Pharyngula

Do I believe that George W. Bush stole the last election and that the Republican party is run by criminals and traitors? You betcha. With his record of sloppy analysis, though, I just wish someone more trustworthy than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had authored that report.

I also don’t see much in the way of productive suggestions about what to do to prevent it from happening again. If Republican operatives are in a position to commit such sweeping acts of anti-Democratic corruption, what’s to prevent it from happening again this fall? What are we going to do if it does happen again?

Comments

  1. #1 Caledonian
    June 1, 2006

    Governments become as corrupt as they can be, up to the point at which the people running the government fear the exercise of citizen power.

    This traditionally is the point at which the population violently rebels, but in sophisticated democratic states it is supposed to be the point at which the people exercise its political power.

    Unfortunately, the people in charge don’t fear the people. They’ve found strategies that will keep the country’s citizens ignorant, afraid, and willing to tolerate all kinds of corruption. And frankly, given the defenders of the status quo, revolution doesn’t look too likely.

  2. #2 jess
    June 1, 2006

    I think the reason you’re not seeing a lot of substantive suggestions is that information like this tends to induce paralyzing rage in liberals. I know that in my house, the aftereffects of the article (besides a little gloating from me about how I always said something crooked was going on) mostly consisted of wandering around dazed and saying “well, what the hell are we supposed to DO about it?”

    And I don’t know. Caledonian is right, that this is supposed to be the point where we have a rebellion, but that we’re also supposed to be more civilized than that. And yet, what else are we supposed to do? Write our congressperson, who didn’t do anything about it in the first place? Hold a vigil? Circulate a fucking petition? The options for angry liberals who want to actually do something, besides making Richard Cohen cry, seem pretty limited.

    I mean, I’m going to have to stick to picking on Cohen just to feel like I’m doing something.

  3. #3 RavenT
    June 1, 2006

    I tried to read the piece, but couldn’t–I’ll just have to come back to it later.

    Nothing says “illegible” like black type on a dark gray background.

  4. #4 Mike Crichton
    June 1, 2006

    Thanks to the f^&#ing retardedness of the Democratic party wholeheartedly embracing gun control, there’s not really all that many options available, other than “Bend over and relax your sphincters”. :-P

  5. #5 Jonathan Badger
    June 1, 2006

    Do I believe that George W. Bush stole the last election and that the Republican party is run by criminals and traitors? You betcha. With his record of sloppy analysis, though, I just wish someone more trustworthy than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had authored that report.

    If you admit that RFK Jr. is untrustworthy on subjects you do know about (such as vaccination), why trust him on subjects you don’t know about? Is it just because you *want* to believe what he says or because you have other more trustworthy sources which confirm it? I don’t like Dubya & friends either, but I’m confused by your statement.

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    June 1, 2006

    It’s not hard to understand. The evidence is persuasive, but the spokesman is not. If Gregg Easterbrook, to pick a random representative idiot, were to come out singing the praises of evolutionary biology tomorrow, it wouldn’t cause me to change my opinion of the science.

  7. #7 Jonathan Badger
    June 1, 2006

    It’s not hard to understand. The evidence is persuasive, but the spokesman is not. If Gregg Easterbrook, to pick a random representative idiot, were to come out singing the praises of evolutionary biology tomorrow, it wouldn’t cause me to change my opinion of the science.

    That’s not analogous at all. One could easily find evidence for evolution completely independent from Easterbrook. That’s what I’m not seeing in the purported election fraud — basically you have to take RFK Jr.’s word that the entire statistical community besides the lone whistleblower hyping his forthcoming book has ignored the statistical problem which implies election fraud.

  8. #8 DrSteveB
    June 1, 2006

    For better or worse in this case the reporting and a whole lot more research and reporting has been done by others.

    See for example: http://www.bradblog.com/
    and postings and linkings therein.

    Kennedy is just a name fronting the work of others.
    Agree his name is somewhat more dismissable after his blowing his cred on thiomersol/autism. But in this second case you don’t need to take his word for it. Lots of prior work done by many.

  9. #9 nop
    June 1, 2006

    Should identification of logical fallacies be a qualification for high school graduation?

  10. #10 Jonathan Badger
    June 1, 2006

    A follow up — Freeman’s forthcoming book is a popularization of his his Dec 2004 paper “The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy”. I’m not qualified to judge the quality of the paper, but I do know that in most fields papers with exciting results that have been out long enough to inspire replies get cited a lot — whether by people agreeing with paper or disagreeing with it. This really doesn’t seem to be the case according to Google Scholar. Yes, it did make a splash in the blogosphere — but why are the statisticians ignoring it?

  11. #11 Caledonian
    June 1, 2006

    It wouldn’t help. People must possess not only the intelligence required to identify logical fallacies, and the necessary knowledge, but the desire to do so even when that requires dismissing statements that support their own cherished beliefs.

    A devoted fanatic will always see five lights, no matter how many are actually there, unless he happens to be fanatical about honesty — and how many people actually are?

  12. #12 Jonathan Badger
    June 1, 2006

    To clarify, “The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy”, is listed by Google Scholar as being only cited once by a journal article — “The Social Psychology of the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election” by Kevin Lanning.

    In the thiomersol case Kennedy relied on the statistics of Weil. Here he relies on Freeman’s. The lack of interest by the statistical community in Freeman’s results is not promising.

  13. #13 Jonathan Badger
    June 2, 2006

    For better or worse in this case the reporting and a whole lot more research and reporting has been done by others.
    See for example: http://www.bradblog.com/
    and postings and linkings therein.

    Absolutely nothing there appears to be “research”, at least in the sense of peer reviewed publications. Look, I hate Bush too — I’m not questioning RFK Jr’s article because I think Dubya would be too saintly to rig an election — it’s just that I find it odd that if the discrepancy between the exit polls and election results really is so statistically significant, why does only one extremely obscure journal paper say so?

    Thousands of blog entries cheering that paper on doesn’t say much other than the fact that the paper presents a scenario which satisfies many people’s suspicions — they in no way confirm it.

  14. #14 DrSteveB
    June 2, 2006

    Sorry but there is lots of evidence.
    It is not just that one paper.

    If you are really interested, as opposed to just being in denial mode, check out all the posts, thread, links in:
    http://www.bradblog.com/

    If that is too much work, start with:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/6/1/16497/40871

    By the way, I was there for Florida 2000 and lots of stuff got un(der)reported… registration drives done at black colleges never registered, state police roadblocks preventing rural black families getting to polls.

    There is a mountain of evidence and first hand testimonial regarding false results from computer voting (mostly Diebold) not only in Ohio, but also Georgia (going back to 2002) and Florida.

    Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush — and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush’s victory as nut cases in ”tinfoil hats,” while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ”conspiracy theories,”(1) and The New York Times declared that ”there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.”

    Indeed, the extent of the GOP’s effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. ”Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,” Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ”You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.”

  15. #15 Alon Levy
    June 2, 2006

    Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong.

    The victory predicted was not overwhelming at all. The margin predicted was about 2%, which is a statistical tie.

  16. #16 ¡El Gato Negro!
    June 2, 2006

    Paper ballots, counted by hand, weeth agreed-upon observers representing all interested parties, for those areas where thees weel work.

    Optical scan ballots, reliable tabulators*, weeth open-source software, for the rrrest.

    so.

    *¿ ees eet no muy irrazonable to imagine a way to observe thees process as well?

  17. #17 Jonathan Badger
    June 2, 2006

    if you are really interested, as opposed to just being in denial mode, check out all the posts, thread, links in: http://www.bradblog.com/ If that is too much work, start with http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/6/1/16497/40871

    I’m not in “denial mode”; I’m just not in uncritical acceptance mode. Besides references to the Freeman study, these blogs just repeat anecdotes. The typical anecdotes about Diebold machines eating Democratic votes and Democrats unfairly denied the vote for “invalid addresses” aren’t very convincing for the obvious reason that the other side also has their anecdotes about illegal aliens and felons being allowed to vote (presumably for the Democrats; I wonder if they would object to Ken Lay voting next time). Typically, people believe in the anecdotes of the side they support and dismiss the others as vile propaganda.

    A good statistical study of results and exit polls would allow the fairness (or unfairness) of an election to be determined without resorting to anecdotes. If Freeman’s results can’t be explained in a better way, it really would be a smoking gun of fraud in the hands of the Bush administration. That’s why I’m surprised that the statistical world has not rushed forward to either confirm or deny these results.

    However, I would still be more comfortable with paper ballots for the next election — not because I’m convinced that Diebold machines are biased, but because even the suspicion that they could be is too much.

