Monthly Archives: July 2006
The state of California’s Select Committe on Integrity of Elections began holding hearings today in my city of Bakersfield. Kern county experienced significant problems during the ’06 primary, forcing some voters to become disenfranchised..Meaning they couldn’t vote. The following three areas were targeted as unacceptable. And the cause of the voter disenfranchisement and reporting problems here in Kern County:
Lack of paper ballots for backup if the machines failed to work
Tabulation of the votes after the polls closed.
The Voter Access Cards, or VAC’s, which activate the Diebold TSX voting machine for each voter, did not work in many precincts when the polls opened. I personally did not experience any problems, but several precincts, such as those in Delano, CA did not have any working VAC’s and people were waiting to vote when the precincts opened. The poll workers had not been trained in how to deal with this type of malfunction. They were told it wouldn’t be a problem.
But it was. And people were turned away or got tired of waiting and left without voting. A privilege and one protected by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
The root cause of the malfunction was determined to be old VAC’s from the previous election year that had not been updated with the new security codes. Who’s fault was this one might ask..Diebold piped up and accepted blame. But during the hearing, Diebolds California representative could not say with any certainty why Diebold dropped the ball in putting this crucial step into their training manuals sent out to Kern county, or why their representatives, who were in town on a weekly basis to the runup of the election, didn’t tell the Kern County Registrar that the VAC’s had to be re-programmed. The Diebold representative couldn’t answer most of the questions asked of him with any certainty. Neither could the Deputy Registar when it was her turn on the hotseat. The Deputy Registrar couldn’t even tell the senators how many paper ballots were cast because of the VAC malfunction. Neither individual seemed prepared for the hearing. Neither person could tell the Senators how much Kern County paid for the Diebold system that left voters out in the cold.
According to this article in the Bakersfield Californian, Kern County paid “about 5 million” for the system.
Two of the three senators conducting the hearing were Democrats. The lone Republican, Roy Ashburn however, asked many of the hard questions and didn’t accept the empty explanations and the “I don’t knows” offered by Diebold and the Registrar’s Office for the problems that occurred over the course of the election day and evening.
Some folks were given paper ballots. The county Registrar only issued 20 of these to each precinct. It should also be mentioned that Delano’s poll workers were lax in showing up to work. They had to grab folks that were not trained during the preceding months to fill in. When they ran out of paper ballots, they started giving people Spanish ballots, even if they didn’t speak Spanish. They also copied ballots and handed those out. They tried vainly to fill the need and rights of Californians to vote in an election. At one point it was mentioned during the hearing that the Registar had said she would accept “Faxed” ballots from voters. It had to be explained to the Registrar during the course of the election night that faxed ballots were not legal, and they were not accepted.
The third issue was the failure of Ridgecrest to transmit their voting results after the polls closed. Ridgecrest is over two hours away from Bakersfield. Each Diebold machine has the ability to act as a transmitter but the problem seemed to be blamed on the baud speed of the modems. The voting results had to be driven to Bakersfield, resulting in a major delay that should of never happened. The inability to transmit voting results from Ridgecrest, coupled with the processing of paper ballots led to a three hour delay in voting results after the polls closed here in California. When they did start showing results..they were being reported as “100% of precincts reporting” when in fact they had just started tabulating the votes.
Another problem in the process to tabulate the votes was the Security within the computer center for the Registrar. There was the expected panic when the numerous problems arose, however, people who had been hired for menial positions and were NOT cleared by security checks were given access to the computer room. Some were asked if they had any computer experience, and if not, would they be willing to learn. The secure computer room was no longer secure. Add to this mix, the paper ballots that were not expected to be processed because, according to several people that testified, this was never going to happen, and you had procedures that were ignored or altered after the fact.
These issues affect all voters, party affiliation has no bearing on this important issue of disenfranchisement. The three senators were Roy Ashburn, Joseph Dunn and the chair Debra Bowen. All three asked questions and participated equally. Sen. Ashburn was incensed that Ann Barnett, the Registrar, who is also our Auditor/Controller/County Clerk did not appear. He demanded to know why. He was told by Sandra Brockman, Deputy Registrar that she was “on vacation”. Sen. Dunn stated that accepting blame was easy for Diebold but providing restitution to the disenfranchised voters was no where to be found. Diebold’s representative stated they were going to pay for the helicopter needed to deliver working VAC’s to the precincts that did not have any when their polls opened that morning. This was not an acceptable response judging by the reaction of Sen. Dunn. Many of the important questions posed by the committee went unanswered. Since this is their first stop, I hope they will get answers to them somewhere down the road. Our right to vote depends on it.
