Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No One Tolerates Stolen Elections ...Except Those Who Profit from Them, Part II. The Judge

KOLD TV newscaster Bud Foster (left) interviews attorney Bill Risner

The (Non) Results of Monday Morning's Superior Court Hearing in Pima County, AZ

Evidence abounds that in all likelihood the 2006 RTA ballot initiative (committing Pima County, Arizona, voters to pay via sales taxes $2 billion for improvements in local streets) was rigged [see here and references therein and/or my earlier OEN report]. In 2007, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard finally responded to pressure from Tucson election-integrity activists by initiating an investigation be jointly carried out between his office and the Pima County Election Department (listed in the complaint as the suspects!). Not surprisingly, the alleged perps ignored the devastating evidence of rigging offered them by activists John Brakey, Jim March, and Bill Risner and with the tacit support of the AG's Office rigged the investigation of themselves to produce (surprise!) no incriminating results [see my condensed history].

But the Pima County Democratic Party represented by attorney Bill Risner continued to press the issue in the courts, adding more and more evidence that the RTA initiative passed only due to vote flipping carried out by the Pima County election-computer operator Brian Crane, and they demanded that the actual paper ballots be recounted to prove or disprove this conclusion. It eventually became apparent that the only official in Arizona with the authority (and obligation) to order such a recount is AG Terry Goddard (a Democrat) ...who repeatedly insisted that there is insufficient evidence to justify such a recount and/or that voter "curiosity" is insufficient reason to let the voter know whether or not his/her vote had been stolen.

Last week, the Pima Republican Party aligned itself behind the Democratic Party's lawsuit, which had already been joined by the Libertarian Party. And this Monday morning representatives of all three parties were in the courtroom of Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington to jointly press their demand that the RTA ballots be recounted.

What actually happened in that courtroom Monday morning was beyond bizarre. The judge pointed to some obscure point of law, which he argued excused him from hearing further arguments and thus concluded that the suit should be heard by the Appellate Court (see my last paragraph for a glimpse of what was actually going on beneath the surface!). In the ensuing brief discussion it came out that AG Goddard had just issued a secret order to take custody of the RTA ballots. Apparently, the secrecy was intended to keep only the plaintiffs in the dark, since the judge whimsically wondered out loud if this secret order was the same one he heard in the local news.

It seems that Goddard's plan is now to remove the ballots from a vault where they were totally secure and to transfer them to Maricopa County (where citizen poll watchers during the 2008 general election witnessed election officials routinely flouting election laws, especially regarding ballot chain of custody – and where the election department owns a ballot printer capable of spewing out brand new ballots matching any template used in the past). While Goddard has pledged that "...strict security measures will be taken to secure the ballots and the investigative process," he has yet to invite authorized representatives of the three major parties to witness the transportation and storage of these ballots. AND their protracted storage in Maricopa County is a clear and present invitation for someone there to tamper with them.

So Monday morning's court hearing before a full house of concerned citizens ended practically before it started. From the plaintiff's view point, the only good thing to transpire was the presence of the Tucson Channel 13 (KOLD) news team headed by veteran newscaster Bud Foster, who spent the better part of an hour interviewing Bill Risner outside the courthouse, before demanding that a Republican put on the microphone to assure balance in his newscast. Republican 2006 CD 8 congressional candidate Randy Graf promptly stepped forward and essentially seconded all of Risner's concerns about the integrity of Pima County elections. Unfortunately, Bud Foster's excellent news broadcast that evening was quickly removed from the internet (I wonder why?). However, they can't suppress these parts of the same interview filmed by independent videographer J.T. Waldron.

Now here is a bit of the story behind the story that led to the bizarre null outcome of Monday mornings's hearing: It seems that Judge Harrington had previously thrown roadblocks in front of the objectives sought by the Democratic Party's lawsuit and had shown himself to be inclined toward never deciding the case. However, the Democratic Party also has an additional pending lawsuit requesting the poll tapes of the RTA election (an additional form of evidence as to whether or not the ballots we counted correctly), which is assigned to Judge Javier Chon-Lopez of the same Superior Court as Judge Charles Harrington. Having a different judge for this case was good for the Democrats (and their like-thinking Libertarian and Republican allies) since, according to Bill Risner, Harrington had unequivocally refused to consider "the constitutional provisions and case law submitted to him." Hence, it was absolutely clear that Harrington would never allow those pleadings to be filed. Meanwhile, the dark forces working behind the scenes (read the AG's office) were maneuvering to have Harrington also hear the case presently assigned to Judge Chon-Lopez; in fact, they had filed a Motion to Consolidate the two cases before Harrington. It is for this reason alone that Bill Risner filed a notice of appeal before the hearing on Monday, i.e., in order to deprive Harrington of the opportunity to commit further mischief to the Democrats' case. The notice of appeal pertained to only a part of the Democratic Party's case, and so on Monday morning Bill explained to the judge that he could still go ahead and hear the other parts. Harrington, however, seeing the large crowd room, decided to use the Risner's appeal as a tendentious excuse to pass on a hot potato; thus, he claimed that he did not have jurisdiction to do anything and therefore was "compelled" to terminate the hearing.


