Newsclipping of the Day :: More Backstory on Katrina

My favorite new political-culture-oriented blogger Digby has a great new post about what was really behind the shocking response of our current Republican Executive to the Katrina disaster. He speculates that what Rove was really after was making Louisiana over as a red state, by seizing the opportunity to force the city's African-American residents into a wide, permanent diaspora; thus eliminating pesky Democratic-leaning votes in all future elections. Those Black folks who once lived in New Orleans have known now for years that Republicans have absolutely no respect for their very lives. Many others simply can't comprehend, even when they read of the possibility with their own eyes. You can see the original post from The Big Con here (complete with live links), but i copy the text here below, so it will be preserved for posterity here:

Katrina: Slow As Molasses

By Digby on August 25, 2007 - 1:04pm.

There was an interesting little factoid in Joshua Green's great article on Karl Rove in this months Atlantic, that has everyone scratching their heads:

Hurricane Katrina clearly changed the public perception of Bush’s presidency. Less examined is the role Rove played in the defining moment of the administration’s response: when Air Force One flew over Louisiana and Bush gazed down from on high at the wreckage without ordering his plane down. Bush advisers Matthew Dowd and Dan Bartlett wanted the president on the ground immediately, one Bush official told me, but were overruled by Rove for reasons that are still unclear: “Karl did not want the plane to land in Louisiana.” Rove’s political acumen seemed to be deserting him altogether.

That picture of Bush looking down on the city from on high in his favorite little air force one costume was a terrible image. But there can be no doubt that what Rove was thinking about in those moments was not whether it would be good for the country or the people of New Orleans for the president to get on the ground immediately. He was thinking about how to turn the situation into a political advantage.

In the early days of Katrina, Bush was very strangely disengaged, even when he got back to Washington and saw the full scope of the damage. Again, it's impossible to know exactly what was going through their minds, but it was an odd performance even by Bush standards. It's hard to see how anyone could calculate that it was a good idea for the president to appear not to care about one of America's oldest and most beloved cities being destroyed while its stranded residents begged for food and water. And yet they seemed to be moving like thick, sticky molasses.

Within days it was reported in the NY Times that Karl Rove was in charge of the reconstruction effort in the gulf. Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post observed:

Rove's leadership role suggests quite strikingly that any and all White House decisions and pronouncements regarding the recovery from the storm are being made with their political consequences as the primary consideration. More specifically: With an eye toward increasing the likelihood of Republican political victories in the future, pursuing long-cherished conservative goals, and bolstering Bush's image.

The first reconstruction plans to emerge bore out that assumption. Rove was reported to be working with a Heritage Foundation task force headed by former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese. Much like their earlier failed attempt at reconstruction in Iraq, this was seen as a perfect chance to create a free market Disneyland.

Heritage came up with a plan by September 12th, just two weeks after the hurricane came ashore, called "From Tragedy to Triumph: Principled Solutions for Rebuilding Lives and Communities." Their report confidently stated, "the key to successfully rebuilding the Gulf Coast is to 'encourage creative and rapid private investment through incentives and reduced regulation.'"

Paul Krugman described just what that meant in the NY Times:

"The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax,"

The Republican congress got in on the act as well. The WSJ reported:

Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond.


"The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."

Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."

They were all working together:

Members of the group met in a closed session Tuesday night at the conservative Heritage Foundation headquarters here to map strategy. Edwin Meese, the former Reagan administration attorney general, has been actively involved.

And they didn't hide their intentions:

Conservative commentators see the measures as an opportunity to reverse federal entitlement programmes dating back to Franklin Roosevelt's that they argue ingrain poverty by encouraging dependency on the government. "The objection to these Bush proposals isn't fiscal, but philosophical," Rich Lowry, an editor on the National Review magazine, wrote. "They serve to undermine the principle of government dependency that underpins the contemporary welfare state, and to which liberals are utterly devoted."

Naturally, all this principled high-mindedness ended up making Republican contributors a whole lot of money, from the very first moments until just recently.

But none of that is what Karl Rove was likely to have really been interested in. He was happy to promote free market ideology and ensure that important contributors were cut in on the action, but his holy grail was creating an enduring Republican majority. (And we know he did not have a lot of scruples when it came to doing it.)

Louisiana has been a swing state for some time, in which Democrats were dependent on the black majority in the state's largest city to win. It was not lost on Rove that all of those poor New Orleans African Americans --- and their children --- being dispersed throughout the nation could only be good for Republicans. As of now, only about 66% have returned, not enough to keep the state swinging (in more ways than one.) It looks very likely that the state will have a Republican Governor and two Republican Senators in 2008. Experts in the area estimate that the congressional delegation advantage for Republicans will be five to one by 2012. There is little doubt that the Katrina diaspora finally turned the state blood red.

Kanye West famously blurted out "Bush doesn't care about black people" at a Katrina fundraiser and shocked everyone with his blunt assessment. But we could all see why he would think that. Bush had failed to even acknowledge the hurricane for days and refused to cut short his vacation. He told his disastrously incompetent FEMA head he was doing a "heckuva job" and seemed cavalier about the fact that people were expiring on the sidewalk in New Orleans. His strongest statements seemed to be against looting. Indeed, it appeared that he was quite content to let the catastrophe unfold in slow motion on the world's TV screens.

You can't blame West for thinking he didn't care. But it was likely far more cynical than that. Rove was busy counting votes that day he and the president flew over the city and he undoubtedly knew that an opportunity presented itself if New Orleans were destroyed. And he knew something else too: that if certain people heard tales of African Americans lawlessly marauding through the streets and saw hours of footage of poor black women with children it would successfully tweak the southern racist lizard brain to solidify those gains.

Tom Schaller explains:

Louisiana is, at last, about to look a lot more like its Deep South neighbors politically. There has been something of an inverse relationship in recent presidential elections between the share of black voters and Republican performance. That is, the blacker the state, the bigger the Republican margins. Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are all states with black populations close to or above a third, the highest percentage in the nation -- and not a Democratic senator, governor or, since 1992, Democratic electoral vote among them.

Along with Florida, Louisiana had been different, a state where multiracial coalitions propelled Clinton, Landrieu and Blanco to victories. In Louisiana, a black population of 32.5 percent made victory for Democrats possible. The post-Katrina question is whether the black population will remain large enough for Democrats to continue building such coalitions, especially if there is a backlash among white voters in the noncoastal portions of the state toward Blanco, controversial New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and state Democrats in general. Recent polls, however, are not promising, and they also show how resolutely racial party identification has become in the Deep South. The blacker the state, the more Republican the whites are.

Despite the "heckuva job" performance of the Bush administration during Katrina, the president's approval rating among whites in Louisiana -- 57 percent -- is tied for second best in the nation with Georgia and Idaho, trailing only Mississippi's 61 percent. The link between whiteness and Republicanism in the South is now so strong that it can even withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Now, without the tipping-point power of the Orleans Parish black electorate, Louisiana may well become the new Mississippi, which has two Republican senators and a Republican governor and hasn't given its electoral votes to a Democrat since Jimmy Carter.

Rove may have failed to create and enduring national majority, but he did a heckuva job in Louisiana, cementing another bloc into the solid Republican south.


Join Us for Dinner?

We're having tomato salad with scallions, basil, olives, oil and vinegar, french potato salad, and poached fish. On Steven's porcelaine du target. And Ice Cream later.



