Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Saturday, December 31, 2005
from the smirking chimp .com
'A New Years' resolution — resist fascism
'Posted on Saturday, December 31 @ 10:14:40
From Bob Burnett, Common Dreams:
The Declaration of Independence reads, "The history of [King George 3] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." 230 years later we're in a similar plight with would-be King George 43. It's our turn to throw off the yoke of tyranny, to resist the rise of fascism.The Bush Administration is inexorably becoming a totalitarian regime, where dissent is suppressed and the populace cowed by repressive controls. In Fascism Anyone? Laurence Britt lists 14 characteristics of fascist governments:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
President Bush gives his carefully orchestrated speeches to military audiences in arenas covered with patriotic symbols. His text is loaded with jingoistic phrases, "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." "To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor." His Administration argues that dissenters are unpatriotic, advocates of "surrender."
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
The Bush Administration has the worst human rights record of any Presidency in the past 100 years. Bush authorized torture and illegal eavesdropping on civilians. He abandoned the Geneva conventions and suspended basic rights for those designated as "enemy combatants."
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
After 9/11, President Bush used the struggle against Al Qaeda as an excuse to expand executive authority and pass the Patriot Act. The White House manufactured a climate of fear to convince Americans that the invasion of Iraq was in the national interest. For many, our "enemy" gradually changed from Al Qaeda to fundamentalist Muslims and then to "Arabs," in general.
4. Supremacy of the military/ avid militarism
While terrorism experts felt that the fight against Al Qaeda would require joint diplomatic, financial, intelligence, military, and police operations, the Bush Administration focused solely on the military. The White House painted anti-war voices as unpatriotic, appeasers.
5. Rampant sexism
The Bush Administration glorifies the culture of "machismo." Their policies treat women as second-class citizens - they intend to repeal Title IX. They are against contraception, as well as abortion. They are militantly homophobic.
6. A controlled mass media
Under the direction of Karl Rove, the Bush propaganda machine has been relentless. They subscribe to the maxim, "A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth." Aided by Fox News and the ubiquitous conservative talk net the Administration has ceaselessly fed the electorate the Orwellian Party line - "war is peace", "ignorance is strength."
7. Obsession with national security
This Administration has been the most secretive in recent memory. It hides vital information from Congress. Through executive privilege, restriction of the Freedom of Information Act, and unwarranted security classification, the White House restricts public access to vital information.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
The Bush Administration allied with Christian Fundamentalists. Jimmy Carter characterized their creed, "Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail, and anyone who disagrees with me is inherently wrong."
9. Power of corporations protected
The Bush Administration changed tax laws to raise corporate profits and reduced oversight to increase their power. As a result, most of the proceeds from an improving economy have gone to corporations, executives, and shareholders.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
The last five years have been the most difficult for organized labor since the beginning of the U.S. labor movement. In the private sector, less than 8 percent of workers are unionized.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
The Bush Administration is anti-intellectual and anti-science: supporting "intelligent design", restricting stem-cell research, and rebuking findings on Global climate change. Recently, it tried to subvert the Public Broadcast System.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
George Bush espouses a dualistic, fundamentalist view of the world - The US is good while others are evil. As a result, he has ordered harsh treatment of suspects and prisoners captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
In 2005, numerous instances of Bush Administration corruption were revealed: Presidential adviser Scooter Libby and House czar Tom Delay indicted. The appointment of Mike "Brownie" Brown as director of FEMA was an example of cronyism, at its worst.
14. Fraudulent elections
Suspicions persist that the 2000 presidential election (in particular) was stolen through a Machiavellian series of maneuvers in Florida, and other states.
In 1942, Woody Guthrie penned "All You Fascists Bound to Lose." When Guthrie wrote the song, Americans were fighting fascists who controlled most of Europe. Times have changed and now we're fighting them in the heartland.This New Year's eve, after you've toasted your friends and sung a round of Auld Lang Syne , consider singing Guthrie's song of resistance as your segue into 2006.
I'm gonna tell all you fascists, you may be surprised,People all over this world are getting organized,You're bound to lose,You fascists are bound to lose
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Jim Hightower article
'What I want for Christmas'
Posted on Thursday, December 22
Santa, don't bring me any stuff. The one and only thing I want is this: A real Democratic party, alive and kicking!Jim Hightower,
Dear Santa: There are so many toys I'd love to find under my tree this year! All kinds of new kitchen gizmos have caught my eye, and a bunch of CDs have caught my ear. Oh, I love gardening stuff, too. Plus, I hear there's a little robot that goes to the fridge and gets a beer for you -- could I have one of those? Pleeeeeze.
There are so many things, and I know I can't be greedy and ask for them all, so I've been making a list of my very top favorites.But last night as I was looking over my list ... I suddenly tore it up! Ripped the whole thing to bits and trashed it. I still like toys, mind you, but well, we live in a weird time, don't we Santa?Even if I got everything on my list, by Christmas afternoon I'd be asking myself: Is that all there is? I don't mean I'd want more stuff. Stuff is the problem! Stuff is an insidious diversion, and it's so ... so ... so unsatisfying.I need -- we need, our country needs something much bigger to strive for than mere possessions. There's a widespread hunger for a sense of national commitment and purpose. We need a connection to a common effort that'll enlist us to stop Washington's and Wall Street's abandonment of our egalitarian values, that'll reverse the growing sense most of us have that our America is headed in the wrong direction, that'll rekindle our democratic idealism.So, Santa, bring me no stuff. Instead, the one and only thing I want is this: A REAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY, ALIVE AND KICKING!
It's not enough to wail about what the Bushites are doing to our country. Yes, it's awful they're brazenly ransacking our public treasury and giving the loot to the rich, they have us mired in a macho-maniacal war to make the world safe for Halliburton, they're sawing the rungs off the ladder of upward mobility for the poor and the middle class, they're defoliating our environmental and safety protections, they're gutting labor and consumer laws, they're deliberately defunding our public infrastructure, they're militarizing both the federal budget and our society, they're supplanting our basic liberties with executive autocracy, they're enthroning corporate supremacy through trade scams and stacked courts, they're ... well, the list goes on and on.But what did we expect? As I wrote when Bush first began to run for president in 1999, "George W is an absolute corporate wet dream" and an ardent "practitioner of crony capitalism." Throughout their careers, BushCheney&Company have always been loyal corporate servants and always will be. That's why they were put there. Santa, here's the question people ask me everywhere I go: "Where the hell are the Democrats?"Lost in WashingtonWith no strong national voice, Democratic officials in Congress now proclaim themselves to be the leaders and conscience of the party. God help us.These people dwell in selfimposed exile inside the Beltway, operating under the sad delusion that they're actually a part of the government. In most cases, their backbones have been drained of any populist commitment they might once have had and filled with both corporate cash and the corporate agenda (from the Iraq war to the anticonsumer bankruptcy bill, most of the Bushite horrors have been abetted either actively or passively by congressional Democrats). They seem incapable of standing tall for the vast constituency that desperately needs them, instead slinking behind the skirts of clueless consultants and fundraisers who keep advising them to put forth only the meekest, corporate-approved, don't-rock-the-boat proposals. At a time when we should be setting off big caliber ideas, Democratic leaders are firing pea shooters.A fellow named Doyle, who is a Lowdowner from Kansas, put it well in an email to me: "I've pretty well gone blind looking for leadership from my party these days. How come my yellow dog has strayed so far from home?"The American public is looking for an honest answer to that, Doyle. It's fun to watch Tom DeLay get pinched and Karl Rove get squeezed, and it puts a big grin on every Democrat's face to see George W's poll numbers sink like a Mafia corpse in the East River. But the party's old guard and in-house operatives can forget trying to skate by on a campaign slogan of "We're Not Them."First of all, they are them. Congressional Democrats are mired in the same swamp of corporate money that has sucked up the Republican party, and Democrats have shown (with some notable and encouraging exceptions) that they cannot be trusted to vote for the people's interest over corporate power. This is why voter esteem for Democrats has not risen as the GOP's numbers have fallen.Second, and most important, people are not shopping for the best of the worst. Folks are yearning for integrity, for deep change in how the system operates ... and for whom. Being the "anti" party not only is a loser, but it's also fundamentally dishonest and a craven abandonment