Creative Destruction

January 9, 2007

E-vote systems certifier de-certified

Filed under: Election 2006 — Daran @ 12:52 pm

My bold:

The leading certifier of US electronic voting systems, Colorado outfit Ciber, Inc., is no longer permitted to issue certifications, after federal investigators discovered appallingly haphazard testing regimes, the New York Times reports.

Ciber, which certifies the majority of US election devices, was unable to document how it supposedly tested the machines for accuracy and security. Due to the oddities of US elections regulations, no government agency is assigned this role; rather, device manufacturers pay whoever they wish to rubber-stamp their kit.

The US federal Election Assistance Commission began oversight only in July 2006, and immediately found problems with Ciber’s records, but did not act until recently, presumably in fear that the November election results would be brought into question. Ciber has been barred from issuing certifications until it can demonstrate proper quality controls and documentation of its “work”.

The company says it’s on the mend, however, and assures investors that it will win federal accreditation this month. Voters may be less optimistic. While Ciber may not be allowed to certify machines until the Commission is satisfied with its recordkeeping, nothing is yet being done to re-examine the machines it “passed” without adequate controls.

[...]

And yet there is no popular outcry against the lack of accountability and transparency in the e-voting racket. It’s interesting to note that the public is clearly less concerned with the integrity of its election equipment than it is with a one-armed bandit in a Vegas hotel. ®

Democracy is wasted on the Americans.

December 10, 2006

Target Remains

Filed under: Election 2006 — Off Colfax @ 4:21 am

Tonight, I feel alot like the unnamed tank commander in Independence Day.

Here we have a man who had the political equivalent of a ten-megaton nuclear warhead launched at his head:

Bribery scandals which amounted to being a paid employee of a foreign government. Enough old-fashioned legwork-and-shoe-leather-style reporting from multiple news agencies that uncovered the actual proof required and showed it on national television. Then he essentially renegs on the verbal contract with his employers and runs out of town with a briefcase full of hundred-dollar bills. And finally, the damning evidence of the actual cold hard cash is found in the offending man’s freezer.

In a year like this, I thought it impossible that a corrupt politician would not fall along the electoral wayside. But I see the news reports out of New Orleans and can only repeat what the tank commander said:

Negative. Target remains.

Should this unethical crook be counted amongst the members in good standing when Congress reopens in January, and even attempt to get his old seat on the Committee on the Budget back, then Speaker-elect Pelosi will have handed the new Republican Minority its first moral victory of the 110th Congress: Democrats are just as corrupt as we are, but at least we have the fortitude to remove our corrupt officials from office.

In a year of great victories for the Democratic Party, it really is tough to go out on a down-note like this one. So it is up to the concerned citizens of America, namely those of us who live in districts represented by Democrats, to lobby our representatives to keep one William Jefferson as far from a position of power as possible, and then completely strip him of his office once the Department of Justice gets off its collective hands and brings an indictment down upon his head.

Anything less will only help bring a screeching halt to any ethical reform that the 110th Congress may accomplish.

November 10, 2006

Does Having Women In Elected Office Make A Difference To Policy?

Filed under: Election 2006,Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 2:42 pm

A few days before the election, Rachel blogged that “women were poised to make gains in election” and asked, “If the number of women increases, do you think this could affect policies or do you think we will start to see the women politicians join the ranks of the ‘good old boys’?”

There are two reports from the Institute For Women’s Policy Research that suggest that more female legislators does mean more feminist and pro-woman laws will be passed. The first, “Does Women’s Representation in Elected Office Lead to Women-Friendly Policy?” (pdf link) looks at how many laws benefiting women, such as “protection from violence, access to income support (through welfare and child support collection), women-friendly employment protections, legislation protecting sexual minorities, and reproductive rights,” have been passed in each of the fifty states. ((The three best states for women, by this measure: Hawaii, Vermont and Washington. The three worst: Tennessee, Mississippi, and Idaho.))

What the IWPR found is that the more women are in elected office in a state, and the more powerful those elected offices are, the more woman-friendly legislation gets passed.

As the authors point out, the direction of causation is ambiguous. Maybe more women in office leads to more “woman-friendly” laws; but it’s also possible that states that are open to these laws are more likely to elect women legislators. I think it’s likely that both are true.

On an aggregate level, women’s presence in legislatures and other state-level elected offices is closely associated with better policy for women. This suggests that having women in elected office may be important to encouraging states to adopt policies relevant to women’s lives. Conversely, women’s resources and rights may influence the number of women elected to public office.

The second IWPR report, “Gender Differences in Bill Sponsorship on Women’s Issues” (pdf link), examines who sponsors which bills. From the report:

Within each party, women are more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues.