See how great Jonathan Adler's stuff is? I've been drooling on this sofa for months now... we have to get rid of the 2 long defunct radiators in our living room before we could fit another sofa in there. The extra foot of room width they needlessly eat up now is critical. And, we might have to lose the giant five-and-a-half-foot circular coffee table. *sign*

Steven's Response to Top Design

Steven and i both got into Bravo's reality show Top Design alot in the beginning. It is about a bunch of young, up and rising designers--some really earnest, some wannabes, some avec axe to grind, some just clueless in startling ways--who are made to compete in coming up with solutions to a common design challenge for some imaginary fat cat with greedy, consumptive needs. A new poolside cabanna for X, a loft pied a terre for Y. Living quarters for an artist or disco/cocktail party event tent on the beach for Bacardi Lemon (these are the real scenarios, i couldn't make it up).

We really liked Project Runway too, the earlier, fashion-oriented version of this show...and thankfully don't get addicted to much Television. And with the beauty of our DVR, we watch in concentrated bursts when we want to. Ultimately, Runway is a much better show. I think i feel that way because the critics were just better, and recognized genuine creativity.

Thanks to our friend Larisa, who introduced us to Jonathan Adler years ago, we had grown to love the wacky yet haute chic sense of Adler, the Top Design star critic. As the show wore on, however--and judge Kelli's sense of personal style went from slighly Cyndi Lauper circa '86 to Baroque to Mannerist to Bizarre--we both started to hate it. But couldn't--of course--stop watching. Good, groundbreaking design ideas were usually punished by the panel of "expert" judges, while those who proved able to finesse the tired and old (or tried and true if you prefer) were rewarded.

I am taken back to the springtime of this show because this week our new issue of Elle Decor arrived with the winning "top design" published. A mostly colorless, bland attempt at sophistication within a rough loft space. More like sophistry, if you ask me. Seeing the winning design months later, it looked even more pale, timid, and unworthy of Jonathan's seal of approval. He makes such beautiful--and startlingly retro kitsch, yet very chic--stuff that i think will stand the test of time. I mean LOOK at the sheer exuberance of Adler's stuff!

After one particularly maddening episode, I remember Steven firing off a response on the show's blog on Bravo's website. And i just came across it now, cleaning up my links, to my utter joy. I share now, herewith:


paradg wrote:
My god, Mike was finally gone. He just does not have the instinct. Sometimes that instinct is not learnable and he does not like to listen either.
Janathan, you are my favorite. We love your ceramic works and have a few of them. I was so looking forward to the show. I have to say I think that the show is a bit lame. Also when originality or creativity is not rewarded, mediocrity will prevail.
My favorite is Goil. He has great sense of space and very creative. However, I hope that he presents a bit more of versatility. I was disappointed that he commented about conflict between Arts & Crafts and Modern. He had architecture background and graduated from one of top architecture school. Modern movement just followed Arts & Crafts. Asian architecture, culture and philosophy had great influence for those movements. That could be a great connection to create a beautiful chic, rustic space. I do like his creation. By the way, this day people are so confused between modern and contempory. For me, modern is authentic and contempory is fake and just crap. Except Goil's room, none of others are even close to be modern or Arts and Crafts. And the guest judge picked Andrea's. I hope that Tom Colicchio should tell what he really meant is like contempory style. If you are not expert on something, do not pretend to be.
We have Elle Decor and enjoy it very much. I have high regard for Margaret Russell before I watched the show. She did not impress me much. Her comments just does not reflect the capacity of the editor-in-chief of that beautiful magzine. She just does not have a clear vision what it takes to create a great space with personal surrounding.
posted on March 23, 2007 at 9:59 PM

Ah, memories. I'm so glad you are writing now mister!

You can read his response in it's native place here, and peruse all the other viewer comments to the particular episode too. Good stuff.

Newsclipping :: LOGO Presidential Candidate Forum

I missed the LOGO shindig this week (since my lamo TV provider doesn't offer it), and i missed Jon Stewart's sendup of it. Hilarious! Thank Goddess for the internets.


Know Anything About Mike Gravel?

Thanks to Curtis for inspiring me to find out a bit more about Gravel. He's got some interesting ideas.

THIS is his basic proposal. The National Initiative, in which power to make laws is vested in citizens, in addition to Congress, is the big idea.

I've been listening all night to his INTERVIEW series with Mike Malloy. It is VERY interesting. In segment 6 he makes some really great, strong statements about gay civil rights. And i love the way Malloy doesn't let him get away with anything, and calls bullshit on his condescension.

This is way better than TV.

P.S. Now that i've listened to the 80-some-minute interview (and aftermath) with Mike Malloy, a few comments.

I think Gravel has his heart in the right place (how many right-wingers still say that about Bush?? I know it's bogus). What i mean is, the concept of citizens writing laws and bringing them up for national referendum sounds great. Here's why: it would empower Americans to become Civic-Minded again. Well, in theory anyway.

An aside: I recently read a piece about the Rebuilding Czar in NOLA who has been in place for about 3 months now and has until the end of the year to get his job done. He describes himself as a coach, refusing to just be a politician and ram things through and ram things down New Orleanians throats. He keeps telling the people--in interviews, on the radio, in public meetings, in committees, before the legislature, etc--that THEY are the ones who have to make New Orleans come back to life. Only if the people there become civic-minded again, will any substantial, real, and permanent rebuilding happen. Only then will so many of the displaced be able to come back. He has a design/city planning background, so this kind of lingo is not suprizing in that context. But he knows that what he is encouraging is EXACTLY what the rich fat cats, contractors, no-bid "outsourcers" DO NOT WANT. They want the people to be silent, uninformed, weak, and unempowered. Sad.

I like this Civic-Mindedness-Revival-Renewal part of the Nation Initiative for Democracy, because I think that is exactly what has gone wrong here: noone (nearly) is civic-minded anymore. We are 140something out of 160something countries in voter turnout. We are terribly uninformed--not only about the world and other people and cultures, but about own system and history and the realities of what goes on now. Our denial runs deep, culturally. So many people just refuse to believe our President can be behaving criminally, repeatedly. And none of us has the energy to do what civic-minded people do. Bad shit happens here, and noone feels empowered to stop it. We all expect our elected representatives--after all, they are the experts--to do it. And that is wrong. Leaders only lead when the people show them how. And the people don't know how anymore.

It is simply one person saying "we are not going to have this" and then making it happen. Like a mother putting her foot down and effectively ending some bad behavior and resteering her child's entire life, in one dramatic moment of clarity.

We have to steer this thing, and none of the people have done this in years. The corporations have been buying the politicians so they can steer, and everything is so out of control i have to wonder why we even think there is anyway to steer the behemoth.

On the other hand, Malloy is right: the National Initiative would be mob rule. Crazy bullshit referendums would make it through the mill, and crazy, uninformed people in denial about this or that would make them happen. I think Malloy was a little hard on Gravel, saying basically he is totally full of it and calling him a complete nutcase. They both did, increasingly as the interview wore on, seem like an angry old curmudgeons, having their Showcase Showdown of Shouts.

The bottom line is I most appreciate Gravel's sweeping vision: he realizes we need BIG change, we need it now, and we need it to be creative. Check.

I'd love to know what any of you who might listen to these interview segments thinks. Malloy is a bit insane himself.. the whole thing was like the smackdown of the two angry old lunatic white men.

Sheesh. It was way better than TV. I'm serious Napolean.


Finally, something fun to do in this Dreary Political Climate

Listen or read and cast your vote.

Sad Desperate Emails

Do any of you get these? I've noticed a BIG influx of them lately in my yahoo inbox, even my work mail gets them occasionally. Makes me acutely aware of what a banana republic world we still live in. And we are squarely in the middle of it here.


Newsclipping of the Day :: Dan Rather, Hanging Chads, Stealing Elections

For those of you who may not have HDnet TV. I don't.
Kudos to Rather.

When is everyone going to wake up and realize that corporate,
private interests are manipulating our elections?

The transcript for Dan Rather's "The Trouble with Touch Screens" is
available here.

