a bottomless bucket of feel-good news

Project Censored:

"an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's major national news media."

Especially No Paper Trail Left Behind: "In order to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential election, you must also believe all of the following extremely improbable or outright impossible things: ..."

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24 Responses:

  1. dasht_brk says:

    The guy is pretty fast and loose with the phrase "improbable or outright impossible". Isn't that the same argument invoked for irreducible complexity and other forms of intelligent design argumentation? "Geeze, X sounds counter-intuitive to some people -- so X must be false!"


    • king_mob says:

      I can personally assure you that the city of Columbus, Ohio, and most of its outlying suburbs, which skew Democratic, was undersupplied with voting machines. Since the supply of voting machines was not a problem in 2000, and they used the same voting machines, I believe this was deliberate. I personally waited two hours to vote and many people waited longer. Therefore, I believe turnout was deliberately suppressed in a significant Democratic stronghold. I have no problem believing that the election of 2004 was stolen outright.

      • dasht_brk says:

        Can you provide links to the number of voters in those districts in 2000 vs. 2004 and comparisons of the number of machines deployed in each district in those two years? Those things should be public record. Also interesting would be the distribution of voters in each district over time throughout the day although I doubt anybody directly publishes those (you might be able to make some good guesses if you can find raw data from polling). Pollsters or obsevers might also have data about the number of people who can be judged to have been turned away due to long lines for both years.


        • king_mob says:

          Can you provide links to the number of voters in those districts in 2000 vs. 2004 and comparisons of the number of machines deployed in each district in those two years?

          Nah, I can't be bothered, what with you not actually reading them the last time you pounded on your highchair and demanded Teh Linkage. I dug up some of that stuff late last year, and could probably find it again, but I'll be damned if I'm going to take the time to do it unless someone asks who isn't a total piece of human garbage.

          • dasht_brk says:

            So, let's get this straight: You "assure" us there was deliberate sabotage of the vote, swinging the presidential election. I suggest to you some simple ways in which you could prove it. Your proof could easily win you a pulitzer. You could personally trigger the impeachment of a president you seem to hate. To the extent you believe your own "assurance", you should believe that the world is your oyster. Then when push comes to shove, you come back with that.

            Well, ok then.


            • rsheridan6 says:


              If you really wanted an answer, and weren't just engaging in sophistry and trying to waste somebody's time, you could have used the miracle of google and found it in a tenth of the time you spent fulminating.

              • dasht_brk says:

                See, those links tell me what I already knew: That after the election in 2004 there was a lot of speculation about fraud. That there was a lot of reporting on every little thing that looked like it might be fraud. That in the liberal press, the suspicions and reports of other people's reporting often went under sensationalist headlines. That the Kerry campaign as well as neutral parties dug in and tried hard to make a solid case for fraud that swung the outcome. That no substantial case was ever made in spite of the expert investigations. That the liberal press never reported the last fact, at least not with similar prominence. (Competing headlines: "Some people say man bit dog!" vs. "No, it turned out to be nothing -- turns out we just straight up lost")

                And yes, the links also add to the already overwhelming evidence that our voting systems and procedures are in a state of neglect and disrepair. People are right to be dissatisfied with them. This is not the same thing as saying the 2004 election was stolen.

                Paper ballots have some amazing properties. They are cheap enough that each precinct can be oversupplied with them easily. They are low tech enough that setting up a new booth, when suddenly swamped by long lines on voting day, can be accomplished with a folding table, some pieces of cardboard, some duct tape -- and enough election volunteers to monitor, count, and monitor counting.

                Being "on the left" should mean more than wailing ineffectually about past wrongs that didn't even obviously occur. The "progress" in "progressive" suggests that a coherent push for paper ballots would be a good cause. Since you like googling, why not find (or become) organizers pushing for that? Why not get involved?

                Meanwhile, it's at least worth considering the possibility that the democratic candidate lost the election all on his own, on the basis of the campaign he executed and the positions he offered. The alternative you're offering -- that right-wing spooks under the bed stole the election -- encourages the kind of cynicism that turns progressives away from the polls. There's your real instance of voter suppression.


