Sunday, January 30, 2005


I still cannot return to regular posting. Give me another week or so.

Right now, I'm going to make a confession. I'm going to put a troubling matter "on the record." I do so with some hesitation, since the business under discussion could ruin whatever small reputation I may have gained.

The question of the day comes down to this: Do you believe in ESP?

I grew up immersed in Fox Mulder-ish lore (Tom Delay wasn't kidding when he said that sites like mine belonged to the "X-Files" wing of the Democratic party), but over the years, my attitude slid into skepticism. I've met a lot of people who claimed to have had preternatural experiences or abilities. These claimants invariably turned out to be irritating and unreliable.

Magic? UFOs? Ghosts? Visions of the Virgin Mary? The internet and your local library abound with many a wild story, but proof remains unobtainable. Even the best-attested incidents become less impressive upon close examination.

I thus segued into cynicism and curmudgeon-hood.

(Yes, my ladyfriend and I have a tradition of dining out at "haunted" restaurants on Halloween, but we do so out of a sense of romance and fun. We don't expect to see anything.)

Curmudgeon that I became (and remain), I still tended to place ESP in the "maybe" category, if only because Dr. J.B. Rhine and other scientists have claimed to validate the existence of the phenomenon in the laboratory. (By the by: Did you know that Sir Richard Burton coined the term "ESP"?) On the other hand, scientists such as Dr. Susan Blackmore have persuasively disputed the existence of the phenomenon. (See here and here; if you'll click the latter link, you'll discover that the hard-headed Dr. Blackmore sports a rather surprising look these days.)

As I said: I came to view ESP as a maybe. Not a likelihood, but a possibility.

And then I met a woman (no, not my current ladyfriend) who transformed that "maybe" into an "almost certainly." Here's the catch: While this woman was able to prove her ability to me, she could not do so in a way that allows me to prove it to you.

That's the hell of it. By her own account, whatever ability she once possessed always manifested itself in spurts -- rare spurts. She could never turn on the spigot at will.

Remember the old Chuck Jones cartoon starring "Michigan J. Frog"? The amphibian who could sing "Hello, my baby" -- but only to an audience of one? The moment an audience showed up, the magic stopped.

Hate to admit it, but this story is one of those stories.

I hope I haven't yet alienated all of my readers. Because in this case, the singing frog predicted World War III.

The wake-up call

In July of 1999, the woman with whom I was romantically involved at that time -- call her Gabrielle -- woke up, woke me up, and announced that she had just had an exceptionally vivid dream. A prophetic dream.

A dream in which airplanes flew into the World Trade Center -- "or buildings like the World Trade Center."

I had met Gabrielle over the internet; she was visiting me from out of state. As mentioned earlier, she claimed to have had psychic experiences, especially when younger, although those experiences had tapered off in recent years. The stories she told me about the earlier days were weird and fascinating -- and, of course, unprovable. I made no secret of my stance on ESP: I had become a cynic, but even so...maybe. She understood that, for the most part, I was now much more of a Scully than a Mulder.

And that's why I immediately looked for a conventional explanation for her nightmarish vision of disaster striking the World Trade Center.

I immediately presumed that her dreaming mind had merely processed images from a half-forgotten news account. "Maybe you're thinking about the time a jet crashed near LAX," I suggested, referring to an incident from the 1980s.

(Nota bene: For purposes of readability, this account will include snatches of dialogue. The quotes are as exact as memory allows. Obviously, I didn't have a tape recorder running.)

No, she answered. Not low buildings. "That happens later. It won't be what they say it is."

The main vision, she insisted, involved skyscrapers. "Like the World Trade Center."

She saw people jumping. Then the buildings would tumble to the ground.

Gabrielle spoke to me for about twenty minutes or so. Her voice and her eyes were odd. She seemed hypnotized. I never saw her act quite that way on any other occasion.

To be honest, I must specify that, throughout this conversation, she almost always referred to buildings "like" the World Trade Center; she confessed that she could not even be sure that the event would take place in New York City, although she did describe a cloud of smoke over the water. "I think it is the World Trade Center," she said at one point.

Naturally, I wanted to know who would commit such an act. "It won't be who they say it is," she answered.

She mentioned that there would be a war in Iraq as a result, even though Iraq would not be responsible. (She also mentioned Saudi Arabia, but the reference was quite vague. I could not discern how that country figured into this scenario.)

Then I brought up an unpleasant matter that had dominated a previous series of allegedly prophetic dreams.

What comes next

Before continuing, I should fill in some more backstory.

In the mid-1990s, before she met me, Gabrielle had had a series of troubling dreams depicting a "small" nuclear explosion in Chicago. In each dream, she viewed the event from a closer perspective. In one dream, she saw it from the point of view of a reporter flying in a commercial airliner not far from the event.

I was not the only person to whom Gabrielle described these dreams, which she considered visionary and predictive. She and I had discussed these dreams at some length (via IRC) well before we ever met. (I may have a log of the chat on a disc somewhere, although I have yet to find it.) I believe she discussed these forecasts with members of her family, although the person with whom she confided at greatest length passed away recently.

She stopped having those dreams a year or two before she met me, and presumed (for whatever reason) that she would never again have a major psychic experience.

That presumption seems to have been premature. Here she was, in a trance-like state after having awakened from a vivid dream of the the World Trade Center's collapse.

Naturally, I wanted to know if the New York event was connected with the nuclear event in Chicago. Yes, she said. In a way. But the explosion in Chicago would happen later.

(Incidentally, Gabrielle spent her life in a small town in the Pacific northwest, and had not traveled to either New York or Chicago -- in fact, she almost never left her home state. Oddly enough, I've never visited either of those two cities myself, although I've seen many other parts of the country.)

Would the same people be responsible for both events, I asked?

Not really, she answered, although the events are linked. In both cases, she emphasized, "it won't be who they say it is."


"Yes and no. It's like people from the government are involved. Or at least they know about it."

She said that the public would be told that Iran was responsible for the Chicago event. "After that, it's World War Three."

She intimated that things would not play out the way "they" planned, and that the war would spin out of all control.

I asked for more details about the "small" nuclear event in Chicago. She mentioned the Sears tower.

Water played a role in the scenario she envisioned; the device would be transported via boat. I reminded her that Chicago is on one of the Great Lakes. (For some reason, I couldn't remember which one!) She said that the boat would not be on a lake. "You know those movable bridges?" she asked. One of those bridges had something to do with the event.

"You know that picture of the farmer and his wife?" she asked. I took this as a reference to Grant Wood's American Gothic, which I once saw on loan in San Francisco. (Incidentally, the woman in the painting is actually the man's sister.) I vaguely recalled that the work's "home" is in Chicago. She felt that the painting would be destroyed by the blast, and that we would subsequently see the image reproduced ad infinitum in news accounts.

(One doesn't need ESP to foresee how the lost work would take on symbolic, even propagandistic, value.)

Since her unusual trance-like state might never occur again, I attempted to pinpoint a date for these events. She could give neither year nor month, although she insisted that the Chicago event would occur after the fall of the skyscrapers in New York City. (She did not intimate how long after; for some reason, I came under the impression that the two events would occur within fairly quick order.)

"Who is the president when the bomb goes off in Chicago?" I asked.

A long pause. Then she asked: "Is there someone named Kerry?"

I told her that there were two guys with that name in the senate, and that she was probably thinking of Bob Kerrey, who had run against Bill Clinton in the 1992 primaries. But I also told her that a new Kerrey run was damn near impossible, since Gore would surely have the nomination sewed up.

Keep in mind: This conversation took place in late July of 1999. I thought entirely in terms of the 2000 election.

I decided to try to get at the chronology from another angle. "Who's the president when the planes hit buildings in New York?"

"Bush," she said. That answer made sense. I didn't like it, but it made sense.

I asked if she foresaw a match-up between Bob Kerrey and George W. Bush in 2000. She seemed puzzled, and said no. That path of inquiry seemed exhausted, so I dropped it.

"When the bomb goes off in Chicago, do you see snow?" She didn't. It won't happen in the winter.

She said there may be still another event on the west coast -- perhaps in Los Angeles, perhaps elsewhere. This event would also involve another tall building. But she had no other details this incident, and felt less certain of this business than of the disasters in New York and Chicago.

Then she fell back asleep! And I mean fell. She plopped back down on the bed, and was unconscious within seconds.


When she awoke, she had little recollection of the dream or of the subsequent conversation.

That night, I took her to see downtown Los Angeles, to see if any of the buildings in that area "resonated." None of the sights there seemed to coalesce with her vague forebodings of a West Coast event, although she did spend a long time drinking in the cityscape visible from the overpass leading to the Bonaventure. (That sight must have made quite an impression on a small-town girl.)

Later, we visited San Francisco. While dining on Fisherman's Wharf, she told me that the west coast event would happen in that city, if it happened at all. The Transamerica building and the Bank of America building both seemed to unsettle her, particularly the latter. Perhaps her reaction can be ascribed to the unusual architecture. I should emphasize that she is not a "sensitive" person who becomes unsettled easily.

Our relationship ended shortly afterward.

The fault was entirely mine. If my readers knew just how badly I treated her, those who bear some affection for my writings would form a new opinion. That's one reason I've always hesitated to discuss Gabrielle's forecast: Anyone attempting to contact her for verification purposes would hear quite an earful about what a bastard I was. My behavior at that time was inexcusable; the world need know nothing more.

Before the break-up occurred, the thought occurred to me that I should describe her "prophecy" (if I may use that word) online before the event, just in case something really did happen to the World Trade Center or the Sears building. But at the time, her description seemed too vague, too contradictory. The fact that she had mentioned both Kerry/Kerrey and Bush as presidents had led me to dismiss the likelihood of all that she had told me. I simply did not consider the possibility that the two "main events" might be widely separated in time.

