Thursday, January 31, 2008


The Derb continues to speak the language of our own Ben Novak, and donates on top of that!

- Allan

Compare and Contrast

Are both good compare and contrast charts on the candidates.
- Allan
(Blue Island, IL)

Tribune Voter's Guide and the blackout

It's neat that the Chicago Tribune put out a voter's guide like this to compare and contrast candidates. Before you watch this, guess which two candidates do not have specially added American flags flying throughout there entire videos?

The more I think about it, the more I start to realize that folks in the media are as ignorant of Ron Paul as some people I encounter. The difference is, the folks I encounter I get to ask "Well, how does that candidate address the issues that are important to you?" The folks in the media probably don't get asked that by anyone, and when I encounter them and ask that, they say "Well, I do not lean toward any candidate, I am impartial." Some of the news coverage on Ron Paul would suggest a lack of critical reading of the coverage prior to it being released.

Before coming here, I was prepared for something that whiny Ron Paul supporters would refer to as a "media blackout." I was shocked by what I found. The man is really almost never mentioned in the media. NO ONE who has not been diligently following the elections has heard of the man.

Maybe there is no grand conspiracy to keep Ron Paul out of the media. Maybe there is no pressure from editors to keep Ron Paul out of the media. Maybe our highly trained and experienced journalists are just all too impartial to have their own viewpoints and are just too stupid to be able to reduce the man to anything, but meaningless soundbites when they do cover him.

I'm not quite sure what the story is.

Lew Rockwell posts the following:

The Media Blackout Against Ron Paul

Posted by Lew Rockwell at 09:23 AM

A famous journalist (and wonderful writer) for a famous print publication calls a friend to say that "You would not believe the pressure all across the media not to write about Ron Paul, unless it is something quirky. I am ashamed to say my own editor is part of the blackout."

RedditDigg thisStumble ItShout ItShare on FacebookSave to del.icio.usDiscuss on Newsvine

I wish you all a good day. - Allan

Don't be ignorant

There's an undeserved strain of doubt among some Ron Paul supporters and I'd like to take the time to dispel that.

If anyone who reads this speaks the words "Does Ron Paul really have a chance?" I want you to not repeat that to others, because you will only look uneducated in the face of the educated.

As a favor to you, I'd like to ask you to go do your homework on the roll of straw polls/presidential preference polls/beauty contests (as they are referred to officially in Illinois) v. delegate selection.

The candidate who believes in the importance of the state government is, not surprisingly, running a campaign, focussed on the details of each state's electoral system.

I'm not being hopeful that his campaign can come alive; I'm not saying that he will win. What I am saying is that RON PAUL IS A FRONT RUNNER. His strategy of capturing delegates has been successful. If he continues that same strategy in 44 more states, he will be formidable in St. Paul in September.

Ron Paul is a front runner for the GOP nomination. Anyone who tells you otherwise:
1.) Doesn't understand the riles of election law in the US
2.) Is lying to you.

Will he go all the way? I don't know.
Does he have a chance? I don't know. That is where my hope comes into play, but as far as the facts of the matter, he is at present, a front runner in the race.

From that one can logically follow that he has a chance, despite the many unknowns, but I will refrain from going down that path because that is simply a path of conjecture. Let's stick with what we know to be verifiably true: Ron Paul is a front runner.

writing from Blue Island, IL

January 30

Today I did lots of phoning and followed up the phone calls with emails. These calls were done from home, something that makes me long for the group chemistry generated at the phone bank in New Hampshire. Still there was some degree of group chemistry generated from the phone calls - one Ron Paul supporter calling another Ron Paul supporter and just asking for them to get out there and cover their precincts.

I liked receiving this email today from Florida:

I wanted to share my experience canvassing here in Broward County, South Florida.

As you know, Dr. Paul took 3% of the vote yesterday in Florida. A friend and I signed up on the campaign's website to be a precinct leader, and took it upon ourselves to canvass 13 precincts in Broward County. I'm proud to report that in the precincts that we canvassed, Dr. Paul came in second to John McCain.

That's right; Dr. Paul beat Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee. This happened with almost NO media coverage of Dr. Paul. It's particularly noteworthy, because Broward County is a stronghold of Rudy Giuliani.

We know of other Dr. Paul supporters in Broward County who were waving Dr. Paul's signs, but they did not do that well in their precincts. Sign waving does NOT get votes, BUT PRECINCT WORK DOES GET VOTES!!! Please do the precinct work in your area so that Dr. Paul will win. God Bless You

A few of us will get together Friday night for another push to get precinct leaders organized for Saturday. So far that push is going stupendously. Saturday will be a big day. It will be the last complete day of canvassing before the election. Sunday will be a Sunday, as well as the Super Bowl, Monday will be a work day, and then we have Super Tuesday.

Tomorrow night, I will head down to the newly established Loop office, set up by my friends Tim and Mark and myself. We will likely be listening to the precinct leader conference call there on speaker-phone together as we did last week.

