Saturday, January 05, 2008

saturday reads

Can You Count On These Machines?

As the primaries start in New Hampshire this week and roll on through the next few months, the erratic behavior of voting technology will once again find itself under a microscope. In the last three election cycles, touch-screen machines have become one of the most mysterious and divisive elements in modern electoral politics. Introduced after the 2000 hanging-chad debacle, the machines were originally intended to add clarity to election results. But in hundreds of instances, the result has been precisely the opposite: they fail unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that their choices “flip” from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. (In the 80-person town of Waldenburg, Ark., touch-screen machines tallied zero votes for one mayoral candidate in 2006 — even though he’s pretty sure he voted for himself.) Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes.

The earliest critiques of digital voting booths came from the fringe — disgruntled citizens and scared-senseless computer geeks — but the fears have now risen to the highest levels of government. One by one, states are renouncing the use of touch-screen voting machines. California and Florida decided to get rid of their electronic voting machines last spring, and last month, Colorado decertified about half of its touch-screen devices. Also last month, Jennifer Brunner, the Ohio secretary of state, released a report in the wake of the Cuyahoga crashes arguing that touch-screens “may jeopardize the integrity of the voting process.” She was so worried she is now forcing Cuyahoga to scrap its touch-screen machines and go back to paper-based voting — before the Ohio primary, scheduled for March 4. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat of Florida, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, have even sponsored a bill that would ban the use of touch-screen machines across the country by 2012.

Three rogue Chicago police officers who robbed drug dealers of cash and narcotics were sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday by a federal judge who said the misconduct left him "at a total loss."

Stop House Resolution 888

BuyPartisan '08: "We Must Unite to Save The Phony Center!”

Friday, January 04, 2008

friday reads

Barack Obama Iowa Caucus Vicory Speech

Juan Cole: Iraq, the Youth Vote, Women and Iowa
Guadian Unlimited: Iowa upsets deliver wins for Huckabee and Obama
Ariana Huffington: Whay Everyone Has a Reason to Celebrate Tonight
McClatchy analysis: Iowa sent the country a message Thursday night: We want change!
Don't forget Wyoming

Sibel Edmonds Case: 'Obstruction' & the 911 Commission

Payrolls rose by 18,000, capping the worst year for job creation since 2003, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The jobless rate increased to 5 percent from 4.7 percent in November, while the Institute for Supply Management said growth in U.S. service industries cooled last month.

Truce monitors banished in Sri Lanka

Thursday, January 03, 2008

thursday reads

Rep. John Conyers is demanding a special counsel with a "full investigative mandate" in the CIA destroyed tapes case.

Sibel Edmonds Case: Benazir and the 'Islamic' Bomb

Conservative courts likely to be Bush legacy

After nearly seven years in the White House, President Bush has named 294 judges to the federal courts, giving Republican appointees a solid majority of the seats, including a 60%-to-40% edge over Democrats on the influential U.S. appeals courts.

The rightward shift on the federal bench is likely to prove a lasting legacy of the Bush presidency, since many of these judges -- including his two Supreme Court appointees -- may serve for two more decades.

And despite the Republicans' loss of control of the Senate, 40 of Bush's judges won confirmation this year, more than in the previous three years when Republicans held the majority.

At least 10 anti-war demonstrators were arrested yesterday during protests in Des Moines over the lack of debate on the war on Iraq in the election campaign.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

wednesday reads

The Kenya Red Cross said up to 100,000 people had so far been displaced. According to Kenya's Human Rights Commission, more than 300 have been killed.

Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton: Stonewalled by the C.I.A.

MORE than five years ago, Congress and President Bush created the 9/11 commission. The goal was to provide the American people with the fullest possible account of the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001” — and to offer recommendations to prevent future attacks. Soon after its creation, the president’s chief of staff directed all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the commission.

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.

The F.B.I. reopens the D.B. Cooper case.

Glenn Greenwald on our permanent war culture.

