks to Carol Brannan and John Shaefer for representing our community in the name of peace. In their report they mentioned meeting with Congressman Mike Thompson. Carol described asking Thompson about what could be done to curtail war profiteering, adding that the war would be over right quick like if nobody was making any money off of it. She said he looked at her like she had six heads. He has resigned himself to accepting war and war profiteering.

My instinctive reaction was to shout out that he should resign if he is resigned. Aside from the momentary outburst, I now see this as a new kind of Tilt Strategy. Another example quickly followed. peterph54 posted this to the J30 listserv today:
I spoke with BOE directors Charles Miller, Tuscarawas County [OH]. The Board there chose Diebold, he didn't seem to be in agreement but didn't openly state that. I don't want to crucify this guy, but he said that ES+S (their vendor for the past several years) "could be throwing out every third vote, and he wouldn't know the difference".
From this account it appears Charles Miller is complicit in the dismantling of democracy. I don't want to crucify the guy either - I just want him to take his resignation toward his hopeless job and resign. If he cannot imagine things getting better and will not work toward that end, he must get out of the way so his office can be occupied by someone willing to work for change.

There are others also in this indefensible position. This is the hallmark of the tilt target, the person who can maintain his untenable spot only because nobody has challenged him for it. When we seek out these targets it must be to bring the novel challenge that causes one either to bear the continued shame of such exposure, or be "tilted" into taking a stance more closely aligned with specific preferred remedies being suggested, in this case resignation.

I first wrote about the Tilt Strategy three years ago while working on a now-defunct project called Reinventing Activism. During that time I was referred to the book "Moral Politics" by fatherly framer Lakoff. He is a linguistics professor at UC Berkeley and this is a text book. It was a valuable read in that it helped me understand how and why people hold the mosaic of political views that they do. I doubt if Lakoff would remember the few e-mails and phone calls we exchanged but I was glad to find him so accessible after finding his book to be so important.

Three years later Lakoff's star his risen considerably. As the Times story notes, an excerpt of "Moral Politics" has sold over 200,000 copies as a paperback called "Don't Think of an Elephant!" Lakoff has also set up his own consulting firm, he is in high demand as a speaker, and he has been a highly regarded strategist for the Democratic party.

Except for that last item, it is an impressive pedigree worthy of a progressive leader in the peaceful revolution. But Lakoff must first resign himself to the fact that the Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution; and that they are cooperating, not competing with the Republicans. On accepting the ruthlessly honest truth about simulated competition, Lakoff can resign from the Dems and join We The People.

We have always had the winning frame like Dorothy who could have clicked her heels to go home again. The government has no "just Power" without our bestowing it upon them. So We The People must withdraw the Consent of the Governed. The Voter Confidence Resolution gives us the frame to call the government's legitimacy into question, town by town, until the inevitable time when it is no longer a question - the emperor has no clothes, the government has no legitimacy, and the Consent of the Governed has been withdrawn.

It has been 16 months since the GuvWurld Blog was launched on this premise. Never before has there been this much momentum (scroll through some other recent entries) for this frame. The resignation frame is a totally consistent secondary tack that we should now pursue simultaneously. Even if we do not get a single resignation this is still a valuable frame because it will contribute to undermining the general sense that the status quo is acceptable.

I wonder what Lakoff has to say about all this; I'd also like an opinion from Dr. Jeffrey Feldman whose Frameshop blog is all about dissecting language for the frames.

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Sunday, August 07, 2005


Today I was officially invited to present a workshop on the Voter Confidence Resolution at the National Election Reform Conference in Portland, OR. The event begins on Friday, September 30 and goes through Sunday, October 2. Presented by the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, the event will also feature these prominent speakers:
Honorable Jesse Jackson Jr., U.S. House of Representatives
David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate
Thom Hartmann, Radio talk show host and author
Bob Koehler, nationally syndicated columnist, Tribune Media Services
Ronnie Dugger, Alliance for Democracy
Cliff Arnebeck, Ohio Honest Elections Campaign
Ellen Theisen, VotersUnite
Paul Lehto, Attorney, plaintiff in lawsuit against Sequoia Voting Systems and Snohomish County, WA
I am humbled by such company. My workshop is likely to be on Sunday. I think that's ideal as I will be aiming to send people back to their various parts of the country with the means to lead their communities in the creation of their own version of the Voter Confidence Resolution. The workshop will be somewhat of a "train the trainers." For a more thorough explanation of what I have in mind, check out the proposal that won this invitation.

