Saturday, October 16, 2004





Presidential Kerry hits his stride
The Boston Globe
Presidential Kerry hits his stride

By Dan Payne | October 16, 2004

DEBATES GOT John Kerry back on feet. Since John Sasso got in his corner, Kerry's moved to right side of war -- against it. Swings at fewer Bush moves. Never lets guard down. Stays on attack. Sometimes, most valuable thing new adviser can do is get candidate to believe in own cause and listen to right people.

Refuse to Lose. At debates, Kerry looked presidential. Hardly flip-flopping liberal Bush has been painting. Not clear if Teflon will last under Bush-Cheney scalding. Debates were metaphor for whole campaign. Kerry refused to lose. Wait! "Refuse to Lose" could be Kerry slogan No. 368!

Bush fires campaign spitballs. In final debate, President Bush sounded like candidate for school committee. Mentioned education in every answer. Several friends were bothered by spittle in corner of Bush's mouth. Not me. Looked good.

Calculated over-reaction. Asked if homosexuality is choice, Kerry said, "We're all God's children. I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."

Vice President and wife swung into hypocritical anger. "You saw a man who will do and say anything to get elected," said man who for years refused to say anything about own daughter's sexuality. Lynne Cheney, nationally known right-winger, accused Kerry of "cheap and tawdry political trick." Wonder if the Cheneys upbraided Illinois Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes, who labeled homosexuality "selfish hedonism" and said that Cheney's lesbian daughter is a sinner.

Snap judgments. After debate, CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll showed BIG Kerry winner, 52-39 percent. ABC poll, with more Republicans in sample, had it Kerry 42-41 percent. Fox poll said debate watchers gave it to Kerry BIG (66-15 percent). Four to one in Fox poll!

Bush outfoxed on Osama. Kerry charged, as others have, that Bush said Osama bin Laden was not someone he worried about. Bush denied ever having said it. But hopelessly pro-Bush analysts on Fox News agreed record shows Bush said it not just once but twice. Get some Heinz ketchup, Mr. Bush, you're gonna eat them words for next two weeks.

Electoral math II. If Kerry wins WA, OR, CA, NV, NM, HI, MN, IA, WI, IL, MI, PA, NY, NJ, DE, DC, MD, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME, he'll have 269 electoral votes. Take away WI and give Kerry OH and he scoots to victory with 274. (270 needed.) Give Bush everything else, and he's at 249. With OH, he's at 269. Tie. Tie favors Bush. Election decided by members of new Congress, plus each state delegation, where GOP has 2-1 advantage. Let's just win Ohio, OK?

Joy of uncommitted. If reincarnation is real, I want to come back as uncommitted voter. I want to be oblivious to world around me and get asked again and again what I think. In CBS poll, undecideds gave last debate to Kerry, 39-25 percent. Another 36 percent called it a draw -- obviously still waiting for their free toaster from Bush or Kerry.

New Hampshire upset? In 2000, Granite State went for Bush by 7,211 votes. Its four electoral votes could be crucial again. Despite suffocating barrage of television spots, GOP Governor Craig Benson is tied for lead. Presidential poll now shows Kerry ahead by seven points. Boston consultant Mike Shea has congressional candidate Paul Hodes moving up, thanks to funny TV spot showing GOP congressman Charlie Bass literally in Bush's pocket. Bass's lead fell from 30 points to 13.

Who's got Bush's back? Expert who makes devices for military told he thinks bulge under Bush's jacket in debate No. 1 was designed to receive electronic signals and transmit them to hidden earpiece in Bush's ear canal.

"It's a pretty obvious one," said Alex Darbut of Resistance technology. Darbut thinks device provided by Secret Service. But White House says Secret Service has not outfitted Bush with hidden device. ran photo of bulge under Bush's well-tailored jacket after Wednesday's debate.

Battle of the bulge. New York Daily News found master tailor who looked at photos of bulge and said, "There's definitely something there, in between the shoulder blades. I can't say what it is, but it's not hidden very well. They should have come to me. I can hide a pistol." New York tailors know their customers.

Now he tells us. Bush's manager, Ken Mehlman, tried to laugh off bulge. "The president is an alien. . . . He's been getting information from Mars." Don't toy with us, Ken.

Dan Payne is a Boston-based Democratic media consultant who has worked in John Kerry's Senate campaigns in the past but is not affiliated with his presidential campaign. He does presidential campaign analysis for NPR. His column appears regularly in the Globe.


Iraq audit can't find billions -- Gaps found in spending for reconstruction
The Boston Globe

Iraq audit can't find billions
Gaps found in spending for reconstruction

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | October 16, 2004

WASHINGTON -- About half of the roughly $5 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds disbursed by the US government in the first half of this year cannot be accounted for, according to an audit commissioned by the United Nations, which could not find records for numerous rebuilding projects and other payments.

One chunk of the money -- $1.4 billion -- was deposited into a local bank by Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq but could be tracked no further: The auditors reported that they were shown a deposit slip but could find no additional records to explain how the money was used or to prove that it remains in the bank.

Auditors also said they could not track more than $1 billion in funds doled out by US authorities for hundreds of large and small reconstruction projects.

The audit, released yesterday, found serious gaps in how the Development Fund for Iraq -- a pool of money drawn from Iraqi oil revenues and international aid, including some from the United States -- was handled by American occupation officials responsible for funding reconstruction projects and the operations of Iraqi ministries and provincial governments. The development fund is separate from the $18.4 billion in US reconstruction funds set aside last year to rebuild the country.

All the funds -- more than $5 billion -- were spent between Jan. 1 and June 28, 2004, during the period when the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority ran the country.

The audit reported numerous instances of improper disbursement practices by the coalition authority. Among the findings:

Hundreds of projects worth more than $100 million covered by the Commander's Emergency Response Program, designed to allow US military officers to quickly fund small reconstruction projects around the country, had either no contracts on file, no evidence that bids were obtained through competition, no purchase invoices, or no payment vouchers.

Weapons were paid for under a buyback program with funds specifically prohibited for such use.

The coalition authority gave money to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, which then maintained two different sets of records. The report said a ''reconciliation between these two sets of accounting records was not prepared and the difference was significant."

Checks were made payable to the coalition authority's senior adviser to the Ministry of Health, rather than to suppliers, raising questions about whether the money was spent for its intended purposes.

A number of projects were awarded without bids ''without justification" by treasury officials in one Iraqi province.

The coalition authority could not find an underlying contract or evidence of services rendered for a $2.6 million disbursement earmarked for the Ministry of Oil. The audit said the matter is under investigation by the State Department, which became the primary American presence in Iraq after the coalition authority dissolved.

The auditors said they were told by US officials that all discrepancies were ''under investigation."

The Bush administration did not respond late yesterday to the audit, which follows a sharply critical report in July from the inspector general of the coalition authority, which itself found ''insufficient controls" over at least $600 million spent on Iraqi reconstruction.

The more comprehensive UN audit -- released yesterday by Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee -- provided new fodder for the presidential campaign of Democrat John F. Kerry, which portrayed it as evidence that President Bush mishandled postwar Iraq. ''The audit report is yet more evidence of the Bush administration's mismanagement of Iraqi and US taxpayer resources in their failed effort to reconstruct Iraq," Susan Rice, a top national security adviser for Kerry, said in a statement. ''Unfortunately, waste, fraud, and abuse have become the hallmark of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq."

Democrats on the Government Reform Committee, which has responsibility for monitoring the reconstruction effort, said in a joint statement that ''serious problems" in the management of Iraq funds must be rectified.

''These problems involved hundreds of millions of dollars, numerous sole-source contracts, missing and nonexistent contracting files, and continuing investigations into major irregularities," the statement said.

Representative Henry Waxman of California, senior Democrat on the committee, said the audit indicates that Congress must immediately launch its own investigation.

''The Bush administration cannot account for how billions of dollars of Iraqi oil proceeds were spent," he said in a statement. ''The mismanagement, lack of transparency, and potential corruption will seriously undermine our efforts in Iraq."

Spokespersons for the Republican majority on the committee did not return phone calls.

Rice suggested the findings raise further questions about whether the US-led rebuilding effort is making a difference in the lives of Iraqis and bringing stability to the war-ravaged country.

Citing the former head of the coalition authority, L. Paul Bremer III, she said: ''Over a year ago, Paul Bremer hit the nail on the head when he said that 'early progress on reconstructing Iraq will give us an edge against the terrorists and save American lives.' A year later, it appears the administration is still not listening."

The audit was performed by the accounting firm of KPMG for the UN's International Advisory and Monitoring Board.

The Development Fund for Iraq was created under the aegis of the UN in May 2003 and set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the coalition authority's request. The UN's advisory board was established at the same time to ensure that the Iraqi oil money and international contributions were ''used in a transparent manner" during the occupation, according to UN Security Council Resolution 1483.


Outrage That Rings False

Outrage That Rings False

By Hilary Rosen

Saturday, October 16, 2004; Page A23

Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Thursday that John Kerry will pay a heavy political price for what he did. Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, said, "This is a bad man."