  18. #18 Roman Werpachowski
    June 2, 2006

    There is so much evidence of fraud, you say. When is the trial starting?

  19. #19 RickD
    June 2, 2006

    Badger,

    the RFK article doesn’t have anything to do with Diebold. I just did a global search for the word and got no hits.
    It is fairly detailed about the number of people who were refused from voting. Dismissing this as “anecdotes” belies an unserious approach to the question.

    This sentence shows that you didn’t read the article:

    “A good statistical study of results and exit polls would allow the fairness (or unfairness) of an election to be determined without resorting to anecdotes.”

    From the article:

    In its official postmortem report issued two months after the election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its methodology — so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd(34) — displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that skewed the polls in Kerry’s favor by a margin of 6.5 percent nationwide.(35)

    Industry peers didn’t buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation’s leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky’s ”reluctant responder” hypothesis is ”preposterous.”(36) Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: ”It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.”(37)

    Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky’s own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters’ questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey — compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) ”The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,” observes Freeman, ”but actually contradicts it.”

    It’s OK if you’re not interested in the topic. But you shouldn’t pretend to have an interesting opinion if you can’t be bothered to read the article.

  20. #20 Jonathan Badger
    June 2, 2006

    the RFK article doesn’t have anything to do with Diebold. I just did a global search for the word and got no hits.

    Yes, but it is the main topic of discussion on the bradblog site which another poster referred me to for more info.

    It’s OK if you’re not interested in the topic. But you shouldn’t pretend to have an interesting opinion if you can’t be bothered to read the article.

    I read the article. But an article by RFK jr. in a music review magazine is not a peer reviewed journal article. That’s my point.

  21. PZ,

    your trackback ping thingee is saying isn’t working with Haloscan. Anyway, I have some thoughts on this too.

  22. #22 Kemaris
    June 2, 2006

    “Thanks to the f^&#ing retardedness of the Democratic party wholeheartedly embracing gun control…”

    Are you seriously saying that there’s too much gun control in the country for the people to launch a revolution if we wanted to? Really? This Liberal household has three legal guns. Three. And hunting rifle’s too…not some pansy-assed handgun. we could get more like that (snaps fingers)

    People who want guns in this country can get and use them legally. There is no problem, unless you’re a felon.

    The NRA has a worse persecution/victim complex than the Christian Coilition.

  23. #23 Orac
    June 2, 2006

    Kennedy is just a name fronting the work of others.

    You got that right! That was exactly Kennedy’s M.O. during the whole thimerosal-autism fiasco. Lujene Clark, a mercury mom and co-founder of NoMercury and A-CHAMP (Advocates for Children’s Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning), basically fed him her group’s propaganda. Kennedy swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker. I wouldn’t put it past him to do the same thing here.

    After his selective quoting of data, distortions, and–yes–downright dishonesty when it came to the alleged link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism, I no longer consider RFK Jr. being worthy of being given the benefit of the doubt, nor do I consider him the least bit objective. He seems to be doing the same thing here as he did in the infamous thimerosal/autism article last June; i.e., selectively quoting data from people with an ax to grind (the Freeman paper), and then listing a bunch of anecdotes.

    No doubt those inclined to believe Kennedy’s article will say I’m doubting because of my dislike of Kennedy. Not exactly. I’m doubting because my knowledge about the whole thimerosal/autism controversy has shown me that Kennedy is a dishonest partisan hack about an issue that I happen to know a lot about. I have no way of knowing whether he’s up to his old tricks with this article about the 2004 election, but there are red flags that suggest to me that he might be.

    BTW, I posted a comment last night that was held up for moderation, and I don’t see it yet.

  24. #24 mark
    June 2, 2006

    “I also don’t see much in the way of productive suggestions about what to do to prevent it from happening again.”

    As a Canadian, it shocks me to read about how the electoral process seems to be handled in the United States. For example, when I read about “Democratic voters” not being allowed to vote, my first thought is, how would anyone know who this person is voting for?

    If I understand correctly, in the US, everything about the electoral process is handled by the politicians themselves. A classic case of the prisoners guarding the prison.

    In Canada, the whole electoral process, from voter registration, and the drawing of electoral districts, to the handling and counting of the ballots, is handled by a non-partisan agency, Elections Canada (www.elections.ca) Granted, being a government agency, it theoretically could be manipulated by the politicians, but Elections Canada is widely respected as having maintained its independence.

    This kind of non-partisan agency is clearly needed in the US as well.

  25. #25 RickD
    June 2, 2006

    I’m not quite sure what “The article is not in a peer-reviewed journal” is supposed to convey. You’re above the logic of the article? You only care about peer-reviewed journal papers?

    You expect peer-reviewed journals to be the appropriate venue for discussing a problem as messy as the 2004 election? The claims made in the Rolling Stone article seem fairly strong, and they are supported. So your argument is simply a broad ad hominem “if it’s in Rolling Stone, I won’t take it seriously” argument, eh?

    Well, as long as we recognize that you’re just making an ad hominem argument, Badger. That type of argument is usually frowned upon in respectable debate circles, but if it’s all you’ve got, I can see why it’s the only arrow you’re willing to shoot.

  26. #26 TokyoTom
    June 2, 2006

    PZ:

    “I also don’t see much in the way of productive suggestions about what to do to prevent it from happening again. If Republican operatives are in a position to commit such sweeping acts of anti-Democratic corruption, what’s to prevent it from happening again this fall? What are we going to do if it does happen again?”

    Excellent questions, especially as it’s TWO presdiential elections that have been stolen now, and have gerrymandered like crazy as well in order to disenfranchise Dems in Congress. I don’t see any answers, because most Americans really don’t WANT even consider how deep the corruption runs. These guys have power, and don’t want to let it go.

    Having a lock on both houses of Congress also helps Republicans to lock up campaign funds, as they are in the best position to repay corporations for their bribes/contributons.

    There is some hope that the Supreme Court will put some meaningful limits on gerrymandering, and there is voter disgust over gas prices and Iraq, and with Katrina last year and some busy hurricane seasons ahead of us, climate change could even push voters. One does not hope for the worst, but merely for voters to start to hold Bush/Republicans responsible.

  27. #27 Roman Werpachowski
    June 2, 2006

    This kind of non-partisan agency is clearly needed in the US as well.

    Heh. Even Poland has got one: http://www.pkw.gov.pl/index.jsp?place=Menu2&news_cat_id=30&layout=1

  28. #28 Roman Werpachowski
    June 2, 2006

    So your argument is simply a broad ad hominem “if it’s in Rolling Stone, I won’t take it seriously” argument, eh?

    No, it’s not an ad hominem. Unless Rolling Stone is a human being. Even if it were, questioning someone’s credibility is NOT ad hominem.

  29. #29 Orac
    June 2, 2006

    Even if it were, questioning someone’s credibility is NOT ad hominem.

    Correct–if the questioning of that someone’s credibility is reasonably based on his past history, arguments, and behavior. And RFK Jr. has a strong history of distortions, bad reasoning, and outright dishonesty when it comes to the alleged link between thimerosal and autism. As far as I’m concerned, his credibility is close to nil.

  30. #30 sir_russ
    June 2, 2006

    My feeling is that all things GOP are complete shit and I would love to be able to know that the article’s argument is verifiable. However, I don’t see that Badger is off-base in asking the question about peer review journals as far as perceived reliability and credibility goes. We in the anti-intelligent design sphere use the lack of credible peer reviewed references as a sort of stock weapon against IDers all the time. The IDers supply us with the proof of non-respectability and we wield it against them.

    In the voter fraud case we may well be looking at a case of academic intimidation since many peer review journals – even ones on mathematics, statistics, politics, and organizational theory – are advertiser or directly industry supported. So, in this environment of US government by corporation, it may not be possible to get critical articles or even ones leaning toward honesty past biased editors.

    From the standpoint of public awareness Rolling Stone is a great place for such a piece.
    But, it will make a difference only if it can be shown provable, and if someone with the means to do something about it decides to become active. Barring that, we all let off steam on Pharyngula, while our nation and personal lives are diminished, and the political corruption machine rolls on.

  31. #31 Bill Dauphin
    June 2, 2006

    “As a Canadian, it shocks me to read about how the electoral process seems to be handled in the United States. For example, when I read about “Democratic voters” not being allowed to vote, my first thought is, how would anyone know who this person is voting for?”

