Sunday, October 26, 2008

The ACORN Smokescreen for Done Deal 2008?

There’s been widespread media coverage of Republican allegations of vote-rigging by the liberal ACORN voter registration group. McCain’s vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has claimed that “We can't allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election” (1,2).

This provides the Republicans with a convenient smoke-screen for their actual election rigging, which has been revealed by investigations by American journalist Greg Palast, Bev Harris and others. Harris, the founder of Black Box Voting had her doubts about Diebold electronic voting machines confirmed by research by John Hopkins University.(3,4,5,6,7,8)

ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is a community group involved in campaigning for and organizing health care, education and voter registration in poor neighbourhoods. ACORN pays tens of thousands of employees to register low income voters. Hundreds of their employees decided to cheat to try and get more money for less effort. Over 800 were sacked as a result (9,10,11).

They estimate a few per cent of registrations submitted through them may be fraudulent. The authorities in the US have confirmed that ACORN has McCain’s supporters have seized on ACORN’s revision of it’s initial claim of the number of voters it had registered from 1.3 million to 450,000. The New York Times quoted an ACORN Spokesman as telling them that “The remainder are registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Mr. Slater acknowledged.” So the Republican charge that ACORN admits 30% of its registrations are fraudulent is false. Between 1 and 1.5% are, with around 29% covered by the other issues above. All were reported to election officials (9,10,11).

Some of the most notorious allegations of ‘fraud’ by ACORN are actually fraudulent registrations that ACORN itself reported to the authorities – such as the voter registration for ‘Micky Mouse’. The outrage over this has also been pretty silly since the registration will obviously never be accepted. By law all voter registration forms must be handed to the authorities to be processed whether they are suspected of being fraudulent or not (since otherwise the opposite problem could occur – with genuine voters unfairly not being registered) (9,10,11).

Steven Rosenfeld has pointed out that the Republican party’s own voter registration drives have encountered similar problems to ACORN’s and so does pretty much every ballot initiative or petition – and that millions of real voters who should have the right to vote not being registered is likely to be the real problem, especially as many states use social security registers as electoral registers – and the former often don’t include new voters or voters who’ve changed addresses (12).

Greg Palast found that there are also many genuine voters deliberately removed from electoral registers. From 2000 on Republicans and right-wing Democrats have taken the right to vote from poor black, Indian and Hispanic voters – who are far more likely to vote Democrat in Presidential elections and elect left wing delegates to Democratic party conventions (3,4,5,6).

These include the same people ACORN is trying to get registered to vote. They all come from groups which are far more likely to vote Democrat than Republican, which explains why the McCain campaign hates ACORN so much. John McCain himself praised ACORN as “what makes America special” in 2006, before he’d hitched himself to the Bush era Republican party machine’s black ops outfit – the same people who , under Karl Rove, smeared McCain’s family by hiring people to phone voters and pretend to be pollsters, then ask them what they thought about McCain having a ‘black baby’ fathered after an affair with a black woman. In fact the baby was adopted by the McCains (13), (14). Note the same attempt to appeal to racists and extreme Christian fundamentalists found in this campaign. The pretend pollsters are now asking Jewish voters if they know that ‘Barack Obama supports Hamas’(15).

The focus on ACORN means the Democrats’ lawyers are spending time countering Republican legal threats which they would otherwise have spent with lawsuits to get real voters who have been disenfranchised the right to vote and get their vote counted again.

Also notice the reporting of the Republicans allegations of vote rigging by Democrats and ACORN by most of the media. Almost none of the American media have reported the much more genuine instances raised by Palast, Harris, the John Hopkins researchers and others of low income voters being denied the right to vote. Just as with Barack Obama’s minister and church versus Sarah Palin’s the ‘liberal media’ seems to be remarkably favourable to the Republicans.

While the ACORN media controversy continues it turns out that the only people arrested on election rigging charges so far are both Republicans – one of them having been paid $175,000 by the McCain campaign (16).

(1) = Guardian 15 Oct 2008 ‘Democrats accused of trying to steal election’,

(2) = CNN Political Ticker 13 Oct 2008 ‘Palin: We can't let 'leftist groups…steal this election',

(3) = Palast, Greg (2006) ‘Armed Madhouse’, Allen Lane, London, 2006,Chapter 4

(4) = BBC Newsnight ‘US election: fake voter claims’,

(5) = Observer 10 Dec 2000 ‘A blacklist burning for Bush’,

(6) = Palast, Greg (2003) ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ (2nd edn)

(7) = NYT 02 Dec 2003 ‘Hack The Vote’, by Paul Krugman,

(8) = NYT 03 Nov 2003 ‘File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech’,

(9) = NYT 23 Oct 2008 ‘Group’s Tally of New Voters Was Vastly Overstated’,

(10) = Miami Herald ‘Republicans, ACORN feud over suspicious voter cards’,

(11) = Fox News 14 Oct 2008 ‘ACORN Responds to Palin Attack and More’,,2933,437448,00.html

(12) = Alternet 14 Oct 2008 ‘California GOP had Same Voter Registration Problems as ACORN in 2006’,

(13) = The Atlantic 13 Oct 2008 ‘Sen. McCain Stood With ACORN Rally In 2006’,

(14) = The Nation 14 Jan 2008 ‘Dirty Tricks, South Carolina and John McCain’,

(15) = Guardian 03 Oct 2008 ‘Fake pollsters' scare tactics target Obama’

(16) = Guardian 22 Oct 2008 ‘US election: Republican operative faces voter registration fraud charges’,

The Real Problems with US elections

It’s not ghost voters or people voting multiple times but real voters being refused the right to vote – or not having their votes counted

The really big and effective methods of electoral fraud aren’t about getting made up people onto the electoral register. They take real people off of it so they can’t vote, or else make sure their votes will be discarded and go uncounted.

Greg Palast found that from 2000 on Republicans and right-wing Democrats have taken the right to vote from poor black, Indian and Hispanic voters – who are far more likely to vote Democrat in Presidential elections and elect left wing delegates to Democratic party conventions (1,2,3,4,5).

Methods used by include illegally removing millions of black voters from electoral registers, falsely claiming they’re felons; not counting provisional ballots issued to try to get these people their votes back; and providing fewer, less accurate and older voting machines in mostly poor, black and Indian precincts so there’s a far higher proportion of ballots spoilt in them. Millions of voters weren’t allowed to vote in 2004. Even the Election Commissioner for Las Vegas arrived to vote to find his name had been removed from the register. Even more – an estimated 3 million – have been removed from electoral registers in 2008. Kerry was still leading in exit polls though. The millions of provisional ballots not counted and the many more Democratic than Republican votes spoiled and uncounted are one probable reason; millions more votes for Kerry weren’t counted than votes for Bush. So that may be one of the reasons Kerry won in exit polls, but Bush won more of the votes which were counted (1,2,3,4,5).

Another method idenfitied by Palast as being used to deny poorer (and so more likely Democrat) voters their vote is to demand a driving licence as ID to vote. Many of the poorest Americans can't afford a car and so haven't learned to drive or got a licence.

Other “electoral irregularities” recorded by voters in Delaware County, Ohio (contacting the Verified Voting Foundation) in 2004 included :

  • Disabled people being refused access to vote

  • All the machines at 5 different polling stations being out of order or switched off with people told to go home and that they’d be phoned when the machines were working – the calls never came

  • Voters being refused provisional ballots

  • Registered voters who were still at the same address they were on in 2000 being told they weren’t on the register

  • Elderly voters being physically intimidated by Republican ‘challengers’

Other methods reported to have been used across the country include the following

  • Voters were informed before the election and even in at least one case in Ohio by Republicans with loud-speakers that anyone turning up to vote who had any outstanding fines for parking or other minor offences would be arrested.

