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Time for change

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Gender: Male
Home country: United States
Current location: Winter Garden, Florida
Member since: Fri Dec 3, 2004, 12:01 AM
Number of posts: 13,714

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Jill Stein Campaign Response to Accusation of Use of 2016 Recount Money for Legal Defense

An article by Charles Davis in the Daily Beast was featured in a recent DU post that blasted Jill Stein for using leftover money she raised for a recount of the 2016 election for legal defense purposes. The Daily Beast article was published before allowing Stein or her campaign to respond to the allegations. The Stein campaign did respond later that same day (July 13, 2018), and the Daily Beast stuck the response at the very end of their article, while making no comment about it at any place in their article.

Given the Stein campaign’s response and what I know about Stein’s efforts to obtain a valid recount in selected states for the 2016 election, I feel that the Daily Beast article utterly failed to put the issue in a proper and fair context. Also, the DU post on this issue made no mention of Stein’s response, it was not noted by any of the DU responders to the post, and all the comments to the post that I saw were very negative towards Stein. Therefore, the purpose of this OP is to attempt to correct the record by putting this issue into what I consider to be a more appropriate and fair context. This was the Stein campaign’s response to the article:

Recount money was used to provide legal counsel for the Senate investigation of alleged Russian collusion that the recount and our campaign were accused of. It was outrageous that the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the recount of being a tool of Russian interference, when the recount was exactly the thing that could have detected any such election interference, had it not been obstructed. Legal counsel enabled us to defend the recount from the baseless accusations behind the Russia investigation, which allowed us to leverage the intense media interest in the Russia investigation to amplify the critical message that election integrity is our best defense against election interference.

That response makes perfect sense to me. If it is true, as indicated in the response, that “the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the recount of being a tool of Russian interference”, then using leftover recount money to pay for Stein’s legal defense was obviously legal and appropriate, and I don’t begrudge her that at all. Keep in mind that this “investigation” was engineered by our Republican Senators, and apparently by them alone. As such, I don’t have any more confidence in the validity of this investigation than I have in the House investigation of the Mueller probe of Trump or their continued investigation of the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal.

I have long believed that our election system is highly vulnerable to fraud and that it has been used as such on myriad occasions in the 21st Century. I believe that this is the primary reason why we are now ruled by a government that is so far to the right of the American people – including a radical right wing psychopath President, a radical right wing majority Supreme Court, a radical right wing majority Senate and House (until January 3, 2019), and a good majority of Republican state legislatures throughout our country.

The 2016 Presidential election produced some very strange results. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.1%, and yet lost the Electoral College resoundingly. Not counting three elections in U.S. history where the Electoral College did NOT choose our President (our President was chosen by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1824, by a special judiciary committee in 1876, and by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, when they halted the vote counting in Florida), there had previously been only one time in U.S. history when the popular vote did not align with the Electoral College in a Presidential election. That was 1888, when the losing candidate, Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote by only 0.8%.

There were 5 states in 2016 that pre-election polls predicted Clinton would win, but which Trump won, by small margins – Michigan by 0.2%, Pennsylvania by 0.7%, Wisconsin by 0.8%, Florida by 1.2%, and North Carolina by 3.7%.

Exit polls are considered accurate enough in many countries that they are used to monitor the accuracy of election results. The United States too considers them accurate enough to have sponsored them in numerous countries in the 21st Century, as a means of monitoring their elections. Yet, although exit polls are routinely used in the United States, they are never used for the purpose of monitoring elections, even though they have greatly and consistently under-predicted Democratic candidate performance in Presidential, Congressional, and Gubernatorial elections since 2004.

Here is a table for the 2016 election that shows exit poll results, official vote counts, and “red shifts” for the 5 swing states that Trump won by small amounts after pre-election polls predicted a Clinton win. “Red shift” is the difference between the exit poll and the official vote count, when the official vote count is lower than the exit poll prediction for the more liberal candidate (if it is the other way around it is called a “blue shift”, but we’ve rarely seen blue shifts for state or national elections in the U.S. in the 21st Century).

