Nel's New Day

September 8, 2018

More Pieces from DDT’s 85th Week

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) creates chaos to stop people from noticing reasons for his indictment, the news keeps churning.

Twitter, who tried to claim its lack of bias in not banning conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars website when other social media did, has “permanently suspended” Jones and his website for violating policies against abuse, including attacks on a reporter outside Kavanaugh’s congressional hearing.

DDT tweeted in mid-August that he was revoking the clearance for John Brennan, but Brennan hasn’t received any notice about the loss of his clearance. This lack of follow-through seems to be a pattern:

  • June: DDT said he “instructed” officials “not to endorse” an official G-7 communique negotiated by member nations diplomats. Nothing happened.
  • April: DDT tweeted that Russia should “get ready” for his military offensive in Syria. Nothing happened.
  • February: DDT asked Defense Secretary James Mattis for military options for Iran. Mattis “refused.”
  • Last summer: DDT tweeted that transgender people were banned from military service. The Joint Chiefs ignored him.

Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and editor in chief of the blog Lawfare, noted that unlike all other administrations, saying, “there is an almost total disconnect between what the president says in public and the actions of the executive branch.” Or maybe his aides really are taking papers off his desk.

With a prediction of a “blue wave,” Republicans have gone beyond their usual fraudulent efforts to win the election such as restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering, false statements about candidates, and maneuvers to put someone on the ballot to benefit themselves, and lying about their credentials. Now they’ve moved on to stolen materials, as in the example of Abigail Spanberger, candidate for Virginia’s 7th House district, who is running against Rep. Dave Brat, who replaced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  Brat is as unpopular as Cantor was , and the district is considered a toss-up between the two parties.

A GOP SuperPAC connected to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released all the private information from a job application completed by Spanberger, including her Social Security number. The Postal Service said that it released Spanberger’s application in error and asked that it be returned, yet the GOP PAC spun the information into lies about Spanberger.

A polling company asked voters if they would be less likely to support the Democratic candidate “if she knew that the candidate had taught at a school funded by the Saudi royal family that had ‘numerous students arrested for terrorism,’” and the GOP put this information into a “news release.” Spanberger substituted at a prep school for a wealthy school after she finished her MA with no record of any students connected to terrorism in any way. The problems cited by the GOP occurred long after Spanberger left the school. Then someone put up fake posters claiming that Spanberger promises to impeach DDT, open the U.S. borders, and abolish ICE—issues when Spanberger opposes.

In Texas, Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke is even in the polls with Sen. Ted Cruz for the general election. Now about 1,000 of O’Rourke’s supporters are receiving false texts that he is “in search of volunteers to help transport undocumented immigrants to polling booths so that they will be able to vote.” The messages came from his campaign by a first-time volunteer who signed up under a false name and were not authorized.

Racist robocalls sent from Idaho went to Florida residents where Andrew Gillum, a black man, is the Democratic candidate for governor against Trumper Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). The message starts with “I is Andrew Gillum” in a minstrel performer voice to background sounds of drums and monkeys before the voice rambles on about mud huts and unfair policing. The recording claims to be provided by the Road to Power, a website with white supremacist and anti-Semitic content.

Other GOP attacks are against veterans—ridiculing tattoos on a Maine candidate who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming that a Colorado candidate who was an Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient was responsible for VA problems, and saying that a Kentucky ex-fighter pilot deals in “execution” instead of “ideas.”

With no accomplishments or positive plans for the future, the GOP has devolved into the Party of Trump. It had hoped to run on their tax cuts, but the Pennsylvania special election proved that a failure. All they have are smear campaigns. This past week, congressional Republicans refused to negotiate on a pact banning both parties from using hacked or stolen materials in campaigning. Republicans said that Democrats had violated an agreement not to publicly talk about the negotiations.

The speeches from DDT and President Obama this past week show the serious difference between the two parties. One speaker introduced and praised candidates with personal anecdotes and plans for what they can accomplish if they are elected. The other one barely mentioned a candidate’s name, instead talking about himself and how people must vote for members of his party to keep him from being impeached. DDT tried to play down any concern about president Obama’s speech, but insiders says that it added to his paranoia.

Hurricane Florence, due to hit the East Coast by the end of next week, can bring disaster back to the United States, but not everyone has forgotten DDT’s inability to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s destruction of Puerto Rico. Last Thursday, House Democrats accused GOP members of failing to investigate DDT’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to protect DDT. Even after the report that 2,965 people died because of the hurricane, almost triple those in Hurricane Katrina, DDT said that he did a “fantastic job.” Republicans held only one hearing on Maria, compared to the nine that they had about federal response to Katrina. They also asked for no records from the White House although they obtained over 500,000 documents from George W. Bush and within five months prepared 569 pages about the government’s failures and suggestions for improvement.

DDT blames Puerto Rico for the deadliest U.S. disaster in almost 100 years despite the refusal of the United States to support its territory. He called its power plant “dead” before the hurricane although it was still functioning and said that delivering aid was difficult because Puerto Rico is an island. The death rate could be as high as 4,645 because emergency responders didn’t provide help in many areas for days. DHS failed to immediately waive the Jones Act for Puerto Rico which prevented the island from getting aid and supplies from non-U.S.-flagged ships out of the U.S., and a hospital ship didn’t arrive for nine days. The assistance to Puerto Rico was minimal compared to mainland assistant, $6.2 million on the island and $141.2 million for Texas. Under pressure from U.S. officials, Puerto Rico hired a two-employee company in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown that had once employed his son to repair its electrical grid. The company overcharged for its services before it failed, and much of Puerto Rico was without power for several months. In short, DDT and the U.S. failed Puerto Rico.

Even Israeli military hardliners object to DDT’s removal of funds for Palestinian refugees’ healthcare and schooling plus $200 million in economic aid as they far greater conflict instead of peace. DDT’s new level of hostility toward Palestinian was symbolized last May when Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, walked out of a Security Council meeting to avoid hearing a speech by the Palestinian envoy, going beyond appointing David Friedman, funder of the illegal West Bank settlements, as ambassador to Israel. Christian evangelicals and donors such as Sheldon Adelson want the elimination of Palestinians, but DDT is creating a backlash from a people who have nothing to lose.

A neuroscientist suggests that DDT may be suffering from “narcissistic injury” because of his growing loss of power and control. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains that “criticism may haunt these individuals [suffering from this disorder] and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty.” The reaction is to angrily blame others, as DDT is against Bruce Ohr, Jeff Sessions, John Brennan, etc. “Narcissistic rage” causes much higher levels of bully, threats, and erratic behavior with the sole intent of punishing others.

Just 36% say they approve of the job President Trump is doing, a 5-point drop from last month, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. Fifty-six percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance, up from 53% the month before.  Good photo  The broader IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index plunged 11.6% to 40.4. That’s one of the biggest monthly drops since IBD started tracking this index in January 2000. Trump is also net negative among male voters for the first time in 2018, and has no advantage among voters over 65 for the first time since the election.

