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January 14. 2008


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

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January 14, 2008

Sorting Out The Presidential Primary

The electronic machines are crooked and so are most of the candidates, but it’s all about the act of voting

The New York State presidential primaries are coming up fast on February 5. A lot of people have asked me who I’m planning to vote for. Would you like to know what I’ve been telling them?

“Aw, jeez, I don’t know.”

I hate to say to people, “By the time they get to New York, will it matter anymore?” Because as I’ve said plenty of times before, who you vote for is not as important as the fact that you vote. Believe me, the politicians watch very carefully to see who votes and who doesn’t. They tailor their positions and their behaviors to please the people who actually crawl off of their couches and go to the polling stations on election day.

And it’s quite possible that this time the New York vote totals will have an impact. Naturally, this big election won’t be like City of Albany elections where a couple of votes can decide the winner, but the results in our state could make or break a national campaign. Imagine what it would do to Hillary Clinton if she doesn't roll up big in her own state.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

But that doesn’t answer the question, who to vote for. Since none of the remaining candidates fills me with joy and celebration, let’s try the process of elimination.

Six names will appear on the Democratic Party ballot. The three big candidates worth discussing are all Senators, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Joe Biden and Bill Richardson have dropped out of the race, but their names are still on the ballot.

Here in the City of Albany, the Democratic Party is controlled by Mayor Jerry Jennings. All the ward leaders distributed to their committee persons qualifying petitions for Hillary Clinton, and for no other candidates. Having Jenning’s total support may actually hurt Ms. Clinton in downtown Albany. Certainly in my neighborhood.

We also have candidate number six on the ballot, congressional representative from Cleveland, Ohio, Dennis Kucinich. Obviously, Mr. Kucinich has no chance in a hundred hells of coming even close to the Democratic nomination. This is a strong testament to the power of the corporate media to brand and marginalize important political leaders who speak for major sectors of the electorate.

Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich

The negative branding of Mr. Kucinich by the corporate media has taken one of the most solid and hardheaded practical politicians in America today and convinced most people that he is a “lunatic” and a “moonbeam,” to quote several of the more prevalent slanders I’ve heard uttered about the man.

For example, much has been made of how Mr. Kucinich once stated that he observed a UFO. Well, Ronald Reagan claimed to have seen two UFOs. And evil old Ronnie, as president, set his daily agenda according to advice from a sleazy Hollywood astrologer. Where’s the negative branding? If you want to meet moonbeam lunatics, take a hard look at extreme radical righties like Reagan.

Elizabeth Kucinich
Elizabeth Kucinich

As for Mr. Kucinich’s wife, Elizabeth, too much nonsense has been made of her being his third spouse (Ronnie only had two) and of her tongue piercing. Personally, I think a first lady with a pierced tongue would be oh so cool. And having seen her up close, I can tell you that she would probably be the hottest first lady ever.

Mrs. Kucinich would also be one of the strongest first ladies, as hard headed and fast on her feet as her husband. When a Cleveland politico recently showed up at the Kucinich’s front door with media in tow to pull off a surprise harassment event, Mrs. Kucinich kept her head and made a fool of the harrasser. The local corporate media outlets had a very hard time putting the “correct” spin on the encounter.

Despite the facts, the success of this negative branding of Mr. Kucinich is not to be wondered at. As I’m fond of pointing out, recent polls show that three quarters of the American people do not question the corporate media. The corporations that control the media still control our elections.

Mr. Kucinich may have no chance of winning the nomination but he appears to be staying in the race partly because of a little problem with the recent New Hampshire primary. You see, Hillary Clinton’s surprise win may have been engineered by the notorious Diebold Corporation and their counting machines, which are just as crooked as their voting machines.

Oh, you say you didn’t see that in the Hearst Times Union? Dennis Kucinich, who is unlikely to be affected by the outcome, has called for a total hand recount of New Hampshire primary results, and has ponied up the required two thousand dollars. In a cautious statement, he said he wanted to be sure that “100 percent of the voters had 100 percent of their votes counted."