The crime? John Kerry in the final presidential debate suggested that we are all God's children and used Mary Cheney as an example of a healthy gay person loved by her family.

The response from the Cheneys and the Bush campaign has been blatantly political. In fact, it is they who are using Mary Cheney -- using her now to score points against Kerry and John Edwards over an issue on which they themselves are guilty of the wrongs that Kerry and Edwards are fighting against. Even after almost 30 years in Washington, I am surprised by the overwhelming hypocrisy and meanness of the Bush reelection campaign.

Let's review the facts. Before the election season, this administration opposed every initiative to offer equality for gay men and lesbians. Indeed, it has gone out of its way to be punitive, with such actions as the Office of Personnel Management's announcement that the federal government has no intention of honoring the Clinton administration's order to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination rules in the federal government.

After the debate, the vice president said of John Kerry: "This is a man who will say anything and do anything to get elected." Many people thought the same thing about Dick Cheney and President Bush on Feb. 24. That was the day the president announced to the country that heterosexual marriages are in trouble because gay people might someday have such a right in a few states. The crisis was so dire that he implored Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to permanently take away any rights gay men and lesbians might have to equal access to government benefits of marriage.

The Republican leaderships in both houses of Congress brought this amendment to the floor. Anyone watching the debate would cringe at the dehumanizing and painful things said by Republican sponsors of the proposal about gay people.

All of the Cheneys have sat back as senators and members of Congress who stood up for their position against the constitutional amendment were attacked in campaigns across the country. In Texas, North Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma, North Carolina and elsewhere, Republican candidates are using the gay issue against Democrats who have done nothing more than vote to protect the notion of fairness and equality in our Constitution.

Where is the outrage of Dick and Lynne Cheney over this?

In August, at a town meeting, the vice president was asked to speak from the heart about gay marriage. He did. He said he was against the constitutional amendment. And he expressed love for his daughter. The country was impressed.

I think the record is pretty clear that fair-minded political leaders didn't talk publicly about Mary Cheney until her father did. All of a sudden it was clear to John Kerry and John Edwards that if the Bush campaign tried to attack them on the gay marriage issue, they should just respond by saying they had the same position on this issue as Dick Cheney. That is certainly the advice I gave them. How dare the president criticize Kerry, as he did again the other night, for taking the same position as Dick Cheney? And we know that anti-gay messages are being promoted in many districts around the country to get out the evangelical vote for President Bush on Election Day. The silent but admirable Mary Cheney has remained a loyal daughter and foot soldier in this homophobic campaign.

I feel sorry for her -- sorry that she seems to now be a pawn in this race. But the perpetrator is not Kerry. This issue is in the campaign because Bush sought political advantage by using it all year. This week's outrage rings so false it makes my ears hurt.

The writer is former chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America and a volunteer for gay rights causes.


Reviewing the Debates

Reviewing the Debates

Saturday, October 16, 2004; Page A22

IT'S FASHIONABLE to denigrate the presidential debates as dueling canned speeches, not the rough-and-tumble of "real debate." Debate-bashing, indeed, may be nearly as popular as convention-bashing. "Presidential debates are to real debates as processed cheese is to cheese," George F. Will wrote on the opposite page the day of the first debate. It was a great line, but even processed cheese has its uses. Political conventions may not be the suspense-filled affairs of yesteryear, but they still give voters an unfiltered look at the nominees' messages -- or lack thereof. Similarly, modern presidential debates may not be television's answer to those of Lincoln-Douglas, but they, even more than conventions, serve a critical role in helping voters assess the choice before them.

One of the achievements of the 2004 debates is the degree to which the debates have become institutionalized; they're a ritual that even an incumbent president, even one ahead in the polls, is bound to endure. It wasn't without the usual struggle, but the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates essentially called the shots this year. The debates took place on the dates the commission set, at the venues it chose, in the format it wanted and with the moderators it selected. The only things that changed were switching the domestic issues debate from the first encounter to the third, and having the nominees use lecterns rather than be seated, as the commission preferred. Having one debate each on foreign and domestic affairs was a valuable innovation, and the town hall format once again proved its usefulness.

The series of three presidential debates that began Sept. 30 and ended Wednesday gave voters the chance to see the two contenders side by side, to assess not only their answers on discrete policy matters but also the broader workings of their minds. True, much of what the candidates spout is rehearsed, but you can look at it as a canned speech or as the chance for viewers to hear candidates on the issues. And this time around, at least, it seemed as if the supposedly killer sound bites -- Sen. John F. Kerry invoking Tony Soprano on Mr. Bush and fiscal responsibility, President Bush placing his opponent on "the far left bank" -- fell pretty flat: Debate watchers have become sophisticated enough to discount the scripted one-liner.

It's true, too, that the supposed "winner" of the debate can be determined by seemingly trivial or cosmetic matters, such as the first President Bush glancing at his watch in 1992, Al Gore's sighs four years ago, the current president's evident exasperation at the first debate this year, or even the notion of who "looks presidential." On another level, though, these episodes were important because they encapsulated, for many voters, flaws with the candidate that transcended the incidents themselves.

"No matter what protective measures the campaigns take, a televised debate cannot be completely domesticated," Northeastern University journalism professor Alan Schroeder wrote in 2000. "At a time when the race for the White House has become ever more sanitized and risk-averse, presidential debates represent a rare walk on the wild side." And for those pining for the days of Lincoln-Douglas, consider this: The two men held seven three-hour marathons, with speeches that lasted as long as an hour and a half. Doesn't make a two-minute limit seem all that bad after all.


The War on Affordable Housing

The New York Times
October 16, 2004

The War on Affordable Housing

Ideologues in the Bush administration would like to dismantle Section 8, the most successful public-and-private housing partnership in the history of the United States. That's the only way to explain the destructive policies emanating from the Housing and Urban Development Department, which has been hammering at Section 8 all year. The conflicting signals and general aura of hostility have convinced housing authorities around the country that they need to defend themselves by avoiding new commitments and cutting back on their old ones.

Even worse, the developers who have counted on Section 8 money to build affordable housing for the poor, the elderly and the disabled now think that they can no longer trust this program. Republican lawmakers whose districts are being hurt have kept quiet in the name of party solidarity. But this posture of loyal complicity will be difficult to maintain as the housing crisis deepens, which it surely will if HUD continues along its current course.

A landmark program, Section 8 has produced affordable housing for needy Americans since the Nixon years. It works this way: instead of doing the construction itself, the government guarantees subsidies for rents in the private market. Families, most of them at or below the poverty level, pay 30 percent of their incomes toward rent, and Section 8 vouchers pay the rest. At the moment, the program covers about two million people, a majority of them elderly or in families with children. Developers building affordable housing have come to depend on Section 8 guarantees for financial backing.

Things are getting worse by the day, thanks to ideologues in the Bush administration who prefer a laissez-faire approach, regardless of the social costs. Unable to dismember the Section 8 program directly, HUD has chosen to destabilize it with a series of rule changes and budget maneuvers that are being felt from coast to coast. The current HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, has settled on a particularly destructive strategy involving misdirection and sleight of hand. He releases poorly explained policies that include hidden, but draconian, cuts. After an outcry from Congress, he retreats to lesser cuts that leave the program diminished, housing authorities confused and the general public mistakenly believing that the status quo has been regained.

The latest incident, laid out by The Times's David Chen, came after HUD released a vaguely worded and irrational proposal that involved reducing the value of housing vouchers for poor residents in some of the most expensive housing markets in the country. The proposed change was widely thought to have been rescinded after housing advocates and lawmakers raised a fuss. But a close look at the data shows that HUD still seems to be planning to enforce a part of the plan that would make it more difficult for large families to find larger apartments. The landlords have been quick to react. Faced with the prospect of Section 8 vouchers that pay less than fair-market rents, they have made it clear that they will simply refuse to deal with the program, especially in tight markets where they can pick and choose tenants. That will be a disaster for poor families with several children.

The insanity of this ideologically driven attack on Section 8 is underscored in a bipartisan book - written by two Republicans and two Democrats - just out from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The authors include two former housing secretaries: Jack Kemp, a Republican, and Henry Cisneros, a Democrat. The authors argue convincingly that the country is sacrificing both families and neighborhoods by hacking away at the most successful housing program in history.

The book, "Opportunity and Progress," calls for restoring the sane bipartisan effort that produced the federal housing program in the first place. Most significantly, the authors urge Congress to insulate the housing program from partisan sniping by creating a national trust fund. Modeled on similar programs that work well at state and local levels, that national fund would be used to build, rehabilitate and preserve 1.5 million affordable apartments.

The proposal resembles one already pending in Congress, where a trust fund bill is bottled up in committee even though it has more than 200 sponsors. The bill, as originally introduced, would finance itself by redirecting a small portion of the profits from the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage insurance fund.

This page is generally suspicious of dedicated funds, but, given the national housing crisis, it makes good sense to direct money earned from housing back into housing. The bill would certainly have wide support, if only the Republican leadership allowed it to be brought to the floor.