August 23, 2018

Voter Fraud: Perpetuated by Government Officials

Perhaps worried that legislation could keep Russian from winning Republicans in the upcoming election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is blocking election security legislation from moving through the Senate. The bill had bipartisan support from co-sponsors James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Conservative Roy Blunt (R-MO) had scheduled a markup before DDT’s action postponed it.

At the same time, Reality Winner, who leaked information about the Russians’ hacking at least 100 elections systems, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking security documents. Her sentence is the longest in history for providing classified information to the media.  has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking government documents regarding Russian attempts to hack voter registration databases.

While the federal government ignores Russia’s cyberattacks into the U.S. election, Microsoft found and disabled six malicious websites created over the past several months and trying to provide expanded cybersecurity protection for campaigns and election agencies using Microsoft products. Two attacks are on conservative think tanks that have broken with DDT.

Less than two weeks ago, organizers for a “voting village” at the annual Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas set up voting machines and invited 50 participants between the ages of 8 and 16 to hack facsimile websites of 13 battleground states. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/22/us-elections-hacking-voting-machines-def-con  An 11-year-old girl broke into a website within ten minutes before convention participants moved to a new state’s website every 30 minutes with the typical break-in time at 15 minutes.

Flaws in the states’ election systems:

  • A voting scanner and tabulator, which 24 states use, have no password or software verification to keep it from being overridden.
  • A touchscreen voting machine can easily be reprogrammed to play music and animated clips.
  • An electronic poll book machine that signs in voters on Election Day was hacked in five seconds, potentially exposing “unencoded” personal information on voters.
  • If the database isn’t secure, a hacker can delete every tenth registration which turns people away from polling stations.
  • Even if a voting machine is not hacked or ever connected to the internet, there are ways to affect the results, researchers say.
  • The election winner can be changed in 22 seconds by taking a single disc from a polling place even if machines were never connected to the internet.
  • Almost one out of three candidates for the U.S. House have a security error on their campaign websites.
  • Vote totals on a replica election night results page show that a candidate’s name has been changed by remote access.
  • Changing the election’s winner using a single disc with malicious software brought back from a mock polling place, where the machines were never connected to the internet, can take only 22 seconds.

University of Michigan’s J Alex Halderman stole a mock election in front of his audience during his 30-minute talk on the weaknesses of voting machines. He pointed out that hackers don’t need to change all the votes, just enough to swing a close election in favor of the opposition—in Russia’s case the Republicans. The centralization of the voting system comes from the connection of individual voting machines to PCs used to program individual elections. “One large vendor codes the system for 2,000 jurisdictions across 31 states,” Halderman said. His solution is to have paper ballots, something that five swing states don’t have. Even those with paper ballots refuse to execute a statistically valid check of paper ballots, requiring counting only a few hundred.

Federal officials were defensive about the hacking discoveries, claiming it was just a mock effort, but Village co-founder Harri Hursti said:

“Every voting machine in this room is in use in [the] next election [in] 2018. Every single one, every single model, is a model still in use.”

In Maryland, Russian oligarch Vladimr Potanin, close friend of Vladimir Putin, is the biggest investor in the company that hosts the state’s voter registration system, candidacy and election management system, online ballot delivery system, and unofficial election night results website. AltPoint’s largest investor is Vladimir Potanin, who is reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other methods of voter fraud from officials:

Las Vegas District Court Judge Susan Johnson ordered at least two defendants who pled guilty to felony charges to complete their probation requirement and “vote for Trump” in 2020. Evidence about this voter fraud appears in both court transcripts and from interviews from “multiple criminal defense attorneys” who said that the judge gave this directive to at least four defendants. She suspended a 28-month prison sentence although he admitted to assault and battery with a deadly weapon so that he would have his voting rights restored in “plenty of time” to cast his ballot for the president. Another man was told to withdraw his plea and admit to a misdemeanor instead. Johnson said that she was just joking.

San Juan County (UT) Clerk John David Nielson helped falsify and backdate an election complaint to disqualify Democrat Willie Grayeyes from the County Commission race and claimed Grayeyes was ineligible to run because he didn’t live in the county. A U.S. district judge had to right the wrong that Nielson executed on the part of GOP candidate Wendy Black. Nielson admitted under oath that he had lied to keep Grayeyes off the ballot. Grayeyes, a Navajo, was able to run only because the tribe went to federal court to redraw commission boundaries for equal educational opportunities, fair treatment in the justice process, access to the ballot box, and their rightful share of oil and gas royalties.

Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner blocked legislation that would have required corrections officials throughout the state to help people detained in jails and prisons understand whether they can vote. Election and correction officials would have been mandated to offer ballots to people in jail before their trial if they want to vote and voter registration forms to people being released from jail with information about their voting rights. Minority groups disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system would have been many of the beneficiaries of the bill. Illinois alone has 4 million people with an arrest record who might have been affected by the legislation.

In an attempt to keep districts with large immigrant population smaller, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross inserted a question about a person’s citizenship status into the 2020 census. A number of courts have ruled against Ross’ decision since it was announced earlier this year, the most recent a federal court in California that is permitting two lawsuits to go forward against the federal government. This decision rejects the claim that federal courts cannot supervise the decision to add a citizenship question.

In a Virginia case, aides to GOP Rep. Scott W. Taylor forged signatures to get an independent candidate on the ballot to split the vote with the Democrat to help Taylor win. In New York, a campaign worker for Michael Grimm filed an extra petition for opponent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) with no cover sheet, hoping that the violation would invalidate the entire filing and giving the race to Grimm. The scheme was uncovered, and Donovan ran in the primary, beating convicted felon and former representative Grimm almost two to one.

The Hopewell (VA) Electoral Board decided to put some candidates’ names in all uppercase because the candidates wanted this style although state election officials stated this was not permitted.

The U.S. Supreme Court contributed to the ability of states to commit voter fraud with a 5-4 ruling permitting massive purging of voter rolls. The federal National Voter Registration Act prevents states from eliminating voter registrations because people don’t vote. Ohio decided to mail a card, only in English, to people who didn’t vote for two years. If the card is not returned and the person doesn’t vote for another four years, the name is removed from the rolls. There is no proof that the person no longer lives at that address. The decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute permits that process.

Excuses for purging and mandated photo voter ID are voter impersonation, people voting twice, vote buying, absentee fraud, and voter intimidation. A study found 0.000003 alleged cases of fraud for every vote cast, but at least 5 million people are disenfranchised, the vast majority being minorities, women, elderly, and poor.

Approximately 25 percent of black voting-age citizens lacks a government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of white voting-age citizens. Only 50.8 percent of white voters ages 18 to 29 were asked for ID compared to 72.9 percent of young black voters and 60.8 percent of young Hispanic voters. Minority voters are less likely to have flexible work hours or own transportation, creating a greater struggle to get IDs and cast ballots.

