view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

wtop interviews harris miller

(special thanks to the folks over at blog who broke it down for me since Quicktime hates me)

You can listen to the whole interview here.

Harris Miller (whose campaign site I would have linked to here, if there was one set up) announced his candidacy last month, with strong support from Democratic "red" state hero Mark Warner and no clear opponent in the primary (now, of course, former Secretary of the Navy republican-turned-democrat James Webb has entered the fray.)

I'll just put it out there. I'm less than enthused about Miller's positions. I wholeheartedly disagree with many of them not because of a feeling, but because I think his views contradict his vociferous idolation of Madisonian limits on the power of the federal government. I think many of his stances are incoherent in this way, and I find his willingness to pander to those who readily work to limit individual rights, frankly, disturbing. In the coming days/weeks, I'll deconstruct the interview to try to get to the bottom of what Miller is really about (because honestly, I need to do more research into his positions anyway.) Please join me on this journey -- frankly I don't know where it will end up.

I suppose I'll start with one area where I'm particularly disturbed -- his ready coziness with the "election industry." Brad Friedman explains more over at BradBlog:
In case you haven't heard of them, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) is a "trade association" who set up the Electronic Technology Council (ETC) as an "astroturf" group at the behest of Electronic Voting Machine companies. Harris Miller was President of the ITAA and instrumental in convincing the Voting Machine Vendors to band together and give the ITAA money to create the ETC to spread the "good word" about Electronic Voting to Americans and Boards of Elections everywhere. Now Miller is reportedly about to announce his run as a Democratic(!) challenger for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia currently occupied by Republican George Allen.

Miller left ITAA just before announcing his candidacy. While lobbying for the "election industry" (which includes the truly disgusting security conglomerate Diebold,) Miller said, "[w]e oppose the idea of a voter-verified paper trail." Because all those fine upstanding honest folk at Diebold always have the security of the people's votes in mind. From
The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. - who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush - prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O'Dell's company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

O'Dell, you'll remember, recently resigned as CEO amidst scandal (not just in Ohio) and decisions by various state legislatures to use other types of voting systems. BradBlog is a great resource for more info on general rottenness of the 2004 election in Ohio and other places, largely engendered by Diebold and their ilk.

Miller clearly has no problem with: 1) putting the interests of voters (i.e. voter-verified paper ballots) aside in favor of profits for the "election industry"; 2) lobbying on behalf of special interests (he did it); 3) crooked partisan corporations and their attempts to install themselves as a filter between an American's vote and the result of the election. That's majorly fucked up, in my opinion.

Why are voter-verified paper ballots in the best interest of voters? Brad links to a great article from Megan Santosus in CSO, an Australian data-industry magazine, explaining why:
The most serious issue with current e-voting systems, scientists say, is source code that’s riddled with vulnerabilities. Of all the systems out there, Diebold’s AccuVote-TS has received the most scrutiny because some of its source code was accidentally posted on the Internet. “The Hopkins Report” spawned three other studies, each of which found various vulnerabilities. Maryland, which spent $US55 million on 16,000 Diebold machines, commissioned a report from Raba Technologies that simulated use of the machines in a mock election. In addition to software problems, the Raba researchers discovered that the two locked bays on each machine (for the printer tape, and on/off switch and modem) could be opened by any one of 32,000 keys issued — keys that were duplicated at hardware stores.

The folks over at DemocraticUnderground and Brad at BradBlog have done a great job exploring many, many, other reasons to be suspicious of the reliability of e-voting. Do yourself a favor and become familiar with all the research these people have done. Rage-inducing, to say the least.

Next time, the death penalty. Here's a preview of Miller's position:
I support the death penalty. I’m an Old Testament kind of guy. I understand that often the legal representation isn’t what it needs to be…but if somebody killed my wife or killed my kids not only would I wanted to see them executed, I’d flip the switch… Criminals need to be treated for what they are, as criminals. I know a lot of people in the Democratic Party don’t necessarily agree with that…

How nice. You're damn right we don't. Rage rage rage.


  • At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think Harris Miller and ITAA changed their position on this quite awhile ago:

  • At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Josh Chernila said…

    In this primary, Democrats are going to look at James Webb and Harris Miller and ask themselves "Is this guy a Democrat."

    Because of his need for support outside the beltway, Harris Miller is taking very extreme positions, that will make primary voters doubt whether he's a real Democrat.

    James Webb's attractiveness in every area of Virginia is undeniable. He has such deep and broad appeal, that he won't have to assume bizarre "flip the switch myself" positions. He'll speak from the heart and espouse true values that resonate with Democratic voters, because they're real Democratic Values, real Virginia Values, real American values.

    It's been a long time since voters had the opportunity to support true American Greatness. Democrats will rise to this challenge, this opportunity, this moment. They will send James Webb to expose George Allen for the paper tiger that he is.

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger mar said…


    thanks for coming.

    more and more i'm really starting to agree with you (I was withholding judgment on Webb until he got things started.)

    Miller, at least to me at this point, seems to be nothing more than a Lieberman-lite establishment DINO.

  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger Alice said…

    As was said before, Miller has changed his views on voter verified audit trials, see his interview with ComputerWorld.

    You might also want to read what Miller said about FISA and domestic spying. More of Miller's statements here.

    James Webb was Sec. of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. He resigned in 1988 over force reductions and went to the American Enterprise Institute. I don't think he is going to position himself as the real Democrat in this primary. Just a guess.


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