December 01, 2016

#Recount2016 — never fear, Greg Palast is here to explain #AuditTheVote

If you've been following the twists and turns of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's recount request of three states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — from this year's election, three states that Donald Trump "flipped to red" after Barack Obama won them in 2012 (and 2008), you've seen that this already has more twists than a cat has lives.

I've already blogged twice on this. To summarize those as the backdrop for the third post, the set-up for the header:

Greg AtLast, intrepid undercover journalist, is here to get
to the bottom of the bottom-dwelling of Recount2016.
In my first post, I noted that the Michigan State prof calling for this, along with others, by demographic profile alone, seemed to be a Clintonista. I also noted that his alleged anomalies actually weren't and that some of the auditability issues he alleged weren't entirely true in his own state of residence, Michigan.

In my second post, I discussed how Stein was going off half-cocked, and that that's not just my opinion but that of a majority of the Green Party's executive committee. I also looked at how the party executive has been pissed since she officially endorsed Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic primary, then — even though she had no legal authority to do so — offered to step aside for him as the Greens' presidential candidate, under the right terms of agreement.

(I forgot to explicitly mention in that second post that I cannot understand why the Greens' executive committee didn't vote unanimously against the recount as configured. I totally agreed with the reasons the majority stated in opposing it and even added my signature to the executive statement. Actually, someone else can.)

Well, never worry about being puzzled over all of this

We now have Greg Palast and his mythical fedora weighing in with alleged answers.

Fortunately for the portion of left-liberals that want to always, not selectively, be part of the "reality-based community," we also have a follow-up weigh-in

Greg Palast's doppelgänger, Jungian shadow and more, Greg AtLast, is here to take a look at what Greg Palast has to say.

Palast started with a blanket claim that Stein isn't hunting Russians.

AtLast notes: It's true she's never directly used the word "Putin," BUT — both she and the Haldermans of this issue have hinted at "foreign elements," and one would have to be an even dumber fuck than Palast to think Halderman and Stein meant anything other than Vlad the Impaler.

Palast then says "the Green team does not yet even have the right to get into the codes."

AtLast notes that, per the above, there is NO "Green team." There is a "Stein team." Period. Thanks for further muddying the waters.

Palast next claims that most "undervotes" were actually machine-read intended votes, without any proof to that end. And, he gets more egregious in calling undervotes "spoiled."

AtLast notes: Nope, first on the "spoiled." As they don't ruin the ballot, an undervote by definition cannot be spoiled. As for intent of undervoting? AtLast knows of multiple people who have deliberately undervoted themselves, including in the current election.

Further refutation of Palast's conspiracy theory, or of bad machine scanning of ballots, even? Wisconsin set a record for write-in votes. People just didn't like either Clinton or Trump, even whlie caring enough to vote in other races.

AtLast adds that Palast is filtering his rhetorical, Palast-theoretical softballs through the filter of Robert Fitrakis, Stein's lawyer in the recount. Fitrakis is another Ohio 2004 conspiracy theorist, who even co-wrote a book about alleged massive vote fraud there. Reality? A couple of Cleveland-area elections officials were convicted of fraud, technically, on the real-world grounds of massive laziness. And that was it, per both Mark Hertsgaard, respected liberal writer, and Democratic Congressman John Conyers. Indeed, Fitrakis' screed is one of two explicitly critiqued by Hertsgaard in his Mother Jones piece.

He lists a bunch of alt-left (sic) claims that Fitrakis et al uncredulously passed on, including in at least one case after a Democratic official tried to correct them. And, some of his ire, or whatever, is direct specifically at Fitrakis, noting at the time he was on good personal terms with one of his co-authors, and the author of another book about Ohio 2004.

(AtLast at this point reminds readers that things like decreasing voting machines in some precincts, shortening early voting time windows, etc., while despicable, is legal and not fraud.)

Even worse, per the title of another book of his, "Star Wars, Weather Mods and Full Spectrum Dominance," which has no editorial review on Amazon, Fitrakis is apparently a chemtrails whack. (See page 5 of that PDF.)  Or see this piece; let's drop the word "apparently," in my opinion.

AtLast says: I LOATHE chemtrails conspiracy theorists. For personal and professional reasons both.

AtLast also notes that he didn't follow the Ohio 2004 recount more closely since Bush's margin of victory was greater there than Trump's was this year in any of the three states under question, or else he would have commented earlier on about a swamp in obvious need of draining.

AtLast also notes that Fitrakis is co-chair of the Ohio Green Party's steering committee, per his Wiki page. He is also part of a so-called "Green shadow cabinet," which is NOT affiliated with the Green Party. However, even without that affiliation, that and his state party connection may explain why the GP executive committee vote against Stein wasn't unanimous. And, it is probably cautionary as to how much closer to the "reality-based community" the party will, or will not, become, as long as people like him are in the core.

At the same time, Margaret Flowers, the Green's Maryland Senate candidate, and seemingly part of the anti-Stein faction, who spilled the beans on the party's internal dissent, is also part of said shadow cabinet. (This was all for the 2012 election cycle; it's not been updated for 2016.)

Palast then notes that nationally, in the 2012 presidential election, nearly 1 million provisional ballots were discarded.

AtLast notes that Palast doesn't mention that, sometimes, provisional ballots are tossed for good reasons. (He does commend Palast for not claiming that every ballot tossed was done nefariously.) He also notes that 65 percent of provisional ballots were accepted. Therefore, calling provisional ballots "placebos" is more spin than reality.

Beyond that, Palast appears to be pulling numbers out of his bupkis.

Also in Ohio, AtLast sees Ohio State prof Ned Foley say that only 618 provisionals were cast in Wisconsin due to lack of photo ID (about 750 total provisionals), of which 502 were rejected. And Foley actually has a link.

Palast then tries to make it look like mail ballots that are tossed are tossed nefariously.

AtLast responds: First, there's reasons why mail-in ballots have specific rules. It's called: Fraud Prevention! Actual fraud has happened with mail ballots, including multiple cases at least partially involving them in Dallas County in 2010. Actual election experts tell the general public that mail ballots are at least as weak of a link in the chain of secure voting as are voting machines. Second, Palast doesn't claim how many mail ballots were tossed nationally, unlike provisionals. AtLast suspects the number is pretty small.

Palast rhetorically asks: Is Stein going to get rich?

AtLast says: Nobody's claimed that. Some people did, legitimately, wonder why she appeared to shift the goalposts after she started her fundraising drive. Maybe Palast should ask Stein or Fitrakis about that.

AtLast also rhetorically asks back: "Is Fitrakis going to get rich? What's his lawyerly charge per billable hour? How many billable hours has he already racked up?"

AtLast also remembers that David Cobb is a lawyer and wonders if he's getting paid legal billing for his advisory role to Stein.

Palast is right about is the partisan nature of many states' election commissions. That's about the only thing that's right.

AtLast observes: Blame Obama. Blame Obama for not fighting better for governors and state legislators in the 2010 midterms, which allows the GOP to do massive gerrymandering for post-2010 Census redistricting.

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