  • In some polling districts up to 13 different forms of ID were demanded from some voters – and if they failed to produce all 13 they were turned away.

  • Absentee ballots were sent out without Kerry’s name even appearing on them.

You can see the incidents for every county in the US by going to the VVF's EIRS (the map isn’t actually clickable though – you have to click first on one of the state name links below it then on a county name link below the map of the state on the next page) (7).

Then there’s tampering with electronic votes. Black Box Voting monitor the easily hackable electronic voting machines produce by companies like Diebold and ES&S – and the links between these companies’ executives and the Republican party leadership. Bev Harris of Black Box Voting has found considerable evidence of tampering with the files stored on these machines in recent elections (8), (9). John Hopkins University researchers confirmed her claims that many of the machines used in 2004 were easily hackable.

Diebold and other firms have tried to use 'commercial confidentiality' clauses in contracts with American states and legislation intended to prevent illegal file sharing to refuse to give anyone access to the voting files to find out if they've been tampered with or not.

Verified Voting campaign for all electronic voting machines to create paper votes so that there can be verifiable recounts to find out if votes have gone missing or mysteriously changed.

For more on electoral ‘irregularities’ in the US see:

Source Notes

(1) = Palast, Greg (2006) ‘Armed Madhouse’, Allen Lane, London, 2006,Chapter 4

(2) = BBC Newsnight ‘US election: fake voter claims’,

(3) = Observer 10 Dec 2000 ‘A blacklist burning for Bush’,

(4) = Palast, Greg (2003) ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy’ (2nd edn)

(5)= Rolling Stone magazine 30 Oct 2008 ‘Block the Vote’,
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. & Greg Palast,

(6) = Verified Voting Foundation – Election Incident Reporting System,
County Election Incidents: Delaware County, OH , Election Year 2004,

(7) = Verified Voting Foundation – Election Incident Reporting System,

(8) = NYT 02 Dec 2003 ‘Hack The Vote’, by Paul Krugman,

(9) = NYT 03 Nov 2003 ‘File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech’,

Is the difference between exit polls and results due to faulty exit polls or Election fraud? Probably a bit of each

The electoral ‘irregularities’ uncovered by Palast and Harris might explain some of the difference between the 2004 exit polls – in which Kerry was leading – and the final result – a victory for Bush. Professor Steven F. Freeman of Pennsylvania University examined US Presidential election exit polls carried out by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky Polling on behalf of a media pool including the Associated Press. These show exit poll discrepancies in every key swing state in the US Presidential election, all favouring Bush, including 4.5% in Florida, 6.7% in Ohio and 9.5% in New Hampshire. (1). Democratic party Congressman John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee requested that Mitofsky release the raw exit poll data on which Freeman’s study was based. Mitofsky refused to do so on grounds of commercial confidentiality (2,3)

President Bush and some other senior republicans immediately called for an inquiry into the discrepancy between the exit polls and the results in the 2004 elections in Ukraine. (Exit polls that differ greatly from the final results are usually seen evidence of election rigging in other countries). The Chairman of the Republican National Committee simultaneously asked the media not to report exit polls in US elections in future, with the discrepancy in the US explained as due to the exit polls, getting it wrong (4). Now that’s some impressive double-think. The Soviet Union’s rulers would have been envious of getting people to buy that one.

The American exit polls were modified after they were taken. The ‘explanation’ that it was ‘standard practice’ to ‘weight’ the polls by the final results is more an admission that the exit polls were massaged after they were taken. Even its originator – Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal- later largely agreed with Freeman that this was not good practice (5).

The Bush administration also condemned the Ukrainian elections on the grounds that international observers had criticised them. The International Herald Tribune meanwhile reported that:

‘international monitors at a polling station in southern Florida said Tuesday that voting procedures being used in the extremely close contest fell short in many ways of the best global practices.

The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system…..

…. Variations in local election law not only make it difficult for election monitors to generalize on a national basis, but also prohibit the observers from entering polling stations at all in some states and counties. Such laws mean that no election observers from the organization are in Ohio, a swing state fraught with battles over voter intimidation and other polling issues.’(6)

Yet strangely the courts found that it was legal for Republican and Democratic party representatives to be present in the polling stations to challenge voters on whether they had the right to vote there (7).

Republican congressman Jeff Miller of Florida told the international observers they should “get on the next plane out of the United States.” (8). So international observers’ reports are evidence of vote rigging in Ukraine, but not in the US.

Some experts on polling and statistical analysis have pointed out that there could be other explanations for the exit polls being wrong and that exit polls aren’t always accurate.

They’re right – there could be other explanations and I’ve previously been wrong in following Palast and Robert F Kennedy Jr. in talking as though exit polls are always right
and as if differences between them and final results were cast iron evidence of fraud.

One convincing alternative explanation, cited by Mark Blumenthal, is that many Republicans believe the media and polling organizations to have a ‘liberal bias’ and so fewer Republican than Democrat voters might have been willing to answer pollsters’ questions on who they voted for (9). Also older voters may be more likely to vote Republican and less likely to answer pollsters' questions. These are both convincing theories with some evidence to support them and might partially explain the exit poll discrepancy, but they don’t disprove Palasts’ or Harris’ claims either.

The fact that Harris and Palast can provide solid evidence of real voters being illegally removed from electoral registers in large numbers and that they and Verified Voting also provide evidence of several other methods of election manipulation having been used lends weight to their claims about the reasons for the difference between exit polls and final results.

Some of the supposed proof that the 2004 election results weren’t manipulated isn’t proof at all either. For instance Blumenthal quotes the Democratic National Committee’s 2005 report on the 2004 elections, which said:

‘Strong similarities at the precinct level between the vote for Kerry (instead of Bush) in 2004 and the vote for the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002 (Hagan) present strong evidence against the claim that widespread fraud systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush. In most counties we also observe the pattern we expect in the relationship between Kerry's support and other precinct-level factors: Kerry's support across precincts increases with the support for the Democratic candidate for Senator in 2004 (Fingerhut), decreases with the support for Issue 1 and increases with the proportion African American.’ (10)

This is a strange claim unless the DNC were assuming that Palast was claiming it was only the 2004 election and only Presidential votes in it that were being tampered with. Of course he wasn’t. He provided evidence that all elections were being tampered with, so similarities between the counted votes for Democrats running for different offices or in different years in the same districts don’t disprove his claims at all. Attempting to rig only Presidential votes would be practically impossible except where electronic voting machines were used.

The DNC are also assuming all the allegations of electoral manipulation involved people taking Kerry votes and giving them to Bush. That may well have happened with electronic voting machines, as Bev Harris and John Hopkins University found it would have been entirely possible with the systems used in 2004 – but much electoral manipulation involved other methods – such as simply not counting provisional ballots (since most were cast by people from a mostly Democratic voting demographic who had been removed from the electoral register by Republicans or firms working for them) or providing less and older voting machines in mostly Democratic districts in order to ensure far more Democratic than Republican votes would end up discarded as ‘spoilt ballots’.

De Ja Vu 2008?

Much of the media are now cautioning that polls may be misleading and even that the exit polls may well be wrong due to the 1980s ‘Bradley effect’ (more white voters saying they’ll vote for a black candidate in polls than actually do). In fact the Bradley effect has not existed for any black candidate from 1996 on (11).

So if you see the exit polls being very different from the polls come November 4th and the results being very different from the exit polls – and all in McCain’s favour – there’s a reasonable chance that it might not just be faulty polls and faulty exit polls. Something might have also gone badly wrong with the electoral registers, the lack of a standard, reliable voting system in every district - and the counting of the votes.

(1) = Professor Steven F. Freeman – CV - -

(2) = Professor Steven F. Freeman 10 Nov 2004 , ‘The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy’, and

(3) = House Committee on the Judiciary – Democratic Members – Correspondence - Text of Letter from Rep. Conyers to Warren Mitofsky of Mitofsky International Requesting the Release of Exit Poll "raw data" (12/3/04) ,

(4) = House Committee on the Judiciary – Democratic Members – Correspondence - Mr. Mitofsky Response (12/7/04) ,

(5) = Television Week 5 November 2004 , ‘GOP Wants News Organizations to Abandon Exit Polls’ ,

(6) = Mark Blumenthal – Mystery Pollster Blog – Exit Polls -

(7) = International Herald Tribune 03 Nov 2004 ‘Not a simple election, global vote monitors say’,

(8) = USA Today 02 Nov 2004 ‘Court clears way GOP reps to challenge voters' eligibility in Ohio’,

(9) = International Herald Tribune 03 Nov 2004 ‘Not a simple election, global vote monitors say’,

(10) = Mystery Pollster
Demystifying the Science and Art of Political Polling - By Mark Blumenthal
06 July 2006 ‘Is RFK, Jr. Right About Exit Polls? - Part IV,

(11) = San Francisco Chronicles 21 Oct 2008 ‘Many think 'Bradley effect' won't hurt Obama’,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Calling the Supreme Court to Account

Obama faces dilemma on whether to refer election rigging issues to the courts if the election result is close, but there may be a way round it - and it's the right thing to do whatever the election result may be, because millions of Americans have been denied their basic rights to vote and have their vote count for as much as anyone else's

Unless Obama can win the 2008 election by such a landslide that the Republicans’ election rigging isn’t sufficient to stop him then he faces a dilemma on whether to take the issue to court.

Even if he does win by a landslide taking the issue to the courts, the media and to the streets in marches and petitions would be the only way to ensure that millions of Americans have their democratic and constitutional rights restored; specifically the right to vote and to have their vote count for as much as anyone else's

Just like Gore in 2000 he can probably count on a fair hearing in state courts, but there’s always the danger of those courts deciding to refer the issue to the federal Supreme Court as a U.S constitutional matter rather than one just of state law or state constitution. As Al Gore found in 2000 there’s no chance of a Democratic party candidate getting a fair hearing in the current Supreme Court.

Since all American Presidents except Clinton in the last three decades have been Republicans the Supreme Court is full of judges partial to the Republican cause – and in some cases, more than partial. Only two of the nine current Justices on the court are Clinton appointees (1).

Antonio Scalia – appointed by Ronald Reagan - is a close associate of senior members of the Bush administration. In 2000 he feared he would never be made Chief Justice of the court if Gore won the Presidency. Scalia’s son Eugene was also a partner in the law firm that was representing Bush in the Gore vs Bush Supreme Court case. A second Supreme Court judge in 2000 who’s still there today – Clarence Thomas – was appointed to the court by former President Bush senior. His wife was also recruiting staff for the prospective President Bush junior. A third judge, Sandra Day O’ Connor, a Reagan appointee, had a husband who was a member of a men’s lodge ‘the Bohemian Grove Club’ – along with former President Bush senior and Justice Scalia. So some conflicts of interest there maybe? ; Not exactly neutral arbiters? Maybe it’s no co-incidence that Scalia and Thomas voted the same way on 91% of supreme court decisions? (2), (3).

To be fair some of the supreme court’s most liberal judges – like John Paul Stevens, were appointed by Republican presidents (in Stevens’ case President Gerald Ford), but this might be explained by Stevens’ appointment preceding the emergence of the ‘neo-conservatives’ who manned the Reagan administration and returned under each President Bush. ‘Liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are relative terms and the ‘neo-conservatives’ make traditional conservatives look liberal. In contentious decisions the ‘liberals’ are still being out-voted 5 to 4 by the conservatives though, just as they were in 2000 (3), (4).

However if Obama doesn’t bring the issue to the courts many people may claim that it’s because he has no case that would stand up in court. This would leave him in the impossible position of having to put forward the evidence in court to get it seriously reviewed but risking a ruling on it by a politically biased Supreme Court. There may be a way round this problem though.

One way Obama could get round this problem would be to take the evidence direct to the media and to his campaign website in order to put public pressure on the Supreme Court not to be seen making a partisan ruling. That alone might not be enough though. He’d also have to publicly call on judges with known conflicts of interests to not take part in the Supreme Court’s deliberations and vote on the issue. This would leave the court with two judges considered conservative and four considered liberal – and give Obama a chance of a fair hearing. Even if Obama only got Scalia to stand down it would even things up to four versus four. If the compromised justices refused to stay out of the case Obama could then reasonably refuse to accept their ruling and call for a national strike, marches and sit down protests similar to those which took place as part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

He could also call on other democratically elected governments not to accept McCain as a democratically elected President and ask them to suspend all trade deals with the US until a properly free and fair election in which all Americans got the right to vote – and have their vote counted – had been held.

This might , in the short term, jar with Obama’s admirable aim of unifying rather than dividing Americans, but on an issue as important as the right of every person in a democracy to be allowed to vote and have their vote count it would be the only responsible thing to do.

Some might accuse him of acting "unconstitutionally", but then what do you call his opponents rigging two elections and attempting to rig a third by unconstitutionally and illegall denying millions of Americans the right to vote and refusing to count the votes of millions more? In reality if he took this action Obama would be upholding the constitutional rights of millions of Americans against the people who tried to take those rights away - and he would be making America respected worldwide as a genuine democracy again and giving Americans reason to feel proud of their country and their newly, democratically elected President.

Hopefully he'll win so heavily that it won't be an issue, but it would still be advisable to have contingencies plan for the "worst case scenario" arising, as the US military do. It would also be shameful if the denial of the basic democratic rights of millions of Americans was swept under the carpet - and that applies whoever wins the election and by whatever margin.

(1) = Wikipedia entry – The Supreme Court of the United States; current membership

(2) = Guardian 14 Dec 2000 ‘Conservative judges faced possible conflicts of interest’,

(3) = NYT 1 Jul 2007 ‘In Steps Big and Small, Supreme Court Moved Right’,

(4) = NYT 23 Dec 2007 ‘The Dissenter’,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Done Deal 2004

(This was written in 2005 and has been updated to put some of it in the past tense. I’m posting it so I can link to it in other posts on electoral ‘irregularities’ in the US in 2008)

Exit Poll discrepancies and other electoral ‘irregularities’ in the Ukrainian and American Presidential elections were covered very differently by most of the media.

Historically exit polls, unlike pre-election polls, are extremely accurate. Discrepancies between exit polls and announced results of up to 11% were reported in Ukraine’s 2004 elections. Most of the media concluded the Ukrainian election was rigged.The discrepancies in the US between exit polls and results varied by state but were up to 9.5%. Most of the media concluded the US exit polls had ‘got it wrong’.

Professor Steven F. Freeman of Pennsylvania University examined US Presidential election exit polls carried out by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky Polling on behalf of a media pool including the Associated Press. These show exit poll discrepancies in every key swing state in the US Presidential election, all favouring Bush, including 4.5% in Florida, 6.7% in Ohio and 9.5% in New Hampshire. He calculates the odds of these discrepancies being due to chance at 250 million to 1 (1, 2). Democratic party Congressman John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee requested that Mitofsky release the raw exit poll data on which Freeman’s study was based. Mitofsky refused to do so on grounds of commercial confidentiality. (3, 4)

While President Bush and other US republicans have called for an inquiry into the Ukrainian exit poll discrepancy the Chairman of the Republican National Committee has asked the media not to report exit polls in US elections in future (5).

