Sunday, July 29, 2007

Scary Stories for a Saturday Night (with the p-lamp lit)

As busy as a squirrel trying to power a locomotive, I’ll have to make do this time with emptying my “political stuff” file onto this diary... including some material that’s either a tad dated or not well-edited, or else maybe a bit repetitious. But let’s start with three resounding thoughts.


#1 - Yes, I have declared that the skilled civil and military professionals are key to saving our republic -- if only more of them will recognize their duty to blow the whistle on their mad political-hack overlords...

...and yet, I do believe there is one place where a few men and women are even better-situated to do their nation and civilization powerful good, simply by standing up and speaking out. That place is the Diebold company, manufacturer of most of America’s newfangled voting machines.

Especially the varieties of voting machine that do not give paper audit trails, or that have closed/secret software, unchecked by independent examination, or that were bought under no-bid, crony contracts... all traits that simply scream conspiracy and corruption. In other words, voting machines purchased “for the people” in almost every state that is under republican political control.

So, this is my appeal to workers at Diebold, especially some higher level tech person or administrator, but even down to the guy who sweeps up after executive meetings. Someone (or two or ten of you) who knows what’s been going on, who has some evidence, and who now can see that serving the neocons has meant rationalizing a downward spiral, a gradual betrayal of everything this country -- and, yes, conservatism(!) -- is supposed to stand for.

Surely this criminal enterprise contains some “henchmen” who have nursed doubts, suspicions, worries, dark broodings and maybe even grownup regrets. If there is no great and noble soul, like Oskar Schindler, then how about someone who wakes up, sweating about the special place in hell that surely awaits election fraudsters?

Or else who hears the rest of us -- (your fellow citizens) -- beckoning you, appealing to your duty and citizenship. Ponder, please, the special place in our hearts that awaits the hero or heroes who step forward to save us from the truly heinous and evil plot against our Great Experiment.

See also: Attention Henchmen: Voting Machines and Other Flawed Conspiracies


#2 - Again, the fact that the democrats have not made this very topic a major NON PARTISAN ISSUE is something I find deeply worrying. So worrying that I refer you all, again, to: The Hidden Danger to Public Servants: Blackmail

HiddenDangerBlackmail, could they be missing so many killer tactics and issues so consistently? I mean, really? One grows worried that I published that article way, way too late.

In which case, ahem, why haven’t I been offered any parties and bribes? Rats. I must REALLY be too late....


#3 - If you haven’t seen it already, you MUST go look at the national security document in which the monsters are now asserting, line-by-line, a claim of utter presidential supremacy over all branches of government... and indeed, over all society... in any future crisis.

With “crisis” to be entirely defined at the whim of (guess who?) the President.

Pore over this document. And then ponder. Why would they do such a thing? Asserting vast new presidential powers, even though today’s open betting seems strongly to favor the Democrats taking ahold of that office, in just 18 months or so?

Really, there are only a few scenarios that are consistent with such a frenetic push, one that would only seem likely to empower adversaries. Just a small number of scenarios congruous with known facts, past behavior and plausible future events. In prior postings, I have compared some of these possible explanations, such as “state of denial” and “planned future hypocrisy” and so on...

Alas, not one of them actually makes as much sense as the one with the title: ”These guys already know something that we don’t know.”

In other words, the paranoid answer is that they expect to be in a position to ASSERT these powers before 2008 elections could possibly kick them out.

Okay, I’m not the only one to posit this possibility. The “October Surprise” has long been pondered by partisans of every political wing. Though in this case, the scenario would involve not so much a surprise as a major calamity.

Okay, okay, let’s just have a little late night fun with this. (In other words, don’t read it by daylight. This scary story may look silly. Just remember, we’re stretching the mind, here. Not making accusations.

Hmm. Okay. Given that the monsters have plummeting popularity among both the average citizens and civil servants, including the intelligence and military professionals, it seems pretty clear that only any paranoid scenario must have certain characteristics. For one thing, it will NOT involve very many members of those services, if any at all. Indeed, I’d wager against it even involving very many redstate/redmeat homegrown fanatics.

For example, while many Timothy McVeigh types are putting posters of Hillary on the wall, already, framed within concentric circles, it is almost certain that some OTHERS -- smarter versions of the type -- have already started realizing that every dark fantasy they used to fume over, about the left, is at this very moment taking shape over on the right. Every nightmare about “black helicopters” and supersecret plots. These are the kind of guys who may, at any moment, suddenly realize that Blackwater is far worse than Whitewater ever was. And when such people realize they’ve been had, used like puppets, betrayed by new feudal lords, well, there is no fury greater.

So no, while some of the home-grown dittohead crazies might be useful as provocateurs, it would likely only be as distractions, with lots of insulation and deniability. Only fools would involve them in a really big or complex operation.

Remember, it’s gotta be something that can be disowned. That, in fact, can be kept completely out of the scrutiny of those intelligence community and law and military professionals that the monsters (rightfully) fear. Hence, it must be planned, financed and operated by a foreign center of power. One that has (1) a great record of internal secrecy and security, (2) an assured supply of reliably dedicated shock agents, (3) a history of strong, family level reliability in collaboration with our top neo-feudalist cabal.

