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."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

ruh roh


OMG this is...well, not shocking at all:
Washington defense contractor Mitchell J. Wade admitted yesterday in federal court that he attempted to illegally influence Defense Department contracting officials and tried to curry favor with two House members, in addition to lavishing more than $1 million in cash, cars, a boat, antiques and other bribes on convicted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.).
The new admissions, including details that identify Reps. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-Va.) and Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) as recipients of illegal campaign contributions, are contained in Wade's agreement to plead guilty to four criminal charges stemming from his role in the Cunningham probe. The congressman resigned after pleading guilty in November to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wade and others in return for steering federal funds and contracts their way.
[snip]
Wade also pleaded guilty to election law fraud for making nearly $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions to "Representatives A and B," who are identifiable as Goode and Harris. He did so, the filings said, in hopes that they, like Cunningham, would "earmark" federal money for MZM. Wade gave the funds for the donations to 19 of his employees and their spouses, who then wrote $2,000 checks to the members, according to the documents.
Goode and Harris have been identified before as recipients of large donations from Wade and other MZM employees, and prosecutors said yesterday that there was no sign either knew the contributions were illegal. Prosecutors said the investigation is continuing but wouldn't say whether Goode and Harris or the MZM employees who made the illegal donations for Wade are subjects of the investigation.
The congressman identifiable as Goode received $46,000 in such disguised contributions in 2003 and 2005, the court papers said. That was part of about $90,000 Wade and his workers contributed to Goode. Wade then asked the member to request appropriations for an MZM facility in his district, the Wade papers said, and a Goode staff member confirmed to Wade that the bill would include $9 million in funding.
Goode's office said it would issue a statement, but The Post had not received one by late yesterday.
Waldo provides some much needed context for just how much money Goode received from MZM:
Things aren’t looking much better for Rep. Virgil Goode, our local man in the scandal. It’s been alleged by top executives at MZM that employees were forced — under penalty of being fired — to donate to Goode, with Goode’s knowledge of this coercion [1, 2], with the resulting torrent of money (over $100,000 to Goode) being enough to cause MZM president Mitchell Wade to brag that he “owns” Virgil Goode . Now, that’s a pretty serious allegation, but it should be pretty easy to disprove, if it’s false.
For example, if the contributions from MZM employees were spread out over the course of months or years, that would certainly point away from an order coming down for everybody to simultaneously contribute. Or if MZM employees had a history of supporting Rep. Goode, that would also indicate that their interests just happened to align. Or MZM employees had given money to a good number of candidates, it would indicate a general political atmosphere out of which support for a candidate friendly to MZM would be likely. All of these factors would point to candidates giving of their own free will, and the charges that Goode knowingly accepted forced contributions could be ignored.
[snip]
To recap: 35 MZM employees had never given any money to a federal candidate before. 37 MZM employees simultaneously contributed to Rep. Virgil Goode on two occasions, in March of 2003 and March of 2005. None of these MZM employees have given any money to any other candidate in the past two years, other than a few who gave money to MZM’s other darling, Katherine Harris. 10 of them also gave to MZM’s PAC.
And more here:
My Lord! MZM has been very generous to Rep. Goode. Why, even Rep. Cunningham only received $13,000 from MZM, a fraction of what Rep. Goode received. Why, MZM only gave out $143k in all of 2004, meaning that Rep. Goode received a stunning 33.8% of all of the donations given by the company’s employees in all of 2003-04! Clearly, Rep. Goode is MZM’s top man in Congress.
Did I mention that Virgil Goode is on the House Appropriations Committee?

What difference does that make, you ask? Only this, from USAToday:
A USA TODAY analysis of MZM-related campaign contributions shows how the company's growth and its political activities became intertwined at key moments. In more than 30 instances, donations from MZM's political action committee or company employees went to two members of the House Appropriations Committee — Cunningham and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. — in the days surrounding key votes or contract awards that helped MZM grow.
For example, MZM's political action committee gave Cunningham $5,000 in 2003 the day before his appointment to a congressional panel negotiating the final version of the defense budget. Ten days later, the day after the House passed the final Pentagon spending bill, Wade gave Cunningham $2,000.
Both lawmakers sit on the subcommittee overseeing the Pentagon's spending and have acknowledged putting language in bills that created or expanded contracts that went to MZM.
Larry Noble, an independent ethics expert with the Center for Responsive Politics, says the timing of the contributions creates the appearance that the company's political giving helped it get taxpayer-funded business from the Pentagon.
It is not illegal for defense industry political action committees or defense industry workers to make campaign donations, unless they are given with the intent of influencing Pentagon contract awards.
Political donations from military contractors are quite common, but timing those donations around contract decisions is not, said Noble, a former chief counsel for the Federal Election Commission.
So far Goode hasn't had very much to say about the whole affair at all. All I can find in my digging seems to be the standard pearl-clutching republicans love to breathlessly offer when they, you know, get caught being bribed:
"I was shocked and amazed to learn the details of the plea agreement concerning former MZM CEO Mitch Wade," Goode said in a statement. "I had no knowledge that any of the contributions by MZM persons to our campaign were illegal."
Oh heavens, color me exasperated. I just had no idea!

MZM (i.e. Wade), you'll remember, provided the Dukestir with his lavish house-yacht everyone knew about.

So naturally, Goode would never have questioned all that money coming his way.

This is going to be so good.

deeds responds

Wow I've only been blogging for a month now and I've already managed to rile up my DINO coward of a state senator. Sweet.

