Shona Holmes is irritating me. What did those republicans in Washington DC pay this poor Canadian woman to do their commercials? And do you want to know what her real diagnosis was? Check the Mayo Clinic’s PR material!

They said it was a Rathke’s cleft cyst (RCC), a fluid-filled sac growing near the pituitary gland at the base of the brain which could eventually can cause hormone and vision problems. NOT a brain tumor, not brain cancer which was going to kill her in a few months, but a cyst. Come on guys, didn’t your moms ever tell you it’s not nice to tell lies? Want a more well rounded picture of the Shona Holmes story? Try the Daily Kos.

What I like about health care in Nova Scotia (and the rest of Canada) is that I know my fellow human beings here will be looked after if they are sick, whether they have extra insurance or not. I know that I don’t have to worry about my neighbors here. And that means a lot to me. I like living in a country that cares for its citizens as best it can. It really does feel friendlier. Many of my self employed artist friends in the States can no longer afford insurance. All they can do is pray to stay healthy. That is a worry.

So when I heard that Fox news was pushing Shona Holmes’ story, and saw the advertising, and heard people wondering what it is like to live up here in Canada, I couldn’t help myself, I had to post again. I am so tired of Fox (Faux) News!

Want to know what Canadians think about their health care?
1. Don’t listen to someone who is getting paid to tell you what their health care is like.
2. If you hear a Canadian grumbling about their health care, ask them if they’d like to give it up for the US system. In my experience humans love to grumble and can find flaws in anything but the true test would be are they willing to do without?
3. If you are being told something and you start to wonder about the truthfulness of it, ask yourself this little question: “Who benefits?”
When applied to just about anything, you can easily find truth.

If you were to believe Shona Holmes’ story who would benefit? The big insurance companies. They are paying a lot of money to get you to believe and you know they don’t give out money very easily.
Here’s another example, Bill Moyers on health care. Who benefits from believing Bill Moyers? You do.

I will reconsider.  The work is not done, there are still children hungry in Mississippi.  This I know.

Great article from TruthOut here and a good collection of links at the end of it.  Take a look…

Is the Election About to Be Stolen in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Elsewhere?

by: Cynthia Boaz, Ange-Marie Hancock, David McCuan, Mark Crispin Miller and Michael Nagler, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

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Calvin Thomas in West Virginia claims to have witnessed a touch-screen machine malfunction that assigned his vote to John McCain as opposed to Barack Obama – his intended choice. (Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)

Last Friday, a federal court judge in Cleveland, Ohio, ordered Michael Connell, an information-technology consultant to the McCain ’08 campaign, to give a deposition in a court proceeding. Mr. Connell, whose firm, GovTech Solutions, built Ohio’s 2004 election results computer network, was in a position to have knowledge about the alleged manipulation of electronic voting results in that presidential contest (a technique known as “flipping”) in order to switch the winner in Ohio from Sen. John Kerry to President Bush. The deposition is scheduled to take place today, November 3, one day before the 2008 general election.

Connell is a former associate of Karl Rove, who is believed by those familiar with the events in question to have engaged in witness intimidation to prevent testimony about what happened in Ohio in 2004. They also believe that IT companies associated with the Republican Party have redeveloped the capacity to manipulate electronic voting results in Tuesday’s election, both within Ohio and outside, including Pennsylvania and other key battleground states such as Colorado and New Mexico. One such firm, Triad GSI, is managing voter registration databases in 55 of Ohio’s 88 counties and is hosting 25 of those databases.

All this has led to speculation that the McCain campaign’s insistence that they can win Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states, despite being (in some places, significantly) behind in most of the polls, could be prompted by having been informed about planned cyber interference with electronic voting results. The reality is that a successful cyber attack only requires a few skilled IT experts with an in-depth understanding of digital security. Election returns in many states are presently emailed from local databases for statewide consolidation, without even the standard safeguards routinely used by banks and corporations. In other words, voting data can be relatively easily hacked.

