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SCANDAL ABC: Democracy Continues to Die

By: Sheila Parks Wednesday April 3, 2013 3:34 pm

Teeny Recap

Portrait of Karl Rove

Does Scandal's Cyrus Beene stand in for real-life manipulator Karl Rove?

Snake in the Garden” aired March 28, 2013. Families of choice and families of origin played front and center; much loss, sadness and grief in the latter. Hollis cries for the loss of his own child but does not care about how the evil he does affects all the other children of the world. Jake has CIA Director Osborne murdered and makes his death look like a suicide. Cyrus self-servingly tells Fitz that the Defiance rigging will be decided by history as good or bad, whether he, Cyrus, was a hero or not. Mellie emerges as a great truth teller when she does an intervention with Fitz about his drinking. Fitz might be crying too, at least on the inside. On the outside, he takes Cyrus back into his confidence.

Who Could the Cast Resemble in the Real Life Backstory?

As is true for everything else in Scandal, I trust that in the portrayal of the characters there are many layers folding, unfolding and re-folding in again, and that each person in the cast is most likely a conglomerate of several people, some real and some fictionalized.  However, having said that, for some of the characters, certain real life people come to mind. Here are a few people who could have served as part of the inspiration for the characters depicted in the show.

Hollis Doyle – oil tycoon, lobbyist – part of cabal that rigged election

Could Hollis be a lobbyist for the Koch Brothers?  In the real life backstory, in the 2012 election, according to Forbes, the Koch Brothers gave $23,500 dollars to Democratic candidates and $1.162 million to Republican candidates.  The brothers, Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch, are climate crisis deniers who are big in oil and gas, love pipelines, and are principal owners of the multi-national corporation Koch Industries. They also are funders of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that writes sample legislation for state legislatures to use. Hard right wing Republican laws.  Are there any other kinds these days? Here is a partial list of ALEC members; they do not like to make their identity public.

Cyrus Beene – Chief of Staff to President – part of cabal that rigged election

Could Cyrus be playing Karl Rove, who was the Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for George W. Bush, who called him “The Architect” of his 2004 presidential campaign? Read the review of Bush’s Brain, which includes many examples of Rove’s dirty tricks (much too kind a phrase).  Read there and here about the brazen election theft in Georgia, 2002, that stole the Senate race from liberal and well-liked incumbent Senator Max Cleland (D), a paraplegic veteran of Vietnam, and gave it to conservative Saxby Chambliss (R).

This chilling documentary film unfortunately is not available now. Joseph Mealey and Michael Paradies Shoob are the directors and producers. In an email correspondence with Mealey, he said that he would explore again having it available from Amazon. The film is based on a book by James Moore and Wayne Slater, Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential and can be purchased at Amazon.

A question that has been lingering with me since the night of Rove’s meltdown on Fox News, November 6, 2012: Since it looked like Rove expected a rigging in Ohio and did not know that it was called off, who did call it off? The Koch Brothers? The junta in the basement of the Pentagon whom we saw torturing Huck in Scandal? Someone else? So, Rove might just not be the top dog after all, and we need to keep our minds open. Could the Koch Brothers be giving Rove his marching orders? Or perhaps they work in a loose collaboration when convenient?

I have described here some of the important ways voting rights activists helped prevent the rigging of the 2012 presidential election. However, all of this notwithstanding, my questions about who ordered the rigging, who called it off, when and why still remain.

Verna – murdered Supreme Court Justice – part of cabal that rigged election


SCANDAL ABC: Yes, Cyrus, Olivia’s Vagina Is Political

By: Sheila Parks Tuesday March 26, 2013 8:15 am
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Sheila Parks continues her analysis of TV's Scandal.