    There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of the way our Government handles both elections and citizens’ privacy, but in this case it’s not necessary to imagine any invasion of individual privacy: If you selectively disadvantage a population (e.g., working-class African-Americans in South Florida) that is known, based on previous voting records and current polling, to heavily favor the Democratic Party, you can confidently say that “Democratic voters” have been denied their rights on net, without needing any illegitimate insight into specific voters’ preferences.

    Similarly, when you observe that a visually confusing ballot (i.e., Florida’s infamous “butterfly ballot” from 2000 [1]) in precincts heavily skewed toward elderly Jewish retirees produces extraordinarily good results for Pat Buchanan, a minor candidate who was probably least favored by Jews among all the choices on the ballot, it’s reasonable to theorize that [a] many of those votes were not actually intended for Buchanan (who said as much himself) and [b] the ballots incorrectly cast for Buchanan were mostly intended for Gore (based on both the geometry of the ballot and the polling data for that demographic). Again, no need to tap anyone’s phone or read anyone’s e-mail to say with some reasonable confidence that “Democratic voters” were disenfranchised.

    In neither case is the conclusion ultimately provable, but it is both reasonable and likely.

    “In Canada, the whole electoral process, from voter registration, and the drawing of electoral districts, to the handling and counting of the ballots, is handled by a non-partisan agency, Elections Canada (www.elections.ca) Granted, being a government agency, it theoretically could be manipulated by the politicians, but Elections Canada is widely respected as having maintained its independence.”

    I’m no expert in comparative politics, but I think this is reflective of how differently Canada and the U.S. implement federalism. While we have a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that has some oversight and rulemaking functions, our elections — even those for federal offices — are essentially run entirely by the individual states. What role do the provincial governments have in administering Canada’s federal elections? Any?

    U.S. advocates for “states’ rights” (i.e., a relatively weak federal government) often assert that state governments are more democratic than the federal government, because they are smaller and “closer to the people.” My observation is that, for those very same reasons, state governments are in fact far more vulnerable than the federal government to the corrupting influences of individuals and small interest groups… making them actually less democratic, not more, in practice. Everybody talks about government “inertia” in a pejorative sense, but if you take the metaphor somewhat more literally and think of inertia (as a property of mass) limiting the impact of potentially corrupting outside forces, well, inertia has its benefits, doesn’t it?

  32. #32 gregorach
    June 2, 2006

    Regardless of whether the 2000 or 2004 elections were fixed or not, and regardless of RFK’s total lack of credibility, the fact remains that US elections do not meet well-established international standards of fairness and transparency. As long as the election process is managed by partisans in the absence of independant scrutinty, the legitimacy of any US election is in doubt – no matter which side wins.

    As for what to do about it… You need to organise a non-partisan or bi-partisan group to agitate for real reform. It shouldn’t be too hard to connect with people on both sides of the political divide on the obvious platform that the so-called “greatest democracy on Earth” should have a voting process that wouldn’t shame a former Soviet state. Voters on both sides have serious doubts about the legitimacy of elections, so they should all have an interest in devising a scrupulously transparent, verifiable system. It’s not rocket science, and some pretty good answers have already been devised.

    The only people who could oppose such measures would be the people benefiting from corruption (that would be the incumbents on both sides and the media). So you ask them, straight out, “why do you oppose fair, transparent elections?” I mean, if the US can’t manage to hold an election to the standard of, say, the Ukraine, then you’re pretty much fucked, right?

    Speaking of the Ukraine, wasn’t their election result overtuned on the basis of a discrepancy between the results and the exit polls?

  33. #33 Bill Dauphin
    June 2, 2006

    Grrrr, I forgot to include my footnote:

    [1] For those of you who think complaints about the butterfly ballot are pointless whining, I offer the following (admittedly anecdotal) evidence: My sister — an intelligent, highly educated professional woman in the prime of her life — voted in Florida in 2000, and even she thought the ballot was confusing. She was quite sure that anyone with even slightly failing vision, shaky hands, or even the first hint of dementia was at high risk of casting an incorrect ballot. And these ballots were used in counties/precincts with relatively high percentages of older voters. You do the math….

  34. #34 Keith Douglas
    June 2, 2006

    Anecdotes are useless for drawing conclusions, but they may be useful to suggest an area of investigation. When, I don’t know. As for the elections in the US – well, I saw the stuff about Diebold, and all I can say is: were the elections hacked? I don’t know. Could they have been? Yes. What to do about this and other matters? Write to newspapers. Write to TV stations and all levels of government. Talk to people. Put up websites. Don’t stop and don’t give up.

  35. #35 fusilier
    June 2, 2006

    Bill Dauphin wrote:
    Grrrr, I forgot to include my footnote:

    [1] For those of you who think complaints about the butterfly ballot are pointless whining, I offer the following (admittedly anecdotal) evidence: My sister — an intelligent, highly educated professional woman in the prime of her life — voted in Florida in 2000, and even she thought the ballot was confusing. She was quite sure that anyone with even slightly failing vision, shaky hands, or even the first hint of dementia was at high risk of casting an incorrect ballot. And these ballots were used in counties/precincts with relatively high percentages of older voters. You do the math….

    If you’d be so kind, please share with us the particular counties/precincts which used butterfly ballots in the 2000 election, and the party affiliation of the election board?

    Hint for the quiz: the party affiliation was not Republican.

    James 2:24

  36. #36 fusilier
    June 2, 2006

    Whoopsie, I forgot to mention, ballot-design in Florida during 2000 were not state-mandated, but were designed by the local election board, for the specific election.

    James 2:24

  37. #37 Flex
    June 2, 2006

    Most, if not all ballots in the United States are designed by the local boards, for the obvious reason that local elections usually share the ballot with higher level ones.

    BTW, there are possible problems with all the voting machines available. As one example in a recent local Michigan election, the ink-pen ballots (where you connect the arrow to make a selection on a sheet of paper) was printed on paper of too thin a stock. The vote-reader incorrectly registered votes from the opposite side of the paper. Luckily the municipality tested the voting machines before the election and corrected ballots were able to be printed in time. But is it obvious to everyone that a voting machine may have a problem with the thickness of the paper stock the ballots are printed on? After all, thinner paper stock is a lot cheaper.

    Further, since municipalities have to purchase their own voting equipment, the poorer municipalities often purchase their voting equipment used from other, wealthier municipalities. Which means there is a plethora of types of voting machines used in the U.S., some places are still using machines from the 1950′s.

    -Flex

  38. #38 Kristine
    June 2, 2006

    “…What else are we supposed to do? Write our congressperson, who didn’t do anything about it in the first place? Hold a vigil? Circulate a fucking petition?”

    Let’s do what the French do–general strike. I do not say this lightly, but we have amnesia about what it took to get anything done in this country in the past. The problem is, we’re all so terrified that if we walked off our jobs for an undetermined length of time, we’ll just be replaced (and we very well could be).

  39. #39 mark
    June 2, 2006

    Bill Dauphin asked:
    “While we have a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that has some oversight and rulemaking functions, our elections — even those for federal offices — are essentially run entirely by the individual states. What role do the provincial governments have in administering Canada’s federal elections? Any?”

    Provinces don’t have any role in federal elections — Elections Canada (EC) doesn’t just set the rules, they actually run the show. The selective disadvantage of certain populations doesn’t happen, because it’s all done by EC, rather than by the politicians.

    For example, when it comes to voter registration, EC maintains a permanent list, which gets information from various sources, such as driver’s licenses, and tax filing. Prior to an election, EC sends out a confirmation to all registered voters. EC also sets up a Returning Office in every electoral district across the country, and runs ads informing people that if they didn’t receive a confirmation (or the information is incorrect,) then they need to go to the Returning Office in their district.

    Returning Officers, poll clerks, and everyone else involved with the electoral process are all hired by EC.

  40. #40 ulg
    June 2, 2006

    What else are we supposed to do?

    I know what I’m doing. I’m praying to that Great Cephalopod of the Stygian Deep. If we make enough noise, His Great Tentacles will emerge from the Sea, and smash cities at random.

  41. #41 Bill Dauphin
    June 2, 2006

    Fusilier:

    “If you’d be so kind, please share with us the particular counties/precincts which used butterfly ballots in the 2000 election, “

    To my knowledge, they were used in Palm Beach County, where I used to live (but from which I escaped before November 2000; I cast my ballot on an old-fashioned mechanical voting machine in Connecticut) and in whatever county/precinct includes Ft. Myers, where my sister lives. I don’t know where else they might have been used; IIRC (but I may not), they were not used statewide.

    “…and the party affiliation of the election board?

    Hint for the quiz: the party affiliation was not Republican.”

