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The simple truth of Barack Obama's victory is that if it had just come down to Ohio, Mitt Romney would have won.

The gears of the election theft machine were well-oiled and running at top speed….until an "October Surprise" named Hurricane Sandy intervened.  

Those now rejoicing over the Obama triumph should know that there is absolutely no excuse for leaving this sinister apparatus of electronic election theft in place.  Election reform should be at the top of the progressive movement's list, led by the non-negotiable demands for universal hand-counted paper ballots and universal automatic voter registration.  As Obama said in his victory speech in reference to the long lines in Florida:  "We need to do something about that."

This year, as in 2004, the Rovian blueprint was simple if not clean:  keep the election close enough that Ohio and Florida would be the deciders…and then do the deciding.

Part One was the massive Jim/Juan Crow campaign aimed at disenfranchising millions of primarily black and Hispanic voters throughout the US, but especially in swing states Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
With photo ID and other restrictive laws, along with yet another 2004-style tsunami of misinformation, intimidation and artificially induced mass confusion, the GOP brought on those long lines and truncated voting hours meant to keep
suspected Democrats as far from casting countable ballots as possible.

Part Two was to embed a thoroughly corrupted electronic voting system that could flip Ohio to Romney with a few simple dead-of-night keystrokes.  The Rovian narrative that all would turn on Ohio spread predictably through the corporate media.
All bloviating eyes were focussed on Hamilton County (Cincinnati), population 800,000, where the votes would be cast and counted on machines owned, programmed, operated and tallied by Hart Intercivic, a company with deep ties to the Romney family and campaign apparatus.  

Most of the rest of Ohio would do its electoral business on machines from the Republican-owned E.S.& S company.  To guarantee the right outcome, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted installed an "experimental" software patch ideally designed for theft and fraud by a secretary of state ready to flip an election.  The patch would handle about 80% of Ohio's 5-plus million votes.  

All the GOP had to do was keep the Electoral College tight enough through election night to throw it all to the Buckeye State.   Then, with confusion rampant, the GOP could use the cover of "computer glitches" and the like to sway the electronic vote count as it did in 2004 (For the sordid details, go to www.freepress.org).  .  

Confirmation of the plan came of sorts in the hissy-fit pitched by Karl Rove on Fox "News" the night of the election.  While all the networks were calling the Buckeye State for Obama, Rove would not concede.  When he petulantly demanded his Murdochian cohorts retain the chance of Ohio going for Romney, he was revealing a focussed mind stuck firmly on the program that would replay Bush-Gore 2000.  

Back then a Bush first cousin named John Ellis bucked the tide at a key moment and insisted on air that Florida would go for Bush even after it had been widely called for Gore.  Case in point became some 16,000 votes that had been electronically removed from the Gore column in Volusia County.  Though they were later restored to Gore, the momentum had shifted, and the rest is eight years of very ugly history.

Rove's desperate attachment to Ohio 2012 as being still in play mirrored preparatory election eve statements by GOP Governor John Kasich, a Murdoch acolyte who made clear that a late night outcome would favor Romney.  With governors and secretaries of state installed in eight key swing states, Rove's GOP had plenty of leeway to perpetrate just as much electronic vote flipping as might needed to make Obama a one-term president.

But fate and a few billion tons of climate-changing greenhouse gasses intervened in the form of Hurricane Sandy and the astute manner in which it was handled by President Obama.  When the massive global-warmed storm swept into the northeast, Obama's no-drama efficiency persuaded both New Jersey Governor Chris Cristy and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to embrace him.  The contrast with George W. Bush's criminal mishandling of Hurricane Katrina could not have been more stark.  

So in the critical middle of the last week of the campaign, Sandy shut Romney out of the media and neutralized those tens of Koch/Adelson/Chamber of Commerce millions.  Obama appeared pricelessly presidential and persuasive.  The time the Romney campaign expected to use for closing the Electoral College gap was filled instead with photographs of the Democratic incumbent arm-in-arm with the Republican Governor who had so thoroughly slammed him at the GOP convention.  

So when election day rolled around, the apparatus for flipping Ohio was set to go (note that Florida is still being contested) but the gap was too great.  Obama has officially won Ohio with more than 100,000 votes, but John Kerry was ahead by more than 200,000 in 2004 when the vote count was shifted to Bush.  

This time around, with Ohio no longer the decider, and with the whole world watching, there was little even Karl Rove and all those Citizens United millions could do.  

Be eternally grateful.  Had this election been closer, your media days would now be filled with breathless bloviators perched here in Columbus, searching for hanging electronic chads.  We would be in the throes of yet another losing Constitutional crisis, courtesy of an Electoral College whose roots are in slavery, and electronic registration and voting systems that should have been abolished long ago.  

If any of that is still in place come 2016, shame on all of us.

Discuss

In Columbus, Ohio, 9:00am Election Day marks the opening of a federal adjudication that could decide who next occupies the White House.

(As this is posted, the hearing is over, but the decision has not yet been rendered.)
Heard by Judge Gregory Frost, the case is Robert Fitrakis vs. John Husted and Election Systems & Software. It revolves around an "experimental" software patch newly attached to the electronic voting systems in 39 Ohio counties. The patch is ostensibly meant to facilitate the transmission and analysis of the Ohio vote count as conducted on machines supplied by the E.S. & S. company.

In fact, the software opens the Ohio electronic vote count to undetectable manipulation by the office of Secretary of State John Husted, a Republican. Husted has the power to do that now, but this new software "improvement" makes the job of flipping Ohio's vote count significantly easier. The patch involves the transmission of possibly more than four million votes---roughly 80% of the Ohio vote. In a race as tight as this one, manipulation of a tiny percentage of the votes that are to be moved by this software could change the outcome of the entire national election. It could also cost U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) his seat, as he is locked in a virtual tie with his Republican opponent Josh Mandel of Cleveland.

Election protection activist Fitrakis is the Green Party nominee for a US Congressional seat in central Ohio (disclosure: Fitrakis is my co-author on five books on election protection; he publishes www.freepress.org, where I am Senior Editor). As a candidate who stands to suffer direct damage from a stolen vote count, Fitrakis has sued the secretary of state and the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) voting machine company to remove the patch from the state's data transmission system.

Freepress.org has broken a long line of stolen election stories dating to 2003. Recent reporting has shown a massive GOP campaign aimed at disenfranchising at least a million suspected Democratic voters, roughly 20% of the state's electorate, through a wide range of tactics including electronic stripping of voter rolls and restrictive rules for casting a ballot.

The software patch Fitrakis is now challenging was installed without testing required under state statute. In violation of state protocol, it was also not subjected to various inspection procedures. Though the software was apparently produced in 2002, by calling it "experimental" the secretary of state’s office attempted to invoke a loophole that allows experimental software to be exempt from certification and testing.

Among other things, Fitrakis will ask that the patch be removed before it is used to transmit vote count data that could be hacked in ways that would change the outcome of this year's election. That means the hearing must be completed and the judge's decision rendered before the end of Election Day.

Removal of the patch would by no means curtail the Ohio GOP's ability to hack the state's electronic vote count. There are innumerable ways they could still do it. But by attempting to remove one easy avenue, and by calling national attention to the problem, the lawsuit has made the potential theft of the 2012 election just a bit dicier.