State........................Exit poll result.....................Official vote count...............Red shift
North Carolina...........Clinton by 2.1%...................Trump by 3.7%..................5.8%
Pennsylvania.............Clinton by 4.4%...................Trump by 0.7%..................5.1%
Wisconsin.................Clinton by 3.9%...................Trump by 0.8%................. 4.7%
Florida......................Clinton by 1.3%...................Trump by 1.2%..................2.5%
Michigan...................Even...................................Trump by 0.2%..................0.2%

Red shifts high enough to flip the state from Clinton to Trump were seen in each of the 5 swing states. In 3 of those states (NC, PA, and WI) the red shift was larger than the statistical margin of error. Note the very small margins of victory for Trump in 4 out of the 5 states. The margin of victory in North Carolina was larger than the others, but so was the red shift.

The red shift for the popular vote (which doesn’t count for any electoral votes) was only 1.1% -- within the statistical margin of error. All of the above considerations rightly combined to cast a good deal of suspicion on the election results in the 5 swing states with red shifts (as well as pre-election polls for Clinton) that Trump won. Consequently, election integrity activists all over the country searched for a losing Presidential candidate to request recounts in those 5 states (only candidates are allowed to request recounts in the United States). Jill Stein was the only candidate to agree to do that. Some characterize her agreement to do that as “grandstanding”. They have a right to their opinion. But the fact of the matter is that recounts were desperately needed, as they held out the only hope for a reversal of what many believed to be fraudulent election results, with the election of a President that many believed to pose a grave danger to our country.

The Trump campaign attempted to block all three recount requests in state courts. In summary: The Pennsylvania recount was disallowed, the Michigan recount was initially approved but quickly struck down on appeal shortly after the recount was started, and the Wisconsin recount was allowed, but individual counties were given the option of doing the recount by using the same machines that provided the initial vote counts. About half of the Wisconsin counties chose to conduct the recount with those machines, which made the statewide recount worthless.

There is a great taboo in the United States against questioning the accuracy or integrity of our electronic voting machines. Losing candidates who do so by requesting hand recounts are lambasted by our corporate news media as “sore losers”, as was Al Gore in 2000. Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich was one of our biggest advocates in Congress for secure elections, until his District suddenly disappeared, thus ending his Congressional career. There have also been some associated deaths of brave people who have attempted to shine a light on election fraud at very high levels.

Thus, in 2004 John Kerry conceded a highly suspect Presidential election on the day after Election Day without requesting a recount, and in 2016 Hillary Clinton did the same. In both cases it fell upon the Green Party to fund the needed recounts, and in both cases the needed recounts were either not done or conducted in such an inadequate or corrupt manner that they were worthless.

It is easy to say in retrospect that the recount attempt in 2016 was a worthless exercise that shouldn’t have been attempted. But to those of us who strongly believe that our election system has been widely corrupted by the use of voting machines that lack public accountability, the 2016 recounts of the 5 states in question provided the best potential opportunity to begin the process of restoring our democracy.

Thus, I give Jill Stein a great deal of credit for making that attempt. Given the great taboo in our country against questioning the validity of election results, and knowing the character of our Republican Senate, as well as the fact that thus far no credible evidence has emerged against Stein, I find it likely that the Senate’s “investigation” of Jill Stein is without merit and in large part if not wholly motivated by her attempt to obtain information bearing on the integrity of the 2016 Presidential election results.
Posted by Time for change | Mon Dec 31, 2018, 01:24 PM (58 replies)

The Florida 2018 elections for U.S. Senator and Governor Are Highly Suspicious

Shortly prior to the 2018 midterms I contacted the Orange County, Florida (where I live) supervisor of elections to ask them how they intended to ensure that our votes are counted accurately. The answer was that audits would be conducted on statistically valid samples of ballots, and that this would be followed up by hand recounts where audits provided a red flag for serious errors. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that because of our country’s history of woefully inadequate election security and integrity in the 21st Century.