I was so happy to see Scandal again. “Top of the Hour,” aired March 21, after so many weeks without — The continuing saga of the regular cast and the sad story of a marriage unraveling. Olivia’s advice to the wandering wife, CEO Sarah Stanner, sounded as if  Olivia is talking to herself too. Quinn’s training by Huck and her fast learning, including her blunders, and coming into her own were lovely to see. Loved Abby and Harrison taking on the corporation and winning and seeing the biggest Bible thumper on the board of Sarah Stanner’s company being guilty of hypocrisy in the ethics they demand of all others, as so often happens. Very interesting conversation between Abby and Harrison about his betrayal of her: Are you a gladiator first and a person second?  He is. Is she? I think not, thank goodness. This is often a question needing to be answered by all of us about loyalties to work and to family.  Jake is cheating on Fitz, so Fitz is going to be betrayed again by someone very close to him, someone he trusts.  That should take him even more over the edge and to even more drinking; he already looks so awful.  I miss David and James.

As for Olivia saying she is “apolitical,” I don’t think so. She voted to rig the election for Fitz because she thought he would be the better president.  She liked what he would do for the country.  Sounds political to me. Certainly her vagina was also part of that decision!  So in answer to your question, Cyrus, Olivia’s vagina is political. For a definitive answer, best to ask Olivia again – although she has already said her feelings for Fitz influenced her voting and choosing to rig the election.

I cannot help but wonder, President Fitz, why you are nominating Judge Murray Randall (R), a straight white man, for the Supreme Court? And not just any old straight white man, but one who wants to be in our bedrooms, telling us what to do with our bodies. For your rigged presidency, true and fitting. For your murder of Verna, not too repentant. And for no abortions Justice Wannabe Randall, cheating on his wife is okay as long as the woman does not get pregnant, I guess.  Sarah, was he against abortion then, and was that a reason why you did not tell him you were pregnant?  Or did you tell him and did he tell you to get lost? Why did you have your husband be the father?

SCANDAL ABC: A Pile of Truth for David Rosen and James Novak

By: Sheila Parks Wednesday February 27, 2013 4:07 pm

The brunt of Defiance and the rigging of the presidential election in Ohio still lies on your shoulders, James Novak, even though you refused to tell what you know – so far.  Whether you will have a change of heart remains to be seen. You protected your family by saying you knew nothing about a rigging in Defiance.  Can you live with that?  Permanently?  Do you want your daughter to know that her dad lied about such an important matter for the whole country and world?

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Sheila Parks ongoing comparison of TV's Scandal with real-world election fraud.

David Rosen, I am wondering if you, too, will have a change of heart and opt out of pursuing the “story of the century,” as you once called the Defiance rigging. I sure hope not. You are really under the gun now, and your fear is palpable in “Boom Goes the Dynamite,” aired February 21.  To me it looks as if those who are involved in the rigging are after you – and big time, planting a knife in your hands and a dead body beside you in bed on the episode aired February 14.  Nice Valentine Day present!  Red blood everywhere for the color of the day.

Of the cabal of five who had the election rigged in Ohio, Verna has been murdered by Fitz.  Do we have four more to be murdered?  Or will they depart by suicide?  Or live and tell the truth? Mellie is cozying up to Fitz. She is knifing Cyrus in the back, and he got a good one into her finally. Olivia stays down, way way down. Wait until she finds out Fitz has had her apartment bugged and so she is under surveillance by at least newcomer Jake (Scott Foley).

David and James – for courage on your journey on behalf of truth and justice, I thought perhaps you would both like to know some real life backstory problems with electronic voting machines over the years and also more about the solution.


Computer scientist Professor Edward W. Felten (Princeton University) reported in 2006 that his research on Diebold AccuVote-TS [touch-screen-] electronic voting machines showed that keys from hotel mini-bars, juke boxes, electronic equipment, an office furniture store key shop and those bought freely on the Internet could open these machines, leaving no trace.

Computer scientist Professor J. Alex Halderman (University of Michigan) and Ariel J. Feldman (Princeton University) reported in 2010 that to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, they “reprogrammed the AVC Edge to run Pac-Man.”   The Sequoia AVC Edge is a touch-screen DRE electronic voting machine.  Without breaking any tamper-evident seals, they did this in three afternoons.

