Voting – a fundamental right is being violated

Ohio: A Crime Against Democracy
Stuart Comstock-Gay
December 21, 2004

The Bush electors in Ohio have cast their votes, even though the bitterly contested ballots that allegedly gave them standing as electors have not been recounted. When asked, the mainstream media will admit that there were rampant problems with this election. But there's no juicy story for them to cover because they don't believe a recount would change the outcome of the election. Thus, they neglect what's happening in Ohio. Here Comstock-Gay explains why it matters. For the best of TomPaine.com's coverage of the problems with election 2004, click here.

Stuart Comstock-Gay is executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute.

Electoral votes have been submitted by all states and the national news media has moved on, but a test of U.S. voting rights continues in Ohio. After the Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush last week, election officials in Ohio counties began the recount of votes cast in the election. Concerns about the integrity of the 2004 election continue to surface. Something's wrong with this picture.

We at the National Voting Rights Institute—on behalf of Green Party Candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik—are providing legal representation in the recount effort. We also want to find out what went wrong. Because clearly things went wrong. And whether in the end they are serious enough to change the outcome of the election, they create a cloud over the elections of 2004.

Too many commentators continue to claim the recount effort is the result of bad losers. Some have even gone so far as to say that if the Republicans lost, there would be no recount—that Republicans “play fair.” In fact, concern about “fairness” is in part what is driving the recount. These commentators overlook the fact that this effort is not only about verifying the outcome of the vote. More importantly, it’s about ensuring accountability of a highly fallible elections process.

As long as any votes are miscounted, misplaced or misdirected, our elections cannot be said to be properly working. And with an electoral system that provides no consistency in how votes are counted—and some election officials hostile to a full accounting— there remains work to be done to restore voters' faith in the system.

What Went Wrong On Nov. 2

The number of complaints in Ohio numbers thousands upon thousands—lines into the hours at polling places; shortages of poll workers and machines; electronic voting machines that malfunctioned; voters being required to show identification even though they were not first-time mail-in registrants; erroneous purges of voters from the voter rolls; and voters who requested absentee ballots but never received them and were nevertheless barred from voting in person. In one precinct in Franklin County, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave George W. Bush 3,893 extra votes out of a total of 638 votes cast. In addition, approximately 93,000 ballots were not counted and Ohio election officials may have improperly disqualified thousands of 155,000 provisional ballots cast.

Now the problems are escalating. In Hocking County, Ohio, Deputy Elections Director Sherole Eaton describes a troubling incident on December 10, three days before the recount was to begin. An employee of the Tri Ad company came into the office to check out the tabulator and computer and prepare voting officials for the recount, so that “the count would come out perfect and we wouldn’t have to do a full hand recount of the county.” He asked which precincts would be recounted, and made sure to focus on them. Voting machine expert Doug Jones from the University of Iowa believes this threatens the integrity of the entire recount. Now Congressman John Conyers has asked the FBI to investigate this incident.

What’s Going Wrong With The Recount

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With the recount underway, we learn that counties are handling the process in different ways, depending on the whims of county officials. Every county was instructed by the Secretary of State to do a recount of 3 percent of the votes, followed by a hand recount of every vote if there any discrepancy appears. Some counties, however, have said they would do their recounts by machine only, and not by hand. Some have made space for observers, and allowed them to review voting polls and other materials. Some counties have kept observers—whether from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, DNC or Republican Party—out of the counting rooms entirely.

And this only after some elections officials tried to stop the recount in its tracks. Delaware County sued NVRI, Cobb and Badnarik, seeking to stop the recount, even though the law was followed. He said the recount was too expensive and frivolous. Delaware County has finally decided to conduct a recount, but only after a series of hearings.

On January 5, Congress will receive the votes of the electoral college votes and the election—for all intents and purposes—will be considered concluded.

Meanwhile the Ohio recount will continue well into January. As of this writing, results are not in, but we expect full recounts in most counties.

It is shocking that the cherished right to vote, which should be a major issue in this country, has become an invisible one. Even in the Ukraine, there will be a new election because of widespread irregularities in the presidential election. As the Supreme Court stated over a century ago, the right to vote is “a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights.” Now, more than ever, we must fight for this right.

And this is who we call "President"?????

From the Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Bush-speak
To all the faithful, joyful and triumphant

Published 2:15 am PST Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Visions of sugar plums must dance through his head. President Bush was masterful in presenting a glittery world of fantasy at his Monday press conference.

