Some time ago, now Senator Al Franken wrote a book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. I read the book, and found it to be a lousy read as petty, spiteful, and true. You may not agree with his politics or his style, but the one thing you can say about Senator Franken is that he has always valued the truth. On the other hand, I don’t know why anyone actually believes Fox News at all. Because they and their chief liar Bill O’Reilly are at it again! This time, it’s a railroad job against Senator Coburn, who had the audacity to call my Congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, a nice lady, and who said, when talking abut the insane notion of putting people in prison for buying insurance, that “The intention is not to put anybody in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn’t the intention.”
Bill O’Reilly can’t have that, so he claimed, “We researched on Fox News if anybody had ever said you’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance. Nobody’s ever said it.” Guess what? The New York Times did some investigating and found at least six instances where someone on Fox News did say it.
When reporter at the New York Times was caught some months ago for plagiarizing, he was forced to resign and the entire newspaper was shamed. Not so for Fox when they just make stuff up, as apparently they have no shame! And so I think they deserve a new name: The Republican Liars Network (RCN). Not all Republicans are liars, and not all liars are Republicans, but those who choose to believe what they know to be lies, aren’t much better than the liars themselves, especially when they act on that information in the voting booth.
All I can ask is please, Senator Franken, don’t update your book. There’s just too much material.
Often times it is said that the purpose of academic research is to seek the truth, no matter where it leads. The purpose of industry representatives is often to obscure the truths they do not like. Such apparently was the case at a recent hearing of the Texas House of Representatives’ Committee on Elections. These are the guys who are nominally supposed to ensure that each citizen of Texas gets an opportunity to vote, and that his or her vote is counted. The committee provides oversight and legislation for electronic voting.
How secure is your electronic vote, compared to a paper ballet? Can you have an electronic hanging chad? A group of researchers have spent a fair amount of time answering that very question. Drs Ed Felton & Dan Wallach, as well as others, have looked at numerous different voting systems, and found all sorts of little problems. For instance, some voting machines are susceptible to virii, and if they get it they can give it to their peers. That’s not a problem, according to the manufacturers’ spokesmen. But who are we to believe? An academician whose purpose is to advance the state of the art and find truths, or a spokesman, whose purpose is to obscure them?
There are mistakes made in many, if not all elections and surveys. Here are just a few questions:
- What is an acceptable rate of error? As 2000 demonstrated, even a hand count of paper ballots can have problem.
- Rather than prevaricate, why shouldn’t the vendors of these voting machines fix the problems that have been reported?
- What sort of regulations are appropriate? The spokesmen all but demanded a common standard in as much as they complained that there was none.
Conveniently Dr. Wallach has an answer to that last question. His testimony recommends just that.
For what it’s worth, as an expatriate I do not expect to use a voting machine for quite some time, but rather a paper ballot.