Cyber Ninjas and Voting Pandas?
The skullduggery doesn't take a break!

The election may be done and dusted, but Jim Crow doesn’t sleep. The skullduggery doesn’t take a break. In the U.S., there’s currently well over 300 bills winding their way through the legislatures of more than 40 states, all with one main aim: to take away people’s right to vote.

Georgia served as a laboratory of horrible for much of this legislation. The vote-stealing techniques pioneered there are now in the process of being implemented in numerous other states. Even the Brits are getting in on the act, with the Conservative government announcing plans to implement voter ID, ostensibly to stop a crime wave of voter fraud that in reality doesn’t exist.

But reality is but a mere inconvenience for these master voter thieves, as we saw this past week when the GOP censured Rep. Liz Cheney, booting her from her Congressional leadership role for the crime of refusing to go along with the BIG LIE, that Trump won the 2020 election. (There are many good reasons to give Cheeney the boot, but this in not one.)

Meanwhile in Arizona, a Florida company called Cyber Ninjas is conducting a so-called “audit” of around 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County. Initiated by the GOP, the investigation conducted by these Ninjas — who are distinguished only by their total lack of experience in the election and vote tallying field — is currently focused on a “forensic” analysis of ballot paper, looking for bamboo fibers in a bid to find a tranche of 40,000 illegal Chinese ballots.

Suffice to say, just when you think the world of electioneering couldn’t get more bizarre, armies of Cyber Ninjas and mythical Voting Pandas come to the fore to remind us that they can.

To share some thoughts on just how crazy things have gotten, Rick Smith in joined by investigative journalist, author and self-confessed “conspiracy expert” Greg Palast for this not-to-be-missed edition of The Rick Smith Show.

Rick Smith: Greg, thanks for making time for us…You’re one of my favorite investigative journalists, one of the people that I look to for facts and information. I want to get your thoughts on the purging, the canceling of Liz Cheney.

Greg Palast: Well, their tent is getting smaller, so all you need is a big, nice wolf to blow them away. You know, I’m glad, let them bare their teeth. Look, they don’t wear masks, they’re taking off their happy masks now, too.

Smith: It’s funny because they’re the ones who wear the hoods.

Palast: I have no problem with them getting rid of Liz Cheney. She’s one of the worst members of Congress that there is.

Smith: Exactly.

Palast: I think it was the poet T.S. Eliot, if you don’t mind a little versification, who said: The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason. So there you are.

Smith: And here we are. The reality is I don’t care. I don’t care what the Republicans do. What’s that saying? If your enemies are going down, get out of the way. Get out of the way, let them fall. But here’s the weird thing though; she’s honest about saying that the election wasn’t stolen from Trump, there wasn’t the mass voter fraud that they were saying from the Democrats. It was actually the Republicans who were working hard at stealing the election. Look at Georgia. You bring it up all the time, Raffensperger, he was doing everything he could do before the election to ensure that the election was stolen.

Palast: Yes… And it’s getting worse. By the way. I’m heading off to Georgia on Sunday. I was hoping to take some time off, but it looks like the skullduggery doesn’t take a break. Jim Crow doesn’t sleep. He is always awake. There’s 300 bills in 40 states to take away people’s right to vote. And Georgia, as usual, is ground zero. And why? For eight years, I’ve been going to Georgia… Georgia is a blue state. Actually I’m quoting Martin Luther King III. I was at his house and he said, Greg, Georgia is a blue state. I said, what? He says, it ain’t a redneck state. It is a blue state if they’d let us vote. And “us” is not just Black folk, it’s college students, it’s people in urban areas. They have done a mass attack on the voter rolls.

Stacey Abrams will be running, I assume, for governor next year, Reverend Warnock is going to be running again next year, and [the Republicans] are in a panic. He’s got to run for reelection because remember, Reverend Senator Warnock only ran for a fill-in seat, so he’s running again. So they’re in a complete panic and they know that if they let voters vote, Stacey Abrams and Warnock will win.

It’s not whether I’m for or against them. It’s not a partisan question. I’m just one of those guys who thinks, hey, maybe the voters ought to choose the Senate and ought to choose the president.

