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Democracy: Is it Time to call a Corpsman or the Chaplain?

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World's Laziest Journalist

February 13, 2006

By Bob Patterson


In combat a medic has to face what may be the most gut-wrenching decision a human being will ever have to make - should he render first aid and prepare the victim for evacuation or, if the wounded soldier is certain to die, should he cold-heartedly move on and work on another casualty who does have a chance to benefit from his help?


Spending time with a wounded man who will die might be a charitable and humane thing to do, but it wastes valuable time that the corpsman might use to save another man's life, so logically, he must disregard his emotions and move on to someone else who will benefit from his efforts to save lives.


This horrible decision comes to mind every time stories about the voting machines, which are susceptible to hacked results, appear in the mainstream media, because they raise the question does democracy in the USA need a medic who will begin the recovery process, or a chaplain who will provide comfort during the last moments of life?


According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the mid-term elections this fall will hinge on a few select elections. 


Other stories indicate that, after a demonstration of what the electronic voting machines can and cannot be manipulated into doing, two Florida counties were convinced that the machines were vulnerable to tampering and subsequently they moved to decertify those machines.


Shouldn't a move to credible results seem logical to the Republicans who are fundamentalist Christians?  Don't they believe that the best way to handle temptation is to avoid it?  All it takes to subvert democracy is one overly enthusiastic partisan with enough computer expertise who will type in the fictional outcome he prefers.  How uncomfortable would Republicans feel if they learned that some pro-Democratic party computer experts had the same access to the paperless trail voting machines in their area?


At some point, when assessing the pragmatic aspect of voting machines that produce "abracadabra" results, some columnist, who still remembers the Vietnam era philosophy of "We had to burn the village down, to save it," will make the comparison to the inherent danger of the paperless trail system of democracy.  Isn't it entirely possible to imagine one misguided self-proclaimed patriot "tweaking the numbers just a tad" (as he perceives it) in just a few "special cases" for the good of the country?  So let's do them a favor and eliminate that one temptation from their virtuous lives.


Imagine for a moment we are playing a game of poker and, when you call me and show a full house, I take a peek at my hand and solemnly assure you that I have a flush and am entitled to take the pot.  Wouldn't your curiosity demand that I show my hand?  If you are so mistrustful of someone over a measly few thousand of your hard earned dollars, then why are many Americans so blissfully blithe about the possibility of a computer assisted putsch?  


What's at risk if citizens, between now and November, go to their local caucuses and/or city council meetings and insist on – no make that "demand" – accountability and verifiable results for elections?


If the magic machines are producing tallies that are 100% accurate, then the people who make and service those machines might be subjected to some minor inconveniences (in contrast to the casualties on Tarawa, they might be a little costly monetarily, but they will be, nonetheless, inconveniences) in their efforts to validate the public's faith in the published election results. 


Making election results verifiable might be a gigantic step toward gaining national unanimity for the President and his program to export democracy to the Middle East, because such a change should eliminate doubt and dissent for future claims to a mandate.  How can the Democrats support the President's program to fight for democracy, if they believe that the election results in the USA indicate that the results are not honest?  If the Republicans want the Democrats to support the President, then they have nothing to lose and much to gain by reverting to more reliable voting machinery.


According to the 2000 edition of the World Almanac, the number of US battle deaths in World War II was 292,131.  Doesn't it seem likely that not a single one of them would be willing to make the sacrifice again, if they were asked to die for elections with suspicious results?


If those machines are being electronically subverted into producing dishonest results, even if only in just a few key instances, then the people who make, promote, and loudly lavish praise on the technological carpetbagging, should, as far as disrespecting the sacrifices of the fallen in WWII is concerned, recall the final words of Ernie Pyle's book, Here Is Your War - "Medals and speeches and victories are nothing to them any more.  They died and others lived and nobody knows why it is so.  They died and thereby the rest of us can go on and on.  When we leave here for the next shore, there is nothing we can do for the ones beneath the wooden crosses, except perhaps to pause and murmur, 'Thanks, pal.'"


If you truly believe that there is "nothing we can do for the ones beneath the wooden crosses" then you will stay at home, vote for the newest American Idol, and shut the … heck … up when you disagree with the dictates of the politicians who have "won" the elections and the "mandates."


If, however, you think that those 292,131 individuals would appreciate it if you strongly insisted that the voting machines produce a verifiable paper trail, then get on down to the local political meetings and speak up.  If you are told that the use of Diebold machines has been implemented and it can't be changed, then, perhaps, you can indicate that you will create a fuss on every possible move they make until they realize that voting machines should not be the only example of the use of computer technology that doesn't produce a paper trail.  It might even become necessary to run against someone who is intransigent about the possibility of any change to a more verifiable type voting machine.


Yes, it is quite likely that if you take the time and make the effort to do something about reliable elections, you very well might miss the Access Hollywood program on the night when they show video of Simon Cowell's latest temper tantrum, but … that sacrifice pales in comparison to that made by those who died on Anzio beach.


You could also voice your enthusiasm for a return to the more dependable machines, by sending the URL for this column to your elected officials and asking them if wanting authenticated results for the voting is asking too much. 


The mainstream media seems complacent, so you could also send the URL for this column to the editor of your local paper and ask if this columnist is making a valid point or not.  (Editors love giving an opinion just as much as a clergyman enjoys giving his blessing.)


At worse, election results, which can, when necessary, be certified as accurate, will make at least one crotchety and curmudgeonly pundit very happy.  At best, it will make the speeches, which various politicians will deliver next Memorial Day, sound authentic and sincere.


Americans who value the Democratic system face a dire crisis.  Democracy has taken a metaphorical hit with the trend toward vulnerable voting machines.  It's time for citizens, who value the sacrifices, which were made so that they could live in a democracy, to make a critical choice before the next election:  should they call the medic and nurse democracy in the US back to health, or should they summon the chaplain who can administer last rites?


Joseph Stalin said - "It doesn't matter who cast the ballots.  What matters is who counts the ballots."


The disk jockey is going overboard on symbolism this week, because he is going to play "Reveille Rock," the 1959 hit by Johnny and Hurricanes.  The added lyrics contain just two words "Wake up!" - so sing along.  We'll fall out for now.  Have a good week and if you pass a National Cemetery (as we do when we take the No. 6 Culver City bus to the Westwood section of Los Angeles), be sure to say "Thanks pal" as you pass.  If no one else does, they might appreciate your efforts to insure honest election results.





Copyright 2006 - Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com





[Editor's Note: Bob sent this along just before publication - NJ Appeals Court Rules Against Electronic Voting Machines.]



From the 29 May 29 2005 photo page 

National Cemetery, Westwood, CA


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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