Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So much for checks and balances, welcome to absolute power

Judge Yuri Hofmann on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the lawsuit brought by San Diego voters contesting the June 6 election of Brian Bilbray to California's 50th Congressional district seat. Bilbray was sworn in to Congress while his election was not yet certified and the vote count was not yet complete. These are but some of the many grounds cited for the election challenge. But no matter how damning the evidence, it would not get its day in court.

The motion to dismiss, filed by defendant Bilbray, claimed the court has no jurisdiction. Indeed, Hofmann cited numerous precedents of courts keeping their distance from a legislative fray. BradBlog has the full decision here. From a 1951 case before the CA Supreme Court, Hofmann quoted:

"Under our form of government the judicial department has no power to revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislative department, or of either house thereof, taken in pursuance of the power committed exclusively to that department by the constitution..."
Plaintiffs' attorney Paul Lehto issued a lengthy public statement in response to the ruling. It is posted at BradBlog just beneath the Hofmann opinion, and also appears at the end of this post. Lehto circulated additional comments by e-mail. An excerpt:
[O]ur declaration of a (sad) victory by our side to the media today is because we've proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendants INTENDED to terminate the elections process and knew full well that this would be the effect of their unilateral and premature swearing in of Bilbray only 7 days after the election. The subsequent claim (and this is the most important element) that this sweating [sic] in rendered the court powerless and without jurisdiction because the "exclusive jurisdiction" transferred to the House by the swearing in, means that the certification of the allegedly "final" results by Registrar Haas was clearly void, resuilting [sic] in an invalid and incomplete election legally for Bilbray, the VERY POINT we sued to prove! (because the certification, being post-swearing in, was without force and effect and void, as is the Court's power, since "exclusive jurisdiction" transferred to the House, thus not only was the court rendered without power to affect the election, so was Registrar Haas)

In summary, the intent to terminate the election process prior to its end and even while as many as 12,500 votes remained uncounted shows clear intent to manipulate the elections process. There's a whole new population of people who are so good-hearted that they have a problem understanding that there are many people out there willing to manipulate elections for advantage. We should invite them to see that here in San Diego's fiftieth, the knife of raw power was drawn and used intentionally on June 13th, and given the dramatic nature of the claim of absolute power that followed in briefing to the Court around August 22 and after, it is beyond a doubt true that they fully intended to find an end-around the completion of elections, to find an end-around the US Supreme Court case that held that states have rights to do both counts AND recounts under Art I, sec. 4 of the Constitution, and that end-around termination of democratic elections was that in Roudebush v Hartke the Senate respected the courts, but in the case of Bilbray, the Speaker of the House decided not only that he'd seen enough of the election, but that he'd had it with the courts, too!

So much for checks and balances, welcome to absolute power.
In the simplest of terms, this is a new low for America. Yes, I know, it seems like we've bottomed out thousands of times already in recent years. I have to account for the paradigm shift this news has brought me. Consider, for the past two and a half years I've been writing and saying to all who can read and hear that there is no basis for confidence in the reported results of American elections. In a quote featured on the back cover of my book, We Do Not Consent (free .pdf download), Lehto says the "no basis for confidence...formulation approaches scientific certainty." When votes are counted in secret, the conditions of the election guarantee inconclusive outcomes that will not meet unanimous public acceptance.

Working with this premise, I started looking at what it would take to create a basis for confidence, where none currently exists, and to ensure election results could be conclusively determined. I can't say I pinned that all down to a science. But after 15 months of community meetings, debating, gathering input, making revisions, and lobbying local government, on July 20, 2005 the City Council of Arcata, CA adopted the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR).

The VCR includes an eight-point election reform platform. I have always been clear that any one of the reforms alone, while welcome, would constitute a false alternative. That means no one election reform can independently create a basis for confidence or ensure conclusive outcomes. What good would it do to have instant runoff voting, for example, if the results will be equally in question with or without it? The same applies for each of the other items in the reform platform.

The dismissal of the CA-50 lawsuit has changed my entire view of how I've framed this work for so long. Election reforms are each an uphill marathon to introduce and ultimately implement. What I realized today is that conclusive election results are no longer a viable indicator of the existence of Democracy. For just like the above example of the false alternative, what good would it do to ensure conclusive outcomes if Congress is still equally entitled to pre-empt any such results in favor of appointing new members at will?

Two other points I've repeated ad nauseum:
In Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution (.pdf) I define peaceful revolution as a shift in the balance of power between the government and We The People. With credit to Rebecca Solnit's "Hope In The Dark," this definition differentiates between changing figurehead leaders and restoring Consent of the Governed as the only legitimate source of government's "just Power" (see Declaration of Independence). In other words (for example), impeachment, which leaves the failed, corrupted, and exploitative system intact, would not constitute revolution. Without the right to elect representatives to government, We The People have lost a measure of self determination and cannot be considered Free People.

Here too we can compare and easily see impeachment as the false alternative. To imagine shifting the balance of power, think of regaining self determination and reasserting mastery over public servants, both of which I am no longer convinced could occur as the result of changing election conditions to produce conclusive outcomes. The work of the election integrity movement, and attorneys such as Paul Lehto and Lowell Finley, are inherently revolutionary. Embrace it, do not fear it. We are the overwhelming majority greatly in need of increasing the self awareness we have of our group size (92% of Americans).

* * *

A revolution never come with a warning
A revolution never send you an omen
A revolution just arrive like the morning
Ring the alarm we come to wake up the snorin'

--Lyrics to YELL FIRE! by Michael Franti and Spearhead (.mp3)

Attorney Paul Lehto response to Judge Hofmann's dismissal of the CA-50 lawsuit:

Today the court dismissed the election contest in San Diego's 50th Congressional District, holding that it had no jurisdiction or power to hear an election contest, administer a recount, or allow any evidence at all to be produced concerning a Congressional election, after a Representative has been sworn into the House of Representatives.

This powerlessness to protect the voters or the integrity of our elections on the part of the Superior Courts of California is due to the early, unilateral and premature swearing-in of Brian Bilbray to the House of Representatives on June 13th, only seven days after the election of June 6. The defendants claimed in briefing filed with the court on or about August 22, and the court held today, that the premature swearing-in resulted in the "exclusive jurisdiction" of Art. I, sec. 5 concerning elections to be transferred to the House of Representatives. After that point, this exclusivity means that nobody else has authority concerning any aspect of the election.

The swearing-in was indeed premature and an undemocratic transfer of power away from the People and in favor of politicians in Washington DC for numerous reasons. As of June 13th:
# 1. By written admission of the Registrar of Voters in a letter there were thousands of votes were still uncounted on June 13th, the letter stating that 2,500 votes were still uncounted as of June 15 at 5 p.m. PST, Eastern Standard Time, which is slightly more than two days after the swearing-in on June 13th.
# 2. Partial election totals indicated on June 13th that only a few thousand votes separated the candidates,
# 3. As of June 13th, the defendants knew or should have known from news reports that the election would be disputed with recounts requested,
# 4. As of June 13th, no manual audit had been started or completed as required by California law, and
# 5. As of June 13th, it would still be 16 days or more before official certification of the election results - the only thing that makes an election complete, legal and official.
# 6. Even as of today's date, no human being or combination of human beings have counted these votes even once; we've only been provided with totals to be taken on faith from reports of Diebold optical scan and touchscreen voting machines, with the possible exception of a 1% hand audit.
# 7. On the level of the principles that our country was founded upon, the only legitimate political authority is that derived from the consent of the governed, and a fair election process. Given that elections are purely procedure and don't promise us substantive results that the best candidate will necessarily win, if the procedure of the elections is compromised, there is no political legitimacy. As it stood, the thousands of people and organizations concerned with this election all declared that based on all of the procedural irregularities ranging from sleepovers of voting machines, to precincts with turnouts that were thousands of percent higher than registered voters, there was simply NO BASIS FOR CONFIDENCE in the June 6 election.