And finally, here’s the cute part... (4) even if our pros do show a link to this foreign center, that center must be able to claim “it wasn’t us! It was our cousins who (take our word for it) we don’t even like very much.”

(Hey it's worked before!)

If you think you know who I am talking about, you MAY be right... there is one “foreign center” that fits the bill completely, and that I’ve spoken of before. One led by bona fide geniuses who have the motive, means and opportunity. And yet, don’t be too sure! In viewing this list of traits, I came to realize there’s half a dozen other that could fit the bill, almost as well.

ostrichpapersThe ultimate job of political “outsourcing.”

Again, alas, I wonder if any of the democrats is willing to risk his/her chance of the presidency in order to raise this issue, and possibly make the presidency worthwhile for another decent candidate.


That should suffice for now.-- at least for a weekend screed. (Pity me, I just returned from Comic-Con!) Still, I may append a final item, below, in “comments”. Something under the category of

...“if Clinton had done the tiniest fraction of this...”

36 comments:

Woozle said...

Somewhere, it was pointed out that Bush already declared a national emergency, back in 2003 -- so he doesn't even have that hurdle to clear before invoking the NSHSPD. More details here.

Dwight Williams said...

Woozle: Say what? *goes looking*

Mr. Brin: I hope you had fun at SDCC.

sedicious said...

Um, honestly, I'm as concerned about PDs and EOs being issued by this Whitehouse as anyone, but I just don't see the big problem with this one. Could you be a little bit more specific, Mr. Brin, about what "vast new presidential powers" you think this PD is asserting?

len said...

The Saturn V is suddenly covered under ITAR. Now, who really requires 40 year old rocket technology to launch an ICBM, and wouldn't just buy it from Russian scrap dealers? Is this preemptive ass-covering?

"We don't know where they gained the technology to launch these weapons against us, but we presume it came from public sources." Those traitorous nerds!

It sure is fun to play conspiracy theory. So why the hell am I thinking of moving out to the boonies?

Jon said...

Is invoking Oskar Schindler kind of a reverse Godwin's Law?

Jumper said...

Thanks for Godwin's Law. A good one. One wonders if in discussions about unjustified invasions of Poland, whether Godwin's Law applies.

Marc said...

Brin,

To support your idea that the "military is often the good guy of last resort" read the following about an upcoming BBC documentary;
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/7/27/03151/2391
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/document_20070723.shtml
http://community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/503603557/m/3520076578
http://coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/53/french.html

"
Who were these "American ruling families?" The conspirators were operating under the umbrella of a front group called the American Liberty League, which included many families and corporations that are still household names today, including Heinz, Maxwell House, Colgate, Birds Eye, Du Pont, Standard Oil, Chase National Bank, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, General Motors and of course the one and only Prescott Bush. The American Liberty League reached over 125,000 members and supported the Republicans in 1936.

The committees final report was heavily censored with the names of those accused removed until all accusations could be properly investigated. Unfortunately, FDR was far more concerned with getting America back on track and passing his New Deal. The issue it seems was simply dropped. Though one can only wonder if Mr. Bush's bank would have been seized had his involvement in the plot to overthrow FDR had not been brought to light only a year after Roosevelt amended the Trading With The Enemy Act.
"


Butler was to "help" FDR as Secretary of General Affairs while he was Ill.

Kind of like the brain surgery performed on the Attorney General just before he was to appear before congress on Iran/Contra made him unable to speak.

General Butler listened to their pitch to him intently, then took all the evidence to Congress.

Though it might prove to be false -- this last "conspiracy theory" seems to fit with what I know to be true about the current cabal of Crooks in Washington. It also gives us the origin of many of our Media and Military alliances. And finally, it explains to me, how in the world FDR was able to get the New Deal -- by telling certain groups on Wall Street they were going to hang for treason, or give him the New Deal to help Americans get out of the Great Depression.

FDR and Smedley Butler saved America from being on the side of Germany -- and perhaps are the reason the Axis lost the war. Note, also, this story would explain WHY Germany attacked on two fronts -- because they thought someone else was going to take Europe. Perhaps England would have the sided with America even on the other side. America didn't join the war on the assumed side, and then you had the attack on England. Germany then had a two-front war, and were unable to guarantee the flow of oil from Italy -- the rest was history.

But whichever side the US joined would have ultimately been the winning side. Russia almost fell, if the German's had not been bogged down in Winter chasing after troops and had just stayed safely in a city...

... well, the point is moot. The world missed the bullet then.

Now we have the grand kids, pulling the same stunt, ready for round II (or perhaps III). Can we keep getting lucky and not bring this cabal to justice?

David Brin said...

Very cogent, Marc.

I am always bemused by the differences WITHIN groups. e.g. wealthy aristocrats who "get" the era that they are in, and plunge into enjoying some leadership role in delivering new goods and services and flourishing while the middle class also flourishes and grows...