Following the election and the calling of the governor and Senator elections in Florida, I again contacted the Orange County supervisor of elections to follow up on their audit plans. I was told that there would be no audit because the machine recounts (for both elections) and hand recount (for the Senator election) made audits unnecessary. I tried to explain why the partial recounts that were done in no way made audits or follow-up full hand recounts unnecessary – but to no avail.

The partial hand recount of the Florida Senate election strongly suggests fraud (see below). The 2018 machine and partial hand recounts of the governor and U.S. Senate races in Florida were woefully inadequate as a means of ruling out fraud because: The machine recounts are inadequate for that purpose simply because if they had been programmed for fraud prior to the election there would be no good reason to believe that recounting of the votes by the same machines would produce a significantly different result than the original count.

The hand recount included only under- and over-votes, which amounted to about 32,000 ballots, less than 0.4% of the full Florida vote count. I’ve read two somewhat conflicting accounts of the results, but they both indicate substantial narrowing of Rick Scott’s lead over bill Nelson. According to CNN, Scott’s lead of 12,603 votes decreased by more than 2,500 votes following the hand recount. According to the Miami Herald, only 410 additional valid votes for Nelson and 136 valid votes for Scott were found from the recount (2). Although these accounts appear to contradict each other, there are two very important points that need to be emphasized about either scenario: 1) Nelson’s gains on the hand recount in either case are far too great to be attributed to random statistical error (I used statistics on a daily basis for 40 years in my career as an epidemiologist). The odds against such gains occurring by random chance are astronomical – exceeding odds of millions to one; and, 2) Given that the hand recount involved less than 0.4% of Florida’s ballots, if similar differences were found in the rest of the state in a follow-up recount, Nelson’s gains would exceed his current deficit by tens of thousands of votes, even using the lower vote count difference noted above.

I am not implying that the above proves election fraud – though it is certainly very suggestive of that. But certainly any election system geared towards ensuring the accuracy of the vote count would mandate a state-wide hand recount of the Senate race under these circumstances (and the governor’s race if the Senate recount changed the results of the election).
Posted by Time for change | Sat Dec 29, 2018, 04:41 PM (40 replies)

On the Criticism of Elizabeth Warren for Publicizing her DNA Test Results

I find the criticisms of Elizabeth Warren for publicizing her DNA test results to be so inappropriate that I suspect them to be largely if not totally politically motivated.


Criticisms

There are two lines of criticism that I am aware of. One is a criticism – unsupported by any evidence that I have ever seen or heard, notwithstanding the repeated assertions of perhaps the most bigoted man to ever occupy the U.S. Presidency – discussed in an ABC News article by Chris Francescani, provocatively titled “The real problem with Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test: Geneticists”. That article notes allegations that Warren has used her assertions of Native American heritage to further her career – such as to obtain school scholarships, jobs, or tax relief (Unlike Trump, Warren has made her tax returns public).

The other line of criticism, also noted in the ABC News article, goes along the following lines:

“… using DNA to claim an ancestral affiliation with Native Americans contravenes contemporary notions of Native American identity, and to some in the Native American community is simply insulting… Some experts… saw Warren’s DNA test as an affront to Native Americans’ spiritual heritage, which is based on long and deeply-held tribal beliefs that the tribes have for centuries occupied the land on which their reservations sit”.

Really? Warren’s DNA test result somehow has something to do with Native American claims to their ancestral lands?


Warren’s Defense


Regarding the allegation that Warren has used assertions of Native American heritage for political or financial gain, she says “Let me be clear I have never asked for, never got any benefit because of my heritage. The people who hired me have all said they didn’t even know about it”. The Boston Globe has backed her up on that:

In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.