Stay tuned.

Discuss

by Joan Brunwasser, Sally Castleman, Victoria Collier, Bob Fitrakis, Lori Grace, Emily Levy, Mark Crispin Miller, Greg Palast, Jonathan Simon and Harvey Wasserman

With election day less than a week away, the spectre of another stolen election is upon us. The airwaves and internet are at last filling with discussion of this possibility.

When the first stories were broken by a handful of us after the fiascos of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, there was a stunning silence, followed by a wide range of attacks. Today the warnings about the possibility of another election theft are taken with increasing gravity.

The question is deep and profound, with a huge body of research and writing surrounding it.

But among the many concerns, two are key: massive disenfranchisement, and manipulation of the electronic vote count.

DISENFRANCHISEMENT:

There is no doubt the Republican party has done much to prevent likely Democrats from voting. This "Jim/Juan Crow" strategy has included legislation aimed at requiring photo ID as a means of restricting the vote. This involves financial and other burdens that would prevent as many as ten million citizens from voting according to the Brennan Center at New York University, the vast bulk of them likely Democrats.
Though these photo ID and other restrictive laws are being overturned in some courts, it's a virtual certainty Republican poll workers and challengers will use them---overturned or otherwise---as pretext for intimidating people away from the voting booths.
There has been massive stripping of voter rolls, often by electronic means, as was done in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. Much of the disenfranchisement has focused on the inner cities which, again, lean heavily Democratic. In Ohio, more than a million citizens---some 20% of the electorate---have lost their right to vote this way since 2009. The phenomenon is clearly nationwide.
Misinformation is being spread by Republican-controlled election boards about voting place locations and times and dates when the polls will be open, a tactic widely used in Ohio 2004 and elsewhere.
Threatening billboards, fliers, phone calls and more have been deployed to intimidate potential voters.
Right wing organizations such as the Tea Party, True the Vote and others have organized to work as poll workers or challengers at the polls, with the mission of discouraging potential Democrats from voting through intimidation and delay.
All these tactics are being choreographed as part of a larger strategy aimed at slashing the vote count among minorities and other target groups not only in the presidential race, but for control of Congress and statewide offices, and in key referenda over such issues as labeling GMO food, legalizing marijuana and more.

ELECTRONIC VOTE THEFT
Virtually the entire national vote count is now being conducted on electronic voting machines, which include optical scanning computers. There is one overriding reality that defines their use: the courts have ruled that their software is proprietary, and therefore in essence immune from public scrutiny. In practical terms, this means the vote counts for tens of millions of American citizens is opaque and beyond investigative or legal monitoring or recall.
As we saw in Volusia County, Florida, in 2000, and in Ohio 2004, as well as in numerous Congressional and other races, control of the electronic vote count can decide an election, and there is nothing the public can do to prove it, or to challenge the outcome through the legal system.
That a firm with deep ties to the Romney family and campaign has a major interest in a company that owns, programs, manages and tallies votes in at least four swing states that could decide the election must be a matter of concern.
Beyond Hart Intercivic, nearly all the nation's electronic voting machines are also owned, programmed, managed and tallied by firms with deep Republican ties. Among them are ES&S, Sequoia, Dominion, Triad and more. They are spread throughout the United States, and will surely control the decisive votes in many if not all key swing states.
The essential insecurity of the electronic vote count is an affront to democracy. That a theft can be done so easily---and with the overwhelming body of evidence indicating it HAS been done---means that the individual vote of any American citizen is not sacred…that it's up for grabs. No matter what margin of victory may present itself in any election, this is not acceptable. Each and every vote cast by each and every American citizen, swing state or otherwise, decisive or not, has been won with the blood of our ancestors and, in many cases, of those of us still living. Each vote cast by an American citizen has meaning, and must be protected---at all costs---by the structure of the voting process.
The "solution" to electronic election theft can never lie in building up a margin of victory sufficient to overcome stolen numbers. Massive turnouts of voters are always a great thing. But electronic votes are the ultimate fungible blind article. The process desecrates everything democracy is supposed to stand for, and is never acceptable under any circumstances.
The fact that Republicans might steal elections from Democrats and vice versa means further that the two of them together can always shut out a third or fourth party trying to mount a serious challenge to corporate power. This has in fact been done throughout American history to protect the power of the corporate structure. We now have an African-American in the White House. But the last president who was not a Democrat or Republican was the Whig Millard Fillmore, whose term ended in 1853. As long as the vote count can be manipulated by those in power, electronically or otherwise, there is no hope for meaningful change through the ballot box.
As this year's massive electoral drama unfolds, more and more disturbing stories surface about the ease with which it could be stolen. They are to be taken with profound gravity, no matter who one favors for the presidency or other office.
The gargantuan sums of cash flowing into the process due to Citizens United and other loopholes in the system mean, simply enough, that our government is wholly owned and operated by large corporations. Systematic disenfranchisement and electronic vote theft are the cornerstones of that power.
Until we have money out of politics, abolition of the Electoral College, universal automatic voter registration and universal hand-counted paper ballots, there is no hope for real democracy in this country. As election protection advocates, activists and investigators, we urge everyone to pay very close attention to what happens in this election, to work to prevent the terrible abuses we see forthcoming, and to follow in the coming years with a powerful social movement that will deliver real democracy to this country.

Which candidate gets your vote is not our concern here. As Americans, we agree on one thing: all citizens must have their right to a ballot and to have it counted. In the long run, our one best hope for a sustainable future is the power of an fully enfranchised people.

--
Joan Brunwasser is election integrity editor at www.opednews.com; Sally Castleman is National Chairperson, Election Defense Alliance; Victoria Collier edits www.VoteScam.org, and wrote "How to Rig an Election," Harper's Magazine, October 2012; Bob Fitrakis publishes www.freepress.org and co-wrote WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION?; Lori Grace is founder and CEO of the Institute for American Democracy and Election Integrity which supports hand counted elections and the use of the Trachtenberg Election Verification SystemEmily Levy has worked for secure, transparent, verifiable and accessible elections since 2004, and has investigated suspicious elections in Ohio, California, and Wisconsin; Mark Crispin Miller wrote LOSER TAKE ALL and FOOLED AGAIN; Greg Palast wrote BILLIONAIRES AND BALLOT BANDITS and VULTURE'S PICNIC; Jonathan Simon is Executive Director of Election Defense Alliance, a nonprofit organization working to bring transparent elections and observable vote counting back to America, and has been involved in election forensics analysis since 2002; Harvey Wasserman co-wrote HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA'S 2004 ELECTION and WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION?

Discuss

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 27, 2012

Electronically, this election is over. Mitt Romney has won.

The big loser is not Barack Obama, or the corporate Democratic Party. It is democracy itself.

Unless YOU act now, and are prepared to fight this out for years to come, whatever remains of American democracy is done.

Finished.

Over.

No nation that suffers the theft of three out of four consecutive national elections can harbor the illusion that it is run by the will of its people.

