Saturday, December 16, 2006



This is True
by Allan Boesak

It is not true
that this world and its people are doomed to die and be lost.

This is true;
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.

It is not true
that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction.

This is true;
I have come that they may have life,and that abundantly.

It is not true
that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction have come to stay forever.

This is true:
Unto us a child is born,and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Allan Boesak (b. 1945)Allan Boesak, who was a courageous and insightful leader of the Reformed Church in South Africa in the struggle against apartheid, served as President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches from 1982 to 1991.

Sunday, December 03, 2006



The tree is up in Rock Center. Macy's has its window display making merriment. Sidewalk trees in Washington and New York are sprouting red bulbs flecked with gold and little white lights at night.
Condolezza Rice in five inch heels (because she is shorter than DeVito) sits four pews from the rear of the National Presbyterian Church, a whitewashed tomb like building in Washington, DC, just as she always does when she is in town. She listens to one of those Sermons meant to make you feel the world is hunky dory even if you can't stop genocide and have caused a civil war and loss of life and limb in the hundreds of thousands (and your day at the office?) if only you accept Jesus in your heart. She heartily shakes the pastor's hand with two hands as she leaves the church and he wishes her well "on all your adventures."
Downstairs in the "Alternative Christmas Market" of the Church you can buy stuff for other people to make you feel less guilty about the money you will spend on your immediate family and yourself over Christmas. You write checks to other organizations to help them for various efforts. The Sudan Refugee Relief project in Darfur in conjunction with Action by Churches Together International ("ACT") will let you buy for $80. a "family survival kit" which consists of two plastic sheets, three blankets, two mosquito nets, soap, cooking supplies, fortified cereal, oil and sugar. That ought to fend off the Janjaweed militia assassins. I ask the nice gray- haired retired government worker lady at the Africa table if she has any information or pamphlets on what the church is doing in Darfur. Nope. Nothing. We aren't doing much of anything there. Can't stop it really. Let them at it if they want to kill each other off.
OK. So that is the formal church policy or just your informed opinion? Did you happen to notice that Condolezza Rice was sitting upstairs? This might be an obvious question but what is she doing about it? I heard there was some UN Resolution or something that might get signed- know anything about that?
The National Presbyterian Church pridefully boasts connections to Abraham Lincoln and General Eisenhower, both Presbyterians who frequented the church or its precursor churchs. It has an Eisenhower chapel dedicated to him. It has hosted most the big schmukety muck Presbyterians who ever held office in town at one time or another including the Doles, Dick Thornberg, Trent Lott, Frist, John Glenn, that taller than Karim Texan Bush advisor and "soccer mom" lady Karen Hughes and, of course, Condi. Condi is one of about ten darker- than- my- freckles people in the entire church but don't tell her you noticed. If she brings a friend she is one of about eleven black people. But don't ask her to racially identify with the ethnic slaugher of black people by white people in a place where the Middle East meets Africa just South of Egypt. And don't you dare tell her she isn't black enough if she didn't notice. In fact, don't talk to her, she's not there to make friends.
Let me get this straight. The African American Secretary of State of the leader of the Free World is either (a) indifferent to (b) unimpressed by (c) incompetent towards or (d) oblivious to
the largest genocidal slaughter of black Africans by whiter Muslims in her term in office and that we have seen in that region since Rwanda. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt. She already concluded she can't do anything about it- unlike Iraq where they try anyway and no one was engaging in ongoing mass slaughter at the time of our invasion.
Maybe it doesn't have oil. Maybe no one is going to name an oil cargo freighter after her for helping. Maybe she isn't going to get to be named to the Boards of Exxon Mobil or Phillips Connoco for helping.
Excuse me if I have this wrong but rape, murder, rape of children, chopping off the arms, slicing out the eyes and burning bodies alive strike me as a humanitarian crisis that should take slight precedence over face time with Malicki, but who am I?
Let me repeat it- rape, murder, rape of children, chopping off the arms, slicing out the eyes and burning bodies alive. This apparently evaded the "axis of evil" diagram.

And how was your Christmas? I hear that you can pick up Ferragamos pretty cheap in the January post-Christmas inventory Macy sales Condi. Care to do lunch?

