Online Journal 11-13-06
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Editor, The Konformist
A monumental victory for the election protection movement
By Bob Fitrakis and Henry Wasserman
Online Journal Guest Writers
Nov 9, 2006
The real winner in the November 7 election is the grassroots voter
That the well-oiled, well-funded Rove/Bush theft machine lost
control of the US House with the Senate as close as it is says just
one thing: somebody was watching. In 2006, that would be thousands
of volunteer grassroots activists who left no stone unturned to
expose rigged voting machines, Jim Crow registration roadblocks,
trashed provisional ballots, manipulated absentee voting processes,
and much more.
A nationwide movement has been born to apply the lessons of the
stolen elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004. In the lead-up to 2006,
activists and independent experts scrutinized voting machines and
electoral processes as never before. Mainstream media reports from
The New York Times to CNN's Lou Dobbs to hundreds of radio talk
shows finally paid attention to "glitches" and "problems" and "long
lines" and "disputes" that just an election cycle ago were dismissed
as "business as usual" or the stuff of conspiracy theory.
At least six major reports have now warned of the hackability of
electronic voting machines. More than 90 percent of the American
public has expressed concern about the sanctity of the US electoral
system. At least two state governors have called for electronic
voting machines to be discarded in favor of a return to paper
As we write, in Montana the fate of the U.S. Senate rests on a hand
count after a software failure on voting machines in a few remaining
precincts. [Editor's note: Democrat Jon Tester has been declared the
winner over the GOP's incumbent, Senator Conrad Burns, now tying the
Senate at 50-50 with Virginia still to be decided.]]
The impact? There is no way the 2006 election would not have been
stolen without a concerted 50-state effort to guarantee otherwise.
In Ohio, an unprecedented project by five statewide Green,
Libertarian and independent candidates dispersed scores of election
observers throughout the state, placing them inside key county
boards of elections and precincts.
A classic case comes from central Ohio, "scene of the crime" for the
2004 election. In the 15th Congressional District, election
protection attorney Cliff Arnebeck was initially turned away from
voting due to lack of "proper I.D," even though he presented a valid
Ohio driver's license and proof of his current address.
Arnebeck serves as lead attorney in the King Lincoln lawsuit that
has won preservation of the Ohio 2004 ballots and a number of key
victories regarding election protection. All around him, hundreds of
voters were being wrongly forced to show various forms of personal
identification. Election observers documented a staggering percent
of voters who were being forced to cast provisional ballots.
Provisionals are notoriously easy for GOP Secretary of State J.
Kenneth Blackwell to pitch or now delete from the e-voting machines.
More than 16,000 of them, mostly on paper, remain uncounted from
Clearly, this was set up to be a stolen cakewalk for incumbent
Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-15th), fourth ranking House
Republican and a close Bush ally.
Instead, Pryce's alleged margin of victory is now less than 4,000
votes. Rather than conceding, challenger Mary Jo Kilroy has vowed to
fight it out until the last ballot is counted. A Democratic poll
watcher at the Ohio Student Union at Ohio State University estimated
that as many as 50 percent of the students may have been forced to
vote provisional ballots. These student voters are in the heart of
the undecided race in the 15th district, and early reports indicate
there are 20-40,000 uncounted e-provisional voters in that race.
Around the country, races in at least eight states are still under
extreme scrutiny. Lawsuits are being prepared, videotape reviewed,
testimony collected, reports compiled. Numerous eyewitness accounts
have been filed at democracy@..., with CommonCause and a
wide range of other election protection web, phone and legal
operations. Both Democrats and Republicans who might earlier have
meekly conceded are now holding out until the very last vote is
This is new to American politics. In years gone by, elections have
been stolen and the populace -- and even candidates, like John Kerry
in 2004 -- have shrugged their shoulders.
No more. Team Bush/Rove has taught the grassroots that our electoral
process cannot be taken for granted.