Those who would have it otherwise must work from now to Election Day and beyond, to:

•    Check your registration -- millions of us need to confirm that we are still registered voters and haven’t been purged from the polls. You can do this by checking with your county board of elections either by phone or online, or by contacting you secretary of state’s office;

•    Occupy the polling sites – come out in droves on Election Day to guarantee that EVERY citizen can fairly vote. Make sure there is no voter intimidation or other repression of voting. Look for broken machines, proliferation of voters forced to vote provisionally, and other irregularities. If something happens to your vote, report it to us;

•    Document the vote count – help implement a national network of precinct-by-precinct monitoring systems to track as closely as possible the voter turnout as a check against the final tabulated electronic vote count. Take photos or video of the final precinct voting results posted at polling sites;

•    Stop voting machine rigging – Observe the polling stations to monitor which technicians come to “service” the electronic voting machines and how they do it. Take photos or video of them and their vehicles;

•    Gear up now for post-election legal and direct action strategies to resist an electronic tally almost certain to be rigged on election night in at least nine swing states...or however many it may take.

Though all the pieces are in place, the GOP theft is not inevitable. But the realities are harsh and demanding:

There are no meaningful, legally binding public checks and balances on the tabulation of votes cast electronically.

•    Exit polling has proven accurate to within 1% of the vote – the gold standard for detecting vote tampering in other countries such as Germany, which uses paper ballots. In the U.S., when exit polls don’t match the vote count, there’s no investigation into tampering. Exit polls are always “adjusted” late election night to conform to the ultimate “official” vote count, even though shifts in Ohio 2004 and elsewhere were virtually statistically impossible. This election, exit polling will not happen in 19 states.

•    Despite an almost total blackout from the corporate media, the Romney family has a personal ownership (through the investment firms Solamere and H.I.G. Capital) in Hart Intercivic, which owns, maintains, programs and will tabulate alleged votes on machines in the critical swing states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado. Despite various official disclaimers, the election could be decided on Hart machines producing "vote counts" with little connection to how 18 million people actually voted.

•    It is inconceivable that the Romney chain of ownership in Hart Intercivic will not influence how that goes. The story has gotten widespread circulation on the internet, but has been ignored or dismissed by most of the corporate media and attacked by the Democratic Party. Petitions at Moveon.org and elsewhere call for a Department of Justice investigation. Tens of thousands of citizens have signed on. But there is no legally binding way by which a professionally rigged electronic vote count can be overturned or even definitively discovered except through the use of unabridged but legally inconsequential exit polling.

•    Scytl, a Barcelona-based e-voting company, has been contracted to count votes in 26 states through the easily rigged Federal Overseas Voting Program. FVAP is ostensibly geared to let military and other overseas Americans vote absentee by electronic means. But Scytl is positioned to intercept and redistribute such overseas electronic votes as needed through its spyware sister company, CarrierIQ. In a close race, these "votes" can be distributed at will to make the difference in critical swing states.

•    Other key voting machine companies, such as ES&S, Dominion, Command Central and more, are controlled by major corporations, some of whose owners are outspoken in their support for the Republican Party. Such support is reminiscent of Diebold owner Walden O’Dell, whose election software and machines helped give George W. Bush a second term in 2004, as O’Dell promised.

•    Republicans hold the governorships in the nine critical swing states of Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Arizona. They also hold the secretaries of state offices in all of those states but Wisconsin. Electronically flipping the vote count in any or all of them, with Hart Intercivic, Scytl, Dominion or other technologies, can be done quickly, simply and invisibly, with no public recourse.

•    The GOP’s systematic “high-tech Jim and Juan Crow” disenfranchisement of millions of Americans continues to lengthen the odds against a Democratic victory, with millions of citizens being deprived of their right to vote. These voter ID and other laws have been focused on disenfranchising Hispanics, African-Americans and others suspected of leaning to the Democrats.

•    Though some of these laws have been turned back by the courts, Tea Party activists, True-the-Vote zealots and other Republicans will be at the polls to challenge voters they suspect of being likely Democrats. Many of these challenges will be illegal, but effective unless countered by the physical presence of election protection activists.

•    At least one Virginia GOP operative has already been arrested for destroying voter registration forms in a tactic that would deprive citizens of their right to vote, as reported at BradBlog.com. Also, there is a criminal prosecution underway in Florida over the destruction of voter registrations.

•    Republican-controlled election boards in Ohio are already deceiving potential voters with mailed misinformation about dates and locations for casting a vote. Such mailings were used throughout Ohio 2004 and elsewhere. Also, phone calls are being made to voters in order to mislead them on the day, time and location of voting

There is much more. The idea that the Chamber of Commerce and the GOP's horde of billionaire backers would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to capture the White House and Congress but stop short of a few electronic key strokes is nonsensical.

Unfortunately, we cannot count on the Democratic Party to do much about this. Al Gore and John Kerry have said nothing about the stolen elections of 2000 and 2004. When the Free Press first broke many of the stories about the theft of the 2004 election, we were attacked first and most consistently by the Democratic Party, which hired a lawyer from the state's leading Republican law firm to attack our reporting.

This year the Free Press is coordinating an on-the-ground monitoring of the vote in Hamilton County, where the election could be decided on Romney's own Hart Intercivic machines. Please contact us at freepress.org if you'd like to help or contribute.

In the meantime, wherever you are, do all you can to turn the electronic tide. As Rev. Jesse Jackson has put it, "We can afford to lose an election. We can't afford to lose our democracy."

--------------

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored five books on election protection, including the new e-book WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION? Freepress.org

Discuss

The US fleet of 104 deteriorating atomic reactors is starting to fall.  The much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” is now definitively headed in reverse.

The announcement that Wisconsin’s Kewaunee will shut next year will be remembered as a critical dam break.  Opened in 1974, Kewaunee has fallen victim to low gas prices, declining performance, unsolved technical problems and escalating public resistance.

Many old US reactors are still profitable only because their capital costs were forced down the public throat during deregulation, through other manipulations of the public treasury, and because lax regulation lets them operate cheaply while threatening the public health.  

But even that’s no longer enough.  As Dominion Energy put it:  "the decision” to shut Kewaunee “was based purely on economics. Dominion was not able to move forward with our plan to grow our nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage of economies of scale". Ironically, Kewaunee was recently given a license extension by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

Though Kewaunee may become the first US reactor to shut in two decades, it won’t be the last:

X  Two reactors at San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego, are down with  massive steam generator problems.  The potential cost of restarting them could easily run into the hundreds of millions.  A new leak of hydrogen gas has just complicated the situation as public hearings have drawn large, angry crowds demanding the reactors not reopen.    

X  Repairs to Florida’s Crystal River have been so thoroughly botched by Progress Energy that holes in the containment may cost $2 billion or more to fix.  Odds are strong this reactor will never operate again.

X  Official reports now confirm that Nebraska’s Cooper and Ft. Calhoun reactors are at considerable risk from flooding.  One or both may soon face decommissioning.

X  A fierce public confrontation over Entergy’s leaky, accident-prone Vermont Yankee may soon bring it down.  Vermont’s governor and legislature have voted to deny permits necessary under state law, but Entergy has gone to the courts to prolong its operation.

X   A parallel confrontation at Entergy’s Indian Point may turn on whether the state’s denial of water permits could force shut a reactor just 35 miles north of Manhattan.  That the first plane to hit the World Trade Center flew directly over Indian Point has been a source of serious public tension since 9/11/2001.

