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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, October 6-8, 2006

 

Introducing The Amedeo's

Jerome "Jerry" and Carol Lee Amedeo are huge contributors to the Republican party. this year alone, Jerry and Carol Lee have contributed at least $6,100 to the campaign of REPUBLICAN Rep. Mike Ferguson, who represents the New Jersey's 7th US Congressional District.

Jerry lists his occupation as a school administrator for the Somerset Hill School in New Jersey. Jerry held a similar position previously in the Green Brook (NJ) public school district as well. Additionally, he was on the Watchung Borough Board of Education.

$6,100 is a lot of money, any way you look at it, but not an outrageous sum as compared to what some people contribute, especially on the GOP side of the aisle. But what you see, when you dig a little deeper, is that this family has actually contributed much more than that $6,100 to their GOP "friends". In addition to the "modest sum" (by GOP standards) of the $6,100 dollars, which the Amedeo family contributed to the "Friends of Mike Ferguson" campaign, they have also has given $25,000 to the Republican National Committee.

$31,000 to the GOP in this election cycle alone. And this from a man who has spent most of his time on the public's payroll. No conflict of interest there (I say tongue in cheek).

What's more, the big New Jersey GOP contributor decided that he had to list a different address on his RNC contribution ($25,000). (The address was listed as "Dunellen, NJ" on his Ferguson donations; "Green Brook" was listed on the RNC list.) Amedeo made similar contributions in previous election cycles as well.

By the way, each of the two $2,000 Ferguson contributions were made prior to the GOP New Jersey GOP primary which might put Amedeo's contributions over the limit of $2,100.

Any Questions or comments so far?

Amedeo's money has been well spent. In addition to the Somerset Hills School in Warren, NJ executive director's position he now holds (a private residential treatment center for boys with behavioral disabilities), Amedeo was on Christie Whitman's 1993 transition team and was appointed by her to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. He's also a member of the faculty and is on the academic affairs trustee committee at Monmouth University.

Jerry Amedeo is a busy, busy man.

As a matter of fact, since the year 2000 election cycle, all Amedeo's who live in the 08812 zip code have contributed a grand total of $137,450 to Republican candidates, the RNC and local Republican party clubs. Out of that $137.450, $4,400 had to be returned to the Amedeo's. I guess in their zeal to stuff the pockets of the GOP, the Amedeo's couldn't keep track of their donations.

I wonder how many children have been referred to the Harmony Camp, a Summer Day Camp which the Amedeo's own? After all, you have to spend money to make money and one hand does wash the other.

Of all his GOP causes, however, Jerome Amedeo seems to enjoy his relationship with Ferguson the best, with Ferguson getting the lion's share of his individual contributions. By coincidence, Amedeo's jobs and Day Camp are located in Fergie's district.

And, wouldn't you know it, in another coincidence, the Amedeo's have given $8,400 to the senate campaign of none other than Thomas Kean Junior.

You'd think that a family with the political clout of the Amedeo's would have an article written about them somewhere along the line. But a search of
www.nj.com, which comprises archives from the Newark star Ledger, the Somerset Reporter and many other New Jersey newspapers reveal no data at all. Talk about keeping under the radar.

The questions are:
Who are the Amedeo's?
Where did their money come from?
Why did the Amedeos' have to get a GOP refund for contributioning too much money from various Republican candidates, clubs and the RNC?
What do the Amedeo's get for their dollar?
What have the Amedeo's gotten for their dollars?
And just how many more Amedeo's are there out there?

The GOP calls contributors like the Amedeo's "Pioneers" I have several other names for them.

-Noah Greenberg



More GOP Hypocrites

Kean accepted contributions from firms he had sought to ban

Kean accepted contributions from firms he had sought to ban Nearly two years ago, Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. introduced a bill that would ban all donations by government contractors to state political candidates. He dubbed it "George's Law," after South Jersey Democratic political boss George Norcross III.

Since then, Kean, now the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has accepted $213,025 from employees of the same firms he wanted to remove from the
process: those doing business with the state or its authorities, a Star-Ledger analysis has found.
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-9/1160195192302040.xml&coll=1
****

Politicians who live in glass house. So, Junior Kean, Mr. "Squeaky Clean", has a few issues of his own.


-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane



Mike Ferguson is Unbelievably Cruel and Obtuse

I have maintained over time that Mike Ferguson is not such a bad guy or father, but an incompetent and weak Congressman who makes wrong choices for his district and our country. The guy is, I've said, a lightweight who has been propelled forward by rich parents, powerful forces from the religious right, and corrupt DC Republicans like Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and Jack Abramoff.

But sometimes you have to wonder if he is a lightweight or just mean-spirited like the rest of the DC Republican leadership. Check out this from Tom Moran's column in the Star Ledger:

If you were to design a weapon against Republican Congressman Mike Ferguson, you could not do much better than Tricia Riccio. ...

