Friday, August 1, 2008

McCain's $520 loafers put 'elitist' shoe on the other foot

Normallly presidential campaign season finds Republicans accusing Democrats of being out-of-touch elitists -- but this time it seems the shoe may be on the other foot.

Huffington Post blogger Isabel Wilkinson reported on Wednesday that Senenator John McCain "has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop — from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA."

The story was quickly picked up by CNN's Jeanne Moos, who noted wryly that "Ferragamo narrowly missed getting buried in an applesauce avalanche" on that supermarket stop.

Meghan Cleary, author of The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You, told Moos, "I wonder if McCain fancies himself a bit of a fashion plate."

"Maybe the senator has some help in the shoe-shopping department from his fashion-plate wife," Moos speculated. "But wasn't Senator Obama the guy being called an elitist?"

Moos then played footage of Michelle Obama telling Access Hollywood during a family interview that Obama was wearing ten year old pants and a worn-out belt and hurriedly adding, "Don't pan down to the shoes -- because we've talked about getting new shoes for him."

Obama had told a newspaper last spring, "Michelle has asked me to clean up because when she first met me I had one suit. Michelle always finds this funny because I basically buy five of the same suit and then I patch them up and wear them repeatedly. I have four pairs of shoes. Recently, I've taken to getting a haircut more frequently than I used to because my mother-in-law makes fun of me."

Moos concluded with footage of McCain wearing his $520 imported loafers to walk with the sandal-clad Dalai Lama and suggested, "Shouild they meet again, perhaps this simple $275 Prada sandal might work for Senator McCain."

Christopher Hayes blogging at The Nation was skeptical about the significance of the loafer story, seeing it as one that right-wing bloggers would have loved to run with if the shoes had belonged to Obama, but "I'm not a right-wing blogger. And the $520 shoes belong to John McCain. And frankly, I don't think how much his shoes cost matters one whit for how he'd govern the country."

However, as Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out at Salon, "It's long been obvious ... that McCain's only prospect for winning would be to move the election away from debates over issues (where his positions are widely rejected by the public) and instead demonize Barack Obama as an effete, elitist, effeminate, far Leftist, terrorist-loving radical. ... What is far more notable than McCain's now almost-complete reliance on Rovian demonization themes is how obediently the establishment media has been spouting and disseminating them."

So the shoe story may have some legs after all, if only as ammunition for left-wing bloggers to fight back.

This video is from, broadcast July 30, 2008.

Original here

Ron Paul Followers Vow Fight at Convention

LAS VEGAS -- Dueling delegations pitting Ron Paul's Nevada supporters against those of John McCain vow to take their fight to the Republican National Convention.

That's just one sign that the outsider, Internet-fueled movement led by the feisty Republican congressman from Texas remains afloat in the wake of McCain's victory in the GOP primaries.

In the libertarian-leaning West, where Paul's message of distrust of the federal government and ardent individualism played particularly well, there is talk of Republicans straying from McCain. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr has emerged as a favorite alternative for Paul activists, followed by Constitutional Party candidate Chuck Baldwin.

Even if the numbers of such dissenters are small, in tight contests in key Western states they could spoil McCain's chances, experts say.

"In Nevada, there's absolutely enough to have an effect on the election," said Chuck Muth, a leading conservative activist in a state in which early polls show McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a statistical tie.

"I think that you will see not just Libertarians who always vote for the Libertarian candidate but conservative Republicans saying we've had it, we've had enough and they're going to go ahead and vote Libertarian," Muth said.

Paul - or "Dr. Paul," as his followers reverently refer to the obstetrician-turned-politician - ran as the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 1988. But this year he carved out a following as an antiestablishment Republican. His campaign won more than 1 million votes and became a catchall for anti-war, anti-government voters and disaffected Republicans.

The eclectic coalition racked up significant numbers. Paul placed second - ahead of McCain - in Republican caucuses in Nevada and Montana. He posted strong showings in nominating contests in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. In early June, he pulled away 14 percent of the vote from the already certain nominee in the New Mexico primary.

This is the West that McCain must win.

The interior West generally has been friendly territory for Republicans seeking the White House. Nevada, Montana and Colorado voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.

But history also warns of the impact of feisty Texans who preach small government.

"There's little doubt Bill Clinton would not have won Montana if it weren't for Ross Perot," said Bob Brown, a senior fellow at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana. "And I think it's clear those votes were Republican."

The same could be said of Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, states where the two-time independent candidate for president is often given credit for Clinton's breaking a two-decade-long Republican presidential winning streak in 1992.

The McCain campaign says they expect many Paul voters to come home to the GOP before Nov. 4.

"At the end of the day, Republicans are going to vote for John McCain. He's a Western candidate who understands water issues, land issues. He's a fiscal conservative," said Rick Gorka, a campaign spokesman. "His message is appealing to a broad spectrum of voters."

There's little sign of that unification yet. In Nevada, state GOP officials abruptly shut down the state convention as a group of well-organized newcomers were poised to win delegates for Paul.

The group led by Paul supporters then held its own rogue convention and elected its own delegates. For its part, the state party couldn't get enough delegates to attend a second convention and appointed delegates by committee. A judge ruled against the Paul supporters when they filed suit. They now plan to file a challenge with the Republican National Committee.

Both groups are heading to the national convention in St. Paul, Minn.

"We're trying to say, 'Hey, you guys got to play by the rules, and if you don't, you'll face the consequences,'" said Wayne Terhune, a 57-year-old dentist in Sparks, Nev., and a leading Paul activist in the state. "They just took the football and went home."

Even without Nevada, Paul will send at least a handful of delegates to the national convention. Outside the convention hall, his supporters have reserved a 15,000-seat basketball arena for a "mini-convention."

Paul hasn't endorsed, but it is clear whom he is not supporting.

