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3DHS / Bombing suspect in custody
« on: April 19, 2013, 03:50:47 AM »

This feed was giving second by second accounts taken off the police scanner

3DHS / Virtual Choir
« on: April 01, 2013, 11:53:40 AM »

House Speaker John Boehner says he "absolutely" trusts President Barack Obama - not that they don't have their differences.

Why is this man still Speaker?

3DHS / Thar she blows
« on: March 07, 2013, 12:31:35 AM »
In July of 1852, a 32-year-old novelist named Herman Melville had high hopes for his new novel, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, despite the book’s mixed reviews and tepid sales. That month he took a steamer to Nantucket for his first visit to the Massachusetts island, home port of his novel’s mythic protagonist, Captain Ahab, and his ship, the Pequod. Like a tourist, Melville met local dignitaries, dined out and took in the sights of the village he had previously only imagined.

And on his last day on Nantucket he met the broken-down 60-year-old man who had captained the Essex, the ship that had been attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in an 1820 incident that had inspired Melville’s novel. Captain George Pollard Jr. was just 29 years old when the Essex went down, and he survived and returned to Nantucket to captain a second whaling ship, Two Brothers. But when that ship wrecked on a coral reef two years later, the captain was marked as unlucky at sea—a “Jonah”—and no owner would trust a ship to him again. Pollard lived out his remaining years on land, as the village night watchman.

Herman Melville drew inspiration for Moby-Dick from the 1820 whale attack on the Essex. Photo: Wikipedia

Melville had written about Pollard briefly in Moby-Dick, and only with regard to the whale sinking his ship. During his visit, Melville later wrote, the two merely “exchanged some words.” But Melville knew Pollard’s ordeal at sea did not end with the sinking of the Essex, and he was not about to evoke the horrific memories that the captain surely carried with him. “To the islanders he was a nobody,” Melville wrote, “to me, the most impressive man, tho’ wholly unassuming, even humble—that I ever encountered.”

Pollard had told the full story to fellow captains over a dinner shortly after his rescue from the Essex ordeal, and to a missionary named George Bennet. To Bennet, the tale was like a confession. Certainly, it was grim: 92 days and sleepless nights at sea in a leaking boat with no food, his surviving crew going mad beneath the unforgiving sun, eventual cannibalism and the harrowing fate of two teenage boys, including Pollard’s first cousin, Owen Coffin. “But I can tell you no more—my head is on fire at the recollection,” Pollard told the missionary. “I hardly know what I say.”

The trouble for Essex began, as Melville knew, on August 14, 1819, just two days after it left Nantucket on a whaling voyage that was supposed to last two and a half years. The 87-foot-long ship was hit by a squall that destroyed its topgallant sail and nearly sank it. Still, Pollard continued, making it to Cape Horn five weeks later. But the 20-man crew found the waters off South America nearly fished out, so they decided to sail for distant whaling grounds in the South Pacific, far from any shores.

To restock, the Essex anchored at Charles Island in the Galapagos, where the crew collected sixty 100-pound tortoises. As a prank, one of the crew set a fire, which, in the dry season, quickly spread. Pollard’s men barely escaped, having to run through flames, and a day after they set sail, they could still see smoke from the burning island. Pollard was furious, and swore vengeance on whoever set the fire. Many years later Charles Island was still a blackened wasteland, and the fire was believed to have caused the extinction of both the Floreana Tortoise and the Floreana Mockingbird.

Essex First Mate Owen Chase, later in life. Photo: Wikipedia

By November of 1820, after months of a prosperous voyage and a thousand miles from the nearest land, whaleboats from the Essex had harpooned whales that dragged them out toward the horizon in what the crew called “Nantucket sleigh rides.” Owen Chase, the 23-year-old first mate, had stayed aboard the Essex to make repairs while Pollard went whaling. It was Chase who spotted a very big whale—85 feet in length, he estimated—lying quietly in the distance, its head facing the ship. Then, after two or three spouts, the giant made straight for the Essex, “coming down for us at great celerity,” Chase would recall—at about three knots. The whale smashed head-on into the ship with “such an appalling and tremendous jar, as nearly threw us all on our faces.”

The whale passed underneath the ship and began thrashing in the water. “I could distinctly see him smite his jaws together, as if distracted with rage and fury,” Chase recalled. Then the whale disappeared. The crew was addressing the hole in the ship and getting the pumps working when one man cried out, “Here he is—he is making for us again.” Chase spotted the whale, his head half out of water, bearing down at great speed—this time at six knots, Chase thought. This time it hit the bow directly under the cathead and disappeared for good.

The water rushed into the ship so fast, the only thing the crew could do was lower the boats and try fill them with navigational instruments, bread, water and supplies before the Essex turned over on its side.

