Category Archives: politics

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.

The majority report: stuart stevens, they still don’t get it.

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/09/02/9-2-why-the-republican-party-was-always-a-lie-w-stuart-stevens

If you really want to learn something about politics and the coming “election,” I suggest you start listening to podcasts. The corporate media is useless. They are intellectually masturbating on top of a pile of verbal garbage waiting to catch fire.

This is a particularly fascinating episode of the Majority Report, where Sam Seder interviews Stuart Stevens who has just come out with a book entitled “It was All a Lie” about the Republican party.

Stevens maintains that the party was not hijacked by Trump, but then goes on to try to defend policies of the Republicans that have been a standard feature of party theory for decades.

Stevens also uses the standard Republican device of oversimplification and magnification of the position of the other side to try to make his points. Example, I don’t think people in this country support open borders. Seder never says this and the Democrats never advocated “open borders.” This is much like the current “abolish the police” characterization of the de-funding movement.

Stevens has written a book called “It was all a Lie” but demonstrates so well in this interview that he hasn’t learned anything. Trump is the extension of Republican policy that has been a part of the party ideology for over half a century.

GEORGIA KILLING: Aubrey

video

This is a video of the cars parked along HWY 17 in Brunswick , Georgia.  These brave people gathered to protest the government inaction in the case of the killing of Ahmaud Aubrey.  These people gathered in front of the house of Gregory McMichael who along with his son armed himself and pursued Aubrey through their neighborhood, finally shooting and killing him.

When a team from CNN was later filming at the same location, automatic weapon fire was heard in the background.

The two men were finally arrested after two months of inaction and shifting the responsibility for the case around rural Georgia.

 

 

 

The Aim is to Smash the Table: The Power Worshipers by Katherine Stewart

katherine stewart

The Power Worshipers

Notes on an Interview on CSPAN with author Katherine Stewart

Katherine Stewart in a CSPAN interview, points out that Trump wouldn’t be in office without the “Christina nationalists.”  There is a myth that these people “held their noses” and voted for Trump in a transactional way, but that is not true.  This is, according to Stewart, “a movement that does not believe in liberal democracy.”

“It’s aim is to smash the table, to overthrow the system as we know it and to create a new type of order one in which its leaders along with member of certain approved religious groups… and their political allies will enjoy positions of exceptional privilege in politics, law and society.”

Most people think of the movement as being “bottom up.”  It’s not.  “Religious nationalism works from the top down.”  Stewart, in this book, points out the real leaders and the real followers and the fact that they are going to be around a lot longer than Trump.

“This is,” she says “a political movement not just a cultural movement.”  “It’s about power.”

 

 

 

 

Disaster Economics: Part 2

pitchfork

Notes from the podcast Pitchcock Economics

 

“Disaster Economics” 23 March 2020

  • This crisis brings into focus the damage of forty years of neo-liberal politics. These policies have been corrosive.
  • The effect of a crisis reveals how well the society was prepared in the first place. If, when a hurricane is coming, the society lived in houses that were already built to withstand a hurricane and have good plumbing, the effect of the hurricane is not so disastrous.  For us, it’s like we have been living in tin huts.
  • Decades of wage suppression have left people living on the edge of financial survival.
  • If you cannot survive a $400 emergency, if you don’t have the reserves to last over a $400 emergency, you are going to have to go back to work, no matter what the risks. If people go back to work, they are going to destroy the social distancing measure effect.
  • Over the past 40 years, the richest 1% got richer. The poorer got poorer.
  • By Mid-March 18% of the workforce will lose their jobs or suffer reduced hours due to the epidemic. We could see 20% unemployment.
  • Even on the Democratic side, politicians are steeped in neoliberalism.
  • As the Republicans have been saying, they want a government so small it could be drowned in a bathtub. Well, that’s what we now have, a government that is unprepared to deal with a crisis like this.  We have underfunded all the collective capacity of the government to deal with a situation like this.  We have done so to maintain a society whose entire organizational structure is designed to make rich people richer.
  • One example of this that is particularly pertinent at the moment is massive hospital consolidation which has left us without the adequate health care capacity to deal with a pandemic. While this consolidation has made private equity guys rich, it has not benefited the rest of us..
  • The U.S. has one of the lowest per capita percentages of hospital beds in the developed world. In Italy, where there is an unmitigated disaster, they have significantly more capacity in their hospital system.
  • While it’s more “efficient” when 70% – 80% of your hospital beds are filled at any one time. In a crisis, you need more beds.  When you don’t have them you are in a situation like we are in now, where we’re choosing who gets health care and who doesn’t.  We are forced to choose who will live and who will die with people who would otherwise survive.
  • Grover Norquist said that his goal (and the goal of the Republican Party) was to establish a government that was small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.
  • But, there is no alternative to collective capacity. You can’t buy own ventilators. You can’t prepare for pandemic on your own. You can’t establish your own CDC, develop your own vaccines.
  • (Note: Quote from Mario Cuomo saying that government is like family, sharing resources between those who have and those who have not).
  • China was able to respond quickly to the crisis because they have a well established collective capacity. We, on the other hand, are still struggling just to establish social distancing.
  • We are still not testing. Only way to control this pandemics is to test and isolate those infected, but we are not doing this.
  • (Note: The notion of American exceptionalism is one of the things that blocks us from taking effective action. The assumption is that we are Americans, we won’t be affected like the rest of the world, we can go back to work in the middle of a pandemic and not be hurt.)
  • McConnell and the whole gang of libertarian idiots, at least said that they believed we would all be better off on our own, without government.
  • But, the airlines asking for a $60 billion bailout. During the past decade the airlines have had high profits, but they didn’t use those profits to prepare. They did CEO raises and share buy backs.  And now they are waiting, demanding that the government bail them out.
  • The airline industry spent $800 billion on share buy backs last year. That’s one year.  They could have chosen to pay their workers more.  But, they have established no cushion for disaster.   This is an economy where  corporations assume that any upturn is going to last forever.  “They thought it was going to go on forever.”
  • Boeing is a good example of corporate irresponsibility. Their 737 max has been grounded for a year due to incompetence.  But, during that time last year Boeing was borrowing money to buy back stock.  Going into debt, borrowing money to return “value” to shareholders.  This at a time when they were facing biggest internal management crisis in their history.
  • “The shareholders should be wiped out.” They allowed an incompetent company to run itself into the ground.  But, rather than the investors absorbing the hit, the government is going to bail them out.
  • It should be part of the bill that no company gets a bail out without giving citizens preferred stock. The government could create a joint stock company, and everyone with a social security card, would be a co-equal share holder. This would be like a Sovereign Wealth Fund.  Citizens would own the stock, not the government.  Preferred stock means that the holders are given preference over all other stock holders.  They get paid first if there’s a liquidation.
  • Individuals would own stock in any company accepting a bailout.
  • Vast majority of these companies are going to thrive, and instead of old shareholders being bailed out, middle class citizens would own shares along with the old shareholders.
  • This is a fair way to recapitalize these companies.
  • When you retire, you get your share.
  • And, by doing it this way, we would have seats on the board.
  • This is one way of turning lemons into lemonade
  • The vast majority of wealth in this country is owned by a minority. We could make this the new disaster capitalism.  For the past 40 years economic and other types of disasters have been used to disempower regular people, to disenfranchise and impoverish them.  We can re-empower regular people by making new rules in this crisis.
  • We can change the rules. We can set rules for those companies that are requiring bail outs.  We could require, for example, that labor be on boards of these companies.  Other countries do this.
  • We can make rules that these bailout companies have to keep their employees employed. We are not bailing you out so you can downsizes lay off people.
  • We could require that companies have to offer $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave. If these companies need the money they will have to take the rules. Otherwise they don’t have to take the money.
  • Crises like these make vivid past policy failures – the fact that there is no national policy on paid sick leave.

We should:

Make the tax structure make more progressive, raise the taxes on capital gains and dividend, to same level as ordinary income.  I

Increase highest tax level for those making above $1 million to 50%

There is an insane amount of money available to meet the challenges of society if we just make the tax system fair.

Have a national health care system that disintermediates private insurers – from health care transactions.

