Peace Hugs

Kate Anne, communikating on multi-levels -- personal and political, as well as for peace, justice and nonviolence

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Making our Votes Count

Mark Crispin Miller

At the Center for Ethical Culture, Mark Crispin Miller was one of a great panel of speakers who could have led a wonderful day long teach-in on voter protection but instead we were gifted with about two hours worth of wisdom entitled Make Your Vote Count -- A Forum on New Voting Technology. The event was hosted by Democracy for New York City and Community Free Democrats and sponsored by The New York Society for Ethical Culture and the Sierra Club -- NYC Group, Ansonia Independent Democrats, Broadway Democrats, Park River Independent Democrats, Three Parks Independent Democrats, and Vincent F. Albano Republican Club: quite a gathering of groups in an event which should have been standing room only. Today's infotainment oriented media does not bother much about election fraud, indeed makes light of it, even mocks it, and people are vastly unaware of the threat to democracy that electronic voting poses. That said, I was glad that I was there.

The event was ably moderated by Adam Cohen of the New York Times Editorial Board. He stated that 80% of the upcoming election's votes will be cast on electronic voting machines. Scary thought. We were told that the various machines will be demonstrated Nov. 15 at LaGuardia College (6:30 pm) and again on the 17th in the Bronx. Rush Holts' bill in Congress would require a paper trail and most Dems and some Repubs are for it but it is going nowhere fast, given the political repression of the Bush-Cheney regime. Doug Kellner, co-chair of the NY State Board of Elections. spoke about how those states who quickly rushed in to buy machines will have to spend more money to become compliant with the 2005 standards. New York. He stated New York's choice may be even more delayed, however, due to the addressing audit deficiencies. (And later he said he would like to find some way to keep the lever machines -- which might be a possibility -- as long as one machine for the impaired is available in each polling place. We know these trusty clunky machines record the vote correctly, as long as they are in repair and set on 0 to start the day -- one of the things poll watchers look for.)

David Kogelman, HAVA Committee chair emphasized that we should be in contact with our legislators about our concerns. Of particular note, however, was "retired" software engineer Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. He began his segment reflecting on how the US spent millions on developing a pen that wrote in space and when they finally talked to the Russians learned that the Russians had solved the problem by using a pencil. Lipari is concerned about how many machines would be needed, they take longer to use and they cost so much. Paper ballots with precinct counted electronic scanners are so much more reliable and sensible -- and auditable. Bo also noted how he was denied the right to see the code on possible machines because they were concerned about the privacy rights of VENDORS -- what about the rights of voters?? Should we choose paper ballots, he reminded us that we will have to have a robust set of procedures documenting chain of custody.

Mark Crispin Miller, too, was wonderful to hear. He noted that this is not a technical issue, it is a civic issue. Votes are counted in secret (maybe -- and then again maybe not counted). And then in Ohio there is the higher costs of recounts now, to thwart democracy. Mark urged us to get the media involved in this issue. "If we don't have the right and power to choose our representatives, our democracy is gone." We were reminded that the price of freedom is eternal vigiliance. Mark noted, too, that we must stress the possible stealing of the Nov. 7th election and urge people to come out en masse because it is harder to steal if the election isn't close. Our democracy is on the line.

Other things that came out: the government has to give much higher compensation and better treatment to the poll workers. We must demand access and transparency to all stages of the voting process, including the 3% absentee ballots. We need poll workers and election protection workers. Congressmember Jerrold Nadler stressed that we must demand that the goverment set up standards to ensure there are enough machines for all who wish to vote. No more Kenyon College fiascos where students stood in line for ten hours to vote. Voter suppression comes at all different stages, not just the counting, but from the registration and voter purges and questionable letters....the list goes on. Mark Crispin Miller urged the use of the Vote Pad for disabled voters. So much to check out. So much to do. But our democracy demands it.

Right now, I am scheduled to assist Citizen Action in getting out the vote on Election Day-- but next year, or at least in 2008, I suspect I will volunteer to help at the polls. I am seriously considering becoming a poll worker. Indeed, if New York switches to paper ballots or whatever is chosen. I want to see how it works. Our democracy is on the line.

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne

PS I hope to post some more photos at my site.

Bliss Pumpkin

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's Our Money, Indeed

We the People have to insist on our rights, including how we want our tax dollars spent. I jumped over to William A. Peary's site, off of a Thom Hartmann message board, to find this idea expressed in an excellent article, "It's Our Money" [click on Title Link], written back in February but still current. If this isn't going to be a fascist country, of by and for corporations, then We the People have to stand up and take back our rights. I mean, otherwise, why do we have a government? To go to war and waste money on killing people? Hey, that is not how I want my taxes used. As Peary intimated, we have to use for better purpose the phrase, "It's our money!" and insist that the government spend money on helping people (healing) rather than hurting people (which only sows seeds to more enmity). William Peary has some other good essays and information, too. Check out the his site at

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Election Fix is in: Voter Purge

Now we know why neither George Bush nor Karl Rove is concerned about the upcoming election. KStreetProjector at The Daily Kos reports that four states have purged, or are currently undergoing purges of, registered voters. If you can't win honestly, then manipulate the rules. Click on the Title Link to go to the story, which has over 600 comments on it as I write this.

Ohio is definitely one of the states. I have informed my Ohio family and friends to vote early -- and I will remind them to spread the news. Let's all do similarly -- spread the news and ask the media to follow this story seriously.