Republicans managed to destroy ACORN, a community organization that advocated for low- and moderate-income families in social issues such as neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, and affordable housing. Conservative activist James O’Keefe secretly filmed staged and edited misleading interactions to portray low-level personnel as encouraging criminal behavior, and ACORN lost its funding.

Negative publicity from these videos led to punitive laws in at least 23 state for strict photo ID, limits on early voting, elimination of same-day voter registration, closures of polling places, restrictions on student voting, purging voter rolls, etc. The Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act limited oversight of the new laws designed to limit votes to whites. A DOJ report explained the reasoning provided by Rep. Sue Burmeister, sponsor of Georgia’s voter restriction law:

“If there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. [Burmeister] said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

In North Carolina, Republican consultant Carter Wrenn admitted that the myth of voter fraud is only an excuse, “Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” He explained that the Republicans want to protect their majority.

Wrenn calls it “political”; I call it fraud.

August 22, 2018

‘Voter Fraud’: Gerrymandering, Officials Controlling Their Elections

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lost the popular vote for his current position, he persuaded many of his followers that over three million undocumented immigrants had illegally voted for Hillary Clinton, coincidentally the number of votes he was short. To prove his point, he set up a special commission to find evidence to prove his claims. Only DDT’s true believers were allowed any information about the commission’s work, and one of its members sued to get documents as simple as times, agendas, and minutes of the meetings held in secret. He said that the documents show “a pre-ordained outcome to this commission to demonstrate widespread voter fraud, without any evidence to back it up.”

The commission became nationally known when it demanded extensive personal information about every voter in the nation. In at least one state, Colorado, people dropped their voter registration in response. Documents indicated that the commission was considering a demand for all information of people excluded from jury duty. The commission’s plan was also to promote the faulty Crosscheck program that promised but failed to identify duplicate registration.

The leader of the task force, also the leader of the voter suppression legislation across the United States, is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Despite the judgments against him in court, including one judge ordering lawyer Kobach to take remedial legal classes, he initially garnered 191 more votes for governor in the GOP primary than opponent in an election with over 300,000 votes for the seven GOP candidates. At least until 100 votes appeared for Kobach’s opponent, gubernatorial incumbent Jeff Colyer, when a county clerk pointed out an error in Kobach’s reporting, making the difference between the two only 121 votes with 8,000-10,000 outstanding provisional ballots. Meanwhile county clerks reported that totals posted by the office of the Secretary of State, Kobach’s office, were missing votes for his opponent. Yet Kobach proceeded with campaigning for the general election, comfortable that he will win. The deadline for the final count was to be August 21, less than two weeks. The debacle continued for several days with other violations.

Public outrage forced Kobach out of any voters’ counts so he appointed his assistant Eric Rucker to certify the final election results. A donor to Kobach’s campaign, Rucker formerly served as top aid to an earlier Kansas AG during the AG’s investigation for misleading judges and a grand jury in the probe into the murder of Dr. George Tiller who performed abortions in Overland Park. The state suspended the AG’s law license for professional misconduct, and Rucker was admonished for not correcting misleading information he provided to the state supreme Court. Last year, a former employee sued Rucker after he told her grandmother that she had been fired because she didn’t go to church. All the ballots submitted after the election pushed the number of votes to Kobach, and Colyer conceded the primary a week ago.

Kansas is a red state, but Sam Brownback, the evangelical Catholic governor until DDT appointed him for U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom this year, drove the state into massive debt with his huge tax cuts. GOP voters are concerned about people not turning out for Kobach because they don’t want to return to Brownback’s problems.

Kobach isn’t the only state official controlling his own election by setting policies for people who can vote and then announcing the actual count. Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, when his brother George W. was the subject of controversial votes in the state that gave Bush the presidency with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, promised to “deliver Florida” to his brother. Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State and co-chair of George W.’s state campaign, was more help to Jeb. In George W.’s 2004 run, and Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell co-chaired W.’s state campaign while overseeing the election that gave W. his second term. After Blackwell’s voter suppression activities during that election, he stayed secretary of state while running for governor. Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted, candidate for lieutenant government, purged over two million people from voter rolls since 2011.

In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the primary to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate in this fall’s general election. His history shows a number of voter violations (aka fraud). After 670 ballots were cast in a county with 276 registered voters, the number of registered voters magically changed to 3,704 after a federal lawsuit. Georgia has no paper record of votes, and the computers were erased the day before watchdogs were authorized to examine them in a legal proceeding. In the past, husband and wife registered at the same address were assigned different polling places and districts, and a voting machine provided a ballot for another congressional district. In one district, a results tape from a computer showed that it had not collected any votes at the close of the election, and in another precinct a race in a congressional district were omitted from a results tape. In response to the investigation of his failing to process registration applications of minority voters, Kemp investigated voter advocacy groups.

Kemp is known for being sloppy as secretary of state: three years ago, he released personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers for six million people to the media, political parties, and other paying subscribers who legally buy voter information from the state. Kemp called it a “clerical error.” He knows that Georgia’s computers are vulnerable to Russian hacking but refuses to accept a paper record for voting. His argument is that it could “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Only five states, including Georgia, cannot be audited because the voting machines have no paper trail. Kemp also uses Exact Match to eliminate voter registrations if a typographical error occurs; twice as many blacks as whites were blocked from the rolls. In a state where population increased, the number of voter registrations decreased.

County officials appear to be helping Kemp with potential fraud: officials in a largely black Georgia county, population 7,000, closed seven of nine polling places with no justification for its claim of inaccessibility to people with disabilities.

Like GOP state officials in other states, especially secretaries of state, Kemp has the ability to commit voter fraud, that Kobach is supposedly fighting, such as easily-hacked computers at polls, purges of voter rolls, failure to register voters until after an election, investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities, etc. For the first time in the state’s history, a black woman is running for governor—against Brian Kemp. And he has control of the voting. The legislature stays white and Republican in a state with fewer than 40 percent white population because of gerrymandering.

In another case reflecting voter fraud through districting to favor Republicans, Democrat Danny O’Connor is fighting to win a special election for the U.S. House in the badly gerrymandered Ohio District 12. GOP Troy Balderson has been ahead since August 7, but some found votes, reminiscent of the magical discovery of 7,500 votes in Wisconsin in 2011 that elected GOP state Supreme Court justices, appeared after reports of election results. As provisional and absentee ballots dribble in, Balderson has maintained enough lead to win but perhaps not to avoid a recount, mandated if he wins by .5 percent or less, about 1,000 votes difference. With about 3,000 ballots left, O’Connor is behind by 1,781. The deadline is August 24. No matter the result, the two candidates will oppose each other in the upcoming general election. (Right, Ohio District 12)

Kobach maintained that voter fraud matters in close contests and asserted immediately after the August 7 election that he didn’t know how many non-citizens voted in his primary. Once Colyer conceded, he said, “It is highly unlikely that voter fraud changed the outcome.” He bragged about the new Kansas law that made the state with “the most secure election laws in the country” although a federal judge struck down the law last June. Until Colyer conceded, Kobach criticized the judge’s ruling as a concern for Kansas voter fraud. Winning seems to have erased any of Kobach’s concerns about voter fraud, especially when he’s in a position to help facilitate it. Now he can campaign for the general election and start worrying about voter fraud again.