Here's where we encounter the "Michigan J. Frog" effect.

I mentioned the prediction of a strike against the World Trade Center to only one friend before the event. Alas, he does not now recall my having done so. Of course, after September 11, 2001, I told a number of people about Gabrielle's prediction, and I described her forecast of a "small" nuclear bomb taking out the Sears Tower.

Gabrielle married a man much better than I am. He's a rational-minded "Skeptical Inquirer" type, a member of the local atheists' society, and rather opposed to all talk of ESP and similar matters (or so I gather). Consequently, Gabrielle does not now like to discuss her previous claims of psychic experiences.

Some months ago, I contacted her via email, and wrote up a lengthy description of the conversation described above. In one reply, she said she had only vague recollection of a dream involving the World Trade Center. In a second response, she denied that she had ever had such a predictive dream, and she does not remember any part of the conversation that followed.

Her message was rather testy. Lord knows I gave her good reason to feel that way.

(At least she still admits that she once had a series of dreams involving the Chicago event. Of course, she has discussed those dreams with several people.)

Perhaps the prankster gods of fate have decreed that "proof" of ESP always comes in an individualized fashion. Gabrielle convinced me that the ability exists. But I cannot convince you. If you have not experienced anything like the incident related above, you should be extremely skeptical of this story.

So why did I write this column?

Certainly not because I plan to turn this blog into a forum for discussion of ESP! Frankly, I hope never to mention the topic again.

Nevertheless...ever since the "jets flying into skyscrapers" forecast came true, I've believed that the Chicago event would also come to pass. Perhaps the "West coast" event will take place as well, although Gabrielle seemed far less certain of that prediction.

Although I've made fleeting references to the Chicago event in previous posts, I've never described in detail why I believe a bomb will go off in that area.

Today, of course, we have an administration which has sent unmistakable signals of its intention to conquer Iran. Cheney has pretty much confessed that there are plans afoot to have Israel launch a strike against a putative Iranian nuclear facility. If -- when -- such an airstrike occurs, most Americans will naturally presume that Iranians deserve the blame for any subsequent terror strike within America's borders.

Progressives will no doubt frame the debate in a shortsighted fashion. They will claim that Bush/Israeli adventurism created the nuclear counterstrike. But if Gabrielle's vision really does prove to be predictive, then the matter will go far deeper.

Throughout her conversation with me, Gabrielle insisted on one important detail: The media and the administration will not tell the American people the truth about the individuals responsible for setting off a "small" nuclear device in Chicago. Fingers will point to the wrong party.

I hope this event never comes to pass.

I hope ESP does not exist. I hope that Gabrielle's 1999 dream about planes flying into "buildings like the World Trade Center" was mere coincidence. I hope that, years from now, this column will be viewed as the product of a paranoid person living in a paranoid era.

By all means, laugh at what I've just written. I hope one day to laugh along with you.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

For those few of you checking in...

I had a horrible dream last night. In it, someone showed me a newspaper, dated 2024. The headline read: "President Jenna Bush Makes Horse Senator."

I woke up in a cold sweat -- and then I realized that since no-one in the Bush family has read history, no-one in that family would make any attempt to re-live it.

At any rate: Yes, I've been absent from blog-land for a very long time, and may be absent for a bit longer. Eventually, I hope to re-establish a presence. Right now, life has tossed an obstruction in my path. It's not the sort of thing that will keep me stuck in place for long.

See you soon...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Dubya and the three stooges

While attending an institution of higher learning, you may have encountered a professor who directed your attention to Ivan Stang's theory of the three human archetypes. According to this analysis, each human being is one of the Three Stooges.

(Before proceeding, let me make clear that I always preferred Laurel and Hardy to the trio from Columbia studios. Nevertheless, I can respect the Stooges, and I feel that Stang's thesis has merit.)

Moe is the leader, the idea guy, the one who somehow cajoles the others into following his schemes. Eavesdrop on any group of sixth grade boys and you'll discover that, although any of them may suggest a course of action (e.g., "Let's go to the comic book store"), only one member of the group can always expect everyone else to act according to his plan. He is the Moe of that band.

Larry is amiable, dull, and more-or-less law-abiding (except when a Moe tells him to break the law). Larry is defined by his inability to conjure up an original thought. Stang claims that Larry is so caught up in his own Larry-ness he does not even realize that a heirarchy exists. I would refine this argument: Larry may well be dimly aware of a pecking order, though he would never dream of challenging it. Most people are Larrys, although only the Larriest of the Larrys will admit to being who and what they are.

Curly is the rebel, the artist, the bohemian, the clown, the outsider, the mystic: God's Holy Fool. Curly knows damn well that a heirarchy exists, and he knows that he's not in the top spot. Therefore, he constantly tries to undermine the natural order -- never with success. Rebellion requires numbers, and the masses of Larrys will never (well, almost never: See below) abandon Moe leadership to follow a Curly.

Stang believes that Curly is the always most lovable of the three, but I would dispute him on that point. History books describe more than a few unpleasant Curlys. Rasputin, for one. Lenny Bruce. Buddy Rich. Michaelangelo. Yes, Michaelangelo: A hobbit-sized smelly bohemian who paints gay porn all over the Pope's walls has achieved the very quintessence of Curly-ness.

I question Stang on another point: Mobility between the three classes. Stang seems to believe that such mobility is impossible. I would argue, however, that Adolf Hitler was a man destined for Curlyness.

I mean, just look at the guy: An artist. Ocassionally homeless. A (likely) virgin until his 30s. Cultivated a bizarre appearance. Farted all the damn time. Took every drug he could get his hands on. Prefered bizarre, esoteric reading material to "respectable" literature.

Yes, Adolf was a born Curly. Not a funny Curly, not a lovable Curly, but a Curly nonetheless.

Yet this natural-born-Curly somehow achieved Ultimate Moe Power. How did this insult to the natural order come to pass? This conundrum underlies our continuing fascination with the Nazi era.

Please understand that I do not like admitting that Adolf was a Curly who migrated to Moe status. I too am a Curly, and I do not enjoy confessing that Hitler also belonged to this breed.

There was a time when I longed for Moe-hood, for I considered myself brighter than many of the Moes running our world. (As you may have noticed, there are some rather dim Moes out there.) But, having reached a certain age, I have come to understand that, although a few Larrys have been kind enough to smile at my antics, they will not go to the comic book store when I say "Let's all go to the comic book store." Neither will they invade Poland on my say-so.

Now, I bring all this up because the current world situation forces us to confront another insult to the cosmic order. I refer, of course, to the Bush dynasty.

Does anyone (including the Republicans) doubt that the Bush folk are a clan of Larrys?

Larrys with money, yes. But still Larrys. They have always been and will always be bereft of charisma and leadership ability. No Bush has ever had an orginal thought.

Poppy Bush may be the most Moe-like male ever to slink out of the Bush gene pool. Yet even Nixon (a Moe with pronounced Larry and Curly tendencies) considered GHWB to be something of an amiable non-entity.

Prescott Bush may have done business with Nazis, but only because his mentors told him what to do and how to do it. Otherwise, he was the Larry who played golf with Ike.

Dubya is a fundamentalist Christian Larry of the type exemplified by Ned Flanders. Yes, he's an evil, lying, war-mongering creep. But let's face it -- he carries out the plans concocted by other people. Will W ever come up with an original thought? Hell, he's more likely to grow penises out of his nipples.

(Cheney is a Moe. But you already knew that.)

The Bush twins are the very definition of young female Larryness. Laura is so bloody Larry-like she would probably even cop to her own Larryhood. Neil is a very (very) crooked Larry, but he's still a Larry -- I mean, I can't imagine him coming up with a new and unusual way to bilk people. I don't know enough about Jeb to make a final judgment, but to my nostrils, he still conveys a Larry stench. Barbara, I must admit, has a certain Moe musk, but she's the only creature in the whole bloody family thus perfumed.

So my question to the world is this: How did this bland clan of dull, unimaginative Larrys gain power beyond the dreams of most Moes?

I always assumed that if anyone were to overthrow our democracy, the new overlord would at least be a Moe, goddammit. Or perhaps (I thought) the tyranny would come from some demonic Curly who, having made a pact with Satan, achieved upward Moe-bility. Just like Adolf.

Instead, the Babbits of Bush-dom have gained the throne. Larry is the new divine Julius.

How can such a thing be?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Bubble, bubble, boil and trouble...

Steven Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley, thinks your house costs too much. Way too much.

In a piece in Forbes that a reader kindly brought to my attention ("World on Brink of Ruin" -- catchy title, eh wot?) this expert blames Alan Greenspan for bringing the Unites States to the edge of the economic cliff, and draws specific attention to "the biggest bubble of all: residential property." Of course, this is a bubble unlike most others: The Dutch didn't really need tulips, but people do need a roof overhead. Still, one can't excape a few anxious shivers when experts sound apocalyptic warnings parlously close to those heard from down-at-heels bloggers and usenet ranters.

The lingering stench (updated)

No more touch screens in Ohio. Ken Blackwell has ordered that all 88 counties in Ohio scrap touch-screen voting and use optical scan paper ballots. This move has angered some count officials who aren't sure how they will pay for the conversion.

Before you crow that we've won this round, keep in mind: Our major concern has always been the central tabulators -- the counting machines that those optical scan ballots are fed into. They can be hacked.

Do the paper ballots provide an audit trail? Yes -- and here, perhaps, we have taken a step in the right direction. But, as the recount oddities have taught us, much of the problem now comes down to questions of security and chain of custody.

