Archive for December, 2005

Entry for December 31, 2005

December 31, 2005

Happy New Year.  The Roanoke County library will be closed until January 3, so will have to post my entries for January 1 and 2 then.  I was interested to pick up a copy of the Roanoke Times and read the letters to the editor complaining about its far-left slant and the fiction of global warming.  The above cartoon is by New Zealand’s Ross D. Kettle, a cartoonist conservatives love to hate.  His website is named, for some reason, www.dorkinglabs.com.

I hadn’t thought about the political bent of cartoonists, until someone in the library yesterday who was showing me Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonists Index and asked me if I was a Bush fan, because I wouldn’t find many conservative cartoonists.  Maybe that’s why I like political cartoons.  In his blog for December 27 (no permalinks, you’ll have to scroll down) he quotes cartoonist Scott Stantis explanation::

You and I both know that a vast majority of cartoonists are liberal or at the very least left of center. Many folks over the years have asked why. One aspect of this question that doesn’t seem to be addressed is temperament. Cartoonists are, first and foremost, (regardless of the snobs), artists. And most artists are radical in their outlook. The good ones, any way. To see the world in a new and expressive way would tend to make the artist one that screams for a fundamental shift in the dominant paradigm. To be an artist means to see things in a new way. To remove oneself from the fray and observe life from an objective perch. Could any one not see what fools these mortals be? Apply this to a political outlook and you can get some pretty radical and often outlandish viewpoints.

On a personal note, I consider myself a radical. Ronald Reagan inspired me to embrace an agenda that you would have to admit, definitely radically changed the political landscape. Not just in this country but around the world. It is that kind of radical conservatism, (or classical liberalism, if you choose), that drives me as a commentator and an artist.

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Entry for December 30, 2005

December 30, 2005

Submitted my story on Deeds to the Free Press and sent out an alert on the contents to my mailing  I

Entry for December 29, 2005

December 30, 2005

Writers group tonight.  And lost my story for the NRFP when the City’s computers shut off.  Tomorrow I go to the county!

Evelyn Bethel called to invite me to come to City Council chambers at 10 am January 4 when she announces her candacy.

Entry for December 28, 2005

December 30, 2005

The terrrific Mike Keefe, again!

Entry for December 27, 2005

December 30, 2005

Saul Bellow’s son, Adam, was reprising his article for New York on how he became a conservative  to the Young American’s for Freedom on CSPAN.  He traced it to Allan Bloom.  Wait a minute, I thought.  I have been confusing Harold (see December 19) with Allan.  It turns out I’m not the only one.  Camille Paglia has an interesting article in the 1998 Salon explaining the difference. 

I didn’t realize that Saul Bellow wrote the intro for Allan Blooms’s The Closing of the American Mind.  And Adam Bellow has written in favor of nepotism on the Bush family.

Deeds loses by 360 votes out almost 2 million and yet no real recount

December 26, 2005

The above illustration is from The May 19 2004 Onion . The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was supposed to clear up everything that plagued the 2000 presidential election. In particular, it provided funds for new voting machines to eliminate the punch card hanging chad problem. It didn’t fix things in time for the 2004 federal elections and it sure didn’t fix things fix things in time for the 2005 Virginia state races. The final vote in the Virginia Attorney General’s race, certified December 21 by the three-judge panel of the Richmond Circuit Court, highlighted how HAVA probably has exacerbated problems by promoting a move to touchscreen voting machines, which to date have no paper trail.

Republican Bob McDonnell ended up with just 360 more votes than Democrat Creigh Deeds. The tally was 970,981 for McDonnell and 970,621 for Deeds. The State Board of Elections had certified Republican McDonnell the winner of the Nov. 8 election by a margin of 0.0166 of a percentage point. Virginia law allows a court-supervised recount when results fall within 1 percentage point, with taxpayers picking up the tab for results within one-half of 1 percentage point. Both campaigns had to pay their lawyers and others helping with the recount.

The “recount” should raise questions for the Virginia Joint Subcommittee Studying the Cetification, Deployment and Performance of Election Equipment when it meets January 5. Individual ballots on touch-screen and lever machines could not be recounted, only checked against printouts. As Duke computer graduate student Justin Moore critiqued the verification of these results by officials in a comment in Charlottesville pundit Rick Sincere’s blog,

There’s a big difference between “secure and unchanging” and “lacking contradictory or confirmational evidence”. I could claim that I untied and re-tied my shoes four times while alone in my office today, but without any
witnesses or detailed examination of my shoes or shoelaces, you have to take me
on my word.

Did you examine the audit logs from the voting machines? Did you compare the software currently installed on the machines with any sort of reference version of the software? Did you check if the software had been altered or if the media on which the DRE stores its software had any errors? Did you see if any errors had occurred? Did you check the calibration of the screens to make sure they had recorded the votes correctly in the first place?

Or did you just re-copy the numbers you got the first time around onto a
piece of paper the second time around? Do the numbers match only because you
wrote the same number down twice?

Moore has a running debate with Sincere, who has extolled the touch screen machines. On November 21, Moore had filed an analysis of with the Virginia Joint Subcommittee.<

It is likely that, due to subtle problems in paperless machines, there were 12,000 votes for Lieutenant Governor missing from paperless systems statewide, and over 9,000 votes for Attorney General missing from paperless systems; this is over 25x the margin of victory for Attorney General. This is not to say that the result would have been different, merely that votes that — statistically speaking — should have been there just aren’t there.

The Association for Computer Marchinery‘s member poll on paperless evoting problems also prompted that group to file a letter with the joint subcommittee.Virginia Verified Voting also has a list of recommendations filed that date, calling for a voter verified permanent record of every ballot cast.

Optical scan machines often miss votes that are indicated by light pencil or pen marks, or whose marks are partly outside the lines. Deed had asked to rerun more than 500,000 optical scan ballots. His attorney, Joseph Kearfott, argued that thousands of votes would not be recounted if all the ballots were not scanned again. In court papers, During a rescan of ballots with not vote for Attorney General, the machine might pick up votes that it failed to recognize the first time, Kearfott said. Kearfott also argued that some votes were not counted at all. He presented the judges with an affidavit from a member of the Gloucester County Electoral Board, who said printouts from the county’s voting machines indicated 78 ballots were never counted.

Here there is a meaningful chance that a full recount … could result in the difference in the election. You owe it to the candidates and to the state of Virginia.

Jean Jensen, secretary of the elections board, said under Deeds’ proposal, 135,000 ballots would need to be examined by hand, because of technical limitations in some of the voting machines.

McDonnell’s attorney, Bill Hurd, argued that could lead to human error and would

would create an awful, awful mess.

December 10, Chief Judge Theodore J. Markow, Judge Larry Kirksey and Judge Wilford Taylor rejected Kearfott’s argument, finding he had failed to provide enough proof that there were substantial missed or miscounted votes that likely would alter the result of the election. While Deeds had requested recounds in 156 precincts, the court only ordered more rigorous hand counts of 7,915 ballots from nine precincts in Gloucester County and one in Lynchburg. Machines did not process 79 votes in Gloucester. Machines could not tabulate 244 ballots in Lynchburg because voters had used the wrong kind of pen. A few thousand old-fashioned paper ballots statewide also had to be recounted manually, and punch-card ballots in one Virginia Beach precinct were rerun through a tabulator because a printout of the original results could not be read.

Deeds’ spokesman, Mark Bergman said at the time,

This ruling and this order just leaves more questions than answers, and
leaves many important questions unanswered .

One wonders what happened to the Supreme Court doctrine established in Bush v. Gore – that statewide recounts should be conducted with uniform procedures and rules in every voting jurisdiction.

But the deeper question is how to secure a fair election in the face of paperless evoting. On February 2, 2005, Representative Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) introduced H. R. 550 to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper record or hard copy under title III of such Act.

Anything of value should be auditable,” said Holt. “Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.

There are 159 co-sponsors. Representive Boucher added his name April 5. the measure remains stalled in the House Committee on Administration. Holt’s webpage on verified voting is here.

What action can you take to secure fairer elections? You can sign Holt’s petition in support of H.R. 550 You can email the members of the Joint Subcommittee with your concerns care of Mary Spain. You can email Virginia Verified Voting for information on how to get better voting equipment in Virginia.

*

In other legal news, in the the “stranger than fiction category” the most read story on Yahoo today is about how the Paul Clement, the Sollicitor General for the Bush Administration, filed an amicus brief in the Anna Niclole Smith Case before the Supreme Court. It must have been a slow news day, because Clement filed his request November 21 and his motion to participate in oral arguments December 1, as the docket for the case shows. It seems the Bush Administration wants to protect the federal role in probate issues. Another interesting footnote to the gang that wanted to shrink federal government.

Entry for December 26, 2005

December 26, 2005

The above illustration is from The May 19 2004 Onion .  The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was supposed to clear up everything that plagued the 2000 presidential election.   In particular, it provied funds for new voting machings to eliminate the punch card hanging chag problem.   It didn’t  fix things intime for the 2004 federal elections and it sure didn’t fix things fix things in time for the 2004 Virginia state  races.  The final vote in the Virginia Attorney General’s race, certified December21 by the three-judge panel of the Richmond Circuit Court, highlighted how HAVA probably has esacerbated problems by  promoting a move to touchscreen voting machines, which to date have ve no paper trail.

Republican Bob McDonnell ended up with just 360 more votes than Democrat Creigh Deeds.  The  tally was  970,981 for McDonnell and 970,621 forDeeds.  The State Board of Elections had certified Republican McDonnell the winner of the Nov. 8 election by a margin of 0.0166 of a percentage point.  Virginia law allows a court-supervised recount when results fall within 1 percentage point, with taxpayers picking up the tab for  results within one-half of 1 percentage point.  Both campaigns had to pay their  lawyers and others helping  with the recount.

The “recount”  should raise questions for the  Virginia Joint Subcommittee  Studying the .Cetification, Deployment and Performance of Election Equipment when it meets January 5. Individual ballots on touch-screen and lever machines could not be recounted,  only checked against printouts.  As Duke computer graduate student Justin Moore critiqued the verification of these results by officials in a comment in Charlottesville pundit Rick Sincere’s blog. ,

There’s a big difference between “secure and unchanging” and “lacking contradictory or confirmational evidence”. I could claim that I untied and re-tied my shoes four times while alone in my office today, but without any witnesses or detailed examination of my shoes or shoelaces, you have to take me on my word.

 Did you  examine the audit logs from the voting machines? Did you  compare the software currently installed on the machines with any sort of reference version of the software? Did you  check if the software had been altered or if the media on which the DRE stores its software had any errors? Did you see if any errors had occurred? Did you check the calibration of the screens to make sure they had recorded the votes correctly in the first place?
Or did you just re-copy the numbers you got the first time around onto a piece of paper the second time around? Do the numbers match only because you wrote the same number down twice?

Moore has a running debate with Sincere, who has extolled the touch screen machines.  On November 21, Moore had filed an analysis of with the Virginia Joint Subcommittee.  

It is likely that, due to subtle problems in paperless machines, there were 12,000 votes for Lieutenant Governor missing from paperless systems statewide, and over 9,000 votes for Attorney General missing from paperless systems; this is over 25x the margin of victory for Attorney General.  This is not to say that the result would have been different, merely that votes that — statistically speaking — should have been there just aren’t there.

The Association for Computer Marchinery‘s member poll on paperless evoting problems also prompte that group to file a letter with the joint subcommittee..Virginia Verified Voting also has a list of recommendations filed that date, calling for a voter verified permanent record of every ballot cast. 

 Optical scan machines often miss votes that are indicated by light pencil or pen marks, or whose marks are partly outside the lines.   Deed had asked to rerun  more than 500,000 optical scan ballots.  His attorney, Joseph Kearfott, argued that thousands of votes would not be recounted if all the ballots were not scanned again. In court papers, During a rescan of ballots with not vote for Attorney General,  the machine might pick up votes that it failed to recognize the first time, Kearfott said. Kearfott also argued that some votes were not counted at all. He presented the judges with an affidavit from a member of the Gloucester County Electoral Board, who said printouts from the county’s voting machines indicated 78 ballots were never counted. 

Here there is a meaningful chance that a full recount … could result in the difference in the election. You owe it to the candidates and to the state of Virginia.

Jean Jensen, secretary of the elections board, said under Deeds’ proposal, 135,000 ballots would need to be examined by hand, because of technical limitations in some of the voting machines.

 McDonnell’s attorney, Bill Hurd, argued that could lead to human error and would

would create an awful, awful mess.

December 10, Chief Judge Theodore J. Markow, Judge Larry Kirksey and Judge Wilford Taylor rejected Kearfott’s argument, finding he had failed to provide enough proof that there were substantial missed or miscounted votes that likely would alter the result of the election.  While Deeds had requested recounds in 156 precincts, the court only  ordered more rigorous hand counts of  7,915 ballots from nine precincts in Gloucester County and one in Lynchburg.  Machines  did not process 79 votes in Gloucester,  Machines could not tabulate 244 ballots in Lynchburg because voters had used the wrong kind of pen.  A few thousand old-fashioned paper ballots statewide also had to be recounted manually, and punch-card ballots in one Virginia Beach precinct were rerun through a tabulator because a printout of the original results could not be read.

Said Deeds’ spokesman, Mark Bergman, at the time,

This ruling and this order just leaves more questions than answers, and leaves many important questions unanswered .

One wonders what happened to the Supreme Court doctrine established in  Bush v. Gore – that statewide recounts should be conducted with uniform procedures and rules in every voting jurisdiction. 

But the deeper question is how to secure a fair election in the face of  paperless evoting.  On February 2, 2005, Representative Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) introduced H. R. 550 to amend  the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper record or hard copy under title III of such Act.

Anything of value should be auditable,” said Holt. “Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.

There are 159 co-sponsors.  Representive Boucher added gus name April 5.  signed on in , but it  remains stalled in the House Committee on Administration.  Holt’s webpage on verified voting is here. 

What action can you take to secure fairer elections?  You can sign Holt’s petition in support of H.R. 550 You can email the members of the Joint Subcommittee with your concerns care of Mary Spain. You can email Virginia Verified Voting for information on how to get better voting equipment in Virginia.

 In other legal news, in the the “stranger than fiction category” the most read story on yahoo today is about how  the Paul Clement, the Sollicitor General for the Bush Administration, filed an amicus brief  in the Anna Niclole Smith Case before the Supreme Court.   It must have been a slow news day, because Clement filed his request November 21 and his motion to participate in oral arguments December 1, as the docket for the case shows.  It seems the Bush Administration wants to protect the federal role in probate issues.  IAnother interesting footnote to the gang that wanted to shrink federal government. 

Entry for December 25, 2005

December 25, 2005

 The garden is almost gone at Katrina and Marshall’s, in the round perenial herb bed out front when she sent me, I was able to find Katrina a few sprigs of chives for the mashed potatoes.  The rest of the meal featured an organic turkey (a gift from one of Marshall’s architecture clients, Kerman Carter, once the web designer for Plowshare Center) and stuffing, honeyed sweet potatoes, string beans with yoghurt horssradish sauce, beats, cranberry-walnut-tangerine relish, eggnot from the Homestead Creamery in Burnt Chimney, Va, date nut and fruit bread made by Father Curry, Jesuit priest to benefit the National Theater workshop of the handicapped, wine, and the homemade all-butter chocolate chip cookies I a brought for a present. 

After dinner, we went with the girls and their grandfather to see  The The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , based on one of a series of seven books on Narnia hy C.S. Lewis.  When we left the Grandin, fog had set in, transforming the locale, as if under influence of the film. By the way, Tilda Swinton was quite something as  White Witch.

I can tell you without spoiling the movie, that during a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy chooses a wardrobe as her hiding place and enters Narnia, which has been frozen in a winter without Christmas for a hundred years. 

Appropriate for today, huh?  Also ironic, given the current global warming, which is now melting the Alaskan permafrost. When I got up this morning, one of my housemates, Misty, who is a film grad student at Hollins was laughing as she watched the television. There was Santa beating George Bush for global warming, while Frosty the Snowbucket (“Don’t worry about me, kids just love playing with a bucket of lukewarm water”)  looked on.  You can view the cartoon, “I’m Dreaming of a Warm Christmas, on of the series “Supernews”  by Josh Faure-Brac on Current TV, chaired by Al Gore.  Here’s what Gore said about founding the station:

America is a conversation where we talk to each other.  At the start it was “We the People.   it wasn’t we the conglomerates, it wasn’t we the corporations, it was we the people. .. It’s all coming one way.  Send us your stories.  We have to take television back.

You can view Current on Direct TV channel 366 or on the internet.

Oh, and one piece of political news.  According to the Onion, Rove has been linked to Santa identity leak.  

Entry for December 24, 2005

December 25, 2005

Went shopping today for the makings for chocolate chip cookies.  Tomorrow I’ve been invited to Katrina and Marshall’s for the holiday dinner.  Called Darcy Meeker  and she’s working on a new copper piece. The above is a detail from her multi-panel work,  “Garden Party”.

Entry for December 23, 2005

December 23, 2005

The above cartoon is by the Denver Post’s Mike Keefe. Tapgate continues.  Conyers has 7 co-sponsors for his bills.  No less conservatives than Bruce Fein and Norm Ornstein have defected.