So the new trick, you’ll love this Rick, in December, before the runoff for the U.S. Senate with Ossoff and Warnock, a group out of Texas — Texas — challenged 364,000 Georgia voters’ ballots… They challenged the ballots before most of these people even voted or mailed in their ballots. They said don’t count those ballots. Because in Georgia, they have an old Jim Crow law that says any voter can challenge another voter in their county. That was like an old Jim Crow trick so that Farmer Joe can say, oh, there’s Black Samuel, he shouldn’t be allowed to vote. That was the old trick. But now they’ve computerized Jim Crow — he’s Dr. James Crow, Cyber Expert — and they challenged 364,000 Georgian ballots. Now, Stacey Abrams’ group Fair Fight and the ACLU sent letters to these counties saying if you even dream of not counting those ballots, handcuffs are waiting. So even the Republican counties said this is nutso, because you have to know the voter to challenge them and some of these challengers were challenging 14,000 voters. They must’ve had a heck of a wedding! Where did they put that wedding party to know all these people? But now, the state of Georgia, the reason I’m going back… here I am, the Voting Fire Department again, to put out another fire… The Georgia legislature passed this new horrendous law, which we’ve talked about. The new law allows anyone to challenge an unlimited number of voters, and literally this guy Raffensperger, the Secretary of State, has actually invited — invited — this Texas group, saying go ahead and challenge these people because it’s a way to allow me, he literally said this, to avoid federal law.

Well, guess what? You can’t invite an outside group to help you break the law. That’s called a conspiracy. I’m sorry, I used to work with the Justice Department. I’m not a conspiracy nut. I’m a conspiracy expert. I actually was an investigator for the Justice Department on conspiracy cases. This is the classic [example]. He’s inviting people to wipe out the voter rolls, hunt down black voters, remove them.

So I’m going down to bust this scheme and talk to some of the voters who supposedly don’t live in Georgia anymore, some baloney like that. This is the games being played. And that’s just one of the tricks. And here’s the problem; if this True The Vote organization gets away with this out of Texas, they can use this trick in 40 states. And that’s just the beginning of the problems in Georgia and around the country.

So, hey, GOP, let me give you a hint; how about you convince the voters to vote for you, instead of using all your time and money, figuring out how to stop voters from voting. And believe me, these guys have got the funds. Behind this group True The Vote, behind a lot of these attacks, is a group of billionaires, the new Koch Brothers. It’s the Bradley family, this ultra right wing family out of Wisconsin, which is why Wisconsin is also in danger, Michigan is also in danger. Lookout guys, they’re coming for you.

Smith: You’re absolutely right. But, you know, there was this group that put out a letter on Monday, Flag Officers 4 America, I’m sure you’ve seen them. 120 military folks put out a letter and one of the things they said was that: ”Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved controls using government IDs, verified signatures, etc.” Because they said “Election integrity demands” that there be “one legal vote cast and counted per citizen.”

Palast: I’ve asked these guys, do me a favor, show me one illegal voter. I’ll take my cameras and we’ll make a citizen’s arrest. Let’s go find that voter. I’m not looking for 50,000 voters or like Trump begging the state of Georgia to find 11,000 illegal voters. They couldn’t find 11.

By the way, the state of Georgia, the GOP, the great hero [Raffensperger] said he had a thousand double voters. So I asked him to give me the name of one. Oh, well, actually Jose Garcia was two different Jose Garcias. I’m not making that up by the way. He could accuse a thousand people of voting twice and it was just people with names like Jose Garcia and John Johnson. I want them to show me this fraudulent voter.

And this disease is spreading. I hate to say it, but I’ve worked in England too, I’ve worked with The Guardian a lot and BBC Television. The British government, the Tory government is now saying they want voter ID. Do you have a single case of a false voter in Britain? It just doesn’t exist. This disease is happening all over.

And then Arizona, let’s go there. Let’s have some fun. They’re recounting the vote. Now, I’m worried because, while they can’t overturn the presidential vote, other elections could be overturned. They are so-called “reviewing the ballots.” They’ve handed a private group of crazies people’s ballots. The fancy word is violating the chain of custody.

Smith: Right?

Palast: A less fancy word is stealing the ballots, going into a dark room, and then coming back out saying, ooh, this ballot shouldn’t be counted because you have a stray mark on it. Well, did you put a stay mark on it? They actually had an accusation, that 40,000 mail-in ballots were mailed in from China — from China.