From RaisingKaine Q&A with Criegh Deeds ("D"):
[My question:]Sen. Deeds, why did you speak out against republican attempts to smear the gay community with a bill that contained broad language banning any type of contractual agreement intended to resemble a marriage, then vote for that very bill after it was cleaned up (to prevent over-generalization that would nullify other types of contractual agreements) which contained exactly that language?
In other words, why did you pander to the gay community by highlighting the bigotry of the Republican Party, then vote with them for the referendum?
[Deeds' response:]
In 2004, the battle was waged over two issues. First, the General Assembly considered a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining a marriage as between a man and a woman. Because marriage is uniquely a matter of state law, I opposed that resolution. The second issue related to HB 751, which was broadly drafted and, in my view, could have some unintended consequences. I did, in fact, speak out against that bill. I thought it was mean-spirited and unnecessary. The bill passed, and the law has not been set aside by the courts.
The last couple of years have seen an effort to amend Virginia’s Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. I voted for that amendment this year, as I did last year. Narrowly read, the amendment would put in Virginia’s Constitution that which is already the law. Because I was concerned about the wording of the amendment, I voted this year and last year to strip out the last two sentences of the amendment. I was not successful in those efforts. In addition, I have consistently voted to broaden the ballot question so that people know exactly what they are voting on when the amendment comes up for a vote this fall.
Ultimately, this is a question that will have to be decided by the voters. Statements made at one time or another and votes cast must be viewed in the context in which the statements are made and the votes are cast. My views have been consistent on gay marriage.


Shorter Deeds: Heh, see it's not that I voted against gay marriage. I just voted against it.

First, I'll address the 2004 resolution calling for a US Constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I agree with him, and I never even brought this issue up -- there is no place in the US Constitution because marriage is wholly overseen by the states. Allowing the federal government to insert itself into this debate is unconstitutional (why we would need an Amendment in the first place.) Even Republicans agree. Take this rare moment of clarity from BushCo Cultist Orrin Hatch of Utah (of all places) in the Boston Globe:
"It's a very troubling matter to me. I don't believe in discrimination in any form, and I certainly don't believe in discrimination against gays," said Senator Orrin Hatch, [former] chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Utah Republican said he would prefer to leave the issue to the states -- even if that meant leaving states the option of allowing gay marriages -- as long as opposing states were not required to acknowledge those unions. But Hatch said he was not certain that idea would pass constitutional muster.
Right on -- a Constitutional amendment would have to include a provision allowing dissenting states to opt out because THE ISSUE COMES DOWN TO DISCRIMINATION. Marriage is a states' rights issue, great -- settled.

Now, on to HB751 passed in 2004. Here's the exact language:
A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.
Well, while it's true that Deeds may have spoken out against this "mean-spirited" bill, it's also true THAT HE VOTED FOR IT. On March 10, 2004 the following votes were cast:
YEAS--Bell, Blevins, Bolling, Chichester, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Devolites, Hanger, Hawkins, Houck, Mims, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, O'Brien, Potts, Puckett, Quayle, Rerras, Reynolds, Ruff, Stolle, Stosch, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Williams--28.
NAYS--Edwards, Howell, Lambert, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, Puller, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple--10.
RULE 36--0.
NOT VOTING--Martin, Miller--2.
Right. So now on to the more recent "effort to amend Virginia’s Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman." Here is the text of the proposed amendment contained within the referendum bill (HB101) as presented to the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, upon which Deeds sits:
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Now, Deeds deserves some credit here. He fought, albeit unsuccessfully, on the committee to have this text altered to remove the last two sentences because they were unnecessary (though it seems that the entire thing is unnecessary given the already codified § 20-45.3.) But let's just admire his willingness to stand up to those meanie republicans.
Here's the language of the bill that would be codified into Virginia's Constitution if approved in a referendum this November:
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Right so it's the exact same thing the House presented to Deeds' Senate committee. His efforts to re-word the amendment didn't work. But his objection to the wording has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of marriage equality -- he objected to it because it was sloppily crafted and would, like in other states, potentitally nullify existing contractual agreements between individuals not interested in obtaining a marriage but acquiring certain rights granted by a marriage. Nothing to do with equal protection or the bigotry this amendment represents.

So then of course the Senate had to vote on this resolution to allow a referendum. Let's see how that played out:
YEAS--Bell, Blevins, Chichester, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Devolites Davis, Edwards, Hanger, Hawkins, Herring, Houck, Howell, Lambert, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, Miller, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, O'Brien, Potts, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Rerras, Reynolds, Ruff, Saslaw, Stolle, Stosch, Ticer, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Whipple, Williams--40.
NAYS--0.
RULE 36--0.
NOT VOTING--0.
How nice. Let's let the people decide. Here's what you'll be voting on this November:
"Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state, in part, that 'only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions' and to add provisions relating to the legal status of other relationships?"
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships or unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities or effects of marriage."?
The bits with the strikethrough are what Deeds talked about in his response to my query -- that language is too broad and I applaud his efforts to change the language of the Question to more clearly inform the voter of the amendment's intention.

But HE AGAIN VOTED FOR IT. Now, I understand that if this is to be a states' rights issue, the only way to address it in this way is to put it to a referendum. That's how states work, and that's why it was so important to keep it off the US Constitution -- because the people would have no say. If he really wanted to be the "consistent [voter] on gay marriage" he wouldn't be trying to mislead us by pulling stunts like this and then appearing at gay rallies like Equality VA's held in Richmond on Valentine's Day. Deeds was there. From the Daily Progress, a day after the rally:
Deeds said gay Virginians have many reasons to lobby and are being treated as political footballs.
"I thought folks had gotten everything they could out of the choice question, so they started whacking on sexual orientation, sexual preference," Deeds said of the conservative forces pushing anti-gay legislative agendas, including bills aimed at banning gay-straight alliance groups in high schools.
"We ought to be about a nurturing environment for all our kids in public schools," Deeds said. "Gay people aren't in four or five closets around Virginia. They are everywhere. They ought to visit their legislators."
And you ought to stand up for a group you claim to defend. You ought to do whatever it takes to stop "mean-spirited and unnecessary" amendments to slime their way onto Virginia's Constitution. You ought to support equal protection and defend all your electorate by actions, not just these tired empty cliches.

