Are you involved in a local or national non-profit or public interest
organization? As a leader or board director or member? Please read this
message carefully, because your organization could be facing a serious threat
The Federal Election Commission is ready to issue new rules that would
cripple groups that communicate with the public in any way critical of the
President or members of Congress. Any kind of non-profit could be affected
by these rules.
Make a public comment to the FEC before APRIL 9th.
Public comments to the FEC are encouraged by email at
Comments should be addressed to Ms. Mai T. Dinh, Acting Assistant
More details can be found at:
Whether or not you're with a non-profit, we also suggest you ask your
representatives to write a letter to the FEC opposing the rule change.
You can reach your representatives at:
Senator Daniel K. Inouye firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Daniel K. Akaka email@example.com
Congressman Neil Abercrombie firstname.lastname@example.org
- The FEC should not change the rules for nonprofit advocacy in the middle
of an election year, especially in ways that Congress already considered
and rejected. Implementing these changes now would go far beyond what Congress
decided and the Supreme Court upheld.
- These rules would shut down the legitimate activities of nonprofit
organizations of all kinds that the FEC has no authority at all to regulate.
- Nothing in the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law or the Supreme
Court's decision upholding it provides any basis for these rules. That
law is only about banning federal candidates from using unregulated contributions
("soft money"), and banning political parties from doing so, because of
their close relationship to those candidates. It's clear that, with
one exception relating to running broadcast ads close to an election, the
new law wasn't supposed to change what independent nonprofit interest groups
can do, including political organizations (527's) that have never before
been subject to regulation by the FEC.
- The FEC can't fix the problems with these proposed rules just by imposing
new burdens on section 527 groups. They do important issue education and
advocacy as well as voter mobilization. And Congress clearly decided to
require those groups to fully and publicly disclose their finances, through
the IRS and state agencies, not to restrict their independent activities
and speech. The FEC has no authority to go further.
- In the McConnell opinion upholding McCain-Feingold, the U.S. Supreme
Court clearly stated that the law's limits on unregulated corporate, union
and large individual contributions apply to political parties and not interest
groups. Congress specifically considered regulating 527 organization
three times in the last several years - twice through the Internal Revenue
Code and once during the BCRA debate - and did not subject them to McCain-Feingold.
- The FEC should not, in a few weeks, tear up the fabric of tax-exempt
law that has existed for decades and under which thousands of nonprofit groups
have structured their activities and their governance. The Internal Revenue
Code already prohibits 501(c)(3) charities from intervening in political
candidate campaigns, and IRS rules for other 501(c) groups prohibit them
from ever having a primary purpose to influence any candidate elections --
federal, state, or local.
- As an example of how seriously the new FEC rules contradict the IRS
political and lobbying rules for nonprofits, consider this: Under the 1976
public charity lobbying law, a 501(c)(3) group with a $1.5 million annual
budget can spend $56,250 on grassroots lobbying, including criticism of a
federal incumbent candidate in the course of lobbying on a specific bill.
That same action under the new FEC rules would cause the charity to be regulated
as a federal political committee, with devastating impact on its finances
and perhaps even loss of its tax-exempt status.
- The chilling effect of the proposed rules on free speech cannot be
overstated. Merely expressing an opinion about an officeholder's policies
could turn a nonprofit group OVERNIGHT into a federally regulated political
committee with crippling fund-raising restrictions.
- Under the most draconian proposal, the FEC would "look back" at a nonprofit
group's activities over the past four years - before McCain-Feingold was
ever passed and the FEC ever proposed these rules - to determine whether
a group's activities qualify it as a federal political committee. If so,
the FEC would require a group to raise hard money to repay prior expenses
that are now subject to the new rules. Further work would be halted until
debts to the "old" organization were repaid. This rule would jeopardize the
survival of many groups.
- The 4 year "look back" rule would cause a nonprofit group that criticized
or praised the policies of Bush, Cheney, McCain, or Gore in 2000, or any
Congressional incumbent candidate in 2000 or 2002, to be classified as a
political committee now, even though the group has not done so since then.
This severely violates our constitutional guarantees of due process.
- These changes would act as a de facto "gag rule" on public policy advocacy.
They would insulate public officials from substantive criticism for their
positions on policy issues.
- The FEC's proposed rule changes would dramatically impair vigorous debate
about important national issues. It would hurt nonprofit groups across the
political spectrum and restrict First Amendment freedoms in ways that are
unhealthy for our democracy.
- Any kind of nonprofit -- conservative, liberal, labor, religious, secular,
social service, charitable, educational, civic participation, issue-oriented,
large, and small -- could be affected by these rules. A vast number would
be essentially silenced on the issues that define them, whether they are
organized as 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), or 527 organizations.
EXAMPLES OF SPECIFIC CONSEQUENCES FOR NONPROFIT
Under the proposed rules, nonprofit organizations that advocate
If the proposed rules were adopted, the following organizations
- A 501(c)(4) gun rights organization that spends $50,000 on ads
- A "good government" organization [§501(c)(3)] that spends more
- A fund [§527] created by a tax reform organization to provide
- A civil rights organization [§501(c)(3) or §501(c)(4)] that spends
- An organization devoted to the environment that spends more than
- A civic organization [§501(c)(6)] that spends $50,000 during
Other potential ramifications include the following situations:
- A religious organization that publishes an election-year legislative
- A 501(c)(3) organization that primarily encourages voter registration
- A 501(c)(4) pro-life group that accepts contributions from local
- A 501(c)(3) civil rights group that has been designated as a
BRIEFING ON THE PROPOSED RULE CHANGES
Under federal campaign finance laws, federal "political committees"
1. Spends more than $1,000 this year on nonpartisan voter registration
2. Supposedly has a "major purpose" of election of a federal candidate
(a) Saying anything in its press releases, materials, website,
(b) Spending more than $50,000 this year or in any of the last
What's more, any group that gets turned into a federal "political
These proposed rules would apply to all types of groups: 501(c)(3)
The new rules, including those that apply to voter engagement,
The FEC will hold a public hearing on April 14 & 15. Written
It's clear that these rules would immediately silence thousands
Resources on FEC Proposed Rule Changes Threatening Nonprofit Advocacy
From two prominent reform organizations:
Soft Money and the FEC
Public Campaign Statement regarding FEC Draft Advisory Opinion 2003-37
150 Dead zones
Ooxygen-starved areas of the oceans devoid of fish has doubled the last decade, some as big as Ireland.
The main cause is excess nitrogen run-off from farm fertilizers, sewage and industrial pollutants. The nitrogen triggers blooms of microscopic algae known as phytoplankton. As the algae die and rot, they consume oxygen, thereby suffocating everything.
"Human kind is engaged in a gigantic, global, experiment as a result of inefficient and often overuse of fertilizers, the discharge of untreated
sewage and the ever rising emissions from vehicles and factories," UNEP Executive
Director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement. "Unless urgent action is taken to tackle the sources of the problem, it is likely to escalate rapidly."
for every one pound of naturally occurring organism. The biggest problem is nurdles — the raw material used to make everything plastic. Charles Moore: "They are becoming the most common pollutant on our beaches. A three month study of Orange County beaches found three and a half million of these little plastic pellets."
The American Plastics Council says the problem is not with the people who manufacture the material, but rather the people who use it.
