Friday, June 23, 2006

The military industrial complex

Words to remember.
Click on the picture to view the video.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A rant on voting

There are a number of common miss-perceptions about voting that I have seen of late in the media. Pardon my rant. Here are some of my recent thoughts on how the e-voting problem is being misrepresented.

Three false precepts:

1. Electronic voting needs a "paper trail" or "receipt"
2. Mail in paper ballots are a good idea.
3. A conspiracy "theory" is required to corrupt an election.

Starting with the last point, a conspiracy doesn't require that it be a theory. We've seen conspiracies throughout our history, most times in situations involving lower stakes then a presidential election. That having been said, the actions of local poll workers can alter the counts of untraceable voting totals, for example those produced by closed source systems. This doesn't require a conspiracy, just the motivation of a group of loyal supporters. On top of this you simply do not know what is going on in the box. The ease of hacking some of these systems is simpler then putting a virus on your PC. You can get anti-virus software for your PC. I've never seen anti-voting-fraud software. What makes this worse is that you can't legally update a voting system after it's certified, although this has happened illegally more then once. In other words, fixing a voting security hole is often determined to be "too late for the election".

On my second point, when you think about it, mail in paper ballots are *not* a good idea. Let's say I'm your employer, abusive spouse or you're a child of a strong supporter of candidate XYZ. Perhaps someone offers you money to vote for XYZ. In a traditional polling place that person could not tell if you voted for who they said to. With mail in ballots that is quite easy. You show them the ballot, sign it and hand it over so they can mail it. In the best scenario you get $50 and go home. In the worst you might not get beat again. See the problem?

If the polling place survives, voting may well be done via touch screen computers. When no one, or even a limited group can analyze how the proprietary software and hardware in these machines works, it seems obvious that a few folks could manipulate the results. This applies to the machines that count the votes, tabulators, as much or more then the individual voting stations. Note that the tabulators are also used for mail-in votes. This is the strongest argument for open source voting machines. One person can manipulate a central vote counting system. One programmer can change all of the voting stations. Without a way to see what the voter really intended, it can be done without a trace. Knowing the voters intent, beyond manipulation, can not be achieved without many eyes on the software source codes.

A paper trail doesn't help, it's a ballot of record that will determine the election. If a computer is used as an aid to fill in a paper ballot so be it, just put that paper in the hands of the voter so that they are more likely to verify it. It's the voters intent that counts here. A "paper trail" behind a glass door isn't something the voter is likely to even notice. A receipt is something that again allows coercion or buying of votes.

Although I'm glad the some in the media are starting to understand that elections have and will be manipulated, in large part due to HAVA, again the solutions may well worsen the problem.

"The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."

Joseph Stalin

I hope this fairly well spells out the problem. Please add on anything I've missed here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Anti-war Radio

I just discovered this really great on line radio station from Seattle. It requires either a free live365 account or bug-me-not.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Liberty News TV

I've been on a hunt for online news that shows a different perspective then the traditional media. One site that truly stands out is Liberty News TV. They only publish monthly, but every month's episode is well worth watching. The June issue focuses on impeachment, global warming and ends with a great clip of FDR telling democrats to get some spine and stand up against unreasonable war in the middle east, changes to bankruptcy laws that work against the common people and attacks on social security.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Conflicting e-mails

This past week I have seen 2 different e-mails about my local representative, Jay Inslee, regarding his voting record on freedom on the Internet. The first, from stated boldly "Your representative, Jay Inslee, dealt a blow to Internet freedom on Thursday". That ticked me off and I assumed it was true. Move On has been so far a good source of information. I also stay in touch with my local representative however. He had a lot to say about supporting "network nuetrality". Which version is the truth? The telcos already get paid for bandwith usage, it's not a matter of fairness to these large corporations that we need some sort of legislation here. It's a matter of fairness to small blogs such as this one and preventing a lock out of dissenting opinion on the Internet. Jay's e-mail to me, without the boilerplate portions follows.

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Communications, Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act, H.R. 5252. I appreciate hearing from you and I too am a strong supporter of network neutrality.

I co-authored and sponsored the seminal network neutrality legislation that would preserve the Internet. The Markey/Eshoo/Boucher/Inslee amendment that was offered during consideration of COPE would bar Internet service providers from blocking, degrading or discriminating access to lawful Internet content to any customer. The opportunity to include a network neutrality provision in COPE took place on this amendment, not the following vote on the bill. You may review the speech I gave on the House floor in support of this amendment and a record of the vote on this amendment on my Web site at:

Additionally, I am an original cosponsor of the free standing legislation entitled the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 (H.R. 5273). Similar to our amendment, this bill would prevent the creation of a two-tiered Internet in which cable and phone companies could charge Web sites for faster data transmission, or block their online competitors' content and services. I also aggressively worked to include network neutrality provisions that I co-authored during committee consideration of COPE.

The COPE Act is a comprehensive telecommunications bill that deals with many different issues, including fostering competition in the video marketplace, lowering cable costs, providing more service options, and fueling our nation's broadband deployment.

Many members, including myself, supported the network neutrality amendment and voted for final passage of COPE. The COPE bill deals with many issues, not related to network neutrality. The real network neutrality fight, and the real chance we had at fixing this problem, took place during consideration of my network neutrality amendment, not on final passage of the underlying bill.