Pollard saw his ship in distress from a distance, then returned to see the Essex in ruin. Dumbfounded, he asked, “My God, Mr. Chase, what is the matter?”

“We have been stove by a whale,” his first mate answered.

Another boat returned, and the men sat in silence, their captain still pale and speechless. Some, Chase observed, “had no idea of the extent of their deplorable situation.”

The men were unwilling to leave the doomed Essex as it slowly foundered, and Pollard tried to come up with a plan. In all, there were three boats and 20 men. They calculated that the closest land was the Marquesas Islands and the Society Islands, and Pollard wanted to set off for them—but in one of the most ironic decisions in nautical history, Chase and the crew convinced him that those islands were peopled with cannibals and that the crew’s best chance for survival would be to sail south. The distance to land would be far greater, but they might catch the trade winds or be spotted by another whaling ship. Only Pollard seemed to understand the implications of steering clear of the islands. (According to Nathaniel Philbrick, in his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, although rumors of cannibalism persisted, traders had been visiting the islands without incident.)

Thus they left the Essex aboard their 20-foot boats. They were challenged almost from the start. Saltwater saturated the bread, and the men began to dehydrate as they ate their daily rations. The sun was ravaging. Pollard’s boat was attacked by a killer whale. They spotted land—Henderson Island—two weeks later, but it was barren. After another week the men began to run out of supplies. Still, three of them decided they’d rather take their chances on land than climb back into a boat. No one could blame them. And besides, it would stretch the provisions for the men in the boats.

The whaleship Essex, “stove by a whale” in 1821. Photo: Wikipedia

By mid-December, after weeks at sea, the boats began to take on water, more whales menaced the men at night, and by January, the paltry rations began to take their toll.  On Chase’s boat, one man went mad, stood up and demanded a dinner napkin and water, then fell into “most horrid and frightful convulsions” before perishing the next morning. “Humanity must shudder at the dreadful recital” of what came next, Chase wrote. The crew “separated limbs from his body, and cut all the flesh from the bones; after which, we opened the body, took out the heart, and then closed it again—sewed it up as decently as we could, and committed it to the sea.”  They then roasted the man’s organs on a flat stone and ate them.

Over the coming week, three more sailors died, and their bodies were cooked and eaten. One boat disappeared, and then Chase’s and Pollard’s boats lost sight of each other. The rations of human flesh did not last long, and the more the survivors ate, the hungrier they felt. On both boats the men became too weak to talk. The four men on Pollard’s boat reasoned that without more food, they would die. On February 6, 1821—nine weeks after they’d bidden farewell to the Essex—Charles Ramsdell, a teenager, proposed they draw lots to determine who would be eaten next. It was the custom of the sea, dating back, at least in recorded instance, to the first half of the 17th century. The men in Pollard’s boat accepted Ramsdell’s suggestion, and the lot fell to young Owen Coffin, the captain’s first cousin.

Pollard had promised the boy’s mother he’d look out for him. “My lad, my lad!” the captain now shouted, “if you don’t like your lot, I’ll shoot the first man that touches you.” Pollard even offered to step in for the boy, but Coffin would have none of it. “I like it as well as any other,” he said.

Ramsdell drew the lot that required him to shoot his friend. He paused a long time. But then Coffin rested his head on the boat’s gunwale and Ramsdell pulled the trigger.

“He was soon dispatched,” Pollard would say, “and nothing of him left.”

By February 18, after 89 days at sea, the last three men on Chase’s boat spotted a sail in the distance. After a frantic chase, they managed to catch the English ship Indian and were rescued.

Three hundred miles away, Pollard’s boat carried only its captain and Charles Ramsdell. They had only the bones of the last crewmen to perish, which they smashed on the bottom of the boat so that they could eat the marrow. As the days passed the two men obsessed over the bones scattered on the boat’s floor. Almost a week after Chase and his men had been rescued, a crewman aboard the American ship Dauphin spotted Pollard’s boat. Wretched and confused, Pollard and Ramsdell did not rejoice at their rescue, but simply turned to the bottom of their boat and stuffed bones into their pockets. Safely aboard the Dauphin, the two delirious men were seen “sucking the bones of their dead mess mates, which they were loath to part with.”

The five Essex survivors were reunited in Valparaiso, where they recuperated before sailing back for Nantucket. As Philbrick writes,  Pollard had recovered enough to join several captains for dinner, and he told them the entire story of the Essex wreck and his three harrowing months at sea. One of the captains present returned to his room and wrote everything down, calling Pollard’s account “the most distressing narrative that ever came to my knowledge.”

Years later, the third boat was discovered on Ducie Island; three skeletons were aboard. Miraculously, the three men who chose to stay on Henderson Island survived for nearly four months, mostly on shellfish and bird eggs, until an Australian ship rescued them.

