Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
----------------------------------------------

Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

BEST VIEWED IN LARGE FONT
Expanded GUIDE TO SITE PURPOSE AND LAYOUT is in the lower blue section at the bottom of every home page.

Stealing America: hacking put Bush in office

July 31st, 2008

Stealing America doc review makes convincing case that George W. robbed the ballot box twice

End of paper trail resolutely ignored in massive media myopia

NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller got nowhere with taboo topic

But now New York Times allows Adam Cohen to blog reasons to worry about 2008

bushatdoor.jpgOne of the most striking acts of political cowardice by the otherwise topic hungry mainstream media in the US has been their enduring unwillingness to take the cover off what is widely recognized by students of the political scene as a very ripe smelling data dumpster.

We refer to the strong circumstantial evidence that in both 2000 and 2004 that our blithely underqualified president avoided rejection by the voters only by allowing his devoted minions and supporters to hack the voting machines and flip the required number of votes from Gore and Kerry to Bush.

Whether Bush stole votes in seizing the presidential throne for eight years would seem to be the Story of the Century by the standards of traditional journalism whereby a pair of Washington Post reporters did not hesitate to bring down the Nixon presidency by mining the allegations of Deep Throat.

But for some reason unknown to us there has been a mysterious disinclination to get to the bottom of what looks like the greatest and most costly political theft in history. The nettle has not been grasped.

The media apathy about the topic is probably understandable in the absence of hard evidence but it has left the average Times reader seriously uninformed, and therefore naturally skeptical of this allegation as yet another paranoid conspiracy theory from the far left.

Valuable chance to review the story

stealing-america-poster.jpeg But for the next week in New York City a new documentary will do what it seems only documentaries can do these days – parade the evidence and the witnesses in front of our eyes and ears so that we can review the matter in a hands on manner that the ordinary media cannot rival.

Our advice is to hurry to see Stealing America: Vote by Vote when it opens briefly tomorrow in Manhattan, or two weeks later in LA and in other venues around the country. In each case it will only be on for one week, and it seems likely there will be as usual scandalously little media coverage of the significant event.

For Stealing America: Vote by Vote is a persuasive account which makes it painfully clear that there is only one way to explain the evidence that has accumulated: both presidential elections were stolen by Republican operatives who tampered with the new fangled electronic voting machines and reversed the voting outcomes in major states.

The red flags in both cases are the exit polls which predicted an outcome different from the official count. In 2000 the picture was complicated when the vote count of the narrow Florida race, on which the final outcome turned, was actually challenged. The Supreme Court cut this short with its unprecedented “this is not a precedent” 5-4 decision to give George the prize, but the media review a year later found that Florida and the election itself would have been won by Al Gore if the state wide recount had been completed, and one thing was certain: the obstacles placed in the way of free and fair elections interfered with a lot more Democratic votes than Republican.

The evidence of electronic skulduggery became clearer in 2004, when more efficient hacking of the voting machines was apparently all that was needed to achieve a similar coup d’etat. According to the film this was the likely means by which the predicted John Kerry win was neatly reversed in a few hours on Election night in favor of the incumbent George W.

On what does this sickening conclusion rest? Simply that exit polls predicted the Kerry win, and there is no other way to explain why they have suddenly become unreliable indicators.

We challenge anyone with faith in the democratic system to see this movie without being disturbed.

Vote changing in front of your eyes

dorothyfadiman_sm.pngThat is the story persuasively laid out by Stealing America: Vote by Vote by Dorothy Fadiman (pic), which will open August 1 in New York and August 15 in LA (see press release below), which features unusually convincing testimony from key figures involved in a clearly laid out, hour by hour rerun of the overnight election drama in 2004, when the Kerry win flipped to a Bush victory.

The film doesn’t leave any other way of accounting for the stark disparity that has opened up between the previously infallible exit polls and the official counts they reliably matched for thirty years before 1996, when the new fangled electronic voting machines first played their unreliable part. Unreliable because they are as susceptible to failure and hacking as your desktop PC, according to computer experts interviewed in Stealing America.

The heart of the story is 2004, when the biggest conflict to date between exit polling and outcome came about. Kerry was predicted on the basis of exit polling to win the 12 big states that mattered – including Ohio where the crucial official count was barred to reporters owing to a “terrorist threat”, one that national security agency officials later said was new to them – Kerry was expected to win by 51-48%. By the early morning the official vote counts had reversed the outcome and Bush was the winner by about the same margin as (not) predicted – an unprecedented flip of 6%.

The stunning final hour reversal was all the more incredible given the enthusiastic turnout of blacks and college students we see waiting in line many hours to vote in precincts which mysteriously tended to be the ones short of working machines, or to have machines plagued by the strange glitch which registered a vote for Kerry as one for Bush right before the voter’s eyes.

More votes for president were corrupted than any other time in the checkered history of US elections, if the evidence of the film is taken at face value.

Given the tone and style of the witnesses featured and the record they expose it is hard to think of a reason not to do so. There is very little of the conspiracy theorist about any of them, and producer-director Dorothy Fadiman has drawn them from both sides of the political spectrum:

• Bob Hagan – Ohio State Senator and first-hand witness to on-screen vote switching.
• Paul Craig Roberts — Economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and sometimes
called the “Father of Reaganomics.” He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week
and Scripps Howard News Service, and is at present a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate.
• Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – Activist, author, environmental lawyer and co-host of Ring of Fire on the Air America Radio network.
• Charles Lewis – Investigative journalist and former 60 Minutes producer. Founder, Center for Public Integrity.
• Bruce O’ Dell and Chuck Herrin – Fortune 100 company computer security analysts.
• Greg Palast – BBC investigative journalist whose reportage on the issue made the front page in U.K. and Europe, but was suppressed in the U.S.
• Dr. Avi Rubin – Director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
• Ion Sancho – Leon County Supervisor of Elections. Appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to count the
votes in the disputed 2000 presidential election, Sancho blazed a trail in proving that it is possible to “hack”
into voting machines and change the totals.
• Dr. Jonathan Simon – Data analyst, who has been focusing on exit poll discrepancies.
• John Zogby – International polling authority.


Media myopia on a taboo topic

reactions_in_ohio_2004_sm.pngAs things went down that night and the numbers rolled in and the great reversal took place the close observers of the election on tv had one plain choice to make in their commentary. Were the exit polls suddenly a poor guide to the final voting outcome, for some unknown reason, or was there a serious need to review and recount the sudden Bush surge?

Apparently loathe to question the system or those in power, the commentators at once all turned into ostriches, and they have by and large resolutely kept their heads in the sand ever since, though Harpers magazine has been an exception.

They were helped along in this attitude by the company doing the exit polling, which immediately rolled over and played dead when their results were contradicted. According to “standard practice” the company (Edison/Mitofsky) simply brought their numbers in line with the official supposed outcome, though not before a computer freeze allowed interested observers to download the real breakdown.

The bottom line is that no one then or since has been able to account for the increasing divergence between exit polling and official vote count over the last decade. From the sixties, exit polls had proved an essential tool of election analysts because they were so helpful. Suddenly they went bad.

Since the emerging discrepancy coincides with the arrival of electronic voting machines the implication is obvious: someone has been manipulating the new electronic voting machines (You Tube video on hacking a Diebold).