So what’s the problem? Well, we all heard about the discrepancy between the polling and the results in New Hampshire, how Mr. Obama was supposed to beat Ms. Clinton by ten to fifteen percentage points, but instead lost by two points. But take a look at these vote totals:

New Hampshire Results Counted By Hand:
Clinton Hand-counted 20,889 ...47.05%
Obama Hand-counted 23,509 ...52.95%

New Hampshire Results Counted By Diebold Optical Scanner:
Clinton Optical scan 91,717 ...52.95%
Obama Optical scan 81,495 ...47.05%

Did you catch how these percentages are flipped, like, exactly? What a funny coincidence! Now check out this graph from Atlantic Monthly:

Graph from Atlantic Monthly

Where did all these extra Clinton supporters come from? Vermont? Zogby’s poll numbers were almost dead on accurate for all the candidates, Democrat and Republican. All, that is, except Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Now, I’m not saying that the Honorable Senator Hillary Clinton has become a complete Republican and hired Diebold to fix the results. Nor am I saying that Diebold subsidiary LHS Associates, which controlled the optical scanning machines, made Ms. Clinton beat Mr. Obama for some silly strategic reason. Like, for example, they prefer a white woman over a black man.

But I am saying that something very suspicious happened in New Hampshire. And it looks like optical scanners are as prone to fraud as electronic voting machines.

Albany County has so far avoided adopting either scam device, which the untrustworthy Federal government has required us to do with their “Help America Vote Act.”. This is not because of firmness of character by our County politicians, it’s because of an ongoing deadlock in the County legislature between those who want to commit fraud with the voting machines, and those who mistakenly trust optical scanners.

So as a result, here in the City of Albany we still vote on these perfectly reliable mechanical machines from the 1930s. Some of them look like auto wrecks, but in some fourteen years of watching the polls I have yet to see one of these machines make an error. But much of New York State uses electronic voting and counting devices, which have a proven error rate of TEN PERCENT.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

So... who ya gonna vote for? Does it matter?

Let’s assume, or pretend, that it does matter. If you take orders from the corporate media, then you are going to ignore the issues and vote for the candidate to whom you most identify. For example, if you are a woman you vote for Ms. Clinton, if you are black you vote for Mr. Obama, if you’re a white guy you vote for Mr. Edwards. Sadly, there’s an awful lot of that.

But I ask, what’s the difference between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama, I mean, besides race and gender? Fiery commentator Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report (BAR) has loudly and repeatedly condemned both leading Democratic candidates, calling their face-off:

...A narrowly-packaged farce in which political twins Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pretend they are not joined at the hip on every public policy issue that has been allowed to enter the corporate media-vetted discourse: health care, Iraq, trade. Even these points of (non)contention disappear in the din of purely commercial marketing mantras with infinitely malleable meanings: "Change," "Hope," "Reform."

It’s hard to argue with Mr. Ford. Consider the candidate’s views on the intentionally endless War Against Iraq. Several weeks ago, The Wife got a phone call from the Clinton campaign, asking her to go to New Hampshire to stump. All the way in the kitchen I heard her hollering into the phone, and I crept closer to listen.

“Why did Hillary vote to fund the Iraq War?” The Wife demanded. There was a pause. “What do you mean, ‘If we knew then what we know now, she would have voted differently?’ I’m nobody, and I could tell the White House was lying about the war. I find it hard to believe the Senator didn’t know they were lying.”

I found out a little later that the campaign worker was simply repeating Ms. Clinton’s official line. The young woman argued with The Wife for at least twenty minutes before giving up. She was supposed to call back, but never did.

Ms. Clinton wants to continue the war, and so does Mr. Obama. He has famously said that he wants to recruit another one hundred thousand troops and send them overseas. What the hell for? How are these two Democrats all that different from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney?

Which brings us to the number three candidate, John Edwards. I’ve been wary of falling into the identity politics trap and supporting Mr. Edwards because, like me, he’s a white guy who grew up working class.

John Edwards
John Edwards

But of the three top candidates, I like his views best. Yes, Mr. Edwards as senator voted to fund the war, but he has repeatedly said that he was wrong to do so. That takes real class. And he has stated that he will look to end the war as quickly as possible, and withdraw the troops from around the world.

What I really like about Mr. Edwards was summed up by a political strategist named Greg Valliere, quoted by the Guardian newspaper from England:

"My sense is that Obama would govern as a reasonably pragmatic Democrat ... I think Hillary is approachable. She knows where a lot of her funding has come from, to be blunt," said Valliere... But Edwards, Valliere said, is seen as "an anti-business populist" and "a trade protectionist who is quite unabashed about raising taxes. I think his regulatory policies, as well as his tax policies, would be viewed as a threat to business," he said.

