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Reflections on Dorothy Fadiman's "Stealing America, Vote By Vote"

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Remarks of Paul Lehto Upon the Opening and Importance of Dorothy Fadiman's Film "STEALING AMERICA, VOTE BY VOTE" in Palo Alto, California, October 15, 2006.

Hello Everyone,

Sitting on the floor of an airport, I write to all of you when I should be there in person. People walk by and cast some glances at my laptopping, but the occasion of this film is such that I would write this in the rain, on a plane or in any of the other places that green eggs and ham are known to be utterly delicious. You see, I've a 5 year old boy and a 7 year old girl who are children of an immigrant, their mother is from Finland, and they want democracy and freedom in their lives as much or more than we've had in ours.

Although I intended to be with all of you in Palo Alto tonight after an election fraud conference here in Columbus Ohio (our nation's mecca of election fraud), Sunday flight schedules intervened and now I won't reach California until Monday.

Nevertheless, I'd like to update all of you on the election contest presently under appeal in the 5th Congressional District in California concerning the results of the June 6 special election in San Diego's Busby/Bilbray congressional race to replace imprisoned Cong. Duke Cunningham.

First of all, Duke Cunningham was able to receive 2.4 million in bribes only because the Intelligence work that he was involved in appropriations for was a secret process, and therefore missing public oversight and checks and balances. And that is also what the election to replace this imprisoned Congressman also features, secret vote counting on optical scan and touch screen DRE voting machines. These computers used for voting are just like all other computers: They will do anything that anyone who speaks their computer language tells them to do, without regard to law, ethics or morality. Is this the kind of thing that should be counting our votes in secret? Well, no person or computer should have this ability since it only leads to bad news, just like it did with Duke Cunningham's corruption.

Well, on June 6, 2006, or 6-6-6, the mark of the beast visited our democratic elections. Not only did we have the dreaded but expected secret vote counting, but in a very close election with recount requests and election contests on the way, the Speaker of the House chose to swear in Brian Bilbray as the Congressman from the 50th! This was a selection, not an election. They actually filed a motion saying no court or anyone else even had power to look into the election now that the speaker had essentially indicated his preference of candidate. We called this what it is: ELECTION NULLIFICATION AND ELECTION TERMINATION.

They claimed article I section 5 of the constitution providing that congress shall judge the qualifications of its members, means that Congress can ignore the state's role to implement and supervise both counts and recounts, as expressly provided in the paragraph immediately before section 5, in article I section 4. Prior to the election, everyone expected that the state would do the count and the recount. If you recall the arguments made by Republicans in Florida 2000, they screamed at the top of their lungs the mostly misleading claim that rules were being made up after the fact for the election, which was illegal. Here, they had no problem changing all the rules of recounts including whether one could even be had, and destroying citizen rights generally. Talk about a rule change, after the fact! It's a rule change that violates equal protection, since Denny Hastert according to his OWN interpretation of the effect of the swearing in, in effect decreed that the 50th would NOT have recount rights, while every other district in California WOULD have recount rights. It is simply hypocritical and illegal to do what Gore was not allowed to do in Florida 2000 (have a partial recount), and to make that precisely what one is asking for, so that some citizens have their rights denied but not others.

But it's not merely hypocritical and illegal, it's a crime against democracy.

As you enjoy Dorothy Fadiman's incredible new film Stealing America, you may want to consider the film in this light: If the so-called Congressman and his lawyers could sit down, and fully intend to swear in Bilbray while well over 12,500 ballots were still not counted, and if they could say that this had the effect of hiding the evidence from inquiry of all courts and persons except the House of Representatives itself, what can we call this other than intentional election termination before its recount and audit and investigative phases can even start, and before many ballots were even counted the first time. AND IF THEY WILL DO THIS IN THE OPEN, AFTER CONSULTATION WITH THEIR LAWYERS, IF THEIR LAWYERS WILL SIGN OFF ON THIS, AND IF THE EFFECT IS TO DENY DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND A FULL COUNT OF THE VOTES, AND IF ON THE LEGAL LEVEL THIS ELECTION IN THE 50th SIMPLY NEVER FINISHED BECAUSE THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY AFTER THE SWEARING IN, ONE HAS TO ASK ONE VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION ABOUT DOROTHY'S FILM:

IF they will do this kind of stuff way out in the open, intentionally, and without remorse or regret, might Dorothy Fadiman's film, which concerns the limited but compelling evidence of what is happening under conditions of secret electronic vote counting, be RIGHT ON THE MONEY? Might they do MUCH MORE with the benefit of secrecy to protect them than they did in open court in San Diego's 50th?

We've appealed to the 4th Division of California's court of appeals but I make a further appeal to all of you: Do not think for a moment that things as popular as freedom and democracy will stay without a struggle. One person's freedom is another's irresponsible act, and another person's democratic decision was the ill-informed decision of people who watched too many misleading political ads. In short, freedom and democracy are always under attack by PEOPLE WHO HAVE BETTER IDEAS and are therefore willing to enforce them.

At 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday October 17, 2006 President Bush will sign the Military Commissions Act of 2006, providing for military courts where citizens rights to ask why they are being held in jail and whether that detention is legal or not are ELIMINATED. This is called the elimination of habeas corpus, around in some form as a limit on the power of the kind since the Magna Carta in 1215. Fighting terrorism is a better idea than freedom, folks. The bill will also legalize many forms of torture, but since it also authorizes the President to interpret all international law, it is already apparent that the President intends no limits be put on his Administration in these areas. Even the most conservative justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the case of Hamdan which the Military commissions act tries to reverse, that "the very core of liberty under our Anglo Saxon system of laws is the right to be free from the fear of indefinite detention at the will of the Executive." Habeas corpus is the writ that protects this principle. On Tuesday October 17, 2006 at 915 a.m. PST the very core of liberty comes to an end. There is no such thing as partly free.

We can cry for 9-11, and we can cry for government levee victims in New Orleans, but we should not have to cry about the loss of the very fundamentals of our structures of freedom and democracy. These are what our leaders were sworn to uphold, not eliminate.

So how will we change this? How will we keep our country from being unable to change under the people's will, from being "stuck on stupid" or, worse yet, stuck on sinister?

We can't "throw the bums out" if the bums control the machinery of voting. If we can't throw the bums out, and the bums have absolute power so immense that they claim devilish powers of torture and claim that they may ignore even the most just cause pleaded in our nation's courts for habeas corpus, then what we will have created is a system of absolute power commonly known as military dictatorship, in which citizens are subject to military courts, but the military need not respect in any way the courts' opinions regarding the legality of the military's executive's detention of citizens, including American citizens.

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Paul Lehto practiced law in Washington State for 12 years in business law and consumer fraud, including most recently several years in election law, and is now a clean elections advocate. His forthcoming book is tentatively titled DEFENDING (more...)
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