Five years after passage of a federal law to create electronic registration databases to deter voter fraud, the new technology is posing hurdles that could disenfranchise thousands of legal voters, a USA TODAY examination finds.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

tuesday reads

The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in rigging the country's upcoming elections, an aide said Monday.

Kenya sank deeper into trouble on Monday, with a curfew imposed in Kisumu, the country’s third-largest city, ethnic fighting intensifying and more than 100 people killed in election-related violence.

Bush Wins Golden Duke For Best Scandal

Bob Herbert looks back at the whirlwind that was 1968.

A pretty reliable gauge of Establishment fear is how far away from factual reality its chief spokesmen stray at election time. With economic populism now driving both the Democratic and Republican presidential contests, professional political pontificators in Washington are attacking candidates for being crazed and angry - when in fact their own rhetoric shows it is the pundits who are the angriest of all. An uprising is on - one against the hostile takeover of our government by Big Money interests. And inside the walls of the Washington palace, the elite are freaking out.

With the presidential race in full swing, Colorado and other states have found critical flaws in the accuracy and security of their electronic voting machines, forcing officials to scramble to return to the paper ballots they abandoned after the Florida debacle of 2000.

The Airport Security Follies

NBC Criticizes Piracy, But Advertises on The Pirate Bay?

Monday, December 31, 2007

monday reads

U.S. seen internationally as an ‘Endemic Surveillance Society.’

NYT Editorial: Looking at America

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.


These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

Digby: Bipartisan Zombies

Glenn Greenwald on Bloomberg's independent prisidential bid:
Bloomberg is basically just Rudy Giuliani with a billion or two dollars to spend to alter the election. When it comes to foreign policy, war-making and government power, he offers absolutely nothing that isn't found in destructive abundance among the most extremist precincts in the Republican Party, while his moderate to liberal stance on social issues would prevent him from actually winning the support of his natural GOP base.

In fact -- despite his steadfast neoconservatism -- it's hard to see how the candidacy of a divorced, unmarried, stridently pro-gun-control, pro-choice, socially liberal New York City billionaire would accomplish anything other than offering the Republicans their best hope of winning in 2008. All of this seems to be intended as punishment meted out by the Establishment to the Democrats -- using Bloomberg's billions as the weapon -- for not repudiating their loudmouth, restless liberal base strongly enough. That, more than anything, seems to be the oh-so-noble and trans-partisan purpose of David Broder, David Boren and Sam Nunn: to find a way to stifle the populist anger at our political establishment after 8 years of unrestrained Bush-Cheney devastation, increasingly represented (on the Democratic side) by the Scary, Angry, Intemperate John Edwards campaign.

A Bloomberg candidacy would have no purpose other than satisfy his bottomless personal lust for attention and bestow the wise old men threatening the country with his candidacy with some fleeting sense of rejuvenated relevance and wisdom. His political views are conventional in every way and he's little more than an establishment-enabling figurehead. The whole attraction to his candidacy has nothing to do with any issues or substance and everything to do with an empty addiction to vapid notions of Establishment harmony and a desire to exert control, whereby our Seriousness guardians devote themselves to a candidate for reasons largely unrelated to his policies or political views, thus proving themselves, as usual, to be the exact antithesis of actual seriousness.

Scott Horton: The Forgotten Bicentennial

All in all, it’s an economic and political environment in which you’d expect Republican politicians, as a sheer matter of calculation, to look for ways to distance themselves from the current administration’s economic policies and record — say, by expressing some concern about rising income gaps and the fraying social safety net.

In fact, however, except for Mike Huckabee — a peculiar case who’ll deserve more discussion if he stays in contention — the leading Republican contenders have gone out of their way to assure voters that they will not deviate an inch from the Bush path. Why? Because the G.O.P. is still controlled by a conservative movement that does not tolerate deviations from tax-cutting, free-market, greed-is-good orthodoxy.