Of course, it has oil, only the Chinese have one up on us in getting there. It's "complicated"
and this week's Economist magazine tries to explain it:

In December 6, 2004 John Podesta gave an address at Yale titled "Dealing with Darfur: Can the World Act on it's responsibility to Protect". If you call the Call the Center for American Progress they would be happy to send you a copy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Livin In The USSR- How to Re-Establish American Democracy


Can we all agree that if voting machines screwed up and didn’t properly count votes that we should figure out a way to get them counted correctly so the right person whom the people wanted in office gets to take office?
What if you can’t properly count the votes because there is no record of them other than what the screwed up machine did? What if there was no sort of receipt, or paper ballot to count manually? What if the memory card in the machine is defective but you can’t tell because it is programmed maliciously? What if the only thing that happened is that voters touched a screen that they thought voted for someone, the screen then said “Thanks for voting!” and the voter walked away without ever knowing whether the machine screwed up or not.
What if it was worse than that. What if the computer itself was designed to eat votes or flip them. What if there was some malicious programming in the source code that caused defaults to one candidate or flipped counts after a certain number hit or allowed anyone by touching hidden points in the screen to flip votes when the voting was cast. Any baby computer programmer can do this on a voting machine. It isn’t rocket science. Just ask Clint Curtis, the Democratic Congressional Candidate in Florida’s 24th who did just that. He developed a program where if you hit a sequence of points on the screen you flipped the vote count. Instead of Kerry 50 Bush 20, zip zip zip , Kerry 20 Bush 50. Child’s play.
Clint Curtis tried to explain it to people in Congress and testified before John Conyers’ committee. For explaining simple computer science he was castigated as a looney, tin hat
publicity grubby crazy man. All he was doing was explaining computer science 101 for the technoidiots who still don’t get it.

Let me ask the question again: Can we all agree that if voting machines screwed up and didn’t properly count votes that we should figure out a way to get them counted correctly so the right person whom the people wanted in office gets to take office?

In Florida the game is all about stacking the deck and keeping the popular will from being known.
When the computer eats your vote, or flips the tallies, there are ways to prove statistically that the machines are malfunctioning (in the vernacular- rigged crap)
You can get lists of the people who showed up at the polls per precinct and look at certified official results of vote tallies per precinct and go knock on doors and actually talk to the voters themselves. You can just ask them- hey, we know you came to the polls because we have your name here so who did you vote for? It’s more reliable than an “exit poll.” If you find that in fact abundantly more people voted for a candidate than registered you have a prima facie case of machine malfunction, and some might say election fraud. You have to look at the source code to see whether it was maliciously programmed to do that—and guess what.
The source code is a proprietary trade secret protected piece of intellectual property and the voting machine companies fight tooth and nail in court to avoid showing it to anyone-in fact they intimidate anyone who looks and send cease and desist orders around to anyone prying. This, in a Democracy that relies on the transparency and fairness of the voting process is completely unacceptable.

Let me try to explain it another way.
With the current laws and practices concerning voting technology and the voting machine manufacturers, no one has the first assurance that where certain machines are used that their votes are properly registered. NO ONE. They may be getting it right some of the time or twice a day like the proverbial broken clock but the American public can have absolutely no assurances that these machines are working properly and correctly registering votes because the source codes are never made public and there is ZERO electronic security. So you have to go to the voters themselves and get them to swear in Affidavits how they voted.

In Florida, they don’t even give you the data on who showed up at the polls to run the numbers and hit the streets until it’s too late- until the ten days from certified results challenge period is almost or already expired. They have an unspoken rule that they should just stonewall the data to prevent people from challenging what they do there. Once you get the data you can look and say- hey, there was actually a large “phantom overvote” situation here- where more votes were counted than people who showed up at the polls. Hmmmmmmmm. How could that happen Sherlock? As Bob Fitrakis likes to say, it's the "Loaves and Fishes Faith Based" concept of vote counting.

And in Christine Jennings’ case in Florida’s 13th, she found out that unbelievably huge and unlikely numbers of voters showed up at the polls to NOT vote for their Congressional representative (“undervotes.”) Where is Columbo when you need him? Are people in Sarasota Florida so consummed with who the local school board is but they don't care who they send to Congress when all the candidate exposure on TV ads was about the congressional candidates? Give me a break!

