jazzoLOG: Maybe No Ohio Recount After All    
 Maybe No Ohio Recount After All13 comments
picture26 Nov 2004 @ 18:05, by Richard Carlson

When crows find a dying snake,
They behave as if they were eagles.
When I see myself as a victim,
I am hurt by trifling failures.

---Shantideva

Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does.

---Epictetus

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

---Wilson Mizener

Hope In The Prison Of Despair
Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919)

So much for happy Thanksgiving. But nobody ever said we can't give thanks sadly...or anxiously. Hysterically? Probably not to very good effect, eh?

OK, what am I talking about? I really was elated as we moved into the holiday, even though Judge Carr had turned down the Green and Libertarian parties' motion to a Federal Court to begin the recount early. Their point had been that waiting for Secretary of State Blackwell to certify the election, on a date I've seen given variously as December 3rd or 6th, would make completion of a recount impossible by December 13th, when the Electoral College convenes. [link] As Dan Tokaji explains Carr's decision, these minority candidates are highly unlikely to benefit in terms of new results; and since they're the plaintiffs, there's no reason to try to beat the deadline for Electoral College convention. Besides, Blackwell, dragging his feet and every other part of his Republican body, already had protested we can't have a REcount before the actual count is finished. He'd surely appeal a favorable verdict for the Greens and Libertarians.

The real cowards of the piece, as usual, have been the Democratic Party. As Keith Olbermann reported [link] , the first response by the Democrats to the suggestion we start our recount early was clear support. Well, just how much support? Were they going to join the suit? Would they become plaintiffs as well? Olbermann documents how Kerry's people loosened their grip as usual, reducing the possibilities to just a friendly nod. Think what full involvement would have meant! Carr would not have been able to send down that decision, because clearly the Democrats could have benefited directly from a reversal...to say nothing of the rest of the nation and world. But who expects anything but disappointment from Democrats anymore?

And yet I was somewhat elated. At last a few media outlets began to carry the story. Granted, they're liberal outposts...but at least it's something. The Washington Post Wednesday was announcing Democrat support for the Third Party effort, which story doesn't really seem to ring true...but better than nothing. [link] The LA Times covered the Federal dismissal of the suit to start early. The Seattle Times even played some catchup with a summary [link] . Monday The Baltimore Chronicle had gone even further [link] , and yesterday The Hartford Advocate ran a piece by Alan Waldman that's the most penetrating of all [link] .

But then this morning I discovered the Republicans finally made their move to stifle this whole operation. Apparently The Columbus Dispatch had the story Wednesday morning, but you have to be a paid subscriber to read that paper online. I ran across it elsewhere. Delaware County is a lovely spot just north of Columbus. Polaris Fashion Place is there, and so is the Columbus Zoo. Harness racing fans have heard of the Little Brown Jug, and we Celtic music fans get bussed into Dublin every year for that festival. You might say it's rather exclusive up there...and they're pretty choosy on what they spend their coin. Some county services have been cut recently, but not because of lack of money. Coincidentally the LA Times called Delaware County "exurbia" in its analysis of the place on Wednesday (hello, is the New York Times out here anywhere?) [link] . Exurbia is where you go when you have to leave the suburbia townhouse because those strange people seem to be able to afford to move there now. Besides, the suburbs are looking run down.

According to the Moritz College of Law site, Delaware County Board of Elections filed with a state court there to obtain a ruling it didn't have to bother with the Ohio recount, and by God Judge Whitney gave it [link] . The decision is a classic: the recount would do "irreparable harm" to the County, and do you know "injury" will be caused to others too? Worse, a precedent is set by the state court in echoing the Federal decision, calling a recount for Cobb and Badnarik "vain, needless, burdensome, wasteful, useless, meaningless, and purposeless" [link] . Blackwell's office already has labeled the recount "frivolous," which is the new Republican frame for anything still resembling freedom, like individual and class action lawsuits against corporations. Must the Greens and Libertarians now appeal? How much will that cost? Can the other counties fall in line with this decision and refuse to do it too? Does Ohio indeed have a law that allows any candidate to request a recount as long as he can pay the fee? If the fee is too low is this our fault? Can anyone outspend the Republicans?