Karl Rove Testifies in Inquiry

The New York Times
October 16, 2004

Bush Aide Is Said to Have Testified in Inquiry

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 - President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, testified on Friday to a federal grand jury investigating whether it was anyone at the White House who had illegally disclosed the name of a C.I.A. undercover officer to a newspaper columnist, a lawyer for Mr. Rove said.

"He answered fully and truthfully every one of their questions," the lawyer, Robert Luskin, said.

Mr. Luskin added that Mr. Rove, who testified for more than two hours, did not seek to avoid answering any question on legal grounds.

A spokesman for the White House, Scott McClellan, said the testimony demonstrated that Mr. Rove was "doing his part to cooperate" in the inquiry, as Mr. Bush has repeatedly instructed his aides.

Democrats attacked the Bush administration. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, accused Mr. Rove and the White House of failing to tell the public all that they knew about the events surrounding the identification of the officer, Valerie Plame, in a syndicated column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

"Karl Rove needs to come clean and tell us what he told the grand jury today," Mr. McAuliffe said.

Joe Lockhart, a senior adviser to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, issued a statement calling on Mr. Rove and other aides to "come clean about their role in this insidious act."

Mr. Luskin said Mr. Rove was not discussing his testimony because prosecutors had asked him not to do so. In addition, Mr. Luskin said, Mr. Rove has been notified in writing that he is not a target of the inquiry.

A target, as the terminology is understood by most prosecutors, refers to someone who may be charged with a crime. In the inquiry into the unauthorized disclosure of Ms. Plame's name, the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has told most of the people who have testified that they are subjects of the investigation. That means that their activities are under scrutiny, but that they may have done nothing wrong.

"He has been cooperating fully from the beginning," Mr. Luskin said after the grand jury appearance.

Mr. Rove has previously testified to the grand jury, although multiple appearances do not necessarily signify that a witness is suspected of wrongdoing. He was also interviewed at least once by F.B.I. investigators, who last fall conducted a preliminary inquiry in the case.

Moreover, the prosecutor has interviewed high-ranking officials, among them Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzalez Jr.

Mr. Novak's column appeared a week after Ms. Plame's husband, the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times questioning the intelligence on which Mr. Bush asserted that Iraq had tried to buy uranium ore in Africa. In his column, Mr. Novak cited two unidentified senior administration officials as sources.

Mr. Wilson and some Democrats have suggested that Ms. Plame's name was disclosed to discredit him, possibly by linking him to employees of the Central Intelligence Agency who were thought to be skeptical about Iraq's weapons programs.

It was not entirely clear why the prosecutor sought Mr. Rove's testimony. Lawyers who represent people in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be seeking additional testimony from White House officials whose actions had been cited by the reporters who had recently been subpoenaed and had agreed to answer the prosecutor's questions.

Mr. Fitzgerald has subpoenaed at least five reporters, and some like Tim Russert of NBC News and Walter Pincus of The Washington Post have cooperated. It is not publicly known whether Mr. Novak has been subpoenaed or whether he has cooperated with the investigation.

Two reporters who have refused to cooperate with the prosecutor have been held in contempt of court by a federal judge in the case. On Wednesday, Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, held Matthew Cooper, a correspondent for Time Magazine, in contempt, threatening him with up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify about his sources.

Mr. Cooper had previously agreed to speak with the prosecutor about his conversations with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Mr. Cheney. A lawyer for Mr. Cooper, Floyd Abrams, said the agreement was based on Mr. Libby's explicit waiver of any confidentiality agreement he had with Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Abrams said that Mr. Cooper gave a deposition discussing his conversations with Mr. Libby but that Mr. Cooper did not talk about any matters related to any other official like Mr. Rove. Earlier, Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times, was held in contempt by Judge Hogan for refusing to testify about her sources in the case. Mr. Abrams, who also represents Ms. Miller, said the two reporters had sought to consolidate their appeals.


Friday, October 15, 2004

Block the Vote

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Block the Vote

Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.

The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.

Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.

Some of these, like the actions reported in Nevada, involve dirty tricks. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired an Idaho company to paralyze Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming the party's phone banks.

But many efforts involve the abuse of power. For example, Ohio's secretary of state, a Republican, tried to use an archaic rule about paper quality to invalidate thousands of new, heavily Democratic registrations.

That attempt failed. But in Wisconsin, a Republican county executive insists that this year, when everyone expects a record turnout, Milwaukee will receive fewer ballots than it got in 2000 or 2002 - a recipe for chaos at polling places serving urban, mainly Democratic voters.

And Florida is the site of naked efforts to suppress Democratic votes, and the votes of blacks in particular.

Florida's secretary of state recently ruled that voter registrations would be deemed incomplete if those registering failed to check a box affirming their citizenship, even if they had signed an oath saying the same thing elsewhere on the form. Many counties are, sensibly, ignoring this ruling, but it's apparent that some officials have both used this rule and other technicalities to reject applications as incomplete, and delayed notifying would-be voters of problems with their applications until it was too late.

Whose applications get rejected? A Washington Post examination of rejected applications in Duval County found three times as many were from Democrats, compared with Republicans. It also found a strong tilt toward rejection of blacks' registrations.

The case of Florida's felon list - used by state officials, as in 2000, to try to wrongly disenfranchise thousands of blacks - has been widely reported. Less widely reported has been overwhelming evidence that the errors were deliberate.

In an article coming next week in Harper's, Greg Palast, who originally reported the story of the 2000 felon list, reveals that few of those wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 2000 are back on the voter lists. State officials have imposed Kafkaesque hurdles for voters trying to get back on the rolls. Depending on the county, those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names.

And officials appear to be doing their best to make voting difficult for those blacks who do manage to register. Florida law requires local election officials to provide polling places where voters can cast early ballots. Duval County is providing only one such location, when other counties with similar voting populations are providing multiple sites. And in Duval and other counties the early voting sites are miles away from precincts with black majorities.

Next week, I'll address the question of whether the votes of Floridians with the wrong color skin will be fully counted if they are cast. Mr. Palast notes that in the 2000 election, almost 180,000 Florida votes were rejected because they were either blank or contained overvotes. Demographers from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission estimate that 54 percent of the spoiled ballots were cast by blacks. And there's strong evidence that this spoilage didn't reflect voters' incompetence: it was caused mainly by defective voting machines and may also reflect deliberate vote-tampering.

The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.


Paralyzed, a Soldier Asks Why

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Paralyzed, a Soldier Asks Why


Sunlight was pouring through the doorway to the furnished basement of the neat two-story home on Reardon Lane. The doorway had been widened to accommodate the wheelchair of Army Staff Sgt. Eugene Simpson Jr., who was once a star athlete but now, at age 27, spends a lot of time in his parents' basement, watching the large flat-screen TV.

I asked the sergeant whether he ever gets depressed. "No," he said quickly, before adding, "I mean, I could say I was sad for a while. But it didn't really last long."

Sergeant Simpson's expertise is tank warfare. But the Army is stretched thin, and the nation's war plans at times have all the coherence of football plays drawn up in the schoolyard. When Sergeant Simpson's unit was deployed from Germany to Iraq, the tanks were left behind and the sergeant ended up bouncing around Tikrit in a Humvee, on the lookout for weapons smugglers and other vaguely defined "bad guys."

He said he felt more like a cop than a soldier.

One evening last April, Sergeant Simpson was the passenger in the lead vehicle of a four-vehicle convoy on a routine patrol in Tikrit. "It was a little housing area," he said. "We were just there to show a presence."

Iraqi soldiers were in the second vehicle of the convoy.

"I looked back and the Iraqi truck had stopped for some reason," Sergeant Simpson said.

He waved the driver forward, but the truck remained motionless. "That was odd," he said. "They wouldn't follow us. Then I happened to look down between two houses and I saw an Iraqi guy standing in the alley with like a remote control key for a car. And that was odd because there were like no cars in the whole little housing area."

Sergeant Simpson had been taught that key remotes can be used by insurgents to set off explosives. "So I knew right then something was wrong, and I raised up my gun to fire at him. But before I could get my weapon all the way up he pushed the button."

The bomb hidden in the road exploded with terrific force just a few feet from Sergeant Simpson.

"When I saw the explosion go off, I tried to jump back into the center of the Humvee for more protection," he said. "Everything went in slow motion for about 15 seconds. I saw scrap metal and dust and everything flying by me, and I felt it hitting me all in my legs and my back. It felt like hot metal burning my skin everywhere."

The driver of the Humvee fired at the attacker, who vanished. Sergeant Simpson was in agony. "It hurt so bad, I couldn't cry," he said.

The sergeant's spinal cord had been severed. On the short drive back to their home camp, he felt as if he was dying. "I would open and close my eyes," he said, "and all I could see was my family."

