« May 2006 | Main | July 2006 »

Why “The Big Buy?” Big Money is our Biggest Obstacle

Howdy from Texas, where of course, everything is bigger, especially our political scandals.

Mark and I are pleased to be able to converse with whoever out there is interested in talking about our film “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress” and/or “Clean Money Day,” tomorrow, June 27th.

By pure coincidence, this week is seeing a couple of climaxes to The Big Buy story.

First, and maybe even by the time you read this blog entry, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on whether the mid-decade congressional reapportionment forced through the Texas Legislature by DeLay will be rubber stamped or changed in any way. Supposedly, this challenge to what everyone calls “the DeLay Map” was picked out by pivotal Justice Kennedy as a test case to rein-in the most blatant gerrymandering abuses of the last decade. It will be interesting to see if even a Bush court can stomach Delay’s computer-precision violations of the Voting Rights Act – violations cited by a Bush Administration Justice Department staff, and then suppressed by John Ashcroft.

A Supreme Court victory for DeLay would mean ultimate vindication for his ambitious scheme, a bold power grab to reshape Congress in his image. He could confidently face years of prison time, (and no doubt profitable martyrdom), if that was the price he had to pay for encoding his master plan into the law of the land.

On the other hand, a rebuke to go back and redraw DeLay’s Texas congressional lines, either on a wholesale level - less likely - or a couple of the most egregiously manufactured districts - more likely - would be like rubbing salt in Delay’s self-imposed wounds. He’s be facing mounting legal bills and the possibility of doing time with a chunk, or all of his plan, negated by the most conservative court in decades.

The court is scheduled to rule on the case before this session ends at the beginning of July. The wires are starting to hum with anticipation for an important legal precedent either way.

Which brings us to the other climatic event of the week – Clean Money Day on Tuesday, June 27th – tomorrow. A nationwide coalition of groups is using The Big Buy as a centerpiece for discussions about the need for public financing of our elections through house parties. This is made possible by our distributor, Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films outfit, and details about C$D and local screenings can be found at bravenewtheaters.org or cleanmoneyday.org.

Tom Delay was able to use a relatively small amount of corporate cash - $4-6 million total – to overwhelm the Texas Legislature and ensure that his redistricting scheme would succeed. For that investment, the corporate contributors got five Tom DeLay clones in Congress who could be relied upon to oppose every sort of regulation not approved by Delay and his client list. In turn, those five votes were the margin of difference in approving a subsidized-filled Energy Bill, a generous Central American Free Trade Agreement and recent Budget resolutions cutting food and housing assistance programs. And this is just one example of kind of spoils that corporate money has won.

No matter what your cause or political philosophy, the largest variable to your success is how much your agenda corresponds to those of a small pool of CEOs with enough dough to buy candidates who become elected officials. Likewise, of course, if you have a different idea than Exxon-Mobil of how to transition to greener energy, or a disagreement with Pfizer over how best to provide low-cost prescription drugs, then your biggest obstacle is the influence that ready money has on the legislative process.

We all know this intellectually, but always put off doing anything about it because we’re already stretched too thin. But I’m telling you as someone who has spent the last three years tracking just a small part of the problem, unless citizens do something fundamental and everlasting to the way we fund elections in this country soon, our other work to change the world will never have a chance.

OK – your turn. Anyone want to talk?

Posted by schermbeck on June 26, 2006 at 03:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (38)

Moral Obligation

In 2002 a conference of the Northeast Campuses for Climate Action, cosponsored by Skidmore College and Clean Air-Cool Planet convened in Saratoga, New York. CA-CP is a leading organization dedicated to finding and promoting solutions to global warming. It forms partnerships with campuses, communities, and companies to develop strategies to help reduce overall carbon emissions.
Since the early 1990s the earth has seen the hottest recorded temperatures in the past hundred years. This overall increase of 2-3 degrees F has resulted in melted icebergs the size of Rhode Island, brought severe rain to many areas of the world, and prolonged drought to others - with resulting social and political unrest. Economically it has cost billions of dollars. Since this conference there has been a growing awareness of how mankind's activities have added significantly to global greenhouse gas levels. The message became clear that academia had a moral and ethical obligation to become leaders in developing strategies and solutions as suggested by CA-CP.
How might university communities best promote those progressive candidates who will carry this message to Washington come November? Entered by Bob Winkler 6-19-06

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 19, 2006 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lois Herr for Congress in PA

Hi everyone! My name is Lois Herr, and I'm the Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 16th District.
In my view, policymaking in Washington has become severely disconnected from our sense of right and wrong. Instead of caring for the least fortunate among us, we push the poor off Medicaid rolls and give tax breaks to those who don't need them. Instead of investing in clean, renewable sources of energy and keeping the environment safe for our children, we pass out massive giveaways to oil companies. And instead of considering issues of war and peace with the utmost humility and deliberation, we swagger into conflict unprepared and indifferent to the aftermath. We can do better, and we must - we're all in this together.
I look forward to our conversation, everyone! In the meantime, please check out my website - www.loisherr.us - to learn more about the campaign.


