Nel's New Day

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
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The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

November 7, 2015

Will Computer Hackers Determine Elections?

“Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.” It’s an old saying that might be true in Ohio during the most recent election. A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana miserably failed with a tally of almost two-to-one. I assumed that many of the no votes came from people who disagreed with the part of the amendment that would give sales control to just t, essentially a monopoly. According to Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, the vote may have a much darker reason. Their article, published in the Columbus Free Press, claims that “televised screen shots taken Tuesday night of live election returns in Ohio provided by the Secretary of State’s office showed hundreds of thousands of votes flipping from the “yes” to “no” column of Issue 3, the ballot measure to legalize marijuana.”

Secretary of State Jon Husted, the man who provided the election returns, was “vehemently opposed” to the measure, Issue 3, and “threatened its proponents with legal action.” Live television showed the flips of hundreds of thousands of votes going from yes to no in just minutes. The shot on the right was taken just 11 minutes after the one on the right although the number of reporting precincts increased by only 6 percent. The first screenshot, with 39 percent of precincs reporting, showed the measure ahead by 65 to 35 percent.

television shot 1

television shot 2

 

Ohio has a history of voting problems.

 

Over a decade ago, James Q. Jacobs published a lengthy article about the “voter irregularities and anomalies” that may have caused John Kerry to lose Ohio—and the presidency of the United States. He claims that an analysis of Cuyahoga County votes shows that Kerry votes were changed to George W. Bush votes. In a study of 166,953 votes, one of every 34 Ohio voters, the Kerry-Bush margin shifted six percent through punch card cross-voting. Jacobs said, “Seven-eighths of voters in heavily-Democratic Cuyahoga County, more than one of every eight Ohio Kerry voters, could have cross-voted at an adjacent precinct using the wrong ballot order.” By Ohio statutory requirement, candidate names rotate to the top of the ballot list an equal number of times. If ballots cast for one precinct are counted with a different precinct’s ballot order, the votes can be reversed or assigned to a third-party candidates, a situation that had an unusually high incidence in several Cuyahoga County precincts.

An investigation by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that “some of [the] concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.”

The CEO of one of the most crucial suppliers of electronic voting machines, Warren O’Dell of Diebold, pledged before the 2004 campaign to deliver Ohio and thus the presidency to George W. Bush. In 2004, Bush’s margin of victory was only 118,775 out of 5.6 million votes, 800,000 of them cast on electronic voting machines.

Other GAO conclusions:

Some electronic voting machines “did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected,” meaning than an entire vote count can be slipped.

“It was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate.”

“Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level,” leaving the opportunity to use altered memory cards.

The GAO also confirms that access to the voting network was easily compromised because not all digital recording electronic voting systems (DREs) had supervisory functions password-protected. Access to one machine provided access to the whole network allowing a small group of people to change large numbers of votes.

Access to the voting network was also compromised by repeated use of the same user IDs combined with easily guessed passwords.

The locks protecting access to the system were easily picked and keys were simple to copy, meaning, again, getting into the system was an easy matter.

One DRE model was shown to have been networked in such a rudimentary fashion that a power failure on one machine would cause the entire network to fail.

A voting machine in Mahoning County recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry. Election officials in that county also agreed that voters reporting at least 18 machines visibly transferred votes for Kerry to Bush. Franklin County voters experienced the same problem, and dozens of voters swore that their vote for Kerry disappeared without a paper trail. Kerry’s margins were very low in both counties compared to exit polls. In Gahanna Ward 1B, recording 638 people voting, Bush had almost 4,000 extra votes. On 1:43 am after Election Day, Miami County reported an additional 19,000 votes after the central tabulator had reported 100 percent of the vote; 13,000 of the votes were for Bush. Shelby and  other counties admitted that they discarded key records and equipment before any recount could take place.

In 2007, Lawrence County officials reported votes going to the wrong candidates. At the end of an election that year, a tally printed and posted on the door of the county precinct got numbers one way, but a tabulation machine at the county’s headquarters flipped the numbers, exchanging the number of votes for two candidates. E-voting machines were made by Election Systems & Software. Lawrence County Election Director Catherine Overbeck didn’t say how they determined which tabulations were correct.