It was a week ago today I saw them in Fresno, the concert started right about now. I cried when they played “Find the cost of Freedom” and showed the face of every single soldier killed in Iraq. This is about their tour and its done by Patrick Murphy who is running for office in PA. His website is here. All their songs sadly ring true today, and Neils Living With War bitch slaps the Shrub’s administration good, we even had the words up on a screen so we could all sing along..which most did btw. Its nine minutes but its worth the time.Thanks to Down with Tyranny for having this up on his site for me to steal.
This group wants an end to the madness in the Middle East. They want to print the following ad in newspapers here, Palestine, Israel and Lebanon. They are out of Berkeley, CA. You remember Berkeley dont you? The home of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. If you can’t contribute, at least post this ad on your website my dear reader. I am jaded enough to think no one will do this. I hope some of you prove me wrong.
STOP THE SLAUGHTER IN
LEBANON, ISRAEL AND THE
Convene an International Middle East Peace Conference to
Impose a Just, Equitable and Lasting Settlement on All Parties.
In the name of our sisters and brothers suffering and dying in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we, the undersigned, demand that the Israeli government, the leaderships of Hezbollah and Hamas, the U.S. Government, the international community and the United Nations
immediately take the following steps to stop the war in these countries:
1. We demand that the Israeli government immediately halt its attacks on Lebanon. We join with the Israeli peace movement and the thousands of Israelis who demonstrated against this war in Tel Aviv on July 22, 2006 in their insistence that these attacks are utterly disproportionate to the initial provocation by Hezbollah, have killed innumerable innocent civilians, displaced half a million people, destroyed billions of dollars of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and will not, in the long run, secure peace or security for Israel. We also call on the Israeli government to supply food, electricity, water and funds to repair the humanitarian crisis caused by its invasion of Gaza.
2. We demand that Hezbollah and Hamas immediately stop shelling or otherwise engaging in violence against Israel. These actions, which have killed numerous Israeli civilians, terrorized the people of Israel and damaged many towns and cities, played a central role in provoking the current crisis, and do nothing but harm the cause of Palestinian and Lebanese independence and democracy. It is this kind of violence which has over the years pushed many decent Israelis into the hands of its most
militaristic and paranoid political leaders.
3. We demand that the U.S. government and governments around the world call on Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas to observe an immediate ceasefire, place an immediate embargo on all shipments of weapons to all parties in the war (including Syria and Iran), and join an international conference to provide security on the border between Israel and Lebanon. By endorsing Israel’s attacks and explicitly giving it time to do more damage to the people of Lebanon, the U.S. government has become a party to this violence, which, together with American military actions in Iraq, is sure to create enmity towards the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world for generations to come.
These are the minimum steps necessary to stop the violence and the humanitarian disaster in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. But these steps alone will not ensure that the region doesn’t return to an untenable status quo which will again eventually break into violence and new rounds of warfare.We therefore also issue:
A Call for Lasting Peace
We call upon the international community to hold an International Peace Conference to impose a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the conflict between Israel and other states in the region. Why do we say “impose”? There are too many forces in each country in the region who are committed to continuing this struggle forever. Their provocations will continue until the international community stops the violence once and for all and imposes conditions of peace that will allow the peace and reconciliation forces in each country to flourish. Such a solution would be based on the following conditions:
a. The creation of an economically and politically viable Palestinian state (roughly on the pre-1967 borders with minor border modifications mutually agreed upon between Israel and Palestine); and simultaneously the full and unequivocal recognition by Palestinians and the State of Palestine and all surrounding Arab states of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state offering full and equal rights to all of its non-Jewish citizens;
b. An international consortium to provide reparations for Palestinians who have lost homes or property from 1947 to the present, and reparations for Jewish refugees from Arab states from 1947–1967;
c. A long-term international peacekeeping force to separate Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon and to protect Israel and Palestine from each other and from other forces in the region who might seek to control or destroy either state; and
d. The quick imposition of robust sanctions against any party that refuses to sign or violates these agreements.