X  New Jersey’s Oyster Creek is slated to shut by 2020 as a compromise forced by the state’s demand that it add cooling towers to avoid further thermal damage to local marine eco-systems.  But this dangerously decrepit reactor could go down early due to technical, economic and political pressures.

X  Ohio’s infamous “hole-in-the-head” reactor at Davis-Besse continues to operate with a compromised containment and a long list of unresolved technical problems.  Like Kewaunee, its economic future has been darkened by cheap natural gas.

The list of other reactors with immediate technical, economic and political challenges is long and lethal.  The world still has no place for high-level radioactive waste.  Renewable energy prices continue to drop while projected cost estimates for new reactors soar out of control---here, in Finland, France and elsewhere.  The two reactors under construction in Georgia, along with two in South Carolina, are all threatened by severe delays, massive cost overruns and faulty construction scandals, including the use of substandard rebar steel and inferior concrete, both of which will be extremely costly to correct.  

A high-priced PR campaign has long hyped a “nuclear renaissance.”  But in the wake of Fukushima, a dicey electricity market, cheap gas and the failure of secure federal loan guarantees in the face of intensifying public opposition, the bottom may soon drop out of both projects.  A proposed French-financed reactor for Maryland has been cancelled thanks to a powerful grassroots campaign.  Any other new reactor projects will face public opposition and economic pitfalls at least as powerful.  

The announcement that Kewaunee will shut could send the US fleet into free fall.  Richard Nixon promised the US a thousand reactors by the year 2000.  But with the needle now dropping from 104, it’s clear the “Peaceful Atom” is on its way out.

The decline is worldwide.  China may still be weighing more reactor construction, as are Russia and South Korea.  But public resistance has vastly escalated in India.  Nearly all of Europe, led by Germany, is abandoning the technology.  A fuel pool laden with radioactive rods still hangs precariously in the air at Fukushima.  All but two of Japan’s reactors remain shut while an angry debate rages over whether any of the rest will ever reopen.  

Should the very pro-nuclear Mitt Romney win this fall, another surge may come aimed at reviving this industry.  But the mountains of money, litany of technical fixes and heavy political costs that would be required are staggering to say the least.

In the long run, the real worry is that one or more of these old reactors might just blow before we can get it decommissioned.  In that light, the shut-down of Kewaunee and the rest of its aging siblings can’t come soon enough.  

Discuss

by Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

    Will you cast your vote this fall on a faulty electronic machine that's partly owned by the Romney Family?  Will that machine decide whether Romney will then inherit the White House?

    Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital.  H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7.  Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States ( http://www.hartintercivic.com ).

    In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall's election.  These machines cannot be monitored by the public.  But they will help decide who "owns" the White House.

They are especially crucial in Ohio, without which no Republican candidate has ever won the White House.  In 2004, in the dead of election night, an electronic swing of more than 300,000 votes switched Ohio from the John Kerry column to George W. Bush, giving him a second term.  A virtual statistical impossibility, the 6-plus% shift occurred between 12:20 and 2am election night as votes were being tallied by a GOP-controlled information technology firm on servers in a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  In defiance of a federal injunction, 56 of Ohio's 88 counties destroyed all election records, making a recount impossible.  Ohio's governor and secretary of state in 2004 were both Republicans, as are the governors and secretaries of state in nine key swing states this year ( http://www.freepress.org/... ).  

    As we have previously reported,  H.I.G. Capital has on its board of directors at least three close associates of the Romney family.  H.I.G. Capital directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers.  So is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.  H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign.  Fully a third of H.I.G.'s leadership previously worked at Romney's old Bain firm.

    But new research now shows that the association doesn't stop with mere friendship and business associations.  Mitt Romney, his wife Ann Romney, and their son Tagg Romney are also invested in H.I.G. Capital, as is Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney.  

    The investment comes in part through the privately held family equity firm called Solamere, which bears the name of the posh Utah ski community where the Romney family retreats to slide down the slopes.  

         Unlike other private equity firms, Solamere does not invest in companies directly.   Instead, Solamere invests in other private equity funds, like H.I.G. Capital.  Solamere calls them “partners.”  These partners, like H.I.G., then invest in various enterprises, like Hart Intercivic, the nation's third-largest voting machine manufacturer.  

    As reported by Lee Fang of the Nation (http://www.thenation.com/... ), Solamere was founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Papa Romney's campaign finance chair.   Ann Romney and Mitt's brother G. Scott Romney are also invested.  Mitt himself threw in $10 million "seed money" to get the fund going, and spoke personally to its first full investors conference.   Solamere's public web presence ( http://www.solameregroup.com/... ) has been reduced to a front page only, so a complete list of it's “partners” can not be found.  But reportage by the New York Times, Boston Globe, Esquire and the Nation have slowly given us a partial picture of which funds are being funded by Solamere.   Some $232 million has been raised so far, according to SEC filings and industry publications.

In addition to Romney's finance chair Spencer Zwick, Solamere has also provided the campaign with its finance director, Richard Morley, and a western regional finance coordinator, Kaitlin O'Reilly.   O'Reilly is listed as an “executive assistant” at Solamere, and also at SJZ LLC, which was founded by her boss Spencer Zwick.  The SJZ LLC campaign finance consulting firm has billed Mitt's campaign over $2 million this election cycle as well as doing another $9,687,582 in billing to various Congressional Campaigns.  The host of the private fundraiser at which Romney made his infamous "47%" speech was Marc J. Leder, co-CEO of Sun Capital, another "partner" of the Solamere fund.  

    As in virtually every close presidential race, Ohio may well hold the key to the Electoral College decision as to who will become the nation's next chief executive.  The presence of Hart Intercivic machines in Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, means there is a high likelihood the votes that will decide the presidency will be cast on them. Major media like CBS have begun reporting that Cincinnati could be "ground zero" in this year's election ( http://www.freepress.org/... ).

But these Hart machines are deeply flawed and widely know to be open to a troubling variety of attacks and breakdowns ( http://www.bradblog.com/... ).  There is no legal or other means to definitively monitor and re-check a tally compiled on Hart or other electronic voting machines.  Ohio's current governor and secretary of state are both Republicans.  

Does this mean the Romney investment in Hart Intercivic through H.I.G. Capital and Solamere will yield it not only financial profits but the White House itself?  

Tune in during the deep night of November 7, when the electronic votes in swing state Ohio are once again opaquely reported to the nation and the world, without meaningful public scrutiny or legal recourse.  

Discuss

Will H.I.G.-owned e-voting machines give Romney the White House?
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 12, 2012
Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has EVER won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.

As we document in the e-book WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION (www.freepress.org) George W. Bush got a second term in 2004 thanks to the manipulation of the electronic vote count by Ohio's then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell served as the co-chair of the state's committee to re-elect Bush/Cheney while simultaneously administering the election.

The widespread use of electronic voting machines from ES&S, and of Diebold software maintained by Triad, allowed Blackwell to electronically flip a 4% Kerry lead to a 2% Bush victory in the dead of election night. ES&S, Diebold and Triad were all owned or operated by Republican partisans. The shift of more than 300,000 votes after 12:20 am election night was a virtual statistical impossibility. It was engineered by Michael Connell, an IT specialist long affiliated with the Bush Family. Blackwell gave Connell's Ohio-based GovTech the contract to count Ohio's votes, which was done on servers housed in the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus the Ohio vote tally was done on servers that also carried the e-mail for Karl Rove and the national Republican Party. Connell died in a mysterious plane crash in December, 2008, after being subpoenaed in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit focused on how the 2004 election was decided (disclosure: we were attorney and plaintiff in that suit).