"I do encourage all the alternatives, obviously, because I can't support either of the two candidates from the Republican or Democratic parties," Paul said this month in an interview on Revolution Radio, an Internet-based station run by his supporters. "I think that might send a message."

In interviews with a dozen Paul voters from around the West, anti-administration sentiment rang loudest. Most were newly active in politics but had been regular Republican voters. They said their activism began with opposition to the Bush administration's foreign policy.

As newcomers, they expressed little party allegiance and little concern that their third-party votes could benefit Obama, a candidate even further from their views than McCain.

"The notion is, let's just break the GOP because the people who are running and holding office in it aren't respecting what the constituents want," said Jay Weeldreyer, a Paul field director in Renton, Wash. "So, if we can just let them suffer a massive loss, then maybe that will get through to them."

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Is John McCain Stupid?


Is John McCain losing it?

On Sunday, he said on national television that to solve Social Security "everything's on the table," which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 in Denver he said: "Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't."

This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation.

Recent remarks by John McCain has some Republicans stewing. Wonder Land columnist Dan Henninger of the WSJ Editorial page talks with Kelsey Hubbard about McCain's need for a new strategy to beat Barack Obama. (July 31)

He got back to the subject Tuesday in Reno, Nev. Reporters asked about the Sunday tax comments. Mr. McCain replied, "The worst thing you could do is raise people's payroll taxes, my God!" Then he was asked about working with Democrats to fix Social Security, and he repeated, "everything has to be on the table." But how can . . .? Oh never mind.

Yesterday he was in Aurora, Colo., to wit: "On Social Security, he [Sen. Obama] wants to raise Social Security taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes."

What I'm asking is, does John McCain have the mental focus, the intellectual discipline, to avoid being out-slicked by Barack Obama, if he isn't abandoned by his own voters?

It's not just taxes. Recently the subject came up of Al Gore's assertion that the U.S. could get its energy solely from renewables in 10 years. Sen. McCain said: "If the vice president says it's doable, I believe it's doable." What!!?? In a later interview, Mr. McCain said he hadn't read "all the specifics" of the Gore plan and now, "I don't think it's doable without nuclear power." It just sounds loopy.

[Is John McCain Stupid?]

Then this week in San Francisco, in an interview with the Chronicle, Sen. McCain called Nancy Pelosi an "inspiration to millions of Americans." Notwithstanding his promises to "work with the other side," this is a politically obtuse thing to say in the middle of a campaign. Would Bill Clinton, running for president in 1996 after losing control of the House, have called Newt Gingrich an "inspiration"? House Minority Leader John Boehner, facing a 10-to-20 seat loss in November, must be gagging.

The one thing -- arguably the only thing -- the McCain candidacy has going for it is a sense among voters that they don't know what Barack Obama stands for or believes. Why then would Mr. McCain give voters reason to wonder the same thing about himself? You're supposed to sow doubt about the other guy, not do it to yourself.

Yes, Sen. McCain must somehow appeal to independents and blue-collar Hillary Democrats. A degree of pandering to the center is inevitable. But this stuff isn't pandering; it's simply stupid. Al Gore's own climate allies separated themselves from his preposterous free-of-oil-in-10-years whopper. Sen. McCain saying off-handedly that it's "doable" is, in a word, thoughtless.

Speaker Pelosi heads a House with a 9% approval. To let her off the hook before the election reflects similar loss of thought.

The forces arrayed against Sen. McCain's candidacy are formidable: an unpopular president, the near impossibility of extending Republican White House rule for three terms, the GOP trailing in races at every level, a listless fundraising base, doubtful sentiments about the war, a flailing economy.

The generic Democratic presidential candidate should win handily. Barack Obama, though vulnerable at the margin, is a very strong candidate. This will be a turnout election. To win, Mr. McCain needs every Republican vote he can hold.

Why make it harder than it has to be? Given such statements on Social Security taxes, Al Gore and the "inspirational" Speaker Pelosi, is there a reason why Rush Limbaugh should not spend August teeing off on Mr. McCain?

Why as well shouldn't the Obama camp exploit all of this? If Sen. Obama's "inexperience" is Mr. McCain's ace in the hole, why not trump that by asking, "Does Sen. McCain know his own mind?"

* * *

In this sports-crazed country, everyone has learned a lot about what it takes to win. They've heard and seen it proven repeatedly that to achieve greatness, to win the big one, an athlete has to be ready to "put in the work."

John McCain isn't doing that, yet. He's competing as if he expects the other side to lose it for him. Sen. McCain is a famously undisciplined politician. Someone in the McCain circle had better do some straight talking to the candidate. He's not some 19-year-old tennis player who's going to win the U.S. presidential Open on raw talent and the other guy's errors. He's not that good.

There is a reason the American people the past 100 years elevated only two sitting senators into the White House -- JFK and Warren Harding. It's because they believe most senators, adept at compulsive compromise, have no political compass and will sell them out. Now voters have to do what they prefer not to. Yes, Sen. McCain has honor and country. Another month of illogical, impolitic remarks and Sen. McCain will erase even that. Absent a coherent message for voters, he will be one-on-one with Barack Obama in the fall. He will lose.

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Make McCain Disavow His Dishonest Obama Ad

When McCain Attacks
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McCain's 1968 Heroism Can't Excuse His 2008 McCarthyism

Pundits on the talks shows say that the '08 election is all about Barack Obama: Can he pass the commander-in-chief test and avoid gaffes and reassure white voters? The burden is always put on him.

But another question is whether John McCain can pass the character test. So far, he's failing.

What? A bona fide war hero and POW survivor is being questioned about character?

Well, yes. It's time that McCain's acolytes and the mainstream media stopped assuming that his
extraordinary military service nearly 40 years ago gives him immunity to questions about being President today in a different century.