It is necessary that we all work together to keep our oceans safe from pollution and contamination. The sea provides many of our foods and is a major recreational resource. Microscopic creatures in the seas generate a large portion of the oxygen that we breathe. Contamination is killing the oxygen producing creatures and adversely affecting our health and our environment. SOS demands pro-active solutions NOW. Please contact us with ideas and suggestions for speakers
at the conference. For more information, contact us at email@example.com
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT THE OCEAN!
To control runoff and erosion:
To minimize nutrient build up:
To control bacteria and viruses:
To control toxic chemicals
To reduce marine debris:
To conserve water and energy:
To take action
Big Fat Samoa Rt. Tear flash non-numbered badge at the bad spot on Pauahi
2day. I was pruned of my sucker and got nipped in the butt for it. Wrong
Time, place and person. Why did I talk to a known Ice-dealer for? Because
I was getting too relaxed in Downtown Chinatown.
I know you don't have what I want, green?
Green? You mean marijuana?
Used the term "US" and feigning injury for not being trusted
A very poor sense of judgment on my part.
"King" sun god of the Canaanites, entirely malevolent 8th-6th century BC,
firstborn children were sacrificed to him by the Israelites in the Valleye
of Hinnom Gehenna
. also popular in ancient Carthage.
Moloch was represented as a huge bronze statue with the head of a bull.
The statue was hollow, and inside there burned a fire which colored the Moloch
a glowing red. Children were placed on the hands of the statue. Through an
ingenious system the hands were raised to the mouth (as if Moloch were eating)
and the children fell into the fire where they were consumed by the flames.
The people gathered before the Moloch were dancing on the sounds of flutes
and tambourines to drown out the screams of the victims. Moloch may be a
specific form of old-testament sacrifice.
BREAKING REPORTS FROM 9-11 HEARINGS:
George Bush bungled the defense of America, then lied to justify invading Iraq when he should have been focusing on Al Qaeda; Now all America is hearing the truth.
Testimony, in secret and not under oath, isn't
worth a pack of lies
The administration's failure to prevent the 11 September attacks came under even fiercer scrutiny yesterday, when it emerged that two veteran CIA counter-terrorism experts were so frustrated in summer 2001 that they considered resigning and making public their fears about an imminent terrorist strike against US targets.
The list grows longer as the evidence mounts. How many more have to come forward before some will believe?
"It is much safer to be feared than loved," wrote the philosopher nearly 500 years ago. But even Machiavelli believed that intimidation has its limits. Just a few sentences after the famous passage quoted above, he cautioned: "Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred."
Sixty prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals on Thursday urged the public
to refrain from retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hamas's founder
The United States rejected an Israeli proposal that Washington recognize the West Bank settlement blocs of Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim as regions that will stay under Israeli rule as part of any permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, Israeli diplomatic sources said late on Thursday
Do you have a clue as to why it's difficult to find out how your representative voted when the bill came before the full House? Does that have anything to do with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich) asking for a suspension of the House rules, making it possible for this controversial "Title 6" to be passed with a so-called "voice vote," eliminating any official public trace of how your representative voted
*A must read*
If you saw the film 'The Revolution wll not be Televised' which I strongly urged all to see, you'll have a much better understanding of what is going on... and again... how perceptions are distorted
The transcript of public testimony from four high-ranking officials from the Bush and Clinton administrations before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, as recorded by Federal News Service
Miriam Oliphant asked for taxpayer help paying her legal bills for the Senate proceedings that will decide whether she should be reinstated as Broward supervisor of elections. Oliphant, a Democrat suspended on Nov. 20 for mismanaging the county's elections office, had her first hearing Wednesday in front of the Senate attorney. v. Jeb Bush suspended Oliphant without pay, ending her $128,769 salary. ''I think it's only fair that we start out on equal ground here,'' Oliphant said, after the hearing. ``The governor has his attorneys and they're on the payroll. I think it's only fair that my attorneys that are representing me be on the payroll.'' Oliphant's previous attorney, David Bogenschutz, defended Oliphant for free until she was cleared of criminal charges, but she dropped the noted Broward criminal attorney following the governor's suspension Once a governor suspends an elected official, the case goes to the Senate for a trial. The Senate then decides whether to uphold the governor's suspension or reinstate the suspended office-holder. Oliphant also faces 55 counts of violating election laws after not opening polls on time during the September 2002 primary and ignoring an order from Gov. Bush to keep them open later than normal. The Florida Elections Commission levied the charges at its Feb. 19 meeting. If she is found guilty, Oliphant faces a fine of up to $55,000 and of those charges will not be considered in the Senate proceedings unless Gov. Bush amends his suspension order to include them.
OLIPHANT To Face The Music In Tallahassee
Click10.com - Miami,FL,USA - Former Broward County supervisor of elections Miriam Oliphant will be in Tallahassee today meeting with the senate attorney who is handling her case
ELECTORAL COLLEGEIs the method stipulated in the Constitution for electing the president and vice president. Originally, the founding fathers designed the Electoral College to be a check on popular passions. They wanted the president to be
indirectly elected by delegates representing the individual states. Over time, with the development of political parties, the Electoral College has become little more than a rubber stamp of the popular vote. Today, members of the Electoral College are designated by the various parties and pledged to support their party candidates.
Before the Twelfth Amendment was passed in 1804, the electoral college
voted for two presidential candidates; the runner-up became vice president.
In 1804, the nation ratified the Twelfth Amendment, which required electors
to vote separately for president and vice president.
Jefferson and Aaron Burr had an electoral vote tie in 1800, and Jefferson was elected by the House of Representatives. In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the most popular votes, but not an electoral majority, so again it went to the House, and John Quincy Adams was elected. In 1876, Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but Rutherford Hayes won the electoral vote and the presidency. Again in 1888, Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but his opponent, Benjamin Harrison, won the electoral vote. George W. Bush eked out a victory over Albert Gore with just 48% of
the popular vote and revived the debate about the Electoral College.
The Electoral College was created , as a "check" against mob rule considered to stupid to rule itself. So they created the "Electoral College" to cast the official, determining votes. Since slave states were given some proportional representation in Congress for their slave population, the "three-fifths compromise" in Article I, Section
2 of the constitution. The winner-take-all electoral count virtually guarantees that one or the other of the two major parties will win. Even a fairly strong third party can only hope to steal enough votes to be a "spoiler"
The most compelling argument today is that the Electoral College is a part of the system of "federalism" in which the states share power among themselves and with the federal government. A constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College should happen, but it seems unlikely. Democratic nationalism and conservative Republican federalism. The confrontation need not leave federalism defeated. It may even provide an opportunity for a new pro federalist campaign against nationalist impositions provided the Republican Party has the unconventional wisdom to see that opportunity.
The cultural divide is real. Genuine Independents are far fewer in number
than is commonly assumed. The yawning cultural divide becomes visible in high-stakes
battles that force spectators to choose sides. The cultural divide has a strong geographical dimension. Despite the tight race in many states, most produced landslide victories of 54 percent or better.
The case against a constitutional amendment for different sexed marriages only:
Instead of attempting to tackle vexing, divisive lifestyle and moral issues at the national level, let us agree to disagree and settle them on a state-by-state basis.
