Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Libertarian Effect?

The so-called Nader spoiler effect may actually come from the Libertarian Party this year. Read the following piece from
The GOP's own Nader nightmare.
-- Jeff Horwitz
In a final pre-election push, Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik may have a shot at derailing Bush the way Nader did Gore in 2000.

Badnarik is spending $500,000 on advertising in select swing states, and by his campaign's own admission, he's targeting conservatives with commercials on Fox News Channel. One TV spot begins with a man at his kitchen table throwing down a newspaper in disgust and telling his wife "That's it! There's no way I'm voting for Bush again. He claimed to be a compassionate conservative, but what kind of conservative runs half-trillion dollar-a-year deficits, or gets us into an unwinnable war?"

The campaign's communications director, Stephen Gordon, expects Badnarik to siphon a substantial number of Republican votes. "There's a lot of disconnect between true conservatives and the Bush government over deficit spending and the war," Gordon told War Room. "Bush's support is very weak, and I think the Libertarian factor is going to be pretty significant this year. People are dying, and our supporters are very, very, opposed to the war in Iraq."

Of course, it's not that the libertarians are fond of Kerry. "We hate 'em both," Gordon says, speaking for himself and his wife. Badnarik's platform opposes welfare, most taxation and virtually any infringement on individual liberties; his official position on gun control is, "Don't even THINK about taking my guns!"

But Republicans have more reason than Democrats to be worried. Badnarik is on the ballot in nearly every state, while Nader has only qualified for 35. And while polls show that Nader's support has declined since the last election, Badnarik is likely to do better than the Libertarians did in 2000: In the few voter surveys that bother to include him as a candidate, some have shown him pulling in one percent support nationally. A Rasmussen poll commissioned by the Badnarik campaign showed him with 2 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, 1 percent in Colorado, 3 percent in Nevada, and as much as 5 percent in New Mexico. And that was before the Libertarians started their advertising blitz. The expectation that Badnarik will nab more votes from Bush than Kerry has led to some alliances with Democrats, such as "Operation Wisconsin Blue" -- an effort to raise Democratic money for ads targeting Wisconsin conservatives.

"In as many swing states as possible," Gordon says, "we'd like to have our vote total be greater than the margin of difference between Bush and Kerry." Playing the role of Bush spoiler would finally get the Libertarians some big press coverage, Gordon says -- and if the election is as close as the polls are showing, they may get their chance.

I've been arguing for consideration of third party candidates for a long time now. The more votes third party candidates get in each election, maybe we can finally get over this idea that they are stealing votes from major candidates. Every vote is simply a vote for a specific candidate. Each candidate is trying to "steal" other candidates votes, it is what we call campaigning. Bush is trying to steal Kerry votes and Kerry is trying to steal Bush votes. Bush is trying to steal Badnarik votes and Kerry is trying to steal David Cobb (Green Party candidate) votes. That is the whole point of an election, to garner the most possible votes.

There is no such thing as a spoiler candidate. Nader did not spoil the election in 2000 anymore than Gore spoiled it. If Badnarik gains votes that might have gone to Bush, it is not spoiling an election. Blame Bush if some conservatives would prefer Badnarik because Bush is losing conservative appeal. The Democrats and Republicans would obviously want to limit the party choices to just their two, afterall less competition is always a desire of trying to consolidate power. So they call the third parties spoilers and stealers of votes as if they are criminals or something undesirable.

What they really are afraid of is the marketplace. The two major parties are scared of allowing the marketplace of political ideas to expand. As any old corporation fears some upcoming company with new ideas, the Dems and Reps fear that their long term status would be endangered if they actually promoted democracy and didn't try to block ballot access to other parties. Just as in almost every industry in this country where corporations have minimized the competition, the Democrats and Republicans have long done the same to other parties.

Will the Libertarians or Ralph Nader be spoilers this year? Nonsense, they are only trying to point out that they have new and different ideas. Hopefully they will garner enough votes to get noticed for their ideas rather than the vote stealing fallacy we will hear. Whomever wins the election will be the best vote stealer, if you must call it that.


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Iraq War

I haven't written much about the Iraq War lately, in part because the election is using the war in various ways. Bush still wants to be seen as the war president and Kerry wants to point out the mistakes made but doesn't want to be on the peace side. But I can't ignore the subject for very long.

The American casualty totals.

Since the war began...1,118 deaths (combat, 862)
Total wounded..............8,039

Iraqi civilian deaths estimated between 14,181 and 16,312.

Recently (10/24) we had the story about insurgents dressed as policemen that killed 49 freshly trained Iraqi Army soldiers and three civilian drivers in remote eastern Iraq. Those victims, heading south on leave, were pulled out of three minibuses and shot, most of them execution-style in the head.