Across both Congresses, between 23 percent and 27 percent points more Democratic women than Democratic men utilized their scarce resources of time, staff, and political capital to develop women’s issue legislation. Among Republicans, 83 percent of Republican women sponsored a women’s issue bill in the 103rd Congress, compared to just 37 percent of Republican men. However, in the 104th Congress, the proportion of Republican women sponsoring women’s issue bills dropped to 59 percent, only 12 percentage points more than Republican men. This 24 percentage point drop was largely due to the election of six conservative Republican freshman women, none of whom sponsored any type of women’s issue bill. [...]

The influence of gender on a member’s legislative behavior is highly dependent on his/her specific political ideology. All Democratic women and moderate Republican women are much more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their male colleagues of the same party and ideology. In contrast, conservative Republican women are not more likely to sponsor women’s issue bills than are their conservative Republican male counterparts.

So it appears likely that having women in government does make a difference to what laws are proposed and passed.

Although these reports are several years old, they’re especially relevant today, since we have now elected record-breaking numbers of women to congress, and we will soon have the first female Speaker of the House in US history. (I really love Jen’s take on that).

November 8, 2006

Postmortem Thoughts

Filed under: Election 2006 — Off Colfax @ 9:35 pm

Three things have come to my mind in the (non-sleeping) hours since the Happy End-Of-Political-Advertisements Day. But only two are about the election for some reason.

Number One: Credit Where Credit Is Due

Even with the great Republican implosion, there is one thing that I must mention as being a good part of why the Democrats have retaken the House (and maybe Senate as well) this year. And in a very odd point for me, none of my regularly read blogs have pointed this one out yet: The Fifty-State Strategy. Howard Dean, the much-derided (by the GOP faithful) former Presidential contender tapped to head the DNC, created an effective strategy to a) keep everyone in the loop as to what is going on, b) energize the voting base and keep them that way throughout a very long slog, and c) bring significant amounts of money into the party coffers.

Admittedly, the strategy could not have performed this well without the second prong, recruitment of quality candidates for office. Yet compared to previous years, the national committees have been able to mount a respectable degree of offense instead of being forced to leave the vast majority of candidates to hoe their own row.

Whatever you may think about his past, whatever you may think about his politics, whatever you may think about the primal scream, Dean has proven himself as a good choice to run the party. Is he the quality of, for example, a Karl Rove when it comes to political manuevering? No. Few people this side of the temporarily-marginalized James Carville are that good. Yet he is just what the doctor (pun not intended) ordered to give the Democrats a good shot in the arm and a swift kick in the ass.

Number Two: The Door Swings Both Ways

I have never had the pleasure of blogging on the side of the majority. Like most of us on the left-hand side of the road, I started off in a time where every electable aspect of the federal government was dominated by the other side. I have not had the chance to simply sit and cheerlead from the sidelines, blindly supporting each and every aspect of my party’s governance.

And I still won’t. Doing so is not part of my philosophical makeup. I’ve had too much practical experience in life to curl up on a blog-based ivory tower and be a rah-rah-rah boy for Pelosi & Co. So when they screw the pooch in a spectacular fashion, you can rely on me to slap them upside the head with a rubber albatross. Repeatedly. And with as much fervor and enthusiasm as I have whacked, and will continue to whack, a good number of extreme conservative ideas.

But it will be kinda neat to play for the team in the lead for a change.

Number Three: He’s Not Done Moving Yet?

Unlike most of us on this blog, I still am a regular reader of Protein Wisdom, nominal home of the infamous Jeff Goldstein. With his recent escapades in the non-digital world, he found himself without enough time to give the blog what time it needs, and so has handed the reins of power over to a wide array of guestbloggers.

To be perfectly honest, I find those idiots driving me away from PW faster than Duncan Black’s senseless flagwaving and breast-beating is driving me away from Eschaton. I’ve barely cracked the page in the last three weeks, and even then it’s been only to see if Jeff is back to his old haunts yet.

Dude. Please. Come back. Some of us out here actually like you, not the ones you chose to substitute for you. And if you decide to not to come back to your digital homeland, instead staying with the folks at Hot Air… Let us know. As it stands now, PW will be the first recent casualty of my blogroll, even before Atrios rolls off into my digital oblivion. But that will all change once I can get my regular dose of armadillo stories again.

Voters prefer corpse to Republican

Filed under: Content-lite,Election 2006,Humor — Daran @ 7:19 pm

Dead woman wins county commissioner’s race

Lessons in Ironic Placement, Courtesy of Our Friends at Google News

Filed under: Election 2006 — Robert @ 4:55 am

Top news headlines around 2 AM election night:

Why We Just Got Our Ass Kicked

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 3:26 am

This is a post aimed at my fellow Republicans and/or conservatives and/or conservatarians. (God forgive me for using that word.) You patchouli-reeking socialists are welcome to read and comment, but the intended audience is my brethren of the GOP voting universe – and mostly those of the elected persuasion (and not a few of the recently unelected persuasion).