He said he will “provide every tool and resource for our military.” Yet troops are scrounging scrap metal in landfills for armor. The Iraq effort remains plagued by insufficient troops for the post-invasion period. The military is even calling up 70-year-olds to keep the ranks filled. He seems to believe Iraqi resistance will one day miraculously disappear or that existing U.S. forces can carry on indefinitely without relief.

Bush said he will “maintain strict discipline in the spending of tax dollars.” Yet under Bush, the United States has had the highest deficits in American history. He's also racking up record-high national debt. The higher the debt, the higher the interest payments. In 2004, interest payments on the debt were the third largest item in the federal budget. His borrow-and-spend profligacy is crowding out other national priorities.

Bush said he believes Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is “doing a really fine job.” Yet Rumsfeld's performance can be summed up in his remark to the troops that “You go to war with the Army you have.” Rumsfeld seems to have forgotten that Iraq was a war of choice, not one that came to the United States as a surprise. All voices calling for better preparation and more troops in the post-invasion period were, and continue to be, squelched. Rumsfeld has held no one in higher command accountable for ongoing torture and abuse of prisoners of war, undermining U.S. credibility worldwide.

Bush dodged questions about plans for Social Security, saying such questions were merely attempts to “get me to negotiate with myself in public; to say, you know, what's this mean, Mr. President, what's that mean. I'm not going to do that.” In short, don't bother to ask the president to explain his policy.

He won't even address the basic issue of how diverting a certain percentage of money to personal investment accounts does anything but undermine Social Security. More important, he has yet to explain how a personal investment account is an improvement on the guaranteed benefit that Social Security currently provides all American workers. Bush takes as an article of faith that personal accounts will gain a rate of return “more substantial than the rate of return now being earned” in the Social Security trust fund. But what if workers happen to retire during a slump period? Since 1900, the United States has had three 20-year periods of zero or negative return on the stock market: 1901-1921, 1928-1948 and 1962-1982.

Bush may have a candy-coated view of the world that he wants to sell us, but a dose of reality is in order. Just because Bush says it doesn't make it so.

First Sunday of Advent – 2004

After a very hectic day, we celebrated our 2004 First Sunday of Advent. The theme given to us this year is “Wabi Sabi”.

“No one is perfect-in fact, we all are perfectly imperfect. That is the paradoxical first lesson shared by Taro Gold in Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life.

What is Wabi Sabi? A universal ideal of beauty, Wabi Sabi celebrates the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives. Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto.

On a deeper level, Wabi Sabi is the profound awareness of our oneness with all life and the environment. It includes a deep awareness of the choices we make each day, the power we have to accept or reject each moment of our lives, and to find value in every experience.

“Appreciate this and every moment, no matter how imperfect, for this moment is your life. When you reject this moment, you reject your life. You don't have to settle for this moment, you are free to steer a different course, but for now, this moment is yours, so be mindful to make the most of it.”

Living Wabi Sabi leads us to discover the true beauty of our lives, to know true joy here and now, to reveal the most powerfully positive sides of imperfection. Illustrated with stunning yet simple watercolor art, Living Wabi Sabi is a beautiful keepsake that is sure to become a beloved resource for wisdom in the joy of living.”

May our hearts be open to the Love we are given through this beautiful Advent season.

Thanksgiving and Advent 2004

Thanksgiving – 2004

Will go down in my book as the Thanksgiving that I have most to be truly thankful for. To be specific:

* Ryan is doing so much better this year, compared to last year.
* Matt's home (now half my heart IS NOT in L.A.)
* I have an interesting job after a time earlier this year when I didn't know IF I'd be working after June, or where.
* My remodeled kitchen is BEAUTIFUL and I'm grateful for the home equity that paid for it – and for Steve's need for perfection that helped make the installation worth the time and effort (we did the majority of the installation ourselves – just the two of us).

On to Advent 2004

My sense is this will be a powerful Advent for us all. So much changing in each of our lives. My prayer for each of us (as well as all of YOU) is that hearts are open to whatever God may bring.