of the Democratic party's essential democratic role in our nation's history. Americans don't want merely to be "aginners," but to be FOR a party -- to be for it because it is clearly for the people, and better yet, is the people.What I wantSanta, a lot of people are drawing up lists of issues and tinkering with language to clarify what the Democratic party should be for. That's good, but I think there's another, more important starting point: First, send me a party that knows WHO it is for."Everyone" is not an answer. As we've learned from recent experience, a party can't be "for" working families if it doesn't have the guts to declare war on the corporate thieves who're stealing the middle-class possibilities of those families. It can't be "for" the poor if it constantly caves in to the wishes of the bankers, Wal-Marters, developers and others who keep running over the poor. It can't be for small farmers if it lacks the stomach to con front the middleman giants that are squeezing the life out of those farm families. A party has to choose sides.My wish is for a Democratic party that chooses to reconnect with its populist roots, recognizing that its only real reason for existence is to be the unabashed, unequivocal, unrelenting representative of its core populist constituency, including America's working stiffs, the middle class (this means the 60% of the country who have incomes of less than $55,000 a year), the poor (a fast-growing constituency, unfortunately), small farmers and local business, old folks and children, grunts and veterans, and proponents of clean air and water.Corporations and the millionaire class already have a party -- and notice that it is relentless in its devotion to their interests, including the open raid the GOP is presently making on our public treasury to grab another $146 billion for tax giveaways, 97% of which will go to the wealthiest 4% of Americans (more than half goes to the richest one-tenth of one percent). These fortunate few are doing fine; they don't need another party's help.But the great majority of people whose incomes are not even keeping up with inflation, the families working three or more jobs trying to stay afloat, the folks who actually feel the squeeze of ripoff gasoline and heating prices, the young people who see college education priced beyond their reach while also seeing their middle-class opportunities being callously offshored to China and India, the growing number of families with either no health coverage or practically useless coverage -- these and so many more desperately need a party that is wholly theirs, not owned or leased by the monied elites.It's reported that Democratic congressional leaders are scrambling to come up with a message and slogan to spiff up the party's image for next year's elections -- sort of like a corporate branding campaign. House leaders tried this last year with the clarion call "New Partnership for America's Future." You saw how well that worked out. Instead of turning to PR firms, how about just saying something genuine that'll go straight to the heart of the populist base, which now feels politically homeless? Here's my entry, free of charge: "WE'RE ON YOUR SIDE."That's what people want to know by word and deed. Why not say it plainly to them and then show that the party means it?Are Americans really conservative?The second thing I really, really want, Santa, is a Democratic party that's not afraid of its own grassroots. The Washington cognoscenti the pundits and the politicos -- have decreed that America is a center-right country. Thus, they intone sonorously and ceaselessly, it is sheer folly for Democrats to base their appeal on anyone more progressive than middle- of-the-road, party-switching, SUVdriving, suburbanites whose chief concern is traffic gridlocks.Astonishingly, party elders have bought this load of bunkum , in large part because they mostly huddle with their consultants, big campaign donors, and others who peddle the bunkum. If they were instead to venture outside the Beltway, outside the safe pods of the national fund-raising circuit, and outside the echo chambers of their orchestrated "town meetings" -- if they were to talk with and listen to regular workaday people -- they would be astonished to find a different America than they think they're in. Contrary to the contrived wisdom of the cognoscenti, the American majority is amazingly progressive ... and pissed off.How progressive? It doesn't get covered by the corporate media (imagine that), but mainstream polls consistently find that big majorities of Americans are not meek centrists, but overt, tub-thumping, FDR progressives who are seeking far more populist gumption and governmental action than any Democratic congressional leader or presidential contender has dared to imagine. In recent polls by the Pew Research Group, the Opinion Research Corporation, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS News, the American majority has made clear how it feels. Look at how the majority feels about some of the issues that you'd think would be gospel to a real Democratic party:
65 percent say the government should guarantee health insurance for everyone -- even if it means raising taxes.
86 percent favor raising the minimum wage (including 79 percent of selfdescribed "social conservatives").