For my friends and readers of delicate disposition, please be advised that I shall attempt to restrain the worst things that I feel like saying, but I can make no guarantees as to the family friendliness of the language.

We just got our ass kicked and everybody damn well knows the reason why.

The political machine performed brilliantly. As in previous elections, it delivered 98% of what was needed to be delivered in order to win – leaving it to the operational side of the house to come up with the last 2%. That 2% is what the Congressmen and women and the executive branch and (to a much milder extent) the judicial system has to win on merit – on being able to credibly say “look at the solid achievements and real progress on important issues we have made”.

Some of them have tried, and a few have tried like heroes. I’m not going to name names, it’s pointless. The ones who are trying to get things done know who they are, and so does everyone else.

The Iraq war is a disaster. Not irretrievably so militarily or strategically, where we are surviving a war of attrition in what is essentially a test of political will, but politically – where the rationales and strategies and realistic prospects for the war have not been described to the American people. This is a failure squarely to be laid at the door of the White House and its communication machine. This country took on a military machine nearly as far away and a lot deadlier than the massed forces of the entire Arab world, and had it explained over those newfangled “radios”. Do you really think their Internet-enabled children and grandchildren can’t handle the real story of the war on radicalized Islam? Of course they can – but 90% of them are not going to take enough courses in medieval mideastern history to put the picture together on their own. It has to be explained, and people given the information they need to be informed.

The ethical emanation coming from the Congress is putrid. It’s on a bipartisan basis, but scrappy underdogs get forgiven for their colorful escapades. People who are allegedly governing don’t.

This Congress’ performance on other issues has been at best uninspired. No decisive action to take control of the nation’s borders. No resolution reached of the knotty questions surrounding immigration policy. No progress on fixing Social Security. A trainwreck prescription drugs bill hated by everyone. Bloated pork bills designed to curry favor with every special interest group in America – how well did that one work out for you, fellows? Currying favor with us religious elements on trivial crap, and blowing us off or dropping the ball on big picture questions. The list goes on.

Damn it all, this has to stop.

We are not electing you people to go to Washington and get rich in sweetheart deals. We are not electing you people because we saw your picture and said “this guy should get invited to every cocktail party in the Beltway”. We send you to our nation’s capital – a place where American soldiers have seen battle and shed blood – in order that you can govern this nation. But most of you don’t even govern yourselves.

Here is a refresher course. Here are the things that you are expected to do.

1. Secure our borders and coastal areas against casual violation, and formulate an immigration policy that is decent, humane, and survivable.

2. Fix Social Security so that it continues to work sustainably, without breaking it (hint: reasonably regulated markets). Reform the financial governance and fiscal prudence of our Government’s accounting practices.

3. Victory in Iraq. (Like pornography, we’ll know it when we see it.)
4. Fix the health care system of this country so that people who cannot get the care they truly need are helped, without bankrupting the rest of us. Hint: reasonably regulated markets.

5. Progress in the war on terror.

Here’s a suggestion for Congressional figures, and those who would so aspire: When you plan to do something, ask “does this help with any of one through five on Bob’s list of demands?” If the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. If you’re thinking “you know, I really need to start having relationships with teenagers…I wonder who’s on Yahoo Chat tonight”, then ask yourself “have we won in Iraq, fixed Social Security, saved the health care system, made progress in the war on terror, AND secured the borders?” If the answer is “no”, then I suggest that you put down the IM client and get your ass back to work.

You guys (and too few gals) have let down the team. You have two years to turn it around, get yourselves in some kind of order, and get serious about the business of this country.

Either get your shit together, or start looking for a new line of work in 2008.

Mmmm…

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 2:13 am

delicious crow!

November 7, 2006

A Much Less Comprehensive Ballot Rundown Than Amp’s

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 9:04 pm

For the 1 person out there (somewhere!) who cares, here were the issues on the Colorado ballot, and how I voted.  (Because I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to find out.)

Amendments to futz around with school funding and how they spend money: voted no on all these. Folks, you don’t administer school districts through the initiative process. Geeze.

Amendments to futz around with the state constitution on some things which frankly I don’t know what they’re about and I suspect the authors don’t know either: voted no on all these.

Amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman: Voted yes.

Amendment to extend the legal privileges of marriage to civil unions (of any sort, I think), and also to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman: Voted yes.

Amendment to decriminalize possession of marijuana: Voted yes.

Other amendments: I don’t remember, and I voted no. Colorado does a nice thing for people like me, which is to require all initiatives and amendments and such to have “no” mean “leave things they way they are now”.