July 20, 2017

Voter Suppression Goes National

A distraction from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) yesterday was his threats to the DOJ top personnel and the special investigator in charge of tracking Russian collusion with DDT and his associates. Today’s shocker was the revelation that he’s checking into the possibility of using his “presidential pardon” for his staff, his family, and himself. A vital issue for democracy in the United states, however, is his new voting commission which met in public for the first time yesterday.

An obsession with big numbers led DDT to claim that the Hillary Clinton would not have bested him by almost three million votes if the nation didn’t have three to five million illegal votes cast in the election. In his fits of pique, he supports the Republicans who use voter suppression to win elections, state by state, through draconian laws and voter registration purging. Several days ago, the commission riled up secretaries of state across the country by demanding voter roles, including birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and individual voting records.

Across the nation, those requested to send information have primarily said that they would provide the same information that they would to any request for public information. After one lawsuit, the commission must stop collecting voter information until a court makes a ruling. Another suit addressed privacy concerns, especially because the storage computer lacks security.

Amazed at the backlash to the commission, DDT had an official rollout with its chair, VP Mike Pence, and its mastermind and vice chair, Kris Kobach, presenting its goals in what has been called its first meeting. The real first meeting was done just among the members in private. Kobach is known for creating and disseminating the most unreasonable voter ID laws in the country as well as purging voter registration lists in Kansas where he is secretary of state. In the past, Kobach has been one of the strongest defenders of states’ rights.

One stated reason from the commission is to study voter fraud. It has been studied ad infinitum since states started passing laws to prevent minorities, women, and low-income people from casting votes. Women are easily disenfranchised if they have married because names on current identification don’t match the birth certificate. They are also a larger percentage of the elderly who sometimes have no birth certificates. One comprehensive study of every federal election between 2000 and 2014 found 31 credible instances of voter impersonation out of over one billion votes cast. Only four cases of voter fraud were identified in the 135 million votes cast last November.

Wisconsin was one of 14 states last year implementing new voting restrictions for the first time. Voter turnout fell in that state to a 20-year low, especially among poor and black residents. According to federal court records, 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin.  An analysis of states with and without strict voter ID laws, the number of voters, primarily black and poor, was suppressed in all the states that passed restrictive laws.  This comparison showed that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes. Voter suppression has been confirmed by other studies.

Like officials in 31 other states, Kobach uses Crosscheck to purge voters from registration lists and hopes to use the program with all 50 states. The program is known for huge numbers of false positives, but these people are disenfranchised. The ACLU has sued Kobach four times for voter suppression; he lost all four cases. With great investigative zeal, he found only nine cases of fraudulent voting out of 1.8 million votes. In describing registration and voting by noncitizens as “pervasive,” Kobach could find only one of these cases in Kansas. Requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote in Kansas has blocked one of seven Kansans since 2013.

Pro-commission people constantly use the term “voter fraud” for registrations for one person in multiple states and for deceased people.  Yet registering in multiple states is legal; it is the act of voting in more than one state that is a felony. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law and adviser with high-level security clearance, is registered in more than one state. The same is true for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And probably many of DDT’s officials. Gregg Phillips, creator of the app VoteStand to help people report potential voter fraud, is registered in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. DDT called Phillips a guru on voter fraud. One study shows 2.75 million people registered to vote in multiple states, usually because of recent moves. In just Clark County (NV), over 150,000 of the county’s 700,000 active registered voters within one year.

The commission claims to be “bipartisan,” but it is run by two seriously partisan Republicans and packed with strong supporters of the voter fraud myth. Another member is Ohio’s former secretary of state Ken Blackwell who ordered county clerks not to accept voter registration on anything less than paper the thickness of a postcard. He also accidentally distributed voter lists with full Social Security numbers for the state’s voters.

House Republicans seem unconcerned about voter fraud. They are attempting to defund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency that exclusively works to make the voting process secure. The move comes after the EAC worked with the FBI to investigate Russian hacking. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also fired its cyberattack expert.

For over a decade, computer experts have issued warnings about the vulnerability of equipment used for voting, especially the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines. At least five states lack any paper trail for votes, and another 24 use a mixture. Thus only 21 states in the nation have a system for verifying votes. After the Bush/Gore debacle in 2000 when punch cards were unreadable, the Help America Vote Act provided states with $3 billion in 2002 to purchase modern equipment. Most of the states used the money for DRE machines that provided to paper trail.  Russian hackers tried to access election computers in at least 21 states last year, and that may be a conservative estimate.

About states’ reaction to submitting personal information about voters, DDT delivered a line that should have brought laughs: “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about. And I asked the Vice President, I asked the commission: What are they worried about? There’s something. There always is.”

Yes, DDT, if you are hiding your tax returns, your visitor logs, your conversations with an adversarial country, your—it goes on and on—you must have something to hide.

Courts have determined that voter suppression laws, including but far beyond voter IDs, are “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” GOP legislators admit that the purpose of these laws is to reduce the number of Democrats at the polls. But DDT’s new commission claims that it is “fighting voter fraud” and “protecting election integrity.” The commission ignores the fact that ten percent of people eligible to vote lack the identification to satisfy these new GOP laws. DMVs necessary to obtain IDs and early-voting places close in non-white, non-rich, and non-GOP neighborhoods. Commission members claim that no one ever complains about their disenfranchisement. They do, but they have no effect on the process outside the courts.

Republicans need the new voting commission to stay in power. They will divert attention from the democracy of paper trails for computer voting, enfranchising all eligible voters, early voting, and simplified voter registration. Republicans hate mail-in voting popular in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington because voting is made easier. They hate the automatic voter registration because any eligible voter can easily access the process. They hate a paper trail because the votes can be recounted. The sole goal of most GOP legislators is to keep their party in power at any cost to democracy. The United States doesn’t suffer from voter fraud–it suffers from GOP fraud.

October 31, 2016

U.S. Republicans Suppress Votes

The election is rigged, claims Donald Trump, and Iowa made the first arrest in 2016 for voter fraud. Terri Rote, 55, tried to vote for Trump at two separate polling stations in Des Moines and faces up to five years if convicted. She claimed that she was afraid that her first vote would be changed to Clinton. The system worked because she was caught. Investigation into the accusation that dead people were voting showed that some of these voters were mistakenly listed on death rolls, some had the same or similar names to dead people in their districts, and with others poll workers mistakenly scanned the wrong barcode on the voter rolls.

voter-protection-fake-badgeVoter fraud is the GOP excuse for suppressing the vote across the nation because Republicans think they can’t win in a fair contest. Trump  is sending people—including militia members and off-duty law enforcement officials–to take video and still cameras to search for voter fraud in nine cities with high minority populations. Roger Stone’s “Vote Protectors” are to have fake but official-looking ID badges to intimidate voters and livestream their images on the internet. Huffington Post printed off this “badge” from Stone’s website. The “badge” information is gone, but Stone still asks his “protectors” to execute “exit polls” to contest any Trump losses. In Ohio, Steve Webb plans to closely follow any voting minorities “to make them a little bit nervous.”

