Thursday, December 30, 2004

Exit polls and more

The exit poll. Jonathan Simon and Ron P. Baiman will no doubt come in for the usual ad hominem attacks -- after all, when the Republican propagandists can't go after the data, they always go after those who dared to compile it. Even so, let's do what we can to publicize their latest, updated analysis of the exit poll controversy.

Here's the summary they offer:

There is a substantial discrepancy -- well outside the margin of error and outcome-determinative -- between the national exit poll and the popular vote count.

The possible causes of the discrepancy would be random error, a skewed exit poll, or breakdown in the fairness of the voting process and accuracy of the vote count.

Analysis shows that the discrepancy cannot reasonably be accounted for by chance or random error.

Evidence does not support hypotheses that the discrepancy was produced by problems with the exit poll.

Widespread breakdown in the fairness of the voting process and accuracy of the vote count are the most likely explanations for the discrepancy.

In an accurate count of a free and fair election, the strong likelihood is that Kerry would have been the winner of the popular vote.
For the full report -- pdf-style, alas -- go here.

Will Byrd fly to the rescue? For reasons given yesterday, it may not be politically wise for John Kerry to challenge the Ohio electors. Two other names have been mooted: John Edwards and Robert Byrd.

Edwards, it is said, felt that the concession was premature. He will be out of the senate soon. However, he is nothing if not ambitious, and plunging headlong into a sea of national ridicule can do nothing for his goals.

But Byrd...ah, now that is an idea. He's an ornery old lion. He hates this administration. And he's reached the age at which a man speaks his mind and just does not give a shit what anyone has to say in reply.

In my eyes, Byrd is the best man for the job. Perhaps we should write him and encourage him to speak up in favor of fair elections?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Another section on elections (and more)

I'm grateful for the response on my email conundrum (although I remain allergic to Macs -- sorry!). I do wish that all virus-writers had but one neck, so I could wring it.

By the way, have any conspiracy theorists mooted the idea that Symantic and allied companies are the real creators of the many viral attacks in the wild? Cui bono, and all that...

Feeneygate. Each day, this drama becomes more interesting. YEI, the former employer of Clinton Curtis (the guy in Florida who claims Tom Feeney asked the company to create a prototype vote-rigging software) is now also making serious lawsuit noises against the Seminole Chronicle, the Florida paper which gave coverage to Curtis' story. According to Brad Friedman, the letter from YEI's attorneys bears striking similarities of language to the letter written by Feeney's representatives.

Not that they're working together, or anything like that...

The lawyers also allege "at least one of Mr. Curtis’s former employers has stated under oath that Mr. Curtis is a pathological liar." Odd that this former employer goes unnamed. Someone at YEI, perhaps?

To my nostrils, these legal missives carry the stench of the bluff.

Olbermann. In a private email, a reader made a good case in defense of Keith Olbermann's recent work. Unfortunately, I was asked to keep the letter private. Suffice it to say, I now somewhat regret my harsh stance of yesterday. Somewhat.

The Ohio lawsuit. Remember the affidavits testifying to highly-suspicious behavior on the part of that Triad employee? Chief Justice Moyer tossed 'em out today, even though the events in question were (to a large degree) verified.

The reasons for this dismissal were largely technical. Moyer claims that the affidavit by Sherole Eaton relies on hearsay. (I would question this; I thought Eaton was careful to specify what she witnessed personally.) He also argued that her affidavit lacks a statement from the notary that he or she personally witnessed Eaton's signature. Moreover, the Chief Justice makes clear that even if the affidavit were unassailable, it remains "unclear" that the Triad employee engaged in ballot tampering.

Much the same objection is lodged against the deposition of Catherine Buchanan. First, we get technical objections: "Neither the exhibit nor the contestors' motion, however, specifies who Buchanan is, where she works..." Then we get to the meat of the matter:

Buchanan testifies that an employee was going to reprogram a machine. Even assuming the specified machine was an electronic voting machine that was used in the presidential election, however, there is no evidence in the deposition excerpt concerning how this would necessarily affect the recount -- or more important -- this election-contest case.
Dig it: It's not enough for a tech to get access to a voting machine under legally dubious circumstances. It's not enough for him to reprogram a machine that should not be reprogrammed (an activity some churls might consider downright illegal). It's not enough for him to utter those incriminating remarks about a "cheat sheet," which surely speak to the integrity of the recount process.

No, Moyer won't allow evidence in unless the Triad guy had announced in plain language: "Hi, everyone! I'm here to help George W. Bush cheat his way to victory in the recount!"

And even if Eaton had heard the guy say those words, the judge would still toss out her affidavit if the notary public failed to state specifically that he or she saw her sign the damn piece of paper.

The Chief Justice also sees no particular need for emergency relief to preserve evidence in Ohio despite the fact that "Tabulator test deck reports were discarded after the election."

The case is still ongoing -- but will the evidence remain intact? Or will we continue to read about those pesky accidents?

Open letter to John Kerry. Bob Fertik has just written an open letter to Kerry, asking the Massachusetts senator to challenge Ohio's electors on January 6. As you know, I have long been a Kerry supporter. Yet I remain of two minds as to whether he should lead the fight on January 6. Fertik makes some points worth repeating here:

But Monday night, your attorney Dan Hoffheimer told Keith Olbermann your investigation is over:

"There are many conspiracy theorists opining these days. There are many allegations of fraud. But this presidential election is over. The Bush-Cheney ticket has won. The Kerry-Edwards campaign has found no conspiracy and no fraud in Ohio, though there have been many irregularities that cry out to be fixed for future elections. Senator Kerry and we in Ohio intend to fix them. When all of the problems in Ohio are added together, however bad they are, they do not add up to a victory for Kerry-Edwards. Senator Kerry's fully-informed and extremely careful assessment the day after the election and before he conceded remains accurate today, notwithstanding all the details we have since learned."

I beg to differ with Dan Hoffheimer. Let me address two issues:

1) When do "many irregularities" (Hoffheimer's own phrase) rise to the level of "fraud" and ultimately "conspiracy"?

2) How much fraud would it take to "add up to a victory for Kerry-Edwards"?

1) When do "many irregularities" (Hoffheimer's own phrase) rise to the level of "fraud" and ultimately "conspiracy"?

"Irregularities" happen by accident or neglect. "Fraud" happens by design, when someone intends to interfere with a free and fair election. "Conspiracy" happens by coordination among those intending to commit "fraud."

The first challenge is proving the "many irregularities" were not accidental, but were intentional "fraud."
Later, we read:

Now what about Ohio in 2004?

A large group of detectives are painstakingly examining evidence and interviewing witnesses. As in all difficult criminal investigations, key discoveries are being made in fits and starts, and key questions are being highlighted. I have documented all of the key discoveries on one page:

Have we found the "smoking gun"? Not yet. But we have made many important discoveries that suggest the "many irregularities" were outright "fraud." And we are close to uncovering a "conspiracy," which seems ever more likely because of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's fierce effort to block any investigation whatsoever.

The Republican effort to steal Ohio's electors began long before Election Day, and continues to this very moment.
Later still:

On October 13, thieves broke into Democratic headquarters in Toledo and stole computers with crucial data - while ignoring office cash. In 1972, a similar campaign break-in at the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC - which President Richard Nixon brushed off as a "third rate burglary" - ultimately led his resignation when the conspiracy behind the break-in - and the conspiracy to cover it up - were fully exposed after a year of bi-partisan hearings.
Later still:

In the week before Election Day, Democrats received flyers telling them to vote on Wednesday. Cleveland Democrats were visited by canvassers who illegally offered to collect and deliver completed absentee ballots to the election office, and got phone calls incorrectly informing them that their polling place had changed. Lake County voters received a memo on bogus Board of Elections letterhead informing voters who registered through Democratic and NACCP drives that they could not vote. A 25-man Republican-backed "Texas Strike Force" in Columbus threatened ex-convicts not to vote.
Fertik goes on to detail many similar attempts at disenfranchisement. He then summarizes subsequent developments, familiar to all regular readers of this column:

As polls closed on Election Day, the National Election Pool's exit poll showed Kerry winning Ohio by 3.2%. Two polling experts, Steven Freeman and Ron Baiman, independently concluded the chances of the exit poll being so different from the "official" results are "impossible." Those polling experts - and Rep. John Conyers - asked the NEP to release the raw data, but they have adamantly refused.

On Election Night, officials in Warren County - which alone produced 35% of Bush's margin of "victory" - cited a bogus "homeland security" warning to prevent the media and the public from observing the vote count.

In Miami County, officials mysteriously added 19,000 votes to their original tally. Several precincts reported nearly 100% turnout; a recent canvass by the Free Press found many voters did not actually vote.

A comparison of the Presidential race with the Ohio Supreme Court race found C. Ellen Connally, a black woman from northeastern Ohio, did far better than John Kerry in southwestern Ohio suburbs. This unlikely result is a key element of the Green/Libertarian contest - and possible evidence of "vote-flipping" software in the voting machines or tabulating systems.

Rep. John Conyers and other dedicated Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have held several hearings in Washington DC and in Ohio. They have examined dozens of fraud allegations and sought answers to 36 specific questions from Ken Blackwell. Blackwell replied with utter contempt. This lack of transparency and accountability alone is sufficient to justify a challenge to Ohio's electors on January 6.
Fertik then goes on to outline recount oddities:

By law, each county is required to chose precincts (totaling 3% of the vote) at random for the recount. But in 86 of 88 counties, officials chose the precincts in advance, giving tabulating vendors the opportunity to rig the recount.