I believe that the original spirit behind the Internet is to provide unlimited use of a diverse range of services and access to a variety of content. In addition, the Internet has enhanced our democratic process because it allows for virtually unlimited voices to be heard. Without network neutrality requirements, the innovation of small startup companies may be stifled because they can't afford a special Internet "fast-lane," even though they might be able to offer the most cutting-edge technology or content to consumers.

I believe that Congress needs to take a step forward in addressing rapidly changing telecommunications services in a manner that spurs investment in new technologies. As the COPE bill moves through the legislative process, please be assured I will continue to champion network neutrality.

In short, the battle over network neutrality is far from over. We also have an opportunity to see a network neutrality provision in the Senate bill, after which both the House and Senate would have to go to a conference committee, where we would have yet another attempt at this important issue. Moreover, there is a good chance that this bill will not be completed by the time Congress adjourns. Should that happen, however, there is also the possibility that the House could pass a stand-alone network neutrality bill, such as the one that I introduced, should control of Congress change next year.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Google Earth for Linux is finally out! This is one of the killer apps for those of us that use Linux for our desktop systems. If you're a Linux user download it now!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If you're a neo-con supporter, don't even try to debate Jon Stewart. Ken Mehiman, the chair of the Republican National Committee tried just that and got slaughtered. Bad move Ken.


Check the video at C&L. Just makes you scratch your head trying to figure out what these guys think we will believe.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Division in a democracy

As a good friend of mine recently pointed out, no one here fits the label of "conservative" or "liberal" as portrayed by the media. This begs the question of why these labels are applied to people of differing viewpoints.

On May 6, 1999 when GW Bush was running for president he said "I'm a unitary, not a divider". Yet division is a popular tool of this administration. Now in an election year the issues of gay marriage and flag burning have been, so to speak, run up the flagpole once again. Polling shows that these are not critical issues with the American public - Iraq, the economy, (as it impacts those other then the extremely rich), and health care are the core concerns. What motive does focusing on these issues support other then dividing opinion and distracting attention from real problems?

No matter what labels we will accept for ourselves, in these times of self inflicted crisis we need to come together as a country. "Dividers" are not in our best interests. I believe Lincoln said it well.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."

It appears that those in power wish to divide our country's opinion and oppress any dissent. All the while encouraging divisions that are in their political interests. As long as their "half" (or richest 5%) are free, the rest of us should just shut up.

Those of us who disagree with the actions of our central government are pushed into "free speech zones" where protests are confined, subject to unlimited wiretapping and portrayed, once again, as unpatriotic. The unitary executive now asserts his "right" to ignore any law passed by congress, refuses judicial oversight and denies any mechanism of overview of this administration, be it oversight by the congress, judicial branch or the public right to know, (reclassification of previously released documents is at an all time high). How can this be viewed as anything other then oppression of the people by the government?

Here is what Ulysses S. Grant had to say about a government of oppression;

"The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable."

This isn't a new problem in the United States, we have had constitutional crises before. 145 years ago during a conflict over state's rights vs the power of a central government many in the southern states felt the need to throw off the shackles of federal government. The civil war came at a horrible cost to our country - nearly every family had someone die during those horrific 4 years. No war to date has cost more American lives.

Oppression of the people can not long endure. Perhaps it would be better to "withdraw" from this government - by electing them out - rather then suffer the costs of another civil war.

Great Cartoon Site!

I just discovered this great political cartoon site. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Check out Too Stupid to be President.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Debra Bowen wins primary - an open voting victory!

As a developer of open voting solutions, I'm very pleased that Debra Bowen won the primary for secretary of state in California. Debra supports open voting, and often where California goes the nation follows. Let's watch her closely to see if her actions match her words. You can hear some of the promises about open voting from the secretary of state democratic debate here. The full debate is here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I'm a member of the Open Voting Consortium, (OVC). They're a great group and deserve your support as well.

Here is what OVC has to say about Bowen's victory.

Bowen-Ortiz Debate

California State Senator Debra Bowen won the Democratic Party endorsement for the office of Secretary of State at the convention last weekend. In the debate with Senator Deborah Ortiz, her opponent in the primary, she condemns Diebold and says, emphatically, "we need open source voting software that is publicly owned and not proprietary...." Click here to listen to that part.

Or, you can listen to the whole debate. Willie Brown is the moderator. Senator Bowen received over eighty percent of the delegates' votes!

As the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle put it a week earlier, Bowen lives up to the idea that, "An individual's actions should be presumed private, while a government's actions should be presumed public." I believe that axiom, too. Don't you?

There is no candidate for office this year anywhere in the United States more deserving of support from people who care about the future of democracy. Please visit her campaign web site and see what you can do for her.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Congress drops financing for increased port security

Where's the coverage of our Republican led congress dropping financing
for port security yesterday?!? It's not even showing up in the liberal blogs.

This is too good to miss. On the same day they were stopped from giving billions to the very rich (estate tax repeal) they claimed that $648 million was too much money to spend on port security - a major 9-11 commission recommendation.

The only place I've seen this covered, (so far) is in the Seattle PI.