                • rsheridan6 says:

                  One by one:
                  The mainstream media ("liberal press") did not make an issue of voter suppression/fraud. Nearly everything you'll read about this comes from lefty activists.

                  The Kerry campaign didn't make an issue of it or try to overturn the election either, much to the disappointment of said lefty activists.

                  Why is the voting process in disarray, as you say? The current ruling politicians (Republicans, both at the Federal and Ohio state level) have the power to fix it, and they've known about it since at least 2000, but they haven't done anything about it. Why not? Maybe they have an interest in the status quo.

                  Yes, paper ballots are a good idea, and liberals ARE in favor of them and ARE pushing for them (ineffectually, because liberals are currently out of power). Conservatives generally aren't. I can't think of any reason to oppose them unless you're out to commit fraud.

                  And stories of voter suppression may lead to cynicism, yes, but if it happened it happened. It does no good to bury your head in the sand.

                  • dasht_brk says:

                    "Yes, paper ballots are a good idea, and liberals ARE in favor of them and ARE pushing for them [....]"

                    Proposals and petitions to the federal government like Moveon's are non-starters on their face for multiple reasons, none of which have anything at all to do with right-wing conspiracy.

                    First, there is no Constitutional basis for the federal government to impose such a requirement, short of Constitutional amendment. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is shocking that Moveon.org would put forward the proposal in this form: have they no lawyers? Do none of their supporters read the Constitution? An enlightening page might be the History of the Voting System Standards program from the Federal Elections Commission. The keyword to watch for as you read the page is voluntary.

                    Second, it is misleading to describe Moveon's position as a call for a paper ballot voting system. Instead, it is a call for a mandate to require a paper trail from electronic voting machines, presumably for recount purposes. There is no scientific evidence that, absent an actual recount, such a paper trail contributes to the accuracy of vote counts at all. I question what evidence there is that these systems actually make fraud harder or that they lead to more accurate results when a recount is performed. (By contrast, in a true paper ballot system, the ballot box can be directly *observed* by adversarial humans to prevent tampering and the procedures are such that stuffing, alteration, and suppression can be rendered impossible by that observation.)

                    Third, the proposed requirement would create significant new expenses for voting districts: equipment purchase and maintenance, training, and the need for additional redundancies when equipment fails on election day. (Moveon graciously offers to minimize the redundancy expenses by asking the federal government to illegally mandate a back-up system of paper ballots in districts using electronic terminals.) California has had some experience in that area: a state-wide mandate to require (still dubious) paper backup output from electronic terminals had to be delayed because local voting districts couldn't afford them in time.

                    Enough already. A simple paper-ballot voting system (check off boxes, have ballots counted by humans with adversarial observers, etc.) is the least Rube Goldberg-esque, most securable proposal going. No federal law blocks it. No state laws that I know of block it. Done right it should be just about the least expensive option. The right place to advocate for it is at the local and state level -- isn't that the kind of thing Moveon.org is supposed to be perfect for? It's a hard challenge. One needs to begin by looking at the reasons why people moved away from such systems in the first place, why they think they've stayed away (expense, speed of results), and what ancillary benefits they think they get (accessibility). One needs to find out who the key decision makers are and what their investment is (expertise-based job security, etc.). One needs to find a bank of solid thinkers and calm speakers to be available for public meetings, private meetings with officials, petition writing :-), and marketing (er... public education).

                    It's hard but such is the price of liberty.

                    If we're going to contemplate conspiracies, which do you prefer as an explanation for Moveon's idiotic petition: (a) none of them contemplated the Constitutional issues; (b) their goal is to "embarrass" the president and republican controlled senate by getting lots of people to petition for something they lack the power to do; (c) they are closet right-wingers, trying to sap energy from progressive causes by distracting people?


                  • jwz says:

                    Dear <lj user="dasht_brk">: Please shut the fuck up now. I'm sure you're having a grand old time and the bottom of the pile of people jumping all over you every time you post this crap in my journal, but I'm sick of it. Go fight with your playmates somewhere else.

