Saturday, November 20, 2004
Electronic Freedom Foundation petition
On November 2, voting machines in many states - both "red" and "blue" - had problems that led thousands of citizens to call a national voter protection hotline. EFF and the Verified Voting Foundation (VVF) were at the other end of the line, and we are very worried about what we heard. In several states, voters who chose one presidential candidate were presented with confirmation screens that listed another candidate's name. In others, machines crashed and were rebooted repeatedly, but nobody knows whether votes were lost. And the list goes on.
There is no way to ensure that these problems are fixed until these machines are independently tested. But we need your help to do it. Election officials are already trying to sweep these problems under the rug. EFF has written eight detailed letters to the counties where these problems were most pronounced, and now it's time to turn up the public pressure. Add your voice to our petition, and when 10,000 people have signed it, we will deliver a copy to each of our target counties.
The petition is at http://www.eff.org/e-vote/petition.
First post-election anti-abortion law likely to be passed
House and Senate negotiators have tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388 billion must-pass spending bill, complicating plans for Congress to wrap up its business and adjourn for the year.
The spending measure, called an omnibus bill, was the main reason Congress returned to Washington after the election, and members of both parties say that despite Ms. Boxer's warnings, it is likely to pass with the abortion language intact.
Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who by the way was "the nation's third biggest vote getter," intends to use "procedural means" to slow the vote—an action that is expected to do little other than call attention to the vote and annoy the other Senators.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Quote of the day
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. (pp. 50-51)
—George Grant, author of The Changing of the Guard, Biblical Principles for Political Action as quoted on Theocracywatch.org
Thursday, November 18, 2004
While we weren't paying attention - 1 (updated)
If a massive federal deficit, a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a passel of blithering idiots in the White House weren't enough for the Senate to try to get its collective mind around, Sen. Sam Brownback, Republican from Kansas and chairman of the Commerce subcommittee on—what else?—science, is holding hearings on porn addiction.
But speaking of wrapping your mind around an idea, try this—
"We're so afraid to talk about sex in our society that we really give carte blanche to the people who are producing this kind of material," said James B. Weaver, a Virginia Tech professor who studies the impact of pornography. [emphasis added]
But this you will readily understand—
Brownback, an outspoken Christian conservative who has championed efforts to curb indecency on television and the Internet, said the public is beginning to realize "they don't just have to take it."
But he acknowledged the First Amendment right to free speech has limited congressional efforts.
Brownback said scientific data is needed to help his cause.
And what is Brownback's cause? Nothing less than the suppression of free speech on the internet.
Make no mistake—the government would like nothing more than to gain control of content on the internet. And the method is clear—say that you're doing it in the interest of the children.
This is only the first sally. Expect more.
If there is any hope left for open media, the root of that hope lies with the internet. We must not let the government control content.
I forgot to mention Judith Reisman. In her testimony,
Judith Reisman, a vocal critic of the Kinsey Institute and the field of sexology, suggested Congress require police officers to gather evidence of pornography at crime scenes to further research.A charming and novel use of the police power.
And who is Judith Reisman? According to Wikipedia,
She now leads a campaign called Restoring Social Virtue & Purity to America (RSVPAmerica) that distributes material that criticises modern sexual viewpoints and sex education based on Kinsey's work.
Reisman argues that homosexuals are trying to "recruit" children through schools and the mainstream media, equates homosexuality with pedophilia, accuses Alfred Kinsey of abnormal sexual practices, and attributes his early death to excessive "self-abuse" (masturbation).
I'm ashamed to say how old I am.
The case of Carolyn Parrish
The Liberals have only a plurality in Parliament, but Ms. Parrish has just been acting up real bad. According to Dan Dugan of Canadian Press,
[Prime Minister] Martin had reprimanded Parrish twice in the past for her anti-American comments but had ignored Opposition calls to eject her from caucus.