Such federalism would enable us to manage our differences on important questions in a tolerant, sensible fashion. Instead of attempting to find a uniform, rigid compromise for a vast and diverse country in an all-or-nothing national battle on moral issues that make it hard to "split the difference," we would face the easier task of finding varying acceptable compromises in a series of relatively more homogeneous states. Most Americans prefer local state laws than to a national politics of one-size-fits-all.
The case for cultural federalism presumes that citizens hold divergent but
legitimate preferences and values
The right course is this: drag the Electoral College abolition program
into full public view, make it the centerpiece of the post Florida reform drama, hold elaborate, nationally televised hearings.
The federalism case against national "solutions" will require some courage and ingenuity. But it is a case that federalists can win.
Serious federalism frees states to be autonomous and competing power centers against national schemes. It gives states' both as political institutions and as groupings of self-governing citizens.
Let us agree to disagree and settle them on a state-by-state basis
Instead of an all-or-nothing national battle , it's easier within relatively homogeneous states. Federalism presumes that citizens hold different but legitimate issues.
All but two states, Maine and Nebraska,
have a winner-take-all approach for their electors. And while there are no existing federal laws demanding that all electoral delegates of a state vote unanimously, it is a tradition that is rarely broken.
Thus, states have the power to reform the Electoral College without amending the Constitution. Changing the selection of electors to reflect the proportions of the popular vote in each state would help achieve more accurate representation of all voters' intentions, not just a majority, no
matter how slim.
For example, under a proportionate system, if a candidate receives 30 percent of the votes in a 10-delegate state, he or she would get votes from three electors.
If proportional representation were implemented in our Electoral College, third party candidates, such as Ralph Nader, would have the chance to earn their own votes without completely spoiling a particularly tight race.
Vice President Cheney said he supports President Bush's call for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. I know it's a red herring issue to distract the voters from real problems. Why are Republicans in favor of nationalizing such a private matter? True Republicans want less government intruding into people's personal lives. Instead of attempting to tackle vexing, divisive lifestyle and moral issues at the national level,
let us agree to disagree and settle them on a state-by-state basis.
Focus on more important National issues this year in 2004 instead of on moral
issues Federalism presumes that citizens hold divergent but legitimate
preferences and values, that's why we have the Electoral System, it's the
states that vote, (through electors). The Electoral College was created
, as a "check" against mob rule considered to stupid to rule itself. The
third reason for the Electoral College was slaves - but we just rent 'em
now at McJob's. . . . http://forums.delphiforums.com/2004election/start
In late November the government
the man it had portrayed as a grave threat to national security and let
him return to duty at Fort Benning, Georgia. In a desperate attempt to beef
up their indictment, prosecutors tacked on charges of adultery, based on
a two-month affair that Yee had with a female lieutenant at Guantanamo, and
conduct unbecoming an officer, based on pornography investigators found
on Yee's government-issued laptop computer.
backed down Thursday from an effort to make permanent the Patriot Act's
sweeping anti-terrorism powers, clearing the way for passage of a less divisive
measure that would still expand the government's ability to spy on foreign
terrorist suspects in the United States.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, dropped his effort
to extend provisions of the Patriot Act, whose broad powers to investigate
and track terrorists suspects are scheduled to expire in 2005.
As a result, the Senate voted 90-4 to approve a measure expanding the government's
ability to use secret surveillance tools against terrorist suspects who are
not thought to be members of known terrorist groups.
"There's a delicate balance between liberty and security," said Sen. Charles
Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the authors of the so-called "lone wolf" counter-terrorism
measure. "It's a see-saw, and that's the debate that we're seeing now in Congress."
Hatch's effort to try to make the Patriot Act permanent set off immediate
criticism from civil liberties groups and lawmakers, including some Republicans,
who said Congress needed more time to scrutinize how the Patriot Act was working
-- and whether law enforcement officials were abusing it -- before revisiting
The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003,
written by the staff of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and kept secret
until an anonymous insider leaked a copy to a non-partisan civil rights watchdog
group in Washington, DC, on Jan. 9. It has since received little coverage
by mass media outlets.
The bill includes sections that give powers to the executive branch of the
government that have never before been granted in the government’s history.
For example, top Federal officials may now keep all their financial activities
secret, and investigating them will be considered terrorism under the new
The Federal government will be able use martial law powers domestically
and internationally without Congress declaring a state of war.
Companies dealing with highly toxic materials will no longer have to release
information to the public about the threat a facility poses to the surrounding
environment for fear that terrorists could use the information to pick a site
for an attack.
The new bill also excludes any “sunset clause” that would render it void
after five years as the first one did. It is intended as a permanent change
in the Federal government’s application of the bill of rights
Section 213 of
the PATRIOT Act
actually allows the FBI to put on gloves and black clothing, pick the lock
to your home and sift through your personal belongings, leaving nothing out
of place. It permits them to rifle through all your personal effects — from
your personal papers to your pornography collection — all while leaving nothing
out of place. They leave as silently and invisibly as they came, giving no
indication that they have been there.
RESPONSE TO TERRORISM
Powell, Rumsfeld, Albright & Cohen Secs.
Powell & Rumsfeld, plus former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright &
former Defense Sec. William Cohen, testify before the Sept. 11 Commission.
ON C-SPAN AT 9AM & C-SPAN3 AT 1:30PM
Arab journalists walk out of the hall during the press conference of U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (
) in Baghdad, Iraq (
), Friday March 19, 2004. Arab journalists walked out of a news conference
held by Powell in a protest against the shooting deaths of two Iraqi reporters,
allegedly by U.S. troops. A reporter for Arab satellite television station
Al-Arabiya died from his wounds Friday after U.S. soldiers shot him hours
earlier along with a cameraman, who died at the scene, the station said. The
death brought to five the number of journalists killed in Iraq in less than
24 hours. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)
Stephen's Guide to the
The Nizkor Project
, dedicated to the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, also has a helpful
site on fallacies.
Definition: A limited number of options (usually two) is given, while
in reality there are more options. A false dilemma is an illegitimate
use of the "or" operator.
Argument From Ignorance( argumentum ad ignorantiam )
Definition: Arguments of this form assume that since something has
not been proven false, it is therefore true. Conversely, such an argument
may assume that since something has not been proven true, it is therefore
false. (This is a special case of a false dilemma, since it assumes that
all propositions must either be known to be true or known to be false.)
As Davis writes, "Lack of proof is not proof."
Definition: In order to show that a proposition P is unacceptable,
a sequence of increasingly unacceptable events is shown to follow from
P. A slippery slope is an illegitimate use of the "if-then" operator.
Definition: Two otherwise unrelated points are conjoined and treated
as a single proposition. The reader is expected to accept or reject both
together, when in reality one is acceptable while the other is not. A complex
question is an illegitimate use of the "and" operator.
Appeal to Force ( argumentum ad baculum )
Definition: The reader is told that unpleasant consequences will follow
if they do not agree with the author.
Appeal to Pity (argumentum ad misercordiam )
Definition: The reader is told to agree to the proposition because
of the pitiful state of the author.
Appeal to Consequences( argumentum ad consequentiam )
Definition: The author points to the disagreeable consequences of
holding a particular belief in order to show that this belief is false.
Definition: Loaded or emotive terms are used to attach value or moral
goodness to believing the proposition.