Sergeant Simpson is paralyzed from the waist down. He said he remembers hearing, as he was airlifted from Baghdad back to Germany, the moans and the cries and the weeping of the many other wounded soldiers on the plane. And he remembers the grief of the severely wounded soldiers in the military hospital in Landstuhl, where most of the evacuees from Iraq are taken. He saw amputees, and soldiers who were paralyzed or had suffered brain damage or other crippling injuries.

"Some of them never wanted anybody to come into their room," he said. "They never wanted to talk to anybody. The ones with the lesser injuries - you know, maybe got shot in the arm, that kind of thing - they were more upbeat."

Sergeant Simpson is married to a German woman, Shirley Weber, and they have two children. He is trying to get his family into the U.S., but the red tape is formidable. "The separation from them - that's the hardest thing to deal with," he said.

His feelings about the military, at the moment, are ambivalent. "Of course, I still wish I could walk and still be in the military," he said. "That's what I love to do."

But when I asked if he still loved the military itself, he paused and then said:

"Not as much. That's basically because we were over there, all these young guys, doing our jobs, but we really didn't know why we were there. I ask myself, 'What was our purpose?' And to this day I still can't figure out our purpose for being there."

He said he accepted his obligation, as a soldier, to fight. He is not resentful. But he would have appreciated a little more clarity about what he was fighting for.


Dangerous Territory

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Dangerous Territory

The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, one of the nation's most powerful television conglomerates, has a sad record of using its public license to promote Republican causes. Earlier this year, Sinclair tried to censor an installment of "Nightline" on its 62 stations when Ted Koppel announced plans to read out the names of soldiers killed in Iraq. Now the company, owned by financial backers of President Bush and other Republican politicians, plans to actively join the re-election campaign.

Its plan sounds like the plot of a bad political novel, or an actual election in post-Soviet Russia. The Times and other newspapers reported this week that Sinclair, a Maryland-based company that reaches nearly a quarter of American households, would broadcast a propaganda film in the next two weeks that labels Senator John Kerry a liar, a traitor and a "willing accomplice" of the enemy during the Vietnam War. It claims, falsely, that his antiwar statements inspired the North Vietnamese to step up the torture of American prisoners, and it is filled with other distortions about the war in Vietnam.

Sinclair has instructed its stations, which are heavily represented in swing states like Florida and Wisconsin, to run the film without commercials in the evening. The company already compels them to broadcast editorials and commentaries favorable to Mr. Bush and his policies. But this is a whole new arena, and little different from making the stations give donations to the Republican campaign.

We would be just as appalled if one of the major networks forced its affiliates to broadcast "Fahrenheit 9/11" next week and call it a news program.

The movie that caught Sinclair's eye, a 45-minute diatribe called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," rehashes Republican charges that are familiar to everyone from the latest round of ads attacking Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities: primarily that he lied to the Senate in 1971 about atrocities in Vietnam and that his testimony and the antiwar movement in general aided the North Vietnamese and harmed American soldiers. This line of reasoning neatly dovetails with the Bush campaign's assertions that criticizing Mr. Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq is unpatriotic and harms American soldiers.

Eighteen Democratic senators asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Sinclair from broadcasting the new film, but the commission was right to refuse. As painful as it is to defend this agency, which has shown more interest in Janet Jackson's breast than in really doing its job, we believe that the federal government cannot indulge in that sort of prior restraint.

But the F.C.C. also cannot ignore Sinclair's poor record when it comes to meeting its obligation to act responsibly and fairly in the public interest, a duty it assumed when it accepted custody of a license to broadcast on the public airwaves. Broadcasting "Stolen Honor" within two weeks of the election would clearly violate those commitments.

Sinclair says it is just trying to give its viewers news. Unfortunately, this film is not news, and not journalism. It makes no attempt at balance or fairness. Its interviews with 17 men who were imprisoned and tortured in Hanoi are powerful. But the narrator and producer, Carlton Sherwood, a former journalist on leave from his job in a company that provides "homeland security" services to the government, exploits these brave men and their distinguished service for a cause that he openly says is personal.

Sinclair's First Amendment defenses lack credibility because it denied those rights to "Nightline." At the time, Sinclair's spokesman, Mark Hyman, who doubles as a conservative commentator, said Mr. Koppel's program did not deserve to be broadcast because it had "no proportionality" and ignored other aspects of the issues. It was hard to see how that could describe a tribute to the war dead, but it's a perfect description of "Stolen Honor."

Yesterday, Mr. Hyman seemed to be hedging a bit on Sinclair's plans, saying the program was not finished and would be balanced. But it was unnerving to hear him adhere to his bizarre claim that the major broadcast networks who wisely declined to run "Stolen Honor" when Mr. Sherwood offered it to them were no different than "Holocaust deniers."

If the company is thinking about seriously changing course, it should do it quickly. Sinclair is in dangerous territory. If television companies force their local stations to campaign blatantly, it will not be long before the administrations that have the power to grant licenses begin expecting such favors as a quid pro quo. And the public will question whether it can afford to allow such concentrations of power in the hands of huge media corporations.


Backlog Blocks Immigrants Hoping to Vote

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Backlog Blocks Immigrants Hoping to Vote

Nearly half of the 126,000 immigrants in New York State who have applied to become American citizens have lost their chance to vote in the presidential election because of processing backlogs in the federal Department of Homeland Security, according to a new study.

The New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group and advocacy arm for more than 150 community organizations serving newcomers, found that about 60,000 prospective citizens in New York were not naturalized in time for last week's state voter registration deadline. The situation is similar, if not as severe, in other states, including several swing states.

"New York is the worst by far," said Margaret McHugh, director of the coalition. "But the numbers in some battleground states are startling. This has a potential impact on the election."

In Florida, where the margin of victory in the 2000 presidential election was 537 votes, an estimated 25,000 new citizens would be eligible to vote if they had been naturalized within the six months set as a national standard by President Bush, the coalition calculated. Instead, the Miami office of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, now part of the Homeland Security Department - has a 21-month backlog.

In New Jersey, backlogs have shut out about 12,000 immigrants from voting, the analysis found, and in Arizona, where processing now takes 13 months, about 6,500 would-be citizens were unable to vote.

The analysis used government figures for the number of pending cases, along with an average approval rate of 75 percent. It applied the difference between actual processing times and the six-month standard to estimate how many would have become citizens before voter registration deadlines had the standard been met. It concluded that New York had more would-be citizens shut out of the election than any other state.

Even some who finally reached citizenship last week, after long delays, discovered that they were not in time, said Vladimir Epshteyn, president of the Russian-American Voters Educational League. He told how an elderly Brooklyn man rushed to him for help filling out a voter registration card a few days ago. The Brooklyn man and his wife had applied for citizenship at the same time, but for reasons that were never clear, his application was delayed for more than a year and a half after hers was granted, Mr. Epshteyn said.

"I had to tell him it was too late," Mr. Epshteyn said. "He was so disappointed - even, I would say, depressed."

Many factors contribute to delays in naturalization. Among those cited by the coalition is a shortage of staff members to handle multiple security checks required for every applicant. Each applicant must pass through at least three layers of security checks, including an Interagency Border Information System database known as IBIS; an F.B.I. fingerprint check, which is valid for only 15 months; and an F.B.I. name check.

According to the coalition, immigration officials say the F.B.I. takes a long time to respond to name checks. "This is dragging out the processing times for every type of application," the coalition paper said.

Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency was on track to reach the six-month processing goal in a little over two years.

"We certainly acknowledge that there is a backlog right now and it is a backlog that we are determined to eliminate by the end of 2006," he said yesterday. "Our commitment is to getting citizenship and the right to vote to eligible candidates as quickly as possible. We're making steady progress, but we're obviously not there yet."

But the coalition said chronic understaffing makes progress unlikely. "Unless Immigration Services offices receive the staff and funding that they realistically need," the study concluded, "there is little chance that naturalization and other immigration services will improve anytime soon."

Even as the backlog of cases grew, the number of immigrants sworn in as citizens nationwide declined by 19 percent in the 2003 fiscal year, to 463,204, from 573,708 in 2002, according to the latest government figures.

One reason backlogs worsened in 2003, the coalition said, was that agents responsible for handling naturalizations were temporarily reassigned to carry out the Homeland Security Department's so-called "special registration" program, which involved the fingerprinting, photographing and interrogating more than 83,000 immigrants from predominantly Arab and Muslim countries. The program was suspended after it proved all but useless in finding terrorists.

At the Immigration Coalition, Ms. McHugh said the sense of bitterness and disappointment among many citizens-in-waiting was palpable.

"They feel their voices have been silenced and their votes have been robbed, even though it could well determine the outcome of the election," she said. "They all take it seriously that they now live in a democracy. Unfortunately the government has not taken seriously the obligation to include them."


Cheneys overreact to Kerry's positive comment about Mary Cheney

The New York Times
October 15, 2004


WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - Senator John Kerry's reference in the debate Wednesday night to Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter touched off a political tempest on Thursday, with Mr. Cheney accusing Mr. Kerry of a cynical political attack and Mr. Kerry dismissing the charge.