Posted by Jessica Falker on June 12, 2006 at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Armed Madhouse Now Available

America (especially Progressives) owes a great big thank you to Greg Palast for his recent repeat. Once again, he's dug deep and found truths that you won't hear through the typical media channels. 

The newest book by our revered investigative reporter and past MViMV guest blogger, Greg Palast, was released today (June 6).  As always, Greg pairs his investigative prowess with his quick wit and the result is Armed Madhouse.  Armed Madhouse reveals the hidden stories of the Bush administration.

You may have blogged with Greg here when we helped promote his documentary, Bush Family Fortunes; or maybe you read his last book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.  Although not one major newspaper reviewed The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, it became a bestseller.  We made that happen!

Let's set the mark again.  Get out there and get your copy of Greg’s new book, Armed Madhouse.  You need to know the truths Greg has uncovered, the truths the current administration wants to hide from you, such as:

  • The fix of the 2004 election (as we knew "Kerry Won")
  • The Bush Administration's plans for Iraq's oil (Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf")
  • The destruction of New Orleans (who drowned New Orleans?)
  • Ken Lay’s unindicted co-conspirators

Arm yourself with the truth; buy Armed Madhouse and spread the word wide and far.  For more info, see www.GregPalast.com.

Best, Charlene

p.s. Don't forget to join us at DemocracyFest: www.democracyfest.us

To see if Greg is touring near you, go to:    http://www.gregpalast.com/madhouse/index.php/tour/tour-dates/

Posted by Charlene Johnston on June 6, 2006 at 09:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)


A recent article entitled "Central Casting" written by Jeffrey Goldberg in the May 29th issue of The New Yorker makes the claim that if the Democrats truly want to win back those Republican seats come November then they better know "how" to talk to hog farmers.

Likewise, in the article "Red Politics & Blue in Wyoming" in the June issue of The Sun, David Romtvedt maintains that gathered together under one venue - Wyoming citizens listen respectfully to each other even if they detest your message. In the East we closet ourselves with like personalities which allows us to isolate ourselves, which in turn forces us to live intellectually and emotionally impoverished lives.

Is there a message here for the upcoming campaign and November elections?

Post by Bob Winkler - June 5th

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 5, 2006 at 07:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Greg Palast: Abracadabra: 3 Million Votes Vanish

This Saturday (June 3) -- Robert Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Greg Palast will be on Air America's 'Ring of Fire' to discuss the shoplifting of the last election … and if we're not careful the next one as well.

As an introduction to that segment, Greg Palast sent his members an email. We have been given permission to post it here.  Please pass it along.



How They Stole Ohio
And the GOP 4-step Recipe to 'Blackwell' the USA in 2008
Abracadabra:  Three million votes vanish

A Buzzflash Exclusive

June 1, 2006

By Greg Palast

This is a fact:  On November 2, 2004, in the State of Ohio, 239,127 votes for President of the United States were dumped, rejected, blocked, lost and left to rot uncounted.

And not just anyone's vote.  Dive into the electoral dumpster and these "spoiled" votes have a very dark color indeed. 

In another life, I taught statistics.  And these statistics stank:  the raw data tells us that if you are a Black voter, the chance of you losing your vote to technical errors in voting machinery is 900% higher than if you were a white voter. 

Any guesses as to whom those African-Americans chose for president on those junked ballots?  Check Ohio's racial demographics, do the numbers, and there it is:  Kerry won Ohio.  And that, too, is a fact.  A fact that could not get reported in the USA.

But the shoplifting of those votes in Ohio was just the tip of the theft-berg. November 2, 2004 was a national ballot-box bonfire.  In total, over three million votes (3,600,380 to be exact) were cast -- marked, punched, pulled -- YET NEVER COUNTED.  I'm not talking about the Ukraine or Uganda.  I'm talking about the United States of America "with liberty and justice for all."

Well, not "all."  The nine-to-one Black-to-White ballot spoilage rate is a national statistic -- not just an Ohio trick.  Last year, I flew to New Mexico to investigate the 33,981 cast but not counted ballots of that state in the 2004 race.  George Bush "won" New Mexico by 5,988 votes.  Or did he?  I calculated that, of the all the ballots rejected and "spoiled," 89% were cast by voters of color.  Who won New Mexico?  Kerry won -- or he would have, if they had counted the ballots.

But they didn't count them.  And that was deliberate.  It's in the plan.  It's the program.  And the program for 2008 is simple.  Two million ballots were cast but not counted in the 2000 race.  (Over half, 54%, were cast by African-American.)  In 2004, the GOP kicked it up to THREE million.  Get ready, these guys aim high:  "four in '06" and "five in '08" looks to be their game plan.