Once they arrived in Nantucket, the surviving crewmen of the Essex were welcomed, largely without judgment. Cannibalism in the most dire of circumstances, it was reasoned, was a custom of the sea. (In similar incidents, survivors declined to eat the flesh of the dead but used it as bait for fish. But Philbrick notes that the men of the Essex were in waters largely devoid of marine life at the surface.)

Captain Pollard, however, was not as easily forgiven, because he had eaten his cousin. (One scholar later referred to the act as “gastronomic incest.”) Owen Coffin’s mother could not abide being in the captain’s presence. Once his days at sea were over, Pollard spent the rest of his life in Nantucket. Once a year, on the anniversary of the wreck of the Essex, he was said to have locked himself in his room and fasted in honor of his lost crewmen.

By 1852, Melville and Moby-Dick had begun their own slide into obscurity. Despite the author’s hopes, his book sold but a few thousand copies in his lifetime, and Melville, after a few more failed attempts at novels, settled into a reclusive life and spent 19 years as a customs inspector in New York City. He drank and suffered the death of his two sons. Depressed, he abandoned novels for poetry. But George Pollard’s fate was never far from his mind. In his poem Clarel he writes of

A night patrolman on the quay

Watching the bales till morning hour

Through fair and foul. Never he smiled;

Call him, and he would come; not sour

In spirit, but meek and reconciled:

Patient he was, he none withstood;

Oft on some secret thing would brood.

3DHS / Truth to Power
« on: March 06, 2013, 11:31:06 PM »

3DHS / The Flawed Case
« on: March 05, 2013, 08:38:45 PM »
The Flawed Case Tying Conservatism to Racism

By Peter Berkowitz - March 5, 2013

As the Republican Party girds itself for the consequences of sequestration, prepares for the coming rounds of budget battles, and continues to lay the groundwork for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond, the question of “whither conservatism?” is much on the minds of observers of American politics. Sensible men and women, right and left, know that the answer is bound up with conservatism’s origins, guiding principles, and the strategic judgments of movement leaders.

According to Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review, conservatism is headed nowhere good. This, he maintains, is because modern American movement conservatism originated in the 1950s in a political doctrine poisoned by racism. And even though conservatives have enthusiastically elected young leaders who come from minority groups --including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana -- the GOP remains in the grip of that poisonous doctrine.

Tanenhaus set forth these ugly judgments last month in a sweeping 5,500-word cover story in The New Republic. The article was emblazoned with the incendiary but fitting headline “Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people” and appeared in TNR under the lofty category “History.”

The charge that the core of modern American conservatism is racist draws on the most disgraceful pages in the playbook of post-1960s progressivism. Tanenhaus is not the first prominent liberal intellectual to dress up such slander in scholarly finery.

In 2004, Boston College professor of political science Alan Wolfe took to the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education in an article titled “A Fascist Philosopher Helps Us Understand Contemporary Politics” to argue that the ideas of Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt animated the politics of contemporary conservatives, whether they knew it or not. Suffice it to say that Wolfe’s linkage was undermined by significant misrepresentations of Schmitt and of conservatism.

Tanenhaus’s TNR cover story suffers from similar defects. It would be of little interest were Tanenhaus not a gatekeeper at The New York Times, America’s preeminent progressive newspaper, where his editorial judgment helps form public opinion. And it would have been easy to ignore the essay had it not been published by The New Republic, a flagship publication of modern American liberalism, which to great fanfare was recently re-launched under the leadership of new owner and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and veteran editor Franklin Foer, and has publicly rededicated itself to the publication of serious opinion.

However, it is noteworthy when Tanenhaus employs his graceful prose and considerable knowledge of U.S. politics in the pages of the self-proclaimed new and improved New Republic to promulgate a shoddy and unscrupulous account of modern conservatism, His article provides further evidence, if any was needed, that high-brow argument by today’s left-liberal elites increasingly consists of smearing the other side.

As in a similarly sweeping TNR piece called “Conservatism Is Dead,” published after John McCain’s 2008 loss to Barack Obama, Tanenhaus advances his thesis as a diagnosis of Republican Party electoral woes. The GOP’s poor showing in 2012 among minority voters and single women was not just a matter of “strategy or ‘outreach,’ ” he says. It was not merely the predictable result of “a history of long-standing indifference, at times outright hostility, to the nation’s diverse constituencies -- blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, gays.” And, it cannot be fully explained even by a supposed “racialist political strategy dating back many decades.”

Rather, “the true problem, as yet unaddressed by any Republican standard-bearer, originates in the ideology of modern conservatism.”