Parrish recently put her polished boot down on a George W. Bush doll for the Canadian TV show "This Hour has 22 Minutes" and has refused to apologize. But what is worse, according to media accounts, is that she criticized the Liberal Party leadership.
Defence Minister Bill Graham said Martin was forced to take action.
"Basically, what she did was virtually say to the Liberal party and to the prime minister: 'I don't really think I'm a member of the team,' and the prime minister had to say 'If you're not going to behave and be a member of the team, why should you be a member of the team?"'
But Oliver Moore of the Globe & Mail reports that the Prime Minister said—
"I told her that, while I have defended her right to express her views frankly, I cannot, as leader of our party and the government caucus, tolerate behaviour that demeans and disrespects others," he said. "It is unacceptable. There are better, more civil and more effective ways to make your case than those she has chosen."
So the Liberal Party will "not tolerate behaviour that demeans and disrespects others" but seems to have unlimited tolerance for persons whose behavior destroys cities and murders civilian populations.
According to her website, Parrish was "the Head of the Canadian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. As a the parliamentary arm to NATO, the Assembly provides policy advice and studies issues of military, economic, civil, scientific and political relevance to NATO countries."
But Parrish is something rare, a politician of conscience—
In March of 2003, Carolyn decided to resign her post as Head of the Canadian delegation. Despite the positive experiences at NATO, her concern that the organization was becoming an extension of its dominant partners who were involved in a pre-emptive strike on Iraq meant that she could no longer participate.
As she said in her letter of resignation from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,
Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer in agreement with the direction the Assembly is taking in the war in Iraq. With the U.S. and the U.K. controlling 54 of 214 seats, it is an organization heavily dominated by those two countries. During the past month, I witnessed the horrendous financial and political pressure placed on vulnerable partners such as Bulgaria and Turkey. NATO troops, which are predominately U.S. soldiers, are currently on Turkish soil under NATO flags, while the parliament of Turkey and the overwhelming majority of their population do not support the US attack on Iraq.
I am deeply concerned that this defensive alliance is becoming an extension of its dominant partners.
I look forward to the day when the NATO Parliamentary Assembly once again becomes a venue for preventing war, expanding democracies and working together to fight the common dangers to all countries – nuclear proliferation, terrorism and the use of dehumanizing weapons such as landmines. I thank you all for seven wonderful years.
Ms. Parrish is from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada's sixth largest city, which is just a tad smaller than Washington, DC in population. She was re-elected this year rather handily, which speaks well of the Mississaugans.
Nevertheless, I felt compelled to write her a letter of support—
I'm an American, so unfortunately I can't vote for you. But I want to thank and congratulate you for the strong stand you have taken against George Bush.
I have just read in the Globe & Mail of your ejection from the Liberal caucus. It would seem that the Liberal caucus is more interested in appeasing an imperialist than in speaking the truth.
I regret any additional burden that this may put on you, but I wonder if this doesn't just give you more freedom to give 'em hell. Good for you!
If there is any way that Americans may show their support, please let me know....
If you would like to write her, you may do so here.
"Something went awry"—UC Berkeley on Florida voting (updated)
Michael Hout of the sociology department announced the results of a statistical study of Florida voting patterns. The researchers found that statistical models indicate that Bush received an excess of from 130,000 to 260,000 votes in certain counties using e-voting equipment.
Hout said that there was only a "trivial possibility" that the discrepancy could be explained by other factors—effectively less than 1 in a 1000 chances. He added that adjusting for other factors such as ethnicity and income of the voting population "only made the results more robust."
The effect was concentrated in the large Democratic-leaning counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, but was not limited to them. The effect was actually correlated with the total of votes for Al Gore in the 2000 election—i.e., the greater the number of votes for Gore in the 2000 election, the greater the excess of votes for Bush in the 2004 election!
On the other hand, the group did not find a statistical discrepancy in the so-called "Dixiecrat" counties of Florida that have high Democratic registrations but tend to vote Republican. (See my post "A slender reed".)
