Category Archives: Books on Politics

scarborough, both sidesism, fbi, georgia is not a beacon of hope

Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew.  He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump.  The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.

This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.

But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip.  Sedition?  Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican). 

Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners.  Equal corners, right?  One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame. 

On to other matters.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.

AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans.  She thought they might lead the attackers to her.  It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.

Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.”  I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump.  Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt. 

Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.”   “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…” 

Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle.  Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry. 

Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.”  And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.  

Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol.  If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.”  Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”

Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger.  She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.”  But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system.  If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List.  But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people.  So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.

Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location.  The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.

A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest.  As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically.  But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.

I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List.  Once on this list, are you ever taken off?  What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.

Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol.  She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations.  They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.”  They did not.  “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued.  “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”

Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray.  He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so.  Strzok didn’t say by whom. 

Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.”  She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter.  “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted.  These tours were highly unusual. 

Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC.  It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All. 

And, lastly, in Georgia…

I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook.  He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.

I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.

Now, as usual, he took exception to this.  Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos.  They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.

He responded in a curious way.  First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.”  Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups.  Why this assumption is made, I don’t know. 

We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory.  Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election?  Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump?  What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage?  These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here.  In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr?  Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)

Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security.  Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”

Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.

I find the statement amazing.  I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.

Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system.  And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.”  It was all a propaganda operation.  I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back.  It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes.  The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century.  Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system. 

Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”

The ballots are marked by a machine.  Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right.  But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot.  They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot.  The voter cannot read the bar code.  The poll workers cannot read the bar code.  I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes.  It’s protected by law.  What kind of state of affairs is that?

Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.

In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable.  They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked.  But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.

In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression.  That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor.  Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls.  Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

Oh,

Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail.  I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.

Essential reading

Podcast of Preet Bharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Agnew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

essential podcasts: majority report interview with jared yates sexton

This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.

Sam Seder

Sam Seder interviews Jared Yates Sexton

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/12/08/12-8-american-rule-how-a-nation-conquered-the-world-but-failed-its-people-w-jared-yates-sexton

From the Majority Report Website:

“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.

Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle. 

Follow on @cjjohns1951

erik prince: the devil himself, a classified contract with your money

The reporting is that Trump’s new buffoon appointments in the Pentagon have awarded EriK Prince (read, the Devil) a classified contract to run mercenary operations in Africa.

This is the best book out there about the true depth of corruption and violence represented by Erik Prince.

stealing the vote: state developments

STEALING THE VOTE:

•       The Supreme Court has sided with South Carolina Republicans attempting to suppress the vote by reinstating a law requiring witness signature for mail-in ballots.  This decreases the vote by making it more difficult for people to vote, requiring them to risk COVID by having someone else witness the ballot, and provides yet another point top invalidate votes (the verifying and matching of the witness signature). 

•       In Florida, the voter registration website crashed and stayed down for several hours on Monday, the deadline to register.  Again, every obstacle decreases the vote which is what the Republicans are counting on.

•       In Iowa, Republicans blocked sending out ballots that had pre-filled voter information on them. Tens of thousands of ballots were invalidated.  This means confusion, the likelihood that people will send in the wrong ballot, and the necessity of the state to send out replacement ballots a month before the election.

These are three incidents in three states, being replicated all over the country.    

 In Georgia, software on all the states voting machines is being replaced A MONTH BEFORE THE ELECTION.  This software change is being done by the voting machine company, unverified, unexamined, and uncertified. 

The Republicans are pulling out all the stops.  They have too much at stake to lose this election.  They are going to lie, cheat and finally steal this election and the Democrats and the media are going to be caught off guard.  VOTING IS NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH.

And: Pennsylvania’s online system for registering to vote and applying for and tracking mail ballots crashed over the weekend, triggering an outage that stretched for more than 24 hours and prompted frustration from voters weeks before critical election deadlines.

stealing the election: georgia

On Friday, 26 September 2020, the Secretary of State’s office in Georgia sent out a notification to county elections offices.  The notification alerted county officials that the state had discovered a programming error involving the state’s touchscreens.  These touchscreens are part of a new election system bought by Governor Brian Kemp’s administration that cost the taxpayers of Georgia almost $150 million. 

This expensive new voting system was pushed through right before the 2020 election despite warnings that it was too cumbersome and impossible to establish before the 2020 election.  Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger was quoted in February of 2020 as saying: “This is the fastest and the largest implementation that’s ever been done in America.”  

When poll worker training was started in Georgia, manuals were incomplete, and at least some devices were not working. 

The programming error found on Friday, will require the state to reprogram 30,000 new touchscreens called Ballot-Marking-Devices (BMDs).  It is difficult to see how this is possible before early voting starts on October 12.

The Coalition for Good Government discovered the flaw in the database hours after the SOS’s office notified county officials.

 According to Jeanne Dufort, an election security commentator (9/25/20, Twitter): the “flawed database that has halted critical election preparation in GA shows the risks of outsourced elections.  The SOS relied on the vendor to prepare election data bases for all GA counties, and failed to exercise proper oversight – putting the statewide election at risk.”

“We do not know the nature of the database flaw, other than it caused the state to stop LAT (Logic and Accuracy Testing), and inform counties completed LAT is wasted.”

Reading:

Gray, Justin (2/4/20) Georgia Sets up a New Voting System.  WSBTV uote fro Article: The new machines are more secure than Georgia’s old voting machines because they generate paper ballots.

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/georgia-sets-up-new-voting-system-2020/BBKHZH5DOREF7MHSCRVEAHMXYU/

GPB Voting SYStem

https://www.gpb.org/news/2019/03/18/heres-what-vendors-say-it-would-cost-replace-georgias-voting-system

Essential podcast: the majority report

If you only have time to listen to one podcast, I would suggest The Majority Report. Sam Seder consistently chooses material that is challenging and different from anything you will hear on the corporate media.

Sam hosts USC Law Professor Jody Armour (@niggatheory) to discuss his new book N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law and the importance of eradicating anti-black bias in America. The class distinction masquerading as a moral distinction in black respectability politics. The destructive impact of these ideas on the fight for racial justice, particularly with regard to police and prisons. How Obama represents the limits of respectability politics. The need for our criminal justice system to move away from retribution and towards restoration and rehabilitation, even in cases of interpersonal violence.

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/09/21/9-21-ngga-theory-race-language-unequal-justice-and-the-law-w-jody-armour

Stealing the election: Just today

The Head Fake

  • Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day.  He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion.  Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.”  He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
  • The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe.  There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
  • So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging.  The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned. 

Election Security: Stealing the Election

  • Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014.  It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016.  This has never been explained.
  • Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
  • Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.” 
  • According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties.  The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
  • Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
  • Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)

Information on voting of Interest:

  • Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice

Other Information of Interest

  • Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
  • 102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)

georgia: stealing the election

“Nothing should be more self-evident than the simple statement that for an election to have legitimacy, the counting process must be observable” Code Red by Jonathan Simon.

In many states, however, Republican party officials have worked to make sure that the counting process is not observable.  They have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to fool us into believing that we have a fair, observable system when we do not.

In the state of Georgia, to give but one example, the government of Brian Kemp (who himself benefited from vote manipulation that edged him into the governorship) is using tax payer money to make sure that the voting process is secret.

Georgia had used a paperless, touchscreen voting machine system since 2002.  When we voted, our votes disappeared into a cyber world that could not be checked, verified, or audited.

The state then ignored warnings from independent researchers that the system had been easily penetrated through the internet.  Because state officials refused to admit the problems with the system, it became necessary to file a lawsuit in 2017.  The problems were found by the court to be  so egregious, that in 2019, a federal court order had to be issued to require Georgia to stop using the all‑electronic voting system by year’s end because of the system’s proven vulnerability to cyberattack (Curling v. Raffensperger).

The response from Republican government officials was not to return to hand-marked paper ballots, but to spend over $100 million dollars on a new voting machine system that was designed not to secure the vote, but to convince voters (and the court) that votes were “secured.” 

In addition to the amount of money paid for the voting system, an untold amount of state money was used in a PR campaign to dupe the people of Georgia into believing that this new system was an improvement over the last one.  It was not.

What the new, outrageously expensive system did was to introduce a piece of paper into the process, what they called a “paper ballot,” that was printed by a machine.  Officials then crowed that the vote was verifiable.  And, they went around the state recruiting organizations and groups to pose with the new state “I Secured my Vote” propaganda.  But, the paper, the “ballot” was nothing more than a prop in the theatre production that was to look like an “election.”

The process works like this:

The voter’s identification is checked in on an electronic polling book (computer) that has records of registered voters.  If registered the voter is given a card. 

This card is inserted into another machine, a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

The voter then touches a screen to record his/her votes.

When finished, the BMD issues a “ballot.”

So, the BMD records the vote and marks a “ballot” for the voter.  It then prints out that ballot with words that are said to reflect the voting preferences. 

The voter is asked (encouraged) to take that ballot to a different station and check the words to make sure that they accurately reflect the voting preferences, i.e., how you voted.

Then, the voter takes the ballot and feeds it into a scanner which records the vote.  The ballots collect inside the scanner which looks (ironically enough) like an enormous trash can.

Now, first of all, every polling place is mandated to stock readers, glasses that magnify the words on the ballot because the print is so small.  This obviously in and of itself discourages voters from checking the ballots.   

But, more importantly, what they don’t tell the voter is that the words on the ballot are not what is counted when s/he puts the ballot into the scanner.  The words, the ones telling the voter who s/he voted for are meaningless gibberish.  They are decoration, props.  The words printed on the “ballot” have no relation to the vote counted by the scanner. 

What the scanner counts is a bar code printed at the bottom of the ballot.  You cannot read the barcode.  In most cases, not even computer experts can read the barcode in these electronic voting systems.  You have no idea what the scanner records, and you cannot check it with readers or without them.

So, just imagine this.  You vote on a machine, it prints out words on a piece of paper that reflect who you voted for.  You check these words to make sure that they reflect who you voted for.  You put this paper in the scanner and this machine records not what you checked, but something you cannot check, a barcode at the bottom of the page.  You have been duped.

But, you might say, these ballots are still paper, physical, they can be recounted if there is a problem.  This is better than the completely paperless system before.  Perhaps, but this actually makes no difference if the recount does not examine the words printed on the ballot. 

The state of Georgia has made clear that any recount (and recounts are not easy to get) will only involve running the ballots through the scanner again, a second time.  They have explicitly stated that there will be no examination of the match between the printed words and the barcodes.

So, the new voting system is designed not to provide a “transparent, fair, accurate, and verifiable election processes…” (as U.S. District Judge Totenberg mandated in 2019) but exactly the opposite.  The new voting system is engineered to make people believe that it is transparent and verifiable, and to give them pieces of paper they can hold and “check” in order to fool them. 

Judge Totenberg held a hearing this week to consider a preliminary injunction brought on behalf of the people of Georgia, to force the state to use hand-marked paper ballots in the November election for people who are voting in person.

But, after spending the outrageous $100 million for the new voting system/propaganda system, the lawyers for the state of Georgia maintain that this would be too expensive and too cumbersome.

We must start asking and demanding answers to questions about why the state of Georgia spent this enormous amount of money on a voting system that doesn’t ensure transparency and now is spending more money fighting measures to try to ensure transparency.