These actions could cause trouble for the RNC. In 1981, Stone helped the GOP New Jersey gubernatorial candidate win with a “ballot security” force wearing black armbands to intimidate minority voters. A lawsuit led to a Consent Decree on the RNC due to be lifted next year. It could be extended for at least eight years if the DNC wins its lawsuit showing current intimidation, including Stone’s message on social media that “poll watchers” should wear red shirts on Election Day as they supervise minority populations.

GOP-controlled states are also suppressing the vote:

Nevada: Despite orders from federal district Judge Miranda Du to provide early voting and Election Day polling sites on Indian reservations for the Nevada’s largest tribes, the state’s GOP Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske decided that she didn’t need to do this for any tribes not so ordered. Members of the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation must drive 275 miles roundtrip to register and vote, but Cegavske said that their request came 24 hours late. She stated several concerns including not knowing who could “investigate and prosecute potential election law violations occurring on sovereign tribal lands.” Her office has earlier set up extra polling places in fewer than 48 hours if the voters didn’t seem to be largely Democratic. Cegavske belongs to the Koch-owned ALEC.

North Carolina: Several of the nation’s most restrictive voter suppression laws were struck down earlier this year; judges wrote that North Carolina enacted these laws to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The GOP has other ways to continue suppressing the vote, for example long wait times in 18 counties, including the largest four, that have lost most of the early-voting locations and have as little as three percent of the votes in 2012. In the other 82 counties, voting has averaged one-fourth more than 2012. Guilford County, with a population of almost one-half million people, lost 15 of the 16 early-voting locations from 2012. Voters at North Carolina A&T State University, a black college with over 10,000 students, must travel at least a mile away because its campus early-voting location was removed from campus.

north-carolina-voting

Another suppression system in the state is removing voters from the rolls. Grace Harrison, 100, was one of 100 Beaufort County residents—mostly black—who had consistently voted for decades but were forced to attend an in-person hearing to defend their right to vote because one piece of mail was bounced back from their addresses. The NAACP is suing the state because the National Voter Registration Act bans the removal of voters during the last 90 days before the election, and they must have more chances to respond to the mail. Part of the lawsuit also concerns the failure of the state to add tens of thousands of voters to the rolls who registered at a DMV over the past few years.

Gov. Pat McCrory, leader of the state’s “potty police” laws against transgender people and Trump supporter, cheered about the success of his alternate suppression techniques because Democratic voters were “not coming out” to the polls.

Ohio: A federal court order kept Ohio from purging 200,000 voter registrations just last week because they had not cast ballots since 2012. These voters may be disenfranchised, however, because their provisional ballots are frequently thrown out in Republican-controlled states. The state refuses to send these voters absentee ballots. The purge hit twice the number of people living in Democratic-leaning areas and targeted black residents in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and the homeless.

Texas: A court removed some restrictions on voting as a “poll tax” because the state-mandated IDs were more expensive than the sometimes free IDs not permitted for voting. Two years later, the federal appeals court ruled that the law discriminated against minority voters. Yet Texas officials found an easy way to continue voter suppression: they simply lie to the people about the necessary documents for voting. A federal judge ruled that voters can bring documents showing their names and addresses to the polls as identification and sign a statement saying that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID. Voting has started, and polls are still using outdated posters that list only the old rules. Poll workers tell voters in lines to have their photo IDs ready without telling people how to vote without these IDs. In a poll of 1,000 registered voters, only one-fourth of the respondents knew that a photo ID is not necessary to vote with ethnic minorities far more confused than white voters about regulations.

Indiana: Almost 45,000 newly-registered voters, almost all black, may not be able to vote because police raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project and seized documents on October 4—just one week before the end of the state’s early registration period. No one knows why, but the GOP vice-presidential candidate is still governor of Indiana and a close friend of Doug Carter, the superintendent of the Indiana State Police. Prior to the closure of the voter registration, police detectives went to the homes of people registering voters “to interrogate them.”

Wisconsin: Voters at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay asked for an early-voting location on the grounds because of long voting lines during the primary, but Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske refused, saying it lacked the necessary resources. Privately, however, Teske wrote that student voting would benefit the Democratic Party in an email to David Buerger, counsel at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Teske was appointed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Georgia: As many as 100,000 voter-registration applications weren’t processed by the state that also refused to extent voter-registration deadlines despite the devastating Hurricane Matthew. GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, election overseer, said that “we can’t sit back and watch the radical left create chaos in our state” after the ACLU asked a court to reopen voter registration for the counties hardest hit by the hurricane. In an effort to intimidate voters, Georgia also moved a polling precinct for mostly black voters from a gymnasium to the sheriff’s office. Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta has only one early-voting precinct for a population of almost 900,000 people.

Florida: When Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the time for voter registration because of the hurricane, a judge overturned not only his decision but also the mandate that a signature on absentee ballots exactly match the original one which could be 50 years old.

James Comey, FBI director, may be responsible for the largest vote-rigging in the nation. His letter to legislators—not his responsibility—stated that the discovery of more “Clinton emails” might not be significant but should be investigated. The “existence” of these emails was released almost a month after they were found, and there’s no indication that any of the emails are either from or to Hillary Clinton. Yet Comey has allowed Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  to state that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, another falsehood.

The man who cheerfully released what he hoped was damaging information about Clinton said he didn’t tell people that Russia is meddling in the country’s election because he might influence voting. When Comey sat on that information, the DHS made it public. In the Clinton case, Comey found transparency important; in the Trump case, he wanted to hide what he knew.

James O’Keefe, who tried to make highly edited videos to lie about the Clinton campaign “rigging” Trump’s campaign, may be responsible for illegal wiretapping. Earlier O’Keefe videos destroyed ACORN and came close to destroying Planned Parenthood. Now he wants to destroy Clinton.

As people consider their beliefs, they need to know that the more they hear a statement—true or false—the more likely they are to believe it. Voter fraud, lack of trust in Clinton—the lies are embedded into minds in an “illusion of truth.” It’s much easier to believe in generalities than to search for facts.

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?

June 16, 2015

Jeb for President? Part II

king bushJeb Bush’s plan for the half of 2015: raise tens of millions of dollars, separate himself from his brother’s presidency, win conservatives, and become the Republican who will win the GOP nomination. Thus far, he’s raised the money. Asked about his brother, he waffles between supporting him and trying to find a way to please people who disagree with George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Conservatives still don’t like him, and he has appeared incompetent through answers to questions and consistent flip-flopping.