The research group used a statistical method known as multiple regression analysis that began with a model that compared support in Florida for Bush in 2000 with the votes tallied for Bush in 2004. Hout said their model was able to account for over half the variance between the two elections, but in accounting for the remaining variance the three Florida counties stood out.
Hout emphasized that the model is a standard tool of professional researchers and that it has been used previously to identify problems in prior elections. He noted that in assessing the results of the election, "our statistical approach is about the only way we have without a paper trail, as in Nevada."
The research team also checked the results in Ohio, but did not find the kind of discrepancies that occurred in Florida. Hout added, however, that "there are other types of problems that our model cannot pick up."
History of the research
In the wake of the November 2 election, two graduate students began to discuss ways to test election results. They looked at some of the claims of voting irregularities being made on the internet and were able to "knock them down." But when they looked at voting changes taking the 2000 election as a baseline, they noticed certain anomalies.
The students contacted their professors to see if their results could stand up to scrutiny. After verification of the initial results, Hout became involved. Hout said that he was initially dubious, taking a "show me" attitude. But after further review of the data, Hout said "I converted from skeptic to the person you see before you now."
Hout refused to offer any speculation as to how the discrepancies occurred, noting that he is neither an engineer nor a programmer. He also emphasized the apolitical nature of the research, saying that he was not part of a political action committee or a lobby.
What's to be done?
According to Hout, "our results give credibility to those who found fault with the results in Broward County." As for the reason for holding the press conference, Hout said, "Something went awry with electronic voting in Florida. We want to make sure someone examines these results!"
He concludes, "We're not saying the result would change"—that is, who actually won the election, "but the tally would change."
The data are online here.
Note: The reported vote tally in Florida was Bush 3,911,825, Kerry 3,534,609 for a net difference of 377,216 votes. The vote irregularity found by the Berkeley study is not sufficient to overturn the Florida outcome.
A slender reed
Ohio recount petition
Mr. Blackwell, himself Afro-American, has so far done all he could to see that other Afro-Americans could neither register nor vote. Now he may be counted on to attempt to suppress the ballots that they did manage to cast.
The online petition is at www.commoncause.org/DemandPureOhioRecount.
The Ohio Democrats are finally trying to get into the act.
"Given the closeness of the presidential and other elections," Ohio's provisional ballots "may prove determinative of the outcome," Democrats argue in a legal filing made public Wednesday by the U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit asked U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson to order Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to impose uniform standards for counting provisional votes on all 88 counties. Democrats want the judge to take action quickly - before the results of the election are certified.
Watson, who was appointed by Bush, has not set a hearing.
Of course, in an impartial judiciary, it really wouldn't matter who appointed whom, would it? But then we don't have an impartial judiciary.
But the big news of the day is this—
A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods. Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance -- the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Professor Michael Hout, will formally disclose results of the study at the press conference.
The press conference is scheduled for 10 am PST. I'll do the dial-in if possible.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The first Welsh speech in the European Parliament
The European Parliament has decided to let its speakers use any language they choose, though only the 20 "official" languages are translated. To test this newly bestowed freedom, European Parliament Member Jill Evans had this to say on "the need to communicate the EU better to its citizens"—
Rwy’n gwerthfawrogi’r cyfle i siarad yn y siambr hon yn Gymraeg yn gyfreithlon am y tro cyntaf, er nad oes ’na gyfieithu..
Rwy’n credu bod hwn yn gam ymlaen tuag at Ewrop o’r pobloedd ac Ewrop sydd yn dathlu ei amrywiaeth. Diwylliant yw’r pedwaredd dimensiwn mewn adeiladu Ewrop – ynghyd a’r economi, yr amgylchedd a’r dimensiwn cymdeithasol.
