How Can We Know Who Won?

I’ve been hearing a LOT since the most recent “election” about all the ballot stuffing going on in California and New York.  Common knowledge says Clinton won the popular vote but Trump won the Electoral vote.  Trump, apparently the most insecure person ever, insists – despite available evidence – he also won the popular vote.  It’s his way.  If he doesn’t get a result he wants he simply insists he DID get the result he wanted.  (It may be his way but it’s delusional…)

If you live outside of the conservative information bubble you see it as quaint – the idea that people are still using ballot-stuffing as the preferred method of rigging.  But if you live inside the bubble, as does 45, ballot stuffing is just a given.  After hearing this several times, I began to wonder why, as in, why would the corporate media feed ballot stuffing into the conservative bubble as the preferred method of election rigging?  Ballot stuffing is so…twentieth century.  But then I realized: so are conservatives.  Well, a huge swath of them, anyway.  Old people.  (I want to call them the ‘calcified brain’ set but I’m told I should be nice…)

Back in the day, if you wanted to rig an election you had to add ballots for your guy or “lose” ballots for the other guy.  These were physical, paper ballots you had to create or destroy accordingly.  Sometimes, this would include a guy voting in a blue hat, then coming back in and voting again in a red hat.  More commonly, it involved taking the five ballot boxes from the polling place and dropping all six off at the registrar’s office for counting.  Alternatively, one might simply switch one or two of the boxes with previously prepared boxes offering much more favorable results for your candidate than might be expected from actual turnout.

That’s the way it used to be done and it’s the way old people still understand, so that’s the way it’s presented.  The presenters even offer “evidence”.  Look, they say, at the number of people on the voter rolls who are a) registered to vote in two places or b) dead.  But I’ve moved house.  I’ve moved between districts, cities, counties, and states.  Never once have I included on my ‘things to do’ list “Update voter status in place I’m leaving”.  (Perhaps an oversight on my part…)  So far, I’ve never died but when I do, I’m guessing the people around me are going to be much more concerned with getting rid of the body before it starts to smell than making sure my voter information is updated and to-the-minute.

So, newsflash to my conservative brethren or, perhaps, to old people: that’s not the way it’s done anymore.  When one has to actually manipulate physical ballots there are significant problems to be worked out, namely, how to get “acceptable” fraudulent ballots into the system and/or what to do with the “unwanted” ballots.  But Diebold solved those problems for “election” overseers with the introduction of electronic voting machines.

Now all one need do is dial in, alter the results to those you prefer, and back out.  Internally, it’s just a spreadsheet.  Sometimes, they simply switch final tallies between candidates.  Sometimes, they add or subtract as needed.  The beauty part is, there’s no paper trail, no evidence of the tampering, no proof of the outcome and no independent way to verify the results.  Well, almost no way.  Around the rest of the world, elections are verified by exit polls.  In America, the land of “Alternative Facts”, we’re told exit polls are untrustworthy.

That’s comforting because when I look at exit polls vs results in America I see that Bernie beat Hillary in the primaries…but I also see that Hillary beat the Donald in the general.  For clarity, I’m saying Hillary should have won more electoral votes than Trump.  Look, I have a chart:


Clinton “won” in the exit polls in four battleground states (blue highlight) but the computer vote total went against her (red highlight).  There are enough electoral votes associated with those four states that had the official outcome matched the exit polls in any three of the four – as they should have done – Hillary would be sitting in the Oval Office.

Surely, the parties know the machines are vulnerable to hacking…no, built to be hacked.  My suspicion is that they count on it.  Rather than eliminate the machines and return to the days of paper ballots to ensure the integrity of the vote, I suspect each side tries to use the machines to their own advantage.  I have this image in my mind of a room full of geeks furiously hacking away altering results for the Democrats while another room full of geeks is furiously hacking away altering results for Republicans…and the best hacker group wins!

I can almost envision my conservative brethren reading this, seething, preparing arguments explaining exactly how and why I’m wrong while my progressive friends glom on as proof that Trump is not, in fact, a legitimate President.  Here’s the thing: either side could be correct.  The point is, nobody stuffs ballot boxes anymore.  It’s just too much trouble and the risk too great.