And gee, what could be more "frivolous" than the whole election process? We should change the Board of Electors to Board of Directors and they could just hire a president for life or until a successor shows up. Then our TV viewing wouldn't be interrupted every 4 years. I look forward to someone straightening out my attitude on all this.


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26 Nov 2004 @ 18:11 by jmarc : cost benefit analysis
although the price paid for a recount is relatively low, the cost to the counties that have to do it are not, and if preliminary numbers don't statistically indicate a snow balls chance in hell of succeeding to overturn the results, why should a minority be allowed to take hold of the state purse and tear it assunder, just to assuage their hard luck feelings?  


26 Nov 2004 @ 22:39 by vaxen : Hey!
Kerry gets to keep that 40 Million! Shouldn't you be glad? heh heh heh
Sham son of Sad Sham the demo kat.  



27 Nov 2004 @ 09:30 by jazzolog : Minorities And MoveOnOut.org
To answer your question jmarc, "a minority should be allowed" to take advantage of the laws of the land, a land I might add founded upon the very principal that a minority can live some place freely without persecution. If Delaware County and the State of Ohio get away with breaking their own law regarding this free election, the United States will only begin to feel what Hard Luck really is like.

Barbara Ehrenreich has invented a new group for those Yanks increasingly discontented with our nationality. Her satiric carving knife still sharp from Thanksgiving, she serves jazzoLOG a sample~~~

"Many people write to ask: Am I betraying my country by leaving? The answer is NO, your country has already betrayed you. Maybe you grew up believing America meant bacon cheeseburgers, Martin Luther King, rock 'n' roll, and Saturday afternoon softball. But---as you've probably noticed---the operative images in the world today are Abu Ghraib, Condi Rice, and the flattening of Fallujah.

"And when you first pledged your allegiance to 'one nation under God,' you probably didn't realize that God would be delegating much of the day-to-day managerial responsibility to James Dobson and Tom DeLay. It's America that's changed---not you!

"The good news is that there are a lot more countries out there than the US media are generally aware of. France, for example, with its ample coastline and curiously creamy cuisine. China, with its fascinating blend of runaway capitalism and communist repression. Or if you're looking for something REALLY different: Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela now all have democratically elected leftwing leaders. How exotic is that?"

http://www.progressive.org/jan05/ehren0105.html

One more thing: Dana is focusing her attention now on what investigative journalist Wayne Madsen is peddling at Online Journal, and bloggers are picking it up. He claims he has evidence the United States election was rigged, who did it, and how much money exchanged hands. http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/112504Madsen/112504madsen.html This blog deals well with skepticism and has a link to Madsen's update. http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/

Wayne Madsen has been a Senior Fellow of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-partisan privacy public advocacy group in Washington, DC. He is also a freelance investigative journalist, and has written for The Village Voice, The Progressive, CAQ, Counterpunch, and the Intelligence Newsletter. Mr. Madsen is the author of The Handbook of Personal Data Protection (London: Macmillan, 1992), an acclaimed reference book on international data protection law. He has some twenty years experience in computer security and data privacy. As a U.S. Naval Officer he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation. He is the co-author, with John Stanton, of "America's Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II." His forthcoming book is titled: "Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops, and Brass Plates."

 



27 Nov 2004 @ 10:17 by vaxen : Chicken feed?
"He may have hold of something important. But right now, we cannot be sure."
Right. Dust in the wind. Well, at least it gives you something to do...  



27 Nov 2004 @ 12:51 by jmarc : just think
that energy might be better spent finding out why people like myself who hold many socially liberal views, find no identification with the party that is supposed to be for the common wo/man.The democratic party must stop trying to win their victories in the courts, and start winning them in hearts and minds, especially since it appears that the republican party has a lock on the Supremes for the next two years. Some day, i hope to be able to vote for a democrat president, but the whole sore looser thing turns me and many others off i think, to the point where we begin to tune it out and work around it.

Leaders that can show a people their greatness and not point fingers at half the populace , those are the ones who make a difference. Inspire us with courage, and we will find the courage to do what is good. Inspire us with fear and we will run away.  