A New Spirit of Open-Heartedness and Reconciliation
We know that no political solution can work without a change of consciousness that minimally includes an open-heartedness and willingness to recognize the humanity of the Other, and repentance and atonement for the long history of insensitivity and cruelty to the other side.Both sides must take immediate steps to stop the discourse of violence and demeaning of the other in their media, their religious institutions, and their school text books and educational systems. They should implement this by creating a joint authority with each other and with moral leaders in the international community who can supervise, and if necessary, replace those in positions of power in both societies who continue to use the public institutions of the society to spread hatred or nurture anger at the other.
Once the other parts of a lasting peace have been set in place, we call upon the parties to this struggle
to launch a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, following the model used in South Africa.
Use This Moment to Challenge
The Paranoid and Cynical“Political Realism”That Generates Endless Wars
The paranoid and allegedly “realistic” version of global politics asserts that we live in a world in which our safety can only be achieved through domination, or others will seek to dominate us first. Of course, when we act on this assumption, it becomes self-fulfilling.We propose, instead, a strategy of generosity—to act on the assumption that people have an enormous capacity for goodness and generosity (without negating the truth that certain conditions promote fear, anger and hatred which sometimes are expressed in horribly destructive ways). For the U.S. and other G8 countries, we call for a Global Marshall Plan: for each of the next twenty years,the U.S. and other G8 countries should dedicate 5% of their Gross Domestic Product to eliminating global (and domestic) hunger, homelessness, poverty, inadequate health care and inadequate education for the peoples of the world. This would have to be carefully monitored and apportioned in ways that ensure the care reaches the people for whom it was intended. But what is critical is the spirit in which it is done. Similarly, we urge Israel not only to return to its 1967 borders (with minor border modifications mutually agreed upon including a sharing of Jerusalem and of its holy sites) but to do so in a spirit of generosity and caring for the other before it is forced to return to those borders by the international community and before thousands more young Israelis and Palestinians die in these senseless wars that will otherwise continue in the coming years. The only protection that we in the advanced industrial countries of the world can ever really have for our lives is to spread a spirit of love so powerful and genuine that it becomes capable of reducing the anger that has justifiably developed against the powerful and the wealthy of the world. The “cynical realists” claim that others are entrenched in their hatefulness, and that war and domination is the only way to battle them. This kind of thinking has led to five thousand years of people fighting wars in order to “end all wars”—and it has not worked. It’s time now to try a new strategy of generosity, both economic generosity and generosity of spirit. As stated above, there will first have to be a transitional period in which real military protections are available to people on all sides of the struggle. But by beginning now to simultaneously commit our economic resources and change the way that we talk about those whom we previously designated as “enemies,” we can begin the long process of thawing out angers that have existed for many generations. Nothing can redeem the deaths and suffering that all sides have faced in this struggle for the past 120 years. But this very moment could also be the time in which the human race realizes the futility of violence and comes together not only to impose a lasting solution for the Middle East, but to begin a new era and to recognize that our own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet. The International Middle East Peace Conference should be structured to achieve this end—which means it should have an explicit psychological and spiritual dimension and a visionary agenda.
We Affirm the Sacredness of All Human Beings.
This is the moment to begin to make that real. The U.N. raised these possibilities 61 years ago, but relied on political arrangements while ignoring the need to simultaneously build ethical and spiritual solidarity among the people of the world, resolutions that most people never even heard about, a system that represented the elites of countries around the world but not necessarily the will of their own people, and fell into politicizing every issue. We need to strengthen international institutions that move in a new direction, but we also need a commitment of the heart from everyone on the planet. Our own countries must take the lead in a whole new approach to security and well-being. This may well be the last chance we in the advanced industrial societies have to avoid international catastrophe (either environmental or nuclear) by modeling something else besides brute power, military might, and indifference to the well-being of others. If not now, when? Unrealistic? Nope. What has proved unrealistic time and again—whether we are talking about U.S. policy in Vietnam and Iraq or Israeli and Arab policies in the Middle East—is the fantasy that one more war will put an end to wars. The path to peace must be a path of peace. Religious and spiritual leaders are also making a global call for ten days of prayer and fasting toward the aim of peace, reconciliation, and ending violence, beginning July 27th and continuing through August 6th.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Sr. Joan Chittister and Prof. Cornell West, Co-chairs,
The Network of Spiritual Progressives
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This morning I see that Israel hit another civilian compound that housed refugees according to the Red Cross, killing large numbers of children, a total of over 50 people. The Lebanese people retaliated by attacking the UN Headquarters in Beirut. This is getting worse as each day passes. I am sick of bombs and killings from BOTH sides. I am sick and tired of men in powerful positions affecting the lives of innocents on BOTH sides. There will be NO winner in this bullshit folks. But there are millions of losers on BOTH sides.