Then a militant group said Thursday (10/28) in an Internet message that it had killed 11 Iraqi security officers it was holding hostage, the group said it had beheaded one of the soldiers and shot the other 10.

On October 23rd two suicide car bombs killed 22 Iraqi police and 46 others were wounded.

Clearly we are having trouble keeping the American trained Iraqi security forces alive. It seems like as fast as we train them they are killed. There are also reports that these security forces have been infiltrated by insurgents which is leading to the deaths.

And in the last week we have the story of the missing explosives from the Al QaQaa weapons complex. This story has been riff with misinformation and counter stories. As of today we think that some of the explosives were removed by American troops, but that some are still not accounted for. The facts are still not fully explained.

What the story does recall is the fact that so much of Iraq was not protected from looters in the first month of the war. Certainly weapons caches were looted during that time. We know that one nuclear facility had been looted for the drums needed for collecting water in those early days and that Iraqis had radiation sickness. We well know that hospitals, banks, museums, and stores had been looted.

To me this latest story only confirms what we all have known for quite some time now, that the necessary troops needed to provide security was not planned for by the Bush Administration. And still today security in Iraq is not what it should be. Iraq has been blunder after blunder, mistake followed by miscalculation mistepping to more errors.

Bush is not a war president, he is a maker of quagmire.

Iraq War casualties...

Bin Laden, The October Surprise Nobody Wanted

Yesterday Al Jazeera broadcast a video tape of Osama bin Laden just four days before our election. This is the ful transcript.

You, the American people, I talk to you today about the best way to avoid another catastrophe and about war, its reasons and its consequences. And in that regard, I say to you that security is an important pillar of human life, and that free people do not compromise their security.

Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" It is known that those who hate freedom don't have souls with integrity, like the souls of those 19. May the mercy of God be upon them. We fought with you because we are free, and we don't put up with transgressions. We want to reclaim our nation. As you spoil our security, we will do so to you.

I wonder about you. Although we are ushering the fourth year after 9/11, Bush is still exercising confusion and misleading you and not telling you the true reason. Therefore, the motivations are still there for what happened to be repeated.

And I will talk to you about the reason for those events, and I will be honest with you about the moments the decision was made so that you can ponder. And I tell you, God only knows, that we never had the intentions to destroy the towers.

But after the injustice was so much and we saw transgressions and the coalition between Americans and the Israelis against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it occurred to my mind that we deal with the towers. And these special events that directly and personally affected me go back to 1982 and what happened when America gave permission for Israel to invade Lebanon. And assistance was given by the American sixth fleet.

During those crucial moments, my mind was thinking about many things that are hard to describe. But they produced a feeling to refuse and reject injustice, and I had determination to punish the transgressors. And as I was looking at those towers that were destroyed in Lebanon, it occurred to me that we have to punish the transgressor with the same -- and that we had to destroy the towers in America so that they taste what we tasted, and they stop killing our women and children.

We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs. And our experience is vast with them.
And those two kinds are full of arrogance and taking money illegally.

The resemblance started when [former President George H.W.] Bush, the father, visited the area, when some of our own were impressed by America and were hoping that the visits would affect and influence our countries.

Then, what happened was that he was impressed by the monarchies and the military regimes, and he was jealous of them staying in power for tens of years, embezzling the public money without any accountability. And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the disguise of fighting terrorism. And Bush, the father, found it good to install his children as governors and leaders.

We agreed with the leader of the group, Mohammed Atta, to perform all attacks within 20 minutes before [President George W.] Bush and his administration were aware of what was going on. And we never knew that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his people in the two towers to face those events by themselves when they were in the most urgent need of their leader.

He was more interested in listening to the child's story about the goat rather than worry about what was happening to the towers. So, we had three times the time necessary to accomplish the events.

Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.

bin Laden was addressing the American people like any politician would. He basically is explaining that if we leave the Middle East alone, then he will not attack America. Nothing new about that, he has said similar things before. What was new was his specific references to our upcoming election saying that it doesn't matter which candidate wins, but it matters if our Middle East policy changes.

Neither Bush nor Kerry wanted this October Surprise, you could tell by the statements made by them in reaction to the tape. Neither candidate wanted to say much but knew that some kind of reaction was expected of them. Which candidate this tape might help or hurt is in question.

Certainly President Bush didn't want a big reminder for our nation that bin Laden is still alive and not caught. Bush made that promise not long after 9/11, "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive."" Yesterday bin Laden reminded America that more than three years after 9/11 Bush has not fullfilled his promise.

John Kerry probably didn't like all the references to Bush that were eerily like things out of the Michael Moore movie Fahrenheit 9/11. Kerry also probably didn't like being dismissed as our security being out of his hands even if elected, although bin Laden lumped him in with Bush.