Sen. Deeds you are no defender of equal protection. Along with the rest of the democrats in the Senate you are instrumental in allowing discrimination and bigotry to become law in Virginia once again.

liars


This, from CNN:
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.
The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.


What Bush also said last month:
A year ago, Bush said, "only a handful" of Iraqis were trained and equipped to fight the insurgent forces. "Today, 125 combat battalions are fighting the enemy, and 50 of those are in the lead," he said. "That's progress."
Those of us who actually give a damn knew that he was lying -- he left out the bit about how many were independent. Just really disgusting, and now it's even worse than we thought. Not something I wanted to wake up to this morning, especially feeling newly ill (the life of a teacher of kids with disabilities during the winter is one of near constant illness, grrr.)

WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NOTHING. And all you republicans out there who happily eat this shit up without any modicum of critical analysis -- this is all your fault. So I hope you're comfortable with the knowledge that your vote for these lying murderers has directly lead to the installation of incompetent cronies charged with the rebuilding of a country flattened by our own WMD (depleted uranium, white phosphorus, shall I continue?)

Republicans just can't be trusted to do the job. They're too worried about engendering mass chaos, then lying to the voters so that they can continue their murderous ways. It's what makes the baby Jesus happy.

thanks to SusanG at Kos for CNN links

Friday, February 24, 2006

disgusting



We've always known Fox plays a huge part in manufacturing the lies necessary to maintain the Cult of Bush, I've just never witnessed a moment that crystallizes the necessary relation to the Cult of Death their allegience represents as clearly as this picture.

Of course it's a good thing, if you're a member of BushCo (not the Iraqis we "spread freedom" upon):
The Iraqi government announced another daytime curfew for Saturday in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces of Salaheddin, Babil and Diyala. And the U.S. military said it would carry out additional security patrols for another 48 hours.
Late Friday, two rockets were fired in a village southeast of Baghdad that includes a tomb revered by Shiites. There was no damage to the tomb, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Two more rockets exploded in the British Embassy compound in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, causing minor injuries to two British workers, the U.S. military reported.
Police found at least 27 bodies Friday in Baghdad and other cities and towns. Many were believed to have been victims of sectarian violence, including five Shiite men killed by gunmen who burst into their home in Latifiyah south of Baghdad.
In Samarra, a roadside bomb killed two policemen, and a husband and wife in a passing vehicle were injured when police opened fire after the attack, police said. An explosion set fire to an oil pipeline south of the city.
In Washington, Bush warned Americans to expect more bloodshed and more political wrangling in Iraq.
"We can expect the coming days will be intense," the president said in a speech to a veterans' group. "But I'm optimistic because the Iraqi people have spoken and make their intentions clear."
"They want their freedom. They want their country to be a democracy," Bush said.

No you lying piece of shit, they want their country to be separated like it was before the British arbitrarily carved it out of the sand in order to maximize oil exploration/production. We've seen (and will continue to see) that they'll go to any length to build nations with the singular sectarian identities that Saddam Hussein never allowed. He knew that giving too much power to religious leaders would marginalize his ability to effectively run a totalitarian regime. So he made himself more important than religion.

Well we can even see in this country when government tries to do that. Just look at South Dakota.

And now? BushCo couldn't be more pleased with the previous state of affairs: allow chaos to reign and let the wholesale plundering begin. Under the CPA, Iraq's resources were sold to the highest bidder in an orgy of neo-liberal corporate giveaways. They thought they could reign it in by sticking to their "they-hate-us-for-our-freedoms" "spreadin' democracy" mantras, but what they didn't realize was because of the disgusting greed and general crookery that was the "rebuilding" of Iraq they managed to forget about the people. One combat-ready battallion. Thousands of defections from the police force. Widespread suffering with no reliable access to water or electricity. The market always balances itself out, right?

This time the joke's on them, and god help us but the joke will be in the form of horrific brutality and the deaths of thousands of innocent people caught up in the whole Mess.

But the oil's safely in their hands, BushCo will be leaving office shortly to return to the upper echelons of the private sector. Cheney's seat at the helm of Halliburton is still warm. And Iraq will be left awash with the blood of her children. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

south dakota made abortion illegal today


South Dakota became the first U.S. state to pass a law banning abortion in virtually all cases, with the intention of forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 decision legalizing the procedure.
The law, which would punish doctors who perform the operation with a five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine, awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Michael Rounds and people on both sides of the issue say he is unlikely to veto it.
Look, I'm a man. From any reasonable bystander's viewpoint, I have no stake in this. I'm not a Christian either, but I'll tell you right now that I value life way more than these sick fucks of the American Taliban who want nothing more than to codify their ideology and let the religious police loose to round up the heathens.

I'm not going to rehash any constitutional argument. Redd at FDL broke it down better than anyone else I've read today. The only two cents I want to throw in here, at least from a tangential legal perspective, is that these pigs made it known loud and clear that they don't give one good god damn about our Constitution and the Settled Law of the Land (at least as our Chief Justice opined during his confirmation.) But we knew that already. The American Taliban hates the freedom our Constitution (viz. the Supreme Court) grants all of us, and this is just the latest and most disgusting blow.

