Dirty politics

The Revolving Villains – Obama and the Democrats Will Eliminate Social Security Part III

By Jonathryn

That Was a Yes or No Question, Mr. President.

This is part II of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington—and one-term President Barack Obama in particular—are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to “fix” the Social Security program. Part I can be read here. Part II can be read here. (Image)

Today at the top of Atrios’ (Duncan Black’s) website, he writes the question he asked about at a recent blogger conference with one-term President Barak Obama:

Q:   Mine is an easy question. Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

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Triumph of the Money Party!!! Warren’s role downgraded, reports to Geithner

Michael Collins

The White House snatched back one of the few bones it’s thrown to the people outraged at the looting of the United States Treasury by failed financial concerns – the big banks and Wall Street.   The promised appointment Elizabeth Warren as head of the new agency to protect consumers from the financial services industry has been seriously downgraded.   Instead of running the Consumer Finance Protection Agency, Warren’s role has been diminished to that of special assistant to the president and adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

“President Obama, sidestepping a possibly heated confirmation battle, will appoint Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren as a special advisor to the Treasury Department to launch the government’s powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to two Democratic officials familiar with the decision.”  LA Times, Sept 15

An interim appointment would have given the no-nonsense Warren the full authority to structure consumer bureau in the interests of the people. A special adviser role is defined in a New York Times article as follows:

“Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff.

“She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to both men.” September 15

The title of the Times article says it all: Warren to Unofficially Lead Consumer Agency.
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“Is There a Predator Drone Near Gainesville?”

Michael Collins

Military historian and author, Brian Downing, is more than a little perturbed at the foolishness of Koran burning in Gainesville, Florida (site of the most egregious election fraud in 2000). (Image)

As best as I can tell, that plow-hand in Gainesville has never even had the benefit of half-idiot pedagogues and broken down preachers. He acquired his theological learning by watching Jimmy Swaggart on the TV and taking copious notes. There’s a plow-hand preacher born every time a pledge number lights up on the screen. But what about congregations? They must be coming even faster than the rubes at a carnival midway. “Step right this way and see the burning books!” B. Downing

It gets better … (more…)

Failure by Design – the “Public” Option


Triumph of the Money Party

Michael Collins

Do you know what the “public option” does or who it covers?  If you’ve had trouble finding out, it’s not your fault.  Reading corporate media coverage provides little or no clue.  It’s hardly ever defined.  There’s a very good reason for the lack of clarity and definition.  But first, a brief summary of the public debate that characterizes just about every public debate we have on critical issues.

If you think that the current version of the public option will provide a choice for a government administered health program, you’re right.  If you think that this option was designed for the general public, then you’re wrong.  It will apply to only the some  uninsured, possibly as few as six million citizens.  It’s a kind of public option.

But, if you support true choice by the public, then you probably expect this as an option:  a single payer system for health care — one source of payment for doctors and others funded and administered by the government for the public.  Medicare is such a program.  But we don’t get to hear about single payer proposals except from proponents like Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who define single payer universal health care very clearly.

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Former Accused Iraqi Agent Susan Lindauer, Secret Charges and The Patriot Act in Action

Former Accused Iraqi Agent
Susan Lindauer, Secret Charges and

The Patriot Act in Action

The Executioner and Justice – John Heartfield

Susan Lindauer Interviewed by Michael Collins

‘Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Herman Goering, Interview at Nuremburg Trials, April 14, 1946

“The Patriot Act was used against me in total contradiction to its stated purpose. Or perhaps it was the most logical use of the law, since it establishes a legal framework to crush free thinking and interrupt individual questioning of the government. It is the beginning of all dictatorship in America.” Susan Lindauer, March 9, 2009

By Michael Collins

In March, 2004 Susan Lindauer was arrested for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for prewar Iraq.  She challenged the government’s assertion and sought the right to prove at Trial that she’d been a United States intelligence asset covering Iraq and Libya from the early 1990’s through 2003 (see articles).

In an unprecedented judicial ploy that lasted five years, federal prosecutors blocked Ms. Lindauer’s rights to trial or any other sort of evidentiary hearings that would test her story. For 11 months, she was confined at Carswell federal prison on a Texas military base and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, without a conviction or plea bargain.

During the indictment, she was conveniently gagged from sharing her direct knowledge of Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence, which she gained as a primary asset covering the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations from August, 1996 onwards. She was also silenced from talking about the advance warning she gave the Office of Counter-Terrorism and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s private staff in August, 2001, about possible airplane hijackings and a reprise of the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

But there was more than the Sixth Amendment’s “right to a speedy trial” at stake.

Lindauer was one of the first citizens charged under special judicial provisions of the Patriot Act.  The exceedingly complex legislation, emerged from the desk of John Yoo just days after the 9/11 attack.  It passed the House 357 to 66 and the Senate 98 to 1.  The Patriot Act eviscerated long standing Constitutional protections.  It fundamentally altered how trials are conducted whenever provisions of the act are invoked in a court of law.

Lindauer’s indictment was an early domestic  test drives of the Patriot Act by the Bush-Cheney Department of Justice.  Her nightmare officially ended five days before the Obama Inauguration, when the prosecution dropped the case “in the interests of justice.”

In the current interviews, Susan Lindauer explains how the Patriot Act was used to quash her most fundamental rights of due process, which would otherwise have empowered her to repudiate the indictment and protect her reputation.

United States Department of Justice Criminal Resource Manual (Classified Information Procedures Act and FISA) Summary and original source

Secret Evidence is Slowly Eroding the Adversary System:  CIPA and FISA in the Courts. Ellen Yaroshefsky, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Summary and original source

Susan Lindauer Interviews by Michael Collins

Michael Collins:  Not many people know that you were arrested under provisions of the Patriot Act.  You were one of the fist U.S. citizens to experience the brutality of this legislation. How did it shape your case and treatment in the Courts?

Susan Lindauer: That’s right. Along with Jose Padilla, I will go down in history as one of the first and only non-Arab Americans ever indicted on the Patriot Act during the Bush Administration.

I believe that my case demonstrates why the Patriot Act should be repealed immediately to safeguard our country and our freedom.

I have always opposed war and advocated diplomacy to solve conflicts. The indictment accused me of “acting as an unregistered Iraqi Agent,” on the grounds that I delivered a letter forecasting the failure of the Occupation to my cousin, Andy Card, Chief of Staff to President George Bush.  That’s what used to be known as Freedom of Speech. The letter was not hostile or threatening. In fact, it proved tragically accurate. That did not matter to the Justice Department. Vocalizing opposition to Bush policy was treasonous. End of discussion.