Appeal to Popularity (argumentum ad populum )
Definition: A proposition is held to be true because it is widely
held to be true or is held to be true by some (usually upper crust) sector
of the population. This fallacy is sometimes also called the "Appeal to
Emotion" because emotional appeals often sway the population as a whole.
Definition: The person presenting an argument is attacked instead
of the argument itself. This takes many forms. For example, the person’s
character, nationality or religion may be attacked. Alternatively, it may
be pointed out that a person stands to gain from a favourable outcome.
Or, finally, a person may be attacked by association, or by the company
he keeps. There are three major forms of Attacking the Person: (1) ad hominem
(abusive): instead of attacking an assertion, the argument attacks the person
who made the assertion. (2) ad hominem (circumstantial): instead of attacking
an assertion the author points to the relationship between the person making
the assertion and the person's circumstances. (3) ad hominem (tu quoque):
this form of attack on the person notes that a person does not practice
what he preaches.
Appeal to Authority( argumentum ad verecundiam )
Click here for more explanation.
Definition: While sometimes it may be appropriate to cite an authority
to support a point, often it is not. In particular, an appeal to authority
is inappropriate if: (i) the person is not qualified to have an expert
opinion on the subject, (ii) experts in the field disagree on this issue.
(iii) the authority was making a joke, drunk, or otherwise not being serious
A variation of the fallacious appeal to authority is hearsay. An argument
from hearsay is an argument which depends on second or third hand sources.
Definition: The authority in question is not named. This is a type
of appeal to authority because when an authority is not named it is impossible
to confirm that the authority is an expert. However the fallacy is so
common it deserves special mention. A variation on this fallacy is the
appeal to rumour. Because the source of a rumour is typically not known,
it is not possible to determine whether to believe the rumour. Very often
false and harmful rumours are deliberately started in order to discredit
Style Over Substance
Definition: The manner in which an argument (or arguer) is presented
is taken to affect the likelihood that the conclusion is true.
Inductive reasoning consists on inferring from the properties of
a sample to the properties of a population as a whole. For example, suppose
we have a barrel containing of 1,000 beans. Some of the beans are black
and some of the beans are white. Suppose now we take a sample of 100 beans
from the barrel and that 50 of them are white and 50 of them are black.
Then we could infer inductively that half the beans in the barrel (that is,
500 of them) are black and half are white. All inductive reasoning depends
on the similarity of the sample and the population. The more similar the
sample is to the population as a whole, the more reliable will be the inductive
inference. On the other hand, if the sample is relevantly dissimilar to the
population, then the inductive inference will be unreliable. No inductive
inference is perfect. That means that any inductive inference can sometimes
fail. Even though the premises are true, the conclusion might be false. Nonetheless,
a good inductive inference gives us a reason to believe that the conclusion
is probably true.
Definition: The size of the sample is too small to support the conclusion.
Definition: The sample used in an inductive inference is relevantly
different from the population as a whole.
Definition: In an analogy, two objects (or events), A and B are shown
to be similar. Then it is argued that since A has property P, so also
B must have property P. An analogy fails when the two objects, A and B,
are different in a way which affects whether they both have property P.
Definition: The proper conclusion of an inductive argument is denied
despite the evidence to the contrary.
Fallacy of Exclusion
Definition: Important evidence which would undermine an inductive
argument is excluded from consideration. The requirement that all relevant
information be included is called the "principle of total evidence".
A statistical generalization is a statement which is usually true,
but not always true. Very often these are expressed using the word "most",
as in "Most conservatives favour welfare cuts." Sometimes the word "generally"
is used, as in "Conservatives generally favour welfare cuts." Or, sometimes,
no specific word is used at all, as in: "Conservatives favour welfare cuts."
Fallacies involving statistical generalizations occur because the generalization
is not always true. Thus, when an author treats a statistical generalization
as though it were always true, the author commits a fallacy.
Definition: A general rule is applied when circumstances suggest that
an exception to the rule should apply.
Definition: An exception to a generalization is applied to cases where
the generalization should apply.
It is common for arguments to conclude that one thing causes another.
But the relation between cause and effect is a complex one. It is easy
to make a mistake. In general, we say that a cause C is the cause of an
effect E if and only if: (i) Generally, if C occurs, then E will occur,
and (ii) Generally, if C does not occur, then E will not occur either. We
say "generally" because there are always exceptions. For example: We say
that striking the match causes the match to light, because: (i) Generally,
when the match is struck, it lights (except when the match is dunked in water),
and (ii) Generally, when the match is not struck, it does not light (except
when it is lit with a blowtorch). Many writers also require that a causal
statement be supported with a natural law. For example, the statement that
"striking the match causes it to light" is supported by the principle that
"friction produces heat, and heat produces fire".
Coincidental Correlation ( post hoc ergo prompter hoc )
Definition: The name in Latin means "after this therefore because
of this". This describes the fallacy. An author commits the fallacy when
it is assumed that because one thing follows another that the one thing
was caused by the other.
Definition: One thing is held to cause another when in fact both are
the effect of a single underlying cause. This fallacy is often understood
as a special case of post hoc ergo prompter hoc.
Genuine but Insignificant Cause
Definition: The object or event identified as the cause of an effect
is a genuine cause, but insignificant when compared to the other causes
of that event. Note that this fallacy does not apply when all other contributing
causes are equally insignificant. Thus, it is not a fallacy to say that
you helped cause the defeat of the Tory government because you voted Reform,
for your vote had as much weight as any other vote, and hence is equally
a part of the cause.
Definition: The relation between cause and effect is reversed.
Definition: The effect is caused by a number of objects or events,
of which the cause identified is only a part. A variation of this is the
feedback loop where the effect is itself a part of the cause.
These fallacies have in common a general failure to prove that the
conclusion is true.
Begging the Question (petitio principii)
Definition: The truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premises.
Often, the conclusion is simply restated in the premises in a slightly
different form. In more difficult cases, the premise is a consequence of
Irrelevant Conclusion ( ignoratio elenchi )
Definition: An argument which purports to prove one thing instead
proves a different conclusion.
Definition: The author attacks an argument which is different from,
and usually weaker than, the opposition's best argument.
The fallacies in this section are all cases where a word or phrase
is used unclearly. There are two ways in which this can occur. (i) The
word or phrase may be ambiguous, in which case it has more than one distinct
meaning. (ii) The word or phrase may be vague, in which case it has no distinct
Definition: The same word is used with two different meanings.
Definition: An amphiboly occurs when the construction of a sentence
allows it to have two different meanings.
Definition: Emphasis is used to suggest a meaning different from the
actual content of the proposition.
These fallacies occur because the author mistakenly assumes that
the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. However, things joined
together may have different properties as a whole than any of them do separately.
Definition Because the parts of a whole have a certain property, it
is argued that the whole has that property. That whole may be either an
object composed of different parts, or it may be a collection or set of
Definition: Because the whole has a certain property, it is argued
that the parts have that property. The whole in question may be either a
whole object or a collection or set of individual members.
The term non sequitur literally means "it does not follow". In this
section we describe fallacies which occur as a consequence of invalid arguments.