Conservative Christians and gay rights groups also weighed in on the way Mr. Kerry brought up Mr. Cheney's daughter Mary in response to a question about whether homosexuality is a matter of choice.

"I think it is part of a strategy to suppress traditional-values voters, to knock 1 or 2 percent off in some rural areas by causing people to turn on the president," said Gary Bauer, a conservative Christian who ran for president four years ago.

Gay rights groups were generally supportive of Mr. Kerry. One, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said that in bringing up Ms. Cheney "Kerry expressed the human side of an issue that Bush has worked so hard to politicize to his advantage at the cost of families.'' The Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republicans that has broken with Mr. Bush over his opposition to same-sex marriage, said that while Mr. Kerry could have made his point without mentioning Ms. Cheney, "this shouldn't distract us from the fact that President Bush, Karl Rove and other Republicans have been using gay and lesbian families as a political wedge issue." Mr. Rove is President Bush's chief political adviser.

Mr. Cheney said that Mr. Kerry's remarks showed the senator to be "a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected," as the vice president told supporters at a rally in Fort Myers, Fla. "And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen."

Gay rights has been a sensitive topic for both sides in the presidential contest because of a Massachusetts court ruling that paved the way for same sex-marriage in that state.

The latest controversy began as the debate moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS, asked Mr. Bush whether he thought homosexuality was a matter of choice. Mr. Bush responded that he was not sure.

Mr. Kerry, in his response, said, "I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."

Mr. Cheney's wife, Lynne, sharply criticized Mr. Kerry Wednesday night at a postdebate rally in Coraopolis, Pa.

"I did have a chance to assess John Kerry once more," Mrs. Cheney said. "And the only thing I could conclude is this is not a good man. This is not a good man. And, of course, I am speaking as a mom and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

Democrats countered that the White House was trying to make people forget the debate, which they said Mr. Kerry had won. Moreover, the Democrats said, Mr. Cheney and his wife have both mentioned that their daughter Mary is gay and have talked about her with love and pride. Ms. Cheney is an official in her father's campaign.

In fact, on Aug. 24, as Republicans were drafting their party platform and calling for a constitutional amendment that "fully protects" the institution of marriage between man and woman, Mr. Cheney expressed his affection for his daughter at a rally in Davenport, Iowa, telling a forum that people should be free to enter "into any kind of relationship they want to."

That statement seemed to put Mr. Cheney at odds with President Bush, who supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Gay rights advocates accused the Bush administration at the time of trying to keep its conservative Christian base through Mr. Bush's stance, while broadening the Republican base by Mr. Cheney's seeming moderation on an emotional issue.

Mr. Kerry issued a statement in Las Vegas in which he showed no inclination to apologize. "I love my daughters," he said. "They love their daughter. I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue."

Bush-Cheney campaign aides said Mary Cheney would not be available for comment.

The mention on Wednesday night of Ms. Cheney's sexual orientation was the second on prime-time television in little more than a week. Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, referred to it on Oct. 5 in what appeared to be a civil exchange in his televised debate with Mr. Cheney. Mr. Cheney did not react strongly then, thanking Mr. Edwards "for his kind words."

"You're welcome," Mr. Edwards replied.

Mr. Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, said in an ABC radio interview on Thursday that Mrs. Cheney had overreacted. "I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences," Mrs. Edwards said. "It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response."

But Matthew Dowd, spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said in a CNN interview that Mr. Kerry's remarks were "outrageous" and offered a telling insight on the candidates.

Mr. Edwards, asked on Thursday for his reaction to the Cheneys' anger, noted their previous expressions of pride in their daughter.

"I don't think this should become some political football going back and forth," Mr. Edwards said in an interview with Chris Matthews on the MSNBC program "Hardball.''


Sept. 11 Panel's Chief Wants Help From Bush

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Sept. 11 Panel's Chief Wants Help From Bush

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - The chairman of the independent Sept. 11 commission called on President Bush on Thursday to become personally involved in pressuring Congress to overhaul the nation's intelligence community, warning that the legislation recommended by the panel might die in Congress without Mr. Bush's intervention before the election next month.

"I'm very worried," said the chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey. "I think it's a 50-50 situation now. We've come a long way; we're right up to the finish line. But we have some powerful adversaries."

"I would certainly urge the president to do everything in his power to get a final bill to his desk before the election," Mr. Kean said in a telephone interview, a week after the House and Senate produced sharply different versions of a bill to enact the commission's major recommendations, including creation of the job of national intelligence director.

"I would hope that he would urge his friends in Congress to act," Mr. Kean said of the president. "I will reach out to the White House to urge them to do everything they can."

The Republican author of the Senate bill, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, also called for Mr. Bush to become involved in the Congressional negotiations, even if that meant taking time off the campaign trail. "It would be very helpful for the president to be involved, even though I realize this is an extraordinarily busy period for him," Ms. Collins said.

It would be difficult for the White House to ignore requests from Mr. Kean and Ms. Collins, especially since they come in the final days of a campaign in which Mr. Bush is seeking re-election in part on his record in reorganizing the government to prevent terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush has endorsed the commission's major recommendations, including the new intelligence director.

A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, did not answer directly when asked if Mr. Bush would consider becoming personally involved in the negotiations. "My response would be that we continue to work with the House and Senate leaders," Ms. Healy said. "The president is very committed to intelligence reform."

Mr. Kean also called on a newly created House-Senate conference committee to abandon law-enforcement and immigration provisions that were placed in the House version by the Republicans and were not among the commission's recommendations. The provisions, which would strengthen the government's surveillance and deportation powers, have been opposed by Democrats in Congress and civil liberties groups.

"We're not for or against them, because we did not consider them," Mr. Kean said of the provisions. "But if they are controversial, they can impede the progress of the bill. We'd like to see them moved to a separate piece of legislation."

The conference committee is expected to begin work in earnest next week to draw up a compromise bill.

Mr. Kean, who is the president of Drew University in Madison, N.J., said he and other members of the commission hoped that a compromise bill would resemble the bipartisan Senate measure passed last week by a vote of 96 to 2. It granted more budget and personnel authority to the national intelligence director than did its House counterpart.

"The Senate bill is obviously a good bill," Mr. Kean said. "The House bill has some good things in it, but it doesn't have a strong national intelligence director. We think the national intelligence director has got to have full budget and personnel authority to do the job. And that is much clearer in the Senate bill than in the House bill."

Mr. Kean said he and other members of the commission were disappointed that Congress had not yet accepted another of their panel's central recommendations, an overhaul of the way the Senate and House conduct intelligence oversight. Last week the Senate voted down a proposal that would have provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with the appropriation powers needed to distribute the billions of dollars spent each year by intelligence agencies, a proposal made by the commission to strengthen the power of the Intelligence Committee. The House has not voted on any substantive reform of its intelligence oversight.

The White House and Congress are also under pressure from family members of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, who have fanned out to demand passage of a bill to enact the findings of the Sept. 11 commission.

Family members said that they had a disappointing meeting on Thursday with Alberto R. Gonzales, Mr. Bush's White House counsel, and that Mr. Gonzales had suggested there might be no final bill before the election.

"We're getting very mixed signals from the White House," said Beverly Eckert, who attended the White House meeting; her husband died in the World Trade Center.

Ms. Healy, the White House spokeswoman, disputed the description of the meeting, saying Mr. Gonzales had "reiterated the president's position that he wants to see this legislation adopted as soon as possible."

A spokesman for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois said that while House Republicans were open to negotiations with the Senate over a final bill, Mr. Hastert continued to believe that the House version passed last week "captured the spirit of the recommendations" of the Sept. 11 commission.

The spokesman, John Feehery, said that while some Democrats and civil liberties groups had criticized law-enforcement provisions inserted into the House bill, all of the provisions would "make the country safer."

"We probably need some further definition of what's considered controversial and not controversial," Mr. Feehery said.


PRISON ABUSE: U.S. Army Inquiry Implicates 28 Soldiers in Deaths of 2 Afghan Detainees

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

U.S. Army Inquiry Implicates 28 Soldiers in Deaths of 2 Afghan Detainees

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - A newly completed Army criminal investigation has implicated 28 active-duty and reserve soldiers in the deaths of two Afghan men detained at the American air base at Bagram in December 2002, and describes potential offenses ranging from involuntary manslaughter to assault to conspiracy, the Army said Thursday.

One Pentagon official said five or six could face the most serious charges, a decision that now rests with the soldiers' commanders.

Those cited by the investigation include officers - the highest ranking are two captains - noncommissioned officers and enlisted soldiers, according to Pentagon officials familiar with the report. The names were not publicly disclosed.

The inquiry by the Army Criminal Investigation Command involved soldiers from two units deployed at the Bagram Control Point, a detention facility at an American base 40 miles north of Kabul. The Army Reserve unit was the 377th Military Police Company with headquarters at Cincinnati, and the active-duty unit was Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, whose home is Fort Bragg, N.C.