First, there is the unpleasant fact that in the past week McCain has sounded more like McCarthy in his patriotism-baiting of Obama. When he repeatedly says that Obama for political reasons "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," he's imputing a political motive than he can't know, doesn't know, and is contradicted by the available evidence.

Agree with Obama's Iraq policies or not, surely he's been consistently opposed to our invasion and occupation of a country that didn't attack us, dating from the speech he gave in 2002 -- of course before he was a U.S. Senator or presumptive Democratic nominee.

Bluntly, what McCain is doing is a familiar trope -- from tail gunner Joe to Richard Nixon's "positive polarization" to Bush 41's campaigning in flag factories against a guy with a foreign-sounding last name to Bush 43's "with us or with the terrorists" rhetoric after 9/11. Divide and conquer.

This is especially unconvincing since Obama's policies are essentially the same as those held by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission, nearly all Senate Democrats -- and McCain himself, who told Wolf Blitzer that Obama's 16-month withdrawl timeline might be acceptable.

Do Senators Clinton, Biden, Hagel, Kennedy etc. too want America to lose a war, or do they simply disagree with McCain's judgment?

Second, this line of personal attack is one of numerous examples of McCain's Zig-Zag Express. When it comes to flip-flopping, McCain recently has made John Kerry (falsely accused of this) look like the Rock of Gibraltar.

For years MCain impressively built up his popular "maverick" brand, attacking the far right on a variety of issues. But in frequent 180 degree turns, now he instead supports tax cuts for the rich, panders to the religious right, opposes affirmative action and votes against anti-torture rules for the CIA. Exactly who is shifting positions for political reasons?

McCain said two months ago that he wanted to run a "civil campaign" free of personal attacks. Now he all but accuses Obama of being unpatriotic, nearly treasonous. His recent ad asserting that Obama refused to visit troops because he couldn't bring cameras along and chose to go to the gym instead is, well, a lie., the Washington Post and the New York Times have analyzed the facts and said as much. But it plays into McCain's strategy that he's a "real American President," as one of his first ads unsubtly put it.

Normally, when a Republican presidential candidate wants to "swift boat" an opponent, he winks at third party groups to do it for him -- like the ads spotlighting Willie Horton in 1988 (which we now know that Bush 41's Lee Atwater helped coordinate) or those by veterans falsely attacking Kerry's war record, which McCain rightly and courageously condemned. Yet here it's McCain himself who is personally swift-boating Obama in a dishonorable and desperate attempt to trip up the leading candidate. He's engaging in the tactics that he deplored.

But as Ann Coulter knows, sometimes a narrative is too lucrative or compelling not to use even if it's untrue. So a campaign full of Karl Rove proteges will continue the story of McCain as patriotic and Obama as a combination of Lennon and Lenin. Until two things happen.

First, the national media needs to start covering McCain's sleazy tactics and repeated lies as often, say, as they covered Rev. Wright. That shouldn't take the courage of a Murrow, only reporters who won't let McCain continue to hide under his hero halo anymore.

And second, while Obama should and will stay calm in the face of personal, contrived assaults, he can't and won't accept Pat Buchanan's convenient suggestion to me in a Hardball debate and to others -- i.e., just ignore it. Democrats learned from Gore and Kerry, as Mark Twain informed us, that "a lie gets half way around the world before truth puts on her boots." So while Obama himself stays cool, his campaign and surrogates and ads have to bludgeon McCain not on personal attributes but on policy flaws -- on his unpopular plans on Iraq, social security, oil giveaways, global warming, tax fairness, mortgage fraud, on being George Bush's poodle. If McCain insists on telling lies about Obama, the Obama Team should respond by telling the truth about him.

Start with the truth that a maverick has morphed into a McCarthy -- and that the honorable McCain of 2000 wouldn't vote for the angry McCain of 2008.

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The Times' Distorted Professor Obama

Today's New York Times features a lengthy story by Jodi Kantor about Obama's time as a teacher at the University of Chicago Law School. Since I took a class from Obama in the mid-1990s on "Race, Racism, and the Law," I thought I could offer some insights into Obama, and what this article gets wrong. Although the article offers some interesting insights, it also distorts Obama's past and tries to attack Obama's candidacy by using his experiences at the University of Chicago as a way to confirm many of the false assertions made about Obama: that he's a politician who doesn't stand for anything, that he's an aloof elitist, that he only pretends to listen to opposing viewpoints.

The author even tries to smear Obama as someone who taught law school with an eye toward his own political ambitions:

Mr. Obama’s years at the law school are also another chapter — see United States Senate, c. 2006 — in which he seemed as intently focused on his own political rise as on the institution itself.

It's not even clear what this means, but it seems to suggest that Obama's careful, thoughtful approach as a teacher and colleague in the law school was all a guise he used to avoid taking positions which, presumably, he feared might be dug up a decade later by reporters investigating his presidential campaign. This notion is, of course, thoroughly insane. What the author should have concluded is that Obama's years at the University of Chicago Law School show without a doubt that Obama's careful, thoughtful approach to issues today is not a centrist political cop-out; instead, it's a fundamental intellectual approach that Obama followed long before he ever sought political office.

According to Kantor:

Now, watching the news, it is dawning on Mr. Obama’s former students that he was mining material for his political future even as he taught them.

This is a particularly odd comment, suggesting that Obama was simply using his students as a way to prepare for his political ambitions. In reality, Obama as teacher and Obama as politician was inspired in both roles by certain values and thinkers, and it's no surprise to see similarities.

There's a particularly offensive attempt to dismiss Obama as an affirmative-action hire given a job solely because of his race:

Mr. Obama had impressed Mr. McConnell with editing suggestions on an article; on little more than that, the law school gave him a fellowship, which amounted to an office and a computer, which he used to write his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” The school had almost no black faculty members, a special embarrassment given its location on the South Side.