Reporting in USA TODAY in 2011, Gregory Korte wrote that the Election Assistance Commission [an independent agency of the United States government] warned about errors during voting [emphasis mine] with ES&S DS200 IntElect optical scan electronic voting machines.  For example, Korte reports that this optical scan electronic voting machine “can freeze up without warning, fail to log errors and misread ballots.” This machine was used in all or parts of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, New York.


SCANDAL ABC – Defiance Lives: Secrets and Betrayals

By: Sheila Parks Wednesday February 20, 2013 4:40 pm

Scandal‘s “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” aired February 14.  I want to remind everyone please not to get sidetracked by all the exciting sub plots in this Beltway TV series.  The main story is the rigging of a presidential election. The election was rigged by five people, some of whom were very close to Fitz (Tony Goldwyn), the Republican president now in office. They got him elected by rigging electronic voting machines in Defiance, Ohio, thus enabling him to carry the state of Ohio.

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A look at David, a heroic figure from the TV show Scandal, and the real world history of election rigging.

Since being betrayed by two people he trusted and relied on heavily — Olivia “fixer” Pope (Kerry Washington), love of his life and Cyrus (Jeff Perry), his chief of staff — Fitz is now distancing himself from both of them. Olivia has told Cyrus that Defiance will never be over.

David Rosen (Joshua Malina) was front and center this week, not only in the episode but also by appearing in a ½ hour interview before the show, in which viewers could submit questions for him to answer.

I submitted a question that did not get aired: “Wasn’t he afraid that he would get killed because he is investigating the rigging of the election?” He did answer my question, though, by saying in answer to another question that when he gets the script weekly, he looks at the end of it to see if he is going to die that week.

David was a truth-telling Assistant U.S. Attorney who was looking into the rigged election in Defiance, Ohio.  He had enlisted the help of James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), Cyrus’ husband. When James was called to testify about the rigging of the election, he lied and said he knew nothing about Defiance and nothing about a rigging. And so David lost his job. James was trying to protect his family, his newly adopted baby girl and his husband Cyrus. Hard choice.

We don’t know much about David, not his past nor his secrets. He is likeable and honest, at least as far we know.  Relentless in his pursuit of the rigged election in Defiance, he has much courage and integrity. For a show full of secrets, I am eager to know his past and his secrets. I wonder if he will ever forgive Abby (Darby Stanchfield) for betraying him by stealing the memory card from Defiance out of his safe. Also, I wonder if he has he ever betrayed anyone and why and, if so, what did he do to make amends for it, if anything. Is he able to forgive? Will he betray anyone in the present?

I like David and love the role he is playing. I also cannot help but wonder, however, why with such a diverse and interesting cast, there is still a straight white man playing the hero here, the one who is going to help save the world by exposing the rigged election — as is usually the case on TV, radio, film and everywhere else.

Just to hammer in the real life story of the rigging of a presidential election:

Healing the Wounds: An Activist’s Notes for a Scandal Episode

By: Sheila Parks Tuesday February 12, 2013 5:38 pm


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Sheila Parks proposes a new direction for the televised political drama, Scandal.

Scandal‘s Nobody Likes Babies aired February 7, and ended with Olivia, the “fixer” of Olivia Pope & Associates, riddled with guilt and shame for helping to rig the election for Fitz to become president and now also devastated because he has dissed her (to put it mildly). The next Scandal episode, to be aired February 14, will be ten months later.


During those months, Olivia has become concerned about her drinking and asks Huck to take her to an AA meeting.  As she sobers up and starts thinking more clearly, she begins to see how she needs to be fixed herself, from the inside out, if she is to continue to help fixing others.


Alika is an elder, an African-American woman who has long sobriety and good recovery in AA. In the outside world Alika is a political activist.  She is played by Cicely Tyson.