27 Nov 2004 @ 14:20 by vaxen : Oh jmarc...
Don't you know by now that it is just one BIG happy crime family? You still don't appear to 'get it!' The introduction of the electronic votescam medium, even though we told everybody many months in advance what was going to come down, has completely eclipsed any thought of free and fair elections! Besides...it has always been corrupt as hell with both sides sceaming towards a palitable end for their insane machinations which will assuage any kind of blame or guilt for any of the malefactors involved in the so called 'process.'

"You are all right, you are all wrong,
we hear the careless Sufi say,
for each believes his little light...
to be the glorious light of day."---El Sheich Pir  



27 Nov 2004 @ 16:58 by jazzolog : Yale Law On Election Fraud
Op-ed in yesterday's Baltimore Sun~~~

{link:http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.election26nov26,1,4103824.story?coll=bal-oped-headlines}

Validate the vote
By Ian H. Solomon
November 26, 2004

MOST MAINSTREAM newspapers have already dismissed stories of voting fraud and voting rights violations in the November election as baseless or irrelevant. Sen. John Kerry's concession is supposed to demonstrate that there is no story here. Give up, go home, it's all over.
But it's not over.

The legitimacy of our democratic process is an issue more important than Mr. Kerry's future or the results of 2004. That legitimacy has been called into question repeatedly over the past few weeks, and doubts will linger as long as credible indications of error, negligence, disenfranchisement and fraud are not addressed.

We would like to believe that voting irregularities were identified and corrected, that participants fulfilled their duties appropriately, that the machines performed reliably and that the total discrepancy between voter intention and recorded results was less than the margin of victory in relevant contests.

But that conclusion must be reached on the basis of evidence, not blind faith. My own observations as a volunteer poll watcher in Florida do not give perfect confidence.

As many experts had warned, the electronic voting machines used across the country were vulnerable to glitches and possible tampering, including the over-recording of votes and the "disappearance" of valid votes.

We experienced a troubling number of memory card failures where I was based in Volusia County, for example, and we tried to minimize the disruption to voters even though data security was compromised. In Franklin County, Ohio, a machine error resulted in an extra 4,000 votes for President Bush. In Guilford County, N.C., a machine error cost Mr. Kerry 22,000 votes. Similar problems were experienced in Nebraska, Indiana and other states. These glitches that we know about have reportedly been fixed, though a re-vote is necessary in a different North Carolina county.

Disturbingly, several Web sites have demonstrated the ease of hacking into the AccuVote TS machines made by Diebold Election Systems, the company that for $2.6 million recently settled a lawsuit by California over voting machine problems. Another major manufacturer of electronic voting machines, Election Systems & Software, has also been subject to criticism for machine breakdowns and vulnerability. There is no evidence of fraud, but neither manufacturer has assuaged widespread concerns about inappropriate partisanship and unreliability.

There is also reason to question the competence of election officials in resolving registration and voting problems. Many voters were denied the opportunity to cast a regular ballot or to vote within a reasonable period of arriving at the polls.

At one heavily black precinct in Volusia County, for example, more than 10 percent of those turning out to vote were unable to cast a regular ballot. Many of these voters simply departed after waiting in line for several hours and then being told by poll workers that their provisional ballots "would not be counted." Knox County in Ohio reported voters waiting in line for over nine hours. In Warren County, Ohio, observers were barred from monitoring the vote-counting process.

How can we expect voters - especially young, disadvantaged or newly registered voters - to have faith in our voting system? How can we expect our allies to take seriously U.S. efforts to hold elections in Iraq and elsewhere? How can we be confident that the most fundamental principles of American democracy - one person, one vote; rule by the people; transparency in government - are not in jeopardy?

American legitimacy demands that the news media, the parties and all political leaders take seriously the challenges presented by the 2004 election: We need an audit of the election process, validation of the election results and corrective measures to ensure the legitimacy of future elections.

To begin with, that means supporting the audit efforts already under way. Recounts are expected in Ohio and New Hampshire, and election results may be contested in Florida, New Mexico and other states. Grass-roots organizations have requested voting data from precincts across the country, and scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley and other universities have begun to analyze surprising voting patterns.

This should be a priority for Congress, with vigilant participation by independent news organizations. The complete process - from registration through vote tallying, including all equipment and procedures - must be thoroughly and publicly assessed.

No reasonable argument can be offered against disclosure and accountability. We can afford whatever expense, inconvenience, distraction and possible embarrassment may be caused by an election audit and congressional investigation. What we cannot afford are unresolved doubts about the legitimacy of our democratic government.

Ian H. Solomon is associate dean of Yale Law School.

Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun  



28 Nov 2004 @ 09:50 by jazzolog : Olbermann Refutes Madsen
Since I was one of the people to send the story to MSNBC, I guess I'd better share what this fine reporter has to say about it~~~

• November 27, 2004 | 12:43 p.m. ET

Reportedly According to Apparently Informed Sources (Keith Olbermann)

New York - As of earlyFriday evening, at least 60 viewers and readers had forwarded me cut-and-pastes of -- or links to -- an amazingly intricate conspiracy theory on-line piece that intertwines the Presidential election, Homeland Security, the FBI, $29,000,000 in payoffs, Enron, and the Saudi Royal Family - seemingly everybody except the Visiting Nurse Association of Skaneateles, New York.

Each email has come with the same question: could this possibly be true?

To summarize the story, Wayne Madsen, a former naval officer and now self-styled investigative journalist, has written that “according to informed sources in Washington and Houston,” computer experts were promised phenomenal amounts of cash, laundered via Saudi Arabia and the secret accounts of those who looted Enron, to pose as FBI and Homeland Security agents, infiltrate polling places around the country, and hack into electronic voting systems.

After Iran-Contra, nobody can discount the theoretical possibility of any international conspiracy to commit… well, to commit anything. But in the absence of verifiable facts, and in the middle of a sea of unidentified sources and usage of the words “reportedly” and “apparently,” it is often instructive to see if the writer, and the mere journalistic structure of what he’s written, can even maintain what artists like to call “verisimilitude” - the mere appearance of truth.

And as a work of journalism, the Madsen piece has several glaring problems that make even a doubter like myself cringe.

Mr. Madsen’s only readily recognizable germ of truth comes in the third paragraph of his piece: “There have been media reports from around the country concerning the locking down of precincts while votes were being tallied.” He then retells the still inexplicable walling off of the Administration Building in Warren County, Ohio, on the night of the election, on the pretext of a terror warning from the FBI that the FBI has since declared it never made.

But that has been the only such report of a “lock down.”

Madsen does not offer, nor has the media or even the internet reported, any other examples - even unverified ones.

The Palm Beach Post reported last month that 73 schools which doubled as polling places in Palm Beach County, Florida, were to belocked down during voting - locked down in the sense that kids were to be escorted by teachers from class to class, and even to the bathroom. Additionally, the Associated Press and several other news organizations reported that Florida’s State Election Headquarters in Tallahassee was evacuated on the morning of Monday, November 1st, due to a suspicious package, and workers not permitted to return - locked out -- until just before noon.

But short of those two examples - neither of which Mr. Madsen cites - his “media reports from around the country concerning the locking down of precincts while votes were being tallied,” are all the same: about Warren County. Journalistically, this is the equivalent of a news account of the unfortunate man who’s been hit by lightning six times, being inflated into “media reports from around the country concerning people being hit by lightning six times each.”

If there are other lockdown cases, Mr. Madsen should verify and report them.

It is also useful in these situations to look at an author’s other work. On October 20th, in what to the best of my knowledge was Mr. Madsen’s previous jaw-dropper, he wrote “Bush pre-election strike on Iran ‘imminent.’” This time the piece began: “According to White House and Washington Beltway insiders…”

Mr. Madsen then told of a blood-curdling plan for the U.S. to strike top Iranian Islamic leaders, a series of mosques, nuclear research sites, and at least one nuclear reactor - all of it to be accomplished before November 2, thus making the President “assured of a landslide win against Kerry.”

Now, I don’t claim to know everything in the news, but if we had bombed Teheran late last month, I think somebody would have mentioned it to me.

Returning to the current article, Mr. Madsen also strains logic in one very important area. It is his claim that “the leak about the money and the rigged election apparently came from technicians who were promised to be paid a certain amount for their work but the Bush campaign interlocutors reneged and some of the technicians are revealing the nature of the vote rigging program.”

There’s a discouraging journalistic fact here. Mr. Madsen has distanced himself further from the purported original source of the information (his “informed sources” “reportedly” got this from the “technicians”), to the point where this information is now, at best, third-hand.

And there is a hole in the center of this saga big enough to sink the plot of a Bruce Willis movie - the means by which the information came to see the light of day.

If untold numbers of operatives really were dispatched to polling places around the country to enact the most nefarious political plot in this country’s history, why would the ring-leaders reveal to any of them any of the following:

-- The total amount spent on the plan (Madsen drops the $29 million dollar figure in the first sentence)?

-- The primary source of the carefully laundered cash (Madsen sites “Five Star Trust”)?

-- The sources of “other money used to fund the election rigging” (Madsen lists “siphoned Enron money stored away in accounts in the Cook Islands”)?

Most importantly, having told their minions all of this damning information, having sent them out on an evil mission that if exposed could overturn an election and require the building of extra prisons just to hold all those who would be convicted in such an overarching scheme, why on earth would they try toget away with not paying them?

None of this is written to downplay the disturbing nature of the Warren County incident. Nor is it posited even to dismiss the many who see in the various failures of electronic voting around the country nearly four weeks ago not just incompetence, but malfeasance. Hell, if a shred of Mr. Madsen’s story is true, I’ll pay his expenses when he goes to pick up his Pulitzer Prize.

But in a time when serious investigations of what did or didn’t happen on November 2nd are vital to the sanctity of our voting process, reporting - in the mainstream media and on the internet alike - has to be solid and reasoned.

I’d have to put Mr. Madsen’s story in the same category as the on-line report that I had been fired by MSNBC on November 12th for attempting to cover voting irregularities.

I might add as an additional caution that I just saw that report posted anew on another website. And apparently I’m still standing.

Write me at KOlbermann@msnbc.com
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6210240/

PS Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have compiled some of the complaints heard at public hearings in Columbus about voting irregularites here. Take a look~~~

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2004/930  



29 Nov 2004 @ 12:26 by jazzolog : Fatality Rate Of Provisionals Alarming
If Professor Tokaji is concerned, I'm alarmed~~~

11/28/2004
Counting Provisional Ballots in Ohio

In Ohio, approximately 78% of the 155,000 provisional ballots cast have been validated and will therefore be counted, according to this report http://www.channelcincinnati.com/news/3946716/detail.html . In Hamilton County (Cincinnati area), about 80% of provisional ballots were counted http://www.wcpo.com/news/2004/local/11/27/hamco_ballots.html . A lower percentage were validated in Ohio's largest county, Cuyahoga, where Cleveland is located. According to this report http://www.newsnet5.com/politics/3943648/detail.html , only 16,373 of Cuyahoga County's 24,472 provisional ballots (68%) were actually counted. Of those not counted, about 70% were disqualifed because the county could find no registration record on file. As voting rights activist Norm Robbins states, it's difficult to imagine that so many people would take the trouble to go out and vote -- many of them braving lengthy lines -- if they really weren't registered. The L.A. Times reports here {link:http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-briefs27.3nov27,1,2619389.story?coll=la-headlines-nation} that People for the American Way has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the manner in which Cuyahoga County has determined whether provisional ballots should count.
- posted by Dan Tokaji @ 4:30 PM
http://equalvote.blogspot.com/  



29 Nov 2004 @ 17:03 by astrid : Funny, how that goes....
I whole heartedly can sympatize with you, Jmarc!...." I wish..." yet what you vax, say, is the harsh reality, as it it all is played out as for now...
Guys, isn't this a Blast! Wyoming Had A 106% Voter Turnout On November 2...
Legit Gov.org
11-25-4

According to the 'Profile of Wyoming's Voters Voter Registration and Voter Turnout' on the Wyoming Secretary of State's website, Wyoming had a turnout of 106% registered voters on November 2, 2004.

Wyoming had 232,396 registered voters - 62% of eligible voters for the 2004 General Elections; turnout of registered voters was 245,789, or 106% of registered voters.

Take a look at the official figures...

http://soswy.state.wy.us/election/profile.htm

Everybody's looking for something.
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused.
(Hold your head up--Keep your head up--MOVIN' ON)

Isn't this the truth, though?... : 0 / : )  



30 Nov 2004 @ 00:37 by vaxen : Well...
J.J. is demanding that Blackwell recuse himself. Said computer forensic experts must be brought in. Says a lot of things...like he talked to Kerry and the December deadline should stand! Says he talked to Kerry and Kerry is behind the recount and...

Like I could give a rats ***! They are all in the same pot sucking scum and the American people are paying for it without so much as a whimper! You deserve what you get?

Anybody with any brains knows what time it is! AT least Jesse is getting his Rainbow involved in the PUSH. Too bad he doesn't have somebody of real 'worth' to fight for. Too bad a lot of things. I wish I could leave this country and never look back, never even hear or see another thing American! "American" is a dirty word!  



30 Nov 2004 @ 21:16 by jazzolog : Blackwell Getting It From All Sides
Sorry I'm several hours late getting this out. Ohio's Secretary of State is being sued on state and federal levels for his general incompetence to a fair and just election here. He also appeared on Keith Olbermann's program for interview. Whether any of this hubbub will result in reversal of our nation's election results I don't know. Here are the posts~~~

New Lawsuit on Provisional Voting in Ohio

The People for the American Way Foundation and individual voters have filed a state court action against Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The complaint, which can be found here http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/docs/ohio/MackeyMandamus.pdf , challenges the way in which provisional voting was implemented in Cuyahoga County -- the state's largest county, which includes Cleveland.

The complaint alleges that election officials and poll workers were confused about the circumstances in which a voter should be given a provisional ballot rather than a regular ballot, causing them to give inconsistent and sometimes erroneous instructions to voters. It also challenges the state's failure to set "clear, uniform, and legally valid standards" for handling provisional ballots, a claim that sounds very much like the equal protection claim made in the Schering v. Blackwell complaint http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/docs/ohio/041102-Schering-complaint.pdf pending in U.S. District Court.

A provisional ballot is cast, where the voter's name doesn't appear on the rolls when he or she appears at the polling place. The provisional ballot should be counted, if the voter is determined eligible.

The complaint alleges that election officials violated state law, by relying on electronic registration records rather than the registration cards filled out by voters, in determining whether a provisional voter was really eligible. Because the poll books were prepared from these databases, the complaint argues, simply consulting the database will be of little help in ascertaining whether the voter was really registered to vote.

The complaint also alleges a violation of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the denial of the right to vote due to an "error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requsite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is eligible under State law to vote in such election." The argument is that the rejection of provisional ballots for trivial errors -- such as the absence of a countersignature from a poll worker -- violates the Voting Rights Act. Their complaint also includes allegations that voters' rights under the Help America Vote Act, Equal Protection Clause, and Due Process Clause have been denied.

In terms of relief, the complaint asks that election officials be barred from rejecting provisional ballots, until they've checked the paper registration records. It also asks that registration forms not be rejected where a signature is lacking on the provisional voting envelope, so long as the voter signed elsewhere. It also asks that voters be provided with written notice, if the county plans to reject their provisional ballots.

---posted by Dan Tokaji @ 5:50 PM November 29th
http://equalvote.blogspot.com/

• November 29, 2004 | 11:25 p.m. ET
Recount SI, Jesse No (Keith Olbermann)

NEW YORK - We have been inviting Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to appear on Countdown since we began to cover the voting irregularities story on November 8th.

It struck me as not quite coincidental that he finally joined us the same day the Ohio GOP issued what might be the first Republican recognition of any kind that there are questions about the vote - a news release with the gaudy headline “Democrats Struggle to Justify Unnecessary Recount / (Jesse) Jackson swoops in to fuel conspiracy theories even Kerry lawyers admit are baseless.”

While it was the Greens and Libertarians filing for the recount, the Republicans seemed to prefer silence. But after Jackson spoke in Columbus Sunday and Cincinnati Monday http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6459866/ , suddenly Mr. Blackwell was available. “I think what happened,” he said, “is that Jesse Jackson ran around the block and tried to get out in front of a parade that was already on the march.”

That’s an odd phrase. Show of hands, please! Who out of the 20% who believe the election is illegitimate would have believed that a Republican state official would ever compare an Ohio recount to “a parade that was already on the march”? Sounds like a campaign phrase---for Democrats.

Suddenly the recount itself seems like an old pal to Ohio’s top election official. Last week, the incoming president of the association of county election officials mused out loud about a suit to stop the Glibs, so I asked Blackwell if he was saying that his office would take no step to try to prevent the recount. “Once they ask for a recount, we will provide them with a recount… we will regard this as yet another audit of the voting process.”