Dan Rather reveals the lack of qualify control in manufacturing
ES&S touchscreens and shocking new revelations about the Florida 2000

Dan Rather talks to former workers at the Sequoia printing plant in
California. The workers explained how they were ordered to send West
Palm Beach inferior punch cards in the Summer and Fall of 2000. These
cards were printed on poor quality paper and purposely misprinted.
The cards were actually expected to fail during voting and counting,
which they did. And Sequoia's workers were subsequently ordered to
hide the evidence.

Clearly a series of conscious acts on the part of management at
Sequoia Voting Systems, who ordered the sabotage of West Palm Beach's
election, was part of a plan to sell its more profitable touchscreen
voting machines. It was a coordinated attack from a printing plant in
California on the election recount process in Florida.

The events that set the stage for our current voting system disaster.

Here is a copy of the HD.net transcript which I made more readable by
changing the case and inserting some extra paragraph breaks (blank
Transcript of Dan Rather's Expose :

Tonight the trouble with touch screens screens, even if it's just off
a 1/4 of an inch it can throw a vote upper or lower to the other
candidate and you have the wrong selection and you really don't
realize it. The story of companies that built 1000s of new age voting
machines for elections all across America with touch screens that were
unreliable we were rejecting at the time. Anywhere from 30-40% of the
touch screens that came in, wait a minute, you were rejecting. At that
time 30-40% of the touch screens you were getting in from Bergquist?
That's correct.

Also tonight, the paper trial. And I think that everybody's opinion
was this: 2000 election was going to be our demise because of the poor
quality that we put out the door. Workers responsible for making paper
ballots that led to the Florida fiasco of 2000 tell their story for
the first time. It's a sad state of affairs that it takes 7 years for
somebody to actually ask the question to the people that might have
the answer.

A special investigative report on the machines that count America's
votes tonight on Dan Rather reports.

Good evening, from West Palm Beach, Florida. Nothing is more
fundamental to the story of America, and what it means to be an
American, than the vote. A free people, voting with the guarantee of a
secret ballot, holds a privileged place among our most cherished civic
institutions. Voting also represents an exercise in faith--a faith
that after one drops one's ballot in a box, or pulls a lever, or
presses a button on a screen one's vote will be counted. Recent
elections have sorely tested our American faith in the sanctity of the
vote. Few places in the country symbolize this strained faith more
than the building behind me- the Palm Beach county courthouse, scene
of some of the fiercest fights during the 2000 election mess in
Florida. But that contest seven years ago is by no means the only one
that has raised questions and some of the measures that resulted from
that episode- such as new voting machines- have spawned questions of
their own.

Today (applause). I am proud to announce that I am a candidate for
congress for 2008! This is Christine Jennings. In November of 2006 she
lost the House race for Florida's 13th congressional district. But
Jennings, a Democrat, is already back--running again. I will fight
every single day for the privilege of being the people's
representative for district 13!

She lost the 2006 race by a only few hundred votes. But her defeat
made headlines, not because of votes counted- but because of votes
that may not have been counted at all. Mysteriously, 18,000 voters in
Sarasota County -about 13% of all voters there- appeared to have cast
no votes at all in the race for this seat in the House of
Representatives this rate of so-called under-votes was much higher
than for other counties in the congressional district.

Jennings didn't believe that thousands of voters had intentionally not
voted in her race. She blamed the touch screen voting machines and she
had her reasons. On the first or second day of early voting, we
started getting calls from voters telling us there was a problem with
the screen, with them trying to vote for me on the review screen. And
in addition, voters here called the Sarasota herald tribune, they
called the radio stations. Voters, we have hundreds of voters that
signed affidavits that said, " those machines did not work properly."
those " machines" were the " Ivotronic," touch screen voting machine,
manufactured by Election Systems & Software Of Omaha, Nebraska
which claims to be the world's largest election systems provider. Is
privately held. The company says that over 67 million voters cast
their ballots on Es&S equipment last November, in some 22 states.
just after Election Day many voters in Jennings' race said something
wasn't right with the voting machines. When I went to review my vote,
the 13th district came up as I didn't vote. I went to check it and her
name wasn't there. I hit the square, the x came up, I continued voting
down to the end, went to the review page, it wasn't on there, it
wasn't there. It came up that Christine's vote did not go through. I'm
hoping that my vote did get counted. 18, 000 votes missing is a big
mistake and a big error for this county and it should be corrected.
Jennings sued the state and ES&S, saying the machines had
malfunctioned. She never conceded the race and filed an election
challenge with the U.S. House of Representatives.

Christine Jennings has made a career out of insisting that numbers be
right. She had started out as a bank teller in Ohio, moved to Florida
and eventually founded her own bank in Sarasota. Running for congress
was her first venture into politics the one thing that I want - it's
very simple - the truth, the truth about what happened in this
election Jennings' race wasn't the first time serious questions had
been raised about the Ivotronics.

Voters all over the country had complained that these voting machines
had registered their selections incorrectly. Besides Florida, problems
with recording votes on the Ivotronics were reported in Pennsylvania,
Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, And Texas. Just in the last

But there may have been a special problem in Florida in 2006. ES&S
sent Florida election officials a memo that summer warning of a
software glitch that could cause misvoting-and saying the company
would fix the problem. Surprisingly, neither ES&S nor the state did
anything to resolve the problem before the November election. Sarasota
didn't even post warning signs for voters in the polls, which ES&S
provided! Still, a state-sponsored audit concluded the Sarasota
machines had worked fine.

So why did 18 thousand people not vote in that house race? Many voting
analysts blamed a confusing ballot layout for the undervote but
Jennings wasn't buying it. Her case -and cause- led to hearings in
congress--. I am going to ask that the GAO and the National Institute
of Standards and Technology really conduct a top to bottom
investigation of these particular machines. Christine Jennings was in
attendance, bringing her local spotlight to a national problem. And
it's at the heart of our democracy and people from across this country
have made it clear to me they want to know that their vote counts and
they have encouraged me to keep this up so that we get to the place
that every vote counts.

Back in Florida, the Jennings race confirmed what some officials had
known for years. Gene Hinspeter has been an elections operations
specialist for Lee County- that's the Ft. Myers area-- for thirteen
years. He discovered a serious problem with the Ivotronic voting
machines in 2003, which he recreated for us in a demonstration. In
2003 we noticed there was a calibration issue with the Ivotronic touch
screen and we brought it up to the people that maintain our voting
equipment. And this is just a little example of what we saw. If you
select the first box, if it is off enough. It would make another
selection. It is not exactly where you make your selection at. As you
see, I am selecting the top box and this second box is highlighting.
Lee County returned all 1800 of its Ivotronics to ES&S to have
replaced, but problems continued.

For Hinspeter, the machines were a high maintenance headache. We
started out with two employees when we were doing punch card, and when
we switched over to the Ivotronic we basically had to triple our staff
because the hands-on is just so intense. You know before you let the
machine go out, you test it, you calibrate it, you check the date and
time. There's so many things that need to be done before it goes out.
It's not like you can just pull it out of the rack, throw it in the
booth and send it out. We have to bring in a team of people that cast
ballots on each one of these machines to make sure that it's working
properly. And even after all that, there were still problems it seems
like they will work today and tomorrow they might not work. I can use
ten of them in a test and then we will go ahead and get ready to send
them out after the test and we will check them just before they go out
the door and we will find that one is not working properly. So, they
are just unreliable in my opinion how could machines that had cost
taxpayers millions all over the United States be so unpredictable?

According to ES&S, there are 97,000 Ivotronic machines in use
the country! Most of us use touch screens every day. From the ATM
machines to the latest in cell phone technology. They have to be
right. So what was the problem with these voting machines?