Affirming the Consequent
Definition: Any argument of the following form is invalid: If A then
B Therefore, A
Denying the Antecedent
Definition: Any argument of the following form is invalid: If A then
B Not A Therefore, Not B
Definition: The author asserts more than one proposition such that
the propositions cannot all be true. In such a case, the propositions may
be contradictories or they may be contraries.
Astronomers and historians
of science alike say they cannot remember any other time in modern
scientific history when the world's most powerful telescope was simply abandoned,
without a better one ready to replace it. "Usually other instruments are
there and taking over," says Owen Gingerich, emeritus historian of science
at Harvard University who specializes in astronomy. "You don't have this
interim gap where you throw away an instrument that is producing heavily
in anticipation of something else."
Moreover, though the politics of NASA's decision have been widely debated
-- the agency says its rationale is safety, but skeptics believe the Hubble
is being sacrificed to pay for President Bush's goal of sending astronauts
to Mars -- fewer people recognize that scientists are enjoying one of
the most productive moments in Hubble's history
Any choice between Hubble and a manned Mars mission is a choice between
two distinct modes of astronomical exploration. Mars presents a specific,
long-term undertaking -- and an all-or-nothing gamble. Hubble would provide
a wider-ranging, more immediate, and steadier flow of discoveries. Perlmutter,
for one, believes that such broad, steady progress will best raise the
level of science and technology available over time, to the benefit of
The average distance between the Earth
and the Moon is 238,900 or about 240,000 miles.
Although some gas molecules and particles out to about 40,000 mi are trapped
by the earth's gravitational and magnetic fields, the density of the atmosphere
at an altitude of about 6,000 mi is comparable to that of interplanetary
A 100-foot-diameter asteroid
passed close but harmlessly by Earth on Thursday, astronomers said. The
hurtling rock passed about 26,500 miles above the southern Atlantic Ocean
at 2:08 p.m. PT.
The White House went on the offensive
today against President Bush's former top terrorism adviser, Richard A.
Clarke, over criticism of Bush's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
after holding top posts under presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and
Interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" about his book, "Against All
Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror," Clarke said this morning that the
day after the Sept. 11 attacks, "the president, in a very intimidating way,
left us -- me and my staff -- with the clear implication that he wanted us
to come back with the word that there was an Iraqi hand behind 9/11 because
they had been planning to do something about Iraq from before the time they
came into office.
to "keep an open mind" on whether "there was some link, for instance, to Iraq,
with whom we had a history, including Iraq's attempt to assassinate former
president [George H.W.] Bush" during a visit to Kuwait.
to attack Iraq or Afghanistan, the administration decided that "they had to
do Afghanistan first" because it was obvious that al Qaeda, which was based
in Afghanistan, was behind the attacks. But he said the response "was slow
and small" and the Bush administration did not go all out to send troops into
Afghanistan and eliminate al Qaeda and bin Laden because it was holding back
a larger effort for Iraq.
"We should have put U.S. special forces in immediately, not many weeks later,"
Clark told ABC. "U.S. special forces didn't get into the area where bin Laden
was for two months, and we tried to have the Afghans do it. You know, basically
the president botched the response to 9/11. He should have gone right after
Afghanistan, right after bin Laden. And then he made the whole war on terrorism
so much worse by invading Iraq.
WASTED VOTE ?
The reason the United States has a two-party system
is that no one wants to waste their vote and end up helping the wrong guy
even when the other guy is not that great either. For this reason, the predominate
two political parties enjoy a lock on the overwhelming majority of votes,
despite possible mutual lackluster performance.
Why did the founding fathers give us this ridiculous institution? There
were several reasons, but none of them was good. The founders were not much
in favor of democracy anyway, and hoped that an indirect election would keep
popular majorities from threatening the privileges of the rich--see
#10, or Charles Beard's classic work,
An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution
. More directly, though, the Electoral College was meant to protect
disadvantage to direct election of the president, and this problem is easily
fixed. If we chose the president the way we do governors, by plurality vote,
a president could be elected without any majority -- either of the voters
or of the Electoral College. This system would encourage the cynical and
corrupt strategy (by candidates) of placing "straw" candidates in the election
to take votes away from your opponent, and the equally cynical practice (by
voters) of "strategic voting" -- voting for the candidate you think will
win, rather than the candidate you believe in.
The answer to this problem is to require election by a majority of the
votes. This could be done expensively, by having a second election, limited
to the top two candidates, a week after the first. But it could be done
cheaply by using the Instant Runoff Vote. With the Instant
Runoff--used in Australia, for example--voters mark their first, second,
third, etc. choices on the ballot. A candidate with a majority of first-choice
votes is elected. If no candidate has a majority, the lowest-ranking candidate
is eliminated, and his or her votes redistributed to whoever was the second
choice on those ballots. (This can all be done electronically and fast).
This process continues until one candidate achieves a majority, and is elected--and
eveyone knows that an absolute majority preferred that candidate to whoever
Let's do it! Amending the Constitution is not easy -- but if the US is
to retain any semblance of democray, it has to be done.
|A wasted vote is not on the "wrong"
candidate but one that has been voided due to faulty polling procedures
and methods. Hanging Chads and paperless DRE's ,along with unequal
application of counting standards within a Federal State is systematized
In a proportional system
, the number of seats each party gets corresponds to the percentage
of votes it receives (as long as it reaches a specified minimum,
e.g., 5 percent).
Defenders of the two-party system argue that multi-party
PR societies are prone to gridlock, citing Italy and Israel.
But it isn’t so. Other PR societies, like Germany, Switzerland,
Sweden, and the Netherlands, are much more efficient than
the United States at enacting policy. Besides, are winner-take-all
rules discredited by the fact that imperfect democracies like
Algeria, Pakistan, and India have adopted them?
America is, as we all know, the greatest country that
ever was. But might not the rest of the world be right about
Democracy (an invaluable resource for voting reform; see www.fairvote.org):
“Currently there are 41 well-established democracies with
at least two million inhabitants and high ratings from the
human rights organization Freedom House, and of these 41 nations
only two—the United States and Canada—do not use a form of
proportional or semi-proportional voting systems to elect
one of their national legislatures.”
One thing is certain: if proportional representation,
instant-runoff voting, and kindred reforms had been in place
in 2000, not only the voters but all three leading presidential
candidates as well would be better off today. George Bush
could have played golf all winter and sailed his father’s
boat all summer. Ralph Nader would have successfully launched
the Green Party into national politics. And Al Gore would
be in the White House. <
s seek to fulfill objectives which are sometimes scarcely compatible
with each other: on the one hand, to reflect fairly faithfully the
opinions of the people, and on the other, to channel currents of thought
so as to promote the emergence of a sufficiently clear and coherent
political will. In these circumstances the phrase ”conditions which
will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice
of the legislature” implies essentially
- apart from freedom of expression (already protected under Article
10 of the Convention )- the principle of equality of treatment of all
citizens in the exercise of the right to vote and their right to stand
for election. It does not follow, however, that all votes must necessarily
have equal weight as regards the outcome of the election or that all candidates
must have equal chances of victory. Thus no electoral system can eliminate
”wasted votes” ( March 2, 1987
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Mathieu- Mohin and Clerfayt
Change of essential electoral
provisions shortly before the regular elections negatively influences
the procedure of the elections. If an issue on alteration of electoral
provisions arises, a certain time limit is needed to allow public to express
The English rule, which holds that a ballot should not be counted for
a candidate known to be ineligible as that candidate is not capable of
being selected, and that a vote knowingly so cast for one ineligible or
who has died is thrown away. It is seen as deliberately wasted vote which
should not be counted in the determination of the outcome of the election.