Those paper ballots have to be stored somewhere. The paper trail will be double-checked only in the event of a recount, and the legal process to initiate a recount takes time. Much mischief can occur during this period. Buildings have keys; seals can be easily broken and replaced.

In short: It is no difficult trick to insure that optical scan ballots conform to the numbers generated by the central tabulating machines.

Blackwell has not cleaned up the election process; he has mandated a methodology which can make theft more persuasive to a skeptical public.

The exit poll disparity. A vote-fraud skeptic on Democratic Underground linked to a study which called into question the accuracy of exit polls. This led me to muse on the prevailing theories used to explain the exit/actual disparities which now seem to mark our every election. Correct me if I'm leaving anything out, but it seems that the explanations boil down to a mere three:

1. The "Chatty Dems" theory. According to this notion, Dems love to shout their views to all and sundry, and especially to exit pollsters -- while Republicans are, by nature, tight-lipped Deep Thinkers, not unlike the cowboys of yore. This idea might have appealed to me if I hadn't encountered so many verbally aggressive -- make that abusive -- Republicans.

2. The "Evil Dems" theory. Proponents of this view hold that Mitofsky is but the latest incarnation of the eeeeevil librul conspiracy which has plagued Christendom since the days of Adam Weishaupt. He and his media comrades-in-deviltry therefore concocted false numbers in order to depress the Bush vote. The problems with this theory are manifold. To name but two: Why didn't the media bigwigs publicize their fake numbers? And where is the evidence that exit polls have ever kept anyone away from the ballot box?

3. The "Oopsie-daisy!" theory. This is the one favored by people of all political stripes who like to consider themselves scientific-minded blokes. The argument boils down to this: Exit polls are by their nature inaccurate, and these inaccuracies are accidental. Ornery nay-sayers like yours truly insist on countering: Why do the "accidents" always veer in one direction, election after election? Why do we never see an exit poll call it for the Republican when the Democrat has actually received the most votes? Ask that impertinent question, and your average scientific-minded bloke will ahem and harrumph and twiddle with his tie until you finally take pity on him and allow him to switch the subject.

Does anyone recall a theory which exists outside the three categories listed above?

"Clear!" Most people haven't heard, but there is a recount underway in New Mexico. Despite this inconvenient fact, New Mexican election officials are clearing the electronic voting machines.

Speaking of NM: Here's a good piece on Democratic Underground. A choice excerpt:

How the GOP Targets Minorities: A New Mexico Case Study

The Five Pillars of Minority Disenfranchisement:
1. Keep Them From Registering to Vote
2. Purge Them From the Rolls
3. Keep Them From Reaching the Polls
4. Keep Their Votes From Counting
5. Vote For Them Ahead of Time

Registration Fraud: The well-reported account of Voters Outreach, a Republican National Committee sponsored organization, canvassing states to register voters as Republicans or to illegally destroy registrations of Democratic registrants is well-known. The strong possibility exists that this was not an isolated incident. Incident reports in New Mexico suggest there may have been a campaign to collect registrations from Hispanic voters with no intention of turning them in. Can't register enough of your own voters? Why not pre-empt Democratic registrations by sweeps through county fairs and Wal-Marts and then trash them? If the purportedly registered Hispanic voters show up on election day and try to vote, then they are the ones who look suspicious -- besides who's going to believe a poor Hispanic voter?
A side-note: Wal-Mart never allows political workers to operate outside their stores unless the operators favor conservative interests. Never fill out a registration form anywhere near a Wal-Mart.

Daniel Hopsicker on Sequoia: In his latest radio interviews (go to part one and part two), this odd-but-interesting Florida-based independent journalist looks into the shady history of a major vote-counting firm. You think you've heard the worst? Think again.

He discusses the history of this company in the 1990s, including the indictments issued after a shady vote on a New Orleans gambling initiative. One of the individuals caught with his fingers in the cookie jar was Jerry Fowler, who went to jail. Hopsicker connects Fowler to a bete noir, Adnan Khashoggi -- whose name, you will recall, came up in our discussion of Triad, or rather the various companies bearing that name. (Khashoggi, it is said, had an interest in a proposed casino, and thus in the electoral results.)

I remain of two minds concerning Hopsicker's contention that Triad GSI, which behaved so unusually during the Ohio recount, has an link to the various firms bearing that same name owned by Khashoggi. But as long as we're talking about Adnan, take another look at this fascinating older piece by Sy Hersh on Khashoggi's middleman efforts between Saudi interests and Richard Perle -- yes, the same Perle whose motto seems to be Israel Ueber Alles.

But I have digressed. Hopsicker goes far beyond the matters I've mentioned above, and gets into the nitty-gritty of questionable vote counts in various Florida counties. Not least, he puts some new info on the table concerning ES&S.

The spies in our midst. I will refer only glancingly to a brouhaha which has remained mostly confined to email and various lists. Certain individuals involved in vote fraud research have been accusing certain other individuals of being fakes. Plants. Disinformationists. Republican ringers.

Such accusations had legitimacy in a few instances; I'll always recall "Brad Menfil" and "Jack Seymour" with a certain skewed fondness. But in recent days, the paranoia level has expanded past the boundaries of reason.

As I've noted before, hysteria of this sort once spread among the JFK assassination researchers. ("Mark Lane is an agent! He's CIA, I tell you! See-freakin'-eye-AY!") Word to the wise: The moment internal dissent devolves into the Goody-Proctor-is-a-witch stage, the public stops paying attention to your issue.

This is the end...beautiful friends, the end...

Yesterday, I discussed an interesting-if-flawed forecast by one Phil Scott (not an economist; just an average fellow exercising his right to rant on unsenet) of how the "economic Ragnarok" scenario might play itself out in the United States. A reader named Lynn sent me her own response, which I would like to pass on the readers:

A good friend of mine is a retired investment banker, and he has been keeping me abreast of the impending doom for a couple of years. First of all, one great source is foreign econo-mags. They have a much more realistic sense of what is going on than we do here. Big surprise.

But, from what my friend explains to me (and I don’t begin to pretend I have an independent clue), there are numerous more factors involved than Mr. Scott lists. And you’re right to take issue with his unilateral perspective on the tax, which points straight to the largest issue that he completely misses, namely the increasing class chasm. Mr. Scott presents taxes as if only the little guy gets them, but all along taxes have been (theoretically) structured to impose greater burdens on the wealthy. In fact, that's a tax keystone that dates back to Athens, the awareness that a society's privileged must support those less fortunate, as well as supply the lion's share of the society's infrastructure funding.

All that being said, Scott may well be referring to Bush's intent to go for a flat tax, which would have much the effect he describes, though he interestingly leaves out the exceedingly wealthy here, who would only benefit. Every aspect of his economic policy has been structured to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor; he is definitely creating a banana republic. Argentina comes to mind.

The problem is, our debt is so huge, those carrying it -- dutifully -- will soon just stop; Japan has been really taking it on the chin, but so has China, mainly because we are the greatest consumers of their cheap goods. But the dollar is so worthless now that these countries -- and others (most Central and South American reserve banks have been quietly converting to the Euro in recent years, and Russia announced just before the election that not only was it considering doing just this, but it wondered why oil trade did not convert to the euro as well, the death knell for the US) -- will no long find any benefit to investing in it.

Every economist my friend knows feels the crash will come in the next few months, this year, anyway. The real estate bubble will burst, and values will plummet, but Mr. Scott is likely correct to presume that rents will remain high or increase due to property tax increases. If you’ve spent any time in New England, or any intact neighborhoods from the 30s, you are aware of what happened to once large homes or even mansions during the Depression; quartered into multiple dwellings or made into boarding homes.

We’ll all be forced to live closer to the bone, a sort of imposed "back to basics." But this may not be all bad. Our culture has been way too long dependent on all these superficial and superfluous baubles, things that require others less fortunate work and live as slaves, essentially. Pride always comes before a fall, and we have a lot of humble pie facing us, but we’ll get the opportunity to not only see the other side of exploitation; we’ll be in a better position to explore the true meaning of democracy.

A couple of years ago, when it became clear we were no longer really living in a democracy, I started reading Ghandi and Vaclav Havel. In a nutshell, their hopeful observations are that government requires the cooperation of the governed, and general poverty compels everyone to take care of the community's needs at the local level. The more this is done, the less the government is involved or needed, and it simply disappears. The wall fell.

Yep, the world will abandon the US economy, and we will have a helluva time convincing anyone to help us out. Mr. Scott's notions about our military may be close to reality, I'm betting, although I don't see how we could possibly run it without major economic power to buy the oil products necessary to make it all move. So many trillion dollar door stops and sand collectors. Our children starving while they drop it all on another barrel. That old domestic abuse, substance abuse cycle writ large.

What worries me at this point is the increasing chuminess of Russia and China; combined they have a fairly impressive military, and though Russia's economy is pretty sad right now, China's is, of course, solid and growing. They're going on the gold standard; getting off that was the stupidest thing we ever did. Or that Tricky Dick ever did. But those two countries could easily just take us over, just like that, when the time comes.

Honestly, the way the Bush cabal is driving this truck like they stole it, I fully suspect that there may actually be some deliberate scheme to it. I know it's sick, but what a canny way to get rid of not only a whole host of "weak" people who are really just a drain on the system, right? But it also gets rid of the democracy and imposes the kind of tyranny conservatives have long envied of Roosevelt.

And what do they care? With all the power in the corporations anyway, they don't even need a country.
No small number of us have already had a taste of humble pie, of course, and we yearn for other vittles. Economic devastation in the United States will certainly hurt everyone in the world -- to whom will the Asians sell their goods if we are reduced to gathering in caves?