Let me assure you, it takes a lot more than that to embarrass most of the University of Chicago faculty. They have been thoroughly comfortable with the idea of an overwhelmingly white faculty teaching overwhelmingly white students about the law in an impoverished black neighborhood. Obama wasn't hired because he was black; he was hired because he was smart, and having been the president of the Harvard Law Review is a major qualification. It's routine for hiring to be made based on a personal connection, and Obama was given some office space with the hope that he would teach there in the future. I've taken classes with Michael McConnell, and although I disagree with his very conservative views, he's not somebody who goes around making cynical quota hires. The University of Chicago faculty hire whomever they want, and there is no real pressure to create diversity.

The New York Times article also tries to dismiss Obama's willingness to listen to other viewpoints as just an act:

The Chicago faculty is more rightward-leaning than that of other top law schools, but if teaching alongside some of the most formidable conservative minds in the country had any impact on Mr. Obama, no one can quite point to it. “I don’t think anything that went on in these chambers affected him,” said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. “His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he’s always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he’s never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings.”

Epstein is someone who regards intellectual debate as a physical sport, and Obama's thoughtful personality is the exact opposite of Epstein. I think the problem was that too many of the faculty, including Epstein, never really listened to Obama, or many other people who didn't shout their views out.

There are plenty of ways that Obama was influenced by the University of Chicago faculty. One is understanding that laws with noble intentions can have unintended consequences. A second is the complicated view of rationality that more modern aspects of the Chicago School have embraced. Unlike the Milton Friedman origins of the Chicago School of Economics, which turned every datum into an argument for the unregulated free market, the newer version of the Chicago School emphasizes the role of irrationality and the place of government in addressing these flaws. Obama has been influenced by its liberal (Sunstein) and centrist (Goolsbee) proponents.

However, there are many other ways in which Obama recognized the limitations of the University of Chicago approaches. As someone who was out in the trenches, he never accepted the ivory tower theorizing as superior to the facts on the ground.

Indeed, Obama probably learned a great deal from recognizing the flaws of his colleagues rather than swallowing their ideas wholesale. Obama embodies the University of Chicago ethic of asking "What's your evidence?" far better than most Chicago professors.

According to Kantor,

he was always slightly apart from it, leaving some colleagues feeling a little cheated that he did not fully engage.

To the contrary, Obama greatly benefitted the law school by being someone who was engaged, with the real world. The problem was that his ivory tower colleagues weren't very interested in the world of politics.

Yet Kantor writes,

Because he never fully engaged, Mr. Obama “doesn’t have the slightest sense of where folks like me are coming from,” Mr. Epstein said. “He was a successful teacher and an absentee tenant on the other issues."

I very much doubt this. Richard Epstein is an over-the-top libertarian, and his views are very consistently, and loudly, expressed at every opportunity. I think Obama, like me and everybody else, figured Epstein out very quickly. Personally, I enjoy Epstein and his machine-gun-mouth spewing out oddball ideas all the time. But Epstein is never really interested in finding out where other people are coming from, and certainly not interested in changing his mind about anything. He's exactly the kind of person Obama would tend to ignore, the ideologue with a passion only for hearing himself. Epstein was annoyed that Obama never played his intellectual mind games, and instead sought to make real changes in the political world.

The article is also insulting toward Obama's students, calling some of them "groupies" and declaring that "Liberals flocked to his classes, seeking refuge."

Refuge? Maybe some liberals like the idea of a professor whose ideas weren't as crazy as the usual right-wingers, but the truth is that there were many progressives teaching at the law school when Obama was there, and most of the conservative professors were very tolerant of liberal thinkers, too. The appeal of Obama, more than any other professor, was his ability to listen to different points of views in a serious way, and yet still move students in the direction of understanding the law. That's precisely what makes Obama so powerful as a politician: He has the ability to listen to people who disagree with him, and yet still move people in a more progressive direction. That may be the most important skill Obama honed in his years at the University of Chicago.

I don't want to give the impression that this article is entirely negative. There are many positive aspects of Obama reported in the article.

Mr. Obama had a disarming touch. He did not belittle students; instead he drew them out, restating and polishing halting answers, students recall.

But overall, Kantor takes the overwhelmingly positive comments about Obama's years at Chicago and tries to twist them into a negative portrayal. Consider this quote:

In what even some fans saw as self-absorption, Mr. Obama’s hypothetical cases occasionally featured himself. “Take Barack Obama, there’s a good-looking guy,” he would introduce a twisty legal case.

Here the author of the article misinterprets Obama's self-deprecating humor as arrogance and "self-absorption," part of the "elitist" motif being used against Obama, and uses some anonymous "fans" to justify it. I find it hard to believe that multiple students brought up these jokes by Obama to attack him. Obviously, you can see why Obama has been forced to play down his sense of humor in the campaign, because the mainstream press simply can't understand a joke with this kind of subtlety.

The article hints at Obama's "budding political caution" as a reason why he didn't loudly proclaim his views in class, once again pushing the narrative of Obama as a typical politician unwilling to stand for anything. Kantor's article repeatedly tries to falsely smear Obama as indecisive and political:

When two fellow faculty members asked him to support a controversial antigang measure, allowing the Chicago police to disperse and eventually arrest loiterers who had no clear reason to gather, Mr. Obama discussed the issue with unusual thoughtfulness, they say, but gave little sign of who should prevail — the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure, or the community groups that supported it out of concern about crime. “He just observed it with a kind of interest,” said Daniel Kahan, now a professor at Yale

Really? Perhaps it was a case of Obama trying to be polite and listen to two faculty he disagreed with, or simply his willingness to hear about a novel proposal. But it's simply false to suggest that Obama never took a stand. To the contrary, in the Illinois Senate Obama did the opposite of what a pandering politician would be expected to do: He refused to accept the attack on individual rights in the name of going after gangs.

