The Liberal Base.

There are 40 million or more people in this country who will never vote for  a Democrat, or anyone considered “Liberal”. Pro-choice? Fuggedaboudit. Pro-gay-marriage? Get outta here. Pro-Affirmative-Action? You betta step.

Forget these people. They may be intelligent, civilized and well-meaning, but they are stubborn in their distaste for the “Liberal Agenda”. A candidate who can get elected by this group cannot, almost by definition, get elected by Democrats.

While it would be a fantastic coup to sway these people our way, we need to focus instead on doing what George W. Bush and his team did so successfully this year: shore up our base of supporters, and ensure they would likewise never consider voting anything but Democratic.

The question, of course, is how do we shore up this liberal base without alienating the moderates who are sympathetic to our cause?

I’ll get back to you on that.

Torture, it's not so bad.

Alberto Gonzales, in his capacity as White House counsel, once (OK, twice) suggested that torture might be an acceptable method of interrogation. Not in so many words, mind you. No.

He called parts of the Geneva Convention’s provisions “quaint”, and it’s limitations on interrogation “obsolete”.

He noted that ignoring the Geneva Convention would make it easier to escape war crimes prosecution.

And he wrote that the “new war” on terrorism “places a high premium on… quickly obtain[ing] information from captured terrorists”.

And now, he’s George W. Bush’s selection to be the next Attorney General.

John Ashcroft, the current Attorney General, tendered his resignation after the election, and it was announced today. Ashcroft may be best remembered for his staunch support of the US PATRIOT Act, an amazing piece of legislation which makes it legal to detain U.S. citizens without allowing them access to either a lawyer or their family, and the government can continue holding them, without charges, indefinitely. After all, who needs “due process” anyway? If you’re not guilty of anything, they’d never hold you in the first place, right?

So we’re going from a man who thinks it’s OK to keep you locked up for no reason to a man who thinks it’s OK to use interrogation techniques considered illegal by every other civilized country.

Ah, progress.

Democrats defect? Or Dastardly deeds?

Did Democrats in several counties in Florida defect in mass numbers to George W. Bush this election? That is what we’re asked to believe.

According to at least one report, some counties, such as Nassau, saw a nearly 29% reduction in the number of Democrats voting, while Sumter saw a 10% drop. There was a corresponding 48% and 43% increase in Republicans voting in those counties, respectively.

But that’s not the surprising stat.

Those two counties used “E-Touch” — or electronic touch screen — voting machines, and are notable outliers compared with the rest of the counties using the same type of machine. Across the board, there is an increase in Republican voting, from 8.8% (Martin county) to 51.2% (Hillsborough county), along with an increase in Democratic voting, from 11% (Hillsborough) to 51.5% (Martin). Except for Nassau and Sumter, there were increases everywhere for both Republicans and Democrats.

Hold on, I still haven’t given you the startling stats.

There was another type of voting machine used in some counties, an “optical scan” machine. These are the typical voting machines, where you color in a circle, or punch out those infamous chads. Those physical marks are then counted by these optical scanners. In these counties, there were also some notable changes in voting pattern.

Republicans saw dramatic increases in many counties, between 25.2% (Flagler county) and 712.3% (Liberty county). Yes, a 700 percent increase in votes for Republicans in one country.

You might expect similar increases in these counties for Democrats wouldn’t you?

No such luck.

In thirty-six of fifty-two counties using optical scan machines, Democrats saw a reduction in votes, between -3.1% (Highlands county) and -70% (Holmes county). In the counties that showed increases, they ranged between 3.2% (Marion county) and 37.6% (Monroe county).

Let’s review that.

In “E-Touch” counties, all showed increased voter turnout for both Republicans and Democrats, except for two counties, which showed drops for Democrats.

But in “optical scan” counties, all showed increased voter turnout for Republicans, and 36 of 52 of them showed drops for Democrats.

These optical scan machines, by-the-way, received much less scrutiny this year than the electronic touch-screen voting machines, and the method of collecting the data from the optical scan machines uses a standard Windows™ PC, and a database which can be opened up in Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access, and edited without any trace of the changes. (There is a great write-up of this whole mess at Common Dreams Newsletter. There is also a live video demonstration showing this in action at VoterGate.tv.)

The tin-foil-hatter in me wonders why there’d be such startling decreases in Democratic votes across so many optical scan counties, while showing increases everywhere for Republicans. Did Democrats really defect in such huge numbers to vote Republican? Or did the numbers get manipulated after the fact?

And, more importantly, will the media outlets pursue this story?

One county, too many voters

Cuyahoga County in Ohio might be destined to become famous. Or would that be infamous?

It turns out there’s a chance more votes were cast in Cuyahoga during the 2004 election than there are actual people in the county. For example, in the district of South Euclid, there were 16,902 registered voters, and 16,917 votes. That’s just over 100% turnout in a country with about 60% turnout.

A voting machine glitch, you say? Fifteen people trying to game the system, perhaps?

Maybe.

But how do you explain an 11,291 vote difference?