Implement common sense labor reforms, national paid sick leave, raise minimum wage, increase wages for bottom 60%.

Establish expanded unemployment programs.  The length and the amount of unemployment should be increased.

 

Disaster Economics: Part 1

pitchfork

The more useless the corporate news media becomes, the more essential it is to find good, informative podcasts.

Today, I listened to a podcast from Pitchfork Economics called “Disaster Economics.”  It’s worth 100 hours of listening to the gossip of Nicolle Wallace, the geek coronavirus obsession of Rachael Maddow, or the endless inspirational anecdotes of CNN.

Pitchfork Economics Podcast

Discussion notes:

The hope is that this crisis will force a reexamination of forty years of neoliberal policies.  Republicans and libertarians have fought for years to make government small enough to (as Grover Norquist once said) strangle in a bathtub.  Well, now that’s what we’ve got, and it’s ill equipped to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even knowing that this type of pandemic was possible, the government scaled down and down government agencies like the CDC and failed to adequately prepare for a crisis.  Trump eliminated pandemic planning units of the government and trivialized the problem even when he was repeatedly warned about it.

Neoliberal policies have led to a situation where, for example, this country has the lowest per capita percentage of hospital beds in the advanced industrialized world.  The massive hospital consolidation which has been allowed to occur, may have made running particular hospitals more “efficient.”  Hospitals, for example, make more money when they have 70% to 80% of their hospital beds full all the time.  And, this makes private equity guys happy, but when there is a crisis, the country is not prepared.

We must use this crisis to make regular people more empowered.  For 40 years, capitalists have used disasters to disempower people.  We must use them to seize back the power we have to determine our own futures.

MONDAY THOUGHTS…MSNBC IS TRASH

morning joe in pajamas

  • When I turned on the television this morning, the first thing I saw on Morning Joe was a clip of Sanders explaining to CNN that he couldn’t say exactly what Medicare for All would cost. Scarborough, of course, played this clip as an excuse to mock Sanders.  When the camera came back to Scarborough, he had on what can only be described (by my partner) as a “shit eating grin.”  Scarborough then started to repeat phrases like: “radically change the economy,” “radically overturn” and create a revolution.
  • Scarborough made the ridiculous statement that Sanders would “radically change the economy in a way that it hasn’t been changed since the republic was formed…”
  • The dreadful, opportunistic bobble headed Mika said that Sanders was “threatening to tear the party apart.”
  • Journalism my ass.  This is not journalism.  It is propaganda designed to promote favored candidates and destroy others.
  • In 2016, Morning Joe started almost every program with a clip of Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They gave him millions (billions?) in free advertising.  Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika helped Trump get elected and they were at Mara-shitgo after the election.  They asked his permission to use certain questions in an interview (we know this only because they were taped doing so) and only broke with Trump because he threatened and then outed their adulterous affair.
  • Joe Scarborough, like Jennifer Rubin and other former Republicans have destroyed their own party.  They willingly helped build a structure that launched an administration hell bent toward establishing authoritarianism in this country.  Now they are telling the Democrats what to do and who to nominate.
  • But, it’s not just Joe and the dreadful Mika.
  • MSNBC has conducted an all-out campaign against Bernie Sanders.  The coverage took a downward dive and a more overtly contemptuous and attacking tone in the past couple of months as they saw that Sanders was indeed viable.
  • MSNBC’s coverage of the results of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday was an outrageous point in that downward spiral.
  • On Saturday night, I sincerely thought Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid were going to start crying.
  • The only reason I now watch MSNBC is to document the outrageous campaign against Sanders.  In 69 years of living, I have never, never, seen a news organization put on such an overtly expressed attack on one candidate.
  • The day before the Nevada caucases, one of the MSNBC commentators, Jason Johnson, who has had on every panel, 24/7, for weeks, did a radio interview in which he called the black women who work for Sanders an “island of misplaced black girls.”  None of these people would say anything, anything like this about the women who worked for any other candidate.
  • Then, that same night, Chris Matthews likened the Sanders victory to the invasion by the Nazis of France.  But, this was just the latest comment by Matthews smearing Bernie Sanders.  He has been doing it for at least a year.
  • Tonight, Matthews apologized, APOLOGIZED, for his “misplaced analogy.”  As I say over and over again, there are things you cannot apologize for.  Saying what you mean is not something you can apologize for, and Matthews has meant every mean, contemptuous, slanderous thing he has ever said about Sanders.
  • Matthews earlier this year implied that Sanders would stand and watch Matthews be executed in Times Square.  I hate to clue him in, but Matthews isn’t important enough to execute.  But anyway, Matthews also pulled out of his ass a statement that Sanders would be the last person to stop for someone who was in distress by the roadside.  This is journalism?  What kind of journalism?  These are the kinds of things that idiots say in a bar.
  • Why, why do we have to listen to people like this?  Matthews in 2016 made a joke with Clinton about “roofies.”
  • Matthews interrupts, talks down, and generally treats with contempt most of the women on his show.  But, MSNBC continues to employ him.
  • MSNBC cannot apologize for their coverage of Sanders over the past four years, especially the past few months and especially Saturday night.
  • MSNBC came out tonight with a statement saying they were going to look for more progressives to put on their shows.  Really?  It must be hard to find them while they have under contract so many overpaid and ignorant circle-jerk “strategists” and Clinton mean-girls like Adrienne Elrod and Neera Tandem.