Obama voted against a proposal to criminalize contact with a gang for any convicts on probation or out on bail. And in 2001, Obama opposed making gang activity eligible for the death penalty: "There's a strong overlap between gang affiliation and young men of color.... I think it's problematic for them to be singled out as more likely to receive the death penalty for carrying out certain acts than are others who do the same thing." Defending the violation of rights of gang members hardly fits with the story of the wavering Obama being created in this article.

The New York Times article concludes with this dismissive comment:

So even some former students who are thrilled at Mr. Obama’s success wince when they hear him speaking like the politician he has so fully become. “When you hear him talking about issues, it’s at a level so much simpler than the one he’s capable of,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “He was a lot more fun to listen to back then.”

This seems to be an attempt to attack Obama by dismissing him as just another elitist politician speaking down to the American people. During the campaign, Obama often spoke at a serious intellectual level. But whenever he did so, the media ignored him, or attacked him. It's because of the dumbed-down press coverage of issues that Obama has to simplify what he says. But if Obama wasn't running a University of Chicago law class at a higher intellectual level than what the general public hears from the press, he wouldn't be doing his job. Far from being a reason to condemn him, this should be the clearest evidence yet of Obama's skills as president. The current guy in the Oval Office turned out to reveal all of his intellectual abilities in his folksy campaigning style, and the result has been a disaster for the country.

We desperately need a president who's smarter than the average American. And we desperately need a media willing to report the truth about candidates without trying to spin the story against them in a way that badly distorts reality.

Original here

McCain Campaign Denies Report Of Plan To Attack Obama If He Visited Troops

The McCain campaign has denied the report from Business Week that the campaign had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the troops in Germany. The Business Week reporter is backing away a bit from his original report since he cannot find a secondary source:

Given the McCain campaign's vehement denials about ever discussing an ad/messaging strategy that would have bashed Sen. Barack Obama for visiting wounded troops in Germany this month [The New Normal: McCain's Desperate Ad Hours], I thought it fair to hear in detail the McCain campaign's explanation, and to go back to my original source for elaboration. I also sought, unsuccessfully, to find secondary sources to back up my original source.

I spent quite a while on the phone with Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain campaign.

The McCain campaign insists that no conversations took place about ads or campaign communication that would have cast Senator Obama in a bad light for visiting the troops while on a campaign trip about which the McCain campaign has been highly critical...

...I went back to my original source with whom I spoke last weekend to make sure I had understood what he was saying. He clarified that he'd heard about discussions of a possible ad, not literally that a script was in place. It may be worth noting that I originally called this source, an experienced GOP lobbyist and strategist, to ask him his viewpoint about the sharp turn the McCain campaign had taken in much more negative attacks on Obama. The information was not fed to me deliberately or proactively. However, I have not been able to find a secondary source to back up the original source. Subsequent calls to a couple of other sources today were greeted with a much greater sense of nervousness because of the intense scrutiny around this issue inside the McCain campaign.

This leaves me with little ammunition to buttress the original assertion, especially in the face of the fierce denials by the McCain campaign.

Read the updated Business Week post in full here.


Earlier Post: Straight talk in action: a Republican strategist tells BusinessWeek that John McCain was planning an attack ad against Barack Obama whether or not the Democrat visited wounded troops in Germany:

What the McCain campaign doesn't want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that's political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents--a lie.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that McCain's ad accusing Obama of not caring about the troops was not supported by facts.

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Overhaul Elevates Intelligence Director By SIOBHAN GORMAN

The White House is expected Thursday to unveil the largest overhaul of intelligence powers in a generation, spelling out the responsibilities of each intelligence agency in the wake of several reforms following the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to government officials familiar with the plans.

[George Bush]

President George W. Bush signed the executive order updating spy powers Wednesday, the officials said. Designed to bolster the power of the director of national intelligence, the revision has been a source of significant turf battles among intelligence agencies, which fear the rewrite of spy powers is coming at their expense.

Congress created the intelligence director's post as part of a series of intelligence reforms in 2004, but the extent of his authority has been a constant source of debate among intelligence officials and lawmakers.

The overhaul gives the intelligence director a greater role in hiring and firing agency heads, authority to remove barriers to intelligence sharing, and the responsibility for overseeing the acquisition of expensive programs such as new spy satellites, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It also hands the intelligence director more power to direct midlevel intelligence officers.

The revised order also gives the director the responsibility for developing policy governing relationships with foreign intelligence services, which had been handled primarily by the Central Intelligence Agency. Under the updated order, the CIA would be in charge of implementing the policy set by the intelligence director.

[Michael McConnell]

The order "clearly puts the [director of national intelligence] in charge," said Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.). The order "makes it harder for the intelligence-community agencies to resist" directives from the spy chief, added Rep. Harman, who was briefed Wednesday on the revised order. She helped craft the 2004 law that created the new intelligence-director post.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has been working on the rewrite for at least a year. Even after the intensive turf battles, intelligence officials said Wednesday that they were committed to working within the new rules.

Mr. McConnell's office referred questions to the White House, where spokesman Stuart Siciliano declined to comment.

The rewrite, which updates a Reagan-era policy, aims to bring spy powers in line with not only the creation of the director of national intelligence, but also a new law revising surveillance powers that was enacted this month.

The revised order states that the new law will be the only law that governs surveillance, in an attempt to quell the concerns of lawmakers who contend that Mr. Bush ignored the law when he authorized a warrantless-spying program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

It largely steered clear of prickly civil-liberties issues, according to officials briefed on the matter. The most significant change gives the attorney general a greater role in overseeing all domestic intelligence activities, which intelligence officials cast as an enhancement of privacy.

The revised order says covert action will be run by the National Security Council at the White House, carried out by the CIA and overseen by the intelligence director.

Some on Capitol Hill were frustrated that the administration kept Congress in the dark on this historic overhaul. "They did not consult Congress at all," said one congressional official.