I’ll tell you this: as long as America uses these machines for “elections” no American – whether your “team” wins or loses – can actually be confident in the outcome of American “elections”…

It Will Be…Revolution!

I know, writing that puts me in great danger from the powers that be so let me be clear at the outset: I’m not CALLING for revolution.   I don’t support revolution.  (Honestly, I’m not well-suited for revolution.)  But I know history and I think the immediate future it promises is not bright.  History clearly shows that We, the People, now face one common future – violence.

Right now, conservatives are having a great time.  They got “their man.”  The more radical among them are out on social media teasing progressives and gloating over their “big win.”  But how long is that going to last?  As taxes on the rich go down, daily cost of living for everyone else goes up and/or basic services once taken for granted simply disappear.  How bad will their situation get before they realize “their man” was never really “theirs” at all?  And then what?

Progressives are crying in their tea, trying to figure out what to do.  There’s been an absolute media blitz from writers loyal to the Democrats (rather than America) trying to convince the world that Democrats didn’t do what they did – put Trump in power by rigging the Democratic primary.  But DNC interference left us a choice – Clinton vs Trump – that was so distasteful, people started joking that a giant asteroid crashing into Earth would be preferable.  (Sorry, rest of the planet…)

I’m sure I’m not alone as I survey my options.  I can’t go right because conservatives in this country support policies that history has already shown don’t work in practical application.  Repackaged garbage is still garbage.  I can’t go left because, basically, no “left” remains in American politics.  We choose between far right and center-right…then off to the left somewhere is Bernie and me.

So…I’m expecting the GOP to unravel the New Deal.  Reading history, not tea leaves, Americans find themselves once again with no social safety net for the masses, no more control over the wealthy.  The wealthy press their myriad advantages, the masses become increasingly poor, increasingly desperate.  Crime and violence increase and the wealthy respond with heavy handed control tactics.  Eventually, the masses get fed up.  They’ll take all they can take – and then some – but at some point…the scales tip.  One little “normal” thing, one more “little” outrage in a parade of outrages and…BAM!  Explosion.  Violence.  Bloodshed.  It’s inevitable, really.

The American colonists did a pretty good job of managing the violence and setting up a new functional government to replace the one they had just shuffled off.  The French rioted for several years, lopping off heads (good and bad), actually lived through a period known to historians as the ‘Reign of Terror’, and gave rise to Napoleon Bonaparte before finally settling once again into something akin to a civilized government.

So which do we get, revolution or riots?  No one can say.  No one knows and we won’t know until we’re in it.  But I find myself still pulling for ‘Huge Asteroid, 2016’…

So, Here’s What We Do…

There has been much hand-wringing and rending of clothing over the outcome of the recent “election”.  How did this happen, people are asking.  How can we stop them?  There are a lot of possible answers as to how it happened – some of them even true!  How do we stop them?  We don’t.  We can’t.  I mean, I don’t mean to be a downer, here, but they own the government and they’re going to do what they’re going to do.  So I propose a two-step plan which is really quite simple.  One, make the Republicans own every vicious thing they do and, two, prepare for the mid-terms…

Conservatives are great at evading responsibility for their own actions.  They have had thirty years to perfect the deflection.  Anything good that happens in this country can easily be traced – in their minds – to the previous Conservative administration and anything bad that happens traces easily to the previous “libtard” administration.

43 crashed the economy?  Clinton’s fault.  Obama put the economy back on track and headed in the right direction?  43’s policies finally coming to fruition.  It’s always wrong, of course, but try convincing them of that…and good luck to you.

Trump keeps promising big ole’ tax cuts for corporations and other privileged elite.  This will mean another crashed economy and more brutal cuts in services for the needy.  Unless we’re prepared to use violence – I don’t recommend violence – it’s going to happen.  So what we can do is document, in real time, the actions of the Cons in Congress.

It is the Republicans who think ethics oversight is a waste of government resources.  It is the Republicans – alone – who are attacking the American people by eliminating what little access they had to health care.  It is the Republicans who intend to dismantle every aspect of the social safety net.  The result will be rampant poverty and increased crime, both property and violent.  It’s going to suck.