Rhoddodd y Cyngor llawer o bwyslais ar gyfathrebu. Pa ffordd gwell sydd o gyfathrebu gyda phobl nag yn eu hieithoedd eu hunain
Indicted Republican likely to lead House Republicans
Via Buzzflash, the AP reports—
Supporters of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay proposed a Republican rules change Tuesday that would protect the Texan's leadership position if he were to be indicted by a Texas grand jury that already charged three of his associates.
Do these guys even know the meaning of "overreaching"?
A paragraph at the end of the article was worrying—
The Texas investigation is led by a Democrat, retiring Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle.
I didn't like that word "retiring." But after doing a little investigating myself it appears that Earle, who just won re-election, will not be retiring until after some felons are brought to justice.
A more effective Senator?
[H]e's expected to kick off his return to the Senate with a floor speech on the debt ceiling. A senior advisor says Kerry will "address the absurdity that Republicans will use a special session of Congress not to deal with their record budget deficits, but rather to lift the debt ceiling." Per the advisor, the speech may get put off until tomorrow, depending on the Senate schedule. So begins Kerry's proactive return to the Senate.
Vote shenanigans in Volusia Co. Florida
County election records just got put on lockdown
Dueling lawyers, election officials gnashing teeth, Votergate.tv film crew catching it all.
Here's what happened so far:
Read what Bev Harris was doing this week in Volusia Co., and more importantly, what the Supervisor of Elections office was doing! (Read down)
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Another Gay Storm Trooper: Finally a wedge issue
It's just that when he profiled himself on Gay.com, he was a little...oh, let's just say he's willing to die with his boots off. On the Left we are all shocked. Shocked!
The whole situation is so bizarre that I think it deserves a little analysis.
We have a political party that has just won an election touting its "moral values," which for our purposes includes but is not limited to "anything but gay." The party also mandates sexual abstinence as the solution to anything from genital warts to the megadisaster of AIDS.
So here it is that the man at the very apex of the power in the Republican machinery is a gay love-bunny. I mean, when Nelson Rockefeller died with a prostitute under his desk, the prostitute was at least a woman.
Meanwhile, the Religious Right is after Arlen Specter's ass for having suggested that an anti-abortion judge would not be put up for confirmation.
No. This is wrong. It is important that the public see that the Republicans are grandstanding while they know very well that they are riddled through and through, and at every level, with homosexuals.
In fact, it feels a lot like exposing Catholic priests, don't you think? Except in the case of the priests, it was a relatively few people who got f*#ked, while in the case of the Republican Party whole classes of people are being f*#ked.
I think the Republican Party must be forced to take a stand against its gay storm troopers, and I think the gay storm troopers need to face up to the Republican Party. This is what is known as a "wedge issue."
Liberals are shocked, and the American Left doesn't even know it's entitled to a wedge issue. (Well, actually we thought the Right had taken them all.)
But here it is, boys and girls—a gen-u-wine wedge issue. Here we have on the one hand the old-boy Republicans who could care less who anybody is sleeping with so long as they don't scare the horses and on the other hand the Religious Right which cares who everybody is sleeping with, including the horses.
This contradiction needs to be exposed. It needs to be exposed in the mass media. It needs to be discussed on Fox. It needs to be talked about in the letters-to-the-editor of your local paper. It needs to be mentioned among friends and family.
And then we have Ken Mehlman waiting in the wings....
A curious hostage release
Juan Cole commented that
In Iraqi society, PM Allawi is responsible for protecting his clan, including especially his first cousins, so this kidnapping makes him look weak and brings substantial shame on him.
The kidnappers identified themselves as a heretofore unknown group Ansar al-Jihad. They demanded an end of the attack on Fallujah and release of prisoners within 48 hours or they would behead their prisoners.
On Sunday al-Jazeera reported that the two women had been released. An AP story in India's The Statesman says the release was confirmed by "an Allawi spokesman who declined to be named" who said (rather curtly, it seems) "Yes, yes, the two women were released yesterday." The women were released in Baqouba, which is one of the cities under fire.