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What is the real death toll in Iraq?

Judge Rules White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Bush's contention that senior White House advisers are immune from subpoenas, siding with Congress' power to investigate the executive branch and handing a victory to Democrats probing the dismissal of nine federal prosecutors.

The unprecedented ruling undercut three presidential confidants who have defied congressional subpoenas for information that Bush says is protected by executive privilege. Democrats swiftly announced they would schedule hearings in September, at the height of election season.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could soon vote on a contempt citation against one of the three officials, Karl Rove, formerly Bush's top adviser.

''It certainly strengthens our hand,'' she said of the ruling. ''This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress.''

That wasn't clear at all to the White House or Rove's attorney. Bush administration lawyers were reviewing the ruling and were widely expected to appeal. They also could seek a stay that would suspend any further congressional proceedings.

''We disagree with the district court's decision,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

With only a few months left in Bush's presidency, there appeared to be no sense of urgency to make the next move.

''I have not yet talked with anyone at the White House ... and don't expect that this matter will be finally resolved in the very near future,'' Rove attorney Robert Luskin said in an e-mail.

The case marked the first time Congress ever has gone to court to demand the testimony of White House aides.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there's no legal basis for Bush's argument that his former legal counsel, Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. The committee also has sought to force White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to release documents on any role the White House may have played in the prosecutor firings.

''Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,'' Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all nonprivileged documents related to the firings.

Bates, who was appointed to the bench by Bush, issued a 93-page opinion that strongly rejected the administration's legal arguments. He said the executive branch could not point to a single case in which courts held that White House aides were immune from congressional subpoenas.

''That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: The asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law,'' Bates wrote.

The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration's efforts to bolster the power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch. Disputes over congressional subpoenas are normally resolved through political compromise, not through the court system. Had Bush prevailed, it would have dramatically weakened congressional authority in oversight investigations.

That remains a risk, one Republican said.

''Unfortunately, today's victory may be short-lived,'' said Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. ''If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.''

Congressional Democrats called the ruling a ringing endorsement of the principle that nobody is above the law. Shortly after the ruling, the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees quickly demanded that the White House officials subpoenaed appear before their panels.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House panel, signaled that hearings would commence in September on the controversy that scandalized the Justice Department and led to the resignation of a longtime presidential confidant, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

''We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims,'' Conyers said in a statement. ''We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.''

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said, ''I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances.''

Between now and September, Congress will recess for five weeks of summer vacation. Bates scheduled a conference between the litigants on Aug. 27 to take stock of whether negotiations had moved forward, as he urged in his ruling. Congress then returns to a brief, three-week session before scattering to the campaign trail. All 435 House seats and a third of the Senate are up for grabs, as well as the presidency.

Republicans said there was little reason to rush to an accommodation, noting that subpoenas will expire at the end of the 110th Congress in January.

''I'm sure it will be appealed and it will go on into next year, and it will become a moot issue,'' said House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Several Democratic officials said they expected the subpoenas to be reissued in January if their party retains control of Congress in the November elections.

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Contempt for Rove

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, moving us one step closer to the truth, one step closer to restoring justice, and one step closer to preserving our democracy. It's a huge step forward, and I'm so thankful that the committee voted for contempt.

But now is not the time to celebrate -- now is the time to take action. The House Judiciary Committee is on the record, but now we need the full House of Representatives to vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt as well.

So I've launched an online advocacy campaign at where people can forward an email to their Members of Congress, urging them to take action -- and I'm asking you to join me. I need your help to speak out and urge the full House to do the right thing. Your action is critical. Timing is everything.

Please visit right now to forward an email to your Member of Congress today.

While I served as Governor of Alabama from 1999-2003 and thereafter, Karl Rove and his right-wing political cronies targeted me through a malicious, unfounded, politically-motivated prosecution. I served 9 months in federal prison before the appeals court released me. And now, Karl Rove refuses to testify before Congress about his role in this whole nefarious scheme.

That's outrageous. By ignoring a Congressional subpoena, Karl Rove has spit in the face of Congress and the American people. As Americans, we deserve to know the truth about how our Department of Justice was used by Karl Rove and his rogue band of political operatives as a political tool to win elections. Only Congress has the power to find the truth.

If Congress lets this politicization of the Department of Justice go unchecked and unpunished, then it could well become part of America's political culture and happen again in the future. Congress needs to keep digging until they get to the truth. Our democracy and system of justice have to be restored. The American people need to have confidence that this kind of outrageous abuse of power is at least less likely to happen in the future.

That truth-finding starts by having Karl Rove under oath before the Judiciary Committee. We the People must insist that Congress do its job and hold Karl Rove in contempt for failing to obey a subpoena. The house of cards will start to fall soon thereafter.

What would happen to the unemployed steel worker, the housewife, or the taxi cab driver who ignored a subpoena? I give you one guess: They would be behind bars. Karl Rove is not above the law, and Congress needs to make that plain and clear to Karl Rove and to everybody else.

Please visit right now to forward an email to your Member of Congress today.

Our democracy will cease to exist as we know it if the government is allowed to use its power to prosecute their political opponents. This fight is not about me but about saving our democracy and restoring justice in America.

That's why I'm asking you to write Congress today and urge them to act. When Congress holds Rove in contempt, the truth will begin to become exposed. This ball of string will come unraveled. The truth will be known.

I am in this fight not only for my own freedom but also to ensure that Karl Rove is held accountable for his sins.

Together, we can fight to get the full truth from Karl Rove and restore integrity to our system of justice. America deserves nothing less.

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EXCLUSIVE: To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them

Speaking at the Campus Progress journalism conference earlier this month, Seymour Hersh — a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist for The New Yorker — revealed that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in the Vice President’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran.