    Not relevant to my point. While I believe the butterfly ballots were seriously flawed in a way that probably favored Bush over Gore, I don’t actually believe (and didn’t mean to be saying) they were an example of deliberate vote rigging (though other things that happened in FL in 2000 and 2004 may have been). The point I was trying to make, in response to Mark’s question about how we knew “Democratic voters” were being disenfranchised, was that it’s possible to draw reasonable conclusions about which side might have benefitted from a problem without violating individual voters’ privacy rights.

    BTW, thanks, Mark, for the explanation. As I suspected, y’all seem to have a different approach to federalism than we do. Yours seems, at least in this instance, eminently more sensible. IMHO, of course.

  42. #42 Jim in Chicago
    June 2, 2006

    Everyone should take a look at Greg Palast’s The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and probably his forthcoming book too, called Armed Madhouse. His website is http://www.armedmadhouse.com

  43. #43 Gerard Harbison
    June 2, 2006

    A little American Government 101 for you moonbats.

    The Presidential Election is not a national election, it’s a series of state elections. Each state decides independently how it’s going to elect its representatives to the electoral college. Here in Nebraska, for example, we do it differently from most of the others. If you want to ‘reform’ a presidential election, your options are to ‘reform’ your own state’s system, and hope others will follow, or to pass a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college. I can confidently predict the latter will never happen; why would Nebraska, or any other small state, with a disproportionate current influence on the election, vote to voluntarily dilute its own power?

    The remaining option is to reform your own state. Oddly enough, though, I haven’t seen any major efforts in the blue states to make the electoral process above-board, other than the patently unconstitutional attempt in Californa to end run around the electoral college. Could it be that the Democrats want to ‘clean-up’ Republican states, but aren’t terribly interested in cleaning up their own? Remember those ballots in King County, WA, that magically appeared days after the election, throwing the contest to Gregoire when Rossi seemed to be leading?

  44. #44 Chet
    June 2, 2006

    I can confidently predict the latter will never happen; why would Nebraska, or any other small state, with a disproportionate current influence on the election, vote to voluntarily dilute its own power?

    If you think states such as Nebraska view themselves as weilding “disproportionate power” in elections that are essentially determined by voters in only three states, you haven’t thought this through very well.

    other than the patently unconstitutional attempt in Californa to end run around the electoral college.

    And you haven’t read the Constitution, either. The Constitution stipulates that the states shall elect the president by casting electoral votes; it doesn’t specify how those votes shall be apportioned, or by what means. In fact it makes it absolutely clear that it’s the legislatures of each state who determine how the electors should vote.

    There’s no constitutional requirement that all of a state’s electoral votes go to the candidate who wins a plurality of the popular vote in that state. Maine and Nebraska used to do it differently, as I recall, with nary a peep of a constitutional objection. It’s up to the states.

  45. #45 Gerard Harbison
    June 2, 2006

    If you think states such as Nebraska view themselves as weilding “disproportionate power” in elections that are essentially determined by voters in only three states, you haven’t thought this through very well.

    You think only the swing votes count in an election? LOL!

    And you haven’t read the Constitution, either. The Constitution stipulates that the states shall elect the president by casting electoral votes; it doesn’t specify how those votes shall be apportioned, or by what means. In fact it makes it absolutely clear that it’s the legislatures of each state who determine how the electors should vote.

    Article 1 section 10 Clause 3

    No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

    There’s no constitutional requirement that all of a state’s electoral votes go to the candidate who wins a plurality of the popular vote in that state. Maine and Nebraska used to do it differently, as I recall, with nary a peep of a constitutional objection. It’s up to the states

    Yes, I said that. I live in Nebraska.

  46. #46 Coathangrrr
    June 2, 2006

    Uh-oh, now we’re moonbats. I love me some partisan ranting.

    But, on topic. What need to be done will not be. Not because people don’t know what it is, or how to do it, but because people are too comfortable. Let’s be honest here, most of you that read this site aren’t really worried about phone tapping and other nonsense, not in the way that you should be. I feel this onerous boot on my neck quite surely. I have friends who I am absolutely sure are under serveillence, and no vote is going to change that. No vote is going to bring our troops home. No vote is going to stop the increasing power of the office of the president. No vote will stop the lies of the media.

    So what then does that leave us? Revolution? Submission? Yet more protests?

    No, no and no. We know that revolution is not happening here, unless it be by the fascist christian right, ala battlecry. And I refuse to let submission be a real option. But, neither has protesting gotten us anywhere. There is simply too much. So this leaves us with little left in the way of action, though it is clear that action must be taken.

    The only recourse I see, and that which will be rejected by the majority here likely, is mass nonviolent action. Not a protest, not a revolution, but direct action. We must sacrifice our comfort on the altar of liberty and justice. We must not fear the forces which stand against us. We must organize, we must organize quickly and soon if we are to stop this rising threat. We must break the heinous laws which have been put in place and impede the immoral actions of the government.

    In every place where abortion is made illegal, we must provide safe illegal abortions. In every place where surveillance is the norm, we must provide encryption. In every place where voting does no good, we must not vote; we must not give legitimacy to the foul regime that our country has turned into. We must put ourselves, our bodies if need be, between the forces that would displace thousands for the mere lack of official papers.

    But we must also know that we are not alone. There are people in every country in the world which follow this path. People in countries which are far more harsh with punishment than ours. People who literaly die for liberty, while we sit and type in liberty’s defense. Yes, the liberal blogosphere is the leftist version of keyboard warriors so demonized on blogs. Much talk and little action. So, while I find it unlikely that many here will be radicalized, in times like these radicals are what we need. It is the anarchists and radical feminists and “eco-terrorists” that act on their convictions far more than the professor or the blogger or the liberal.

    So then, what can we do? We can organize and we can fight. There are now hundreds of groups across the country which fight this fight. Hundreds of groups which put themselves at risk of government harassment and detainment and even imprisonment. Find these groups and work with them, and know that giving money is not enough, and neither is merely telling others about these things. Only action is enough, only action will get things done.

  47. #47 Chet
    June 2, 2006

    You think only the swing votes count in an election? LOL!

    In a two-party system? Yeah, I do. The only relevant votes in such a system are the votes that represent the difference between the individual candidate’s totals. That should be obvious – it doesn’t matter if you win 1000 to 1001, or 10 to 11, or 1,000,000 to 1,000,001 – in each case the only relevant vote was the one that put you over the edge.

    But what I think isn’t really relevant to what I said, if you’ll go back and read. The simple truth is, states like Nebraska aren’t going to find an argument that they’re about to lose “disproportionate power” very compelling, when they largely don’t see that they have very much electoral power in the first place. And that’s proven by the campaigns – candidate presence in states like Nebraska or New Mexico are perfunctory “whistle-stops”, while the majority of the campaining occurs in New York, California, Ohio, or Florida.

    How often do you see the two major candidates stumping up in Alaska, for instance?

    No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

    Maybe you’re familiar with some detail of the proposal that I’m not, but I don’t see how CA has to enter into a compact to do what it’s proposing to do. There’s no agreement between states; it’s just a change by the state legislature in how they choose to apportion electoral votes. They could flip a coin or study sheep entrails for as much input as the Constitution has on the subject.

  48. #48 Gerard Harbison
    June 2, 2006

    Maybe you’re familiar with some detail of the proposal that I’m not, but I don’t see how CA has to enter into a compact to do what it’s proposing to do. There’s no agreement between states; it’s just a change by the state legislature in how they choose to apportion electoral votes. They could flip a coin or study sheep entrails for as much input as the Constitution has on the subject

    It’s clearly an interstate compact, and it clearly infringes on Federal supremacy. The Electoral College was explicitly chose over majority popular vote in the Consittuional Convention. The states cannot band together to do an end run around that. There’s a good article on Interstate Compact case law here.

    http://www.csg.org/programs/ncic/documents/CaseLaw.pdf

    But, on the other hand, maybe you should be encouraged to try. It’ll keep you out of other mischief :-)

  49. #49 fusilier
    June 2, 2006

    Bill Dauphin, the original post begins
    Do I believe that George W. Bush stole the last election and that the Republican party is run by criminals and traitors? You betcha.

    Your comment wrt the 2000 election is clearly consistant with that notion.

    The point I was making is that the Democratic voters were “disenfranchised by the Democratic election board and commissioners.

    It must be pointed out that any number of news organizations, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post reviewed the election processes and found no evidence of fraud. I doubt very strongly that anyone could accuse those two newspapers of being in the pay of Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove.

  50. #50 RickD
    June 2, 2006

    Christ, we’ve got two posters who think attacking somebody’s credibility isn’t ad hominem.