The American exit polls were modified after they were taken. The ‘explanation’ that it was ‘standard practice’ to ‘weight’ the polls by the final results is more an admission that the exit polls were massaged after they were taken. Even its originator – Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal- now largely agrees with Freeman (6).

John Zogby, president of the US polling firm Zogby International, says there is ‘definitely something wrong’ with the discrepancy between the raw exit poll data and the announced results (7).Even conservative American pollster Dick Morris commented that exit polls are never that wrong – interpreting the discrepancy as an anti-Bush conspiracy by the ‘liberal media’(8).

The Chief Executives of the ‘liberal’ media conglomerates are chiefly pre-occupied with securing further de-regulation of media ownership to expand their own business empires – and tax cuts on their own incomes. Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, of which CBS News is a subsidiary, told Time Magazine “I do believe that a Republican Administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one” (9). He had previously described ‘de-regulation’ as one benefit (10).

Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive of NewsCorp International, of which Fox News is a subsidiary was more vocal on the fact that if Bush was re-elected “you'll get continuation of his tax reduction program which will help”. (11)

It would certainly help Murdoch, who was among the 400 richest American citizens who saw their personal fortunes grow by over 10% due to tax cuts in Bush’s first term (12).

Fox News was the first TV network to call Florida in 2000 and both Florida and Ohio in 2004 for Bush – with the rest of the media following before all the votes were counted and before any investigation of various electoral ‘irregularities’ could be carried out. Fox has the slogan ‘fair and balanced’ which is amusing considering that it’s lawyers won a Florida state court case in 2003 by admitting that Fox News had lied while claiming the First Amendment of the US Constitution – Freedom of Speech – gave them the right to (13).

So Fox and CBS don’t report US electoral ‘irregularities’.

In Warren County, Ohio, officials excluded the public and the media from the count on election night claiming a terrorist threat warning from the FBI – who deny any warning was issued (14,15,16). A bomb scare in Florida’s Election Division building the day before the election echoed a similar event which disrupted the Miami Herald’s attempt to recount votes in Palm Beach County in 2000 (17,18).

Concern over voting machines is also labelled ‘conspiracy theory’ by most of the media.

In 2004 Electronic Systems and Software had the contract to provide voting machines to election boards across America, including many Ohio counties (19). In 1996 ES&S’s Chief Executive Chuck Hagel stepped down and was elected as a Republican senator. Hagel still holds large numbers of shares in both ES&S and its parent company McCarthy Group Inc. The new CEO of McCarthy Group (which also employs Hagel’s son) was the treasurer for Hagel’s Senate campaigns. Senator Hagel was re-elected in 2002 – his campaign funds including donations from McCarthy Group – with 85% of the votes counted by ES&S machines (20). ES&S machines in Florida on the day of the Presidential elections began counting new votes as negative votes after the total reached 32,000 on one amendment on gambling laws – and produced over 70,000 ‘lost’ votes at the last minute which went 94% for de-regulation of gambling – just as they recorded a ‘late surge’ for Bush with the final results reversing exit poll results in many states. Republican Florida's election chief, Secretary of State Glenda Hood described this as ‘an isolated error’ (21). In fact ES&S have produced serious errors and ‘glitches’ in vote counting in elections from the US to Venezuela (22, 23, 24, 25).

Walden O’Dell is one of two directors of the Diebold voting machine firm who is a Bush ‘Pioneer’. He raised over $600,000 for the Bush campaign. In 2003 he sent out a letter to potential Bush donors stating that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” (26) The Secretary of State for Ohio Kenneth Blackwell –– who was also co-chair of the Bush –Cheney campaign in Ohio - approved the sale of Diebold machines to dozens of Ohio counties. Diebold has made several donations to Republican political funds – including $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association in 2003 (27, 28). Diebold were sued by the state of California due to the unreliability of their machines – recently agreeing to pay a $2.6mn out of court settlement (29).

Another line is that any irregularities didn’t affect the outcome. The American Civil Liberties union estimate around 5 million Americans were illegally or wrongly removed from electoral registers as ‘ex-felons’ in 2000 and 2004 – disproportionately black and many having no criminal record , many by Republican Secretaries of State , as in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 (30,31,32,33,34) . Then 2 million votes were discarded as spoiled ballots - 1 million of them black votes. Black voters, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat, are 5 to 10 times more likely to have their ballot ‘spoiled’ (35,36). Those two practices alone denied or destroyed 7 million votes – double Bush’s 3.5 million vote ‘mandate’.

Bush’s announced majority in Ohio, which decided the election, was only 136,000 – and that was before over 100,000 provisional votes were counted (37).

Fewer voting machines were provided in districts with high numbers of low income, black or student (i.e Democrat) voters. In at least one Ohio precinct there were no working machines. Voters were told they’d be phoned to come back later. They weren’t. In some precincts they were offered provisional ballots – but under Ohio electoral law provisional ballots can’t be counted until 10 days after the election – long after the election had been ‘called’ for Bush (38,39,40,41).

The Ohio based Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections has shown that 4% of the vote was lost in the Democratic stronghold of Cleveland due to spoiled ballots, people being removed from the electoral register, or problems on polling day - double the 2% for the rest of the county. The lower the average income of a voting district the higher the percentage of discarded votes – reaching 13% in the poorest (42).

International observers report that they were prevented from monitoring polling in Ohio or Florida – and overall had less access to the polls than in Kazakhstan (43,44). The General Accounting Office of the Federal government is preparing an investigation into irregularities in the 2004 Presidential election at the request of 13 Democratic members of congress (45). A recount took place in New Hampshire funded by independent candidate Ralph Nader (46). Legal action was taken against the state of Ohio by the CASE voters’ rights group (47,48). Demands for a recount in the state made by the US Libertarian and Green parties were backed by Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich and the Kerry Campaign (49,50). Kerry campaign lawyers are preparing a list of 30 questions for election officials there (51). When a joint session of both houses of Congress was asked to ratify the results of the 2004 election state by state Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and 33 Democratic members of Congress voted against ratifying the results for Ohio (52 ,53)

Why did we hear so little about all this and so much about Ukraine?

Perhaps its because the rigged results of the Ukrainian elections favoured Russian businesses at the expense of US and EU based ones – the US Presidential election results were those desired by the owners and chief executives of these companies – not least media conglomerates. The media is meant to provide viewers with the facts and let them decide – instead they present viewers and readers with a conclusion that’s good for business accompanied by as few facts as possible. So much for objectivity.

Many state and local newspapers, academics, magazines and voters’ rights groups have been honourable exceptions. There is still a chance for more of the media to redeem themselves and give the same support to demands for inquiries and recounts in the US which they have provided to the opposition in Ukraine.

Copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2005

email me

(1) = Professor Steven F. Freeman – CV - -

(2) = Professor Steven F. Freeman 10 Nov 2004 , ‘The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy’, and

(3) = House Committee on the Judiciary – Democratic Members – Correspondence - Text of Letter from Rep. Conyers to Warren Mitofsky of Mitofsky International Requesting the Release of Exit Poll "raw data" (12/3/04) , , and ,

(4) = House Committee on the Judiciary – Democratic Members – Correspondence - Mr. Mitofsky Response (12/7/04) , , and ,

(5) = Television Week 5 November 2004 , ‘GOP Wants News Organizations to Abandon Exit Polls’ ,

(6) = Mark Blumenthal – Mystery Pollster Blog – Exit Polls -

(7) = Inter Press Service (Stockholm) 18 Nov 2004 , ‘Democracy in Question’ ,

(8) = The Hill (Washington D.C) , ‘Those faulty exit polls were sabotage’,

(9) = Time Magazine 10 Oct 2004 , ‘10 Questions for Sumner Redstone’ ,

(10) = Asian Wall Street Journal 24 September 04 cited in Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Action alert 28 September 2004 ,

(11) = The Age (Melbourne) 26 October 2004, ‘News Corp denies Fox News bias’,

(12) = The Independent 20 September 2003 , ‘America's rich get richer thanks to tax-cutting Bush’,

(13) = Organic Consumer Association News March 2003, ‘Florida Court: Broadcasters Have Right to Lie’,

(14) = The Cincinnati Enquirer 5 November 2004, ‘Warren's vote tally walled off’,

(15) =The Cincinnati Enquirer 10 November 2004, ‘Warren Co. cites terror for lockdown’ ,

(16) = The Cincinnati Enquirer 10 November 2004, ‘Warren Co. defends lockdown decision – FBI denies warning officials of any special threat’,

(17) = The Associated Press 1 Nov 2004, ‘Elections Headquarters Evacuated; Package Found to Be Harmless’,

(18) = Washington Post 6 May, 2001; Page A03 , ‘Florida Ballot Examination -
Media Groups' Attempts to Answer 'What Ifs' Take Longer Than Expected’,

(19) = EETimes September 10, 2003 , ‘Election Systems & Software Selected to Provide Voting’,

(20) = The Hill(Washington DC) 14 November 2004, ‘Hagel’s ethics filings pose disclosure issue’,

(21) = Miami Herald 05 Nov 2004, ‘AMENDMENT 4 Gambling vote glitch mars tally’,

(22) = AP/Honolulu Star Bulletin 7 Jun 2000, ‘Firm admits errors in counting votes for Hawaii,Venezuela’,

(23) = AP 22 Aug 2002 ballot problems alleged, ‘Clay, Barton county candidates seek review of races’,

(24) = Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections (Ohio) , ‘ES&S in the News – A Partial List of Events’ – includes full sources -

(25) = In These Times magazine (Chicago) 24 Aug 2004, ‘Sum of a Glitch -
Evidence shows that machines might be the real swing voters this November’,

(26) = The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) 28 August 2003, ‘Voting Machine Controversy’,

(27) = The Mill 18 January 2004, ‘Ohio Counties to Adopt Diebold Voting Machines’,

(28) = Center for Public Integrity database search on Diebold ,

(29) = Associated Press 11.10.2004, 04:53 PM, ‘Diebold to Settle Calif. Suit for $2.6M’,

(30) = American Civil Liberties Union report 19 October 2004 , ‘Purged! – How a Patchwork of Flawed and Inconsistent voting systems could deprive millions of Americans of the right to vote’ ,

(31) = Free Press (Columbus, Ohio) 20 Sep 2004, ‘Presidential Election at Risk: Ohio's electoral system riddled with flaws’,

(32) = Des Moines Register (Iowa) 2 November 2004,‘Voters mistakenly identified as felons’,

(33) = The Observer 10 December 2000, ‘A blacklist burning for Bush’,,3858,4103063-102271,00.html

(34) = ABC News 21 April 2003, ‘"Like It Is" – Gil Noble interviews Greg Palast (transcript)’, ,

(35) = San Francisco Chronicle 20 Jun 2004, ‘1 million black votes didn't count in the 2000 presidential election’ ,

(36) = Tom 01 November 2004 , ‘An Election Spoiled Rotten’,
by Greg Palast ,

(37) = CNN Election results

(38) =Free Press (Columbus, Ohio) November 7, 2004, ‘None dare call it voter suppression and fraud’,

(39) = Free Press (Columbus, Ohio) November 20, 2004 ,
‘More Ohio voter suppression testimony prompts upcoming legal filing for statewide recount’,

(40) = Cleveland Plain Dealer November 14, 2004, ‘Ohio voters tell of Election Day troubles at hearing’ , and The Independent 14 January 2001, ‘Blacks sue Florida over racist voting law’

(41) = Verified Voting Foundation – Database of Election Incidents – Verified Voting

(42) = Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections - Ohio,‘Alarming Facts about Punch-card voting’,

(43) = BBC News Online 05 November 2004 , ‘US vote 'mostly free and fair'’,

(44) = International Herald Tribune 4 November 2004, ‘Foreign eyes on’,

(45) = Press Release 23rd November 2004 ,Representative Jerold Nadler, 8th Congressional District of New York , ‘Government Accountability Office to Conduct Investigation of 2004 Election Irregularities’,

(46) = Nader For President 2004 , Press Release 16 November 2004, ‘Nader-Camejo Hand Recount in New Hampshire Begins Thursday’,

(47) = Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) 20 November 2004 ,‘Lawyers to challenge election in Ohio’,

(48) = The Free Press (Columbus, Ohio) 20 November 2004, ‘Ohio Presidential Results to be Challenged’ ,

(49) = Green Party of the United States Press Release 17 November 2004,
‘Kucinich Supports Green Party Demand for Ohio Recount’,

(50) = CNN 8 Dec 2004 , ‘Recount requested in Ohio’

(51) = Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio) 11 November 2004 , ‘Kerry campaign scrutinizes Ohio’ ,

(52) = Reuters 6 Jan 2005 , ‘Congress Certifies Bush’s Win after Challenge’ ,

(53) = The Ohio Free Press 8 Jan 2005 , ‘What the election challenge means’ ,

Copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2005

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McCain has supported indirectly arming and funding Taliban and Al Qaeda

Why is the Bush admin still giving Pakistan military aid when NATO say Pakistan's military intelligence arming, training, funding Taliban ? And why has McCain - supposedly a foreign policy expert - supported this? Is indirectly arming the people killing US and British troops in Afghanistan "keeping Americans safe"?

(This is an update on a previous post - Palining around with terrorists )

The McCain campaign claims Obama pals around with terrorists on the basis that Bill Ayers sat on the same community council as Obama. Obama was eight years old when Ayers was involved with Weathermen bombing plots in the US. His campaign has condemned them.

McCain and Palin support the Bush administration’s policy of supporting and funding Pakistan’s military - and until August the dictatorship of General Musharraf, who’s an ally of the Taliban who warned the Northern Alliance against “taking advantage” of the US invasion to overthrow them (1).

Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid and a June 2006 NATO and Afghan joint intelligence report titled ‘Insurgency and Terrorism in Afghanistan’ found Pakistan's ISI military intelligence still arms and supports the Taliban who aid Al Qaeda, their aim being to counter Indian influence and intimidate Pakistan’s secular parties to promote military rule in Pakistan.Many British and American diplomats, intelligence agents and senior military officers have said the same and have been furious that the Bush administration wouldn't put any real pressure on Musharraf to end ISI involvement with the Taliban.ISI officers even threaten Pakistanis into joining the Taliban - and Pakistani forces aid Taliban in retreats into Pakistan after raids into Afghanistan - even giving them covering artillery fire. Before Benazir Bhutto's death Musharraf released 28 members of extremist groups from prison - including 8 who had said they planned to carry out suicide bombings. (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9).

Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders also co-operate closely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, meaning US money and arms has probably reached Al Qaeda too after the ISI provided it to the Taliban.

The Bush administration, even after being told all this, effectively arms and funds the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who are killing US and British troops in Afghanistan, by handing military aid and weapons sales to Pakistan’s military, with Mccain and Palin’s approval. Some “foreign policy expert” McCain is - and so much for the Bush administration and McCain “keeping Americans safe”.

