Will the real fraud please stand up?

Haggis McBagpipe
According to the New York Times, a left-wing publication by any standards, the vote fraud theories are false, and are proven to be so.

I don't much like cutting and pasting articles in their entirety, but am doing so since one cannot access NYT articles without registering.

Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly Buried


Published: November 12, 2004

The e-mail messages and Web postings had all the twitchy cloak-and-dagger thrust of a Hollywood blockbuster. "Evidence mounts that the vote may have been hacked," trumpeted a headline on the Web site CommonDreams.org. "Fraud took place in the 2004 election through electronic voting machines," declared BlackBoxVoting.org.

In the space of seven days, an online market of dark ideas surrounding last week's presidential election took root and multiplied.

But while the widely read universe of Web logs was often blamed for the swift propagation of faulty analyses, the blogosphere, as it has come to be known, spread the rumors so fast that experts were soon able to debunk them, rather than allowing them to linger and feed conspiracy theories. Within days of the first rumors of a stolen election, in fact, the most popular theories were being proved wrong - though many were still reluctant to let them go.

Much of the controversy, called Votergate 2004 by some, involved real voting anomalies in Florida and Ohio, the two states on which victory hinged. But ground zero in the online rumor mill, it seems, was Utah.

"I love the process of democracy, and I think it's more important than the outcome," said Kathy Dopp, an Internet enthusiast living near Salt Lake City. It was Ms. Dopp's analysis of the vote in Florida (she has a master's degree in mathematics) that set off a flurry of post-election theorizing by disheartened Democrats who were certain, given early surveys of voters leaving the polls that were leaked, showing Senator John Kerry winning handily, that something was amiss.

The day after the election, Ms. Dopp posted to her Web site, www.ustogether.org, a table comparing party registrations in each of Florida's 67 counties, the method of voting used and the number of votes cast for each presidential candidate. Ms. Dopp, along with other statisticians contributing to the site, suggested a "surprising pattern" in Florida's results showing inexplicable gains for President Bush in Democratic counties that used optical-scan voting systems.

The zeal and sophistication of Ms. Dopp's number crunching was hard to dismiss out of hand, and other Web users began creating their own bar charts and regression models in support of other theories. In a breathless cycle of hey-check-this-out, the theories - along with their visual aids - were distributed by e-mail messages containing links to popular Web sites and Web logs, or blogs, where other eager readers diligently passed them along.

Within one day, the number of visits to Ms. Dopp's site jumped from 50 to more than 500, according to site logs. On Nov. 4, that number tipped 17,000. Her findings were noted on popular left-leaning Web logs like DailyKos.com and FreePress.org. Last Friday, three Democratic members of Congress - John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Jerrold Nadler of New York and Robert Wexler of Florida - sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office seeking an investigation of voting machines. A link to Ms. Dopp's site was included in the letter.

But rebuttals to the Florida fraud hypothesis were just as quick. Three political scientists, from Cornell, Harvard and Stanford, pointed out, in an e-mail message to a Web site that carried the news of Ms. Dopp's findings, that many of those Democratic counties in Florida have a long tradition of voting Republican in presidential elections. And while Ms. Dopp says that she and dozens of other researchers will continue to analyze the Florida vote, the suggestion of a link between certain types of voting machines and the vote split in Florida has, at least for now, little concrete support.

Still, as visitors to Ms. Dopp's site approached 70,000 early this week, other election anomalies were gaining traction on the Internet. The elections department in Cleveland, for instance, set off a round of Web log hysteria when it posted turnout figures on its site that seemed to show more votes being cast in some communities than there were registered voters. That turned out to be an error in how the votes were reported by the department, not in the counting.

And the early Election Day polls, conducted for a consortium of television networks and The Associated Press, which proved largely inaccurate in showing Mr. Kerry leading in Florida and Ohio, continued to be offered as evidence that the Bush team somehow cheated.

But while authorities acknowledge that there were real problems on Election Day, including troubles with some electronic machines and intolerably long lines in some places, few have suggested that any of these could have changed the outcome.

"There are real problems to be addressed," said Doug Chapin of Electionline.org, a clearinghouse of election reform information, "and I'd hate for them to get lost in second-guessing of the result."

