A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.
So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.
She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.
‘Pardon me, sir, I’m Rebecca Smith from CNN. What’s your name?
‘Morris Fishbein,’ he replied.
‘Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?’*
‘For about 60 years.’
’60 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?’
‘I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims.’ I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop. I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man.’
‘How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?’
‘Like I’m talking to a f****’ wall.
Here we go again. Another Israeli Arab war. How many is this? More than enough. The United States has armed Israel, Saudi Arabia, fought Iraq, Afghanistan, paid huge sums to Israel ($2.4 billion per year) and Egypt ($1.7 billion per year), negotiated, pleaded and all for nothing. Here we are 60 years later and the Middle East is still at war. Israel may well have to take over Gaza once again like it did from Egypt in 1967.
In the past before the 1987 intifada the cost of administering Gaza was surprisingly low. In 1994 the Palestine Authority was created to administer the area and in 2005 Israel pulled out. Since then Iran and Hamas have taken control and the situation is as costly as ever. Hopefully with this latest incursion Hama will be eliminated as a military threat and the dull costly process of administering to the needs of the residents will resume.
So how is peace achieved?
First go back to 1948. Where there residences of the area that were forced to leave their homes and businesses without just compensation? If yes then pay them or the surviving family members’ just compensation plus 60 year interest. Fair is fair.
Second build an underground tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank. This would be an easy engineering feat and would allow Israel full use of its land.
Third does Israel want to maintain control of Jerusalem? Parts of Gaza and the West Bank? Fine pay for it. Negotiate with Egypt and Jordan for the purchase of land to compensate the residences of Gaza and the West Bank for any lost land. With all that Middle East and United States money in the till I am sure some arrangement could be made. I would suspect Egypt might be very pleased to part with some acreage for a few billion and the end of this headache.
Treating this as a business transaction, eliminating religion and politics is how this problem should have been handled in 1948. You want someone’s house and land? Fine, pay them for it.
Strange things keep happening in Minnesota, where the disputed recount in the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken may be nearing a dubious outcome. Thanks to the machinations of Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and a meek state Canvassing Board, Mr. Franken may emerge as an illegitimate victor.
Mr. Franken started the recount 215 votes behind Senator Coleman, but he now claims a 225-vote lead and suddenly the man who was insisting on “counting every vote” wants to shut the process down. He’s getting help from Mr. Ritchie and his four fellow Canvassing Board members, who have delivered inconsistent rulings and are ignoring glaring problems with the tallies.
Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as “duplicate” and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes.
This disenfranchises Minnesotans whose vote counted only once. And one Canvassing Board member, State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, has acknowledged that “very likely there was a double counting.” Yet the board insists that it lacks the authority to question local officials and it is merely adding the inflated numbers to the totals.
In other cases, the board has been flagrantly inconsistent. Last month, Mr. Franken’s campaign charged that one Hennepin County (Minneapolis) precinct had “lost” 133 votes, since the hand recount showed fewer ballots than machine votes recorded on Election Night. Though there is no proof to this missing vote charge — officials may have accidentally run the ballots through the machine twice on Election Night — the Canvassing Board chose to go with the Election Night total, rather than the actual number of ballots in the recount. That decision gave Mr. Franken a gain of 46 votes.
Meanwhile, a Ramsey County precinct ended up with 177 more ballots than there were recorded votes on Election Night. In that case, the board decided to go with the extra ballots, rather than the Election Night total, even though the county is now showing more ballots than voters in the precinct. This gave Mr. Franken a net gain of 37 votes, which means he’s benefited both ways from the board’s inconsistency.
And then there are the absentee ballots. The Franken campaign initially howled that some absentee votes had been erroneously rejected by local officials. Counties were supposed to review their absentees and create a list of those they believed were mistakenly rejected. Many Franken-leaning counties did so, submitting 1,350 ballots to include in the results. But many Coleman-leaning counties have yet to complete a re-examination. Despite this lack of uniformity, and though the state Supreme Court has yet to rule on a Coleman request to standardize this absentee review, Mr. Ritchie’s office nonetheless plowed through the incomplete pile of 1,350 absentees this weekend, padding Mr. Franken’s edge by a further 176 votes.