As to the audit of the perception of conflict of interest in Blackwell’s other role as Honorary Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney Ohio Campaign, he seemed less definitive. “We have a bi-partisan system in Ohio where the Hamilton County Chairman of the board of elections, Tim Burke, is also the Democrat chairman of the Democrat party in that county.” I’ll pause the quote here to note that said party does business as the Democratic Party and the Republicans’ obsession with that little ‘ic’ has always seemed peevish to me, even when it’s coming out of John McCain’s mouth. Blackwell continued: “The same for Dayton. The Democrat Chairman is the Chairman of the Board of Elections in Montgomery County.”

This is interesting, and this is troubling (why should you be able to be both Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party and Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Elections?). But it also seemed to be self-evidently irrelevant - something akin to the political version of “They started it,” whether the ‘they’ are Republicans or Democrats.

The Democrats, of course, didn’t start the recount push in Ohio, the Glibs did, and the distinction seems vitally important to Blackwell. Messrs. Badnarik and Cobb “have a standing, not Jesse Jackson, and because Senator Kerry has conceded and has not asked for a recount he has no standing, and so I would anticipate that the Electoral College will be held on the 13th of December and 20 votes will go to the certified winner.”

We had already gone way past our scheduled length of the interview, and were throwing out other political stories, when I had to choose between two last questions to which I wanted Secretary Blackwell’s official answers. Judging by email response to the show, a lot of people would have asked the one I didn’t - about the still inexplicable “terrorist threat” lockdown of vote-counting in Warren County.

Not to get too Inside Baseball on you, but my thinking in the heat of the moment was that Mr. Blackwell would respond to questions about Warren County much in the way he veered off from my earlier question about what the Ohio GOP news release termed “a costly $1.5 million dollar recount…” He quickly agreed that the Recount Gap between actual costs and the $10 per precinct charge was the fault of nobody but Ohio’s legislature, which hasn’t updated the rate card since 1956. Then came what I expected we’d have heard again if I’d asked about Warren: “Ohio has a delicately balanced bi-partisan system that counts votes at the local level. I have nothing to do with counting the votes.”

For answers, we need the Warren County election authorities and - here’s a surprise - they haven’t commented since the FBI denied issuing them any kind of ‘terrorism warning.’

So, instead, I went for a straight yes-or-no on the latest ‘sources say’ story from the many and varied internets: did he, or did he not, meet with President Bush, in Ohio, on election day. “That’s just hogwash, absolutely zero, not true. And it’s the sort of mythology that grows out of, you know, a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands and the imaginations of Jonathan Swift.” While earning points for referencing the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Secretary Blackwell also threw a gauntlet down at the feet of the net’s Baker Streets Irregulars: there darn well better not be anybody willing to swear an oath they saw such a meeting take place.

We had no expectations that this interview was going to produce a “Eureka” moment and we were correct. But the salient point seems to be that -- as was meekly forecast here some time ago -- as the prospect of the actual recount loomed, the story would be driven into the mainstream media. Why, even CNN’s Inside Politics interviewed Jackson briefly Monday - and the Reverend’s use of the new F-word (fraud) seemingly motivated Blackwell to go on the record (and bring up Jackson’s presence in Ohio eight times after I stopped asking him about Jackson).

I did not see the CNN interview, but I am told Jackson did not repeat his strong weekend comments about Kerry supporting the Ohio investigations, which to me implies again that the only people more sensitive to the prospect of Kerry participation in the recount than the Republican Party, is the Democratic Party. This eludes my capability for analysis beyond what I have written here previously about the pulling back of last week’s news release by the Ohio Dems because it read the Kerry/Edwards campaign “joins” the recount, and its replacement a few hours later by an otherwise identical statement saying the Kerry/Edwards campaign “participates in” the process.

There is more parsing going on here - by both parties - than at a reunion of the Ken Starr fan club.

For the record, Jesse Jackson is scheduled to join us Tuesday night on Countdown, with the caveat that his day planner is notoriously fluid - so if he’s not there, don’t assume he’s been - I don’t know - fired.

Email at KOlbermann@msnbc.com
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6210240/  



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