This seems strangely out of the pattern of kidnappings that have taken place in Iraq. Generally a release means that some kind of payment has been made in exchange for the hostages. But this group, both by its name and by its demands, did not seem to be of the sort seeking ransom.
This may be one of those stories whose details we'll never know, because if Allawi did ransom the women, it's a double or triple embarrassment for him—that under his government they were kidnapped in the first place, that his forces were not able to free them, and that he paid ransom to enemy insurgents.
There's still no word on the fate of Allawi's cousin.
Kerry-Edwards campaign opposes Ohio recount
As reported by Pam Fessler on NPR ("Third Party Candidates Will Call for Ohio Recount")—
The Kerry-Edwards campaign also thinks a recount is unnecessary. Instead it's focusing on monitoring county election boards over the next two weeks as they come up with their final tally, which will include absentee and provisional ballots.Last week the NY Times reported—
Daniel Hoffheimer is state legal counsel for the Kerry-Edwards campaign—The people have spoken in Ohio. We don't expect to find any voter fraud. We're not looking for any voter fraud. We're not looking for any hidden ballots. There were many problems throughout Election Day, and there've been some since Election Day. But where we've found them I think we've pretty much solved them. Obviously our eyes are wide open.
And he says if other problems are found, the campaign hopes to get them fixed before the state certifies final results on December 3.
The Cobb and Badnerik campaigns can't officially ask for a recount until that date, but they say there's no doubt that's what they'll do.
"We had cases ready to be filed," said Daniel Hoffheimer, state counsel to the Kerry campaign in Ohio. "If Sen. Kerry had decided to really go to the mat on provisional ballots, the Kerry-Edwards legal team would have looked at all the issues out there."Again John Kerry demonstrates that free and fair elections are not among his priorities. Whether fraud has occurred or not, a recount will help reveal the extent and types of problems that have occurred.
Quote of the Day
—Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University
Monday, November 15, 2004
"Watchdogs demand vote accountability"
From the first condescending mention of "an electoral Apocalypse" to "they say Harris goes overboard with her dire conspiracy-theory views and largely unsubstantiated charges about election-equipment problems," I knew that your article was going to be a hatchet job.
Are you aware that Harris filed a qui tam suit in California against Diebold that was later joined by the California Secretary of State? Diebold settled the suit out of court for $3.5 million, as I recall. Pretty good for "conspiracy-theory views and largely unsubstantiated charges," wouldn't you say? Of course, you didn't mention this case at all, which I don't understand since it is a dramatic testimony to the effectiveness of her efforts.
Indeed, to paraphrase your opening, you might conclude from reading your article that you were trying to marginalize Bev Harris, while making various public officials sound like experts in a field in which most of them have pitifully little knowledge.
And may I ask how you, as a reporter, could have received such a response as"In any major election, you run into situations where a machine doesn't work like it's supposed to or something got programmed wrong," said John Pearson, the deputy state elections supervisor.and then not ask Mr. Pearson if he thought the voters should accept that in their elections.
Or when you were told"The process is set up so that during the (vote) canvassing period, if a problem occurs, you find it. I've been surprised, actually, by the lack of these kinds of problems not only in this state but nationally."
you did not point out the many problems that have in fact occurred during this election (to the point that North Carolina may have to revote), and then faithfully report the response to the readers.
You then go on to characterize Harris as "the heroine of the movement" without saying quite what the movement is. Makes it sound rather like some kind of left-wing idea, doesn't it? Well, the "movement," sir, is to have honest elections—nothing more, nothing less.
Of her book "Black Box Voting" you write,It exposed what she termed egregious security breaches in election software manufactured by some of the nation's biggest election-equipment makers.
Let's see. Diebold left its proprietary source code open to the internet, had it copied and examined, and then made egregious efforts to suppress the information. Diebold has not prevailed in a single one of its lawsuits.
