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unAmerican

eVote

Just a quick and dirty screed tonight about “evoting.” By that I mean the diebold touchscreen receiptless system.

To get into the technical issues involved would be rather redundant and overall skirts the real issue with the horrendous security of these devices and this voting solution. That issue is the trust of the process, the verifiability of the result, and the freedom from question that it requires.

I’m going to walk out on a limb here and predict that we will see a major post-election crisis as literally hundreds of elections nationwide are brought into deep question and are found to be in an unresolvable state. Why?

Simple: when you can’t verify a vote, and the numbers are so close, you have a huge opportunity for major challenges. The courts get involved, and Tylenol stock goes through the roof. What we saw in 2000 was just a taste of what can happen. It got ugly fast, but luckily there was a built-in release valve. It was one race; yes, one of the most important, but the US Supreme Court was able to step in and for good or ill end the process as it stood.

This year we have a lot of races going on for all sorts of positions across the country. It’s a highly contentious year, with the balance of the US Legistlature in the balance not to mention a number of state and local elections as hotly contested. The turnout may be slightly higher than average, but even if it’s below average you can expect the races to be close all over. A close race means that every vote counts: the ones for A, B, and the ones that get thrown out, all are vital.

Throw into that mix the truth that these new voting machines are inherently insecure and leave no possibilty for verification of the results, and you have a Constitutional crisis that will serve to discredit the election of everything from City Librarian up to Governor and Senator. A big mess, a colossal waste of money, and a lot of people wondering how the hell things got so screwed up.

The bright side is that hopefully a lot of the races will have to be rerun due to irregularities and questionable/unverifiable results, and that the second time around people will think harder about who allowed the broken process to be used, and kick them out. Probably not, but at the least maybe we’ll have real elections.

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unAmerican

South Park Conspiracy

Personally it’s been awhile since I watched SP, but I thought I’d check this episode out. I really expected more. While it’s obvious that the conspiracy theories often go overboard, the bottom line is that the official story does not account for the entirety of the events of September 11th, and that the official story is, by definition, a conspiracy theory.

Due to the mixture of gung-ho nationalist sentiments, the media and political interests, and the all-eggs-in-one-basket alternative conspiracy theories, I doubt we’ll ever know the truth about 9/11. It’s sad and shameful that we are forced into believing either the government was responsible or that the “facts” that we’re told about things like Building 7 make sense. I don’t buy either one, but the third option isn’t for me to offer a new conspiracy, just to remind everyone that we should have had a full investigation (and kept the debris to examine it thoroughly).

We shouldn’t have had 9/11 and yet no one blames Bush for letting it happen. I’m not saying he knew about it; I’m saying whether he knew about it or not they did not respond properly to the attacks. He’s never taken blame for it. He plies his rhetoric about defending the country being his most important job. How he can reconcile that with his failure to do the same is beyond me. Anyone with any integrity in any job would not behave as he has in the face of such an unbelievable failure.

Of course, you don’t see the SP boys using their soapbox to bring these points to bear. Instead they’re lost in their world of a few boner jokes, a few shit in the urinal jokes, and wrap it up in a “conspiracies are retarded” bait and switch. I’ll be the first to admit that conspiracies are, as a rule, way off base; alternatively the general sentiment that drives the theorists to seek answers is usually a mixture of genuine want of truth and a coping mechanism to deal with the cognative dissonance.

Such dissonance is formed by the unending rhetoric of protectionism by the government after 9/11 and the actual realities of 9/11, the anthrax cases, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They see their fellow citizens supporting the president, the wars, the new laws, and the profits of large corporations that clean up (both literally and figuratively) as a result of disasters. So their attempt to reconcile these things is to construct intricate stories (on the scale of at least Biblical/Mythological story telling to explain the unknown). What’s more, their reaction is in many ways fueled by the coping mechanism of a majority who felt the need to quell their dissonance by increasing consonance as patriotism, nationalism, etc.

Yeah, I guess it would be unfair for me to expect South Park to deal with these things. It’d be nice if someone did, though.

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unAmerican

2006 NIE…

“And it’s on the front page of your newspapers. Isn’t that interesting?”

It is interesting. What? The April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate. That we see it at all is damned interesting.

What’s more interesting is that Bush says it’s politically motivated. Of course it’s politically motivated. That’s kind of the point: the people should have every right to properly evaluate their government’s actions, and at no time is that more important than when we are about to vote to change the government.

In ten or twenty years, maybe fifty, maybe two hundred, governments of the world will have requirements such as providing transparency and status reports and updates that allow the evaluation of their practices by their bosses. Until then we take what we can get. If you want to out-politic ’em, George, you’d better confess. It’s the only way you will.

And this is just a ramble. Let me know if you’ve got a Approval-Gas graph link that’s newer than the one I linked (last updated in March).

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unAmerican

unAmerican

Not taking responsibility for one’s actions is unAmerican.

Whether you fail to respond to the biggest attack on the homeland in history or the biggest hurricane to hit the homeland in recent history, it’s unAmerican.

It’s unAmerican to torture or hold men without trial, without any of their god given rights. To keep secret prisons where people are tortured is not American.

To use your religion, your marriage, for political, social, and economic gains is unAmerican.

And to use fear to convince others of the necessity of your actions and policies is completely unAmerican.

It’s unAmerican to choose to ignore science, be it the science of the human body or the science of the global climate.

And not American to ignore intelligence and plead falsehoods as a pretext to war. To remain occupiers, having not given the native people a timetable or promise of evacuation is simply unAmerican.

To abuse the media, to abuse the basic human characteristic of communication is also unAmerican.

To silence peaceful protests with violence or the threat thereof is not American, nor is spying and seizing the voices, culling phone records, tapping the wires, when without court-granted warrant as provided by the Constitution.

But these are the actions of the American President. Of the American government. These are American.

And therefore I can no longer call myself an American for so long as these deeds continue and as long as they are not resolved. They are utterly foreign and contemptible.

So, I am unAmerican; won’t you join me?

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unAmerican

Articles of Impeachment

————

RESOLVED that George Walker Bush, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT EXHIBITED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN THE NAME OF ITSELF AND OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AGAINST GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT OF ITS IMPEACHMENT AGAINST HIM FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.

Article 1: Illegal authorization of espionage by the National Security Agency against citizens of the United States of America.

In his conduct while President of the United States, George Walker Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has willfully corrupted and manipulated the government of the United States, impeding the administration of justice, in that:

On September 30, 2001, George Walker Bush issued an illegal order of authorization to the National Security Agency of the United States. Contrary to the letter of the United States Constitution, George Walker Bush willfully provided the National Security Agency the authority to the following illegal acts:

    (1) intercept electronic mail messages without prior warrants issued;
    (2) tap phone lines and record conversations without prior warrants issued;
    (3) undertake surveillance of properties without prior warrants issued; and
    (4) enter and search properties without prior warrants issued.

In doing this, George Walker Bush has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, George Walker Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.

(Subject to approval by the House Judiciary Committee, hearings scheduled January 17, 2006)
(Subject to vote in the House of Representatives, hearings schedule pending House Judiciary Committee findings)

————

You are hopefully aware of the NYT NSA Spy article published on December 16, 2005 (last Friday). If you’re saying to yourself “Which NSA Spy article from last Friday’s NYT?,” you aren’t.

Well, in response, on Saturday (December 17, 2005), Bush gave it to us in his own words:

As President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life.

[…]

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.

This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.

[…]

I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.

[…]

The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties.

Any high school student who has paid attention in their government class will tell you this is illegal and unconstitutional. It is an impeachable offense, and a violation of the presidential oath to defend the Constitution.

But is it true? Or could it be this is a classic case of disinformation?

Let’s suppose there is some general threat present in the intelligence we have gathered. There is something planned, but we do not know the who, the where, or the how. The chatter grows louder, but no leads develop. All angles fail to yield anything specific. The US intelligence community fears the worst: a successful attack which they could not directly warn of, or prepare for.

A plan is hatched. Leak to the media a juicy story about a secret executive order authorizing domestic spying. Force the terrorists’ hand. They will either step up their operations in hopes of completing their attacks, or will take to hiding; either case guarantees they must quickly change their behaviors, and opens a window of opportunity for the detection and apprehension of these evil doers. Pinpoint and apprehend. Strike their hearts with fear of detection: we’re listening to you, we know where you are and what you‘re planning. They will be deer in the headlights of our H3.

And if it works, of course, there would come forth no denial that the program was ever fake. There will be the evidence that it paid off, even though it never even existed, and the added benefit of actually being able to enact such a illegal program without fear of backlash, as the people will have already swallowed it.

The bottom line is, our Constitution is very important. If more people understood it, we would have a stronger nation and government. The Constitution itself is very specific about the attitude the citizen is meant to take toward the elected government; it is one of skepticism and leeriness. There is a damned good reason we have that document, and why it is the highest law in the land. There is a damned good reason for the fourth amendment, which guarantees against search (including interception of communication) and seizure (including imprisonment) without warrant. For the guarantee of due process, legal counsel, protection against self-incrimination, and the like.

I thought the whole idea of this war on terrorism was that if we knew someone was directly linked to the terrorists, giving aid and comfort to them, they would be apprehended with the proper warrant, and tried in a court of law. It stands to reason that if there are those who seek to do us harm, they must be brought to justice. That does not mean that we assassinate or murder them in dark alleys, or that we ignore the law. If we do these things, we do not deserve our freedom.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.” [Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.] – Anonymous

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” – Richard M. Nixon