Tonight's debate was a real waste of my time, but I would have to say that I was giddy when the last question was asked. Ron Paul sat patiently after being overlooked and interrupted by Andersen Cooper. Cooper even lied to when him when he promised Ron Paul would have plenty of time later. Like a gentleman, Ron Paul accepted this. Through all of the Romney-McCain bickering the phrase "The house that Reagan built" was used twice by Romney and the self-congratulatory phrase "a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution" was used twice by McCain. I imagine somewhere in some poll, tying yourself to Reagan was understood to be a good vote getter. The last question of the night was something like "If given the chance, why would Ronald Reagan endorse you?" Well, Ronald Reagan actually endorsed Ron Paul. With all of the meaningless invoking of Reagan's name, I liked that at the end of the night, Paul got one meaningful statement in which he, unlike the toads, could say that Reagan campaigned for him in '78, and in which he could say that Reagan to Ron Paul's face, praised the gold standard. I have not looked into Reagan's presidency enough to either like or dislike the man, but in his own, humble way, Paul beat the toads at their own game tonight.

After three consecutive days inside the house, recruiting precinct captains throughout the state (likely the most effective thing I can be doing for the campaign right now, and something I'm quite good at) I look forward to being around other Ron Paul supporters tomorrow evening. As far as face time goes, it's been a less than social three days in the r3V0Lution, and a little cabin fever is setting in in the -22 F (-30 C) weather. As far as communication goes, I've met some amazing people on the phone - lawyers young and old, businessmen experienced and startups, students from my alma mater, U of Illinois, and professors, Union workers on the job, Union guys laid up from injury, housewives, working women, grandmothers, the infirm, truckers, security guards, activists, and the shy. Lots of neat people. Three folks so far have even had Ron Paul advertisements on their cell phone voice mail messages.

Despite the feeling of being surrounded by great people in the phone bank in Concord, NH, after 4 or 5 hours of that anyone would get antsy. In which case we would look for someone who would want to go distribute copies of the US Constitution for half an hour. Then, we would go out, and try to engage anyone we saw in a discussion on the US Constitution and how they were voting. Almost always, the other person was excited to be part of the talk. Often, a Ron Paul voter would emerge from the discussion. The intensive phone time was helped along when broken up by some face to face time. I should make a point of remembering that for tomorrow when cabin fever sets in. It'll be a good break in the environmental monotony of calling on the phone and wearing my pajamas until 2 pm that doesn't fit the excitement of what is happening over the phone. Tomorrow, I will break more often, and make sure that I do not prematurely tire of the cool stuff that I am doing, just because I'm not varying the scenery enough.

What have I been doing all day? Talking to other Americans. And man am I having a damn good time with it.

Blue Island, IL

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

War on Terror

Check out this embarrassing statistic from a 60 Minutes interview with the assistant director of the FBI:

It is an accomplishment made possible by Piro’s language skills, Persichini says, noting that out of 10,000 FBI agents, only about 50 speak Arabic. "We’re out recruiting aggressively in our Middle Eastern communities I think it's very important that we mirror the demographics of society today in the war on terror its imperative that we’re out recruiting and hiring Arabic speaking agents and linguists," he explains.

If this troubles you, I'd like you to consider signing up for this organization:

(sorry that I was not able to find this on the internet in a place that I could link to, so I have put the whole text here)

- Allan
(writing from Blue Island, IL)

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h
Change the environment. Recruit more Downsizers. Share this with others.

Quote of the Day:

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies."
— attributed to Groucho Marx (in various versions)

Subject: Numbers that matter

More than 1,000 new people have joined in January. This is more than we recruited in any single month all last year. We're off to a great start. Thank you to those who helped spread the word, and welcome to all the new members of our Downsize DC Army. Your membership is important because . . .

We aim to change America's intellectual environment. We aim to grow so large that we can . . .
  • Make the Downsizing message heard by everyone, everywhere, every day
  • Apply relentless, irresistible, resistance-numbing pressure on Congress and the media
The 1,000+ new people who've joined this month are a big step in that direction. But there's also another number that matters . . .

So far this month we've sent more than 43,000 messages to Congress, asking them to obey the Constitution and downsize the federal government. If we can send just 4,000 more in the next two days, we'll eclipse our best month from 2007. So here's yet another number to help us do that . . .

The number is 50.

It was revealed on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday that only 50 out of 10,000 FBI agents can speak Arabic.

We have supposedly been in a "war on terror" for more than 6 years now, fought mainly against Arabic speaking fanatics. And yet, in all that time, the FBI has only seen fit to hire and/or train 50 people who actually speak the language!

We don't know about you, but this strikes us as preposterous. Our politicians have . . .
  • Started, and bungled, two wars, while constantly threatening to start yet a third,
  • Squandered trillions of dollars,
  • Placed 750,000 people on a terrorist watch list (roughly one out of every 300 Americans),
  • Arrested and jailed people without due process,
  • Kidnapped people,
  • Tortured people,
  • Spied on people illegally,
  • And generally shredded the Bill of Rights . . .
. . . all in the name of their holy war on terror. And yet, amidst all this waste, crime, sloth, and misdirected effort, the FBI has only found time to hire or train 50 people who speak the language of their enemy. During the Cold War there were probably that many Russian speakers in just one Soviet studies department of any mid-sized university.

Does it seem, perhaps, that we are dealing with a gang that can't shoot straight, or think straight, or be straight with the American people? Why is it that all of the government's attention is constantly focused on things that will destroy the Constitution, while doing little to really protect us, and neglecting simple, obvious things like hiring more Arab speakers?

Could it be that the "war on terror" is really a scam? Or that the institution of government, and the profession of politics, are simply, inherently, and hopelessly incompetent?

