Thursday, November 27, 2008

Texas DA reveals evidence against Cheney

Hopes media won't 'let it die'

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra spoke to two Texas television stations Wednesday night regarding his investigation of injustice within the prison systems which led to the indictment by a Texas grand jury of Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, along with other officials.

Cheney's stake in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run the detention centers, was cited in the indictment. Cheney is accused of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees through his ownership interest.

Gonzales is accused of using his position during his time as Attorney General to block an investigation into abuses at the detention centers, located in south Texas.

Democratic state Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. is also named in the indictment, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. Lucio's attorney, Michael R. Cowen, called Guerra a "one-man circus." "In the March 2008 Democratic Primary," he added, "70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove Juan Guerra...Now, with only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies."

Guerra told KVEO 23, an NBC affiliate in Texas, that "elected officials were embedded into the prison business and that it goes all the way to the top."

"Now that these indictments have seen the light of day, Guerra says, it's important they are not quashed," the station reported.

"I'm going to try and do what I can do," Guerra told KVEO. "Impose it to you guys, and educate you guys, so you don't let it die."

On ABC affiliate KRGV Newschannel 5, Guerra showed "records that he says could be used to prove Dick Cheney is guilty of criminal activity."

"Greed will get you discovered and arrested every time, and that's what happened to Cheney," Guerra said.

Excerpts from KRGV's report:


Guerra says he went through Cheney's financial records and the prison companies' financial records and found the connection. The three top prison companies Guerra researched were Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Cornell. Those three have the Vanguard Group in common, which is an investment company that puts money into all three prison companies.

"We knew Vanguard was the key," said Guerra.

Guerra showed us the Vice President's financial disclosure from last year and it shows he owned shares in the Vanguard Group. Guerra estimates Cheney has $85 million invested in Vanguard and in turn, into the prison companies.

"The problem you have is he now has a direct interest," said Guerra. And according to Guerra, it's a direct interest in making sure the prison companies stay in business.




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No more Mr. Nice Gay

No more Mr. Nice Gay

Nice op ed piece in today's Washington Post about the fallout from Prop 8. The writer talks about hearing a local bus driver in Santa Monica refer to gay demonstrators as "sodomites.'
I realized that in a post-Proposition 8 world, it is not okay for me to enable anyone's bigotry with my silence. If he had said the "n" word or the "k" word or something else offensive regarding someone's race, gender or religion, there would have been no question about whether to report him. But gay men and lesbians are no longer willing to be doormats. It is no longer acceptable for people to say bigoted and hateful things about gays or anyone else in front of me. This behavior has to stop now.

If the bigots thought they would slap down gay men and lesbians by passing Proposition 8, or if they thought it would end the gay civil rights movement, they were mistaken. I haven't seen the gay community this galvanized in a long time. The passage of Proposition 8 might be this generation's "Stonewall," the 1969 riot that began after an unprovoked police raid on a gay bar in Greenwich Village and that marked the start of the gay rights movement. If we can somehow harness the energy unleashed by California's Proposition 8 vote, we can achieve tremendous gains for us and for future generations of gay men and lesbians.

One of the most gratifying aspects of attending "No on 8" rallies was the number of straight demonstrators who showed up -- people who see this not just as an issue for gay men and lesbians but as a matter of everyone's civil rights.
He's right, we need to somehow harness the energy unleashed by Prop 8, but it's not happening, or at least isn't happening well. The protests around the country are great, tremendous, brilliant even, and amazing in their number.


What comes after the protests? Postcard campaigns won't cut it. Nor will having a day without gays. We need a real campaign, a real war, real strategies - mean, nasty, vicious and, above all else, effective strategies targeted at achieving a concrete goal that moves our movement, moves our rights, forward. This is why I've talked endlessly about the role the Mormons had in making Prop 8 a reality. They are willing to be hate's banker, and we need to make sure that their moral bankruptcy becomes a fiscal one as well. Whether that means targeting key Mormon donors, targeting the entire state of Utah, or finding another means to make the price far too high for anyone willing to finance hate.

I'm not sure what the answer is. But we need one. We are a people without leadership at the moment. The California groups who got us into this mess seem downright terrified that gay people are finally rising up and demanding their rights, and the national groups, rightfully, to a degree, are butting out of what is California's own business (for all the criticism of HRC, are they really supposed to parachute into the middle of California and, Al Haig style, declare "we're in charge"?)

Gay people want change. But politics, like war, best achieves its goals when someone with experience and vision is at the helm. And for whatever reason, no one is stepping up.