It is that second-guessing, however, that has largely characterized the blog-to-e-mail-to-blog continuum. Some election officials have become frustrated by the rumor mill.

"It becomes a snowball of hearsay," said Matthew Damschroder, the director of elections in Columbus, Ohio, where an electronic voting machine malfunctioned in one precinct and allotted some 4,000 votes to President Bush, kicking off its own flurry of Web speculation. That particular problem was unusual and remains unexplained, but it was caught and corrected, Mr. Damschroder said.

"Some from the traditional media have called for an explanation," he said, "but no one from these blogs has called and said, 'We want to know what really happened.' "

Whether that is the role of bloggers, Web posters and online pundits, however, is a matter of debate.

Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in the interactive telecommunications program at New York University, suggests that the online fact-finding machine has come unmoored, and that some bloggers simply "can't imagine any universe in which a fair count of the votes would result in George Bush being re-elected president."

But some denizens of the Web see it differently.

Jake White, the owner of the Web log primordium.org, argues that he and other election-monitoring Web posters are not motivated solely by partisan politics. "While there are no doubt large segments of this movement that are being driven by that," he said in an e-mail message, "I prefer to think of it as discontent over the way the election was held."

Mr. White also quickly withdrew his own analysis of voting systems in Ohio when he realized the data he had used was inaccurate.

John Byrne, editor of an alternative news site, BlueLemur.com, says it is too easy to condemn blogs and freelance Web sites for being inaccurate. The more important point, he said, is that they offer an alternative to a mainstream news media that has become too timid. "Of course you can say blogs are wrong," he said. "Blogs are wrong all the time."

For its part, the Kerry campaign has been trying to tamp down the conspiracy theories and to tell supporters that their mission now is to ensure that every vote is counted, not that the election be overturned.

"We know this was an emotional election, and the losing side is very upset," said Daniel Hoffheimer, the lead lawyer for the Kerry campaign in Ohio. But, he said, "I have not seen anything to indicate intentional fraud or tampering."

A preliminary study produced by the Voting Technology Project, a cooperative effort between the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to a similar conclusion. Its study found "no particular patterns" relating to voting systems and the final results of the election.

"The 'facts' that are being circulated on the Internet," the study concluded, "appear to be selectively chosen to make the point."

Whether that will ever convince everyone is an open question.

"I'd give my right arm for Internet rumors of a stolen election to be true," said David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, "but blogging it doesn't make it so. We can change the future; we can't rewrite the past."
Rick van Opbergen
Interesting article.
Reverend Blair
I'm still not buying it. Sorry, but the electronic machines are too easy to tamper with. The stories of intimidation and lying are too commonplace. The Republican party has a long tradition of trying to disenfranchise people based on race. The guy who runs Diebold did promise to deliver Ohio to Bush. All of the other voting machine companies are owned by staunch Republicans.

Will it change the election results? Likely not, but it does point to the strong possibility of election fraud and the last time there was a major case of criminality in a US presidential election it led to the impeachment of president Nixon.

That, by the way, was almost swept under the rug too. Most of the press wouldn't touch it, but a couple of young, idealistic reporters just wouldn't let it go. They were called conspiracy theorists and liars and told that their facts were wrong too at first. Then the rest of the press started paying attention and suddenly members of Nixon's cabinet were in front of hearings with lawyers attached to their ears.
Haggis McBagpipe
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

That, by the way, was almost swept under the rug too. Most of the press wouldn't touch it, but a couple of young, idealistic reporters just wouldn't let it go.

If true, then we can only hope that two such idealistic reporters are out there today, and that they can beat the odds as well. Sad to think that Woodward is now a fawning fan of Bush. Sad and strange.
Actually, maybe we've been lucky down here. Voter fraud is better than a military coup which, if it went the other way, might've happened. Guess I'm trying too hard to see the proverbial silver lining.
Reverend Blair
The mainstream press is beginning to pick up the story. A lot of them are none to happy about being duped by Bush over Iraq and they are being heavily criticised for it. They were scooped by the internet pundits, bloggers, and a foreign press who understood all too clearly what was happening. Bush made them look like chumps.

I think they'll be going after this story and a lot of other things critical of Bush over the next while. Look for the Plame thing (also an impeachable, jailable offense...but more likely for Cheney) to become a story. The French aren't done with Cheney for crimes Halliburton was implicated when he as CEO yet either, and the British have jumped on board. There are a lot of questions about Bush's connections to business, exactly who knew that the case for Iraq was all lies and so on. In addition to that it is extremely unlikely that Bush is going to get any cooperation from the international community.

If Bush thinks the press is going to give him a free ride this time around, he's sadly mistaken. They are going to be looking for stories and they are going to be digging deep.
It all boils down to the press. Over the last four years the neocons was in the perfect position of being supported by the press while convincing most folks that they were being persecuted by the "liberal" media. I personally don't trust the establishment media. They did a fairly good job back in the early 70s with nixon, but they waited until he was safely re-elected before they started on him.
Reverend Blair
...and they completely blew it on Reagan and the first Bush. They went after Carter and Clinton with a vengeance though. So much for the myth of the liberal press.

There are a couple of differences now though. The internet is powerful not just because more voices are being heard, but because the old voices are more easily accessible. The foreign press is only a click away. Truly liberal magazines like The Nation (oldest weekly in the US btw) are available on-line.

The US press has always been very conservative because they are basically business interests. They need to turn a profit and that is done mostly by selling advertising to other businesses. That all hinges on people buying what they are selling though, and after being scooped so many times in the last five years or so, the power to sell that is becoming questionable. People are beginning to look elsewhere.

That could provide the impetus for them to smarten up and start doing their jobs for a change.
One can only hope they'll start doing their jobs. I don't see this going away quickly. There are just too many shady things that happened.
Reverend Blair
It will be slow, but I think it will happen. Nobody likes being a laughingstock and the entire world press is pointing at the US press and giggling right now.
Haggis McBagpipe
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

...and they completely blew it on Reagan and the first Bush. They went after Carter and Clinton with a vengeance though. So much for the myth of the liberal press.

The myth of the liberal press was used as an effective tool by Republicans to convince voters that anything negative being reported about the Bush admin should be viewed as highly suspect. The surprise is the effectiveness of this smear tactic against supposedly 'liberal' media: the majority of people stateside started to trust only the 'fair and balanced' (excuse me while I gag) FoxNews. Just a sorry state all around.

Thanks for the tip on The Nation, Rev.
Reverend Blair
The Nation is an excellent magazine. The print version is even better than the on-line version, and you can read it on the couch.

The problem with debunking the whole left-wing media lie is that it's part of a larger lie. There has been a trend toward "dumbing down" the people for quite some time now.

That goes far beyond catering to the lowest common denominator. It has become fashionable to be stupid and, as such, to criticise those who think about or look at things too deeply.

You constantly hear about the intellectual elites and people in ivory towers. The implication is that they don't know what they are talking about because they haven't seen the situation up close and personal. There's a few things wrong with that theory.

1. Many times they have seen things up close and personal.

2. They usually get information from sources that have not only been up close and personal with a sitution, but use multiple sources before reaching a conclusion.

3. These people are paid to think and to report on situations. They are given money for those tasks because, whether you agree with them or not, they are good at it.

4.There's this perception that only what you saw with your own eyes can be true. Ask any cop how many different "true" eye-witness accounts they get at the scene of an accident of crime, then consider how accurate that is.

5. A lot of truths are uncomfortable, so we naturally seek the answers that are most comfortable for us. Nobody wants to hear that their country is criminal or that they are destroying the earth, so they will believe anything that allows them to avoid admitting those things, no matter how inane.

Put all these things together and it's easy to believe that the press is some liberla instrument designed to destroy your life. You can watch the people having an intelligent discussion on PBS or CBC...people who are really examining an issue, but tend to use big words and present several sides of an issue, requiring you to think...or you can watch the guy on Fox with his sleeves rolled up yelling and screaming about things and telling you what to think.
Haggis McBagpipe
Quote: Originally Posted by Reverend Blair

You can watch the people having an intelligent discussion on PBS or CBC...people who are really examining an issue, but tend to use big words and present several sides of an issue, requiring you to think...or you can watch the guy on Fox with his sleeves rolled up yelling and screaming about things and telling you what to think.

Yes, this is very true indeed.

I think the US government - like any government with a desire/need to wrest more control of the people - will take steps to dumb 'em down, since it is easily the most effective form of control a government can have. By doing so, they can strip away civil liberties without actually having to change any existing laws.
Reverend Blair
There is no doubt that the Republicans in the US use the tactic to their advantage. What bothers me is that it's gaining popularity in Canada. things are taken out of context, accusations are made that (even if retracted later)
put an image in people's minds.

Remember the "Paul Martin supports child pornography" attack ad the Harperites ran? They pulled the ad but Harper never did really apologise. I still see people on the far right using that very line.

I don't like Martin, but he sure as hell doesn't support kiddy porn. The thing is that it's a complicated issue...the bill the Conservatives put forth would have made books like Lolita illegal and would have made even negative depictions of child porn, including scholarly papers, against the law. Everybody but the Conservatives voted it down.

The Conservatives never mention how complex the issue is though, they just yell, "Paul Martin supports child porn because he wouldn't support our bill." No thinking required. No thinking allowed.
Haggis McBagpipe
I recall the terrible slander against Martin, yes. The whole tactic of presenting damning evidence then retracting is effective, since nobody ever reads (or believes) the retractions.

No thinking allowed... no thinking encouraged, at any rate. I would say that one important difference between the average Canadian and the average American lies in the perception that Canadians have for politicians in general, markedly different than that of Americans.

It won't be our saving grace in the long run, though, because we are becoming increasingly 'flavoured' with the American way of looking at things, via the onslaught of US programming in television.

It just takes a dash of Ameri-think here, a dash there, and suddenly the idea of Martin supporting - nay, even participating - in child porn will seem a no-brainer to the brainwashed... or should I say the brain-dead.
Reverend Blair
That's already happening. Look at the reactions to all the dire predictions everytime we won't do exactly what the US wants. "They'll close the border and we'll all starve."

They won't close the border, first of all...they need our stuff. Second of all even if they did close the border we would simply sell to other markets and develop our own manufacturing base more, something we should be doing anyway.

We are heavily discouraged from thinking that though. There is only a business section in the paper, after all. There is no labour section, there is no place for alternatives to be offered. We are given one choice...do as the US says or else...and nothing else.
Haggis McBagpipe
And voila! we get back to the fear factor. The Americans must be the most frightened citizens in the world, but Canadians are getting awfully fearful as well.

We are taught to be afraid at all levels, and virtually everything is delivered as a worst-case-scenario doom message.

Hell, right now my dog has fleas (the bastid!). So, I read the packages of different products to find out the best way get rid of the fleas and the vast majority have the worst-case scenario: 'fleas can kill your dog'. Just one small example of a world gone crazy with fear... EVERYthing has that fearful bottom line, ergo the message that disagreeing with America will result in starvation.

The unavailable 'flu shot in the states causes actual panic amongst citizenry who seemingly have forgotten that it is, after all, just the 'flu.

Don't let your kids play outside for ten seconds without supervision, because they will be kidnapped and murdered if you let them.

And so it goes, and goes and goes.

I think the bombardment of the fear factor into virtually all aspects of our lives - from the dog with fleas that will KILL him to the terrorists that will get us all - is another factor in our losing battle against governments that would prefer to have better control of citizens.

a) dumb 'em down
b) keep 'em scared
Paranoia controls us. There are many signs of it in society. The mentality of "it's mine and you don't deserve to share it with me" has replaced "were all in this together so let's all work it out". The front porch has been replaced by the back deck, the chain link or picket fence by the privacy fence, the shot gun and hunting rifle by the assault weapon, the union in the workplace by the lawsuite...
Has anyone here checked out the documentry called OutFoxed?
I realize we're a "red state", but state elections tell a different story. Here is an example of how dems might win. I like using the Salazar brothers as an example because they're from the same northern new mexico-southern colorado Hispanic heritage as my wife:

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