Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ohio election fraud story making a comeback?

Ok, this makes me crazy. Here is a journalist who, by his own admission, ignored the Ohio voter fraud story of 2004, dismissed those of us who were spitting blood angry as psycho liberal conspiracy theorists. The cognitive dissonance of wanting to slap him with one hand and welcome him back to the angry leftist fold with the other is making my head hurt. I suppose his piece may reach other scoffers like himself with the added weight of his late conversion. I will add it to my long list of proof that there really is a great rightwing conspiracy hellbent on taking over the world.

Here's the thing about Ohio. Until you really look at it, you won't understand its significance, which is this: the techniques used in this particular theft have the capacity to alter elections not by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of votes, but by tens of thousands.

Obviously people who have followed this story before know the basic facts already, but for those who ignored Ohio until now, here's a very brief greatest hits of Ohio irregularities:

* As was the case in Florida, the secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell, in Ohio), who is in charge of elections, was also the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign.

* In a technique reminiscent of the semantic gymnastics of pre-Civil Rights Act election officials, Blackwell replaced the word "jurisdiction" with "precinct" in an electoral directive that would ultimately result in perhaps tens of thousands of provisional ballots--votes cast mainly by low-income residents--being disallowed.

* Blackwell initially rejected thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that was, according to him, the wrong weight.

* In conservative, Bush-friendly Miami County, voter turnout was an Uzbekistan-esque 98.55 percent.

* In Warren county, election officials locked down the administration building and prevented reporters from observing the ballot counting, citing a "terrorist threat" (described as being a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10) that had been reported to them by the FBI. The FBI made no such report. Recounts conducted during this lockdown resulted in increased votes for Bush.

* In Franklin County, 4,258 votes were cast for Bush in a precinct where there were only 800 registered voters.

Better late than never, I suppose.
Harold and Kumar Go to Gitmo

Do you ever feel like you don't recognize your country anymore? Maybe the moment came for you when five Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court handed a presidential election to one of their own. Maybe it came when the president took America to war based on pretenses that turned out to be false. Maybe it came when you saw those photographs from Abu Ghraib, or when you learned that the man who helped orchestrate America's torture policies would become its attorney general. Maybe all of those things built up in your mind until your idea of America started to seem a long way off from the reality around you.

I used to work with Tim Grieve at the Stanford Daily a lifetime ago. You can read him in the War Room over at Salon. He will introduce you to Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim whose story could be the screenplay for Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle as written by Franz Kafka. Two friends fleeing religious persecution in China, arrested in Turkey on suspicion of terrorist activity, turned over to the U.S. and delivered to Guantánamo Bay three years ago.
Although Qassim and al-Hakim were cleared in March, the United States didn't bother to share that fact with anyone outside Guantánamo. And having been denied contact with their lawyers or their family members, the men had no way to spread the word themselves. So for four more months, they sat in Guantánamo, cleared but not freed.

The U.S. says it can't send the men back to China because it fears they'll be persecuted there, and it hasn't found any other country that is willing to take them. Why not release them into the civilian population at Guantánamo until something better can be arranged? Can't do that, either, the government says. "They have been detained in here with some very bad people, under some very bad influences," Guantánamo spokesman and Army Maj. Jeff Weir tells the Globe.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

TWAT by any other name

It's hard to understand why the White House and the Pentagon would waste time and money to come up with a new slogan for our invasion of Iraq. Until you see that the acronym for "a global struggle against violent extremism," or GSAVE replaces TWAT, or "the war against terror."

You just know that a memo came down the pike at some point entitled "Talking Points to strengthen support for TWAT" and some WH staffer thought it was referring to Bush.