The Change; Hope

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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It is said, as individuals, we can achieve all we conceive, if only we truly believe.  President Barack Obama once knew this.  He lived this veracity.  Indeed, candidate Obama’s audacity and accomplishments gave Americans hope.  When Barack Obama reached for the sky he realized what no one thought he could. The electorate was energized.  People came to expect the country was in for a change.   Now, it seems Mister Obama is bogged down by what Eisenhower understood, concerns of the Military Industrial Complex.  

The intricacy of the Armed Forces mission does not confine itself to forceful martial escalation.  Nothing escapes the wide reach of combative nation building.  Lives are lost.  Limbs crushed.  With bullets ablaze, brains are battered or blown to smithereens.  Hope suffers.  Hearts are hurt.  The economy is also affected.

Education policies are altered.  There are few pennies left to provide for adequate instruction.  Health care coverage fiscal calculations related to medical treatments and delivery of services are transformed.  The  billions of dollars spent on defense surpasses any other consideration.  This fiscal truth is obviously not lost on a Commander-In-Chief burdened with the need to appease his many Advisors, most of whom, from the beginning, were intent on war.  

President Obama could not ignore or forget his own earlier rhetoric.  After all, his words “Afghanistan is a war of necessity,” helped him win over the hearts and minds of Conservatives and Independents during the recent election.  As one who believes and works to builds consensus, some say President Obama chose to take the middle path.

With his decision to send more troops, into Afghanistan, the President  has shattered the dreams of many.  Another surge will mean countless communities will wait for more dollars to spend at home.   A patient nation, for a while longer, will remain proud and stay the course.

For now, only eight percent, the progressive fringe, feel a deepening sense of hopelessness.   Millions of Independents have also lost faith.  When only 36 percent of these think President Obama has done a fine job that could prove to be a problem.  

If, over time, personal pains become more profound, the exorbitant budgetary imbalance will not be ignored.  Misery amongst the masses will likely bring more voices of dissent.

In this moment, those on the far Left feel they must vocalize the sentiment heard in society at-large. However, without reason to believe, with signs that change has not come to those most in need, the public will turn nasty. Timidity, as history reveals, is transitory.  

Just as we witnessed in the 1960s, again in 2008, a war weary population becomes disheartened, and loud.  Americans who struggle to survive, and who realize billions, no trillions of dollars are spent on the fight, will ultimately, speak out vociferously

This week, President Obama quoted his predecessor, General Eisenhower,, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”  Then, contrary to Ike’s caution, he bowed to the Military Industrial Complex, Should Mister Obama continue down this path people of all walks of life are likely to rise up and say; The change we once believed in, our hope, has become our sense of hopelessness.

References for the reality of hope and hopelessness . . .

2008; Unprecedented



McCain Does Not Get It That Americans Say Country Off Course

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The consensus is this election year is like no other.  It is more dynamic than those in the past.  The times they are a changing.  Indeed, there is much to substantiate this proclamation.

It can be argued; Hillary Clinton was the first woman Presidential candidate with a chance.  The New York Senator proved that females are free to be strong.  Ladies are able to look to the skies.  Glass ceilings have been shattered since Hillary Rodham Clinton took the political stage.  A former First Lady may be the right person for the job.  Some say she is better than her husband ever was.  A few claim the Clinton of extraordinary excellence is not Bill; it is Hillary.  The daughter of Hugh and Dorothy Rodham proved what was posited in prior years.  A Presidential aspirant need not be a man.  The climb to the Executive Branch can be achieved in a skirt or a pants suit.

A case could be made for the novelty that is Barack Obama.  Some say the Illinois Senator is the only African-American Presidential hopeful to truly have a chance.  Barack Obama is not as any other man of color who rose through the ranks.  Senator Obama is a scholar and sensitive to a system that must be delicately stroked.

Verification for this stance is often offered.  Comparisons are made to other candidates of color.  Prominent persons have presented the perception Jesse Jackson was not to be taken seriously.  A few counter what they think an unconscionable contention.  Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson was a contender and could have been President of the United States.  The number of delegates Presidential candidate Jackson received in 1984 is impressive.  Whether he could have or would have won may forever remain a question.  The narrative validates or negates the contention the election of 2008 is truly exceptional.  Conclusions, just as opinions will vary.  

A few will surmise perhaps, the skin color of a candidate does not make this election year unique.  Others will assert gender has not been an issue for years.  The fairer sex broke barriers long ago, as did African-Americans.

Citizens in the States might further muse Congresswoman Chisholm was a great challenger.  She could have reached the Oval Office decades earlier.  Shirley Chisholm would have received more votes if the electorate believed it was possible to elect a Black woman President.  Possibly, if the Representative thought herself more than  the aspirant who wished “to give a voice to the people the major candidates were ignoring,” she might have waged a fully organized effort.  Instead, the Chisholm campaign was exclusively, a grassroots endeavor.  

After the process was over, Shirley Chisholm questioned whether she might have done better if her operation were not under-organized, under-financed and unprepared.  Perchance, Congresswoman Chisholm could have been so much more if she and the nation trusted she was a serious candidate and threat to the presumed nominee.  Hindsight is that.  We may realize much after the fact.  We may also understand that frequently, history repeats itself.

While the 2008 Election may, or may not be a distinctively different campaign in the obvious sense, milestones are evident.  A New York Times – CBS poll presented only two short months ago revealed Americans do not think themselves better off.  81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on Wrong Track.  Today, the news is unprecedented.

Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country hit an all-time high this month, with 84 percent saying the nation is now seriously on the wrong track.

Registered voters polled in a Washington Post – ABC News poll  say the time for change is now.  Perchance there is more agreement in this nation than ever before.  Americans want to take a path that differs from the one we now travel.  Citizens are tired of living in a country that does not serve the constituents.  In 2008, contentment and complacency are difficult to find.  

The challenge to get people to the polls may be less critical this year.  A transformation too long in coming is welcome.  That point is one I think those who care about this country will not dispute.

Sources for discussion . . .

Can Polls Be Trusted?

copyright © Forgiven The Disputed Truth

If there is one thing the New Hampshire primary should have taught us all is that polls are unreliable, especially this year. There are too many dynamics at play that cannot be gleaned from simple raw data. I have said from the outset that polls will be ineffective because by their nature they are ineffectual for determining what a person is really thinking.

The trouble with America today is that we are having a crisis of honesty. Many of us want to pretend we are somebody we are not. How many of us are willing to admit what is going on in the deep recesses of our minds and hearts? Too many of us want to be judged on what we say and not on what we do. The bottom line will be which group polled will be true to their numbers.  

Will all the women who say they will vote for Hillary come through or will all the whites who say they can vote for a black man come through for Obama. It will be really interesting to watch the pollsters squirm from here on out, because how can they have faith in any of their numbers?

If the poll numbers continue to not be supported by the election results, what shall we do then? Will the truth about America be exposed once again? There will be those who will find excuses for the disparity or the lack of honesty, but to those who are able to see; the truth will be “self-evident.” Anyone relying on the polls to bolster their candidate’s position in this race is just spitting in the wind. Until this thing is over all bets are off.

I have read that many bloggers have questioned the methodology of the pollsters in New Hampshire. I don’t think it’s the pollsters’ fault or the Republican results would also have shown an anomaly. You can’t blame the pollsters if they are right on the one side and wrong on the other. Some have blamed the news media for mischaracterizing the race out of some desire to see Obama win. While there may be those who would relish writing the story of our first black nominee, this does not explain the drastic difference in opinion and reality.

There are other forces at work and we would be foolish and naïve to ignore them. If this were not so how could the pollsters have predicted McCain as the Republican winner, but were so wrong picking the Democratic winner using the same polling methods? As much as I want to believe that Hillary’s sudden surge was based on her emotional outburst that turned the tide, but I think that for many New Hampshire voters when finally alone in that booth they faced a moment of truth about who they were and what they truly believed about Obama and America.