After photographs of American soldiers abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad drew global outrage, investigators learned that the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion had played a major role in setting up the prison's interrogation unit. The 519th was in charge of interrogations at the time of the homicides at Bagram, investigators found.

Procedures drawn up in Afghanistan became the template for practices of Abu Ghraib interrogators, who were drawn from a unit of 519th sent to Iraq and assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which in turn was in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib, according to two Pentagon inquiries. But they provided no specifics on the procedures.

Human rights groups responded to the announcement of the completed Army inquiry by saying the roots of the Abu Ghraib scandal may reach back to the incidents in Afghanistan.

"The failure to promptly account for the prisoners' deaths indicates a chilling disregard for the value of human life and may have laid the groundwork for further abuses in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere," said Jumana Musa of Amnesty International USA.

Pentagon officials said the pace of the inquiry reflected an Army mandate that "thoroughness trumps timeliness." One said the investigation was logistically complicated; the more than 250 people interviewed had to be found at a wide number of locations around the world, since those at Bagram at the time of the two homicides had redeployed.

The two deaths occurred on Dec. 4 and 10, 2002, in separate isolation cells. Both men had suffered "blunt force trauma to the legs," according to Pentagon officials, and investigators determined that they had been beaten by "multiple soldiers" who, for the most part, had used their knees.

Pentagon officials said it was likely that the beatings had been confined to the legs of the detainees so that wounds would be less visible.

Both men had been chained to the ceiling - one at the waist and one by the wrists - although their feet remained on the ground. Both men had been captured by Afghan forces and turned over to the American military for interrogation.

One, Mullah Habibullah, a brother of a former Taliban commander, died Dec. 4 of a pulmonary embolism apparently caused by blood clots formed in his legs from the beatings.

The other, a man identified as Dilawar, died Dec. 10. He suffered from a heart condition, and his death by heart attack was attributed to the beatings he received, Pentagon officials said. Mr. Dilawar was arrested after a broken walkie-talkie and an electric stabilizer were found in his taxi several hours after rockets were fired at an American base.

Only one soldier has been officially charged by the Army in the case. Sgt. James P. Boland, of the military police unit, was charged with assault and other crimes.


Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared

The New York Times
October 15, 2004

Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 - With less than three weeks before the election, Ralph Nader is emerging as just the threat that Democrats feared, with a potential to tip the balance in up to nine states where President Bush and Senator John Kerry are running neck and neck.

Despite a concerted effort by Democrats to derail his independent candidacy, as well as his being struck off the Pennsylvania ballot on Wednesday, Mr. Nader will be on the ballots in more than 30 states.

Polls show that he could influence the outcomes in nine by drawing support from Mr. Kerry. They are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

Moreover, six - Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin - were among the top 20 where Mr. Nader drew his strongest support in 2000. If the vote for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry is as evenly divided as the polls suggest, the electoral votes in any one of those states could determine who becomes president.

Mr. Nader repeated this week that he had no intention of leaving the race. He said no one from the Kerry campaign or Democratic National Committee was pressing him behind the scenes to quit, and he said he thought that Mr. Kerry would not make a good president anyway.

"He's not his own man," Mr. Nader said on Tuesday in a telephone interview from California. "Because he takes the liberals for granted, he's allowing Bush to pull him in his direction. It doesn't show much for his character."

That is a change from May, when Mr. Nader met Mr. Kerry at his campaign headquarters and afterward praised him as "very presidential." Mr. Kerry did not ask him to withdraw then, but now the party is in a full-throated plea, with its chairman, Terry McAuliffe, saying on Thursday that Mr. Nader should "end the charade" of a campaign being kept afloat by "corporate backers."

Although Mr. Nader's support is negligible in much of the country, and scant in some of the nine states, even a tiny Nader vote could make a difference, as it did in 2000 in Florida and New Hampshire.

Democrats belittle Mr. Nader's efforts, portraying his campaign as a ragtag version of its former self, with the candidate's appearances limited to easy-to-book locations like college campuses. But they acknowledge that he could make a difference, and even Mr. Kerry has adjusted his stump speech in part to try to appeal to potential Nader voters, who tend to loathe corporate America and fiercely oppose the Iraq war.

Mr. Kerry now casts Mr. Bush as a tool of rich and powerful "special interests," and he has sharpened his critique of Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq.

Several Democratic and left-leaning groups sprung up this year to try to keep Mr. Nader off the ballot in the swing states, fearing he could siphon votes from Mr. Kerry as he did from Al Gore in 2000. In Florida that year, Mr. Nader won 1.6 percent of the vote. That accounted for 97,488 votes, and Mr. Bush beat Mr. Gore there by 537.

In 2000, Mr. Nader won 2.7 percent of the vote nationally. Pollsters say that this year, Mr. Nader's national support has dwindled, from a peak of 5 percent in May to 1.5 percent now.

In some states it is higher. This year in Iowa, the average of the latest polls shows Mr. Kerry with 47.5 percent of the vote, Mr. Bush with 46.6 percent and Mr. Nader with 4 percent.

The average of polls in Minnesota shows 45.5 percent for Mr. Kerry, 45.5 percent for Bush and 2.7 percent for Mr. Nader.

Mr. Nader is still in litigation to be on the ballot in Ohio, where Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry are in a dead heat and where Mr. Nader draws 1 percent of the vote. Mr. Nader is also appealing a court's throwing him off the Pennsylvania ballot.

Polls also show Mr. Nader drawing some support from Mr. Bush, though at a much lower level than from Mr. Kerry, which explains why Republicans have been supporting and encouraging his efforts to get on ballots while Democrats have mounted an orchestrated effort to keep him off.

"Though he hurts Kerry more than Bush, there's a potential that he hurts Bush, too," said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who has examined Nader voters, although she said potential Nader voters were difficult to find and hard to track.

Mr. Nader maintained in the interview "there is no evidence" that he takes votes from Mr. Kerry. He said surveys by Zogby showed him pulling equally from Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry.

A spokeswoman for Zogby International, Shawnta Walcott, said that Zogby polls showed Mr. Nader drawing far more from Mr. Kerry. She said the polls, aggregated from March through last month, showed that if Mr. Nader was not an option, 41 percent of his supporters went to Mr. Kerry and 15 percent went to Mr. Bush. Thirty percent went elsewhere and 13 percent were undecided.

Ms. Greenberg said that the profile of likely Nader supporters was changing and beginning to resemble that of voters who supported H. Ross Perot, the third-party candidate, in 1996, rather than those who supported Mr. Nader in 2000. Indeed, several celebrities and liberal activists who supported Mr. Nader in 2000 have renounced him and urged other former supporters to vote for Mr. Kerry, because defeating Mr. Bush is their top priority. Mr. Nader's former running mate, Winona LaDuke, has endorsed Mr. Kerry.

Voters who supported Mr. Nader in 2000 tended to split equally between men and women and who were white, liberal and college educated. Ms. Greenberg said voters who supported him tended to be white men, blue collar, fiscally conservative, populist, against open trade, angry about the high cost of health care and prescription drugs and virulently opposed to the Iraq war.

She said Mr. Kerry had helped diminish Mr. Nader's appeal to some of those voters through his advertising and in the debates.

"Nader is taking less out of Kerry now," she said. "So the leftover Nader vote is more conservative," meaning that they were Bush supporters originally but have defected, probably because he has allowed the deficit to balloon.

Still, the Nader factor seems wildly unpredictable.

"Nader is appealing to people who think neither party represents their interests," said David Jones, who runs an anti-Nader Web site, "I don't know if we're dealing with the old 2000 voter or the new 2004 voter. The real question about them is will they vote?"

In the interview, Mr. Nader rejected the idea that he was a spoiler.

"I deny the designation entirely," he said. "Everyone is trying to get votes from everyone else. So we're all spoilers or none of us are spoilers."

Mr. Nader said his campaign was at the very least producing "great data" for him to use after the election to fight what he says are restrictive and unfair ballot-access laws. He said that in the long term his current fight would help destroy the two-party dominance of American politics, which he said was his goal.

"We lose to win, eventually," he said. "That's the story of social justice. You have to be willing to lose and fight, and lose and fight, and lose and fight. Until the agenda is won."


Thursday, October 14, 2004

How Sinclair can be more fair

If Sinclair broadcasting is interested in being fair and balanced, they will also air "Farenheit 911" 1 week before the election on the same day and timeslot as the anti-Kerry 2-hour commercial.


Chairman: FCC won't bar airing of anti-Kerry film

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Chairman: FCC won't bar airing of anti-Kerry film

The Associated Press
Published on: 10/14/04

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission won't intervene to stop a broadcast company's plans to air a critical documentary about John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities on dozens of TV stations, the agency's chairman said Thursday.

"Don't look to us to block the airing of a program," Michael Powell told reporters. "I don't know of any precedent in which the commission could do that."

Eighteen senators, all Democrats, wrote to Powell this week and asked him to investigate Sinclair Broadcast Group's plan to run the program, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," two weeks before the Nov. 2 election.