Collins:  What happened when you got to court?

Lindauer: Once I got to Court, I discovered that the indictment also contained two “secret charges,” gratis of the Patriot Act. My attorney and I were given the dates for the two allegations, saying that I attended meetings with Iraqi officials in October, 1999 and October, 2001, but nothing more to explain what I had allegedly done wrong.

There was nothing unusual about the fact that those meetings had occurred. I visited the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations about every three weeks for 7 years.  My handlers were fully informed, which explains how the government could have been tracking the dates in the first place. They got the dates from me.

“a. On or about October 14, 1999, Susan Lindauer — met with an officer of the Iraq Intelligence Service (“IIS”) in Manhattan.

“c. In or about October 2001, SUSAN LINDAUER — accepted a task given to her in Manhattan by an officer of the IIS.”  USA v. Lindauer.  S2 03 Cr. 807 (MBM)

No, the government was claiming that something unusual took place during those specific meetings. Under the Patriot Act, the Prosecution was not required to tell us what those offensive actions were. Nor was the Court allowed to tell us what type of laws might have been violated by those actions.

We were only told that conviction on either of the “secret charges” would get me five years in federal prison.

Collins:  Please help readers understand more about “secret evidence.”  Were you and your lawyer denied access to evidence, because it was considered “secret” or “classified”?  How did this work under the Patriot Act?

Lindauer: It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? As if “secret charges” were not terrible enough, there was also “secret evidence” which could be applied to those “secret charges.”

The Prosecution had the right to ask a jury to convict me of those two undisclosed charges without revealing a shred of evidence to support the charges whatsoever. The Patriot Act authorized the prosecutor to ask a jury to “take it on faith” that some unspecified evidence would prove that some unspecified law had been broken.

If a judge so instructed before deliberations, the jury could be required to ignore the lack of presentation of evidence in weighing whether to convict me. The Judge could simply instruct a jury that the Justice Department regarded the evidence as “sufficient” to constitute a crime and that would be “sufficient knowledge” for their review. That kind of instruction practically requires a jury to convict a defendant.

The fundamental question of “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” is shattered. To say the least, it drastically undercuts protections in the jury system of the United States.

Conversely, evidence that might exonerate me, and prove my innocence, could be considered “secret and classified” as well. My attorney and I could be prohibited from knowing of its existence or using it in my defense. Even if that evidence or witness statements tossed out the whole case, and saved me from years in prison, I would not be entitled to know of its existence or present it to the jury.

Collins:  This sounds like Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” combined with the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland.”  How did you conceptualize your experience at the time?

Lindauer: The outstanding blog, Welcome Back to Pottersville published a headline that I loved: Franz Kafka, Meet Susan Lindauer.

Oh yes, I was floored. I know the Constitution. I cherish it, in fact. I could not believe such a thing would happen to somebody like me, with my education from Smith College and the London School of Economics, and all of my community resources. I mean, if the government could do this to somebody like me, what could they do to somebody who has nothing?  It’s a frightening thought.

Above all, I despised the Assistant US Attorney, Edward O’Callaghan, who prosecuted my case. Numerous times I correctly told the Court that the FBI had verified my story and Mr. O’Callaghan was falsifying his claims about the availability of witnesses to authenticate my story. He flat out lied about my identity and activities to a senior federal judge. I mean, come on. We interviewed those witnesses, too. We know what they told the FBI.

And so I kept challenging the Court that nobody had to take my word for anything.           I challenged the Court to subpoena the witnesses and question them directly under oath. For FIVE YEARS, I told the Court that all questions could be cleared up in ten minutes, with a simple pre-trial evidentiary hearing.

(Part three of this interview focuses on that issue.)

Collins:  Back to the “secrecy rules,” How did those work in trial preparation?

Lindauer: Within the category of “secret evidence,” the law pretends to establish a safeguard for defendants by allowing two levels of secrecy.

Under the main category of secrecy, both the attorney and defendant are prohibited from laying eyes on evidence or witness statements. The Prosecutor always retains the right to deny access on the grounds of national security.

A sub-section of the Patriot Act allows the defense attorney to petition the government for a security clearance in order to review some parts of the “secret evidence.” In reality, the process drags out for many months, while most defendants languish in prison waiting for trial. (And because the case involves the Patriot Act, they’re frequently detained in solitary confinement.) Getting clearance can take six months to a year, costing the Defense valuable time to review the evidence or plan a rebuttal.

A security clearance does not automatically guarantee access to evidence, however. Depending on their backgrounds, different attorneys qualify for different levels of security clearances. For example, an activist attorney with a history of pro bono cases involving the ACLU or something equally subversive, like Greenpeace, might qualify for a very low security clearance, because their career choices and previous cases might be perceived to threaten the State.  So one attorney might have more or less access to secret evidence than another. But you can’t know until the security clearance review is completed.

Hope is vain, however. That safeguard is mostly irrelevant and procedural.

To illustrate that point, in five years under indictment, I had two separate attorneys with very different levels of security clearances, including a former federal prosecutor, the outstanding Mr. Brian Shaughnessy of Washington, DC, who regularly handles the most high level and complicated security cases.  Neither attorney was ever able to determine what those two “secret charges” were. Neither attorney ever saw the “secret evidence.”

More disturbingly, the attorney is strictly prohibited from revealing any part of that “secret evidence” to the Defendant. The Defendant cannot see it or know about it, and therefore cannot provide an effective response to the attorney to rebut it. Thus, ironically, the Patriot Act handicaps the defendant’s ability to assist in the preparation of their Defense strategy.

Thus, it renders the Defendant INCOMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL.

Ah, the plot thickens.

CollinsIt does in a very major way.   What actions could be so serious as to deny your constitutional rights?  Did you ever figure out what those “secret charges” might have been?  Surely you know what you were doing in October, 1999 and October, 2001.

Lindauer: Oh yeah. And I’ll bet your readers think those accusations must be very serious! Wouldn’t you think? I must have done something far too horrible for the government to whisper aloud! Wanna bet?

In five years, we could only guess about those two charges. We surmised that in October 1999, I was indicted for blocking the Iraqi Government in Baghdad from making financial campaign contributions to the George W. Bush Presidential Campaign.

That’s right. With immediate assistance from my U.S. Intelligence contacts, I stopped Iraq from making illegal campaign contributions to the 2000 Bush Election campaign–at least through my channels.

We have speculated that perhaps Saddam gave money to the Bush Campaign in 2000 through somebody else and some other channel. And the Republicans don’t want anybody to know about it. Perhaps I was indicted to stop the Democrats from investigating campaign contribution records.