In Hersh’s most recent article, he reports that this meeting occurred in the wake of the overblown incident in the Strait of Hormuz, when a U.S. carrier almost shot at a few small Iranian speedboats. The “meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. ‘The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,’” according to one of Hersh’s sources.

During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected:

HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

Watch it:

Hersh argued that one of the things the Bush administration learned during the encounter in the Strait of Hormuz was that, “if you get the right incident, the American public will support” it.

“Look, is it high school? Yeah,” Hersh said. “Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.”


HERSH: There was a meeting. Among the items considered and rejected — which is why the New Yorker did not publish it, on grounds that it wasn’t accepted — one of the items was why not…

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.

And it was rejected because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. That’s the kind of — that’s the level of stuff we’re talking about. Provocation. But that was rejected.

So I can understand the argument for not writing something that was rejected — uh maybe. My attitude always towards editors is they’re mice training to be rats.

But the point is jejune, if you know what that means. Silly? Maybe. But potentially very lethal. Because one of the things they learned in the incident was the American public, if you get the right incident, the American public will support bang-bang-kiss-kiss. You know, we’re into it.

…What happened in the Gulf was, in the Straits, in early January, the President was just about to go to the Middle East for a visit. So that was one reason they wanted to gin it up. Get it going.

Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.

Original here

Federal judge rules Bush aides can be subpoenaed

Update: Pelosi says Rove contempt citation possible

President Bush's top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to question the president's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former legal counsel Harriet Miers, about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. But President Bush says they are immune from such subpoenas. They say Congress can't force them to testify or turn over documents.

U.S. District Judge John Bates disagreed. He said there's no legal basis for that argument. He said that Miers must appear before Congress and, if she wants to refuse to testify, she must do so in person.

"Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena," Bates wrote.

He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.

From the ruling:

"Indeed, the aspect of this lawsuit that is unprecedented is the notion that Ms. Miers is absolutely immune from compelled congressional process. The Supreme Court has reserved absolute immunity for very narrow circumstances, involving the President's personal exposure to suits for money damages based on his official conduct or concerning matters of national security or foreign affairs.

The Executive's current claim of absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law."

The Bush administration can appeal the ruling. The Justice Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

Update: Pelosi says Rove contempt citation possible

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a federal judge’s ruling that former White House counsel Harriet Miers has to appear before a congressional committee could pave the way for Congress approving a contempt citation against Karl Rove later in the day," Jared Allen reports for The Hill.

In her statement, Pelosi writes, "As public officials, we take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution seriously and today’s landmark ruling by the U.S. District Court is a great victory for the American people, the rule of law and balance of power. We must restore our nation’s fundamental system of checks and balances, and today’s ruling begins to restore that balance."

"As I told the House of Representatives in February when we passed the resolution authorizing this court case, congressional oversight is an institutional obligation to ensure against abuse of power," Pelosi continued. "And when there are credible allegations that law enforcement has been politicized, the need for congressional oversight is at its greatest. "

The Hill notes that "Pelosi said the ruling could give Congress a new impetus to hold Rove in contempt. Rove refused to respond to a subpoena requiring his appearance at a Judiciary hearing earlier this month on allegations of improper White House influence over the Justice Department."

"This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush Administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former Administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress," Pelosi's statement concludes.

Original here

Bush drug warrior crashes pot press conference

Nick Juliano

President Bush's drug warriors must really, really want to protect their ability to throw non-violent marijuana users in jail.

The White House sent at least three party crashers to a press conference Wednesday with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who has introduced a pot-decriminalization bill.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy's "chief scientist" and two aides who were dispatched to provide instant rebuttal to Frank and the bill's cosponsors, all of whom acknowledged that marijuana was likely to remain very much illegal in the foreseeable future.

Given the bill's essentially non-existent chances of passage, ONDCP's Dr. David Murray's impassioned arguments that seemed more appropriate in Reefer Madness were greeted with plenty of puzzled glances.

Why did the White House feel it necessary to send at least three staffers to Capitol Hill to place in every reporter's hand a copy of its 20-page, color-copied "2008 Marijuana Sourcebook?" RAW STORY posed this question to Murray.

"It is our responsibility to be aware of policy developments," said Murray, who clarified that he had a PhD and was not a medical doctor. He explained that Frank's attempt to modify the controlled substances act was very much of interest to the Bush administration's pot prohibitionists.

The Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia, who stuck around to listen to Murray's post-press conference diatribe, said he suspected ulterior motives behind the propagandistic pontificating.

"Nothing's going to happen on this before he loses his job," the decriminalization advocate said, acknowledging that Frank's bill won't move forward until at least next year, when President Bush -- and his appointees -- would be out of office. "This is him emptying the clip."

To its defenders, Frank's bill is a common sense move aimed at protecting letting states institute marijuana policies as they see fit, protecting patients in the dozen states that have legalized medical marijuana and generally telling the government to butt out of people's private lives. To its opponents...

"I don't think that it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time," Frank said of his bill, which would eliminate federal penalties for individual possession of up to 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of marijuana.

Frank's proposal is aimed only at decriminalizing individual possession, so it alone would not end raids by the Drug Enforcement Agency on medical marijuana dispensaries in states like California. Frank said he's authored separate medical marijuana legislation that he would introduce in concert with the individual bill.

Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) criticized the government for wasting billions of dollars on a "phony war on drugs" that's done virtually nothing to actually stop anyone from using drugs.

One presumes that some of those billions were spent on the glossy Office of Drug Control Policy report with the Dr. Strangelovian title, "Marijuana: The Greatest Cause of Illegal Drug Abuse." Naturally, if marijuana were decriminalized, that wouldn't be the case, but such nuance is lost on drug war defenders.

The press conference also featured marijuana defenders pointing out that the drug has caused none of its users to die, unlike alcohol and tobacco -- both of which are legal.