There is no telling what the American people will think of this late interruption into our election by bin Laden. This is an October Surprise that neither candidate wanted and a surprise that probably will never be fully understood what effects it will have.

Blog In Triplicate

If you haven't noticed, my last three blogs "Election Violence" are all the same. I don't understand exactly what happened but I swear it's not my fault.

When I tried publishing the post, a publishing error resulted and stated that the post couldn't be published. So I tried again, same deal and then I tried once more, same problem. I gave up and checked my blog and there they were, the same blog three times.

Well, I didn't want the same blog in triplicate, so I went back and deleted two of them. Checking my blog, that didn't work so I deleted the remaining one and decided to wait. Well, that didn't work either. All three posts are still on my blog and I have no versions of the post to delete anymore. I guess I'm stuck with three posts of the same blog.

This gets stranger. When I published this post just a few minutes ago, the three posts disappeared. Fortunately I did have a version of the "Election Violence" post still as a draft. I posted that and it worked. So now everything is straightened out.

I wonder if was playing some type of holloween joke on me?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Election Violence

You know this is a highly divided nation approaching a wild election. The violence is starting already and it's not just yard sign stealers.

Election spat gets violent, leads to arrest
By Andrew Marra
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2004

Steven Soper liked his girlfriend, but authorities say he liked President Bush more. When his girlfriend suggested this week she wanted to vote for John Kerry, officials allege it was too much for the 18-year-old Bush supporter. A political argument prompted him to end their two-year relationship — and that was just for starters. Sheriff's officials say Soper, a Marines recruit, later became so upset that he dragged 18-year-old Stacey Silveira into his suburban Lake Worth home, beat her and held her hostage with a screwdriver.

The attack led to a standoff with a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy that ended with Soper being zapped with a Taser and arrested, endangering his chances of serving in the Marines. "He's crazy about Bush," she said. "He kept saying he was going to die in the Marines if I voted for Kerry." During a struggle inside the home, he allegedly threatened her with a jagged shard of a broken pot and later with a screwdriver. At one point, according to the report, he handed her a knife and asked her to kill him.

"He told me to just kill him because if I vote for Kerry it's just going to kill him anyway," she said. While they fought, according to officials, Soper asked her: "You want (to) live to see the election?" He was arrested on charges of aggravated battery, false imprisonment and resisting arrest without violence. He was being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bail until a mental health assessment was completed. Silveira, for her part, says she still intends to vote for Kerry.

Knight Ridder Newspapers

A man driving a silver Cadillac drove up on a sidewalk and nearly hit U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as an exercise in "political expression," authorities said Wednesday. Harris, R-Fla., was campaigning for re-election with several volunteers Tuesday evening when a car ripped through an intersection, hopped the curb and headed for Harris, a Sarasota Police Department report stated.

The car veered away from Harris at the last second, but not before witnesses got the car's license plate number. Police later arrested Barry M. Seltzer, a 46-year-old self-employed real estate investor, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was being held in the Sarasota County Jail on Wednesday without bond.

No one answered the telephone or door at Seltzer's Sarasota home. The Cadillac was still in the driveway, next to a Kerry-Edwards sign that appeared to have been vandalized. Seltzer is a registered Democrat, according to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office, but Democrats campaigning for Harris' opponent, Jan Schneider, were appalled by the incident. Schneider's campaign manager said they did not know Seltzer.

According to the arrest report, Seltzer first claimed that Harris and the volunteers were standing in the street, impeding traffic. Then, he said, he "intimidated them" with his car. "I was exercising my political expression!" Seltzer told police, according to the arrest report. "I did not run them down, I scared them a little!"

Posted on Tue, Oct. 26, 2004
Associated Press

Vandals struck GOP headquarters, hurling a chunk of concrete through a glass door and knocking down a life-sized cardboard poster of President Bush. No one was hurt. There were no arrests in the incident at Santa Cruz County's Republican headquarters, police said Monday. The vandals struck after the office closed Friday night and before workers returned Saturday morning. "Emotionally it's a blow," said Jane Armstrong of the Santa Cruz County Republican Central Committee. "I like to believe this is a free country. It's disappointing to think people are intolerant."

On Monday, the Bush campaign provided a list of more than 40 examples of vandalism or violence since July, including the burglaries that included the thefts of laptop computers, banners and cash.

In response, Democrats countered with a list of 19 incidents aimed at the campaign of Sen. John Kerry, including a bullet that was fired into a supporter's house, graffiti at campaign offices, the smashing of a mailbox bearing Kerry campaign stickers and the theft of a laptop.