Consider that Andy Card was warned of Iraq’s attempts in two progress reports on March 1, 2001 and December 2, 2001. The Republican leadership that attacked me was very much aware that this question of illegal campaign contributions was hanging out there. And I was indicted for stopping it from happening.

Collins:  What about the second “secret charge”?

That was allegedly in October, 2001. We’re still in the dark on that one; however, we think it involves my efforts to collect health statistics from Baghdad regarding depleted uranium left behind by the United States in the first Gulf War.

Depleted Uranium has resulted in a spike in Iraqi birth defects and cancer rates from long-term exposure. They say Iraqi children suffer cancer “like the flu,” it’s so common.

Tragically, exposure to depleted uranium might seriously harm American soldiers and their future unborn children, too! I suspect it will become a major health risk for soldiers who return from repeated tours of duty in Iraq. When they start having families back home, we’re going to hear about this.

That’s probably all it took to categorize the documents as “secret evidence” and “secret charges.” They didn’t want my case to raise the profile of that health risk for Americans in Iraq. None of that health information was ever returned to me in discovery.

For knowing something so unpleasant about the government’s responsibilities, the Justice Department actually wanted me to serve five years in prison. It’s unbelievable.

Collins:  It must have been terrifying. The government figuratively tied you to a chair and challenged you to a 15 round boxing match.  Did you ever consider pleading guilty to stop the beating?

Lindauer: Never! I’m a helluva boxer myself, Mike! They must have been surprised to find I could go 15 rounds. I’m strong and tenacious to this day!

No, I had my entire legal strategy mapped out in the first couple of hours after my arrest. I could see mistakes in the indictment, and I quickly identified which witnesses and evidence would be necessary to repudiate the whole lot.

My witness list was outstanding. It included international attorneys from the Lockerbie Trial, former Congressional staffers, even a couple of international journalists. One of Scotland’s finest Solicitors, Edward MacKechnie, who won acquittal for his Libyan client in the Lockerbie Trial, immediately promised to travel at his own expense to testify for me as to the identity and credentials of Dr. Richard Fuisz, my CIA handler. I have the emails to prove it. His participation was beyond dispute.

There was no question that I had an outstanding defense. What’s more, I have outstanding bona fides to go with it. I took perverse satisfaction in knowing that once the jury received witness corroboration of my extensive credentials dealing with Libya and Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Syria/Hezbollah and Malaysia for 9 years from 1993 to 2002, they would be appalled by the prosecution’s arguments to convict me.

Any jury would recognize that I had legitimate reason for participating in the 9/11 investigation as a “first-responder,” not to mention that I’m one of the few individuals who openly warned about 9/11 for several months before the attack. I still think a New York jury would have applauded me.

The public just didn’t know who I was– yet– or the extensive work that put me on the cutting edge of anti-terrorism for so many years.

That would change with witness testimony at trial. It would not be boring.

Collins:  What was your reaction to getting arrested in March, 2004?

I was disgusted and perversely amused. At my home, while FBI agents were handcuffing me, I asked what I was charged with. That’s a natural question when FBI agents come pounding on your door.

They wouldn’t tell me. That’s the Patriot Act for you. The arresting FBI agent said that I could read the indictment when I got to Baltimore– Not Washington D.C. or Greenbelt, Maryland, which are 15 minutes from my home. They processed me in Baltimore, a city that’s 45 minutes away and out of the sphere of Washington media. All through the drive, the FBI agent only told me that I would be extradited to New York. I had no idea why I’d been arrested at all.

When I finally got to read the indictment, I was purple with outrage. After 9 years of hard work and devotion to Anti-Terrorism as an Asset for the U.S. government, I was now accused of acting as an “unregistered Iraqi agent” and “conspiracy with the Iraqi Intelligence Service.” Oh My!

I told the arresting FBI agent, “This is bullshit. This is political. You want me out of the way so you can lie about Iraq and 9/11 during the (2004) election.”

Collins:  You were arrested in March 2004, when President Bush was locked in a tight race with John Kerry and appeared to be losing. Do you think presidential campaign politics was involved in your indictment?

Lindauer: There was never any question that it was a cheap, political indictment engineered by ruthless White House staff, including my own cousin, Andy Card, afraid of losing Bush’s re-election.

A few weeks before my arrest, I contacted the offices of Senators Trent Lott and John McCain and asked to testify before the new blue-ribbon Presidential Commission on Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence. As part of that testimony, I would have detailed Iraq’s efforts to cooperate with the 9/11 investigation, and, before 9/11, our threats to bomb Baghdad in April and May, 2001 if they failed to serve up any fragments of intelligence relating to a new conspiracy involving airplane hijackings. I, personally, bickered with Iraqi diplomats at the United Nations for several months seeking that information. Iraq had nothing to give us.

Under the circumstances, arresting me must have presented an irresistible temptation.

Collins: How so?

Lindauer:  They saw that I would be sidelined in legal wrangling until after the November election. I would be gagged from telling the full and accurate story of Iraqi Pre-War Intelligence and the government’s advance warnings of a 9/11 style attack. This gave Republicans a significant advantage over the Democrats, shielding them from criticism during their campaigns.

After November, the charges against me would be declared bogus, and the case would be dismissed for lack of merit. I would ultimately win, whereas American voters would have lost an opportunity to make informed decisions about which candidates to support. They would be flying blind just the way politicians wanted.

Collins:  What was some of the most devastating information that you would have shared?

Lindauer: Imagine if American voters had known that the 9/11 strike was not a surprise to U.S. Intelligence! Would it have changed any votes if Americans had known the truth? That throughout the summer of 2001, there were extensive discussions about possible airplane hijackings and a reprise of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, specifically?

In August 2001, we thought the attack was “imminent.” At the instruction of my CIA handler, Dr. Richard Fuisz, I personally alerted the private staff of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Office of Counter-Terrorism at the Justice Department about our fears, asking for their cooperation in issuing an emergency alert throughout all agencies for any fragment of intelligence or suspicious activity that might help us pre-empt a conspiracy to hijack and/or bomb airplanes.

Would any of that have made a difference in the voting booth? Would Americans still think the “War on Terror” was a success?  That’s the kind of wild card that campaign staff hate during a tight election.

Collins:  Do you have any parting words on the Patriot Act?

Lindauer: It strikes me as ironic that the Patriot Act, which Congress passed after 9/11 to empower law enforcement to hunt down terror suspects, was first used to suppress and punish an American citizen who spent a life-time opposing violence in terrorism or war, and who gave advance warning about the 9/11 attack in specific detail.