But how LONG it sucks may well be up to the majority.  We need to take back at least one chamber of Congress during the next mid-term “elections”.  Listen, I know that most of the damage will have been done by then but it’s our next – quite probably our only –  opportunity to stop them.  If we spend the next two years arguing over whether Putin forced Hillary to use a private email server, we won’t be ready.

It’s three seats in the Senate.  Three.  My recommendation would be for every thinking person to use paper ballots, if possible.  The machines make it FAR too easy to dial in and set whatever result the powers that be prefer.  Vote absentee.  You can still drop the ballot off at your polling place if the sticker is important to you.  There are rumors that absentee ballots don’t get counted.  They do.  Those are just rumors, likely intended to discourage the use of absentee ballots.

But the absentee ballots create a paper trail the machines don’t.  It’s pretty much the only thing that can help us overcome our pretend “elections” and start to have our voices heard again.  So let’s stop talking about the Electoral College and the Russians and start to spread the word – today – to vote on paper via absentee ballots.

Three seats in the Senate and the attack on the American people can be…contained.  Make sure Republicans own every piece of brutal legislation they push to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the masses.  Then, make sure every thinking person votes absentee – that is, on paper.

I’ll tell you this: if nothing else, having ballots that can be counted and verified would be the worst nightmare of our ruling class…

It’s Gonna be a LONG Two Years…

Wow, the conservatives in Congress are SO eager to roll up their sleeves and start harming the American people they’re practically giddy.  First order of business, of course, was to try to eliminate the Office of Congressional Ethics.  That effort failed but it won’t stop this pack.  They’ll just stuff it with cronies and then not fund it, leaving it to die on the vine.  Then, they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and – just for fun – to defund Planned Parenthood.  As of this writing, they’re trying to force through Cabinet picks of the incoming maladministration who haven’t yet completed the background checks done by – wait for it – the Office of Congressional Ethics!

And they were only seated seven days ago…

Press for Hire…

I had occasion to be perusing some of my earlier writing when I stumbled across this.  I wrote it in October, 2007.  It was the end of 43’s maladministration, just as this once-great nation was slipping into yet another conservative economic crash.  I would say, today, the problem has only grown worse – making me prescient in ways I wish I wasn’t…

Here’s a prediction:  If a democrat wins the White House, the “press” will suddenly re-discover the ability to ask the “tough” questions, with follow-ups.  They’ll offer up the mea culpa that they don’t know what’s been wrong with them but they realize, now, that they have an important job to do policing the administration and they’ll promise not to make that mistake again.  And they won’t, at least not until a Republican returns to the Oval Office.  I base this prediction on my belief that the “press” is, by and large, owned by – and operated for the benefit of – large corporations.  It’s no accident today’s mainstream media attacks liberals and sanctifies conservatives.  In fact, it’s the plan.

After Watergate (the original scandal-name-gate), Republicans realized the most important impediment to their dream of perfect corporate hegemony was the free and independent press.  If multi-national corporations were to seize effective control of the American political process, they would have to minimize interference from meddlesome, puny reporters.  Enter Ronald Reagan…

When I was young, it was common for programming to be interrupted with an announcer intoning, “The following is a rebuttal to a KRUD editorial regarding…” whatever.  If a broadcaster presented an editorial opinion, he was required, as a condition of his license to use the common airwaves, to provide equal time for responsible, opposing opinions.  That’s all.  That’s it…the whole thing.  It was called the Fairness Doctrine.

“St. Reagan” (reverential fanfare here) eliminated enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, putting an end to true “fairness” and “balance”.  Instead, we were left with a slogan.  Then the Telecommunications Act of 1985 began the process of watering down ownership rules for media outlets.  The result was more and more corporate control of “news” outlets free from any restriction of being honest or fact-based.

It took time, to be sure.  Nobody really paid much attention as one media outlet after another was gobbled up in the name of “competition”, even as the consolidation of those outlets eliminated competition.  Reporters will say (honestly, I think) that nobody ever told them to write conservative-friendly stories.  But over time, they noticed that if they wrote honest news, they couldn’t get a by-line.  Never getting printed (or any air time) means not keeping your job.  Over time, the “press” became a conservative echo chamber by simple attrition.