Olivia asks Alika to be her sponsor and Alika accepts.  In careful bits and pieces, over a period of time, Olivia starts telling her story at meetings and also to Alika. Over coffee one night, Olivia tells Alika about her role in rigging the election in Defiance, Ohio. Alika, long accustomed to the confessions of newly sober alcoholics, strives to hear this non-judgmentally. It is a struggle for her, because of her strong political beliefs and her longing for democracy. Alika shows Olivia – in flashbacks – about the real life rigging of the 2000 presidential election in Florida – that time via optical scan electronic voting machines and not the touchscreens that had been used in the rig in Defiance, Ohio.

Alika, while appreciating Olivia’s honesty and courage in making her confession, is not sure her sponsee sees the big picture.  She wonders if Olivia understands that by rigging the election, she played a big role in causing more years of climate change. Finally, Alika says to Olivia, gravely but gently, “Do you understand that the climate crisis is one of the most dire consequences of the rigging of the 2000 Florida election as well as the Defiance, Ohio rig and going against the will of the American people? Can you see that your own actions in the last election affect so much more than just the man you loved?”

Olivia leaves her meeting with Alika deeply troubled. She remembers Cyrus saying to her and Mellie once when they discussed rigging Defiance, “Steal the White House? Yes, we can. Been done before. Will be done again.” She wonders if Cyrus was in on that too, the Florida rigging Alika has just told her about.

If Olivia admits publicly to the rigging, her career is over, and she’ll either go to prison, or she’ll get immunity in return for turning state’s evidence to send Cyrus, Mellie, and Hollis, if not Fitz himself, to prison. She needs more information and perhaps a lawyer? Or her own gladiator team, Pope & Associates? And she needs to do nothing about all this right now except to stay sober, continue to get to know herself,  begin to love herself again and to be true to herself.


For Crimes of Century Scandal ABC Needs an Activist in the Writing Room

By: Sheila Parks Tuesday February 5, 2013 3:56 pm

Shonda Rhimes and her crew did it again – standing ovation – for the episode Truth or Consequences, aired January 31st. Millions of Americans watching the dramatic television series Scandal saw one way an operative could rig an election. Although the series is fictional, the process it revealed could be a real one.

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Sheila Parks ongoing review of TV's election drama, Scandal.

This episode opens with an official showing a memory card to a small group of people, as he explains that Defiance County, Ohio has brand new touchscreen electronic voting machines.  This memory card will be inserted into the touchscreens in the morning before the polls open.  He adds that the memory card stores and tabulates votes and eliminates paper ballots – thus making progress.  So he says. What the people are not told is that touchscreen voting machines – and also optical scan electronic voting machines – can be easily hacked.  Then we see Jesse Tyler (Adam Shapiro) from Cytron exchange the demonstration voting machine for another one from his backpack – reprogrammed for the hack, of course – so that Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) wins the election.

Cytron is a fictional Internet security company that also secretly develops software unofficially used for electronic voting machines.  In the demo in Defiance, the machine is clearly marked “Cytron Software Voting System.”  Lobbyist and oil tycoon Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) has sent a package to Tyler at Cytron which explodes when he opens it, killing him and 7 other people.  Hollis presumably kills Tyler because he is asking for more millions from him for the machine swap out and/or to silence him.

The scene then flashes to one in which David Rosen (Joshua Malina) – a truth-seeking Assistant State Attorney – tells Hollis that he is questioning him because he (Rosen) has information that an explosion at Cytron was an attempt to cover up evidence that the election had been rigged.  Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), who is having an affair with the president of the USA and who also was in on the rigging of his election is now riddled with guilt and shame and is now telling the truth.  She is the one who told Rosen about Hollis. Rosen puts it to Hollis in startling and plain language: “…I have reason to believe that you were part of this conspiracy…and you had co-conspirators, possibly ones at the highest reaches of the White House…I will be talking with these individuals, looking to make a deal in exchange for their cooperation in revealing the details of this scheme to rig the election and subvert the will of the American people.”