Powell said there are no federal rules that would allow the agency to prevent the program. "I think that would be an absolute disservice to the First Amendment and I think it would be unconstitutional if we attempted to do so," he said.

He said he would consider the senators' concerns but added that they may not amount to a formal complaint, which could trigger an investigation. FCC rules require that a program air before a formal complaint can be considered.

Sinclair, based outside Baltimore, has asked its 62 television stations -- many of them in competitive states in the presidential election -- to pre-empt regular programming to run the documentary. It chronicles Kerry's 1971 testimony before Congress and links him to activist and actress Jane Fonda. It includes interviews with Vietnam prisoners of war and their wives who claim Kerry's testimony demeaned them and led their captors to hold them longer.

In the letter to Powell, the senators -- led by Dianne Feinstein of California -- asked the FCC to determine whether the airing of the anti-Kerry program is a "proper use of public airwaves" and to investigate whether it would violate rules requiring equal air time for candidates.

Separately, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday contending that Sinclair's airing of the film should be considered an illegal in-kind contribution to President Bush's campaign.


Voting Machine Test Is Delayed

Voting Machine Test Is Delayed

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 13 (AP) - A dry run of electronic voting machines scheduled for Tuesday in Palm Beach County had to be postponed until Friday because heat caused a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines to crash, according to the county elections supervisor, Theresa LePore.

The incident in Palm Beach County, known for its hanging and pregnant chads in the 2000 presidential election, did not directly involve the touch-screen terminals on which nearly one in three voters in the United States will cast ballots on Nov. 2.

But critics of the machines said it proved how fickle any computer-based voting system could be and highlighted the need for touch-screens to produce paper records.


In '04 Florida, Lawsuits Begin Before Election

The New York Times
October 14, 2004

In '04 Florida, Lawsuits Begin Before Election

MIAMI, Oct. 13 - Not a single ballot has been counted in the presidential election, yet Florida is already teeming with lawsuits charging the state and its county elections supervisors with voter disenfranchisement, a legal muddle likely to grow worse before Election Day.

On Wednesday, the State Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit seeking to require election officials to count provisional ballots - which voters can cast when their names do not appear on precinct rolls - regardless of where they are cast. And on Tuesday, labor unions and voting-rights groups sued to stop the disqualification of more than 10,000 incomplete registration forms in Florida, accusing the state of overly restrictive rules that disproportionately hurt minority voters.

Also on Tuesday, plaintiffs in another suit met with aides to Secretary of State Glenda Hood to discuss how counties with touch-screen voting should conduct manual recounts. The state had banned recounts in such counties, but an administrative law judge, responding to a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, threw out that rule in August.

"The 2000 election signaled the era of lawsuits in elections," said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, "and it's escalated markedly not just in Florida, but everywhere. Both parties are playing the pre-emption game as much as the reactive game this time out."

Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for Ms. Hood, a Republican who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, said the lawsuits were politically motivated and were eroding voter confidence.

"They are questioning every single law that we are following and that we are complying with, federal or state," Ms. Faraj said. "And I think it's inappropriate for them to be doing this at the 11th hour."

The lawsuit regarding voter registration forms, filed in federal court in Miami, stems from Ms. Hood's recent recommendation to throw out forms on which registrants did not check a box indicating they are American citizens, even if they signed an oath at the bottom of the form swearing that they are.

It charges that while some registrants fixed their incomplete forms before the Oct. 4 deadline, elections officials did not always process them in time, and did not let other registrants know their forms were flawed. It charges Ms. Hood and elections supervisors in Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade and Orange Counties with violating federal election law.

The plaintiff groups - including People for the American Way, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. - all registered thousands of new Florida voters in recent months, often urging them to vote Democratic.

According to the complaint, more than a third of voters who indicated their race on the incomplete forms in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties are black, even though blacks make up only 17 percent of the electorate in Broward and 20 percent in Miami-Dade.

Though the citizenship issue was the first to cause concerns among voting-rights groups - and the subject of another lawsuit, filed by the Florida Democratic Party last week - far more registrants failed to check other boxes on the form, the suit filed Tuesday said. In Miami-Dade County, about 3,050 applicants did not check a box to indicate they were not convicted felons, while 3,550 did not check a box indicating they had not been found mentally incompetent, and were disqualified.

The plaintiffs maintain that checking the three boxes is not legally required. Some elections supervisors have said the incomplete forms came mostly from Democratic advocacy groups, which registered tens of thousands of new voters, turning in box upon box of forms at the last minute. Partly because of their efforts, many supervisors still have thousands of applications to process.

Advocacy groups say this backlog could become fodder for another lawsuit, though Allie Merzer, a spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party, urged patience.

"We can sympathize with the enormous amount of paperwork they are probably shuffling right now," Ms. Merzer said.

In Tallahassee on Wednesday, the State Supreme Court heard arguments on whether Florida's new provisional voting law - specifically, the part that bars voters from casting provisional ballots anywhere but their home precinct - is unconstitutional. The law is intended to prevent one of the major problems Florida experienced in 2000, when scores of voters, especially minority voters, were turned away at the polls because their names were not on the rolls. Provisional balloting is subject to verification of registration.

A federal law requires states to offer some form of provisional balloting, but more than a dozen, including Florida, throw out ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct. The plaintiffs in the suit before the State Supreme Court, a group of labor unions, argue that provisional ballots cast outside home precincts should count, not least because many voters are displaced and polling places moved after the recent hurricanes.

Professor MacManus said that since the flurry of lawsuits so close to Election Day was unprecedented, it was impossible to predict their effect.

"Will this make people who are infrequent or new voters just stay home?" she said. "Or will it be an impetus for them to think, 'Hey, people are really watching now so I know my vote won't be lost.' We have no idea which of these opinions will prevail."


Addicted to 9/11

The New York Times
October 14, 2004

Addicted to 9/11

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear the president and vice president slamming John Kerry for saying that he hopes America can eventually get back to a place where "terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." The idea that President Bush and Mr. Cheney would declare such a statement to be proof that Mr. Kerry is unfit to lead actually says more about them than Mr. Kerry. Excuse me, I don't know about you, but I dream of going back to the days when terrorism was just a nuisance in our lives.

If I have a choice, I prefer not to live the rest of my life with the difference between a good day and bad day being whether Homeland Security tells me it is "code red" or "code orange" outside. To get inside the Washington office of the International Monetary Fund the other day, I had to show my ID, wait for an escort and fill out a one-page form about myself and my visit. I told my host: "Look, I don't want a loan. I just want an interview." Somewhere along the way we've gone over the top and lost our balance.

That's why Mr. Kerry was actually touching something many Americans are worried about - that this war on terrorism is transforming us and our society, when it was supposed to be about uprooting the terrorists and transforming their societies.

The Bush team's responses to Mr. Kerry's musings are revealing because they go to the very heart of how much this administration has become addicted to 9/11. The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.

By exploiting the emotions around 9/11, Mr. Bush took a far-right agenda on taxes, the environment and social issues - for which he had no electoral mandate - and drove it into a 9/12 world. In doing so, Mr. Bush made himself the most divisive and polarizing president in modern history.

By using 9/11 to justify launching a war in Iraq without U.N. support, Mr. Bush also created a huge wedge between America and the rest of the world. I sympathize with the president when he says he would never have gotten a U.N. consensus for a strategy of trying to get at the roots of terrorism by reshaping the Arab-Muslim regimes that foster it - starting with Iraq.

But in politicizing 9/11, Mr. Bush drove a wedge between himself and common sense when it came to implementing his Iraq strategy. After failing to find any W.M.D. in Iraq, he became so dependent on justifying the Iraq war as the response to 9/11 - a campaign to bring freedom and democracy to the Arab-Muslim world - that he refused to see reality in Iraq. The president seemed to be saying to himself, "Something so good and right as getting rid of Saddam can't possibly be going so wrong." Long after it was obvious to anyone who visited Iraq that we never had enough troops there to establish order, Mr. Bush simply ignored reality. When pressed on Iraq, he sought cover behind 9/11 and how it required "tough decisions" - as if the tough decision to go to war in Iraq, in the name of 9/11, should make him immune to criticism over how he conducted the war.

Lastly, politicizing 9/11 put a wedge between us and our history. The Bush team has turned this country into "The United States of Fighting Terrorism." "Bush only seems able to express our anger, not our hopes," said the Mideast expert Stephen P. Cohen. "His whole focus is on an America whose role in the world is to negate the negation of the terrorists. But America has always been about the affirmation of something positive. That is missing today. Beyond Afghanistan, they've been much better at destruction than construction."

I wish Mr. Kerry were better able to articulate how America is going to get its groove back. But the point he was raising about wanting to put terrorism back into perspective is correct. I want a president who can one day restore Sept. 11th to its rightful place on the calendar: as the day after Sept. 10th and before Sept. 12th. I do not want it to become a day that defines us. Because ultimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July.