Updates: Anyone reading this at a later date wishing to know how this story is playing out in real time should hit the Election Defence Alliance home page, which has been featuring the continuing saga, now that Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has sequestered the Pima County RTA ballots without a transparent chain of custody and is carrying out a recount in Maricopa County(!) with the general public barred from witnessing the count and only one approved representative each from the Pima County Democratic and Republican parties being admitted, but constantly hounded by armed officers from the AG's office.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

No One Tolerates Stolen Elections ...Except Those Who Profit from Them.

BREAKING: Pima County (AZ) Republican Party Throws It’s Weight behind the Pima County Democratic Party’s Demand that the AZ Attorney General Preserve the Ballots from the $2-Billion RTA Ballot Initiative and Allow Them to Be Recounted, Given Extensive Evidence that the Official Count May Have Been Rigged.

In the 2006 General Election in Pima County, AZ, there was a ballot initiative to impose a half-cent sales tax to fund a 20-year $2-billion Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan. Contrary to expectation based on pre-polling and four previous rejections, the RTA initiative now appeared to have been approved by the voters. However, Tucson election-integrity activist John Brakey obtained by FOIA requests election-computer audit logs and with the aid of activist Jim March and Tucson attorney Bill Risner discovered evidence that the election computer operator Brian Crane had performed a series of operations that were extremely irregular. In fact, this particular sequence of operator interventions corresponded exactly to the pattern expected IF Crane had first read the results of the first week’s early voting and then, after finding voters were again rejecting the RTA, he wrote a program to flip the votes no-to-yes and overwrote the data base with this vote-flipping program. I’ve described this background in greater detail in an earlier post, including the incredible-but-true story of how Republican and Democratic Arizona State legislators got past their reflexive mutual suspicions and passed one of the better election-integrity laws in the country.

Still, the legal battle to secure additional election-computer data bases (for scrutiny by all major parties) AND a hand recount of the RTA paper ballots (to see whether or not Brian Crane actually committed election fraud) was carried forward in the courts by Bill Risner under the aegis of the Pima County Democratic Party with the backing of the Libertarian Party. Until about a month ago, the Pima Republican Party was part of the opposition – despite the fact that Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard appeared to have been white washing the case against Crane and refused repeatedly to intervene to save the RTA paper ballots from destruction. Now the Republican Party is also in favor of preserving and recounting the RTA ballots. I strongly recommend that the reader download the recent letters to AG Goddard by the Pima Republican Party and, especially the one by Bill Risner. Bill’s open letter to Goddard dated 2-19-09 provides an excellent history of the matter, replete with technical details and authenticating footnotes.

It now appears that a Monday morning hearing at the Pima County Courthouse may decide this critical-for-American-democracy matter for better of for worse: For better if the RTA ballots are preserved and handled with a rigorous chain of custody until counted in full public view; for worse if the ballots are destroyed – OR if a single person or office is granted control of the ballots with no chain of custody for an extended period of time before either claiming their hand count agreed with the original official count and/or releasing what they claim to be the original ballots for public counting.

Monday’s hearing (Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington, presiding) will be at 10:00 AM in Room 478 of the Pima County Building at 110 W Congress Street, Tucson. Those of you who live nearby and have the time should come down for this historical moment. Those farther away should urge the news media to cover it.

Just remember…

“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery."

- - Thomas Paine

Friday, February 06, 2009

Choice of Two Roads

Eponymous painting by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

Choice of Two Roads

Thanks to Wall Street bankers gone bonkers the entire world’s economy is in a tail spin ...which will not be fully ironed out until the last of $500 trillion worth of credit default swaps are unwound. But no one talks much about CDSs at the moment, because now is the time to do something that will at least pull the U.S. economy out of its present nose dive. Indeed, when an aircraft is in such dire straits the pilots don’t get into an argument as to whether the wings will come off if they pull back too hard on the stick...