Our investigation of the ES&S Ivotronic took us not to company
headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska but half a world away.

These are the shantytowns of Manila home to the Teletech factory
where, since 1999, Filipino workers have been cranking out touch
screen machines that were used in Florida and other states.

Some workers came forward to talk to us, but were so afraid of the
factory owner that they would speak only from the shadows.

What was happening inside the plant? According to this employee and
many others exhausted Philipppino workers. Rushed production. Poor

It took us nearly two months in Manila to finally persuade one former
worker to talk to us in daylight. Eddie Vibar is an electrical
engineer who worked at the factory between 1999 and 2002.

Vibar says he worked on thousands of voting machines shipped to the
United States with what he says was virtually no testing done on them.
Originally, a fraction of the machines underwent a so-called vibration
test. And what was this quality control test for machines on which
Americans would cast hundreds of thousands of votes?

This manual shake-test, would have been a joke at any quality
electronics factory. But Vibar says that even this crude test was only
done on a fraction of the machines. Why? Because, Vibar says,
management didn't want to slow down production. But almost nothing may
have affected the workers- or the machines -- like the crushing heat
and humidity of Manila -- in a factory with only a few air
conditioners, often broken or turned off. Vibar recalls days when the
temperature inside rose to over ninety degrees.

Americans cast ballots for mayors, senators and even the president on
these vital machines! They cost some three thousand dollars apiece. So
how did they end up being manufactured here like this? Enter factory
director, Edwin Ching. The Ching family holds a majority interest in
the Manila factory - but also in this American company pivot,
international, a contract engineering firm in Lenexa, Kansas. In 1997
ES&S contracted with pivot international to make its voting
The Chings may seem odd business partners for ES&S. The family has
widely-questioned reputation in Philipppine business circles and
strong connections in top political circles. The Chings have been sued
in the Philipppines--and investigated there -- for their alleged
business practices, possible tax evasion, and shoddy real estate
developments. They have not been convicted of anything. Meanwhile the
family lives in seclusion behind the walls of their compound on
Paradise Street

Vibar says that while the Chings made millions, their employees got
sweatshop pay.

Some of the Ivotronic's components come from factories in Taiwan and
mainland china - but perhaps the most important component- the screen
itself- came from America's heartland -- the Bergquist Company In
Chanhassen, Minnesota. And it was the American-made screens-- that
began to most concern the Filipino workers, like this former employee.

Back in the states ES&S began falling behind in deliveries of
Ivotronics. Pivot sent an American, Landen Tuggle, from Kansas to
manage the factory. The factory was fairly dismal at that time. In the
basement area where we end up putting a lot of our materials, our
inventories and everything, I think I probably hauled 50 dump truck
loads of cats and rats and snakes and all types of-- debris Landen
Tuggle is known in manufacturing circles for his success upgrading
troubled factories of various kinds to first-class status. He says
that he eventually did just that in Manila -- but it took time. The
Filipino workers recall Tuggle as the first American to care about
them and not just the machines,

They came to Tuggle with problems about working conditions- but also
about problems with the machines, especially the screens.. After I got
over there-- it took me awhile to-- get the Filipinos to open-- up to
me. You have to understand the culture over there. Filipinos don't
wanna give you bad news. You know what I mean? So each time something
failed-- they not only hated it, they took it personally. But as we
got the lines set up and began the manufacturing-- they came to me and
said, "sir-- these are no good." I said, "What's the problem?" they
said, "sir, there-- the bubble-- they're pillowing." " they're
billowing." what does that mean? Pillowing. It means that the surface
of the touch screen, the plastic or Mylar surface, was not stretched
taut. It had a like a bubble or even rolls, two or three rolls to it
on the touch screen. Did you tell anybody what the Philipppine workers
had told you? Yes, I did. I got on the phone. We began to make calls.
. So, you were sounding the alarm as far back as 2001? Yes. We were
rejecting at a time anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the touch
screens that came in. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You were rejecting
at that time 30 to 40 percent of the touch screens that you were
getting in from Bergquist? -that's correct Jonathan San Pedro was the
production manager at Teletech from 1994 to 2004. He worked closely
with Tuggle as Tuggle introduced real quality control standards
Bergquist was alarmed, because of the significant numbers of defect,
or reject units that affected the because of the Bergquist
touchscreens. So someone eventually came over to the Philipppines to
help you address this problem. Oh, yes. Pivot responded immediately.
But they were or were not able to bring it up to top quality. Where
you had very few rejects. No. ES&S continued to produce thousands
Ivotronic machines using the Bergquist screens. Did no one at pivot or
ES&S ever just say, stop this train. We're getting off. We can't
produce these machines at extremely high quality. Did anybody ever say
that? No. Unh-uh

Did you think about it at the time? Of course I did. Any idea how many
were shipped to the us that you feel were potentially defective? I
would say probably in the neighborhood of 15-16,000-- units. A great
many of them destined for Florida. Some of the writings about this,
say that the biggest problem was something called loss of calibration.
What is that? When you take the stylus. And you put it on the x.
Instead of making the dot there on the touch screen. Or where you're
where you're putting it. It would move off and move to a different
location. Showing that it thought the stylus was being touched over
here Jonathan San Pedro says that the more Ivotronic units the workers
produced, and the more they tested, the more calibration problems they
found when we hit our output target that time, which is they re
expecting to increase our capacity, we noticed that many units failed
the calibration test now, were pivot, ES&S and/or Bergquist worried
that this calibration problem might affect the proper recording of
votes? I don't recall anyone ever discussing that they were concerned
about votes. Well, we have a letter from-- Bergquist stating that they
were unaware of the issues with the problematic screens at the time of

Well-- that's simply not true. Did you say it was simply not true?
Yeah. Bergquist said the problem was not so much with their screens as
with the way the Manila plant was inspecting them. Tuggle disagrees.
Berquist said the plant in Manila didn't know how to inspect them.
(laughter) you're chuckling. Why is that? Again, that's simply not
true. Again, I had degreed engineers. You're talking about a third
world country but they had some good colleges there. My people were
very good - they were engineers. I had assembly workers who were
college graduates.

Tuggle admits some design problems with the Ivotronic, but he worried
most about the screens, and that, over time, they would fail your
story suggests, mr. Tuggle Bergquist and pivot and ES&S all knew
there were potential defects in these screens. That could put the
accuracy of the vote by millions of Americans at risk?

Well-- I would say that based upon their calculations, they were all
taking the calculated risk that they would not deteriorate any
further. And it was very evident that that was a risk they were
willing to take. What about the risk at the voting place? You'll have
to ask them about that.

Executives from pivot, Bergquist and ES&S all declined to talk to
But they didn't decline to testify in a federal lawsuit and that's how
we found out what was really going on at all three companies a
critical legal document in the battle over Florida's touchscreens was
filed far from Sarasota, in the United States district court house
here in Minneapolis, in a case that almost no one has even heard
about. The case, Bergquist versus Hartford Casualty, began two years
ago. It seemed at first a simple dispute between a policyholder and
insurance company. Bergquist, the company that manufactured the
screens used in the ES&S Ivotronic was seeking reimbursement for
incurred in recalling and replacing thousands of potentially defective
touch screens, most in voting machines in Florida. An affidavit in the
case, recently filed, looks like just one more document in a mountain
of court papers. But the affidavit of dr. Patricia dunn, a former
materials scientist for the Bergquist company, was a bombshell. Dunn
discovered no data of humidity testing on the screens by Bergquist
even though they were telling customers the screens met certain
humidity specifications but when patricia dunn conducted her own
experiments at Bergquist they suggested that many screens would go out
of calibration over time, especially in humid places like Florida.
According to dunn, in 2002 she urged a recall of many Bergquist
screens from Manila but court exhibits suggest it was reports in 2003
of actual screen problems in lee county, Florida that was the tipping
point for management at Bergquist, ES&S and pivot.