Now who could that be? By some even stranger coincidence the bias introduced has been uniformly in favor of the Republicans, amongst whom are the people who run the machine system.

All kinds of electoral interferences took place. Apart from direct hacking, which one computer consultant testified was something a certain Florida politician requested that he demonstrate how to do, the election officials and others interviewed list a litany of outrages aimed at Democrat votes, including a skewed distribution of machines which forced waits of up to 11 hours for some black voters and 12 or more hours for Ohio’s Kenyon college students.

Requests for replacement machines were ignored even when the fact that other polling stations had closed made substitutes freely available.

Tears trickle down both cheeks of one beautiful African American volunteer as she recalls how all her registration work went for nought as even her own vote was hijacked by a machine which translated her Kerry vote to a Bush vote before her eyes. Also interviewed is Ohio State Senator Bob Hagan, whose vote flipped from one candidate to another while he was voting.

A taboo topic

The most astonishing part of the story (except perhaps to readers of this site) is the behavior of the no doubt honorable but apparently critically challenged senior members of the media. There is a vivid shot of Judy Woodruff expressing bewilderment as the numbers changed and their forecasts fell by the wayside.

To a man and woman however she and the liberal media reporters and commentators then and since have resolutely avoided raising the specter of intentional fraud as something apparently unmentionable, perhaps lest the faith of the American voter in the system might be undermined. If so, this matches one motivation of editors and reporters in HIV/AIDS who treat the possibility of grand error in the science of that field as a taboo topic, since if it is true full exposure will undermine the faith of the public in science, science journals and science reporting to an unprecedented extent.

One author stymied by this reaction is Mark Crispin Miller of NYU, whose Fooled Again received few reviews or mentions, yet when he was featured on WBAI in New York City provided much food for thought for listeners.

In this belated exposé—and clarion call for electoral reform—Miller (The Bush Dyslexicon) accuses George W. Bush and his “theocratic militants” of orchestrating electoral fraud to “hijack” the 2004 presidential race. Miller relies on original reporting, secondary sources and unadulterated outrage to make his case, marshaling evidence (much of it circumstantial) of Democratic voter disenfranchisement, mysterious computer snafus and discrepancies between exit poll results and official vote counts. He is especially critical of the press for what he describes as silence in the face of Bush’s and Cheney’s denials of fraud.

Whatever their motives the record stands as evidence of the current social psychology of reporters and talking heads who feel themselves to be invested in the system and more members of the club than independent watchdogs whose profession is to stand guard over the elite and watch where they put their hands on the levers of power.

election_protest_2004big.jpgThat is the story persuasively laid out by Stealing America: Vote by Vote. As the movie reminds us the New York Times led this rush to reassure readers with its astonishing front page item immediately after the November 2004 election, Vote Fraud Theories, Spread By Blogs, Are Quickly Buried , noting that bloggers had raised questions but they had been reliably poo-pooed by knowledgeable mainstream officials and experts and there was no need to worry.

Mr. White also quickly withdrew his own analysis of voting systems in Ohio when he realized the data he had used was inaccurate.

John Byrne, editor of an alternative news site, BlueLemur.com, says it is too easy to condemn blogs and freelance Web sites for being inaccurate. The more important point, he said, is that they offer an alternative to a mainstream news media that has become too timid. “Of course you can say blogs are wrong,” he said. “Blogs are wrong all the time.”

For its part, the Kerry campaign has been trying to tamp down the conspiracy theories and to tell supporters that their mission now is to ensure that every vote is counted, not that the election be overturned.

“We know this was an emotional election, and the losing side is very upset,” said Daniel Hoffheimer, the lead lawyer for the Kerry campaign in Ohio. But, he said, “I have not seen anything to indicate intentional fraud or tampering.”

A preliminary study produced by the Voting Technology Project, a cooperative effort between the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to a similar conclusion. Its study found “no particular patterns” relating to voting systems and the final results of the election.

“The ‘facts’ that are being circulated on the Internet,” the study concluded, “appear to be selectively chosen to make the point.”

Whether that will ever convince everyone is an open question.

“I’d give my right arm for Internet rumors of a stolen election to be true,” said David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, “but blogging it doesn’t make it so. We can change the future; we can’t rewrite the past.”

Even the worldly Wall Street Journal failed to look into the matter, Paul Craig Roberts complains, he being Reagan’s assistant secretary of the Treasury and an editor and columnist for the normally bloodhound paper.

This and the premature capitulation of Kerry before all the Ohio votes were counted suggests that Democrats have some innate resistance to challenging the integrity of the system they share. When Ohio state senator Bob Hagan saw his own vote switched in front of his eyes and realized what was going on, he called the Kerry HQ, only to be told they didn’t wish the raise the issue.

Meanwhile according to the film, Edison/Mitofsky have never released the raw data for their exit polling. All anyone has been able to prise out of them is a summary report.

Watch out in 2008

Given the results of the 2006 elections,where Democratic hopes of 40-50 new seats were reduced to 28, it seems clear that the same thing is still going on. Meanwhile the Ohio ballots from 2004 have lost or destroyed in a variety of ways, against all the rules. When Dan Rather investigated for CNN he found nothing but stonewalling from the companies involved: AMERICA’S VOTING MACHINES NOT READY FOR 2008 ELECTION” (YouTube video).

Sites to visit include Black Box Voting. A very good source both comprehensive and detailed is this page, Introduction: Did George W. Bush steal America’s 2004 election? Essential documents, by Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman June 16, 2005 and other pages at Freepress.org.

In this volume’s first three documents, we reproduce articles published before November 2, 2004. Widely distributed throughout the Internet weeks before the election, they warned that a wide range of abuses stemming from Secretary Blackwell’s office and other sources had already tainted the outcome of the upcoming Ohio vote.

On Election Day, these warnings seemed tragically prophetic. The balloting throughout Ohio was riddled with a staggering array of irregularities, apparent fraud and clear illegalities. Many of the questions focused on electronic voting machines whose lack of official accountability and a reliable paper trail had been in the news since the bitterly contested election of 2000, four years earlier. (Similar questions also arose in Georgia in 2002, where Democratic candidates for Governor and US Senate had substantial leads in the major polls right up to election day, only to lose by substantial margins).

The most widely publicized Ohio problems came as predominantly African-American precincts turned up suspiciously short of voting machines. Inner-city voters waited three hours on average and up to seven hours, according to election officials and to sworn testimony of local residents. Many voters stood in the cold rain to cast their ballots while nearby white Republican suburbs suffered virtually no delays. The wait at liberal Kenyon College, located in Knox County, Ohio, was eleven hours, while voters at a nearby conservative Bible school could vote in five minutes.

To this day no one can definitively tell how many citizens, seeing the long lines, went home or to work or to take care of their children, thus losing their right to vote.

Could it happen in 2008?

Will Obama lose to McCain owing to similar skulduggery, even now that everyone is watching more closely? A top right front page story in the Times the other day, Influx of Voters Expected to Test New Technology, suggests that this is not unlikely, since its description of continuing problems in the supply and distribution of new paper ballots and laser recorders bodes ill for accuracy. New Mexico has converted entirely to paper ballots but the time for other states to follow is too short.