    Just what the hell do you think an ad hominem argument is? That’s precisely what an ad hominem argument is, Roman and Orac.

    The problem with an ad hominem argument is, as beautifully pointed out by PZ’s comment, is that the credibility of a person making an argument does not represent a valid way of logically judging the content of the person’s argument. If we were simply talking about taking RFK Jr’s word about something, and it all came down to an issue of trust, then an ad hominem argument is entirely appropriate. But that’s not what the issue is in this case.

    The arguement in the Rolling Stone article is laid out in great detail with supporting “charts and graphs” and a number of comments from fairly prominent statisticians mocking the pseudo-official “corrected” exit polls published by the major networks. In face of all of that, all Mr. Badger can say is “Rolling Stone? I can’t be bothered. If this were a serious argument it would be in (refereed journal X)”. That is a classic ad hominem argument. What it does is let him off the hook for answering questions like how one district in a GOP county had 98.55% voter turnout, and another district in a Democratic area, that suffered long lines all day, reported 7.6% turnout. It doesn’t explain the following discrepancies between exit polls and “official results”:
    Florida went from a 2.6% lead for Kerry to a 5% win for Bush
    Ohio went from a 8.8% lead for Kerry to a 2.1% win for Bush
    Nevada went from 7.5% lead for Kerry to a 2.6% win for Bush
    New Mexico went from a 7.0% lead for Kerry to a 0.8% win for Bush

    That’s a 10.9 percentage point difference in Ohio! Exit polls are not done with a small sample size. To the contrary, they tend to be the most accurate polls done at all in any election season. A much smaller discrepancy than this was used a few years back to force Edward Shevardnadze to concede an election in Georgia a few years back.

    There is something very rotten in the state of Denmark. But Mr. Badger is going to sit and wait for this to be submitted to a refereed journal.

  51. #51 Jason
    June 2, 2006

    Oh, give it up already! Even your lord and savior John F-word Kerry doesn’t believe the election was stolen. The evidence is NOT convincing. Exit polls are NOT worthy evidence. They will NOT hold up in a court of law. (Which is why no one has had the balls to actually bring these accusations up in a real court of law – just in a broom closet in the basement of the Capitol.) It’s just the same old garbage you far-left idiots have been vomitting up since you lost in 2000… and 2002… and 2004… No doubt you will vomit it up again later this year and in 2008 when you lose. It’s pathetic and annoying.

    Seriously. To believe that Bush stole the election in 2004, you have to believe either that the Republicans predicted well in advance that the election would come down to Ohio (instead of Florida as everyone expected – take Michael Moore, for example) or that when the election did come down to Ohio, the Republicans orchestrated this vast conspiracy in a short few hours.

    Sorry, but the “Bush stole the election!” whining insults the superior intelligence of non-moonbats. You are by all means welcome to continue to cry about it, but it will only mean you will suffer from continued disappointment.

    Incidentally (or not), the only people who have been charged and convicted of election fraud in Ohio are Democrats. In fact, the vast majority of election-related crimes in 2004 were committed by Democrats. Crack for votes, fraudulent voter registrations, tire-slashings, vandalism, storming of Republican offices, etc. Go figure…

  52. Of COURSE the Democrats are the ones who were convicted of crimes in the Ohio situation, Jason. (If your statement’s true – I’m skeptical unless you have proof.)

    Democrats – acting independantly of the actual party, mind you – were acting at low levels. Tire-slashing, for instance, is not something the party is going to do, simply because it’s absurdly ineffective.

    The Republicans, on the other hand … had a man in charge of the state’s elections. A sliiiightly different position, and one that can be acted on with a much lower chance of being caught.

    Also, “you have to believe either that the Republicans predicted well in advance that the election would come down to Ohio (instead of Florida as everyone expected – take Michael Moore, for example)” is simply untrue. Maybe you managed to forget what happened (or maybe you’re being paid? Certainly, if I were to select a place to hire agents provocateurs for, this would be one of them. But that’s beside the point anyway.) … but I sure as hell didn’t.

    Y’see, I remember how everyone said it was going to be decided by three states. Florida, of course. But there were two others – Pennsylvania and Ohio. People were saying, well before the elections, that it was going to be all three. Certainly I don’t think that anyone trying to rig a nationwide election is going to assume everything important is taking place the same place it did last time, and not cover the other possibilities that they can.

  53. #53 Chet
    June 2, 2006

    It’s clearly an interstate compact, and it clearly infringes on Federal supremacy.

    Yeah, see, that doesn’t impress me much. Repeating your assertions and calling them “clear” doesn’t actually substantiate them. Can you explain how this represents a compact? All that’s necessary for CA to do is read a poll and then apportion electoral votes accordingly. There need be no state agreement or any other such thing.

    The Electoral College was explicitly chose over majority popular vote in the Consittuional Convention.

    Maybe, but that language isn’t in the Constitution – you know, that living document. And it’s difficult to see how CA could be prevented; with no explicit interstate compact, neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has the standing to tell California that they can’t apportion their electors in that manner. The Constitution is explicit that it is up to the states in whatever manner they see fit.

    It was not ever explicitly determined, at the Convention or at any other place, that states should use the “winner take all” system. It’s just that CA’s system has only become feasable in a world where telecommunications technology makes the nationwide results instantly avaliable. To assert that this is an “end-run around the Constitution” ignores the plain text of the document in favor of conspiracy theories about some back-room, shady-deal “compact.”

  54. #54 Chet
    June 2, 2006

    Oh, give it up already! Even your lord and savior John F-word Kerry doesn’t believe the election was stolen.

    Well, hey, with that well-reasoned, measured response, how can I help but be convinced?

    Seriously, Jason – isn’t it much too long after the election to still be nursing a bad case of Kerry Derangement Syndrome?

  55. #55 Pierce R. Butler
    June 2, 2006

    Among the fallacies in Jason’s rant is that”…John F-word Kerry doesn’t believe the election was stolen.”

    Kerry is a slow learner these days, but the rest of us might find encouragement that he is capable of eventually picking up some clues, as evidenced by Mark Crispin Miller’s Democracy Now! piece from 11/4/05, “Kerry Told Me He Now Thinks the Election Was Stolen”. See http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/04/1532222 for the details.

    It’s late and I’m tired, or I’d post a long detailed rebuttal of every ignorant &/or dishonest claim here that the problems with American voting are not systematic and well-documented. Those inclined to research the question for themselves are invited to read the aforementioned Bradblog and also http://www.blackboxvoting.com, http://VoteTrustUSA.org, http://www.notablesoftware.com, and http://www.VerifiedVoting.org (for the record, those last two are the web sites of serious and respected academic specialists, Profs. Rebecca Mercuri and David Dill respectively). For detailed expose’s on the criminal mismanagement of Ohio’s voting process in ’04, go to http://www.freepress.org/ and look for articles by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman.

    Those who claim this issue is just a bunch of liberal whining should be treated with the same respect as creationists, global-warming deniers, and other trolls. Ignore ‘em, and look elsewhere for information on the problem and the solutions.

  56. #56 George Cauldron
    June 2, 2006

    A little American Government 101 for you moonbats.

    Nice way to raise the tone, Gerard. Classy.

    But, on the other hand, maybe you should be encouraged to try. It’ll keep you out of other mischief :-)

    Yes, I can see how Republicans wouldn’t want a system where the popular vote decides the President.

  57. #57 George Cauldron
    June 2, 2006

    Even your lord and savior John F-word Kerry doesn’t believe the election was stolen.

    Jason storms in with some snide insults in his best, better-than-all-us-liberals, good Christian way. Ask him some questions, that usually scares him off for a few days.

    Seriously, Jason – isn’t it much too long after the election to still be nursing a bad case of Kerry Derangement Syndrome?

    Jason’s people are the same folks who call Hilary Clinton ‘Hitlery’, so I think it is asking a bit much of him to act like an adult here.

  58. #58 Bill Dauphin
    June 3, 2006

    Fusilier:

    Bill Dauphin, the original post begins
    “Do I believe that George W. Bush stole the last election and that the Republican party is run by criminals and traitors? You betcha.”

    No doubt that is how the thread begins, and…

    Your comment wrt the 2000 election is clearly consistant with that notion.

    …perhaps it is. But I don’t feel compelled to respond to the first “notion” in the thread, or to any other notion besides the one I said I was responding to. In this case, I was responding to Mark’s question about how we could possibly know who was a “Democratic voter,” which carried (or so it seemed to me) the hint of a suggestion that there might be some surveillance of voters or other such malfeasance going on. My only point — the only reason I joined this Dog-forsaken thread — was to show it’s not necessary to assume any such skulduggery to draw conclusions about what voters might have been disenfranchised. I thought I was pretty clear about that in my initial comment; I know I specifically reiterated that point in my follow-on post. Please don’t attribute to me arguments I haven’t made.