            • king_mob says:

              So, let's get this straight: You "assure" us there was deliberate sabotage of the vote, swinging the presidential election.

              I guess I wasn't very clear about that part. I live there. I voted there in 2000 and again in 2004. I'm "claiming" nothing -- this is stuff I saw.

        • tiger0range says:

          good God, are you too retarded to support your counters with your own research?

          Do your own leg-work.

          • harryh says:

            First Rule of Debate: he who asserts must prove.

            The prima facie argument is that the election was fair, after all, we've been holding (more or less) democratic elections for 225 years. You wanna say 2004 (or 2000) was stolen, the burden of proof is on you, not the other way around.

            • tiger0range says:

              Perhaps you need to check your reading comprehension. The proof was already in the comment. It was a personal observation.

              The response was reasonable in that it raised questions about the validity of the observation in comparison to actual overall situation. Where the responder was a complete bonehead was that s/he wanted the origional commenter to come and provide data (for or against) HIS/HER ASSERTION!

              It's pretty obviouse that the responder did this because simply calling it an anecdote would have been all he actually could legitimately say, but this would be a weaker position than the original commentator because all he has shown is the inherent weakness, whaich most people can already tell.

              The responder goes one step farther in implying that the original commentator did in fact assert a global fact and demanding proof. Something he did not do. That's just plain moronic, or if deliberate sneaky and underhanded.

              Sorry to say, but you do the same. So learn a little reading comprehension and to argue with one specific person at a time. Otherwise, learn to support your global statements yourself.

          • dasht_brk says:

            Thank you for searching for some data. That's cute but it doesn't actually speak to the claim made by king_mob. Moreover, the bar graph is rather misleading (why does "y axis" start at 190 rather than 0)?

            While in the second graph there is a difference in voter-raised issues, that doesn't say much. Did you look at the list of complaints? Are you considering that the pre-vote publicity to inspire people to register such complaints was already party-biased?

            Look, friends, I'm against computers in voting *at all* except as an accessibility tool to help people fill out paper ballots. But there's nothing in that position that justifies the level of tin-foil-hat conspiracy mongering and abuse of statistics we're seeing here.


            • king_mob says:

              FTR, Ohio didn't use computer voting.

            • lherrera says:

              why does "y axis" start at 190 rather than 0)?

              Are you kidding? I see why you object statistical arguments.

              • dasht_brk says:

                Visually, the graph suggests a far greater disparity in the voter/machine ratios than there actually was. A difference of 37 voters per machine, spread over the prime voting hours, isn't all that much.

                There were some isolated horror stories in Ohio voting lines, no doubt. I'll even accept that these are skewed towards traditionally Democratic precincts. There's a long way to go from there to a bogus overall result, let alone one that was engineered by a conspiracy.


            • strspn says:

              Since you are such a shrewd statistician, then please opine as to the probable winner of Ohio had each precinct had the same proportion of human and equipment resources per active voter.

              I say Kerry, by at least 150,000.

              Then the historical context of that distribution is what makes this situation criminal. It used to be that Ohio was much more egalitarian on a per-voter basis. But, as the Republican CEO of Diebold said, they were committed to delivering Ohio for Bush.

              The Voting Rights Act be damned!

              When the race riots come, or the rich start getting fragged, don't say I didn't tell you.

              • dasht_brk says:

                Since you are such a shrewd statistician, and are so certain there is provable racial vote supression, please by all means bring suit taking advantage of the 1982 amendments to section 2. If you know what you say you know, you would be irresponsible not to do so.


  2. bifrosty2k says:

    I'll have to check it out, I wonder if they cover the Sandy Burger document stealing fiasco.

  3. freiheit says:

    I wonder how my server will fair its annual slashdotting this year... Actually, slashdot certainly leads to the sharpest upward inflection in the annual thrashing, but all the links from every other conceivable media outlet in existence help keep the beatings going for days...

    It wouldn't be so bad if we could just get them down to an under 100K page instead of their crazy huge over 350K page with 17 images... Too bad I have no influence over them.

    (yes, the server that hosts projectcensored.org (and a bunch of other university sites) is one that I'm the primary sysadmin for)