Recount observers were prohibited from examining the 92,672 "spoiled" ballots (undervotes and overvotes) that were rejected by vote-counting machines. As the Florida recount proved, many of these "spoiled" ballots were in fact "valid" ballots cast on defective machines in poor precincts, and the failure to count them most likely hurt John Kerry, as Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips has documented.

Recount observers were mostly prohibited from inspecting sign-in books to compare the number of votes cast with the number counted (see Miami County above). On November 15, in violation of Ohio's open public records laws, Blackwell ordered all 88 Boards of Election to prohibit any public inspection of poll books until after certification. When the ban was lifted in Trumbull County, Dr. Werner Lange found 580 absentee votes for which there were no absentee voters identified in the poll books - a major fraud. If extrapolated state-wide, there could be 62,513 fraudulent absentees. In Perry County, the number of voters exceeded the number of people who signed the books in at least 11 of 46 precincts.
There is much more, of course. Much of the argument depends on exit polls, and the Ukrainian comparison.

I agree with Fertik's points; we all must salute his superb work. But one factor troubles me: Obviously, the Republican party should suffer politically from the outrages listed above. But they will suffer nothing, for the mainstream media will not repeat the list of charges given above, even if Kerry proclaims himself an aggrieved party.

If Kerry challenges the electors, Kerry -- not Bush -- will suffer politically.

On the other hand: If Kerry does not challenge the electors, he will suffer politically within his party. The Democratic faithful -- which is to say, the many small contributors -- will view John Kerry as someone who would not stand up for himself.

However he stands, he stands damned.

What can change the situation? A political miracle. We need a striking new piece of evidence. It need not be conclusive, but it must grab attention. And we need this evidence within a week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Email impersonation?

I've been getting a lot of "bounce back" messages (undeliverable email) from sites to which I have not sent any mail. The sites include Michael Ruppert's, Rense, and something called "Right Turns." (I did once write to Rense, but that was quite a few months ago.) The returned messages are filled with code -- signifying either a virus or an image file. I am not sending this stuff out. If some creep is spoofing my email address, I'm not sure what to do.

Democracy, too, can drown (updated again)

Major corrections: Contrary to my statement yesterday, Tom Feeney has not filed a lawsuit against the Seminole Chronicle. He has, however, made serious noises about doing so. As always, I blame Satan for the error. (I also blame Old Scratch for the many typos in yesterday's post.)

Speaking of errors: The other paper in Feeney's home town, The Oviedo Voice, is putting together a response to the vote-theft coverage offered by the rival Seminole Chronicle. The Voice labeled Christopher Bollyn, a reporter for American Free Press, as a guest writer for the Brad Blog. I am quite sure that Brad Friedman writes all his own material. (I speak with the authority of one who, on a regular basis, cribs from that fine site -- with Brad's cheerful acquiescence.)

At the same time, the Voice saw fit to note that bloggers are "not always totally accurate." Which is true, of course. Even so, don't you love it when the traditional media -- you know, the advertising-supported venues which can afford editors, proofreaders, fact-checkers and so forth -- commit serious mistakes even as they score bloggers for sloppiness?

On a similar note, you'll be entertained by Brad's response to the latest anti-Curtis barrage by Keith Olbermann. Face it, folks: Olbermann's no longer on our side. That's not the problem. The problem is, he seems to have gone over to the other side.

Subpoenas for the Prez, Cheney, and Rove? The Nashua Advocate asserts that the lawyers involved with Cliff Arnebeck's suit in Ohio will attempt to depose the men who run our country, and will also seek a deposition from George W. Bush.

The Free Press also reports that Blackwell is doing his damnedest not to make any statement about the election under oath:

Richard Conglianese, Ohio Assistant Attorney General, is seeking a court order to protect Blackwell from testifying under oath about how the election was run. Blackwell, who administered Ohio's November 2 balloting, served as co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

James R. Dicks, Miami County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, filed a motion to block a subpoena in his county while Conglianese filed to block subpoenas in ten key Ohio counties.
All of which has a "we've got 'em on the run" flavor." Alas, matters are not so simple. The Supreme Court of Ohio has moved to dismiss a large part of Arnebeck's case. That Court, dominated by Republicans, has also been asked to quash the subpoenas on Bush and his comrades.

For a fine analysis of the trouble the Ohio Supremes have just handed Cliff Arnebeck, go to georgia10's extremely helpful diary on Daily Kos. You'll have to scroll down to the update at the very end.

Arnebeck on the Ohio recount. I'm gratified to learn that Cliff Arnebeck has made much the same point I've tried to make. From the Guardian:

Cliff Arnebeck, an attorney representing the voters in the challenge, wasn't taking much stock in the recount effort. He questioned why there was no independent investigation into the accuracy of counting machines to determine whether the machines had been tampered with.

"You're allowing the original error to be repeated a second time, so it's not a meaningful recount," he said.
In this light, you'll want to pay close attention to the Triad story below. You'll also want to savor the following choice oddity...

This blogger's account from December 18 shows evidence that Coshocton County, Ohio, showed a wide variety of reported vote totals. At some point between Blackwell's official count on December 6 and an official county announcement of vote totals issued on December 10, the number of votes jumped from 16,242 to 17,300. The recount brought the number up to 17,329. Over a thousand new votes were "found."

But, but, but...

According to today's AP story on the recount, "Kerry gained 734 more votes in the recount, and Bush picked up 449." Math was never my strong suit, but I tote those numbers up to 1183 new votes found statewide.

Were the additional votes all found in Coshocton County? Is that likely? Is that possible?

To my eyes, these recount numbers look seriously questionable. I'll be happy to stand corrected if anyone out there has a counter-argument...

Let's all hang with the Kerrys: There is a movement to maintain a vigil outside John Kerry's house, in order to pressure him not to certify the electoral college vote on January 6. That would be a real "Profiles in Courage" moment, wouldn't it? If Kerry challenges the slate of electors from Ohio or Florida, he can kiss goodbye any hope of running in 2008. He would probably also lose his senate seat in the next election. On the other hand, if he doesn't speak out against vote theft, who will?

Vote hopping. Even the Washington Post acknowledges the problem: On electronic voting machines in Ohio (and elsewhere, if numerous anecdotal reports count for anything), the default vote went to Bush. The damned machines were programmed to operate in that fashion. Of course, a small sector of the electorate will not cast any vote in the presidential election. Did those votes automatically go to W?

You gotta love it. Dick Morris offers this observation on the election in the Ukraine:

In both previous elections, Yushchenko actually got upward of 60 percent of the vote, only to have the government falsify the results. Fortunately, he adopted a technique I had found useful when fighting against the PRI, the party that controlled Mexico's government for decades: using exit polls to establish the real winner, and so expose the government's count of the votes as rigged.
So there you have it: According to Dick, the exit polls demonstrate which candidate should be a "shoe-in" -- in every country except the United States.

By the it true (as this story claims) that shadowy Republican pollster Frank Luntz helped run the exit polls in the Ukraine? For an eye-opening run-down on Luntz' startling career, check here.

More on Triad: A professional computer consultant offers a few choice words on Triad's "ever so helpful" system of offering modem access to tabulating machines:

Triad non-chalantly used this modem method to reset machines in preparation for the Ohio recount. No doubt that this is a practical short-cut: Makes sense; it saves gas, time. In fact, this is the same mechanism that I -- a computer consultant -- use to support 200 computers spread out across North Carolina.

It is now public record that Triad "legally hacked" into Van Wert County, Ohio on December 9th, and other counties on different dates in preparation for the recount...

The big picture: Everything is fine until you consider that passive modem-access means that these machines have been available for remote re-configuration for months if not years. We know this because nothing special was done (like Triad calling Van Wert’s elections board) to prepare for this recent remote connectivity.
The revelation that Triad used a modem to hack into the tabulators before the recount is verified by the Green Party Website. (You'll have to scroll down.)

It's been said before (many times, many ways), but there is no legit reason to attach a modem to any machine linked in any way to the counting of our votes.

Video proof. Want to see a strong video demonstration of the outrageous efforts to disenfranchise black voters in Ohio? Click here.

An anti-Conyers editorial in an the Port Clinton News Herald (an Ohio newspaper) includes this noteworthy bit of snarkiness:

If Conyers was so concerned about voting problems, where was he in 1998 when election officials in his hometown of Detroit took a disgraceful two weeks to count ballots due to lost poll books and miscounting of precinct totals?

Where was he in 2001 when the counting of absentee ballots in Detroit had to be halted in midstream by state officials after it was discovered that the city clerk was simply ignoring state requirements for the use of software that would eject ballots that couldn't be read by machine?

And where was he when a memo allegedly drafted by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's aides in 2002 claimed that Detroit's voter rolls were overstated by about 150,000 people -- a strong hint that something may be seriously amiss in the Detroit election process, threatening the value of the ballot for people who are genuinely qualified to vote?
"A disgraceful two weeks"? Jeez, we would have loved it if Ken Blackwell had finished the official Ohio vote count within two weeks. Would it be churlish of us to mention his election-night promise to complete the work within ten days? Instead, he dragged out the process for more than a month, obviously with the intention of making the recount efforts moot.