Es&s, Bergquist and pivot all realized a major recall of screens
already installed in voting machines was inevitable but how to handle
this public relations nightmare? Court exhibits show ES&S flat out
nervous how could the screens be replaced without attracting the
attention of the press? Executive don conroy of Bergquist recalls
conversations with ES&S management " I think our discussions
immediately went to..

And theirs was...

We asked ES&S about the recalls the company acknowledged there had
been a problem, but says they fixed it by replacing or reworking the
effected screens. And, ES&S says, none of this ever prevented an
accurate vote count. Why? The company's story is that voters would
have noticed if their vote hadn't registered. But how could ES&S be
sure? It could just be off a quarter of an inch, and this is what
could happen

Even if it is just off a quarter of an inch it could throw a vote
upper or lower to the other candidate and you have the wrong selection
and you really don't realize it touchscreen voting seemed questionable
enough to one official that -while Christine Jennings was still
waiting for the courts to act republican governor Charlie Crist of
Florida early this year reached his own verdict. He moved decisively,
proposing legislation to ban touchscreen machines which don't produce
a paper record of a vote well, I don't want my state to be embarrassed
anymore. As we know, Florida has been a state of note as it relates to
some elections lately, but I think it is important to make sure we are
able to recount an election if we have to. I would rather we didn't
-but if we are going to have to recount, it is nice to have something
to recount - like a paper trail. Republican governor Crist cited the
race of democrat Jennings in his decision to call for change I mean my
goodness, I live in St. Petersburg, that's my home in addition to
Tallahassee now, and Sarasota's very close to where I live, and there
was significant focus on it, and so, you know having the opportunity
when we go forward next year in '08, when that election will occur yet
again, as I now understand it, we'll have the opportunity to verify
the results and make sure that people can have confidence that every
vote is counted, that every vote does count. And what could be more
important in democracy than making sure that this precious act that we
commit, the right to vote, is one that we can have confidence in?

In court Christine Jennings is still trying to get answers out of
about the Ivotronic machines used in Sarasota--but with little
success. Was there no way to get simple answers? Florida's freedom of
information act is a powerful statute. The act has sometimes been used
to compel companies doing business with the state to turn over
information to the public they don't want to. Governor Crist thinks
the law should apply to voting equipment vendors. If there is a
problem with the machine, obviously accountability should apply. That
is just common sense. We are very proud of our sunshine laws and we
think that the company should be held accountable to the extent that
it doesn't violate their proprietary protection as it relates to trade
secrets of private industry but you know beyond that as much as
humanly possible we think needs to be transparent, needs to be
reviewed needs to be available to the public.

Another voting system is now on the way for parts of Florida - optical
scanners -from various manufacturers-- that simply scan and read paper
ballots where voters have marked their choices. Meanwhile election
supply warehouses statewide, stacked high with expensive touchscreen
machines, suddenly seemed like graveyards here are our touchscreens,
and this is what we use currently until next year and then we are
going to optical scan ballot so this is the past and the present will
be optical scan ballot lee county's new optical scan machines will be
manufactured by ES&S those optical scan units are now being made in
Manila. Workers at the factory there had some concerns about those
machines, too.

ES&S optical scan machines were used in one region of the
in a scandal-ridden election in the late nineties. Allegations about
the unreliability of the ES&S optical scan machines and ballot
specifications led to a recount lawsuit that went all the way to the
Philipppine Supreme Court. The result? The Philipppines decided to
return to hand- counted paper ballots -and ES&S fell into disfavor
there, even as the company was starting to produce touchscreen voting
machines in Manila- destined for the United States.

We'll be back with more in a moment, so stay here with us

It all sounds familiar, too familiar. Taxpayers being asked to throw
out millions of dollars worth of voting equipment, start over again,
and pick up the tab. With no guarantee the new equipment will provide
a solution to the problems. Technology can often offer a solution to a
complicated process - in this case, accurately recording votes. But
technology poorly conceived, designed, integrated and tested is a
recipe for failure. In this instance, subsidizing the same outfits
that couldn't get it right the first time, giving them more chances
could lead to the further waste of millions upon millions of taxpayer
dollars. And just as important, the further loss of confidence in our
nation's ability to use technology to provide solutions for
mission-critical applications - none more important to our nation than
accurately recording each of our votes.

Now, back to a core question: was the rush to these expensive and
perhaps ill-conceived new voting systems necessary?

Our investigation took us into the heart of California's central
valley, to the tiny town of Exeter, where for over thirty years
Sequoia voting systems, at this factory, made hundreds of millions of
punch card ballots- up until 2003. . Punch card ballots dominated the
voting landscape in 2000. They were the most common voting system in
Florida. The system seemed idiot- proof. You simply took a stylus and
punched out holes- or chads, as they are known, and the cards were
then run through a computerized tabulator. Couldn't be simpler, or so
it seemed.

What really struck voting experts about the 2000 election in Florida
were the many tens of thousands of ballots that had overvotes or
undervotes for president. Where voters appeared to have voted for more
than one presidential candidate or none at all. Over 50,000 Sequoia
punch cards statewide were discarded as invalid because voters
appeared to have overvoted. In fact, on fully 17,000 of the Sequoia
cards, voters seemed to have voted for three or more presidential
candidates! Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County alone over 10,000 voters
had not voted for president at all.

Experts scrambled for possible explanations- confused voters,
confusing ballot layout- like the infamous butterfly ballot. But no
one was looking at the punch cards themselves.

We recently met up with a group of former Sequoia employees who
actually made the punch card ballots, who feel they have the real
answer as to what happened in Florida 2000- and why.

They have never had a chance to tell their stories. Until now. Thanks
for doing this. I appreciate each and every one of you being here.
Well first of all, tell me who you are and how many years you had at
Sequoia. I'm Tom Ayers and I was at Sequoia for 33 years. I was the
shipping and receiving foreman. I'm Linda Evans I was at Sequoia
pacific for 7 or 8 years and I did quality control. Suzy Keller. I
worked at Sequoia for 25 and a half years and I was the controller.
Giles Jensen. I worked for Sequoia pacific for 25 years and I had
several positions in management. Cy Turner. I was the pressman at
Sequoia for 13 years. Greg Smith. I worked at Sequoia pacific for 32
years and I was a pressman trainer. E. Washington, I was a pressman at
Sequoia pacific. I worked there 26 years. Well have you added up how
many years experience you have cumulative - total between you? A lot.

John Ahmann, the biggest punch card expert in the United States says
that Sequoia pacific made the best voting ballots anywhere. We took
great pride in the quality of ballots we put out-- there was-- no
leeway. It had to be right and it had to be on time. And they took a
great pride in doing that from top to bottom. Well, the company told
customers that Sequoia produced, and I quote, "a no defect product."
now, what did that mean to you? No defect? Punch cards would punch
properly. They would go through the card readers properly. It's a no
fault what they said. And they did it for years. They did it, these
workers say, until the months leading up to the 2000 presidential
election, when they say they saw many things changing, but none more
troubling than the paper itself the paper would come through the press
looking like it was doing-- like jell-o. It would just kinda-- and
we'd have to go throw away both ends of the paper cuz we couldn't run
it. The paper? The paper is a large factor in the quality of the
ballot. It's the flour for the bread. I mean you can't make good bread
without good flour. If you don't have good paper, you won't make good
ballots. Did you have input, you know, as rank and file workers in the
plant, did you have input on what kind of paper was acceptable and
what kind wasn't. Yes.