...versus aristos who are marionettes to human nature, showing every self-deluded trait that feudalism and gilded ages brought out in spoiled brats, who emphasized inherited "quality" over postitive-sum leadership. Who praise the free market -- while cheating with both greedy hands and every other tool they can suborn or grab.

We see this distinction, of course, in other supposedly monolithic clades, like liberals or conservatives. How we need to think more multi-dimensionally! But Rove and Marx want simplism, alas.

Still, the aristocratic divide was very clear in FDR's time. Of course there were the trogs called him a "traitor to his class." Then there were other rich men - the smart ones who could hear the simmering heat of resentment down below, and who had read the greatest sci fi novel of all, by Karl Marx - who realized that another revolution WAS coming, unless it could be reformed-away...

...and hence, they did something that Marx called impossible. They FIXED CAPITALISM... at least enough that it became an order of magnitude more fair. AND more productive and responsive and dynamic and open. But the key point is that these smarter aristos saw FDR as the SAVIOR of their class.. As indeed he was.

And, despite the flattest social order in all of history, there were never times in which is was so much FUN to be rich -- or in which the rich were so un-hated -- as during our lifetimes, since FDR.

Now the trogs are attempting their Big Coup. Because they know a transparent society is coming, when wealth will HAVE TO be legitimately earned. (Horrors.) They think they can prevent it. Re-assert feudalism. They may even be right.

Only they miss the point. If they succeed, they will re-establish the deep, simmering, boiling resentment of those below, that was a feature of most such societies, throughout time. "Class war" if you will. It will be THEIR doing, when it returns.

And it will be a time when any servant carrying nano-mites could slay every single person at the Country Club. Ooooh. Bad timing. Bad thinking.

Really really really stupid, shortsighted thinking.

FDR knew. The better rich know. It makes sense not to grab so much that you become hated.

Stefan Jones said...

The story of the "America Liberty League" needs to be made into a movie, or a BBC miniseries.

It should use the real names of everybody involved.

And if the families involved object and sue for slander, good. A thorough investigation and publication of documents would be most illuminating.

Marc said...

stefan jones said...
The story of the "America Liberty League" needs to be made into a movie, or a BBC miniseries.


Actually, if you follow the link -- that's exactly what is happening. The BBC is releasing a documentary -- fairly soon. I haven't looked up the details. http://community.channel4.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/503603557/m/3520076578

When we finally get some of the dirt under the light of justice, I hope everyone watches this documentary and remembers all the comments during the end of the Nixon administration where they said; "The country wants to move on and heal."

No, the country needs to pull the damn knife out of it's back before these traitors twist it.

Marc said...


...Brin said;
Now the trogs are attempting their Big Coup. Because they know a transparent society is coming, when wealth will HAVE TO be legitimately earned. (Horrors.) They think they can prevent it. Re-assert feudalism. They may even be right
...


That is a hopeful statement in a way. To me, it seemed that the Elite were preparing for a New Feudalism based upon a "Royalties" (ironic, no?). In the future, production is going to be less and less a factor in adding value.

Already, people are developing a cottage industry of Desktop Fabbing. You can even get plans from many geek sites and use a tub of water, sugar and a well-placed CAD-controlled laser beam and make a sugar FAB. Or you could spend a little more and create a plastic one for rough models.

What I see is that in the future, work and ideas will be subsumed by ownership of patents and copyrights. How can you even invent something, without spending all the money on a team of lawyers to find prior art?

Our government, pulled in tow, does nothing to protect silly jobs, but they will threaten even their big investors like China if they keep copying CDs of Brittany Spears copyrighted album.

It isn't the jenes, or the worker who sews the jeans -- it's the person who bought the patent on the design of the jeans and has the lawyers that makes the money.

The Conservative agenda has been love/hate with lawyers. Suing a bad doctor, because now you are crippled for life and have to pay all your money to more doctors to deal with your condition -- hate that. Sue Elie Lilly, because they put Themerasol in your vaccine (well, first you have to sue the companies who are putting out the false research to cover it up from the co-opted CDC and EPA... but I digress) -- they hate that. But a corporation suing a patent infringer in Belgium? Send out the troops.

The "transparent society" is all dependent upon DRM really. YOU have no right to encrypt your email -- because you are presumed to be contacting Bin Laden until proven innocent (he is presumed guilty until they bother to pull him out of Pakistan). While the government, and those who are benefitting from some understandings, get to pass all their information and you can't even question them on it when it ends up dripping toxic waste in your aquifer because they have TRADE SECRETS.

Take a look at the burden of proof on saying a business harmed you, vs. the burden of proof of a business who says YOU harmed their bottom line. The world may become transparent -- but I can be thrown in prison for looking where I'm not allowed, while the government mandates that I live in a glass house.

To back this up, read the reports in England of the repeated crimes that happen on various streets, right in view of perhaps a dozen of their state-run video cameras. Transparency will allow the government to be safe from you.

But I hope things are going to change. I expect more planned adversity, so that the people who caused it get the power to rescue us from it -- over and over again.