One scenario that I consider likely: Bush takes over more oil fields in the Middle East. Once a porta-nuke takes out the Sears building and the Art Institute of Chicago (followed by a media hate campaign in which Grant Wood's "American Gothic" sees much maudlin symbolic usage), our beloved-of-Jesus prez will have sufficient "political capital" to take out virtually any country he chooses. Iran? Saudi Arabia? Both? In the end, Bush will control the substance that will keep the Asian up-and-comers beholden to American corporations.

Kidding around with Poppy

Some of you may be familiar with the longstanding story of a pedophile sex ring, based in Nebraska, which serviced prominent members of the Republican party during the 1980s. The ring was -- allegedly -- run by a locally-prominent GOP bigwig named Larry King, later convicted in a massive fraud case involving a credit union.

One of the Republicans mentioned prominently in these accounts is none other than George H.W. Bush, the former president.

The whole complex narrative has been told many times, most completely in John De Camp's underground bestseller, "The Franklin Cover-up."

I've spoken to people in Nebraska who followed the unfolding scandal as it happened, and who became convinced that the witness testimony was concocted or exaggerated. The main witness, Paul Bonacci, once fell into the company of a religious extremist, and one can only guess how that association might have tainted his recollection. There are many claims loosely connected to this case which I simply cannot believe -- at least, not without a great deal more evidence.

As some of you may know, there exists a sizable subculture of troubled individuals who make wild claims about child sex, ritual abuse, mind control, and sundry other activities. Many of these assertions come from attention-seeking individuals who should be regarded very, very skeptically.

Even so, fairness dictates that each case should be judged individually. I hope you will take the time to view a suppressed documentary on the Nebraska affair. The 1994 film is called "Conspiracy of Silence,." It was originally intended to be broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. and on Yorkshire television in the U.K.

At one time, many believed that no copies of the film remained in existence. However, a work print of the film survives and can now be seen online. A few shots are missing, as are the opticals. (The musical temp track is highly appropos, and shuld be quite recognizable to David Lynch fans.)

It was one thing to discuss -- and perhaps dismiss -- the veracity of de Camp and his witnesses when they remained inky abstractions on the printed page. This film, however, gives us a chance to judge body language, vocal timbre, demeanor, and other subtle indicators of veracity.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of this case, and I've no intention of devoting much of this column's space to this or allied controversies. But I must admit that "Conspiracy of Silence" makes its argument in a striking and compelling fashion.

The film does not directly mention Bush (except in a glancing reference to Iran/contra). But "Poppy" looms large over the investigation, particularly during the closing sequences.

Watch this documentary, seek out information from all sides, and make up your own mind.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Lingering vote fraud issues

The Arnebeck suit is over. We were promised "smoking gun" evidence. Looks like we will never see it, if it ever existed.

"This is not the end, this is merely the end of one state action," said Cliff Arnebeck, the challenge's lead counsel. "More importantly, it signals the emergence of a much broader effort where we plan to investigate and litigate county by county, ward by ward, precinct by precinct."
I hope that's true, but it sounds a bit like Saddam Hussein's declaration of "victory" at the end of the first Gulf War.

Newsweek tells us that if exit polls conflict with final results, then the polls must be wrong. Except in other countries, of course.

Writer Brad Stone blames the exit poll disparity on an oversampling of women. Of course, investigators had established by November 5 that the results were weighted for sex as they were taken. Remember how Mickey Kaus used the term "weighting" as though it were a bad thing? Now Brad Stone pretends that no weighting occurred!

Such is the nature of our new culture of deceit: If a lie is exposed, one need merely wait a couple of months. The false proposition will be repeated, and the exposure will remain in some dusty, forgotten internet archive.

"Exit polls are full of holes," says Joan Konner of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, who co-wrote an internal report for CNN about the 2000 debacle. "Nobody should ever take these things seriously."
Uh huh. Yes. Right. A few questions, Joan: Why are we to take "these things" so seriously in the Ukraine? Why were we so often told to trust exit polls before the advent of audit-free voting? And why do the errors always favor the Republicans, year after year?

Conyers versus Blackwell. Ken Blackwell, fingered by the Conyers report as being a violator of both the law and his oath of office, has fired back at the congressman. "I think Rep. Conyers' inquiry and motivation speaks for itself." A man who once expressed admiration for the way Katherine Harris made out like a bandit -- forgive the grammar: I should have said as a bandit -- has now questioned the motivations of John Conyers. Incredible!

Two views. Anthony Wade presents a fine piece on the "Boxer" rebellion and the Republican audacities which led up to it. He offers a rebuttal to all the robotic Republican talking points.

What do you think is going to happen over the next four years? Do you honestly think that the GOP will enact any significant reform of an electoral process which they completely control? If they were so put off on January 6th to have to discuss the rampant disenfranchisement of thousands of voters in Ohio, for two measly hours, the only answer about their sincerity to reform has to be no. The Help America Vote Act has about as much credibility as the Healthy Forests Initiatives or the Clear Skies Act. The forests are not healthy, the skies are not clear, and America was NOT helped to vote, period.
By contrast, those looking for a prime example of left-wing antipathy for this cause -- and there was plenty -- should check out this wrongheaded piece on the Tom Paine website. The article bends over backwards to be "fair" to the Bush forces. For example:

Also, although incoming voter registration figures showed surges in certain areas, that didn't mean the newly registered would necessarily vote. And certainly not in greater numbers than in many established precincts where a high percentage of registered voters typically went to the polls.
Does this explanation even begin to cover the many areas in which voting machines were fewer than in previous elections? The areas in which the general election saw fewer voting machines than in the primaries?

As for Diebold and other vilified companies, in all probability, they didn't, and wouldn't, risk the ignominy and consequences of fixing an election. The primary reason so many people are suspicious of Diebold in the first place is because of the CEO's ill-advised promise, in a GOP fundraising letter, to do everything he could to see Ohio's electors awarded to Bush. That was an outrageous thing to say, but even on its face more likely a sign of cluelessness than of hidden plans to alter the outcome.
Diebold and the other vilified companies have a proven history of hiring convicted criminals. (Felons cannot vote in some states, but they can count the votes.)

Tom Eschenberger, vice president of ES&S, was fingered by charges of bribery and kickbacks. Phil Foster and Pasquale Ricci of Sequoia were indicted for paying a large bribe to the Louisiana Commissioner of Elections. (Many believe that this is the method by which the major vote-counting companies got their contracts from the various states.) The owner of this same company once tried to bribe a sitting Supreme Court justice. Sequoia has even been linked to one member of the Gambino crime family. As for Diebold: Jeff Dean, the senior programmer and VP at this controversial firm has been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft. Five senior figures have rap sheets.

Are we really supposed to believe that such men would balk at vote-rigging for fear of "ignominy"? Must we presume that such men would be unwilling to take a risk?

What risk?

If we toss out the concept of computerized vote fraud, how else do we explain the solid reports of computers which would "count backward" once the Democrat reached a certain amount? How else do we explain the fact that so many e-vote machines would register a vote for Bush on the confirmation screen, even though the voter had pressed the Kerry button? (This scenario was reported frequently; the reverse scenario remains but the rarest of rumors.)

Indeed, the false explanations as to why computerized voting cannot offer paper receipts (e.g., "the technology is not there yet") should be regarded as strong evidence of intention to commit fraud. Why would anyone but a vote-rigger bother to tell such a lie?

Tom Paine refers to the conspiracy theories as "half-baked." But this attempt to reassure the progressive community is worse than half-baked -- it has barely been thawed.

The revolution WILL be digitized: Brad Friedman has given birth to (or linked up with?) the Velvet Revolution, dedicated to sparking the kind of "street power" that we saw in the Ukraine.

Is the U.S. colluding with Bin Laden supporters in Indonesia?

"Collusion" is probably far too extreme a word to apply in this situation. Better, perhaps, to say that six degrees of separation have suddenly narrowed to an uncomfortably close three.

We are working with the Indonesian government on disaster relief -- and that government is working with affiliates of Al Qaida. Such, at least, is the conclusion drawn from this Democracy Now interview with Alan Nairn. The tsunami has given the Indonesian government an opportunity to ship Bin Laden supporters into the strife-torn Aceh region, where the outside militants will help repress the rebellion.

Yes, they brought them into Aceh. Some of them are walking around with Bin Laden T-shirts. They go up to foreign reporters and present themselves as Acehnese even though they are not, and James Kelly of the U.S. State Department just said, there's worry that such militants might attack U.S. troops. Well simultaneously Powell was announcing the U.S. is going to aid the Indonesian military, one of the rationales being the Indonesian military is needed to fight such Bin Laden-style military.
This, Nairn alleges, is the real reason for those shocking photos of American aid being handed to men wearing Bin Laden couture.

Nairn's analysis stands in stark contrast to the simplistic "America good, Muslims bad" view, as exrmplified by this Austrailian editorial.

A rant about economic Ragnarok

Today I found that rare exchange on usenet which deserves a wide audience. On misc.investing.stocks, one poster had this to say about the housing bubble (to which I had made reference the last time I got online):

I was in Hollywood a few weeks ago and visited a place which looked like a trailer without wheels to me... But they pay $1350 rent a month. The materials were kinda cheap, it was cold... How long is this bubble going to last?
A respondent named Phil Scott (who immediately got onto my good side by calling himself "Phil Scott" instead of some inane nick) offered a view of the housing crisis which expanded into a forecast of economic apocalypse. I wish I didn't find his analysis compelling.

Now, I know nothing about this man beyond what you read below. No doubt, he is no economist -- just an average Joe. Like me. There are times, though, when the world would be well advised to pay more attention to what the Joes have to say.