One major, hopefully temporary, casualty in 2006 has been exit
polling. Exit polls have become the most reliable overall monitor on
election outcomes. The are regularly within 0.1 percent of the
official vote count in Germany. In 2004, they showed clearly that
John Kerry won Ohio and the national popular vote. They've been used
to guarantee and even overturn dubious results in Ukraine, Mexico,
ex-Soviet Georgia, the Philippines and more.
But in 2006 the major networks did their best to lock up exit polls
results that might have embarrassed the White House. Instead, the
exit poll results were impounded under lock and key, to be released
to the public only after the election, and after "experts" massage
the data to make it match official vote counts. To this day, the
core data from the 2004 exit polls has yet to be released to the
This cannot be allowed to stand. In the upcoming 2008 election, exit
polls must be made fully public well before the final vote counts
are announced. They must be within one percent accuracy or better,
and their raw data must be a matter of open public record.
In the interim, the science of election protection will advance and
spread. There is still no reliable way to monitor electronic voting
machines, whose computer codes are still deemed private property,
and held in secret. Before 2008, this practice must be abolished. As
the Rev. Jesse Jackson has put it, there can be no public elections
on privately controlled machines.
A return to paper ballots is the bottom line. The color-coded, multi-
shaped Swiss sequencing ballots would work perfectly fine here in
the U.S., and would save the nation billions of dollars, as well as
the hard uncertainty that surrounds our electoral process.
But however we cut it, there has been a sea change in the election
As Americans, we have too long taken for granted the right to vote
and have our votes counted.
Now we know we have to fight for that right. And that doing so has
already helped turn the tide of American politics.
This article originally appeared in The Free Press.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve
Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO: A DOCUMENTARY RECORD OF THEFT
AND FRAUD IN THE 2004 ELECTION, just published by the New Press.
Fitrakis is of counsel, and Wasserman is a plaintiff, in the King
Lincoln lawsuit. Fitrakis is an independent candidate for governor,
endorsed by the Green Party; Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR
GREEN-POWERED EARTH, a.d. 2030, available via www.solartopia.org.
The real meaning of a Democratic sweep: Neocons or liberals?
By Carolyn Baker
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 9, 2006
For the past six years, we have been held hostage by the neocon mob
of the George W. Bush administration, selected in 2000 by the
Supreme Court and taking power again in 2004 through countless dirty
electoral tricks, particularly in the state of Ohio, abundantly
documented by researchers of electronic voting. No one should assume
that dirty tricks were not again in the works as the Democrats swept
the congressional elections of 2006 this week, followed the next day
by the resignation of Dr. Death, Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
Bev Harris' recent documentary, "Hacking Democracy" made very clear
that both parties have been complicit in election-rigging. What is
certain, however, as one witnesses the Democratic sweep is that
neocon policies are guaranteed to be supplanted by neoliberal ones.
Before thinking about what that means, it is important to understand
the terms used, and particularly the origins, theory, and
definitions of liberalism and neoliberalism. Essentially,
neoliberalism is not simply an economic structure, it is a
philosophy. This is most visible in attitudes toward society, the
individual and employment. Neo-liberals tend to see the world in
terms of market metaphors and couch their agenda in concepts such
as "diplomacy," "humanitarian aid," "creating jobs," and "growing
the economy." In fact, www.answers.com adds a further
definition : "A political movement beginning in the 1960s that
blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an
emphasis on economic growth." [Emphasis added]
A clear articulation of the neoliberal paradigm is exemplifed by
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in the
summary of his recent Foreign Affairs article, "The New Middle East"
in which the author emphasizes the necessity of "diplomacy"
geopolitics: The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended
and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will
be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and
to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on
Haass knows, in fact, that the age of U.S. dominance in the Middle
East has not ended, but what the rest of the article clarifies is
that for Haass, "dominance" is not unlike the neocon dominance of
the region and the world. What is different is the methods employed.
The neocons have blatantly proclaimed their agenda of geostrategic
hegemony, achieved largely through military efforts, whereas the
neoliberal strategy, which envisions the same hegemony, is sold with
the above-named concepts, constituting the velvet glove encasing the
iron globalist fist.