60 percent favor repealing either all of Bush's tax cuts or at least those cuts that went to the rich.
66 percent would reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.
77 percent believe the country should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment.
87 percent think big oil corporations are gouging consumers, and 80 percent (including 76 percent of Republicans) would support a windfall profits tax on the oil giants if the revenues went for more research on alternative fuels.
69 percent agree that corporate offshoring of jobs is bad for the U.S. economy (78 percent of "disaffected" voters think this), and only 22% believe offshoring is good because "it keeps costs down."
69 percent believe America is on the wrong track, with only 26 percent saying it's headed in the right direction.Americans might not call themselves progressive -- but there they are. On the populist, pocketbook issues that are rooted in our nation's core values of fairness and justice, there's a progressive super-majority. It flourishes in red states as well as blue, cutting through the establishment's false dichotomy of liberal/ conservative.It's also a pissed-off super-majority, for its views are treated with infuriating disdain by the whole political system -- including corporatized Democrats who minimize and trivialize the grassroots populist fervor. By routinely dismissing the boldly progressive views of the people as unworthy of consideration, much less action, the political elites are coldly dismissing the people themselves and saying, "You don't matter."Knock, knockHello ... Democrats. That knocking sound you hear echoing across America's political landscape is the BAM-BAM-BAM of opportunity pounding at your door, demanding an answer. So, Santa, this brings me to the third wonderful present I'd like to find under the tree: A Democratic party that will open its ears to the insistent knocking, recognize it for what it is, and (dare we hope?) lift its butt from the easy chair and open the damn door!The simmering anger of a scorned majority offers a transforming opportunity in American politics, and it's there for the Democrats' taking if -- and only if -- the party is willing to stand forthrightly for workaday people, presenting a clear, uncompromised choice between the Common Good and Corporate Greed.If the party knows, with clarity and conviction, who it stands for, then it will know what it stands for. The people themselves know the basics of what they want, so that would become the party's defining agenda. It would include:Healthcare for all, taking on drug-company price gougers, insurance leeches, HMOs, etc.Good jobs at good pay, going up against the low-wage economy, union bashers, job exporters, etc., to rebuild middle- class opportunities.Put America to work rebuilding America, providing middle-class jobs to restore our nation's vital infrastructure, refurbish our parks, develop energy independence through renewable resources and conservation, etc.Strength through education, making a full national commitment to having the most educated citizenry in the world, including assuring small classroom size, recruiting and retaining top teachers, providing free computers to every student, and extending the concept of free high school upward to college and higher technical training for all who want it.Restore democracy, providing public funding for all campaigns, requiring national standards and funding to make it easy for everyone to vote (and have their votes count), cracking down on cronyism and corruption between lobbyists and office holders, providing Instant Runoff Voting, etc.Make America strong, rebuilding our government's ability to cope competently with disasters, restoring our nation's commitment to civil liberties and the highest moral standards, reinvesting in clean air and water, assuring retirement security for all, etc.There is no shortage of particular tasks to take on, from war to tax reform, but the common theme for a revived Democratic party is that it would unite the great majority of people around America's historic ethic of the Common Good. In stark contrast to the Bushites' laissez-faire ethic -- all of us on our own, let the strongest thrive, goodbye and good luck -- Democrats should spread the democratic gospel that our country is always strongest when all of us truly believe that we count, that we're all in this together, and that our society's policies are firmly rooted in America's egalitarian values of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity for all. That's a Democratic party that ordinary folks could call their own again. And it's a party that would matter in the big scheme of things.SantalandSo, Santa, wouldn't this be a better project for all of your elves to work on than another sack of toys? I know that a lot of people would say to me, "Gosh, Jimbo, you know Santa doesn't really exist. You're setting yourself up for a big disappointment."I disagree. I think there's a little Santa within all of us. So our job is not just to make a wish list and hope that some party "leaders" will magically deliver it to us, but to become elves ourselves and build this party that we want, piece by piece. It's a daunting challenge -- but it's worth the prize, and worthy of our efforts.