Furious with President Obama’s 2008 win, Karl Rove promised to deliver Ohio for Mitt Romney in 2012. Fox network called the Ohio vote for President Obama soon after 11:00 pm, but Rove told them to wait. He claimed a shift to the right immediately after 11:00 am as it had in 2004. That’s when the GOP secretary of state, Ken Blackwell, called SMARTech to fix the computers that had just gone down, and they rerouted he vote through its company in Chattanooga. Kerry’s lead reversed by over 6 percent. SMARTech’s top client was the Bush-Cheney campaign, and the company worked for Jeb Bush and the Republican National Committee. Journalist Craig Unger gives the details in his book, Boss Rove.

In 2012, Rove predicted the same reversal from the same counties that had flipped right in 2004. It never happened, and Karl Rove’s jaw dropped. I watched him as the votes kept on coming for President Obama in Ohio. Here is his meltdown.

A few weeks before Election Day, Anonymous, a hacktivist group, issued a video statement warning Rove that he was being watched. Two days after Election Day, Anonymous released a press statement claiming that it prevented Rove’s attempt to steal the 2012 election for Romney.

 “We began following the digital traffic of one Karl Rove…After a rather short time, we identified the digital structure of Karl’s operation and even that of his ORCA. This was an easy task in that barn doors were left open and the wind swept us inside.”

“ORCA” was a Romney’s high-tech get-out-the-vote system to keep tabs on potential voters and to target who hadn’t voted yet on Election Day. Anonymous claimed that ORCA’s purpose was to rig the vote and that the group blocked Rove’s access to “digital tunnels” for vote changing.

Election Day is one year from tomorrow. The United States is the only major democracy that allows private partisan corporations to secretly count and tabulate the votes with proprietary non-transparent software. As of now computers are no better than they were when Ohio gave George W. Bush the presidency in 2004, and Karl Rove was positive that the state would put Mitt Romney into the presidency in 2012. Matt Bevin won governor in Kentucky by a tidy margin despite polls indicating either a Democratic win or a very tight margin. How many elections in the United States have been decided by those in power who are willing to electronically steal elections for their own benefit? We won’t know because the government refuses to provide the same security that computers in banks and large corporations require. Will computer hackers decide the presidency of the United States in 2016?

October 31, 2012

Romney Desperate in Last Few Days

Mitt Romney’s campaign was headed downhill after President Obama’s two successful debates, but the tragic storm on the East Coast has required the Republican candidate to frantically think up a new strategy.

First, Romney campaigners admitted that they would try to look sensitive by not campaigning so they changed the name of their events to “storm relief events.” As a businessman, Romney is big on rebranding. If the public doesn’t like what he’s doing, he just changes directions and calls it something else.

Part of the event was to collect items for clothing, food, and bottled water. By doing this, Romney showed that he knows nothing about the Red Cross. Because it takes more effort to clean clothing and package all these items, the Red Cross always requests just money and blood donations. But that didn’t stop Romney.

Always prepared for contingencies, Romney sent out his campaign aides to a local Wal-Mart on the night before the event with $5,000 to buy granola bars, canned foods, and diapers for camera ops. Supporters who wanted to greet the candidate were told, “You need a donation to get in line!” Empty-handed potential voters were told, “Just grab something.” Two teenage boys each picked up a jar of peanut butter, handed their “donations” to Romney, and were given a warm “Thank you” by the candidate.

To show how prepared he was to take care of a similar disaster, Romney compared the federal government’s hurricane relief efforts to the time he and some friends had to clean up a football field strewn with “rubbish and paper products.” He then talked about how Hurricane Katrina survivors were given food and television sets by people in Cape Cod.

Romney has also got his nineteenth “pants on fire” from Politifact, this time for his collective lies about the automobile industry including the falsehood that the Jeep factory was leaving for China.

Romney’s “sensitivity” in not campaigning was short-lived. Today he was back in Florida with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, still bashing the president. New Jersey governor Chris Christie is one person, however, who has stopped bashing President Obama as the president works tirelessly to help storm victims. Of course, Rush Limbaugh is spouting trash about President Obama blackmailing Christie to get his support.