    The point I was making is that the Democratic voters were “disenfranchised by the Democratic election board and commissioners.

    What I believe (though I’ve been careful to say I can’t prove it) is that Democratic voters were disenfranchised by a defective ballot. Since I also believe the ballot was defective because of incompetence or error, rather than any conscious attempt to rig the votes, the party affiliation of the ballot’s designers is irrelevant to my point. If you’re right, it’s a bit ironic that Democrats designed a ballot that ended up hurting Democrats, but it doesn’t affect my argument, since I never claimed (and don’t believe) the defective ballot was a Republican attack. And even if I were completely wrong about the butterfly ballot, it would still work as an effective hypothetical to support the point I was making to Mark.

    As for other alleged defects in Florida’s 2000 and 2004 elections, I haven’t studied the claims and counterclaims, studies and counterstudies well enough to have an informed opinion. I make (and have made) no claim about those allegations, except to mention their existence in passing.

    Gerard:

    Moonbats, eh? Please note that I carefully said “elections for federal offices,” NOT “federal elections” or “national elections.” I don’t see how any of us who lived throught the 2000 election could fail to understand that the Electoral College exists, or that the “several states” run their own elections, so your Government 101 lesson is probably unnecessary… but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for debate. I understand there were good and sufficient reasons for our particular version of federalism at the time the Constitution was written and ratified, and I have a conservative (in the generic sense) reluctance to screw around with the plan that’s served us so well so far (recent events notwithstanding). But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to observe that we now have — thanks largely to transportation, communication, and information technologies — a much more national culture than we did 219 years ago, and maybe it’s worth talking about some adjustments.

    I actually don’t have much of a gripe with the Electoral College system, as long as we keep apportionment honest. I do wonder, though, if it wouldn’t make sense to have a uniform, federally funded, politically independent process for holding elections, a la Elections Canada. What principle or states’ interest is served by having a patchwork quilt of varying polling times, election equipment, registration procedures, etc.? The state-to-state variation in these things add no value (not even to the states themselves, except for empty pride in uniqueness), and creates opportunities for inequity, error, and corruption. Our recent politics have driven home the fact that the actions of the federal government affect us all profoundly. I have no argument with a neighboring state’s interestests, per se, being represented, but it is my business, as a U.S. citizen, if that neighboring state uses corrupt or incompetent means to elect the people who make the laws that govern me.

  59. #59 Jason
    June 3, 2006

    Well, hey, with that well-reasoned, measured response, how can I help but be convinced?

    You know, Chet, you’re absolutely right. I should be like PZ here:

    “Do I believe that George W. Bush stole the last election and that the Republican party is run by criminals and traitors? You betcha.”

    Very convincing. Especially when he goes on to trash the author of the article in question.

  60. #60 Jason
    June 3, 2006

    Kerry is a slow learner these days, but the rest of us might find encouragement that he is capable of eventually picking up some clues, as evidenced by Mark Crispin Miller’s Democracy Now! piece from 11/4/05, “Kerry Told Me He Now Thinks the Election Was Stolen”.

    I doubt it. More likely, he is just repeating what his conspiracy-crazy far-left screwball supporters have been saying.

    Those who claim this issue is just a bunch of liberal whining should be treated with the same respect as creationists, global-warming deniers, and other trolls.

    If you have no proof and cannot mount a legal challenge, then it IS nothing but whining. If you’ve got the proof, bring it. If not, sit down and shut up.

    Ignore ‘em, and look elsewhere for information on the problem and the solutions.

    Ha! “Look elsewhere, like these crazy leftist websites which are long on accusations, but short on evidence that will hold up under scrutiny.”

    You clowns are like the people who think there was some vast conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination and that there were multiple shooters on that day.

  61. #61 Jason
    June 3, 2006

    Jason storms in with some snide insults in his best, better-than-all-us-liberals, good Christian way.

    Hypocrite. The posts and comments on this blog are typically nothing more than snide insults in your better-than-all-us-Christians, rational (not really) atheist way.

    Ask him some questions, that usually scares him off for a few days.

    I made you an offer to post your choice of questions on my blog. Still waiting for you to accept that offer.

    Jason’s people are the same folks who call Hilary Clinton ‘Hitlery’, so I think it is asking a bit much of him to act like an adult here.

    And your people are the same folks who say “Bush = Hitler.” Just look at photos from any anti-war/anti-Bush rally. Go to the forums at http://www.democratunderground.com and you will stumble upon countless “Bush = Hitler” references by people who make the same comments against Christians and conservatives as you do.

    In fact, I see “Bush = Hitler” a lot more than I see “Hitlary.”

  62. #62 Jason
    June 3, 2006

    Uh-oh, guys. Not only did that bastion of right-wing thought known as National Public Radio debunk the “Bush stole the election” nonsense, but Salon.com is doing it, too:

    Was the 2004 election stolen? No.

    Kennedy’s errors are the same errors every “Bush stole the election” nut has been making since the 2000 election. Nothing has changed except the faces.

  63. #63 Jonathan Badger
    June 3, 2006

    I’m not quite sure what “The article is not in a peer-reviewed journal” is supposed to convey. You’re above the logic of the article? You only care about peer-reviewed journal papers?

    In terms of analysis, yes, I *do* only care about peer-reviewed journal papers. I’m not saying newspapers and magazines should go away, but that when they report on the analysis of data (whether it is on cell phones causing cancer, vaccination causing autism, or election fraud), they can at best popularize a more serious study.

    You expect peer-reviewed journals to be the appropriate venue for discussing a problem as messy as the 2004 election?

    Yes. If something is worth studying at all, it is worth studying with rigor. And reviewed with rigor. And cited by other rigorous studies.

    The claims made in the Rolling Stone article seem fairly strong, and they are supported. So your argument is simply a broad ad hominem “if it’s in Rolling Stone, I won’t take it seriously” argument, eh?

    No, I’m not saying that things in Rolling Stone shouldn’t be taken seriously — only that they shouldn’t be taken more seriously than the real studies which the RS article popularizes. And the Freeman study doesn’t seem to be taken seriously at all by the statistical community.

    Well, as long as we recognize that you’re just making an ad hominem argument, Badger. That type of argument is usually frowned upon in respectable debate circles, but if it’s all you’ve got, I can see why it’s the only arrow you’re willing to shoot.

    It’s not “ad hominem” (even ignoring that latin derivation — which refers to people). There is a real difference between magazine articles and journal articles. Magazine articles are written to sell magazines; unless the magazine fears that they could be slapped with a libel suit, they will happily print anything — the more shocking the better. This just isn’t the case for peer reviewed articles; in peer review articles extraordinary claims require extraordinary support.

  64. #64 Pierce R. Butler
    June 3, 2006

    Jonathan Badger – I’ll have to give you credit for not being the sort of talk-radio-parroting troll also to be found infesting this thread, but I have to wonder at your apparent disingenuousness.

    As the recent flap over the “Israeli lobby” paper shows, scholarly journals have strong disincentives regarding the more adrenalizing political topics. I can’t cite studies to prove it, but it would seem that grant-makers and other funding authorities operate in the same context – possibly more so, being closer to those who control budget allocations.

    If you want peer-reviewed articles on the present controversy, you may have to wait a generation or so – and much longer if the type of manipulations and suppressions documented in, say, Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science are allowed to continue. In the meantime, to insist that the absence of journalled evidence is the juried evidence of absence seems to serve no purpose other than a certain partisan agenda.

    Fwiw, Mooney provides case studies on how the demand for “sound science” with every detail backed by multiple irrefutable tests is routinely and calculatingly used as a delaying and obfuscatory tactic by, e.g., shills for tobacco & fossil-fuels industries: how does your approach differ?

    The web sites I listed, particularly those operated by Mercuri and Dill, include the best critical analyses available to us. Please give them a good look, or find a window in your ivory tower from which the current crisis is invisible and save your comments for whatever you see from there.

  65. #65 Roman Werpachowski
    June 3, 2006

    I’ll ask again: if the election was stolen, when is the trial starting?

  66. #66 Jonathan Badger
    June 3, 2006

    Jonathan Badger – I’ll have to give you credit for not being the sort of talk-radio-parroting troll also to be found infesting this thread, but I have to wonder at your apparent disingenuousness.