According to this view, the
voter's knowledge of the death of disqualification of the candidate is
not material and that vote is not to be treated as void or thrown away but
to be counted in determining the result of the election as regards to the
other candidates. Under this view the election is rendered nugatory,
.), since the candidate
receiving the highest number of votes is deceased or disqualified and
the resulting vacancy must be filled according to law
"An election is the deliberate
choice of a majority or plurality of the electoral body. This is evidenced
by the votes of the electors. But, if a majority of those voting, by mistake
of law or fact, happen to cast their votes upon an ineligible candidate,
it by no means follows that the next to him on the poll should receive the
office. If this be so, a candidate might be elected who received only a
small portion of the votes and who never could have been elected at all but
for this mistake. The votes are not less legal votes because given to a
person in whose behalf they cannot be counted; and the person who is the
next to him on the list of candidates does not receive a plurality of votes
because his competitor was ineligible. The votes cast for the latter, it is
true, cannot be counted for him; but that is no reason why they should, in
effect, be counted for the former, who, possibly, could never have received
them. It is fairer, more just and more consistent with the theory of our institutions,
to hold the votes so cast as merely ineffectual for the purpose of an election,
than to give them the effect of disappointing the popular will, and electing
to office a man whose pretensions the people had designed to reject."
- ballot access law Supreme Court
Although restrictive ballot access is one reason behind the failure of third
parties or substantive change to capture a majority of the electorate in this
century, it helps to show the withering of democracy in a meaningless political
Restricted access to the ballot was not always the case. Up until the late
19th century, each political party was responsible for printing its own ballots.
Individual states were only responsible for enforcing a fair count. Political
parties were private associations and unregulated as such. Free to organize
and function without government supervision, an epidemic of fraud and bribery
in intra-party elections erupted during the post-Civil War period. Such a
break-down in the responsibility and respect required by freedom became an
open invitation for the states to step in.
Legislative intrusion took the form of the Australian ballot and the institutionalization
of the primary election as we know it today. Once the state took control
of printing the ballots, the need for criteria to determine who should be
listed on the ballot arose -- along with all of the restrictive measures
determined by administrative fancy. "Thus the ostensibly neutral state's
control over printing ballots became a crucial wedge to influence government
control over party politics."
a hodge-podge of ballot requirements exists from state to state, eliminating
any hope of an even playing field for new parties' candidates or new political
perspectives gaining a foothold in national consciousness. Debate in Supreme
Court chambers over the constitutionality of excessive state limitations
center around these criteria: promoting political stability, preventing ballot
overcrowding, protecting the integrity of a two-party system, preventing
party raiding by voters of another party, preventing the splintering of political
parties and unrestrained factionalism, protecting the reliability and integrity
of the election process, prohibiting candidacies prompted by short-range
political goals, pique or personal quarrel, avoiding voter confusion, preventing
fraud, and perhaps least of all, providing a fair and non-discriminatory
opportunity for access to the ballot by all candidates and political parties.
None Of The Above. Fusion allows third party members to vote for major partisan
candidates with the distinction of having their vote linked to their own
People say that they're afraid to vote for a third party candidate because
it would take votes away from their second, major party favorite -- that
voting according to their true preference might backfire and they'd get stuck
with the worse of two evils -- equaling a wasted vote. But pause for a moment.
If you don't express your true preference with your vote, then you
aren't really counted. No one knows how you really want things to be and
then you truly have wasted your vote.
The wasted vote
there is no such thing as a wasted vote.
Why should I vote for some Democrat who isn't going to come any closer
to doing what I want as a Republican? Tthey're all rich white dudes who have
no fucking idea what it is like to live my life? A third party votes
have the ability to split a party and throw the election to the other side.
But this isn't a football game. We're not talking about trading players
here. My vote may not win the election, but I will use it to announce that
I am not happy with the way things are. That I do want a change.
I will suffer through an age of Republicans or Democrats. I will protest.
I will rant. I will yell. And I will continue to send the message. I will
not give in.
Don't tell me that any vote for one's beliefs is wasted.
Posted by LegendaryMonkey at November 30, 2002 03:49
Posted on Fri, Nov. 01, 2002
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday ordered all 87 counties to provide
a new ballot to any absentee voter who wants one — a marked change in state
policy that still fell far short of what the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
had asked for .
(Even the Nevada Legislature
agrees that you can't trust the Nevada Voting System!)
State Audit Cites Lax Supervision of New
Secretary of State Heller (click)
(lax: careless, derelict, forgetful, negligent)
Paper Ballot. At the end of the day
after the polls had closed, neighborhood people, Democrats and
Republicans, worked together to count the votes in the precinct
(polling place) BEFORE the votes left that precinct. The count was
then posted at the precinct polling place for all to see. This is
the only way to insure a verifiable election. Variations of method
are possible, but the elements of physical ballots which are counted
and posted at the precinct before the ballots leave each
precinct are essential to insure a fair and honest count.
About 1974 , the votes were
no longer being counted in the precincts by neighborhood people.
The switch was on to computer vote counting systems.
The first words spoken by President-elect,
George Bush in his Nov. 8, 1988 victory speech in Houston, Texas.
Bush said: "We can now speak the most majestic words a
democracy can offer: "The people have spoken. . . "
"It was not "the People" of the United
States who did 'the speaking' on that election day, although most
of them believed it was, and still believe it. In fact, the People
did not speak at all. The voices most of us really heard
that day were the voices of computers strong, loud, authoritative,
unquestioned in their electronic finality....
One of the most mysterious, low-profile,
covert, shadowy, questionable mechanisms of American democracy
is the DRE.
"How Elections Are Stolen"
in American Opinion magazine written in 1977 by Dr. Susan L.M. Huc.
When the Cincinnati newspapers failed to mention the computer crash
the next morning and the accompanying candidate position shake up
this was our first taste of the media blackout that dozens
of other concerned citizens were experiencing all over the nation.
After due research and preparation,
we filed suit against our local Board of Elections in 1981, and
after 4 years of public service litigation conducted by my Father,
James J. Condit Sr., our side won a decisive victory. Judge Richard
Niehaus ruled: "There is no adequate and proper safeguard against
the computers being programmed to distort the election results."
Judge Niehaus also issued
a court order allowing us and our chosen experts "to observe all
phases of the election process" on election night 1985 with a view
that we bring evidence back to his court so that the situation could
be properly remedied.
The Colliers had already video-filmed
women punching votes out of voters' ballots at the Board of Elections
on election night 1982 in Miami, Florida.
And to my surprise (but not
to theirs), the Colliers also caught women on camera plucking votes
out of punchcard ballots in Cincinnati, this time using household
Disappointingly, Judge Niehaus
(in his tennis shoes) was summoned down to the Board of Elections
at about 7:30 PM on that 1985 election night by the heads of both
the Republican and Democratic Parties. The Judge, in a highly unusual
move, modified his court order on the spot insisting that observing
"all phases of the election process" did not include videotaping!
