Friday, June 16, 2017

Voting presents few options, mostly bad, and little confidence in the system

-- Read this post from David Collins regarding the Texas Green Party's internal strife at their annual meeting over the weekend in Corpus, then read titular matriarch kat gruene's spleen-venting about the same on her Facebook wall.

The dysfunction bled out into the open months ago (scroll down), when I tried to save the local chapter's lone minority executive member from a coup orchestrated by the Old Guard (and failed).  One of the county steering committee members who defeated me in the elections held that night has already stepped down.  Sadly, these folks can't organize their way out of a paper bag at a time when the Democratic Party is all but crashing and burning right alongside them.

Don't believe that?  Think 2018 is going to be a blue wave?  Read what Tom Wakely -- the Berniecrat who gave Lamar Smith the closest run for his money ever last November -- had to say, as published at Down With Tyranny, following the People's Summit in Chicago also last weekend.  Bold emphasis is mine.

The Summit, as far as I could ascertain, was heavily weighted to reforming the Democratic Party on the East Coast and West Coast. Very little was said about the rest of the country and what we should do in deep red states, like Texas, where I live. When I got a chance to button-hole Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal after she spoke at one of the working group sessions, "Transforming the Democratic Party," I asked her this question. What kind of strategy (should) those of us in deep red states use? Her response, "I don’t know, you have a better idea than I do as to what needs to be done."

I also spent a considerable amount of my time just mingling with people, introducing myself and listening to why they were at the Summit. I must have met and talked to a least 200 people over the course of the 2½-day event and this is what I came away with. Keeping in mind that I spoke to less than 5% of the attendees, maybe even less, without exception none of them was up to the task of transforming the Democratic Party. Every one of them wanted to form a 3rd party. Whether it was joining the Green Party or the People’s Party or forming a new party, it didn’t really seem to matter to any of them. What mattered to them was electing progressives to public office and they just didn’t see the Democratic Party willing to do that.

That general feeling, (that) spending the time and energy to transform the Democratic Party was a waste of time, seemed to be confirmed by my conversations with the individuals I met who had actually run for political office like me. All of us were inspired to run by Bernie Sanders last year and all of us had the same story to tell. The Democratic Party didn’t left a finger to support us. Those of us in red states all agreed, at least in the short-term, we needed to run progressive independents, like Bernie Sanders, instead of looking to the Democratic Party for institutional support.

Following up ...

Tom sent me a note yesterday telling me he had withdrawn as a candidate for 2018 for the seat occupied by Lamar Smith. It's a crowded race with lots of candidates, many of them pretty bad. We like Derrick Crowe. Tom has endorsed Rixi Melton. In 2016, Tom (did) something no one else has been able to do in over 30 years -- he managed to drop Lamar Smith's percentage vote total to 56.9%, the lowest of his career. In addition, Wakely’s campaign garnered more votes in 2016 than any Democrat in the State of Texas running against an incumbent congressional Republican.

There is no home for progressives in Texas -- or in the states that aren't in New England or on the west coast -- to go.  And the Democrats are counting on you to come slinking back, tails between your legs, and vote for the shitty neoliberals they nominate.  The next one up who fits this description is Jon Ossoff, who as it turns out is opposed to single-payer.  But because his opponent is Karen "I do not support a livable wage" Handel, the lesser of two piles of crap is all the voters of Georgia's 6th Congressional District get to pick between.  Phillips or Standard?  Your choice.

At this moment, there is no place for independent progressives in Texas to turn.

-- We can't let the week end without mentioning Russia and the election.  Naturally.

In North Texas:

Russian hackers took aim at Dallas County's Web servers, possibly trying to access voter registration rolls, before the November presidential election, officials said Wednesday.

"They didn't infiltrate our system," said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county's elections administrator. "They couldn't get in."

If the hackers had been able to manipulate or delete the county's registered voter database -- which contains names, dates of birth and addresses for 1.3 million voters -- that could have caused chaos on Election Day, said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

It's unclear whether Russians targeted other Texas counties. Collin and Tarrant county officials said they found no such attempts.

This fits with everything I have read and understand, with a handful of exceptions.

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

Have you taken your Valium?  Given it time to kick in?  You'll be okay even if it hasn't.

One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn’t try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning (coming directly from Obama) was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America’s disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.


In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the (illinois) state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

But even if the entire database had been deleted, it might not have affected the election, according to Menzel. Counties upload records to the state, not the other way around, and no data moves from the database back to the counties, which run the elections. The hackers had no way of knowing that when they attacked the state database, Menzel said.


Thirty-seven states reported finding traces of the hackers in various systems, according to one of the people familiar with the probe. In two others -- Florida and California -- those traces were found in systems run by a private contractor managing critical election systems.

(An NSA document reportedly leaked by Reality Winner, the 25-year-old government contract worker arrested last week, identifies the Florida contractor as VR Systems, which makes an electronic voter identification system used by poll workers.)

In Illinois, investigators also found evidence that the hackers tried but failed to alter or delete some information in the database, an attempt that wasn’t previously reported. That suggested more than a mere spying mission and potentially a test run for a disruptive attack, according to the people familiar with the continuing U.S. counterintelligence inquiry.

So ... it's not the last election you need to concern yourself with; it's the next one.  Do you think President Mango Chaos is going to do anything to establish confidence in our election integrity in 2018, or 2020?

There's lots more at Bloomberg if this sort of thing obsesses you.  Brad Friedman points to a Politico piece that suggests some chicanery is looming in the Georgia 6th special election due to that state's pathetically weak voting infrastructure.

I have just about reached the point where I have decided that voting simply isn't worth the effort, which would put me in with a majority of Americans.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

When I was at Today Newspapers, about a decade ago, the Snooze had a long profile piece about old Dallas-area civil rights veterans from the 60s and 70s. At least half said they'd stopped voting.

And, as far as Dallas hacking? Would Pippins-Poole, a stooge of Our Man Downtown, even recognize it?