What this guy means by “business” is “corporate.” And when he says Edwards would be “raising taxes,” he means raising corporate taxes. As a spokesperson for Mr. Edwards put it, "The lobbyists and special interests who abuse the system in Washington have good reason to fear John Edwards.”

Well, I like that. But is Mr. Edwards full of crap? More than a few commentators have pointed out his history of cozy relationships with defense contractors. Perhaps his sensible anti-corporatism is a required and necessary pose for someone who is running in third place, a pose that will end if he takes the lead.

Well, that’s the best I can do. But wait a minute... there’s not only the solidly right wing Democrats having a primary. There’s the extreme loony tunes openly anti-constitutional Republican candidates. Those people are having a primary, too.

Of course, you can only vote for a Re-pub if you happen to be registered as a Gop. If you are, I hope you’re proud of yourself. Look what your party and your president has done to our once proud country.

I guess that if you really, really hate this country and want to see it devolve into chaos and violent destruction, you’ll want more of the same. And you’ll really love this bunch of bozos:

Bunch of Bozos

Ron Paul is the only one of the bunch that can be called a “conservative,” which puts him far to the left of the rest of them, but nowhere approaching the center. He is possibly the only Republican politician in living memory to take The Party's standard rhetoric seriously and act upon it. Thus, he appears to be utterly and completely insane.

But I have one thing to say about these characters. With the exception of addle-headed McCain, I've heard that all of them (and some Democrats!) condone the practice of torturing randomly chosen persons by “waterboarding.” Here’s a painting hanging in the former Tuol Sleng Prison, now a museum, in Cambodia. It’s a depiction of how the artist was waterboarded there by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge:

Waterboardin in Cambodia


It’s not torture, right? Makes you proud to be an American, knowing that the corporate media unquestioningly promotes presidential candidates who take joy in such things.

Keep this image in your mind when you vote.

Dennis Kucinich spoke and answered questions for about an hour at First Church on North Pearl Street in Albany this past March 25. His wife Elizabeth visited Albany with him.


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If you are having difficulties posting a comment, please email Daniel Van Riper. We are experimenting with our spam filters, and we do not want to exclude any legitimate commenters, just spammers!

Posted by: Betty Sue
Posted on:
Read this article from

Posted by: Dan Van Riper
Posted on:
Thanks, Betty Sue. Interesting to read how the corporate media is picking up on this story - including that dips--t Chris Mathews - after suppressing the story of these fraudulent voting machines for six years or more. But now the mindless Hillary bashers are coming out of their closets and saying "Oh! Look! Hillary is cheating!" These voting machines and optical scanners have kept the neocons in power, but idiots like Mathews weren't allowed to say a word.

This guy "Machinist" from Salon snickers at "activists" who keep focused on these fraud devices. What he doesn't bother to say is that all controversy could be settled if the software on both the voting machines and on the optical scanners could be regularly inspected by public officials.

But you see, they can't because the software is "proprietary." Only designated employees of the corporation that manufactures the machines can inspect - and adjust - the software. That's why this outfit LHS was so very present in New Hampshire.

Yeah, funny how this hasn't made it into the official discourse. You might want to read the Princeton University study on how reliable these voting machines really are. The Princeton scientists must be the "activists" that Machinist is sneering at.

I had considered mentioning in the article my suspicion that Senator Clinton is being set up to take the fall for fraudulent electronic voting... but gee, that seemed too farfetched.

Posted by: Justarandomperson
Posted on:
I'm not a supporter of computerized voting machines -- I would only support them if the software was completely open source.

But, taking a manual count from one set of locations with a 6% spread from machine counts, and using that to declare voter fraud is just disingenuous. IMO, places that choose electronic or optical scan voting are more likely to be larger towns and cities. Larger towns are better for an establishment candidate like Clinton because the legions of union and special interest volunteers will be more effective at giving rides and getting the vote out.

The real story here is that ignorant "newscasters" who don't understand statistics or listen to people on staff end up manipulating elections through their ignorance.

Posted by: Expassebype
Posted on:
Make peace, not war!

Posted by: Dan Van Riper
Posted on:
Chris Mathews has won an award. He is the Buzzflash Media Putz Of The Week. He was particularly cited for his misogynistic references to Senator Clinton.

Y'know, I gotta stop commenting on my own articles.

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