From The Hightower Lowdown, edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer, December 2005. Jim Hightower is the author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush" (Viking Press). He publishes the monthly Hightower Lowdown; for more information about Jim, visit jimhightower.com.© 2005 Independent Media Institute.Source: AlterNethttp://alternet.org/story/29788/
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Tricounty DFA: Emergency Requests For Us - Bush Spy Scandal
First, a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you all!
I wasn't intending to send out an update before the holidays -- most of us are pretty preoccupied with the holidays, but we are all being asked contact everyone we know on an emergency basis to call attention to what is, unbelievably, the biggest Bush scandal yet.
Last weekend Bush admitted to breaking the law in illegally spying on Americans. The big question is why? In 28 years the special, secret intelligence court has only turned the government down four times -- and the Administration can go to the court retroactively to get permission. Columnist David Sirota puts his finger on it -- they were spying on political dissidents -- on us. That's why they can't go to court. Read Sirota: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/bushs-need-for-speed-a_b_12550.html
We all must speak out to prevent this from being swept under the rug. This is an impeachable offense, a basic threat to our freedoms. John Dean, Nixon's former counsel during Watergate, who would know, says it is clearly a high crime under the constitution:
What can we do? First, Governor Dean explains the stakes and asks us to sign a FOIL with him in the next 48 hours: http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/12/did_george_bush.php
Rep. Louise Slaughter asks us to sign a petition: http://votelouise.com/page/petition/SpyHearings
Also Working For Change.org: http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?ItemId=20070
We can also call our Senators to demand the Senate investigation Sen. Spector has agreed to will be real. http:www.senate.gov
Also, Kirsten Gillibrand's website is now up! www.gillibrand2006.com/
I'd like to also let everyone know we will probably be having our meetup on the second Wednesday of January rather than the first; big doings in 2006 with the Gillibrand campaign! More on this in an update next week, but at the last meeting we agreed to schedule a formal endorsement of Kirsten in January. We'll also have lots of news about a very special DFA Training Program in our area and the exciting field program to Take Back the 20th Congressional District. The talk is over. Now we get to act!
Again, have a great holiday!
My thanks to you all,
Monday, December 05, 2005
Tricounty DFA: Addendum! Missed some stuff!
My apologies for this second message:
1. Saratoga Meetup to Feature Walmart Move
2. Gillibrand Fundraiser December 14
3. More On Governor Dean's comments
1. Saratoga Meetup to Feature Walmart Move
There will be a DFA-Link "meetup" this month at the home of coordinator Pat Friesen at 7pm Wednesday, December 7th. Featured will be a showing of Robert Greenwald's new expose, Walmart, The High Price Of The Low Price. Greenwald's film has been getting national attention. Greenwald has garnered nation acclaim for his films which include Outfoxed, Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism and Uncovered, The War On Iraq.
The address is 36 Thoroughbred Drive in the Village at Saratoga. Take South Broadway to Crescent St. (NOT avenue) - across from the park and Dance Museum. Turn on Crescent St. - take first, immediate left which is Thoroughbred. Go to the end of the street - take a sharp right.
(My apologies for missing this!)
2. Gillibrand Fundraiser December 14
Lewis and Patricia Titterton And Pat Friesen, Nan Guslander, Shane Williams-Ness, and Joanne Yepsen Cordially invite you to a fundraising reception IN SUPPORT OF KIRSTEN RUTNIK GILLIBRAND. Democratic Candidate for US Congress in NY-20
Please Come & Meet Kirsten
Suggested Contribution: $50 - $100 - $250
Wednesday, December 14th
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
At the home of Lewis and Patricia Titterton
6 Autumn Lane
Saratoga Springs, New York
Please make checks payable to: Gillibrand for Congress
P.O. Box 1279, Hudson, NY 12534
To RSVP, please contact Sean at
From Albany: Take the Northway (87) to Exit 14. Turn left (east) onto 9P (Union Ave.). Go
less than ¼ mile, take the second left onto Meadowbrook Road. Go 1.3 miles on Meadowbrook and turn right onto Autumn Lane. House is # 6 Autumn Lane, the second house on the right.
From North of Saratoga: Take the Northway (87) to Exit 14. Turn left (east) onto 9P (Union Ave.). Go about ¼ mile (over Northway bridge), take the second left onto Meadowbrook Road. Go 1.3 miles on Meadowbrook and turn right onto Autumn Lane. House is # 6 Autumn Lane, the second house on the right.