Today the Times carries opinion by Adam Cohen which suggests that problems will continue without being resolved:

A Tale of Three (Electronic Voting) Elections:
Electronic voting has made great strides in reliability, but it has a long way to go. When reformers push for greater safeguards, they often argue that future elections could produce the wrong result because of a computer glitch or be stolen through malicious software. That’s being too nice.

There have already been elections in which it is impossible to be certain that the right candidate was declared the winner. Here are three such races. It is not just remarkable that these elections were run so badly, but also that the flaws are still common — and could easily create havoc in this fall’s voting…..

After the 2000 election debacle, Americans demanded a better system of voting. What we have gotten is new technology with different flaws. If the presidential race is close, this year’s “hanging chad” could be a questionable result on electronic voting machines that cannot be adequately investigated.

Note the interesting attitude of the attorney general who threatened a contender with arrest if he did a hand recount with the permission of the local election officials.

” Mr. Siegelman says local officials gave him permission to count the paper ballots by hand, but the attorney general threatened to arrest anyone who did. No count was done.”

July 31, 2008
Editorial Observer
A Tale of Three (Electronic Voting) Elections
By ADAM COHEN

Electronic voting has made great strides in reliability, but it has a long way to go. When reformers push for greater safeguards, they often argue that future elections could produce the wrong result because of a computer glitch or be stolen through malicious software. That’s being too nice.

There have already been elections in which it is impossible to be certain that the right candidate was declared the winner. Here are three such races. It is not just remarkable that these elections were run so badly, but also that the flaws are still common — and could easily create havoc in this fall’s voting.

1. The 2002 Georgia Senate and Governor Races — Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was defeated for re-election and Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, was unseated. Polls had suggested that both men would win.

The votes were cast on Diebold A.T.M.-style machines. A whistle-blower who helped prepare the machines reported that secret “patches” — software intended to fix glitches — were installed late in the process without being certified by the state, as the law required.

The unexpected outcomes were likely because of heavy turnout by rural whites, prompted by a Confederate flag dispute, not faulty voting machines. Still, skeptics wonder if the patches contained malicious software that changed votes. Because the Diebold machines did not produce paper records, there is no way to put those doubts to rest.

Lesson: Electronic voting makes large-scale vote theft easy. A patch slipped onto voting machines or centralized vote tabulators can change an election’s outcome. Every piece of software must be scrutinized by neutral experts. If there is not enough time, election officials need a backup plan, such as conducting voting entirely on paper ballots.

2. The 2006 Congressional Race in Florida’s 13th District — The machines said that Republican Vern Buchanan defeated Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes. But in Sarasota County, a Democratic area, up to 18,000 ballots, about 13 percent of the total cast, did not record a vote for Congress. That is extraordinarily high; in Republican Manatee County, only 2 percent of ballots didn’t contain a vote for Congress.

Sarasota’s low vote may have been because of a bad ballot design, which made the Buchanan-Jennings race hard to find. But the Jennings campaign said it received hundreds of complaints that the machines would not accept a vote for Ms. Jennings, or recorded a vote for her as a vote for Mr. Buchanan.

Did Ms. Jennings lose a seat in Congress because of a glitch? Could there have been sabotage? We’ll never know, because there are no paper records.

Lesson: Electronic voting machines must produce a voter-verifiable paper trail for each vote so voters can see that their choices register properly. In a disputed election, the paper, not the machine tallies, should decide who wins.

More than half the states require votes to be recorded on paper, but many still don’t. These include battleground states like Virginia.

3. Alabama’s 2002 Race for Governor — Former Gov. Don Siegelman has been in the news because it appears that federal prosecutors may have put him in prison for political reasons. The controversy has brought attention to the odd way he lost the governorship.

Mr. Siegelman went to sleep on election night thinking he had won. But overnight, Republican Baldwin County reported that a glitch had given Mr. Siegelman, a Democrat, about 6,000 extra votes. When they were subtracted, Republican Rob Riley won by roughly 3,000 votes.

James Gundlach, a professor at Auburn University, crunched the numbers and concluded that Mr. Siegelman lost because of “electronic ballot stuffing,” possibly by an operative who accessed the computers and “edited” the results, though others dispute his analysis.

Baldwin County used paper ballots that were then read by an optical scan machine. Mr. Siegelman says local officials gave him permission to count the paper ballots by hand, but the attorney general threatened to arrest anyone who did. No count was done.

Lesson: Paper ballots alone are not enough. There must be strong audit laws that mandate comprehensive hand recounts when an election is close.

After the 2000 election debacle, Americans demanded a better system of voting. What we have gotten is new technology with different flaws. If the presidential race is close, this year’s “hanging chad” could be a questionable result on electronic voting machines that cannot be adequately investigated.In all this our basic point remains: the media seem limited in their coverage in this extraordinarily important matter by a built in reluctance to cross a line in the sand, where they would turn from questioning the machines to questioning the men and women in power.

palastbetter.jpgIf a scandalous abuse of power is sufficiently big in the information arena, it seems that we can count on the media to sweep it under the carpet. Any outcry from the Web will be ignored as just another conspiracy theory.

Will this movie have any effect? It will be interesting to see. Our guess would be, very little.

After all, as Greg Palast, the BBC journalist (pic) who is an investigative terror in this realm and had a lot to do with the film, in which he is featured, says, he has tried very hard to get this material on to the US airwaves and utterly failed.

Influx of Voters Expected to Test New Technology (NYTimes)

Stealing America: the PR Release: STEALING AMERICA: VOTE BY VOTE

For more than 20 years exit polls had accurately predicted election results. Over the last 10 years that reliability has progressively disappeared. What is going on?

STEALING AMERICA: VOTE BY VOTE is Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman’s revealing new documentary which brings together seemingly unrelated anomalies of the U.S. electoral puzzle to paint a chilling picture of widespread “glitches” that have the capacity to alter election results. STEALING AMERICA: VOTE BY VOTE will screen at the Netroots Nation political convention in Austin on Saturday, July 19 before opening in New York on Friday, August 1 and in Los Angeles on Friday, August 15, with a national rollout to follow.

Narrated by Peter Coyote, STEALING AMERICA: VOTE BY VOTE brings together behind-the-scenes perspectives from the U.S. presidential election of 2004 – plus startling stories from key races in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006. The film sheds light on a decade of vote counts that don’t match votes cast – uncounted ballots, vote switching, under-votes, and many other examples of election totals that warrant serious investigation. The last two presidential elections both came down to a relatively small number of votes, and in both elections the integrity of the voting process has been called into question. With the upcoming election looking to be similarly close, the time has come to ask the questions: What happened in 2000 and 2004? What has changed since? What can be done to ensure a fair and honest tabulation of votes in 2008?

Throughout STEALING AMERICA: VOTE BY VOTE, we hear from voters who experienced a wide range of problems, including those whose votes flipped from one candidate to another when using electronic voting machines and polling places that didn’t have enough machines to serve the number of voters. Investigative journalists describe how their reportage on election fraud was sidelined. First-person citizen testimonies speak of waiting in line for over nine hours to vote. Polling experts’ requests for essential information – such as precinct voting data necessary to examine irregularities – were rejected, while ballots were systematically destroyed, making audits impossible.