Resources running out in the world? The NeoCons brilliant idea of ending birth control when they send out foreign aide. I don't think I'm cynical enough with these folks.


>> Thanks for replying to my post by the way. I predict that General Butler information is going to probably be a spark that gets some irate citizens going.

ErnieG said...

I am amused!
A metaphor for your amusement!

There is David Brin clinging to a small crease on the the face of a cliff. Seat popping out on his brow, tendons standing out in his fingers.> He is screaming I am a Libertarian!

His strength is giving out he is poised to fall into the swamp of big Government.

Then he comes out with his last post, saying that Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a great guy.

One of the biggest power grabbers in the history of the republic. Excusing his illegal acts as the only way to champion the middle class.

I hear him as he falls, fading into nothingness, I am a libertarian.

Sayonaravleg

David Brin said...

No, what's proved is that you are -- if not simpleminded, then simple-dogma'd.

Dig it, you may wallow in ire at FDR but the America that emnerged from his era had the most vibrant and productive and competitive and creative and FAIR markets the world has ever seen. More business startups, more entrepeneurs, more varied goods and services, VASTLY more social mobility and far less automatic inheritance of wealth, but rather the golden age of self-made millionaires.

You see, I am a pragmatist, before I am a libertarian. I look at results. More effective freedom and more wealth, happiness fairness, justice... and I can weigh those things against "more government" and say "the proper libertarian answer to all this is to COMPETE with government better, and stop whining when it works.

I also admire Hayek and Adam Smith and the two presidents who did more to DE-Regulate industry and remove government restrictions than any others... Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

And if you are able to slap your forehead and say Huh? well, then you are at least openminded enough to express surprise that the world is NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOUR DOGMAS.

But alas, you did not even read or grok my missive above, which dealt NOT with FDR's tactics, but whether or not he saved his class from a far more severe revolution that seemed (to MOST people back then) to be iminent.

THAT was the topic, Alas, so kneejerk was your reflex to diss anything associated with FDR that you could not even bring yourself to focus on the issue in question. Pity.

---

Naum said...

Wow, that was eloquently stated, and an excellent counter to the anti-FDR rant…

…many Cons & ideologically blinded Libertarians like to paint FDR as some ghastly demon who ushered in a prequel to an evil one world government NWO… …and they are totally oblivious to the tide of history at that point in time… …that there were forces "below" clamoring for more radical measures, that even he was just trying stuff, to see what worked and what didn't…

But you know what, programs and policies implemented in that period (and in wake of post WWII) created the middle class, vaulted the U.S. into premier world spot in technology and wealth, as the opportunity was extended to just about all Americans (no, it wasn't a perfect nirvana and injustices still were prevalent, especially in terms of race…), that previously toiled a lifetime without hope…

Advances that enabled the underclass to rise above…

It's amazing to me too, to hear Cons argue that FDR did not lift the U.S. from the economic malaise, that it was war, the production of implements that return no long term payback… …ignoring that when FDR took office, unemployment was over 25%, but yet by his election to a third term, was under 10%, over a year away from war, though yes, preparations and production were being made for a war that may have seemed imminent to leaders…

Dig it, you may wallow in ire at FDR but the America that emnerged from his era had the most vibrant and productive and competitive and creative and FAIR markets the world has ever seen. More business startups, more entrepeneurs, more varied goods and services, VASTLY more social mobility and far less automatic inheritance of wealth, but rather the golden age of self-made millionaires…

…But alas, you did not even read or grok my missive above, which dealt NOT with FDR's tactics, but whether or not he saved his class from a far more severe revolution that seemed (to MOST people back then) to be iminent.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who knows anything about Smedley Butler has to howl with laughter at the thought of these wealthy dimwits picking him to front their coup:
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

Proves once again that intelligence is not required to make a lot of money. Nor knowledge. Just charm and salesmanship and a good helping of dishonesty.

Anonymous said...

There is so much information coming at people from everywhere netwise, how can you distill fact from fiction since both are now digitally manipulated. Talk anchors on TV one served as trusted spikets of information.now that trickle of information is not a trickle but a veritable firehose of information. I do not know if this makes government more transparent or accountable. How do we get our kids to do the right thing if incessantly the info seems so antigovernment that they don't believe the history, much less even read it, the greatness of the country they have been raised. Nearly everything I see is one conspiracy after another, swallowing us like an amoeba. No one can be trusted, your government, your company, your own family, why even your own self if left to your own devices.. I think all of the latter must have served some good don't you? Or are we already just an amorphous and hopeless collection of interests dependent on someone buying something or things we don't need. A creature such as that doent need values such as God,Honor,Truth,Family it can't digest them. And deinitely, sacrifice is out of the question. Its driven only by "can I eat it or can it eat me." Yet I keep reading these are dangerous and the cause of all our sins.
Are the people pulling me out of this ocean of information, rescuing me or am I the new catch of the day.