The policy was workers could reject rolls that were imperfect or
damaged and they often did send rolls out for salvage trying to insure
top-quality ballots. A pressman running a press could reject a roll,
kick it back to raw stock, say this roll was no good. We had rolls
come off in huge logs and they're marked by position when they slice
a, b, c, d, e, right about early 1999 maybe middle of 1999 started
getting rolls marked x and z we couldn't figure that out but man they
were terrible we had quite a bit of input but towards the end we had
no input whatsoever. So things changed. Yes they did. -absolutely
after 1999, it was all over. It was like we were all put on the shelf.
And your opinion didn't after that. Exactly.

What changed in 1999? The paper changed. They decided that they wanted
to go with a certain brand. And I think that everybody's opinion was
this 2000 election was going to be our demise. Because of the poor
quality of what we put out the door. For decades Sequoia had ordered
its punch card ballot paper from James River or International Paper.
The only mills that had traditionally offered voting punch card stock.
In 2000, the company switched to a new mill, Boise Cascade which had
virtually no experience making tab card stock. Workers say they were
told to stop testing paper samples. Traditional quality control
standards were relaxed. There were a lot of things that we were told
to let go. And there was card bins I wouldn't sign off. I refused to
sign em. They'd sit there overnight and they would say, " you gonna
sign em?" and I'd say " no." come in the following morning and all the
bins had been signed off and moved to the front. Which means they're
being made into ballots. Right. Which means someone else signed em off
and said let em go.

But the workers say the problems they were having with the paper went
beyond a mere change in suppliers. They say they were suddenly seeing
paper rolls that weren't clearly even Boise Cascade paper - because
these rolls had Xeroxed Boise shipping labels rather than genuine
ones. Where was all this terrible paper coming from? They say they
were baffled that so much paper could be so bad until one day- they
got a clue. One of the pressman is not here. Bob Krause. He had a
thing if the paper was real bad that he would write little nasty
letters on the side of the roll. Well, we got one of those rolls back
with the same letter that he had written on it. So, then-- that's when
it went through our mind that some of the paper was getting rewound
and sent back. Not only that. Mr. Washington says this roll, and many
of the worst rolls, had a Xeroxed Boise packing label on it. So let me
understand this. Your fellow worker, he gets paper he knows is not up
to quality? Yes. -so he marks on it? Yes. This is bad or whatever.
That presumably leaves the plant or goes somewhere and them it comes
back with one of these Xerox Boise labels on it and labeling? Yeah.
Did you know about this as well? Well, I had the same suspicions as
everybody else did as far as the paper. Felt that it-- it was rejected
and it was taken out of the plant and stored somewhere and then
relabeled and brought back. Well let's just go down the line is there
any doubt in your mind that the company was aware that the ballots for
the 2000 general election were being made with inferior paper? You
don't think there's any doubt that they knew that? No doubt. They were
told every day. Yeah. They were told everyday Sequoia management
insists that all of the paper used to make punch cards ordered for the
presidential election of 2000 came from a single shipment of some half
a million pounds of boise paper delivered directly to the Exeter
plant. But these workers suspect only a fraction of that paper was
actually delivered to the plant- and that the punch cards ordered for
the 2000 presidential election were made from that paper mixed with
defective rolls that they had rejected in years past.

We asked Sequoia to provide a complete set of shipping documents that
would prove its version of events. They didn't provide all the
shipping documents -and what they did give us only raised more
questions for someone who knew the company's business inside out.

Suzy Keller was the former comptroller of Sequoia voting systems. She
had been with the company for over twenty-five years when she left
shortly before the 2000 election. She reviewed all the documents
Sequoia provided. Historically we wouldn't pay for paper without a
signed receiver. There's accounting disciplines that you follow.
Without signed receiving, you didn't pay for it. What we've got here
is the company put forward the documents saying that the documents
prove that all the paper ordered for the 2000 election 550,000 pounds
of this punch card stock was paid for and delivered to the Sequoia
card plant. Now, when you look at the documents, the questions in your
mind are what?

Why didn't somebody sign for the paper? There's no signed-- there is
no one signed that document saying that paper was received at Sequoia.

Was the punch card ballot paper that was supposed to be for the
historic 2000 election- never delivered to the ballot plant? You know,
part of it was-- I'm not gonna say every bit of it. I found, you know,
there was probably about 130,000 pounds that Tom did sign for. But,
the rest of it, there's no-- there's no signatures on the Boise
packing list-- on the roll list. There's nothing. Well, when you read
Sequoia's representation-- here of the documents, as a professional
you say it's complete and accurate? No. Not as an accountant. It is
not complete and accurate, I would not have signed off on that
invoice. And, so-- again, spell it out for me. What's missing? The
signed documentation that the paper was actually received. There has
to be a signature on there, and there is no signature. Did the paper
arrive or not? I can't substantiate that-- there is no signature on
those packing lists.

We also asked Tom Ayers the former head of shipping and receiving to
review the documents Sequoia produced. Ayers was skeptical of them. He
said that he had never stamped invoices as received, the company so
far as he knows, didn't even have such a stamp, all Ayers had ever
done he says was sign and date the receiving invoices we repeatedly
offered Sequoia the opportunity to put any representative on camera to
respond to these former employee's allegations. They instead
communicated through a public relations firm that represented the
documents were complete. Suzy Keller was a financial and accounting

We also turned to a paper expert, with some of our unanswered
questions Walter Rantanen is perhaps the country's leading forensic
paper analyst. He works with top government agencies including the
secret service and the F.B.I. working at his lab at " integrated paper
services" in Appleton, Wisconsin, Rantanen had a puzzle to solve: Were
the Florida ballots made of Boise Cascade paper stock as Sequoia says?
This is a ballot sample for a fiber analysis Rantanen analyzed the
fibers in the Florida ballots he discovered none of the cards had the
composition of Boise Cascade tab stock which contains soft wood from
the northwest. He also sent Boise Cascade a Florida ballot sample.
Boise confirmed the paper wasn't theirs.

But that wasn't the last surprise about the Florida ballots. There
were not only mysteries about what the cards were made of- but also
the way certain Florida ballots were made. Mr. Washington, you had a
surprising order from your supervisor when you ran ballots for Palm
Beach? We were told to run those cards short because they would grow
by the time they got to Florida in the humidity.

Running short didn't mean the cards were actually shorter. It simply
means lowering -- on the face of the ballot -- the position of the
chads. . So the orders were for the ballots going to Palm Beach, don't
make them meet the-- the normal specifications? Right. Because they
would grow and if met the normal specifications they would grow
outside the specifications because of the humidity. Was this unusual?
Were you surprised by it? Oh yeah, I questioned it, and I even had the
plant manager sign it. Because I was having arguments with quality
control about the size. And so I said, ' The only way I am going to
run it is if Brian comes out here and signs it.' He came out, he
signed the ' okay' card to run em. Let me get this straight. You said,
' You are asking me to turn out a product that doesn't mean our usual
specifications. To be sent specifically to Palm Beach, Florida- Right-
and I'm not doing that unless someone above me signs off. That's
right. So you go to miss quality control and she won't sign off on it.
Nope. She won't ok it. So the plant manager came out and signed the OK
card for us to run em at those specs because that's something that
you're not used to doing. Had this happened to you before? No was
there any other area - did somebody say " Well these ballots are going
to Louisiana Or Texas Or Arizona?" Never according to these workers,
the combination of bad paper and incorrect ballot specifications for
Palm Beach was a recipe for Election Day trouble: a high percentage of
chads that might be misaligned, wouldn't punch correctly.

Chads that could hang, fall out, or get stuck. Any of these events
could cause a ballot to be discounted. Sequoia had a special quality
control machine to test whether those critical problems with chads
might occur on election night.