I’m obviously a very dangerous woman! My indictment provides a classic example of a fearful incumbent — a dictator — arresting his political opponents on trumped up charges so that he can remove obstacles to staying in power, and intimidates others into silence when they would otherwise speak against him.

It’s what you’d expect from Chile under Pinochet in the 1970s, the El Salvadoran juntas in the 1980s, Egypt today. It’s Myanmar and Tibet. And it’s what happened to me.

Collins: Part three of this interview explores the intense and chilling abuse Ms. Lindauer suffered when confined to the Carswell federal prison facility housed in the Carswell U.S. Air Force base near Ft. Worth Texas.  At the same time, Lindauer will describe how federal law enforcement officials associated with her case manipulated proceedings and falsified reports about her life and activities.

END

Permission to reproduce in part or whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article

Democrats Pass on Challenge to Secret Vote Counting in SC

Democrats Pass on Challenge to

Secret Vote Counting in South Carolina

This is the place to affix the STAMP. Link

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

South Carolinians mounted a serious protest to the onerous “Stamp Act” imposed on the colonies by British rulers. The act levied a tax to pay for the “Seven Years War” which established Great Britain as the world’s dominant colonial power. South Carolinians resisted funding their own domination through payment of the tax.

Today, the Palmetto state faces a challenge beyond the Stamp Act. Their state constitution is clear, if not elegant, in its definition of the basic elements of elections:

All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot,

but the ballots shall not be counted in secret.

Touch screen voting machines like those used throughout South Carolina are inherently private. Citizens and officials are barred form accessing the fundamentals of the voting machines. As a result, meaningful information on errors or fraud is off the table.

Once a voter touches the box next to their candidate, the machine takes over turning the vote into an electronic ballot that cannot be examined, even with access. This voting machine right of privacy is written into agreements signed by election officials all over the country. It’s called “faith based voting.” We vote and then have faith that the machines will do their job.

That adds up to a clear case of “ballots … counted in secret,” direct defiance of the prohibition of counting ballots in secret referenced above..

Challenging the Privacy “Rights” of Voting Machines

The obvious contradiction of the state law and the state’s privatized voting systems spurred voting rights, judicial reform and media activist Mark Adams of Florida to object strenuously. He began by writing John Edwards an open letter asking him to oppose the process. Absent a favorable response, on Wednesday of this week, he sent letters to each of the democratic candidates.

In his plea to Clinton, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, and Obama, Adams argued this point:

In case you are not aware, Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” No one can see a computer count, and therefore, computers count in secret and using computers to count votes in secret violates South Carolina’s Constitution!

Will you take legal action in South Carolina to require that its upcoming Presidential primary is conducted in a manner which complies with the plain language expressed in South Carolina’s Constitution and with all Americans’ rights to make sure that our votes are counted accurately? Will you take action, or will you stand by and allow our votes to be counted in the equivalent of a secret smoky back room? Complete set of Mark Adams letters to the candidates.

Democrats Say No Go but Paul Supporters Know the Score

The letters informed, but they didn’t move any Democratic candidates to file suit for injunctive relief. There was real interest among Paul supporters in South Carolina. In general, the Paul campaign watches the voting process closely and with a skeptical eye.

In South Carolina, there were anecdotal reports of sudden increases in precinct vote counts at the last minute impacting Paul’s votes and after the fact reductions in vote totals for their candidate. But a Paul suit to stop a Democratic primary lacked the weight necessary for a serious hearing.

Will South Carolina remind Obama of New Hampshire? Image

Faith in the False Idol of Voting Technology

When voting machines are sold, the manufactures include a privacy clause that prevents in depth inspection of the machine software and methods of operation. You can buy it but the only people who can look inside are manufacturer representatives.

Kim Zetter of Wired Magazine reported on a comprehensive study done for Ohio on the iVotronic touch screens, the very machines everywhere in South Carolina. She noted that “the ES&S tabulation system and the voting machine firmware were rife with basic buffer overflow vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to easily take control of the systems and ‘exercise complete control over the results reported by the entire county election system.'”

The study discovered that a hacker with just an infrared enabled Palm Pilot or cell phone can hack any of these voting machines with infrared ports. Once in, the hacker could alter memory, “ballot handling,” and manipulate other machine processes.

This news should have rocked the nation given the presence of touch screens in almost every state.

The iVotronic machines are the very same voting equipment that dropped a carefully estimated 14,000 votes for just one candidate for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional district in 2006. The problem was characterized as “machine malfunction” in the election contest filed with Congress in behalf of Democratic candidate Christine Jennings. Apparently, this was the type of “malfunction” that produces consistent results in just one direction, for just one candidate.

Maybe these recurring problems and design concerns are the reason voting machine vendors are reluctant to guarantee their products. Zero Guarantee from Vendors for Voting System’s Performance, P. Lehto)

Will Common Sense and the Law Prevail?

Not a chance! It’s not at all difficult to determine the clear intent of the South Carolina Constitution. The law means what it says, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” But doesn’t the U.S. Constitution state that “Article 1, Section 8. The powers of Congress. To declare war”?

So much for the English language and the law. We’re at the mercy of a justice system that genuflects before power and politics and embraces convenience. Will we be saved by judges who’ve created their own code, just like those Florida voting machines: “flip-flopping” every time in the direction of power and control, by the few against the rights of the many in a relentlessly consistent pattern that strips us of our most fundamental legal protections.

New Hampshire and South Carolina are just previews of February 5, “Super Tuesday” when primaries will be held in 24 states.

These states have voting and vote counting that is conducted in secret by machines made and serviced by private firms; and voting that cannot be easily and quickly verified. The citizens’ right to know is casually surrendered to e-voting manufacturers by the officials sworn to serve those very citizens.

Almost all of the states have restrictive recount laws that require a very close election, a 1% or less difference in some cases. This effectively bars recounts unless “malfunctions” or vote stealing is marginal. Even if election fraud or “machine malfunction” is suspected for very good reasons, the right to recount is limited to only elections where mistakes or stealing produce a very thin margin.

These touch screen “ballots” are nothing more than a computerized record (not a ballot). After the election, citizens almost always lack the right to examine that computerized records and are typically barred from reviewing the paper forms they mark for optical scan voting machines.

How can those elected claim to rule when they’re unable to prove the first and most fundamental requirement of an election – that they have the right to serve by having legitimately claimed a plurality or majority of the votes cast.

END

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Minister of Death Mike Huckabee, “Surging” Republican

Minister of Death

 


Wikimedia

 

Mike Huckabee – “Surging” Republican

By Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
(Original Article)

Washington, D.C.