Despite appearances, Romney refuses to take interviews or answer questions from the media. DailyKos reports that it’s been nearly three weeks since Mitt Romney’s last interview (if you count sitting down with Newsmax to be an interview) and more than a month since he last answered a question from his traveling press pool.

In comparison, President Obama has sat down for interviews with NBC’s Brian Williams, at least seven local news stations, and the Des Moines Register editorial board—just in the last two weeks. The president also took a question from a White House reporter following his Hurricane Sandy statement and agreed to interviews with The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and MTV’s Sway Calloway. Somehow he managed to do this while he continued with his more-than-fulltime job.

Another highly questionable tactic from the Romney campaign is training that Romney Poll Watchers in Wisconsin have received. Their document gives guidance that can send these observers to jail if they follow them:

Any “person [who] has been convicted of treason, a felony, or bribery” is not eligible to vote. [State regulations permit people in Wisconsin to vote after they have served their sentences and probation.]

If a handicapped voter is unable to come into the polls to vote, an assistant can deliver the ballot to the voter if the CEI verifies the elector’s proof of residency. [The CEI does not have to verify the elector’s proof of residency.]

Election Observers should not assist [voters]. [The law allows voters to request assistance from anyone, including poll observers.]

“The ONLY Acceptable Forms of “Proof of Residency” omits a multitude of options.

At a training session for poll watchers, a woman who just graduated from law school last year gave lots of bad advice: for example, if observers cannot see or identify the proof of residence, the observers are to ask the poll worker about this. The law: Observers do not have the right to inspect proof of residence documents, and they do not have the right to ask poll workers what the documentation is. 

The Romney campaign PowerPoint states that in order to register to vote a “WI driver’s license number or WI ID number is required (whether current, revoked, expired or suspended).” The law: “If you have been issued a WI driver license and it is current and valid, you must provide the number and expiration date. If you have not been issued a WI driver license you must provide either your WI DOT-issued ID number OR the last 4 digits of your Social Security number.” The same PowerPoint cell states that the “last four digits of the social security number are only to be used if the citizen has never been issued a driver’s license or WI ID.” The law: it’s either one or the other. 

The presenter also worked hard to get observers to force voters to use provisional ballots because they tend to be trashed. The presenter said that “A first-time voter who registers by mail and but has failed to to provide proof of residency” and omitted the end of the sentence “and is unable to provide proof of residence at the polling place.” The presenter also said a provisional ballot would be required for “An individual who registers on Election day who has a Wisconsin driver’s license but is unable to provide the license number.” The law: in a circumstance in which a person does have a valid license and is absolutely unable to get that number as a last resort they will accept the last 4 digits of a social security number.  

Training also recommends a level of intimidation. According to the presenter, voters who have not produced valid Wisconsin driver’s licenses should also be followed and photographed. All this pressure makes me very happy that I live in Oregon and vote by mail.

A Wisconsin election official has confirmed that information in the Romney document is false. Reid Magney, a spokesman for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, also criticized the Romney campaign for instructing their poll watchers not to disclose any affiliation with the campaign when they sign in at the polls. They were told to list themselves as only a “concerned citizen” instead. “We would hope that people would accurately represent who they are with,” Magney said.

The Obama campaign has sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requesting he open an investigation into the trainings. “These acts of willful misinformation to individuals sent to polling locations to enforce the law raise serious concerns under Wisconsin law,” Bob Bauer, general counsel for the Obama campaign, wrote. “I ask that your office review this matter urgently, and take all necessary steps to protect the rights of our state’s voters.”

Vote revisions have already started in Florida. In Broward County, a Democratic Party stronghold, the vote total was dropped by 536 votes, just two fewer than the number of votes that decided the entire state in the 2000 presidential election. Votes across the country can also be manipulated by computer hacking, as shown after the Arizona primary.

In Florida, Virginia and Indiana people are getting calls falsely telling them they can vote early by phone and don’t need to go to a polling place. In  Broward County (FL),  elderly voters who requested absentee ballots say they were visited by unknown people claiming to be authorized to collect the ballots. Mailings to voters in at least 23 Florida counties raise questions about the voter’s citizenship and provide a form that supposedly must immediately be filled out and returned to elections officials to keep the voter’s name from being purged from the rolls.

Only six more days to hold our breath about voter fraud changing the results of the election—for this year.

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