Diebold's founder, Walden O'Dell, had vowed to deliver Ohio's electoral votes---and thus the presidency---to his friend George W. Bush. That it was done in part on electronic voting machines and software O'Dell happened to own (Diebold has since changed hands twice) remains a cautionary red flag for those who believe merely winning the popular vote will give Barack Obama a second term.

This November, much of the Ohio electorate will cast its ballots on machines again owned by close cronies of the Republican presidential candidate. In Cincinnati and elsewhere around the state, the e-voting apparati are owned by Hart Intercivic. Hart's machines are infamous for mechanical failures, "glitches," counting errors and other timely problems now thoroughly identified with the way Republicans steal elections. As in 2004, Ohio's governor is now a Republican. This time it's the very right-wing John Kasich, himself a multi-millionaire courtesy of a stint at Lehman Brothers selling state bonds, and the largesse of Rupert Murdoch, on whose Fox Network Kasich served as a late night bloviator. Murdoch wrote Kasich a game-changing $1 million check just prior to his winning the statehouse, an electoral victory shrouded in electronic intrigue. The exit polls in that election indicated that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, had actually won the popular vote.

Ohio's very Republican Secretary of State is John Husted, currently suing in the US Supreme Court to prevent the public from voting on the weekend prior to election day. As did Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will control Ohio's electronic vote count on election night free of meaningful public checks or balances

Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines. Thus there will be no vote count transparency on election night in Ohio. The tally will be conducted by Hart Intercivic and controlled by Husted and Kasich, with no public recourse or accountability. As federal testimony from the deceased Michael Connell made clear in 2008, electronically flipping an election is relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if you or your compatriots programmed the machines.

So as the corporate media swarm through Ohio, reporting breathlessly from "ground zero" in Cincinnati, don't hold your own breath waiting for them to also clarify that the voting machines in what may once again be America's decisive swing state are owned, programmed and tabulated by some of the Romney campaign's closest associates.

--
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION?, an e-book.

Discuss

Nine Republican governors have the power to put Mitt Romney in the White House, even if Barack Obama wins the popular vote.

With their secretaries of state, they control the electronic vote count in nine key swing states: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Arizona. 

In tandem with the GOP's massive nation-wide disenfranchisement campaign, they could---in the dead of election night---flip their states' electronic votes to Romney and give him a victory in the Electoral College.

Gratefully, resistance has arisen to the GOP disenfranchisement strategy designed to deny millions of suspected Democrats the right to vote.  The intent to demand photo ID for voting could result in some ten million Americans being disenfranchised, according to the Brennan Center at New York University.  Other methods are being used to strip voter rolls---as in Ohio, where at least a million citizens have been purged from registration lists since 2009.  This alone could deny the ballot to a substantial percentage of the electorate in key swing states.  

The move has been characterized as a “new Jim Crow”.  It has evoked a strong reaction from voting rights activists, a number of lawsuits, major internet traffic and front page coverage in the New York Times.  

But there has been no parallel campaign to guarantee those votes are properly counted once cast.  Despite serious problems with electronic tabulations in the presidential elections of both 2000 and 2004, electronic voting machines have spread further throughout the country.  In Ohio, former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell awarded a no-bid state contract to Diebold---a Republican-owned company which no longer exists---to spread electronic voting machines throughout the state.  In other states, federal money from the Help America Vote Act has helped move electronic voting machines into key swing states in substantial numbers that are not easy to track.

The machines can quickly tabulate a winner.  But their dark side is simple:  there is no way to monitor or double-check the final tally.  American courts have consistently ruled that the software installed in e-voting machines is proprietary.  [BOB---PLEASE INSERT DECISIONS HERE]  Even the election boards that buy them cannot access their tabulation codes.  The bulk of the major e-voting machine companies are owned by Republicans or by corporations whose roots are difficult to trace.  WHILE WE HAVE TIME by Sheila Parks of the Center for Hand Counted Ballots documents much of the problem.  

A Parks warns, we enter the 2012 vote count with no reliable means of guaranteeing any vote count emerging through electronic means is accurate.

In fact, whether they intend to do it or not, the Republican governors of the nine key swing states above do have the power to flip the election.  Except for exit polls, there is no established way to check how the official electronic vote count might square with the actual intent of the electorate.  And there is no legal method by which an electronic vote count can be effectively challenged.

There is unfortunate precedent.  In the heat of election night 2000, in Volusia County, Florida, 16,000 electronic votes for Al Gore mysteriously disappeared.  They were later re-instated.  But their temporary evaporation gave commentators at Fox---one of them George W. Bush’s first cousin---an opening to declare that the state was “in play” rather than in the Gore column, as had initially appeared certain.

In Ohio 2004, at 12:20 election night, the initial vote tabulation showed John Kerry handily defeating Bush by more than 4%.  This 200,000-plus margin appeared to guarantee Kerry’s ascent to the presidency.

But mysteriously, the vote count suddenly stopped.  When it resumed around 2am, Bush jumped ahead with a 2% lead, eventually winning with an official margin of more than 118,000 votes.  Such a shift of more than 6%, involving more than 300,000 votes, is a virtual statistical impossibility.

That night, Ohio’s vote count was being compiled in the basement of a bank building in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The building also housed the servers for the Republican National Committee and thus the e-mail of Bush advisor Karl Rove. 

Secretary of State Blackwell was co-chair of the Ohio Committee to Re-Elect Bush and Cheney.  He met earlier that day in Columbus with Bush and Rove.  That night, he sent state workers home early.  The official tabulation was executed by an IT specialist named Michael Connoll, whose company was long associated with the Bush family.  In 2008 Connell died in a mysterious single-engine plane crash while under subpoena to testify in the federal King-Lincoln-Bronzeville voter rights lawsuit (by way of disclosure:  Bob is an attorney and Harvey a plaintiff in this lawsuit).

FreePress.org covered the vote shift in depth; the reportage appears in WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION? (www.harveywasserman.com and www.freepress.org).  The King-Lincoln suit eventually resulted in a federal injunction ordering Ohio’s 88 counties to preserve all election records so a fair recount of the 2004 Ohio tabulation---which gave Bush a second term---could be effected.

But 54 of Ohio’s 88 counties ignored the injunction and destroyed their election records.    Thus no recount of Ohio 2004 has ever been done.  More than 90,000 provisional ballots went entirely uncounted, and have since been destroyed.

No way was ever found to verify the 2004 electronic vote count.  There are no definitive safeguards in place today.   

In 2008, swarms of election protection volunteers filled the polling stations in Ohio and other swing states.   They guaranteed the right to vote for many thousands of Americans who might otherwise have been denied it.

They had no means of guaranteeing the accuracy of the electronic vote count.  But Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan all had Democratic governors at the time.  Florida’s governor was the moderate Republican Charlie Crist, not likely to steal an election for a party he would soon leave.