You can read any number of great blogs about this latest assault on the Constitution from the religious right.

Let's turn our attention to Harris Miller, our "Old Testament kind of guy" "democratic" candidate for Senator from Virginia. He said:
"I would have voted no on Sam Alito, because he doesn’t support the Madisonian idea that Congress is a coequal branch."
The question is: would he have voted for cloture on Alito's confirmation or would you have allowed an "uppirdown" vote? Would he have really stood up for his Madisonian idolatry and filibustered Alito?

I'm going to go with what he said here, and that's that he "would have voted no on Sam Alito," not, remarkably, that he "would have done everything possible to stop Sam Alito's confirmation."

Undoubtedly the only reason the Christo-fascists in South Dakota brought this issue up is because they knew that if their law was challenged, the current makeup of the SCOTUS would view the law favorably. That is, because Alito's seat on the Court ensures Roe's overturn when it finally is challenged, the Constitution-hating totalitarian fuckwads who want to insert themselves into your PRIVATE LIFE AND BODY saw their Golden Opportunity.

It's what Jesus wants.

The real question is: Is this also what Harris Miller wants?

If he would have voted for cloture to end debate on Alito's confirmation, then the answer clearly is yes. I'm really curious to know if this "Old Testament kind of guy" is Old Testament-y enough to hang with the cool kids like Little Ricky "I take dead babies home to show my kids" Santorum and James "a father should show his penis to his son and make him talk about it" Dobson.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

port security: cronyism at its most horrific


Today Bush inexplicably said:
"After careful review by our government, I believe the [Dubai Ports World] transaction ought to go forward,"
And threatened Congressional obstruction with a veto -- the first exercise of his veto power of his entire presidency.

Kitty-killer Frist said:
"If the administration cannot delay the process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review,"
What could possibly be behind this spat between the good (read: evil sociopathic) doctor from Tennessee and Dear Leader?

Oh, it's so juicy.

It turns out that DPW has been involved in some interesting business activity in the past four years.

Let's start with a press release from DPW itself, from back in December 2004:
Dubai Ports International (“DPI”), one of the world’s leading port operators, announces that it has signed a definitive agreement with CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) to acquire the international terminal business conducted by CSX World Terminals (“the Company”) and other related interests for a cash consideration of US$1.15 billion, subject to customary adjustments.
[snip]
Michael Ward, Chairman, CSX Corporation:
”On behalf of CSX, I am delighted to join the announcement of the agreement to sell CSX World Terminals to Dubai Ports International. We have been highly impressed with the quality of DPI’s management and believe it will do an excellent job with this important portfolio of assets and terrific team. We look forward to working with DPI through what we expect will be a brief transition to closing.”
DPI became DPW after a reorganization last September.

Ok, so what right? Check this out, from uber-investment-firm The Carlyle Group from February 2003:
CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) and The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm, announced today that they have completed the conveyance of CSX Lines, LLC, from CSX to a venture formed with The Carlyle Group. CSX received $300 million, consisting of $240 million in cash and $60 million of securities issued by the venture.
As part of the transaction announced December 17, 2002, former CSX Lines President and CEO Charles G. (Chuck) Raymond and his management team will lead the Charlotte, N.C.-based ocean carrier, now named Horizon Lines, LLC. Raymond will also chair the board of directors of the company.
Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman and chief executive officer, said, "This is an excellent transaction for CSX, its employees and shareholders. The completion of this conveyance allows us to further concentrate the company’s efforts on our core-rail business while strengthening the balance sheet. At the same time, we are pleased to have a continuing interest in this well-managed company and expect it will continue to produce solid financial results."
Carlyle Managing Director Greg Ledford said, "CSX Lines, which will be renamed Horizon Lines, is an excellent addition to Carlyle’s transportation portfolio. We look forward to working with Chuck Raymond and his team to grow the company and provide superior service to our customers."
Okay let's keep going. There's this from the Guardian back in 2001:
The offices of the Carlyle Group are on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, midway between the White House and the Capitol building, and within a stone's throw of the headquarters of the FBI and numerous government departments. The address reflects Carlyle's position at the very centre of the Washington establishment, but amid the frenetic politicking that has occupied the higher reaches of that world in recent weeks, few have paid it much attention. Elsewhere, few have even heard of it.
This is exactly the way Carlyle likes it. For 14 years now, with almost no publicity, the company has been signing up an impressive list of former politicians - including the first President Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker; John Major; one-time World Bank treasurer Afsaneh Masheyekhi and several south-east Asian powerbrokers - and using their contacts and influence to promote the group. Among the companies Carlyle owns are those which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military, and its celebrity employees have long served an ingenious dual purpose, helping encourage investments from the very wealthy while also smoothing the path for Carlyle's defence firms.
[snip]
But what sets Carlyle apart is the way it has exploited its political contacts. When Carlucci arrived there in 1989, he brought with him a phalanx of former subordinates from the CIA and the Pentagon, and an awareness of the scale of business a company like Carlyle could do in the corridors and steak-houses of Washington. In a decade and a half, the firm has been able to realise a 34% rate of return on its investments, and now claims to be the largest private equity firm in the world. Success brought more investors, including the international financier George Soros and, in 1995, the wealthy Saudi Binladin family, who insist they long ago severed all links with their notorious relative. The first president Bush is understood to have visited the Binladins in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm's behalf.
That's like just the surface of the bigwigs behind this firm.