A couple of dear friends also have recent achievements I want to recognize. Jeff Anbinder is a recently minted lawyer from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in NYC. He has been a part of the Innocence Project which is devoted to winning the freedom of people wrongly convicted and incarcerated. Thomas A. Doswell was one of Jeff's clients. After serving 19 years for a rape he did not commit, this week Doswell was released from prison. Jeff called it his "best day ever." I imagine that goes at least double for Doswell. Jeff is looking for his first full-time lawyer gig and I will gladly forward inquiries from interested parties.

Also likely to cite his best day ever, friend and mentor Aryay Kalaki married his partner Marcia Brenta today in a wonderfully non-traditional ceremony in beautiful Freshwater Park. Before the ceremony I had the good fortune to meet Herb Mills who told me several stories about his lifetime involvement with ILWU Local 10, a longshoreman's union in the Bay Area. Herb was called upon as a consultant when the Smithsonian built an exhibit on labor unions. His website has articles and essays containing the captivating stories I heard today plus many more.

There were also two broader, more general achievements I followed today. See this thread from Democratic Underground for real time reporting on the Atlanta rally for voting rights. The black caucus was strong and several members of Congress said point blank that the last two elections were stolen. Buried in that thread is this link to another real time accounting of the peace march to Crawford, TX. Pictures show Humboldt VFP member Gordon Soderberg as well as Dennis Kyne. The real story is Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq and spokesperson for Gold Star Families for Peace. She is demanding a meeting with Mr. Bush at his ranch. It sounds like her troop of roughly 50 have marched to within four miles on a road with checkpoints and limited access. She had a great quote: "This is the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq."

It is getting harder and harder to believe that we have not yet reached the Tipping Point at which this administration collapses.

* * *

Workshop proposal for National Election Reform Conference in Portland, OR
The Voter Confidence Resolution: Coordinating Local Strategy For National Election Reform

It would be very helpful to read the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR) template before evaluating this proposal:

The following summarizes the three key frames presented in the VCR:

1. Current election conditions ensure inconclusive outcomes and thus there is no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections.

2. The VCR contains a comprehensive election reform platform designed to ensure conclusive outcomes and create a new basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections.

3. Since the Consent of the Governed is not being sought, we ask: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET?

As workshop leader I will facilitate development of two bullet point lists: known election problems, and necessary reforms. These two lists enable creation of a VCR patterned after the template in the GuvWurld blog. The three key frames above introduce the context and strategy for promoting this message to City Councils across America.

This exercise serves two purposes:

1. To show how any group can be led through a consensus building process of compiling a statement similar to the existing VCR.

2. To present a paradigm in which election reform can catalyze peaceful revolution.

The VCR template is meant to be customized in communities across the country while still maintaining the three key frames above. Pursuit on the local level will require teach-ins and other bridge-building outreach that will cause healing of partisan divides. United communities are in a strong position to approach their City Council. Since members of local government are typically more accessible than those on a state or national level, and since local leaders are most easily held accountable, the City Council is the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest target to approach for support of the VCR.

Each Council that passes the VCR is strengthening the backbone of the movement to restore the people’s' right to own and oversee elections. Each Council would also be promoting a new national dialog focused on creating a new basis for confidence in U.S. federal elections. Part of that will be reconciling slightly different versions of the VCR's comprehensive election reform platform. The future shape of elections, if not the country, will emerge from the communication among this network of communities.

With key frame #3, we have built a mechanism for cumulative impact. This comes from an attitude of "not if, but when"”; it is an assumption that after some number of resolutions have passed, the answer to the question switches from NO, to YES, the Consent of the Governed HAS been withdrawn. This represents a tipping point at which we have a tangible shift in the balance of power between the government and We The People. This is revolutionary.

This workshop is ideal for leaders of small election reform groups, especially those whose identities are not tied to a single reform. It is also well-suited for local politicians and unaffiliated individuals.

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Diebold Test Results 2x Worse Than Thought

Thanks to Brad Blog for pointing out this story from the Tri-Valley Herald (in GuvWurld News Archive, links to original).
Diebolds latest electronic voting machine, desired by dozens of counties nationwide, fared worse in the nations first mass testing than previously disclosed, with almost 20 percent of the touch-screen machines crashing.

Those software failures are likely to send Diebold programmers back to work and perhaps force the firm into weeks of independent laboratory testing.


Diebold officials say they plan to fix the problems and bring the machines back for a new mass test in late August. But they have confided to some California election officials that they arent certain what caused the touch screens to crash.
We should be beyond this by now but since we are still going through the motions of evaluating these machines there is a seldom-used argument I will invoke: the performance of a relatively small number of machines on testing day has no bearing on the performance of the vast majority of machines that will be deployed on election day without having been individually tested. Further development and testing by Diebold are both unwarranted. The entire exercise of testing (and for that matter, voting too) is really just for show.


Click HERE to listen to Dennis Kyne - All We Want Is The Truth

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