John Aravosis (DC)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prop 8 Protest

This is real footage from the protest rally (not from mainstream media) that I took at the rally. It runs 30:10 and lots of goodies inside.
11/12/08 - New York City protest rally at the Mormon Temple at 65th Street and Columbus Avenue. Thousands show up for grass roots rally in protest of California Proposition 8 vote. Interviews with Ann Northrop, Brendan Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Judy Gold, etc.

How can we afford not to focus on health care? We can't.

How can we afford not to focus on health care? We can't.
Yesterday, Ted Kennedy returned to Capitol Hill and that means health care will be on the agenda:
The brief appearance by Kennedy, who made a surprise return in July to vote on a Medicare bill, represented an opportunity for him to show colleagues that he remains energetic and engaged, and that he intends to reclaim his committee post in January and take charge of the Obama health-care agenda. Some Democrats had speculated that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) would attempt to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) rolled out his own health-care bill days after Obama was elected, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also expects to be a leading participant in the effort to establish universal health care.

Kennedy has a head start on them all. Despite his illness, he directed his staff months ago to begin work on legislation that would vastly expand health coverage, a career-long goal of his.
Take charge, Ted.

And to push the health care agenda, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which has been a wonderful supporter of the blogosphere through their advertising, has a new ad:

BREAKING: Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens loses re-election bid

BREAKING: Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens loses re-election bid
We're up to 58 seats in the Senate. Not that it really matters, they'll still cave when it counts. But still... AP:
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost his bid for a seventh term. The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday's count. That's an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.

Stevens, who turned 85 Tuesday, also revealed that he will not ask President George W. Bush to give him a pardon for his seven felony convictions.

Cheney, Gonzales indicted

Cheney, Gonzales indicted

A Texas grand jury has indicted outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County federal detention facilities, CNN reported.

"The vice president has not received an indictment," Cheney spokeswoman Megan Mitchell countered to CNN.

Cheney's stake in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies that run the detention centers, was cited in the indictment. Cheney is accused of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees through his ownership interest.

Gonzales is accused of using his position during his time as Attorney General to block an investigation into abuses at the detention centers, located in south Texas.

Democratic state Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. is also named in the indictment, Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. Lucio's attorney, Michael R. Cowen, called Guerra a "one-man circus." "In the March 2008 Democratic Primary," he added, "70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove Juan Guerra...Now, with only a few weeks left in his term, Mr. Guerra has again chosen to misuse his position in an attempt to seek revenge on those who he sees as political enemies."

Email spam drops by 75% after just one website is closed

Email spam drops by 75% after just one website is closed


Cyber-criminal gangs bombard computers with unsolicited emails

Online junk mail has been slashed by 75 per cent after a company believed to host some of the world's largest internet spam gangs was shut down.

Two major internet service providers (ISPs) cut off internet access to the company on Tuesday. Carole Theriault, of internet security firm Sophos called it an 'unprecedented' move.

It is believed the California-based company had a client list that included some of the world's largest cyber-criminal gangs who bombarded computers with unwanted messages.

Online security firms estimated that spam rates fell up to 75 per cent shortly after the company's servers were disconnected.

Although the levels have picked up again, the drop is being seen as strong evidence that a significant slice of the world's spam was coming from McColo.

'McColo Corp had a number of criminal organisations they were turning a blind eye to,' Jason Steer, product manager at IronPort, told

'It was responsible for spam but lots as other things as well, even down to the level of child pornography.'

However, Steer does not believe that the shutdown will affect spam in the long term, saying that spammers will find other outlets.

Spam accounts for about 90 per cent of all e-mails send to computers around the world. U.S researchers recently found that spammers could turn a healthy profit despite only getting one response for every 12.5million emails they send.

The McColo web page is currently down, but the company can go online again if they find another willing ISP.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Action Alert

Message from Richard D. Burns

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011, 212-620-7310,

Join us to protest the passage of Prop 8 in California
on Wednesday, November 12

ImageMessage from the Center's Executive Director,
Richard D. Burns

As you know, on November 4 the state of California passed a constitutional amendment reversing a State Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that legalized same-sex marriage...and huge and numerous protests have sprung up, certainly in California, but also nationwide. There are two scheduled in NYC this week. One is at the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple on Wednesday, November 12, beginning at 6 p.m.:

Protest at the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Temple in Manhattan
125 Columbus Avenue at 65th Street (Map)
Wednesday, November 12
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The other is at City Hall on Saturday, November 15, beginning at 1:30 p.m. By all accounts, these protests were initiated by and have mobilized thousands of people via social networking sites and other online tools. It speaks to the enormity of the principle at issue -- all civil and human rights for all people -- to the tremendous creativity, fire and power of grassroots organizing and to the value of the individual voice inspired by the collective good. Let us hold fast to and build upon the hope with which we entered November 4, and move now into acting: building upon these inspired protests, let us agitate, write, speak out, strategize, pool our resources, think, vote and use all other means we can think of to demand peace, safety and equity for all of us.