Why even this site is named "parasitic meme"..how can I kill that?, its not like a roach you know. This is bad. I would rather face one hungry lion, than a hundred hungry cats, yet its a grand chorus of feline meows I hear on the horizon.

My its a jungle out here. Ohh Bwana, where is the "Great White Hunter" when I need him?


Sys_Config

alan said...

Cooperation and Competition in evolution.

NYTimes article reminded me of "Earth".

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/science/31prof.html

Brother Doug said...

Hey Brin you should take a look at this:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2766040.ece

It proves several of your points about Honest conservitves vs the wackos and the party of hate meme that the rebublicans have ingested.

The Buckley interview almost blew my mind. And the quotes from DeNesh and Podharits need to be brought to light if they are correct.

Anonymous said...

Smedley, two-time MOH winner Smedley, hero of the Boxer Rebellion Smedley, Marine Corps Brevet Medal for Bravery Smedley, was no screaming radical *Untill* he was asked point blank to subborn the Constitution, betray the Republic, and act as a puppet.

That's when he realized he'd be a puppet all along...and if you read "War is a Racket" (pretty sure it's out of copyright, google it) you'll suddenly be slapped in the face with the brutal truth that the evil we did in the name of defeating the Soviets was a mere continuation of evil we had been comitting for thirty years before the Bolshevik revolution.

Naum said...

The Republican Plan to End Run the Electoral College and Take 20 Electoral Votes from California

Ballot initiative to award electoral votes on a congressional district basis like is presently done for Maine and Nebraska.

Might be fair if all 50 states awarded electors this way, but for California to split and Texas/Ohio/Florida not to do so generates a huge imbalance. Maine and Nebraska are small electoral totals and rarely have been divided in history. Even if all states did it this way, gerrymandering would then rear it's ugliness on a presidential election level…

David Brin said...

Naum nails it.

The GOP initiative in California was appraised by by Hendrik Hertzberg in an article that is both well-stated
and sadly deficient, I’m afraid.

1) I believe plans for stealing the election go far,
far beyond merely trying to tweak Electoral College
rules. (Can anyone spell D-i-e b-o-l-d?)

2) While Hertzberg is quite right to castigate the
Republican-led effort to force redistricting and/or
proportionate electoral distribution down California's
throat, he misses the key point about both topics.

Ironically, I favor both reforms... if they were to
take place nationwide, across the board, affecting
both GOP-led and Democratic-led states at the same
time. But of course, that’s not what the GOP wants.
They aim to force Democratic states to play fair while
Republican ones continue to gerrymander and use
winner-takes-all -- a case of “you drop your pants
while I keep mine zipped.”

Alas, dealing with these issues on a state-by-state
basis plays into the hands of an entrenched political
caste that - for all its feuding left-right
differences - shares a common need to disenfranchise
fickle voters and create permanent district sinecures,
where nobody can ever be voted out of office. Goppers
can play holier-than-thou in California while Dems can
decry the wretched horrors of Tom Delay’s tormented
Texas. But neither band of politicians actually wants
change.

In fact, both of these electoral flaws could be solved
without ever tinkering with the Constitution OR even
requiring an act of Congress. States could fix the
problems with goodwill treaties among themselves.
Say, California agreeing to impartial redistricting if
both Texas and Florida would do the same. There are
ample precedents. States can already call meetings
and agree to uniform law codes. The Uniform
Business Code is an example.

They are free to do this without a scintilla of
permission from Congress or the president! Though
with some care for areas of federal supremacy.

See my extensive appraisal of gerrymandering
(guaranteed to mention some things you've never seen
before):
www.davidbrin.com/gerrymandering1.html

And my piece on the Electoral College:
www.davidbrin.com/electoral.html

What bugs me is that no pundits ever mention this
aspect. If the people are to demand and get reforms, it must be multi-state or nothing.


Brother Doug! Can we have that URL again? Won't work.

Tony Fisk said...

Odd, the link works for me David.

Can you spell 'ship of fools'?

A sample:
They rush through the Rush-list of liberals who hate America, who want her to fail, and I ask them – why are liberals like this? What's their motivation? They stutter to a halt and there is a long, puzzled silence. " It's a good question," one of them, Martha, says finally. I have asked them to peer into the minds of cartoons and they are suddenly, reluctantly confronted with the hollowness of their creation. "There have always been intellectuals who want to tell people how to live," Martha adds, to an almost visible sense of relief. That's it – the intellectuals! They are not like us. Dave changes the subject, to wash away this moment of cognitive dissonance. "The liberals don't believe in the constitution. They don't believe in what the founders wanted – a strong executive," he announces, to nods. A Filipino waiter offers him a top-up of his wine, and he mock-whispers to me, "They all look the same! Can you tell them apart?" I stare out to sea. How long would it take me to drown?

(Hmm, what was that about nanomites again?)

------

So, why have you suddenly decided Diebold will steal the election this time around? Too many people know that they could.

Don Quijote said...

Map of the US Red, White and Blue

Each red or blue pixel represents 2,500 votes.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David, I'd love to see Diebold go to an open source model for their machines but there is obviously a more benign explanation than your almost libelous one: They don't think they can maintain a competitive advantage with their hardware if the software is available to other vendors. This is, in my opinion, a silly reason. Most of the value-add in election systems is in understanding and controlling the certification process, which is where Diebold has its real advantage.

It's also, I suspect, why you saw so many no-bid contracts. The game's been rigged in Diebold's favor for years because they participated in the standardization process and jiggered things so far in their favor that other competitors simply couldn't enter the market. This is unfair and dangerous, but it happens in almost all emerging markets and it's hardly criminal.

As for paper audit trails, I remember watching a hearing on CSPAN a while back, where state and local election commissioners were begging the feds not to mandate a ballot-by-ballot paper trail, since it requires a printer, which can jam, run out of paper or ink, lose sync with the current voter, etc. Training precinct workers how to deal with all the things that can go wrong with a printer turns out to be a significant problem for what is usually a volunteer post.

I posted something on how individual voters could do an end-to-end audit on their ballots after they've reached the tabulation phase. This seems like a better solution that doesn't require paper while simultaneously performing a check on the whole system, not just the precinct.

Please let us know if you hear from Diebold on your post. I seem to recall something a while back where they had lawyers threatening folks with cease-and-desist orders.

Naum said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evRPwwyno_c

I don't know if this bit was posted, testimony on how a contractor for the US embassy in Iraq kidnapped Filipino workers under gun point and shipped them off to the green zone to work on the Embassy.

First Kuwaiti won the contract on the embassy despite it not being the lowest bidder.

Rob Perkins said...

Why even this site is named "parasitic meme"..how can I kill that?

Parasitic Meme is my vastly underutilized blog. It contains a mirror of Contrary Brin, which is this site.

HTH! HAND!

Woozle said...

In case nobody else points these out...

1. Regarding RM's hypothesized Diebold justification: Aside from being (as RM observes) a silly reason, it's also rather disingenous and quite a bit of a WTF, for the following reasons:

(a) They already have the contract to produce the machines. Why are they worried about competitors? (And how dare they offer that as an excuse -- what happened to "the customer is always right"??)

(b) Any competitor wanting to compete with Diebold would certainly not use their code, as it is well-known for its bugginess and security vulnerabilities.

(c) Whoever makes these decisions could (and should) simply make "open source code" a requirement for all future voting machine contracts, and make it clear that they will look unfavorably upon current contractors who decline to release their code until later.

2. About the printout thing... Here in Durham (pop. ~500k), the voting works like this: You are given a piece of paper, and a pencil. On the piece of paper are all the things upon which you need to vote. You fill in circles or draw lines (one year it was filling in circles, like on the SAT; another year it was connecting dots with a solid line, or similar). When you are done, you feed the paper into a reader (one reader serves a room full of $10 polling stations -- basically just tall tables with curtains), which tallies your votes -- and keeps the paper as proof of your vote. No printer needed. Fast, simple, cheap, and relatively foolproof. (Also very time-tested technology; they were using computers to score the SATs when I was in grade school in the 1970s.)

So... what's Diebold's excuse again?

Woozle said...

...and on another subject, does this more or less fit in with your "who really benefits from all this" theory, Dr. B?

Tony Fisk said...

I remember using mark sensitive cards when learning Fortran back in the late seventies.

The scanner invariably managed to misread a mark (quite hilarious if it happened to be the start job card: the scanner would read the entire deck and then ignore you)

So, Woozle's experience, although it is simple, isn't quite foolproof.

wrt open source online voting, I started a side blog (Casting Light) on this issue a while back (post 2004), including a database model for allowing online votes, with audit. No doubt a little simplistic, and it's languished, but there's still a bit of interesting stuff there (I think so, anyway!)

David, a while back, you seemed of the opinion that Diebold 'weighting' was a minor issue in the overall scheme. I was wondering what had happened to make you change your mind.

(Oh! and I hope you enjoy the trip, which must be imminent)

David Brin said...

The chief role of Diebold in the neocon strategy is to ensure that squeaker elections in already gop dominated states swing republican. Squeaker is defined by whatever that state's permissiveness of corruption allows. In Florida and Ohio, that is apparently as high as 5-10%. No wonder there have been efforts in those states to ban exit polls, a simple step that could increase the "smell margin" into double digits.

California uses Diebold machines too... it is a state monopoly, after all, without accountability. But California's demand for paper copy mark-and-scan systems... plus spot check audits and exit polls... means that smally tweaks can only be done, at some risk, only here and there, in carefully chosen races.

What Diebold can also do is up the margin of victory in races where the GOP was already winning, and therefore nobody will ask for recount/audits. Thus the overall popular vote figures can be adjusted, making thefts seem more berderline and less travestish.

Marc said...

Anonymous said...
Anyone who knows anything about Smedley Butler has to howl with laughter at the thought of these wealthy dimwits picking him to front their coup:
http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html


About as silly as inviting Steven Colbert to speak at the press club event because you didn't get sarcasm.