It would be so wonderful if Scandal would integrate more real life events into the fictional drama.  Perhaps by fictionalizing them, as with the rigged election itself?  Or perhaps by incorporating events that really happened.  This would give viewers an idea of what was going on around the real rigged election in real time. These events should have gotten much mainstream media coverage. They got little, if any. Hearing about them in the context of Scandal might very well inspire people to act now and stop the rigging that will surely continue until we use publicly observed hand-counted paper ballots in all our elections.

In real life:

Election Rigging Plotted on ABC’s Scandal: The Real Life Backstory

By: Sheila Parks Thursday January 24, 2013 4:43 pm

In a flashback scene on last Thursday night’s (1/17/2013) episode of ABC’s searing political drama Scandal, a cabal of five voted to rig the upcoming presidential election to ensure that their man “Fitz” won. The personal agendas of four of them were revealed to viewers. Ultimately, Hollis – the gang leader – made a call to a computer wiz he knew and told him “It’s a go!”

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Was a recent episode of scandal based on real events?

Who is the nerd that Hollis called to rig the election?

Could the character be based on the late Michael Connell, the hard-right-anti-abortion-true-believer, who many allege handed George W. Bush the 2004 election by rigging in Ohio?  I think so.  As a national expert on election rigging, I have evaluated what we know and I believe we can trace how Connell fixed the Ohio election through computers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, via a company called SMARTech. Connell was Karl Rove’s high tech operative.  He died, suspiciously perhaps, in a small airplane crash.  Like the characters in Scandal, he also had a personal agenda. He viewed abortion as murder and wanted an anti-abortion president.

In fictional Scandal, the election was rigged via the touchscreen electronic voting machines in Defiance, Ohio; we saw this earlier in the “Defiance” episode. Thursday night, in the flashback, viewers learned that the vote in three counties in Ohio — Defiance, Franklin and Summit — could cause Fitz to lose Ohio.  In the real-life 2004 presidential election in Ohio, Franklin and Summit went to Kerry; Defiance went to Bush.

In real life, Richard Hayes Phillips a scholar and the author of Witness to a Crime: A Citizens Audit of an American Election, provides a detailed report about what happened in thirteen counties in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election where there was evidence of fraud. He writes:

… in at least six counties, the methods of fraud we observed may well have been related to SMARTech…. We believed at the time that we were observing an after-the-fact attempt to get the ballots to match a fraudulent vote count, and we are more convinced of it now.

In the real Ohio presidential election, evidence of fraud was found by voting rights activists in 13 counties.  Scandal’s producer and writer Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy as well, is absolutely correct to include in her script that there was election fraud in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.

In her depiction of election fraud, she is on the money. To someone like me, who has watched election rigging close up, I like her characters too.

Four of the members of that cabal want something for themselves from this rigging – and somewhere in their insides, perhaps they might really think Fitz is the best person for the job. Or they are lying to themselves about this.

At first, Olivia holds out. She does not want to rig the election.  In total turmoil — and like the confused soul she has become — she gives in. I would say her romantic feelings for Fitz get in the way, big time.

Hollis wants to rig the election because he wants the pipe line laid throughout the country.  Verna agrees to the rig because she wants to be a Supreme Court Justice. Cyrus wants to be Chief of Staff.  Mellie wants to be First Lady.  And what about Fitz?  I think he is in on it too.  He has told Olivia that he wants to win this election. That he is going to win.  He adds, “It’s mine.”  What a horrible bunch of self-serving, grandiose self-willed people. They want to run the country and care not a bit about we the people. If only their fictional characters did not remind me that they could have real life counterparts.

One big question this terrific series poses is what the American people want in their elections.  Surely they want their votes to be counted as cast and not rigged by electronic voting machines.