This year Rick Scott is in Florida, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Jan Brewer is in Arizona.  All are seen as hard-right Republicans unlikely to agonize over flipping a Barack Obama majority into a victory for Mitt Romney.

That doesn’t mean they would actually do such a thing.  But the stark reality is that they if they choose to, they can, and there would be no iron-clad way to prove they did.  

Another stark reality:  hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to win this election by multi-billionaires Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch, the Chamber of Commerce and other corporate interests.  For them, spending a few extra million to flip a key state's electoral votes would make perfect sense.

Would these swing state GOP governors do it?  We would actually never know for sure.

While Obama seems to be moving up in the polls, the huge reservoir of dollars raised to elect Mitt Romney will soon flood this campaign.  We might anticipate well-funded media reports of a “surge” for Romney in the last two weeks of the election.  Polls could well show a "close race" in the early hours of election day.  

And then those electronic voting machines could be just as easily flipped on election night 2012 as they were in 2004.

Would this batch of swing state Republicans do that for Romney.

We don’t know.

COULD they do it?

Absolutely.

Would you be able to find definitive, legally admissable proof that they did it?

No.

Would the courts overturn such a tainted victory?

Not likely.

What could ultimately be done about it?

In the short term: nothing.

In the long term:  a bottom-to-top remaking of our electoral system.
----------
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored five books on election protection, including the newly published WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION? (www.harveywasserman.com and www.freepress.org) 

Discuss

Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 06:47 AM PDT

Japan's Long Atomic Sayonara

by harveywasserman

As demonstrators from the Coalition Against Nukes ( http://nukefree.org/... ) prepare to descend on Washington DC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the world’s third-largest economy has taken a landmark step toward Solartopia.

A pro-nuclear Japanese government has announced it will phase out all commercial reactors by 2040 ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  

It comes as atomic power continues to plummet in Germany, France, Quebec, California and elsewhere.      

Japan’s announcement has gotten mixed domestic reviews.    Powerful industrial leaders say it’s unrealistic.  A burgeoning grassroots No Nukes movement demands a faster phase-out.  

But the announcement clearly makes the odds against Japan ever building a new commercial reactor very steep.  

In principle, Japan has joined Germany in moving to end the nuclear age.  The world’s fourth-largest economy---the biggest in Europe---Germany has shut 8 of its 19 reactors and will have the rest down by 2022.  Like Japan, Germany has been at the core of the global reactor industry, and once harbored plans for many more.  Now it has plunged deep into the business of renewables, with heavy emphasis on wind and solar.

All but two of Japan’s fifty-plus reactors remain shut.  Its No Nukes movement has soared since Fukushima, with mass marches frequently in the tens of thousands. Despite dire industry predictions, Japan survived a nuke-free summer without major blackouts.

The aggressively pro-nuclear administration of Noda Yoshihiko has met fierce grassroots resistance to forcing open two reactors, and is expected to lose upcoming elections.  Its advocacy of a long phase-out was meant to placate both industrial and No Nukes interests, but has angered both ( http://nukefree.org/... ).

Japan remains at the center of the global industry.  Key heavy components are still being manufactured there.  But bitter debate about the health impacts of Fukushima continues to rage.  New reports cast serious doubt on the integrity of safety regulations, and on the wisdom of siting so many reactors near earthquake faults and in coastal areas threatened by tsunamis.

The industry’s decline has been accelerated in France, where the new Socialist Prime Minister Francoise Hollande has confirmed he will shut an embattled reactor at Fessenheim “as soon as possible.”  (  http://nukefree.org/... ). Public opinion polls show substantial support for a shift to renewables.  

 A new government in Quebec will shut Gentilly II ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  In California, new reports on the cold San Onofre 2 & 3 indicate deep problems that make a re-start more doubtful than ever ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  And a whistleblower has warned that flood damage at Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun reactor may be more serious than previously believed ( http://nukefree.org/... ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  

Riding the wave of anti-nuclear news is a September 20-22 series of DC events organized by the Coalition Against Nukes ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  The action starts Thursday with a rally on the Capitol Mall, a Congressional briefing and an evening gathering.  Friday opens with a ceremony at the Native American Museum, followed by a demonstration at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland, and evening film showings at the Letelier Theater in DC. Saturday concludes with a day-long strategy session.  With activists convening from around the US and Japan, the gathering promises to lend the No Nukes movement new focus.  

They’ll be dissecting an industry in steep decline.  Germany and Japan’s phase-out decisions mean two of the industry’s key players will build no more nukes.  The four reactors barely under construction in the US are already plagued with structural and financial problems, and are under intense political fire.  

China has yet to decide what it will do in the wake of Fukushima.  India is being rocked by huge demonstrations at the Koodankulam complex ( http://nukefree.org/... ).  Russia and South Korea remain in the hunt, but it’s unclear how far they can go with a global complex on the brink of implosion.

Nuclear tensions in Iran also cast a shadow.  Before 1979 the US and France wanted the Shah to build 36 reactors.  Now there’s talk of war over a “Peaceful Atom” that many believe could lead to an Iranian Bomb.

All-in-all, one can only view the “nuclear renaissance” as being in serious relapse.  Even major industrial leaders such as General Electric’s Jeffrey Immelt have begun portraying atomic energy as an obsolete, uneconomic alternative ( http://nukefree.org/... ).

As Germany, Japan, France, Quebec and so many others leap toward Solartopia, the future of wind, solar and a green-powered future look ever more promising.

Discuss

Adversity can debilitate and defeat a lesser soul.  But for those with the inner strength to make the climb, new heights can beckon.  

Along the way---especially for a musician---it helps to have an other-worldly talent, a gift that combines decades of hard work with those inexplicable powers that come from the slipstream of the spirit.

A combination like that can light up the world, especially at jam-packed concerts that become joyful communions.

Now on the second leg of an epic US tour---to be followed in Asia and Europe---Bonnie Raitt has taken it to a new level.  Reading through the show-by-show reviews of her performances is like being witness to an ecstatic coronation.  

Bonnie’s well-deserved joyride comes after a long ordeal of personal loss.  Her parents, brother and a close friend all passed in scary succession.  She has also set sail with her own Redwing Records label.  

None of which have shaken her political convictions or willingness to act on them (by way of disclosure, I’ve worked with Bonnie since 1978 and edit the website for NukeFree.org, whose core she comprises with Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and benefit producer Tom Campbell).  

Bonnie’s Slipstream has the trappings of an album made by someone with a transcendent talent doing exactly what she wants---and making it work.  The opening song---with which she opened concerts I saw in Indianapolis and near Dayton---is Randall Bramblett's searing "Used to Rule the World," an admonition to egos and empires about the immutable laws of karma:  

Dr. Feelgood
Sitting on a park bench
Can I get a witness?

For all these decades, through a score of albums, nine Grammies, a slot at the Rock Hall, appearances with Leno-Letterman-Ellen-Colbert, Bonnie has balanced an astonishing musical range with a message and a way of carrying herself that are firmly rooted in her Quaker heritage.  A mainstay of the No Nukes movement for more than thirty years, she is not shy.  