The lawsuit in Ohio is being pursued as a violation of voting rights laws, and it claims that Connell witnessed a “kingpin” cyber attack on electronic voting results in several Ohio counties, the consequence of which was to give the 2004 national election to Bush (had Kerry won Ohio, he would have won the election). Serious statistical anomalies in several Ohio counties’ election returns, as well as a shocking disconnect between exit polls and actual results in ’04 in Ohio, have never been explained. Despite being urged by his running mate John Edwards to do so, Kerry declined to take legal action in Ohio.

The suspicions by some Democratic operatives about impending Republican interference with electronic voting in 2008 have been further fueled by the sustained bellicosity of Republican spokespeople about voter registration errors by ACORN, believing that exaggerations of the ACORN problem have been encouraged by those involved in the Republicans’ own covert e-voting fraud in order to distract the media from recent news about the possibility of this far graver threat to the integrity of American elections.

The general news media are doing a serious disservice to the cause of vigilance about honest elections by having, so far, neglected the case involving one of the McCain campaign’s consultants on digital technology. It would be a travesty of historic proportions if Sen. Barack Obama won the national popular vote for president by a large margin, but lost the Electoral College narrowly because of electronic voting manipulation in two or three states.

The current legal action will obviously not be resolved in time to determine the possible extent of any effort to manipulate electronic voting in 2008. But poll workers, campaign activists and local supporters of Senator Obama can do a number of practical things in order to identify and compile evidence of anomalies which may signal digital manipulation of election returns:

1. Local activists and lawyers in any state where the vote appears close should demand that county voting officials where electronic voting systems are used should, if possible, unplug their servers from the Internet and phone in their results, and otherwise never permit external IT consultants to have unsupervised physical access to hard drives after vote counting commences.

2. Screen captures of all television-reported exit poll numbers on all networks should be obtained for every state for which they are reported, to later compare them to actual vote tallies when they are reported – and the networks should assign a staff person to perform such checks. Any significant deviations from statewide exit polls in counties that don’t have demographic factors to account for such differences should be flagged for later investigation.

3. Vote totals for presidential and down-ballot candidates should be compared, precinct-by-precinct and county-by-county, to see if there are strange disparities. In 2004, a Democratic candidate for a judgeship in Ohio mysteriously received tens of thousands more votes than John Kerry (even though many voters never bother to vote for down-ballot candidates). This was a statistical improbability of enormous magnitude (no disrespect meant to the judge).

4. Vote totals in safe Republican counties should be compared to the past two election cycles, to see whether any sky-high turnout is historically unprecedented and therefore cause for suspicion. That is what happened in several Republican-dominated counties in Florida in 2004. Election monitors should also watch the traffic at the polling places in Republican precincts, and maintain careful records, as a way to gauge the honesty of later claims about the turnout there.

These steps are necessary to facilitate the discovery of any circumstantial or direct evidence of possible manipulation of electronic-voting returns, which would be sufficient to enable immediate legal action to prevent certification of election results. In turn, that would permit time for a full forensic investigation. Additionally, many citizens’ groups are preparing calls to action should legal remedies to any attempted vote interference falter or be obstructed.

There is ample cause for general alarm and for the measures we’ve recommended, in what has emerged from the ongoing court action in Ohio. If evidence of electronic-voting manipulation follows the election tomorrow, it must be pursued regardless of who wins. And if the campaigns involved do not challenge the results where this evidence emerges, or if local and state authorities do not cooperate to resolve these questions, it is certain that a tidal wave of protest will develop. Nonviolent resistance was used successfully by African-Americans to win their civil rights in the 1960s, and earlier by American women to win the right to vote. Millions would not hesitate to use it again, if there is evidence of a stolen presidential election.

The first Democratic president, Thomas Jefferson, said that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The failure of the Bush administration to permit systematic reform of this nation’s elections infrastructure so as to make it impossible for these manipulations to occur is bad enough. Even worse would be to refuse to take seriously the possibility that these abuses could alter or adulterate the results of what may well be the most important presidential election of our lifetimes.