How will they pile up five million un-voters in 2008?  Let's start with the three million "disappeared" of 2004:

Step 1:   "Spoiling" ballots -- 1,389,231 of them. In the vote-count game, these are called "undervotes" and "overvotes." You can recognize these lost ballots by their hanging chads, punch cards without punches (an Ohio specialty), paper ballots eaten by scanners, and touch screens that didn't know you touched them.

Step 2:  Rejecting "provisional ballots"-- 1,090,729 in this pile.  Voters finding themselves at the "wrong" precinct, or wrongly "scrubbed" from voter rolls get these back-of-the-bus ballots first inaugurated in 2002.  In '04, provisional ballots were passed out like candy to voters in the poorest precincts.  They handed them out -- then threw them away -- one million dumped in all.  In Ohio, Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell changed state rules, allowing him to toss out the ballots of legal voters who cast ballots in the wrong precinct although these citizens were told their vote would count after confirming their registration.

Step 3:  Not counting absentee ballots -- 526,420 of them.  At least, that's what we figure from official stats.  But it's anyone's guess how many mailed-in votes were dumped.   (However, in one case, in Palm Beach, Florida, Jeb Bush's candidate for Elections Supervisor, Theresa LaPore, counted more absentee votes than absentee ballots mailed in.  Not the brightest bulb in the vote-fix biz, that Theresa.)

Step 4:  Scrub'm, Purge'm, Block'm.  These are the voters who never got to vote at all.  This group includes those who found their registrations were never entered on the voter rolls.  In Ohio, about one-fourth of those registered by Jesse Jackson's 2004 voter drive, found their registrations delayed beyond the election date or lost.

Add to this un-voter group, those who were wrongly "scrubbed" from registries as "felons."  For example, there was Bernice Kines, purged in Florida in 2004 because she was convicted of a felony on July 31, 2009.  I repeat:  2009.   There was something especially odd about the Ohio felon purge:  ex-cons are ALLOWED to vote in that state, Mr. Blackwell.

How many lost their chance to vote by scrubbing, purging and blocking?  That's anyone's guess, but one million would not be an unfair estimate -- and that's not included in the 3.6 million tally of ballots uncounted.

Was it deliberate?  Oh my God, yes.  I'd like you to take a look at the "caging" lists the Republican National Committee concocted to challenge voters with "suspect" addresses.  It included page after page of African-American soldiers, like one Randall Prausa, shipped overseas.  Mission accomplished, Mr. President?

And there's some new tricks for these old dogs.  For the 2006 and 2008, the GOP is pushing new Voter ID requirements.  Your signature won't be good enough anymore.

What's wrong with the new ID laws?  This:  in the 2004 election, 300,000 voters were turned away from the polls for "wrong" ID.  For example, in the "Little Texas" counties in New Mexico, if your voter registration included a middle initial but your driver's license had none, you were kicked out of the polling station.  Funny, but they only seemed to ask Hispanic voters.  We should see the number of voters rejected for ID to quintuple by 2008 based on the new "voting reform" laws recently passed in several states.

Also, coming to a polling station near you:  more caging lists, scrub lists, ID challenge lists and more.  Exactly why do you think they are compiling those "War on Terror" and War on Immigration databases?  Behind the 2000 felon purge lists and behind the 2004 caging lists were databases from the same companies that now have those homeland security contracts. Are they saving us from Osama -- or from Democrats?

I wish I could give you a book on a page, because information is our weapon:  Turn on the lights and the cockroaches scatter. That's why I'm asking you to read RFK's article on the Theft of Ohio -- and GET ANGRY.  Then read, "Armed Madhouse:  … The Scheme to Steal '08' -- AND GET READY.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on June 2, 2006 at 07:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Help Us Help San Diego!

This message was originally posted by Amy Mignosi on May 31st but repeated here to encourage further discussion.
Hello fellow activists! My name is Amy and I'm an intern for EMILY's List in Washington, D.C., a political network for pro choice Democratic women. I want to encourage you to join our efforts to elect Francine Busby in California's 50th [San Diego]. This is a special election - so on June 6th the Democrats can take back a Republican seat!! How can "YOU" get involved? Join us and canvass around San Diego. Never canvassed before? Don't worry - we will train you and give you everything you need to join in this exciting campaign! You'll be knocking on the doors of Democracts - reminding them how important it is to vote. Take advantage of this incredible opportunity and get involved in a dynamic political campaign, gaining unique experiences and friendships. You can make the difference while having a blast! Sign up at: http://californiawomenvote.org Go Blue!

Posted by Bob Winkler - June 1st

Posted by Jessica Falker on June 1, 2006 at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)