Get this, it turns out that our current Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, used to be CEO of CSX, but right before it was sold to Carlyle.

Enter Dave Sanborn. RawStory has more from a press release from none other than DPW:
Global ports operator DP World today welcomed news that one of its senior executives, Dave Sanborn, has been nominated by US President George W. Bush to serve as Maritime Administrator a key transportation appointment reporting directly to Norman Mineta the Secretary of Transportation and Cabinet Member.
The White House has issued a statement from Washington DC announcing the nomination. The confirmation process will begin in February.
Mr Sanborn currently holds the position of Director of Operations for Europe and Latin America for the Dubai-based company.
Down the rabbit hole we go. Let's step back with this New York Times article from March 5, 2001:
"Carlyle is as deeply wired into the current administration as they can possibly be," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit public interest group based in Washington. "George Bush is getting money from private interests that have business before the government, while his son is president. And, in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments. The average American doesn't know that and, to me, that's a jaw-dropper."

Indeed.

resurrecting Americanism


Glenn said today:
I have argued many times that a recognition of the dangers of the Bush Administration’s theories of lawlessness and its law-breaking behavior -- both as part of the NSA scandal and beyond -- is not based upon liberal or conservative political beliefs but, instead, is compelled by the most fundamental and defining American principles of government. That is not some "framing" ploy or effort to "triangulate" a partisan political controversy by elevating it above petty partisan disputes. Rather, objections to the Administration's theories of power are grounded in non-ideological premises because what is so offensive about the Administration’s conduct and theories of power is not that they are liberal or conservative -- they are manifestly neither. Instead, both the Administration's law-breaking and its justifications for that law-breaking constitute a profound assault on the core principles of government on which our country was founded and which has governed the country since its inception.

Of course his deconstruction is completely accurate. The reason why BushCo's illegal warrantless surveillances elicit reactions from those-who-care-to-educate-themselves-about-it across the "political spectrum" that are so viscerally distasteful is because we have been imbued with a uniquely American belief system. Our education, our set of symbols/idols, our culture, our language, our history -- everything -- contributes to a shared Americanism, that twinkle in our hearts when we think of our proud shared heritage. The reason none of us could consider defecting to another nation.

In college, I took a class with the brilliant Richard Handler on nationalism (and the places race and multiculturalism have within it.) Anthropologists love to argue about the relativity of it all -- it is their fascination, and this is not to say that their work is not important; indeed, to analyze this issue anthropologically is to deconstruct what it means to possess these deeply held notions of nationality. It is illuminating, and necessary. Humans inherently long towards belongingness, which in my opinion engenders the variety of nationality across geographic areas humans inhabit.

It is because of this longing that philosophers have constructed and nurtured theories of politics and government. In other words it is within this drive-towards-nationhood that verifiable progress (which is not to say that this progress is necessarily dialectic at all) has been made in theories of government and representation within realized political institutions. Democracy, it seems thus far, facilitates the maximization of individual rights -- Locke's pursuit of life, liberty, and property.

Liberals understand this; indeed, we embrace this drive towards maximization-of-individual-rights (which is not to say that democrats are necessarily similarly inclined.) This Liberalism is the stream from which all of the works of great philosophy upon which this republic rests are nurtured. The Founders and the philosophers they analyzed, with all of their writings and arguments, articulated Liberalism in a way that had not been done before in all of human history. They encapsulated Liberalism into a single document -- our Constitution -- and gave birth to a new type of nation.

It is in this way that our nation, and all of our resulting feelings-of-nationality, must necessarily be analyzed in a new way. Professor Handler might disagree, arguing that while other nations (those of Europe, notably) derive their nationality from shared language/race/blood, we inherit nationality in similar ways through shared culture/language/history.

While Professor Handler would be correct that there are many avenues to explore when analyzing where nationality comes from, one cannot deny that partly our nationality stems from this institutionalized Liberalism (indeed, a kind of institutionalization that had, at least up until the writing of our Constitution, had never been conceived in this World.)

I drew the distinction earlier between Liberals and democrats because the two bodies are not mutually exclusive. Because of the revelation of BushCo's illegal warantless surveillance program, the shroud has been lifted and the line has been drawn in the sand.

This is why you see republicans like Snowe and Hagel (and to some extent Graham and Specter, though I have my doubts) attempting to obstruct BushCo's assaults on our Constitution. Liberalism, the philosophy that underlies our nationhood more fundamentally than in any other society in this World presently, is not confinable into divisions between political parties. It is Americanism.

And it is in this way that we can begin to understand the true horrors the modern republican party (specifically, neoconservatives and their ilk) have unleashed on this foundation of our nationality. Glenn didn't explore this, but I think it deserves, indeed requires, some analysis within this framework. By lying, manipulating, smearing, and general crookedness they have successfully clouded the issue so much that many Americans today no longer understand that by virtue of being American they have signed on to an institutionalized adherence to Liberalism as the Founders articulated. They are republican ("patriotic") or democratic ("not patriotic.")

They have memetized the philosophy from which we draw personal identity. Republicans are "patriotic defenders of the Nation"; Democrats are "weak on national security" and "confused" or "leaderless." Republicans are "united"; Democrats "lack vision." They have convinced the polity in the last 40 years that Democrats are socialists or communists, pinko atheists. And of course these smears are cognitively incompatible with Liberalism. One cannot be a socialist and adhere to the philosophy of our Founders at the same time.

Who is responsible for this? Any individual who has spread this meme in any way. Of course these labels are meaningless and unfounded. They are spread by the lie-mongers, the right-wing noise machine that has successfully taken over media (talk radio, corporate news, certain newspapers) and culture (think action movies.) How? That's an entirely different diatribe, but one word is enough to understand adequately: money.

Republicans are dangerous to our Constitution, and we can finally understand why. With the revelation of BushCo's illegal warantless surveillance program, those in the republican party who choose to side with the neoconservatives show that they are willing to allow a unitary executive to act in a way that is fundamentally incompatible with our Founders' conceptions of Liberty.

It has, now, become a struggle for the Liberalism upon which our nationality is formed. There are Liberals, those who understand that the core philosophy that is Americanism is under assault, and there are anti-Constitutionalists, those who believe an executive has the power to sideline the maximization of personal liberty our Founders worked so hard to ensure through our Constitution. The distinction between republicans and democrats, by virtue of this struggle, is obsolete.

Monday, February 20, 2006

miller on voter-verified paper receipts

Reader steve smith posted in the comments:
I think Harris Miller and ITAA changed their position on this quite awhile ago:

Then provided a link that I couldn't get to work. After about 15 minutes of Googling, I came across this Q&A with Miller from ComputerWorld.com last month:
As the president of the ITAA, which includes electronic voting systems vendors among its members, you said in the past that you opposed verifiable paper trails for such systems. For many people in the country, this is a very important issue because of accuracy issues in several recent elections. What is your stand on this issue as a candidate?
I did oppose verifiable paper trails until about a year and a half ago. I was hearing from local registrars, including in Virginia, that they didn’t want the additional burden for administration and maintenance that the paper trails would produce with printers and other equipment. But voters want it. It has more voter confidence. My argument at the time was that if [a hacker] is smart enough to take over a [voting] machine and register someone’s vote internally for the wrong candidate, that they’re also smart enough to make it look like the paper trail properly says who you voted for. People could get a false sense of security.

Thanks to steve smith for pointing this out. Like I said, I don't know much about Miller, yet, and in the weeks until the primary in June I hope to explore what he's about here on this blog.

For what it's worth, I still have a problem with his coziness with the "election industry" even with this quotation in mind. The problems with e-voting are legion, ranging not only from its susceptibility to hacking on a number of fronts but also from the clearly partisan efforts executed by various state officials in order to get specific corporations' voting machines installed (i.e. Diebold.) The "election industry" has transformed what should be a pure governmental process into a neo-liberal free-for-all. As it happens, the players in this market have their best interests in mind (occupying a dominating space in the market) when they hire lobbyists like ITAA and Miller, which are later codified largely by republican lawmakers. And here one must remember that the leaders of corporations in the "election industry" are themselves partisan, as in the case of former Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell.

Our votes should be converted into representation through as few obstacles as possible. Attempts by ITAA, and Miller, to insert clearly partisan filters into this process dilute the purity of representation our votes symbolize.

The problem is not necessarily just that of the ineffectiveness or "false sense of security" of voter-verified paper receipts after registering a vote on an e-voting machine. The problem is that Miller seems, by his comment above, to accept that some margin of error, or some other general hackery, is possible at all.

As cozy as he was with members of the "election industry" why wasn't Miller vociferous in calling for tighter controls in e-voting machinery and software? Why were corporations like Diebold, whose machines have now been proven to be so unreliable and susceptible to all kinds of mischief, allowed to occupy such a large place in the e-voting market? Why did he lobby state and federal governments on behalf of corporations whose products would later prove to be so, you know, shitty?

more on diebold/miller rottenness


Brad is my hero:
Kevin Zeese is an independent candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. His following "Open Letter to the Maryland Media" comes on the heels of Thursday's news of Republican MD Governor Robert Ehrlich's letter announcing, amongst other things, that he "no longer [has] confidence in the State Board of Elections’ ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006." In the letter, Ehrlich expressly singles out Democratic Election Administrator Linda Lamone, charging that she and the SBE have been "working primarily on behalf of partisan legislators and their interests" and questions her claims that Diebold's paperless touch-screen voting machines -- deployed across the state in 2002 as part of Diebold's "showcase" roll-out of their new system -- could not be replaced by voting devices with voter-verified paper trails in time for the 2006 election. Ehrlich called for paper ballots in his letter.

It was also revealed on Thursday, that Lamone had allowed uncertified Diebold voting machines to be used in elections in Maryland in both 2002 and 2004. Diebold's election equipment has since been show to be hackable, prone to massive failure, and has lost votes in recent elections according to a recently released non-partisan GAO Report, a recent "hack test" in Leon County, FL, and scores of other confirmed reports, studies and analysis from around the country. Lamone is also the curent President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED).
Amazing, especially when you realize Ehrlich himself was elected on these machines in 2002. It was the first time Maryland elected a republican governor in 40 years.

From Mr. Zeese's letter:
Maryland is sitting on a major voting scandal -- a scandal with national implications. TrueVoteMD.org has documents demonstrating a three year history of a consistent partnership between the SBE and Diebold to tell the media and public that all is well when in fact there are consistent serious problems with the Diebold election system. In looking through the non-confidential documents that Linda Schade has received in her litigation it is obvious there have been three years of SBE covering for Diebold. The truth, as far as we know it, is:

  1. Diebold provided uncertified election equipment and the SBE discovered it in December 2003. The equipment was not completely certified until the summer of 2004. (There was a March presidential primary during that time and it may also have been uncertified for the 2002 elections as well.) Using uncertified election systems is illegal under Maryland law. Lamone said nothing to anyone and in fact sung the praises of Diebold. Ms. Schade has in her possession a year's worth of correspondence between Lamone and Diebold discussing this situation, from 12/03 to 12/04.
  2. Uncertified software was used in the March 2004 primary -- described in the RAW Story article and in my article yesterday (links above). We provide links to the evidence. Again, nothing said by Lamone.
  3. People have complained about Senate, State Delegate and school board candidates not being on the ballot to the SBE and to TrueVoteMD -- which we provided to SBE. Yet Lamone said it didn't happen.
  4. Machines have frozen, crashed in mid-vote during elections. Again, Lamone says this does not happen.
  5. Machines have lost votes with blank memory cards and corrupted audit logs -- again Lamone denied anything went wrong.
  6. The machines are insecure -- shown by three studies -- again Lamone denies there are security problems.