“You are deep pink”

you are deeppink
#FF1493

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is high – you get into life and have a strong personality. Everyone you meet will either love you or hate you – either way, your goal is to get them to change the world with you. You are very hard working and don't have much patience for people without your initiative.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.

the spacefem.com html color quiz

Government – secrecy

“Its government that can pick our pockets, slap us into jail, run a highway through our back yard, or send us to war. Knowing what government does is “the news we need to keep our freedoms.”

an excerpt from:

Published on Friday, September 17, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
Journalism Under Fire
by Bill Moyers
Address to the Society of Professional Journalists
Saturday, September 11, 2004
New York City

For the whole article, go to:

Journalism Under Fire

2004 California trip

Just got back from the trip to LA – Matt's BD, Kyle's surprise 50th BD party, Regina's transition…………

Too much to write about now – I need to process it more. Here's what I'll be thinking about as I fly off to Chicago for a meeting tomorrow and Wednesday (not in any particular order):

* Regina – her transition from marriage to divorce is proving difficult with her alcoholism. Seems to be in denial. Not sure how I can help. The visit with her was cut a bit short as I felt it was too toxic an environment for Ryan and I. I love her so much but given what I went through with my Mom………. too many issues came up that created a sense of “deja vue”. Need to pray and think about all of this.

The good news is Vincent (my nephew) is coming up for the first week of August for a visit. First time ever! I hope I can be a positive source of emotional and spiritual support for him.

* Kyle – our friendship has stood the test of time. Her family planned a surprise 50th BD party for her – I was charged with taking her out for the day so they could prepare everything! She really was surprised because they had a “party” for her two days before with just the family.

They invited EVERYONE. I saw Gwen and Gail – twins I knew from Jr. High!! Wow….. this was on the last day we were there. Ryan and I left the party at midnight to begin our journey (drive) home. The Jetta's glow plug warning light came on about 50 miles from home. Manual says to take it to a dealer “as soon as possible” as it means there's something amiss in this system of the car. Cruise control stopped at the same time – may be a computer glitch??? ugh….

* Money – as usual – spent waaaaayyyyyyyyyyy too much. The next 6 months are going to be difficult financially.

* Matt – his 23rd birthday. He's really gone now – I sensed a definite difference in him, in our relationship, in everything. I suppose that's good, right? Kids grow up and move away….. part of the process, right?? All needs to be processed, and prayed about. I want to be a good mother and let go without losing him completely. Bought him clothes (which he even acknowledged he needed) and paid for an oil change (100% synthetic) and tank of gas for his car. His car's oil stick showed NO OIL registering when we got there….. wow……. I guess he won't learn until he has no transportation, no job……… Why do we all have to learn things the hard way?

50 years young!

Today is my birthday – 50 years young!

I feel very content with life right now. Emotionally and spiritually; I've never felt better! Could stand to lose a few pounds which I'm going to attempt with all my discipline beginning tomorrow! I'd like to look slimmer when Ryan and I go to California to visit at the end of June.

Had a little family party at Steve's house – “from scratch” carrot cake baked by Jen was delicious!

Steve is buying the parts and helping me build a “pondless waterfall” in my backyard as my birthday gift! Yea Steve! We will start digging next weekend! It will be very nice to go in the backyard and hear the sound of a gentle waterfall this summer.

Ryan's gift is to help us dig the containment hole for the pondless waterfall – hard work but it will be worth it!

Ryan's 18th Birthday

18 years ago today, Ryan came into the world! It was such a special day for me, personally. I can't believe how much he's grown as a person in the last year. He's such a sensitive, beautiful soul! I hope I can help him see how beautiful he is, and how much he has to offer the world!

He and I saw the new movie – “Troy” – which was GREAT! Then we went out to dinner (Bahama Breeze – relatively new restaurant by Southcenter) yesterday (Sunday). Today he took the day off of school, I went to my last State Programs meeting in the AM and my peers in that group took me out to lunch and gave me a $100 gift certificate at Gene Juarez for a “farewell” celebration. I'll miss each and every one of them! I've worked with almost all of them for over 10 years and I have been blessed to know them!

Then this afternoon Ryan and I went to the Family Fun Center and played miniature golf and air hockey (he cleaned my clock at the latter – I won golf by a stroke!). Then we played some video games and while doing so, it started to rain and I had left the top down on my Saab – wow – I can't believe how it can go from sunny, clear skies to raining in a couple of hours! No harm done though.

Brett came over (so good to see him) and so did Steve. We had cake and sang happy birthday to Ryan. We sure missed having Matt here with us!

It's hard having half my heart in LA all the time!