Yep, in Orange CSD, there were 11,640 registered voters, and 22,931 votes. That’s 197% turnout.

Remember, you can’t have more than 100% turnout.

But that’s not the most shocking number, not by a long shot. That distinction goes to Woodmere Village, where there were 558 registered voters and 8,854 votes, a (wait for it) 1,586% turnout.

Don’t believe me? Look at the numbers yourself, from the Cuyahoga County’s very own Board of Elections website. Or download this spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel) which just takes those numbers and puts them in an easier to read format.

Think the elections weren’t stolen from John Kerry?

Perhaps it’s time to think again.

Why am I here?

No, this isn’t a comment on some misrepresented, long-forgotten vice-presidential running mate quip. Instead, it’s a brief introduction to why I feel the need to add to the pollution within the blogosphere.

Briefly, it goes like this:

I’m not from around these parts. Not originally, anyway. Born in the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago to be exact, I moved to the U.S. when I was eleven. I lived in New York for eighteen or so years, before moving to San Francisco, where I’ve been for the last seven.

I’m not a citizen.

For most of my time here, I didn’t care much for politics. I didn’t identify with a political party for a long time, but I was always a social liberal, and a somewhat financial conservative — how most people in this country would likely describe themselves.

I would say I started to come of age, politically, during the Clinton years. It was during this time that I started to self-identify as a Democrat, in part because the things they were saying resonated with me, but also to a significant extent because of how the Republicans chose to spend much of those eight years. I couldn’t understand how things like oral sex and weird travel documents were important when education sucked and equal rights for all was a bad joke.

Those were baby steps, however. I entered my political adolescence right around the end of the 2000 Presidential campaign. Like many others, I instinctively disliked George W. Bush, but wasn’t sure Al Gore should be President (except, of course, for the fact that I found Gore intelligent, well-spoken, and, well, Democratic).

I remember being riveted to my television at 3, 4 in the morning when Florida “happened”. I couldn’t believe Bush had won, yet I figured “what the hell. He’s not that smart, he barely won, how much harm could he do in four years? He’ll be one-termer, just like his dad.”

As they say, famous last words.

Being a long-time New Yorker, the terrorist attacks devastated me, more so that I wasn’t — and couldn’t — be there to comfort and assist. When George W. Bush used those attacks to launch a war against Iraq a year later, I was dumbstruck. Somehow, after one of the most devastating attacks on U.S. soil, and following one of the most genuine outpourings of grief and solidarity from the rest of the world, George W. Bush managed to squander a tremendous opportunity to bring the U.S. and the world closer, to unite us.

His divisiveness shook me to the core, as I watched his arrogance grow, never admitting to any errors in judgement, or attempting to bring opposing viewpoints together.

When the 2004 Presidential campaign started, I became more involved than ever. Once John Kerry was nominated, I threw as much support as I could behind him, making my first ever political donations to Kerry, the Democratic National Committee, MoveOnPac and American Coming Together.

Despite the polls, I truly believed John Kerry would be our next president, and this nightmare four years would be over.

Instead, we have reports that the election was rigged or otherwise gamed.

And so I’m pissed off. I want to make a difference. I don’t much enjoy the thought of George W. Bush selecting two, three or more members of the Supreme Court, all of whom are expected to lean right and ride roughshod over civil rights, privacy, and church-state separation, among other things.

I want explanations about why vote counts seem to be so far off in so many places. I want to help document the problems, comment on them so my friends and family can read this and think “hm. that’s not right.”

So there you have it: why I’m here — to learn just how much of a difference one person can make.

Join me in my political discovery.

War is Peace….

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

Today, George Orwell’s 1984 take on political and social problems and the methods used to enforce the world order could be summed up by three letters: “FUD”.

FUD, or Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, are tactics used to engender distrust and concern among a group of people. Well known in the computer industry, these tactics are now being used in the political industry as a way of distracting the voting public from real issues such as the Economy, International Relations, Military Leadership, Individual Liberties, and the Environment.

It’s also used to win elections.

Thus is born a new website, dedicated to uncovering and reporting the unfair tactics used by today’s politicians against their opponents, and against the American people. Initially conceived as a way to counter such blatant Political FUD as the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, it now focuses on the aftermath of the 2004 United States Presidential Election. Among other things, it will delve into how this election might have been rigged, and the incredibly insidious methods potentially employed.

In the coming days and weeks, please return to follow my personal journey of political discovery.

Thanks for stopping by.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox

I was 17 in 1986 when the Boston Red Sox lost to my beloved New York Mets, thanks in part to an errant ball through the wickets of Bill Buckner. I didn’t know much about “The Curse of the Bambino” at the time, I was just thrilled that my team had won its first World Series in those 17 years. Who cared about a 75 year old curse?

My Mets haven’t won a World Series since that ’86 Series. I moved to San Francisco, some seven years ago, and I’ve become a Giants fan, and they haven’t won a World Series I since I moved here (OK, OK, they haven’t won since they moved here either, some fifty-eight years ago.)