Smith: Yeah, Chinese fibers!

Palast: They’re looking for bamboo fibers in the ballots. Now, keep in mind, we get an awful lot of our paper from China. But anyway, what do they think, that they have 40,000 ballots being filled out by pandas? And let’s remember something, you can’t just photocopy a ballot, fill it out and mail it in. Every single ballot has to be associated with an outside envelope. It has to be associated and signed by a voter. The state of Arizona has found exactly zero — zero — illegally mailed-in absentee ballots. None by pandas, and none by anyone. But they’re playing this game, and it’s a very dangerous game… Because what people don’t understand — I can laugh about it, but here’s the problem — we have in America an issue called “spoiled” ballots. We have about 2 million ballots in any presidential year which are disqualified on cockamamie grounds.

For example, a lot of states say fill in a bubble on a mail-in ballot… I’m actually always worried about mail-in ballots. I think you should have the right to them, but I don’t recommend them. Because, for example, if you put a check mark instead of filling in a bubble, in a lot of states you just disqualified your ballot. I can tell you two people, my mother, who was a school teacher, and my sister, who was a lawyer, had their ballots disqualified because they didn’t properly fill in a bubble — I kid you not. So we’ve got to end this game. It’s not just the new laws that the GOP is coming up with, it’s the laws that are already on the books which have stopped legal ballots from being counted, stoped legitimate voters from voting. And, like you say, we started out with this issue of the purge. You know, there’s that TV show that they had, where once a year you can just kill anyone you want. Well, the GOP has decided that once a year you can purge voters and wipe out any voters you want. It’s ugly.

24 million people were purged in the last two years through court cases, through action… Actually, probably most of those people had their names restored to the voter rolls, but you’re talking about millions of people who were denied the right to vote. It actually really angers me and that’s why I canned my vacation and I’m heading off to Georgia.

Smith: I’m interested to find out what you come up with because I’m looking at Georgia as one of those states that’s, right now, the laboratory of horrible. If they get away with all of this stuff here, it will spread like a virus across this country. And Republican states all across the country, they’re pushing this kind of poison. I fear, no matter what happens in 2022, no matter how well Joe Biden does in these next several months, the Republicans have already set up the steal.

Palast: Well, think about this.. Joe Biden officially won Wisconsin by just over 10,000 votes. Now, before the election, the GOP legislature passed a law saying that they had to use a list from this private organization called ERIC, I call it Eric Crow, and they challenged the votes. They demanded that the state of Wisconsin remove 135,000 voters. I did an analysis… almost every one of those voters that they challenged where either students in Madison or black folk in Milwaukee — you know, voters of color, and the color is blue.

Now I will say that, unlike Georgia, where the Board of Elections is just a hack fest of GOP Stooges, in Wisconsin, it’s a bipartisan board. And the bipartisan board said this list is junk, we don’t care what the legislature says, this list is junk and we’re not going to remove these 135,000 votes.

And by the way, I talked to them. I had a young student in Madison and I had an older African-American in Milwaukee saying that [election officials are] saying I don’t live in Wisconsin. That purge was stopped, and that’s important to know; if you do fight it, you can win it. If that purge had gone through, I wrote a report on it to the Board of Elections for Black Voters Matter, if we didn’t win that fight, it would be Hail to the Thief — Agent Orange would still be there. It’s bad stuff.

Smith: It’s horrible stuff, but I have people all the time buying the lie that Trump won, BIden’s not a legitimate president, all the same garbage. And I keep going, show me in court where you made that argument. Granted, Rudy Giuliani and the clown car of Trump attorneys were saying this stuff in public, but they never brought it into the court of law [and said] here’s our evidence. They never came out with evidence where they put their hand on the Bible and said, I swear to the God that they now claim is going to come clean house in the country and restore Donald Trump to the presidency, they never brought any of that stuff. So for me, it’s all just BS.

Palast:And that’s the problem. I said, show me the illegal voter. It’s easy to find illegal voters, after all you’ve got their name and address, they often show up, you just cuff them. Let’s do it. I have no problem with that.

And remember, good old Kris Kobach, he’s running now for attorney general of Kansas. Kris Kobach told me he had the authority to arrest illegal voters. I went to see Kris in Wichita, you know, Trump’s Vote-Thief-in-Chief, he was Secretary of State at the time, and I said, you have the power to arrest people, how many people have you arrested? Here’s your list of tens of thousands of people you’ve removed from the voter rolls of Kansas, and hundreds of thousands of people that you’re trying to remove in coordination with your buddy in Georgia. Can you just tell me which of these people actually are illegal voters? Let’s go and arrest them! He said, just wait. Well, I’m still waiting Kris Kobach of Kansas — KKK for short. We’re still waiting, but he’s running for attorney general. He’s not dead yet. He’s come back out of the crypt and I’m very, very concerned. Because they’re still running this game. They’ve created a new organization to hunt down the fraudulent voters. It’s a con, but they use that con of the fraudulent voters, who they can’t find, they’re waiting for that spaceship to arrive, but in the meantime they are removing “aliens” even though there’s no evidence that a spaceship had arrived with the alien voters.

Smith: But we’ve got the bamboo ballots in Arizona.

Palast: Bamboo ballots, right. It’s ridiculous, but understand… I’ve looked at a lot of these races. I can’t tell you how many elections… Of course you start with George W. Bush stealing 2000 by removing 58,000 black people from the voter rolls. You’ve had massive, massive vote suppression. This is vote thievery, but it’s not by individuals stealing votes. Because remember, to organize individual voters to commit this type of fraud, it’s just impossible to pull off. But what they do do is they can steal by computer, not by messing around with the voting machines. That’s all nonsense. What I’m talking about is messing around with the voter rolls and accusing people… They say, oh, we’ll send you a postcard, but you have to send it back. It looks like [junk mail]. They know the game. Because most of these deals, they have to send you a postcard. They send you a postcard, but mostly it’s junk mail. How many pieces of junk do you get? The crap you get from the Koch Brothers’ front organizations that say “Official Mail” on the outside. “Do Not Destroy.” And you know it’s trying to sell you some baloney.

Smith: A perfect example of that, since you brought that up, on Election Day I was handing out flyers for a local candidate in line as people are waiting… And this guy was adamant that he had gotten seven ballots, that he received seven ballots. They just kept sending him ballots. I said, I don’t believe it. I think you’re lying to me. Bring them back, I want to see them. Well, this guy actually came back, and he brought back seven envelopes that said “Official Ballot” right across it. What they were… it was things for you to send in to get a ballot. There was these officials at the center for voter something or other, I forget the name of it, but he had them, they looked super official and he thought they were all ballots. I said, well, why didn’t you fill them all out?

Palast: Well, in California it’s a mail-in opt-out state. In California it’s almost all mail-in because unless you specifically say, I want to go in, ‘cause I enjoy waiting in line… you get your ballot automatically by mail. They send you notices several times saying we’re sending you a ballot, look out for it, but it’s not extra ballots. And then they send you the sample ballot, et cetera. I’m waiting for these fake ballots filled out by pandas. Just show me one. That’s all I’m asking. I’m not asking for a thousand. I’m not asking for 11,000, like Trump did in Georgia. I’m asking for one.

Smith: I want the same thing. Let’s get the first panda vote. I want to see it.

Greg, as always, entertaining, informational. I’m looking forward to your next report coming out of Georgia. We’ll have you back again to talk about that. Greg, I appreciate the time, man.

Palast: If I find a panda, I’ll tell you.

Writer, editor, photographer, videographer, social media consultant, and tactivist (tactical activist), Nicole Powers uses art and technology to share ideas that make the world a better place.

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Rick Smith

From the working-class neighborhoods of Cleveland, where folks didn’t have much and still don’t, Rick Smith went from delivering papers as a boy to a career driving 18 wheelers as a proud union member. Today, in a world of right-wing radio-vangelists with fancy suits and empty souls, Rick has carved out a place where real people can come together and hit back against the forces trying to turn the American Dream into a punchline.

The Rick Smith Show is by working people, for working people. It’s a place that serves up a heaping portion of democracy with a side of fairness, the grit of a Teamster, and no apologies. Where facts are the center, where science is real, and where everyone gets a seat at the table.