Warren has not made a big deal about her claim to Native American heritage. In her book, “This Fight Is our Fight – The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class”, she uses deeply personal anecdotes from her life experiences to help make many of her points. It includes a 4-page sub-section titled “Fight Bigotry”, which includes a discussion of the bigotry stirred up by our current president, and concludes:

“It isn’t enough to declare in private that our own hearts are good. We stand up in public for those who are attacked and we call on others to stand up. That’s how we tell ourselves who we are. That’s how we let the rest of the world know what we stand for”.


In another section of the book she notes briefly, presumably to make a more personal statement about bigotry, that her father’s parents objected to the marriage of her parents because of her mother’s Native American heritage, but they eloped anyhow.

Her decision to get DNA tested was spurred only by Donald Trump’s repeated ridiculing of her claim, by mockingly referring to her as “Pocahontas”. Trump also promised Warren, in one of his typical rambling semi-coherent statements at one of his rallies (though the statement was more coherent than his statements often are), that if someday he was in a public debate with her, he would agree to donate a million dollars to her favorite charity “if you take the {DNA} test and it shows you’re an Indian”.

Interpreting Trump’s claim as promising to donate a million dollars to charity if she produced a DNA test positive for Native American heritage (whether or not her interpretation of his promise was correct is not my point), Warren publicly released a report by a Stanford University professor who analyzed her DNA sample and concluded “strong evidence” of Native American ancestry from 6-10 generations ago.

It is important to point out, in response to the criticism that the DNA evidence that Warren presented
was not definitively conclusive, and that even if it was, it says nothing about her being actively affiliated with any Native American tribe, that Warren never made any such claims. She only presented the DNA evidence and her mother’s assertion to her of Native American heritage when she was a child, regarding her heritage. Her only reason for publicly revealing the test result was to rebuke the President of the United States for his repeated mocking of her over a period of more than two years, and to request that he pay up on his promise. It may also be significant that she designated a Native American charity devoted to protecting Native American women against violence, for him to send the money to.

Only towards the end of Francescani’s article, following ad nauseum repetitions of criticisms, especially including reasons why DNA tests of Native American heritage are not definitively conclusive, does Francescani present a contrary view. He states, “Not all Native American leaders, however, have been publicly critical of Warren’s DNA testing”. He then goes on to cite the comments of Eastern Band of Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed:

“Senator Warren has not tried to appropriate Cherokee or Delaware culture. She has not used her family story of evidence of Native ancestry to gain employment or other advantage… On the contrary, she demonstrates respect for tribal sovereignty by acknowledging that tribes determine citizenship and respecting the difference between citizenship and ancestry.”

Sneed went on to note that Warren has sponsored legislation to help prevent suicides in Native American populations, identify missing and murdered Native American women, and help tribes reacquire land they once owned.

Certainly, Native Americans living in the United States have a lot to be sensitive about, and wary about the motives of white Americans. As described in detail in “American Holocaust – The Conquest of the New World”, by David E. Stannard, between 1492 and 1890, men of European ancestry (including those constituting the United States of America) perpetrated a genocide against the natives of the “New World” that amounted to the loss of approximately 100 million Native American lives, which represented approximately 95% of the population that existed in 1492. Numerically, that is far more extensive than the Nazi Holocaust, and spread out over a longer period of time (though certainly if the Nazis hadn’t been defeated, their Holocaust would have been far more extensive and much longer than it was).

But why be angry with Elizabeth Warren, a woman without a bigoted bone in her body, for merely announcing the result of her DNA testing in response to unceasing mocking of her by the most famous bigot in the world today? I would like to know if those who criticize Warren for announcing her DNA test result have ever criticized Donald Trump for his crude mockery of her and every ethnic minority group in our country. And I would also like to know whether those same people ever criticized the Republicans of North Dakota for their recent efforts to disenfranchise the Native Americans of North Dakota in order to win a U.S. Senate election. If not, I would like to know why not. It seems crystal clear to me that those people warrant far more criticism than does Elizabeth Warren for anything that she ever did.
Posted by Time for change | Sun Dec 2, 2018, 12:06 PM (33 replies)
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