Both campaigns have also suggested that Mr. Ritchie’s office made mistakes in tabulating votes that had been challenged by either of the campaigns. And the Canvassing Board appears to have applied inconsistent standards in how it decided some of these challenged votes — in ways that, again on net, have favored Mr. Franken.
The question is how the board can certify a fair and accurate election result given these multiple recount problems. Yet that is precisely what the five members seem prepared to do when they meet today. Some members seem to have concluded that because one of the candidates will challenge the result in any event, why not get on with it and leave it to the courts? Mr. Coleman will certainly have grounds to contest the result in court, but he’ll be at a disadvantage given that courts are understandably reluctant to overrule a certified outcome.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s other Senator, Amy Klobuchar, is already saying her fellow Democrats should seat Mr. Franken when the 111th Congress begins this week if the Canvassing Board certifies him as the winner. This contradicts Minnesota law, which says the state cannot award a certificate of election if one party contests the results. Ms. Klobuchar is trying to create the public perception of a fait accompli, all the better to make Mr. Coleman look like a sore loser and build pressure on him to drop his legal challenge despite the funny recount business.
Minnesotans like to think that their state isn’t like New Jersey or Louisiana, and typically it isn’t. But we can’t recall a similar recount involving optical scanning machines that has changed so many votes, and in which nearly every crucial decision worked to the advantage of the same candidate. The Coleman campaign clearly misjudged the politics here, and the apparent willingness of a partisan like Mr. Ritchie to help his preferred candidate, Mr. Franken. If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator.
As predicted by myself on 11-19-08. This is dictatorship. Get use to it or fight.
Here we go again another recount debacle.
The Minnesota senate recount could have been prevented with technology. Every kid on the street has an IPOD but Minnesota can not afford electronic voting machines which could have stopped the inane fights over pen marks on ballots. There has never been any proof, or even any credible allegations for that matter, of electronic voting machines resulting in voter fraud. So why after Florida does Minnesota find themselves with this senatorial race a comedy of errors?
This is a travesty.
When are the citizens going to stand up and insist their votes count. Pulling mysterious votes out of thin air by looser’s to rip off an election is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
By TRENT ENGLAND
Sorry Minnesota, but the sequel is never as good as the original.
For those who watched the Washington State governor’s race recounts in 2004, the ongoing recount drama in Minnesota is just another rehash of the same script — albeit for a U.S. Senate seat that might put Democrats one vote away from a filibuster-proof majority.
Four years ago in Washington, Democratic Party candidate Christine Gregoire lost the first count, lost the recount, and then won a second, highly dubious recount by 133 votes. In Minnesota, where Sen.
Norm Coleman is defending his seat against comedian-turned-candidate Al Franken, the first count showed Mr. Coleman up 725 votes. Today, thanks to another dubious recount, Mr. Franken is apparently in the lead.
Razor-thin margins like these put election systems to the test. As the old proverb goes, they are a crisis and an opportunity. Yet the crises keep coming and the opportunities continue to be squandered. It’s time to learn the lessons of the recount wars and address the systemic flaws in our election processes. Indeed, the price of a continued decline in voter confidence is too troubling for most Americans to comprehend.
In Washington’s 2004 gubernatorial election, at least 1,392 felons illegally voted, 252 provisional ballots were wrongly counted, and 19 votes were cast from beyond the grave, according to Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges’s opinion in a case brought by Dino Rossi, Ms. Gregoire’s Republican opponent.
Election workers in King County (where Seattle is located) “enhanced” 55,177 ballots to make it easier for tabulating machines to read them — even though the county had failed to establish written procedures as required by state law. In some cases, individual election workers modified voted ballots using black felt markers and white-out tape while observers were kept at a distance that prevented meaningful observation. Nine separate times, King County “discovered” and counted unsecured ballots.
Nevertheless, Ms. Gregoire lost to Mr. Rossi by 261 votes.