Please join us tomorrow night to protest at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to end discrimination against LGBT people!

Thank you,
Richard D. Burns
Executive Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

The Center is actively promoting and supporting both protests. We have created a resource page ( for people to reference for up-to-the-minute information, including protest site addresses and maps, which we will update continually.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How McCain Could Win

How McCain Could Win

by: Greg Palast, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Two Obama canvassers prepare their pitch before knocking on registered Republicans' doors in Arvada, Colorado. (Photo: Kevin Moloney / The New York Times)

It's November 5 and the nation is in shock. Media blame it on the "Bradley effect": Americans supposedly turned into Klansmen inside the voting booth, and Barack Obama turned up with 6 million votes less than calculated from the exit polls. Florida came in for McCain and so did Indiana. Colorado, despite the Democrats' Rocky Mountain high after the Denver convention, stayed surprisingly Red. New Mexico, a state where Anglos are a minority, went McCain by 300 votes, as did Virginia.

That's the nightmare. Here's the cold reality.

Swing state Colorado. Before this election, two Republican secretaries of state purged 19.4 percent of the entire voter roll. One in five voters. Pfft!

Swing state New Mexico. One in nine voters in this year's Democratic caucus found their names missing from the state-provided voter registries. And not just any voters. County by county, the number of voters disappeared was in direct proportion to the nonwhite population. Gore won the state by 366 votes; Kerry lost it by only 5,900. Despite reassurances that all has been fixed for Tuesday, Democrats lost from the list in February told me they're still "disappeared" from the lists this week.

Swing state Indiana. In this year's primary, ten nuns were turned away from the polls because of the state's new voter ID law. They had drivers' licenses, but being in their 80s and 90s, they'd let their licenses expire. Cute. But what isn't cute is this: 566,000 registered voters in that state don't have the ID required to vote. Most are racial minorities, the very elderly and first-time voters; that is, Obama voters. Twenty-three other states have new, vote-snatching ID requirements.

Swing state Florida. Despite a lawsuit battle waged by the Brennan Center for Justice, the state's Republican apparatchiks are attempting to block the votes of 85,000 new registrants, forcing them to pass through a new "verification" process. Funny thing: verification applies only to those who signed up in voter drives (mostly black), but not to voters registering at motor vehicle offices (mostly white).

And so on through swing states controlled by Republican secretaries of state.

The Ugly Secret

Here's an ugly little secret about American democracy: We don't count all the votes. In 2004, based on the data from the US Elections Assistance Commission, 3,006,080 votes were not counted: "spoiled," unreadable and blank ballots; "provisional" ballots rejected; mail-in ballots disqualified.

This Tuesday, it will be worse. Much worse.

That's what I found while traveling the nation over the last year for BBC Television and Rolling Stone Magazine, working with voting rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. This we guarantee: there will be far more votes disappeared by Tuesday night than the three million lost in 2004. A six-million vote swipe, quite likely, shifts 4 percent of the ballots, within the margin of error of the tightest polls.

Begin with this harsh statistic: since the last election, more than ten million voters have been purged from the nation's vote registries. And that's just the start of the steal.

If the noncount were random, it wouldn't matter. But it's not random. A US Civil Rights Commission analysis shows that the chance a black voter's ballot will "spoil" or be blank is 900 percent higher than a white voter's.

Does that mean the election's stolen and you should forget voting and just go back to bed for four years? Hell, no. It means you vote and vote smart, learn how to pry their filthy little hands off your ballot (there's a link at the end).

How to Steal an Election in Five Easy Steps

Here's how they can pull off the steal. Take out your calculator and add it up.

Step One: The "Dumpster" Vote - Purge Voters, Provisional Ballots

Ten million voters purged? What the hell is going on here? Why are we removing millions from the voter rolls?

The answer is the GOP's secret weapon, the Help America Vote Act, signed by George Bush in 2002. When Bush tells us he's going to help us vote, look out. But Democrats didn't. They signed on to the GOP bill, believing this "reform" law would prevent "another Florida." Instead, "Help America Vote" Floridated the entire nation.