I believe that this phenomenon will be repeated throughout this election process and it bodes badly for Obama and his message of hope. Sure, there will be those who will say that Hillary’s experience argument is finally getting traction with voters, but I don’t believe it.

John Zogby, who does the Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll, said the 18 percent of New Hampshire voters who reported making up their minds on Tuesday “is just an unprecedented number.”

Like most polls, the last Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby survey ahead of the primary was quite near the mark for the Republican race, predicting McCain would get 36 percent to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 27. The final result was 37 to 31. But on the Democratic side, the survey predicted Obama would have 42 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 29, when in fact she won narrowly. Reuters

The thing that I find interesting is how everyone in the media including the pollsters is running away from the race issue. This could be a defining moment in American history and I believe it will go unreported and the reason is because America will not want to face itself in the mirror with the truth.

The truth is that despite all the hype of the media, the blogosphere, and the progressives America will not vote for a black man for President. It will be reported that it was everything but that simple truth. It is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. It is easier to blame the pollsters than to look at what really happened. There will be those who say that was New Hampshire a rural white state, but so was Iowa. They will say that as we get to more populous states this will be a non-issue, but when it continues to happen what will you say then?

There will be those who point to Iowa as proof that I am wrong, but Iowa merely reinforces the rule by being the exception. Iowa was a caucus in which the dynamics are different than a primary. In a caucus you have a group of people in a room together, not the solitude of a voting booth, which makes it a bit more difficult not to be swept up in the emotion. Iowa raised expectations to unrealistic levels and created hysteria heading into New Hampshire. The first thing I learned growing up as an athlete is never believe “the hype.” You are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

Poorer, less well-educated white people refuse surveys more often than affluent, better-educated whites. Polls generally adjust their samples for this tendency. But here’s the problem: these whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews.

I’ve experienced this myself. In 1989, as a Gallup pollster, I overestimated the support for David Dinkins in his first race for New York City mayor against Rudolph Giuliani; Mr. Dinkins was elected, but with a two-percentage point margin of victory, not the 15 I had predicted. I concluded, eventually, that I got it wrong not so much because respondents were lying to our interviewers but because poorer, less well-educated voters were less likely to agree to answer our questions. That was a decisive factor in my miscall. NY Times

So let me get this straight, the reason for the poll error is that poor whites are not polled and so there is no way to gauge their effect on the election? This is incredible, when all else fails blame it on the poor, white folks. Everybody knows that most of them are racists anyway. By placing the blame on their doorstep, the more affluent and cosmopolitan liberals can deny their own biases. I love it. This is almost as good as the alien hacking the election essay. One of these days we will have to gain the courage to confront our fears, because until we do they will always be our nightmares.

The reason I think this is a watershed moment is because we have the opportunity for once in over 300 years to be honest with each other about race and America. We can once and for all remove the façade that has allowed so many to sleep at night content that progress is being made and that Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell prove it. Rather than run from this “inconvenient truth” we can learn from it and use it to open honest and frank discussions about those dark secrets that we hold cloaked in our liberalism.

The time has come for us to recognize the truth that is America, we love our blacks so long as they are not running the free world. This isn’t about experience, it is about can we trust a black man to be the most powerful man in the world? Let’s see we can trust someone with Alzheimer’s, we can trust a “compassionate conservative“, and we can trust a crook. We can trust a womanizer, we can trust an alcoholic, and we can trust a sexual predator. But God forbid that we can trust a black man.

I know there will be those who will make the same argument for Hillary, but this isn’t that essay. This essay is about confronting the demon that so many have chosen to ignore or only comes out around like-minded folks or in the solitude of a voting booth. Of course we will never know exactly who these people are and this anonymity will provide cover for all. New Hampshire is a wakeup call, I hope the rest of America is listening.

Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.  – Author Unknown

The Disputed Truth

The Computer Ate My Vote

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“The dog ate my homework,” said young Jonathan.  In those tender years, he hoped an authority figure would trust the statement to be true.  As an adult, Jonathan grumbled in frustration, “The computer ate my vote.” The concerned citizen wanted to hear no excuses.  Just as he knew the sweet little pup on his lap never digested the paper he did not write, Jon understood; the central processing system did not devour the votes.  Constituent choices were not read or recorded accurately.  

In January 2008, Jonathon, a New Hampshire resident, cast his ballot for Barack Obama, as did his wife, and their adult children.  When asked by exit pollsters, Jon’s parents proudly proclaimed, “We each voted for Obama.”  Neighbors on either side were loyal to Edwards.  Colleagues were mixed.  Dennis Kucinich was a favorite for Julie, Helene, and Amy.  The three were outspoken in their support. While sentiments were mixed, very few supported the former First Lady, Senator Clinton.  As Jonathon assessed all he heard and read he believed as  the pundits predicted, Obama would Win by 18-20%.  However, that is not what happened.

Post Primary Election Day the results in New Hampshire are being questioned.  By an overwhelming majority Barack Obama was expected to triumph.  Clinton would not see her presumed coronation.  People such as Jonathon and the pundits asked, “What happened?” Conspiracy theories abound.  Americans are reminded, in the last three elections, a ballot cast through circuitry may not be a reliable tally.

Critics, cynics, those who rebuff the idea that any authoritarian agenda might have caused, or effected, the capricious vote count offer evidence that the current system is clean.  Experts evaluate, it is not the method, but the map that produced the unexpected.

Preliminary analysis from Edison/Mitofsky, however, indicates that the difference between the two types of precincts goes back at least two elections. As Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, wrote in an e-mail, “unless there has been hidden election fraud in New Hampshire for the last three presidential primaries the ‘evidence’ being used by these fraudsters probably does not hold up to any rigorous statistical analysis.”

Moreover, attributing all the differences between these townships to their choice of vote-counting procedures misses other potentially important differences among voters (e.g., proportions independent, highly-educated).

Update: The table below has been updated to reflect new numbers from the Secretary of State.











Vote By Type of Equipment Used
      Optical scanners Paper ballots
2008 Clinton 40.09 33.74
2008 Obama 35.84 39.77
2008 Margin Clinton +4.25 Obama +6.03
2004 Kerry 39.52 32.40
2004 Dean 24.74 34.43
2004 Margin Kerry +14.78 Dean +2.03
2000 Gore 50.35 45.80
2000 Bradley 45.03 49.13
2000 Margin Gore +5.31 Bradley +3.33

Reports that substantiate the validity of what is do nothing to diminish or dismiss the underlying veracity of what might also be true.  There are plenty of questions and the rate of replies grows exponentially.  An analysis begs speculation.  Might the optical scanners appear in affluent areas.  In these communities, people may be less dependent on landlines, and more tied to a cellular telephones.  Possibly conventional means for vote computation occurs in neighborhoods where people are home and accessible to canvassers.   It might be that those polled did endorse Obama in greater numbers.  However, even if this theory is accurate, it does not explain the vastness of the gap.

Jonathon muses, “No one polled me.”  His mother and father were not reached.  Edwards supporters in his neighborhood were not contacted.  Julie, an activist, yearned to offer her opinion to a campaign researcher  She waited for a call.  None came.  Granitite State local Helene wanted nothing more than to declare her support for Dennis Kucinich.  This lovely lady in the “Live Free or Die” state had much to declare.  She and her friend Amy welcomed a call from a pollster.  Indeed, when each was presented with a list of candidates and then asked whom they might vote for, Helene and Amy inquired, “Why was Dennis Kucinich not included in the rooster?”  Many ruminate, the survey amongst voters might reflect more than a margin of error.  Andrew Kohut, President, of the Pew Research Center argues the polls were perfect.  The reviewers are “Getting It Wrong.”