Ummm, yeah remember that guy who wants to be the next Senator from the Great Commonwealth of Virginia? He's all up in that shit:
In addition, ITAA has its own political action committee -- the Information Technology Association of America's "NET" PAC. The address, phone number, main contact (Harris Miller), and registered lobbyists for ITAA's "NET" PAC are identical to those of ITAA itself. The ITAA "NET" PAC focuses on computer industry and telecommunications legislative issues, according to Lobbyists.info. ITAA's "NET" PAC spending on political campaigns (a mere $10,000 or less over the 2004, 2002 and 2000 election cycles) does not reflect its political influence, though a vast majority of those funds (87% or higher) went to Republican candidates in 2002 and 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. "Absent campaign [finance] reform, the information technology industry needs to give money to maintain its accessibility, serve as educators, sell its case. No question the industry must take part in the political process," explained Marc Pearl, ITAA Senior Vice-President of Government Relations.
Oh god it gets worse (same source):
The more than 350 member companies listed on ITAA's website include such major computer manufacturers, defense contractors, electronic voting machine manufacturers, internet-based companies and other major corporations as: Accenture Ltd., Amazon.com, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, Boeing Company, ChoicePoint, Dell Inc, Diebold Election Systems, Earthlink Network Inc, eBay Inc, Gateway Inc, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM (Corporation and Global Services), Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin (Federal Systems and NE & SS Surface Systems), MCI, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman IT, Oracle Corporation, PepsiCo, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Raytheon Company, Science Applications International Corporation, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc, TiVo Inc, Verizon, VoteHere Inc and Xerox Corporation.


Cool you guys! We get to vote for a guy who is in bed with every major "election industry" corp, and who at the same time whored it up for major corps that happily supply or make up the military-industrial complex. Miller Miller Miller!

More goodness (same source):

ITAA has also tried to help its electronic voting machine manufacturer members combat an onslaught of negative publicity from technical problems, faulty security measures, concerns raised by computer scientists and security experts, and perceived conflicts of interest of company executives (especially Diebold Election Systems). It drafted a proposed PR plan for e-voting companies to "generate positive public perception.", Draft of PR plan (PDF)
ITAA has opposed one of the more modest demands of e-voting critics -- a paper receipt verifying each vote. ITAA president Harris Miller was quoted in the May 2004 issue of Congressional Quarterly's Governing Magazine: "I think that the paper verification system is kind of giving people a false sense of security... I can give you a receipt, but if I started out the day by stuffing the ballot box with 50 ballots for Bush, I haven't actually done anything to make the system secure." In the same article, the Election Technology Council is identified as a new trade group within ITAA for voting machine manufacturers. This stands in contradiction to Harris' earlier remarks at the December 2003 press conference announcing the launch of the Election Technology Council, the e-voting machine manufacturers' trade group: "The customer is always right. If the state and local election officials want paper ballots, the industry will provide those," he remarked.

Just, yeah. What have we learned today?
  • Diebold has a nasty habit of courting loony partisan state officials so that they can flood the market with their insecure, hacktacular pieces-of-shit machines.
  • Maryland is facing a huge scandal, as it was the "showcase" state for Diebold's alleged awesomeness, ease of use, and general future-y image.
  • ITAA, for which Harris Miller (the guy who wants to be the freshman Senator from Virginia) is tighter with Diebold (and, incidentally every other major election corp and assorted military-industrial conglomerates like Lockheed, Xerox, and MCI among others) than Dick Cheney's arteries.
  • Miller whored it up for years, spewing falsehoods and bad logic to defend his corporate ass-handlers. Honestly, paper ballot box stuffing? What is this, Iraq? (As if e-voting systems aren't immensely easier to hack, and do so without leaving a trail.)

Curiouser and curiouser.

special thanks to sourcewatch.org for doing all that dirty work

Sunday, February 19, 2006

oh, girl


before:


after:




shrieeeek! Arianna has more beyond obligatory gay backhand. My god.

my debut


Earlier today, I was a guest on Jay James' morning talk show on WINA. I was invited on in order to give an instructor's perspective in an ongoing conversation focusing on the Virginia Institute of Autism, where I've worked for just over two years.

First, I want to say something about WINA. I hate it. It's a despicable mouthpiece for right-wing propaganda that has smothered the potential of talk radio as a medium for productive and enlightening political discourse. WINA happily hosts slimy fucks like Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Neil Boortz. Visit MediaMatters to learn more about these lying bigots. As one of my heroine's once said, I can feel the chunks start to rise, so I won't say anything more about these shit-spewing Rush-worshipers. Ugh.

Jay is a great guy, though, and is diametrically unaffiliated with the ring-wing-bags-of-pus-and-shit. I've never listened to his show before, but the development director at VIA who booked the interview knows him and made me feel better about gracing the sullied airwaves with my presence.

My spot lasted about 25 minutes, with a few commercial breaks and a couple of airs of VIA's recently-recorded PSA.

