One of my fellow activists said that if I was going to the World Prout Conference in Radford that I should take my saffron robe and incense. He was kidding and actually pooh-poohing any concerns that the Yoga-meditation connected organization of PROUT (http://www.worldproutassembly.org) would make us all chant together before breakfast every morning at their conference on the campus of Radford University. PROUT, in reality, proposes a new paradigm of world economics that is neither capitalism nor communism, that most of us would probably be interested in. The conference invited diverse progressive and revolutionary groups from all over and succeeded in getting us all into one room for meals, music, and the final "round-table" discussion, which ended up being a session where anyone could take over the microphone for two minutes of informing, cajoling, or imploring.
It was at this last Sunday session that I got a real feel of just who else was attending this conference. I had missed all the sessions and workshops, except for our own, entitled, "Preventing Unwanted Presidencies; stopping Election Fraud in 2008." We had a distinguished panel of activists and investigators: Bob Fitrakis of the Columbus Free Press (www.freepress.org) gave the jaw-dropping history of Bushies and cronies, the CIA, and election rigging at home and abroad. Richard Hayes Phillips held the small audience spellbound with tales of pre-punched punch-card ballots, and intentional precinct movement of ballots causing Kerry votes to be moved up to another candidate, and numerous other still unpunished election crimes of 2004 in Ohio. He was there to sell his book, "Witness to a Crime," (www.witnesstoacrime.com) and he did pretty well, considering most had never heard of him. Even though Richard is presenting evidence of the stolen election of 2004, his work is significant for all future elections since he proves the lie of the claim that "Fraud could not happen at boards of election because the Democrats and Republicans watchdog each other." Apparently they sometimes look the other way when someone wants to change election results. He also gives the hard evidence that, "Yes, stolen elections are happening in our country; believe it and be outraged!" Incensed, even!
Also we had the lively Jeannie Dean, videographer of the 18.000 lost-in-cyberspace votes in a Congressional race in Sarasota, FL in 2006, and witness to the inconsistent tallies and broken chain of custody of the ballots of the NH recount of this year. She showed us video of her Sarasota head official stonewalling citizens' efforts for transparency, and urged us all to take and post video, especially of our election officials saying stupid things. (click here (Also watch her videos of the NH recount, for the WAY different hand count tallies vs official machine count.)
I did a quick overview of why we distrust voting machines (www.recallvotingmachines.com), and I threw in why "just getting a receipt" is not possible unless one is willing to give up the secret ballot. Jesse Johnson, Green party candidate for governor of West Virginia, and still in the race for nomination for President (against well know candidate Cynthia McKinney and others) spoke after me on our panel, and stated he was ready to give up his secret ballot in order to verify the vote. I agreed with his choice to do so, but later in conversation Richard said that since Kerry had said he paid $20 for every vote he got in 04, he could have just paid us directly to buy our votes! (Then we'd have something, at least.) How many people would sell their votes for $20, using the receipt as proof of how they voted?
Meria Heller (www.meria.net), radio show host, moderated our panel and was dynamic in articulating what many of us in the Election Integrity movement have come to accept as dogma: the people in power in this country and in the world could care less about honest elections, honest media, or our efforts to make them so, since their agenda is to make us all serfs. Jeannie videotaped both our panel and our workshop on "Five Actions Ordinary Citizens Can Take to Prevent Election Fraud in 2008." Hopefully she will edit her footage and make the best parts available for public viewing.
Although our panel and workshop were attended by only a handful of people, in part due to so many events happening at the same time (Cindy Sheehan was opposite our workshop), the Saturday night showing of Uncounted (www.UncountedTheMovie.com) had a good-sized roomful of people. I sold out of the few extra copies I had of this excellent HBO documentary of most of the election problems that are causing the unelected to be placed in office fraudulently. We also had good opportunity for tabling of information, books, videos, flyers, and a sign-up sheet to help in the November election. You may still sign up to help in some way on the www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org website ("I Count") and join a group in your state.
Jeannie was incensed on behalf all of us that so many conference attendees did not come to the only panel on preventing election fraud (or any other election topic, for that matter.) ALL progressive issues are dead in the water if we can't even get an honest vote count. I am constantly frustrated by Dems and progressives who say, "We just have to get out more people to vote for our candidates and issues," with NO concern that the votes are not being counted. I guess honest elections don't matter if you don't mind working with UNELECTED politicians.
Our workshop explained how to conduct a citizens' exit poll, (click here (and related articles.), more on videoing, what to look for in rigged elections, and how to do a complete audit of an election. (This paper by Richard Hayes Phillips is a valuable tool for anyone doing an audit of an election--it will be posted soon on OpEdNews or another website.)
Let's go back to the Sunday roundtable, in which anyone willing to stand in line for 45 minutes got 2 minutes of fame. Sunday morning, similar to the Saturday night program, had begun with our culturally diverse entertainment of raucous political poetry expressing anger at what greed and power have done to us, the ordinary people. I found that while I agreed with the message, meditation and incense actually was starting to sound pretty good to my high intensity, regime-fighting nerves. There was a homemade-flute player who brought us some respite. A fellow on Sat night had recruited me to play guitar and sing with him a peaceful song based on Gandhi's words, "We are the peace we wish to see." Unfortunately, the peace we wished to see was strained by the fact that we were singing in two different keys, but people sang along with us anyway.
After our morning culture jolt, people took their turns, promoting their particular interests and websites in such areas as economic restructuring, living more of a Green lifestyle, practical info on writing letters to newspapers, how to stop the war(s), presenting us with a new "Declaration of Independence," (someone suggested "Interdependence,") and a disagreement arose concerning whether "sovereign nations" was contrary to peaceful global coexistence. A necessary discussion to be sure, but hard to have with a roomful of 150 people. It was decided that the discussion would continue online.
One intriguing speaker, who had to be gently removed from the microphone, was the "Spiritual Warrior." She spoke as a prophet with an earnestness and desperation to get us to listen to her message: All the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), as well as other world religious leaders, are warning of the immanent return of Messiah and the end-times, and have predicted the disastrous global signs we are seeing now. She urged that all people who wish a revolutionary change in world politics and policies, recognize their spiritual basis, and reconnect with that Spirit. I was enjoying her prophesy, but others apparently wanted to hear something more practical and shouted that her two minutes were long expired.
When I finally got my two minutes. I thanked Garda, the conference creator, and quickly gave the Election Defense Alliance website (www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org), my email address, and my request that they all take our flyer, which has 13 practical steps anyone can take to help prevent the fraud we expect in Nov, 2008.(I will post this list soon on recallvotingmachines.com.) I ended with reading a bumper sticker that has been quite popular, "Prevent Unwanted Presidencies; Make Vote Counting a Hand Job!" Got a lot of laughs with that one.
A man who identified himself as an Arab, due to his father's side (his mother was an Irish/Welch Catholic), earnestly told his story and spoke of how Americans must change for the sake of the whole world. He warned that if we did not, he would be forced to choose to leave. I remember having the thought that many Americans would say to him, "Fine, then leave!" But my next thought was, "He actually has enough faith in this group hearing him now, that we truly embrace him as a brother and do not want him, or anyone of a culture other than our most familiar one, to leave our country, but to stay and fight with all of us for a just and beloved community of equals." If I had to choose a unifying principle for the conference, I would say his faith in all of us nailed it for me. May we all continue to work to become the peace, justice, and love we wish to see, whether we are in the same key or not.