Granted, this essay amounts to a rant. Granted, it is hyperbolic. No, I don't agree with every point.

I am in particular disagreement on the subject of taxation: The "low taxes" mantra is the very mechanism by which the empire-builders have achieved power, and no amount of propaganda or historical revisionsim can disguise the fact that this country has always prospered during times of highly progressive taxation. Employers, not IRS auditors, force most people to "work themselves to death."

Even so, I find this warning quite interesting. I hope Mr. Scott does not mind my repeating his words here, substantially edited for style and length (but not for content):

The US will most likely continue to handle this mess as they have over the last four years: by debasing the currency. In that case, dollar prices for real estate will rise or stay level as real value erodes. The banking structure will stay intact because the banks are also paying off their loans with devalued dollars.

The real problem occurs when wages cannot match the inflation of the dollar. That's because the only way to pay off the debt (and it has to be paid, or the nation collapses) is to over-work the working class. That factor will decimate the US as a nation. First its economy will falter, then its world hegemony will disappear.

This is happening now. It will get worse at light speed over the next four years as the core of the work force ages and dies or retires, with few competent replacements.

The real estate bubble may never burst. It may just hyper-inflate.

If the state and federal governments begin seizing property to satisfy tax liens, that tactic will fail. In the first place, the home 'owner' has less actual equity than the property is worth or can be sold for. In the second place, a large number of distressed properties will crash the real estate market, even with hyper-inflated dollars.

So the feds won't even be seizing homes -- just threatening to do so. But when the home "owner" finds that his job has moved to China -- and that he has no job prospects, no income, and pays no taxes -- he will not be able to respond to threats from the government. The turnip will have been bled dry. Even shipping him off for Abu Ghraib-type abuse will not bring any revenue. No jobs, no revenue, no taxes -- as state and federal debt skyrockets.

That will be the major problem.

How will it be handled? Look at the rest of the world, and you will see examples everywhere -- in Russia, India, even in many parts of Europe. We will see more people living in less space, and closer to the bone.

That's the 'solution.'

That solution will stay in effect until a national government decides to tax its people to starvation levels. When the government receives no tax income, it will finally have to let the bureaucrats starve as well. Those bureaucrats will then individually begin to extort the citizens, a la the Mexican police. As that process continues, complete collapse ensues.

That's the secenario for nations which seek empire and spend their national treasure on wars.

For those nations like Sweden and Denmark, which seek no empire, a balance is reached between a bloated government and over-taxation. Everyone eats well and lives fairly decently, unless a tyrant comes to power.

The United States -- because of its built-up infrastructure, farms, shore lines, huge land mass, etc. -- will simply lose its empire as its tax base collapses...

First, economic losses of huge magnitude will occur over the next four years. But we will still have empire and be able and willing to carpet bomb any recalcitrant nation into a bloody pile of meat and bones.

Then, as China rises to dominate world commerce, we will face crippling economic sanctions from the rest of the world. This will cost us world dominance.

With loss of empire, loss of control over oil prices, loss of world markets, and no way to rip off third-world nations via our bogus loan programs, the U.S. economy will suffer very badly indeed. The piper will have to be paid in full. By then, over half (the top and most experienced half) of our current working population will be old and retired or dead. Meanwhile, China and India are growing exponentially and already have world-class universities.

On the real estate issue, you will see civil servants as the new upper class, buying up the distressed homes. For instance, San Francisco police officers can buy distressed property from the state at half the price paid by a private citizen.

The individual who wants to do well can either become a landlord and hope to hold the property against ruthless taxation -- or he can stay small, live cheaply, and work modestly so there is little to tax and nothing to seize for non-payment. Most will end up in this last category. The smartest people will develop world-class skills while living in this fashion, which may allow them recreation time and a relaxed life. But if too many people fall into this category, their host government will be decimated. The government needs most members of the public to work themselves to death in order to pay taxes, to insure that the government will survive and civil servants can retire at five times the average annual income.

The culture does indeed go quite insane during the final stages of empire.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A note to my readers

Work is once more interfering with "real" life -- that is to say, my internet life. That's why I've gone two whole days without writing anything.

On that note, I've put together a handy-dandy guide for those of you contemplating a move to Los Angeles. Here's how to determine how much rent you should expect to pay:

1. Add up the sum total of your yearly earned income from a full-time job. (Be sure to include overtime).

2. Give that sum to your landlord.

3. Supplement your income via moonlighting, faith healing, tarot card reading, prostitution, drug smuggling, murder for hire, etc.

4. Give all supplemental income to your landlord.

5. Borrow from relatives, credit card companies, banks, etc.

6. Give all borrowed money to your landlord.

Just follow those six easy steps and you may be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles at current market rates. If you still can't make rent, consider counterfeiting.

The preceding guide may give you some explanation as to why posting will be irregular for the next week or two. Yes, I still plan to astound the world with shocking exposes of reactionary conspiracies against peace, progress, decency and reason itself. I do have a few goodies lined up.

But the posting will come in explosive spurts, following periods of abstinence.

I will be grateful to any reader who can re-word the previous sentence in such as way as to render it devoid of all sexual overtones.

Please tune in again tomorrow -- at which time I should be ready to, er, spurt.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

More thank yous

Some of you have tried to send your expressions of gratitude to Boxer and the noble 31, only to run into a problem: Some of our elected representatives have set up their home pages in such a way that they cannot accept email from people outside their districts.

To get around that roadbloack, go here. (And thanks to Katie for the suggestion.)

Is Khashoggi's Triad the Triad we know and "love"? A further look...

Yesterday, we directed your attention to the work of Daniel Hopsicker, who notes (as did we all) that one of the election companies in Ohio which behaved -- er, let us say, unusually -- was Triad Governmental Services (a.k.a. Triad GSI). He further noted that none other than Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi/Egyptian financier and arms merchant involved with Iran-contra, has a penchant for naming many of his companies Triad. Moreover, Khashoggi used Palm Beach, Florida -- the original home of Triad GSI -- as one of his home bases.

Incidentally, this DOD document identifies Khashoggi as the supplier of arms to the Medellin drug cartel. (It's a pdf file; scroll down to paragraph 69.)

So the question of the day is: Did the fellow who sold bullets to the guys shooting at our DEA agents also help tabulate the vote?

In this light, I should note -- as I did not have time to note yesterday -- that the owner of record for Triad GSI is a fellow named Tod Rapp. He's a donor to (but of course!) Dubya and the G.O.P. -- although, truth be told, he didn't give much. Triad software was used to tabulate punch-card votes in Ohio. Needless to say, the code is very hush-hush.

A number of members of the Rapp family are involved with the day-to-day running of the business. The firm seems to be very much a family affair.

Now, I've had some semi-harsh words in the past for Bev Harris of (and I still want to know what happened to those poll tapes in Florida -- are we now to consider them her personal property?). But she offered an interesting response to Hopsicker's report:

Well, I went down that path. The name "Triad" as well as the names "Global" and "World" do crop up often in connection with just about everything, including voting machines. But, I do find one of the assertions in the article to be lacking in factual underpinnings.

The author writes that:

"While there has been no suggestion of it anywhere in the media, the name "Triad" was used extensively by Khashoggi at exactly the same time (the early 80's) and in exactly the same place (Palm Beach, Florida) as the "Triad Governmental Systems" involved in Ohio's current election "difficulties." "

Well, actually, at that time the company was actually called Rapp Systems Inc., after the owners, who are mostly named Rapp.

I found literally thousands of companies named Triad, with little to no correlation among owners. In fact, my husband is an occasional producer, and our preferred recording studio in the Seattle area just happens to be called Triad Studios. I can assure you I would be astonished if there were any world domination types there.
Fair enough.

Even so, I'd like to learn more about the company history of Triad GSI. Was there in fact a name change? Why and when did it take place? Hopsicker offers this from the company literature:

Incorporated in 1982, TRIAD GSI was founded to provided quality support and services for Rapp Systems' Election products, with election experience that spans a quarter of a century.
Privately-owned companies experiencing an uncertain year have been known to take financing from outside investors, and sometimes those investors do not want their names bandied about in public.

In that light, you may want to sift through this article -- an oldie-but-goodie from Jim Hougan, a terrific investigator who now writes spy thrillers under the name John Case. The article represents his contribution to a 1978 compendium titled "Crime At The Top: Deviance In Business and the Professionals." In it, we learn more about Khashoggi's Triads, and his strange relationship with Lockheed, which had to make certain payoffs (it is alleged) to get Saudi contracts:

For instance, rather than paying Khashoggi directly, a "second-tier" subsidiary based in Geneva would employ the "marketing services" of a subsidiary on the "first tier," based in California. In its turn, the California firm would "subcontract" all or most of those services to Khashoggi's Triad Corporation.
Hougan then goes on to relay the mind-boggling details of the mechanisms Khashoggi used to hide his direct involvement in such affairs. (Worth noting: Khashoggi seems to have pissed off both the Americans and the Saudis in his dealings. So why did they keep using him as a middleman?)

The story of the Lockheed/Triad scandal is long and incredibly involved, and Hougan provides as good an overview as you are ever likely to find. His recounting of that bit of history may shed light on Hopsicker's allegation of a possible hidden link between Khashoggi and the Rapp family's company.

That said, I have yet to find find any concrete link between the Triad GSI and Khashoggi.

But let's not stop looking. Shady characters tend to pop up every time we look into the election services industry...