Whatever the case may be, it is time once again to repeat a tried and true theme of ours: the federal government needs to focus, and accomplish more, by doing less. It needs to DOWNSIZE. Fortunately, Ron Paul has introduced a bill that would help the government to do just that. It's called the "American Freedom Agenda Act." This bill would . . .
  • Repeal the “Military Commissions Act of 2007” and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the ”Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act” (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President's use of "signing statements" as a means to avoid executing the nation's laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions
This one simple 3-page bill will . . .
  • Restore basic Constitutional protections
  • Empower Americans to stand for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in the world at large, free from the stink of hypocrisy
  • Protect Americans and American soldiers from the same inhumane treatment by foreign powers that our government claims it can inflict on their citizens.
  • Help our incompetent government to focus, and accomplish more by doing less
Please send your elected representatives a message asking them to co-sponsor the "American Freedom Agenda Act" (HR 3835). Use your personal comments to mention the fact that only 50 out of 10,000 FBI agents can speak Arabic. You can send your message here.

But before you go, there are a couple of other numbers to mention. We only have two days left in January. We need another $449 in contributions to win $3,000 in matching funds from a generous supporter, and thereby make budget for this month. Please help. You can contribute here.

Thanks for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Perry Willis
Communications Director, Inc.

51 Years

I (Heart) Jesus

I got up, did a little writing this morning, and hit the phone. I called folks throughout central Illinois today. Some were from my alma mater - Illinois. It was neat to hear about the Ron Paul group there from some members, and also to hear about the Ron Paul group there from known supporters on campus who aren't members and are happy just being lone Ron Paul supporters. I spoke to some really nice folks today, the kind of day that makes you say "There are some damn good people out there." I've noticed on the phone that my conversations with folks in the heartland a little more eye to eye than my conversations with folks in the city.

In suburban Lansing a few days a go, I nearly convinced myself after an afternoon of canvassing that I'd like to move there. There was just SO much good will for a young guy going door to door to talk about Ron Paul. Some folks loved Ron Paul, some didn't know they did until after our talk, some weren't interested, or were going to vote for Hillary, but man was there a lot of good will. This is not New Hampshire, where the politicians come personally to your door and serve you dinner as they tell you what they will do for you as the next US President, here people aren't hearing a darn thing about a lot of the candidates - not in mailings, not real coverage in the paper, not in commercials, and definitely not door to door (with the exceptions of Ron Paul's folks on the ground). Lots of good will.

After a time, I decided to take every house that had been telephoned in the past and identified as a second amendment voter. It's a language I speak. NRA v. Gun Owner's of America. Don't knock on that door unless you know the difference, because you're gonna lose Ron Paul a vote that he should have gotten. No candidate is stronger on the Constitution, and that damn well includes the Second Amendment.

Other's appreciate the fact that Ron Paul doesn't support the use of embryonic stem cells when adult stem cells can be used. Will you bring that up before they close the door? Will you name an issue they care about before they close the door, having had enough of you and the $6/minute of heating that the conversation is letting out the front door, while the dog is drowning out discussion with the yaps?

Lots of people dislike the door to door. It's real intimidating at first, but man is it damn good once you get the first few. How else would you talk to 40 other Americans in a day, to hear what's on their mind, listen to the tambre of their voices, smell what's cooking in the background, look at the stress or relaxation in their eyes. Damn is this good.

Even in my own home town, I'm invited to peer into the household in a way that is not often welcome to most strangers, because I'm a neighbor, taking the time to call. And I see that many have moved since the last election, a language barrier is becoming more prominent between many of my neighbors and I. Italian, language of the last immigrant wave in Blue Island, a language that I can still follow when spoken to, has been replaced by Spanish, a language that I must constantly relearn when coming home. Among everyone, there is a certain sense of uncertainty. The votes are undecided. Of course, our Junior Senator has his cheerleaders in every community in Illinois, but many have not seen enough to feel convinced to go vote for him or anyone else. I wish there were just a little more time and I would take ten other Ron Paul supporters out there to help me right now. We would go door to door on the southside for the next month, and I firmly believe it would be Ron Paul's. As for the time we have, we will canvass our precincts, call the neighboring precincts, and we will surely pick up a good amount of delegates selected to go directly to St. Paul to vote for Ron Paul (what a good year to have the National Convention in St. Paul). From Chicago to the Iowa border, I do indeed see the message spreading.

Based on the people I called, many precinct captains signed up before night's end. 8:30 pm I put an end to the phone calls, knowing that I'd rather not harass the good people of central Illinois by calling at that hour.

I'd heard stories of the signs out there. Not a GOP or Democratic presidential sign anywhere outside of Chicago that I've yet to hear about that doesn't say Ron Paul on it.
"Have you seen the signs for other candidates?" I've asked.
"Not a one." Is how the answer often goes.

"I went on a call, and it must've been 100 miles down winding back roads, and what did I see - Ron Paul signs, I (Heart) Jesus, and the Ten Commandments, they have the Ten Commandments on the side of the road when you get back there far enough, it's actually kind of scary. On the way back, I decided to count the signs - I (Heart) Jesus had 3, the Ten Commandments had 3 too, and in that hundred miles there were actually 18 Ron Paul signs, 3 of them even those big 4 foot by 8 foot signs, and a few folks had even made their own."

Will we win Illinois? Maybe. Will we win the presidency? Maybe. What I do know, is that this movement, with Ron Paul as a figurehead, will win the hearts of the American people. We are in the midst of a Revolution, as that described by Ben Franklin. I wonder if the path of the America of 20 years from now will even resemble the path of an America today.