This week, while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, she told a standing-room-only crowd this year's election had become an "auction.  The efforts that are going on in our country to actively discourage people from voting and to put up roadblocks to people getting registered to vote" are among "the saddest threats to our democracy to come along in a long time."  The Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision," she added, "is one of the worst things that has ever happened to our democratic process…If you look at the millions of dollars that are being wasted trying to buy elections when that money could help so many people, it makes you really sad."

In many ways Bonnie's newest album is her most interesting.  My own favorite has long been the double-shot Road Tested, which puts her live and on stage.  

But Slipstream is quirky, challenging, edgy, brilliant, brimming with confidence and often just downright gorgeous.  The songs work live and on stage, especially when mixed with classics like John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” which she opened a-capella, and the tear-inducing “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”  

Bonnie’s talent and politics are both family affairs.  A supporter of the legendary Quaker-based sea-faring opposition to nuclear testing in the Pacific, John Raitt was one of the great stage performers of his generation, bringing epic depth and power to “Oklahoma” and “Carousel,” which he took on tour for decades. Bonnie’s mother Marjorie was an accomplished pianist.

With them came a vital dose of essential good cheer. Bonnie thanked one audience for coming because "we're not really suited for any other kind of work."  In the Rock Hall’s inductee film, when asked by a young girl why she took up the guitar, Bonnie explains it was “to meet boys.”

The four in her band include Hutch Hutchison on bass, George Marinelli on guitar and Ricky Fatarr on drums---all with her forever.  New piano man Jim Finnegan adds some Irish zip...and the chutzpah to “thank Bonnie for opening for me” when he takes a solo turn.  

Having weathered her storms and grown into her unique talent, Bonnie is now being greeted by fans---at the sold-out Dayton show, one of them was my neighbor---turning up in bright red wigs and giant grins.  What they get in exchange is a warm, unaffected master of spunk and joy, thankful to be performing, genuinely grateful to be with you.  As no one else can, she brings rock, folk, country, blues, Broadway, soulful ballads, that amazing slide guitar, and an evergreen glow of accomplished integrity.

“My dad performed until he was 88,” she said at the end of the Dayton show.  Hale, happy and hearty at 62, Bonnie Raitt’s promise of decades more to come is the best music  you’ll hear in many a year.    

----------------
Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA!  Our Green-Powered Earth.  He is co-author of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA'S 2012 ELECTION? (www.harveywasserman.ning.com and www.freepress.org).  

Discuss

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.

Six basic factors make this year’s theft a possibility:

The power of corporate money, now vastly enhanced by the US Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decisions;

The Electoral College, which narrows the number of votes needed to be moved to swing a presidential election;

The systematic disenfranchisement of---according to the Brennan Center---ten million or more citizens, most of whom would otherwise be likely to vote Democratic.  More than a million voters have also been purged from the rolls in Ohio, almost 20% of the total vote count in 2008;

The accelerating use of electronic voting machines, which make election theft a relatively simple task for those who control them, including their owners and operators, who are predominantly Republican;

The GOP control of nine of the governorships in the dozen swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2012 campaign; and,

The likelihood that the core of the activist “election protection” community that turned out in droves to monitor the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 has not been energized by his presidency and is thus unlikely to work for him again in 2012.
Winning a fair and reliable electoral system can be achieved only with a massive grassroots upheaval.  

The power of money is now enshrined by the infamous Citizens United decision.  In at least 90% of our Congressional races and at least 80% of our US Senate races, the candidate who spends the most money wins.  
( http://www.opensecrets.org/... )

From the presidency to the local level, our elections---and thus control of our government---are dominated by cash.

For more than a century, the ability of corporations and the super-rich to buy in directly has been legally constrained.  But the concentration of media ownership in the hands of ever-fewer corporations has vastly enhanced their power.  

Already in 2012, the tsunami of dollars pouring in from corporations and super-rich individuals has soared to entirely new levels.  Even the floodgates opened by Citizens United can’t handle the flow.  With its June decision denying Montana’s attempt to keep some spending restrictions in tact, the John Roberts US Supreme Court has inaugurated an era in which virtually unrestrained “pay-to-play” money will re-define the electoral process.  Republicans in the US Senate have also blocked attempts to require that these campaign “donations” be made public.  

It’s not hard to guess where this leads.  The June, 2012, recall election in Wisconsin saw at least 8 times as much money being spent on protecting Republican governor Scott Walker as was spent to oust him.

Barack Obama has spent much of his presidency courting corporate interests.  But he will be out-raised by the corporate/super-rich 1% backing Mitt Romney.  A handful of high-profile billionaires will spend “whatever it takes” to put the GOP back into the White House.  Just a dozen of them have already provided more than 70% of Romney’s early campaign budget.  

Most of this corporate money is being used to persuade voters to oust Obama, which they may well decide to do.  But US history shows that some of it can also restrict the ability of Americans to vote.  It can then “bend” the vote count in ways the public may not want.

Our nation’s history shows that given the same chance, the Democrats would gladly do the same to the Republicans.  And it’s happened many times, especially in the Jim Crow south.  

But in 2012, it will be primarily Republicans using gargantuan sums of corporate money to take control of the government from Democrats, and democracy be damned.

We are not writing this in support of Barack Obama or the Democratic Party.  We are mystified by their unwillingness to fight for meaningful electoral reform.  Both Al Gore and John Kerry were legitimately elected president, but neither was willing to fight for us.  When we broke many of the major stories on the theft of Ohio 2004, it was the Democrats who most fiercely attacked us.

We’re continually asked why the Democrats have been willing since 2000 to sit back and let the GOP get away with this.  Frankly, we have no answer.  

But for us, the more important reality is that this electoral corruption dooms the ballot as an instrument of real democracy.  A system this badly broken means a bi-partisan oligarchy can always deny third and other grassroots parties the use of elections to challenge the status quo, in this case one increasingly defined by war, bigotry, injustice, moneyed privilege and ecological suicide.  

Thus it’s been a century since the last significant electoral challenges to the Democrat-Republican corporate domination of the political system.  

That challenge was staged by the People’s (Populist) and then Socialist Parties.  In rapid succession they rallied huge grassroots followings demanding core changes to the corporate domination of American politics.  The 30-year upheaval they represented laid the groundwork for major changes.  But it failed to crack the corporate domination of our political system.

The Populists were shattered in 1896 with a combination of co-option by William Jennings Bryan’s Democratic Party and election theft engineered by Mark Hanna’s Republicans.  (Republican strategist Karl Rove, a serious student of the 1896 election, considers Mark Hanna to be one of his great heroes).

The Socialists were co-opted and divided in 1916 by the Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who then crushed them in the most violent wave of physical repression ever imposed by a US President on a mass movement that derived from the heart of America’s working public.

No third party has since risen up with enough real political clout to threaten corporate power through the electoral system.  As long as our ballot box is corrupted and unaccountable, none will.  

That one party could steal an election from the other means our democracy, if it could still be called that, is essentially in shambles.  

But whatever the corporate parties do to each other separately---as the GOP is likely to do to the Democrats this year--- pales before what they can and will do in concert to crush grassroots movements aimed at challenging the core assumptions of the status quo:  ie, winning peace, justice, corporate accountability and ecological preservation.  This applies to candidates running for office and---as in Ohio 2005---to referenda meant to directly change corporate policy.  