An automatic recount reduced Mr. Rossi’s lead to just 42 votes. The Gregoire campaign demanded a state-wide hand recount, a time-consuming and expensive process that state law says the challenger must pay for (if the result changes, the challenger is reimbursed). Big labor unions joined with far-left groups like MoveOn.org to put up the money for Ms. Gregoire’s third-time’s-the-charm ballot shuffle.
During the recount process, five counties found new, uncounted, unsecured ballots and added them into their totals. King County officials admitted publicly that ballot reconciliation reports were falsified in an attempt to conceal variations between the number of votes counted and the number of voters who voted (two elections workers were disciplined as a result).
By the end, 3,539 votes more than the number of voters who voted were tabulated. Four other swing counties provided an additional 4,880 mystery ballots. Ms. Gregoire was the victor by a margin of 133 votes.
That margin — 133 votes — happens to be the same number of ballots that Minneapolis election officials are currently missing. The initial vote tally in one Democrat-leaning precinct counted 133 more ballots than officials have been able to find for the Senate recounts. The Minnesota canvassing board decided on Dec. 12 to allow Minneapolis simply to ignore the recount and go with the original number. This provided a 46-vote boost for Mr. Franken, about the same as his current projected lead. The board also “requested” that counties reconsider rejected absentee ballots, a new and novel part of the recount procedure that is also expected to favor Mr. Franken.
Something is wrong when a victorious candidate owes more thanks to vote counters than to voters. Such was the case in Washington in 2004, and Minnesota is poised to follow in its footsteps in 2008.
It need not be this way. After 2004, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation produced a 42-page report offering a dozen solutions. While a few were implemented, most were simply ignored by officials content to cross their fingers and hope the next close election is in someone else’s jurisdiction.
Some reforms are simply educational and cultural; others are fundamental and essential. Election officials need to understand current federal and state laws and regulations governing the entire election process, including recounts. Those responsible for elections must also inculcate a culture of compliance among election staff, including temporary staff hired at election time.
From the moment they are printed, ballots should be isolated and guarded and their chain of custody recorded. Officials with rule-making authority are responsible for establishing processes that clarify how ballots are to be handled, stored, counted, and, if necessary, recounted.
Most important to maintaining and increasing public faith in elections is improving openness, especially leveraging Internet technology to make anyone a potential election observer. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s project to put all 6,700 contested ballots in the Senate race on the Web, so people can compare their own judgments to those of the canvassing board, is but one example. Election officials who have nothing to hide should be putting as much as possible online as quickly as possible.
Citizens and the media might also take a closer look at some of the individuals and organizations involved in monkeying with and even overturning elections. Both Mr. Franken and Ms. Gregoire were endorsed by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — Acorn — a group under investigation in several states for suspected voter registration chicanery.
The man overseeing the Senate recount, Minnesota Secretary of State
Mark Ritchie, was also endorsed by Acorn, and his election campaign in 2006 was funded in part by something called “The Secretary of State Project.” This latter group, founded by MoveOn.org’s former grass-roots director, exists solely to install far-left candidates as secretaries of state in swing states.
Close elections will always stir controversy. They will often require recounts to validate the results. Yet the Washington and Minnesota recounts offer cautionary tales. The democratic process is too important to be disregarded until a virtual tie forces us to pay attention. Regardless of which candidates win our elections, the voters — not the vote counters — should win every time.
Mr. England is director of the
Citizenship and Governance Center
at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.
Once I really started paying attention to Barack Obama and what was or was not being said about him I found the lack of TRUE confirmed information astounding.
Barack Obama essentially has no history other than that he has made up for himself. Because he has sealed his records and refuses to provide even the bare essentials required by law to become President of the USA. “We the people” literally know nothing about him.
This is disturbing on a number of levels.
Why the secrecy?
I can think of no reason that is positive can you?
Here are a few clips addressing the issues.
As we move forward now to the inauguration of Barack Obama we still do not know much about him.
He refuses to produce even the key information which proves him eligible for this office. There is grave doubt that he is a “natural born citizen”. That is a basic requirement to even be considered for this high office in our USA. Why does he refuse to provide this information?
Those required to insist this information be made public fail to do so.
There is only one answer that at this point is logical.
He can not and is not.
“We the people” are left clueless as usual.