    I’m a registered Democrat, but I’m also a scientist. I’m not ashamed to say where the two conflict I’m a scientist first. And of course, on this issue there really isn’t a conflict, as the Democratic Party as a whole doesn’t give any more credence to this conspiracy than I do.

    As the recent flap over the “Israeli lobby” paper shows, scholarly journals have strong disincentives regarding the more adrenalizing political topics. I can’t cite studies to prove it, but it would seem that grant-makers and other funding authorities operate in the same context – possibly more so, being closer to those who control budget allocations.

    Freeman got his original study published in a peer reviewed journal; the idea that others couldn’t get a similar study published confirming or denying his results is just not plausible.

    if you want peer-reviewed articles on the present controversy, you may have to wait a generation or so – and much longer if the type of manipulations and suppressions documented in, say, Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science are allowed to continue.

    Chris Mooney’s point was that the Republican Party is willing to support opinions (such as Creationism) which, although not supported by the peer reviewed literature, meet their ideological needs. As this conspiracy meets yours.

    The web sites I listed, particularly those operated by Mercuri and Dill, include the best critical analyses available to us.

    If these people have real evidence for a conspiracy they should publish it in a journal. It is not hard to come up with plausible looking data and seemingly cogent arguments for any position without having a shred of real support; the whole point of peer review is to weed these cases out.

  67. #67 Chet
    June 3, 2006

    I’ll ask again: if the election was stolen, when is the trial starting?

    Well, that’s a good point. When the thief owns all the courtrooms, where do you hold the trial?

    If these people have real evidence for a conspiracy they should publish it in a journal.

    Short of actual statements from election figures that they intended to illegally sway the election (which we have, by the way), what would “real evidence for a conspiracy” look like?

    It’s not a rhetorical question. The constant refrain from election apologists is “show me a real argument,” as though it should be obvious both what such an argument would be and that the arguments to date don’t measure up.

    I don’t see that as obvious. Farahd Manjoo’s rebuttals are pretty weak on their face, and nobody’s been able to marshall a good argument that the elections were fair and accurate.

    So what would please you, Badger? What would need to be shown for you to conclude that Bush was fraudulently elected?

  68. #68 Roman Werpachowski
    June 4, 2006
    I’ll ask again: if the election was stolen, when is the trial starting?

    Well, that’s a good point. When the thief owns all the courtrooms, where do you hold the trial?

    You could start with the same courtrooms in which the Bush administration suffered numerous legal defeats recently.

    If these people have real evidence for a conspiracy they should publish it in a journal.

    Short of actual statements from election figures that they intended to illegally sway the election (which we have, by the way), what would “real evidence for a conspiracy” look like?

    I suggest a trip to Kiev, Ukraine then. The opposition there somehow managed to prove the election fraud, despite facing a much more crooked administration than Bush’s (eg, they killed journalists).

    Here are my suggestions:
    1. exit polls (OK, now it’s too late – but maybe there were some?)
    2. testimonies of people who took part in the fraud and now regret it/are afraid of legal consequences
    3. some emails or written documents – steal them, copy them.

    Really: to falsify an election is not a trivial thing. It requires a coordinated effort of many people. It should be possible to find at least one person who’d talk. If you can’t do it on your own, hire a private investigator.

    I mean, we’re talking about a country where two journalists brought down a president.

  69. #69 Graculus
    June 4, 2006

    Really: to falsify an election is not a trivial thing. It requires a coordinated effort of many people.

    Actually, in this case, not so many people. In the wonderful world of computers a single person can do an awful lot, especially if the working atmosphere is complete chaos and you can’t tell the simple errors from the malicious ones. Read the Diebold memos.

    Google “hursti hack”, (in which the vote tallies are invisibly and untracabley altered, permanently).

    Visit blackboxvoting.org

    There are tonnes of hard evidence of the imminent hackability of these systems. There are tonnes of circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact that it was screwed with (unprotected audit logs, uncertified software uploaded at the last minute, offshore programmers, various and sundry complaints from election officials, the Diebold memos themselves).

    It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes.

  70. #70 Roman Werpachowski
    June 4, 2006

    If there are tonnes of evidence,then how come nobody is taking the thing to court? My question remains unanswered.
    As they say, “put up or shut up”!

  71. #71 Chet
    June 4, 2006

    Here are my suggestions:
    1. exit polls (OK, now it’s too late – but maybe there were some?)
    2. testimonies of people who took part in the fraud and now regret it/are afraid of legal consequences
    3. some emails or written documents – steal them, copy them.

    Are you just not reading the articles? We have all that.

    The opposition there somehow managed to prove the election fraud, despite facing a much more crooked administration than Bush’s (eg, they killed journalists).

    Did they prove it? I imagine that you could apply the same rebuttals to the Ukraine conspiracy as has been applied to ours. And a lot of people did.

    It would be better for you to answer the question as I asked it. Lay out, step by step, what you believe a successful argument for election fraud would be. Not just “look at what the did in Kiev, and do that” because we just did and it apparently wasn’t sufficient for you.

    If there are tonnes of evidence,then how come nobody is taking the thing to court?

    Maybe you don’t understand what courts are for? Courtrooms establish guilt in a crime, not that a crime itself occured. It’s hardly necessary to take someone to court – and it’s not clear which of us you believe have standing to sue; I’m pretty sure no courtroom would be willing to certify “The American People” in a class-action lawsuit – to establish that a crime occured, which is the topic of discussion.

  72. #72 Pierce R. Butler
    June 4, 2006

    Jonathan Badger – Chet has made most of the points in rebuttal to your assertions that I would have, so I’ll simply wrap up a few loose ends (though not in great detail – I’m in a hurry).

    “The Democratic Party as a whole” is indeed rather suspicious, according to the polls – unless you mean the so-called leadership, which is by now so dependent on big contributors that it refuses to do anything which might disturb the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

    For “others” to publish papers in academic journals would most likely require new data and/or new analyses supporting new conclusions – how many editors will prioritize an article which can be abstracted as “ditto”? Let me turn this around: how many journal studies can you find that support the legitimacy of the reported balloting results and the erroneousness of the exit polls? Also, you continue to disregard the (well-justified) fear of publishing on high-voltage topics – note that the “Israeli lobby” paper, written by two Americans, ended up in an English review.

    Chris Mooney’s point was that the Republican Party is willing to support opinions (such as Creationism) which, although not supported by the peer reviewed literature, meet their ideological needs. As this conspiracy meets yours.

    Mooney’s point is hardly so narrow: in BushCo suppression and manipulation of science, “ideology” is often secondary to factors of cold hard cash and raw power.

    And you certainly go beyond the evidence available in claiming to read my mind and motivations, Mr. “scientist first”.

    If these people have real evidence for a conspiracy they should publish it in a journal.

    If this were primarily an academic issue, you’d be right.

    By any reasonably rigorous standards, a journal reviewer could easily point out any number of questions regarding a prospective study for which “more supporting data is necessary” and other quibbles quite legitimate in that context – but for which uncovering that data would require subpoena power at a minimum. Here’s a mental experiment for you: identify an issue on which the Bush-Cheney regime has been clearly proven to have been lying, such as Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMDs or sponsorship of Al Qaeda, and look up how many peer-reviewed articles you can find which reach the obvious conclusion.

    Do you really think we should suspend our judgment as citizens on urgent political questions until the academic journals have caught up with the headlines?

  73. #73 Roman Werpachowski
    June 4, 2006

    Did they prove it? I imagine that you could apply the same rebuttals to the Ukraine conspiracy as has been applied to ours. And a lot of people did.

    Yes, they did. Before the Ukrainian Supreme Court.

    Not just “look at what the did in Kiev, and do that” because we just did and it apparently wasn’t sufficient for you.

    The opposition in Kiev managed to gather tens of thousands of people each night in protest against the election theft – despite having almost zero presence in the media. It seems that when you can prove the thing, people do pay attention.

    You apparently were unable to convince the public that they were cheated. Hmm.

    Maybe you don’t understand what courts are for? Courtrooms establish guilt in a crime, not that a crime itself occured.

    There are legal mechanisms to report a crime to the authorities (district attorney, police) in every decent country in the world. Did you do it and with what result?

  74. #74 Pierce R. Butler
    June 4, 2006

    The opposition in Kiev managed to gather tens of thousands of people each night in protest against the election theft – despite having almost zero presence in the media.