That ideology, Tanenhaus asserts, is bound up with the darkest chapter in American history: “When the intellectual authors of the modern right created its doctrines in the 1950s, they drew on nineteenth-century political thought, borrowing explicitly from the great apologists for slavery, above all, the intellectually fierce South Carolinian John C. Calhoun.” Tanenhaus is quick to add that “[t]his is not to say conservatives today share Calhoun’s ideas about race.” But he carefully leaves open the possibility that they might.

It is a fact that in the 1950s conservative thinkers turned to antebellum Southern conservatives of whom Calhoun was a leading figure. It is also a fact -- about which Tanenhaus has little to say -- that in the post-World War II era conservatives turned to a wide variety of sources to help them clarify the threats to liberty posed by a massively expanding state at home and an expansionist communist totalitarianism abroad.

These sources included the classical political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, Biblical faith, medieval political philosophy, early modern political philosophy, romanticism, Edmund Burke, the American founding, Tocqueville, the 19th-century resurrection of Toryism by Disraeli, the restatement of philosophical conservatism by Cardinal John Henry Newman, the poetry of T.S. Eliot, and the libertarian ideas of Friedrich Hayek.

By means of a brutal truncation of conservative sources, Tanenhaus portrays ideas that some conservatives in the 1950s gleaned from Calhoun about the right to “to resist, ignore, or even overturn the will of the electoral majority,” ideas which enjoyed some cachet in the tumultuous years following the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, as the crux of movement conservatism, then and now.

In the 1950s, according to Tanenhaus, Calhounism meant opposing the civil rights movement in the name of states’ rights. In 2013, Tanenhaus contends, Calhounism means criticizing the size and scope of government, supporting cuts in spending, favoring that voters be required to show IDs in order to cast their ballots, insisting on immigration reform, contesting affirmative action, opposing same-sex marriage, denying the need for stricter gun regulation, emphasizing individual responsibility, invoking the language of constitutionalism, and working for the repeal of Obamacare.

In other words, Tanenhaus discerns in the opposition to most any aspect of the president’s progressive agenda damning evidence that today’s conservatives “have fully embraced” the tradition of Calhoun and that the Republican Party “has become the party of Calhoun.”

Along with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun was one of the towering American statesmen of the first half of the 19th century. He served as a congressman from South Carolina (1811-1817), secretary of war (1817-1825), vice president of the United States (1825-1832), senator from South Carolina (1832-1843 and 1845-1850), and secretary of state (1844-1845). He was also the author of two important works of political theory: “A Disquisition on Government” and “A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States.”

Conservatives bent on reclaiming the conservative tradition in America in the 1950s discovered much of interest in Calhoun’s thinking, including the affirmation of the agrarian way of life and the rugged individualism with which it was associated; the defense of the wisdom embodied in traditional beliefs, practices and institutions; the analysis of threats to tradition posed by secularization, industrialization, and democratic leveling; and, not least, the theory of the “concurrent majority,” according to which legitimate federal legislation must reflect not an “absolute” or “numerical” majority but the consent of each major interest or community in the nation.

Despite conservative intellectuals’ interest in the range of Calhoun’s thinking, the only aspect that interests Tanenhaus is a corollary of the theory of the concurrent majority, namely, he writes, “the politics of nullification, the doctrine, nearly as old as the republic itself, which holds that the states, singly or in concert, can defy federal actions by declaring them invalid or simply ignoring them.” Tanenhaus purports to hear “echoes” of the politics of nullification most everywhere he encounters a contemporary conservative public policy position.

In 2008, in a searching article in The Claremont Review of Books, conservative William Voegli pulled no punches in exploring “conservatives’ complicity with segregation.” Indeed, on the question of civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, American conservatism was generally on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of justice, combining an unbending suspicion of aggressive federal government expansion with solicitude for white Southern custom and community and detachment from black citizens’ great struggle to achieve freedom and equality under law. But Tanenhaus’s evidence for equating movement conservatism with Calhounism, then and now, is weak and tendentious.

Small but telling flaws in Tanenhaus’s analysis reveal sloppiness with ideas. For example, he asserts that Calhoun’s doctrine advanced the lawless position that “each state was free to override the federal government, because local and sectional imperatives outweighed national ones.” Yet there is more to the South Carolinian’s doctrine than the clash of competing imperatives. Calhoun argued in the very lines from the 1831 Fort Hill Address quoted by Tanenhaus that states’ right to nullify federal law is grounded in their judgment that the law in question violates the Constitution.

And Brown v. Board of Education was not, as Tanenhaus writes, a decision that “outlawed legalized segregation”; rather, and much more restrictedly, it held that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” This may seem now to be a distinction without a difference, but the struggle over civil rights cannot be understood without appreciating it.

