Archive for April, 2007

Entry for April 30, 2007

April 30, 2007

Illustration of Rick Renzi (R-AZ) from accompanied the front page April 21, Wall Street Journal story, “Land-Swap Plan Causes Trouble For Congressman: Mr. Renzi Offers Field To Mining Companies; Grand Jury Is Active” by John R. Wilke.

April 24. AP writer Jennifer Talhelm divulged,

Brian Murray, Renzi’s top aide, issued a statement late Tuesday acknowledging that shortly after the local media reported that the congressmen was being investigated, he called Charlton spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.

“I called Mr. Hornbuckle seeking information about press accounts which appeared just weeks before Election Day alleging a pending indictment,” Murray said in a statement. “I left him a message asking for information about these allegations, but I was called back and told they would not comment.”

Hornbuckle refused to comment Tuesday.

Murray’s disclosure came a few hours after Charlton related the call to House investigators probing whether the firings amounted to a political purge by the Bush administration. An official with the House Judiciary Committee said Charlton did not provide details of the call but said his chief investigator reported the call to the Justice Department.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said the committee has not received a report from Justice of that call.

Is Renzi about to crash and burn a la Duke Cunningham, et. al? He says not, according to April 27th’s story in the Phoenix Business Journal, “Renzi Responds to Resignation Rumors,” Tricky Rick remonstrates (to continue the tacky consonance):

For several weeks, I have been the subject of leaked stories, conjecture, and false attacks about a land exchange. None of them bear any resemblance to the truth, including the rumor that I am planning on resigning.

The journal seemed to take things out of context in the very next paragraph, writing, “Both political parties are talking to and recruiting potential candidates to run in a special election if Renzi leaves office. The Hill newspaper in Washington D.C. earlier this week reported that Renzi said he was pondering resignation.”

So did this Tucson Citizen. I read April 25’s The Hill article, “Amid FBI investigation, Renzi steps down from 2 more panels,” to mean he was considering resigning from the Committee. Jackie Kucinich, one of the authors confirmed my take.

Hi Beth –
We reported he was looking at resigning from the committees (we spoke to him a few hours before he actually stepped down).
Hope this helps!
Best,
Jackie

Interesting to me was the observation noting that Boehner had written in a “dear Colleague Letter” that the

clear likelihood of serious transgressions will lead to suspension from important committees

and concluded

The decision to crack down on wrongdoing is a far cry from a more confident House Republican Conference last year.

His resignation could come as early as Friday or soon after, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Top Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, have been meeting to discuss what they will do if Renzi resigns and his rural congressional seat opens up.

Republican leaders also are starting to encourage Renzi to resign, saying a prolonged investigation will hurt the party’s chances of holding onto his Arizona seat, according to knowledgeable sources.

*

Last week on C-Span I listened to a rebroadcast of the March 6 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, ���Part II���Preserving Prosecutorial Independence: Is the Department of Justice Politicizing the Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys?��� (webcast) into the attorney General firings. Former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias said he felt pressured to speed up an indictment of Democrats during phone calls last October from Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson (both R-NM). Former U.S. Attorney John McKay of Seattle said he was called by the chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings, (R-WA), about a preliminary inquiry into voter fraud in Washington state.

April 26, 2007 , according to “Renzi Aide Called U.S. Attorney to Ask About Probe: Chief of Staff Inquired About Land Deal Investigation; Prosecutor Among Eight Who Were Fired” by Amy Goldstein and Dan Eggen, published by the Washington Post, on page A04, According to internal Justice documents, Charlton’s name first appeared on a list of U.S. attorneys to be fired in a Sept. 13 memo, many months after most of the other chief prosecutors who ultimately would be dismissed on December 7.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released the letter he wrote Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, referring to disclosures in both the WSJ story and one by AP.

Renzi is a co-chairman of Sen. John McCain’s Arizona presidential campaign. When asked if the Renzi would continue to play a part in his campaign, McCain said:

Look, Rick obviously has got great difficulties now. I know nothing about his case. He’s in my prayers. He’s in my prayers. And that’s all I’m going to say. All this stuff will come out.

Page View Statistics (visitor count no longer available from yahoo.)

April 2007: 14,252
2007 YTD: 45,976
2006 TOTAL: 61,308
Total since 1/1/06: 107,284

In wake of VT killings, NYPost’s Michael Daly paints all Virginians with arrogant, simplistic brush

April 29, 2007

Losanjealous.com‘s random Nietzche’s Family Circus.

Thought before I got back to writing about gun control, I’d provide the above distraction of (via Andrew Sullivan today (blog entry,email). “Neitzche Family Circus” which randomly pairs one of Bil Keane’s (bio,email) The Family Circus cartoons with a quote by Friedrich Nietzche. The caption which came up for this cartoon :

Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.

Dang No distractions there. As for extreme positions, I’ll send this quote to Michael Daly (email) and the Editor (email) at the New York Daily News.

In “Yes, Virginia, guns kill innocents,” published the day after the Virginia Tech murders, Daly’s harsh tones painted all of us in the Commonwealth with the same broad brush he’d use on the NRA or worse, Gun Owners of Virginia. I agree with Daley and Bloomberg’s Mayor’s that Virginia guns pose problems for New York, as well as other cities in the Northeast, yet found myself as disgusted with his words as those of the sponsor of H.B. 2653, which outlawed Mayor Bloomberg’s sting operation of the same. And that’s the correct bill number, not “Bill 2106,” as listed by Daly.

And as for ridiculing our election of Jim Webb, did Daly notice Webb has had the spine to stand up to Bush on Iraq and Iran, to irritate the Cato Institute in talking about income disparity in the Wall Street Journal, to oppose General Pack’s homophobic remarks, and to co-sponsor progressive legislation including the union card-check provisions deplored by the Chamber of Commece. He’s only departing from what I’d support once, regarding, I’ll admit, an anti-gun control measure for the District of Columbia.

Would Daly have preferred a vote for George Allen, who had an A+ NRA rating, as did, by the way some New Yorkers (Fosella, Kelly, Reynolds, et. al). Can Daly tell the difference between the general voting record of Allen and the equally A+ Rick Boucher (who represents Blacksburg down to Abingdon)? Does Daly know New York gun owners hope to organize to “take-out” pro-Bloomberg candidates in the Democratic primary? Did Daley notice Virginians re-elected Bobby Scott (NRA grade D-), James Moran (F) and Tom Davis (C), one of the few Republicans NRA grades low? Did Daly read Webb’s dignified April 16 statement

I want to express my profound sympathies to the entire Virginia Tech community for the tragic shooting that occurred on the campus earlier this morning. My heart goes out to the parents and families of the victims of this senseless act.

Virginia Tech is a great institution. The young people who were lost today had demonstrated an enormous amount of promise. There is very little that I can add in terms of describing the depth of our feelings and our regret that this incident has occurred. It is an incredible human tragedy.

Hopefully once the grieving is done,we can find ways that will prevent these sorts of incidents from happening in the future.

Of the four current gun control measures, only one has originated in the Senate and has no co-sponsors to date, so it is hard to fault Webb. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.

*

And for the other extreme position, consider Dale City Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Dale City) who penned  House Bill 2653 which ” prohibits anyone other than a law enforcement officer or someone under an officer’s supervision from attempting to persuade a firearms dealer to make an illegal sale.”  Am I allowed, as an independent, to say I hope they field a strong candidate against him? After all, in Kansas, Tiahrdt has whole blog about him.  Governor Tim Kaine has announced he’s signing the bill.  Below is the letter I’ll email tomorrow to Governor  Kaine, so I can mail a similar one to Potomac News (email), Lingamfelter’s hometown paper, with a copy to the Democratic Party chair for the District 31, Pete Frisbie (email).

Governor Kaine,

You said in a March 23 news release that you were signing H.B. 2653 because it “will ensure that trained, authorized officers, not individual citizens, media, or interest groups, are enforcing the law.”

Can your office please provide me with statistics on how many such stings have been conducted by officers and which Virginia dealers were found to be allowing “straw purchases?”

How did you react when you learned that the four businesses in Madison Heights, Danville, South Boston and Richmond, among the 15 sued by New York City in May, 2006, were alleged to have sold 500 crime guns which the city’s police department recovered between 1994 and 2001 and that NYC-hired private investigators from the James Mintz Group caught the dealers allowing one individual to provide the money, select the gun, and direct the purchase, while the other filled out the required paperwork? That three dealers in Midlothian, Rocky Mount and Roanoke (where I live) were among another dozen sued in December 2006 for selling 300 crime guns recovered between 1994 and 2002 and for allowing “straw purchases” by the Mintz Group investigators?

Do “straw purchases” allow friends with no criminal records to stand in a felon’s place for background checks?

The Tiahrt amendments to federal spending bills now prohibit the ATF from publishing gun tracking reports. The last such report revealed in 2000 that “49 percent of traceable guns recovered in New York City were first purchased at FFLs [Federal Firearm Licencees] in Southern States: Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.” Additionally, “[n]early 75 percent of crime guns recovered in New York City were first purchased at FFLs located 250 miles or more from New York City.

Potomac News reported on April 10, 2007, less than a week before the tragedy at Virginia Tech that the NRA had awarded Dale City Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R) as a “Defender of Freedom” for penning the H.B. 2653 “inspired” by NYC Mayor Bloomberg. Lingamfelter said the Mayor “has, I think, wrongly pointed to Virginia for the sources of his troubles. His problems are on the streets of his city not in the towns and cities of Virginia….If you want to clean up New York City we suggest you hire more police as opposed to coming south of the Potomac River to trifle with rights of Virginians.”

Would you agree with Lingamfelter that such gun dealers play no part in crime in NYC? Please explain.

H.B. 2654 was heavily supported by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, who sponsored the “Bloomberg Gun GiveAway.” The group issued a news release on April 16, “Gun Control Claims Lives at Virginia Tech.” It also said in in another news release on April 16 about the failure of H.B. 1572, which would have prevented prohibiting handguns on campus, “Well, Mr. Hincker [Tech’s Associate Vice President University Relations and chief spokesman] – are you still happy? Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee – still think you did the right thing?”

How would you respond to this group?

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

*

  • Email from Sabrina that she’ll take a gun control essay for LLRX.
  • Phone conversation with Kim ditto for the NRFP.
  • Called Yvonne about Clean Water Protection Act lobbying. She invited me to stay with her while I’m in the DC area.
  • Called Cindy Rank, who tells me Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will soon submit the Act with 61 co-sponsors. Rank is sending a copy of an email, so I can get started on the blog entry for Congresspedia.

Entry for April 28, 2007

April 28, 2007

Still waiting to hear from Sabrina about gun control article. Did hear back from Conor at Congresspedia, where I posted a short article today on the Anti-Gun Trafficking Penalties Enhancement Act of 2007.

Heard back from EarthJustice offering to buy me a plane ticket. (I had asked for meals). When I looked at the schedule, it was horrendous and I’m still scarred from O’Hare and the nasty inspector who lost my favorite (and brand-new) sweater back in December. Kindly, they’ve agreed instead to allow me a stipend for meals and to put gas in my tank, as well as house me.

Heard back in a long email from Conor which included the following:

By the way, in two months we’re rolling out a new “Legislation Portal” for Congresspedia that will organize all the legislation articles in a way that’s easy for people to navigate. We’re really happy you’re doing these pages now so we can integrate them into the portal for it’s unveiling.

(you should also add a link to your articles in the “Articles” section at the bottom of those pages so more people can read them!)

I saw on your blog that you’ll be working on the Clean Water Protection Act – if you want to do an article (and blog) on that we’d be happy to have it, too.
As far as the guest blogs go, our main purpose with the blog is to clue readers in to why a piece of legislation is significant or important, give them the basics of the legislation and then point them to an article in the wiki where they can read more. If you’d like to write up one (or simply give me permission to cross-post one you’ve written for your own blog), I’d be interested in posting it.

For the short-term horizon, next week we’d be interested in posting a blog about current gun control legislation (with links to the new articles) and note that you’ve been working on those articles (with a link to your blog if you’d like), so if you want to write something for a blog (it doesn’t need to be long), we could post it then. Interested?

Entry for April 27, 2007

April 28, 2007

RED at WashingtonWatch.org’s write-up of S. 77, The Anti-Gun Trafficking Penalties Enhancement Act of 2007″ comments in typical talking-point fashion,

Criminals are going to get guns there is no way to prevent it! There are already measures and procedures for the “tracking” of stolen firearms! There is a hiden agenda here!

Actually, the agenda is overt and endorsed by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coaltion, seeking to reverse the Tiahrt amendment to appropriation measures, which has blocked disclosure of ATF data which might help prevent criminals from using guns. The 2006 amendment:

  • Prevents ATF from publishing reports that use trace data to analyze the flow of crime guns nationally.
  • Limits local governments’ access to ATF trace data.
  • Prevents law enforcement from accessing trace data outside its geographic jurisdiction.
  • Generally prevents law enforcement agencies from sharing trace data with one another.
  • Prevents trace data from being used as evidence in any state license revocation, civil lawsuit, or other administrative proceeding unless filed by ATF.

And there may be ways to prevent criminals from getting guns. The generally generally pro-gun rights GunCite (email) says,

“Gun tracing,” which is directed at criminal activity, has proved to be very effective…According to an FBI report, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS): The First Seven Months, the Interim Brady System (February 28, 1994 through November 30, 1998), “over 310,000 felons, fugitives, and other prohibited people” were prevented from getting handguns. And this NICS 2002 Operations Report, claims since the inception of NICS, there have been over 563,000 handgun denials.

Of course this doesn’t mean all persons denied purchases were prevented from obtaining a firearm by other means, or that they were stopped from committing a crime with a different or no weapon. However, surely a number of crimes were averted due to the under-motivation of some potential criminals. Even though the evidence suggests waiting periods and instant background checks are not statistically significant factors in reducing violent crime, they do appear to have merit since they will thwart some crime, and in most cases involve no practical infringement of law-abiding gun owners’ rights.

TheThirdPaul (email) over at Washington said,

Gun control should be about hitting the target and controlling one’s emotions when doing so.

I’m going to write him and ask him for particulars and I’ll let you know if he rsponds. Will also write an entry for Congresspedia.

Entry for April 26, 2007

April 26, 2007

This 1995 photo of Maryasha Garelik with her great grandchild by Saul Lieberman for Wellsprings accompanied and article in the Chssid journal Wellspring.

I stumbled across Garelik’s story while looking for information about the the Virginia Tech prof who survived the Holocaust only to die in the shooting. Garelik lived to be 106 and had 600 direct descendents!

I didn’t realize that one of the folks killed was a French adjunct instructor who worked with Richard Schryock, who I’ve eaten dinner with many times at Free Press potlucks. He said of Jocelyne Couture-Nowak,

She not only prepared them to continue. She inspired them to continue.

Possibly one of the oddest stories emerged today as Scientologists arrived in Blacksburg to minister to the mourners. The Guardian has an archive of articles on the VA Tech shootings, including the entire text of Nikki Giovanni’s convocation poem.

*

Today, I started three articles on gun control legislation for Congresspedia, a joint project of the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation. Conor Kenny , Cogresspedia’s managing editor emailed me:

if you’d like to do a guest-blog related to any article you’re writing on, please do send me a few paragraphs or a link to your personal blog and we’d be thrilled to cross-post it on the Congresspedia front page. (We’re working on a DailyKos-like system where anyone can post a blog, but it’s going to take a few months to implement.) It’s fine to have a particular point of view or agenda, as long as people can click through to links in the wiki to learn more and the blog is informative. We’d also be very happy to link to your own blog.

I was interested to read in “Gun-control debate has spotlight – for now: VA Tech tragedy has put the issue center stage, but keeping it there will be a challenge for both sides” by Keith O’Brien (PR Week USA, April 24) that “One such bill that enjoys support from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun control advocates is H.R. 297, which would “improve availability of criminal history and other records for conducting background checks on firearm buyers.” I’m going to email him and ask for the particulars. I also wrote the NRA seeking information.

Jason Gottlieb, now a NYC attorney, formerly a Japanese internet company manager, wrote interestisng entries on gun control a I’m guessing maybe ten years ago.

*

May 12 – 16 I’ll be in Washington, DC, lobbying for the Clean Water Projection Act with Earth Justice.

And I just heard from Linda Modica through Nukenet that that in Johnson City there will be a conference and encampment focused on depleted uranium production in Appalachia sponsored by the Christian Peacemaker Team’s Stop-DU Campaign.

“DU– from Appalachia to Afghanistan to Iraq” will feature Pentagon whistleblower Doug Rokke, Afghani social scientist Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki (author of Afghanistan After Democracy) and writer and speaker Cathy Garger. $15 pays for lunch and registration. The purchase of of Dr. Miraki’s book provides medical care for victims in Afghanistan at East Tennessee State University, Rogers Stout Hall, Room 102 May 19, 2007 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The encampment takes place on Roger’s land across from Aerojet Ordnance on Old State
Route 34, Jonesborough, TN 37659 from May 18, 2007 through May 27, 2007. Bring your tent or email Anthony Pittman know and he’ll round one up for you.

Entry for April 25, 2007

April 26, 2007

Cartoon by TAB (Thomas Boldt ) of the Calgary Sun draws the connection between the Virginia Tech shootings and the war in Iraq, as does this one by Aussie Paul Zanetti and this one by Bulgarian Christo Komarnitski.

Bill Moyers Journal tonight on PBS features Buying the War (transcript.) And one by Steve Benson of the Arizona Sun, draw the connection to those who support any manner of gun, under the color of protecting their rights under the second amendment.

In 2004, Linda Feldmann’s excellent article, “Assault-gun ban fades away Bush and Democrats play down support for a decade-old law that most Americans like” held both parties up to scrutiny for their acquiescense to the gun lobby.

I’m wondering if it’s time to revisit the issue, given the way that Democrats are dancing away from the issue (see yesterday) and the most radical of the the pro-gun forces here in Virginia immediately issued a press release to the effect that gun control killed the 32 Virginia Tech students.

While single-issue gun control groups perservere and the American Council of Jewish Women (email) called again on Congress to ban assault weapsons, the Reform Action Center, for instance, last looked at the issue of gun control in in the fall of 2005 when The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 398) passed.

On February 13, 2007, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4) introduced H.R.1022, Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007, to reauthorize the assault weapons ban, which was referred that date to the House Committee on the Judiciary and then on to its Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on March 19.

While there were no co-sponsors originally, the bill gained 34 co-sponsors by March 22. An additional four co-sponsors signed on after the April 16 Virgina Tech Massacre: Neil Abercrombie (HI); Sam Farr, Henry Waxman and Jane Harman (CA) and Rush Holt (NJ).

The measure reinstates for ten years repealed criminal provisions regarding assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. It revises the definition of “semiautomatic assault weapon” to include kits for converting a firearm to such a weapon and any semiautomatic rifle or pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and that has specified characteristics, including a telescoping stock. It prohibits the transfer of such a weapon except through a licensed dealer or a state or local law enforcement agency who whill be subject to requirements.. The bill directs the Attorney General to establish and maintain a record of the make, model, and date of manufacture of any such weapon which the AG is made aware has been used in relation to a crime, and of the nature and circumstances of the crime involved and also to annually submit the record to Congress and make it available to the public. In addition, the measure prohibits the transfer of any assault weapon with a large capacity ammunition feeding device; and a licensed manufacturer, importer, or dealer who transfers such a device that was manufactured on or before this Act’s enactment from failing to certify to the Attorney General, within 60 days of the transfer date, that the device was manufactured on or before that date. The bill also prohibits the transfer of such a weapon or device to a juvenile; and the importation of such a device.

And yet, the gun control groups didn’t even send out a press release and the Brady Campaign fails to mention the measure on its legislation page. Go figure. I’ll add a report Congresspedia.

Here’s an interesting site, although ‘m not sure who the author is .

Entry for April 24, 2007

April 26, 2007

This chart is from a ABC poll released late yesterday suggesting that Americans favor gun control but that basic attitudes are unchanged. A new finding after the Virginia Tech shootings is that 83 percent support steps to ensure that states report mentally ill people to the federal gun-sales registry.

On Face the Nation April 22 (transcript) Patrick Leahy danced away from Bob Schieffer’s question:

But do you think that basically the debate over guns is over? Because a lot of people say that once Al Gore lost, that Democrats backed away from this issue and that they have not taken it up since. And I find it very interesting, the responses that we got after this. After 9/11, people said, “We want action. Do something.” Almost to a person, the people have come forward, both on the Republican side and the Democratic side, and said, `Well, this is a time for grieving. We’ll think about what should be done later on.

Schieffer is no Helen Thomas and fails to hold the pols accountable when they say not much of anything. And I can’t decide whether this question, although astute, perpertuates the a conventional wisdom that nothing can be done. Schieffer certainly didn’t allow Sarah Brady, also on the program, much time to talk.

Entry for April 23, 2007

April 26, 2007

Another poster, the one that started the Diebold Variations c. 2004 by Rand Careaga/Salamander.epa.

He explains,

I came into possession of the image of Stalin casting a vote, and wondered what the ghastly old fellow might have made of the new touchscreen voting technology. A magazine ad suggested itself, and then another, and another…

On April 23, Richard Wolf of USA Today writes in Paper-trail voting gets organized opposition” that last week about two dozen secretaries of state, state legislators and county executives met in Washington to plot about letters, phone calls and meetings with lawmakers to stop Rush Holt’s (D-NJ) H.R. 811 which requires more accountability regarding electronic voting and now has 209 co-sponsors (UPDATE: 210 as of 4/24, with Sonny Bono’s widow Mary (R-CA) joining up.)

Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark (D) objected to Holt’s measure,

We’re talking about 10 months from now — that’s nuts…[it] would absolutely assure a meltdown in the elections next year.

Says Holt,

We can’t go through another federal election with people not believing the results.

Problems with touchscreen machines already prompted New Mexico to adopt optical-scan paper ballots. Maryland’s legislature is moving toward a similar change after problems arose in last September’s primary. The disputed Florida congressional election in November prompted Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to push for optical-scan machines, now pending in the state Legislature.

Vermont Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz and Kansas Election Director Brad Bryant, the heads of national associations for officials in their respective positions, say the new standards I wrote about yesterday will not be as much of a problem.

Kimball Brace, president of of Election Data Services, a Washington consulting firm disagrees.

It’s the other train wreck waiting to happen.

*

Meanwhile, Bev Harris of BlackboxVoting is also on the rampage against Holt, calling it the “Patriot Act” of voting because it permanently establishes the EAC. : A draft letter states:

I write in opposition to the Holt Bill, H.R. 811, which promises “increased voter confidence” but actually perpetuates secret vote-counting by computers while handing centralized control of federal elections to four White House appointees.

Because it requires a computerized text conversion device in every polling place, H.R. 811 would actually require electronic voting machines, effectively ruling out noncomputerized voting methods such as handcounted paper ballots.

For the same reason H.R. 811 would also rule out noncomputerized voter assistive devices that provide better accessiblity features at far less cost, while avoiding the unacceptable risks of secret, computerized vote-counting.

This unnecessary, unproven, as-yet nonexistent text converter device that H.R. 811 requires is a gift to the E-voting industry and an under-funded federal mandate that will impose huge cost burdens on the states.

H.R. 811 provides no means to enforce election laws that are being routinely violated. This hardly inspires “increased voter confidence” in elections.

Election auditing procedures in H.R. 811–which apply to post-election results rather than to the first count–are poorly conceived and inadequate to reliably detect electronic fraud or mistabulation. This inspires alarm, not confidence.

The EAC, created as a temporary advisory commission to implement HAVA, is in fact a federal executive commission that can at any time be converted into a federal regulatory agency by the insertion of a single line of text in any act of Congress.

Regulatory powers would enable the EAC to effectively bypass Congress and create law that preempts Constitutional state sovereignty in election administration. This would allow four White House appointees to determine:

* Which voting systems are approved for use in our elections
* Who counts the votes, and how votes are counted
* How recounts are conducted and outcomes decided

What I don’t understand is why Harris, who wants paper ballots, has not worked with Holt, who seems like a good guy, to change the provisions, rather than work against him.

*

A computer specialist in Italy, Emanuele Lombardi, suggests electronic-aided paper ballots, with no connection to the internet, to avoid hacking.

Entry for April 22, 2007

April 26, 2007

Rand Careaga has kindly given me permission to use his poster from the the brilliant photoshop collection, The Diebold Variations (copyright 2006 by Rand Careaga/salamander.eps) . While he replied promptly, yahoo ate my entry before I could post it, so here I go again.

Careaga is the 50-something art director of an undisclosed company in san Francisco. I discovered his work when I was looking for something to illustrate the latest testimony by
Randolph Hite, director of information technology architecture and systems issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform April 18, “Elections: All Levels of Government Are Needed Electronic Voting Challenges” citing secuirty and reliability concerns that merit attention including

vague or incomplete standards, weak security controls, system design flaws, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and inadequate security testing

Hite told new guidlines by the Election Assistances Commission (EAC) fail to address voting technology issues and that a signifigant a number of state and local authorities aren’t using the current voluntary standards the Federal Election Commission devised in 1990 and revised in 2002.

Entry for April 21, 2007

April 21, 2007

1996 file photo of Rose Bird from The Recorder, the newsletter established in 1887 by the Bar Association of San Francisco thanks to Steve’s entry for December 4 at Born Today/Died Today. (email) (Frank Zappa also died that date, as did May Swenson. December is a cruel month.

The Blacksburg contra dance was cancelled tonight because of the Virginia Tech shootings.

Today is the anniversaary of the date in 1993 when California resumed capital punishment with the execuition of Robert Alton Harris, after state supreme court Chief Justice Rose Bird and Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso were ousted in a 1986 recall election after a campaign initiated by death penalty supporters. Bird had been desserted by Democratic Party officials afraid of fallout from the controversial Judge, according to an article which appeared in the National Review, “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

An interesting look at the pro and con arguments can be found at RoseBirdprocon.org. According to that site,

The three major groups opposing Chief Justice Rose Bird raised $3,337,179 in 1985: Californians to Defeat Rose Bird, $2,504,847; Crime Victims for Court Reform, $406,983; Law and Order Campaign Committee, $425,394. Chief Justice Bird’s re-election committee (Committee to Conserve the Courts) raised $1,122,191. …At the beginning of 1986, Crime Victims for Court Reform merged with Californians to Defeat Rose Bird to form the California Coalition for Court Reform.

Republican Governor George Deukmejian then appointed three justices in favor of the death penalty to take their places. According to Dick Meister, antipathy towards Rose dated back to Bird’s support of labor during her tenure as Brown’s secretary of labor. A tribute by the court after her death from breast cancer is here. the California Public Defender’s Association established an award in her honor, as did the Califronia Women Lawyers.

The California State Library is the repository for the archive of Californians to Defeat Rose Bird.

Today is also the anniversary of the 1989 protest at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where 100,000 students gathered six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party.

Roy Cohn and David Schine, two of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief aides, returned on this day in 1953 to the United States after a investigating United States Information Service (USIS) posts in Europe, where thousands of books were removed from USIS libraries in several Western European countries due to their recommendations.