Side note: A reader who kindly sent me a load of research material on Triad (most of which I haven't had time to examine) directs our attention to another firm called Triad -- Triad Strategies. It's a lobbying firm. You'll love their company motto: "We've found there are almost as many ways to influence behavior as their are behaviors to influence." Ah yes. How about passing the time by playing a little solitaire, Mr. Shaw?

Close to the top of this Triad's client list is -- Accenture. You remember them. Accenture counts the military vote.

Now, I'm pretty sure that this really is just a coincidence. Still, it's a cute coincidence, n'est-ce pas?

The public thanks Boxer

A surprising number of people came out in the rain to show their support for Senator Barbara Boxer's courageous action. This portfolio of images will definitely warm your heart.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Does Adnan Khashoggi own Triad Government Services?

I'm still not sure how to assess the latest update from Daniel Hopsicker, but I nevertheless urge everyone to read what he has to say. As an appetizer, he connects Wally Hilliard, the ultra-mysterious "flight school" owner linked to Mohammed Atta, with Adnan Khashoggi.

Hopsicker goes on to report that Khoshoggi has a large stake in at least one company used to count the votes. And that's where matters get really interesting.

Khashoggi's name, as most of you will know, comes up often in parapolitical research -- see the Wikipedia article here, to get just the barest taste of it. Any number of news reports have tied Khashoggi to Iran-contra, to "Poppy" Bush, to BCCI -- and even to a cadre of high-level escorts servicing the world's richest men. (Never underestimate the "hooker factor" in cementing American relations with the Saudi royal family.)

Khashoggi also has a notable preference for naming his companies "Triad."

Was Adnan Khashoggi a principal in a company which has been counting the votes of American servicemen overseas? Answer: highly likely.

Both, and Triad, the election company cited for causing most of the problems in Ohio, should receive close scrutiny for evidence of Khashoggi involvement.

While there has been no suggestion of it anywhere in the media, the name "Triad" was used extensively by Khashoggi at exactly the same time (the early 80's) and in exactly the same place (Palm Beach, Florida) as the "Triad Governmental Systems" involved in Ohio's current election "difficulties."

Khashoggi owned a number of companies named "Triad."

Khashoggi owned "Triad International Marketing."

Northrop, the Los Angeles-based aircraft and electronics manufacturer, owes Triad International Marketing, S.A., a Liechtenstein corporation controlled by Khashoggi, $31 million in commissions on sales to the Saudi air force," reported the L.A. Times on August 29, 1987.

Khashoggi owned "Triad America."
Hopsicker goes on and on in this vein, listing Triad after Triad under Khashoggi control. (Triad is also mentioned in the Wikipedia article.)

You may be particularly struck to learn of Khashoggi's ownership of Triad Farms in Kentucky, which played a prominent role in the massive drug ring described in a book called "The Blue Grass Conspiracy." Although that volume was one of the best works on true crime to hit the bookstores during the last couple of decades, it did not go far enough. The same crime ring (which seems to have had high level protection) had ties to the China Lake naval weapons station, not to mention the murder of a judge by Charles Harrelson. (Yes, I am talking about the convicted father of actor Woody Harrelson -- where do you think Woody got that maniacal gleam in his eye? -- and yes, this is the same Charles Harrelson who once claimed to have participated in the JFK assassination.)

Hopsicker also uncovers a 1988 election incident in which Triad employees behaved in a fashion suspiciously similar to that which we observed more recently in Ohio.

According to Jackie Beville, a former employee of the Supervisor of Elections in Hillsborough County, Triad workers adjusted the software to clear up a ballot-counting problem shortly before the election, and the machinery should then have been recertified following the work.

When questioned, she was told that Triad workers were just fixing problems caused by a lightning strike.

Beville disputes that the weather had anything to do with the repair work
Hmm. Does that fortuitous "lightning strike" remind anyone of a certain "bad battery" incident in Ohio?

One thing Hopsicker does not mention is that this is not the first time Adnan Khoshoggi's name has cropped in connection with a dubious Dubya election. Back in the year 2000, Slate published a piece by Timothy Noah titled "Did Adnan Khashoggi Throw the Election to Dubya?" Noah's piece, written for Slate's "Chatterbox" column, is, for the most part, written in a humorous and even snide vein. Still, he does note the verifiable fact that Theresa LaPore -- remember her? -- was a Khashoggi employee before she played a role in the Florida election scandal.

"And not just Triad," says Hopsicker -- who goes on to make a few further points that I cannot help quoting: should be examined for the invisible hand of the Saudi financier and CIA “fixer.”

News reports stated was owned by an offshore Saudi front company in Bermuda consisting of five unnamed Saudi billionaires, until scrutiny forced a sale to Accenture, the remnants of the disgraced and disbanded Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm which made Enron possible.
Many have expressed mixed feelings about Hopsicker's work in the past, but the Khashoggi-Triad connection is one that we should be able to firm up. And once we do -- well, the election controversy rockets to a whole new level.

Incidentally, you can hear an interview with Hopsicker here. The interview is far more discursive and amorphous than the afore-cited article -- frankly, it sounds like the sort of thing you might hear from a couple of old conspiracy buffs kicking back brewskis -- but it is still worth a listen.

As I said, I'm still unsure what to make of all this. But I encourage readers to check and double-check Hopsicker's work. If you can take his argument further, great. If you want to knock his work down, great. But let's get a discussion going!

Quiet triumphs: A parallel (updated)

From time to time, I've drawn parallels between the JFK assassination controversy and our much more recent fight to have Republican vote fraud recognized. In both cases, an underground resistance struggled against the prevailing wisdom of both parties. For the Warren Commission critics, the holy grail was either a new investigation or a new trial. After much effort, both goals were reached, and on both occasions, hopes shattered.

The critics then set a new goal -- the battle for history.

This objective seemed the most difficult of all. Even the most fervent JFK activist (and those guys could get pretty damned fervent) had little hope of ever seeing a college or high school textbook which repeated anything but the Oswald-did-it scenario.

Well, last night I read a textbook -- yes, a genuine college-level text, used in a course on 20th Century American history -- which presented both sides of the assassination controversy, in a brief but reasonably fair fashion. Indeed, the authors of the text seem to express a slight bias toward the anti-"lone nut" position.

Unfortunately, the pro-conspiracy side of the book's argument segued into a discussion of Oliver Stone's film. An unfortunate choice, that. Even Stone would probably agree that students should be referred to any number of books (choose your author: Russell, DiEugenio, Lane, Davy, Scott, etc.) and not to any made-in-Hollywood product. (Hell, this thread offers newbies as good an intro as any.)

Even so, the fact remains. We're in. We made the textbooks. We're winning the battle for history -- at least on that front. Yes, the fight took 40 years -- but many expected it to take longer.

Now we must engage in another battle for history. Our new front concerns the question of Bush's legitimacy and the Republican party's control over electronic voting. We can win this fight too.

And thanks to the internet, thanks to the new rapidity of communications, we won't need 40 years to do the job.

Investigations and lawsuits are fine. Never shy away from an opportunity to meet the enemy in those forums; even if the opposing forces should prevail, the struggle itself will always uncover new facts. For example, there are rumors that the Arnebeck suit has a hidden Ace -- a "smoking gun" piece of evidence. Even if his suit is tossed out (and don't be surprised if Moyer does just that), the evidence, if it exists, may still see the light of day.

This is a battle for brains. We cannot right the wrongs committed by the far rightists and the fundamentalists until we change more minds. The Republicans themselves made this point repeatedly during the debate over the challenge to Ohio's electors: They complained that we are undermining the country's faith -- and the world's faith -- in the American electoral system.

True enough; that system is broken. Faith should be undermined. The less faith, the better. We are advocates of reality, not faith.

According to one poll, 42% of our fellow citizens think that vote fraud played a small or large role in the last election. That's no small number. We have come close to convincing the majority of our fellow citizens that our position has merit. When the number of doubters shoots past the 50% mark, we will have achieved the most important victory -- and other victories will follow.

A side note: Those of you who watched the debates may have noticed that the Republicans kept repeating (in their usual scripted way) the same theme: They screamed that the Democrats were alleging that George Bush personally changed the vote "from a computer in the White House."

I know of no-one who has seriously made that suggestion. (Maybe someone somewhere tossed out that idea in a humorous fashion; if so, I'm unaware of the particulars.) So why do the Republicans keep trying to convince their constituents that vote fraud activists made such a claim?

I'm reminded of the attacks on Gary Webb. When the L.A. Times and other media snipers decided to smear his CIA/contra cocaine stories, they pretended that Webb had claimed the CIA agents were literally out on the streets of Central Los Angeles selling crack. Of course, Webb made no such suggestion. But he was easier to demonize once a "false Gary Webb" was held up for public ridicule. The number of people who heard the smear campaigners' goofball misrepresentation of his work exceeded the number of people who read his actual reportage.

If the trick worked once, keep working it...

Overviews. The morning-after accounts of the electoral challenge are coming in. The best I've seen is Democracy Now's interview with ground-level Ohio activist Harvey Wasserman, who compares this fight to the civil rights struggle. (Indeed, the current fight is an extension of the civil rights struggle.)

Steve Freeman -- yes, the same University of Pennsylvania prof who provided a seminal analysis of the exit polls -- has contributed a superb editorial to the San Francisco Chronicle. Freeman makes the important point that the U.S.-sponsored exit polls in the Ukraine were far less trustworthy than the ones conducted here:

So why is the response rebellion in the former Soviet Union nations but passive acceptance here? It's not that exit polls are reliable everywhere but here. In fact, both of the exit polls in the Ukraine were flawed. One did not adequately cover the strongholds of the government candidate; the other used face-to-face interviews, thus asking respondents to risk retribution. Both polls are alleged to have been sponsored by the West, principally the United States, hoping to install a friendly, pro-NATO government. The U.S. exit poll, in contrast, was independent, well-funded and run by the most experienced exit pollsters in the world
.Freeman has much more; this is a good piece.

