March 9th, 2004

Publicize Diebold's failures.

There were serious problems with the touchscreen voting machines in the California primary election, but of course Diebold went right ahead and took out huge half-page ads in major newspapers trumpeting their success.

Read about what happened here and here. The facts are quite alarming: 200 precincts were affected; some voters were turned away; and the lack of certification is a blatant violation of the law.

Note that a lawsuit has been filed in San Diego against Shelley and four California counties by disabled advocacy groups, claiming that Shelley's directives deprived them of the right to vote independently on touchscreens.

You may want to tell Kevin Shelley that you support verified voting. Ask him to maintain a steady hand and continue the push for an audit trail.

Reducing the risk of destruction.

I saw The Fog of War on Saturday night. I strongly recommend that you see it. It was an intensely thought-provoking documentary, made especially powerful by the fact that the history was real. Real people made these decisions. Real cities were destroyed. Real people died — burned to death, shot, or vaporized — by the hundreds of thousands. And millions more could have been killed, as McNamara makes clear. He realized the world was close to nuclear war in October 1962, with the limited information available. But the true situation was even more dangerous than he knew then — nuclear warheads had actually been in Cuba at the time, aimed at the United States, and they would surely have been launched had the U. S. attempted an invasion of Cuba.

How can we be certain never to arrive at that situation again? The course of history that we are currently navigating does not bode well. Once again, a unilateral war. Once again, a oxymoronic "preventive war". A secret nuclear policy, with gathering indications toward escalation and development of new weapons. Continued aggression and deceptive posturing, even while 15000 kg of weapons-grade nuclear material (enough for a thousand nuclear bombs) distributed by the U. S. remains at large around the world. But this time, there is no single enemy. The enemy is a shadow; everywhere and nowhere; with no name and no face. The enemy is no single person; it is a concept in the minds of our assailants that cannot be vanquished by destroying anything or killing anyone.

A wise person once wrote:

The only thing you can learn from history is that people don't learn anything from history.

I would end here if i were trying to be poignant. But that's the easy way out. We can't afford to continue repeating the same mistakes.

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What would you propose? Go ahead, tell me what you think.

Robert McNamara was recently here in Berkeley, in an open discussion with Errol Morris. Alas, i missed the forum, as well as the one with George Soros, but video recordings are available online. A few of us are organizing a little group viewing of both the McNamara forum and the Soros forum at Kingman this Sunday around 8:30 pm. Want to join us?