The audio portion of the confrontation
between Ken Collier on the one hand, and the Judge and both local
Party heads on the other, is captured on a video camera which was
pointed at the floor during the tense exchange. The Colliers were
told to quit videotaping under threat of arrest.
(Oct. 30, 1987), reporter
Randy Ludlow wrote an outstanding article in the Cincinnati Post.
Eventually a cornucopia of
press coverage did ensue but it focused on other aspects of the
story, while maintaining the brutal cover-up of the vote fraud issue.
All the rest of the coverage was devoted to relative trivia such
as which millionaires and organizations had been allegedly phone
tapped, speculation as to why, etc. etc. etc.
"The Dangers of Computerized
Voting" appeared as a cover story in the Nov. 7, 1988 issue of New
Yorker magazine (This dynamite article is available in most libraries).
In August of 1988, the U.S.
Bureau of Commerce published a comprehensive study under the auspices
of the National Bureau of Standards by Roy G. Saltman, Special Publication
500-158 entitled "Accuracy, Integrity, and Security in Computerized
This is probably the most
comprehensive compilation of all the lawsuits and other aspects
which surround the issue of computerized voting published thus far.
This government study supports Dugger's article, as well as supplies
mountains of evidence documenting the problems with computer vote-counting
The thus-far successful suppression
of the votescam issue from widespread public notice is a chilling
demonstration of major media censorship in America.
In the Condorcet election method, voters rank the candidates in order of
preference. The vote counting procedure then takes into account each preference
of each voter for one candidate over another. It does so by conceptually
breaking the election down into a series of separate races between each possible
pairing of candidates, hence it is sometimes referred to as a "pairwise"
method. If one of the candidates beats each of the other candidates in their
one-on-one race, then that candidate wins. Otherwise, the result is ambiguous
and a standard procedure is used to resolve the ambiguity. Unlike conventional
plurality voting, Condorcet voting gives voters little incentive to falsify
their true preferences.
Electronic voting is
inherently vulnerable to tampering,
and integrity cannot be ensured unless the following precautions are taken.
First, all public DRE voting systems for general elections should automatically
produce paper ballots that are readable both by the voter and by machine.
No matter how tight computer security may be, someone must ultimately have
unsupervised access to the system, and computer data files are simply too
easy to delete or manipulate. Paper ballots in sealed ballot boxes cannot
be easily "deleted" or manipulated as long as they are in the custody of
more than one person. The paper ballots should be used as the primary source
of data, and the electronically recorded votes should be used for a fast
(but tentative) count and as a backup in case of lost or damaged paper ballots.
If properly implemented, a combination of electronic and paper ballots
can provide much better integrity than either mode can provide by itself
Second, all public DRE voting systems should be based on open computer architecture
and open-source software. "Black boxes" and proprietary software are unnecessary
and should not be used for public voting systems. Closed systems are an invitation
to tampering or outright subversion of the electoral process
A voter's ballot
is one of the most important documents that exists in a free society.
To entrust this document to an entirely computerized system run on secret
software with no paper audit trail is to ask voters, candidates (winners
and losers alike) and parties to exercise blind trust in the voting system.
Given the limitations of current technology, a voter-verified, paper
audit trail is the only proven way to mitigate the real (and perceived)
security risks inherent in any computerized voting system, such as programming
errors, the use of unauthorized software, and deliberate attempts to
manipulate an election
Let's solve the problem before November 2004.
Let's pass H.R.2239/S.1980.
Help America Vote Act
—the 2002 legislation that provides funding for new voting equipment—to
require a voter-verified paper record for the 2004 elections. That bill,
H.R. 2239, now has 94 co-sponsors, including three Republicans.
We advocate the use of voter-verified paper ballots for all elections in
the United States, so voters can inspect individual permanent records of their
ballots before they are cast and so meaningful recounts may be conducted.
Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) voters personally verify vote
is accurately recorded while providing a proper audit capability should
problems arise with the electronic count.
Latest scandal broke in mid-December,
when an audit by Shelley's office revealed that Diebold had installed uncertified
software in all 17 California counties
Voting machine showdown
A leading maker of computer election equipment defends itself
in court against charges that it overreached itself in trying to stifle
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Farhad Manjoo
Feb. 10, 2004 | SAN JOSE, Calif. --
Diebold, one of the nation's leading manufacturers of computerized voting
machines, faced off against some of its critics on Monday in U.S. District
Court. But this time, the question at issue wasn't whether
the machines could be hacked,
but whether Diebold was abusing the principles of free speech in an attempt
to quash the critics.
Late in the summer of 2003, Diebold found itself at the center of a white-hot
controversy over the trustworthiness of the American democratic process.
For several months, activists and academics concerned about the security
of touch-screen voting systems had closely scrutinized the company, and they'd
found much to worry about: Diebold's voting machines were said to be full
of security flaws, and its CEO turned out to be a major supporter of George
W. Bush. Then, activists found what they called the smoking gun -- a stash
of thousands of internal e-mail messages that appeared to prove that Diebold
was up to no good.
which were quickly posted on left-leaning sites across the Web, Diebold
engineers seem to acknowledge that their products aren't very secure, and
they appear to discuss methods of
hiding the problems
rather than fixing them. The documents were, naturally, extremely embarrassing
to Diebold, which had always maintained that its engineers were the paragon
of professionalism, and the firm moved quickly to stifle their publication.
The company claimed that its internal messages were property protected
by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it sent out dozens of cease-and-desist
letters to Web sites and Internet service providers (ISPs) involved in the
publication of the documents. The company targeted not only ISPs that hosted
sites that posted the messages but also ISPs that hosted sites that merely
linked to the documents, and even ISPs that provided Internet service to
other ISPs that hosted sites that linked to documents.
In court on Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other guardians
of digital civil liberties argued that Diebold went too far. By hastily
sending out cease-and-desist letters, Diebold abused the powers of the DMCA,
EFF attorneys said. Even though Diebold ultimately
its threatening letter to ISPs and promised not to sue anyone "for copyright
infringement for the non-commercial use of the materials posted to date,"
the plaintiffs argued that Diebold ought to be punished for initially attempting
use copyright law to stifle speech. "We think it's important that the court
make it clear that if you misuse the powers the DMCA has granted copyright
holders, there are going to be serious consequences," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's
legal director, in an interview before the hearing.
For critics of the long reach of the DMCA, the EFF's argument is an attractive
one. In recent years, copyright law has been used to "chill" many instances
of seemingly legitimate, First Amendment-protected speech -- everything
papers showing the vulnerabilities in music copy-protection schemes
to Harry Potter-inspired
erotic fan fiction.
run by the EFF and several universities, documents this trend.)
But Diebold argued at the hearing that its actions were not obviously
beyond the pale. Temporarily chilling speech, it suggested, is a right that
Congress has sanctioned in copyright legislation, and Diebold acted well
within the DMCA when it sent takedown notices to ISPs. Under the law, said
Robert Mittelstaedt, Diebold's attorney, a firm can ask providers to remove
content as long as they have a reasonable sense that the content is copyrighted.
Because Diebold did not "make a knowing misrepresentation" that its content
was protected by the DMCA, it should not be liable for any damages stemming
from its letters, he said.
