Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Diebold voting machines to be used in California

This is serious business, Gentle Readers: Diebold, of rigged election fame, has gotten the contract to steal another election – or series of - here in California.

What happened is this: somehow Diebold got the contract to supply voting machines for the state, promising in their contract that the machines would be transparent, verifiable, and available for a recount if necessary. Dates were set for the first inspection of the machines and software by the state, but a spanner has been thrown in the works.

Skippy is reporting
, and I for one believe him, that Diebold has been given a pass on the contractual stipulations by secretary of State Bruce McPherson, and the inspections will not happen unless we demand action.

This must not stand. Contact your state representative and senator, and demand that the contract be fullfilled in its every particular. There must be no vote fraud in California.

Contact info for state reps are:

Senator Don Perata (chair)(D)
(916) 651-4009
district office (510) 286-1333

Senator Jim Battin (vice-chair) (R)
(916) 651-4037

Senator Roy Ashburn (R)
(916) 651-4018

Senator Debra Bowen (D)
email only
(ms. bowen is mounting this case and will be busy preparing, emails are welcomed)

Senator Gilbert Cedillo (D)
(916) 651-4022

Why on God’s green earth Diebold was given this contract is beyond me, but we need to act. Call or email – now.

Real ID Act - Szho me your paypurz

It's the nightmare of every citizen who has lived under an authoritarian regime: the man in the uniform or black leather trench coat and porkpie hat pops up in front of you and says,

"Show me your papers."

Something we normally have never had to think about in this here Land of the Free. In fact, our anonymity used to be one of the characteristics of the free American, viz. "Who was that masked man?" and the “Man With No Name.”

That’s all changed.

Traditionally – and for most purposes - you whipped out your birth certificate or a driver’s license, occasionally a credit card. It has always been a situational affair, between you and Blockbuster, for instance. But back in the spring of 2005, Congress passed the
Real ID Act, a real piece of business. Frankly, what's in your wallet has never been the government's business, and neither should your identity walking down the street, minding your own affairs. I personally can’t find any authority in the Constitution to authorize Congress’ mandate for a national identification system, but that didn’t stop them. God knows that little old lady only looks like a kindly grandmother; she’s really a turrerist with an A-bomb hiding under her flowered hat. Or maybe I am – or you.

This Act calls for an
electronic chip embedded in your shiny new plastic ID card, just brimming with your vital stats: height, weight, date of birth, color of eyes and hair, address, name of your pet dog, probably your credit rating, everything. This is the matching program for the little ID chips the manufacturers placed in your cell phone, allowing the FBI to zero in on you.

Oh, you didn’t know that? Sorry - you’re too late on that one, too.

Leaving aside the question of the feds’ authority to pull this on its citizens is the fact that the feds once again left it to the states to pay for this program, and gave them precious little funding to do it. The feds do this to the states by threatening to withhold funding on highway projects or some such balderdash, but the states are already bleeding, so where is the real threat? Still,
California is estimating that it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars for our state alone, and probably won’t be secure in any case.

We all know that any hacker worth his Gyro Gearloose merit badge can whip up a fake ID in microseconds, so what’s the point?

Here’s the point: can you say “regimentation?” Or how about, “lose-of-civil-rights-creep”?

Whatever, the law has been passed, and it’s a done deal, like it or not. Your congressperson voted for it, and you are now a number, tracked by
ADVISE, ECHELON and God knows how many other DOD, DARPA, and NSA pet projects.

Thanks again, Goat Boy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Orleans and Wild Magnolias down but not out

Wild Magnolias member parades big time

The first parade of the Mardi Gras season kicked off Saturday, and I wish I could have been there.

The radio is tuned to KKJZ, the jazz outlet here in LA; an NPR special in honor of New Orleans with an all-New Orleans lineup. New Orleans is on everyone’s minds here; I actually work with two people who call NO home.

Yep, the one and only time I made it to New Orleans was on the eve of Mardi Gras, February, 1980. Lorie and I were moving from Charleston, SC to LA and we were stopping in NO to pay a quick visit to a mutual friend in the Crescent City; we had no idea that we were about to arrive in the middle of the biggest party on the planet. We were driving across the Lake Pontchartrain Bridge and the people in the cars passing us were tossing back beers and slugging from hip flasks. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I cranked up the radio: just after Professor Longhair finished up some screamer, the DJ came on and said the magic words: “FAT TUESDAY!”

I reached into my secret stash, pulled the Jack out, and the party was on!

Our friend’s neighbors took in the baby and Lorie and I were treated to some of the best hospitality we have ever received: invitations to complete stranger’s homes and parties (black and white), watched as the neighbors made their costumes, ate huge crawfish by Lake Pontchartrain by candlelight with silver candelabras and the whitest of linens, paraded in the neighborhoods and joined up with the big parade, the whole magilla. Stayed up for three days and nights, listened to Eddie “Cleanhead” Vincent in a club just off Bourbon for the price of a beer; what a gas, what a place.

My father once told me that New Orleans was his favorite city in the world; when he died he left me his collection of Dixieland jazz; about one thousands records.

What more can I say?

LA Express is online

I've started another blog, devoted to more news-news stuff, plus a realtime feed from Information Clearing House. I'm still gonna do longer pieces here on Reality Frame, but go for a more blog-like wham-bam stuff on LA Express.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Veep's tardiness pisses off press

A furious American press is something we haven't seen in awhile, but the Cheny hunting accident set the press dogs snarling.

While the US press hasn't given much introspection into its lackadaisical approach to reporting on the undermining of the Bill of Rights carried out by this administration, some thoughts about the press' handling of the shooting are popping up:

Via the UK Guardian:

Editor, PR Week:
The real problem here is what this incident has revealed about the inner workings of the White House. Hopefully, Harry Whittington will recover, but the recovery for the Bush and Cheney offices will take much longer.

A crisis at its worst will reveal the inadequacies of your internal organisation and that is exactly what has happened here. It revealed that there was no coordination between Cheney's office and Bush's White House office, which lends credence to the perception
people already have that Cheney runs his own show, that his office does not collaborate with other White House officials, and that his office thought that it could contain and control this story. That put Bush's press secretary [Scott McClellan] into a very awkward position of publicly joking about this when he did not know the full status of the victim, which makes Bush look bad. And if you make your boss look bad, you are not doing your job.

Senator Roberts proposes ignoring Constitution

In another display of his rather shaky grip of the finer points of the Constitution, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan), Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has proposed that lawmakers skip the oversight function of the committee entirely and pass a resolution authorizing Bush's warrantless domestic wiretapping.

Hey Senator Roberts, why not just pass a resolution disestablishing the Constitution entirely, since its so inconvenient?