Taken together, this partial list of circumstances means that the election was not finished when exclusive power was transferred to the House by the swearing-in on June 13th, and it terminated the democratic processes that we all expect to operate to their conclusion. In other words, if this was a sports game, it was as if the Speaker of the House terminated the "game" and declared victory with something like ten minutes left on the clock, instead of playing this closely contested game until the clock ran out as we would all expect. This denied due process (a complete election) to the voters, denied equal protection of the law to the 50th Congressional District (which does not have recount rights, while other Congressional districts and other election races do have recount rights) and, in fact, denies democracy to us all.

Today, the plaintiffs are declaring victory, having proven not only that an election was corrupted and invalid, but that democracy itself was denied. The House of Representatives denies that voters have any say whatsoever. They've exercised their absolute power to swear in Bilbray, and they've heard enough of this elections business, they deem a recount or investigation unwarranted. Checks and balances of elections have been eliminated, the public's right to supervise elections by witnessing vote counting and obtaining information about it has been denied, and in its place is an assertion of absolute uncheckable power, something that was clearly anathema to the people who wrote our Constitution and founded this country specifically in the context of elections, because elections were intended to be the People's primary if not sole protection against oppressive government, but if the House of Representatives can legally do this, then they can legally do anything, including ignoring elections entirely.

It is particularly troublesome that the Speaker and the Representative sworn in are members of the same political party. If only none of us knew which political party the Speaker of the House and Representative Bilbray were both affiliated with, I think all americans would agree that this was an improper action by the House, an abuse of elections, and a crime against democracy.

In fact, the decision to swear in Bilbray by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, was based on a fax of unofficial results sent by Suzanne Lapsley of the California Secretary of State's office to the House of Representatives. Presumably, the Speaker made an assessment that no further vote counting, auditing or certification would be necessary, and Bilbray was sworn in, with the intent that thereafter any and all actions taken by anybody would be void and without force and effect, due to the "exclusive jurisdiction" of the House concerning the Qualifications of its Members.

In summary, we set out to prove that a *particular* election in the 50th Congressional District in California was invalid and corrupted. What we in fact proved today, beyond any reasonable doubt, was that democracy itself was prematurely terminated and denied by the intentional actions of the defendants and the Speaker, and that they specifically intended this effect to occur, as they argue vociferously in their briefs that the plain and clear meaning of their premature swearing in was to render everyone else without power or jurisdiction to do anything. Under their interpretation of Art. I, sec. 5 of the US Constitution, everyone else except the House of Representatives is powerless to do anything about any election once a member is sworn. It is not within the legitimate sweep of this power, however, to exercise it before the election is over. Ironically, this tactic rendered the certification of the election null and void, so in this sense the defendants agree with the contestants that the election certification was not valid.

In dismissing this case on constitutional jurisdiction grounds, the court stating in its opinion in part, quoting another case with approval:

"Under our form of government the judicial department has no power to revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislative department, or of either house thereof, taken in pursuance of the power committed exclusively to that department by the constitution …. {…} There is no provision authorizing courts to control, direct, supervise, or forbid, the exercise by either house of the power to expel a member. These powers are functions of the legislative department, and therefore in the exercise of the power thus committed to it the senate is supreme. An attempt by this court to direct or control the legislature, or either house thereof, in the exercise of the power, would be an attempt to exercise legislative functions, which it is expressly forbidden to do." ( Id. , at pp. 606-607.)

It may come as news to the voters of America that their Courts are powerles to "revise even the most arbitrary and unfair action of the legislative department…." The Court could have (as it was requested to do) assessed the Constitutionality of the premature action by the House given Roudebush v. Hartke, a US Supreme Court case stating that states have the right to perform the count, so therefore they have the right to perform a recount as well. But here again, the early swearing in was the defendants end-around this US Supreme Court case, as well as its end around democracy, the San Diego Superior Court, the rights of the contestants, and the requirement that all parts of the Constitution be upheld, not just Art. I, sec. 5.

Whether or not an appeal from this particular case is the vehicle, the contestants will fight on harder than ever before, because it is now clear that there are powerful forces in our country willing to exercise raw power to terminate elections.

Given the undeniable nature of the power grab that took place in San Diego's 50th Congressional District, the entire nature of the debate about the question of whether any elections officials might ever take advantage of less open methods of modifying or terminating election results via the opportunity of secret vote counting provided by electronic voting machines seems clearer than ever before. Unless the people reassert their right, consistent with the 92% result in the recent Zogby poll, to supervise elections and obtain information regarding them, democracy itself will be lost.


Posted by Dave Berman - 8:40 AM | Permalink
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Monday, August 28, 2006

CA Denies Vote-PAD Certification...Related to San Diego Lawsuit?

Over the past several weeks it has been repeatedly documented (WDNC, BradBlog, VoteTrustUSA) that Vote-PAD was getting shafted on its application for certification in CA. A document dated 8/25 and bearing the signature of Secretary of State Bruce McPherson started circulating today. Vote-PAD's certification application was loudly rejected. I decline to quote even a word from this document here, though I make it available in the GuvWurld News Archive as a public service.

In response to this rejection, Vote-PAD has posted to its site a description of the ridiculous certification procedures it endured. The piece borrows heavily from Alice In Wonderland. It is quite brilliant and I recommend clicking here to read the whole thing laced with links to supporting evidence. Here is an excerpt:

The Queen started by describing the testing process, "We asked them to vote independently on the Vote-PAD, and we told them exactly what to do the entire time."

"Excuse me," said Alice, "but how is that independent?"

"That's not the point," said the Queen. "The point is that they weren't able to vote independently."

"But you didn't let them," objected Alice.

"Don't be impertinent," said the King.

"Yes!" murmured the jury.

"Let's be clear on one thing," spoke the Queen. "When disabled people tried to vote on the Vote-PAD, their error rate was unacceptably high and they took an excessively long time."

"Compared to what?" asked one of the jurors.

"Nothing," said the Queen. "Nothing at all. We have no standards."

"They've begun asking riddles," thought Alice.
"--I believe I can guess that," she added, aloud.

"What was the error rate on the voting systems you've approved, and how long did people take to vote on them?" asked Alice.

"We haven't used people with disabilities to test the other systems," said the Queen. "We know nothing about that."

"Nothing whatever?" asked a voting integrity advocate.

"Nothing whatever," said the Queen.
Humboldt County was pulling hard for Vote-PAD certification. I'll come back the to local repercussions of the certification rejection in a moment. Over at BradBlog, guest blogger and friend Emily Levy has been getting inside dirt on the Secretary of State's office. The point of entry for her inquiry was the Scoop article I posted about this morning.

Congress recently swore in Brian Bilbray even though votes were still being counted and the San Diego County Registrar had not certified his election. This is a large part of the basis for the CA-50 lawsuit. From Collins's Scoop article we now know that the official record of Congress shows the swearing in moved forward because House Speaker Dennis Hastert received a fax from Susan Lapsley, CA Assistant Secretary of State for Elections. This fax contained "unofficial results" from Bilbray's election.

So, two things to know: here is a petition to recall Hastert for interfering with local elections; and Levy's dirt is on Lapsley, who seems to others inside the certification process to have done a power grab. Levy writes, paraphrasing what her inside source told her: "She [Lapsley] was in charge of the certification process and largely responsible for the outrageous changes in the process made to prevent VotePad from being certified." Well somebody had to be responsible, but can we hold anyone accountable?

The Judge will rule Tuesday afternoon on the defense motion to dismiss the CA-50 lawsuit. Meanwhile, the usual suspects are doing our best to keep the story visible. Raw Story has another article on the suit today, including a lot of good quotes from attorney Paul Lehto. Lehto also appeared on the Peter B. Collins radio show today. Actually, I'd guess he did other shows too but I just happened to hear this interview on KGOE 1480 AM in Eureka. Listen here (.mp3 - fast forward to third hour).

Without Vote-PAD as an approved option for Humboldt County to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), Registrar Carolyn Crnich put out an e-mail today to members of the citizens' Election Advisory Committee.
Committee members:

The Secretary of State has declined to certify VotePAD for use in California. (See attached letter)

I have been in contact with Hart InterCivic regarding their e-Slate. The board of Supervisors will meet in special session this Friday, September 1, 2006 to hear my request to enter into a contract for HAVA compliant voting equipment. Because of this late development on the part of the Secretary of State, the agenda item which had been submitted for this special session contains sample contracts for VotePAD, Diebold, and Hart and requests the authority to sign one of the contracts. Because we now know that it will not be a VotePad contract, I will specifically request authority to enter into a contact with Hart.

The next regular meeting of the Elections Advisory Committee will be Thursday, September 7th. The topic of discussion for that meeting will be the steps necessary to put on a HAVA compliant election in November on equipment we have yet to order. Lots of work to do and little time to do it...

See you next Thursday.

Carolyn Crnich
The agenda for the Supervisors' meeting is here. The specific agenda item for the voting equipment is here (.pdf). With all three contracts included in full, the document is 55 pages. I have not fully studied it. I am also just getting up to speed on the Hart InterCivic eSlate. I used this demo on the corporate site.

eSlate is a Direct Record Electronic (DRE) but not a touch screen machine. Instead it is a small hand-held tablet that operates with a dial and some buttons. This part doesn't make that much of a difference to me. I want to know if interpreted code is used. This is the programming code that translates the voters' choices from a form the voter can review into a form that is shielded from scrutiny and regarded as "proprietary" by the vendor. This is not the sort of thing I would expect to find on the Hart website.

A quick Google search for hart intercivic eslate gave me over 35,000 hits. Among the first few was a page at VoteTrustUSA containing abstracts of various articles about election "glitches" related to eSlate. Most prominently, BradBlog looked at eSlate problems back in March, including posting an interview with and documents from a Hart whistleblower. None of this is good at all. The only promising thing about Hart InterCivic is that the company recently pledged to comply with any open source requirements that may become law in the future, which is presumably a promise not to stand behind proprietary claims. If so, no time like the present for Humboldt to get a good look under the hood.


Posted by Dave Berman - 11:05 PM | Permalink
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BREAKING: CA SoS Aids Congress in Nullifying CA-50 Election

WDNC has been tracking the developments of a lawsuit based on the "election" held on June 6th to fill the empty seat in Congress from California's 50th Congressional district in San Diego. Michael Collins at Scoop once again advances the narrative:

On August 25, 2006, "Scoop" revealed that there was something very wrong with Brian Bilbray's swearing in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Bilbray allegedly defeated Francine Busby in a close and controversial special election in California's 50th Congressional District. There were immediate cries of foul and demands for both an investigation and a recount. The problems were well publicized before the swearing in.


The swearing in ceremony for Republican Brian Bilbray, alleged winner of the California 50th District special election on June 6, 2006, was tucked in between actions to commend Canada for its renewed commitment to the war on terror. The Congressional Digest for that day contains a remarkable revelation; the source that the Speaker of the House used to justify the official induction of Bilbray.

Oath of Office--Fiftieth Congressional District of California: Representative-elect Brian P. Bilbray presented himself in the well of the House and was administered the Oath of Office by the Speaker. Earlier the Clerk of the House transmitted a facsimile copy of the unofficial returns of the Special Election held on June 6, 2006 from Ms. Susan Lapsley, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections, California Secretary of State Office, indicating that the Honorable Brian P. Bilbray was elected Representative in Congress for the Fiftieth Congressional District of California.


A careful look at the statement in the Congressional Digest reveals some interesting assumptions and perhaps careful planning. The Speaker, Hastert, administered the oath based on word from California's Assistant Secretary of State for Elections that Bilbray "was elected Representative in Congress." Several assumptions are embedded in this statement. First, Hastert knew that he needed an authority to justify the election as official. Second, he relied on state authority, Susan Lapsley specifically. Third, Hastert knew that there were only "unofficial results," because those are clearly referenced yet he accepted the word of the Clerk that Lapsley had made the call that Bilbray "was elected Representative in Congress." Finally, Lapsley, who has no official status in San Diego County where the election was held, used "unofficial results" to convey to the court that Bilbray was elected.

Read the rest:


Posted by Dave Berman - 10:08 AM | Permalink
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Media Notes

I'm not sure if the RSS feed circulated for the most recent prior WDNC post, San Diego Voters' Lawsuit Changing the Dialog (now at too). At the end of that piece I included a letter to the editor of the Eureka Times-Standard submitted by five members of the Voter Confidence Committee. The letter thanks the T-S for printing news of the Zogby poll showing 92% of Americans believe we have the right to know and see how votes are counted. The letter also takes the T-S to task for an error they should have caught. In response to the letter, political writer James Faulk sent me the following comments. My reply is pasted below.

-----Original Message-----
From: James Faulk []
Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: Letter To the Editor, re: Zogby Poll on Elections

You send us an incorrect press release, then attack us for printing your mistake? That reflects on your credibility, Mr. Berman. One change will occur out of this — we'll think long and hard about publishing information sent to us by you.

James Faulk
Political Writer

* * *

We did not send you an incorrect press release. Information beyond our control was changed without notice. Nothing in our release (or common sense) should have given you the impression that we have control over the behavior of an international corporation. It would seem the primary obligation of any media is to ensure/confirm/verify that its content is accurate. Our letter is commenting that standard practice at the T-S does not seem to meet this obligation.

If it is supposed to be a threat to "think long and hard about publishing information" then perhaps you have gotten the message after all. You shouldn't blindly publish anything submitted to you, even when it comes from the VCC or me personally. But nor should you take factual reports provided to you, such as GAO investigations of election conditions, and treat that as if it were opinion to be counterbalanced by the unsupported and unsupportable views of our elections department officials.

It is really too bad you feel attacked, James. This letter is a public service that enables the community to see a higher standard to which it should hold the T-S and all media.

Dave Berman
* * *

On Friday, Rebecca Bender filed an excellent article for the Eureka Reporter about SB 1720, the Veterans’ Health and Safety Act of 2006. This bill cleared the CA Senate unanimously and awaits the Governor's signature to become law. SB 1720 mandates screening veterans for exposure to depleted uranium. Congratulations to my friends in Veterans For Peace Humboldt Bay Chapter 56 for their tireless efforts to make this happen.