Advice to Shonda Rhimes: In a flashback or not, show some jurisdictions counting by hand two times in a publicly observed election and getting it right.  And show some other jurisdictions counting by electronic voting machines once and getting the count wrong – by an undetectable hacking. Publicly observed, secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections are the only way to ensure transparent, fair and honest elections.

Sheila Parks, Ed.D. has been involved with the current wave of voting rights since the crimes, including the rigging, of the 2000 presidential election in Florida. She is the founder of the Center for Hand-Counted Paper Ballots and the author of WHILE WE STILL HAVE TIME: The Perils of Electronic Voting Machines and Democracy’s Solution: Publicly Observed, Secure Hand-Counted Paper Ballots (HCPB) Elections. She is an ardent feminist, internationalist and peace & justice activist.

Story Notes For Scandal’s Producer Shonda Rhimes

By: Sheila Parks Wednesday January 2, 2013 2:51 pm

Dear Ms. Rhimes:

You are one of the bravest, most extraordinary women on TV and you are going to help save us from election fraud.

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Can ABC's political thriller series Scandal shine a spotlight on the problems of modern elections?

Thank you for creating the ABC television series Scandal and in particular for taking on the bedrock of democracy, voting rights. All of our other rights rest upon voting rights.

I also applaud your diverse cast, which includes many women in leading roles.

Over the last ten years, I, like many others, have written to numerous media and entertainment outlets to implore them to help us get rid of all electronic voting machines and bring democracy to our voting system and our country. To no avail, alas.

And then I saw a recent episode of Scandal, entitled “Defiance,” which did just this, in part, by addressing charges of election fraud in Defiance, Ohio in a fictional format.

I love the scenes where James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky) talks with computer scientists about their dissertation. This helps him to read memory cards and understand the rigging of the election on the touchscreen electronic voting machines in Defiance. Here is a link to the whole episode “Defiance.”

For those who have not seen the series, James is a journalist covering the White House. He is also the husband of Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry), the president’s chief of staff. The President, Fitzgerald [Fitz] Grant (Tony Goldwyn), is a Republican who trashes pollsters and is in office via this rigged election. We don’t know yet whether he is in on it.

Television can be powerful. People often relate to the stories they see illuminated in dramatic series, even when they are skeptical about what they hear from activists who are not in the mainstream. In other words, if someone as influential and accomplished as Shonda Rhimes believes there is enough here for a television show, there must be some truth to it.

Exposing this reality on mainstream TV may just get through to the many people who do not know this kind of rigging exists and to others who know but dismiss and/or trivialize it. It may get through to those who say audits can save us from rigging. It might even get through to some who, with their silence, are complicit.

I love the connection between “Doyle Energy,” the fictional oil company owned by character Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) and “Cytron,” a fictional Internet security company that also secretly develops software unofficially used for electronic voting machines. To get a pipeline through the country, Hollis rigs the election and also causes the explosion at Cytron that kills seven people.

I love the “secret circle” that includes Beltway “fixer” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), lefty Supreme Court Justice Verna Thornton (Debra Mooney), Cyrus, Hollis and the president’s wife Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young). They are all entangled in this rigging.

Fighting for justice and honesty is good guy David Rosen (Joshua Malina), the assistant U.S. attorney, who gives information to James that leads to the proverbial smoking gun.

There is so much more. A suicide and suspicious deaths involving characters who have information about election fraud. Since these stories are not told in a linear fashion they are hard to follow but well worth the effort to learn more about this crucial issue — election fraud that, in effect, robs us all of our rights.

Ms. Rhimes, on one of your twitter feeds I read that, when you and other writers wanted to ensure you were telling the truth about something specific in your earlier show Private Practice, you called in a group of real surgeons and asked them what they would have done.

This made me wonder if you have spoken to anyone about rigged elections. Perhaps you need another person with experience and knowledge on the subject of systemic election fraud and especially its solution?

If so, I volunteer to be an election fraud surgeon. I have been working against and writing about our rigged elections since the crimes of the 2000 Florida Presidential election.

Here are some suggestions: