The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

"Delivering" Ohio

Tinfoil Hat Watch

Time for more dark conspiracy theories about the end of democracy via electronic voting machines.

As you probably know, the theoretical problem with electronic voting machines is that they make possible the following scenario: Voters go into booths, punch a bunch of buttons, and leave thinking they have voted. The machines spit out a pre-determined outcome at the end of the day. There is no trace of fraud, nothing that poll observers could see. It is all an elaborate pantomime of actual Democracy, but the winners are determined by the people who program the machines.

There would be very few ways to detect such a scheme. One of the only ways to even infer it would be if the results were wildly at odds with polls taken right before the election. That might make people scratch their heads and wonder what was going on.

Now, that type of election fraud is a possibility. But, in this land of the free, home of the brave, it does at first seem not very likely. Surely, we say nervously to ourselves, the people in power wouldn't commit fraud like that just to keep themselves in power? Not in the good ol' US of A, where the best man always wins?

Ok, so it still does seem a little far-fetched. But lately there have been a lot of clues indicating that this rather nightmarish idea is not just a possibility, but may actually be more probable than we first thought.

For example, there is the CEO of Diebold, one of the leading suppliers of electronic voting machines. Wally O'Dell is not just a Republican, but one of those scary, born-again, evangelical Republicans who also happens to think Chimpy is the Second Coming. We linked to this article in September, but it is worth reading again how O'Dell is a major Republican fund-raiser who sent invitations to a Republican fund raising event in his home that stated he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year." Diebold is bidding to become the supplier of voting machines for the state of Ohio.

That makes vote stealing more likely. Also making it a more likely possibility is that the service which has conducted voter exit polls for years and years, and has shown that they can predict the outcome with reasonable accuracy, has been disbanded. The service was a joint effort of several media companies, and (correctly) announced Gore's victory in Florida in 2000. They will do so no longer, removing one of our last checks to see how voters actually voted.

We have also learned that Diebold machine security is based on Microsoft Access technology, with all of the "security" that implies.

That brings us to Georgia in 2002. Not only were the polls in Georgia showing that Max Cleland, the triple amputee war hero Democratic Senator was in the lead going in to the vote, but Diebold was the supplier of the electronic voting machines for the state. Somehow, a chickenhawk who skipped Vietnam with a bad knee (who now jogs every day) defeated Cleland in a surprising upset. Georgia's Democratic governor was also defeated in a surprising upset. Hmmm. Republican Georgia state chair and High Lord of Evil Ralph Reed chalks their victory up to something, I guess, instead of vote tampering.

Now comes this story from Wired, in which an employee from Diebold has come forward and avowed that he "patched" the voting machines in Georgia after they had been verified and that no tests were run on the machines after the patch to check them for accuracy. Some excerpts:

Behler said Diebold provided warehouse workers with at least three patches to apply to the systems before state officials began logic and accuracy testing on them. Behler said one patch was applied to machines when he came to the warehouse in June, a second patch was applied in July and a third in August after he left the warehouse.
Behler said the patches he applied were never certified. No third party, other than the Diebold engineers who created the patches, knew what was in the patches. And once machines were patched, they did not undergo re-certification.

Ok, two additional points here: 1. Behler was fired from Diebold after he came forward. 2. How hard can it be to make voting software? All you do is add "1" to the tally for every vote cast for a candidate or issue? The article says that lots of their machines were failing and needed to be fixed. WTF? Honestly, how hard could that software be to implement? I'm not much of a programmer, but I think even I could write it.

Keep that tinfoil handy, folks.

Whistleblowers Watch

One of Powell's underlings has come forward to reveal that Colin is a big fat liar, and that he knew that his presentation to the UN this spring was full of whoppers. All I can say to Mr. Thielmann is, thanks, but don't you think this would have been useful information _before_ the war? Now that all of the damage has been done, and we are saddled with all of the costs in money, lives, and our relations, it doesn't do us much good to be reminded again of what a pack of liars and thieves we have in charge. Oh well. The article is "The Man Who Knew". The Man Who Knew But Kept It To Himself Until the Damage was Done says that Iraq didn't pose an imminent threat to anyone, and that he believes the decision to go to war was made first, and then the intelligence was interpreted to fit that conclusion. Let's hope they trot this guy out for the general election.

Media Whores Watch

Here is a funny juxtaposition of quotes from uber-conservative Charles Krauthammer which I first found on TalkingPointsMemo. In April, CK said:

"Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We've had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven't found any, we will have a credibility problem. I don't have any doubt that we will locate them. I think it takes time."

Five months later, after the Kay Report was released showing they had nothing, the (un)repentant Krauthammer had this to say:

"Hussein was simply making his WMD program more efficient and concealable. His intent and capacity were unchanged."

The emporer's clothes are truly magnificent, no?


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