Sunday's Reporter had more good news for area veterans.
In October, Humboldt County will be participating in a Vietnam War-inspired, nationally recognized tradition: A Stand Down.

Shelley Woods, case manager for the North Coast Veterans Center's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, described what a Stand Down is.

"During Vietnam, when the (soldiers) were in the bush — when they were out in combat — they were there sometimes months at a time," Woods said. "Then, when they could finally come back (to a safe zone), where there was a rest area and booze and (facilities), they had a three-day stand for rest ... for (rest and relaxation)."


Among the available resources will be medical care, legal assistance, food, clothing, government surplus/supplies, womens' and children's services, veterans benefits information, showers, toiletries and social security information, Woods said.

* * *

Ten days ago, Shawn Warford, publisher of the Humboldt Advocate, posted a letter on the paper's website saying he will print his last paper in September. The business is for sale. I've heard unflattering comments about the Advocate from time to time, some of it even fair criticism. But I credit them for always covering election issues (.pdf) and making space for my guest columns (.pdf) whenever I offered something. Less local media can never be better than more local media and I for one will miss the Advocate.

* * *

The San Diego Union-Tribune has not been too supportive of the legal challenge to the June 6th election for the 50th District Congressional seat. Some of its coverage does not even appear on its website. One such piece prompted this great letter to the editor from Voter Confidence Committee member Kathryn Hedges:
Dear Mr. Kittle:

I am dismayed that today's story by Philip J. LaVelle about the 50th Congressional District court battle failed to mention an important detail: Congress does not have the authority to select our representatives before the election results are final (certified). Bilbray's attorneys conveniently ignored other sections of the Constitution that specify our representatives are elected by the People.

It was bad enough that voting security was compromised, but this legal argument that Congress can select its members independently of bonafide election results undermines the whole principle of democratic elections. Reducing this to a "fair and balanced" counterpoint of opinions cheats your readers by overlooking what is at stake here: not just the winner of one race, but whether we have free democratic elections or election theatre with predetermined results.

Your readers should be interested in this issue, since 92% of Americans believe voters have the right to transparent and verifiable elections. Presumably they take it for granted that our government will wait for all the votes to be counted and certified before confirming the winner.

I look forward to reading the Union-Tribune's analysis of this audacious attempt to steal democracy.

Kathryn Hedges
Arcata, CA
Former San Diegan

* * *

I recently took exception to Mr. Bush's use of the term Islamic fascists. Many other writers have dismantled this propaganda. Here are a few samples:
August 25, 2006 at 05:55:56
Who is the Fascist Here?
by Charles M. Evans

Recent public references to "Islamic fascists," a term used by George W. Bush and repeated often in the print media, suggest that the President and many writers have an inaccurate or at least incomplete understanding of fascism. This is not to suggest that there are no Islamic fascists, rather to point out that the people on whom Bush wishes to hang the term do not fit the description.

# # #
The Trouble with Bush's 'Islamofascism'
By Katha Pollitt, The Nation.
Posted August 26, 2006.

If you control the language, you control the debate. As the Bush Administration's Middle Eastern policy sinks ever deeper into bloody incoherence, the "war on terror" has been getting a quiet linguistic makeover. It's becoming the "war on Islamic fascism."


"Islamo-fascism" looks like an analytic term, but really it's an emotional one, intended to get us to think less and fear more. It presents the bewildering politics of the Muslim world as a simple matter of Us versus Them, with war to the end the only answer, as with Hitler.

# # # (Also here).
Welcome to Neo-Fascism 101
Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.

Neo-con pundits follow a clever strategy of deflection. They employ the term "Islamo-Fascism" when "theocracy" or "dictatorship" or "fundamentalist movement" would be more historically accurate. Why do they do this? Their political epithets are inspired by a subtle conditioning campaign.

Perhaps it's subconscious projection. "Projection," of course, is a defense mechanism that kicks when someone is threatened by, or afraid of, their own impulse. So they attribute these impulses to someone else. Do not be neo-conned.

* * *

Astute readers of WDNC and long-time readers of GuvWurld will recognize the notion of projection as equivalent to what I have called Black Kettles: Statements that would be more true if the speaker was referring to himself. There are abundant stories illustrative of America's current condition being more consistent with fascism than democracy. Here are two rather dramatic ones I found over the weekend:

Military lawyers see limits on trial input

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | August 27, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Despite assuring Congress that career military lawyers are helping design new trials for accused terrorists, the Bush administration has limited their input on their key request, that any tribunals must give detainees the right to see the evidence against them, officials said.

After the Supreme Court struck down the White House's military tribunals system in June, government lawyers began drafting legislation that would set new rules for trials of terrorist suspects. A central issue is whether prosecutors will be allowed to introduce secret evidence, which detainees would not be able to defend against.

Most military lawyers strongly oppose allowing secret evidence, arguing that such a plan would probably violate the Geneva Conventions and create a precedent for enemies of the United States to use show-trials for captured Americans. But administration lawyers maintain that classified evidence may be crucial to a case, and revealing it would compromise national security.

# # #

The Ministry of Truth Strikes Again, and Again, and Again...
By Carl Pope

The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered by the White House to "shut down [its] libraries, end public access to research materials and box up unique collections on the assumption that Congress will not reverse President Bush’s proposed budget reductions." Fifteen states will lose library service immediately, the rest will follow, and the public is to be turned away as soon as possible.

Unsurprisingly, EPA scientists are protesting, saying that the lack of access to data will impair their research and scientific capabilities. The Administration says its plan is to "centralize" control of all data; EPA scientists say the real goal is to "suppress information on environmental and public health-related topics." The Administration is not yet burning books, but they are getting very close.

They're not much fonder of telling the truth -- the whole truth -- over at the Defense Department. The Department has refused to complete congressionally ordered studies of the potential security threat to radar systems from wind turbines. Until it finishes that study, Defense is blocking all new wind turbines that might help reduce our dependence on what the President calls our "addiction" to oil and natural gas "often from insecure places."

Posted by Dave Berman - 1:55 AM | Permalink
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Friday, August 25, 2006

San Diego Voters' Lawsuit Changing the Dialog

Attorney Paul Lehto was in CA Superior Court for San Diego County on Friday. Lehto is representing voters Barbara Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt who have asked judge Yuri Hofman either to order a full hand count of the June 6 election in California's 50th Congressional district, or to throw out the election entirely as invalid. Friday's court session was to argue a defense motion asking the court to find itself without jurisdiction over this matter.

There are a lot of scary things wrong with the idea proposed by the defense. The reputed winner of the election, Brian Bilbray, was sworn into office as a Congressmember while votes were supposedly still being counted, and well before the election was certified by San Diego's Registrar Mikel Haas, another defendant in the case. Bilbray's argument is that the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the right to determine eligibility for membership into that body and so this court has no business hearing this case.

Extending the logic of Bilbray's defense motion, as Lehto did before the judge on Friday, one must conclude that the election as a whole, including the act of certifying it after a candidate had already been sworn in, is necessarily invalid. Of course we can't yet know how the judge will rule when the matter resumes on Tuesday, but given that the defense is basically arguing that elections are no longer necessary, we have ample basis for confidence in Lehto's response. Most important, though, is how Lehto has changed the dialog.