 Who really believes that the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Chamber of Commerce and their related billionaires would spend tens of millions of dollars to win the White House but stop short of spending the relatively small amount it would take to flip the vote?  

In the larger view, the ability of either (or both) corporate parties to do this means no grassroots party will be allowed to force meaningful change in America---at least not through the ballot box.  

No reality could be more grim for those of us who believe in grassroots democracy.  But we are citizens of a nation born with the bottom-up overthrow of the planet’s then-most powerful king.  As believers in grassroots democracy, we know that the survival instinct is ultimately more powerful than the profit motive.  When it comes to the basics, we have no doubt the power of the people will ultimately prevail.  

But for those of you wanting in 2012 to return Barack Obama to the White House, big money may be about to slam the door.  The new Jim Crow and the realities of electronic vote theft have made the likelihood of a Romney-Ryan president far stronger than you might want to believe.

------------------------------------------

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are authors of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION, an e-book at www.harveywasserman.ning.com and www.freepress.org, their fifth book on election protection.  

Discuss

Fukushima Flim-Flam Still Spews from Murdoch's Wall Street Journal

By Harvey Wasserman

With every reactor disaster comes the inevitable whitewash.  

But the Wall Street Journal has just paved a new super highway into the radioactive wasteland of atomic flim-flam with “Panic at Fukushima.  “( http://online.wsj.com/... ).

The article represents a form of PR panic on the part of a nuclear power industry now crumbling at the seams.  And it does fit a pattern:

Whenever the public somehow learns about one of the never-ending stream of radioactive releases from the local nuke---no matter how serious it may be---the official response is hard-wired to include the phrase “no danger to the public.”

When serious structural cracks surface at reactors like Ohio’s Davis-Besse or Crystal River, Florida,  safety concerns are invariably dismissed with well-funded contempt.  

As with fatally flawed steam generators at California’s San Onofre, if it can make an extra buck or two, the industry will run these reactors into the ground until the public rises up to force them shut or they melt.  Nuke owners are protected by taxpayer insurance and the bankruptcy laws, so they know the consequences of a catastrophic disaster need not trouble their bottom line.    

When earthquakes rattle reactors in Virginia and Ohio, or threaten others near New York City and in California, the public is “never in danger.”  When a generation of Japanese complain that earthquakes could devastate the reactors there, they hear that Fukushima, Kashiwazaki et. al. are “perfectly safe.”  

Then, when earthquakes hammer them both, we know who pays.

When the disasters are too big to hide, the industry PR machine devolves into total shamelessness.  There was “no melting of fuel” at Three Mile Island until, nine years later, robotic cameras showed there certainly was.  

“Nobody was killed” at Three Mile Island until epidemiological evidence showed otherwise.  (Disclosure:  I spent the worst week of my life in 1980 with the dying and bereaved in central Pennsylvania, leading to the 1982 publication of KILLING OUR OWN - http://www.ratical.org/...  .

Nuclear apologist Patrick Moore terms Three Mile Island a “success story,” reminding us that an industry that uses flacks for accountants can view a disaster that turned a $900 million asset into a $2 billion liability as a big win.

When Chernobyl spewed huge radioactive clouds across Europe and into the jet stream that contaminated the entire northern hemisphere, the Soviet Union told us not to worry.  At least one western “scientist” said the fallout would improve the health of those in Ukraine and Belarus, where a horrifying epidemic of stillbirths, malformations and birth defects still runs rampant.  The Soviet Union is now dead...except in the hearts of a corporate media still parroting the Soviet lie that only 31 people died at Chernobyl.  Scientific evidence shows a likely death toll of more like a million, and counting.

So now comes Fukushima, and the Murdoch-funded cheerleaders at the Wall Street Journal.  The inevitable whitewash has come from a California physics professor.  

The cheery message:  Fukushima has harmed virtually no one except the nuclear industry, which has shut down in Japan.

Predictably, the article as a whole resides in a parallel pro-nuclear universe.  Virtually devoid of actual fact, it is meticulously  dissected by SimplyInfo ( http://nukefree.org/... ) in a brilliant primer on the health impacts of a truly apocalyptic nightmare that is far from over.

Entitled “The Truth vs. the Wall Street Journal,” SimplyInfo’s dissection is worth reading start to finish.  But it really is deja vu all over again.  This time the once-prestigious Journal, now a Murdoch mouthpiece, disgraces itself with some truly embarrassing attacks on basic reality.  Simply and briefly:

The Journal astonishingly minimizes the death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki using speculative data that has been discredited for decades while ignoring the findings by Japanese scientists that Fukushima has (thus far) spewed nearly 30 times as much radioactive cesium as did the Bombings;

The Journal uses an absurd averaging argument to assert Fukushima’s fallout will be nicely spread over the countryside, resulting in minimal doses for everyone.  But plutonium, cesium, strontium and other killer isotopes tend to come down in clumps and clusters, heavily dosing some while missing others.  As at TMI, Chernobyl and now Fukushima, woe be to the unlucky masses who get rained on;

The averaging argument jumps off the rails with pregnant women.  At TMI the owners ran happy face public ads comparing the fallout to a single x-ray for everyone in the area.  They failed to mention that way back in the 1950s a single x-ray to a fetus in utero was linked to a doubled rate of childhood cancer.  The medical profession has acknowledged the danger at least since the 1980s.  So these doses mean thousands of pregnant women---and their embryos and fetuses---are being exposed without their permission to radiation doses established science has branded as harmful to their children.  

  The Journal admits that Fukushima was hit by a 9.0 earthquake and 50-foot tidal wave, which it was not designed to withstand.  But it doesn’t mention that  this particular quake centered more than 100 miles offshore, while reactors such as Diablo Canyon, San Onofre, Indian Point and many more are within 3 miles of fault lines capable of delivering even larger quakes directly into the reactors’ underbellies.  All three Fukushima reactors operating at the time went into core melt and exploded.  But quakes closer in would reduce reactors to hot rubble,  releasing clouds far more lethal than anything we wish to contemplate.

To its credit the Journal has published a rebuttal ( http://online.wsj.com/...) from Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, who points out that Japan’s exposure would be would be far higher if prevailing winds didn’t take Fukushima’s fallout into the oceans.  But like Chernobyl, Fukushima’s radiation has long since reached our shores; at least one study shows an American death toll already in the thousands ( http://nukefree.org/... ).

Now 67 years since Hiroshima/Nagasaki, 33 since Three Mile Island, 26 since Chernobyl, the atomic industry still says radioactive fallout is good for us.

The Journal might instead heed Jeffrey Immelt, president of General Electric, who says nuclear power has no economic future.  GE’s reactors designs are planted from Fukushima to both American coasts and throughout Europe.  But Immelt says GE wants to join Siemens and others in getting out of the nuclear business and into Solartopia, ie wind, solar, etc.

That the Wall Street Journal has published a pseudo-scientific apologia so riddled with obscene inaccuracies seems a white flag of surrender from a technology once sold as “too cheap to meter.”  No verbal contortions can ever cleanse what the Journal’s competitor, Forbes Magazine, long ago branded “the largest managerial disaster in American history.”

Sadly, we continue to pay for it with both our money and our lives.  

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Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.harveywasserman.ning.com, along with WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION? co-authored with Bob Fitrakis.  

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