Thursday, May 25, 2006

Finally, we kill the timid. They must have done something

Even though we are now a country that tortures prisoners and holds them without trial or charges, wages wars of aggression and is run by a fabulously wealthy corporate and military clique that ignores the Constitution when it suits them and uses terror to propagate their power, we still are largely under the mass delusion that we are somehow a special place with a special system where the worst abuses of corrupt power (because of our specialness) will not happen. What fools we are.

Below are a couple of paragraphs from an article I found linked on the very smart 3 Quarks Daily.
...On March 24 of that year (1976) a military coup, widely welcomed by the Argentine majority, overthrew the weak and vicious presidency of Isabel PerĂ³n. Hundreds had been killed before, mostly by the right. But the 1976 coup was the beginning of the “dirty war” in which some 30,000 people were murdered. ...

…Born in a country with 120 years of constitutional history, the seven-year Proceso, or national reorganization process, created a society of torture and murder. It was also about vanishing. The victims officially vanished from the earth, although at first bereaved parents might have been told that their missing child was in France. Sooner or later everyone understood that you could be seized, tormented, and killed apparently at random. The terror’s intent was, nominally, societal behavior modification. But you could burn your blue jeans and your books, cut your hair and cut off your politically suspect friends, and still you and your family could be disappeared….

…Out of the 5,300 people brought in to the ESMA about 200 survived. We will never know which of the 5,300 read the wrong books, had leftish sympathies, worked with guerrilla insurrectionists, or tossed bombs, because the regime destroyed its records when the dictatorship fell. There was no innocence. General Iberico Saint Jean said at the time, “First we kill all the subversives, then we will kill their collaborators; then . . . their sympathizers, then those who are indifferent and finally we kill the timid.” But to many the military was never wrong; the mantra among the oppressors, the bystanders, and even some relatives of the victims was “they must have done something.”… LINK

Make no mistake about it, this is where the Republican far Right plutocrats and their numbskull working and middle class supporters are taking us. With the breakdown of rule of law, the corruption of the judiciary and the press, the privatization of the military, a replay of the Argentina experience is where we are headed. Someday, events like the Miami “riot” of Republican congressional staffers (at the time actually a wimpy little demonstration by banally evil thugs) that stopped a legal vote recount will be seen as milestones of our collapse, along with tolerance of officially condoned torture, illegal arrests, and fascist style spying on ordinary citizens.

I don’t think for a single second an election is going to rid us of them unless Democratic leaders magically find the courage to resist the Right’s every move and also do what it takes to ensure a fair election and somehow confront the attraction fascist rhetoric has for those that choose to be in the stubborn and willfully ignorant, but sizeable, voting wad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Will your vote count?

As if we didn't know already, a column in the current Newsweek, "Will Your Vote Count" tells us that electronic voting machines are easily rigged.

May 29, 2006 issue - Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth, here comes more disturbing news about the trustworthiness of electronic touchscreen ballot machines. Earlier this month a report by Finnish security expert Harri Hursti analyzed Diebold voting machines for an organization called Black Box Voting. Hursti found unheralded vulnerabilities in the machines that are currently entrusted to faithfully record the votes of millions of Americans.

How bad are the problems? Experts are calling them the most serious voting-machine flaws ever documented. Basically the trouble stems from the ease with which the machine's software can be altered. It requires only a few minutes of pre-election access to a Diebold machine to open the machine and insert a PC card that, if it contained malicious code, could reprogram the machine to give control to the violator. The machine could go dead on Election Day or throw votes to the wrong candidate. Worse, it's even possible for such ballot-tampering software to trick authorized technicians into thinking that everything is working fine, an illusion you couldn't pull off with pre-electronic systems... LINK

With impeachment at stake, it is not too hard to imagine that the Republican vote fraud engine has subtly rigged key elections to ensure continued control of Congress. Not with easily detected massive fraud, but with just enough tweaking to get the job done while allowing most voters to maintain a comfortable delusion that elections are honest.