So with which part of "egregious security breach" do you disagree by qualifying it with the condescending phrase "what she termed"? Is your problem with "egregious," "security" or "breach"? Things must be very different in the state of Washington if this is not considered to be "an egregious security breach." Or is the problem that it is a criticism of Diebold?
You then go on to discuss voter-verified paper trails, quoting a civil servant,"The conspiracy theorists are pretty sure that somebody -- a programmer for one of the (voting equipment) vendors or for one of the elections offices -- is going to program (the voting machine) so that someone touches (the screen) for one candidate and it tabulates for another," Floyd said. But she said enough safeguards, including multiple vote-monitoring processes, have been built into the system.
Well, sir, the "conspiracy theorists" that run the banks felt that a paper trail would be a very good idea for your local ATM machine. That's because it occurred to them that "multiple [money]-monitoring processes ... built into the system" relied on faith in "a programmer ... or for one of the [bank's officers]." They therefore decided upon a paper system that provides an objective basis for accounting.
Is it your position that the power (and ultimately money) that is the prize for throwing an election is so uncompelling a motivation that no one would ever bother to do it? Is there something in your water there, sir?
Care for the civilian population of Fallujah
Civilians seeking medical care were told through loudspeakers and leaflets to contact U.S. troops. In Geneva, the Baghdad spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ahmed Rawi, said Monday an Iraqi Red Crescent convoy of four ambulances and four trucks carrying supplies reached Fallujah General Hospital on the city's outskirts, but was unable to go further.
The hospital itself was well-supplied because no patients or wounded people have been able to reach it from the embattled city, Rawi said.
"Regretfully, there was no patient in sight," he said.
Like every other Democrat, I had prepared to avoid the problems of 2000 only to be blindsided by new problems in 2004. We had been so worried about the safekeeping of paper ballots that we neglected the security of digital memory devices.
We had been so worried about voting law that we neglected voting technology. Most important, we had been so worried about voter suppression in poor and minority areas that we didn’t pay attention to voter inflation in Republican areas.
Can this be true? That after all the work done by Bev Harris and many others demonstrating the risks inherent in electronic voting, the Kerry campaign, through its lawyers, simply ignored them? Can the Democrats not find people who are tough and competent at the same time? Or even one or the other?
So now he says—
We should have had trained observers - computer scientists, not lawyers! - verifying the integrity of polling data from machine upload through the tabulation of countywide and statewide results.
Somehow we neglected the most vulnerable step in the vote-counting process, leaving a gaping hole for error and fraud, casting in doubt the validity of election results in many states.
And he concludes—
My client conceded the race on the belief that the results were clear. The results are anything but clear, however, and American democratic legitimacy requires an honest reappraisal of the events in Florida and around the country.
The mainstream media must immediately realize that this issue rises above partisanship and demands attention.
The time is now for voters from all states that used electronic voting machines to request an audit of results and a manual recount of ballots if possible.
I don't know about you, but I find this absolutely disgusting. Was it ignorance? Did no one apprise them of what everyone in the blogosphere already knew? Was it arrogance? Did they simply dismiss the warnings of all the people who have been working so hard on these issues, including computer scientists? Jeesh!
Now comes Betsy Vasquez at a site called "The Moderate Independent" who argues that Kerry is hard at work behind the scenes. Ignoring such information as presented by one of Kerry's lawyers above, she insists that Kerry is "fighting smart."
There are several problems with her rosy scenario—
This time, John Kerry had made clear he was prepared to fight 100 times as hard and long as Gore did if necessary. In fact, he had solicited fund just for that eventuality so he could battle all over the nation if necessary to ensure that every vote was properly counted.
So why isn't he dispensing any of these funds? Why are internet appeals going out for the pitifully small sums of money needed to support Ralph Nader and Michael Badnerik in their efforts to get recounts? (And by the way, where is MoveOn.org?) Republicans were supporting Nader's filings to be a candidate. Kerry and the Democratic Party can't support his efforts for a recount?
