gravityblog

I welcome all thoughtful and respectful comment about life, the universe and everything.

16 November 2006

My letter to the editor 11-16-2006

I attended a hearing yesterday in Philadelphia, where the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania, through his attorney, said that he alone is the Decider when it comes to voting equipment. Voters should have no input into the voting machine selection process.

What were the reasons given to dismiss our citizens' law suit, which merely requests that computerized voting machines be re-examined, in light of important, new information about their poor security?

1. We, voters, didn't file the law suit within 30 days of the original certification. Attorney Aronchik insisted that the burden of responsibility was on the voters, to find out about the certification for themselves, despite a complete absence of publicity about the certification proceedings.

2. Elections are the business of candidates running for election and not voters.

3. We are wasting the government's time and money with this law suit.

On the contrary, this government is wasting my time and money.

Let the sun shine in! Let's re-examine these voting machines for their security and accuracy. After all, counting every vote is the gold standard, by which our political process is guided. What is more important than that?

19 October 2006

Former Bush-appointed Elections Chief cries foul!

This is how this conspicuously neglected story should have been covered:

From BradBlog.com

EXCLUSIVE: FIRST BUSH-APPOINTED CHAIR OF U.S. ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION SAYS 'NO STANDARDS' FOR E-VOTING DEVICES, SYSTEM 'RIPE FOR STEALING ELECTIONS'!
Former Chair Says He 'Was Deceived', EAC and Federal Efforts for Election Reform 'A Charade', 'Travesty'!
In Stark Contrast to Current EAC Chair, Rev. DeForest Soaries Blasts White House, Congress in Transcript of Unaired Interview from Major Broadcast Network!
The BRAD BLOG has obtained an EXCLUSIVE partial transcript from a recent, unaired interview by a major broadcast network with former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Rev. DeForest Soaries.

Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush as the first chair of the commission created by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle. In the interview, available here for the first time, Soaries excoriates both Congress and the White House, referring to their dedication to reforming American election issues as "a charade" and "a travesty," and says the system now in place is "ripe for stealing elections and for fraud."

Having resigned from the commission in April of 2005, Soaries goes on to explain that he believes he was "deceived" by both the White House and Congress, and that neither were ever "really serious about election reform." -BradBlog

The following are excerpts from an unaired interview from 8/06 (reported on BradBlog 10/17/06)

In the unaired interview, conducted last August, Soaries says there are "no standards" for voting systems and that Congress and the White House "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act."

Due to underfunding and lack of attention to the EAC and the Election Reform it was supposed to oversee, Soaries says we now have an "inability to trust the technology that we use" to count votes in our American democracy, even as "we’re spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq."

"We know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote,"

"[T]he states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didn’t begin our work until January 2004 and we spent the first three months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didn’t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House."


How can neglect of oversight responsibility, this egregious , be seen as anything but a deliberate attempt to control US elections by this criminal administration? What more basic standard of democracy, and American freedom, could be violated?

What alternative, but to continue to fight this fraud, until all of the criminal perpetraitors are brought to justice?

13 September 2006

The culture of the USA worships only material wealth.

09 July 2006

The Spirituality of a Blade of Grass

God, the creator, is present in everything.

God is material cause, and material.

God is the cellulose, and the water that flows past the cellulose.

God is pattern, the DNA map, that assembles the materials in just the right way for the blade of grass to function.

03 July 2006

Thank you for liberating us, now please leave.

One thing that all Iraqis can agree on is that they could be no worse with the United States military OUT OF THEIR COUNTRY. The US is not there to protect the Iraqi people. They are there to protect Exxon, Halliburton and Lockheed.

When you look at the facts, Iraq was invaded and taken over by a foreign country (us) without a formal declaration of war, and based on a false pretense. The LEAST we can do is to leave.

The diplomatic solution would be for the Iraqi President to say "Thank you for liberating us from Saddam, we can take care of the rest from here." A coalition of non-hostile countries (i.e. not USA) could help Iraq to maintain security and to rebuild.

Then, all of our sons and daughters can come home from that nightmarish hell that is Operation Iraqi Freedom!

30 June 2006

One Percent Right

I just read about VP Cheney's absurd "one percent rule", that if there is a 1% chance that some devastating attack COULD happen, we should defend ourselves as if it WILL happen.

The corollary for Cheney is: focus 100% of your resources on that 1% event if it will enrich you somehow.