Mike Huckabee is the “surging” candidate to watch in the Republican presidential primaries, at least for the moment. The former Arkansas governor is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and a believer in the “inerrancy” doctrine of Biblical scripture. Inerrancy means, quite simply, that the believer accepts every bit of the Bible as literal truth (Adam & Eve, an earth just 6,000 years old, etc.)

As governor, Huckabee was an enthusiastic death penalty supporter. He now supports World War III against Muslim “fascists” and he’s taking his message of death on the road.

A panel of talking heads on Chris Matthews’ “Hard Ball” conferred legitimacy on the Huckabee candidacy last week. A more professional group of journalists at the Pew Forum treated Huckabee with deference by avoiding any hard hitting questions. There was nothing about Huckabee’s February declaration of World War III or his beliefs in a final judgment in our times and no mention of his tainted past in Arkansas. Only Kathy Kay of the BBC raised questions about the specter of the candidate’s extreme views.

Let’s see what the former Arkansas governor and minister has in store for the United States if he’s selected to win the Presidency.

After becoming governor in 1997, Huckabee signed death warrants for 16 executions by lethal injection. This violates the clearly worded, but frequently forgotten commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” He must know that World War III means even more killing and death. But neither position seems to bother him. In fact, he recently used death imagery in estimating the reaction of fellow Republicans to his fund raising gains: “If I were some of these guys, I’d have to be sitting in a warm tub of water with razor blades,”

Selective Forgiveness as Governor

Charles Singleton was convicted of murder in Arkansas and executed by lethal injection during Huckabee’s term as governor. Singleton was a diagnosed schizophrenic. Huckabee was unimpressed and issued the required death warrant.

Supreme Court decisions mandate prisoner mental competence prior to execution. Singleton was given (his lawyer says forced) antipsychotic medication to relieve his schizophrenia. As a result, the prisoner regained a grasp on reality. Singleton’s successful treatment for a serious mental illness then became the vehicle that allowed the state to kill him.

Of the 16 Huckabee era executions, there is a pattern of dismissing or refusing to examine legitimate questions or claims concerning mental illness.

Huckabee did find forgiveness in his heart for at least one Arkansas criminal. Wayne Dumond was convicted for raping a 17 year old girl in 1985. This fourth sexual assault conviction earned Dumond a sentence of life plus 20 years.

At the start of his first term, Huckabee took a special interest in the Dumond case and had plans to commute his sentence. When an irate public stopped that, the new governor effectively lobbied the pardon’s board. Just four months after they’d denied a Dumond parole request, the board ruled favorably. These events and a broader narrative of the case were well documented by investigative journalist Murray Waas.

Dumond was released on parole in 1999. Just months after the parole, he bound, gagged, and suffocated a Missouri woman. He was convicted of that murder and a suspect in another by the time he was confined to a Missouri state prison where he died in his cell.

Huckabee continues to deny his role in the pardon despite the evidence amassed by Waas and others. On Aug. 31, 2007, Associated Press (AP) reported that the Wikipedia entry on Huckabee was edited to delete critical references to the Dumond pardon. AP traced the source of the edits to Arkansas state government computers.

First Arkansas, then the World – Better World War III than “Lose” in Iraq

Huckabee “shocked and awed” voters in his first campaign visit to New Hampshire. He announced that we’re already in the midst of World War III with “Islamic fascism.”

“We need to understand that this is, in fact, World War III. Unlike any other world war we’ve ever fought, this one is one we cannot afford to lose. Because losing it does not mean we lose some land or some geopolitical influence. It means we give up our own lives, because no less than that is the goal of the jihadists.” AP, Feb. 10, 2007 Video

Just a few weeks ago he argued that his version of World War III is even more ominous than World War II: “I don’t think we’ve ever faced a threat like we are facing now. I don’t even think Germany is the threat that we’re facing right now. We’re facing, I believe, our possible annihilation as a country…” CNN Oct. 19, 2007

What is Huckabee talking about? Have we missed something?

One of his strongest supporters, millionaire TV preacher Rev. John Hagee, agrees with Huckabee on the urgency of fighting Islam. Hagee also offers a version of the “End Times” from the Book of Revelations, one shared by other Huckabee supporters on the religious right. These include the influential publisher of apocalyptic prophesy Strang Communications. The Strang newsletter, New Man, endorsed Huckabee saying, “When it comes to faith, he is truly one of our own.”

The key action starts when Russia invades Israel. The United States fails to defend Israel and is punished by seeing both coasts nuked. A European anti-Christ emerges and does battle with the second coming of Jesus. There’s death and destruction on a global scale. All but a very few are cast into Hell. Hagee’s Jesus then rules a world of true believers in an earthly paradise despite the bi-coastal U.S. nuclear holocaust.

When asked about the “End Times” scenario, Huckabee indicated that “every generation” prepares for the End Times, which “could be” occurring right now.

The son of the late Jerry Falwell, Jerry Falwell Jr., Chancellor, Liberty University, offered the candidate his endorsement just days ago. Huckabee told Liberty’s ultra right wing student body that divine intervention is behind his presidential campaign.

A student asked Huckabee to explain his recent “surge” in the race. His response indicated that he’d experienced nothing less than an apotheosis: “There’s only one explanation for it and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that felt that … two fish and five loaves could feed a crowd of 5,000 people. … There literally are thousands of people across this country who are praying that little would become much and it has.” Liberty Journal Oct/Nov 2007 Matthew: 18: 17-19 (“two fish and five loaves”)

The New Dark Ages

Does Huckabee really believe this nonsense? Probably. But he also has a record of killing mentally ill people by lethal injection, working diligently to free a rapist who murdered once freed then denying involvement, and a Giuliani-like record of taking liberties with government funds.

Perhaps he’s ripe for an “all this can be yours” deal from the same donors that propelled Bush in the 2000 primaries. He campaigns as “the values guy” who is concerned about the workingman; a “just plain Huck” trying to help.

There’s some reason to believe this deal may have been struck already with the corporate media’s portrayal of him as a “Bush with brains” – a sincere and capable guy; religious but practical; a “humble” guy in touch with the people. Sound familiar? Corporate media may have tipped its hand with the focus on Giuliani’s financial problems while ignoring Huckabee’s even though they were both published in “Politico,” Nov. 28 and 23 respectively.

With the talk of Huckabee the “humble”, the reanimation of the weakly documented “values voters” from 2000 and 2004, and enough cash; we may get a replay of the phony red versus blue rationale which diverted attention from the unbelievable results of election 2004. We’ll know if this is the plan if and when corporate contributions materialize in a big way.

A Huckabee led World War III against Islam would be a boon to the tentative financial state of some in corporate America. He’d enthusiastically continue the war in Iraq, that vital Washington subsidy for the post-2003 corporate welfare system. The widely expected “hard landing” for the economy could be avoided a bit longer. The stealth bailout could proceed for CitiCorp and other large financial instructions. They would have a “soft landing” instead of facing the real world consequences of poor business decisions. Record rake offs from no-bid Iraq war contracts would survive as well.

The tools for this political “perfect storm” are in place: deep pocket corporate donors; a compliant corporate media; plus computerized voting equipment produced and controlled by the same Republican leaning corporations in charge since 2000. The media will continue to talk of a divided nation by continuing to ignore the 65% of the nation that disproves of the war. Some will live happily for a few years until we begin our sharp descent ending up as the world’s best armed debtor nation.

Should he be “chosen,” we’ll be lead to this promised land by President Huckabee who thinks that the world was created 6,000 years ago; that Adam & Eve were the first humans on earth; that evolution is a myth; and that we’re all just biding time until our world is devastated and replaced by a paradise from which most of us will be excluded. What more could we expect from a corporate America that gave us Bush – Cheney and then did nothing about it.

ENDS

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Scott McClellan – Where are the Headlines?


Cheney with Bush; McClellan spinning; Plame & husband.

Where are the Headlines?

Michael Collins
Scoop Independent Media
Washington, D.C.

Former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan accused George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of deceiving the public about a devastating blow to the national security and safety of United States. The revelation concerns the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity as one of the government’s top intelligence agents. Revealed in the Chicago Sun Times on July 14, 2003, this breach of national security was the topic of intense coverage in the mainstream print and television news media.

This deliberate leak abruptly ended Plame’s intelligence activities, her career, and placed Plame and her contacts in serious jeopardy.

The charge appeared in an excerpt from McClellan’s upcoming book “Inside the Bush White House and What’s Wrong with Washington.” Publication is set for April 2008. The critical passage was released on Tuesday Nov. 20. It described a conspiracy to deceive the public by Bush and Cheney, which included White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove.

Valerie Plame was a top CIA agent, one of just a few to hold the distinction as an agent with non-official cover (NOC). These advanced intelligence professionals operate with assumed identities. Plame was cloaked as an energy consultant with the firm of Brewster Jennings and Associates. Her role in the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division was to identify and track the international black market of nuclear weapons intended for use against citizens of the United States.

In a brief passage from the upcoming book, McClellan comments on his 2003 denial of charges that Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby were involved in the leak of Plame’s identity:

“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

“There was one problem. It was not true.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.” Public Affairs (McClellan’s Publisher) Web Site

Where are the Headlines?

White House involvement in compromising a top intelligence agent was a matter of great concern in 2003. Why the indifference in 2007?

The response of the mainstream media has been barely noticeable. The following searches of Google and Yahoo “news” make this perfectly clear.

A Yahoo News search for “top story” using “McClellan” produced just nine articles. Three were from the Boston Globe, four from local television web sites, two from AlterNet, an alternative, left leaning web site, and one from “Real Time Traders,” a Dow Jones financial news service. Of the mainstream media, just one newspaper, the Boston Globe, and only four television stations saw this as ‘top story” from 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 through 3:00 a.m. EST Friday, the 23rd (the timing for all the searches mentioned in this article).

A “News” search for “McClellan” anywhere in any article on both Google and Yahoo produced similar totals but a different frequency for web hits. The meta-search engine called “Dogpile” was used as a basis to determine the actual number of unduplicated stories.

How astounding that these searches produced so few hits. Didn’t the press secretary just accuse Bush, Cheney, Card, Rove, and Libby of collective action to conceal the truth, i.e., a conspiracy? Didn’t the concealed truth concern a major intelligence operation designed to keep us from getting nuked? If this doesn’t rate intensive coverage and comment, what does?

 


Google and Yahoo searches by media type. “Dogpile” is a meta search
service that provides unduplicated results. It is closest to a true total for stories.

News sites on the web had the most consistent reporting and commentary on this story. The Huffington Post had at least eight articles. BuzzFlash, OpEdNews, and CLG also made their presence known. The ideologically androgynous Slate was cautious, however. John Dickerson parsed McClellan’s words too tightly in “The Press Dog that Didn’t Bark.” He said, “Scott McClellan has offered no bombshells – yet.” What would count as bombshell? Maybe McClellan needed audio or video tapes to satisfy Slate. Of all the stories, mainstream or alternative, the Associated Press was right on target with “Former press secretary accuses Bush, Cheney of deceiving public about CIA leak case.”

The story of the McClellan bombshell is that there is no story being told by the mainstream media. Here’s a partial explanation. Jack McElroy, editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel, shared his response to a reader inquiry. The reader wanted to know why the paper wasn’t covering McClellan’s revelation. McElroy quoted his response in an editorial entitled “Did We Bury a Bush Expose?”

A local newspaper can rarely provide national information that interested readers have not already received from other sources. The news you mention was widely disseminated by the national media. In fact, your complaint is not that you did not receive the information, but rather that we did not use enough of our space to reiterate the information you received elsewhere. Knoxville News Sentinel Nov. 21, 2007

Had editor McElroy used the meta search service Dogpile, he would have seen this 1 – 20 of 30 from All Search Engines. Dogpile uses Google, Yahoo, and other major search engines to produce comprehensive unduplicated results – 30 primary sources, period. McElroy was wrong. The story was not “widely disseminated by the national media.” It was barely covered. With editor McElroy’s inaccurate statement about national coverage and the indifference of his paper to a huge story, it’s no wonder citizens distrust the press.

Shouldn’t Protecting Against This Generate a More than a Few Headlines?

Valerie Plame’s mission was to track the illegal market in nuclear weapons. The goal was to prevent the use of any of those weapons against the people of the United States. The mission was disrupted when Plame’s true role as a CIA NOC agent was revealed. The leak came from the White House. Then, when fingers were pointed at Rove and Libby, the president and vice president swung into action. They told their press secretary to lie to the press and the people. By McClellan’s account, they conspired with the group to deceive the public and perhaps the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald.

Failure to grasp its meaning of this story requires an exceptional act of will.

We expect much more out of those charged with protecting the nation and its citizens? Isn’t the mainstream media, the so called “fourth estate,” a self anointed protector of the public well being? We’ve been told that this is done by vigorous coverage and investigation of major stories involving presidential cover-ups; particularly those dealing with critical national security threats.