Johannes, I hope the trip is still on, I admire the fact that you will be able to see the heartland during this heavily contested election. It is an excuse to get people to speak to you, a stranger, from the heart. What an experience you will have, unlike the experience in America that almost anyone else would have in their travels.

Tonight. I spent twenty or thirty minutes scanning the news, and came across mention of this. It's Mitt.

In about 3 minutes of interview, Mitt Romney convinced this radio host to vote for Ron Paul. It's good stuff. I'd like to recommend listening to it until the end of the segment.

It's time to read a little bit (I'm not educating myself on theory as much as I ought to be right now, all of my education seems to be very experiential right now), and then off to bed.

I trust that you are all fighting the good fight where you are today. I'd like to leave you with a question my father has begun to ask: "What have you done for the Constitution today?"

writing from La Isla Azul

Election Monitoring Toolkit

This is great. - Allan


1. Ask questions. If you need help getting started, download the Citizens Tool Kit or go to Black Box Voting One on One area and ask a question about how to what to do in your location or situation. For less public individual consultation, e-mail

2. Begin to actively manage your own government: Pick an action -- any action -- from the Black Box Voting Citizen's Toolkit. The Tool Kit contains 20 different modules, for citizens with different interests and skill sets. Just pick one and get started. Fight the temptation to spend your time trying to organize other groups to be on the same page. Complete a meaningful action, even if just on one area. Spend your time actually doing, not on office politics, turf wars, making yourself famous or building little kingdoms. Citizen oversight requires many different independent thinkers, each using their own common sense. This is called the "swarm" method. It is not necessary to march in lockstep.

3. Each one teach one: Get other citizens involved.
- Speak to groups about elections.

4. Adopt a piece of an election.

5. Be the media: Spread the evidence you find to every blog, listserv, forum you know and throughout your personal network. Talk about it at work and to people you meet everywhere. Learn to write an effective press release."

6. Adopt a public official: Choose a public official and educate, monitor, encourage and hold them accountable. How to Adopt a Public Official

7. Do quality checks on your government: Collect information on what is supposed to be done (laws, statutes, administrative rules), then find out if it is being done (review public records, attend public meetings). Government accountability module

8. Find out who's getting paid: How to follow the money trail

9. Count the votes yourself: How to Count the Votes

11. (And you thought there were only 10 things to do): If you're a famous citizen: Download the Elections Toolkit for Famous Voices: What celebrities can do to get better elections

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Counting Votes

After a discussion yesterday with two people about electronic voting, I came to the conclusion that many people out there might not realize the problem with it. One guy, who I generally consider pretty astute, actually said to me "Well, how is it possible to not count them electronically...when has that ever been done?"

Tonight after it's too late to call, I will investigate what the voting system in Florida is like. I remember feeling reassured to learn that Cook County (my county) will be voting with a system that uses electronic counting, but allows your ballot to remain as a paper trail. However, what is currently happening in NH proves the importance placed in the count of the vote over the actual vote.

The caucus in Nevada was a way for the Nevada GOP to gain greater control over the voting process, because so few people knew what was going on, and so MANY irregularities existed in abject denial of state law. One thing I really liked however, was the importance placed in the group counting the vote together. Of course, deceptive things can also happen in the open, but the idea that local human being count the vote is important to me. It's great how in Nevada, your neighbor was counting the votes as you watched him or her count the votes.

This centralized scan-tron voting in Ohio is ridiculous. This is another step toward totally taking the vote away from the people. Ohio was on the forefront of that in the last election and it is on the forefront of that this election. It is a Ben Novak scenario of "Let's see how much we can get away with on a small scale before we try to get away with it on a grand scale."

ACLU Sues Over Paper Ballots in Ohio


Associated Press Writer

3:20 PM CST, January 28, 2008


The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Monday to block the March 4 presidential primary in Ohio's biggest county if it switches to a paper ballot system that doesn't allow voters to correct errors.

In a follow-up to a suit it filed Jan. 17, the ACLU of Ohio asked for a preliminary injunction against any election in Cuyahoga County if the switch is made.

The lawsuit argued that the proposed paper-ballot system would violate voters' constitutional rights because it doesn't allow them to correct errors on ballots before the ballots are cast.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and has more than 1 million registered voters, plans to send all paper ballots from precincts to a central location to be scanned and counted.

The ACLU alleges that the optical-scan system and centralized vote tabulation would not give voters notice of ballot errors -- such as voting for two candidates for one office.

Opponents of the system say scanning should be done immediately at the precinct level to alert voters to such errors and allow them to correct invalid ballots.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley set a deadline of next Monday for the Ohio secretary of state and the county elections board to respond to the ACLU and a Feb. 5 hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction.

Jane Platten, director of the Cuyahoga County elections board, referred requests for comment to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, whose office handles legal matters for the elections board.

Mason and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the state's chief election officer, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.


When I find a guy who works with computers for a living, I like to ask his or her thoughts on computerized elections. Almost exclusively, I'm told how bad of an idea they are, and how untrustworthy computers can be. Returning to a time of balloting as described by this gentleman in this article, paper ballots, counted locally, results reported under risk of perjury, chain of custody meticulously established.

writing from Blue Island, IL

PS The method of counting the votes in the state of IL can be found here, for anyone interested in that.

PPS Ben, what would it take for a layman to walk into federal court and to request a switch to hand counted paper ballots for Super Tuesday?

NH and LA as of January 28

I very much wish there were more time in between elections, this Super Tuesday business is ridiculous. It's the first time that Illinois has taken part in this nonsense, and, as Ben predicted, it will be media fueled hype, coming out of Florida.