The failure of the New Hampshire pre-election surveys to mirror the outcome of the Democratic race is one of the most significant miscues in modern polling history.  All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent.  These same polls showed no signs that Senator Hillary Clinton might close that gap, let alone win.

While it will take time for those who conducted the New Hampshire tracking polls to undertake rigorous analyses of their surveys, a number of things are immediately apparent.

First, the problem was not a general failure of polling methodology . . .

Second, the inaccuracies don’t seem related to the subtleties of polling methods . . .

Third, the mistakes were not the result of a last-minute trend going Mrs. Clinton’s way . . .

Fourth, some have argued that the unusually high turnout may have caused a problem for the pollsters . . .

To my mind, all these factors deserve further study. But another possible explanation cannot be ignored – the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor.

For Andrew Kohut, a man who makes a career of research, those who conduct polls, and calculate statistical information gathered, are not to blame for discrepancies.  The data is flawless.  The people who respond to a survey are the problem.  Kohut claims humans lie to hide their bigotry.  The rift is realized in race relations.  

That conclusion might be also be disputed.  Indeed, we can hear the quarrel now  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their respective spouses spew venom, as they discuss the role of Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Junior   America revisits the achievements of a peaceful African-American leader, and we discover perceptions differ.

Nonetheless, we cannot negate what has been an obvious concern long before this recent election, electronic elections are not fully certifiable.  The process New Hampshire authorities adopted  is arguably better than the techniques many other States use, still the optical scanners are a less than a secure system.

Perhaps, we must consider that charts and editorial information furnished, while interesting, do not lessen the need for our shared concern.  For those that think there is a well-crafted campaign to conspire, we are likely to hear, “Hackers would not wish to leave an easily observable trail.”  For those who do not necessarily fear a plot to alter or obfuscate the results, there is a consensus humans are fallible.  Programmers are not perfect.  Nor are locks.

One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults.

Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton, and his student collaborators conducted a demonstration with an AccuVote TS and noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot appeared to be similar to one that a staff member had at home.

When he brought the key into the office and tried it, the door protecting the AccuVote’s memory card slot swung open obligingly. Upon examination, the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes – and hotel minibars.

Once the memory card slot was accessible, how difficult would it be to introduce malicious software that could manipulate vote tallies? That is one of the questions that Professor Felten and two of his students, Ariel J. Feldman and J. Alex Halderman, have been investigating. In the face of Diebold’s refusal to let scientists test the AccuVote, the Princeton team got its hands on a machine only with the help of a third party.

Even before the researchers had made the serendipitous discovery about the minibar key, they had released a devastating critique of the AccuVote’s security. For computer scientists, they supplied a technical paper; for the general public, they prepared an accompanying video. Their short answer to the question of the practicality of vote theft with the AccuVote: easily accomplished.

The researchers demonstrated the machine’s vulnerability to an attack by means of code that can be introduced with a memory card. The program they devised does not tamper with the voting process. The machine records each vote as it should, and makes a backup copy, too.

Every 15 seconds or so, however, the rogue program checks the internal vote tallies, then adds and subtracts votes, as needed, to reach programmed targets; it also makes identical changes in the backup file. The alterations cannot be detected later because the total number of votes perfectly matches the total number of voters. At the end of the election day, the rogue program erases itself, leaving no trace.

Computers, cared for, corrupted, and programmed by people, can be as a compulsively confounding as a poll worker.  A central processing unit, by rote, will remove the excess waste as mindlessly as a human might endeavor to do.  In days of old, poll-workers were the problem.  A misplaced bag of ballots or a box filled to the brim with bogus paper ballots was the reason anxious Americans sought a better system.  Mechanical means were thought to eliminate human error or manipulation.

Some elections officials next adopted lever machines, which record each vote mechanically. But lever machines have problems of their own, not least that they make meaningful recounts impossible because they do not preserve each individual vote. Beginning in the 1960s, they were widely replaced by punch-card systems, in which voters knock holes in ballots, and the ballots can be stored for a recount. Punch cards worked for decades without controversy.

Until, of course, the electoral fiasco of 2000. During the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore election, it became clear that punch cards had a potentially tragic flaw: “hanging chads.” Thousands of voters failed to punch a hole clean through the ballot, turning the recount into a torturous argument over “voter intent.” On top of that, many voters confused by the infamous “butterfly ballot” seem to have mistakenly picked the wrong candidate. Given Bush’s microscopic margin of victory – he was ahead by only a few hundred votes statewide – the chads produced the brutal, month long legal brawl over how and whether the recounts should be conducted.

The 2000 election illustrated the cardinal rule of voting systems: if they produce ambiguous results, they are doomed to suspicion. The election is never settled in the mind of the public. To this date, many Gore supporters refuse to accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency; and by ultimately deciding the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court was pilloried for appearing overly partisan.

Partisan politics is perhaps the truer issue.  Even those that do not ascribe to conspiracy theories, doubt their opponent.  The “enemy” in an election may be the corporations, the rival candidate, the government, or anyone who might garner support in opposition to a particular voter.  Jonathon marvels at the foes that lurk in the shadows.  People he does not know and perchance, personally, never will, are those he does not trust.

In New Hampshire, the electorate attempted to approve the best of both worlds.  Paper ballots are used in every precinct.  Granted, all votes are cast on traceable tallies.  However, recounts, such as the one now proposed by Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, may not be possible in the way a verification of the vote once was.  

Consider the plight of Elections Director Jane Platten, in Cuyahoga County Ohio., At 3 in the morning on November 7, at the “end” of a twenty-two hour workday, the too-tired public service official said, “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election.”  The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were once again a source of trouble, and the reason for more time spent on the job.

All went well for a while.  Voter turnout was light on that fateful day.  About 200,000 voters strode through the polls, tapped their choices onto the county’s 5,729 touch-screen voting machines, and gladly turned in their electronic memory cards ready for the count.  All security procedures were followed.  Then the fun began.  

Suddenly, at 10 Post Meridian the server froze, as did all operations.  No votes could be counted.  Technicians gathered.  A young, and well-dressed employee from Diebold, the company that manufactures the equipment used in Cuyahoga elections , entered the scene; yet offered no solutions.  No one could figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, the election workers did what people do.  They cut the power.  The hope was the machine would clear its “mind,” rest a bit, return refreshed, and then begin the calculations anew.

This seemed to work, until the system crashed a again. Once more, the staff rebooted the computer and resumed the count. Gleefully, the computation was completed.

Worse was yet to come. When the votes were finally tallied the next day, 10 races were so close that they needed to be recounted. But when Platten went to retrieve paper copies of each vote – generated by the Diebold machines as they worked – she discovered that so many printers had jammed that 20 percent of the machines involved in the recounted races lacked paper copies of some of the votes.  They weren’t lost, technically speaking; Platten could hit “print” and a machine would generate a replacement copy.  But she had no way of proving that these replacements were, indeed, what the voters had voted. She could only hope the machines had worked correctly

 

As demonstrated repeatedly, the readable receipt may have been altered. The tangible total may not be as accurate as presumed.  Evidence of the discrepancies is everywhere.  

The infamous Diebold [now Premier election solutions] optical scanner voting machine is used to tally fifty-eight [58] percent of the votes, or 175 of New Hampshire’s 301 precincts ballots.  The AccuVote optical scan machines were the only mechanisms independent-minded New Hampshire residents would accept.  Nonetheless, even this apparatus is troublesome.  Persons such as Jonathon, a man anxious for change, and committed to the democratic process of elections, has had many a sleepless night since realizing his vote may not count.

Jonathon, his wife, children, parents, friends, and neighbors may need to be contacted, to vote again if we are to establish how they voted.  Even then, others would wonder; will the truth be told?