She is an articulate soccer mom whose son, Carl, broke his neck during a high school wrestling match in 2003.

Since then, she has become a crusader for embryonic stem cell research, on the reasonable grounds that it presents the only chance her son will ever lift himself out of his wheelchair and walk. ...

But Riccio had something more. She made it personal. She made Ferguson sound cruel.

In a meeting in his office last year, she said, Ferguson flat-out told her that her son's case was hopeless.

"He said, 'Mrs. Riccio, your son is not going to walk in his lifetime.'"

Not only is this an unbelievably cruel thing to say, and unbelievable stupid considering Ferguson has absolutely no training in medicine, but it is also unbelievable obtuse. Ferguson voted to block funding for embryonic stem cell research, the very teatment that could allow Mrs. Riccio's son to walk again!

If that treatment doesn't arrive in time for her son to benefit, it will be Congressmen like Mike Ferguson's fault. Yet he has the gall to stand there and tell a grieving mother that her son will never walk again without taking any responsibility for that reality.

Worse still, Ferguson constantly hides his opposition to embryonic stem cell research by claiming that adult stem cell research is just as beneficial. But his statement to Mrs. Ricci proves that he doesn't believe that! He clearly told her that there is no medicine -- including the adult stem cell research he pushes and an alternative -- that will help her son even though real scientists with real training and real research say that embryonic stem cell research can help.

It's shocking that Ferguson is allowed to pretend to have family values and care about children. He doesn't have either.

Wrong choices, wrong Congressman. And just downright mean.


-Forwarded and commented by Nathan Rudy from a Tom Moran article in the Newark Star-Ledger



You Want to Vote for Who?

So, on September 28, 2006, the Committee on House Administration hearings on verification, security, and paper trails for electronic voting machines (I didn't make that name up) decided it was time to talk about everything that the name of their committee states.

The question-as-statement, "You want to vote for who? was asked by a poll worker to James Dickson, a blind man. Mr. Dickson, however, is also the Vice President of Government Affairs, American Association of People With Disabilities. This is not an unusual occurrence.

The overall sentiment that one would have to take out of this meeting was that something must be done to ensure that every vote that is cast is counted. The committee realized that they are not.

In a video, which one can watch for oneself at rtsp://video.c-span.org/archive/c06/c06_092806_voting.rm (you'll need Realplayer), one can see how easy it is for anyone, with the appropriate knowledge, to change the results of the most widely used Diebold electronic voting machine used in the past election.

"the machines are susceptible to computer viruses which allow spreading the virus from machine to machine change the vote,"
-Edward Felten, Princeton Computer Science Professor

"Because they are computers, e-voting machines are susceptible to familiar computer problems such as crashes, bugs, mysterious malfunctions, data tampering, and even computer viruses."
-Felten

Felton is one of the experts who testified as to changed needed to establish a fair vote in future elections Even those who were there to testify that they were against a paper trail said  that something must be done.

From Felten's on the record statement:

"Two weeks ago Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and I released a paper analyzing in detail the security of the Diebold AccuVote-TS, one of the most widely used e-voting systems. The main findings of our study were as follows:

"1. Malicious software running on a single voting machine can steal votes with little if any risk of detection. The malicious software can modify all of the records, audit logs, and counters kept by the voting machine, so that even careful forensic examination of these records will find nothing amiss. We have constructed demonstration software that carries out this vote-stealing attack.
"2. Anyone who has physical access to a voting machine, or to a memory card that will later be inserted into a machine, can install said malicious software using a simple method that takes as little as one minute. In practice, poll workers and others often have unsupervised access to the machines.
"3. AccuVote-TS machines are susceptible to voting-machine viruses — computer viruses that can spread malicious software automatically and invisibly from machine to machine during normal pre- and post-election activity. We have constructed a demonstration virus that spreads in this way, installing our demonstration vote-stealing program on every machine it infects.
"4. While some of these problems can be eliminated by improving Diebold's software, others cannot be remedied without replacing the machines' hardware. Changes to election procedures would also be required to ensure security.

"The AccuVote-TS suffers from many such problems. It encrypts stored votes, but stores the secret decryption key where it is easily found by hostile software."

The link above is from Felten's Princeton University Website.

Felten went on to explain an experiment where a virus that he and his co-authors at Princeton created a virus to attack a Diebold machine in a fictitious presidential election. The nominees were George Washington and Benedict Arnold. The actual votes cast were 3 votes for Washington and one vote for Arnold. Once the virus was executed by the change of the memory chip, a common practice and occurrence in the Diebold machine, the votes were recorded as three for Arnold and one for Washington.