Witness the famous June, 1991 quote by David Rockefeller, founder of
the Trilateral Commission who spoke unashamedly of the necessity of
concealing the globalist mission:
We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time
Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended
our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost
forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our
plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of
publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more
sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The
supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers
is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in
past centuries. [Emphasis added]
While many Democrats feign opposition to globalization, their votes
tell another story. Master Globalist, Bill Clinton, put together
with his former Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, the Hamilton
Project, to "generate new ideas and an election strategy," according
to Washington Post business columnist, Steven Pearlstein, who noted
that at the Project's July 25 symposium, "Protect people, not jobs,
was the headline message in the Hamilton Project briefing paper that
rejected the protectionist policies of the union left as well as
the `you're-on-your-own' economics of the laissez-faire right." In
other words, centrist for the globalists means more outsourcing of
American jobs, but implementing their hegemonic strategy discreetly.
In the world envisioned by globalist Democrats, Haass comments: "As
for the opportunities to be seized, the first is to intervene more
in the Middle East's affairs with nonmilitary tools. Regarding Iraq,
in addition to any redeployment of U.S. troops and training of local
military and police, the United States should establish a regional
forum for Iraq's neighbors (Turkey and Saudi Arabia in particular)
and other interested parties akin to that used to help manage events
in Afghanistan following the intervention there in 2001. Doing so
would necessarily require bringing in both Iran and Syria. Syria,
which can affect the movement of fighters into Iraq and arms into
Lebanon, should be persuaded to close its borders in exchange for
economic benefits (from Arab governments, Europe, and the United
States) and a commitment to restart talks on the status of the Golan
Heights. In the new Middle East, there is a danger that Syria might
be more interested in working with Tehran than with Washington. But
it did join the U.S.-led coalition during the Persian Gulf War and
attend the Madrid peace conference in 1991, two gestures that
suggest it might be open to a deal with the United States in the
The "non-military tools" to which Haass refers are essentially
economic arm-twisting as employed by U.S. corporations worldwide to
manipulate chaotic areas of the globe or developing nations with the
assistance of the World Bank, World Trade Organization, the
International Monetary Fund, and U.S. corporate privatization of
On this day following the mid-term elections, many individuals
around me are cheering, but I am yawning -- the other wing of
America's one and only corporate party has triumphed and is certain
to anoint another consummate globalist in 2008. Whether the name is
Clinton or Obama matters little. The Democrats, also tied to
government contracts and petroleum in Iraq, champion leaders like
Zbigniew Brzezinski whose Grand Chessboard laid out the globalist
strategy of petro-dominance during the Clinton administration. In
one moment, they wildly embrace the neoliberal agenda, then behave
like contortionists in the next, frantically veering toward "the
Meanwhile, issues of Peak Oil and global climate chaos, "the dark
matter" of American politics, are virtually ignored by the
Democrats, and the next two years will see little achieved by them
in addressing those ecological emergencies, unless doing so profits
the corporations who own them.
Yes, the Democrats swept Congress and a number of governorships, and
yes, Rumsfeld resigned, now to be replaced by former CIA Director
Robert Gates of Iran-Contra fame. Don't waste your energy cheering.
You'll need it when the temperature in Buffalo is the same 125
degrees as the temperature in Baghdad, and you have no energy for
Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor of history and author
of "U.S. HISTORY UNCENSORED: What Your High School Textbook Didn't
Tell You." She manages her website at www.carolynbaker.org where her
book may be ordered, and she may be contacted.
Would Tom Paine end up in an orange jumpsuit today?
By Mickey Z.
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 9, 2006
The coast-to-coast mall known as America just loves to sing the
praises of its revolutionary heroes -- the land-owning white
slaveholders affectionately called "Founding Fathers." But America,
the land of denial, would rather ignore the revolutionary roots and
spirit behind its birth. In other words, if pamphleteer Tom Paine
were around today, well, he might not be around today. Can you
say "enemy combatant?"
We are often told actions speak louder than words but the life of
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) tells a different story. Born in England,
Paine eventually found a home as resident radical in the Colonies.