Jonathon understands as do many concerned citizens, the Diebold trail, regardless of how secure the equipment is advertised to be, can be diverted.  Diebold itself has done much to redirect the flow of information.

On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.

In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

In spite of attempts to alter any information available on Diebold, the company continues to garner much attention.  Each election cycle generates greater concerns than the one preceding it.  The New Hampshire primaries are no exception.

This method is highly vulnerable to error and manipulation; although many may quibble the authenticity of this claim.  Nonetheless, after much scrutiny and many experiments, the truth was told.  Jonathon recalls the news report.

Election Whistle-Blower Stymied by Vendors

After Official’s Criticism About Security, Three Firms Reject Bid for Voting Machines

By Peter Whoriskey?

Washington Post?

Sunday, March 26, 2006; A07

Miami — Among those who worry that hackers might sabotage election tallies, Ion Sancho is something of a hero.

The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable, according to experts, and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection.

Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs.

“I’ve essentially embarrassed the current companies for the way they do business, and now I believe I’m being singled out for punishment by the vendors,” he said.

There are three vendors approved to sell voting equipment in Florida, and each has indicated it cannot or will not fill Sancho’s order for 160 voting machines for the disabled. Already, he has had to return a $564,000 federal grant to buy the machines because he has been unable to acquire the machines yet.

“I’m very troubled by this, to be honest — I can’t believe the way he’s being treated,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley who sits on a California board that reviews voting machine security. “What kind of message is this sending to elections supervisors?”

The trouble began last year when Sancho allowed a Finnish computer scientist to test Leon County’s Diebold voting machines, a common type that uses an optical scanner to count votes from ballots that voters have marked. Diebold Election Systems is one of the largest voting machine companies in the United States.

While some tests showed that the system is resistant to outside attack, others showed that elections workers could alter the vote tallies by manipulating the removable memory cards in the voting machines, and do so without detection.

A Diebold spokesman scoffed at the results, and compared them to “leaving your car unlocked, with the windows down and keys left in the ignition and then acting surprised when your car is stolen.”

State officials similarly played down the results.

But last month, California elections officials arranged for experts to perform a similar analysis of the Diebold machines and also found them vulnerable — noting a wider variety of flaws than Sancho’s experts had. They characterized the vulnerabilities as “serious” but “fixable.”

“What he [Sancho] discovered was — oops — that the conventional wisdom was all wrong,” said Wagner, a member of the panel that reviewed the Diebold machines. “It was possible to subvert the memory card without detection.”

Rather than take responsibility for a system gone bad, voting machine manufacturers would rather not sell to any Supervisor that might question the quality of the hardware or software.  It seems obvious to all, regardless of the excuses, or rationalizations, no matter the method or the map, vote counts are always prone to error.  

Thus, Jonathon wonders is his will stronger than the way of these machines and the persons who program them.  The villainous touch-screen voting machines, were thought too problematic for New Hampshire voters.  Jon, his friends Julie, Helene, and Amy were among the vocal residents who expressed a need for caution.  However, these activists did not have the influence they hoped to have on official decisions.

In New Hampshire, as in much of the nation, technology was considered manifest destiny.  Throughout the country, the use of electronics to tally ballots was employed at great expense.  The cost in dollars can be overshadowed only by the lose of liberty.  Countrywide, Americans ask . . .

Can You Count on Voting Machines?  For Jane Platten, Head of  Poll Worker Training and Voter Education Programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio says, “No!”

In the lobby of Jane Plattten’s office in Cleveland sits an AccuVote-TSX, made by Diebold. It is the machine that Cuyahoga County votes on, and it works like this: Inside each machine, there is a computer roughly as powerful and flexible as a modern hand-held organizer. It runs Windows CE as its operating system, and Diebold has installed its own specialized voting software to run on top of Windows. When the voters tap the screen to indicate their choices, the computer records each choice on a flash-memory card that fits in a slot on the machine, much as a flash card stores pictures on your digital camera.

At the end of the election night, these cards are taken to the county’s election headquarters and tallied by the GEMS server. In case a memory card is accidentally lost or destroyed, the computer also stores each vote on a different chip inside the machine; election officials can open the voting machine and remove the chip in an emergency.

But there is also a third place the vote is recorded. Next to each machine’s LCD screen, there is a printer much like one on a cash register. Each time a voter picks a candidate on screen, the printer types up the selections, in small, eight-point letters. Before the voter pushes “vote,” she’s supposed to peer down at the ribbon of paper – which sits beneath a layer of see-through plastic, to prevent tampering – and verify that the machine has, in fact, correctly recorded her choices. (She can’t take the paper vote with her as proof; the spool of paper remains locked inside the machine until the end of the day.)

Under Ohio law, the paper copy is the voter’s vote. The digital version is not. That’s because the voter can see the paper vote and verify that it’s correct, which she cannot do with the digital one. The digital records are, in essence, merely handy additional copies that allow the county to rapidly tally potentially a million votes in a single evening, whereas counting the paper ballots would take weeks. Theoretically speaking, the machine offers the best of all possible worlds. By using both paper and digital copies, the AccuVote promised Cuyahoga an election that would be speedy, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.

Little of this held true. When the machines were first used in Cuyahoga Country during the May 2006 primaries, costs ballooned – and chaos reigned. The poll workers, many senior citizens who had spent decades setting up low-tech punch-card systems, were baffled by the new computerized system and the rather poorly written manuals from Diebold and the county. “It was insane,” one former poll worker told me. “A lot of people over the age of 60, trying to figure out these machines.” Since the votes were ferried to the head office on small, pocketsize memory cards, it was easy for them to be misplaced, and dozens went missing.

On Election Day, poll workers complained that 143 machines were broken; dozens of other machines had printer jams or mysteriously powered down. More than 200 voter-card encoders – which create the cards that let voters vote – went missing. When the machines weren’t malfunctioning, they produced errors at a stunning rate: one audit of the election discovered that in 72.5 percent of the audited machines, the paper trail did not match the digital tally on the memory cards.

This was hardly the first such incident involving touch-screen machines. So it came as little surprise that Diebold, a company once known primarily for making safes and A.T.M.’s, subsequently tried to sell off its voting-machine business and, failing to find a buyer, last August changed the name of the division to Premier Election Solutions (an analyst told American Banker that the voting machines were responsible for “5 percent of revenue and 100 percent of bad public relations”).

Researchers at Princeton University are not surprised.  A comprehensive study, Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine, released in September 2006 revealed the hardware and software in question are not dependable.

Ed Felten [among the  authors of the report] is a computer scientist at Princeton University, and he has become famous for analyzing – and criticizing – touch-screen machines. In fact, the first serious critics of the machines – beginning 10 years ago – were computer scientists. One might expect computer scientists to be fans of computer-based vote-counting devices, but it turns out that the more you know about computers, the more likely you are to be terrified that they’re running elections.

This is because computer scientists understand, from hard experience, that complex software can’t function perfectly all the time. It’s the nature of the beast. Myriad things can go wrong. The software might have bugs – errors in the code made by tired or overworked programmers. Or voters could do something the machines don’t expect, like touching the screen in two places at once. “Computers crash and we don’t know why,” Felten told me. “That’s just a routine part of computers.”

It is true. Each day, many compatriots swear at electronic gadgetry.  Yet, as a nation, we spend millions in hopes that electronic equipment will work on Election Day.  Americans rely on these erratic electronic marvels to calculate our votes.  Citizens of this country count on defective Diebold voting machines to accurately compute what might be considered the most important decision, we, the people make.  Faulty software and hardware determine who will represent our country, and us.  

More than Jonathon has experienced a moment of frustration with a computer.  Election Boards are familiar with the scenario.

One famous example is the “sliding finger bug” on the Diebold AccuVote-TSX, the machine used in Cuyahoga. In 2005, the state of California complained that the machines were crashing. In tests, Diebold determined that when voters tapped the final “cast vote” button, the machine would crash every few hundred ballots. They finally intuited the problem: their voting software runs on top of Windows CE, and if a voter accidentally dragged his finger downward while touching “cast vote” on the screen, Windows CE interpreted this as a “drag and drop” command. The programmers hadn’t anticipated that Windows CE would do this, so they hadn’t programmed a way for the machine to cope with it. The machine just crashed.

Even extremely careful programmers can accidentally create bugs like this. But critics also worry that touch-screen voting machines aren’t designed very carefully at all. In the infrequent situations where computer scientists have gained access to the guts of a voting machine, they’ve found alarming design flaws.

In 2003, Diebold employees accidentally posted the AccuVote’s source code on the Internet; scientists who analyzed it found that, among other things, a hacker could program a voter card to let him cast as many votes as he liked. Ed Felten’s lab, while analyzing an anonymously donated AccuVote-TS (a different model from the one used in Cuyahoga County) in 2006, discovered that the machine did not “authenticate” software: it will run any code a hacker might surreptitiously install on an easily insertable flash-memory card.

After California’s secretary of state hired computer scientists to review the state’s machines last spring, they found that on one vote-tallying server, the default password was set to the name of the vendor – something laughably easy for a hacker to guess.

But the truth is that it’s hard for computer scientists to figure out just how well or poorly the machines are made, because the vendors who make them keep the details of their manufacture tightly held. Like most software firms, they regard their “source code” – the computer programs that run on their machines – as a trade secret. The public is not allowed to see the code, so computer experts who wish to assess it for flaws and reliability can’t get access to it. Felten and voter rights groups argue that this “black box” culture of secrecy is the biggest single problem with voting machines. Because the machines are not transparent, their reliability cannot be trusted.

For years, there has been much concern and more delay.  In 2007, the Senate decided to hold hearings on the security of voting machine.  Citizens who have long yearned for a viable paper trail inquire, why the wait.  For too long, Americans have known when electronic voting machines record the votes, counts are frequently flawed.  Nevertheless, we continue as we have.  

Currently, in the United States, approximately eighty-seven [87] percent of the votes are frozen in computer chips.  Elections remain entrusted to miniature wires, soldered into plastic boards, and so too is America’s future. Adults in the United States are told to vote; our participation makes a difference.  So, cast your ballot with confidence, and know that even if your vote is counted, it may not count.

Sources, Secret Codes, Software, and Scanners . . .

Kucinich Excluded From ABC Debate. Free Speech Expelled From Elections



Constructing Public Opinion

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

America is faced with an interesting dilemma; whom might the citizens place in the Oval Office.  November 2008 will arrive quickly.  January 2009 cannot come soon enough.  Many qualified candidates vie for the attention of the people.  Among the Democrats, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, and Barack Obama cross the nation each day.  All wish to meet expectant constituents.  The aspirants ask for only one favor.  “Please give me an equal opportunity.” Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich might make this request with more fervor and with reason.  Kucinich excluded from ABC debate.

Sadly, few in the States will have a chance to see the hopefuls up close and personal.  Three-hundred and one million Americans live in this nation.  Each has a concern.  All are affected by the decisions a President makes, no matter their age, class, race, color, creed, sex, gender preference, or religion.  Four years ago, 221,256,931 were of age and could vote.  More persons, eighteen or older call this country home now.

Of these adults, some see themselves as Democrats, others Republican.  In recent years, most Americans declared they have and are Moving On.  Numerous feel no need to be part of the two Party system.  They are Independent and proud of it.

Moving On

More Voters Are Steering Away From Party Labels

By Rhodes Cook?

Washington Post

Sunday, June 27, 2004; Page B01

Meet a friend of mine.  He is a successful lawyer who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, has two grown children, and has been a registered Republican for almost his entire adult life.

That is, until now.  Increasingly disenchanted with the GOP, but no fan of the Democrats, he is thinking about re-registering as an independent when he completes a move to a new suburban home and has to change his place of voting.

My friend has plenty of company.  In this starkly partisan era of Red and Blue America, we may need a third color to describe those who formally call themselves neither Republican nor Democrat.  When it comes to registering voters, the two major parties can only look in envy — and dismay — at the swelling ranks of unaffiliated voters.

Since the waning years of the Reagan administration, or basically since the last periodical cicada mating cycle, the number of “other” voters has proliferated.  In the 27 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have been registering voters by party since 1987, the Democratic share has plummeted 8 percentage points, declining from an aggregate total of 51 percent to 43 percent.  The Republican share has stayed steady at 33 percent.  But the proportion of voters who have not identified themselves with either of the major parties has jumped 8 percentage points, from 16 to 24 percent.

What’s impressive about these numbers (at least in the view of political analysts such as me) isn’t the phenomenon itself, but its staying power.  Myriad polls over the past two decades have shown that voters, when asked to identify themselves politically, divide about one-third Democratic, one-third Republican and one-third independent.  But in terms of registration, most have opted for one major party or the other — perhaps because, in some states, that was the only way they could vote in a party primary.  Only recently, have registration figures begun to reflect the poll numbers.

What’s so significant about the rise of the unaffiliated?  Well, it’s one thing to tell a pollster that you consider yourself “independent.”  No particular consequence arises from that self-identification.  But to register as unaffiliated is a stronger statement of preference (or lack of one).  Political parties talk about the “base,” and how to energize it.  These numbers suggest that the base is eroding, or at least is harder to identify and rely on.

Regardless of this reality, in the twenty-seven states that require a Party affiliation, eight [8] percent] of those once registered as Democrats now think themselves ruggedly Independent, researchers and the “objective” news media conclude, if they ask Democrats to discuss only Democrats then they have conducted a comprehensive survey.  Researchers believe a rational judgment is made when Republicans reply to an inquiry such as, what do you think of the candidates in your Party.  It seems only Independents and those outside the mainstream take the actual pulse of the public.  When they do, the results are startling, and quite different from conventional “norms.”

‘Long Shot’ Kucinich Buries Democratic Rivals in Nationwide Poll Among Independent Voters

December 21, 2007

Washington, — Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich, who has been the runaway winner in polls of the Party’s progressive, grassroots base in recent weeks, scored another huge win yesterday by capturing almost 77% of the vote in a nationwide poll sponsored by a coalition of Independent voting groups across the country.

Of the more than 80,000 votes cast for Democratic candidates at http://www.independentprimary.com by self-described independent voters, the Ohio Congressman received 61,477, burying second place finisher, former Senator John Edwards, who received only 7,614 votes, or 9.5 percent. . . .

This is the latest in a string of exceptionally strong finishes by Kucinich in national on-line polls.  Last month, he topped all other candidates in 47 of 50 states in a poll sponsored by Democracy for America (DFA), in which he received almost 32% of the 150,000-plus votes cast — more than Edwards and Senator Barack Obama combined.  In that poll, Kucinich won both Iowa and New Hampshire.

In a survey by the 90,000-member Progressive Democrats of America, Kucinich took 41% of the vote nationwide.  And, in a poll conducted by the progressive The Nation magazine, he won with 35% of the vote.  Obama came in second with 24%, and Edwards was third with 13%.

The creators of IndependentPrimary.com said their poll was designed to measure the impact of independent-minded voters on the Presidential election and was “part of a movement bringing together ordinary Americans who think that the good of the country is more important than the good of the political parties.”

Nonetheless, Party politics continues to thrive in the television arena.  After the Iowa caucus, the first election year “contest” in the United States, and before the first vote was cast in New Hampshire, ABC News hosted another debate.  The premise was people would have a chance to hear the candidates, in each Party prior to an actual primary election.  

Rather than present all the Presidential hopefuls to an eager public audience, the network decided to restrict the forum.  Regardless of the fact that secret ballots nation wide were not yet submitted, ABC declared, it was time to set standards.  Certainly, only the supposed “electables” could appear on stage.  Thus, the gauntlet was thrown down.

Candidates hoping to be included will need to accomplish any one of three tasks: (a) place in the top four positions in the Iowa caucuses, (b) obtain 5 percent or higher in recent national polls, or (c) obtain 5 percent or higher in recent state polls.

If, as the rules state, a Presidential hopeful must achieve one of these criterion, based on the Progressive polls, it seemed Dennis Kucinich would easily qualify to appear.  Yet, he did not.  Apparently, ABC News prefers to honor only specific surveys, those not fully representative of the nation as a whole.  In an era, when the populace craves change, conventional wisdom rules.

Many muse and malign Iowa as not reflective of the nation, which may or may not be true; yet, they are happy to embrace the polls that offer a far less accurate snapshot of what American voters think.  The results in Iowa call the researchers and the media into question.  Democrats did not come out in mass for Clinton.  The race was not as close as predicted.  Nor did Obama come in second.  Independents made all the difference in Iowa.  Perchance, these unaffiliated voters have loud voices.

Astute analysis reveals what most say is true, the elite, the acceptable thought police control the masses nationwide. People with little opportunity to meet and greet a candidate in person peruse the polls, see numerous advertisements, and possibly read what a few hundred canvassed persons say, and then decide what they will do.

White House 2008: Democratic Nomination

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Dec. 19-30, 2007. N=556 registered voters nationwide who are Democrats or lean Democratic. MoE ± 5

“I’m going to read you the names of some Democratic presidential candidates. Which one of the following Democratic candidates would be your first choice for president: [see below]?” If unsure: “Just as of today, would you say you lean toward [see below]?” Names rotated

Hillary Clinton  46 percent

Barack Obama  26 percent

John Edwards 14 percent

Dennis Kucinich  3 percent

Bill Richardson  3 percent

Joe Biden  2 percent

Chris Dodd  [The name appears with no percentage listed]

Mike Gravel  0 percent

None (vol.)  2 percent

Unsure  4 percent

Days before the main event, the Iowa Caucuses, according to this reputable Pew survey, the Clinton coronation was certain to occur. With Bill by her side, the public expected to hear an acceptance speech from Hillary Clinton on January 3, 2008.  ABC News certainly understood this momentum.  Before they decided who would appear on their stage they also polled the public.  Registered Democrats and those that lean Left, were interviewed, or at least a full thousand plus were asked of their possible vote.

ABC News/Facebook poll. Dec. 16-19, 2007. N=1,142 adults nationwide. Fieldwork by TNS. Results below are among leaned Democrats.

“If the 2008 Democratic presidential primary or caucus in your state were being held today, and the candidates were [see below], for whom would you vote?”

Hillary Clinton  44 percent

Barack Obama  27 percent

John Edwards  11 percent

Dennis Kucinich  3 percent

Joe Biden  2 percent

Bill Richardson  2 percent

Other/None (vol.) 4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

Again, only weeks before the Iowa caucuses, a study states Clinton is the candidate of choice. Yet, clearly she was not.  A third place showing is not the ceremonial introduction to her inauguration.  Perchance there is much to learn from the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa ‘Entrance Poll’ Offers N.H. Clues

By Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen?

Washington Post

?Saturday, January 5, 2008; A08

Do the outcomes of the Iowa caucuses offer clues to what will happen in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary? A look at the “entrance poll” taken Thursday night in the Hawkeye State offered five things to watch for next week:

1.  Independents matter.

Independents were a small but powerful force in the caucuses of both parties, and an even higher percentage will vote in New Hampshire.

On the Democratic side, independents made up 20 percent of caucusgoers and contributed heavily to Sen. Barack Obama’s victory margin.  . . .

In 2000, the last time both parties held contested primaries in New Hampshire, about four in 10 voters called themselves independents. McCain won the GOP primary that year by prevailing among independents, while Republicans went for George W. Bush.

Unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire can choose to participate in either party’s primary, and the fortunes of Obama and McCain may hinge on which way independents break.  Washington Post-ABC News polling last month found that more than six in 10 of the state’s independents planned to vote in the Democratic primary.

America is in ruin.  The sub-prime disaster is daunting.  Once solid citizens seek relief; homes are in foreclosure. Credit crunches cause banks to bleed; they fear the red fluid may flow.  Soldiers die daily abroad.  More hemorrhaging.  Very few industrial jobs exist in the United States.  The dollar is devalued. American children are less well educated.  Forty-seven million plus are uninsured. Citizens grasp for straws, even for straw polls.  The State of the Union is fragile.

People are in a panic.  When we contemplate the future, according to a Harvard Report, the National Leadership Index, more than three quarters of Americans think we are in a leadership crisis.  Yet, often, our fellow citizens turn to corporate accounts for accurate information.  This may be most true among the Independents.

34% of Independents believe that the press is not politically biased.

Perhaps, that is part of the problem; people have faith in polls.  Millions trust flawed data.  Fallacies flaunted by the elites that favor the status quo have much influence.  We might ask own owns the media?  The answer is, it is not the average American.  Nevertheless, most Americans rely on the press for fair and accurate reporting.  Even those aware of what is, often forget.

In 2004, Bagdikian’s revised and expanded book,  The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations — Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) — now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric’s NBC is a close sixth.

Still, millions presume opinion polls are the perfect gauge, or at least as good as it gets.  However, ultimately, people are unpredictable.  Yet, every news organization declares they know what will be come election day.  The press maintains the people tell them what they think.  Might we ask, do the media, and the profiteers who own these broadcast organizations tell the people what to believe?

Prominent among the pollsters is the esteemed Wall Street Journal [now owned by billionaire Hillary Clinton backer Rupert Murdoch] and NBC News, a division of General Electric, and a network that energizes the people.  Noteworthy, and also a General Electric company, Newsweek Magazine coupled with prestigious Princeton researchers cannot be discounted.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Dec. 14-17, 2007. Asked of Democrats, and non-Democrats who said they would vote in a Democratic presidential primary (from a total sample of 1,008 adults nationwide).

“Let me mention some people who might seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. If the next Democratic primary for president were being held today, for which one of the following candidates would you vote . . . ?” If unsure: “Well, which way do you lean?”

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2007. N=433 registered Democrats and leaners nationwide. MoE ± 6.

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

If the margin of error pendulum travels in either direction, we must ask, how many more Democrats might vote for Dennis Kucinich.  Granted there are those who wish to identify this Presidential hopeful as too extreme or not electable.  However, if we assess the assumption of those that claim to speak for the majority we understand the rationale is flawed.

Dennis Kucinich is not viewed favorably by likely voters — 24 percent have a favorable opinion of him, 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him, 12 percent are neutral, and 33 percent don’t know enough about him to say. Kucinich’s net favorability rating is -7 percent.

With much help from the media and the moguls who own these resources, many Americans have no idea who Dennis Kucinich is!  However, they are intimately familiar with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even John Edwards.  

Edwards’ supporters say this is not so.  “John is being ignored by the media.”  Wife Elizabeth spoke of this on Hardball with Chris Matthews. The supportive spouse contends; although John placed second in the race, the focus was on Hillary and Barack.  Others picked up on the campaign cry.

Just after the Iowa caucuses, the periodicals were flooded with the premise, Edwards: ‘The People’s Candidate,’ does not receive the attention the other front-runners do. The theory now espoused is, former Senators Edwards’ proposals threaten the corporate tycoons who own the press.  If Edwards is elected, there will be true change.  Profits will dwindle.  Thus, to ensure that the people do not hear Edwards message the media does not cover the candidate.  

While the supposition seems apt, the fact is John Edwards appears prominently in ever poll.  He stands solidly on center stage during each debate.  Edwards receives equal time and is essentially invested in the status quo.  John Edwards does not challenge the conglomerates as Dennis Kucinich does.

John Edwards does not fully separate himself from those who support the standards of today. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup Incorporated, legal firms galore, and Fortress Investment Group all contribute bundles to his campaign.

Hedge-Fund Ties Help Edwards Campaign

Firms Increase Political Gifts

By John Solomon and Alec MacGillis?

Washington Post

Monday, April 23, 2007; A01

Two years ago, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, gearing up for his second run at the Democratic presidential nomination, gave a speech decrying the “two different economies in this country: one for wealthy insiders and then one for everybody else.”

Four months later, he began working for the kind of firm that to many Wall Street critics embodies the economy of wealthy insiders — a hedge fund.

Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds, just as the funds were gaining prominence in the financial world — and in the public consciousness, where awe over their outsize returns has mixed with misgivings about a rarefied industry that is, on the whole, run by and for extremely wealthy people and operates largely in secrecy.

Transparency, truthfulness, all the public clamors for is indeed hidden from view.  While John Edwards may wish to posture as the people’s candidate and a menace to mainstream media, he is not much of a danger to the elites.  Indeed, each poll includes his name.  Not all the surveys mention Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich.  

Former Senator and Vice Presidential aspirant John Edwards was invited to every public debate.  An organization never thought to question Edwards’ viability.  Edwards has forever been deemed electable.  He has more than equal access to the people.  Dennis Kucinich, the true candidate of the people does not.

While the Federal Communication Commission [FCC] rules, which govern radio and television licenses, states stations must operate in the public’s interest, we can see they do not.  ABC News is our most recent example.  This network limits our option to see and hear each of the Presidential hopefuls, even before the first secret ballot is cast.  Denying access to all the aspirants, to disallow a participant in a debate seems antithetical to the intent of the FCC regulations.  To produce polls to validate and justify obstruction is  not to inform the people.  Yet, here we are.  Inaccurate as these seem to be, the surveys solidify the message the media and magnates wish to express.

American Research Group poll. Dec. 9-12, 2007. N=600 likely Democratic primary and caucus voters nationwide. MoE ± 4.

“If the 2008 Democratic presidential preference primary/caucus were being held today between [see below], for whom would you vote?”

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  10 percent

Gallup Poll. Nov. 11-14, 2007. N=485 Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide. MoE ± 5.

“Next, I’m going to read a list of people who may be running in the Democratic primary for president in the next election. After I read all the names, please tell me which of those candidates you would be most likely to support for the Democratic nomination for president in the year 2008, or if you would support someone else. . . .” Names rotated.

Dennis Kucinich   4 percent

None (vol.)/Unsure  8 percent

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Oct. 17-23, 2007. N=837 registered voters nationwide who are Democrats or lean Democratic. MoE ± 4.

“I’m going to read you the names of some Democratic presidential candidates. Who would you most like to see nominated as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in 2008: [see below]?” If unsure: “Is there anyone you are leaning toward as of today?” Names rotated

Dennis Kucinich  4 percent

Unsure  7 percent

We can see again and again, among the Democrats, routinely Dennis Kucinich often ranks one percentage point below the arbitrary requirement.  The number of undecided voters is high.  Perchance these individuals seek further information.  However, with thanks to the restrictions imposed by ABC News, [and other organizations] a discussion panel meant to enlighten the electorate restricts  their exposure to a meaningful alternative.  

Some of the studies do not even mention the possible President, Dennis Kucinich.  Hence, when the results are released they are invalid; yet, offered as truth.  The American people are lead to believe as the media decides. The press makes the final pronouncement.  They will tell us who delivers the message, when, where, why, and how.  

CBS News Poll. Oct. 12-16, 2007. N=456 Democratic primary voters nationwide. MoE ± 5.

“Suppose the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008 comes down to a choice among Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. Who would you most like to see nominated: Clinton, Obama, Edwards — or would you rather see someone else nominated?” Names rotated

Clinton  51 percent

Obama  23 percent

Edwards  13 percent

Other/None  7 percent

Unsure  6 percent

Hillary Clinton is the clear winner . .  .or was, until the people of Iowa decided otherwise.  Since the caucus, all we thought we knew is topsy-turvy, turned on its head, and twisted in the wind, except for the fact that Independents decide.  In This Race, Independents Are the Prize.  If the Independent voter, which might be any of us, has little or no ability to hear from a candidate, we must ask ourselves, is this America, the land of the free.  

If  First Amendment rights are not granted to a celebrated Congressman, a Presidential candidate, can we, the people authentically choose who will represent us.  In a nation where the news is dictated, manufactured, and manipulated, do the citizens actually know who is or would have been electable?  Probably not.  None of us has yet had an opportunity to read the polls that address this issue.

Nevertheless, another canvass did appear, although it was well hidden from view.  This tally was not prominently presented as the other surveys were.  Although, ABC News and Facebook hosted the recent debate jointly, access to this account was concealed.  Yet, here it is.

Barack Obama  60.65 percent

Hillary Clinton  18.21 percent

John Edwards  9.74 percent

Dennis Kucinich  6.51 percent

Bill Richardson  2.61 percent

Mike Gravel  2.29 percent

The definitive Facebook figures show that the future President, Dennis Kucinich placed fourth in the tally used to determine what the voters think of the candidates.  The virtually invisible Presidential hopeful, Congressman Kucinich received a greater number of votes than Bill Richardson, a  contender deemed acceptable by those who supposedly educate the masses.  While Richardson did not receive the required 5 percent in this analysis, he did appear on stage.  John Edwards total was not much higher than Kucinich’s. Had this slate appeared, Americans might have known what we are supposed to. forget  Dennis Kucinich is viable, electable, and purposely excluded from many a national forum.

America, will we  continue to let conglomerates control the message and us, or will we finally decide to take our country back?

Sources, Surveys, and Secrets . . .

The Yellow Brick Road, The Campaign Trail, And Us

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Americans, mired in debt, desperate for adequate Health Care, fearful of foreclosures, and worried about a protracted war, cry out for change.  Compatriots wish for a wizard, one who will work for the common folk, and not solely for self, a Commander-In-Chief who will acknowledge the current crises, and lead us into a Land like Oz.  We want America to be the perfect country.  We wish to be known as benevolent, caring, compassionate super power.  We yearn to say aloud with conviction, “There is no place like home!”  

Throughout the nation, citizens are thankful we have an opportunity to transform this country.  Americans have the right to vote their conscience.  In the land of the free and home of the brave, we can and will advocate for the values that made this country great. Citizens will walk through snow, sleet, ice, and rain to cast a ballot for the man or woman we think right for the homeland.

Democrats and Republicans alike hope to improve this nation and their station.  The difference may be in degrees.  For now, those most desirous of a Progressive revolution are the downtrodden.  Democrats yearn for an event that will take away from the daily grind.  Those on the Left hope for a gust of wind that will place them in the Emerald City where life is Green and clean, and where average people are the priority.  Thus, Democrats participate in the process; they are intimately informed.

Iowa Caucuses, New Hampshire primaries, and the polls.  Do we have a consensus?  Is there a crisis on the campaign front? Might the race be too close to call, or is it all merely a manufactured media myth.  We are told Hillary is ahead, or she was.  Perhaps Edwards has the lead.  Barack Obama is closing in, or was with the help of Oprah, maybe.  Some skeptics say the throngs of fans want to touch a celebrity.  The Obama/Oprah ogling will not necessarily equate to votes.  Bill Clinton can do what no other has.  Certainly, he will boost the New York Senator’s numbers.  However, the charismatic Clinton may not be enough; or perchance he is or has too much, too much power, influence, and baggage.  No one is ever certain what the other Clinton will say or do when he publicly steps onto the stage.  John Edwards might be the come from behind kid.  This man and his family have seen and experienced hardships.  After the pain of his son’s death he, and wife Elizabeth have been on a shared mission.

This synopsis is Democratic politics in America, or is it?  There are whispers of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson in the halls of Iowa and New Hampshire hotels.  The media mentions these notables may wish to accept another position.   On the hill, the same is said.  Each is considered experienced.  Any of the three would be an ideal Vice President or Secretary of State, or so we are told.  What we do not hear is what Americans would think if they were not told what to believe.

We read the research.  A survey can be slanted to produce the desired results.  Apparently, the polls are designed to deliver the information that the candidates, the campaigns, the columnist think our countrymen must know.  Americans have head the rumors, the rhetoric, and the railed against such surveys.  Intellectually, we understand that studies are skewed.  Yet, we, the people repeat what we are told.  He cannot win; he is too short.  She will polarize the electorate. He is too Black, or is not enough of an Afro-American.  He understands how divided the country is, and he will work to change the system.  He has his place; it is just not in the White House.  He would make an excellent Secretary of State, an Ambassador, or perhaps he serves us best in Congress.

Even the most articulate and educated cannot resist reiterations.  Knowledgeable learned scholars, just as everyday students of the issues succumb to the standards.  Perhaps, since few of us have the opportunity to validate what we trust is likely true, we surrender to the situation as it is reported.  Thankfully, there are moments that allow us perspective.

On the eve of the New Year word spread far and wide.  In electronic communiqués, reality and reason were evident.  New Hampshire voters shared their experience, their distress, and disgust.  Citizens in the land of the free, and home of the brave, are afforded only select choices.  One candidate is dismissed before the electorate can cast a ballot.  Yet, a few spoke out in dissent.  

New Hampshire resident, Helen distressed and distraught wrote to her friends after she received a telephone call.

I just received a political phone call asking if I was going to vote in the primary.  Then she asked if I was voting for a Democrat would it be Hillary, Biden, Obama, Edwards and a couple of others, and I told her she left the best one out – Dennis Kucinich. And she asked, “Is he a Democrat?”  It turned out that she is working for the Clinton campaign.  If she’s representing the Clinton campaign, that’s another reason not to vote for Hillary. The young lady did thank me for the information!

Imagine, within the Clinton Camp an campaigner, a spokesperson for the presumed future President knows nothing of another Presidential hopeful.  A vibrant voice of the people is muffled so succinctly.  The sounds Dennis Kucinich makes are silenced before those that live in the cloudy skies of politics-as-is can hear them.  Fortunately, among the electorate and the friends of Helen there are those who like to label themselves ‘”enlightened” and proud of it.’

A few more-than-typically-well-informed voters care enough to look behind the golden curtain.  Some in Iowa and New Hampshire understand they do not live in the Land of Oz. These compatriots comprehend, even if they themselves are prosperous, others are not.  As good citizens these individual believe to their core they must act in accordance with the Constitution and consider all people are created equal.  Helen cares for the common folk.  See recognizes that Dennis Kucinich lived in dreadful poverty.  He will do more than express false or fragile piety; Kucinich will relate and react to a circumstance that is real for him.  This voter longs for a President who does more than posture and profess.  For this compassionate soul, it is time for true change.  

Like Helen, other people in New Hampshire [and Iowa] do not wish to follow the yellow brick road just because they are told that is the way to the Emerald City.  A few know to trust that promises of fortune, or a solid foundation do not come when, for the most part, the status quo is sustained.  Universal Health Care with Insurers in charge will not cover those who cannot afford the cost at any price.  War will not end if one soldier remains in Iraq to “secure the peace” within a sovereign nation.  

In the Granite State, the constituency can be hard to sway.  A body of voters can challenge the conventions, and they do.  When Aprille received two similar survey calls, she responded with glee, then revulsion.

I have had 2 phone calls just like that one and I did the same thing. The most recent one asked if I was voting for Clinton, Obama, or Edwards. I said….”There are a heck of a lot more candidates running, why aren’t you mentioning them?” She said, “Who are you voting for?” I said…”I’m planning on voting for Kucinich.” She said, “Kucinich?” I said…..”Yes, Kucinich. And if you refuse to include the other candidates, then this is a bogus survey!” As I was hanging up, I heard her say that this survey was paid for by the Hillary campaign! What the bleep!?

Indeed. Might Americans consider what is true.  Contrived, campaign rhetoric, and more importantly push polls [political telemarketing masquerading as a poll], do not give the constituency a choice.  It is all good and well that the people are promised they can take their country back.  However, in truth, as long as the public is told who will win, who is electable, and who is not worth a mere mention, then this election will be just as those we witnessed in 2000 and 2004.  Cast your ballot.  Then, let the courts decide.

America, as long as you vote as the wizards of Wall Street tell you to, if you cast your ballot for the person you believe will win, because that is what the broadcaster say is “spot on,” then this country will not belong to the people on Main Street.  Each time we choose the person defined as a victor, we give up our freedom.  We are but munchkins, ruled by the glorified little man who stands behind the curtain and  pulls the switch.

In fantasylands, citizens may never suffer.  It seems people do not need to settle.  Wizards work wonders.  The people only follow their lead.  In America, if we are all to prosper, life must be  different.  People in pursuit of happiness cannot take jobs just to survive, as they do now.  They must not marry solely for money, food, or shelter.  We can no longer vote for the candidate of “hope and change” while aware of the fact that this person is solidly part of the system that ensures our life is miserable.

In truth, in America, there are no glittery gold pavements, or yellow brick roads, that lead to Emerald Cities.  We, together, the common man, woman, and child, with a leader who fully relates to our plight, must build these communities.  Wizards who can offer us a heart, a brain, or courage do not dwell in the White House or on the campaign trail.  We the people can make magic if we choose to think and act for ourselves.

If life is to be grand, we need to  accept that Presidential hopefuls are humans.  If a leader is to lead well, he or she must be able to relate to what we go through, for they have lived, and continue to live among us.  If a candidate speaks of our carbon footprint, we might ask, what is yours.  When asked of trade agreements, might we muse, Mister or Madame Presidential hopeful, how has such a pact transformed your life.  Talk of deep pockets could prompt a look into the purse that strings an aspirant along.

Americans must be more realistic and less enamored with emeralds that they do not own, if they are to chose someone who will truly represent them.  Just as a small paycheck alone will not secure our future, a political aspirant who speaks for the elite will not help bring us to the bargaining table.  The cash of a spouse who lost his or her job will not bring endless smiles. Nor will our contributions to a campaign that is beholding to corporate influences help cure our ills.

If we wish to live in the Land of Oz, Americans must create it.  We, the people, and a President, who is, as we are, must take our country back.

In our everyday existence, we accept that good looks and charm will not keep us warm at night.  Nor, will the pretty one provide adequate Health Care.  When on the streets, in the office, or at home we acknowledge that a sweet-talker does not have our best interests at heart.  We recognize a colleague who wants only to climb.  A snake-oil salesman smells of no good.  A song and dance does deliver more than a tune.

Common folks flee when they encounter scams during their daily deeds.  Yet, come election season, when Presidential candidates whisper words of all-I-want-to-hear . . . unless we are Helen, Aprille, or perhaps you, and I, citizens will follow the yellow brick road and forget who paints that pavement.

In 2008, and in all the years hence, let us remember that unless and until we recognize the wizard is in each of us, and in a nation united for a just cause, there will be no change.

Words for Wizards, and We, the People . . .