There are more reports tonight on the speech Governor Dean made to the Democratic National Committee WInter Convention in Arizona.
Dean laid out a victory program for next year. Here is a link to additional reports on his remarks, which I will paste below.
DNC Meeting in Phoenix, Part 2
by Jenny Greenleaf
...Gov. Dean talked some more about Katrina. After the hurricane, DNC staffers who wanted to go help were encouraged to do so, and the DNC paid their salaries while they were down in Louisiana and Mississippi. He told a story about two young women staffers from the finance department who were sent to Mississippi and found themselves teamed with 5 young women from the Southern Baptist Convention.
The staffers first thought about whether or not to mention who they worked for, but decided that they were proud to be associated with the DNC and so told their teammates where they came from. There were a few lifted eyebrows, but everyone was busy. And after three weeks of handing out blankets, water, and food together, one of the Baptists told one of the Democrats, "You know, we're all trying to do the same thing."
It's a small story, but Dean said that it's people like that who change perceptions about Democrats--and that when one of these young women are sitting in church being told that Democrats are evil, they'll think about it differently. Personal experience trumps being told that Democrats are evil by your pastor. Personal experience trumps being told Democrats are wrong by your teacher. Personal experience trumps being told that Democrats are bad by your parents. He urged us all to start talking to all the people we know who didn't vote our way. (He also mentioned that it's gotten a lot easier in the past few months.)
Dean talked briefly about the national house party program. Its kickoff featured 1000 house parties around the country. These weren't fundraising events--they were to get people together and kick off the national precinct organizing plan. Look for more of that kind of thing
He mentioned that the DNC had put $5 million into the Virginia governor's race and put some people on the ground in California to help defeat the initiatives sponsored by the "One Terminator."
Dean said, "We still have a long way to go. The collapse of confidence in the Republicans is not enough to show the world that we are better leaders for the American people. We are going to offer a real program of reform for this country." He then laid out the Together, America Can Do Better agenda, which is when he really got animated and started sounding like the Dean the Candidate. (He's good, and some of the following will sound very familiar to long-time Dean supporters.)
"We want real tax reform and middle class tax fairness. In three tax cuts, we've had one bill that gave a small tax cut to the middle class, but at the same time college tuition went up even more because of the cuts to the grant and loan programs."
"We want a strong national defense. We offer real security--we have seen the hollow promises of this administration, and we starting to coalesce around a vision for homeland security." He mentioned John Murtha's resolution, which the DNC members reacted to with a long standing ovation. Dean proposed a strategic redeployment and said that we needed to get the National Guard home especially. He referred us to the Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis' paper on Strategic Redeployment at the Center for American Progress.
When we control the White House, "we may have to send troops someplace, but we will be honest with them and the American people, we will listen to the military, and we won't make up a strategic plan three years after we've gone into another country." (Lots of cheering here. Note to Matt: people were talking about Iraq quite a bit.)
"Health insurance for all is the right moral value to have." He related provision of health insurance to the availability of jobs, specifically mentioning GM's healthcare woes.
"We need a strong public education system and an end to unfunded centralized government mandates. Let local areas run their own schools." It's fine to have testing, but teaching to a test all the time does not produce good learning. "We need to trust people to know what's best for their schools."
"We will offer real reform and honesty in government. We will write a code of ethics to apply to congress and the administration. There will be no golf trips, no fat contributions to influence legislation." Under the ethics/corruption banner, Dean also mentioned that it's unethical to pay journalists to write flattering reports, and that a Democratic Attorney General will enforce the law for American citizens and not a political party. (This was in reference to the AG's office coming down on the wrong side of voting rights legislation. Dean specifically mentioned the new ID requirements in Georgia and called them unconstitutional.)
Then he got really wound up with: "It's immoral to let small children go to bed hungry while cutting school lunch programs. It's immoral to bankrupt the retired by cutting medical care while they're losing pensions. It's immoral to intrude in private family decisions--we want their government out of our lives. We ought to be proud of our values in this party. Many of us in this room benefitted from the Republican tax cuts, but all of us would gladly give up the extra money. Their party is selfish."