His mutinous pamphlet, "Common Sense," was written anonymously,
published in January 1776, and promptly read by every single member
of the Continental Congress.
Time out: Every member of Congress read "Common Sense." (Insert your
own punch line here.)
Paine's "Common Sense" went on to sell roughly 500,000 copies and
helped inspire a fledgling nation to fight for its independence.
Hold on a minute; we need another time out: A seditious pamphlet
sold a half-million copies in 1776. To perform a similar feat today,
an author would have to sell more than 46 million books. I doubt
even Oprah could make that happen.
"Common Sense" stirred the spirits of colonial America by putting
into words what those seeking freedom from British rule had been
feeling for long, long time. Viewed through the prism of the twenty-
first century, Paine's prose reads, at times, like something one
might hear at a hokey school play, for example: "O ye that love
mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant,
stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression.
Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have
long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England
hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and
prepare in time an asylum for mind."
But, dated vernacular aside, "Common Sense" does make clear what
Paine is trying to provoke, e.g. "I have never met with a man,
either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion,
that a separation between the countries, would take place one time
or other. And there is no instance in which we have shown less
judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the
ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independence."
"Common Sense" popularized the concept that even a good government
is, at best, a necessary evil. Paine effectively demonized King
George III and argued against a small island nation like England
ruling a continent on the other side of the ocean. Perhaps most
importantly, "Common Sense" painted a post-independence picture of
peace and prosperity. More so than the battles at Lexington and
Concord -- which preceded the release of Paine's influential
pamphlet -- it was "Common Sense" that served as the spark to light
the revolutionary flame (which is today more honored in the breach).
"These are the times that try men's souls," Paine once
wrote. "Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have
this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more
glorious the triumph."
Standing up against tyranny today rarely results in glory.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at www.mickeyz.net.
Is another recession looming? Growth slows, housing fizzles
By Seth Sandronsky
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Nov 10, 2006
U.S. economic growth rose at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in July
September, the slowest in more than three years, the Commerce
Department recently reported. By way of comparison, the nation's
rate of growth was 2.6 percent in the second quarter. What is
happening to nearly slice the growth rate by half in an $11 trillion
In brief, growth in residential housing dropped 17.4 percent in the
third quarter. Housing's fall was 11.1 percent in the second
quarter. This downward trend has been underway for the past 12
months in the U.S. economy.
Economists have a word for two straight quarters of declining
growth: recession. Is the housing dip forecasting a 2007 recession?
That is unclear.
Clearly though, a recession is very bad news for the U.S. working
class. On that note, housing has been a motor for employment in the
building, financing and furnishing of existing and new homes. "Last
year, housing could be credited for creating over 15 percent of the
year's new jobs," reports the Economic Policy Institute. "This year
housing-related jobs will account for less than 5 percent of the
economy's new jobs."
Meanwhile, there is an excess inventory of existing and new homes
nationwide. This excess is reducing home sale prices. Such price
cuts take place with regularity in a market economy when supply
outstrips demand, no matter the commodity.
For one U.S. trade group, it is time to step up the sales effort,
presumably the key to reversing the weakening trend in residential
real estate. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) launched a
$40 million "Buy Now" ad campaign on November 3 in major daily
newspapers, such as USA Today, to lure potential buyers back into
the housing market.
In January, the NAR ad will also appear on radio and TV stations.
How much of a dent will these ads have on reducing the excess supply
of U.S. residential housing? Moreover, how long will it take to
bring housing supply into line with market demand?
These are not academic questions. In the meantime, home sale prices
will likely continue their drop from the historic climb that seemed
in hindsight to have no end. This trend is a bitter pill to swallow
for sellers and their real estate agents now.
New and returning Democrats and Republicans will after the midterm
elections in all likelihood have to deal with a slowing economy,
thanks in no small part to a drop in housing.
Seth Sandronsky is a member of Sacramento Area Peace Action and a co-
editor of Because People Matter, Sacramento's progressive paper. He
can be reached at: bpmnews@....