The most devastating flaw concerns the poverty of the evidence that Tanenhaus marshals in support of his sensational thesis. Tanenhaus adduces three conservatives from the 1950s to prove that the politics of nullification is constitutive of movement conservatism. He quotes lines from Russell Kirk’s seminal work, “The Conservative Mind” (1953), asserting that Calhoun was a master student of the threat posed by the federal government and democratic majorities to the rights of individuals and their communities. But restored to their context, it is clear that the lines Tanenhaus quotes are part of Kirk’s summary of Calhoun’s view – “The Conservative Mind” is a history of ideas that presents the thought of dozens of figures -- and do not state or imply an endorsement of the politics of nullification.

Tanenhaus also mentions “Calhoun apostle” James J. Kilpatrick -- editor of the Richmond News Leader; author of “The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia” (1957),which defends segregation; and a contributor to National Review -- who did vigorously defend segregation in Calhounian terms.

And finally Tanenhaus discusses William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review. Tanenhaus acknowledges that Buckley supported the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s and “student-led boycotts and sit-ins of 1960” because he viewed them as admirable instances of citizens’ exercise of the right to protest laws they wished to change.

And Tanenhaus notes that in the 1950s National Review was preoccupied with “rolling back both communism abroad and the New Deal at home” in the name of liberty. Yet despite the importance to Buckley of individual freedom and limited government, Tanenhaus, with scant textual justification, attaches paramount importance to Calhounism to explain Buckley’s opposition to the federal government’s role in integrating the South.

To support the charge of Calhounism, Tanenhaus, without citation, extracts fragments from a 1956 editorial, “Return to States’ Rights,” to make it appear that Buckley hoped that Calhoun’s “championing of the Tenth Amendment ‘may have the effect of shaking inchoate states-righters out of their opportunistic stupor’ and give rise to a new politics.”

But Tanenhaus changes Buckley’s argument. It wasn’t Calhoun’s writings that Buckley hoped would inspire proponents of states rights. What Buckley actually wrote was that “The Supreme Court decision of May 1954 (classifying segregated schooling as unconstitutional), because it struck hard at traditions deeply rooted and very deeply cherished, may have the effect of shaking inchoate states-righters out of their opportunistic stupor.” And while he refers in the editorial to Calhoun as a brilliant defender of states’ rights and welcomes “the return of serious discussion of states’ rights,” Buckley does not advocate nullification.

Tanenhaus also quotes from Buckley’s “most notorious editorial, ‘Why the South Must Prevail,’ ” which appeared in 1957. There one does encounter the language of Calhoun to justify defiance by whites of election results in order to preserve their way of life. But in that editorial Buckley also departs dramatically from Calhoun. Tanenhaus does his best to obscure this, writing that for Buckley “as long as the South did ‘not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class,’ segregation was acceptable.”

That’s not what the editorial argues. Rather, Buckley stressed that defiance of majority will could only be justified “for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races.” However wrong Buckley was about civil rights in 1957 -- and Buckley was mistaken about the constitutional soundness of Brown and complacent concerning the obligation to end segregation -- he does not, as Tanenhaus would have readers believe, accept segregation so long as whites didn’t exploit it. Instead, Buckley justified a temporary segregation in the interests of achieving long-term equality “by humane and charitable means” and in a manner consistent with constitutional principles.

Finally, Tanenhaus writes that “just as Calhoun had defended the ‘positive good’ of slavery, so Buckley defended Jim Crow as being born of ‘custom and tradition . . . a whole set of deeply-rooted folkways and mores.’ ” Tanenhaus does not identify the source of this snippet. But if one takes the trouble to hunt down Buckley’s Feb. 22, 1956, editorial, “The Assault on Miss Lucy,” one discovers that in it Buckley denounces University of Alabama students for mob violence in reaction to the appearance on campus of a black student who had been admitted under court order. Contrary, however, to Tanenhaus’s misleading reconstruction, Buckley was not defending Jim Crow as a positive good, he was criticizing -- wrongly, to be sure -- the Supreme Court’s Brown decision as an act of judicial usurpation.

And that’s the entirety of Tanenhaus’s case that modern American conservatism was built around a devotion to John C. Calhoun’s politics of nullification: a few lines from one chapter presenting Calhoun’s view in a large book by Russell Kirk surveying the views of numerous conservatives; a single example of an ardent defender of Calhounism in the person of James J. Kilpatrick; and three fragmentary 1950s quotations from the young Buckley, all of which are troubling and all of which Tanenhaus subtly distorts to make sound more so.

Tanenhaus also distorts by omission. Despite working for many years on a biography of Buckley, Tanenhaus does not see fit to mention that two weeks after “Why the South Must Prevail” appeared in National Review, Buckley gave his brother-in-law L. Brent Bozell the opportunity for a sharp rebuttal:

“This magazine has expressed views on the racial question that I consider dead wrong, and capable of doing great hurt to the promotion of conservative causes,” Bozell wrote. “There is a law involved, and a Constitution, and the editorial gives White Southerners leave to violate them both in order to keep the Negro politically impotent.”

Nor does Tanenhaus note that Buckley acknowledged on several occasions that he regretted the positions he took on civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thin though his evidence is, Tanenhaus contends that Calhounism “formed the ideology that shaped a generation of conservative politicians, including Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.” This is little more than guilt-by-association. The closest Tanenhaus comes to supporting this dubious claim is a passing reference to Goldwater’s defense of states’ rights in his 1960 bestseller, “The Conscience of a Conservative” -- a book ghost-written by the same L. Brent Bozell, who promptly and categorically rejected Buckley’s dalliance with Calhounism. Goldwater repeats the conservative criticism of Brown for intruding the federal government into the field of education without constitutional warrant.

At the same time, he declares his agreement with the objectives of the Supreme Court in Brown, states his belief that “it is both wise and just for negro children to attend the same schools as whites,” and urges democratic action -- persuasion and education -- to achieve integration. While he was mistaken to think that Brown was wrongly decided, Goldwater does not proceed from the political theory of Calhoun but from that of the Constitution, focusing on the principle of limited government, which protects freedom by preventing the accumulation and centralization of power. The principle of limited government is as venerable and deeply rooted in the American Constitution as any.

One can make the point that conservatives inconsistently invoke James Madison’s affirmation that the powers of the federal government are “few and defined” and that those of the state governments are “numerous and indefinite.” One can also observe, as William Voegli does, that extensive federal action in the 1950s and 1960s was both necessary and just to correct the evil of state-sanctioned discrimination -- and that this precedent complicates the defense of the principle of limited government.

And one can conclude soberly that the Republican Party today must find a way to translate conservative principles into reform and rhetoric that have greater appeal to blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and young single women.

What one cannot argue -- at least not consistent with a decent respect for facts and reason -- is that John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification forms the basis of modern American conservatism -- and that the very appeal to limited government has been, is, and will continue to be a thinly veiled attempt to keep non-whites and women in their places.

The reduction of conservatism to a racially charged politics of nullification is not only illicit in its means but is also illiberal in its aim. It is an attempt to de-legitimize all dissent from left-liberal orthodoxy.

The progressives’ case for entrusting government with more and more power depends in part on the trustworthiness of government officials. If the editor of the New York Times Sunday Book Review and the editors of The New Republic can’t be trusted to present history and restate their political opponents views without flagrant distortion, why should partisan politicians on the left (or the right, for that matter) be trusted to exercise responsibly ever-expanding government power?

The conservative case for limited government is rooted in an appreciation of the propensity, amply illustrated by Sam Tanenhaus’s TNR hatchet job on modern conservatism, to abuse position and power.

3DHS / Songs of Tahrir
« on: March 02, 2013, 01:50:08 AM »

3DHS / Imagine if this happened nationwide
« on: February 25, 2013, 01:56:32 AM »

The Miami Herald
Posted on Sat, Feb. 23, 2013   
The case of the phantom ballots: an electoral whodunit

By Patricia Mazzei

The first phantom absentee ballot request hit the Miami-Dade elections website at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, July 7.

The next one came at 9:14. Then 9:17. 9:22. 9:24. 9:25.

Within 2½ weeks, 2,552 online requests arrived from voters who had not applied for absentee ballots. They streamed in much too quickly for real people to be filling them out. They originated from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses. And they were not random.

It had all the appearances of a political dirty trick, a high-tech effort by an unknown hacker to sway three key Aug. 14 primary elections, a Miami Herald investigation has found.

The plot failed. The elections department’s software flagged the requests as suspicious. The ballots weren’t sent out.

But who was behind it? And next time, would a more skilled hacker be able to rig an election?

Six months and a grand-jury probe later, there still are few answers about the phantom requests, which targeted Democratic voters in a congressional district and Republican voters in two Florida House districts.

The foreman of that grand jury, whose report made public the existence of the phantom requests, said jurors were eager to learn if a candidate or political consultant had succeeded in manipulating the voting system. But they didn’t get any answers.

“We were like, ‘Why didn’t anyone do something about it?’ ” foreman Jeffrey Pankey said.

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office could not find the hacker because most of his or her actions were masked by foreign IP addresses. But at least some of the ballot requests originated in Miami and could have been further traced, The Herald found.

Prosecutors did not obtain that information as part of their initial inquiry, due to a miscommunication with the elections department.

On Friday, a day after The Miami Herald brought the domestic IP addresses to its attention, the office of State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said it is reviewing them.