I hope that you all are watching New Hampshire and Louisiana right now. How dirty it is that the votes aren't even legitimately getting counted. NO ONE I come across in the course of the day has any idea what is happening in LA, almost no one even knows that they had a primary, even Ron Paul supporters have no clue what happened.

I'll attach a few articles that are worth reading, at least in order to be aware of potential shenanigans:

(Blue Island)

The afternoon news

A judge has revoked the bond of Antoin "Tony" Rezko in his federal
corruption case.
Full details:

Monday, January 28, 2008

This morning's news

This morning's political news from Chicago:

REZKO ARREST. A source confirms that federal agents early today
arrested Antoin "Tony" Rezko, scheduled to stand trial on corruption charges
in less than a month, at his Wilmette home due to an alleged bond
violation. Jeff Coen and John Chase report:

KENNEDYS BACK OBAMA. Barack Obama, so often compared to John F.
, has won the support of JFK's brother and daughter. Mike Dorning and
Jill Zuckman report:

Tribune endorses Obama, John McCain:
The Obama endorsements appeared next to Rezko getting pulled into court because of him shifting his money around pre-trial. These guy have a long history together, and at least Rezko's history is shady. If running the endorsements on the same day was intentional, it worked well, because people are not talking about "Obama and Rezko" right now, instead they are talking about "Obama and Kennedy."

A good day to you from the 1st Congressional district of Illinois, where my Congressman admits to being bought off by AT&T, the aldermen take donations to local schools in order to expedite your zoning request, the mayor of Chicago has had feds sniffing around for decades, the junior Senator is named in the arguments in the Rezko case, and the Governor of Illinois is pandering to the elderly as he approaches a day of reckoning in court as well.


A Bipartisan attack

I saw Kucinich excluded, and then Paul, and Hunter.
Now, as determined by the networks, Edwards is essentially
not even part of the debate.

Had Edwards, while he was at the center of attention, stood firmly
in support of Kucinich and his right to be heard, the debate-time
censorship would have come to an end there. It would have been
near impossible to have done otherwise. Edwards just two week
ago, would have taken a stand that would have protected him today.

His shortsighted appreciation for the Constitution seems to have quickly proven to have failed him. A gentleman from Texas sent this over today.

I figured Ben might appreciate it because it adds strength to Ben’s admonitions on the eedom of speech. Also, I imagine Ben and Johannes appreciating the undertones of “offensiveness” and “anti-defamation” and controlling government to make a safe place for all. This bi-partisan attack on our freedom of expression and our freedom to redress grievances marches on.

- Allan

PS I have no idea how to delete this second video in this post and the one below. If anyone knows how, please speak up. Usually, it shows up in the edit posts window, but today the code for the video is not showing up.

New Hampshire Recount

The day after the New Hampshire primary, one of my housemates in New London was getting angry. "I was here in New Hampshire, the elections were not stolen, these aren't the kind of people who would do that." Is what he said over and over to a variety of people and posted over and over in a variety of forums.

During the counting of the votes in his precinct, however, he was not at the polling place. Instead, he was rightly showing disappointment with a campaign that had kept him meaninglessly sitting around all day. Furthermore, only absentee ballots were counted by hand.

I agree with his premise. At no time did I get the feeling that anyone running that precinct location would seek to lead the others in altering the vote count.

However, just because a person is in the room, does not mean that a person is looking at the right things to catch fraud, asking the right questions, or even on the right side of the room. While observing elections in Russia, I recall that my official election complaints - a total of eleven - were eleven more than the complaints of anyone else my polling location. The room was full of observers, Russian election law was clearly being violated, but everyone stood, watched and didn't complain. Some guy even kept trying to chat with me throughout the process. I didn't travel all that way to chat with that guy, I went there to verify an election.

In New Hampshire, any number of shenanigans could have occurred in the polling place. I doubt that they did occur though, because the folks there seemed like real decent people. What has occurred though is that the system of balloting has been taken out of the hands of the regular folks there (and throughout the US). We don't count our ballots together anymore. In Nevada, ballots were counted together, as a group, by hand. In New Hampshire, in the precinct that I was in, there were Optical Scan machines with a paper trail (namely the ballot). I used to be comfortable with the optical scan as long as there is a paper trail, but New Hampshire has shed light on why we ought not be. There are many examples of that.

Dan, thank you for sending this interesting chain-of-custody video from New Hampshire.

- Allan
(Blue Island, IL)

PS If these of custody videos do not work, click the one in the post above. It seems to be working well.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Vienna Meetup Group

Although we did have Vienna Meetups before, we didn't have a group of our own so far. Now we finally do have a seperate group which you can find at

Good to see this additional red dot on the Meetup map. Hopefully this will help attract new members who otherwise might not have known about the Vienna Meetups due to the fact that those were announced on the Bratislava site until recently.

Anyone interested in the Vienna Meetups, please join the new group. Hope to see you soon in Vienna.

-- Johannes

Friday, January 25, 2008

Florida Debates

How about those debates. Paul was poorly covered, Giuliani well covered. Half way through, Romney gets a five minute interview, and Paul made McCain look like a jackass because McCain has been in DC for 3 decades and has no clue that the US President has funds and a committee that exist for the purpose of the manipulation of financial markets.

I feel really good today that last night, I could have looked like I knew more about the powers of the President over financial markets than Mr. "I'm well versed in economics" McCain. Also, I'm a LITTLE dismayed because how can Congress fulfill its responsibility of oversite over the Executive when even this Senior member of Congress has no clue what the President is doing.