It is the prosecutor, also one of Kerry’s previous jobs, who knows well enough to thoroughly prepare and investigate his case be leveling charges. You may have a real hunch that someone is responsible for a murder, but until you believe you can win that case in court, you do not make the allegation.
This is not a court case. But in any case the "statute of limitations" is about to become effective.
Vasquez says that Kerry didn't want to "put the nation into a media frenzied limbo." Well, he certainly succeeded in that. We can't get the media to pay attention, as Ian Solomon above is urging.
If you have specific factual information about voting problems that could be helpful to the lawyers doing their job, please send it to (e-mail removed for the story)1 rather than to me.
Notice that he chose to have his brother, who is not well-known to the public, sign the letter. As far as the public is concerned, John Kerry has conceded....
Hmm. Send a memo to the public. I guess that takes care of that. And it was so behind-the-scenes that a flap broke out on the internet as to whether the email was actually from Kerry's brother!
[R]emember, Watergate didn’t break the week after the election.
No. Watergate broke well past Nixon's second inauguration and resulted in the ascension of Gerald Ford to the Presidency and the pardoning of Richard Nixon. How would you like Dick Cheney for President, Ms. Gonsalez?
Vasquez' motto is "Not left, not right, just right." How about "Not left, not right, just wrong"?
John Kerry's last flip-flop
Sunday, November 14, 2004
About those "tanks" in LA and other matters
The blogosphere has been abuzz over the arrival of what were initially said to be "tanks" at an antiwar demonstration in Westwood, a district of Los Angeles. There is a sensible account of the event to be found here.
I talked to one Marine with one of the "Striker" vehicles. He told me they had driven the vehicles up from Camp Pendleton the night before (Tuesday) on the freeway. Getting off the 405 Freeway going north, they would have passed Wilshire and Veteran where ANSWER had called a rally to protest the attack on Fallujah in Iraq.
I asked him if he was "rolling around Westwood" Tuesday night. He said, "Yeah, and we drove past that anti-war demonstration. We was lost. We're not from L.A. We didn't know where this place (WLA VA) was. We were trying to find it."
"Did you drive around the block twice?" I asked.
"Yeah, we did. We stopped to ask them (the protestors) directions, but they weren't very nice."
Todd Beeton at Wild Democracy Ride has gotten what appears to be a confirmation of this through Rep. Henry Waxman's office—
[S]ince this event happened in my backyard, I figured I'd do some digging. I called Representative Henry Waxman's office and they were equally curious about the story and have been extremely helpful in trying to get to the bottom of it. They found out that the tanks had driven up from Camp Pendleton in San Diego to attend a Veterans Day event that was to take place today at the West LA Veterans Affairs Center, which is just up the street from where the protest was.
Now what the tank was actually doing stopping at the site of the protest is still a bit murky. The woman I spoke with at Waxman's office told me that it was suggested to her that the tanks were merely pulling over to ask for directions. And another said that the protesters got in front of the tank when they saw it and actually prevented the tank from moving on. The tank certainly had no business driving past the protest if it was going directly to the VA Center, so either they really were lost or...well you can imagine the speculation.
Another controversy has been the proper description of the vehicles. Were they tanks or Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) or Armed Personnel Carriers (APCs)? As someone who can't tell the difference between a Dodge and a Ford pickup, this seems to me to be a distinction without a difference. But since the soldiers were Marines and since they were driving down the freeway, the vehicles must have been LAVs.
So far as the antiwar demonstration is concerned, the questions are these: Were the vehicles truly there by accident—a little amusement for the Cosmic Jokester? If not, was there an order from Camp Pendleton or above for those LAVs to make an appearance at the demonstration, and if not, was the circling of the demonstration deliberate on the part of the soldiers?
Frankly, I don't know the answer, but there were some comments on LA Indymedia that bear a follow-up.