(1) = New York Times 09 Oct 2001 , 'Pakistani Is Already Calling on U.S. to End Airstrikes Quickly',

(2) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY, 2008, (hardback edition) especially Chapter 17 and esp 367-368 and note 35 on page 452 (notes for ch17) on June 2006 internal NATO and Afghan intelligence report on Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence training, funding , arming of Taliban in Pakistan for attacks in Pakistan , but also pages 77-78, 48, 50, 114, 116 and rest of Ch17

(3) = Telegraph 06 Oct 2006 ‘Nato's top brass accuse Pakistan over Taliban aid’,'s-top-brass-accuse-Pakistan-over-Taliban-aid.html

(4) = Independent 14 March 2006, ‘Pakistanis accused of aiding Taliban with missile parts’,

(5) = Guardian 19 May 2006, ‘Pakistan sheltering Taliban, says British officer’,

(6) = Times 8 Oct 2006 ‘Britain says Pakistan is hiding Taliban chief’,

(7) = Times 21 Jab 2007 ‘Pakistan accused of backing Taliban’,

(8) = Times 27 Dec 2007 ‘Main suspects are warlords and security forces’,

(9) = IHT 01 Oct 2008 ‘Spanish report ties Pakistan spy agency to Taliban’,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCain Unable

McCain’s campaign managers are putting the lives of Obama and his supporters in danger - that's a serious character flaw on their part. It's failing though - Obama's poll lead is increasing and the bigotry just increases Obama's stature, making him look like another JFK, Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy

“What I am seeing reminds me …of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division….George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama”
Congressman and civil rights campaigner John Lewis on the McCain campaign. (McCain previously said he would seek advice from Lewis if he was elected President)

In November 1995 Israeli Prime Minister and Labor party leader Yitzakh Rabin was murdered by an extreme-right Jewish fundamentalist opposed to the Oslo Peace Process. His murder followed months of speeches by politicians from the right wing Likud party in which Netanyahu accused Rabin of surrendering to terrorists and Ariel Sharon compared him to Eichmann. Both allowed their supporters to burn effigies of Rabin dressed as a Nazi (2), (3).

Today the same tactics are being used by McCain’s campaign in the U.S.

Sarah Palin has accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”, referring to Bill Ayers, who served on a community education council with Obama and whose terrorism took place 40 years ago when Obama was 8 years old. Obama has condemned it as “detestable” (4), (5). Republicans posing as pollsters are phoning Americans to ask if they know that Obama is a “supporter of Hamas”. In fact Obama has called Hamas a terrorist organisation and said he won't negotiate with them unless they recognise Israel and renounce violence (6), (6a).

From Palin’s speech on crowds of supporters at McCain-Palin campaign rallies have routinely shouted lies and threats like “terrorist”, “treason” and “kill him” when Obama is mentioned. One even told a black sound engineer to “sit down boy” after Palin complained about the media(7), (8), (9), (10). Palin has never once taken issue with this or had anyone thrown out of a rally for it.

Last Friday McCain finally told another deluded crowd that Obama was not a “terrorist” and “an Arab” but “a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States” (11, 12, 13), which has the sad implication that McCain isn't saying Americans shouldn't consider all Arabs terrorists and be scared of them. However McCain simultaneously implied that Obama had a closer relationship to Bill Ayers than had been revealed so far – yet provided no evidence for this claim (14). His senior adviser Nicolle Wallace claimed that the Obama campaign’s criticisms of the death threats, racism and insults were “Obama’s assault on our supporters”, while McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers called them “Obama’s attacks on Americans” (15), (16). If McCain doesn’t want to be associated with cowards who are risking Obama’s life by encouraging extremists to target an opponent they can’t beat, he needs to fire those campaign managers and stop making wild claims that he has no evidence for.

McCain’s campaign know they’re losing so they’re lying and demonising Obama to get votes from the ignorant, or maybe get one of their deluded extreme right Oklahoma-bomber-like American terrorist “pals” to make Obama another JFK, Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy.

This witch-hunt plays on superstition, prejudice and ignorance, echoing17th century Salem and McCarthyism. It’s failing though. Even Fox News admits Obama’s poll lead has increased since the hate speeches began (17), (18). McCain and Palin might want to try and salvage some tattered remnants of their self-respect and standing among the majority of decent Americans and people world-wide by ending their cowardly hate campaign. If Obama or any of his supporters are killed the hate-mongers on the McCain campaign will be permanently reviled in America and worldwide.

McCain's campaign manager wants this election to be about “character not issues” (19). That’s not surprising since the issues of their 8 years in power include Enron, doing nothing to try to prevent 9/11, more Americans in poverty than there have been in decades, lying to start a war that got Americans, British and Iraqis killed in Iraq, the endless war in Afghanistan and then economic crisis. Will undecided voters be impressed by the character of people that whip up prejudice based on lies that risk the lives of other Americans?

(1) = CNN 11 Oct 2008 ‘McCain calls on Obama to repudiate 'shocking' Lewis comments’,

(2) = Shlaim, Avi(2000) ‘The Iron Wall – Israel and the Arab World’ , Penguin, London , 2000 (paperback) Chapter 14, pages 546-551

(3) = Haaretz 9 Nov 1995 , ‘The Sources of Yigal Amir’s hatred’, cited by
Morris, Benny(1999) ‘Righteous Victims – A History of the Arab Israeli Conflict’ , John Murray, London , 2000 (hardback), Chapter 13, pages 634-635

(4) = Fox News 04 Oct 2008, ‘Palin Accuses Obama of 'Palling Around With Terrorists'’,

(5) = CNN 05 Oct 2008 , ‘Obama campaign rejects Palin 'terrorist' gibe’,

(6) = Guardian 03 Oct 2008 ‘Fake pollsters' scare tactics target Obama’

(6a) = Times Online 10 May 2008
'Barack Obama sacks adviser over talks with Hamas',

(7) = Washington Post 06 Oct 2008 ‘The Trail : In Fla., Palin Goes for the Rough Stuff as Audience Boos Obama’,

(8) = Huffington Post 06 Oct 2008, ‘Obama Hatred At McCain-Palin Rallies: "Terrorist!" "Kill Him!" (VIDEO)’,

(9) = Guardian 09 Oct 2008 , ‘US election: McCain rallies grow negative as Obama rises in the polls’,

(10) = AP 11 Oct 2008 , ‘AP Top News at 2:00 a.m. EDT’,
(see 5th paragraph)

(11) = Fox News 10 Oct 2008, ‘McCain seeks to calm angry supporters’,

(12) = AP 11th Oct 2008 ‘McCain booed after trying to calm anti-Obama crowd’,

(13) = AP 11 Oct 2008 ‘Obama notes McCain's effort to temper GOP comments’,

(14) = CNN 11 Oct 2008 ‘Rage rising on the McCain campaign trail’,
10th and 9th from last lines read

‘McCain, however, seems torn. On one hand, he is going negative on the Ayers controversy.

"The point is, Sen. Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood. We know that's not true," he said at the rally in Wisconsin. "We need to know the full extent of the relationship because of whether Sen. Obama is telling the truth to the American people or not."’

(15) = Wall Street Journal/Washington Wire 10 Oct 2008 ‘McCain Is Asked to Denounce Supporters’ Outbursts’,

(16) = The Hill 10 Oct 2008 ‘Labor group calls on McCain to denounce supporters’,

(17) = CNN 10 Oct 2008,
3rd last paragraph reads ‘A new CNN poll of polls, which averages the results of three national polls taken October 7-9, shows that Obama has a seven-point lead over McCain, 49 percent to 42 percent.’