Linda Evans recalls the chad testing of ballots manufactured for the
2000 election. Chads were falling out. Chads were hanging up. We've
got a machine that it we call a gang punch, which in a sense punches
out all the holes at the same time. You slide the card in there and
you pull down the handle and it punches out all the holes. They
weren't punching out. They were hanging up all over the places. They
were aware of that. Oh, management was aware of it. We told 'em.

Ms. Evans says that management had a simple response to her warnings:
It'll be okay. But it wasn't okay, according to Evans and her
co-workers. They believe that the chad problems at the factory became
chad problems in Florida- causing at the very least thousands of
undervotes, due to hanging or stuck chads. There were over 10,000
undervotes in Palm Beach County.

Evans wonders--did some ten thousand voters really go to the polls
there and decide to skip the race for president in 2000?

We asked Evans if she could demonstrate for us the chad testing that
had led to her concerns. This became possible when last Fall Palm
Beach County released over 200,000 unvoted ballots left over from the
2000 election. We had a gang punch identical to the one used by Linda
Evans at the factory made by an engineer familiar with Sequoia's test
instruments. Rantanen met with Linda Evans at her home in Exeter and
they tested ballots together.

While older Sequoia ballots- made earlier, for another county, punched
perfectly, The Palm Beach ballots made for the 2000 election showed a
troubling pattern: many cards showed clusters of hanging chads-
primarily in the column that contained the presidential candidates.

The pattern was clearer in some precincts than others. It's the
morning after the election in 2000? You turned on the television, you
turned on the radio and you saw and heard about the mess in Florida.
Tell me what you thought. Let's start over with you. What'd you think?
Oh, man. Somebody blew it bad and I bet it was us. Well, I-- I knew it
was us and-- I didn't expect anything less than fiascos. Because you
knew you were dealing with bad paper. Because we were dealing with bad
paper and old tooling. I get a phone call. And it's-- the first one
was from my wife. She goes, "What you guys do?" I go, "What happened?"
she goes, "The ballots are bad in Florida. Palm Beach." so, then, I
hang up and then the next person calls me is my boss Jim Johnson and
he tells me, "We blew it. The ballots are bad in Florida. It's all
over the news and when you got to the plant in the days after the
election, what was the scene there? It was chaotic. They were moving
stuff, hiding stuff, get rid of this. Hiding stuff? Yeah, because the
news people wanted to come in and talk to people and they wanted to
tour the plant.

We were told to get rid of everything, anything that had Florida on it
had to disappear and did it disappear? Yes. Nothing with any kind of
Boise Cascade labels was supposed to be left around. And that word
came from whom? Brian Lehrman. Who was? The plant manager. We
repeatedly invited Sequoia to have Brian Lehrman on camera to answer
some of the workers allegations Sequoia declined what do you think
happened? My own personal opinion was the touch screen voting system
wasn't getting off the ground like that they-- like they would hope.
And because they weren't having any problems with paper ballots. So, I
feel like they-- deliberately did all this to have problems with the
paper ballots so the electronically voting systems would get off the
ground -and which it did in a big way.

It is hard to imagine an event as dramatic as the one in Florida 2000.
And whether Hobson and the workers are right, it is undeniable that in
the months following the 2000 election, Sequoia went from selling
cards for pennies apiece to selling many millions of dollars worth of
touch screen equipment in Florida alone.

The workers have their thoughts, opinions and speculations about this.
You hope for the best in people and you hope it was just some bad
circumstances that came together all in one place. But it should
matter to people and they should check it out, and investigate it more
thoroughly, because if something else was going on, and these people
profited form intentionally screwing up an election, they ought to
pay. They ought to pay hard.

Some of these workers believe that if Sequoia management deliberately
used inferior paper for the punch cards, they crossed a serious line.
I don't think any company should profit from something like this, I
mean, it is almost to the point where it would be illegal. You are
putting out a product that you know isn't going to work to make a
profit. For years they all took pride in the quality of card that they
put out. And this card that went into Florida created a lot of
problems. A lot of problems. Substandard paper, are we trying to force
something here? Are we trying to change the elections community, I
thought those things. I can't substantiate those things but that's
what I thought it was something that-- that really influenced the
direction of this-- this nation. - intentionally or unintentionally.
I'll phrase it that way. But, it-- it-- it's-- a sad state of affairs
that it takes seven years for somebody to actually ask the question to
the people that might have the answer. Agree or disagree, believe what
they say or not. You decide, knowing that Sequoia contends that its
ballots were fine.

These workers are convinced that foreign ownership was part of the
problem at Sequoia. They worry that overseas owners controlled the
production of punch cards and the same will be true of optical scan
ballots -as Sequoia remains a major supplier of ballots nationwide.

What's more important to you: Knowing that your vote is recorded as
you case it or the profits of voting machine manufacturers? It may
seem like an obvious question, but when citizens try to get to the
bottom of how these machines- bought with your taxpayer money- either
work or don't work manufacturers continually hide behind the wall of "
trade secrets." are these machines that determine who decides our
laws, who runs our states, and who sits in the white house with the
power to direct our armed forces no different from the formula for
coca cola, or McDonald's special sauce? We don't think so, and that's
why we tried to get answers tonight. But, unlike Congress or
prosecutors, we aren't armed with subpoena power, we can't force
companies to prove that they take concerns about their machines and
their ballots seriously the message is " trust us," but the
information we have been able to obtain suggests that trust has not
been earned and that voting machines warrant, in fact, much closer
scrutiny than they have received so far. Because, as we heard
Florida's governor Crist ask, " what could be more important in
democracy than making sure that the right to vote is one that we can
have confidence in?"

For HDnet, this is Dan Rather reporting. Good night


September 15 2007

Anyone wanna go? Check out the website


Four Tomatos Make a Bunch and So Do Many More

Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la

One tomato, two tomato, three tomato, four
Four tomatos make a bunch and so do many more.
Over hill and highway the tomato buggies go
Comin' to bring you the Tomato Split show
Makin' up a mess of fun, makin' up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone

Makin up a mess of fun
Makin up a mess of fun
Happiness for ev'ryone
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la
Tra la la, la la la la

Ah memories. That little bit of nonsense will mean nothing to many of you. But a select few of you will know right away what other fruit i cancelled to make way for that special little ditty bout all our tomatos. We have as many more as this that are within a day or two of needing to be picked. We went to our local Tractor Supply Store, and could not get mason jars... I figured if any place would have canning supplies, it'd be the trusty Tractor Supply. So, once again i'm reduced to ordering from Amazon.com... Oh well, at least i realize my tax dollars are really going there too anyway.

Do any of you have any canning / jarring advice for us? None of us (JingXia included) have ever properly canned. Jingxia pickles vegetables in crap she pulls out of our recycle bin, but there's no proper sterilization or vacuum sealing going on.

UNTIL NOW that is. Debbie will be glad to know that our household is no longer putting the entire midwest at risk for a botulism outbreak.

Oh and by the way, I know THOUSANDS of you have been wondering about the mystery of the corn silk. Alas, I have no answer for you. Alack, the mister said it looked disgusting and threw it in the trash. Not even the compost, but the trash mind you. Oh, the humanity.


You Have No Idea

Everyday I come home and find new mysteries in the fridge like this. A ziploc bag full of corn silk. Sheesh. I hope she is going to boil it for stock or something, and we won't be eating it for a side dish tomorrow night. Tonight, we had a side of sauteed squash leaves. They were wierd. Very wierd. Steven says she put some red pepper sauce on it that made it even wierder.

We think--now that we have a nearly $30,000 kitchen--that JingXia is learning, after 3 half years with us, that we like to cook too. She's being a good sport about asking before she cooks, especially on the weekend (when we both, she thinks, like most to cook). And she has pared her preferred 8-12 dishes per meal down to 4 or 5 now.

