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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Interview With Congressman Ron Paul

by William Rivers Pitt

May 29, 2008
t r u t h o u t | Interview

Despite what the mainstream news media choose to report, Senator John McCain of Arizona is not the last remaining Republican candidate for president today. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas never abandoned his run for the GOP nomination, and he fully intends to present himself before the Republican National Convention in September as a true conservative alternative to McCain's status-quo candidacy. In fact, according to a recent blog report published by The Los Angeles Times, Paul looks to do more than merely show up at the door.

"Largely under the radar of most people," reported the Times, "the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September. They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot. Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party."

Representative Paul has been an iconoclastic presence within the Republican Party for nearly thirty years, beginning his political career in opposition to President Nixon's decision to take America off the gold standard. He secured the Libertarian Party nomination for president in 1988, running against Vice President George H.W. Bush and Governor Michael Dukakis.

Primarily motivated by economic issues and a strongly held interpretation of the Constitution, Paul has become more of a political maverick within his party than John McCain could ever hope to be.

In the time he has spent in the House of Representatives, Paul has authored and sponsored bills to repeal the War Powers Act, impose term limits on elected officials, and abolish income taxes. He submitted legislation banning abortion, not at the behest of the Religious Right; his years of work as an obstetrician were the foundation of his views on life and conception.

Ron Paul even attempted to pass legislation requiring members of Congress to read each bill entirely before voting on it. This was inspired by Congress passing the massive and intrusive Patriot Act in 24 hours, before anyone reviewed its text. He has been a staunch opponent of the Iraq occupation from the beginning, and sponsored legislation in 2003 seeking to repeal the war authorization he had opposed months before.

In sum and substance, Representative Paul is a breed apart within the confines of the Republican Party. One may disagree with some of the positions he takes or some of the votes he has cast, but he is far removed from the calcified evangelical hypocrisy that has come to define the modern GOP. His is a mind at work, and those who follow him may yet prevail in rescuing the Republican Party from the stagnated failures of the last three decades. September's GOP convention could very well mark the beginning of some interesting times for what once was the party of Lincoln and TR. Events in the north country come Fall will warrant close scrutiny if Paul has a say in the matter.



Saturday, May 24, 2008

What makes up the price of a gallon of gas?

May 23, 2008

Consider the game of chicken that plays out every day across Pennsylvania State Highway 441. In Marietta, where the road hugs the Susquehanna River, a Rutter's Farm Store gas station stands on one side, a Sheetz gas station on the other.

Kelly Bosley, who manages Rutter's, doesn't even have to look across the highway to know when Sheetz changes its price for a gallon of gas. When Sheetz raises prices, her own pumps are busy.

When Sheetz lowers prices, she has not a car in sight.

She calls Rutter's headquarters to report the competition's new price and wait for instructions.
"I call a lot of times and say, 'They went down, hurry up! Hurry up! Call me! Call me!' Or it could be where theirs goes up, and I'll say, 'Take your time! You know, I like being busy.' But I have no control over that."

You think you feel helpless at the pump?

Bosley makes a living selling gas — and even she has little control over what it costs.

So how exactly are gas prices set? What determines the hair-pulling figure you see displayed in large electronic or plastic numbers? Why is a gallon of gas, say, $4.11 — not $4.10 or $4.12? Why is the price different across the street?

It all starts with oil.

The biggest factor in the skyrocketing price of gasoline is the historic ascent of crude oil, which has surged from $45 per barrel in 2004 to more than $135 this past week, setting new record highs all the while.

In the first quarter of this year, based on a retail price of gas that now seems like a steal — $3.11 a gallon — crude oil accounted for all but about a dollar, or 70%, of the cost, according to the federal government.

The rest is a complex mix of factors, from the cost of turning oil into gas to taxes to marketing costs to, sometimes, nothing more than the competitive whims of your local gas station owner.

Not that understanding the breakdown makes it any less cringe-inducing to fill 'er up.

How it all works

First a primer on how gas gets to your tank:

Once oil is pumped from the ground, it can be sold on the spot market, a last-minute trading arena where oil companies and distributors buy and sell to each other, or straight to refiners.

After it's brewed into gasoline, the product can again be sold on the spot market, or directly to wholesalers, who in turn can supply their own stations or sell it to other retailers.

Each step of the way, buyers and sellers negotiate a price until, finally, drivers pay the ultimate tab at the pump.

At the starting point of all this is the price of oil — which, like the oil itself, is nothing if not crude.
The knee-jerk villains are the oil companies, fat with multibillion-dollar profits, frequent targets of populist anger. But wait: The oil companies don't set the price of oil or the cost of a gallon of gas.

Prices are a function of the open market, the result of futures contracts being traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, or Nymex, and other exchanges around the world.

Buying the current July crude oil futures contract means you're buying oil that will be delivered by the end of July. But most investors who trade futures have no intention of ever accepting the underlying oil: Like stock investors who frequently buy and sell their holdings, they're simply betting that prices will rise or fall.

Of late, on the Nymex, oil futures have been rising.

Why? Blame the falling dollar. Oil is priced in U.S. dollars, and the weaker the dollar gets, the more attractive dollar-denominated oil contracts are to foreign investors — or any investor looking for a safe haven in the turbulent stock market.

The rush of buyers keeps pushing oil futures to a series of new records, and the rest of the energy complex, including gasoline futures, has followed. That pushes up the price of gas that goes into your tank.

"Crude is the driver," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill. "As long as it stays up there, gasoline's not going to be able to decline much at all, even if demand slips. That's just the way it is."

There is some evidence Americans are buying less gas as the price marches higher, and common sense suggests they would cut back even more if gas rose to $4.50 or $5 a gallon.

Lower demand should mean lower prices — but it takes time for that to happen, given the enormous scale of refining operations that produce gasoline.

"Once demand begins to slow, that needs to translate into inventories, then you get some price weakening," Ritterbusch said. "But it takes a while."

Oil and gasoline prices often move in the same direction, but they aren't linked directly. In fact, while oil prices have more than doubled in the past year, gasoline is only up about 19% during the same time.

Oil prices often fluctuate with production decisions from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies about 40% of the world's crude, or when conflict in the Middle East or Nigeria threatens supplies.

For example, oil prices rose $2.46 in one day last month amid reports a ship under contract to the Defense Department fired warning shots at two boats in the Persian Gulf that may have been Iranian.

A Navy spokesman later said the origin of the boats was unclear, but the news raised concerns that a conflict between U.S. and Iranian forces could cut oil supplies from the region. That same day, gas prices rose another 2.1 cents to a then-record national average of $3.577 a gallon on other supply concerns.

And the rise has only grown more dramatic. Oil sprinted higher this past week, rising more than $4 a barrel on Wednesday alone and past $135 on Thursday.

As for gasoline prices: They're closely tied to demand from U.S. drivers and how efficiently refineries are operating. Falling production or inventories often send prices skyrocketing.

Those prices can vary greatly depending on the region.

The Gulf Coast is the source of about half the gasoline produced in the United States, and areas farthest from there tend to have higher prices because of the cost of shipping gas via pipeline and tanker truck all over the country.

Some of those places, like California and New York, also have higher local taxes that push the price higher.

Oil companies may not set the price of oil and gasoline, but not everyone is willing to sit back and let them claim to be innocent bystanders.

In particular, for the second time this year, Big Oil's biggest executives were on Capitol Hill in recent days getting pummeled by many in Congress for their record profits while Americans struggle with record fuel prices.

"Where is the corporate conscience?" Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked the top executives of the five largest U.S. oil companies.

Answers sought

Soaring gas prices have led to cries for a variety of answers, from Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain's suggestion to suspend the federal gas tax this summer to President Bush's call to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and some offshore waters that are now off limits to oil development.

Others have suggested a windfall profits tax on oil companies, although some economists say that might actually hurt supply. Oil companies say they're not to blame for spiking fuel prices, and their earnings, measured against revenue, are in line with other industries.

On top of that, rising oil prices have sharply cut profit margins for refining, and that hits the major oil companies — which both pump oil and refine it for use as gasoline.

A giant like ExxonMobil can handle the blow. Its refining and marketing profits for the first quarter were down 39% from a year ago, but Exxon still banked a nearly $11 billion profit because of the hefty prices earned on crude it pumped out of the ground.