Here's how: Help America Vote empowered secretaries of state to remove fraudulent and suspicious voters from the voter registries. It was the trick used by Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000 when she purged "felon" voters. Except they weren't felons. And now her GOP confrères are doing it in dozens of states, calling folks felon voters, "inactive" voters, suspect voters, whatever.

Take Colorado. The GOP didn't exactly trumpet it's erasing 19.4 percent of voters' names. It was, as detectives say, "hidden in plain sight," buried deep inside a US Elections Assistance Commission administrative report, among tables of mind-numbing stats through which I was trawling some months ago. (I used to teach statistics at Indiana University, so I enjoy reading matrices like others enjoy novels.)

For BBC TV and Rolling Stone, I asked the current Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, "Why all the purging?" No answer, not a word, stonewalled even when I flew into Denver and stood outside his door. He was, I guess, too busy preparing to count his own votes as Republican candidate for Congress.

So, where are the Democrats? That's the really scary part. I spoke with Paul Hultin, appointed by Colorado's Democratic governor to the state's Election Reform Commission. Hultin's a terrific attorney. He knows, and says, that Help America Vote was a law "born in corruption," but he's spent his time on Colorado's voting machines, which he knows are busted. He's the Democrats' expert, and he didn't know that a fifth of his state's voters had vanished from the voter rolls.

Well, don't worry. Hultin's official committee will be holding hearings on the voting debacle in Colorado ... on November 19.

Then there's New Mexico, with those one in nine Democrats missing. I spoke with San Miguel County elections supervisor, Democrat Pecos Paul Maez, who was none too happy that 20 percent of his voters, the majority poor and Hispanic, were not on the voter rolls, especially because he was one of the missing. He blamed the state for using a suspect contractor to tag names for the Big Purge, as required by the Help America Vote Act. The contractor that conducted the New Mexico purge, Electronic Systems and Software (ES&S), was founded by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

The company and state choose the purging "algorithms," those mathematical formulae that, depending on how you tweak them, can go through a voter roll like a hot knife through cream cheese.

So, what happens to the purged voters? They're told to scram when they arrive to vote or, if they squawk, they get a "provisional" ballot on which they can pretend to vote.

Now, here are the facts about provisionals: they don't get counted. And there are lots of them. The great unreported story of the 2004 election was that there were more than three million voters shunted to provisional ballots. Over a million (1,090,000) were never counted, just chucked in the dumpster. That's what caused Kerry to lose New Mexico, Iowa and Ohio. This time, because of Help America Vote and a Republican campaign to challenge voters, the number of provisionals will rise, as will rejections.

Whatever keeps you from getting a real ballot - purged name, for example - keeps you from having the provisional counted as well. That's because Democrats won the right of every voter to get a provisional ballot, but not the right to have that ballot counted. And how many will go uncounted? Double the 1.1 million loss in 2004 - not just because of the GOP's purge-mania, but because of a vicious little codicil in Help America Vote that went into effect since the last election ...

Step Two: "Verification" (and Elimination) of New Voters

For the first time in US history, new voters will face special new obstacles to voting. When we say "new" voters, let's be clear - we mean Obama voters. A Wall Street Journal poll shows new voters prefer Obama by an eye-popping three to one (69 percent to 20 percent).

So, the Republican game plan is simple: don't let new voters vote. There are three steps to this block-and-steal tactic. First, under the new law, states can deny new voters registration on the grounds their names can't be verified against government data files. Sounds reasonable, but it's not, because we don't have Soviet-style citizenship files in the US. The Social Security Administration is rejecting nearly half of the names submitted because there is no multi-state compatible tracking system. Of course, the Republicans know that.

New voter verification losses are huge. In California, a Republican secretary of state rejected 42 percent of new registrations, a trick discovered by his Democratic successor, Debra Bowen. She told me most of the rejected vote applicants had Hispanic, Vietnamese, Islamic and other "odd" names - odd, that is, for Republicans.

It used to be that you filled out a registration card and, bingo, you were registered. Not any more. That's also what happened in Florida to the 85,000 new registrants. They were victims of strict "matching" algorithms. Other states are also playing the "match" game. The result is voters will find themselves simply missing (or in some states, required to show extra ID - another horror show we'll discuss below). But don't worry, a of couple million new voters will get provisional ballots. That way, they can practice filling out their ballots for the day when democracy returns to America.

Step Three: New ID Laws

Karl Rove said, "I go to the grocery store and I wanna cash a check to pay for my groceries I gotta show a little bit of ID. Why should it not be reasonable ... at the voting place they ought to be able to prove who they are by showing some form of ID." And so, while buying his Pampers, Rove came up with a game-winner for the GOP.