This is Glenn Greenwald's comment:

"And where did the "one percent doctrine" go when it comes to the threat posed by global warming? With respect to that threat--like the threat to New Orleans--the Bush administration seems to have long ago adopted the "ninety-nine percent doctrine", i.e., if a threat has a 99% chance of materializing, we must base our policy around the assumption that it will NOT occur." from www.glenngreenwald.blogspot.com

So well said. It's as if the legalistic standard of plausible deniability has become the political standard for behavior.

=GL

24 June 2006

My message for July 4, 2006

On this nation's 230th birthday, I am humbly grateful to God for the freedom that this nation provides. We often take our freedoms for granted, until we see what life would be like without it.

I consider the suffering residents of Iraq during this difficult time that the United States is ostensibly trying to bring them freedom. They live in fear of being killed for the way that they look or what they wear. I worry for political prisoners in Red China who are imprisoned simply for speaking the truth. I think of suffering children slaves, who are bought and sold as an emerging growth industry around the world, and even here in the US. I think of the Islamic prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, some of whom are innocent and some of whom would rather kill me than look at me, who will spend the rest of their lives in captivity. How fortunate are we.

I pray for relief for any who are suffering, and I thank God for the freedom to write and speak without recrimination.

God bless the world on the United States of America's 230th birthday!

20 June 2006

John Murtha, an American Hero

Thank you John Murtha for maintaining your integrity, while all around you, others were losing theirs.

Thank you for recognizing duty over dereliction.

Thank you for facing-down the ugly noise monster that is Karl Rove, and giving him a rhetorical kick in his fat, air-conditioned ass.

Thank you for being a leader around whom patriots can rally.

Thank you for not betraying us.

Best wishes, congressman.

11 June 2006

An open message to honest people in a dishonest industry

It occurs to me that things must getting pretty uncomfortable for any vendor or government official who is embroiled in the computerized voting industry. It is becoming very apparent that there is large-scale illegal activity by computerized voting machine companies. These kinds of illegal activities violate the most basic tenets of American Democracy.

These vendors and politicians are playing an end game with no solution to their dilemma in sight.


They can't exactly hand over an olive branch and say, "Y'know what? I tried to destroy this country, but now that the jig is up, do over?"



How can we help those who truly mean no harm? I imagine it is difficult for them to speak up.


How could anyone feel safe enough to step forward, given the recent civil rights assault on Stephen Heller by Diebold?

Stephen Heller is a brave, American whistle-blower, who did his civic and moral duty for his fellow citizens. He called attention to illegal activity by his employer, Diebold. Diebold is a major player in US elections, and as such has its own civic responsibility to be open with the voters of America, the "consumers" they serve.

Stephen Heller has been rewarded for his efforts with an onerous lawsuit and criminal charges.

How can we help those honest citizens, like Stephen Heller, who are stuck in a corrupt system.

IMO- give amnesty to people who are opposed to what is going on, but are too afraid to speak up. That won't protect them from the companies (or the government), but it will protect them from us.

Here's how to get started:

Let the s#@& roll UP-HILL as it deserves to!!!




The best way to serve this principle is to allow a policy of "PASS THE BUCK". Pass the buck means to pass the buck of blame to a superior, who in turn will pass it to his or her superior.

This will eventually get the buck of blame to the desk of none other than George Walker Bush.

In characteristically un-Trumanesque fashion, W will look for someone to pass it on to. But there won't be anyone.\clipart{help-2}

07 June 2006

Trust me, I'm a politician.

This is a cross-post from a forum at www.blackboxvoting.org

It is my response to the mullarkey about the "who could possibly want to sabotage an election?!" line that the voting machine vendors have been handing us. As if!

=GL


Mr Cortes, Mr Blackwell, Mr Bush, Mr Gonzales, Mr Manjoo and Mr Bellman:

Please do not request from me blind faith. I will have to say 'no' to that request. There are deep deficits in credibility by the parties who are asking me to trust them without verification.

At this point, it is not reasonable for one side of the 'voting machine debate' to ask the other for blind trust in any part of the argument.

Let's have consensus that all non-verifiable machines undergo public testing. While recognizing the economic value of secret proprietary software to Diebold and other vendors, we must recognize the more important value of transparent and fair elections to our free society.

If Diebold cannot be transparent with their software, then they shouldn't be in the business of making voting machines.

06 June 2006

Felony and Irony

Oh the irony!
Many voters have been purged from voting rolls because of previous felony charges, or because their name was the same as someone with a previous felony charge.

Three of Diebold's computerized electronic-voting software designers are convicted felons.

28 May 2006

Reflections on Faith and Reason

"Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind: which, if it be regulated, as is our duty, cannot be afforded to anything but upon good reason; and so cannot be opposite to it. He that believes without having any reason for believing, may be in love with his own fancies; but neither seeks truth as he ought, nor pays the obedience due to his maker...." (Bk. 4:27:24) =John Locke (from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

"Faith is an island in the setting sun. Truth is the bottom line for everyone."