Salon has a few words to say about the fight, although their story concentrates on the concurrent Gonzales fiasco.

You'll also want to read what Bob Fritakis has to say. Here's a point I should have raised earlier:

Even the Senate's new Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, joined the challenge -- a startling, unexpected but hopeful twist. Indeed, he spoke not of voting problems in Ohio but of problems in Nevada.

"Today, our brave men and women of the armed forces are working to bring the right to free and fair elections to Iraq," Reid said. "Their sacrifice absolutely demands that we work to ensure our own elections are fair. That is what today’s debate is about." Reid cited problems in his state, saying: "In this past election in my home state of Nevada, phone calls were made to heavily African American parts of Las Vegas to trick those voters into not voting. Those calls, which we were unable to trace, told voters that Election Day was November 3rd, not November 2nd. Our registration process in Nevada was also tainted by the proven destruction of Democratic voter registration forms. That fraud is still under investigation."
We discussed Nevada in these pages fairly earlier on, but the hullaballo over Ohio tended to overshadow all other concerns.

In state after state, reports cropped up of attempts to mislead black voters into thinking the vote was on November 3, not November 2. We should place in the same category the "pseudo-GOTV" telephone campaign designed to make independent voters think that John Kerry supported gay marriage.

Not long ago, I came across a GOP site which laughed at these attempts to mislead voters: Anyone dumb enough to be taken in by such tactics (the writer argued) deserved to have his vote taken away. So let's say I'm a scamster, and let's say I use a ruse to convince your grandmother to give me her credit card information. According to the Republicans, if she's that stupid, she deserves to be robbed.

Lovely philosophy, that.

Oh...and for a note-perfect parody of the arguments raised by Republicans during the debate, check out The Common Ills. Funny stuff!

THANKS, EVERYONE! I've already written a note of gratitude to Barbara Boxer. (I even told her "I love you" -- an outburst which shouldn't bother my girlfriend, since she feels the same way.) If you want to express your thanks to her and to the noble House members who supported the challenge to the objectors, Buzzflash gives you an easy way to contact each and every one.

And let me offer my own gratitude to the readers who had kind words for my own humble efforts. I'm tempted to say that your notes almost brought a tear to my eye -- but that admission might injure my rep as a cantankerous ol' grizzly bear. So let me just say...thanks.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A mystery

My main reaction to the challenge to the electors is below. The issue of vote fraud is not dead -- for one thing, there's still the lawsuit.

In the meantime, I just discovered something odd, thanks to Google. If you go to your browser's URL field and type in, you will be redirected back here -- to Cannonfire. At least, such was the case for a short while today. But why? Has this been going on for a while? Do the people who run redirect readers to a new site each day? I certainly had nothing to do with this!

Victory? Yes -- and no

First, let me express the pride I now take in my vote for Senator Barbara Boxer. She displayed true political courage. The Democratic party leadership begged her not to support the challenge to Ohio's electors, yet she stood up for democracy nonetheless.

I doubt that she will win re-election. The Republicans will target her as they never have before. Next time she runs, they'll make sure that a formidable, supremely well-funded candidate stands against her. (Another try by Michael Huffington? Ghastly thought...) Until then, she will be subjected to a non-stop barrage from the radio rightists. Keep in mind, California is becoming redder and redder each year.

The other heroes, of course, are Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, John Conyers, and all the other House members who took a stand for democracy. All 32 of them.

Our side did not have the votes, of course. We did not have the media. We did not even have most of the left-wing websites. Hell, most of the time we didn't even have Michael freaking Moore.

Yet somehow, the heroes listed above managed to assure that George W. Bush will forevermore have an asterisk beside his name in the history books. The integrity of the results in both of his elections has been questioned. When historians ask "Why were the electors challenged in 2004?" -- they will turn to the Conyers report, which presents overwhelming evidence of fraud.

That is our victory.

Ah...but what happens when unborn schoolchildren ask their instructors why the 2004 results were formally challenged? Alas, I'm not sure that the events of this day will be allowed to enter their history books -- and even if they are, I'm not sure that teachers of the future will be apprised of the outrages detailed by the House Judiciary Committee.

We are the only ones who can make sure that the true history of what just occurred is preserved.

As I watched the proceedings on CSPAN, I was often filled with outrage. Republican after Republican claimed that "everyone agreed" that George Bush won this election, even though one poll reports that 42% of the electorate believes that vote tampering played a small or large role in Bush's victory.

Republican after Republican claimed that there was "no evidence" of vote tampering in Ohio, even though the Conyers report overflows with such evidence. Obviously, they never read that report.

One Republican offered a shot at the many internet citizens who have followed this issue closely: "Blogging doesn't make it so."

At least bloggers don't mind doing a little reading. Most congressmen could not be bothered to skim the details of the investigation central to their vote.

Time and again, Republicans made statements indicating that they had not informed themselves of the basic issues. They referred to the recount as if it were a full hand recount, and not a three-percent-of-the-precincts recount. They never once mentioned the fact that this "three percent" was cherry-picked, not chosen at random as the law requires. According to one Republican congressman, exit polls are as believable as "a Godzilla movie;" in fact, such polls have a history of high accuracy and remain our sole method of verifying a vote lacking a paper audit trail. (Why didn't this same congressman laugh off the exit poll disparity in the Ukraine?)

Time and again, the Republicans made reference to the bipartisan make-up of the various boards of election in Ohio. But those board members serve at the discretion of Ken Blackwell, whose activity was nothing short of criminal. Besides, how can a lowly Democratic member of a county board doublecheck the software of a tabulating system deemed proprietary by its Republican owners?

The Republicans claimed that computerized voting systems could not have affected the many votes cast with punch cards and optical scan cards. Our side has been screaming for months that all such cards are fed into a very-hackable central tabulating system. (Yes, the punch cards provide an audit trail, but only a small fraction of their total number were actually audited in the recount -- and we haven't even begun to discuss the serious chain-of-custody questions.)

Not a single Republican -- and no Democrats, for that matter -- mentioned the fact that the directors of Diebold and Sequoia include felons, and that they have been caught putting illegal "back doors" into their software. Our democracy is in the hands of people with serious criminal records.

Neither did any participant in the House debate mention the fact that the Ahmanson family, which largely owns ES&S, prefers theocracy to democracy. The results of any election tainted by the machineries of Diebold, ES&S, Sequioa and Triad are about as believable as -- well, I'm tempted to make further reference to the filmography of Inoshira Honda.

In short: The Republicans painted themselves as realists, even as they cobbled together a fantasyland version of the events of the past two months.

Displaying a love of fantasy that even J.R.R. Tolkien would have considered excessive, many congressmen took this opportunity to castigate Michael Moore. Moore, they insinuated, was the covert leader of the movement to challenge the electors. One Republican devoted his time on the floor to outlining the alleged sins of Michael Moore, as though one film-maker's personal history was somehow relevant to the details of the Conyers report.

The facts: Michael Moore was not (from our point of view) "good" on this issue. He did not challenge the legitimacy of the November 2 election until very recently. His website published very little material which people in our fight considered useful or sympathetic. Most of the time, his name simply did not come up -- not in my correspondence with fellow writers, not on the websites I visited, not on the email lists devoted to this topic, not at the rallies against voter disenfranchisement, not in the major stories published by writers devoted to fair elections. Those of us who gave his name any mention at all did so only to express disappointment with his apparent cowardice.

Hell, my dog played a bigger role in this movement than did Michael Moore. (That's literally true. Pooches are natural antidepressants, and lord knows I needed something to keep me cheerful over the past two months.)

The fact that Republicans attempted to switch the topic to Moore only buttresses the point I made yesterday: Conservatives now claim an Orwellian sovereignty over reality itself. I'm sure that their demonization efforts will lead the dittohead faithful into blaming Moore for the electoral challenge. Millions of Republicans will come to believe in that absurd scenario -- just as they believe that the American military found WMDs in Iraq, and that Osama and Saddam were partners.

Maybe the GOP propagandists can blame the tsunami on Moore as well. Why not? Reality is now what the Republican party says it is.

If we don't want them to commandeer the epistemological debate the way they have commandeered democracy, we must redouble our efforts to demolish their lies. Earlier today, Tom Delay referred to folks like you and me as "the X-Files wing of the Democratic Party." I'll take that as a compliment.

After all, the motto of that show was: "THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

BRAVO, JOHN CONYERS! The report is in, and it is awesome! (plus: More vote fraud news)

This is a huge news day for those following the vote fraud controversy.

The Report on Ohio vote tampering is here. Just a day before the ratification of the electoral votes, the House Judiciary Committee has just released its findings on the election horrors in Ohio. Yes, it's a long pdf file -- but it is filled with must-read material.

In fact, this report offers everything we could have hoped for. From the summary (emphasis added by me):

We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousands of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.

This report, therefore, makes three recommendations: (1) consistent with the requirements of the United States Constitution concerning the counting of electoral votes by Congress and Federal law implementing these requirements, there are ample grounds for challenging the electors from the State of Ohio; (2) Congress should engage in further hearings into the widespread irregularities reported in Ohio; we believe the problems are serious enough to warrant the appointment of a joint select Committee of the House and Senate to investigate and report back to the Members; and (3) Congress needs to enact election reform to restore our people's trust in our democracy. These changes should include putting in place more specific federal protections for federal elections, particularly in the areas of audit capability for electronic voting machines and casting and counting of provisional ballots, as well as other needed changes to federal and state election laws.