    The “Orange Revolution” wasn’t waged with sheer pluckiness, fwiw:

    Go to Original http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?ID=34677
    U.S. Pro-democracy Program Looks Further East after Ukraine
    Agence France-Presse
    Monday 06 December 2004
    Kiev – The regional head of a U.S. pro-democracy program said Monday …blahblahblah. … John Kubiniec of Freedom House, which spent several million dollars of U.S. taxpayers’ money on efforts to prevent fraud in the Ukrainian presidential poll and to encourage voter participation, said …blahblahblah…
    Among other activities, the U.S. organization trained 5,000 opposition party poll observers, funded a parallel vote count and paid for 1,000 European non-government election monitors during the November 21 ballot.
    http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/120804C.shtml
    *
    U.S. Money has Helped Opposition in Ukraine
    By Matt Kelley
    The Associated Press
    Saturday 11 December 2004
    Washington – The Bush administration has spent more than $65 million in the past two years to aid political organizations in Ukraine, paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet U.S. leaders and helping to underwrite an exit poll indicating he won last month’s disputed runoff election.
    U.S. officials say the activities don’t amount to interference in Ukraine’s election, …
    [no URL available]

    …with straight faces.

    Similar subsidies have been reported for “revolutions” of various colors across Eurasia; the AP story also notes “the $1 billion the State Department spends each year trying to build democracy worldwide”; the AFP report mentions that the money “was funneled through organizations such as the Eurasia Foundation or through groups aligned with Republicans and Democrats that organized election training, with human rights forums or with independent news outlets.” (Yup, still with straight faces.)

    Is anyone here willing to deny that the regime is quite experienced with a variety of election-manipulation tactics? Can you deny it with a straight face?

    There is no such outside aid for the pro-democracy movement, such as it is, in the US; not even 1,000 European non-government election monitors. Our elections are so clean that those grubby international vote-monitoring organizations are not even given visas to observe them, despite numerous requests from US community organizations (silly babies!) for their attendance.

    Rolling Stone & RFKJr have only dabbled their toes into the quicksand into which US democracy is being pushed.

  75. #75 Roman Werpachowski
    June 4, 2006

    Pierce, USA is one of the richest countries in the world — does it really need foreign financial aid to put its house in order??

    Rolling Stone & RFKJr have only dabbled their toes into the quicksand into which US democracy is being pushed.

    Did they file a report on the election theft crime to any relevant authority (police, district attorney)? Did ANYONE do it? With what result?

    The apparent inability, of people crying wolf here, to answer this simple question is very telling.

  76. #76 Roman Werpachowski
    June 4, 2006

    …with straight faces.

    Similar subsidies have been reported for “revolutions” of various colors across Eurasia; the AP story also notes “the $1 billion the State Department spends each year trying to build democracy worldwide”; the AFP report mentions that the money “was funneled through organizations such as the Eurasia Foundation or through groups aligned with Republicans and Democrats that organized election training, with human rights forums or with independent news outlets.” (Yup, still with straight faces.)

    So? The fact that the US helped to develop democracy in Ukraine and Georgia speaks very well about the US. Have you got any idea about how Russia is trying hard to keep those nations under its boot? I don’t think so.

    Our elections are so clean that those grubby international vote-monitoring organizations are not even given visas to observe them, despite numerous requests from US community organizations (silly babies!) for their attendance.

    Is it really about visas? Citizens of many countries get an American visa almost automatically. I think the problem is that the election authorities have to agree to the presence of an observer in the place the voting takes place.

  77. #77 Pierce R. Butler
    June 5, 2006

    Roman Werpachowski – Agreed, the pro-democracy/”progressive” movement in the US is deficient in ways that $65 million could not touch. The point is that the US is vigorously intervening in other nations’ elections in ways much more objectionable than anything the government would allow here.
    As the US legal system seems to be set up, only the direct victims of a crime can press charges – and the Democrats are clearly too compromised to take such a step. The only other recourse is to file suit – a highly expensive and draining process, and one beyond the means of the handful of activists and academics trying to address the problem.

    As for the US “developing democracy” in eastern Europe – well, again the only word that applies is disingenuousness. The Busheviks’ support for “democracy” is extremely selective, as shown by their continuing embrace of dictators from Kazakhstan to Nigeria, and of course their rejection of the vote which brought Hamas to “power” in Palestine.

    Though some OSCE election observers did make it to the US for the 2004 elections, the regime’s attitude towards such monitoring was perhaps best summed up by Rep. Stephen Buyer while supporting legislation that no US payments to the UN could be used for monitoring US elections: “Imagine going to your polling place on the morning of November 2 and seeing blue-helmeted foreigners inside your local library, school or fire station.”

  78. #78 Roman Werpachowski
    June 5, 2006

    As the US legal system seems to be set up, only the direct victims of a crime can press charges – and the Democrats are clearly too compromised to take such a step. The only other recourse is to file suit – a highly expensive and draining process, and one beyond the means of the handful of activists and academics trying to address the problem.

    No, really? Organizations such like ACLU (or StopACLU) file suits all the time. It seems that where’s a will, there’s a way.

    As for the US “developing democracy” in eastern Europe – well, again the only word that applies is disingenuousness. The Busheviks’ support for “democracy” is extremely selective, as shown by their continuing embrace of dictators from Kazakhstan to Nigeria,

    Yes – and when the US liberated Western Europe in 1945, they let the Eastern Europe slide into Soviet hands. How disingenuouss of them!

    The point is, even if the US is doing realpolitik only (realpolitik and Iraq – hmm…), its support for the Orange Revolution in Kiev is laudable. End of story.

    and of course their rejection of the vote which brought Hamas to “power” in Palestine.

    That’s a fallacy. Noone rejected the validity of Hamas being elected. All that was asked is that Hamas stops supporting terrorism and renounces it stated aims of destroying Israel. Any sane person will conclude that you cannot deal on friendly terms with a government which openly supports terrorism and wishes to destroy one of your allies. It would be kind of like accepting the legitimacy of Ben Laden as the head of state in Afghanistan, after 9/11.

    The fact that governments (not only the US — how come you don’t criticize my EU for doing the same?) issued these demands to Hamas once they won the elections is a clear proof that the election results WERE ACCEPTED and that Hamas was being treated just like another ruling party and the same was expected from it as it is expected from other ruling parties all over the world.

  79. #79 Pierce R. Butler
    June 5, 2006

    Roman Werpachowski – The ACLU – which limits its activities to cases involving the Bill of Rights, where voting as such is not mentioned – did sue about the way the more error-prone voting equipment was employed mostly in black-majority areas. The judge denied that discrimination was a factor, and the case was dead. Other litigation was shut down in the Ohio courts as well.

    …when the US liberated Western Europe in 1945, they let the Eastern Europe slide into Soviet hands. How disingenuouss…

    Rehashing right-wing mythology about Yalta seems a rather desperate ploy to evade the topic, and serves little purpose anyway. Please look up the definition of disingenuous, or find a better sarcasm coach.

    The point is, even if the US is doing realpolitik only (realpolitik and Iraq – hmm…), its support for the Orange Revolution in Kiev is laudable. End of story.

    The end for your purposes, perhaps. My purpose has been to point out the accelerating decline of democracy in the US, a question which you seem interested mostly in silencing. Unless others revive the dialog more constructively, this thread seems to have reached its end.

  80. #80 Roman Werpachowski
    June 6, 2006

    Rehashing right-wing mythology about Yalta seems a rather desperate ploy to evade the topic, and serves little purpose anyway.

    Just out of curiosity: what right-wing mythology about Yalta do you mean? The fact is that the US sold Eastern Europe to Stalin. You (Americans) could do more to save Poland and other countries from communists, but they didn’t. In the end, you came to regret the fact since the USSR grew bigger and stronger enemy because of its 1945 conquest.

    Please look up the definition of disingenuous, or find a better sarcasm coach.

    The situation is similar: you help one in need but not the other.

    1. this does not mean that helping the first man is not good,
    2. you cannot always help everyone,
    3. the US is not predestined to be the world’s savior and mainly should pursue its own interests.

  81. #81 Roman Werpachowski
    June 6, 2006

    My purpose has been to point out the accelerating decline of democracy in the US, a question which you seem interested mostly in silencing.

    I am interested in testing how solid is the assertion that the 2004 elections in the USA were falsified. Right now, it seems that the few suits that were filed, lost in courts – isn’t it how such things are supposed to be dealt with in a decent country? Your case seems weak, that’s all I have to say…

  82. I notice nobody cares to refute the claim that the US should have no use for outside money to help with the situation, given the way things are.

    FACT: The Democrats are not interested in investigating.
    FACT: The Republicans definitely aren’t interested.
    FACT: Those who are interested, are largely small groups with not a lot of money.

    Thus, even though the US is rich, those who would do something about the situation are not.