Someone claiming to be one of the Marines involved writes—
Hey this vehicle the LAV -25 with a bushmaster cannon does not have a built-in GPS. The GPS we would use is a hand-held device that must be check out of an armory. Instead we did used map-quest which we all know is not very accurate. Do you really believe we were sent to intimidate you I think you are not being practical, and the parade was on the 10th, look it up? I am so trying to be understanding toward your cause, but you make it so hard with your rhetoric. You on one side calling troops murderers, poor dumb red necks and, how horrible our country is, and then the administration on the complete opposite you mean there is no compromise, no understanding you all are starting to make me sick and I mean both sides. Also, we all take offence to all the OH they are poor and do not know better. You think we get paid well here? You are so wrong, no one joins for money, it is something you obviously will never understand. FYI most of our unit are college graduates and come from affluent areas of Orange County and San Diego County2 so much for the dumb poor red neck myth.
Then someone identifying himself as Bill McAndrews comes in with—
I'm the second guy on the right. Our corporal received orders to route by the protest and we were directed to stop in front of you and then to go around the block and stop again. Don't believe any more of the anonymous comments you're reading here.
If McAndrews was indeed one of the Marines, this can be verified by Rep. Waxman's office. I've posted a comment to Todd Beeton, hoping he will follow-up with Waxman.
If the appearance was ordered, why?
Again I have no direct knowledge nor way of knowing. But one commenter at LA Indymedia had some interesting thoughts—
There seems to be something that no-one has mentioned yet. The first being a reminder that this administration has proven its mastery of media manipulation. The second is that even a shortsighted, so-called christian (probably) would not react favorably to seeing armed and armored military vehicles being used on Americans.
So, keeping in mind the first item with the intent of taking care of the second, what better way to inoculate the media and their brain dead zombies by introducing tanks (for this purpose, it does not matter that they technically are not tanks) into the peace protest mix?
First, you just put them there without having them really do anything. This gets people use to seeing them there and, gradually, images of Tienneman (sp?) Square dissipate.
Once that happens, you can actually start using them. They'll start out being used as barricades, etc. Eventually, some activists will get hot-headed and altercations will start.
This is when you’ll see the true mastery at work. At first, the tanks will not be used to counteract any the altercations. This will lead to people speculating as to why the tanks weren’t used. Once it gets into the mainstream that they should have just used them, they will be used. It will even be argued that the “people” wanted them to be used. (Of course, it will be the political theater hacks like Rush and Tucker that will make these arguments publicly.)
It’s the kettle being brought to boil slowly. [emphasis added]
If in fact tanks (or LAVs) begin to make appearances at protests, I would be inclined to take this comment seriously. In the meantime, I think we might all toss off a note to our Representatives asking that they investigate the incident.
Some of the demonstrators were apparently quite overwrought. According to one person present, "an utterly moronic woman started screaming at [the soldiers] that they were murderers and baby killers and other foul verbal attacks." This is not helpful.
In fact, I'm not sure that frequent demonstrations "against the war" by small groups of people are helpful. They make opposition to the war appear to be a small, "fringe" activity, which is just what the government wants. If you're going to do a general antiwar demonstration, try to arrange a few hundred thousand or so participants. Otherwise, there are other actions that 400-500 people can take more effectively.
The event for which the LAVs were headed
As described by "Steve" above,
Lots of marching middle school ROTC "cadets" (including 11-to-14-year-old boys and girls from Mt. Vernon Middle School all in US Army uniform, some shouldering parade "rifles") and a high school band and antique cars filled with VAFW members. And two USMC Striker armored vehicles complete with 6 or 7 Marines in fatigues and body armor giving junior high ROTC kids and adults tours of the vehicles.
Early training and public relations are such an important part of any war. Naturally the government would intertwine these with Veterans Day. As we say in the South, this is going to be a long, hard row to hoe.
Antiwar suppression begins in earnest