Under state election laws, only voters, their immediate family members or their legal guardians can submit absentee-ballot requests. Violations may be considered felony fraud.

The thwarted attempt targeted voters in three districts: Democrats in Congressional District 26, where four candidates — including a suspected ringer criminally charged Friday with federal elections violations — were vying to take on vulnerable Republican Rep. David Rivera; and Republicans in Florida House districts 103 and 112, two competitive seats.

Nine candidates were involved in the campaigns: Joe Garcia, Gustavo Marin, Gloria Romero Roses and Justin Lamar Sternad in District 26; Manny Diaz Jr., Renier Diaz de la Portilla and Alfredo Naredo-Acosta in District 103; and Gus Barreiro and Alex Diaz de la Portilla in District 112.

Garcia, Diaz and Alex Diaz de la Portilla won their primary races, all by comfortable margins. In the end, the phantom absentee ballots would not have changed the results.

But there was no way to know that at the time. And the ballots would have brought more voters into the light-turnout election. The phantom requests targeted infrequent voters who had not applied for absentees, most of whom wound up not voting in the primary at all.

Only candidates, political parties and committees have access during an election to lists updated daily showing which voters have already requested and returned absentee ballots.

Garcia, Marin, Romero Roses, Diaz and Barreiro denied any involvement with the phantom-requests scheme.

So did Renier Diaz de la Portilla and a key consultant for his brother Alex, who declined to comment.

Naredo-Acosta, who did not visibly campaign, could not be reached. And Sternad, who pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he lied on his federal campaign reports, declined to comment through his attorney, Rick Yabor.

There are links among some of the candidates who ran in different districts.

Sternad hired as his campaign manager Ana Sol Alliegro — an old flame of Alex Diaz de la Portilla who supported him in his race last year, according to rival Barreiro. Renier Diaz de la Portilla hired his brother to run his campaign, and both shared several political consultants.

But the family had nothing to do with phantom requests, Renier Diaz de la Portilla said.

“Absolutely not,” he said.

He was echoed by Elnatan Rudolph, head of the New Jersey-based Cornerstone Management Partners, a key political consultant for both Diaz de la Portillas.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me why someone would do that, because you’d still need the person to [vote for you],” he said.

Had the requests been filled, short of stealing the ballots from mailboxes, the campaigns would have been able to flood the targeted voters with phone calls, fliers and home visits to try to sway their vote.

Persuade enough of them, and you might flip the race.

The hacker adjusts

When the phantom requests were initially flagged, elections staff telephoned a dozen of the targeted voters to check whether they had really asked for absentee ballots. They hadn’t, said Rosy Pastrana, the deputy elections supervisor for voter services.

Lynn Sargent, 23, said she received an email July 8 confirming her absentee-ballot request — even though she had never submitted one.

“I was definitely concerned when I got it,” said Sargent, a Miami-Dade native who had recently moved to Connecticut. But the ballot never arrived, and she voted in her new state.

Once the department knew the requests were phony, it blocked the 15 IP addresses from which they originated. It took several tries — the hacker simply switched to a different address — before the requests stopped.

“Every time we saw that pattern, we would block the IP,” said Bob Vinock, an assistant deputy elections supervisor for information systems. “I guess they finally gave up.”

Then came the hardest part: trying to figure out who did it.

Pastrana, the deputy elections supervisor, sent a letter outlining the local findings and a list of 12 foreign IP addresses to the state attorney’s office on Aug. 8, records show.

On Aug. 21, Thomas Haggerty, a prosecutor in the cyber crimes unit, noted that the IP addresses were foreign, registered in India and the United Kingdom.

“The person requesting these ballots is obviously using a software/service/proxy servers to mask their true IP address,” Haggerty wrote in an email to Johnette Hardiman, the prosecutor leading the review. “These are probably a dead end.”

In December, as the state attorney’s office prepared its grand-jury report on absentee ballots, prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen, who was not involved with the August inquiry, got back in touch with elections. It wasn’t until then — four months later — that elections IT staffers realized Pastrana had never sent the state attorney’s office three additional IP addresses, corresponding with the very first phantom requests from early July.

All three addresses were domestic — at least two of them in Miami, a quick search of online IP addresses shows. The location of the third U.S. address is unclear.

The delay in providing the addresses to prosecutors was an oversight, Vinock said. On Dec. 12, he emailed the addresses to VanderGiesen. But they appear to have been lost in the shuffle.

A month later, on Jan. 15, Jose Arrojo, head of the public corruption unit at the state attorney’s office, signed off on Hardiman’s four-paragraph memo closing the phantom-request inquiry . It contained no reference to domestic IP addresses.

The domestic IP addresses are now being examined, Ed Griffith, a state attorney’s office spokesman, said Friday.