Karl, let me answer your question. The reason, according to several studies by the Bush administration itself, is that lots of folks don't have government ID. Some are nuns, some are poor, lots are brown or old. I was on Fox TV with Lady Rothschild a couple of weeks ago. The lady, a McCain supporter, approved of the ID requirement - and was truly surprised to find out that some poorer Americans don't have passports. "Why don't they?" her Fox-mates asked, incredulous. Well, not every barrio kid has just returned from his estate outside London.

Rove knows that. He certainly knows that, for example, Professor Matthew Barreto of the University of Washington found that 10 percent of white voters in Indiana don't have the needed ID. And, for blacks, it's about double - 19 percent lack the ID required to vote. New ID laws will add to the turn-aways, provisionals and rejecteds on Tuesday by at least two million - and that's way conservative, assuming the new laws in swing states are only one-fourth as restrictive as Indiana's.

Step Four: Spoiling Ballots

Your chad gets hung. The touch screen doesn't like your touch. Or, your paper ballot had that extra mark that made the machine spit out your ballot like day-old beer with a cigarette floating in it.

In the last election, 1,389,231 ballots were zeroed-out, "spoiled," because the machines lost them, couldn't read them, mangled them or simply didn't register them. But it's not random, not by a long shot. In New Mexico in 2004, I found that 89 percent of blank and spoiled ballots were cast in minority precincts - a sum of uncounted ballots way over the Republican "victory" margin in that state.

Another study shows that Hispanics' vote choices are six times as likely to fail to be recorded when they vote on computers versus paper ballots.

In the primaries and in 2006, the "spoilage" and blank ("undervote") totals were horrific. There is every reason to believe the "spoilage" total will be as high as in the 2004 election. That is, no less than one million votes, overwhelmingly in minority districts, will just vanish. ("Spoilage" is not the same as vote tampering. There is the concern that "black-box" computers will switch your vote via an evil software hack job. That's another matter completely - and more votes lost if it happens, a sum I'm not including here.)

Step Five: Rejecting Mail-In Ballots

You've mailed in your ballot. Last time around, over half a million mail-in ballots were junked: everything from postage due to not liking your signature to a circle checked, not filled in. Mailing in a ballot is playing Russian roulette with it. About a tenth get junked.

This time, the GOP has a new game for trashing your absentee vote. In states like Florida, some FTFs (First-Time Federal voters) will have to include a photocopy of their ID in with the absentee ballot. Bet you didn't know that. They're counting on you not knowing that. In Florida, for example, you have to place the ID photocopy outside the inner envelope, but inside the outer envelope - Got that? - or your vote is toast. I've spoken to one student voter, who lost his vote for failing to use the two envelopes - though he only received one. (Have a mail-in ballot in hand? Then, for God's sake, walk it in to the polling place or local board of elections. Sign, seal and deliver it in person.)

You may get it right, but historic data suggest that, when combining the FTF games with the usual mail-in cock-ups, Obama will lose another million votes to mail-in disqualifications.

Exit Polls and Exit Stratagems

These millions of uncounted ballots - spoiled ballots, provisional ballots rejected, absentee ballots disqualified - fully explain the difference between exit polls (which, for example, gave Kerry Ohio in 2004 and Gore a win in Florida in 2000) and the official count. Exit pollsters ask, "Who did you vote for?" They never ask, and can't know, "Did your vote count?"

How would they get away with it? Well, they begin explaining away how the "pollsters" get it wrong, how pollsters didn't figure the "Bradley Effect" of lying, racist voters. They'll tell us the new, young and Black Obamaniacs gave money, went to rallies - but never bothered to vote. But the real reason will never be whispered: They cast votes that just weren't counted.

Will the election be stolen on Tuesday? No, it's already been stolen. That is, several million voters are doomed to lose their ballots; most won't even know it. Overwhelmingly, they are the poor, minorities, new voters - Obama voters. Does that mean McCain's got it in the bag and you're helpless? Not at all.

Don't Steal Your Own Vote

In 2004, I and other investigators wrote, long before Election Day, "Ohio's stolen." We were deadly right.

It's happening again. For six years, the Democratic Party has been snoozing through a quiet, brilliantly executed Republican operation to block, stop and purge voters by the millions. As New Mexico voting rights attorney John Boyd put it, "I don't think the Democrats get it. All these new rules and games are turning voting into an obstacle course that could flip the vote to the GOP in half a dozen states."