"Given known security risks, the possibility that software bugs could generate incorrect election results, or that computerized voting machines may fail during an election, we cannot trust that the results recorded in a paperless voting machine accurately reflect the will of the voters. Providing a voter verified paper trail is a significant step toward mitigating these risks, restoring transparency to the election, and ensuring the public’s trust."
-Barbara Simons, U.S. Public Policy Committee, Association for Computing Machinery, referring to the DRE's (Direct Recording Electronic devices)

Most computer professionals oppose paperless voting machines. This is because most computer professionals know how easy it is for the right person to manipulate the right voting machine at the wrong time. In a vote taken by Ms. Simons' committee, over 98 percent of the voters said they wanted a paper trail. As a statistic, Ms. Simmons said it was virtually unanimous and that her committee never had a vote that overwhelmingly opposed to. or in favor of, anything.

At their 2006 national convention, the non-partisan League of Women Voters passed a resolution calling for a paper trail which would be used for "random audits or recounts".

I guess we have to wait for a GOP partisan group to come out in favor of verified paper trails in order to get this done. Don't hold your breathe.

It seems that part of the reason that this committee was organized was to shoot down Rep. Rush Holt's (DEMOCRAT-NJ) bill to require a paper trail in future elections. Although some were there to point out that paper trails wouldn't guarantee fair elections, all pointed to the fact that more needs to be done.

Keith A Cunningham, Director of Ohio's Allen County vote noted was that the VVPAT's (voter verified paper audit trail) or VVPB's (voter verified paper ballots) were unreliable.

"The thought that VVAPT’s are reliable enough to be used as an official ballot for recount purposes is simply wrong in my opinion."
" Time and time again during this exercise the counting teams encountered VVPATS, the voted paper ballot produced by DRE’s, which were either missing entirely or missing votes because of printer errors."
-Cunningham


The problem which Mr. Cunningham states points to either intentional or unintentional poorly designed voter verification by the use of a paper trail. Another problem is what Cunningham, from very red western Ohio doesn't say: There is no paper trail that ends up in the hands of the voter. There is no way for any voter to make sure his or her vote was actually counted.

 

What is needed is a two-part paper ballot which could be examined by the voter himself (or herself) right there at the polling place. The "receipt" would have a unique number which would correlate to the voter's recorded personal information. It would be divided into two parts. One part would go home with the voter and could be verified by them with a simple phone call to an 800 number or via a website specifically designed for this purpose. If the vote on the receipt and the verified vote don't match, it would immediately trigger a re-count of all ballots locked in the box where the opposite side of the receipt was placed. This box' "chain of evidence" would be traceable and be locked with only the county's commissioner having the lock or combination to open it. Anytime the box would need to be opened or transferred, a representative of the top level candidate from each party's nominee would have to be present.

With a computerized receipt printed by the voting machine itself, and these guidelines, we can assure an accurate count or recount.

A paper trail will work, if applied properly. One of those who testified said that most voting machines wouldn't qualify on election day if Rush Holt's bill was enacted. I say, since when do we make laws designed around inferior machinery that has made a complicated process even more complicated and, quite possibly, intentionally so? If Las Vegas hotels can give a bettor a paper trail for the parlay they played at their sport's book, why can't we give every voter written proof that their vote actually counted?

-Noah Greenberg



VICTORY IGNORES BRAINS

It was revealed this week that the republicans have (again) added in $20 million for a VICTORYcelebration on winning the war in Iraq. This is probably a media talking point planted for all of use to think “oh, the republicans expect the war to end this year.” Here’s why it seems it was them that “leaked” this budget item though they insist the democrats must have told the media (what does it do for the democrats?). It suggests in 20 million ways what they will not and cannot honestly say in public, but what the public wants to hear. It suggests they have an exit strategy to wind down this war in 2007 into a VICTORY. It “plants” a thought in the mind of citizens that the republicans have a secret strategy that is going to pop any day and “win” the war for us and finally we will have all those rose petals thrown at our troops, you know, the petals not thrown at us after the liberation of Baghdad. It tries to suggest they know what is happening and what they are doing.

Think of it on a personal level, which politics often can be reduced to for greater understanding. When was the last time you allocated a significant amount of money for a party that you didn’t even know if you would have? Either you knew a wedding, bar mitzvah, major anniversary, etc. was going to happen or it was not. Or, maybe in a few extreme cases, you tried to fool yourself and/or others with the pretend intent of a party you knew would never occur, but didn’t want to admit it so you kept the pretense of a party going. Since we know that the republicans do not have a strategy for exiting Iraq and they continually talk about it lasting years, then they must be trying to fool us – IN AN ELECTION YEAR – to think a VICTORY party will take place, that never will, and influence our beliefs and votes. Now would they do that? In a NY nano second!

What a party – talk about having your cake and eating it, talk about flip-flop, talk about using the war for political gain, talk about manipulation of the highest magnitude. And just to put this really in perspective, at the same time they cut research funding for severe brain injuries from $14 million to $7 million. This is the kind of research that will benefit the thousands of soldiers coming home with severe brain injuries. But why should brain research stop a VICTORY party that is funded to the tune of three times that amount.


-Casey Sweet


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-Noah Greenberg