Armed with the complete information, prosecutors can now follow up, using their subpoena power to obtain the users’ physical addresses from Internet service providers.

With the locations in hand, they might then be able to identify the hacker’s residence or business, or the public place, such as a library or Starbucks, that he or she used to take advantage of wireless Internet, said Steven Rambam, a New York-based private investigator with extensive experience in computer database and privacy issues. There, prosecutors could try to obtain surveillance video to identify the person online at the time the ballot requests came in.

“If it’s McDonald’s, McDonald’s routinely has video of their entire premises, inside and out,” said Rambam, who reviewed the IP address origins for The Miami Herald.

Even the foreign IP addresses were worth checking out, he added.

“I’ve picked up the phone as a private investigator doing these investigations and spoken to the security-and-abuse departments at the Internet service providers and gotten cooperation,” Rambam said .

The elections department also sent prosecutors a map of the voters targeted by the phantom requests. Though the department didn’t draw any conclusions from the map, it clearly illustrates that the voters were in three specific districts.

The Jan. 15 “close-out” memo makes no mention of the map, or of prosecutors following up with any political campaigns. “The map provided us with little useful information in tracking down the source of the computer attacks,” Griffith said.

Telltale pattern

The map showed that the first requests — the ones that originated from at least two Miami-area IP addresses on July 7 and 8 — targeted Miami-Dade voters in Congressional District 26, which stretches from Kendall to Key West. A little more than a week later, on July 16, the requests resumed — this time from foreign IP addresses — for voters in Florida House districts 103 and 112. They stopped on July 24.

District 103 extends from Doral to Miramar; District 112 from Little Havana to Key Biscayne.

The Herald analysis showed that, in the congressional district, 466 of 472 requests targeted Democrats. In House District 103, 864 of 871 requests targeted Republicans, as did 1,184 of 1,191 requests in House District 112.

Requests came in twice for nearly 500 voters, and three times for seven of them. The elections department doesn’t consider multiple requests suspicious, because voters are allowed to submit two ballot requests per election, in case the first ballot gets lost, for example.

Only a smattering of the total 2,046 voters were registered outside the three districts.

What alerted the elections department to trouble was how quickly the requests rolled in from the same IP addresses.

Jane Watson, president of Tallahassee-based VR Systems, which provides elections software to Miami-Dade and 52 other Florida counties, said the software flags suspicious activity, such as when five or more requests originate from a single IP address.

There are other safeguards, too. When a voter submits an absentee request online, Miami-Dade doesn’t automatically send a ballot. The request is reviewed by an elections department staffer, who must manually sign off on sending it.

The online ballot-request form requires voter information available on a public database of registered voters. It also asks for an email address — which doesn’t have to be real.

Most of the email addresses on the phantom requests were formulaic and clearly fake — the voter’s first name at AOL, Gmail or Yahoo, for example — but the email addresses on at least some of the early requests were accurate. That is significant, because while those addresses are not publicly available from the voter file, political campaigns routinely compile email addresses through other sources.

To submit an online ballot request, the voter must verify a series of skewed letters and numbers — an extra step intended to make automated requests more difficult.

“That’s a barrier, but I’m told that for someone who’s sophisticated enough as a programmer, they can get over that hurdle,” Watson acknowledged.

In the past, Watson said her company has brought in online security experts from Florida State University to test the software and look for loopholes.

But neither the county nor the software vendor have changed their programs or policies since the August primary, Watson and the elections department said. The reason: The existing procedures worked, they said. The phantom requests were caught.

No special skills

Creating a computer program to automatically fill online ballot requests using voter information is not difficult, said Rambam, the private investigator. Pre-written programs, known as scripts, are available online and easy for amateur hackers to modify.

With a little more skill, the hacker behind the phantom requests could have included computer code to keep the program from triggering the elections department’s safeguard, Rambam said.

Once the program has been set up, purposely obscuring its origins through foreign IP addresses is also inexpensive, he added.

“And that, of course, is the most frightening thing: that any moderately or even marginally skilled programmer could have done this,’’ Rambam said.

That’s why the grand jury recommended requiring at least a login and password for voters to submit absentee ballot requests, said Pankey, the group’s foreman. It was one of 23 recommendations proposed by the grand jury, convened after Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina, two Hialeah absentee ballot brokers, known as boleteros, were arrested shortly before the primary last August and charged with voter fraud. Both have pleaded not guilty.

No county official has followed up on the online security recommendation, which, unlike other grand-jury proposals, could be addressed locally, Pankey said Friday.

“You can’t go to your bank account — you can’t go to anything that is secured — without putting in at least a name and a password,” he said.

“Why should the elections be any different?”

© 2013 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

3DHS / Article 30 - A flawed process
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3DHS / It's all about soundbites
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