For those of your who are miss teen South Carolina fans, there's a good video of the whole thing here (both are just really funny to me). Also, Ron Paul being interviewed at the end of the second one is great.

For those of you who would like to know more about this group, I'd like to point you to a ten year old article from WaPo. For those of you who have never heard of the group, in the spirit of Johannes's policy of "educate ourselves" I would like to suggest regular readings of the guru who taught me about it - Mr. Jim Sinclair at

Back to work for me. -Allan

Plunge Protection Team
By Brett D. Fromson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 23, 1997; Page H01
The Washington Post

It is 2 o'clock on a hypothetical Monday afternoon, and the Dow Jones industrial average has plummeted 664 points, on top of a 847-point slide the previous week.

The chairman of the New York Stock Exchange has called the White House chief of staff and asked permission to close the world's most important stock market. By law, only the president can authorize a shutdown of U.S. financial markets.

In the Oval Office, the president confers with the members of his Working Group on Financial Markets -- the secretary of the treasury and the chairmen of the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The officials conclude that a presidential order to close the NYSE would only add to the market's panic, so they decide to ride out the storm. The Working Group struggles to keep financial markets open so that trading can continue. By the closing bell, a modest rally is underway.

This is one of the nightmare scenarios that Washington's top financial policymakers have reviewed since Oct. 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 508 points, or 22.6 percent, in the biggest one-day loss in history. Like defense planners in the Cold War period, central bankers and financial regulators have been thinking carefully about how they would respond to the unthinkable.

An outline of the government's plans emerges in interviews with more than a dozen current and former officials who have participated in meetings of the Working Group. The group, established after the 1987 stock drop, is the government's high-level forum for discussion of financial policy.

Just last Tuesday afternoon, for example, Working Group officials gathered in a conference room at the Treasury Building. They discussed, among other topics, the risks of a stock market decline in the wake of the Dow's sudden surge past 7000, according to sources familiar with the meeting. The officials pondered whether prices in the stock market reflect a greater appetite for risk-taking by investors. Some expressed concern that the higher the stock market goes, the closer it could be to a correction, according to the sources.

These quiet meetings of the Working Group are the financial world's equivalent of the war room. The officials gather regularly to discuss options and review crisis scenarios because they know that the government's reaction to a crumbling stock market would have a critical impact on investor confidence around the world.

"The government has a real role to play to make a 1987-style sudden market break less likely. That is an issue we all spent a lot of time thinking about and planning for," said a former government official who attended Working Group meetings. "You go through lots of fire drills and scenarios. You make sure you have thought ahead of time of what kind of information you will need and what you have the legal authority to do."

In the event of a financial crisis, each federal agency with a seat at the table of the Working Group has a confidential plan. At the SEC, for example, the plan is called the "red book" because of the color of its cover. It is officially known as the Executive Directory for Market Contingencies. The major U.S. stock markets have copies of the commission's plan as well as the CFTC's.

Going to Plan A

The red book is intended to make sure that no matter what the time of day, SEC officials can reach their opposite numbers at other agencies of the U.S. government, with foreign governments, at the various stock, bond and commodity futures and options exchanges, as well as executives of the many payment and settlement systems underlying the financial markets.

"We all have everybody's home and weekend numbers," said a former Working Group staff member.

The Working Group's main goal, officials say, would be to keep the markets operating in the event of a sudden, stomach-churning plunge in stock prices -- and to prevent a panicky run on banks, brokerage firms and mutual funds. Officials worry that if investors all tried to head for the exit at the same time, there wouldn't be enough room -- or in financial terms, liquidity -- for them all to get through. In that event, the smoothly running global financial machine would begin to lock up.

This sort of liquidity crisis could imperil even healthy financial institutions that are temporarily short of cash or tradable assets such as U.S. Treasury securities. And worries about the financial strength of a major trader could cascade and cause other players to stop making payments to one another, in which case the system would seize up like an engine without oil. Even a temporary loss of liquidity would intensify financial pressure on already stressed institutions. In the 1987 crash, government officials worked feverishly -- and, ultimately, successfully -- to avoid precisely that bleak scenario.

Officials say they are confident that the conditions that led to the slide a decade ago are not present today. They cite low interest rates and a healthy economy as key differences between now and 1987. Officials also point to SEC-approved "circuit breakers" that were introduced after 1987 to give investors timeouts to calm down.

Under the SEC's rules, a drop of 350 points in the Dow would bring a 30-minute halt in NYSE trading. If the Dow declined another 200 points, trading would cease for one hour. No additional circuit breakers would operate that day, but a new set would apply the next trading day.

Despite these precautions, today's high stock market worries officials such as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who in a speech in early December raised questions about "irrational exuberance" in the markets. Because the market declined following Greenspan's speech, government officials have become even more reluctant to comment on these issues for fear of triggering the very event they wish to forestall, according to policymakers.

A Brewing Concern

Greenspan had expressed similar thoughts a year ago at a confidential meeting of the Working Group. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. also are concerned about the stock market's vulnerability, according to sources familiar with their views.

The four principals of the group -- Rubin, Greenspan, Levitt and CFTC Chairwoman Brooksley Born -- meet every few months, and senior staff get together more often to work on specific agenda items.

In addition to the permanent members, the head of the President's National Economic Council, the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, the comptroller of the currency and the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank frequently attend Working Group sessions.