Control was debugged and fine-tuned during the Clinton administration.  Mainstream media manufactured “scandal” after “scandal” about the Clintons.  “FBI-gate”, “File-gate”, “Travel-gate”, “Vince Foster-gate” the list was endless because it was only limited by the fertile imaginations of the “reporters”.  Nothing ever came to fruition from any of it, except, of course, “Monica-gate”.

The test of the new corporate-controlled “news” came in the late 1990’s with the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  At the time, polls – not yet in the corporate fold – showed 75% to 80% of Americans opposed impeachment.  But conservatives in Congress insisted they had a “moral obligation” to pursue charges even in the face of constituent disapproval.  The key balancing factor was the press.

Even though the vast majority of Americans opposed impeachment, the “press” offered up a steady stream of “experts” explaining exactly why Congress had no choice.  Suddenly a personal peccadillo became a “high crime and misdemeanor”.

Now, even once-respected polling agencies like Gallup have been welcomed into the corporate fold.  The largest polling agencies can – and often do – provide polls that show any desired result.  They use tricks; samples that are too small, statistically invalid error rates (+/- 5%), or “push-polling” in which questions are asked in such as way as to elicit a certain “desirable” outcome.  Against McCain in 2000, Bush-supporting pollsters phoned “likely Republican voters” and asked, “If you knew John McCain had a black baby, would you be more or less likely to vote for him?”  John McCain’s very dark-skinned child is a) not “black”, and b) adopted, not illegitimate but the polling question alone did more damage to his campaign than he was able to counter, in part because the media had already anointed George Bush the GOP nominee and then “President” and so did nothing that might allow McCain to counter the false charges.

People will readily point out how it’s the largest polling agencies that tell us George the Lesser has a favorable rating of twenty-some percent and if they were crooked, wouldn’t his favorable rating be higher?  Perhaps, but I don’t think so.

In this country, at least the pretense of honesty must be maintained.  If polls show Bush with a high favorable rating, people might figure out the polls are rigged.  Since his approval rating is irrelevant, it hurts nothing to tell the truth and it gives the polling agencies “plausible deniability”.  That way, when exit polls – once the gold standard of polling – come out exactly the opposite of election results, pollsters can claim errors in the exit polls, not in the election results.

The same corporate-owned mainstream media that picked the “nominees” in the first place by selectively reporting which candidate would be great to have a beer with and which candidate is, say, wearing white after Labor Day (oh, the horror), backs the poll results.  In the Ukraine (ironically once a Soviet satellite), when exit polls didn’t match the actual election outcome, people took to the streets in outrage, knowing the election had been fixed.  In the U.S., we’re treated to a parade of “experts” telling us how exit polls aren’t really all that accurate.

The successful attack on the free and independent media has severely crippled our Democracy.  People – well intentioned or not – simply cannot make sound decisions based upon faulty information.  To me, the only potential solution to our current state of affairs is a return to regulations that limit media outlet ownership and the return of the Fairness Doctrine.  We don’t hear much about that from the “hallowed” halls of Congress and even less from the self-same, corporate-owned media.  But it’s a constant buzz in the blog-o-sphere.

Many people understand that the lack of an independent media is a more critical problem than any other our nation currently faces.  Is it more critical that George’s occupation of Iraq?  More critical that the lack of health care inflicted upon millions of Americans?  Is it more critical than global warming?  Yes, yes, and yes, because the shill media provides propaganda and misinformation that allows the “debate” to continue on those other issues.  We, the people, cannot be expected even to understand the problems (or the potential solutions) when we’re fed a constant diet of falsehoods.

These days I hear media personalities, like Rush, suggest that a return to the Fairness Doctrine is simply an attempt to shut down his show.  That’s just another “Limbaugh Lie”, of course.  I live in the greater San Francisco bay area where KGO radio has had a successful all-talk format for as long as I’ve been aware.  In the days of the Fairness Doctrine, they had Ronn Owens in the morning with the liberal viewpoint (yes, he was a liberal back then) and Jim Eason in the Afternoon with the conservative viewpoint.  During the noon news, they would play Paul Harvey News and Commentary (conservative) followed by Jim Hightower (liberal).  See?  Simple.  Provide balance in the programming, the Fairness Doctrine is served as are the listeners, the owners of the common airwaves.  So is Democracy…