In the case, the EFF is representing the Online Policy Group, a San Francisco
ISP that provides Internet services to hundreds of nonprofit groups, including
the San Francisco Indymedia
site, which published several links to other sites hosting the Diebold
memos last fall. On Oct. 10, Diebold sent OPG a letter demanding that it
remove the links. For technical reasons, OPG could not just remove the links
-- it could only pull down the entire Indymedia site, which officials at
OPG thought was an overreaction to a simple link. Diebold also sent a cease-and-desist
letter to Hurricane Electric, a firm that provides what's known as "upstream"
Internet access to OPG -- meaning that Hurricane is essentially OPG's ISP.
For similar technical reasons, Hurricane also could not force Indymedia to
remove the offending link; it could only block Internet access to OPG, meaning
that Indymedia as well as every other site hosted by OPG would go dark,
all for a simple link.
The EFF argues that because Diebold was never going to publish and sell
its internal discussions, the company's copyright claims on the e-mails
were obviously weak, and that the activists who published the e-mails were
acting within their "fair use" rights. Diebold ought to have investigated
whether the activists had a legitimate fair-use claim before it sent out
the takedown notices, Cohn argued; its rash action suggested that it was
more interested in stifling speech than in pursuing a legitimate DMCA claim.
"What happened at Diebold was, they said, 'Hey, there's this embarrassing
stuff online,'" Cohn said in an interview. "So their lawyers said, 'Here's
this easy way to get them down -- we don't have to go to a judge, we just
say they're copyrighted.' Diebold says, 'Sure, that's cheaper.' What we'd
like to have interjected in that conversation is a lawyer saying, 'Wait
a minute, we don't have a valid copyright claim.'" EFF asked the judge to
make Diebold pay the OPG's attorneys fees and other damages as a way to
deter other firms from too quickly reaching for the DMCA.
At the center of this case is the question of whether it should have been
obvious to Diebold that its copyright claim was weak. Diebold argues that
it isn't obvious that the people who posted the material online had a fair-use
right to do so. There is, for instance, no fair-use right to publish documents
that are judged especially important to the public good, and publishing
all of the e-mails (rather than excerpts from them) might also have run
afoul of fair-use doctrines. Diebold's claim was not frivolous, Mittelstaedt
said, "therefore no damages."
Diebold could very well be right. The firm might reasonably have decided
that activists had no fair-use right to publish the company's internal discussions
-- but if Diebold is correct, and it turns out that the DMCA does, as the
company asserts, give a company the right to shut down hundreds of Web sites
just to get at one hyperlink, that by itself would be a damning commentary
on current copyright law.
The judge in the case, Jeremy Fogel, seemed troubled by this prospect
but was also deferential to Diebold's view that what it did was within the
law. Fogel said he'd try to issue his decision within a month or two.
Psst? Wanna get a look at some vote-counting software?
A computer programmer discovers a widely used computerized
voting program on a publicly accessible Internet server.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Farhad Manjoo
Oct. 30, 2003 | Software used to count
the votes in as many as 16 states has been found available on a publicly
accessible Internet server. The files, which appear to reveal technical details
about how votes are stored in machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems, have
been accessible on the site for at least two years.
A computer programmer, who asked not to be named for fear of legal retaliation
from Sequoia, says that he came upon the FTP server holding the files on
Friday, when he visited the Web site of
Jaguar Computer Systems,
a computer consulting firm in Southern California that provides technical
services to, among other customers, Riverside County. In the 2000 presidential
election, Riverside became the first county in the nation to employ touch-screen
machines in its precincts. Its machines are made by Sequoia.
Jaguar's site advertises its FTP server as a service to help clients who
want to download files from the firm: "Our FTP site is ftp.jaguar.net,"
it says. "We support 'anonymous' logins and our '/PUB' directory is stuffed
with many of the files that we use." When the activist logged in to this
FTP site, he spotted a file called WinEDS200.zip -- a 44-megabyte file that
turned out to be the installation program for software that tallies the votes
in Sequoia's voting software.
When contacted for comment, Alfie Charles, a spokesman for Sequoia Voting
Systems, was surprised to hear that the file was available on a public site.
Later, Charles e-mailed Salon a statement denying responsibility for the
security breach, but asserting that the availability of the code did not
compromise the integrity of Sequoia's systems.
Sequoia has not made this information publicly available or accessible
and we are disturbed that it has been accessed in this inappropriate manner,"
reads the statement.
"A limited amount of proprietary code that is the property of Sequoia
Voting Systems was posted on the ftp site of a consulting company hired by
one of our customers ... While this breach of security is grossly negligent
on the part of the county's contractor, the code that was retrieved is used
to accumulate unofficial results on election night and does not compromise
the integrity of the official electronic ballots themselves."
The statement then details several levels of security that ensure the
voting software's integrity.
"While we are extremely disappointed that an important company asset has
been made available to an unauthorized party, the existing policies and
procedures for the conduct of elections ensure that there is no single point
of failure and prevent the public exposure of that code from jeopardizing
the integrity of any ballots or elections."
George Hoanzl, the vice president of marketing for Jaguar Computers, was
similarly shocked by the situation. "A WinEDS file?" he asked. "It does
But when told that Salon had successfully downloaded the file, Hoanzl,
too, said he'd look into the situation and then phone back. After about
10 minutes, he called back to say that he could not determine how the file
ended up on his public FTP site, which allows anyone in the world to upload
and download files to the server. It was at least 2 years old, he said,
and he'd never been alerted to it before. But after being told about the
file, Jaguar shut down public access to its FTP server.
It's unclear what, if any, vulnerabilities in the Sequoia system are posed
by the public availability of the vote-counting software. Computer scientists
who are familiar with voting-machine software declined to comment, explaining
that they needed time to look over what was in the files.
The files install a full working version of the vote-counting system on
a user's machine. Because the program does not include source code, the
system's innards are not completely laid bare for public review -- which
is what happened to Diebold when Bev Harris, an author who's
problems with touch-screen voting machines, discovered that company's
code on a public FTP site earlier this year. In July, the source code she
found was reviewed by scientists at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities,
who found that security in Diebold's voting software fell "far below even
the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts."
But even without the source code, the Sequoia files will still provide
some insight into the inner workings of the Sequoia system. The system is
a programming system used to quickly develop database applications; even
though the Powerbuilder files have already been compiled into machine language,
the code in these files that is used to send instructions to the voting database
is still readable to humans. This database code -- written in the
-- could possibly instruct critics of touch-screen systems (or, for that
matter, anyone, even people without very noble intentions) on how to manipulate
a Sequoia voting database.
The package also included many SQL files that seem to have been used to
set up voting templates for several elections Sequoia has run. There's a
file for Arapahoe County, Colo.; one for Burlington County, N.J.; another
for Lake County, Ohio -- and about a dozen others. The files all seem to
do the same thing -- create an empty database (one whose default password
is set to "password") that the vote-counting software will fill up on Election
The computer programmer who found the files suggested that if someone
wanted to fake an election, the SQL templates could provide clues regarding
the kind of database to set up. So, for example, if you want to set up a
fake race for Your County, USA, all you might have to do is run these SQL
commands to create a fake data set for Your County. But there's no evidence
that any such thing has happened, so far.
League of Women Voters US recently published a paper on computerized
voting, taking the position that a voter-verified paper audit
trail to back up digital ballots is not necessary.!!
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