"We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers; this should be our policy with marijuana as well," said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The NORML representative was sporting a small gold marijuana leaf pin on his lapel, where miniature American flags are a more common Capitol Hill accessory.

Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said his decriminalization bill would fall under the purview of the House Judiciary Committee, which he hoped would hold hearings on the proposal next year. A Judiciary Committee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Asked specifically if he thought his bill would become law, Frank said more shifts in perception were needed first.

"The chances are not high at this point," the lawmaker said, a knowing chuckle letting the audience know his pun was very much intended.

The following video and the above photos were taken Wednesday by Nick Juliano.

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Judge orders White House to find, preserve e-mails

Tuesday, after concluding that some White House e-mails have not been properly preserved on back-up tapes, U.S. District Court Judge John M. Facciola ordered the Bush administration to locate the missing communications on portable devices and individual workstations.

In January, RAW STORY reported on a White House chart shown to Congress which claimed that for a period of 473 days, no e-mail was archived. The chart, which was not made public, directly conflicts with White House Spokesman Ton Fratto's claim that "we have absolutely no reason to believe that any e-mails are missing."

Additionally, e-mails from Vice President Dick Cheney's office went missing during a crucial period of time when he and aides were involved in stemming the tide of the Valerie Plame scandal. Likewise, a January report by the Associated Press found that some White House e-mail back-up tapes were reused.

While the judge did not order the Executive Office of the President to make forensic copies of the workstations in question, he did say that "there likely are e-mails not currently being preserved on back-up tapes."

"We are pleased that despite the White House's plea for reconsideration, the Magistrate Judge stood his ground and recommended that the White House be ordered to locate and preserve emails that may be missing from backup tapes but were saved on individual workstations and portable media devices," commented Sheila Shadmand, counsel for the Archive, in a published report. "Each of the Judge's recent rulings in our favor has brought us one step closer to ensuring that the documentary history of this Administration is not forever lost."

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Documents show Georgia's Secretary of State knew of Diebold patch

Georgia complained to Diebold about patch after election

On Dec. 3, 2002, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox’s office faxed documents to the then-president of Diebold Election Systems Bob Urosevich listing a series of issues that occurred shortly before the November 2002 election.

Documents provided to RAW STORY by a whistleblower close to Cox’s office show that one of the key problems Georgia officials were trying to resolve was related to an unauthorized patch installed on machines prior to the election.

In one document, Cox’s office asked Urosevich for confirmation that a “0808 patch was applied to all systems; confirmation that the patch was not grounds for requiring the system to be recertified at national and state level; as well as verifiable analysis of the overall impact of the patch to the voting system” (See attached pdf, p. 3)

Cox didn’t know prior to the election that a patch had been installed, the source said. Cox, who is now president of Young Harris College in Georgia, returned phone calls but could not be reached for comment by press time.

“People working for Diebold were told to keep this quiet so Cox would not find out,” the whistleblower said. “They knew she was in over her head and had come to completely rely on Diebold. They controlled the warehouse, the machines, and the certification. There were no state employees.”

Diebold renamed itself Premier Election Solutions in 2007. The company has come under fire on numerous occasions for failing to protect its software from hackers, and its systems have been decertified in California. Maryland's House of Delegates voted to ban the company from its electronic voting in 2006, though the law didn't pass the Senate and state is now considering Premier for their optical scan systems.

According to this individual, this was the patch that he then passed on to cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore. Spoonamore, a highly regarded computer security specialist who has worked for US government agencies, has since come forward claiming that he took the Diebold patch to the Department of Justice -- specifically to the Cyber-Security/Cyber-Crime unit of the Computer and Intellectual Property Section -- after it was brought to his attention.

Calls to the Department of Justice seeking confirmation that Spoonamore had delivered the Diebold patch were not returned.

Initially, the whistleblower said, there were no concerns or questions regarding the $54 million contract, for which Diebold beat out eight other firms, to install a statewide electronic voting system. It was only after certain “red flag” events occurred that people inside the Secretary of State’s office, as well as Diebold employees, began to have suspicions, he added.

What initially raised questions, according to the source, was the behavior of then-Diebold CEO, Bob Urosevich, who personally flew in from Texas and applied the patch in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds.

Another flag went up, this person added, when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock -- which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

The Secretary of State’s office became aware of this installation during the month after the November 2002 election, as the documents are dated Dec. 3. It's unclear how Cox handled the findings once she was made aware of the patch installation and other technical issues cited in the documents.

Questions raised about race and Diebold terminals

During the period between the election and the faxing of the documents to Diebold by Cox's office on December 3, critics of electronic voting had begun to raise questions about the Georgia race.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken only a week before the voting, lost 53 percent to 46 percent. Roy Barnes, the incumbent Democratic Governor, who had been leading challenger Sonny Perdue by a fairly wide margin of eleven points, lost 51 percent to 46 percent.

Cleland could not be reached for comment.

Calls and emails to Premier Election Solutions were not returned.

According to Georgia Election Law Title 21-2-322.16: “No voting machine shall be adopted or used unless it shall, at the time, satisfy the following requirements. ... It shall, when properly operated, register or record correctly and accurately every vote cast.”

The last-minute patch installation and the lack of official recertification may have rendered the 2002 GA results invalid.

The whistle-blower, who was close to Cox’s office at the time, says he was privy to the discussions surrounding the documents and was concerned by the electoral outcome. That led him to approach Spoonamore and ask him to examine the Diebold patch.

Security issues have plagued Diebold's software and machines. In 2006, researchers from the University of Connecticut demonstrated that the firm's optical scan terminals could be compromised. HBO's "Hacking Democracy," which studied the vulnerability of electronic voting machines -- with a particular focus on Diebold -- found that the terminals were subject to hacking and inaccurate vote totals.

In 2007, Diebold posted the photograph of a key used to open their machines on the company's website. Hackers were able to produce a duplicate key based on the photo.

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