Karl Rove once said, "We have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored glasses." He wasn't complaining; he was boasting.

I know that the Obama campaign is not happy that I bring up the issue of a possible theft of the election. They fear voters will be "discouraged" by the possibility that the election is fixed.

Well, frankly, if you're too bummed out by this recitation of facts and statistics to vote, then maybe you don't deserve to vote, or to drive or to reproduce. Did Martin Luther King say, "I have a dream ... so I'm going back to sleep"?

Votes can't be saved by "hope" alone. There are simple ways to protect your own vote, from walking in your "mail-in" to refusing a provisional ballot. (You can download the list at, written with Bobby Kennedy, a professor of law.)

It comes down to this: Can the margin of trickery, vote suppression and ballot destruction - three to six million votes - be overcome? Yes. Because they can't steal all the votes all the time. Two days before the election, John McCain is down by only 4 percent in some polls. But these are polls of "likely" voters. They exclude first-time and many low-income voters.

So, the answer to vote suppression is for something unlikely to happen - for the "unlikely" voters to simply overwhelm the statistical assumption of their laziness. As I'm sure Mr. Obama, a professor of constitutional law, could tell you: the best legal response to systematic vote suppression is to get off yo' ass!


Greg Palast is the co-author of "Block the Vote," in this month's Rolling Stone Magazine, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Palast and Kennedy are also co-authors of the investigative comic book, "Steal Back Your Vote." Palast, who reports on election fraud for BBC Television, is a Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation fellow for investigative reporting. Prior to his becoming a journalist, Palast was a forensic economist, fraud investigator and taught economics and statistics at Indiana University.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

You're No Maverick

Original Mavericks To McCain: "You're No Maverick"

Brave New Films talks to the actual original Mavericks, who aren't too fond of John McCain using their name:

Fontaine Maverick, great-great-granddaughter of Samuel Augustus Maverick (1803-1870) explains the origin of the expression -- and why it shouldn't apply to the Republican candidate:

Samuel Maverick was a Texas cattleman, land baron and politician, so influential that he was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Fiercely independent and equally liberal. Sam became well known for what he didn't do, however. It seems, according to Fontaine, that he had taken some cattle in lieu of a debt he was owed. He let them roam on an island off of Texas, and for whatever reason, didn't brand them. So, any unbranded cattle became known as Maverick's. Now, this more than likely wasn't an act of revolt. No one knows for sure, but Maverick really wasn't much of a cattleman. He was also shrewd, later on in life if cattle weren't branded, he would often claim them.

Sam was also very spirited and free minded. It was because of this that in 1867 the term Maverick was first cited as being used to describe someone with an independent streak, someone not branded.


"Mavericks believe everybody has a right to be in America so long as they obey the law," Fontaine told me. "Grandfather Maury was no coward. He chased the Klan right out of San Antonio once, stood up to the mob... Maury was burned in effigy in San Antonio, for his defense of members of the Communist Party's right to assemble, for his defense of the Hispanic community, support for those who didn't have a voice. "


"My brother called me from California last week during the VP debate and told me if they said the world Maverick one more time, he was going to shoot the TV. Of course, he doesn't have a gun, but, you get the point. My mother was just quoted in the New York Times about how we feel McCain is branded, Palin is branded, they are Republicans, and true Mavericks carry no brand. It's driving our family crazy, upsetting us and the legacy of my family, and we really with the campaign would stop misusing the word and the phrase.

"John McCain on a few occasions has shown that he can go against his party, but how hard is that when his party has been wrong on so many things as we now see," she continued. "But he has a brand. And Palin, I'm not sure she even knows the history of the word of or my family, but one thing is clear to all of my family, she truly is not a Maverick."

McCain Did Not Disclose Keating Business Deal To Investigators

McCain Did Not Disclose Keating Business Deal To Investigators

The New Republic published an explosive story Saturday evening detailing how John McCain, in all likelihood, leaked information to investigators of the Keating Five scandal that was designed to help his image at the expense of the other four Senators involved.

If the allegation is true -- and TNR makes a healthy case as to its veracity -- it would mean that McCain violated Senate rules and could have been expelled from that body.

"All five senators -- including McCain -- had testified under oath and under the U.S. penal code that the leaks did not come from their camps," Sahil Mahtani reports. "The leaks were also prohibited by rules of the Senate Ethics Committee; according to the rules of the Senate, anyone caught leaking such information could face expulsion from the body."

But this is not be the only instance in which McCain defied the rules of the Senate when seeking to absolve himself of any wronging in the Keating affair. Public records in Arizona reveal that the Senator was also dishonest in discussing the extent of financial transactions he and his family had with the disgraced Savings and Loans chief.