=Paul Simon

What do I have faith in? Good judgement informs faith. Judgement is proven good or bad based on outcome. Superior results come from superior reason. I have faith in good judgement.

Faith, that which is not knowable, must obey reason. Faith is inferior, by any measure of certainty, to any knowable fact. Faith cannot be known, it can only be cultivated. Faith should avoid flights of fancy. Faith and Fantasy are dangerous bedfellows. Faith in desire is a recipe for disaster.

Om namah shivaya swadharma namahah

(O Lord, please alter my ways to follow a path of righteousness)

Om namah shivaya swashraddha namahah

(O Lord, please re-create my personal faith along the path of righteousness)

=Dr. G. Love

03 May 2006

The truthiness hurts

Kudos to Stevie C. for his dead-on parody of the spin merchants, during Colbert's naked truthathon, at the white house correspondents' dinner. The lack of initial mainstreamedia comment, followed by their predictably wounded response, "it's not funny when you make fun of us", shows only the petulance of those who control the message.

What Bush and the media were fed after dinner, was a lethal dose of their own toxic pap. The true potency of this rhetorical poison, is that it cannot be spit out. The Lords of the Flies have seen their reflections in Colbert's satirical mirror, and they can't get it out of their minds.

Now that their evil scheme is surfacing, with the help of Monsieur Colbert, the struggling neocons will have no defense, but to continue to insist that our collective eyes are being deceived.

Ignore the man behind the curtain, Dorothy!

What has become clear is that George W. Bush does not give a rat's a** about you or me. W cares about W, and people who can help W get more money. George W. Bush is as un-Godly as a human avatar can become. His front of kind sincerity belies a heart that is motivated by pure selfishness, and indifference to others.

Tolerance of a president's shameless self-promotion, at the expense of the good citizens of this nation, is never acceptable. It would be too simple to say that George W. Bush is evil. He is pathologically selfish.

Selfishness is the opposite of consciousness. Selfishness is motivated by fear and capitulation to human desire. Selfishness is the easy choice.

Why does George W. Bush think that he can get away with this selfish and criminal usurpation of authority?

Because he is too self-absorbed to think otherwise.

02 May 2006

A letter to my governor.

The Honorable Edward G. Rendell
225 Main Capitol BuildingHarrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
May 1, 2006

RE: Voting machines

Dear Governor,


Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to visit us, courtesy of the Northampton County Latino Democratic Caucus. We thoroughly enjoyed your talk. Personally speaking, I have always been a big fan of both your political career and sports commentary career. I am also a fellow-Penn alumnus (C ’82)... Let’s Go Quak-ers!

You speak with greater candor than most politicians. While I recognize that politics may have seasoned you in some ways, I have always had a sense that you have held on to your core values. Where I feel that you have lost touch with those core values, is on this issue of computerized voting. You and I both know that these systems are easily hacked. The evidence is out there, and was presented at a forum 2 weeks ago at Lehigh University. Countless computer experts and our own federal GAO have said that these computerized voting machines are not trustworthy. It seems as if every week, there surfaces a new and more outrageous news story about voting-computer failure. The subjects of these reports are the very same companies who are selling to us!

There is solid, scientific evidence that the 2004 election was stolen-- stolen in part by way of these computerized voting machines. My only solace, up to this point, was that my Northampton County vote was more likely to be counted, on my good old lever machine. That is to say, it was my solace until my county announced that it had purchased new computerized voting machines. What’s the point in voting if my vote won’t be counted?

As you suggested, I am putting together a law suit. My attorneys tell me that I have a strong case based on a clear violation of existing statute. Do I have to sue? Wouldn’t it be simpler just to have the computerized voting machines examined by a reliable outside expert? You could save me thousands of dollars and a good deal of marital strife by saying yes!

You said that you were worried about the US Department of Justice. I now read that the US Justice Department has backed off from its litigation threat against the State of New York. Instead, New York will be given ample time to examine its options. Perhaps they will choose optical scanning of handwritten paper ballots? Optical scanning of handwritten paper ballots is both cheaper and more trustworthy than any computer option.

Here’s a suggestion: Let’s take a close look at HAVA, and find the most trustworthy and least expensive way of implementing the HELP that the Help America Vote Act promises. Let’s not use this law as an excuse to strip the people of their voting rights. Governor, I try to avoid hyperbole, but inattention to this critical problem will result in social catastrophe. Once politicians are free to act without fear of their voting constituents, our social order will devolve.