(18) = Fox News 10 Oct 2008, ‘FOX NEWS POLL: OBAMA 46, McCAIN 39’

1st paragraph “Barack Obama leads John McCain by 46 percent to 39 percent, according to a FOX News national registered voter poll released Friday. Two weeks ago Obama led by 45 percent to 39 percent (September 22-23).”

(19) = Washington Post 02 Sep 2008 'McCain Manager: 'This Election is Not About Issues'',

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

You want to talk about crazy ministers saying awful things Sarah? Let’s…

Sarah Palin says she wants to talk about crazy ministers again – specifically Obama’s former Minister Jeremiah Wright, whose views Obama has publicly rejected. Palin has not revealed her own extreme religious views. Nor has she condemned the extreme sermons of various ministers and guest speakers she often takes part in services with at her churches in Wasilla, Alaska.

These views include the belief that critics of Bush will "burn in hell", that when Israeli Jews are killed it's a judgement from God on them for not converting to Christianity, that Jesus is "always in war mode" and that there are witches who need to be warded against or else killed.

For twenty years until 2002 she was a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God. Then she moved to Wasilla Bible Church (which is in fact just as extreme), but she still regularly visits the Assembly of God (1), (2). One visit was in June this year. She spoke enthusiastically about the church alongside her former minister, Ed Kalnins (3), (4). So what do Kalnins, Palin, Wasilla Bible Church members and the Wasilla Assembly of God believe?

Critics of Bush will “burn in hell”?
That would include John McCain and 70% of Americans.

Ed Kalnins, Palin’s minister at Wasilla Assembly of God from 1999 till 2002 , delivered sermons saying people who voted for Kerry in 2004 would not go to heaven – and that critics of President Bush would “burn in hell” (5), (6). (You can hear some of his sermons in full on the church’s own website here)

As recently as August John McCain has criticised President Bush’s administration over what Human Rights Watch called it’s “tacit policy of torture” and Amnesty International called “widespread and systematic…torture” (7), (8), (9). Many US military veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq also condemned the torture policy (10). McCain was tortured himself in Vietnam, so his stand against it is understandable.

So does Sarah Palin believe McCain will “burn in hell”? Has McCain shown good judgement in choosing her as a potential vice President (and so a potential President)?

Polls show two thirds of Americans say they disapprove of Bush’s policies (11). Is Sarah Palin’s ‘strong belief’ that they’ll all burn in hell likely to be a vote winner if they’re told about it? Sarah might think ‘You betcha’, but I wouldn’t be betting any money on it.

Palin’s Church says when Israelis are killed it’s a judgement from God on them for not converting to Christianity,
but Republicans still ask American Jewish voters to vote for her

On August 17th this year David Brickner of ‘Jews for Jesus’ a guest speaker at Wasilla Bible Church (Palin’s new and supposedly more moderate Church) , said terrorist attacks on Israeli Jews are God’s judgement on them for not converting to Christianity. You can hear the full sermon on the church’s website here. Palin was present and listened without criticising these views – and has never disowned them since (12). It’s a common view among right-wing Christian fundamentalists that the Jews must convert to Christianity before the Second Coming of Jesus or be destroyed by God. Before she joined the Wasilla Bible Church in 2002 Palin was a member of the Assembly of God Pentecostal Church for 20 years. Many of them believe in this version of the Second Coming (13).

Yet the Republicans are asking Jewish voters to vote for Palin – and quite possibly, given McCain’s age and health problems, President if the McCain/Palin ticket is elected.

Since Palin has also told acquaintances in Alaska that she believes she is living in the Last Days and that the Second Coming will take place in her life time Jewish voters might want to think twice before voting McCain/Palin (14).

Jesus operates in “war mode”? The Iraq war as a “task from God”?

Ed Kalnins also delivered sermons saying that “We need to think like Jesus thinks. … Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode”. (16). Palin herself prayed in her June visit to the Assembly of God that the Iraq war is a “task from God” (16).

I’ll admit to not being a great biblical scholar but I’m pretty certain that in the New Testament of the Bible Jesus tells his follower to “turn the other cheek”, “love thy enemy” and “love thy neighbour as thyself”. There was some discussion of swords and armour which were clearly figures of speech. I don’t recall him calling for any wars at any point. The message seemed to be one of peace, love and forgiveness. So he’d be far too ‘liberal’ and namby-pamby for Kalnins and Palin. Where Kalnins’ and Palin’s War Jesus comes from I don’t know, because he’s certainly not in the Bible. He sounds a bit like Osama Bin Laden’s weird interpretation of Allah and the Koran.

Witch-craft and burning out witches

Sarah Palin doesn’t just associate with one minister with extreme views though. She’s also taken part in ceremonies against ‘witch-craft’ led by Kenyan Christian fundamentalist bishop Thomas Muthee, who uses accusations of witch-craft to threaten political opponents with being stoned or burnt to death (17).

Witch-hunts have led to many murders in Kenya. In one instance eleven old people were burned to death by a mob as witches (18).

It is not reassuring for mainstream Christians or non-Christians to know the Republican vice-Presidential candidate believes in bringing back irrational paranoia and witch hunts which ended hundreds of years ago after the Salem Witch Trials.


Palin’s beliefs aren’t ordinary or average –
they’re extreme, fanatical and dangerous

Some of Sarah Palin’s religious beliefs are admirable. Her belief that having a child with Down’s syndrome is a gift from God for instance is hard to criticise. However there is nothing “ordinary” or “average” about her church’s other religious views as outlined above. They’re extreme, intolerant, fanatical and dangerous. Sarah Palin has never once said she doesn’t share any of these views. Some of them are her own words.

The more Americans who are made aware of how extreme Sarah Palin’s religious views seem to be before the election the better – because given McCain’s age she could become President if McCain is elected. Even if McCain serves a full term Palin suggested in the debate with Biden that if elected she will expand the powers of the Vice President beyond even the unconstitutional actions of Dick Cheney (19).

(1) = CNN 9 Sep 2008, ‘Pastor: GOP may be downplaying Palin's religious beliefs’,

(2) = Newsweek 02 Sep 2008, ‘A Visit to Palin’s Church’,
cited by Huffington Post 02 Sep 2008 ‘Palestinian Attack In Israel Part of God's Judgment, Said Recent Guest At Palin's Church’ , by Seth Caltor Walls,

(3) = Huffington Post 02 Sep 2008, ‘Palin's Church May Have Shaped Controversial Worldview’, (includes embedded video of Palin and Kalnins at Wasilla Assembly of God church from 8th June 2008)

(4) = Wasilla Assembly of God – All 2008 services - (includes link to same video for 8th June but only playable with realplayer)

(5) = USA Today 03 Sep 2008, ‘Palin's former minister comes under scrutiny’,

(6) = Wasilla Assembly of God,

(7) = Reuters 31 Aug 2008, ‘McCain criticizes Bush on torture of prisoners’,

(8) = Amnesty International 1 Nov 2005 ‘TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT IN THE ‘WAR ON TERROR’’,

(9) = Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 - ‘Torture and Inhumane Treatment: A Deliberate U.S. Policy’ -

(10) = See e.g Washington Post Wednesday, September 28, 2005; A21,‘ A Matter of Honor’, and's_right_on_Iraq/torture/ as well as sources listed in it

(11) = USA Today 06 Oct 2008, ‘Bush approval rating hits record low’,

(12) = Miami Herald 13 Sep 2008, ‘Palin could rob McCain of Jewish vote’,

(13) = CNN 9 Sep 2008, ‘Pastor: GOP may be downplaying Palin's religious beliefs’,

(14) = Los Angeles Times 23 Sep 2008, ‘Into the wild of Wasilla, Alaska, where Sarah Palin once ruled’,,0,3506838,full.column (see 3rd from last paragraph)

(15) = See (3) and (4) above

(16) = Associated Press 4 Sep 2008, ‘Sarah Palin told ministry students: Iraq troops on task ‘from God’,

(17) = Times 16 Sep 2008, ‘Palin linked electoral success to prayer of Kenyan witchhunter’,

(18) = BBC News 21 May 2008 'Witches' burnt to death in Kenya’, (cited by Irregular Times 17 Sep 2008, ‘Sarah Palin, How Is Stoning Women Feminist?’, )

(19) = NYT 02 Oct 2008, ‘Transcript: The Vice-Presidential Debate’, (link to video if the debate is on the same page)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Palining Around With Terrorists

Obama knew a man involved who was involved in terrorism 40 years ago, when Obama was 8. The Bush administration have been funding and arming dictators and terrorist groups who continue to kill Americans today - and murdered Daniel Pearl. Instead of punishing them they give them more money and more weapons - and McCain and Palin support those actions and would continue them.