Last week he changed his campaign manager to the more negative and conservative Danny Diaz, meaning that Bush may have reconsidered whether he’ll still campaign “joyfully.” Diaz’s participation in Bush II’s campaign is another connection between Jeb and Dubya. One Bush ally said that Diaz will signal that “the culture of the Bush operation will now be a Pickett’s Charge engagement campaign with his main opponents.” Pickett’s Charge on the third day of Gettysburg lost most of its soldiers and contributed to the loss of the Civil War for the South.

The Bush name lacks the gleam it once had. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “He just hasn’t met the expectation level of what we expected of a Bush.” Sixteen years ago, Bush’s brother had over half the House GOP caucus—114 Republicans—on board with endorsements. The House has more GOP members in 2015, but Bush has only two dozen committed to him and no senators. Bush’s flip-flopping doesn’t seem to bother GOP congressional members, however, as much as his seemingly moderate views on immigration and education.

Bush may be sued for his fund-raising style.  He waited seven months after forming  a leadership political action committee in lieu of an “exploratory” committee to declare his candidacy while he’s acted like a presidential candidate. Without officially declaring as a candidate, he could send “anonymous donations” into his Super PACS, both named Right to Rise.

According to the New York Times, “federal law makes anyone who raises or spends $5,000 in an effort to become president a candidate and thus subject to the spending and disclosure restrictions.” Technically, Bush sidestepped that law, but unethical behavior has never bothered him. As Florida governor, he engineered a vast voter fraud and intimidation program to tip the scales in favor of his brother George W. Jeb, and Jeb is back gaming the system to make more money from corporate interests.

Jeb Bush has declared that brother, George W, is his senior advisor. That’s the Bush with a foundation accepting undisclosed donations from millionaires while he was president. One big donor, Dallas oilman and major SMU supporter Edwin L. Cox, had his son pardoned by former President George H.W. Bush. Other donations to the Bush Foundation come from foreign governments such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. With assets of $47 million and another $3 million a year from undisclosed donations, the George Bush Presidential Library can funnel campaign and influence money—even illegal donations from foreign governments—to Jeb Bush with no record or transparency.

Jeb’s past shows the same sort of dodgy dealings in politics:

1989: Bush successfully lobbied his father, then president, for the release of Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who allegedly orchestrated the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people in 1976 as well as other terrorist attacks. In a federal prison on an immigration violation and dubbed an “unrepentant terrorist” by then-Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, Bosch was a cause célèbre for Miami’s influential Cuban population—a voting bloc that Jeb used to launch his political career.

1994: Despite Bush’s strident advocacy to keep people in a vegetative state alive and prevent abortion, his first campaign for Florida government promoted the acceleration of the death penalty enforcement in the state by limiting death row inmates to only one appeal.

1996: Bush pushed for charter schools in Florida. Providing money to religious schools was later ruled unconstitutional, but after he was elected governor, he made sure that public money went to developers to build schools, free of public oversight and collective-bargaining agreements, that drained money from public schools. Despite a law that charter schools had to be operated by non-profit groups, for-profit companies were managing three-quarters of the state’s newly approved charter schools by 2002. The next year he signed a bill that removed any cap on the number of charter schools. Although Bush claims to have no profit from these schools, his allies do. Bush sticks to Common Core because it makes money for his friends.

1999: In his first year as Florida governor, Bush signed an executive order to end affirmative action in education and business after calling these policies “stupid and destructive.” Since then, Black enrollment in universities has dropped by almost half in some of the schools while the Black population in the state remains stable at 20 percent.

1999: Bush signed a law making Florida the first state to fund anti-choice initiatives through the sale of “Choose Life” license plates. He also supported “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) that provide women with medically inaccurate information—for example, abortion makes people go insane—and fail to tell women about the full range of their reproductive health options.

2000: During the recount for the presidential election, Bush made 95 calls to the George W. Bush campaign while his secretary of state and George W.’s campaign co-chair, Katherine Harris, lost or spoiled ballots from hundreds of thousands of Black voters.

2001: Bush gave Bsafe Online, an American Family Association subsidiary, $600,000 of tax money to block Internet users from information about LGBT identities. Yet he invested $1.3 million in state pension fund money in Movie Gallery, a video rental company with a wide selection of pornographic films.

2003: Thirteen years and many court cases after Terri Schiavo went into a vegetative state, Bush was instrumental in passing “Terri’s Law,” demanding that her feeding tube be reinserted.  It was another two years before she was allowed to physically die.

2003: Bush initiated the dumping of tons of toxic waste by the Koch brothers company, Georgia-Pacific, into the Florida St. Johns River after he and his cabinet, over the objection of then Attorney General Charlie Crist, gave a preliminary approval to the GP pipeline from its Palatka paper mill to the river. Within the next two years, GP moved forward without a constitutionally-required notice and fair warning for a wetlands permit and an easement. Law required that the public Trustees carefully consider the costs and benefits and the money savings by GP from the river dumping, but it was never done. No compensation has been made for the areas covered with toxic waste and the diminished swimming and fishing use in the affected area. GP got its easement in 2009 with no notice to citizens and environmental groups. After citizens sued and a Bush-supported court rubber stamped Bush’s actions, the case went to the 1st District Court of Appeals.

2003: Bush asked a court to appoint a guardian for the fetus of a developmentally disabled rape victim despite an earlier decision by the Florida Department of Children and Families to ask the court to appoint a guardian for the baby only after the woman gives birth.

2005: Bush is responsible for Florida’s Stand Your Ground law through his support of corporate-controlled ALEC. The media described it as a license to hunt and kill.

2006: Bush asked the Florida GOP legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot repealing a constitutional provision separating church and state. The legislature refused.

2009: Bush declared himself Hispanic on his 2009 voter registration. In 2012, Republicans accused Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) of misrepresenting herself as Native American.

2010: Bush and his education reform organization, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, created a group of school superintendents and other high-ranking officials called “Chiefs for Change” to advance the Florida model of education, which emphasizes accountability and emphasized giving schools letter grades based on performance, especially standardized test scores. One of the original eight chiefs was accused of inflating the grade of a lackluster charter school funded by a Republican donor. The office of another was caught manipulating test score data.

In October, a New Mexico advocacy group filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education failed to disclose thousands of dollars it paid to bring public school superintendents, education officials, and lawmakers to the group’s events, where they had private “VIP” meetings with the foundation’s for-profit ed-tech company sponsors. The complaint alleges that Bush’s foundation disguised travel payments as “scholarships” to hide the fact that the nonprofit was facilitating lobbying between big corporations and public officials.

2015: Bush’s first fundraiser for his PAC was hosted by Charles Davis who held a top job at an insurance brokerage sued by the state of Florida for swindling clients while Bush was governor.