For more information on electronic voter interference and the above-cited legal action see:

www.bradblog.com/?p=6600

www.velvetrevolution.us/#071808a

http://thejournal.epluribusmedia.net/index.php/state-news/ohio-news/200-ohio-

www.alternet.org/democracy/100881/gop_consultant_subpoenaed_in_case_alleging_tampering_with_2004_election/

www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9118204

http://harpers.org/archive/2005/08/0080696

www.nytimes.com/2005/02/03/opinion/03thu2.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Academic_Papers_on_2004_Election_Results

——–

Cynthia Boaz is assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University. Ange-Marie Hancock is associate professor of political science at University of Southern California. David McCuan is associate professor of political science at Sonoma State University. Mark Crispin Miller is professor of media studies at New York University. Michael Nagler is professor emeritus at University of California at Berkeley.

I wandered over to Wired Blog Network for this tidbit:


ES&S Voting Machines in Michigan Flunk Tests, Don’t Tally Votes Consistently

By Kim Zetter EmailNovember 03, 2008 | 6:47:24 PMCategories: E-Voting, Election ’08

Optical-scan machines made by Election Systems & Software failed recent pre-election tests in a Michigan county, producing different tallies for the same ballots every time, the top election official in Oakland County revealed in a letter made public Monday.

The problems occurred during logic and accuracy tests in the run-up to this year’s general election, Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson disclosed in a letter submitted October 24 (.pdf) to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The machines at issue are ES&S M-100 optical-scan machines, which read and tally election results from paper ballots.

Johnson worried that such problems — linked tentatively to paper dust build-up in the machines — could affect the integrity of the general election this week.

The same ballots, run through the same machines, yielded different results each time,” she wrote.  “This begs the question — on Election Day, will the record number of ballots going through the remaining tabulators leave even more build-up on the sensors, affecting machines that tested just fine initially? Could this additional build-up on voting tabulators that have not had any preventative maintenance skew vote totals? My understanding is that the problem could occur and election workers would have no inkling that ballots are being misread.”

Tuesday’s election is expected to be the busiest ever, and ES&S tabulators — both touchscreen machines and optical-scan machines — were responsible for counting 50 percent of the votes in the last four major U.S. elections, according to the company.  The company’s optical-scan machines are now deployed in 43 states.

Johnson, who could not be reached for comment, said that “four of our communities or eight percent” had reported inconsistent vote totals during the logic and accuracy tests with the ES&S machines. She also said that conflicting vote totals had surfaced in other areas of Michigan as well, though she didn’t elaborate on this in her letter. “While problems with performance and design with the M-100s have been documented, this is the first time I have ever questioned the integrity of these machines,” Johnson wrote in her letter.

According to news stories, a race in the August Republican primary in one Michigan township did have a discrepancy in tallies that were counted by hand and by ES&S optical-scan machines. The clerks race in Plymouth Township was recounted after the losing candidate requested it. The initial machine count had showed Joe Bridgman defeating Mary Ann Prchlik by 1,920 to 1,770. But the hand count narrowed the margin to 1,885 to 1,727. Officials attributed the discrepancy to “smears and marks” on the ballots, which skewed the results when they were run through the machines.

In Oakland county when officials there met with ES&S to discuss the errors encountered during logic and accuracy testing, ES&S maintained that the problem was dust and debris build-up on the sensors inside the machines.

“This has impacted the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) settings for the two Contact Image Sensors (CIS),” Johnson wrote the EAC.

Johnson also revealed in the letter that county officials are prohibited from performing maintenance or cleaning on the machines or they risk voiding ES&S warranties. ES&S has not performed any preventative maintenance on the machines since they were delivered three years ago.

Johnson closed her letter by urging the Commission to investigate whether vote totals could be affected by the failure to perform regular cleaning and preventative maintenance on the machines. She requested a “federal directive or law” that would allow county clerks to conduct random audits to test machine accuracy using machines that have had preventative maintenance performed in the last year. She also urged officials to develop a plan for accurately canvassing election results.

“I believe this matter, which is not a partisan issue, but an issue of integrity, needs your immediate attention and I would urge you to investigate as so much is at stake,” she wrote.

ES&S has not responded to a call for comment.

The Election Assistance Commission, which quietly posted the letter to its web site today, did not send an announcement about the issue to election officials but simply included a link to the letter in a routine newsletter that it distributed by e-mail to election officials shortly before 5 pm Eastern time, less than 24 hours before voters around the country arrive to the polls.

EAC spokeswoman Jeannie Layson said the Commission received Johnson’s letter late in the afternoon on Wednesday after EAC chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, to whom the letter was addressed, had left to conduct an interview with ABC’s 20/20 program. She said Rodriguez was out of the office Thursday and Friday and only saw the letter today when she returned.

John Gideon, co-executive director of Voters Unite, an election integrity group, said he was troubled by the Commission’s lack of urgency over the matter.

“If they haven’t done anything with it then how are they fulfilling their duties as a clearinghouse and passing on information?” he asked. “If they didn’t do something with it, as far as I’m concerned it’s misfeasance. They have a legal duty to warn election officials of problems.”

Gideon said it was particularly troubling, because there was likely an easy fix to the problem if the issue was related to build-up in the machines.

He pointed to a problem that occurred in 2004 in Yakima County, Washington, with optical-scan machines made by Hart InterCivic. During a hand recount of the governor’s race in the general election, election officials discovered that machines had failed to count votes on 24 ballots. An investigation later revealed that the machine had missed the votes (.pdf) due to “a small foreign object (dirt or paper debris) in the scanner.”

An e-mail sent from Hart InterCivic to officials concluded that “periodic cleaning of scanners during periods of heavy use will reduce the risk” of losing votes and that a service representative could provide them with proper training and supplies to clean the machines.

The Election Assistance Commission was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to serve as a clearinghouse of election administration information and to oversee the federal testing and certification of voting machines, but it has yet to certify any voting system under its testing program, which was launched in early 2007.

The Commission has often been criticized by voting activists for failing to monitor problems with voting machines and share crucial information that election officials need to have.

Layson told Threat Level in September that since the Commission didn’t oversee the certification of any voting systems that are currently being used in elections, it has no official role in monitoring the equipment and will only monitor voting equipment problems that occur with systems that become certified under its program.

Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, said the important thing with regard to the ES&S scanners is that voters get assurance that their votes will be counted accurately.

“When significant problems such as this one are discovered by diligent officials like the one who reported this case, remedies must be developed,” she wrote Threat Level in an e-mail. “At the very least, the EAC could proactively alert other jurisdictions using this type of voting system that it may be an issue. That way, states that are willing to conduct post-election audits could do so, and check their vote counts.”

Here’s a clip from Jack Cafferty:

Vote Stealing

November 4, 2008

Check this out, Rachel Maddow has some actual examples of crazy vote stealing.

Opera for Obama!

November 4, 2008

Here are a couple of marvelously delightful and artful clips!  Bravo!  Bravo!  Encore!  Encore!  The link came from Adela. Thank you Adela!!!

Google has a “tech talk” that is very interesting.  Barbara Simons, prominent computer scientist, explains the whole electronic voting machine problem, from cost to vulnerability and lack of transparency and much, much more.   And here’s something I learned: California Elections Code specifies that no voting system may be purchased or used in a California election until the Secretary of State approves that system. Additonally, all direct recording electronic voting machines used in California must have an accessible voter-verified paper audit trail. If they don’t, they can’t be used.  Now isn’t that sensible?

“Tomorrow”

November 3, 2008

I wandered over to Truthout today and although I think nearly everything up is worth spending time on, here’s my favorite article so far:

Tomorrow

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

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Tomorrow, voters will choose a new leader. (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP)

A thing is about to happen which has not happened since the Elder Days.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

It has been a long and terrible time since tomorrow mattered as much as it does today.

It began with that first terrible election, the media manipulations, the stolen and uncounted votes, the menacing mobs, and a decision by the highest court which sealed our doom. A man who was not chosen came to possess an office he was unworthy of, and everything that since has come to pass now seems almost preordained, fated, inevitable.

We have seen tax cuts which looted our Treasury and further enriched the wealthy, we have seen presidential vetoes of legislation designed to heal the sick and feed the children, and we have seen executive orders designed to shatter the Constitution and erase our rights. We have seen annihilation by fire and water visited upon our cities and ourselves. We have seen wars and rumors of wars. We have seen fear visited upon the populace by design. We have seen terrorists, and all too often, they have been us.

We have known death, and disgrace, and failure, and greed, and theft, and shame, and utter lawlessness. We have lost hope, and been afraid, and fallen to exhaustion and despair. We have seen torture and murder stamped with the seal of highest approval, and we have become what we despise.

But tomorrow is a different matter.

Tomorrow is a place of definitions, where change may come and be welcome even in the smallest degree. Tomorrow will see millions upon millions from every national nook and cranny pour forth in celebration of their own lone and lonesome voices.

Tomorrow, we will know.

It has been a long, strange and entirely preposterous course that has brought us today to the edge of our next tomorrow. Millions of new voters rewrote an old, calcified map. Fifty states one and all had their say, and their say mattered to the last of it. Money mattered less than organization, less than passion, less than hope, less than tomorrow.

There are many eyes upon us today as we prepare to step into tomorrow. The eyes of those lost in fire and smoke of a bright September morning watch us, the eyes of those lost in needless battle watch us, the eyes of those subsumed by an invading sea watch us, the eyes of those lost to disease and poverty and greed watch us, the eyes of all those lost who should not be so are upon us, they remember what we did yesterday, and they will see us tomorrow.

What they call change is nothing more than choice. Tomorrow is another choosing, perhaps the greatest of our lives. Something will happen, and afterward, we will know.

Here are a few of the other interesting articles over there:
Florida Democrats Sue GOP Over Voter “Caging”

Jay Weaver, The Miami Herald: “It may be the peak of the 2008 presidential election season, but the Florida Democratic Party is taking a trip down memory lane with the first voter lawsuit filed against the GOP. This time, it’s not about ballot recounts, as in Gore v. Bush in 2000. It’s a Democratic legal salvo accusing the Republicans of plotting a last-minute challenge of registered voters with potentially bad addresses, which may prevent them from casting a regular ballot at the polls Tuesday.”

Jeff Cohen | Studs Terkel: He’ll Never Be Silenced
Jeff Cohen, Truthout: “Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel was many things – oral historian, radio host, agitator, Bronx-born icon of Chicago, the ‘great listener’ who was hard of hearing, Pulitzer Prize winner. But most of all he was an inspiration. He inspired every younger activist or independent journalist who ever met him. And who among us wasn’t younger than Studs?”

Nicholas D. Kristof | Rejoin the World

Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times: “An unscientific poll of 109 professional historians this year found that 61 percent rated President Bush as the worst president in American history. A couple of others judged him second-worst, after James Buchanan, whose incompetence set the stage for the Civil War. More than 98 percent of the historians in the poll, conducted through the History News Network, viewed Mr. Bush’s presidency as a failure. Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community…. So here’s the top priority for President Barack Obama or President John McCain: We must rejoin the world.”

Obama’s Green Jobs Revolution
Geoffrey Lean and Leonard Doyle, The Independent UK: “Barack Obama is promising a $150bn ‘Apollo project’ to bring jobs and energy security to the US through a new alternative energy economy, if his final push for votes brings victory in the presidential election on Tuesday. ‘That’s going to be my number one priority when I get into office,’ Mr Obama has said of his ‘green recovery’ plans. Making his arguments in a radio address yesterday, the Democratic favourite promised: ‘If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election. Together, we will change this country and change the world.'”