The Working Group has studied a variety of possible threats to the financial system that could ensue if stock prices go into free fall. They include: a panicky flight by mutual fund shareholders; chaos in the global payment, settlement and clearance systems; and a breakdown in international coordination among central banks, finance ministries and securities regulators, the sources said.

As chairman of the Working Group, Rubin would have overall responsibility for the U.S. response, but Greenspan probably would be the government's most important player.

"In a crisis, a lot of deference is paid to the Fed," a former member of the Working Group said. "They are the only ones with any money."

"The first and most important question for the central bank is always, 'Do you have credit problems?' " said E. Gerald Corrigan, former president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and now an executive at Goldman Sachs & Co. "The minute some bank or investment firm says, 'Hey, maybe I'm not going to get paid -- maybe I ought to wait before I transfer these securities or make that payment,' then things get tricky. The central bank has to sense that before it happens and take steps to prevent it."

1987: A Case Study

The Fed's reaction to the 1987 market slide, which Corrigan helped oversee, is a case study in how to do it right. The Fed kept the markets going by flooding the banking system with reserves and stating publicly that it was ready to extend loans to important financial institutions, if needed.

The Fed's actions in October 1987 read like a financial war story.

The morning after the 508-point drop on Black Monday, the market began another sickening slide. Corrigan and other Fed officials strongly discouraged New York Stock Exchange Chairman John Phelan from requesting government permission to close the market. Phelan was concerned that if the market continued to erode, the capital of the NYSE member firms would disappear. Corrigan feared a shutdown would cause more panic.

"It was extraordinarily difficult around 11 o'clock," Corrigan recalled. "The market was at one point down another 250 points, and that's when the debate with Phelan took place."

Simultaneously, Corrigan and other central bank officials spoke privately with the big banks and urged them not to call loans they had made to Wall Street houses, which were collateralized by securities that could no longer be traded and whose value was in question.

A final critical moment came that day when the Fed decided not to shut down a subsidiary of the Continental Illinois Bank that was the largest lender to the commodity futures and options trading houses in Chicago. The subsidiary had run out of capital to provide financing to that market.

"Closing it would have drained all the liquidity out of the futures and options markets," said one former top Fed official involved in the decision. Investors use stock futures and options to hedge positions in the underlying stock market.

Recognizing the crucial role of banks if another financial crisis should strike, the Office of the Comptroller recently conducted an internal study of what damage a market decline would inflict on U.S. banks. The OCC declined to discuss the study or its conclusions.

At the SEC, one big worry is how to cope with an international financial crisis that begins abroad but quickly rolls into U.S. markets.

"We worry about a U.S. brokerage firm that is dealing with a Japanese insurance company, where we don't know how they are run or regulated," a SEC source said. To improve its ability to react in a crisis, the SEC and the Fed have begun joint inspections with their British counterparts of U.S. and British financial institutions with global reach.

The most drastic -- and probably unlikely -- move the SEC could take in a crisis would be to propose a market shutdown to the president. That would require a majority vote of the commission. If a quorum couldn't be mustered, the chairman could designate himself "duty officer" and go to the president or his staff.

"Closing the market is, of course, the last thing the commission wants to do," said a source familiar with the SEC's planning. "During a time when people are extremely worried about their investments, you are cutting them off from taking any action. . . . The philosophy of the commission is that markets should stay open."

Just the Facts

Gathering accurate information would be the first order of business for federal regulators.

"Intelligence gathering is critical," Corrigan said. "It depends on the willingness of major market participants to volunteer problems when they see them and to respond honestly to central bank questions."

The SEC, CFTC and Treasury have market surveillance units. They monitor not only the overall markets, but also the cash positions of all the major stock and commodity brokerages and large traders.

The regulators also are hooked into the "hoot-and-holler" system used to notify participants in all financial markets of trading halts. The hoot-and-holler system alerts traders and regulators when a halt is coming.

Relying on Quick Action

In the event of a sharp market decline, the SEC and CFTC would be in constant contact with brokerage and commodity firms to spot early signs of financial failure. If they concluded that a firm was going down, they would try to move customer positions from that firm to solvent institutions.

At least this team of crisis managers already has been through the Wall Street wars. Greenspan was Fed chairman in October 1987. Rubin has served as the co-head of investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. Levitt has been both a Wall Street executive and president of the American Stock Exchange.

"I think the government is in good shape to handle a crisis," said Scott Pardee, senior adviser to Yamaichi International (America) Inc., a Japanese brokerage subsidiary, and former senior vice president at the New York Fed. "A lot depends on personal relationships. You have a number of seasoned people who have gone through a number of crises. So if something happens, things can be handled quickly on the phone without having to introduce people to each other."

Consider what happened at 11:30 p.m. Dec. 5, when Greenspan made his comments about irrational exuberance. Alton Harvey, head of the SEC's Market Watch unit, was called at home by officials of Globex, a futures trading system owned by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. U.S. stock futures trading in Asia had fallen to their 12-point limit, they said.

Harvey immediately alerted his direct superior as well as his opposite number at the CFTC. More senior SEC and CFTC officials were informed as well. But there wasn't much to be done until the morning. So Harvey went back to sleep.


After the market crashed on Oct. 29, 1929:

* The Federal Reserve provided loans and credit to financial systems.

* President Hoover met with business, labor and farm organizations to encourage capital spending and discourage layoffs; he also promised higher tariffs.

* Federal income taxes were reduced by 1 percent by the end of the year.