For the past week during various moments of spacy introspection, my mind worked to crystallize the past two years of my life into charming fact-filled one liners. I mean, I was pretty anxious about it, but also excited to be able to share with a (large?) audience the effects working at VIA have had on me.

Since this blog is new as hell, and I have no problem with blogging conspicuously here's what I really wanted to say when Jay and I were having our conversation. Clearly the questions are paraphrased, and I've ignored those for which my answers I believe were satisfactory.

How did you get involved in this line of work?
I was holding down a lame-ass job at Barnes & Noble during my last semester at UVA, and the following post-baccalaureate summer. I credit that job with providing me with a critical experience -- by enduring the hell of high-volume retail, I really began my transition into adulthood (I was only 20-21.) I came into contact, albeit momentarily, with literally thousands of people. I saw it all, and I took a lot of shit and experienced a loss of my humanity. I was a servant, and I was to be shat upon. I was a machine, and I was compensated for regularly shutting down my consciousness. Did it pay the bills? I guess. Could other jobs have paid the bills? ...
It was a painful experience. I felt worthless, I felt like an animal whose instincts had been trained into submission to the will of authoritarian slave-drivers. I lived as millions in this country do, except they often do it for a panel of overlords so that they can feed and clothe their children.
I had a friend who worked with me who was a year ahead of me, and we became pretty close (we also lived in the same building.) She was hilarious, and smart and kind, and warm. She started telling me about looking for other jobs, and finding a classified for VIA. She was hired, and one fateful day during the school-day brought her student into the cafe (he's a kid I work very closely with now.) The Universe was laying out my future literally in front of me as I handed the boy a sugar cookie and haphazardly initiated what I would learn to be a social interaction beyond his present level of functioning. It was exhilerating, and from that one experience the tree I have now cultivated to adolescence was covered with the earth of dedication and thoughtful improvisation.
I applied, and was granted an interview. I parked in front of the building, not knowing or realizing the existence of an expansive parking lot in the rear of the school. I entered the school with inexplicable hubris, breezing through a door to one of the classrooms as though it were perfectly familiar. My friend met me on the stairs as I stumbled around, pointing out my error and leading me to the office. Lucky I found her.
My interview was very conversational, and warm. She had been with VIA since its inception, and I would later learn has quite a gift for character judgment. Though the intracacies of the conversation are lost in a cloud of anxiety and exhileration, I will never forget the tour of the school as the networks of my future experiences were first laid in my awareness. I will never forget sitting with one of the students after my interviewer asked, "Would you like to try it out?" The next five minutes would serve as a priming experience for the lack of responsivity and resulting constant requirement for speedy improvisation that has become a hallmark of my career.
I wanted it so badly, and got a call back the next day offering me $22,000 a year for 40 hours of work and a complete change of lifestyle and worldview. I accepted with zeal.

What is it like to work in a typical classroom, essentially guiding your student through the social and academic framework an elementary school contains?
I'm blessed and honored to bear the responsibility of shadowing a kid with autism in a typical like-aged classroom. In the last school year, I was brought aboard as a member of his team for reasons that currently elude me. Two of us split the duties of working in an inclusion setting, alternating days as I deferred to the role of my colleague as chief "programmer" (a term I detest -- more appropriate is "behavior analyst/instructor.") My role was not typical of an instructor secluded within the walls of VIA, one that I had filled for a year previous to my transition. The framework of instruction at VIA rests upon the theories articulated by researchers under the umbrella field "Applied Behavior Analysis," that of intensive one-on-one instruction with strict stimulus control and religious adherence to the tenets codified by Skinner and his disciples in the field of human education who interpreted and elaborated on his work. Researchers found it particularly useful to engender skill acquisition among students with disabilities -- notably, students with autism.
My job as inclusion-analyst/shadow required a different and less practiced approach to ABA. I was faced with the problem of ensuring the maximization of inclusion of a student who possesses a fraction of the skills same-aged peers possess, in all areas. Respecting his anonymity, I won't discuss specific facets of his personality but I think here it will suffice to say that he and I began to form a deep and respectful mentor-student relationship, in spite of it all. He changed me, and continues to change me in ways that I have presently not been able to understand, much less articulate.
Candidates for partial inclusion in a typical environment necessarily possess skills that facilitate that inclusion -- an outwardly apparent easy-goingness, willingness to change or endure change, fundamental skills required to communicate desire or intention. I could go on, but one can imagine an individual who would not be a good candidate for inclusion and then by virtue of exclusion arrive at a conceptualization of factors that would lead to success.

How have you been rewarded by working at VIA?
I have been profoundly and forever changed by my work. I love what I do, and I bask in the glow Fortune has afforded me with this opportunity. I have learned so much, more than at any other point in my life. I have learned about respect, and gratitude. I have learned about the unspeakable beauty of humanity, and the Good Nature of souls. I have learned that to truly effect change, one must be changed by others and be constantly willing to change. I have learned to make mistakes, and to assert my will fearlessly. I will never forget the gifts my students and their families have been willing to grant me merely by allowing me into their lives. I have learned what desperation and hopelessness is, and the pure joy that small miracles can bring when everything else seems black and impending.
If for nothing else, humans live to affect their World; the great unending work set in motion so long ago calls to each of us to accept our role as pure Artisans. We are by our nature communal, social, and loving. It is because of my experiences with the community in which I currently work and live that I can realize the beauty of directing that drive towards healing my brethren. And I am eternally grateful for the path Grace has laid before me.

wtop interviews harris miller

(special thanks to the folks over at RaisingKaine.com 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 CommonDreams.org:
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.