We still have the web to encouage this sort of activism -- but for how long? Watch Bill Moyers show on Preserving Internet Neutrality tonight or this weekend.

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne

Monday, October 16, 2006

Busy weekend, commuting, computing

With last week full of late nights at my paid work, and this next work week mostly without my colleague Shirley, so sure to be busy, I probably should not have spent so much time at my computer on Sunday. But things that I wanted to do pushed themselves to the forefront. I created an experimental WQIDC blog for the West Queens Independent Democratic Club. Perhaps I should have spent the time updating the website, but I wanted to create a useful blog for action and discussion. It is started and needs volunteers to assist -- and we have to see if my WQIDC friends loosen up and join the 21st century world of blogging. Time will tell. In the meantime, I learned stuff by building a new blog. (And I have more changes to make on Peace Hugs as time and energy allow.)

Saturday was our little peace vigil at Union Square. Betty Lou Hornick is under the weather [Healing, Betty Lou!] so it was Sam Oast, Marianne Landre Goldscheider and me. Sam relayed a message from Daniel Marshall who is urging a get-together. So, it is time to arrange a Fellowship of Reconciliation meeting, probably at Sam's, for sustenance and camaraderie -- to rebuild the spirit, in a world that needs spirit and energy. We should say a prayer for George W. Bush who just has no sense of the Asian mind and the need for respect. He didn't have the benefit of Sr. Francis DeSales, St. Joseph sister of Erie, PA, who used to quote, "You can catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than you can with a barrel of vinegar." No, instead Bush is exacerbating nuclear proliferation and encouraging the North Koreans to build bombs all the while he claims to have been diplomatic. Heh? He has ignored and pummeled the North Koreans for months, indeed years. So now we have his biggest failure yet, further proof of his incompetence. So say a prayer for Bush and for all of us.

Following Saturday's peace vigil and our little post vigil repast, I ventured down to Tower Records on 4th and Broadway in NYC. I had seen a man sporting their Closing -- 30% off sign. Well, it wasn't all 30% off, mostly 15 and 20% at this point, but still good enough to pick up some stuff that will be harder to get later and also to say goodbye to Tower Records. I feel so badly, but times change. Still, it is the end of an era. (I happened to pick up another Nancy Lamott album -- not easy to get on iTunes -- another Eric Andersen after his great concert last Saturday at the People's Voice Cafe -- see my photos and commentary from the evening -- but why didn't I take a picture of Jaye, Marcia and Gloria?? Well, we had a great time. as Eric Andersen put on a terrific show, which our dear friend Amy Bobrow would have enjoyed. Plus I found two more folk CDs, one by the great Pete Seeger and another by the wonderful John McCutcheon -- and then I found this fascinating and very affordable DVD of sung Irish prayers. "mysic songs and ballads" entitled The Irish Prayers put out by Tranquil World and featuring St. Patrick Boys -- lovely and magical. And finally, also magically, I found a DVD in the wrong place [or maybe the right place] of the Dread Pirate [special] Editiion of The Princess Bride: waiting to see it with bated breath.) Where else can one find so much so easily as TOWER RECORDS? It will be missed.

So I was in Manhattan and then in Sunnyside picking up some magical Sarna Lotion, recommended by Bliss restaurant's Dorothy Morehead the other night when we were taking pictures of new food items at Bliss. (See my site -- the Bliss - Out and In set.) Long day. And Sunday I watched Thom Hartman speak about his book, SCREWED: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class -- and what we can do about it on C-Span2 Book TV -- after first seeing it at Vox Pop in Brooklyn several weeks ago. (See still more pictures at the Vox Pop set.) Yes, I had other stuff I wanted to do, but creativity beckoned and I succumbed to my muse. That said, I better get some sleep and get cracking on my de-cluttering scheme. Thanksgiving is coming -- and so are my son and Gina. Much to do: save the world, do housework, get some sleep -- not necessarily in that order.

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne

PS I also got a phone call from my dear girlhood friend, Judy Young Brannan -- a very full and gratifying weekend.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Palast at Vox Pop

Randy Nerve, Greg Palast, and Bruce Markow

Greg Palast arrived at Vox Pop Saturday night, to the appreciation of book and music fans gathered there to hear him and the rest of the evening's terrific entertainers: singer Randy Nerve, singer Bruce Markow, and talented punksters The Violets! Such energy was worth the wild ride on the F and G train (love weekend NYC MTA changes) to Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn. [I had a slighly more reasonable homebound ride, thanks to Bruce and friend accompanying me to the more friendly Q.]

Author of Armed Madhouse, Greg Palast took the Bush administration to task in his forthright and delightfully outrageous way. (He's not thrilled about Hillary Clinton either -- but see the interview for more on that.) He actually came more alive and more real once he left the stage to autograph books and meet his fans. So now I have another book on my to-read list (ARGH!! :-) And some more good music to listen to and good musicians to follow. I love the synchronicity of my adopted daughter Krista Zarakis (a/k/a Krista-kat, best friend of my daughter Little Kat -- I'm Mom Kat) sending me the link to The Violets' video earlier in the day -- I was going to Vox Pop to hear Palast and got treated to just a marvelous evening all around: to a re-energizing time, much needed by THIS peace and justice activist.

I've posted some pictures at my site (link on right) to my Vox Pop set and still have a few more to post there -- later, soon.... But so much to do for peace and justice. Please do what YOU can do to help make the world a more peaceful, more fair place. Thanks -- and

Peace hugs,
Kate Anne

Greg Palast and Kate Anne