The plaintiffs have yet to make their case about the conditions under which the election was held. This is where the court will hear about voting machine sleepovers, secret interpreter code, conditional certification and flat-out lawlessness by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson. No matter the defense arguments on these issues, they have already reinforced the plaintiffs' claim of an invalid election.

I can't even count how many times Lehto and I have discussed the "no basis for confidence" frame and consequently the conclusion it provides: an invalid election. To start a case with the opposition making your argument must be considered good lawyering. With both sides agreeing the election was invalid, and arguing over the reasons why, Lehto has masterfully re-framed the debate and changed the dialog.

* * *

There are many ways I could have told the story of today's court session. See BradBlog for another angle. I focused on the communication and language arena because it is here that we will make the biggest strides at changing minds. Over the past six years the American public has grown increasingly adept at recognizing propaganda. Those of us working for peaceful revolution must be students of the art. We can inoculate ourselves or grow resistant to the propaganda messages, but we must learn from and adopt the techniques. Many of these will be just as effective at spreading truth.

There are signs we are doing much better at shaping if not controlling the message despite the best efforts of the corporate/government-run media. The recent Zogby poll on attitudes toward secret vote counting is a great example. Lehto, who commissioned the study, took great care in crafting the questions Zogby asked. The result was a 92% super-majority reflecting the most basic view that we already share: no secret vote counting. This number is going to become our magnet, attracting all the people positive about creating change.

* * *

It was a good week for coverage of election issues in Humboldt County. On Friday, Tom Sebourn of KGOE news/talk radio, did this two minute newscast (.mp3) on the CA-50 lawsuit. What passion! Tom frequently reports in-depth on election issues and will be providing WDNC with audio on a regular basis now. Friday's Eureka Reporter had a brief article on the Zogby poll, including quotes from both Lehto and me. And on Wednesday, the Eureka Times-Standard (archive) also covered Zogby, though the article had an error. Again looking to change the dialog, members of the Voter Confidence Committee submitted the following Letter to the Editor of the T-S.

Dear Editor:

Thank you for publishing (8/23) the Voter Confidence Committee (VCC) press release regarding Zogby's survey on election conditions. The study found 92% of Americans believe the public has a right to know and view how votes are counted in our elections. This super-majority exceeds approval ratings for any Senator, Governor or President since WWII; it is higher than the 87% who think oil companies are gouging consumers; and it makes transparency in elections even more popular than Mr. Bush following 9/11. No issue is more politically safe for our County Supervisors to address. Let's publicly hand count the paper ballots and get rid of Diebold's secret vote counting machines.

The community should also know something about how the survey results became public. The VCC press release was sent Monday as a tip about Zogby’s expected announcement on Tuesday. But Zogby delayed until Wednesday, the same day you ran the story. Your story erroneously said the results had already been released on Tuesday. Had the Times-Standard verified our press release, either by requesting the survey data from us or by visiting the Zogby website, likely you would have delayed the story another day and avoided publishing the mistake. This reflects on your credibility. The Times-Standard took our word about an upcoming multi-national corporate announcement. You also print unverified election results provided by the very government whose control of power hinges on these results. The lesson is the same: don't report what you can't prove and haven't independently verified.

Dave Berman
Eureka, CA

Kim Dennig
Arcata, CA

Kathryn Hedges
Arcata, CA

Larry Hourany, Ph.D
McKinleyville, CA

Jon Koriagin
Arcata, CA

On behalf of the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County

Posted by Dave Berman - 11:45 PM | Permalink
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San Diego Election Challenge Goes To Court Today

I've been flooded by a swirl of new documents in the past few hours. There's not much I need to say beyond quoting a few passages for you. This is about the lawsuit brought by San Diego voters to challenge the election for California's 50th district Congressional seat. Paul Lehto is the attorney representing plaintiffs/citizens/voters Barbara Gail Jacobson and Lillian Ritt. Here are excerpts from a statement released by Lehto late Thursday night:

UPDATE / OUTLOOK: The Defendants filed motions to dismiss on Tuesday set for hearing Friday at 1:30 coinciding with the Court's previously ordered hearing at the same time for purposes of determining how the case will proceed after reading the trial briefs of the parties. The motions to dismiss are based on the argument of Rep. Bilbray and Registrar Haas that the Court has no jurisdiction on account of Art. I, sec. 5 of the United States constitution, which provides that the House and Senate are to judge the qualifications of their members, and further arguing that the House's authority to do so is exclusive, thus depriving the California courts of any jurisdiction. If true, the swift swearing in of Bilbray (7 days, which may set an all time record) specifically PRIOR to certification would ALSO deprive Haas of any jurisdiction to certify the results. Simply put, according to the defendants own arguments triggered by the swearing in of Bilbray on June 13, every action of San Diego County thereafter which included the counting of votes and provisional votes, was null and void. Thus, the defendants are directly arguing that the swearing in of Bilbray completely terminated the election in the 50th Cong. District, prior to the official certification of the results, upon which all legal aspects of elections are actually dependent.

Secondarily, the Rep. Bibray is bringing an anti-SLAPP claim for attorney fees against citizens Jacobson and citizen Ritt, claiming that these citizens have mounted a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, specifically in violation of the First Amendment rights of Rep. Bilbray. It is, of course, absurd to suggest that two citizens have strategically prevented the "public participation" of Rep. Bilbray when the very question of his election is at bar, and Rep Bilbray has enough backing of the House of Representatives of the United STates of America to get himself sworn in only 7 days after the election while votes are still being counted.
For more details, see this brief (.pdf) submitted to the court on the plaintiffs' behalf, opposing the defendants motions. For readers in the area wishing to witness the proceedings:
TIME: HEARING ON ELECTION CONTEST AND MOTIONS TO DISMISS IS AT 1:30 PM Friday, August 25, 2006, San Diego Superior Court, Dept 60, 330 Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101 The Honorable Yuri Hofman, Judge.
This summary timeline was included among Lehto's other publicly released statements last night:
On June 6, 2006 Republican Brian Bilbray allegedly slightly outpolled Democrat Francine Busby in the special election for California'’s 50th Congressional District, despite Busby'’s lead in the polls going into the election. There were immediate cries of foul following the election due to major irregularities, including electronic voting machines sent out to the homes and cars of volunteers for up to 12 days prior to the election, and irregular election results like huge mega-precincts of absentee ballots where turnout was thousands of percent more than registered voters.

On June 13, 2006, Bilbray flew to Washington, DC and was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives by House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

On or about June 30, 2006, 17 days after Bilbray was sworn in as a member of the House, Mikel Haas, Registrar of San Diego County, officially completed the audit of election results required for certification, and officially certified the election of Bilbray over Busby based on 163,931 votes cast, of which 2,053 votes were said to be cast on Diebold TSX touchscreens, and the remainder scanned via Diebold Accuvote OS computers.

On July 31, 2006, the Contestants filed an election contest, seeking a hand recount and to invalidate the election on several grounds, not only including the affirmative evidence of irregular results, but also including the stonewalling of citizen information requests and the pricing of recounts at an estimated $150,000 that made it difficult or impossible for any citizen to tell who won the election.

On August 22, 2006 the defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the swearing in of Bilbray deprives everyone else of jurisdiction including specifically the San Diego Superior Court because Art. I, sec. 5 of the US Constitution has been held to mean that the House and Senate are the judges of the Qualifications of their Members, one of those qualifications is supposed to be "election."
WDNC will have more on this developing story on Friday evening.


Posted by Dave Berman - 2:44 AM | Permalink
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Zogby Results Published; Eureka Times-Standard Reports Without Verifying, Again

As previously reported here at We Do Not Consent, internationally recognized opinion polling company Zogby was commissioned by election protection attorney Paul Lehto to gauge views on election conditions in America. Zogby was originally scheduled to release the survey results yesterday but has finally done so within the past few minutes:

Released: August 23, 2006

Americans Concerned About Election Transparency and Security

New poll shows more than 60% have heard news reports of flaws in new electronic voting equipment

A majority of Americans – 61% – are aware of news reports of flaws in electronic voting machines and want members of the general public to be able to watch votes be counted following an election, a new Zogby International poll shows.

The telephone survey of 1,018 likely voters was conducted Aug. 11–15, 2006. It carries a margin of error of +/– 3.1 percentage points.

Asked whether Americans have the right to view and obtain information about how elections officials count votes, 92% of respondents concurred

“The 92% support for the public’s right to view vote counting and obtain information about it is a very strong political value of transparency and against secret vote counting outside the observation of the public,” said Paul Lehto, a lawyer and sponsor of the survey. “To put this figure in context, support for election transparency exceeds the support for tax cuts, exceeds the approval of Pres. Bush immediately after 9-11, and virtually all other political values being measured.” Mr. Lehto is counsel in the 50th Congressional District election contest in California.

Most of those surveyed – 80% – said they want votes to be counted in front of observers representing the public, and that elections officials should not rely solely on the proprietary software that operates electronic voting machines that are presently being installed all over the United States. In some models, the electronic machines tabulate votes cast on that machine and saves them to a computer memory card. Results from those cards are then added together to obtain results of an election.

For a complete methodological statement on this poll, please go to:


Update: See Zogby's actual cross-tabbed data HERE (.pdf).

Zogby did not exactly go with the same lede that we might have hoped for but this is still a huge story with enormous implications and it can be cited with the utmost of credibility.

Now, for some irony. As is well documented here at WDNC and elsewhere, I've been working to keep the media from reporting what they can't prove and haven't independently verified. On Monday, the Voter Confidence Committee issued a press release announcing the impending Zogby release on Tuesday. But because the Eureka Times-Standard simply excerpted the VCC press release, today they published (archive) our inadvertent and unintentional error about the Zogby release date.

If the T-S had verified the information we provided, this wouldn't have happened. That was as simple as asking me to provide the official numbers, or just looking on the Zogby website. Although I did not do anything wrong or misleading here, and there really is no harm and no foul, the T-S should have waited until tomorrow to run the story so they could confirm what the VCC said in the press release. It cannot pass without comment that the Times-Standard is as willing to take my word about an upcoming multi-national corporate announcement as it is to print unverified election results provided by the very government whose control of power is at stake by these results. Add another topic to the list for the media accountability forums.


Posted by Dave Berman - 9:19 AM | Permalink
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Look Who's Talking About Near-Unanimous Support For Transparent Elections

The Zogby poll showing that 92% of Americans favor the right to see how votes are counted is a huge story starting to show up all over the place. I first wrote about this Sunday morning. I gave the piece to OpEdNews, who has picked up my previous stories rather quickly, but didn't post this one until Monday night. Late Monday afternoon the Voter Confidence Committee also issued this press release.

Those pieces, plus all of the ones below, cite Tuesday for the release of the polling data. I saw the cross tabs myself and had no doubt we were citing real numbers when we started reporting. Now it's almost Wednesday and the Zogby "Whatz New?" page still hasn't mentioned our poll. Why? is a good question. Attorney Paul Lehto represents the voters in the CA-50 lawsuit and commissioned the Zogby poll. Lehto put out this statement earlier tonight:

"Everything seems on track but Zogby has been swamped and there was a delay for tweaks in the text of the press release. The release is now set for Noon EST, Wed."
That's 9am here in CA. I'll have more on this in the morning to be sure. Meanwhile, the train has left the station...

BradBlog has done some number crunching to produce some exclusive charts not shown anywhere else, although (Winter Patriot subbing for) Brad does reprint the entire Scoop article written by Michael Collins. Collins runs, and has filed many other key election integrity stories for Scoop, including this one on the CA-50 lawsuit and this article from last Christmas Day when he covered the California Unity Campaign I started at GuvWurld.

Kathy Dopp wrote this press release for the National Election Data Archive (NEDA). Democracy For New Hampshire posted these comments. And a new Humboldt blog called Center Opposition, written by the pseudonymous Blogger Critic, mentions the poll here by pointing back to WDNC. Center Opposition debuted last weekend and somehow I was the first to comment on the very first post. The writer is smart. Check it out.

As more people are talking about this, Lehto has strongly encouraged people to emphasize the significance of the 92% support for election transparency:
First, I put it IN CONTEXT. It's one of the highest political values ever measured. Pretty much the ONLY way we can come up with anything more popular is to go to something about which there is NO SUBSTANTIAL CONTROVERSY. But with the ability to view vote counting and obtain information on it, THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS RAPIDLY MOVING TO ELIMINATE THIS WIDELY HELD AND BELIEVED VALUE ABOUT THE FOUNDATIONS OF DEMOCRACY.


It's way higher than people who wouldn't mind a free tax cut.

It's Higher than Bush's approval rating after 9-11.

It's higher than the approval ratings of any departing President.

I'll bet it's higher than the approval ratings of Pres. Lincoln and Pres. Washington TODAY, if they exist. Though i'm willing to be proven wrong on that. Anyone?

It's higher than the approval rating of any senator, governor or President since WWII, at any time. See, e.g., others at main link.

It's higher than the 87% thinking oil companies are gouging consumers these days.

And, it's also higher than the percentage of people who can get a basic math long division problem right.

And so, if you can find it in your courage quotient to mention the high price of gas benefiting the oil companies, notch that up at least another 5% to get at how much easier it is to comment against secret vote counting and in favor of public involvement and rights to get information about vote counting...
I agree with Lehto that this is a mammoth opportunity. We are now in position to get some of our most important points clearly heard. Best of all, we can make these points knowing that the super-majority understands and agrees. What we need is for progressive media to start an echo chamber. Accordingly, now seems like a good time to revisit the election talking points I posted in June (excerpt):
1. Secret vote counting guarantees inconclusive outcomes. Whether it is paperless DREs or optical scanners with interpreted or proprietary code, votes are being "counted" in secret, without even a chance for voters, elections officials or the media to examine the process or verify the results.

2. Unverified voting means there is NO BASIS for confidence in the results reported. Blind trust is required to accept current election results.

3. The media should not report what it cannot prove or independently verify. We now have faith-based reporting about faith-based elections.

4. The Consent of the Governed is being assumed, not sought, under current election conditions. According to the Declaration of Independence, the "just Power" of government derives from the Consent of the Governed.

5. Here is a partial list (in no particular order) of additional items to which we must say: We Do Not Consent.
a) The lost presumption of innocence;
b) Spying on Americans and an overall loss of privacy;
c) Government lawlessness;
d) Destruction of our environment;
e) The promise of endless war;
f) Free speech zones;
g) Depleted Uranium (Mr. Bush's slow-motion holocaust);
h) Government run media;
i) Secret prisons, torture and war crimes;
j) and We Do Not Consent to secret vote counting machines.
The larger question that should emerge from these talking points is: Has the Consent of the Governed been withdrawn, YET? Presented this way the question takes a tone of inevitability - not if, but when! This is how we pave a path to a tipping point.

(Read the rest of the Talking Points Memo On Elections (for Progressive media)

UPDATE: 8/23/06 1:45am

More chatter at Raw Story, The Democratic Daily, Daily Kos, and VoteTrustUSA, which has Collins's Scoop article.


Posted by Dave Berman - 11:10 PM | Permalink
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

92% of Americans Favor Public's Right To Know How Votes Are Counted

A new Zogby poll will be released on Tuesday revealing 92% of Americans support transparency and verifiability in elections. The survey was commissioned by election protection attorney Paul Lehto, currently representing San Diego voters in a challenge to the results of California's 50th district Congressional contest held on June 6. (Disclosure: Lehto wrote the Foreword to my book, We Do Not Consent).

The actual survey question and answers:

18. In some states, members of the public have the right to view the counting of votes and verify how that process is working. In other states, citizens are in effect barred from viewing vote counting even if they would like to view the process. Which of the following two statements are you more likely to agree with A or B?

Table 1.

Statement A: Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes.

Statement B: Citizens do not have the right to view and obtain information about how elections officials count votes.

Neither/Not sure
With numbers like these, according to a public statement by Lehto, "When it comes to anti-secret vote counting and pro-transparency, activists should be walking around like they are invincible and can't lose. Because they can't.... !!! The only way we can lose is by letting the subject change away from the transparency and anti-secret vote counting frames."

Here in Humboldt County, CA I have steadily pressed exactly this point of emphasis with a pretty strong track record thus far. Positive developments include (not all to my credit, of course): adoption of the Voter Confidence Resolution by the Arcata City Council; creation of the citizens' Election Advisory Committee; the commitment of Humboldt Registrar Carolyn Crnich to the "Humboldt Transparency Project"; and the impending launch of a series of events on media accountability.

These lopsided, nearly unanimous Zogby poll results will bolster continued efforts in areas where progress is still needed, including: convincing the Board of Supervisors that the public recognizes this as a crisis on which they must act to change our election conditions; and replacing County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams with someone willing to admit the problems inherent with the secret vote counting machines that are Diebold optical scanners. McWilliams has thus far ignored my calls for his resignation, which I repeat here now.

In concert with Tuesday's full announcement of the Zogby poll, the Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County and other election integrity groups throughout CA are expected to issue press releases tying the poll numbers and significance of the San Diego lawsuit to their local election conditions.

Further support will be drawn from a new paper released last Thursday by the Election Defense Alliance. EDA has done a critique of Congressman Rush Holt's bill, HR550, "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005." EDA's analysis reveals that the bill's protocols for auditing--the minimum hand counting of ballots done to check the accuracy of vote tallying machines--would fail to reveal a corrupted vote total about 40% of the time.

In addition, according to EDA, even when the HR550 protocols would detect a discrepancy, they are not capable of determining its size. This is extremely relevant given the enormous barriers to bringing a challenge to a close election. Attached to the paper is a spreadsheet that offers readers the ability to play with certain variables to see what parameters would be required to achieve 99% confidence in detecting vote total corruption of as little as 1%. EDA recommends hand counting 10% of all ballots in 100% of precincts.

Not only does this make good mathematical sense, I appreciate that EDA points out this is a transitional step toward eventually returning to full hand counting, itself a method that must be audited as well.

So in the midst of the landmark lawsuit in San Diego, according to lead attorney Lehto, we have a confluence of numbers emerge as one of the greatest "shots in the arm" the election integrity movement has yet enjoyed. And here is a big fat hook to promote this huge story in Humboldt and all CA counties. From the state election code:
336.5. "One percent manual tally" is the public process of manually tallying votes in 1 percent of the precincts, selected at random by the elections official, and in one precinct for each race not included in the randomly selected precincts. This procedure is conducted during the official canvass to verify the accuracy of the automated count.
These requirements are even less stringent than the Holt bill protocols. That means that even when our Elections Departments are in compliance with state law, the manual audit conducted will miss far more than 40% of all possible distortions of the vote total. Citing this audit is no longer a viable excuse for dodging our demands for hand counted paper ballots.

Finally, late last week I was alerted to an unscientific poll on the website of the Columbus Dispatch. It does not reveal how many people have voted, and the percentage numbers haven't been updated in a long time, yet my Ohio friends in the J30 Coalition tell me the Dispatch has not yet published anything about the results. The question:
"Do you trust election results from electronic voting machines after the accuracy of some was questioned by an independent study?"

Yes: 23%
No: 77%
The site accepts comments but announces it will screen them and post selectively. My comment appears here (time stamp 8/17 4:00pm):
Trust is irrelevant. Democracy needs checks and balances. I oppose electronic voting because there is no basis for confidence in the results. Currently, voting machines with secret ("proprietary") programming code leave no way to verify that results match the will of the people. We are forced to trust, like it or not. The outcomes of elections are based on these corporate secrets rather than the Consent of the Governed. It is from this Consent, according to the Declaration of Independence, that government derives "just Power." The backlash is a challenge to the legitimacy of our current so-called leaders. Our message: We Do Not Consent.
There are a lot of comments worth reading and it is heartening to see how many people really get it. It should not surprise us to see that we are a vast majority, though these clear signs are far too infrequent. It helps to be reminded.


Posted by Dave Berman - 9:16 AM | Permalink
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Thursday, August 17, 2006


My blogging has always been about promoting the work I do offline for election integrity, peace, and other positive change. I refer to this style of writing as advocacy journalism and I've written about it many times to encourage others to adopt this approach. This post is somewhat of a variation on a theme.

Over the past several days I haven't made any new posts here at WDNC, though I've spent quite a bit of time on the blog. Most of that time was devoted to trying to fix mysterious problems with the blog itself; the rest was spent responding to comments attached to other WDNC posts.

First I noticed that some pictures had disappeared from recent posts, such as this one that is supposed to show the t-shirt image, and this one that the Open Voting Foundation provided of the inside of a Diebold TS. I later discovered that the cover of my book had vanished from the right sidebar, and the bottom of the left sidebar was missing the "Dualing Eyepposites" image drawn by my old friend Dave Migliore, whose crazy hypnotic art is at How cool that the Free Speech icon remained.

So does Blogger have a bug? That only affects 80% of the images on your page? I dug through the Blogger resources and others are reporting that pictures aren't showing up even though their uploads appear successful. But they're talking about new posts. I haven't seen anybody saying old stuff has vanished. Anyway, if anybody can currently see these images, please let me know what type of browser you are using.

The browser matters so much. The other mystery this week was why WDNC had its normal three column structure in Firefox but Internet Explorer was seriously mangled. After quite a while trying to fix it I went in search of a new template. This same problem prevented me from ever bringing the new template online. Finally I went back to the original and found some content was commented out. This is a mystery to me partly because I don't know how long it looked bungled in IE. But even once I restored the content of all three columns, part of the text in two random posts displayed in an extra large font size that was knocking off the right sidebar. So I still see Firefox looking OK, and even Netscape, but not IE. If it looks different to you, please let me know. I really don't know how much I can rely on Blogger's support e-mail so suggestions are also welcome from tech-savvy readers.

Also in the past several days, mostly anonymous posters have added comments to my last post and this one about the upcoming media accountability forum. All of the comments at least marginally pertain to the forum while none of them relate to the last post. All of this is summed up in a letter I just posted to Nick Bravo in the comments of the last post, and shown below in full. A final housekeeping note, WDNC no longer allows anonymous comments. Comments that taunt or bait confrontation without content relevant to the posted topic will be deleted.

* * *

Nick Bravo,

Thank you for posting under your own name and for sharing the information about Citizen Media Net. I had not heard of that and appreciate you making me and surely others aware of it.

A lot of what else you wrote above is the same sort of effort to push my buttons that I have repeatedly identified as taunting and baiting throughout this thread. What you call a vibrant discussion and healthy non-threatening exchange of diverse viewpoints does not describe this thread. A "substantive comment" deleted: "Just leave Dave alone people, he's obviously too sensitive to handle this." What is "this" exactly?

While I don't know all the details I am aware that other local blogs have recently been receiving many anonymous comments. I understand some of them have changed their comment policy. How many different anons do you figure have been making this happen? How many posted here? What is the goal of doing this?

Throughout this thread I have tried to give straight answers to fair questions that often came packaged with a slant or dig. I kept trying to draw out exactly what anon(s) (you?) really want. But no answers were made clear. I kept operating on the assumption that likely we really both want the same thing, and that anon just hadn't considered a nicer way to ask for my cooperation. Are you, Nick, really opposed to a radio broadcast giving you and the whole community a totally unique chance to ask a panel of local media figures whatever is on your mind? I could never let go of the thought that this is something we should both want.

I take nothing away from Paul Cienfuegos, Heidi Calton and David Giarrizzo. I am glad to know we have shared concerns about the media. Some of mine are in the Voter Confidence Resolution, and even its earliest incarnations as the No Confidence Resolution, back in April 2004. To learn now that these folks had previously been suggesting a forum makes my choice of words unfortunate. Specifically regarding the upcoming forum on 9/21, the concept and pitch were mine and I succeeded at signing up six people to participate. Do you know what the maximum capacity of the KHUM studio is?

Being so limited, obviously there were going to be people who would just have to tune in, this time. Other media people were contacted prior to the 9/21 event filling up, and though there wasn't always an immediate commitment (or returned call), there was encouragement to do additional events. This is no holiday kids table. Not unless we come back around to the idea of an election for blogosphere spokesperson. This is not a mantle that exists, or should exist, and I have never tried to claim it. In trying to balance the 9/21 panel, I sought people who use a mix of media types (3 radio, 2 newspaper, 1 TV, 1 blog). I don't owe anyone an apology for taking the blogger spot.

In initially imagining a series, I thought of four total events, but I did not yet then consider the possibility of an all blogger event. That came up in this thread, because again, I tried to parse the vitriol and just build on what it seemed like could be a shared goal. In other words, I have been both offering and seeking out the collaboration that is the stuff of Paul Benson's "revolutionary" vision. It sounds like Paul's project may finally be a way for me to bring the Project-Based Format to life. Again, thanks for telling me about this project.

As for the rest, I'm not fighting you. If you don't see me as one of the good guys, then try asking nicely whether I would consider seeing things your way. If you are clear about what your way is, then we can actually have a really vibrant, healthy, non-threatening discussion.

Sincerely not taking the bait,
Dave Berman

* * *


Posted by Dave Berman - 11:23 PM | Permalink
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mr. Bush's Jedi Mind Trick

Following news of a supposedly busted up plot to explode multiple in-flight airplanes en route to the U.S., Mr. Bush on Thursday executed the equivalent of the Jedi Mind Trick. From the official White House transcript:

"This country is safer than it was prior to 9/11."

This would be funny if it wasn't so sad and serious. With thousands of military casualties, record deficits and personal debt, the vanished middle class, destruction of the environment, disregard for the rule of law, the disappearance of basic Human and Constitutional rights, and general worldwide hatred and distrust of America's illegitimate leaders, there are no objective criteria to support claiming we are safer. However, just for saying it, some will believe. This is the mind trick.

In the same brief statement Thursday, made at the Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Mr. Bush also delivered what I call a Black Kettle, a statement that would be more true if the speaker was referring to himself:
"The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."
The citizens of this nation are actually at war with American fascists who have usurped power and control of our country without even seeking the Consent of the Governed. Many citizens don't yet realize the parameters of this (revolutionary) war due to the prevailing paradigm forced upon us by the corporate media. Never mind that conditions in America currently reflect the definition of fascism more accurately than the precepts of democracy, and forget that the Islamic world does not, by and large, show the hallmark traits of fascism. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi: "These aren't the facts you're looking for."


Posted by Dave Berman - 2:26 AM | Permalink
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Catching Up On Election News

Last weekend I went to the Reggae on the River Festival. After being gone for four days, I have not yet caught up on all topics in the WDNC queue. A few stray notes...


Posted by Dave Berman - 11:32 PM | Permalink
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As shown on
Dave's new blog,
Manifest Positivity

We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

Back Page Quotes

"Give a damn about the world you live in? Give a damn about what you and I both know is one of the most shameful and destructive periods in American history? If so, do something about it. You can start by reading We Do Not Consent."

— Brad Friedman, Creator/Editor,; Co-Founder,

"If in the future we have vital elections, the "no basis for confidence" formulation that GuvWurld is popularizing will have been a historically important development. This is true because by implicitly insisting on verification and checks and balances instead of faith or trust in elections officials or machines as a basis for legitimacy, it encourages healthy transparent elections. It’s also rare that a political formulation approaches scientific certainty, but this formulation is backed up by scientific principles that teach that if you can’t repeat something (such as an election) and verify it by independent means, it doesn’t exist within the realm of what science will accept as established or proven truth."

— Paul Lehto, Attorney at Law, Everett, WA

"Dave Berman has been candid and confrontational in challenging all of us to be "ruthlessly honest" in answering his question, "What would be better?" He encourages us to build consensus definitions of "better," and to match our words with actions every day, even if we do only "the least we can do." Cumulatively and collectively, our actions will bring truth to light."

— Nezzie Wade, Sociology Professor, Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods

"Dave Berman's work is quietly brilliant and powerfully utilitarian. His Voter Confidence Resolution provides a fine, flexible tool whereby any community can reclaim and affirm a right relation to its franchise as a community of voters."

— Elizabeth Ferrari, San Francisco, Green Party of California

"This is an important collection of essays with a strong unitary theme: if you can't prove that you were elected, we can't take you seriously as elected officials. Simple, logical, comprehensive. 'Management' (aka, the 'powers that be') needs to get the message. 'The machines' are not legitimizers, they're an artful dodge and a path to deception. We've had enough...and we most certainly DO NOT consent."

— Michael Collins covers the election fraud beat for "Scoop" Independent Media

"What's special about this book (and it fits because there's nothing more fundamental to Democracy than our vote) is the raising of consciousness. Someone recognizing they have no basis for trusting elections may well ask what else is being taken for granted."

— Eddie Ajamian, Los Angeles, CA

"I urge everyone to read "We Do Not Consent", and distribute it as widely as possible."

— B Robert Franza MD, author of We the People ... Have No Clothes: A Pamphlet for every American