Experts appearing in the film include Bob Hagan – Ohio State Senator and first-hand witness to on-screen vote switching; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – Activist, author, environmental lawyer and co-host of Ring of Fire on the Air America Radio network; Charles Lewis – Investigative journalist, former 60 Minutes producer and founder, Center for Public Integrity; Bruce O’ Dell and Chuck Herrin – Fortune 100 Company computer security analysts; Greg Palast – BBC investigative journalist; Paul Craig Roberts – Economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service and presently a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate; Dr. Avi Rubin – Director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins; Ion Sancho – Appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to count the votes in the disputed 2000 presidential election and who blazed a trail in proving that it is possible to “hack” into voting machines and change the totals; Dr. Jonathan Simon – Data analyst, who has been focusing on Exit Polls discrepancies; and John Zogby – International polling authority.

Filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman has been producing media with a focus on social justice and human rights since 1976. She has won more than 50 major awards for her work on such films as WHEN ABORTION WAS ILLEGAL: UNTOLD STORIES, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

Screening times around the US:1. August 1st thru 7th at the Quad Cinema
GREG PALAST will introduce the film at the early evening
(after dinner) screening. Check the website on Aug. 1 for
for the exact time.
34 West 13th St. New York City, NY
www.quadcinema.com

2. August 15th thru 21st at the Laemmle’s Music Hall 3
BRUCE O’DELL and JONATHAN SIMON will introduce the film
at the early evening (after dinner) screening.
Check the website on Aug. 2 for
for the exact time.
9036 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA
www.laemmle.com/viewtheatre.php?thid=4

3. August 15th thru 21st at the Chez Artiste 3
4150 E Amherst Ave. Denver, CO
www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Denver/Denver_Frameset.htm

4. August 22nd thru 28th at the Ritz at Bourse
400 Ranstead Street On Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut
Philadelphia, PA
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/Philadelphia/RitzatBourse.htm

5. August 29th thru September 4th at the E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW Washington, D.C.
www.landmarktheatres.com/market/WashingtonDC/EStreetCinema.htm

6. August 29th thru September 4th at the Kendall Sq Cinema
One Kendall Sq. Cambridge, MA
www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Boston/KendallSquareCinema.htm

7. August 29th thru September 4th at the Lagoon 5
1320 Lagoon Ave. Minneapolis, MN
www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/Minneapolis/Minneapolis_Frameset.htm

8. August 29th thru September 4th at the Devargas Mall Cinema 6
562 N Guadalupe St. Santa Fe, NM
www.fandango.com/TheaterPage.aspx?tid=AAGJF

9. September 5th thru 11th at the Shattuck 10
2230 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA
www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/SanFranciscoEastBay/ShattuckCinemas.htm

10. September 5th thru 11th at the Lumiere 3
1572 California St. San Francisco, CA
www.landmarktheatres.com/market/SanFrancisco/LumiereTheatre.htm

11. September 5th thru 11th at the Regal Arbor Cinema
9828 Great Hills Trail Suite 800 Austin, TX
www.fandango.com/TheaterPage.aspx?tid=AAEUJ

12. September 5th thru 11th at the Varsity 3
4329 University Way NE Seattle, WA
www.landmarktheatres.com/market/Seattle/VarsityTheatre.htm

13. September 26th thru October 2 at Landmark’s Gateway Theatre
50 N. High Street Columbus, OH
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/Columbus

nathanleejog.jpgA Times brief notice today (Aug 1 Fri) by hard to please, Village Voice-style critic Nathan Lee (pic) dismisses the film on aesthetic grounds as “might have been this year’s most alarming and patriotic movie if it weren’t so shoddy and dull” and full of “cheesy computer effects, graceless rhetoric and preaching-to-the-choir irrelevancy of the awkward advocacy doc”. Lee claims to share Dorothy Fadiman’s outrage at…”the unprecedented discrepancies between exit polls and final vote tallies, the wildly divergent wait times for differing populations, and the anecdotal frequency of ‘vote switching’ on machines designed as if to encourage hacking,” but is too preoccupied with flaunting his red crayon to take the implications seriously:August 1, 2008
A Glitch in the System
By NATHAN LEE
Published: August 1, 2008

“Stealing America: Vote by Vote” might have been this year’s most alarming and patriotic documentary if it weren’t so shoddy and dull. Remember all those complaints about “An Inconvenient Truth” playing like an aggrandized PowerPoint presentation? “Stealing America,” by comparison, barely qualifies as a glorified Google search.

The filmmaker, Dorothy Fadiman, would argue that that’s exactly the point. In reporting on the suspicious circumstances of recent elections, she relies on information gathered by bloggers, local newspapers and personal testimony as opposed to the “mainstream media” — those TV networks and national newspapers, which supposedly ignored or dismissed evidence of electoral malfeasance.

Ah, “supposedly”! There I go being a tool of the hegemonic MSM.

Personally, I happen to share Ms. Fadiman’s outrage over certain details: the unprecedented discrepancies between exit polls and final vote tallies, the wildly divergent wait times for differing populations, the anecdotal frequency of “vote switching” on machines designed as if to encourage hacking.

Professionally, I prefer to have my paranoid liberal indignation enflamed by a little cinematic savoir faire. A call to arms, then: Let us reform our glitch-ridden electoral system, and while we’re at it retire the cheesy computer effects, graceless rhetoric and preaching-to-the-choir irrelevancy of the awkward advocacy doc.
The New York Sun critic James Snyder is more attentive to the theme but still shows the same level of denial of the logical consequences as the rest of the press, even claiming that Dorothy Fadiman the producer-director “doesn’t want to sell us on the theory of a swindled populace”, even while “she makes a compelling argumenht that now is not the time to take the right to vote, or the security of our voting apparatus, for granted.”:

The documentary is quick to point out that manipulating election results is as old as elections themselves, but conspiracy theories of corruption are not the goal here, despite the ring of the title. What has changed in recent years is the degree of reliance on technology, which is more vulnerable to sabotage and less helpful in terms of verifying or scrutinizing results — not to mention in clarifying who has won a tight race.

‘Stealing America’: When Democracy Loses the Vote by S. James Snyder | August 1, 2008“Stealing America: Vote by Vote,” a compelling examination of modern-day voting practices that opens Friday at Quad Cinemas, is a bold, if slightly dry, act of journalism. The documentary begins with a rather straightforward thesis that has not been examined as thoroughly as it should be: The past two presidential elections, in which victory has been determined by razor-thin margins, have been beset by a skyrocketing number of mishaps at the polls. The mainstream press often dubs them “voting irregularities,” and one doesn’t have to be a supporter of any of the candidates involved to know that they are damaging our concept of free and fair elections.

It wasn’t until the infamous re-count of 2000 and the difficulty in deciding whether, for example, a dimpled chad indicated voter intent, that the average American became familiar with the weaknesses inherent in our voting infrastructure. For her part, “Stealing America” director Dorothy Fadiman became infuriated during the 2004 presidential election about the way in which the confusion, fear, and outright suspicion felt by so many voters went all but unaddressed by major news organizations.

Ms. Fadiman was working as a volunteer at the polls in Florida on Election Day in 2004 when she heard numerous reports of citizens voting for one candidate, only to have another name light up on the electronic screen before them. The director was struck by the mounting frustration of the voters, who could not find acceptable solutions to the problems they had encountered at the polls.