Smaller refiners aren't so fortunate. Sunoco Inc.'s refining and supply business lost $123 million in the first quarter, hurt by lower margins. Tesoro Corp. lost $82 million for the same period.
In any case, huge profits at big oil companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron aren't because of high prices at the pump. Their massive profits are tied to their exploration and production arms, which are benefiting from record crude prices.

Higher crude costs also have squeezed profits at the refining arms of companies like ConocoPhillips, which don't produce enough crude themselves to refine at full capacity without buying more oil from other producers.

CEO Jim Mulva said ConocoPhillips, the second-largest U.S. refiner behind Valero Energy Corp., buys about 2 million barrels of crude a day at market prices to refine into gasoline and other products.

"If oil costs us $30 a barrel or $40 a barrel or $120 a barrel, that's why the cost of gasoline is what it is," he said. "It's not because of taxes. It's not because of ... refining and distribution. It's because of the cost of oil."

Other factors

But it's not only about the price of oil. Other costs are a factor — though they've remained relatively stable.

For example, federal and state taxes added 40 cents to a gallon of gas in the first three months of this year, roughly the same amount as they added four years ago.

California's 63.9 cents of tax is the nation's highest, Alaska's 26.4 cents the lowest. How the money is used varies from state to state, though the federal take helps to build and maintain highways and bridges.

Marketing and distribution costs — the tab for delivering gasoline from refiner to retailer — were 27 cents to start the year, only 6 cents above the cost four years ago.

The cost of refining added 27 cents to a gallon in the first quarter of this year, a nickel less than what it added in 2004, according to the Energy Information Administration.

That refining occurs at sprawling industrial complexes across the U.S., with most of the biggest along the Gulf Coast. Barrels of crude arrive each day by pipeline, ship and barge. The refineries, by heating, treating and blending the raw oil, turn out products like diesel and lubricating oil.

And, of course, gasoline.

A 'waiting game'

What happens when that gasoline makes its way to your neighborhood gas station?

Major oil companies own fewer than 5% of gas stations. Most are owned by small retailers — and many of them say they're struggling these days to turn a profit on gas. That's because wholesale gasoline prices have risen sharply in recent months — again, blame it on crude — but station owners have been unable to raise pump prices fast enough to keep pace.

And you can't keep jacking up the price when drivers are buying less.

Gas station owners face a balancing act: They must try to maintain a price that allows them to afford the next shipment of gasoline but not give the competition an edge.

Stations pay tens of thousands of dollars for each gas shipment before they see a cent in the register. Eventually, many make only a few cents on a gallon of gasoline, a margin that can disappear altogether when credit card fees are added in.

Thank goodness for beef jerky and sodas.

Most gasoline retailers long ago got past any illusion they can make money by selling gas. They rely on gas sales to drive traffic to their shops, where they hope auto repairs or food and drink sales will help them turn a profit.

"You're always out there competing with the guy next door — literally with the guy across the street — and worried too about how you're going to pay for your next supply," said Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's trade association.

In the Philadelphia suburb of Havertown, Pa., earlier in the week, Sunoco station operator Steve Kehler received a load of gasoline — 9,000 gallons — which, at a wholesale price of $3.729 a gallon, cost him 4 cents more than the previous load.

That left him in a sticky situation: Should he raise prices right away to recoup some of his higher gasoline expenses, or should he hold off for a couple of days in hopes his competitors will also have to raise their prices?

"I'm surrounded by $3.89's, and I'm already at $3.91," said Kehler, referring to his prices and those of some nearby competitors. "I'm going to play a little waiting game right now."

The $33,600 Kehler must pay for his overnight gasoline delivery won't be debited from his bank account for a few days. That gives him a little breathing room, time to hold prices steady. Hiking prices too quickly will hurt sales.

"I'll probably change it tomorrow night, at closing," Kehler said. "I'll go up 4 cents."

That will put Kehler at a gross margin of about 20 cents a gallon. After paying credit card fees, labor and rent, Kehler will be lucky to break even on his gasoline sales.

But many times, he loses money selling gas. Kehler, like most other service station operators, relies entirely upon his car repair business for income.

Of course, the plight of retailers is little consolation for drivers.

Mayra Perez said she works two fast-food jobs to help support her family, and gasoline is becoming harder to afford. She said perhaps the government should step in to help ease the burden, possibly by placing price limits on gasoline.

She was filling the tank of her compact car in Miami this past week to the tune of $3.89 per gallon for regular gas.

"This is horrible," she said. "On the weekend, my husband and I use only one car to save on gas.

"But then there's the cost of food, milk, eggs, the rent."


Article Comment

[The formula is price-per-barrel/42+$1=price-at-the-pump. Or you can do it backwards, ($1)x42=price.per.barrel ]

If you want to see the formula work you can check out the prices during June 7, 2004 and compare them to September 6, 2004. In June of 2004 you get a pump price of $1.84, so you were being overcharged nearly 20-cents. But, you say, maybe your formula is wrong!

Ok, then in September 2004 the same formula shows a pump-price of $1.88 to be UNDERcharged a mere 3-cents nationally. (Just in time for the election)

You tell me and then look at what you are paying today... remember NYMEX is a goal price in the future, the contract price is what is recorded in these prices below. That is the price actually paid.

History of crude prices:
June Crude=35.29
September Crude=37.05

History of pump prices:
June Pump=203.4
September Pump=185.0

Friday, May 23, 2008

What the F.B.I. Agents Saw

New York Times
May 22, 2008

Does this sound familiar? Muslim men are stripped in front of female guards and sexually humiliated. A prisoner is made to wear a dog’s collar and leash, another is hooded with women’s underwear. Others are shackled in stress positions for hours, held in isolation for months, and threatened with attack dogs.

You might think we are talking about that one cell block in Abu Ghraib, where President Bush wants the world to believe a few rogue soldiers dreamed up a sadistic nightmare. These atrocities were committed in the interrogation centers in American military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And they were not revealed by Red Cross officials, human rights activists, Democrats in Congress or others the administration writes off as soft-on-terror.

They were described in a painful report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, based on the accounts of hundreds of F.B.I. agents who saw American interrogators repeatedly mistreat prisoners in ways that the agents considered violations of American law and the Geneva Conventions. According to the report, some of the agents began keeping a “war crimes file” — until they were ordered to stop.

These were not random acts. It is clear from the inspector general’s report that this was organized behavior by both civilian and military interrogators following the specific orders of top officials. The report shows what happens when an American president, his secretary of defense, his Justice Department and other top officials corrupt American law to rationalize and authorize the abuse, humiliation and torture of prisoners:

— Four F.B.I. agents saw an interrogator cuff two detainees and force water down their throats.

— Prisoners at Guantánamo were shackled hand-to-foot for prolonged periods and subjected to extreme heat and cold.

— At least one detainee at Guantánamo was kept in an isolation cell for at least two months, a practice the military considers to be torture when applied to American soldiers.

The study said F.B.I. agents reported this illegal behavior to Washington. They were told not to take part, but the bureau appears to have done nothing to end the abuse. It certainly never told Congress or the American people. The inspector general said the agents’ concerns were conveyed to the National Security Council, but he found no evidence that it acted on them.

Mr. Bush claims harsh interrogations produced invaluable intelligence, but the F.B.I. agents said the abuse was ineffective. They also predicted, accurately, that it would be impossible to prosecute abused prisoners.

For years, Mr. Bush has refused to tell the truth about his administration’s inhuman policy on prisoners, and the Republican-controlled Congress eagerly acquiesced to his stonewalling. Now, the Democrats in charge of Congress must press for full disclosure.

Representative John Conyers, who leads the House Judiciary Committee, said he would focus on the F.B.I. report at upcoming hearings. Witnesses are to include John C. Yoo, who wrote the infamous torture memos, and the committee has subpoenaed David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Mr. Conyers also wants to question F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Michael Mukasey, both of whom should be subpoenaed if they do not come voluntarily.

That is just the first step toward uncovering the extent of President Bush’s disregard for the law and the Geneva Conventions. It will be a painful process to learn how so many people were abused and how America’s most basic values were betrayed. But it is the only way to get this country back to being a defender, not a violator, of human rights.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


By Bev Harris
May 21, 2008

Kentucky is a big problem, Oregon is just plain strange. I'll start with Oregon's all mail-in voting system before I tell you the news about Kentucky. In Oregon, 100 percent of votes are absentee, or mail-in, although citizens do have the option to take their mailed ballot to an elections office to drop it off.

Here's a little pop quiz: Out of 1.4 million Oregon votes in 2006, and knowing how people's signatures change over the years, how many signatures would you expect to mismatch?

ANSWER: Out of 1.4 million, the state of Oregon claims that 29 counties had ZERO mismatched signatures, and in the 10 remaining counties that reported mismatches, the grand total was (drum roll please)..... 34 ballots.

Yes, out of 1.4 million, just 34 signatures did not match. With those figures, it seems equally plausible that the dog's pawprint that made it through a couple election cycles in Washington State as would have fared just as well in Oregon. Heck, a scribble drawing or a blob of spaghetti might work fine too, we just don't know.

But what we do know is that according to data submitted by the state of Oregon to the EAC, Clackamas County had 146,968 ballots cast and not a single signature was too squiggly, scrawly or tilted to mismatch, and that Oregon has one of the lowest signature mismatch rates in America.

We're not wanting to disenfranchise people, but accepting every signature that floats in the door may not be a good thing. It puts extra pressure on the validity of the voter registration database and the postal delivery system, that's for sure.

2. FALSE: Oregon's claim that forced mail-in voting gives them higher turnout figures is simply not true. Oregon is squarely in the middle of the pack when it comes to voter turnout, when compared to the other 50 states in the same election.

3. MIRACLE POST OFFICE: Oregon also has a remarkably, some would say impossibly effective postal service. Here's what I know: Black Box Voting does periodic mailings, and we consider a mailing of 8,000 pieces to be spectacularly large, for us. Thirty-one of Oregon's counties mail more ballots in every election than we ever do, yet they never seem to have ballots arrive late or flop around battered and bruised, to be returned months later.

That's not our experience. Some of our mailers arrive late, some probably not at all, and a few look like they've taken a bruising trip to Mongolia before they belatedly return to us.

Yet out of 2.5 million ballots mailed out in the 2006 general election, Oregon reports ZERO ballots returned undeliverable, and only 54 reportedly came in after the deadline. Oddly, 44 of those were in one county. (Not Mulnomah, the biggest county, where Portland sits. It was Washington County).

4. VOTING MACHINES: Contrary to many citizens' beliefs, Oregon uses computerized voting machines statewide, almost all ES&S scanners, and if you'd like more information on the hackability of those, check out the EVEREST Report, choose the 334-page Academic Report and look up Election Systems & Software. Every component of the ES&S machines were found to be tamperable.


Kentucky never has accounted for its 2006 election math, as can be seen by examining the data reports published by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the above link.*

(*See end of this article for hints on how to use the two EAC Inspector Gadget obstructo-matic secret decoder rings needed to make sense of this file)

That file contains the raw data submitted by each secretary of state, with details right down to the number of absentee ballots in the wrong envelope and the reasons voters were taken off lists. What it DOESN'T contain, however, is the number of votes counted in Kentucky in the 2006 General Election. When you search the minimal information presented in news reports back then, you see a glimmer of a hint that Kentucky had a statewide voting computer meltdown in 2006.

Kentucky submitted thousands of data points for the EAC 2006 survey for every one of its 120 counties but omitted -- you guessed it -- the votes. Results have been posted on Web sites, but I find myself wondering, given the all-too-real 2006 meltdown of the voting tally system in 96 counties, whether people in the Kentucky Secretary of State's office may have been reluctant to sign a federally required report committing to those very problematic results.


Bullitt County, Kentucky citizen Kathy Greenwell could have told you that was going to happen. Her husband ran for sheriff in November 2006, and while she obtained copies to match up the voting machine results tapes with the announced results she discovered they didn't match. None of them.

Here's the article by Black Box Voting on that situation: - "Elections give you: The Judge, the Prosecutor & the Sheriff"


Voters cast their votes into paperless touchscreens at the polling place. At the end of Election Day, each voting machine spits out a results tape. Then, the cartridges from each voting machine are fed into a cartridge reader. It reads all the cartridges and transfers the data into a tallying program that adds them all up. And that's when Kathy Greenwell got her dander up in 2006, because the information coming out of the tally system didn't match the results on the poll tapes for any race.

As the evening progressed, the mismatches began to hop around like frogs on electronic lily pads. In addition to wildly fluctuating results, a bunch of questionable individuals started wandering in and out of the back room, many of whom were related to the Tinnell family, which had three members of the family on the ballot (Donnie Tinnell: Sheriff; Sherman Tinnell: Mayor; Melanie Roberts: Judge Executive). All the Tinnell people won, but none of the results ever did match up.

Kathy Greenwell keeps demanding answers, but never has gotten any. At one point Bullitt County Clerk Kevin Mooney gave her a new results tape which, he claimed, made things match up. Unfortunately, this new tape only balanced the mismatch out for Kathy's husband Dave Greenwell's sheriff's race. All the other races are still out of whack.

Bullitt County -- and the other 96 counties in Kentucky serviced by a voting machine services firm called HARP ENTERPRISES -- claimed that the incorrect vote totals were due to a "fusion problem" when the computer tried to add up the totals from the old Shoup/Danaher 1242 voting machines combined with the new Hart eSlate machines.


1. Pennsylvania also has locations that use both these machines, and their fusion program works. Or at least so we are told -- Philadelphia County got the bright idea to charge the public to look at results there, restricting viewing to those who purchase a password, and we don't know if anyone did the same thing Kathy Greenwell did, matching up each tape to the published results you have to purchase.

Nevertheless, we have no evidence that Pennsylvania's system, same machines as Kentucky, is unable to match its own results up.

2. Kentucky then "solved" the problem by deciding to stop printing the reports so no one can check to see if they match.

Yes, that's what I said. Kentucky decided to use ONLY the poll tape results, hand entering them into a computer in the back room, and never put the cartridges into the reader, never generate that second report. With only one-half of the check and balance, you can neither check nor balance the poll tapes against the cartridge reader.

For "transparency", at least in Bullitt County, observers wait in a lobby with a small video picture of people sitting in a different room typing "you-can't-see-what" onto "screens-you-can't-see", with people occasionally wandering in and out of the videotaped area into completely unviewable areas, carrying items that look like poll tapes. On at least one occasion when Black Box Voting was there, they turned off the camera for a bit while they did "we-don't-know-what."


They also had the Wrangler active that night. For those of you newbies to the activity known as "election monitoring" (also accurately termed "smacking into a brick wall") -- well, here's what a "Wrangler" is in Election lingo:

Government insiders, who are in there counting votes in secret on the computers they control, have a designated wrangler, or in trouble spots a couple of them. Their job is to distract observers if something interesting is going on. Blip-lights flicker -- out comes the lady with the candy tray. I once watched the "blue screen of death" appear on a crashing King County, Washington vote tabulator and while trying to write down the time and particulars, was accosted by the Republican Party observer who out of the blue left the computer room to engage me in a stubbornly aggressive conversation about nothing. In Bullitt County, Kentucky it was the candy tray lady, a trick reported by activists in other states as well.

3. And now we get to the best part. Scratch that. The worst part. The machines used in 96 of Kentucky's 120 counties, the Shoup/Danaher 1242s, can be tampered with rather easily by anyone with access during or shortly after the testing phase, but this could be caught -- unless you skip the step of loading in the cartridges to produce the tally report.

And that's just what Kentucky decided to do. In Kentucky, it was decided to stop reading the cartridges and use only the poll tape results. And this is precisely the check and balance cited to show that these old 1242 machines are "safe."


1) Wear a helmet. You'll be running into the brick wall.

2) Ask the officials to read the cartridges into the cartridge reader and print out a report to prove to you that the cartridge results match the voting machine results. The cartridges contain what is supposed to be the actual vote data.

3) Ask to inspect or get copies of the "poll tape" results. Ask for copies of the cartridge reader results.

4) Record the order in which Kentucky counties deliver their results tonight. Late results -- especially when accompanied by a trend reversal -- are associated with fraud.

5) Get screen shots of any tallies that go DOWN as results are coming in.

6) Hunt for "impossible numbers." Here are examples of impossible numbers found by Black Box Voting, the media, and citizen observers:

a) Barnstead, New Hampshire, 2008 primary. Fifty percent more votes than voters in the Democratic Party presidential race.

b) Election location in Harlem, New York: Obama got zero votes. Greenville, New Hampshire: Ron Paul got zero votes, and when citizens came forward swearing they'd voted for him, the Town Clerk found the missing votes. Sutton, New Hampshire: Ron Paul got zero votes. When citizens came forward swearing they'd voted for him, the Town Clerk found the missing votes.

Note the pattern, hunt out the zeroes, onesies and twosies because they happen in every election.


You can get lost inside that EAC data set for weeks, but in moments when you come up for air you'll be able to raise red flags that may help prevent problems this fall.

Black Box Voting is not a fan of the EAC, but the data surveys are actually quite terrific. They show that some locations are refusing to comply (like the entire state of New Hampshire, which refuses to provide even basic numbers like voter registration or number of votes). They provide at least the skeletal framework that has potential for quality control and fraud research.
And the data can be used, in conjunction with other data you find, to identify potential hotspots for trouble this fall.

Remember sixth grade math and story problems? The EAC data tables are a like a set of Lego's for constructing all kinds of interesting story problems. Which counties are most likely to binge and purge voter registration lists? You can get a good idea of that using these data tables. Which counties appear to have been stuffing the ballot box in the past? Yep, that can be divined as well. Hint: Lake County, the Indiana location that couldn't seem to find its votes for so many hours in this year's primary, is one.


And you'll need them, because they for some reason did not bother to put the labels on the columns to define what data each column contains. For that, you need to download this file: (Excel file)
Then you get to do the fun and tedious activity of looking up the secret code in the decoder table to insert it on the top of each column.

But that's just the first decoder ring. Secret Agent Natalie, from Black Box Voting, wondered why none of the data could be summed up or divided for percentage analysis, and found that the EAC, in its infinite wisdom, converted the numeric data to text. What that means is that instead of reading the number "5" your computer reads it as text, like "f-i-v-e" and since it doesn't know how to perform math functions on alphabet letters, you can't perform simple tasks like ranking smallest to biggest, or dividing one number into another to get a percentage.

Black Box Voting has applied both decoder rings to all the data, and is providing the complete decoded, correctly labeled, numerically converted EAC data table as part of our 2008 Tool Kit

* * * * *

More information:

For more on Kentucky:

Print story: The Hunt for Joe Bolton

Black Box Voting YouTube video - Kentucky, The Hunt for Joe Bolton:

Moonshine Elections: Family-run Government

Moonshine America: Collapse of the "Trust Me" Model

Black Box Voting YouTube video - Kentucky's Kathy Greenwell confronts New Hampshire Sec. State Bill Gardner, face to face

Black Box Voting 2008 Tool Kit:

Oregon tools, thanks to John Howard:

Bev Harris
Founder - Black Box Voting

Please help us protect 2008, muster up the "Dream Teams" for field work, print the Tool Kits...
We are supported ENTIRELY through small citizen donations.


to mail:
Black Box Voting
330 SW 43rd St Suite K
PMB 547
Renton WA 98057

*Source: (Excel spreadsheet, huge mamajama, allow time to download. And see end of this article for tips on how to use.)

In this article you will find tools to help you analyze the numbers as they come in from Kentucky and Oregon's May 20 primary elections. New info: 2008 Tool Kit: You can find more Oregon & Kentucky tools, and discuss here:


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How a GOP conspiracy continues to cheat Ron Paul

By Doug Wead
May 19, 2008

(Here is a note in a bottle, thrown out onto the ocean, from someone inside the conspiracy. I hope it is found.)

So, if the Ron Paul Movement has struck a chord, then why did he not do better in the race for the GOP nomination?

1.) Well, because it is a movement that has just started and it takes some a little bit longer to catch on than others.

2.) Because some already had a favorite going into the debates and were not listening to any of the others anyway.

3.) Because most didn’t watch the debates at all.

4.) And finally, ah hem, because there is an establishment conspiracy to keep Ron Paul’s campaign from embarrassing the Republican Party.

Oh yeah, I know, conspiracy theories are not allowed and conspiracies do not actually exist.

Although, if that were true the word itself would not exist and you would not know what I am talking about. In fact we all conspire and have conspired since the first grade and some of the conspiracies become known, like the tobacco industry fudging its figures on cancer or the recent expose of the KGB planting false scientific information in the west about a so called “nuclear winter.”

No, I am not suggesting that a bunch of 80 year old Knights of Malta met at a secret location in Manhattan and voted to bring down Ron Paul to fulfill some 1500 year old promise to a French King. Or even that the Masons did it. Or even that the GOP drafted a secret memo. What I am saying is that he has been the subject of numerous meetings of GOP establishment figures and they have exchanged ideas and techniques for keeping him and his minions at bay. I know because I was accidentally and spontaneously in the middle of just such a conversation.

Last week I appeared on a number of television programs and ended up in “the green room” with a couple of GOP luminaries. One of the party’s most famous and powerful Senators and a former governor who came within a hair of becoming the vice president. You can guess which television network it was. We each had a book to promote.

Anyway, somehow they got into a discussion of Ron Paul and how his supporters had the nerve, the gall, the cheek to show up at “their” respective Republican State Conventions and practically take over. Each man described to the other how through parliamentary maneuver and outright theft they had recently blocked the Paulistas from embarrassing the GOP by winning “their” delegates to the national convention. They passed these stories back and forth with great gusto and laughter and genuine appreciation for the political skill of the other.

Well,” I interrupted, “Why was all that necessary in the first place? Who are these people? Why are their ideas so popular? And why block them? Shouldn’t the party welcome such activists into the process? Is the party so insecure that it has to cheat to protect itself? And what will the people who got cheated think about the GOP? Is this a lost opportunity? Maybe the GOP got cheated?”

You would have thought I was questioning the Virgin Birth. They turned on “the green room idiot” and patronizingly explained to me how the nomination belonged to McCain now and good soldiers had to rally around the standard bearer.

“Yes, yes,” I said, “But anyone active enough to show up at a State Convention knows that too. So what is driving their activism? If they can’t win, why are they still fighting? Could they be true believers?”

There was an embarrassing silence in the green room.

Well,” cough, cough, the Senator ventured kindly, “They have tapped into a strain of libertarianism that has been underrepresented in recent years.”

And then the two giants, men I both admire, ignored me, “ the green room idiot,” and turned to each other to exchange hilarious Ron Paul stories about how he had wandered off the range voting his own way time and again, seemingly oblivious to the inherent needs of the Party. It’s called voting your conscience or even voting on principle instead of “Party.” It is a quaint constitutional notion, quite old fashioned.

There is no question that Ron Paul is seen by the GOP as “the crazy uncle in the attic.” But now that he has escaped and is out and about and is talking publicly almost anyone who hears him thinks that he is right and the rest of the GOP are the crazy ones, or at least the wrong ones.

I had one more question for my distinguished friends. “If Ron Paul is such a fringe figure and we are the mainstream of Republican political thought, then why is his book on the New York Times bestseller list, and ours not?”

Hmmm, now that was a thought for the conspirators to take home. Can’t the GOP get into those bookstores and stop the sales? Or maybe rewrite the rules about who gets on the list and who doesn’t? Or is this bestseller business only a Liberal Democrat-New York Times conspiracy devised to embarrass the Republican Party? Or maybe Victor Hugo is right about the force of an “idea whose time is come.”

See: The Mouse That Roared: Why Ron Paul Won the Election.

And: Ron Paul: The Little Engine That Could

Postscript on why I did not name the two GOP leaders.

Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Ron Paul: The Little Engine That Could
The Real Reasons Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee Stayed in the Race?
Giuliani v Ron Paul: Rudy and the media still clueless on 9/11
Did the GOP stop the Washington vote count because Ron Paul would have won it?


Karl Rove's sly deal with Fox

But he has his fingerprints all over John McCain's White House bid

By Amanda Terkel and Matt Corley
May 20, 2008

May. 20, 2008 It has now been more than three months since Karl Rove first appeared on television as a Fox News political analyst on Feb 5. In no fewer than 57 appearances, he has increasingly been welcomed into the Fox News fraternity, even joking that the "Hannity & Colmes" show should be renamed the "Colmes & Rove" show. After departing from a Bush administration in political tatters last August, he has reemerged to hold forth at length on the 2008 presidential race. And he may have plenty of seasoned political wisdom to offer Fox's audience. Rove, however, is playing a strategic role that he and the network refuse to reveal to viewers.

Fox News hosts routinely introduce Rove as a "former senior advisor to President Bush," "the architect," a "political wizard" and a "famed political consultant." But never has he been introduced as he should be -- as an informal advisor and maxed-out donor to John McCain's presidential campaign.

To political news junkies, a disclosure of Rove's relationship to the McCain campaign may seem unnecessary. But whether the public simply assumes that Rove supports McCain isn't the point.

The "most influential pundit" in America, as Fox likes to trumpet, should have to play by the same rules as other high-profile political analysts. For example, Paul Begala and James Carville are regularly identified as supporters of Hillary Clinton when they appear on CNN. But Rove has been able to act as an independent observer while criticizing Clinton and Barack Obama, McCain's likely general election opponent.

There is nothing shocking about Rove's attacking Democrats, of course. And his operating with a duplicitous air of independence probably isn't going to make or break Fox's claim to "fair and balanced" coverage. But will the greater public catch on?

In a May 7 Washington Post online chat with Karl Rove, the news organization correctly introduced the pundit as an "informal advisor to the McCain campaign." The Post's media reporter, Howard Kurtz, has also endorsed disclosing that Rove is a "maxed-out donor" to McCain.

And with good reason. On Feb. 7, two days after Rove first appeared on Fox News as a contributor, he donated $2,300, the maximum legal amount, to McCain's campaign. According to the New York Times, Rove's donation was part of a symbolic effort by Bush's allies "to unify the Republican Party behind its presumptive nominee."

The next day, reporters from Fox News asked McCain if he would accept advice from Rove.

McCain responded enthusiastically: "He has a very good, great political mind and any information or advice and counsel he could give us I would be glad to have."

A month later, after Rove had made 14 appearances on Fox News, Politico reported that soon after donating to McCain's campaign, Rove "had a private conversation with the senator." A top McCain advisor also told the paper that Rove and Bush-Cheney '04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman were "informally advising the campaign."

Rove has denied that he is an informal advisor, telling Kurtz that "he merely has 'chitchat' with friends in the campaign." He offered a similar line during a recent Washington Post online chat, telling a questioner that he is "not certain" that he qualifies as an advisor to McCain but still has "friends at the campaign who occasionally ask [him] for reactions."

"I hardly think Fox News viewers would be surprised to learn that Karl Rove is helping the Republican presidential candidate," Begala told Salon. "Still, I believe full disclosure is best."

There's no evidence that Rove has a formal role with the McCain campaign. However, it is hard to deny that he has an active, if informal relationship.

For example, the consulting firm he currently heads has been disseminating 2008 electoral map projections to influential media outlets and party operatives. In late March, McCain media advisor Mark McKinnon participated in a public conversation about the campaign with former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd. During the talk, McKinnon displayed maps analyzing the states and their electoral votes; the maps bore the header "Karl Rove & Co." At the end of April, the Washington Times reported that such maps were compiled weekly by Karl Rove & Co., based on the latest state polls. In addition to McKinnon and the Washington Times, the maps have made their way into the hands of Fox News' own Chris Wallace. (Just yesterday, Rove's firm put out a new round of maps making a case in Hillary Clinton's favor.)

There are other ways in which Rove appears to have influenced McCain's campaign. At the beginning of April, McCain embarked on a biography tour to introduce himself to the public. According to the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, the tour may have been Rove's idea. In an April 4 blog post, Ambinder noted that Rove had laid out the idea for such a tour during a Feb. 20 appearance at the University of Pennsylvania. Suggesting that McCain "should take a biographical tour to the places in the country that have made him who he is," Rove proceeded to list the very locations that McCain would eventually visit in April. (Although, as Ambinder pointed out, McCain actually spoke in Prescott, Ariz., rather than Rove's suggested Sedona, Ariz.).

Rove has also admitted to meeting with Sen. McCain recently. On April 22, while doing on-air coverage of the Pennsylvania primary for Fox News, Rove let slip that he "saw Senator McCain recently at a private gathering" where the general election campaign was discussed.

Rove's reluctance to directly admit a relationship with the McCain campaign may be out of concern for staying on the right side of election laws. Aside from all informal advising, he may also be coordinating the efforts of independent political groups and former Bush donors in an attempt to rekindle the type of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth strategy that many analysts believe helped sink John Kerry's campaign in 2004.

Rove has one of the most expansive rolodexes in Washington, which he's been putting to use for the 2008 election: According to the National Journal's Peter Stone, Rove has been calling up old friends like Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and convincing them to spend millions of dollars on outside right-wing groups, known as 527 and 501(c)(4) entities. An unnamed GOP consultant who "has met with Rove a few times this year" told Stone that "Karl is up to his eyeballs in this."

The Washington Post has also reported that Rove is working with outside groups who aim "to influence the outcome in November."

According to Federal Election Commission rules, coordination between a 527 group and a presidential campaign -- such as discussing the content or timing of political ads -- is illegal (if difficult to prove).

Fox News is not the only media outlet that has failed to disclose Rove's ties to McCain. Whenever Rove writes for the hardcore conservative Op-Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, the paper identifies him only as "the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush," even though he has usually written about the Democratic presidential candidates.

Similarly, Newsweek, where Rove is a contributor, simply calls him a "former senior adviser for President Bush."

CNN's treatment of Begala and Carville offers a sound model for Fox News. Both Begala and Carville have donated to Clinton's presidential campaign and remain close friends and trusted confidants of the Clintons. Like Rove, neither is formally advising the Clinton campaign, although Carville sent out a fundraising e-mail in 2007.

"I have no role in her campaign, save as a donor and voter," confirmed Begala.

CNN executives initially resisted identifying their commentators' political ties, for which the network drew fire. "Would it kill CNN to disclose that James Carville is a partisan Clinton supporter when talking about the presidential race?" wrote DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas.

Eventually, however, the network did some soul-searching and realized that its critics were right. While Begala and Carville were not on Clinton's payroll, they were "on the Hillary bandwagon, and that should be disclosed as much as we can," CNN president Jonathan Klein said. "I wasn't comfortable with it myself as I watched it." CNN now regularly identifies Begala and Carville as Clinton supporters and typically pairs them with an Obama supporter in conversation.

Fox almost never puts another talking head in with Rove, generally hosting him as a solo guest.

In 2004, it was Republicans who were raising conflict-of-interest complaints. "It seems highly irregular that CNN would tolerate two employees' openly working and advising and appearing on behalf of the John Kerry for President campaign," Steve Schmidt, then a spokesman for President Bush's reelection effort, said of Begala and Carville, according to the New York Times.
(At the time, the two CNN commentators were serving as unpaid advisors to John Kerry's campaign.)

Schmidt is now working for McCain's campaign. Not surprisingly, he has not voiced any complaints about Rove's arrangement with Fox News.

Another conservative indignant over Begala and Carville's dual roles in 2004 was Fox's opinion maker Bill O'Reilly. According to MSNBC's Dan Abrams, O'Reilly complained then that their arrangement was the "collapse of CNN's ethical standards." Furthermore, O'Reilly claimed, if he had "signed on with Bush-Cheney 2004," then "the media mob would have stormed the Fox castle."

Since Super Tuesday, Rove has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" 13 times. Not once has O'Reilly revealed his guest's relationship to the McCain campaign.

Despite Rove's undisclosed dual role, media critics have been quick to praise his performance as a Fox News analyst. Ten days after Rove's first appearance on the network, Slate's Troy Patterson announced that on-air, Rove offers "clarity, concision, humility, good humor, good posture and dispassionate analysis." In March, after Rove had made 15 appearances on Fox, the New York Times' David Carr said the pundit is "one of the best things on television right now."

Carr called him "graceful, careful and generous," adding that he is unlike "the real Karl Rove."

But it may just be the real Karl Rove dressed up for broadcast. Take, for instance, his frequently misleading recitation of Obama's reaction to controversial statements by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

On March 13, ABC News published a 2003 video of Rev. Wright saying "God damn America" during a sermon. The network reported that earlier in the month -- before these comments had been revealed -- Obama had said, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial."

On at least five occasions, however, according to a Lexis-Nexis search, Rove has altered Obama's comment about his church to make it seem as though the senator was commenting specifically in response to Wright's comments as publicized by ABC. For instance, on the April 25 edition of "America's Election HQ" on Fox, Rove claimed that "on the 13th of March, [Obama] came out and said, 'There's nothing particularly controversial in Reverend Wright's statements.'"

Rove's distortion here is subtle, but in making it, he is able to imply that at one point Obama explicitly endorsed Wright's comments. In fact, Obama has said he was not present when the comments were made, and both denounced and rejected them once they became public.

Repeated attempts by Salon to contact a Fox News spokesperson about why the network refuses to identify Rove's ties to the McCain campaign brought no response. Inquiries to Rove directly also went unanswered.

Rove's conflict of interest is problematic now, but will become increasingly so in the general election. He will be commenting on McCain and his Democratic opponent, whom Rove will be working to help defeat. Still, the network has given no indication that it intends to start disclosing Rove's ties to the public at that time.


Monday, May 19, 2008

The News in Brief



In Los Angeles, officials estimate that 80% of red light camera tickets go not to those running through intersections but to drivers making rolling right turns, a Times review has found. . . . One of the most powerful selling points for photo enforcement systems, which now monitor 175 intersections in Los Angeles County and hundreds more across the United States, has been the promise of reducing collisions caused by drivers barreling through red lights. But it is the right-turn infraction -- a frequently misunderstood and less pressing safety concern -- that drives tickets and revenue in the nation's second-biggest city and at least half a dozen others across the county. Some researchers and traffic engineers question the enforcement strategy. "I've never . . . seen any studies that suggest red light cameras would be a good safety intervention to reduce right-turning accidents," said Mark Burkey, a researcher at North Carolina A&T State University who has studied photo enforcement collision patterns. . . Federal Highway Administration research has found that cameras can reduce red light violations and broadside crashes but can also increase less serious rear-end accidents caused by people making sudden stops to avoid tickets. LA Times


The secretive investment fund the Carlyle Group is in the process of buying part of Booz Allen Hamiliton, the major military and intelligence contractor. . . Booz Allen has been a major figure in the privatization of government intelligence. Current National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell was Booz Allen's director of defense programs before his appointment last year. Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the Bush administration's most controversial counterterrorism programs, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme. Democracy Now


One journalist's bid to report mass murder in South Korea in 1950 was blocked by his British publisher. Another correspondent was denounced as a possibly treasonous fabricator when he did report it. In South Korea, down the generations, fear silenced those who knew. Fifty-eight years ago, at the outbreak of the Korean War, South Korean authorities secretively executed, usually without legal process, tens of thousands of southern leftists and others rightly or wrongly identified as sympathizers. Today a government Truth and Reconciliation Commission is working to dig up the facts, and the remains of victims. . . Among the Koreans who witnessed, took part in or lost family members to the mass killings, the events were hardly hidden, but they became a "public secret," barely whispered about through four decades of right-wing dictatorship here.. . . Some U.S. officers - and U.S. diplomats - were among others who reported on the killings. But their classified reports were kept secret for decades. AP


The number of Illinois households receiving food stamps has reached a record level, with almost 1.3 million people relying on the program to pay for daily staples such as milk, bread and eggs. State officials on Thursday said there might be a link between the increase and constantly rising food, gas and energy prices. Aid groups warned there are many more in need.. . . Many people have turned to food pantries across the region, but providers are also struggling to keep the shelves stocked. Donations have dwindled as people try to rein in their spending, said Bob Dolgan with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. . . That problem is compounded by an increased demand for food. Dolgan said the depository's network of pantries saw a 12 percent increase in visits this February compared with last. Some people are lining up two hours before the doors open hoping to get a bag of food, he said. Chicago Tribune


Obama said he would pursue a vigorous antitrust policy and singled out the media industry as one area where government regulators would need to be watchful as consolidation increases. . . "We're going to have an antitrust division in the Justice Department that actually believes in antitrust law. We haven't had that for the last seven, eight years," Obama said. - Reuters
There are two eminent domain issues on the ballot in California one would sweepingly bar "state and local governments from taking or damaging private property for private uses. It prohibits rent control and similar measures, eliminates deference to government in property rights cases, and changes condemnation rules. Fiscal impact includes increased costs to many governments due to the measure's restrictions." It is currently losing by four points in a PPI poll. The desirable alterative "bars the use of eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied residence for conveyance to a private person or business entity. It creates exceptions for public works, public health and safety, and crime prevention." It is ahead by 25 points

Independent candidate for President Ralph Nader described the current government and economic system of the United States as "corporate fascism" at a campaign event held in Berkeley. "We're living in a country whose democracy is beyond the breaking point. The extent of corporate control has developed into corporate fascism," declared Nader. "We don't have a capitalist economic system - it's corporate fascism. Every major tenet of capitalism is violated by corporate power," said Nader. Only small businesses still practice capitalism, according to Nader. Nader explained that major corporations buy politicians and write the laws through their lobbyists, thus owning the Capitol. They receive billions in government subsidies and hand-outs, but 68 percent of corporations pay no federal income tax, according to Nader. - OpEd News


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Moyers: 'Democracy in America Is a Series of Narrow Escapes, and We May Be Running Out of Luck'

By Bill Moyers,
May 17, 2008

The following is an excerpt from Bill Moyers' new book, "Moyers on Democracy" (Doubleday, 2008).

Democracy in America is a series of narrow escapes, and we may be running out of luck. The reigning presumption about the American experience, as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has written, is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is "better" than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, "The system works."

Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political impotence pervades the country -- a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as "believing the dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but not believing it privately."

We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges. Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny.

The earth we share as our common gift, to be passed on in good condition to our children's children, is being despoiled. Private wealth is growing as public needs increase apace. Our Constitution is perilously close to being consigned to the valley of the shadow of death, betrayed by a powerful cabal of secrecy-obsessed authoritarians. Terms like "liberty" and "individual freedom" invoked by generations of Americans who battled to widen the 1787 promise to "promote the general welfare" have been perverted to create a government primarily dedicated to the welfare of the state and the political class that runs it.

Yes, Virginia, there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it. It isn't necessary to be a Jeremiah crying aloud to a sinful Jerusalem that the Lord is about to afflict them for their sins of idolatry, or Cassandra, making a nuisance of herself as she wanders around King Priam's palace grounds wailing "The Greeks are coming." Or Socrates, the gadfly, stinging the rump of power with jabs of truth. Or even Paul Revere, if horses were still in fashion. You need only be a reporter with your eyes open to see what's happening to our democracy. I have been lucky enough to spend my adult life as a journalist, acquiring a priceless education in the ways of the world, actually getting paid to practice one of my craft's essential imperatives: connect the dots.

The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable. I report the assault on nature evidenced in coal mining that tears the tops off mountains and dumps them into rivers, sacrificing the health and lives of those in the river valleys to short-term profit, and I see a link between that process and the stock-market frenzy which scorns long-term investments -- genuine savings -- in favor of quick turnovers and speculative bubbles whose inevitable bursting leaves insiders with stuffed pockets and millions of small stockholders, pensioners, and employees out of work, out of luck, and out of hope.

And then I see a connection between those disasters and the repeal of sixty-year-old banking and securities regulations designed during the Great Depression to prevent exactly that kind of human and economic damage. Who pushed for the removal of that firewall? An administration and Congress who are the political marionettes of the speculators, and who are well rewarded for their efforts with indispensable campaign contributions. Even honorable opponents of the practice get trapped in the web of an electoral system that effectively limits competition to those who can afford to spend millions in their run for office. Like it or not, candidates know that the largesse on which their political futures depend will last only as long as their votes are satisfactory to the sleek "bundlers" who turn the spigots of cash on and off.

The property qualifications for federal office that the framers of the Constitution expressly chose to exclude for demonstrating an unseemly "veneration for wealth" are now de facto in force and higher than the Founding Fathers could have imagined. "Money rules Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us." Those words were spoken by Populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease during the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains slightly more than 120 years after the Constitution was signed. They are true today, and that too, spells trouble.

Then I draw a line to the statistics that show real wages lagging behind prices, the compensation of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere among industrialized democracies, the relentless cheeseparing of federal funds devoted to public schools, to retraining for workers whose jobs have been exported, and to programs of food assistance and health care for poor children, all of which snatch away the ladder by which Americans with scant means but willing hands and hearts could work and save their way upward to middle-class independence.

And I connect those numbers to our triumphant reactionaries' campaigns against labor unions and higher minimum wages, and to their success in reframing the tax codes so as to strip them of their progressive character, laying the burdens of Atlas on a shrinking middle class awash in credit card debt as wage earners struggle to keep up with rising costs for health care, for college tuitions, for affordable housing -- while huge inheritances go untouched, tax shelters abroad are legalized, rates on capital gains are slashed, and the rich get richer and with each increase in their wealth are able to buy themselves more influence over those who make and those who carry out the laws.

Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists: "No one can eliminate prejudices -- just recognize them." Here is my bias: extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution; mocks Lincoln's sacred belief in "government of the people, by the people, and for the people"; mocks the democratic notion of government as "a voluntary union for the common good" embodied in the great wave of reform that produced the Progressive Era and the two Roosevelts.

In contrast, the philosophy popularized in the last quarter century that "freedom" simply means freedom to choose among competing brands of consumer goods, that taxes are an unfair theft from the pockets of the successful to reward the incompetent, and that the market will meet all human needs while government itself becomes the enabler of privilege -- the philosophy of an earlier social Darwinism and laissez-faire capitalism dressed in new togs -- is as subversive as Benedict Arnold's betrayal of the Revolution he had once served. Again, Mary Lease: "The great evils which are cursing American society and undermining the foundations of the republic flow not from the legitimate operation of the great human government which our fathers gave us, but they come from tramping its plain provisions underfoot."

Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that "We the People" -- not just a favored few -- would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely.

Whatever and whoever tries to supplant that with notions of a wholly privatized society of competitive consumers undermines a country that, as Gordon S. Wood puts it in his landmark book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, discovered its greatness "by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday concerns and their pecuniary pursuits of happiness" -- a democracy that changed the lives of "hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people."

I wish I could say that journalists in general are showing the same interest in uncovering the dangerous linkages thwarting this democracy. It is not for lack of honest and courageous individuals who would risk their careers to speak truth to power -- a modest risk compared to those of some journalists in authoritarian countries who have been jailed or murdered for the identical "crime."

But our journalists are not in control of the instruments they play.

As conglomerates swallow up newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and networks, and profit rather than product becomes the focus of corporate effort, news organizations -- particularly in television -- are folded into entertainment divisions. The "news hole" in the print media shrinks to make room for advertisements, and stories needed by informed citizens working together are pulled in favor of the latest celebrity scandals because the media moguls have decided that uncovering the inner workings of public and private power is boring and will drive viewers and readers away to greener pastures of pabulum. Good reporters and editors confront walls of resistance in trying to place serious and informative reports over which they have long labored.

Media owners who should be sounding the trumpets of alarm on the battlements of democracy instead blow popular ditties through tin horns, undercutting the basis for their existence and their First Amendment rights.

Bill Moyers is the author of "Moyers on Democracy" (Doubleday, 2008) and the host of the PBS show, Bill Moyers Journal.

© 2008 Doubleday All rights reserved.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Excerpt: 'The Revolution: A Manifesto'

by Ron Paul

Every election season America is presented with a series of false choices. Should we launch preemptive wars against this country or that one?

Should every American neighborhood live under this social policy or that one?

Should a third of our income be taken away by an income tax or a national sales tax?

The shared assumptions behind these questions, on the other hand, are never cast in doubt, or even raised. And anyone who wants to ask different questions or who suggests that the questions as framed exclude attractive, humane alternatives, is ipso facto excluded from mainstream discussion.

And so every four years we are treated to the same tired, predictable routine: two candidates with few disagreements on fundamentals pretend that they represent dramatically different philosophies of government.

The supposedly conservative candidate tells us about "waste" in government, and ticks off $10 million in frivolous pork-barrel projects that outrage him—the inevitable bridge-to-nowhere project, or a study of the effects of celery consumption on arresting memory loss—in order to elicit laughter and applause from partisan audiences.

All right, so that's 0.00045 percent of the federal budget dealt with; what does he propose to do with the other 99.99955 percent, in order to return our country to living within its means? Not a word. Those same three or four silly programs will be brought up all campaign long, and that's all we'll hear about where the candidate stands on spending. But conservatives are told that they must support these candidates, and so they do, hoping for the best. And nothing changes.

Even war doesn't really distinguish the two parties from each other. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for the Iraq war. With the exceptions of Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, even the Democrats who postured as antiwar candidates for the 2008 primary elections are not especially opposed to needless wars. They typically have a laundry list of other military interventions they would support, none of which make any sense, would make our country any safer, or would do a thing to return our country to fiscal sanity. But liberals are told that they must support these candidates, and so they do, hoping for the best. And nothing changes.

A substantial portion of the conservative movement has become a parody of its former self.

Once home to distinguished intellectuals and men of letters, it now tolerates and even encourages anti-intellectualism and jingoism that would have embarrassed earlier generations of conservative thinkers. There are still some good and decent conservative leaders to be found, and a portion of the grass roots has remained uncorrupted by the transformation of conservatism into just another Big Government movement. But Big Government at home and abroad seems to suit many conservative spokesmen just fine. Once in a while they will latch on to phony but conservative-sounding causes like "tax reform"—almost always a shell game in which taxes are shuffled around rather than actually reduced overall—in order to pacify the conservative base, but that's about it.

When Republicans won a massive off-year election victory in 1994, neoconservative Bill Kristol immediately urged them not to do anything drastic but to wait until the Republicans took the White House in 1996. Well, the Republicans didn't take the White House in 1996, so nothing ever got done. Instead, the Republican leadership urged these freshman congressmen to focus on a toothless, soporific agenda called the Contract with America that was boldly touted as a major overhaul of the federal government. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The Contract with America was typical of what I have just described: no fundamental questions are ever raised, and even supposedly radical and revolutionary measures turn out to be modest and safe. In fact, the Brookings Institution in effect said that if this is what conservatives consider revolutionary, then they have basically conceded defeat.

Needless to say, I am also unimpressed by the liberal Left. Although they posture as critical thinkers, their confidence in government is inexcusably naive, based as it is on civics—textbook platitudes that bear absolutely zero resemblance to reality. Not even their position on unnecessary wars is consistent—Hillary Clinton and John Kerry both supported the Iraq war, for instance, and the major Democratic candidates in 2008 who claim to be antiwar are generally eager to invade some other country apart from Iraq. Even Howard Dean was all in favor of Bill Clinton's intervention in Bosnia, going so far as to urge the president to take unilateral military action beyond the multilateral activity already taking place. Liberals at the grass roots, on the other hand, have been deeply alienated by the various betrayals by which a movement they once supported has made its peace with the establishment.

No wonder frustrated Americans have begun referring to our two parties as the Republicrats. And no wonder the news networks would rather focus on $400 haircuts than matters of substance. There are no matters of substance.

In late 2006, a number of friends and colleagues urged me to consider running for president. I was a reluctant candidate, not at all convinced that a sizable enough national constituency existed for a campaign based on liberty and the Constitution rather than on special-interest pandering and the distribution of loot.

Was I ever wrong.

On November 5, 2007, we set a record when we raised over $4 million online in a single day. That December 16, on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, we broke that record by raising over $6 million. In the fourth quarter of 2007, we raised more money than any other Republican candidate. Not only is the freedom message popular, but if fund-raising ability is any indication, it is more intensely popular than any other political message.

By the end of 2007, more than twice as many Meetup groups had been formed in support of our campaign than for all the rest of the candidates in both major parties combined. I have never seen such a diverse coalition rallying to a single banner. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, constitutionalists, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, antiwar activists, home-schoolers, religious conservatives, freethinkers—all were not only involved, but enthusiastically so. And despite their philosophical differences in some areas, these folks typically found, to their surprise, that they rather liked each other.

The mainstream media had no idea what to make of it, since we were breaking all the rules and yet still attracting such a varied and passionate following. I began making this a central point of my public speeches: the reason all these different groups are rallying to the same banner, I said, is that freedom has a unique power to unite us.

In case that sounds like a cliché, it isn't. It's common sense. When we agree not to treat each other merely as means to our own selfish ends, but to respect one another as individuals with rights and goals of our own, cooperation and goodwill suddenly become possible for the first time.

My message is one of freedom and individual rights. I believe individuals have a right to life and liberty and that physical aggression should be used only defensively. We should respect each other as rational beings by trying to achieve our goals through reason and persuasion rather than threats and coercion. That, and not a desire for "economic efficiency," is the primary moral reason for opposing government intrusions into our lives: government is force, not reason.

People seem to think I am speaking of principles foreign to the Republican tradition. But listen to the words of Robert A. Taft, who in the old days of the Republican Party was once its standard-bearer:

  • When I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as "free enterprise." I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live; the liberty of the family to decide how they wish to live, what they want to eat for breakfast and for dinner, and how they wish to spend their time; liberty of a man to develop his ideas and get other people to teach those ideas, if he can convince them that they have some value to the world; liberty of every local community to decide how its children shall be educated, how its local services shall be run, and who its local leaders shall be; liberty of a man to choose his own occupation; and liberty of a man to run his own business as he thinks it ought to be run, as long as he does not interfere with the right of other people to do the same thing.

As we'll see in a later chapter, Taft was also an opponent of needless wars and of unconstitutional presidential war-making.

This is the Republican tradition to which I belong.

Early on in my presidential campaign, people began describing my message and agenda as a "revolution." In a way, it is, albeit a peaceful one. In a country with a political debate as restricted as ours, it is revolutionary to ask whether we need troops in 130 countries and whether the noninterventionist foreign policy recommended by our Founding Fathers might not be better. It is revolutionary to ask whether the accumulation of more and more power in Washington has been good for us. It is revolutionary to ask fundamental questions about privacy, police-state measures, taxation, social policy, and countless other matters.

This revolution, though, is not altogether new. It is a peaceful continuation of the American Revolution and the principles of our Founding Fathers: liberty, self-government, the Constitution, and a noninterventionist foreign policy. That is what they taught us, and that is what we now defend.

I was never interested in writing a campaign book as they tend to have (deservedly) short shelf lives. But the ideas I have been promoting, and which have struck such a powerful chord with so many Americans, are ideas that are overlooked and neglected because they do not fit into the template of trivial questions with which I opened this chapter. This book is an opportunity to highlight and explain them in the kind of systematic fashion that campaign speeches and presidential debates simply do not allow.

The revolution my supporters refer to will persist long after my retirement from politics. Here is my effort to given them a long-term manifesto based on ideas, and perhaps some short-term marching orders.

At the same time, I am also describing what the agenda of George W. Bush's successor should be if we want to move toward a free society once again. Our country is facing an unprecedented financial crisis precisely because the questions our political and media establishments allow us to ask are so narrow. Whether or not politicians actually want to hear them, it has never been more important for us to begin posing significant and fundamental questions. "In all affairs," Bertrand Russell once said, "it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." I'm not in the habit of quoting Russell, but when in American history has his sentiment been more true?

Excerpted from The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul.
Copyright © 2007 by Ron Paul


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excerpts from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) Feb. 28th Speech on the Floor of the House of Representatives

Republicans for Impeaching Bush and Cheney
May 8th, 2008

On Feb. 28, 2008, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California made a speech on the House Floor condemning a wide range of abuses by the Bush administration, including stonewalling an investigation into links between the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11.

Rohrabacher enjoys the highest of ratings among conservative watch groups, including 92% from FreedomWorks and an “A” from the National Rifle Association.

Following are excerpts from the hour-long speech.

  • The disdain and uncooperative nature that this administration has shown toward Congress, including Republican Members, is so egregious that I can no longer assume that it is simply bureaucratic incompetence or isolated mistakes. Rather, I have come to the sad conclusion that this administration has intentionally obstructed Congress’ rightful and constitutional duties.”

  • Tonight, I will provide examples of how this administration for the past 7 years has undercut congressional investigators, has lied to Members of Congress, and has forged ahead with secret deals in spite of efforts and pleas by Congress to be informed, if not involved.”

  • “The tragic case of wrongly imprisoned Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean exemplifies the worst aspects of this administration’ s attitude problem, and will forever leave a black mark on this administration.”

  • ” I worked for 7 years as a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan, as much as people can disagree or agree with the policies that he espoused, was a person who never acted arrogantly towards others. He never, when he was giving State of the Union messages, never used the word “must,” never made demands.”

  • “There’s a balance of power here set up by our Founding Fathers. And it’s important, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, that we maintain this balance of an authority, the legislative, executive, and judicial in this country, and we should not be setting precedents that the President of the United States has the lion’s share of the power in this great democracy of ours.”

“George Bush was elected President, not king.”

Read Full Text of Speach


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ron Paul's forces quietly plot GOP convention revolt against McCain

Los Angeles Times Blog
May 12, 2008

Virtually all the nation's political attention in recent weeks has focused on the compelling state-by-state presidential nomination struggle between two Democrats and the potential for party-splitting strife over there.

But in the meantime, quietly, largely under the radar of most people, the forces of Rep. Ron Paul have been organizing across the country to stage an embarrassing public revolt against Sen. John McCain when Republicans gather for their national convention in Minnesota at the beginning of September.

Paul's presidential candidacy has been correctly dismissed all along in terms of winning the nomination. He was even excluded as irrelevant by Fox News from a nationally-televised GOP debate in New Hampshire.

But what's been largely overlooked is Paul's candidacy as a reflection of a powerful lingering dissatisfaction with the Arizona senator among the party's most conservative conservatives. As anticipated in late March in The Ticket, that situation could be exacerbated by today's expected announcement from former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia for the Libertarian Party's presidential nod, a slot held by Paul in 1988.

Never mind Ralph Nader, Republican and Democratic parties both face ...
... potentially damaging internal splits that could cripple their chances for victory in a narrow vote on Nov. 4.

Just take a look at recent Republican primary results, largely overlooked because McCain locked up the necessary 1,191 delegates long ago. In Indiana, McCain got 77% of the recent Republican primary vote, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who've each long ago quit and endorsed McCain, still got 10% and 5% respectively, while Paul took 8%.

On the same May 6 in North Carolina, McCain received less than three-quarters of Republican votes (74%), while Huckabee got 12%, Paul 7% and Alan Keyes and No Preference took a total of 7%.

Pennsylvania was even slightly worse for the GOP's presumptive nominee, who got only 73% to a combined 27% for Paul (16%) and Huckabee (11%).

As's Jonathan Martin noted recently, at least some of these results are temporary protest votes in meaningless primaries built on lingering affection for Huckabee and suspicion of McCain.

Given the long-since settled GOP race, thousands of other Republicans in these states, who might have put up with a McCain vote, crossed over to vote in the more exciting Democratic primaries, on their own for Sen. Barack Obama or at the urging of talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who sought to support Hillary Clinton and prolong Democratic bloodletting.

According to a recent Boston Globe tally, Paul has a grand total of 19 Republican delegates to Romney's 260, Huckabee's 286 and McCain's 1,413.

In the last three months, Paul's forces, who donated $34.5 million to his White House effort and upward of a million total votes, have, as The Ticket has noted, been fighting a series of guerrilla battles with party establishment officials at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi. Their goal: to take control of local committees, boost their delegate totals and influence platform debates.

Paul, for instance, favors a drastically reduced federal government, abolishing the Federal Reserve, ending the Iraq war immediately and withdrawing U.S. troops from abroad.

They hope to demonstrate their disagreements with McCain vocally at the convention through platform fights and an attempt to get Paul a prominent speaking slot.

Paul, who's running unopposed in his home Texas district for an 11th House term, still has some $5 million in war funds and has instructed his followers that their struggle is not about a single election, but a long-term revolution for control of the Republican Party.

So eager are they to follow their leader's words, that Paul's supporters have driven his new book, "The Revolution: A Manifesto," to the top of several bestseller lists.

While Paul has consistently refused a third-party bid, he has vowed not to endorse McCain, a refusal mirrored by hundreds of his supporters who have left comments on The Ticket in recent weeks. And, no doubt, they'll flock back here today to spread the gospel below.