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
OK..I am done for now. I will go listen to this song who’s lyrics I just posted. I hope it calms me down cuz I am fucking pissed.
This is an article up at Progressive.org. I enjoy their online articles and wish I could afford to subscribe to their magazine. My comments will be at the end of the article.
July 28, 2006
After being one of the most inept national security advisers in the nation’s history, Condoleezza Rice is now earning the same grade as secretary of state.
Her description of the conflagration in Lebanon as the “birthpangs of a new Middle East” was about as callous as it gets, matched only by Bush’s remark that the conflict represents “a moment of opportunity.”
The 400 Lebanese who have died, an overwhelming number of them civilian and many of them children, were not feeling any birthpangs. They were feeling deathpangs.
Nor were families of the Israeli victims (about 50 so far, and most of them soldiers) cheering the new day, either.
Rice’s cruel opposition to an immediate cease-fire has left the whole world outside of Israel (and Tony Blair’s kennel) aghast.
And U.N. Ambassador John Bolton’s sneering about a cease-fire not being “the alpha and omega” only reinforced the arrogance.
More than half a million people in Lebanon have been turned into refugees in just a matter of weeks.
Israelis are bunkered in bomb shelters.
And all Rice can do is issue hollow words of concern and then sabotage any immediate cease-fire?
The expediting of U.S. bombs to Israel at the same time sent an all too obvious message. Did they fly in carriage on the same plane that took Rice to the region? Is she bringing another load with her this time?
As Rice did in the lead up to the Iraq War, so she is doing now: She’s drinking her own propaganda.
The Iraq War was going to redraw the map of the Middle East.
Now the Lebanon War is going to do the trick?
The Iraqi people were going to welcome the Americans with open arms.
Now the Lebanese people are going to rise up and somehow defeat Hezbollah when Israel can’t even do the job?
Politically naïve, Rice also appears woefully jejune about human nature.
When people are being attacked by a foreign power, they rarely rally to that foreign power’s side.
And when a group in their midst fights back against the invaders, that group doesn’t lose support, it gains support.
The United States and Israel have succeeded only in making heroes of Hezbollah thugs.
Rice’s green light for Olmert’s spilling of red blood has managed only to further enrage the Arab and Muslim world and isolate the United States among its allies (except, of course, for Tony Blair, who is still wagging his tail and licking Bush’s face).
It is not in the interests of the United States, and it is not in Israel’s interests either, to show the international community utter disdain. And the war crimes of Israel, and Rice’s blessing of them, will long be remembered.
Where was Condoleezza Rice when Israel bombed the only power plant in Gaza, bringing about a humanitarian crisis?
Where was Condoleezza Rice, when Israel inflicted collective punishment on the sovereign people of Lebanon?
Where was Condoleezza Rice, when Israel was killing more than 100 Lebanese children?
Condoleezza Rice was in Israel’s corner.
For five and a half years, Rice did nothing about the most serious problem in the Middle East, and now she’s done worse than nothing.
Rice believes in is the diplomacy of the F-16.
And that style of diplomacy is crashing and burning.
My view of Condo is that she is in over her head and refuses to present opposing options to the Shrub and his minions by espousing the “company’ line of thought. Any administration that does not allow differing opinions in matters of such importance is limiting themselves and their options. This administration refuses to allow any difference of opinion, its the “your either with us or against us” mentality. By limiting themselves to only their views, they prevent any type of dialogue that might open a door, or mind, to other rationale that might shed light on a complicated issue. War, by its very nature, is an extremely complicated issue…so is Terrorism.
Cross-posted at Progressive Blogwire