The documentary is quick to point out that manipulating election results is as old as elections themselves, but conspiracy theories of corruption are not the goal here, despite the ring of the title. What has changed in recent years is the degree of reliance on technology, which is more vulnerable to sabotage and less helpful in terms of verifying or scrutinizing results — not to mention in clarifying who has won a tight race.

Not surprisingly, given the results of the 2000 and 2004 elections, the majority of the voters and election volunteers interviewed by Ms. Fadiman are Democrats. But she takes pains to balance the voices in her film in order to show that the irregularities that have come to plague our electoral system represent a bipartisan concern. The dozens of interviewees include state Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat, who witnessed on-screen vote switching; the BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast; Avi Rubin, who runs the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University; the pollster John Zogby, and Ion Sancho, who was appointed to conduct the 2000 Florida recount by the state’s Supreme Court.

“Stealing America” aligns these interviews to support a couple of distinct arguments. First, Ms. Fadiman argues, technological upgrades in the polling booth have left our elections more susceptible to interference, malfunctions, and tampering. In some cases, analysts attempting to re-examine past election results have been told that the raw voting data are proprietary information owned by a private company, and that the only figures available for study are the summaries the company delivered to election officials.

Moreover, the costly equipment and software upgrades for the new machines have not been evenly distributed, leaving many precincts underserved. In 2004, various reports out of Florida and Ohio described citizens waiting in excess of six hours to vote — and in some cases longer.

Ultimately, though, Ms. Fadiman’s ire (as communicated through Peter Coyote’s narration) is directed firmly at the press. Using the firsthand evidence of what she witnessed, not only unreliable computer terminals but election-night results that deviated widely, for the first time in history, from exit polls — a fact that alone should have drawn greater scrutiny — “Stealing America” lambastes the press for its failure to properly dissect the problem. Juxtaposing the exasperation of voters and election volunteers with the calm and steady news reports of the same day in 2004, it’s clear that these are two versions of Election Day that do not mesh.

“Stealing America” suffers from limited production values, arriving complete with canned music, second-rate graphics, and awkward segues between interview and archival footage. It also lacks the flair of a singular personality, such as Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock. But perhaps that’s precisely the point. The movie almost goes out of its way to avoid being provocative for the sake of provocation. It substantiates its arguments, and though it asks big questions, Ms. Fadiman offers a virtual bullet-point list defending why they deserve to be asked.

The 21st century has become an era of neck-and-neck elections that play out moment by moment on 24/7 cable news — elections run by machines and managed by people fixed in the political structure. Ms. Fadiman doesn’t want to sell us on the theory of a swindled populace, but she makes a compelling argument that now is not the time to take the right to the vote, or the security of our voting apparatus, for granted.

ssnyder@nysun.com
The movie “Free For All” on the Ohio experience is available online here for downloads, for DVDs, and for FREE streaming. The film “pulls down the pants of the Ohio election… Follow John Ennis into the colon of American democracy, Ohio 2004. It’s funny as hell – oddly, democracy’s death can tickle your funny bone while laying out the story of the latest quadrennial vote heist.” (Greg Palast).

The bottom line: are there thieves in the machines?

So is the movie saying that the friends of Bush hacked the machines or not?

Here is an interview with Bruce O’Dell Fortune 100 Computer Security Analyst and Co-Producer of STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote on A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Technology. He certainly seems well qualified to speak on the issue:

Q: Why are you questioning the honesty of the people who create and program voting machines and who run our elections?

A: I’m not questioning anyone’s honesty—but human nature is what human nature is. There’s ample room for insider misconduct in any organization. Surprisingly enough, the most severe security risks in any organization are from insiders. Despite extraordinary security measures, banks and financial institutions continue to be ripped off by trusted insiders who understand exactly where the weaknesses are in the system. According to Dan Verton’s recent book Identity Thieves, insiders accounted for approximately 70% of the $3.4 billion that banks lost to internal and external fraud and hacker incidents in 2004.

Q: What could possibly motivate so-called “malicious insiders” at the voting equipment companies to risk getting caught?

A: Our elections determine those leaders who command the world’s only superpower military, set the agenda for federal law enforcement and who control the world’s largest checkbook: our federal budget. By the “Willy Sutton” rule, voting systems are truly “where the money’s at.” Common sense tells me that constant, ruthless and highly sophisticated attempts by insiders to subvert voting software must be assumed to be currently underway, given such a valuable target.

Yet when it comes to voting systems, the presumption currently seems to be that attacks by malicious insiders are unthinkable.

A Citizen’s Guide to Voting Technology Bruce O’Dell Fortune 100 Computer Security Analyst and Co-Producer of STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote

Q: There are a lot of academics and experts that say voting software is perfectly secure. What basis do you have for questioning their judgment?

A: I’ve made a career of helping my clients protect billions of dollars of other people’s money from thieves, hackers and embezzlers, and I design very large-scale computer systems with extraordinary requirements for security and integrity. At American Express, I led a project to provide customer access to transactions from financial institutions throughout North America. I’ve served as the technical leader of a project to replace the access control software at one of the twenty biggest companies in America. And – unlike some of my academic and professional colleagues, who consult for or provide software to voting technology vendors or their clients – I have never had any financial interest in promoting e-voting technology.

Q: There are a lot of academics and experts that say voting software is perfectly secure. What basis do you have for questioning their judgment?

A: I’ve made a career of helping my clients protect billions of dollars of other people’s money from thieves, hackers and embezzlers, and I design very large-scale computer systems with extraordinary requirements for security and integrity. At American Express, I led a project to provide customer access to transactions from financial institutions throughout North America. I’ve served as the technical leader of a project to replace the access control software at one of the twenty biggest companies in America. And – unlike some of my academic and professional colleagues, who consult for or provide software to voting technology vendors or their clients – I have never had any financial interest in promoting e-voting technology.

Q: Why are you questioning the honesty of the people who create and program voting machines and who run our elections?

A: I’m not questioning anyone’s honesty—but human nature is what human nature is. There’s ample room for insider misconduct in any organization. Surprisingly enough, the most severe security risks in any organization are from insiders. Despite extraordinary security measures, banks and financial institutions continue to be ripped off by trusted insiders who understand exactly where the weaknesses are in the system. According to Dan Verton’s recent book Identity Thieves, insiders accounted for approximately 70% of the $3.4 billion that banks lost to internal and external fraud and hacker incidents in 2004.

Q: What could possibly motivate so-called “malicious insiders” at the voting equipment companies to risk getting caught?

A: Our elections determine those leaders who command the world’s only superpower military, set the agenda for federal law enforcement and who control the world’s largest checkbook: our federal budget. By the “Willy Sutton” rule, voting systems are truly “where the money’s at.” Common sense tells me that constant, ruthless and highly sophisticated attempts by insiders to subvert voting software must be assumed to be currently underway, given such a valuable target.