Enough of that.  Another thing:

  • Everybody seems to be going wild because Sanders said that not everything about Cuba is negative.  Well, duh?  DUH?  Can people use their brains here?
  • Cuba has the highest rate of literacy in Latin America.
  • At least when I was there, everybody had access to free education and health care.  The government subsidized books and they cost almost nothing.  Everyone had access to language training.  Everybody had shoes, jobs, an income.  They had a thriving, fascinating theatre culture.  Musicians got a salary. No, not everything about Cuba is negative.
  • But, the elite would rather live in a bubble.  And the corporate media, part of that elite, refuses to cover reality.
  • I was contracted to write a freelance article years ago when I went to Cuba. When I wrote an article talking about the advances in education in Cuba, the Times Educational Supplement said that it was “too positive.”  They would not print the article.  This was almost 40 years ago.  The slander against Cuba has been going on for a long time.  The coverage of Cuba is characterized by the same kind of distortion that goes on about Bernie and about Democratic Socialism.
  • I am sick of the corporate media and I’m sick of MSNBC.  They are terrified of a Sanders victory.  The “progressive” MSNBC is more hateful about Sanders because  MSNBC is full of people who will never be able to get near the White House if Sanders is elected.
  • The DNC “strategist”/pundit class would rather help Trump win four more years than risk their cushy jobs and privileged positions.
  • I am sick of them and of mealy-mouthed commentators (Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce (even though I love her) Vance. At least Rachal Maddow has started to tell people that this is a crisis.  We are not on the edge of a crisis.  We not in a situation of concern.  We are in a red alarm, democracy going down the drain crisis.
  • If you are not setting your hair on fire, you don’t understand what is going on.

A final comment:

Biden is running an ad campaign asking why Bernie Sanders wanted to primary Obama.  Biden is trying to imply that Sanders “didn’t have the back of the first African American” president.  Biden is blatantly trying to call Sanders a racist.  Well, let’s see why Sanders might, just might have thought about a challenge to Obama.  Maybe because Obama richly deserved to be challenged?  Maybe because it’s a democracy?  But, no, it must be racism.  I can’t even come up with one reason to challenge Obama except, oh yeah, how about stumbling all over himself putting Wall Street in his cabinet and then refusing to prosecute those responsible for the financial crisis?  But, then again, I’m one of those “vicious” Bernie Bros.  (Adrienne Elrod actually accused me of that and then blocked me.)  I’m proud, proud of that.

Night.

  • IMG_1547

Alternative Podcasts: Sheer Intelligence

Robert Scheer interviews Max Blumenthal about the “lesser of two evils” approach centrists in the Democratic Party have been pushing for decades.

The Clinton Machine Will Do Anything to Stop Bernie

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/the-clinton-machine-will-do-anything-to-stop-bernie

NOTES: