Most Electronic Voting Isn’t Secure

Steve Stigall, a CIA cybersecurity expert, suggested that  Hugo Chavez fixed a 2004 election recount. He also argued that most electronic voting isn’t secure:

Stigall said that voting equipment connected to the Internet could be hacked, and machines that weren’t connected could be compromised wirelessly. Eleven U.S. states have banned or limited wireless capability in voting equipment, but Stigall said that election officials didn’t always know it when wireless cards were embedded in their machines.

While Stigall said that he wasn’t speaking for the CIA and wouldn’t address U.S. voting systems, his presentation appeared to undercut calls by some U.S. politicians to shift to Internet balloting, at least for military personnel and other American citizens living overseas. Stigall said that most Web-based ballot systems had proved to be insecure.

H.G. Wells on Obama?

Dani Rodrick (found via Andrew Sullivan) found a passage written by H.G. Wells about an international conference in London in 1933 organized to find a coordinated way out of the Great Depression engulfing the world economy. Much of it sounds like it could have been written about Obama and the planned G20 summit:

[For] some months at least before and after his election as American President and the holding of the London Conference there was again a whispering hope in the world that a real “Man” had arisen, who would see simply and clearly, who would speak plainly to all mankind and liberate the world from the dire obsessions and ineptitudes under which it suffered and to which it seemed magically enslaved. …

Everywhere as the Conference drew near men were enquiring about this possible new leader for them. “Is this at last the Messiah we seek, or shall we look for another?” Every bookshop in Europe proffered his newly published book of utterances, Looking Forward, to gauge what manner of mind they had to deal with. It proved rather disconcerting reading for their anxious minds. Plainly the man was firm, honest and amiable, as the frontispiece portrait with its clear frank eyes and large resolute face showed, but the text of the book was a politician’s text, saturated indeed with good will, seasoned with much vague modernity, but vague and wanting in intellectual grip. “He’s good,” they said, “but is this good enough?”

The full text of The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells is available here.

Obama’s Press Conference

Last night’s press conference (transcript here) was not terrifically newsworthy. What was most significant was that Obama is already on his second press conference  in office. In comparison, both Bill Clinton and George Bush each only had four news conferences  during eight years in office.

Another aspect of significance is that Obama allowed follow up questions. Many politicians avoid this as it makes it much more difficult to avoid answering a question. A consequence of this (along with keeping the press conference on time to limit network protests) was that only thirteen reporters got to ask questions:

Here’s the list of reporters in order: Jennifer Loven (AP), Chuck Todd (NBC), Jake Tapper (ABC), Chip Reid (CBS), Lourdes Meluza (Univision), Kevin Baron (Stars and Stripes), Ed Henry (CNN), Major Garrett (Fox News), Mike Allen (POLITICO), Kevin Chappell (Ebony), Ann Compton (ABC Radio), Jon Ward (Washington Times) and Stephen Collinson (AFP).

In a year in which the print media is already having serious problems, it is notable that reporters from  major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post did not get any questions. The most significant newspaper to get a question was the conservative Washington Times. Broadcast media did well, along with outlets which are often overlook such as Stars and Stripes and Ebony.

I might have to reconsider my support for Chuck Todd to take over as moderator of Meet the Press if he continues to ask questions as bad as the one he asked last night. Chuck Todd asked why Obama isn’t asking for more sacrifice from Americans as might be expected during a crisis such as a war. While it makes sense to question Bush’s attempt to pay for the Iraq war on credit and not have any sacrifices by Americans, this is hardly an analogous situation. The whole point of government action during difficult economic times is to try to reduce the suffering of those who are already suffering and making sacrifices.

Of course we cannot have Obama do anything without a repetition of some right wing memes. The Anonymous Liberal criticizes some of the questions along with the criticism of Obama for using a teleprompter his  prepared comments. Considering that Obama gave lengthy answers to unscreened questions, along with follow up questions, without a teleprompter, his use of a teleprompter to include a prepared statement is hardly an issue. Some opponents tried to make an issue of this during the campaign despite numerous appearances in which Obama  also did just fine without a teleprompter. I don’t think such attacks will get much traction. Most viewers are probably just happy to have a president who can answer questions intelligibly. James Fallows adds:

The important point with Obama is that the content, command of fact and concept, and overall intelligence of his extemporized answers matched that of the scripted presentation. That could not have been so if he were teleprompter-dependent. For example: by the end of his term, George W. Bush had become quite effective in delivering a formal speech. His interview- and press conference performance if anything deteriorated through his time in office.

The whole “Obama can’t talk on his own” concept is bizarre, given his performance through two years of stump speeches and debates during the campaign. But it seems to have gotten so much credence in the right-wing world that it is worth addressing head on.

Republicans Need Constitutional Amendment To Expand Presidential Choices

The Republicans have two problems with regards to finding someone who sounds rational to take the 2010 nomination. First the two Republicans who have made the most sense lately are unlikely to win the nomination and secondly neither is constitutionally eligible.

I”ve already noted sensible comments from Arnold Schwarzenegger in posts such as here. These ideas make it unlikely he could win the nomination. He might have a shot due to his celebrity status except he is note eligible due to not being a natural born American citizen.


While I’m not seriously proposing her as a candidate, Meghan McCain is also making far more sense than most of the Republicans around. Even if the Republicans would nominate her, which is far less likely than Schwarzenegger, she is too young to be eligible. She was interviewed by Larry King. Here’s a portion:

King: Do you consider yourself a moderate? Are you moderate liberal?

McCain: I consider myself a progressive Republican. I am liberal on social issues. And I think that the party is at a place where social issues shouldn’t be the issues that define the party. And I have taken heat, but in fairness to me, I am a different generation than the people that are giving me heat. I’m 24 years old. I’m not in my 40s, I’m not in my 50s and older.

King: Therefore, you must, based on what you said, disagree with your father? … Do you discuss it?

McCain: We have a very big generation gap between me and my father. Yes, we discuss them. He’s very open-minded. I was raised in an open-minded home. I was raised a Christian, but I was raised open-minded Christian — one to accept people, love people, not pass judgment. …

I believe in gay marriage. … I personally am pro-life, but I’m not going to judge someone that’s pro-choice. It is not my place to judge other people and what they do with their body.

I do give Meghan some slack for her presidential vote in 2008. We really can’t expect her to have supported anyone other than her father, and she did back John Kerry in 2004. Still, I wish she hadn’t ended the interview by attributing some of her attitudes to “having a maverick as a father.”