"Social Security is important because it cements us as a people. We are all in it together in this country." (Meaning that we all help take care of each others' parents.)
"We will do a lot of things to win back Congress, but there is one thing we will not do--we will not divide America. The Republicans used the word "quota" to divide people in 2002. In 2004, they put gay marriage, which was already illegal, on the ballot in many states. In 2006, it's going to be immigration."
"We need to enforce our border laws, that's true. But Bush is talking about locating all the illegal aliens in this country and deporting them. He can't find a 6 foot 4 Saudi, but he's going to find 11 million people?"
On the guest worker program: "The Republicans are creating a program of indentured servitude, which drives down wages for everyone."
Dean said that yes, borders laws need to be better enforced, but if people have been here for years and worked hard and paid taxes, we should have a program that enables them to become citizens. Bush should not have turned his back on Mexico because of their opposition to the war. The real answer is to help Mexico grow so people will have jobs there and not feel compelled to come to the US.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Tricounty DFA: Wednesday "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Reminder, Voting Forum, Dean -- Five Point Program
In This Update:
1. "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Next Wednesday
2. Voting Forum WIth Bo Lipari of New York Verified Voting
3. Write Letters To State Board
4. Dean Letter, Leno and Major Address At DNC Winter Meeting: Five Point Campaign
1. "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Next Wednesday
Our December meeting will be held next Wednesday, December 7th at 7pm at the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe in downtown Glens Falls.
On the agenda for this month:
*We'll be reviewing a very successful year for DFA,
*Discussing last week's voting forum and what we can still do
*Next Year: Specifically the 2006 Congressional race and what we can do:
* A Training Day
* A Field Program Based On Dean Campaign Tactics
To reach the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe, from Northway Exit 18, travel east into Glens Falls. Past the Hannaford, bear right at the Stewart's store, go past the Post Office and the Hospital to the intersection with the light just before the five points downtown. The Cafe is on the left on the corner of Hudson Ave., Exchange Street and Elm Street, just before the five point intersection in downtown Glens Falls. From the East, go to Hudson Falls and at the circle downtown, go down the Hudson Falls hill just past the Catholic Church. Proceed straight past the trash plant and Glens Falls Cement works to Warren Street, go to downtown Glens Falls. At the five point intersection, go past Domino's Pizza onto Hudson Ave. The cafe is just past the interesection on the right.
2. Voting Forum WIth Bo Lipari of New York Verified Voting
Last Wednesday we hosted Bo Lipari, the Executive Director of New York Verified Voting ( http://www/nyvv.org ) for a special forum on the decision New York State and local counties will have to make on the purchase of new voting machines to replace our existing lever action machines, which will no longer be usable in the future because they are not adequately handicapped accessible.
Lipari spoke for an hour and then answered questions for almost another hour. He made a powerful case that new fully computerized voting machines are not only extremely expensive budget busters for local communities, but are extremely unreliable and trouble prone. For instance, there are currently attempts to push ahead with certification of certain touchscreen machines, but at present the vendors have not been able to produce a touchscreen or DRE machine that actually meets legal standards, including a working voter verifiable print out. It is, in effect, an experimental technology at the present time.
Vendors are pushing touchscreen machines because their profit margins are far higher. These machines can cost as much as a small car, believe it or not. When we consider how many election districts there are in any given county and the number of machines involved, the expense is into the millions. (And it is all OUR money.) According to Lipari, actual costs always exceed projected costs. In terms of purchse costs alone, DRE's usually cost at least twice what a optical scanner costs,
Touchscreen machines are already being abandoned.
*In 2004 the Republic of Ireland bought $60,000,000 worth of touchscreen voting machines from a Dutch company that is marketing machines here under the Liberty brand. The machines were then junked after a government commission concluded they were unreliable. It is now costing the Irish government $800,000 a month just to warehouse the scrapped machines while it decides what to do.
*In Miami-Dade County, Florida in March 2005 a coding error caused DRE's to lose hundreds of votes. A major scandal ensued. The Supervisor of Elections was forced to resign. After study, the new Supervisor of Elections concluded the machines were too unreliable and recommended that Miami-Dade scrap $24.5 million in new touchscreen machines.
*In 2004 security experts hired by the State Of Maryland tested Maryland's touchscreen machines to see if they could be "hacked" into, that is, penetrated by malicious computer programmers. They succeeded in hacking the machines. The security firm rated the Diebold machines with an "F" for security. They cited a gauntlet of problems: a security hole allowed remote dial-in. They were also found to be vulnerable to a "man-in-the-middle" attack, where someone could intercept a message between touchscreen voting machines and central tabulating computers, replacing the real results with a bogus one. Maryland is also abandoning a touchscreen purchase.
There is a clear alternative: paper ballots, optically scanned. Most of us are familier with this technology; it's the very same technology you use when you buy a lottery ticket. You fill in a bubble to record your vote. If you choice isn't clear or there is something wrong, the scanner will reject the ballot, just the way it would reject a lotto ticket with seven bubbles filled in instead of six. That means you can't vote twice for the same candidates by accident. PB/OS is the most reliable and cheapest system, both in the near and the short term. Touchscreen machines require an operating cartridge that can only be programmed by the vendor, at a typical cost of $500 per cartridge! Maintenance costs are also very high, as are storage costs. Scanners are compact and can be stacked for storage, bulky DRE's cannot.
Paper Ballot/Optically scanned system are also cheaper than touchscreen machines because only one scanner is required per polling place -- with touchscreens at least one and oftentimes two or more machines are required per precinct.
46% of all US counties use scanners counting 35% of all US votes. Scanned ballots systems are also friendly to the disabled, and further, they are easier for precinct Election Inspectors to learn how to use. Touchscreen machines are very complicated, require a computer orientation by inspectors, which means much more training (an further cost). One implicit strike against DRE's is that most of our present Elections Inspectors, most of whom are senior citizens, would not transition to the new machines. It is often extremely difficult for local Boards of Elections to find people to fill these slots at all under present circumstances --
Optically scanned systems have the lowest rate of errors, and the paper ballots used are easy to recount manually, if the need arises, such as a recount. Oklahoma has been using optically scanned paper ballots for 14 years without any problems at all.
There are many more details of Lipari's presentation that I could recount, but these highlights will give a sense of the case for Paper Ballot/Optically scanned systems and against touchscreen DRE's.
3. Write Letters To State Board
What can we do? First, we can write letters to the State Board of Elections. The companies that make these machines make both scanners and DRE's . Write to the State Board of Elections and demand they insist the companies submit both scanners and touchscreen machines for certification. For the details go to: http://www.nyvv.org/currentAction.shtml
Later we can follow up with letters to our local boards.
Here are some additional links with info on the growing problems with touchscreen voting machines. Diebold, the biggest manufacturer was asked by the State of North Carolina to place the computer code that operates the machines into escrow in case there were questions about the code. This would protect their intellectual property rights while maintaining a deterrence against fraud. Diebold refused, which startled many observers. What's the problem? They are now threatening to leave North Carolina.
4. Dean Letter, Leno and Major Address At DNC Winter Meeting: Five Point Campaign
Governor Dean gave a major address to the Democratic National Committee at it's winter meeting in Arizona this weekend.
The Governor laid out a Five Point Plan as a common agenda for Democrats to rally behind and I quote:
"This is going to be the same platform in Alabama and Arizona as it is in Northern California and the Midwest," Dean told the Tribune on Friday. "We are going to run the same campaign everywhere in America, and that’s how we are going to win."
"You can’t trust them with your money," Dean said. "You can’t trust them to tell the truth. You can’t trust them to manage the war. You can’t trust them if you have a natural disaster. Now tell me why people are going to vote for Republicans?"
The Five Points
• Honesty and integrity in government
• New Iraq policy to reduce the military’s role and its vulnerability to attack
• Limit outsourcing of American jobs and create new ones through energy independence
• Moving toward universal health care
• Improving public education"
For a fuller account of the Five Point Plan: http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/index.php?sty=54497
Governor Dean also sent out an earlier letter detailing how Democrats will win in 2006.
He also made a great appearance on the Leno Show.