Back to the article quoted above: Do we have any evidence that the incident in 2001 was not rectified as soon as it was discovered? In the absence of such evidence, why is the Port Clinton News Herald trying to imply culpability on the part of John Conyers?

The same can be said of the 2002 memo, which remains controversial. The issue comes down to the question of whether or not Detroit has no more than 450,000 registered voters, as Kirkpatrick estimated. According to the Detroit News:

But Detroit Elections Director Gloria Williams maintains there are 611,321 registered voters in the city. This summer, the city spent $143,363 to mail registration cards.

"That's way wrong," Williams said of the 450,000 figure in Kilpatrick's memo.
By the way, we also do not know which side would be favored by these alleged ghost voters -- if they exist. Would John Conyers or his Republican opponent feel a greater need to pad the Detroit vote?

I draw attention to this attempt to smear Conyers because it gives us a hint as to the propaganda barrage the Republicans will surely mount, should his efforts justify a major counter-attack.

Funny, innit? The anti-Conyers forces in Ohio have become very worked up by a memo from 2002 estimating (based on what evidence, I know not) a lower number of registered voters in Detroit. But Conyers' critics do not see much wrong with the situation in Perry County, Ohio, where the number of votes significantly exceeded the number of people who signed the books. Democrat Bill Crane, who lost (by a razor-thin margin) the vote to retain his auditor's position, is filing suit...

We haven't even mentioned the ballooning absentee vote numbers in Turnball County, Ohio:

The Trumbull County investigation showed some 650 more absentee votes than there were absentee voters identified in the poll books examined. If the absentee vote inflation rate there were consistent statewide, then over 63,000 votes were up for grabs in Ohio. This unexplained problem would have been brought to light much earlier had it not been for an unlawful directive by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to prevent any public inspection of poll books prior to vote certification.
Let us summarize.

A right-leaning Ohio newspaper damns Conyers because of an unproven allegation of "funny numbers" in Detroit. But when similar allegations come backed by actual data, and when the dubious activity occurs in Ohio, and when a Democrat suffers -- that isn't anything for an Ohio newspaper to worry about.


Monday, December 27, 2004

The disaster

We are all stunned by the Asian disaster; the images have been wrenching. I was gratified to learn that Arthur C. Clarke, who lives in Sri Lanka, escaped the tsunami. I thought I would pass along a message he posted just today on his site:

I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa – both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don’t know the fully extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for – yet.

This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.

Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean.

A few brief vote notes

Between the holiday cheer, caring for a sick puppy, repairing a sick computer, and keeping the wolf from the door, I haven't had much time for holiday blogging. Here are a few things I've learned during this holiday: Chocolate-covered strawberries are among the finest things in all creation, MSI mainboards should be avoided, and vets are the nicest people in the world.

Kerry files. William Rivers Pitt reports that John Kerry has filed motions to preserve possible evidence of electoral fraud in Ohio. I'm glad that he is getting into this, and I'm glad that the dialogue is turning to "fraud," as opposed to "problems."

Of course, as anyone who has ever been involved with a lawsuit knows, the filing of a motion does not mean that a judge will allow it. But if it is allowed, Triad will have to offer a sworn deposition. It'll be interesting to see who pays the bills for his lawyer.

Unconcession? you may have heard a rumor that Kerry will "un-concede" on January 6 (the feast of the Epiphany and Joan of Arc's birthday). If that happens, I'll eat the hat I got for Christmas.

Revote in Florida and Ohio! Sign the petition! Do I think that these petitions serve much purpose in real life? Um...hard to say. At any rate, big numbers will hearten everyone who cares about this issue.

Feeney sues. Representative Tom Feeney has filed a lawsuit against the Seminole Chronicle for the story they did on Clinton Curtis, the programmer who has claimed under oath that he was Feeney tasked him to come up with a prototype vote-rigging program. I strongly suggest that you read not just Brad Friedman's in depth reportage, but also the very revealing reader commentary.

Computer vote fraud in Texas. The office is a small one, but the issues loom large:

"As I look back over the General Election held on Nov. 2, 2004, I know that voting is a 'right' that is being taken away everyday," writes Brenda Denson-Prince. But she is not writing about far away places like Ohio or Florida. She is writing about her own attempt to become the first woman in Kaufman County, Texas to sit on the County Commissioners Court.
Bottom line: The central tabulators stole the election from her. The problem was, of course, labeled a "glitch." She called for a recount, which was also gamed:

On Wednesday morning, Nov. 10, Joan D. Neeley represented the Democratic Party at a sorting of early ballots. Of 30,000 votes cast in Kaufman County, 16,000 were early votes.

“We kept noticing ballots in the wrong piles [voting boxes] as we continued through our process and because of this we all decided we would double check each pile [voting box] for accuracy after sorting was complete," noted Neeley in a signed statement, dated Nov. 16. But according to Neeley's statement, the double-checking was never completed. It was interrupted on Nov. 10, and when on Nov. 12 Neeley requested a resumption, she was informed that a court order would be needed to break the seals on remaining boxes.
The hand-count of ballots showed clear signs of erasures (despite the fact that voting booth pencils have no erasers attached) and even white-out.

Sometimes a small story casts light on a larger one...

Dominion. As you know, the vote-riggers justify their criminality through a belief in Christian Reconstructionism, or Dominionism. This is the weltanschauung of the Ahmanson family, which runs ESS, the company that counts so many of our votes. I urge you to check out this video on the Dominionist menace.

The term "Christo-Fascist" has seen some recent currency. I think the label works, and I hope to increase see it in greater circulation.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Satanic baby-eating and other holiday notes

If you came here looking for the latest on voter fraud, scroll down. Meanwhile...

To celebrate the holiday season and the impending triumph of Theocratic Fundamentalism, I thought I would discuss the ever-popular topic of Satanists who feast on the flesh of infants.

Dare ye scoff, heathen? Check out this report on (one of the more respectable web sites of our new fundamentalist rulers), which offers first-hand testimony by a former Satanist called "Sharon":

"I saw babies be killed all the time," Sharon continues. "When I was 17, I was impregnated by the high priest and made to carry his child. And then they took this child from me and I saw this baby be sacrificed before my eyes and was made to eat a part of her heart. They took my baby out of me, and I heard the infant cry, and even though I was only 17, my maternal instincts reached out for that little crying baby. And the next thing I know, they had placed that baby on like an altar -- really it was a pulpit -- and then my father took his fist and crushed her skull and at the same time was removing her heart. And then they took off body parts. They took her little arms and lifted up my baby. They chopped off her head and had this infant dangling without a chest cavity in front of my face to terrorize me and say, `This is what's going to happen to you. This is what's going to happen to your sister.' So this stuff is real."
Those debunkers who refuse to face this ghastly truth may be interested to learn the origin of the baby-eating accusation. The very first people in history to be on the receiving end of such rumors were...

...the early Christians.

So, at least, states Norman Cohn in his excellent text on the origins of the witch persecutions, Europe's Inner Demons.

Back in the old, old days, before Constantine decriminalized the Christian religion, most of the faithful did not meet openly in churches. Instead, they gathered together for what were, in essence, pot-luck dinners. These meals were called "Agape" feasts. During these secret gatherings, the officiating priest would celebrate the eucharist -- drink the wine, chew the wafer, you know the drill.

Word on the Roman street had it that the Christians used these covert meetings to "eat the flesh of the Son of Man." In Greek, this phrase sounded indistinguishable from "eat the flesh of the son of A man."

The Christians tried to explain the technical meaning of the phrase, but their explanations sounded like ex post facto rationalizations. All the best people in the empire, including the "good" emperor Marcus Aurelius, became convinced that Christians were baby-eaters.

In desperation, the Christians countered that they were innocent of all such practices -- but that those pesky Gnostic heretics probably were not. You want to meet some baby-eaters? Check out those nasty old Carpocratians. Those people also have ritual sex. Sex! Without even being married! They're capable of anything!

Then as now, Christians had a rather loose interpretation of the commandment forbidding false accusation. From that day to this, the charge of infanticide has perfumed all reports of "heretical" practice circulating within the Christian community.

In the early 19th century, a German scholar dug up the old anti-Christian cannibalism charges which had circulated in the days of Marcus Aurelius. This scholar published a book which took the accusations at face value. The work excited various advanced thinkers of that era (Marx was taken in by its argument for a brief time), until subsequent scholarship established the truth about early Christian dietary practices.

But in the eldritch realms of modern fundamentalism, neither scholarship nor evidence counts for much. So our evangelical friends will continue to circulate reports similar to the lovely anecdote relayed to us by "Sharon."

Some of you may now be wondering about my own religious beliefs, and perhaps my own dining habits. I usually do not speak openly of my own ideas, which are vague, contradictory, and continually in flux. Suffice it to say, the above reference to early "heretics" reminded me of this rather Gnostic passage from Moby Dick, in which Ahab disses his Demiurgic Creator:

Thou knowest not how came ye, hence callest thyself unbegotten: Certainly knowest not they beginning, hence callest thyself unbegun. I know that of me, which thou knowest not of thyself, of, thou omnipotent. There is some unsuffusing thing beyond thee to whom all thy eternity is but time, all thy creativeness mechanical.
Happy holidays, everyone.

