The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: November 2012

A very good article on the Twinkie situation

For me, this is the money quote (emphasis added by me):

In a piece for Salon, Jake Blumgart interviewed a bakery worker who had been at the company for 14 years. “In 2005, before concessions I made $48,000, last year I made $34,000…. I would make $25,000 in five years if I took their offer. It will be hard to replace the job I had, but it will be easy to replace the job they were trying to give me.”

Go read it for yourself.


“We have actually lost the ability to verify election results”

Harper’s has a comprehensive article on How to Rig an Election, which details the history in America of subverting elections, and more recently, the current state of election rigging.

In the electronic era, the first suspicious election result was that of Chuck Hagel’s Senate run in Nebraska.  A dead heat going into the election, Hagel won by 15 percentage points.  It might be chalked up to just bad polling if it weren’t for one interesting this:

Hagel had been chairman of the company whose computerized voting machines would soon count his own votes: Election Systems & Software (then called American Information Systems). Hagel stepped down from his post just two weeks before announcing his candidacy. Yet he retained millions of dollars in stock in the McCarthy Group, which owned ES&S. And Michael McCarthy, the parent company’s founder, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer.

It is correct, that we don’t know if Hagel subverted the results of the election, but the connection to the company that counted his votes, and more importantly, that of his opponent, is alarming.  Out of 400,000 registered Democrats, Hagel’s opponent only managed 70,290 votes.

So, the specter of stolen elections is out there.  The fact we do know about are mightily disturbing.  Diebold’s software was horrifically insecure.  For spending $26 of parts and rudimentary knowledge of electronics and computers, these voting machines can be subverted.  At least 34,000,000 voters used machines proven to be insecure in the 2012 elections.  Insider access to insecure machines is a recipe for trouble, no matter what their political persuasion.

You know what they always say: follow the money.  Well, in this case it’s no different.  $3.9B was made available in 2002 to states in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).  What state would turn down money?   Since the choices of voting machines are limited, it’s easy to see how these defective machines became so widespread.

I’ve been fairly non-partisan so far, but it’s really hard to stay that course.  The consolidation in the electronic voting machine industry, and the political leaning of their owners, has made this a Republican attack on our democratic principles.  In 2003, the CEO of Diebold, Walden O’Dell, make the now infamous and brazen public statement the he promised to “deliver” Ohio’s electoral votes to G. W. Bush.  This is the top executive at a company that would go on to count the votes in that same election.  The conflict of interest in his statement is just mind boggling.  Two companies, Dominion and ES&S, now count the majority of American ballots.

The story of Max Cleland is just amazing, the summary of which is:

In 2002, the G.O.P. regained control of the Senate with such victories. In Georgia, for example, Diebold’s voting machines reported the defeat of Democratic senator Max Cleland. Early polls had given the highly popular Cleland a solid lead over his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, a favorite of the Christian right, the NRA, and George W. Bush (who made several campaign appearances on his behalf). As Election Day drew near, the contest narrowed. Chambliss, who had avoided military service, ran attack ads denouncing Cleland—a Silver Star recipient who lost three limbs in Vietnam—as a traitor for voting against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Two days before the election, a Zogby poll gave Chambliss a one-point lead among likely voters, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Cleland maintained a three-point advantage with the same group.

Cleland lost by seven points. In his 2009 autobiography, he accused computerized voting machines of being “ripe for fraud.” Patched for fraud might have been more apt. In the month leading up to the election, Diebold employees, led by Bob Urosevich, applied a mysterious, uncertified software patch to 5,000 voting machines that Georgia had purchased in May.

“We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Diebold consultant and whistle-blower Chris Hood recounted in a 2006 Rolling Stone article. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done. . . . It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state. . . . We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from [Bob] Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”

The main problem is the press, however.  They seem to refuse to cover the stories of election irregularities.  Even the left-wing press won’t go there.  The reason seems to be this, and I must admit, I fear the same: talking about election stealing gets you labeled a conspiracy nut, to be put into the same company as those that think the US government perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist attack.  All I can say is, at this point the evidence is overwhelming enough to warrant serious investigations and a look at alternate solutions for electronic voting.  Al Gore, who recently did am IAmA on reddit.com (where people open themselves up to random questions and answer them in real time), won’t even answer the question of whether or not he lost the 2000 election due to fraud:

I’m excited to join everyone at Reddit today. I’ve been looking forward to it. I hope we can talk about the climate crisis and 24 Hours of Reality: the Dirty Weather Report. On the first question, I haven’t ruled out addressing that at some point in my life, but no, I don’t believe now is the time to do it, if that time ever comes.

It is time we follow Ireland, who in 2012 scrapped their electronic voting machines, and revamp the way votes are counted in this country.  I have no doubt that we can come up with a system that cannot be subverted by any person or group of persons.

I urge you all to contact your representatives in Congress to demand a verifiable ballot system.

A beautifully written piece of a man wrongly convicted of killing his wife

I spend over an hour this morning reading the story of Michael Morton.  It’s a long story.  It’s a sad story.  It’s full of pain, for all sides.  But it’s also about the harm that people in power can do.  This is one of the most powerful, true stories I have read in a long time.

If I haven’t convinced you to read this story yet, I’ll make one more pitch: the story is very well written and I was engrossed. Pamela Colloff, the writer, does a fantastic job of telling this story.  At times I wondered weather I was reading a fantastic work of fiction.

Here is part 1.  Here is part 2.  After reading, if you are so inclined, please donate to the Innocence Project.

Stories like this are why I cannot be for the death penalty.