Yet when it comes to voting systems, the presumption currently seems to be that attacks by malicious insiders are unthinkable. In the wake of a report of what was (at the time) “the worst security vulnerability ever found in a voting system,” David Bear, a representative of Diebold Election Systems, was quoted as follows (New York Times, May 12, 2006):

For there to be a problem here, you’re basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software… I don’t believe these evil elections people exist. Imagine the reaction of a CEO or CFO upon hearing a company representative selling cash management software say that their clients do not need to worry about reports of a major security flaw in their software, because he doubted that any “evil bankers” existed. Heads would roll.

Q: Before it spun off its voting equipment division, Diebold manufactured both ATMs and electronic voting machines. Isn’t casting your ballot on an electronic voting machine just as secure as taking cash from an ATM?

A: That’s a common misconception – but in terms of security, ATM devices and electronic voting machines actually have almost nothing in common. It all comes down to one simple consideration: on the one hand, votes must be anonymous; while on the other hand, electronic financial transactions must be based on strong proof of identity. Electronic financial transactions are as secure as they are – where embezzlement is the exception and not the rule – simply because you must first prove your identity to all the parties involved in any ATM transaction. Voting is ananonymous transaction. Electronic voting machines cannot apply to voting transactions any of the identity-based financial auditing mechanisms universally used by ATM machines. If they did, the secrecy of your ballot would disappear.

Q: I’m not sure I understand – can you give a concrete example why ATMs and electronic voting machines are so different?

A: Just imagine what would happen if an election is run using e-voting equipment that applies the same security standards as banks do to ATMs. You sign on, enter your PIN number, and then cast your “ATM ballot.” Your name is immediately sent to the computers owned by each candidate you vote for, and your name and ballot choices also go to your county and state election officials. You receive a printed receipt listing your ballot selections that is yours to take home with you. When the polls close, there’s little doubt about who won the “ATM” election; every candidate would have a complete a list of all the voters who voted for him or her. You would even receive a statement from your county election office listing all your ballot choices as officially recorded. Since ATM-style security measures can’t be applied in real world elections, voting by computer is extraordinarily risky.
Q: There’s got to be some kind of process that election administrators use to double-check the accuracy of the voting machines after an election.

A: In contrast to banks that always audit all of their transactions, in the real world only a relative few states routinely audit any of their paper ballot records (if they still have any) to independently verify the accuracy of the machine tallies. Those few states that check their paper ballot records, only do so for a few percent of their precincts. If current “best practices” in American election administration were applied to the financial services industry – for example, if there were a bank that chose to independently audit only a few percent of its accounts, or simply trusted that its accounts were all accurate without any independent audit at all – its customers would flee in panic, regulators would shut it down, and its Board of Directors would face possible jail time.

Q: But you make it sound like there are no safeguards in place. Aren’t voting machines certified by independent inspectors and subject to strict testing to make sure they are accurate?

A: The computer industry as a whole does not do a good job when it comes to building security into software products. But both practically and theoretically, it is impossible through testing to determine that any computer system has no flaws – much less, to rule out the existence of secret back-door functions to be triggered on a future date. After all, all computers have clocks and can tell time, and there are a vast number of ways to program them to behave differently when being tested than when deployed in the field during an election.

Q: How does the way Las Vegas protects electronic gambling equipment compare to how we protect electronic voting equipment?

A: Nevada performs elaborate, stringent and intrusive ongoing independent random inspections of the hardware and software of the actual electronic gambling equipment in use at all casinos. In stark contrast, the details of our electronic vote tallying systems are considered by their manufacturers to be “trade secrets” and as such are legally shielded from independent inspection. No voting system has ever been examined and tested in any jurisdiction in America with anything approaching comparable rigor, and if these manufacturers continue to have their way, none ever will. Despite all the stringent measures Nevada takes, insiders at the gaming equipment vendors and at the casinos have successfully compromised computerized gambling machines. Even though successful manipulation of election equipment yields far greater financial returns, those who suggest that electronic election manipulation by insiders is possibly underway are dismissed as “conspiracy theorists.”

Q: But what if someone could inspect the voting machine software? Wouldn’t an inspection of this kind find problems or even deter people from manipulating election equipment?

A: The source code is just a document. Source code, which is readable by humans, becomes translated into a “binary” version that is no longer human readable – but can be run by a computer. So I cannot tell simply by reading the official source code what binary logic is actually installed and running on any particular voting device in the field. “Source code inspection” actually misleads the public, making it seem as if IT professionals have superhuman powers to “know” what is actually running in a particular device in the field during an election – when of course, we do not.The answer, clearly, is Yes. Contrary to the ongoing, oddly myopic presumption of the reviewers, who once again like Nelson bring their telescopes up to their blind eye, the documentary is indeed suggesting there are thieves in the machine.

A fine summary of what is involved here came in Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s piece in Rolling Stone two years ago, “Was the 2004 Election Stolen? Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted — enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. Jun 01, 2006 5:02 PM”. Kennedy appears several times in the film.

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush — and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush’s victory as nut cases in ”tinfoil hats,” while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ”conspiracy theories,”(1) and The New York Times declared that ”there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.”(2)

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots — or received them too late to vote(4) — after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment — roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush’s victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)

`The Kennedy article is notable for providing a reason why the Democrats might have been wary of pushing through reform:

To help prevent a repeat of 2004, Kerry has co-sponsored a package of election reforms called the Count Every Vote Act. The measure would increase turnout by allowing voters to register at the polls on Election Day, provide provisional ballots to voters who inadvertently show up at the wrong precinct, require electronic voting machines to produce paper receipts verified by voters, and force election officials like Blackwell to step down if they want to join a campaign. (205) But Kerry says his fellow Democrats have been reluctant to push the reforms, fearing that Republicans would use their majority in Congress to create even more obstacles to voting. ”The real reason there is no appetite up here is that people are afraid the Republicans will amend HAVA and shove something far worse down our throats,” he told me.

Rolling Stone added an editorial to the piece:
A Call for Investigation: Electronic voting machines pose a grave threat to democracy

There are certainly good reasons to modernize the nation’s ridiculously outdated voting equipment; it was Florida’s ”hanging chads,” after all, that cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. But mounting evidence suggests that touch-screen machines present a far graver threat to the integrity of America’s elections — and that leading Republicans have taken money from Diebold to push local election officials to adopt its technology. It is time for Congress and the Justice Department to launch a full-scale investigation into the company and its equipment….

Only a complete investigation by federal authorities can determine the full extent of any bribery and vote rigging that has taken place. The public must be assured that the power to count the votes — and to recount them, if necessary — will not be ceded to for-profit corporations with a vested interest in superseding the will of the people. America’s elections are the most fundamental element of our democracy — not a market to be privatized by companies like Diebold.

Update:Both Dorothy Fadiman and Greg Palast introduced the film last night at the Quad cinema in Manhattan on West 13th Street, a premiere complete with a table manned by volunteers distributing leaflets and urging action.

Asked about the reviews in the Times and the Sun playing down the implications in the film that the machines had been electronically manipulated, Greg Palast said that the degree of interference with voting through other means was high enough that it didn’t matter whether any was done electronically or not. Dorothy Fadiman said that her film intentionally left it up to the viewer to decide how likely hacking was.

Contrast this with the PR for the film, which starts off with the sentence

“For more than thirty years, exit polls accurately predicted election results. Over the last ten years that reliability has disappeared. What’s going on?”