In a three-and-a-half hour interview with investigators on February 13, 1990, McCain told the Ethics Committee that "other than the Fountain Square project [a property deal in which Keating and McCain's family were jointly invested] there were no other financial dealings between him or his family and ACC [American Continental Corporation]."

This, it seems, was not true.

In 1983, the company owned by the McCain family -- specifically his wife Cindy and father-in-law Jim Hensley -- bought a property in Mesa, Arizona, owned by ACC, only to sell it back two months later.

According to property records (pdf), on May 26 of that year, Keating's ACC "conveyed" Lot 188 of Laguna Shores Unit 8 to the Hensley/McCain's Western Leasing Company for the price of $75,000. On July 21, 1983, Western Leasing Company sold the lot right back to ACC for the same exact price.

There is no explanation on the records as to why the unusual property exchange took place. McCain did not report it on his personal financial disclosure form that year, which required senators to list "any interest in property held during calendar year 1983 in a trade or business or for investment or the production of income, which had a fair market value exceeding $1,000 as of the end of the year." Though, a Democratic lawyer familiar with ethics disclosures notes that if he didn't "have a personal ownership interest in the property it would not have to be reported." McCain did list his shares in Western Leasing.

Keating would go on to build a residence on that lot just two months after purchasing it back from Western Leasing. Theoretically, he could have benefited from having that property off the books for the two-month period it was owned by Western Leasing. Though, more than anything else, the transaction demonstrates just how close he and the McCain/Hensleys were.

Taken as a whole, the revelation presents another curious chapter in McCain's conduct during the Keating affair. The Senator, along with four of his colleagues, was accused in 1987 of improperly intervening on behalf of Keating, who was being targeted at the time by regulators. McCain had a close relationship with the Savings and Loan chair, having taken free flights (which he later reimbursed) and received $166,000 in campaign contributions from 1982 through 1986. The two had exchanged notes of friendship as well. After McCain wrote a note apologizing to Keating for listing him as a member of his campaign finance committee - a snub of a post for the long-time donor - Keating replied by writing: "John, don't be silly. You can call me anything...I'm yours until death do us part."

By and large, however, McCain's biography has been as helped as hindered by the whole affair. While he was reprimanded for showing "poor judgment" by the ethics committee (though cleared of legal impropriety), the Arizona Republican used the incident to launch a career as a good-government crusader.

The image makeover has been challenged at various times during this campaign. Revelations that McCain may have misled investigators about the extent of his interactions with Keating as well as reports of his allies leaking favorable information to the press could provide further fodder for those critics.

The McCain campaign did not immediately return request for comment.

Republicans Ramp Up Negative Attacks As Election Day Nears

The Stench Run: Republicans Ramp Up Negative Attacks As Election Day Nears

With Election Day looming and the polls suggesting John McCain faces a daunting challenge, the GOP and the McCain campaign have ramped up their negative attacks on Barack Obama. Just to start, McCain attacked Obama's patriotism and Republicans made much hay out of a video that purportedly shows Obama attending a party where Palestinian, and Columbia University Professor, Rashid Khalidi was also a guest. Below is a round up of some of McCain's and the GOP's 11th hour attacks.

McCain Attacks Obama's Patriotism: McCain seized on - and took out of context - remarks made by Obama today to question the Democrat's patriotism:

John McCain unveiled a new attack on Barack Obama's patriotism Saturday, jumping all over - and taking out of context - remarks made yesterday in which the Democratic nominee said the Iowa Caucuses vindicated his faith in the American public.

Campaigning in Springfield, Virginia, McCain told the crowd that he had always had faith in his country and - dinging his opponent - claimed that the United States "has never had to prove anything to me..."

...Past statements aside, if one actually takes a look at what Obama said, and what he has said before, it is hard to interpret in anyway that he doubted the United States. Just look at the sentences before his "faith" remark, in which he lavishly praises the American people, who he "knew" were "decent" and "generous."

GOP Flier: Obama More A Friend To Criminals Than Cops: HuffPost's Sam Stein reports on a GOP flier circulating in Virginia that accuses Obama of being more of a friend to criminals than to cops:

The pamphlet, flagged by a recipient in the state and a new version of one previously reported in several other states, includes a photo of a quiet suburban neighborhood and young children playing on in a classroom - the implicit message being, Obama will make you and your family less safe.

"Protecting your family comes first," reads the front.