Yet these extended streaks are nothing compared to the what Boston fans have had to endure. Since 1918 they haven’t won a World Series.

Until tonight.

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox are champions of the world, eighty-six years since their last championship. Their long-suffering fans can rejoice tonight (and tomorrow night, and the night after that…).

The team was three outs away from elimination in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. They came back from a three games to none deficient to take the next four games from New York, a feat that had never been done ever in the history of baseball.

And then they faced a St. Louis Cardinals team that was just overmatched and overwhelmed, and beat them four straight.

Never has any team ever won eight games in a row in the post season.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. You played a great pair of series, and you deserve to be Champions.

Cars are expensive.

I lived in New York for over 18 years. In that time, I never needed a car, never even had a license. (This will make perfect sense for anyone who lived in New York, and be a completely foreign concept to just about every one else in the world.)

Just about seven years ago I moved out to San Francisco. For the first five years I managed without a car. Difficult? Sure, but I become very familiar with the San Francisco transit system.

Things started becoming a tad more problematic when I got my current job at Apple. Getting to work was a two-hour walk-train-train-shuttle affair, only to be reversed at the end of every day.

Three months of it, and I’d had enough. After much hang-wringing, I came to a drastic conclusion: I had to move from San Francisco to the Peninsula. It was a soul-wrenching, but ultimately necessary move which eliminated one train, cut an hour from my commute and unfortunately distanced me from my friends.

It wasn’t all terrible: I could still take Cal-Train north on weekends for softball, or a Giants game or hanging with friends who would pick me up, and I was still very familiar with San Francisco’s transit system.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Cal-Train stopped running on weekends.

Suddenly, what had passed for a social life was in danger of being destroyed utterly. With no way of getting to San Francisco on the weekend, I was stuck. Once again I had to do something desperate, and this time, it meant getting a license.

Buying a car was a typical Jasonian task: research research research, then make a decision based on intuition and feel. I ended up with a 2003 Nissan Altima SE, and it’s been fabulous. I only wish I had made the decision to buy a car a long time ago.

Except for one tiny little thing.

Cars are expensive to drive.

I don’t mean the cost of gas, or of regular oil changes (even though both are absurdly expensive).

No. I mean the regular maintenance costs.

Today I took my Altima in for its 30,000 mile “major service” (thirty thousand miles in just under two years: not extreme, but more than I thought I’d drive). I figured it wouldn’t be cheap, but I wasn’t expecting it to be $500.

Yep, five hundred dollars. That came as a bit of a shocker.

I often wonder if the whole “get it checked regularly” isn’t just one big car industry scam, meant to make them all rich.

Now I’m thinking, they better find a whole lot of things wrong with this car, fix it, and make it like new again.

I’m starting to wonder what my car actually costs me. How much money have I spent since I owned it (forget about the cost of purchasing it in the first place). With gas, insurance, car washes, maintenance, and who-knows-what else… gah. I’m starting to plotz just thinking about it.

What could I have done with all that extra money? I could be that much closer to owning a house.

Of course, I wouldn’t be able to leave it, ’cause I wouldn’t have a car….

Taking Control

I’m reading TidBITS, as I do every week, and they mention the desire to have their Take Control series of electronic books get a wider audience. Adam Engst (the publisher) mentioned that there are some 750,000 Macs sold per quarter, with perhaps 50% of those Macs to first-time Mac users.

He also wondered how Take Control might be effectively marketed to those 50%, and my immediate thought was “ship ’em with every Mac. Duh.”

Further consideration led to me consider the fact that Apple has what might be generously considered a skeleton instructional products group, with very little in the way of manuals. If Apple can’t or won’t create those manuals, why not allow someone who wants to do it take control (as it were)?

The fact is, there is already a huge cottage industry around the distinct lack of Apple-generated learning material (if I recall correctly, David Pogue’s The Missing Manual series is something of an all-time best-seller). The problem is people have to go out of their way to buy a third-party manual.

What if Apple shipped a copy of Take Control of Panther with every Mac? Perhaps throw in Take Control of Email With Apple Mail. Maybe even a digital coupon for a free or discounted ebook of the new Mac owner’s choice.

It would be cheaper for Apple than paying a staff of writers, editors and designers; and TidBITS will sell tens of thousands of copies of their ebooks, giving them a huge advance of cash to then create better ebooks. A win-win for everyone.

Jon Stewart on 60 Minutes

Jon Stewart on 60 Minutes. Without question, Stewart is the best journalist on television today. As everyone and their aunt know, his appearance on Crossfire is destined to become a classic of television history, and is on its way to being one of the most downloaded clips on the internet (more than Crossfire‘s normal audience, in fact).

(Haven’t seen it? Seriously? Try iFilm. You won’t be disappointed. Well, unless you believe the media’s doing a bang-up job or think Fox News is unbiased.)

Is there any chance Stewart’s pokes at the media will have any effect? Cause The Fourth Estate to gaze inward for a moment, recognize that they’re puppets, and begin reporting, not retelling?

I’m sure Stewart would have a witty comeback for that suggestion.