I miss coming home and cooking a thirty minute (non Rachel Ray) meal. There is something about cooking everyday that I really need somehow. It's not about creativity, really. More like memory and ritual, being in touch with the earth, and rememberance of things passed. It's indoor gardening, really, and somehow it cultivates the mind. Going through the days events while chopping or deglazing or washing.

Chatting while cooking too, that's a nice thing. I suppose if we could talk to one another she would let me do some of it, but that's not going to happen. When Steven works from home during the week, he can if he has time. But usually, I don't think she really lets him ever help either.

We all have dishes we prepare that remind us of that time or that visit or that party. A way of marking time? 3,589 Oatmeal Cookies so far! 342 Roast Chickens! A Brazillion grains of Rice! The last time we had xx was when xx and xx came over.

In the first year, i was relegated to just being the desert cook, since neither JingXia--nor any Chinese grandma for that matter--would cook a desert. Not even with a ten foot spoon.

I think back often to the day--more than 2 years ago now--when Debbie said "You're such a good son-in-law, Sam!" I am trying.

Gone Apoplectic


Really Unbelievable.

Why in Hell are Democrats such Ennablers?

Steven, our Representative, Charlie Wilson, voted for this. I will never vote for him again. See who voted how HERE. Only 2 Republicans--Johnson (IL)and Jones (NC)--appear to have voted against this measure. Bet some money has disappeared out of their Swiss Bank Accounts today.


I'm an ENFJ-type. You?

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Thank goodness "designer" and "artist" are listed as probable occupations for my type. When i saw nothing but actors in the list of famous ENFJers it scared the bejeepers outa me.

I have Kelly to thank for this test. He's a ENTJ.

Newsclipping(s) of the Day :: Do Nothing Democrats

I don't know about any of you, but if Democrat-controlled House folds on this issue of yet another expansion of Executive power, i'm going to go apoplectic. I can not believe in this day and age--after all Bush has drug us through, and after all that has come out about his less-than-honorable intentions, from the bogus war to the Downing Street Memo to expanding insurance covering for kids to incarcerating citizens of the world without ever charging them--that members of congress feel pressure to "update" FISA. Now. Before the Summer recess. Give me a #@%^%**^&?##% break! I am so sick of these criminals and sick sick sick to death of their Democrat Enablers like Nancy Pelosi. What on earth makes any of them think we want them to cave and vote on a bill that they haven't even read or studied? Again?

Read Hullabaloo's much more informative rant on the subject. Can't resist this quote:

"Here we are trying to pry from the Bush administration just what in the hell was in the "other intelligence activities" they were doing before the entire upper management of the Department of Justice threatened to resign, and the Dems are now publicly capitulating to white house demands that they give them more warrantless surveillance powers --- and Harry Reid is whining about how he hopes the Republicans will work with him? Talk about muddying the waters. The substance is nuts and the politics are nuts."

Ok, i have to go relax for the rest of my Sunday. No more reading the news...I can feel the blood boiling in my head. Back to my Alan Turing book. La la la la la.

Newsclipping(s) of the Day :: California Wakes Up, Finally

49 States left to go. This is really good news people. For posterity, when that link above become inactive:


California Restricts Voting Machines
Published: August 5, 2007

California’s top election official on Friday decertified three voting systems widely used in the state but said she would let counties use the machines in February’s presidential primary if extra security precautions were taken.

The official, Debra Bowen, the secretary of state, said she made the decision in response to studies showing that the machines could be hacked.

In a sense Ms. Bowen’s decision amounts to barring the machines, then reapproving their use under strict new conditions.

The decision comes amid growing concerns nationally about the security and reliability of electronic voting machines. It affects systems made by three of the four largest voting machine companies.

Ms. Bowen took her toughest action against touch-screen machines, in which a voter’s ballot is generated by a computer. She said the machines made by Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems could be used only in early voting and to meet voting-access requirements for the disabled.

Another touch-screen model, made by Hart InterCivic, can be used more broadly, she said. But all three of the systems can be used only under rigorous security procedures, including audits of the election results.

Ms. Bowen said optical-scanning systems, in which voters mark their choices on paper ballots that are then counted by computers, also were barred but re-certified under the new security procedures.

Many critics of the voting machines favor the optical scanners. And in announcing her decisions late Friday night, Ms. Bowen said she also thought that those systems made it “easier for voters to see and understand” how their ballots were being tallied.

Voting-industry executives have been critical of how Ms. Bowen’s office has handled a six-month review of the machines, and Sequoia issued a statement early Saturday morning expressing disappointment and insisting that its machines were safe.

Computer scientists from California universities, working at Ms. Bowen’s request, recently released reports saying that they had hacked into machines made by all three of the vendors and found several ways in which vote totals could be altered.

But industry executives complained that the tests had not taken account of security precautions, including surveillance cameras and log-in sheets, that limit access to the machines in most counties and could prevent hacking during an election.


All That Bamboo

No, the title of this post is not an idea for a new reality TV show... but we will be doing an endurance test for the rest of the summer turning a huge amount of bamboo into lovely little fences around the garden. This picture represents one corner of all the stuff we've collected for the job:

Every corner of our backyard has this stuff stacked up against the fences all around. Laiyee found a neighbor up in the Hollywood Hills who had a incredible amount of bamboo they'd been eradicating... and in two afternoons, while borrowing Bob and Laiyee's truck, we collected ginormous amounts of raw material. It took me a few days to recover from that, my chest arms and back have never had such sore muscles. My arms still have scabs all over them!

A Trip to the ZOO

Mom and BC and I got to go kill time (that's just for you Steven!) at the Zoo one afternoon while we waited for Steven to finish a conference nearby in Dublin... and then we went out and had a big lunch!

Ok, so TWO of these pictures were not taken at the zoo. Anyone want to guess which ones??

Sleeping, Eating, Dreaming FOOD

Ok, So we've been eating way too much lately (BC can attest to this. We stuffed her for two weeks until she said STOP!). What with all the Moms and others visiting, and the now prolific garden, there's just alot of eating to be done. We need to learn how to jar some of this, or give more away.

Yesterday, we went to this totally charming farming village called Bremen, about an hour to the north, almost out of the Allegheny foothills (where we are). They have a tiny little farmer's market there on Friday nights, and we went crazy buying beautiful stuff from a sweet Amish girl, there with a whole bevy of other Amish, with their carriages and horses in the background. Look at all this stuff:

And look at this, Jing Xia has already got this corn shucked before she went to bed. She painstakingly pulls each kernal off with her hands, cutting them off with a knife wastes too much in her book. The American Depression Kid Generation has got nothing on this woman! She wastes nothing:

While i'm at it, we've just downloaded about a gazillion pictures from the camera...look at all this yummy food we've been eating! I'm on my way to becoming the corpulent Orson Welles circa '76 (you remember: "We will sell no wine, until its time..."). Anyhow, check out the steamy glamour shot of my blueberry cheesecake:

Our friend Laiyee made in her kitchen the wonderful strawberry preserves on top of this slab of fatty goodness. She is a great and prolific cook, and constantly brings us goodies from her kitchen and her garden:

Our neighbors, Mike and Jane are the greatest. My Mom keeps reminding us how wonderful it is to have neighbors you actually like and have things in common with. Anyway, we've been lucky enough to have not one, but TWO! lovely rhubarb pies from Jane this summer. They are sooooooooooooooooo good, and the Chinese love that non-traditional-dessert-sweet n' sour thing the pie celebrates:

Whew! See? That's alot of food. Gotta go make dough for the Vegetable Pie crust!
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