But here’s what we got. The supposed “paper of record,” The New York Times was the first, or one of the first, news organizations to break the story on Tuesday at 1:29 p.m.


The New York Times

The internet news sites battled back and forth with some on the left taking the lead in exposing the gravity of this accusation. But where is the New York Times?

Is this story simply going to die like so many others that show the outright danger posed to the people by their so called leaders? Democratic presidential candidates have jumped on this revelation. Will leaders in the House and Senate hold hearings to determine the accuracy of McClellan’s devastating revelation? If hearings happen at all, will they lead to a Bush – Cheney impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate?

We’ve just seen how the mainstream media reacted to the disruption of a very high level operation to prevent the use of nuclear weapons against the populace. Why would we expect the same media to pay much attention to the process of holding the president and vice president accountable for this travesty?

Here’s a much more helpful attitude by the press. Note the question mark at the end of the headline. They report, we decide…but first they must report.


The New York Daily News

ENDS

Permission to reprint in full or part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Democracy Florida Style – State Dem Convention

 

“Scoop” story link

2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 3


 

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

The 2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 3

Earlier parts this series…
2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 1
2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 2

Sunday morning starts with an information session in the Grand Ballroom about Family Values and the “Marriage” Amendment. On the same ballot as the presidential primaries there might be a proposed amendment to Florida’s State Constitution saying: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

www.floridaredandblue.com

As this panel came to an end, the same venue was filling up with more delegates and guests coming for “Winning Florida in 2008”, a discussion moderated by Florida’s Democratic CFO, Alex Sink. I relocate to the media table over to the side of the venue, and the Trojan horseflies begin. First, I get an email saying the video of John Russell being banned from Disney World has been posted on the internet. Then I get a phone call from someone who has a similar bone to pick with the FDP for not supporting a candidate she was campaign manager for.

Then John Russell calls to ask if I’ve seen the video and I say No, I don’t have my laptop with me. Not surprisingly—and to my great chagrin at being used in this manner—about a half-hour later, coming towards me with his eye on the empty chair between me and an Associated Press reporter, is someone I’d met the previous night who had identified himself as the friend of a Scoop contributor.

He has a laptop and seats himself between me and AP, and tries to connect it to the convention center’s wifi. By the time he’s unsuccessfully exhausted all options, it is lunchtime.

AP’s story on the rah-rah session is here:

http://www.fladems.com/content/w/florida_democrats_still_called_influential

::Off with her head!::

Now we’re getting to the action! The promised palace coup! After lunch, I’m introduced to George Maurer, the FDP Executive Committee member who has a motion on the afternoon’s Central and Executive Committee Meetings agenda to remove Karen Thurman as State Party Chair “for cause including but not limited to, malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, incompetence”. I suggest we go into the now-empty (so I thought) ballroom so I can get his side of the story on tape. Unbeknown to me, because I have my back to them, a couple of press guys are still at the table on the other side of the room writing their stories, which explains why Maurer is talking so loudly. At the end, he even called over to them, “Did you hear that? Was I shouting loud enough?” More mug me. Still, I do later see Mr. AP at the committee meeting. He just doesn’t report it.

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The Central and Executive Committee meetings are listed on the Convention Schedule as being from 1pm to 3pm on the last day, the very last things on the schedule. They are “Open to all registered Democratic voters. Only committee members may vote.” Before the Central Committee meeting begins there’s an announcement that the last round of buses to take people to their cars will soon be arriving, so throughout the meetings there’s a sense of “hurry up and get this done as quickly as possible or we’ll miss the buses home.” People have to line up and show their credentials as committee members before the Central Committee business is heard, and then again before the Executive Committee business is heard so they can be issued with a paper ballot to vote on the Thurman motion.

As fast as the convention center workers wheel out stacks of chairs from the meeting room, people are bringing more back in from the ballroom across the hall. Someone goes by with a stack of papers that look like an agenda. Is that the agenda for the meeting? I ask. The staffer eyes my green media badge, clutches the papers print-side to her bosom so I can’t see and says, “No.” Someone comes around handing out Maurer’s motion and its attached supporting document. The Central Committee business is dealt with, everyone goes out and signs in again, and Thurman begins chairing the Executive Committee meeting, excusing herself from the chair, but staying in the room, when the motion to remove her is heard.

::Wiley Coyote::

I’m sitting by the door on the far side of the room from where the committee members are sitting and the acting chair is dealing with the business. So I’m in with the general mass of delegates and guests who are there to show their support for Thurman but have no vote on the motion. When Maurer begins his motion he gets booed, and shortly thereafter a group of staffers—identifiable by their red badges—march in and stand behind Thurman, for all the world like the palace guard. Other staffers move to stand by the doors. When one opens I can hear someone, a woman, shouting out in the lobby.


FDP Chair Karen Thurman, in the orange dress, sits at the side of the meeting room, beside Florida Senator Steve Geller (obscured, but with his hand on his forehead). Standing behind her are staffers.

Maurer is asked by the acting chair (First Vice Chair Diane Glasser) to cut his speech short because everyone has to catch buses. He asks for five minutes, and is booed down, so follows the VC’s request to keep it short. The Vice Chair neglects to ask for a seconder. Someone asks for the motion to be stated. There’s a seconder. Someone who is against the motion gets up to speak to the motion and VC Glasser interrupts him three times before he can get started. When he speaks, Jon Ausman from Leon County says that he respects Maurer’s right to do what he’s doing but that he thinks he’s exercising very poor judgment.

“I consider myself—I proudly consider myself—a member of the rational results-oriented wing of the Democratic Party. I believe, I don’t know for sure, but I believe that 95 percent of the people in this room feel the same way. They’re members of the rational wing with me. I believe that 95 percent are the members that work very hard in their counties, hours, untold hours, knocking on doors, making phone calls, without compensation, to try to build their local counties and try to the build the credibility about how Democrats are the right choice for leading this state forward.

“I also believe that 95 percent understand the time and effort that our FDP Chair Karen Thurman and the FDP staff have put into this convention. We’ve generated a lot of goodwill this weekend, a lot of goodwill. No candidates, but I can tell you this has been a great weekend, a great weekend. Now, what I don’t want to have happen is have that goodwill squandered, that goodwill undermined by opening up my newspaper tomorrow morning and reading about the George Maurer Show.”

Ausman gets a standing ovation, during which a male voice shouts “Call the question.” It’s unclear to me in the noise of the continuing ovation if VC Glasser actually does call the question. Someone moves to commit the matter of removing Thurman to a special committee of three convened by Alex Sink. There’s a kafuffle about whether it’s the right parliamentary procedure to have two motions on the floor at the same time.

“Where’s the parliamentarian?” someone asks. “Oh, man. He left an hour ago,” another voice replies. Someone waves their copy of Roberts Rules of Order in the air and the FDP’s former parliamentarian–from about 10 years ago—steps up to take charge of the meeting. It is none other than Senator Steve Geller, who has been sitting at Thurman’s side all this time.


Senator Geller acting as parliamentarian.

By way of background for non-US readers, Roberts Rules of Order is the bible for running meetings of boards and committees. There’s no law saying they have to be used by organizations, but on the other hand there is a profession of “parliamentarian” in the US – people who are hired by organizations solely to rule impartially on matters of meeting protocol – and they usually adhere to Roberts Rules.

It is a reasonable expectation that a state-wide organization such as the Florida Democratic Party, with a multi-million dollar budget—not to mention having several controversial matters on its plate—would have hired a professional parliamentarian to be present at its state convention. At the very least, one would expect the FDP’s own parliamentarian to have been present. When I asked Senator Geller as he left the meeting, “Do you always hold meetings where there’s no parliamentarian present?” he replied, “I don’t know why he wasn’t at today’s meeting. I don’t think he was at the convention this weekend. I haven’t seen him. At all.”

SCOOP: I can’t believe that a party, that an organization as big as the Democratic Party doesn’t have a parliamentarian at its convention.

GELLER: It’s a volunteer position. It’s Dr. Wayne Bailey. I think he’s been the parliamentarian since I left. I was the parliamentarian of the party for 14 years, Dr. Bailey has been the parliamentarian for the last 10 or 12 or 14 years. Something like that. He was unable to attend this convention. It’s a volunteer position.

SCOOP: How often do parliamentarians not attend conventions?

GELLER: It’s a volunteer position. They have family…

SCOOP: How often do they not come?

GELLER: I give up. I don’t know.


Click for big version

Senator Geller being congratulated by Thurman supporters as he leaves the Executive Committee meeting after the Maurer motion is heard (but before the Executive Committee meeting ends).

::Stand and be counted::

Now, it may be that I’m just lack the imagination not to do things by the book, but it seems to me that the most egregious thing that happened at this convention was the way Maurer’s motion was handled by Geller once he had taken it upon himself to act as parliamentarian. He started off by saying the second motion—to commit the matter to a three-member special committee—couldn’t be voted on because the question of the first motion had been called. However, when someone then stands and moves that they hold a standing vote, Geller says: “Mr, Maurer, to cut through, because we’re all tired. Mr. Ausman has suggested a standing vote. Would you be willing if you see the overwhelming [unclear], would you be willing to withdraw your motion?”

A standing vote? Since each Executive Committee member’s vote is weighted according to which county the committee person is from, how can a standing vote be considered binding, let alone appropriate to the atmosphere in which the vote is being held? Have I been transported back to Mao Tse Tung’s China where people have to declare their fealty to the Chairman in public? Geller is trying to find a way for a proper vote NOT to be taken on Maurer’s motion to remove Thurman, and you have to wonder why, since he seems so confident of it not passing based on his reading of the “overwhelming” pro-Thurman sentiment in the room.

Maurer objects to a standing vote, and Geller continues: “Okay. Guys, we can spend more time on doing this the correct parliamentary method, or we try and short-circuit it if we can, with the consent of the group. If there’s objections raise your hand. I don’t see any.” [Said so quickly that the room bursts into laughter.] Geller then recommended a standing vote, because he thinks the idea “made a lot of sense” and says, “I will ask everybody to stand up first if you are in favor of the motion [to remove Thurman as Chair], and then I’ll ask you stand up if you are against the motion. And then you won’t have to worry about the paper ballots.”

A woman calls out: “Only those who are eligible to vote in fact do vote. Only those who are holding ballots in their hands should be allowed to vote.” Geller replies, “Good point. It’s still not going to be scientific. Stand up for either side. Please hold your ballot in the air so we can observe it. Is that okay with everybody?” At which point, someone stands and says he doesn’t think that Geller gave Maurer enough time to withdraw his motion. Quizzed by Geller, Maurer says he’s willing to withdraw the motion now, “subject to further consideration.”

Geller then announces that the motion is withdrawn. He continues, “Let me be clear, anybody… I mean, Mr. Maurer, even if the issue was voted down today, can always file another motion at another point in time. Mr. Maurer, whatever rights you have under the Democratic Party by-laws and rules, you will continue to have. The fact is that at this point in time the motion is withdrawn. There’s nothing in front of us. There’s no special privilege. I mean, when you say, ‘subject to bringing it up another time’, the motion was withdrawn. At any point in time, and whoever [unclear] the rules can tell you, can he bring it up at another time or can any member bring up a motion at another time? Subject to the discretion of the Chair. We’re done, we’re on to the next matter.”

Crikey! Now we’re in Stalin’s Russia! A motion to remove the Chair can only be brought up “subject to the discretion of the Chair”?! Now, shave me beard and call me Trotsky, but Roberts Rules of Order, in its Table of Rules Relating to Motions, definitively and without any annotation, says that any main motion or question can be reconsidered. Of course, not being a member of Florida Democratic Party, I don’t have access to their by-laws and rules, which might conceivably differ from Roberts Rules.

Well, I don’t suppose you get to be Minority Leader of the Senate in Florida—as Steve Geller is—without knowing how to stack decks, waive rules at your discretion, and use methods that are not “scientific”, but to not give somebody within his own party a chance to have their voice heard and voted upon in the proper manner was just mind-boggling to watch.

I don’t know how many of the people in that room were executive committee members, but certainly none of the people where I sat had ballots in their hand. What happened was tantamount to having the folks sitting in the gallery at the House of Representatives decide how a vote should come out by the loudness of their boos or cheers. I’m sure it would make debates more interesting, but would anything that resulted really be considered a legitimate outcome, even if it were the one the majority of voting members would have chosen?

::No information please, we’re Democrats!::

Thurman resumes the chair and asks for a quick treasurer’s report to be given in order to address one of Maurer’s charges in the motion that she doesn’t give financial reports, pointing out as she does so that her line of reporting goes directly to the Democratic National Committee, implying the Florida Democratic Party’s Executive Committee has no automatic right to that information.

I guess the “rational” wing of the FDP have rationalized that right away, too. But wouldn’t you be worried that the money you’re busy raising with your voluntary time and efforts should be accounted for to you, the rank and file of the Democratic Party, not just to the DNC? Whose party is it, anyway?

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

–END OF STORY—