With regards to our factual findings, in brief, we find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases, these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio.
The document presents page after page filled with courtroom-quality evidence against Blackwell -- and let me tell you, this stuff is damning. This vile manipulator should, must go to jail. He is nothing short of a criminal mastermind.

On page 32 of the report, Blackwell -- who had the audacity to compare himself with Gandhi and King -- is quoted as saying that he would rather go to jail than to comply with the rulings of Judge Carr (a "liberal" judge, according to Blackwell). Why this show of defiance? Because that judge ruled that the Secretary of State issue specific guidelines on the use of provisional ballots. Somehow, I doubt that Gandhi or King would have disagreed with that ruling (which, I should note, was overruled on appeal; these days, the bad guys often win).

Well, Kenny-boy -- if you long for a stay in the joint, we'll be happy to see your wish granted.

Blackwell stands specifically accused of direct violations of the Help America Vote Act, as well as Article 1, Section 5 of the Ohio Constitution (see page 48 of the report) -- not mention the first amendment to the United States Constitution (page 49), the Voting Rights Act and all constitutional guarantees of due process (page 52), Ohio statutes regarding ballot tampering (page 59), the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (page 65), and possibly the National Voter Registration Act (page 69). He also has a statutory obligation to investigate election irregularities; the paper documents numerous problems, most of which received no investigation from Blackwell's office.

The report damns Blackwell for deliberately delaying the official count to render the recount challenges moot:

By setting the vote tally deadline so late and then delaying the declaration of results -- it took a full 34 days after the November 2 election for the results to be certified -- Secretary of State Blackwell insured that the time for completing recounts, therefore, was pushed to after the date of the Electoral College meeting. As a result of this intentional course of conduct, it appears tha Mr. Blackwell has ensured tha the controversies concerning the appointment of electors could not be resolved by December 7, 2004, thereby causing Ohio to lose the benefit of the electoral college safe harbor so that the appointment of electors is not necessarily binding on Congress.
Oh -- and do you recall Blackwell's nonsensical ruling that all registration forms must be on 80-lb paper? Turns out that forms obtained from his own office were printed on 60-lb stock. (See page 38.)

This is a powerful indictment. It speaks not just to Blackwell's criminality, but to the exit poll controversies, the recount controversies, and the bizarre behavior by Triad: " appears that Mr. Barbian's activities were not the actions of a rogue computer programmer but the official policy of Triad." Moreover:

We have received several additional reports of machine irregularities involving several other counties serviced by Triad, including a report that Triad was able to alter election software by remote access...
After these incidents -- there were more than a few -- are detailed, the report states:

Based on the above, including actual admissions and statements by Triad employees, it strongly appears that Triad and its employees engaged in a course of behavior to provide "cheat sheets" to those counting the ballots. The cheat sheets told them hoe many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count. In that way, they could avoid doing a full county-wide hand recount mandated by state law.
Does this pattern of activity violate state and federal law? Appears so. Check out page 84 of the report.

There is much more.

We were asking for a political miracle -- a new piece of evidence that would give much-needed credibility to a challenge by a Senator. (Perhaps Senator Kerry? Alas, he is reportedly away, and has sent an email to supporters announcing that he will not participate in a challenge to the electors). This paper offers "credibility cover" -- and more. It places all the evidence acquired heretofore in damning context.

I have never seen a more hard-hitting report by any congressional committee. Ever.

Exit polls: The Big Lie gets a big push. Since no-one now believes the "chatty Dem" theory of the great exit poll disparity, the Republicans must now publicize their "fall-back" position. Yep, they will try to convince the country that Mitofsky intentionally skewed the results to help Kerry.

So far, this nonsensical notion has been relegated to the dark corners of the net. (You may have noticed the snipings of a particularly obsessive right-wing conspiracy theorist in the comments section of this very blog.) But now the GOP Ministry of Love is making this idea the new Party Line. Yes, the meme is making the big time -- if you can call GOP flack Mickey Kaus the big time. Rush should be getting his copy of the script any day now.

The very concept is inane, of course.

Supposedly, Mitofsky -- formerly a long-time employee of Republican-run Viacom, whose firm is funded by a consortium of mainstream media outlets (also owned by pro-Republican interests) -- is a fervent Kerry supporter. So fervent is he, in fact, that he was willing to salt the exit poll results on November 2, in order to depress the Republican vote.

And were these faked exits leaked via ABC, AP, CBS or any similar mainstream outlet that might actually have reached a whole bunch of people? Nope. The big media could have discussed the polls openly -- no law prevents them from doing so. After all, they did pay for the data, and they no doubt would have publicized it heavily if the numbers showed Bush ahead. But the large broadcasters kept silent about the (preliminarily) good news for the Democrat.

Instead, on election day, the exits leaked out via blogs not so very unlike the one who are reading now. Atrios. Daily Kos. Guys like that.

As we all know, those conservative farmers in Iowa just can't get through their day without regularly checking on what good ol' Kos has to say. According to the conspiracy theory, those Iowa farmers saw the exits and said: "Shucks! Looks like Kerry's gonna win! Why bother voting? Guess I'll just stay here and plough the north 40..."

Talk about your tin foil hat notions!

Yet that's the scenario the Republicans want you to believe. After all, the only alternative scenario has a distinctly Ukrainian flavor.

The latest attempt to push this inane line centers on mysterious files posted to this site. Although no-one has verified their authenticity, and no-one knows how they got on the net, we are told that here, at last, is the gen-yew-ine raw exit poll data.

In recent days, I've been given this link by a horde of correspondents who never wrote to me previously -- always a sure tip-off that Rovian trickery is afoot.

I was particularly amused by Kaus, who claims that the exits favoring Kerry were the results of "weighting." All polls weight the results, of course. If, for example, you've interviewed ten men and twenty-five women, you'll have to weight the results to reflect the actual male-to-female ratio of our society.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Don't be surprised to see Mitofsky himself give credence to the Big Lie. Better than most, he must understand that we no longer live in a democracy. To thrive in an empire, one must parrot the lines assigned by Power.

Fritakis does it again. Bob Fritakis has another fine story on the Ohio debacle, as well as New Mexico and Florida. He quotes from various affidavits testifying to GOP malfeasance. His account nicely complements the House Judiciary COmmittee's report.

Here are some samples -- and as you read the following, keep in mind Ken Blackwell's recently-disclosed bragging about "delivering" the Ohio vote:

"I was a volunteer all day on Nov. 2 and noticed a big discrepancy in the number of voting machines. Where I vote, in an affluent neighborhood, a voting machine had been added (total of five machines). In the lower-income neighborhoods, there were two-three machines and people waiting over three hours to vote!"
Here's what the vote was like in a rich, white neighborhood:

"No problems. I was a runner in Bexley precincts 1A, 1B, 1C. There were no lines in my visits to these precincts three times. I will point out that 1B is perhaps the wealthiest precinct in Franklin County – including the Governor, OSU (Ohio State University) President, etc."
Here's what the vote was like in poor and black neighborhoods:

"Long lines. My vote would have been for Kerry. Not enough machines for people to vote. About 200 people in line ahead of me and it was pouring down the rain and freezing cold. I had worked all day and had the flu."

"I waited in line for 1 hour 45 minutes. A friend of mine left after voting. At this time I was standing where he was when I came in. I have a 1 hour 45 minute wait until I get to vote. Total three and one-half hours. My voting place had three voting machines and appears to be 90 percent black voters."

"11:30 am. I visited the Columbus Precinct 25C, where 1275 voters had voted. I observed three voting machines only… 4:30 pm. I visited the 25C precinct again. The lines were longer, well past the inside front door. I personally observed at least 175 voters in line, plus babies and children. The building was hot and uncomfortable. Almost all people in line were black. Less than 20 were white."

"The lines were three hours long. I have three children and no one to watch them for that long. I was not able to vote. However, I would have liked to have voted for John Kerry. I wish we could have the chance to vote again."

"I reside in Columbus… My race is black. I am, or believe I am, a registered voter in Columbus, OH. I have been registered for 40 years. On Nov. 2, 2004, I arrived at the polls at 9:45 am. I left at 1.15 pm. There were only three voting booths. I had to wait three and one-half hours to vote."

"I had a lot of people in my precinct who vote religiously and some of them, their names were not in the poll books."

"There were two unidentified lines. It was not clear which line to stand in."
This last complaint is repeated many times. Keep in mind the the names were rotated on the ballots, and that one voting place served more than one precinct. Thus an intended vote for Kerry would emerge as a vote for Bush. (We've spoken about the cross-voting phenomenon before, and will again -- below.)

Back to the testimony:

"Imagine the sight, in a Black neighborhood where a lot of young black voters are showing up for the first time, you have full police presence, even though they are sitting in cars…. You have six cars in the parking lot, and you have a well-known Republican businessman in the community asking people, 'please disperse, please get into your cars.'"
Then there are the electronic problems:

"The electronic voting machine would not take my vote although I tried repeatedly by pressing the "vote" button. Election officials tried to help, then finally the screen (front of machine) went black and I was told I had voted." I felt that I had been blocked from voting. Multiple calls resulted in no help."

"I pushed the button besides John Kerry’s name and my vote jumped up to George Bush. I began complaining about them cheating again this year. The attendant ran over to my booth and announced “just push the button again, that’s been happening a lot.” I then pushed the button again. It remained on John Kerry. Many others in different precincts experienced the same problem."
Anecdotal evidence, you say? Yes, but look at the size of it. I've given you just a sample of what Fritakis has, and he gives you just a smaple of what is available. Has anyone seen a single first-hand anecdotal report -- anywhere in the country -- of an intended vote for Bush coming up Kerry?