"A record of being soft on crime," reads the back. "Barack Obama has consistently opposed tougher penalties for criminals - including major offenses - allowing criminals to remain on the streets."

GOP Mailer In Pennsylvania Suggests Electing Obama Could Lead To Second Holocaust: Talking Points Memo flags another GOP flier that is particularly nasty:

A reader sends in a nasty mailer that just hit Philadelphia-area in-boxes, blasted out by a GOP group called the Republican Jewish Coalition, suggesting that a vote for Barack Obama could lead to another "tragic outcome" for the Jewish people.

"Concerned about Barack Obama? You should be," the mailer warns. "History has shown that a naive and weak foreign policy has resulted in tragic outcomes for the Jewish people."

The mailer helpfully notes that the image is a pic of Obama speaking in Germany.

House GOP Leader Calls Obama "Chicken Shit": House Minority leader John Boehner shockingly used an expletive to describe Obama for his "present" votes in the Illinois State Senate:

House minority leader John Boehner's spokesman confirms the accuracy of this quote, from an Ohio student newspaper:

"Now, listen, I've voted 'present' two or three times in my entire 25-year political career, where there might have been a conflict of interest and I didn't feel like I should vote," Boehner said. "In Congress, we have a red button, a green button and a yellow button, alright. Green means 'yes,' red means 'no,' and yellow means you're a chicken s***.

"And the last thing we need in the White House, in the oval office, behind that big desk, is some chicken who wants to push this yellow button."

Regional McCain Manager Denies Obama's Citizenship: Tim McClellan, a regional manager in Florida for the McCain campaign, isn't sold on the idea of Obama as an American citizen:

The most surprising statement was something we've been hearing from McCain supporters but not from anyone actually on the McCain or RNC payroll. "I have strong concerns that Obama is not a citizen. I suspect the U.S. Supreme Court will prove that Obama's not a citizen," Tim continued. "Did he go to Indonesia and become an Indonesian citizen, and if so, did he take steps to regain his (U.S.) citizenship? There's no seal on his birth certificate and the font is wrong."

Conservative Group To Run Rev. Wright Ads Through Election Day: National Republican Trust PAC has a major ad buy on national networks to run anti-Wright attacks:

Get ready for a deluge of Wright rantings.

The National Republican Trust PAC, which has been airing an ad attacking Barack Obama's association with Reverend Wright in three battleground states, has now put down for a national buy on five networks that will last from now through election day, a consultant with the group confirms to me.

The ad will run nationally on Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for the next five days, the consultant, Rick Wilson, says -- "all the way until election day."

The ad, which you can watch here, features the now-infamous footage of Wright's livelier sermons, and intones that Obama "never complained" about Wright "until he ran for President," adding that Obama is "too radical, too risky."

Obama Campaign Manager Questions Timing Of Aunt Story: David Axelrod is suspicious of the timing of the story about Obama's aunt living in the country illegally:

Speaking to reporters today, Obama chief strategist David Axelrod addressed reports that Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama's Kenyan father, has been living illegally in the United States for four years. Axelrod expressed some skepticism about the timing of the news, which first broke in the Times of London and was confirmed by the Associated Press in the waning days of the presidential race.

"The campaign issued a statement on that," Axelrod told reporters, "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign.

"I think that they're going to take that," he added, "They're going to put it in that context."

In a statement earlier today, the campaign said that "Sen. Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed."

More GOP Mailers Hitting The Streets: A new GOP flier hits Obama on lobbyists, taxes and socialism:

The anti-Obama mail keeps piling up. A reader forwarded a set of pieces that go after the Illinois Democrat for not, really, being a thorn in the side of lobbyists and for planning to raise taxes alongside his liberal allies in Congress,

The first piece accuses Obama of funneling the "hard-earned money of America's taxpayers to pay his friends and family with political favors."

As evidence the literature cites the Senator's relationship with Tony Rezko - the indicted Chicago insider - and two earmarks that Obama helped bring to Illinois; projects that, tangentially, were connected to his wife or a political supporter. It is, in short, thin gruel.

McCain Campaign Demands LA Times Rlease Khalidi Video: The McCain campaign sought to portray Obama as an extremist after learning that the LA Times has video of Obama attending the same party as Rashid Khalidi. HuffPost's Seth Colter Walls discovers that this guilt-by-association game will be difficult for McCain to pull off:

In regards to Khalidi, however, the guilt-by-association game burns John McCain as well.

During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.

A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. (See grant number 5180, "West Bank: CPRS" on page 14 of this PDF.)

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi's group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of "sociopolitical attitudes."