Marc said...

theradicalmoderate said...
David, I'd love to see Diebold go to an open source model for their machines but there is obviously a more benign explanation than your almost libelous one: They don't think they can maintain a competitive advantage with their hardware if the software is available to other vendors.


The previous presidential election, Florida spent 1/10th the money to get about 8,000 votes striken from the election tally. After ChoicePoint got involved, they spent Millions to get 80,000 of which, over 90% were incorrect.

The point about keeping incumbents -- whether they be Democrat or Republican, is very salient by Mr. Brin. It isn't the Democrat or Republican per se that we must fear -- it is the compromised and corrupted politician.

Election-rigging, will not be opposed by the incumbent, if you can guarantee he can stay in the club. Just as Jeff Gannon Guckert, can be safely ensconced in the White House press core -- because it's a club, and who would question the guest list? And, strangely enough, the NSA spying has much to do with this "club" of insiders as well, because anyone not friendly to the power club, can be outed for whatever peccadillo comes up -- as they were in Hoover's day.

We can only look to the example of Mark Foley, who was urged to run again, by Karl Rove, and was promptly promoted to the Child Endangerment Committee. Was it a cynical inside joke? Was it Pedophiles who wanted early warning from the oversight, or was it "just business" as they say in the Godfather, because a compromised Mark Foley is an obedient Mark Foley?

Is it that child molesters are more enigmatic than the average evangelical such that they always rise to the top of their church groups -- or is it that, because they "can be trusted" by a criminal elite, they can be promoted?

The mistake Prescott Bush made with Smedley Butler, was that he tried to take a War Hero, and turn him into a Bad Man. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of his forefathers, the Bush family now takes Bad Men, and uses public relations professionals to turn them into War Heros.

Liebermann works for the Likkud party.

Hillary talks to Rupert Murdoch.

Joe Biden pounds his fist in outrage -- just as well as Allen Specter and seems to never catch a crook just as well as Allen Specter.

The CIA has poker games, with prostitutes (no mention of age or orientation) paid for by a Limo service paid for by funds from the department of Homeland Security.

It's all a good party, to pretend to be fighting for different teams (remember to root for the home team!), and keep the game going of Left vs. Right. Two weeks ago it was "urban" and last week it was "islamo-fascist" while this week it is "illegal alien." It is all the same game. It is all a fight between sock puppets.

Marc said...

In this face of such a "Coalition of the Compromised" what can we do? What media can we trust when 5 corporations own them all?

Well, I trust David Brin, and I trust who David Brin trusts... so, with relationships and support I can bring to him, he can trust me. I'm sure, this is how it works even in Iraq -- otherwise people beset by so much fear, betrayal, mistrust and chaos would go mad. Much of this is based on families or clans -- but you always have to establish business outside the group you are in. The surprise isn't that Iraq has so much violence -- it's that it can have people keep moving forward at all.

We don't have nearly the adversity of people in Iraq -- and yet they resist Haliburton, and the group of gun-toting friends they brought along to help subjugate them.

So, I talked about the puppet show, and I'll now talk about how I think we can end it -- no matter what Bush and Company do in 2008 or how many false flags they engineer...

In this puppet show called politics, I am forced to choose a winner. Having been all over the board with different parties -- I have settled on choosing the group that at least steals for the Home Team -- the Democrats. They "sound" like decent people. They lie like decent people. So I reward as much as I can the rhetoric and hold my nose. I only have a history to look back on of failed policies and an unworkable theory of economics, to say that just on the rhetoric -- I can't choose the other parties.

This is much like a civil war between warlords in Afghanistan. You have the Taliban and the drug lords -- who to pick? Someone has to win, or they will fight for generations. Meanwhile, you agree with whomever has the gun aimed at your head, and try to make both sides not notice you. I'll call it; "Alliance based on proximity." Which is probably most of the allegiances in the world where there are a lot of weapons or prisons.

Can you pick the Taliban, and hope that their religious extremism might wear off without an opposition, or do you pick the drug lords, and hope that their greed will wane over time? History, would tell you, that religion has a permanence against all reason. Religions are great for wearing down the enemy -- and then wearing down the ally.

But I say, you don't choose a side -- you choose none. You say; "this is my line in the sand, join me, and we will live in peace -- but I will not cross this line, and you should not cross it if you are not going to follow my way." That to me was Jimmy Carter's way of diplomacy. Set the example, and reward the adherents. Treat the rest as quarreling children -- to be ignored until they cross your line.

You speak to the rhetoric that "sounds right" but then you hold them to it. In peace -- it is harder to steal. It is frustrating and slow to win this way -- but it is inevitable. So, the people on your coalition, and the candidates you sign, have hard set rules that control what they can go to war on. We could agree and disagree later, but I imagine it would be something like; free college for public service, no standing armies but we have citizens being trained to fight as part of the public service. A shared experience with no free ride. Some might call this "social engineering" as they criticized FDR's ideas -- but isn't it Social Engineering to have no community and no shared experience? When did we have such apathy and disconnectedness in human experience as we do in America today? Isn't that an experiment with only one outcome? People shooting kids at school to see what it would feel like, is merely a symptom.