The partisan elections in my district were all safe Republican seats, so I voted there with no impact.

In fact, my vote is unlikely to have any impact, because I forgot to register when we moved and so I had to do a provisional ballot. I can find out in December if my vote counts or not. Wheee!

November 6, 2006

Another Prediction Set

Filed under: Election 2006 — Off Colfax @ 2:42 am

While Bob has his extraordinarily optimistic prediction on tap (Well, optimistic if you’re a Republican and/or GOP supporter. Which he is. And I’m not.), I find it time to get my own out here in black-and-white.

Hey Bob, how about a wager? Whomever is further from the actual mark in each category buys the other a beer at the next Bash. Per category. You game?

Senate makeup: GOP 51 – Dem 48 – CFL 1; GOP retains the chamber. Santorum falls by 7 points, Burns by 2. Menendez keeps Kean at bay, Allen will hold off Webb by a hair and Talent will edge out McCaskill in a recount by under 0.5%.

House makeup: Dem 226 – GOP 209; Dem gains control. The NRCC has all but conceded defeat in an even dozen races so far, and far too many of the rest under serious challenge are too close to call. Some major predictions from me are Duckworth coming 3 points short and Paccione missing out on a Georgetown address by 5.

Gubernatorial: Detailed prediction for this one is not in my forte, so I’ll just say Dem +5 and leave it at that.

(I know. I’m not quite as optimistic as Kevin Drum or Duncan Black when it comes to the House. Part of that is the influence of those dirty tricks that TPM Muckraker keeps on yammering about… Just call me Johnny Raincloud.)

Election 2006 Predictions

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 1:13 am

Herewith my predictions for the House, Senate and gubernatorial races, 2006. Presented without data or argumentation – although the data and the argumentation exist in my fevered brain. This is simply intended as a recording of my predictions (some general, some specific), so that on Tuesday evening I can either make an incredibly snarky “I told you so” or a humbled “well, we all make mistakes…” post.

The Senate: Dems +3, Republicans retain control. Santorum retains his seat narrowly, as does Burns.
The House: Dems +10. Republicans retain control.

Governorships: Dems pick up 2 new governorships, which I believe gives them a majority.

(Yes, I am significantly more optimistic than the pollsters. I don’t think the pollsters know what they’re doing anymore; the game has changed and the statistical methods that work to assess a neutral population no longer provide good data.)

November 4, 2006

Killing for Votes

Filed under: Election 2006,Iraq — Daran @ 12:24 pm

Independent Online:

US officials are reported by some Iraqi officials to have urged privately that the verdict [in Saddam Hussein's trial] be announced tomorrow in order to improve the standing of President George Bush’s administration in the midterm elections two days later.

Is there nothing this administration won’t do to improve its prospects at the polls?

Update: Lest it be not clear, I am opposed to the death penalty in every case. It is, nevertheless gratifying to see someone who support it, (at least in Hussein’s case) objecting to this.

November 3, 2006

How Amp Is Voting, Part The Third – Local Ballot Measures

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 11:06 am

Local measures are usually about raising my property tax bill. Wheee!

(more…)

More Endorsements: Who I’m Voting For This Election

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 11:04 am

Note that this is just a list of who I’m voting for; there are, of course, many elections in Oregon this year that my district isn’t voting in.

(more…)

November 1, 2006

How I’m Voting This Election Cycle: Oregon Ballot Measures

Filed under: Election 2006 — Ampersand @ 6:13 pm

Here in Oregon, we all vote by mail, so most Oregonians have already gotten their voter ballots. Many have already voted, in fact, but I tend to procrastinate.

So – how I’m voting.

(more…)

Republicans are stealing another US election.

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2006,Politics and Elections — Daran @ 3:36 am

Glitches cited in early voting

Lis Riba comments.

Notice how all the reported problems involve people trying to vote for the Democrat, and their ballot registering the Republican?

October 24, 2006

Do the Democrats Want to Win?

Filed under: Election 2006,Politics,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 2:37 am

The Dems look to have a shot at taking the House this year. Do they want to?

The war is going badly. It will continue to be a bad situation for quite some time – regardless of which party is in power, and regardless of their policy decisions.

North Korea remains a problem. Iran remains a problem. Neither is likely to change; both are likely to continue generating genuine incumbent-damaging news.

Genocides worldwide remain a problem. Slavery – for God’s sake, slavery – has broken out in force once more in many parts of the world.

More on that in the next post – first, the point of this one:

Do Democrats really want to win?

I know Hillary wants to win, I mean, does Joe Democrat on the street want to win? And be suddenly responsible for all this stuff?

This is an honest question, open for any Democrat out there who wants to opine. Do you guys & gals want to win?

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