The failure of exit polling, in other words, doesn’t necessarily point to electronic fraud. The rest of the interference could cause it. But is this true? Exit polling nails down one simple fact, unless the voter is lying to the pollster: how he/she voted (or thought he/she voted). Any difference between this and the vote recorded must be due to interference at the machine level, a glitch either intentional or technical.

On Palast’s site, we find an introduction to the film ending with these words:

The goal of this film is be provocative, but not confrontational. The filmmakers want to engage viewers who may be uncomfortable looking at what is actually happening to our election system. Fadiman does not want them to become defensive when learning the facts. The goal is to open people’s minds to the irregularities in the technology and open their hearts to the devastating impact of disenfranchising voters. The final question that the film poses is: How can we create an election system in which voters have confidence, and in which they can trust that their vote is being counted fairly?

We found the film to be powerful for exactly that reason. But as far as its consequences go, surely there should be fierce support from everyone associated with it for a very high ratcheting up of oversight and control of electronic voting to ensure that hacking does not take place?

But is this possible? As the film shows, grassroots action in New Mexico achieved a return to paper ballots, and perhaps grassroots action can achieve the same in other states. Whatever the practical solution, it seems crystal clear now that transparency is the key. It may be that electronic voting cannot be transparent enough. In New York, the Re-Media Election Transparency Coalition urges the state in a petition at its site to hang on to the lever voting system which so far has preserved America’s most intelligent community from election fraud. The group states that

The ability for regular people to observe tampering and safeguards designed to enable this detection, along with requirement that the count be reliable and secured before public scrutiny ends, is the crux of the success of NY’s electoral system and is precisely what is constitutional and dead wrong about the planned computerized voting system.

It is not possible to sufficiently safeguard an undetectably mutable software-driven voting system from fraud.”

Of course, some of the trouble is due to the appallingly low technical standard of the machines provided so far, even if they aren’t manipulated.

As the Co-Chair of the New York State Board of Elections Commissioner Dougkas Kellner put it recently, “The voting industry sells crap, and that is the problem.” Providers such as Diebold and ES&S have had to pay millions of dollars in fines for falsely claiming that their machines and software were up to speed when they were not.

But this, of course, cannot account for a consistent bias in outcome toward candidates of Republican stripe.

Rigged USA Elections Exposed (You Tube video) . Computer programmer Clinton Eugene Curtis explains in 2004 to Congressional Committee that anyone can write program to fix elections, it can’t be defended against without strong physical safeguards, cannot be detected by election officials at the time, and afterwards only if the source code is examined and it still contains the simple change of no more than 100 lines of code needed, or if the receipts are checked against the hard paper actual vote total.

tomfeeney.jpgCurtis says he is sure that Ohio was hacked, given the significant discrepancy between exit polling and actual tabulated results. He testifies that Speaker of the House of Florida and now Congressman Tom Feeney (pic), a conservative Republican notoriously subject to accusations of and penalties for corruption, asked him in 2000 to write and show how to use code undetectably to change votes.

Curtis’ penalties for being a whistleblower are described in the Wikipedia entry on Tom Feeney and include two possible murders of investigators into related matters:In one particularly chilling paragraph in the affidavit, Curtis explains what became of Raymond Lemme, the inspector at FDOT who was said to be pursing the allegations against YEI, Tom Feeney and the other reported matters:

“[I]n June of 2003, he told me that he had tracked the corruption ‘all the way to the top’ and that the story would break in the next few weeks and I would be satisfied with the results. A few weeks later, on July 1st, Mr. Lemme was found dead with his arm slashed in a hotel room in Valdosta, Georgia.”…

In 2006, Feeney faced Democrat Clint Curtis in the November general election.

In September, Feeney’s campaign launched a website that depicts Curtis as a tinfoil hat-wearing loony-bin candidate. The website is full of references to conspiracies and aluminum hats. Curtis claimed that the attention was actually helping him. [24] The website in question was created by political consultant Ralph Gonzales, who was later murdered in a bizarre double-murder/suicide. [25]

In early October, Feeney’s campaign sent out flyers to 110,000 voters that showed the head of Curtis superimposed on what’s supposed to be the body of Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner. The flyer also mentioned Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine. Feeney said he was using such tactics to inform the voters that Curtis was endorsed by Flynt. Curtis responded that he has never met Flynt or anyone at Hustler magazine.[21]

Feeney refused to debate Curtis on substantive policy issues. It would be a disservice to voters to do so, he said. Curtis countered that Feeney was ducking him.[26]

Feeney was reelected with 58% of the vote in 2006.[27]

We have no idea whether these accounts are completely accurate, but they suggest a level of ruthlessness which may help to account for the odd lack of public interest by the media and other parties in this all important factor in the future of American democracy.

Sexist math paradigm falls

July 24th, 2008

Schoolgirls now at parity with boys in math – what next?

Female Bach or Einstein still unlikely, but huge economic advantage in view for PC ruled countries

Will human race double its resourcefulness in science and even art?

veil.jpgGirls are as good at math as boys, according to a huge new study from Berkeley and Wisconsin that seems to seal the finding beyond question. One of male mankind’s oldest and most universal beliefs has been toppled forever:

Girls no longer left behind in math, study shows

Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, July 24, 2008

(07-24) 11:04 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — A new study comparing the math scores of 7 million students across the country shows what the five female university researchers already knew: Girls are just as good as boys at math.

The research seems to settle a long-running debate over the existence of a math gene that gives boys an edge over girls in advanced coursework and ultimately in the workforce.

“Today we do know that women can do math,” said Marcia Linn, UC Berkeley education professor and co-author of the report, published in Friday’s issue of “Science.”

The study found no difference between boys and girls in performance on math tests given in grades two through 11.

Decades ago, that wasn’t the case. Girls took fewer advanced math and science courses and those who did posted lower scores.

Concerted efforts over the last 20 years to encourage girls to pursue math seem to have paid off. By 2000, high school girls were taking calculus at the same rate as their male peers, which could be interpreted as showing they no longer felt shut out of the most demanding math courses.

“Equalization of math enrollment has led equalization of performance,” Linn said.

Those gender gaps, however, still exist in performance on science assessment and in the workplace, Linn said.

Previous studies have shown that girls are just as capable at math as boys, but the new research was the first to look at such a massive sample of students across the country – taking advantage of the standardized test scores now required by No Child Left Behind.

The research team compared the average performance of all students on the tests, the scores of the most gifted children and the ability of students to solve complex math problems.

“In all cases, girls measured up to boys,” the authors said.

Statistical information from 10 states was included in the study, including California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wyoming.

E-mail Jill Tucker at jtucker@sfchronicle.com.

So Larry Summers has got his wish and science has spoken on the issue. Given that research was all he asked for, it seems unfair that he should have had to resign as Harvard’s President in 2006. Let us all who think for ourselves in these PC hot areas be glad that at least most Harvard students thought he should stay. But Alas, he is stll being misreported for stating a conclusion and not a question, as per the San Francisco Business Times today:

In January 2005, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers sparked controversy when he said that innate differences between men and woman caused fewer women to be successful in science and math fields. Summers said he was only trying to provoke debate.