I conclude with this question:

How would you feel if you voted, and your vote was thrown out?


With sincere thanks and warmest regards,

27 April 2006

I am asking that all votes be counted.

gravityblog


When I read about my county’s decision to purchase $2 million worth of computerized voting machines, I went ballistic. You may be wonder why I am so crazed about this. What is so concerning?

Taking away the right for a citizen’s vote to be counted, is what separates a democracy from a dictatorship. This is the “line” that my government is poised to cross.

Why should I think that my vote won’t be counted?

Allow me to provide some background. HAVA, or Help America Vote Act was designed to bring clarity to the elections process, and to provide better access for disabled persons, after the election fiasco in 2000. Written by the same politicians who were responsible for the chaos in 2000, it purportedly offers ease of use, at the expense of security. The federal government has taken up the HAVA cause by providing incentives ($1.5 million for for my own Northampton County) to purchase from a list of approved computerized voting machine vendors.

These computerized voting machine manufacturers claim their computerized voting machines never make mistakes… but all of the verifying tests for accuracy are internal! Lo and behold, the computer always agrees with itself! Just last week in Texas, 50,000 citizens voted, but 150,000 votes were recorded by the computerized voting machines. How do election officials sort that one out?

Moreover, in an ostensible effort to safeguard their own systems, the voting manufacturers refuse to share their source code, claiming proprietary rights. Translated, they safeguard their secrets, and you – the voter – are expected to trust them, while trusting the “black box” to come up with the right vote.

Why buy a computer to count a vote? Why complicate a simple process with a temperamental technology that is prone to “crashing”? Don’t ask me why, but the Department of Justice is using a classic carrot-and-stick technique to promote its computerized voting machine agenda, behind the skirts of the “HAVA act compliance”. With HAVA, simplicity and user-friendliness of the vote-count were legislated “in,” accuracy and accountability were legislated “out”.

While the federal government is offering my county $1.5 million in federal funding to purchase these computerized voting machines (the carrot), the county must also “chip in” a mere one half million dollars. If we do not comply with the government directive by purchasing from one of these approved vendors, the Justice Department has threatened us with a lawsuit for failure to comply (the stick).

Couple this threat with a presidential administrative track record that includes the Medicare prescription drug plan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Dubai ports deal, the false intelligence that led us to a brutal war in Iraq, the under-funded No Child Left Behind Act – it makes one wonder if it is hope against reason that this incompetent administration will do something right with computerized electronic voting.

No, thank you. As far as I’m concerned, a “because I say-so” assurance from the County Commissioner or the Attorney General of the United States, that this equipment is reliable and trustworthy, will not satisfy me.

Show me the proof.

The county is exposing itself to far greater expense in terms of repairing or replacing poorly-functioning equipment, and to far greater legal problems if they violate our civil rights by undermining the security and reliability of an accurate vote. By what more fundamental standard should the success of a democracy be measured, than by the accuracy of its vote? Did we not used to criticize the Soviet Union for its sham elections? Are our sons and daughters not dying on the tragic streets of Iraq, to defend our right to vote?

As my wife points out to me, the publicity over this issue is probably not doing much for my medical career, however it is a sense of duty compels me to raise public awareness on this issue. Where did that sense of duty come from? I recall my fourth-grade class taught by Miss Hersey at Forks Elementary School. That is where I began a deep love for our United States Constitution and the ideals that it represents. I learned later in Mr. Perfetti’s 7th grade Civics class at Easton Junior High School about the importance of citizen participation in government. In high school, Mr. Hosier taught me about the political context of the American revolution, and the genius of Thomas Jefferson. I remember pledging my allegiance to a flag that represents an ideal, codified in a Constitution which bequeaths to each one of us: liberty, and an equal voice in running our government, of, for and by the people. What compels me to speak up, are the lessons that I learned as a child.

Why should I speak up, when so many seem content to accept each new outrageous development that besmirches the reputation of our great nation? It is because nothing less than our future, and the future of our children, yours and mine, is at stake. If we do not seize this opportunity to rectify this disaster-in-progress, and install a safe, fair, transparent and accurate voting system, our democracy is finished. If easy-to-manipulate computerized voting machines become the standard for elections around the country, we will never be able to free ourselves from the political death-grip of a ruling party. We may lose forever the ability of a citizen to have his or her vote cast and counted accurately. Simply put, we will no longer have a democracy.

=GL

25 April 2006

Thank you.

Thank you for bringing me to this place, O Lord. Thank you for all of the opportunities that you have provided, and I pray that you give me the wisdom to take only dharmic actions.

Om shantishantishanti shantishantishanti shantishantishanti