In 2004, Wally O’Dell the head of Diebold, who was a Bush “pioneer” fundraiser putting on thousand dollar plate dinners for Bush promised he could “deliver Ohio” to Bush, it wasn’t idle boasting. He knew he could. If I say He did I am accusing someone of a crime of vote rigging. WAKE UP PEOPLE! He was the head of Diebold. No one would ever be able to see the source coding that was in the machines that allegedly counted the votes.

Here is something else that can happen. Right now as you read this glance to the bottom right of your computer screen and look at the little time indicator. What time is it? Is it the correct time? Remember when you turned your machine “off” last? Do you turn it off every night? When you turn it back on does it still register the correct time or does it lose time when you turn it “off?” It is always the correct time-right. So how does it do that when the machine is “off?” Guess what- it is never completely off even when you think you turn it off and take the plug out of the wall. That is because there are active “hot” live components/chips/elements that you can’t see that are perpetually on. The same thing can be done to voting machines. They can be “hot wired” with components that respond to wireless interface and no one would ever see it.-- Certainly not the geriatric octogenarians that run the polling station on election day, not the voters, not anyone from the Board of Elections. Someone in a van in New Zealand can interface wirelessly with a machine sitting in Columbus theoretically. No Joke Folks.

In short, the Fuss in Florida is the Fuss that should be being made loudly everywhere in the country and nationally in Congress. Because we simply have the ruse of a chimeric Democracy and not a real one at present. We have oligarchic rule of a republican party with a consortium of voting machine manufacturers with sworn Republican loyalties who are committed to making the machines work for them- and they can and will work for them unless we do something about it. Don't think this recent Democratic sweep means they don't know how to rig it in 2008 or won't. Unless this is set right in the next two years, faaagetabout a Democratic Presidency.

So what should Congress do about it? Here are a few ideas that Congress has bandied about without solid legislation of any meaning to date and a few more. Congress should of course require:

PAPER BALLOTS that can be manually inspected. This is better than “paper trail” which of course Diebold can do because they make ATMs- Duuuuuh. Diebold can also make the paper say something other than what the machine actually tallies and trick the voter into thinking it got it right.

Revise the Intellectual Property/copyright rules so that there is NO TRADE SECRET PROTECTION for source coding in any machines used in public elections as an obvious necessary exemption and
MANDATE that all source coding in voting machines be inspected and disclosed to the public at large and posted widely and publicly.

MANDATE that all voting machines be inspected and tested thoroughly by bipartisan engineers before voting day running testing and reverse engineering source coding.

MANDATE that all voting be done in rooms designed to interrupt all outside wireless signals. We might have to build some especially for elections. We might have to staff enough machines there for the numbers of people registered there also.

MANDATE that the data concerning who showed up at the polls be made available not later than 3 calendar days from voting day. It is unacceptable that people go on vacation over Thanksgiving and on Nov. 27 get back to their office to make discs of something that happened on Nov. 7. Impose severe monetary penalties on anyone and everyone connected with the reporting process if it is not done in 3 days and extend the time in which to challenge the vote a day for every day after the 3 days that the data is late. All November voting runs into Thanksgiving. The public records release stonewalling over the holiday is something that happens every year. For national elections the entire country, not just the State has an interest regarding who sits in Congress, thus it falls on Congress to set national standards, rules and regulations regarding this.

MANDATE that for any candidate for whom his contender has not conceded defeat, that he or she only be sworn in provisionally pending investigation on the challenge with the understanding that this person may be removed after the time he assumes office provisionally if it is later determined at any time that his election must be redone.

MANDATE that for all elections for which there was more “phantom over votes” in any one precinct than the percentage by which any candidate lost that the entire election must be automatically recast in a special election.
There just is no excuse for machines counting more votes than people who showed up and it indicates conclusively that someone programmed the machine to rig the vote. The entire election must be cast into doubt in such a circumstance as void for presumptively rigged and we need to adopt a ZERO TOLERANCE for it.

And so these are not all just unfunded MANDATES, audit the HAVA funding of everyone because the money is there- it was just misappropriated.

And then, and only then, can the American public believe with any confidence that their votes Count and were Counted and we have the right men and women at the helm.