His comments earned him the ire of the feminist community, with the National Organization for Women demanding he step down. One professor left his speech saying that if she had stayed, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.” In 2006, Summers resigned as president, a move students opposed 57 percent to 19 percent.

Doubling human brain power

Evidently we can now be sure that the brain is an organ whose powers are ruled in both sexes by social and psychological factors, an organ of great potential which is highly adaptable in youth and indeed all through life. Motivated exercise builds our neurons just as it builds muscle, even in our senior years, when it appears to prolong life. Encouragement from teachers, parents and peers is a major influence for all, with criticism, disapproval and negative expectations all powerful brakes.

Presumably the same kind of study will eventually have the same result in art and science, toppling the age old belief that women are handicapped in those areas by brain structure or function. Or will it? One waits to see if a female Beethoven will ever emerge in music. World chess champions remain male, even though there are very strong female players.

Ah yes, now we see that the study also showed that boys are still much more variable than girls, who tend to crowd the middle portion of the distribution. Girls may be remain much less competitive at the extremes:

Boys’ Math Scores Hit Highs and Lows:
More boys scored extremely well — or extremely poorly — than girls, who were more likely to earn scores closer to the average for all students.

One measure of a top score is achieving the “99th percentile” — scoring in the top 1% of all students. Boys were significantly more likely to hit this goal than girls.

In Minnesota, for example, 1.85% of white boys in the 11th grade hit the 99th percentile, compared with 0.9% of girls — meaning there were more than twice as many boys among the top scorers than girls.


Boys’ Math Scores Hit Highs and Lows
By KEITH J. WINSTEIN
July 25, 2008; Page A2

Girls and boys have roughly the same average scores on state math tests, but boys more often excelled or failed, researchers reported.

The fresh research adds to the debate about gender difference in aptitude for mathematics, including efforts to explain the relative scarcity of women among professors of science, math and engineering.

In the 1970s and 1980s, studies regularly found that high- school boys tended to outperform girls. But a number of recent studies have found little difference.

The latest study, in this week’s journal Science, examined scores from seven million students who took statewide mathematics tests from grades two through 11 in 10 states between 2005 and 2007.

The researchers, from the University of Wisconsin and the University of California, Berkeley, didn’t find a significant overall difference between girls’ and boys’ scores. But the study also found that boys’ scores were more variable than those of girls. More boys scored extremely well — or extremely poorly — than girls, who were more likely to earn scores closer to the average for all students.

One measure of a top score is achieving the “99th percentile” — scoring in the top 1% of all students. Boys were significantly more likely to hit this goal than girls.

In Minnesota, for example, 1.85% of white boys in the 11th grade hit the 99th percentile, compared with 0.9% of girls — meaning there were more than twice as many boys among the top scorers than girls.

The reason for the difference isn’t known, and the results may not apply to all ethnic groups.

The study found that boys are consistently more variable than girls, in every grade and in every state studied. That difference has “been a concern over the years,” said Marcia C. Linn, a Berkeley education professor and one of the study’s authors. “People didn’t pay attention to it at first when there was a big difference” in average scores, she said. But now that girls and boys score similarly on average, researchers are taking notice, she said.

Write to Keith J. Winstein at keith.winstein@wsj.com Regardless of the details the vast question raised once again by the study is just how much the human race has lost by burdening and restricting the potential of half of its members. Islamic fundamentalist countries such as Saudi Arabia are not only flouting fundamental human rights but shooting themselves in the rear end with their restrictions on the freedom of their women to exercise their full abilities.

saudiwomencar.jpgAt the moment, women are still not officially allowed to drive in that life-denying country, but so many are doing so that it is expected that that particular fence will fall soon:

(From Could the ban on women drivers be lifted? – Hamida Ghafour in The National July 19 2008 )

“I worked for an insurance company and quit last month, but they told me when they had meetings with officials they were told women will be allowed [to drive] this year. So we are waiting.”

Yet another indication came at a press conference on July 13, when the director general of the Saudi traffic department announced that new laws to curb dangerous driving were not gender specific. Previously, the rules referred to men, but now “the new law speaks only about the driver of the vehicle and there is no specification of either man or woman”, he told reporters…..

“I think we will drive by the end of the year,” says Wajeha al Huwaider, 46, who caused a sensation in March when she posted a video of herself on YouTube driving around her company’s compound……

“Can you imagine a girl driving? She will be followed home by seven guys. Guys follow a girl home even if she is in a car with her family. If you allow them to drive, you need to change the whole social atmosphere.”

chinaapple.jpgSince America is one of the most liberated societies in this regard, or so it pretends, it will retain a strong economic and cultural advantage as long as the gap lasts. But will it? Looking at photos of Chinese youth gathered round the toys being shown off in the new Apple store in Beijing, it is easy to imagine that the new generation in Asia may be quite liberated after all.

(Click to enlarge) On the other hand, while the girl looks equally thoughtful she does seem a little pushed out of the way by the boys… hard to say. We need a study.

In fact, the US economy is sloughing off women in the workforce unusually rapidly as hard times gather, according to the the Times story on Tuesday (Jul 22), Poor Economy Slams Brakes on Women’s Workplace Progress, a story on the falling percentage of women at work, a reversal of seven earlier recoveries since 1960 which ended with more women at work than before.

Anyhow, one of the grandest global paradigms, the assumption that girls are inherently less able to learn math skills than boys, is now defunct, and an eventual doubling of human capacity in this and other arenas seems in view.

See also Girls catch boys in math says Cal, Wisconsin study – San Francisco Business Times
Girls catch boys in math says Cal, Wisconsin study – San Francisco Business Times – by Elizabeth Rauber

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, says that girls now perform as well as boys on standardized math tests.

The study also said that girls take the same number and level of math courses as boys in elementary and high schools.

The results differ from studies done 20 years ago, which suggested that girls matched boys in elementary school but fell behind by high school.

UC Berkeley education professor Marcia Linn, an author of the study, said, “Now that enrollment in advanced math courses is equalized in high school, we don’t see gender differences in performance.”

On July 16, Linn testified before the Congressional Science Technology Engineering & Math Education caucus, calling for efforts to boost the number of women in science courses, where they are underrepresented.

Linn told the San Francisco Business Times “that one of the really important things we’ve noticed is that people are surprised by these findings, which shows there are still stereotypes out there. An important implication (of the study) is that parents and teachers need to encourage both men and women.”

“When we looked closely at these new tests, they are not as challenging, they focus more on recall than on problem solving,” Linn said. “We need to make sure tests that we use require the kind of reasoning that the business world would like and that we all need.”

Janet Hyde, a psychology professor at UW Madison, blamed cultural stereotypes for the lack of female mathematicians, engineers and physicists. “If your mom or your teacher thinks you (girls) can’t do math, that can have a big impact on your math self-concept,” said Hyde, another author of the study.

In January 2005, Harvard University President Lawrence Summers sparked controversy when he said that innate differences between men and woman caused fewer women to be successful in science and math fields. Summers said he was only trying to provoke debate.

His comments earned him the ire of the feminist community, with the National Organization for Women demanding he step down. One professor left his speech saying that if she had stayed, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.” In 2006, Summers resigned as president, a move students opposed 57 percent to 19 percent.


Bad Behavior has blocked 63 access attempts in the last 7 days.