How a democracy dies

Default settings. Remember the stories that have circulated ever since November 2 that voters in many compu-vote states would press buttons for Kerry only to see the name "Bush" appear on screen? That mountain of anecdotal evidence forces attention on the latest piece by Richard Hayes Phillips, who claims that electronic voting machines had "default settings" directed toward Bush.

E-vote machines were used in Mahoning County, Ohio. According to Phillips,

Mark Munroe, Chairman of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said there were 20 to 30 machines that needed to be recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a candidate were being counted for that candidate’s opponent.

Mahoning County utilized ES&S Ivotronic touch screen machines. The administrative password for these machines was reported on the ES&S website itself.

By default, the password is 1111. According to this password cannot be modified easily, which would mean that anyone who knows the password could change other default settings on the machines.
Phillips goes on to present evidence indicating that default settings may account for suspiciously high numbers that Bush received in various wards. Also:

But the most damning evidence about Youngstown Precinct 2E is the fact that no undervotes were reported. This is the precinct where two voters selected Kerry and Bush’s name came up, where one voter had to scroll through five times before his votes were finally recorded, and where three voters said that the presidential option never appeared at all while they were trying to vote, and that this happened on two different machines.
Video interview. We've heard the excuses Triad has offered for the strange doings by Michael Barbian, the Triad tech in Hocking county whose behavior during the recount caused so much angst. In a videotaped interview, he seems like a pleasant, soft-spoken fellow with nothing to hides. One should note, though, that the interview reveals that he also "visited" six other counties.

Keith Olbermann observes that...

...the issue in Hocking is not so much what was or wasn't done to the machine, but the efforts of the Triad man to find out which of Hocking's precincts was to be subjected to the mandatory 3% hand recount.
To be specific:

Ohio law is specific about the 3% sample that must be hand recounted in each county: it's supposed to be selected randomly. If the effort is made -- either by an election official, or somebody else (like a manufacturer's rep) -- to decide in advance which 3% of the vote is to be recounted, the concept of random selection is thoroughly contaminated and once again, a puff of smoke rises from the entire recount process.

Mr. Whidden told me by phone this afternoon that there are a lot of puffs of smoke. "86 of Ohio's 88 counties have pre-selected their random precincts," he claims.
Which brings us back to Mr. Barbian of Triad. Although he insists he did nothing wrong, John Conyers and other feel that this video raises more questions than it answers.

We still don't have answers about the "cheat sheet" remark. That's what rankles Conyers:

I have just reviewed a tape prepared by the documentarian Lynda Byrket of the hearing held by the Hocking County Board of Elections on December 20, and based on the tape I have more questions and concerns than ever before about the conduct of your firm in connection with the Ohio presidential election and recount. In particular, I am concerned that your company has operated -- either intentionally or negligently -- in a manner which will thwart the recount law in Ohio by preventing validly cast ballots in the presidential election from being counted.

You have done this by preparing "cheat sheets" providing county election officials with information such that they would more easily be able to ignore valid ballots that were thrown out by the machines during the initial count. The purpose of the Ohio recount law is to randomly check vote counts to see if they match machine counts. By attempting to ascertain the precinct to be recounted in advance, and then informing the election officials of the number of votes they need to count by hand to make sure it matches the machine count is an invitation to completely ignore the purpose of the recount law.
The bottom line: Anyone figuring out a way to "game" the election must also figure out how to game a potential recount. Did the "three percent" rule in Ohio provide the entranceway for mischief?

How did Ken Blackwell rig the Ohio recount? According to Glenn Sanders of the Votergate Resource Center, the job was accomplished by a variety of tactics.

The various county Boards of Election had to chose -- at random -- three percent of their precincts for a recount; if the new numbers differed from the old ones, a county-wide recount would have been instituted. But were the precincts chosen randomly?

Many say they were not. Precincts were chosen which had fewer than 550 ballots; factors such as precinct size, voting history and affluence affected the supposedly "random" choice. As noted by Olbermann above, 86 out of 88 counties used "pre-selected" precincts.

Moreover, as this report from David Cobb's site specifies...

Anomalies were found. Almost all of the witnesses that I spoke with felt that the ballots were not in random order, that they had been previously sorted. There would be long runs of votes for only one candidate and then long runs for another, which seemed statistically improbable to most.

From what they were able to get through, witnesses found that signature counts were very much different from the official recorded number of ballots.
More than that, anomalous numbers did not trigger a full recount:

When the hand recount of the 3% test sample did not match the official vote totals, a full recount should have been ordered for all county ballots. Instead, the recount was "suspended" by county officials who said that Secretary Blackwell recommended that the recount should begin again "from scratch." The Green recount observers then were told that it was 4:00 PM, the building was closed, and all had to leave. The Republican contingent, however was allowed to stay in a conference room for an additional ten minutes or so for a private discussion.
In short: We have no reason to express faith in the integrity of this recount effort.

Kerry navigates the Ohio river. This story is related to the above.

According to William Rivers Pitt, John Kerry "will be filing a request for expedited discovery regarding Triad Systems voting machines, as well as a motion for a preservation order to protect any and all discovery and preserve any evidence on this matter." He would have filed yesterday, but was prevented by a snowstorm.

Bravo! This move will not lease the Democratic Kerry-haters, of course. (You know the rule: When a Republican loses, his/her supporters blame the opposition; when a Democrat loses, his/her supporters blame their own candidate. Come to think of it, that's also what happens when a Democrat wins.)

A self-proclaimed lawyer on the Democratic Underground offered these quotable observations on Kerry's post-election conduct:

That concession speech was the smartest thing he could have done

He removed himself immediately from the fray everyone hoped would ensue, and, in fact, that's what's going to take place in Ohio now. So, Kerry didn't flip-flop - he just made a brilliant strategic choice and preempted any possibility of the Republicans taking anything to the Federal court system.

That was what happened in Florida in 2004, and we all know how well THAT turned out, right? Gore let the Republicans take control of the legal process, and he never got it back.

In this case, Kerry's been staying quiet, letting the appropriate people - the Greens and Libertarians - build the proper foundation for an entry into Federal court, where his standing is --- ahem ---- unimpeachable.

It's what I've been saying would happen since November 3, and you cannot imagine how excited I am to see this happening.
My crystal ball on November 3 did not operate in this fashion. Even so, I'm glad to see movement.

Ohio, we have a problem. According to the New York Times, Ohio has election "problems." "Fraud" and "tampering" are verboten words. The accusation of intentional disenfranchisement constitutes Thoughtcrime Most Foul. But...there were problems.

Take the first example cited by the Times:

Mr. Shambora, an economics professor at Ohio University, moved during the summer but failed to notify the Athens County Board of Elections until the day before the presidential election. An official told him to use a provisional ballot.

But under Ohio law, provisional ballots are valid only when cast from a voter's correct precinct. Mr. Shambora was given a ballot for the wrong precinct, a fact he did not learn until after the election. Two weeks later, the board discarded his vote, adding him to a list of more than 300 provisional ballots that were rejected in that heavily Democratic county.
Accidental? Perhaps. But when anecdotal report after anecdotal report indicates that these "accidents" target Democrats and almost never Republicans, some of us don't feel comfortable keeping the talk restricted to the level of the accidental.

If you find that someone has "accidentally" spilled tar on your office chair five dozen days in a row, you may come to the conclusion that you are disliked.

Brad Friedman has examined this very same NYT piece, and noted:

1. The writers quote Blackwell without noting his key position within the Bush campaign.

2. The piece damns punch cards, which are in fact more easily recountable than e-votes.

I will add this: Why is it that mainstream media reports on election "problems" usually resolve with calls for high-tech solutions that will only make matters worse?

Did the "Phantom" have a daughter?

(A serious post should arrive soon; for now, a bit of fluff...)

Once, I was a massive film buff, but the Bush economy has forced me to, well, economize. My lady, however, insisted that we see the movie version of "Phantom of the Opera."

The story, I was surprised to learn, boils down to a love triangle in which a rich young guy competes with a black-clad, talented, tortured misfit with a homicidal streak. Fortunately, ladies still have a soft spot for the bad boys; our Phantom might have won the competition, had he kept his body count to a manageable level.

A mere five years ago, Andrew Lloyd Weber's score would have evinced the expected snarky commentary, but now -- perhaps as a sign that the purulent ichor within my veins has turned to syrup -- I find myself asking: If cobbling together a hummable tune is such an easy trick, why do so few others manage it? The lyrics were often silly and obvious, but the same complaint can be lodged against most grand operas. As Christine, Emily Rossum is splendid, but Gerard Butler, in the title role, didn't have the range or the power. I'm not a fan of pretty-boy Phantoms.

My attention turned toward Jennifer Ellison, and not just because of her notably plush cleavage. My ladyfriend informed me that her character, Meg, is the daughter of Madame Giry, the Phantom's secret helper. A thought occurred to me as I drifted off to sleep: Is the Phantom Meg's father?

The film contains a number of subtle visual clues which may support the idea. I never saw the stage version or read the book. Has this idea existed within the material all along, or did I just imagine things?

I'll be back within the hour, with something more serious to say. In the meantime, happy holidays.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Why the differing standards?

A short note to ask a short question. Why are right-wing "journalists" allowed to misrepresent the facts while other are not?

MSNBC recently hired conservative radio host Monica Crowley. As this piece in Media Matters illustrates, Crowley has a history of lying and plagiarism -- for example, she misrepresented the findings of the 911 commission and relayed a false story that an elementary school had banned the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God. So far as I know, she never acknowledged her errors or offered an apology.

She gets a promotion.

Dan Rather trusted a source prematurely in the great National Guard documents fiasco. Rightists claimed, falsely, that he deliberately used forgeries created with Microsoft Word. In fact, the only expert in questioned documents to study the papers favors their authenticity; genuine or otherwise, those documents most certainly were not created with Word. Still, when the source for the documents changed his story about how he obtained them, Rather quickly put the new information on the air and apologized.

Rather lost his job.

Why the differing standards?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Vote fraud news

Friends, I have to admit -- the number of vote fraud stories is thinning. I will continue to relay the information as long as new information pops up. But I am beginning to worry that the issue will die soon unless we catch a big new break.

Black disenfranchisement. An African-American writer named Shanikka comments on the official Democratic response (or lack thereof) to Republican measures to keep blacks from voting:

So, as I said before, y'all don't get it. I am becoming increasingly convinced that you will never get it because, in the end, it's all about you, and not about us. What is happening now with the Democratic "leadership" (including its strongest advocates and mobilizers in the blogosphere) is making crystal clear that you are quite happy to allow our rights to be sacrificed for some "larger good" that you are seeking (one which conveniently doesn't negatively impact YOUR rights or access to power).

As I mentioned in the last post I made, I've been a lifelong Democrat. My mother was in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. However, my mama also didn't raise no fools. I'm African-American first and no matter how much other folks tell me that they care about my people's rights, the proof is in the pudding.
These words have truth, but do not suffice. Let me raise a counter-argument.

I'm old enough to remember both times my city burned. Obviously, my memory of the second event is clearer -- I still recall the smell of the smoke and the sound of the Emergency Broadcast Signal used for real.

And what caused that uprising? A jury in Simi Valley had acquitted the cops who beat a black motorist.

I'm not saying that the grounds for revolt at that time were insufficient. But the grounds are far more compelling now. The theft of the black vote will continue until the disenfranchised respond with outrage, mass action, and...

...well, we all know the meaning of the words "by any means necessary."

It is not fair to accuse all white Democrats of doing nothing. I've devoted roughly an eighth of all my waking hours since November 2 to the task of getting some attention focused on this issue. Many others have done far more.

I called for revolt and unrest before the election. (My suggested method of protest: A mass refusal to pay taxes.)

Scowling at the Democratic leadership will accomplish little, since -- in the present conservative political climate -- they can do little. They have little power.

"Street heat," properly applied, could provide that power. Black people have a source of power denied to the Democratic leadership, for blacks have an undeniable greivance. The victims always possesses a unique ability to address the consciences of the oppressive and the ignorant. They -- perhaps only they -- can shock this country back to its senses.

If a schoolyard bully steals your lunch money and you do not fight back, chances are he will steal it again tomorrow. This is hardly the first time black people have had their votes stolen.

Clinton Curtis. Keith Olbermann has mounted an attack on Curtis' credibility. Brad Friedman, natch, has mounted the counter-attack. Any objective party who reads both pieces will have to admit that Friedman scores several direct hits.

Olbermann, it seems, made no attempt to contact Curtis. This is the point at which many will mutter something about "Journalism 101" -- although, truth be told, standards are much more relaxed in the blogosphere. What rankles me is the fact that Olbermann did bother to contact Congressman Feeney, the target of Curtis' accusations. If Olbermann wants to take the reportage to that level, why not speak to both sides?

Friedman correctly scores Olbermann for the charge that Curtis threatened his former employers "in writing." If he did, where's the evidence? Where is the evidence that the police were (as Olbermann reports) contacted as a result of this alleged threat? Olbermann has here simply functioned as a stenographer to the monied, never bothering to double-check the allegations of Feeney and Yang.

The Brad Blog delivers many more details, of course. The site even reprints the farewell card given to Curtis by his former office-mates -- a nice bit of visual evidence which tends to disprove the oft-heard line that Curtis is a mere disgruntled employee.

Friedman deserves an ovation for his efforts.

Are there any Democrats at Diebold? Robin Baneth of North Carolina wants to know. Indeed, she is offering 500 smackers, cash money, to any Diebold or Triad employee who can honestly testify that that he or she voted for Gore and Kerry.

A brilliant move, Robin! I'll bet there are no takers...

Recount in Ohio: Most of the counties have been counted (remember, Ohio law mandates an initial three percent recount) and Kerry has picked up an underwhelming 242 votes. Keep in mind that this recount does not look into undervotes, and does not double-check the voter logs, which is where much mischief may lie.

Can the recount be rigged? We've seen indications that it can be. You will recall the unpleasantness in Greene County, where ballots were kept from the recounters but made available to anyone else who cared to walk into the building.

Contrary to law, precincts were not selected at random for the three percent recount -- a factor which renders the whole recount effort somewhat farcical.

In some cases, election officials went to a private room to compare the hand counts to the machine counts, declared that the counts matched, yet wouldn't let the observers see the printouts. In other cases, the the 3% handcount did not match the machine count, yet election officials refused to do a full handcount as required by Ohio law. Election officials in many counties also won't give access to poll books, absentee ballots, and provisional ballots as required by Ohio law. To this day, we've still not seen any investigation of why an ES&S official was on a tabulator before election day. We've also not seen any investigation or reasonable explanation for the lockdown in Warren county. Other election officials have been caught in boldfaced lies (e.g., claiming under oath that all machines were distributed on election day when we now know that 81 sat in a warehouse). Blackwell himself won't answer the 36 questions posed to him by congressman Conyers, and now says he refuses to go under oath and considers the request "harassment."
Any plan to steal an election must, of course, include a contingency plan to rig a recount.

Exit polls: Mark Blumenthal's "Mystery Pollster" column has consistently argued against Dr. Freeman's work, and against the notion of vote fraud in the 2004 elections. "Exits: Were They Really "Wrong?'" attempts to demolish Freeman's analysis.

However, this response at Democratic Underground mounts a persuasive counter-argument.

Let's sample the debate. First, the Mystery Pollster:

Some have asked that I calculate my own estimate of the joint probability of an error in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania. I am reluctant to do so for two reasons: First, the rounding error in Freeman's data alone renders this sort of hairsplitting moot. Second, and more important, it really doesn't matter. Everyone concedes there was a small (2%) but significant average error in Kerry's direction. For those concerned about problems with the count, what matters most is why that error occurred.
Now, from the Democratic Underground respondent (as in original; apologies for the "all caps" approach):





If I follow the Mystery Pollster's argument correctly, he takes the end-of-day exit numbers as gospel. But as we have seen, these numbers were contaminated by (or, as some prefer to put it, "conformed to") the incoming "actuals." So the earlier numbers remain the closest thing we have to an independent check on the official tallies.

And even the conformed"numbers leave that small but significant error in Kerry's direction. This error remains mysterious to all, even the Mystery Pollster.

Bev Harris. I always feel a little guilty when I offer critical words about the woman who first opened many an eye to the dangers of the e-vote. But my feelings of guilt evaporate when I think about those poll tapes she is allegedly hoarding. Dammit, I wanna see 'em!

For the other side of the story, check out this laudatory piece. Here's a noteworthy slice:

In the blue states, Bev Harris is a standard bearer, a pioneer, and a patriot. In the red states, many who know her believe that Bev Harris is a conspiracy nut, a rabble rouser, and an agitator.
And yet, as we are continually reminded, she runs a group which remains officially non-partisan. (So does Pat Robertson, but few doubt that he voted for W.)

In paranoid moments -- yes, believe it or not, I have a few -- I wonder if some Rovian trickster tried to foist some data on her which would tend to implicate Democrats in vote tampering?

Slide show: If you want to direct newcomers to a site that provides a terrific introduction to the topic, go here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bev Harris, again

My last post on this topic disappointed a few readers, and sent at least one correspondent into a fit of anger. To be frank, I partially regretted airing a critique of Bev Harris -- her work opened our eyes to the dangers of electronic voting.

But: I'm still waiting for an explanation of the story she told regarding the poll tapes in Florida. You remember: The "original" tapes that conflicted with the copies election officials tried to palm off on her. The conflicts all show changes favoring Bush.

Or so she has said. I suspect many donated to her organization because they hoped to hear more about that very incident.

Those tapes are public property, and we have a right to see the evidence. As you will recall, when she was asked to produce copies, her response was:

"OK. Please go ask Greg Palast to produce all his investigative material during the middle of his investigations. See what HE says."

I have just discovered an exactly parallel situation involving that very reporter, Greg Palast. He wrote a famous article titled "Jim Crow in Cyberspace," about the stolen election of 2000. In the middle of that investigation, Palast was contacted by a producer who worked for CBS:

The CBS hotshot was happy to pump me for information: names, phone numbers, all the items one needs for your typical quickie TV news report. I freely offered up to CBS this information: The office of the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, brother of the Republican presidential candidate, had illegally ordered the removal of the names of felons from voter rolls -- real felons who had served time but obtained clemency, with the right to vote under Florida law. As a result, another 40,000 legal voters (in addition to the 57,700 on the purge list), almost all of them Democrats, could not vote.

The only problem with this new hot info is that I was still in the midst of investigating it.
So now we know what Greg Palast would say: Here's the info; take the research forward.

Ms. Harris...? Look, I don't want to dislike you, and I don't necessarily want any of my readers to re-think making a contribution to your work. But you are the one who brought up Palast's methodology, and that analogy simply does not work in your favor. Can you give us another reason for keeping the evidence secret?

The Curtis case and China, plus a few extra vote fraud links

Clinton Curtis, Nee and China. Raw story has taken an in-depth look at the claims made by Clinton Curtis, the vote-rigging whistleblower. In particular, they take at look at a fascinating subsidiary issue: Curtis' allegations of Chinese espionage conducted by one Henry Nee. Yang denies ever employing Nee, even though documentary evidence indicates otherwise.

The Chinese angle puzzles me now even more than it did before. I cannot help but compare the Nee/Yang affair to another simmering scandal: Israel's upgrading of Chinese weapons systems, no doubt making use of American know-how.

The mysterious blogger known as Xymphora has published an interesting analysis of this strange business. You'll want to read his comments here and here.

Xymphora's bottom line? Israel knows that the U.S. economy is headed down the tubes, and thus now hopes to befriend another 900 pound gorilla:

The American economy is just a big Ponzi scheme, with its prosperity an illusion created on its ability to borrow more and more money. Like all Ponzi schemes, this can't go on forever, and eventually the rest of the world will figure a way to get out as painlessly as possible. This will cause problems all over the world, but mostly in the United States, as the drastic decline in the value of the U. S. dollar will cause the cheap Walmart consumer goods made in China - the real opium of the masses - to become expensive consumer goods made in China.
There is some truth in this. But Xymphora's analysis does not explain the conundrum of the longstanding subterranean connections between the Reagan and Bush administrations and China.

Take note of the FBI's strange response to the Henry Nee spying scandal (see Brad Friedman's latest commentary here), which is almost as striking as Washington's lenient attitude toward Israeli/Chinese cooperation on weapons. The FBI's latest commentary on the Nee case may indicate an initial burst of investigative zeal followed by a hasty bout of cover-up.

The Nee affair has an obvious parallel in the infamous Wen Ho Lee case. Of course, Lee was cleared while Nee has pled guilty. However, as Robert Parry and others have pointed out, Chinese "theft" (do note the quotation marks) of sensitive U.S. nuclear data did, in fact, occur.

Unfortunately for the G.O.P. propagandists, it occurred during the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Why did Republican administrations turn a blind eye to China's unfriendly behavior? Because the Chinese had provided SA-7 missiles to the Nicaraguan contras. Some believe that Reagan and Bush had come to a quid pro quo arrangement with China. (For a summary of this theory, see here.)

Could a similar beneath-the-surface arrangement explain both the Nee/Yang mystery -- and perhaps even the Israeli ties to China? I'm honestly unsure. Moreover, I have no idea what favor China may have done for us to justify a further quid pro quo. The matter deserves further thought and investigation.

And yes, I'm quite aware that I am here treading on speculative and theoretical territory; doing so is sometimes unavoidable.

Scripps-Howard News Service has conducted a study in ten counties in various states, proving widespread ballot-counting problems.

The unofficial audit by Scripps Howard News Service uncovered malfunctioning voting machines, improperly designed ballots and poor accounting procedures around the nation.
The piece is not as clear as one would like, but it is still worth a read.

Salon finally gives the Conyers investigation respectful treatment. Way to go! Salon had become so cautious, I feared that they might do a slow fade into the NYT...

It's the only game in town. "Against the House: Only Chumps and Compulsive Gamblers Keep On Playing in a Rigged Game" is a good opinion piece by James Heddle.

Cheat sheet

Wired gives us a follow-up story on the mystery of the Triad employee named Michael Barbian who, while examining a voting machine during the recount, spoke of data loss due to battery failure. This comment mystified many who wondered how a bad batery could affect the hard drive.

The tech's odd behavior was described in sworn testimony by Sherole Eaton, the deputy director of elections for Hocking County.

After days had passed, the president of Triad, Brett Rapp, finally came up with what seems like a good story:

He said that when the computer experienced "a CMOS error," indicating that the rechargeable battery on the motherboard had died, the computer had lost stored information about the hard drive's specifications, which it needed to make the computer boot up. No other data on the machine was lost.

He said Barbian took the case off the computer to identify the hard drive's make and model.

"He called our office, told us the model and we obtained the hard drive parameters by looking them up on the internet," Rapp said. "That's the information we gave him over the phone. He installed no patches on the computer system. He did not tamper with it. He simply fixed a piece of equipment that was broken." He said that Eaton must have misheard Barbian say he was going to put a patch on the machine.
That does not end the matter:

But Eaton took issue with Rapp's assertion that she misheard Barbian say he mentioned placing a patch on the computer, which, in computer terms means to install computer code on a machine.

"I wouldn't just come up with that. I don't use that term or know what it means," she said. She added that Barbian used the same word with the 70-year-old chair of Hocking County's elections board, who she said also wouldn't have come up with the term on his own.

Still, she does not believe that Barbian tampered with the machine.

"I have had, and still do have, complete trust in Triad," Eaton said. Eaton, who is 65 and by her own admission not computer-savvy, did not understand much of what Barbian did, and said that when he asked if he could take apart the computer, he had to ask for a screwdriver from one of the office workers. "He brought no tools with him," Eaton told Wired News, "which indicates to me that he wasn't planning on working on the machines."
Readers should come to their own conclusions as to whether the lack of a screwdriver indicates innocence of intention.

What seems far from innocent, however, is this portion of the affidavit, unmentioned by Rapp:

He advised Lisa and I on how to post a "cheat sheet" on the wall so that only the board members and staff would know about it and and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn't have to do a full hand recount of the county.
Odd, isn't it, how Rapp refused to address the most striking part of the affidavit? If no data were lost, then what need of a cheat sheet?

Thanks to Newsclip Autopsy for bringing this one to our attention...

Dropped votes

I'm going to refer you to a link which, in turn, will send you scurrying after many another link. And I freely admit that I haven't the time to read this material right now. But you may want to do so.

One of my correspondents, who is also a diarist on Kos, has stumbled across an online cache of internal emails from Global Elections Systems, which became part of Diebold.

It's quite clear from this internal email that Global Election Systems knew that their machines dropped votes, and looked the other way.
Check it out for yourselves here. The story, alas, is not told in a linear, easily-comprehensible fashion. You may want to download the links before they go away.

Return of the bulge

Remember the bulge? Remember how David Lindorff reported that the New York Times was going to report on the story after NASA scientist Robert Nelson climbed on board, but the editors decided to kill it? Well, the "killing" has now been confirmed:

According to executive editor Bill Keller, “In the end, nobody, including the scientist who brought it up, could take the story beyond speculation. In the crush of election-finale stories, it died a quiet, unlamented death.”
The photographic evidence was not speculative. It was photographic evidence.

Revkin, for one, wished it had run. Here’s what he told me in an e-mail message:

"I can appreciate the broader factors weighing on the paper's top editors, particularly that close to the election. But personally, I think that Nelson's assertions did rise above the level of garden-variety speculation, mainly because of who he is. Here was a veteran government scientist, whose decades-long career revolves around interpreting imagery like features of Mars, who decided to say very publicly that, without reservation, he was convinced there was something under a president's jacket when the White House said there was nothing.

"He essentially put his hard-won reputation utterly on the line (not to mention his job) in doing so and certainly with little prospect that he might gain something as a result -- except, as he put it, his preserved integrity."

Revkin also told me that before Nelson called Broad, he had approached other media outlets as well. None — until Salon — published anything on Nelson’s analysis. "I'd certainly choose [Nelson’s] opinion over that of a tailor," Revkin concluded, referring to news reports that cited the man who makes the president’s suits. "Hard to believe that so many in the media chose the tailor, even in coverage after the election."
Harder still to believe that no-one in the media noticed the dichotomous reaction of the White House.

When the administration said "There's nothing there but an odd fold in the material," the mainstream media repeated the line. And they interviewed Bilbo de Paris, or whatever his name is, because the tailor provided a "hook" which made the line easier to sell.

When the Secret Service changed the story and said "It's a bulletproof vest," the reporters decided that the bulge really did exist. And they went back to Bilbo for more confirmation.

Odd that no-one addressed the fact that the administration had lied for weeks. Odd that so many people were able to convince themselves that the photographs showed something other than the obvious. Odd that the "bulletproof vest" explanation took hold so rapidly, even though no-one has shown me a picture of a vest that would create such a bulge.

Early on, I told Salon that I was persuaded but not convinced that Bush wore a wire. Now I'm convinced. Most people don't lie without good reason.

Monday, December 20, 2004

New study: Kerry should have won electoral college and popular vote

Economist/statistician Ron Baiman of the University of Chicago (anyone care to question his credentials?) has produced the closest thing we now possess to a definitive study of the exit polls and the "actual" tallies. It's in pdf form -- sorry! But it is a must-read.

I give you photographic proof that George W. Bush has officially replaced Bill Clinton as the most penis-obsessive president in history. Then again -- what did you expect from a guy named Bush? (Click on the image to -- ahem! -- enlarge.) Posted by Hello

A mainstream media voice and an ES&S whistleblower

Many of you are wondering: Where are the investigative reporters looking into the possibility of vote fraud? Why is the mainstream media ignoring the precarious state of democracy?

I've discovered one television news outlet that has devoted an astonishing amount of time to this issue, both before and after the election. They've concentrated on the local angle, of course; local, in this instance, means Indianopolis. WISH-TV has taken a rare and radical step: They have committed journalism. Just take a look at this page, overflowing with juicy stories about problems with voting equipment.

They've also uncovered a whistleblower named Wendy Orange, who quit ES&S when the company (she says) asked her to cover up "problems" with the software.

In her letter of resignation, Orange said she found the corporate philosophy at ES&S to embody unethical and disreputable practices. She said she had "personally witnessed open discussions of potentially illegal procedures."
That quote comes from a story broadcast on May 11. Just today, WISH-TV delivered a follow-up report:

Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler revealed Tuesday that the company installed illegal software before last November's election.

The I-Team first met Wendy Orange last January, when we conducted a test on Marion County's new optical-scan voting machines. Orange is the ES&S project manager for Marion County. She's the one who blew the whistle on ES&S for installing illegal software, the same software used to tabulate November's election results.

"The company with which the Marion County election board has contracted to provide its voting machines and software has willfully and purposely deceived me and the Marion County election board by installing uncertified election software and then ordering their employee to withhold that information from me," said Sadler at a Tuesday press conference.

But Wendy Orange didn't withhold that information. Her husband, Doug Orange, used to work for ES&S as Johnson County's project manager. He was fired after refusing a superior's order to zero the counters on voting machines at the courthouse instead of the polls. “I felt those procedures were illegal,” said Orange.

"The software in question is called data acquisition manager and is used to compile the votes," said Sadler.

The illegal software could still be seen in the computer when the I-Team tested the system in January. Wendy Orange showed us how she takes the individual results from each card and accumulate them into one place to give overall totals for each race.
I'm still not sure I understand the technical details of this story, and I hope to hear more from Ms. Orange.

Bush, Cheney, Rove and Blackwell named as defendants

I was a little surprised to learn that Arnebeck's lawsuit (which has been refiled) names Bush, Cheney, Rove and Blackwell as defendants. Consider: Arenebeck, it is said, is a friend to John Kerry. A lawyer associated with a losing presidential candidate has sued the opposing candidate and his chief of staff. Does this situation have any precedent in American history?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Gore Vidal on faith-based democracy

While surfing the net, I ran into a broadcast message from Gore Vidal, in which he comments on the election, and on the possibility of fraud. These words, it seems, were first heard on a Pacific station. I don't think anyone will be angry if I publish a partial transcript.

* * *

This is Gore Vidal speaking from the Hollywood Hills, recovering, as the country is, from our latest experiment in democracy…

I think the first question that goes through the minds of those of us who are not “faith based”: Did they steal it this time too? Since our media does not report much of anything of general interest to the voting public -- preferring to report many things that are of no interest at all, or perhaps untrue -- not much investigation has been done of the voting patterns in the late election.

I’ve been applying to many sources – journalistic, foreign, national – even to the Gore Vidal Yahoo group, which can be found on the internet at (By the way, I have nothing to do with this except as an interested observer; I learn quite a lot watching and reading what these people come up with. They’re very intelligent and rather thorough when it comes to investigation.) I suspect that there will be more and more information, as time passes, of a sort which will not be given us by the New York Times.

There are now opinions out that there was something disagreeable in the state of Ohio, and in (I think it was) New Mexico. And until some investigative journalism is done, until people get out there and try to find out what really did happen, we will not really know about the legitimacy of our system.

After the election of four years ago, we’ve been living with an illegitimate president given to illegitimate deeds, like pre-emptively attacking countries innocent of posing any danger to us. Illegitimate presidents are to be watched out for. So whether he is one this time, or is not, is a matter of general interest.

Meanwhile, let us conjure the message that the media wants us to take away: America, after many years of decadence -- of free sex, drugs, slipshod performance in just about everything from the stock market to the battleground -- is now returned to its ancestral roots, which a few publicists working for the Republican party seem to think are Christian. And/or Jewish. And/or – if nothing else – based on faith in God, whoever or wherever He might be.

The United States was founded by people who most definitely were not Christians, or Jewish, or Islamic. They were men of the Enlightenment. And they were dedicated to reason, to the idea that human beings with good will and faith in the honesty of each other could create a nation which would last. They chose not a democracy. They chose a republic as their model, where you would have elections, representative government. And for a long time, in a messy way, our system worked.

We’ve always had problems with groups that wanted to seize control -- wanted to keep us from drinking alcohol, take drugs, have sex, do this, do that. We’ve had many pressure groups. But we’ve never had, until now, a pressure group take over the executive branch of the government, the two branches of congress and the judiciary. That is a clean sweep for what are called neoconservatives, conservatives or reactionaries.

And the message that came out loud and clear from our media, which I don’t believe for one minute: People were saying "Yes, well, you know, I voted for values – moral values." The day that any American votes for moral values will be the day that the Second Coming is about to arrive.

We are not faith-based people. We are practical people who come out of the Enlightenment of the 18th century. We come out of Voltaire. We come out of Jefferson. We come out of some of the wisest men who ever lived on earth, who were trying to counter superstition wherever they saw it, whether it be in the churches or in the folklore of the nation. We were the "show me" generation. And we were also the ones who questioned everything.

The campaign was waged by a "selected" president – who is now officially, at last, the elected president. The selected president and his advisors, who are brilliant public relations men, decided to emphasize God, a figure noticeably absent from the founding fathers, and noticeably absent from most of our elections since then for the past 250 years.

We are not a godly people; we are a practical people. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We believe in equal justice for all, in due process of law. These are the mantras by which our Republic has lived and prospered for so very long.

Now we are told there has been an eruption of faith across the nation. Evangelical Protestant Christians are riding high. The official religions – Catholic, Jewish, Islamic (what else? There are many others) – are all pretty much on board, in the views of the people in the media. How did this happen?

Well, the most wonderful four words in the English language are “I told you so.”

I got the election all wrong, as did a lot of people who thought that this election might bear some relation to reality. So we thought we’d be talking about deficits, we’d be talking about unemployment, we’d be talking about real things.

Instead, they changed the subject to gay marriage. They changed it to abortion (as usual). They changed it to hot issues, sex issues.

We were going to be a godly nation; we were going to reform ourselves. So they turned the whole country into a kind of AA meeting. Faith, faith, faith – your wickedness will be healed, and you will be made whole.

Two days after the election, the Los Angeles Times printed a story: "Some backers of Bush say they anticipate a revolution." That’s the headline. Well, I anticipated this revolution a quarter of a century ago, with some of the same players. I wrote about it in a piece in 1979, published in Playboy (a very highbrow, highly moral place dedicated to Christian values).

In the late '60s and early '70s, the enemies of the Equal Rights Amendment set out to smear the movement as lesbian. All sorts of militant right-wing groups have since got into the act: The Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, the Conservative Caucus and dozens of other like-minded groups. Their aim was to deny equal rights to women through scare tactics. If the amendment is accepted, they warned us, lesbians will be able to marry each other. Rape will be common. Men – the horror of this! – men will use women’s toilets.

This nonsense proved to be remarkably effective. But then, as the Conservative Caucus’ Howard Phillips told the New Republic with engaging candor (this was about the time of the 1978 elections): 'We’re going after people on the basis of their hot buttons. In this past year, the two hot buttons have proved to be sexual – the ERA and gay rights legislation.' Save the family! Save our children!

Elsewhere in the badlands of the nation, one Richard Viguerie was now the chief money raiser for the powers of darkness. In 1977, Viguerie told the Congressional Quarterly: "I am willing to compromise to come to power." That’s a bit chilling, isn’t it? "There aren’t 50% of the people that share my view, and I am willing to make concessions to come to power." This had a very familiar "Nuremberg" ring.

Viguerie was said to have at least ten million names and addresses on file. He sent out mailings and raised large sums for all sorts of far right political candidates and organizations.

Viguerie was not just a hustler; he was also an ideologue. "I have raised millions of dollars for the conservative movement over the years, and I am not happy with the results. I’ve decided to become more concerned with how the money is spent." He was beginning to discuss the creation of a new political party. Perhaps the "W" Republican party was now a-borning.

Viguerie vowed that the organized conservative community would put it many times more in the way of cash than ever before. "Because I want a massive assault on congress in 1978. I don’t want any token efforts. We now have the talent and the resources to move in a bold, massive way. I think we can move against congress in 1978, in a way that’s never been conceived of."

"Move against congress..." That sounds like revolution.

Now back to today:

"Some backers of Bush say they anticipate a revolution. Exulting in their electoral victory, President Bush’s conservative supporters immediately turned to staking out candidates for an ambitious agenda of long-cherished goals, including privatizing Social Security, banning same-sex marriage, remaking the Supreme Court, and overturning the court’s decisions in support of abortion rights. 'Now comes the revolution,' says Richard Viguerie."

You just heard his voice as of 1978, and here is his voice again, a quarter of a century later, in the year 2004, and he is victorious.

The L.A. Times goes on to describe him as "the dean of conservative direct mail. As he told about a dozen movement conservative stalwarts as they gathered around a television here in Arlington tallying up their senate seats in the earliest hours of the morning, 'If you don’t implement a conservative agenda now, when do you?' By mid-day, however, fights over the spoils have already begun, as conservatives debated the electorate’s verdict on the war in Iraq, the Bush administration’s spending, and the Bush administration’s embrace of traditional social causes."

This is a strange victory cry which I never thought I’d hear, since he had – I thought – done himself in twenty-odd years ago in that election. And for all of his huffing and puffing about the conservative majority out there, he confesses that not 50% of the people think as he does. Or so he confessed then. I don’t think 50% of the people think as he does now. I don’t think they are informed about the issues. Number 1 (we’re told) on the Bush agenda is privatizing Social Security. I don’t think that’s very popular. But, theoretically, anything can be sold, if misintepreted.

So the great victory has been a long time coming. These people don’t give up. They know what they want. They couldn’t achieve it in any normal electoral way. They don’t have the votes. Most people would like Social Security to be as strong as possible. They don’t want to privatize and hand it over to mutual funds or the stock market.

And yet they control the media. They’re perfectly shameless, whether it’s using Fox News or even poor Wolf Blitzer (who is very much party line most of the time, serving far-off masters). The press takes any hand-out from Washington as the straight news.

So we’re in a curious bind. We’ve been turned into a Christian nation when we’re not one. We’re a diverse nation, not based on any religion at all – some people are religious, some are not. The state is not religious – and this must be emphasized heavily, because any attempt to make it so is an attempt to overthrow the original republic, which is the aim of these people who say they want revolution.

There was about as much revolution in the recent election as I think Americans can bear. Going any further in the in the direction of banning Roe vs. Wade, or whatever it is that they happen to be shooting for, is going to cause great resistance.

And we must guard carefully, as Thomas Jefferson warned us, the tree of liberty. This always offends the right wing, because they don’t like Thomas Jefferson. They don’t like the American republic, and they don’t really like the founding fathers. They are willing to worship them as long as they don’t have to listen to them or be guided by them.

Jefferson warned us early on. As you’ll remember, he wanted to have a constitutional convention every thirty years or so, because, he said, "the earth belongs to the living." We are not to be held by our forefathers; no matter how wise they were, we must design each society for ourselves.

Well, I’ll say they are good Jeffersonians, the faith-based religious right. They are going to base everything on the good book, which they regard as the ultimate good. And those of us who are more skeptical, including the founding fathers of our country, don’t find this to be the case. We find that we are being invited into a prison – which, by the way, is one of the growing activities in the United States, building prisons. And as we’ve seen in Iraq, we are certainly masters at running prisons, and would like to have many more of them all over the earth. And we shall have, if the current Bush/Cheney junta continues to have its way around the world.

Dangerous times – but then, what time is not?

So remember that the tree of liberty must occasionally be watered with the blood of tyrants – and of patriots. Let us hope that it does not go that far.

* * *

Thus saith Vidal. (This is Cannon speaking again.) A few further observations:

Vidal says "The day that any American votes for moral values will be the day that the Second Coming is about to arrive." But millions of Americans have indeed been brainwashed into the belief that the return of Jesus is nigh. Vidal should know all about this; he was one of the few American intellectuals to appreciate, early on, the cultural impact of the books written by Hal Lindsey and his fellow apocalypticians. Many who consider Bush an incompetent nevertheless voted for him because he is a "Christian," and therefore a fit leader for these Last Days.

Are we, as Vidal asserts, a practical people, not a godly people? That observation is no longer true; as fundamentalism has spread throughout our society, our prosperity has diminished. Vidal's reference to Voltaire struck me as bizarre. Most Americans know nothing of Voltaire, and those few who have heard the name usually learn of it by way of the crankish right-wing conspiracy-peddlers who have always demonized him.

Ever since the first Reagan administration, Vidal has stumped for a constitutional convention. I never agreed with the idea, since the people likely to attend such a convention would no doubt make matters worse. Vidal may have pictured himself among the attendees. I pictured Pat Buchanan -- and the moment that image came to mind, I shook my head and said: "Pass."

Now we face an interesting problem: The far rightists (who, as Vidal correctly notes, despise the very founders they pretend to revere) want the Supreme Court to adhere to a "strict constructionist" standard. Basically, this standard would return us to the legal landscape of the late 18th century: Women would have few rights, income taxes and social programs would end, and slavery would return.

A constitutional convention could remove the straightjacket of strict construction. But who would attend such a convention if it were held tomorrow? I picture Ann Coulter. I picture Dick Cheney. I picture Paul Weyrich. Then I shake my head and say: "Pass."

So what are our alternatives?

The elephant in the living room: Vote fraud

Feds approve new Voting machine that prints paper receipts! Sounds great, eh? Here's the catch: The machines are provided by a company called Populex -- and initial signs indicate that this group may be partisan.

The advisory board is headed by Frank Carlucci. Yes, this is the same spooky fellow known for his links to the Carlyle group and to Iran/contra.

I've been trying to learn more about the president of Populex, Sanford Morganstein. So far, I've found that he is the man who popularized the phone tree ("Press 1 for...) -- a fact which some may consider sufficient grounds for hatred. In the past, Morganstein worked for Rockwell Communications, ITT and RCA.

Several other bigwigs in this company appear to be Republicans. They also list Democrat Tony Coelho on their board of advisors.

Obviously, a paper recipt helps quell some fears. And the description of the system given here makes a good initial impression:

Unlike most other touch screen systems that risk losing votes, the Populex system doesn't collect and store votes electronically in the voting computer.

Instead, Populex prints an official ballot, equipped with a bar code that is scanned to reliably record and count the votes. This paper ballot is the official ballot that's counted on Election Day and also the audit trail needed for recounts. Additionally, Populex's technology helps prevent voters from making errors and provides several opportunities for them to verify their selections.

"If the Populex voting system was used during the 2004 election in Florida and Ohio, the resulting conspiracy theories would not exist," said Morganstein.
Those theories won't go away until one simple question receives an answer: Does the Populex system still allow one to rig the game?

The current debacle in Ohio suggests a few simple methods: Make sure the margin of victory is not so narrow as to mandate a recount. Blackwell-esque dawdling can stave off any recount demanded by a minority party until the state's electors have cast their votes. Since the recount will no doubt follow the "three percent" rule (or some similar regulation), chances are very small that the full paper trail will ever see the light of day. Should that unlikely event occur, old-fashioned ballot stuffing can bring the paper result within spitting range of the computer tally.

Even so, the Populex system does seem to represent a step in the right direction. I remain very troubled by the presence of Carlucci -- he's not just any Republican. If Morganstein wants to deep-six "conspiracy theories," he should dissociate himself from Carlucci, who is a lint trap for such theories.

Readers should recall that Athan Gibbs invented the TruVote system, a similar voting machine that offered a paper receipt. Gibbs died in an accident some consider mysterious.

Clinton Curtis. I missed the Mark Levine interview with this famed "vote fraud" whistleblower, but an archive of the broadcast should soon appear here or here.

What are the odds? That is the very question discussed on the Democratic Underground here:

Get ready. Grab your chair. Hold your hat.

Here are the odds that 16 out of 51 states would move beyond the MOE in favor of Bush, again using the Binomial Distribution. But this time with .025 (rather than .05) as the probability that a given state would move beyond the MOE to Bush:

The probability P is: P =1-BINOMDIST(16,51,0.025,TRUE)

P = 0.0000000000004996%

The odds are 1/P or 1 out of 200.159 TRILLION that these changes could have occurred due to chance alone.

ONE out of 4.5 BILLION?
ONE out of 200 TRILLION?

There is NO practical difference.
But the second one is MATHEMATICALLY CORRECT.
For a more technical discussion, go here and check out responses 15 and 16.

A conservative on vote fraud. Edgar J. Steele is not a writer I admire. He's a right-winger considered by many to be an anti-Semite. So imagine my surprise to discover that Steele has cobbled together a persuasive report on vote tampering. The closing words deserve quotation:

Look - the people apparently disenfranchised this time around primarily are those with whom I generally disagree, but it is the fundamental unfairness of what has taken place that most offends me, not to mention the path down which America now treads. If I really believed this election showed the true color of conservatism, I would join the liberals in a heartbeat and replace my "Nuke the Whales" bumper sticker with one that says "Save the Baby Seals."

If this is what it means to be conservative today, I want to be liberal.
And I'd feel a lot better about the ascendence of the right if more conservatives echoed Steele's call for a fair playing field.

By the way -- his page displays yet another photo of W giving the middle-finger salute. Good lord! Our president acts like a kid. As if his boorish behavior at the opening of the Clinton library did not provide sufficient proof of the man's innate puerility....

Cheat sheet. You may have already read William Rivers Pitt's December 15 expose of the increasingly-dubious recount occurring in Ohio. Take particular note of this bit:

He advised Lisa and I on how to post a "cheat sheet" on the wall so that only the board members and staff would know about it and and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn't have to do a full hand recount of the county. He left about 5:00 PM.
That lovely piece of advice came by way of that infamous Triad tech -- the one who claimed that the computers lost data due to battery failure.