Sarah Palin claims Obama will “pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country” on the basis that Bill Ayers sat on the same community council as Obama and donated money to his campaign. Obama was about eight years old when Ayers was involved with Weathermen bombing plots in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s. When he found out about Ayers’ past actions he called them wrong and “detestable” (1).

Palin and McCain, meanwhile, vocally support the Bush administration, who, while talking about “freedom” and “democracy”, supported and funded the military dictatorship of General Musharraf until he resigned in August. Musharraf was a staunch ally of the Taliban. When the US invasion of Afghanistan began Musharraf warned the Northern Alliance against ‘taking advantage’ of this to force the Taliban out of government (2). Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid found that Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence kept arming and supporting the Taliban long after the invasion (3). So the Bush administration was indirectly arming and funding the Taliban and other Islamic extremists used by the ISI to intimidate Pakistan’s secular opposition and carry out terrorist attacks in India and Kashmir.

In January 2002 the American journalist Daniel Pearl was investigating links between the ISI, the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan. He was kidnapped and beheaded. Before they killed him his kidnappers demanded that the US release F-16 jets to Pakistan’s military. Musharraf had made the same request to Bush in a meeting in November 2001 before Pearl’s murder – and repeated it at another meeting afterwards, in Februrary 2002. Musharraf and his military government also often suggested Pearl had “got himself into this trouble” by being “over-intrusive”. Bush rewarded the murder by giving Musharraf the F-16s. Musharraf refused to extradite the kidnappers’ leader – Omar Sheikh of the ISI-backed Harkat Ul Ansar. Al Qaeda and the ISI also seem to have been involved in the Pearl kidnapping plot (4), (5).

A confession (probably false) was later extracted, after torture, from another Al Qaeda suspect, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (6). This was intended to save embarrassing questions for both Musharraf and the Bush administration.

So the Bush administration have funded and armed people who murdered an American journalist and fund and arm Taliban fighters who are killing American troops in Afghanistan; and John McCain and Sarah Palin have supported these actions.

It may well be that Bush, Cheney, McCain and Palin didn’t realise they were handing arms and money to people who were handing it on to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They should have known though. They were not eight years old when these events took place. The terrorism which was killing Americans wasn’t 40 years in the past either.

John McCain claims his experience on foreign policy issues makes him a ‘safer’ choice than Obama, but all the facts suggest otherwise. He has shown disastrously bad judgement in supporting Musharraf and Pakistan’s military – judgement that resulted in Americans being killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He’s shown the same bad judgement on Iraq and on the economy.

We might expect the US media to give this more coverage – but then one of Fox News’ most high profile reporters is Oliver North – who notoriously was involved in organising CIA operations arming Iran and smuggling cocaine into the US in order to fund death squads in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s. The FBI and other investigators found cocaine was smuggled into the US on the same planes that smuggled the arms for the contras ; so much for ‘fair and balanced’ (7), (8), (9), (10).

American Presidents, Republican and Democrat (like many other governments) have a long history of assuming that their enemy’s enemy is their friend and ending up supporting dictators, terrorists and murderers who later become a threat. Saddam Hussein, Noriega and Osama Bin Laden are examples. Bin Laden’s account of the beginning of his operations with the Mujahedin in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s was that ““I settled in Pakistan in the Afghan border region. There I received volunteers [from Arab and Muslim countries]...these volunteers were trained by Pakistani and American officers. The weapons were supplied by the Americans, the money by the Saudis.” (11).

In the early 1990s the US, Pakistani and Saudi governments and intelligence agencies were once again co-operating, this time to try to get the Taliban (Sunni extremists) into government in Afghanistan in order to reduce the Iranian (Shia) government’s influence there and the Indian government’s influence also. Within a few years the Taliban were providing a haven for Al Qa’ida and the Clinton administration had realised it had made a serious mistake in supporting them (12).

Today the Bush administration are not only blindly backing Pakistan’s military and ISI but also ordering the CIA to back Sunni extremist groups like Jundullah on the border between Pakistan and Iran. Jundullah have the same beliefs and methods as Al Qaeda. Just now they’re targeting the Iranian Shia government and military with bombings and beheadings (13). In the future it may well be Americans who are their targets.

Barack Obama has shown good judgement in opposing Musharraf and the Iraq war. He has a chance to avoid the mistakes made by past Presidents of supporting terrorist groups and dictatorships. Bush and Cheney have only repeated them – and McCain and Palin have supported every one of those mistakes.

(1) = CNN 05 Oct 2008 , ‘Obama campaign rejects Palin 'terrorist' gibe’,

(2) = New York Times 09 Oct 2001 , 'Pakistani Is Already Calling on U.S. to End Airstrikes Quickly',

(3) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008, pages 77-78, 48, 50, 114, 116

(4) = Wall Street Journal 24 Feb 2002, ‘Reporter Daniel Pearl Is Dead,
Killed by His Captors in Pakistan’,
(see 5th paragraph which reads ‘The group…also called for the U.S. to turn over F-16 fighter jets purchased by Pakistan in the late 1980s but never delivered’.

(5) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008, pages 86 (Musharraf requests Bush release F-16s to him in 2001), 149 (February 2002 – Musharraf makes same demand after Pearl’s murder) , 113-114, 151-153

(6) = Ahmed Rashid (2008) , ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Penguin, London & NY 2008,p153, 427

(7) = Fox News 21 Jun 2007, ‘Bio – Oliver North’,,2933,50566,00.html

(8) = Cockburn, Alexander & St. Clair, Jeffrey (1998), ‘Whiteout – The CIA, Drugs and the Press’, Verso, London & N.Y , 1998, Chapters 12 & 13

(9) = Scott, Peter Dale & Marshall, Jonathan (1998) ‘Cocaine Politics – Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America (1998 edition)’, University of California Press, Berkeley, London & Los Angeles, 1998

(10) =
(this is a wikipedia entry but provides reliable sources - including the Kerry report - a congressional inquiry into links between drug traffickers, the contras and the CIA - and FBI investigations)

(11) = AFP 27 Aug 1998 ‘Laden planned a global revolution in 1995’ cited by Ahmed Rashid (2001) ‘Taliban’, Pan MacMillan, London, 20001, Chapter 10 p132 & 258

(12) = Ahmed Rashid (2001) ‘Taliban’, Pan MacMillan, London, 20001

(13) = ABC News 03 Apr 2007 , ‘ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran’,
A CIA spokesperson said ‘the US provides no funding to Jundullah’ – which may well mean that the funding comes from the Saudis and/or is indirect through funding for Pakistan’s military – as with the Mujahedin in the 80s and the Taliban in the early 90s