2015: One of Bush’s emails reveals that he closely coordinated with the Florida legislature to schedule Florida’s 2016 presidential primary in a way most favorable for himself.

2015: Bush’s hire for his PAC’s chief technology officer, Ethan Czahor, tweeted about women being “sluts” and joked about being ogled by gay men at the gym. Jeb solved the problem by having the tweets deleted.

Bush promises to deliver a four percent annual economic growth. He has no method; he said that 4 is “a nice round number.” He cited his record as governor—the one that ended just as the housing bubble popped and wiped out 900,000 of Jeb’s 1.3 million jobs created while he was in office. The bubble filled state coffers, Jeb took credit and left office before the disaster, and now the candidate wants to be viewed as an economic genius.

There’s much more here. The last part of the Jeb Bush iceberg tomorrow.

November 15, 2012

GOP: Party in Search of a Reason

Since Mitt Romney lost the election, the Republicans are either angry or despondent. Romney told his top donors that President Obama won by providing “extraordinary financial gifts” to a targeted audience—like minorities, women, and the poor. I’m guessing that once again he didn’t know he was being recorded. Despondent and angry might fit the Florida man who killed himself because Romney lost—although there might be other descriptive words.

Another excuse emerged in Wisconsin to explain why Romney lost, at least in that state. State Sen. Alberta Darling, Romney’s state campaign co-chair, is absolutely convinced that Romney would have won in Wisconsin if the state had mandatory photo ID for voting. Romney lost by 200,000 votes, meaning that she assumes there are that many cases of voter fraud. Eight years ago, a study found of the approximately 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin, “only seven were declared invalid—all of which were cast by felons who had finished their sentences and didn’t realize they were still barred from voting. As a result, Wisconsin’s overall fraud rate came in at a whopping 0.00023 percent.”

There must be something in the Wisconsin water. Re-elected state Sen. Glenn Grothman is convinced that President Obama and Tammy Baldwin probably won their elections due to fraud and that eventually he’s “going to have to lay down the gauntlet” on the people who enforce Obamacare. He plans to “talk to some more people,” explaining that “some people are of the opinion that Democrats cheat.” He and Sen. Darling will have lots to talk about when the Wisconsin legislature goes back into session.

Another way that Republicans identify voter fraud is by skin color. Charlie Webster, the head of the Maine GOP, is positive that his state experienced voter fraud because blacks voted on Election Day. “Nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” Webster said. Actually he does know “black people,” including “a black guy” he plays basketball with every Sunday. Webster wouldn’t tell the media which towns and the number of “black” voters. Megan Sanborn, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Charlie Summers, said that his office had not heard any complaints about voter fraud on November 6 and there was no noticeable increase in Maine’s African-American voting turnout.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still trying to figure out how to not count legitimate ballots. It’s getting harder after federal Judge Algenon Marbley ordered him to keep certain provisional ballots and issue a new directive regarding these ballots. The judge further ruled that Husted’s directive just before Election Day violated a previous court ruling and state law. Currently Husted is waiting for direction from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. If its ruling agrees with the lower court, Husted has until the end of November to figure out how to count all the ballots.  Ohio still has about 300,000 uncounted ballots, about the same number as in Arizona.

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/11/14/1187341/mccain-hypocrisy-susan-rice/  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is so convinced that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is “not qualified” to be Secretary of State that he said, “I will do everything in my power to block her from becoming Secretary of State.” McCain might have more credibility if he hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin for the position “a heartbeat away from the presidency.” And also if he hadn’t voted for Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State after she was so mistaken about the “weapons of mass destruction.”

McCain also took after a CNN reporter who asked why McCain was having a press conference about needing more discussion about Benghazi at exactly the same time that he failed to attend a classified briefing on Benghazi provided by the Senate Homeland Security committee. McCain is a ranking member of that committee.  Pressed after he said that he had no comment, McCain raised the agitation a notch: “I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?” McCain then accused the reporter, Ted Barrett, of “badgering” him. McCain is almost alone in his virulence against Rice, supported only by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Republican business leaders are still threatening their customers and employees. Obamacare hasn’t gone into effect yet for employers, but John Metz, who owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings chain and is a franchisee of dozens of Denny’s and Dairy Queen restaurants, said he will reduce employees’ hours and pass a 5 percent surcharge onto his customers because Obama was re-elected. He also plans to reduce his employees’ hours.

Meanwhile, David Siegel, the CEO of Westgate Resorts who threatened to fire some of his 7,000 employees if President Obama were re-elected, has given all of them 5-percent raises. He had reason to: last year was the most profitable year in the company’s 42-year history, according to Siegel.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter declared that Obamacare would break them unless they raised prices for pizza. First, the cost increase is less than $.04 per pizza, and second, Papa John’s competition is delighted. But Papa John has even more problems now. A U.S. lawsuit filed in Seattle claims that the company violated state and federal law when they had the marketing company OnTime4U send 500,000 unsolicited—and illegal–text messages to Papa John’s customers across the U.S. Damages could be more than $250 million. The lawsuit caused stock to fall severely before adjusting at $.34 lower.

 

The question keeps arising, how unethical are Republicans? (When you finish laughing, you can read on.) Today the media broke the story that Karl Rove’s pet super-PAC, the same one that got a 1.39 percent return for its hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, never legally filed any paperwork to be a super-PAC. According to Josh Israel,

“When Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) formed in 2010, it established its official address in Warrenton (VA) and registered with the Internal Revenue Service a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization.” It apparently did not, however, register as a charitable organization with the Commonwealth of Virginia, as appears was legally required. According to state code, non-profit groups that intend to solicit contributions must first register with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs. Groups must pay an annual fee ($325 for groups raising over $1 million annually), provide basic information about their operations….”

The organization registered with Virginia’s corporation commission but never registered to solicit contributions in the state. Crossroads’ tax identification was never registered with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, vital to keep its contributors secret the way that the organization did. A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stated that they will be notifying Crossroads GPS of the law. If Rove’s group ignores this order, she noted that state law told “provides for both civil and criminal penalties” if the group can be shown to have made such solicitations. I’m not holding my breath that any action will be taken against Crossroads and Rove.

Once upon a time there was a Republican U.S. representative from the South who was completely anti-abortion. Then people found out that he not only had a mistress while he was married but also tried to convince the mistress that she should have an abortion to save the man’s marriage. People in the South tend to vote for Republicans even when they don’t follow all the rules that they make for other people, so the representative was re-elected.

Now there’s another chapter in the life of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), luckily for him after the election. His recently-released divorce proceedings show that he and his former wife made a “mutual” decision for her to have two abortions. In court, DesJarlais testified that his ex-wife’s first abortion was because she was taking an experimental drug, and the second was because they were having marital problems. On his campaign website, DesJarlais wrote, “All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life.”