To get back to my metaphor, you shut down the drug trade in Afghanistan by sending your investigators after the middle-men shipping it out of the country (hint; the banks are in Dubai) and reward the communities that practice good treatment of women -- and defend those communities and principles -- NOT any of the current factions. You talk to the enemy -- you don't become like them in the shadows -- EVER. Like the British did to create "green zones," you hold what you can keep safe, and let it be an example -- instead of bombing the worst offender of the week. If you don't directly threaten the factions unless they hurt your coalition, they will like the hate-filled, go after the most threatening target. It's human nature. America embraced Martin Luther King in part because he touched our common principles and in good measure, because people feared that without that alternative, more disenfranchised people would turn to the Black Panthers.

FDR saved the wealthy class, by making nice with the poor. He parlayed with the traitors, to get the New Deal. Unfortunately, he did not have a grass roots that understood the real cause, and did not continue the effort to "squeeze out" the robber barons. He should have handed down their names so that we could shun them.

>> So in America, we can also defeat a common foe. By joining the Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians and affirming; "this is what we can agree on -- and if we at least have this, we have our America, and we will not compromise on these principles." Or we could start with; "We hold these truths to be self evident..."

Just as individual cities are joining the Kyoto protocol and showing that they can save money by wasting less -- we should identify the cities where we can win -- and let everyone know that it was this coalition that put in politicians that signed onto our principles. And then we "invest" in these cities to make them prosper.

So perhaps we need to re-affirm the Constitution, and re-write it, and add in better defenses against abuse from our collective experience. Pass it around, debate it, and start signing the "New Constitution in Exile" (I'm borrowing from a dreadful NeoCon ploy -- but genius is 90% theft). And write in explicitly this time, that no Religion will be favored or even acknowledged --that such principles should drive good people, but never be worn on their sleeve while they represent their government. And this time we should say, that only people have rights. Incorporation may only be to allow for commerce, and may not be allowed from outside the country. Corporations are to allow privileges to people, who may benefit other citizens by their commerce. The consumer is sovereign, and a business model may only be defended if it first shows a benefit to those citizens. There is no right to profit until these conditions are met.

Coupled with this document, we write in the elected officials who have signed it, and the businesses who support it, and they go on a website so that all the members who have joined, can support them with their commerce. We have to commit to as much as possible, keep our business going to our coalition — as opportunity and prosperity bring allies.

We take this one city at time -- and they make agreements with each other, and we create our own "Green Zones" of Liberty. We have our own network of "News" and a system of checks and balances that gives our seal of approval to verify only those news agencies that meet our standards of integrity. It may require less editorializing in sections of the blogs that adhere to this principle -- but unless the seal stands for "known facts" it will not have value. When facts can be proven and disproved -- then there is a foundation for debate. But when all Reason is under Assault, the Robber Barons win.

We take over the media, one small news stand at a time. Until no news service would be caught dead without a Liberty Coalition Seal of Integrity -- because there is nothing else that gives the public an idea that they are not being lied to.

The only thing propping up all these businesses without oversight, and these politicians without integrity -- is the lack of a viable alternative. Everyone must be a hollow sock puppet, willing to sell bread made of sawdust to their neighbor, to make a living, because there is nobody left to hold them to a higher standard.

The concept is, that we know we can trust our friends, and we need to identify like-minded friends who hold the Constitution as their highest principle. And through word of mouth, just like the founding fathers must have, we spread our whispers of who we can trust.

The line in the sand will grow, and it will be filled with everything green and growing. How can the desert compete?

I know this sounds like a lofty goal, but nobody joined a cause for "good enough."

Don Quijote said...

SacBee.com - Voting systems hacked in test

Teams of computer hackers participating in a first-of-its-kind experiment in California have succeeded in breaking into all three electronic voting machines they targeted.

The systems were invaded in ways ranging from altering votes via a laptop computer to physically breaking into an electronic ballot box with small, concealable tools, the hackers reported to the state Friday.


I am amused... and not the least bit surprised.

Markbnj said...

Marc wisely wrote...(snip...)

The point about keeping incumbents -- whether they be Democrat or Republican, is very salient by Mr. Brin. It isn't the Democrat or Republican per se that we must fear -- it is the compromised and corrupted politician.

(Mark Sez:) Look on my blog (somewhere in the 500 posts I discussed a few reforms, such as
ONE six year term for president
and a 12 year limit in congress
2 terms in Senate, and
max of 6 terms in House
(and yes, you could start in house, and then do another 12 in senate.)

That would help LOTS with this political corruption.

Real world? It'll never happen, why hold my breath..

Oh, btw, I came across THIS beauty TODAY Ohio proposes New ANTI-CHOICE law see blog entry here

Tony Fisk said...

US Senate tightens lobbying rules

...Under the bill, which must still be signed by President Bush, lawmakers must disclose donations from lobbyists.

... Mr Bush had "serious concerns" about the measure, according to the Associated Press.


I bet.