The Final Debate

The New York Times
October 14, 2004

The Final Debate

The mission of last night's presidential debate was to engage George Bush and John Kerry in a discussion of "domestic issues" - a grab bag of topics that included both questions of money, like taxes and trade, and matters of morals, like abortion and gay marriage. Mr. Bush, however, tends to regard even policy choices as matters of faith. The numbers on his Social Security plan may never add up; last night, when asked about the $2 trillion hole in the proposal, he simply ignored the question. But to the president, all of his initiatives are success stories, and the devil take the details.

Mr. Bush took every possible opportunity to note that Mr. Kerry was once rated by a magazine as the most liberal senator and is from Massachusetts. Mr. Kerry, for his part, seemed to be vying to see how many times he could mention that Mr. Bush was the first president in 72 years to preside over an economy that has lost jobs. In a way, those efforts summarized the entire evening. Listeners certainly came away knowing that Mr. Kerry was a liberal senator and that under Mr. Bush, working people have fared poorly. The election may depend on which they decide is worse.

Mr. Kerry, who has been trying for the entire campaign to get people to pay attention to his health care plan, got the chance to talk about it last night, and he did a good, succinct job of explaining his idea. (The Kerry campaign may want to consider carrying that two-minute light everywhere.) Mr. Bush described the plan, which centers on making it easier for businesses to provide insurance for their employees, as a government hydra that would usurp people's right to pick their own doctors.

For the most part, both men seemed blessedly reasonable when talking about trade issues. Mr. Bush was passionate in his discussions about his No Child Left Behind program - so much so that, as Mr. Kerry pointed out, the president tended to talk about that even when the question was about the economy, illegal immigration, unemployment or affirmative action.

For Mr. Kerry, one of the best pieces of news was his strong performance on social issues. When the argument turns to abortion, the president's avowal that he "supports life" has generally sounded clear and sincere, while Mr. Kerry has sometimes sounded like a man who is trying desperately to obscure positions he believes are unpopular. But last night Mr. Kerry sometimes came close to eloquence when talking about homosexuality, and about his own determination to separate his Catholic faith from his responsibilities as a policy maker.

The president refused to accept any responsibility for the lapse of the ban on assault weapons and completely dodged the question of whether he wanted to see the Supreme Court reverse Roe v. Wade, while Mr. Kerry gave strong responses to both questions. "I believe that the right of choice is a constitutional right," he said. "So I don't intend to see it undone."

The campaign's debate season began with wide doubt about the usefulness of encounters that were so completely scripted by lawyers and handlers that it seemed unlikely the public could learn anything. But the result has been much better than expected.

True, both men tried to score cheap shots, and they hewed to their talking points even when their answers didn't quite fit the topic. (When the question concerned the shortage of flu shots, Mr. Bush talked about the evils of trial lawyers, and Mr. Kerry talked about the lack of health insurance.) But it's hard to believe that anyone who watched with attention didn't come away with a good handle on who John Kerry and George Bush are, what they believe, and how they would approach running the country.


More Bush Lies at 3rd Presidential Debate


More Bush Lies at 3rd Presidential Debate

Wrong on Tax Cuts

Bush could hardly have been farther off base when he said most of his tax cuts "went to low- and middle-income Americans." That's just not true.

In fact, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center recently calculated that most of the tax cuts -- 53% to be exact -- went to the highest -earning 10% of US individuals and families.Those most affluent Americans got an average tax cut of $7,661.

And as for the "low- and middle-income Americans" Bush mentioned -- the bottom 60% of individuals and families got only 13.7% of the tax cuts, according to the Tax Policy Center, a far cry from "most" of the cuts as claimed by Bush.

Wrong on Osama

Bush stumbled when he denied making some remarks about Osama bin Laden that Kerry had accurately paraphrased. Bush accused Kerry of "one of those exaggerations."

In fact, Bush said almost exactly what Kerry quoted him as saying. It was in a news conference at the White House on March 13, 2002, after US forces had overturned the Taliban regime in Afghanistan:

Q (March 13, 2002): Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? . . .

Bush: So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him , Kelly, to be honest with you. . . .

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

Bush: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Wrong on Flu Vaccine

It's not true, as Bush claimed, that "we took the right action" in blocking "contaminated" influenza vaccine from entering the US.

Actually, it was the British and not the US that blocked shipment. The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, according to an Oct. 6 news release, suspended the license of Chiron Corp., the manufacturer of approximately 50% of the U.S. supply.

In fact, the Bush administration seems to have been caught by surprise when Chiron Corp. notified the US Center for Disease Control Oct. 5 that the company wouldn't be shipping the vaccine due to the British action. The US Food and Drug Administration didn't begin an investigation until five days later, according to an FDA news release .

It's also not clear how much of the vaccine is actually contaminated. The British agency said it suspended Chiron's license because of "concerns of possible microbial contamination." And the FDA news release refers to "findings concerning the contamination of some lots."

Wrong on Training Iraqis

Bush said that in Iraq "We'll have 125,000 troops trained by the end of this year," which is wrong. Actually, the security forces being trained are a "mixed bag" of soldiers, border guards and even three-week "shake and bake" police officers, according to House testimony by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Wrong on Medical costs

Bush claimed fear of lawsuits drives doctors to "the defensive practice of medicine that costs the federal government some $28 billion a year and costs our society between $60 billion and $100 billion a year," which is contrary to nearly all academic studies of the matter.

Improvement on statement about Department of Homeland Security

Bush stopped short of talking of his support for creating the Department of Homeland Security, something he actually opposed for nearly nine months before switching to support it. This time Bush confined himself to saying "I signed the homeland security bill," which is quite accurate.



Humor From

October 13, 2004

Tears Off President's Jacket on National TV

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry seized the opportunity of
last night's nationally televised debate in Tempe, Arizona to expose the
source of the "mystery bulge" between President Bush's shoulder blades,
tearing off Mr. Bush's jacket while a stunned nation watched in horror.

Fourteen minutes into the televised showdown, Mr. Kerry ambushed the
president by departing from the debate rules, refusing to answer a
question about outsourcing and instead directly interrogating Mr. Bush about
his mystery bulge.

"What's that bulge in the back of your jacket?" Mr. Kerry demanded.

"What bulge?" Mr. Bush said.

"That bulge, you bastard!" thundered Mr. Kerry, leaping across the
stage and tearing off Mr. Bush's jacket.

But rather than finding the radio receiver many had theorized was being
used to prompt the president during the debates, Mr. Kerry discovered
that the bulge was merely an AM radio which Mr. Bush was using to listen
to the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees playoff game.

At a focus group in Ohio, likely voters watching the debate were
divided about the revelation that Mr. Bush had been listening to a baseball
game during an all-important presidential debate.

While Kerry supporters said that the president's decision to listen to
the game was typical of his inattention to serious matters, Ralph
Clasuen, a Bush supporter, disagreed: "If I had a choice between listening
to John Kerry for ninety minutes or a baseball game, I'd go for the

Elsewhere, Major League Baseball announced that the third meeting
between the Yankees and the Red Sox on Friday night will focus entirely on
domestic issues, including the economy, education, health care and






Wednesday, October 13, 2004


October 11, 2004

Jordan Goldstein: (202) 418-2000


Commissioner Michael J. Copps reacted to reports that Sinclair Broadcast Group will preempt more than 60 local stations across the country to air an overtly political program in the days prior to the Presidential election.

Copps stated: “This is an abuse of the public trust. And it is proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology -- whether liberal or conservative. Some will undoubtedly question if this is appropriate stewardship of the public airwaves. This is the same corporation that refused to air Nightline’s reading of our war dead in Iraq. It is the same corporation that short-shrifts local communities and local jobs by distance-casting news and weather from hundreds of miles away. It is a sad fact that the explicit public interest protections we once had to ensure balance continue to be weakened by the Federal Communications Commission while it allows media conglomerates to get even bigger. Sinclair, and the FCC, are taking us down a dangerous road.”


It's a clean sweep: Kerry-Edwards 4, Bush-Cheney 0

Never mind what the pundits try to tell you, here is what the real folks in the USA think:

Who won the debate?
345097 responses
Pres. Bush 23%
Sen. Kerry 77%

756896 responses
Pres. Bush 29%
Sen. Kerry 71%

Who did better in the debates?

George Bush swept all three debates
(91 responses)

John Kerry ran away with all three
(9686 responses)

They both had their good and bad nights
(211 responses)

Neither did very well in any of the meetings
(14 responses)

10002 total responses

How did the debate influence your voting plans?

I was for Bush — I'm still for Bush.
(134 responses)

I was for Bush — I'm now undecided.
(11 responses)

I was for Bush — I'm now leaning to Kerry
(991 responses)

I was for Kerry — I'm still for Kerry.
(6313 responses)

I was for Kerry — I'm now undecided.
(14 responses)

I was for Kerry — I'm now leaning to Bush.
(25 responses)

I was undecided — I'm still undecided.
(10 responses)

I was undecided — I'm now leaning to Bush.
(35 responses)

I was undecided — I'm now leaning to Kerry.
(1462 responses)

8995 total responses