Oh, and the mistress? She was a patient of Dr. DesJarlais. And she wasn’t the only patient who he had an affair with. There is proof that he wrote prescriptions for pain killers for at least one of the women, and other women with whom he had affairs claim that he did the same for them. That was while he was chief of staff at a local hospital. Both the affairs with patients and the prescriptions are in violation of the state ethics law.

Normally, I say that people’s sex lives are their own business, but this is a man who votes against women’s rights and marriage equality because he claims to be anti-abortion and pro-family. Those votes make his private life my business—and the business of everyone else in the country. And now he’s one of the House Republican majority for the next two years.

November 3, 2012

Voter Problems, Prediction

In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted is still creating new ways to keep people from voting. Yesterday he issued a directive to reject provisional ballots when ID information on a particular part of the ballot form is incomplete, contrary to a court decision on provisional ballots a week ago. The case now goes back to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, making it more likely that Ohio results won’t be in until after November 17.

Husted’s directive is contrary to state law which requires the poll worker to complete the provisional ballot:

Ohio Rev. Code § 3505.181(B)(6) provides that, once a voter casting a provisional ballot proffers identification, “the appropriate local election official shall record the type of identification provided, the social security number information, the fact that the affirmation was executed, or the fact that the individual declined to execute such an affirmation and include that information with the transmission of the ballot . . . .”

Another Husted tactic is secretly installing unauthorized “experimental” software in 39 counties’ tabulators, again contrary to state law. The Ohio-based Free Press editor-in-chief Robert Fitrakis planned to file a lawsuit seeking an immediate injunction against this installation and has referred the case to the Cincinnati FBI for criminal investigation.

In Florida, a bomb scare in Orange County, which went for Obama 59% to 40% in 2008, stopped early voting for hours on the last day of voting until Tuesday, thanks to Gov. Rick Scott’s directive.

In largely Democratic King County (WA), GOP party members are going door-to-door trying to pick up ballots, saying that they will drop them off. The state has mandatory vote-by-mail. While there is no law against asking for ballots, the situation smells a bit fishy.

Even more fishier is the temporary election office worker in Clackamas County (OR) who was caught filling in votes for Republicans, primarily county commissioners, if voters had not voted for anyone.  The county clerk has filed complaints against all the county commissioners, and the attempt of the Tea Party to take over the county’s elected officials has created a great deal of bitterness in that area.

After wondering about the plight of people affected by Superstorm Sandy, many of us are asking how voters in the affected states will be able to vote. In this area roughly the size of Europe, officials are working hard to create access to voting, unlike those in Florida and Ohio.  From Philadelphia to New York City, officials relaxed deadlines for voting by absentee ballot allowing people to get applications until the end of business hours on Friday.

Early voting has continued this weekend in hard-hit states with New Jersey and Virginia extending hours. In hardest hit areas of New York City and Long Island, preparations are being made for alternative voting sites, including the provision of power, lights and ballot-counting scanners. New York’s electronic vote-counting scanners have back-up batteries, but  paper ballots can also be taken from field voting sites to more central locations to be counted.  New York has also inspected every polling place for water damage and power to determine if polling places can be moved or consolidated.

Tom Connelly, New York State Board of Elections Deputy Director of Public Information, said, “Generators could be used for lighting and for the machines inside the buildings and in parking lots.” If polling places are moved, Connelly said that every county the Board of Elections (BOE) has a communications plan to inform voters. He added that law permits jurisdictions to add a day of voting if turnout on Tuesday fell below 25 percent of their registered voters.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered county clerks to open their offices on Saturday and Sunday. He also said paper ballots would be made available on Election Day, allowing people to vote “old school” at polling stations that still do not have power. Lt. Gov. Kim Gaudagno said that the state will deputize an “authorized messenger” to go to “State-supported shelters” to help people vote there if they wish. It also suspended other technicalities that would allow the state to create temporary polls near previously designated locations.

Christie’s best idea is that registered voters in New Jersey can vote electronically by email or fax. After residents submit applications to the county clerk, ballots will be sent back and then returned to the state no later than 8:00 pm on Election Day. This option is already open to New Jersey voters overseas and in the military.

Election officials in Philadelphia said that power has been mostly restored, and voting should not be impacted by Tuesday. Maryland and Connecticut extended early voting deadlines.

Now the only question is who will win. The Denver Post has a fascinating article showing nine methods of prediction—all with maps and all showing that President Obama will gain the necessary electoral votes for four more years.

The New York Times is even more enterprising in its interactive approach. Their “512 Paths to the White House” shows that the president has 436 ways to win with Mitt Romney getting the other 76. The article shows five possible ties. The process gives the selection of nine swing states (Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire) and allows the reader to make assumptions about winning and losing different states. For example, assuming that President Obama wins Nevada and Romney takes North Carolina gives the president 103 ways to win, one chance for a tie, and 24 possibilities for Romney. If the president takes Florida, he has 255 possibilities of winning, one tie, and a loss only if Romney takes the other eight swing states. Etc., etc.

With the extensive analysis of how President Obama will get the electoral votes, the Republicans have declared war on the major predictor, Nate Silver.  They are outraged at Silver for “predicting” an Obama victory, and nonpartisan (but fiercely ideological) political press elites are ridiculing the theory that math can be used to determine the election’s result.

Four years ago, almost no one knew anything about Nate Silver. I didn’t until a good friend clued me in to his blog, named after the number of electoral votes. Four years ago, Silver accurately predicted the presidential wins in 49 out of the 50 states, missing Indiana by just a hair, and gradually became a household name, appearing on many talk shows, including Jon Stewart.

Silver’s approach toward predicting the election is to crunch the numbers from public polls, using assumptions from past elections about weighing and interpreting these figures. Joe Scarborough, Republican on that infamous “blue” MSNBC, declared on his television program, “Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.” Scarborough agrees that President Obama will win but doesn’t give a reason.

Last night on The Rachel Maddow Show, Silver said that of the nineteen polls on swing states during the last two weeks, Romney has lost all of them. According to Silver there’s no momentum toward the Romney side. He did add that the polls could have a bad year like 1980, but most of the time it’s wishful thinking for the losing side of the polls to say that they’re wrong.

The GOP has two reasons for declaring their victory three days before the election. People like to vote for winners; if they believe their candidate may lose, they are more likely to stay away from the polls on Election Day. The Romney campaign is afraid that projecting a possible loss for their candidate creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, research suggests that political conservatives are obsessive about believing their own theories, much more so than liberals. Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, the right has visualized him not only as a failure and an incompetent but also as a dangerous—the Muslim with dictatorial, socialist tendencies who is probably not an U.S. citizen. They are so horrified that such a person could be accepted by over half the voters in the country that they refuse to even consider such a terrible idea.

The Republicans will be more riled today than yesterday. According to Silver, President Obama has gone up another percent in probability of getting elected to 83.7 percent.

Some Republicans, however, may be a bit more realistic. They’re trying to guess what job Paul Ryan will have starting January if he loses his House seat or decides that it’s a bit too hot for him.

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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