After the market dropped 22.6 percent on Oct. 19, 1987, the Federal Reserve:

* Encouraged the New York Stock Exchange to stay open.

* Encouraged big commercial banks not to pull loans to major Wall Street houses.

* Kept open a subsidiary of Continental Illinois Bank that was the largest lender to the commodity trading houses in Chicago.

* Flooded the banking system with money to meet financial obligations.

* Announced it was ready to extend loans to important financial institutions.

What would happen today during a stock drop would depend on the particulars. Here are current guidelines:

* If the Dow Jones industrial average falls 350 points within a trading day, NYSE trading would be halted for 30 minutes.

* If the DJIA falls another 200 points that day, trading would stop for one hour.

* If the market declines more than 550 points in a day, no further restrictions would be applied.

SOURCE: The New York Stock Exchange, "The Crash and the Aftermath" by Barrie A. Wigmore


This gets good after 1:00. It's beautiful. It makes you think that everyone's keepers warned them about Ron Paul, and then McLaughlin dropped the Ron Paul question on the babbling cretins to his right. For once, someone gives Ron Paul the chance to frame the debate. I think McLaughlin might be my favorite show on TV in the US.
- Allan
(writing from Blue Island, IL)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Voting in Cook County, Illinois

I feel comfortable saying that the information here is largely inaccessible to anyone I know who does not live in Illinois without spending 2 or 3 days figuring out how to get to it. For those of you who would like to know more about the nuts and bolts of how Illinois residents contribute their input to the presidential race, I have compiled this information. I hope I've been clear enough, and wish you well in digesting this process. The bureaucrats from both parties in Illinois, warmly bundled in their layers of bureaucracy cherish the fact that all of this is so confusing. Even when you call and talk to the frontman whose job it is to explain things to people, you can feel his discomfort in actually releasing information about the election process. After 20 years of election involvement in Cook County, I finally feel comfortable starting to write this kind of primer. Let me know if you'd like to see a little more written about the next layer of bureaucracy.

It looks like the focus of my work for the next 13 days will be in the State of Illinois. If anyone is interested in the Illinois GOP nominating procedure for delegates to the GOP National Convention (the body which will put forth the a US presidential nominee from the GOP) you can reference this website:
This shows that Illinois is not a winner take all state, it is a state whose delegates are largely committed according to the elections determined at the Congressional level.

If Ron Paul gets one of his delegates advanced out of the 1st Congressional district (the district I live in), he has essentially won that district. If he gets 57 delegates advanced out of the 57 Congressional district in Illinois, he has won Illinois because that means 57 of the 70 delegates from Illinois are bound to vote for him.

What the media will report on is the preference poll. This poll means very little in terms of who will actually become president. It has no effect whatsoever on the delegate selection process. People who come out well in this process look good in the media, which is important, but that is all they gain from that preference poll.

I'll also include here the link to all people involved in Cook County who might appear on ballots on February 5. Depending on what precinct you live in, this list will be narrowed down.

The day of the primary, every person may decide to "pull" either a democratic or republican ballot. I will, for the first time in a primary election, pull a republican ballot. The districts that I will be voting in will be as follows (using this you can determine exactly what my ballot will look like):

President - United States
Senator - Illinois
Congressional District - 1st
State Senator - 14th
Illinois General Assembly - 28th
Water Reclamation District - Cook County
States Attorney - Cook County
Circuit Court - Cook County
Recorder of Deeds - Cook County

The following text will also be voted on in Cook County on all ballots:

Countywide Referendum "Shall the federal government be required to adopt mandatory full funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purpose of ensuring that all eligible honorably discharged U.S. veterans receive quality and accessible healthcare and related services?"

For a list of more referenda that will be voted on in some parts of Cook County, I welcome you to visit the site:

Some of those referenda are binding, some are non-binding.

- Allan
(writing from Blue Island, IL)

Delegate Selection Process in the state of Illinois

It looks like the focus of my work for the next 13 days will be in the State of Illinois. If anyone is interested in the Illinois GOP nominating procedure for delegates to the GOP National Convention (the body which will put forth the a US presidential nominee from the GOP) you can reference this website:
This shows that Illinois is not a winner take all state, it is a state whose delegates are largely committed according to the elections determined at the Congressional level.

If Ron Paul gets one of his delegates advanced out of the 1st Congressional district (the district I live in), he has essentially won that district. If he gets 57 delegates advanced out of the 57 Congressional district in Illinois, he has won Illinois because that means 57 of the 70 delegates from Illinois are bound to vote for him.

What the media will report on is the preference poll. This poll means very little in terms of who will actually become president. It has no effect whatsoever on the delegate selection process. People who come out well in this process look good in the media, which is important, but that is all they gain from that preference poll.

- Allan
(writing from Blue Island, IL)

Others seem to believe in his chance of becoming President just as strongly as I do

What did Huckabee say three weeks ago when he was the front runner, "you don't waste ammo on a dead deer," or something like that. Well, Matej here has sent over some great examples that Paul is considered a threat by someone out there, including the other other candidates.

This is disgusting. Thank you Matej for sending this in. Even the reporter the second time around sounds like she's shocked by what is shown on the screen. - Allan


Thank you also for this one Matej, you have a good eye for these subtleties.


I can't believe how clearly this media blackout is occurring. These are excellent examples, Matej. Thank you.


And once again, in case you missed it, some of the candidates ganged up on Ron Paul in Louisiana to try to keep him from winning the state.