In fact, bickering pilots in an out-of-control airplane is the perfect metaphor for the way Congress is delaying Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Republicans (and some Democrats) contend that “all deficits are bad” and therefore that any increased government spending to stimulate the private-sector economy should be offset by cuts in ongoing government programs science. That’s right, science! Take a look at all the national science programs that Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) propose to strip from the Senate American Reinvestment and Recovery Act as a part of a $77.9 billion deficit reduction! And they propose this at a time when it has been projected that under present conditions in just 5 years 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia! What are they thinking?

Even cave man didn’t take the road of eating his seed corn during the long ice-age winters ...or homo sapiens sapiens would already be extinct!

So exactly what road SHOULD Obama and the Congress be taking? Well, the best answer that anyone could hope for would be the recommendation of a Nobel-Prize-winning economist who is untainted by having worked either on Wall Street or at the Fed while these bodies were planting the seeds of the present economic melt-down. Of course, that economist is Paul Krugman, and fortunately he has written many columns on this very subject. Here is an earlier one, and here is his column from today’s New York Times ...from which I take the following excerpts:

Just to be clear, I’m not arguing that trying to reduce the budget deficit is always bad for private investment. You can make a reasonable case that Bill Clinton’s fiscal restraint in the 1990s helped fuel the great U.S. investment boom of that decade, which in turn helped cause a resurgence in productivity growth.

What made fiscal austerity such a bad idea both in Roosevelt’s America and in 1990s Japan were special circumstances: in both cases the government pulled back in the face of a liquidity trap, a situation in which the monetary authority had cut interest rates as far as it could, yet the economy was still operating far below capacity.

And we’re in the same kind of trap today — which is why deficit worries are misplaced.

One more thing: Fiscal expansion will be even better for America’s future if a large part of the expansion takes the form of public investment — of building roads, repairing bridges and developing new technologies, all of which make the nation richer in the long run.

Apropos of the absolute urgency for Congress to pass an un-watered-down stimulus bill ASAP, I call your attention to an excellent column by Joan Walsh on what Obama should be now telling the public...but hasn’t quite yet.

N.B. Here is a wonderful 11-min TV interview with (1) the whistleblower who tried to expose Madoff's $50-billion ponzi scheme to the hear-no-evil-see-no-evil-speak-no-evil SEC and (2) Paul Krugman regarding the current subject matter.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is Obama’s administration only a presidential brand change?

The Obama Crossroads: Neo-Liberal Coup or Responsible Government

by Prof. John McMurtry

Global Research, February 1, 2009

Find full article here, see excerpts below:
When the U.S. Treasury gave away $700 billion to Wall Street banks with no strings attached in October of 2008, the Obama team gave a green light.
Obama’s new U.S. Treasury Secretary is Tim Geithner, a former chief deputy of his Democrat predecessors at Treasury - Robert Rubin (who presided in the first Clinton government and later Citigroup over the “new financial instruments” that have subsequently wrecked the U.S. and world economy), and Larry Summers (who as Secretary of the Treasury in 1999 tore down barriers between commercial and investment banks in the deregulation frenzy that set up the Wall Street crash).
Former Federal Reserve chief, Allen Greenspan, observes that “sovereign credit and guarantees put in place during the crisis [i.e., new government money to private banks] is now estimated at 7 trillion”. Yet after 1.5 trillion U.S. public dollars thrown at the Wall Street hole, not one homeowner has been relieved of bankruptcy proceedings, the banks do not lend to productive enterprises or even themselves, and no-one tells anyone in America what’s been done with all the public money.
In fact, the only democratically accountable and efficient banking system is one in which skyrocketing non-productive costs, unaccountable debt creations and pyramid schemes are made impossible inside the law. Yet most are enslaved to a false double dogma - first, that unaccountable big banks creating compound-interest debts for everyone including governments are economically necessary; and, second, that they must be left free to leverage, mix and repackage debt assets as they please without the money to back the credit or capital they allocate. Statesmen since Thomas Jefferson have not been so foolish. “Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies”, Jefferson pragmatically observed.
Important! Do not confuse the author’s use of the term neo-liberalism with liberal Democrats. According to Wikipedia: “The central principle of neoliberal policy is untrammeled free markets and free trade.”