Break-Ins, Shootings Mar Bush-Kerry Race
Oct. 28, 2004

Thieves smash into a political office, grab laptop computers or paper documents containing political campaign secrets, strategy or voter information — and then dash off into the night. It may sound like a plot out of a political spy thriller — but that basic scenario has been a real-world occurrence this election season at Democratic offices in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Republican office in Washington state, a voter registration organization in New Mexico and the home of a historian in California. Following are details on some of the incidents:

Oct. 12: A Kerry campaign volunteer discovers evidence of an overnight break-in at Lucas County Democratic Party offices in Toledo, Ohio. Three computers are missing, including one that belonged to a lawyer employed by the Kerry campaign to prevent voter fraud. Police later probe a suspect with a lengthy criminal record. "We think the motivation was just a criminal theft," Toledo police Capt. Ron Spann says. "We don't think it was political at all. … We don't have any reason to think that."

Oct. 6: Four windows are broken after hours at the Fairbanks, Alaska, Interior Republican campaign headquarters used by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Bush campaign, following a broken window the prior weekend, the AP reports. A Murkowski campaign official says a ball bearing was found days later, and believes a slingshot was used.

Oct. 5: Protesters storm and vandalize a Bush-Cheney office in Orlando, Fla., leaving a campaign worker with a broken arm from the resulting struggle, Fletcher says.

Oct. 5: Someone apparently fires shots through glass doors at a Knoxville, Tenn., office used by Republican Party volunteers to distribute campaign buttons, lawn signs and other election paraphernalia. The office had not yet opened for the day and nobody was injured. "It could have been politically motivated, but we don't know," Knoxville police spokesman Darrell DeBusk says. "It could have been a prank by some teenagers." 

Oct. 2: Three computers containing Republican campaign plans are taken overnight after someone throws a rock through a window at Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., police say.
Sept. 2: A gunshot shatters a window at GOP headquarters in Huntington, W.Va., as workers are gathered to watch Bush's speech during the Republican National Convention, police say.

Aug. 31: Someone shoots out a window at Centre County Democratic headquarters in State College, Pa., apparently with a slingshot, police say. Witnesses hear the glass shatter, but no gunshot, and see a white car zipping away. Police have no motive, but suggest it may not be political. "We have numerous incidents of criminal mischief with slingshots and BB guns in this town," State College police Sgt. Mark Argiro says. "You can imagine — a town with about 40,000 college students."

You have to wonder how bad it might get. Most experts believe this election is going to be razor thin in many states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. With so much memory still of the 2000 election and the ensuing battle of the lawyers in Florida, plenty of people expect a rerun this year. There is much hate of Kerry and Bush from the opposition. I suspect that the violence is going to get worse, particularily if the election is too close to call in several states.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Seven Days To Decide

One week from today is election day. Seven days from right this minute I will have already done my civic duty and voted. I always try to time my visit to my polling station in the late morning somewhere between 900am and 1100am, or in the early afternoon between 100pm and 400pm. These are the best times to avoid the lines. I like democracy to be line-free. So what and whom will I vote for?

For president I'm one of those irratating undecideds. If you've read my blog over some time you well know I won't vote for Bush. So who am I undecided about you might ask? I'm conflicted between Ralph Nader, David Cobb and John Kerry. I live in a battleground state, Michigan, so my presidential vote is somewhat crucial. Recent polls have been suggesting that Michigan is leaning Kerry, but I don't trust polls enough to believe it.

My conscience screams at me to vote for Nader or Cobb the Green Party candidate. The problem with voting for Cobb is that he has stated that battleground states should not vote for him and to vote for Kerry. So since Michigan is still close, Cobb doesn't want my vote. This is odd in my opinion. The Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates don't say vote for Bush instead of them in battleground states. I like the Green Party and the issues they stand for, but their presidential candidate doesn't want my vote.

My strongest inclination is to vote for Ralph Nader and to not be an "anybody but Bush" Kerry voter. To do this I'll need to close my eyes to the polls and just assume that Michigan will be a blue state for Kerry. It's time to tell my year 2000 story. Four years ago I had a strong aprehension about George Bush. Back then I saw how the Bush team used dirty tricks on John McCain in the South Carolina primary. They used a whisper campaign accusing McCain variously of being a hothead, having a screw loose from his time as a POW in Viet Nam, called his wife a drug addict and said he had an illegitimate black daughter (an adopted Bangladeshi). This was enough for me to vote in Michigan's Republican primary for John McCain in an attempt to stop Bush. McCain won the Michigan primary, but Bush went on to win later primaries and finally the Republican nomination.

Then came the general election. I wanted to vote for Ralph Nader because he embodied all the issues I believe in. Yet, I was just too scared of a Bush presidency, so I voted for Al Gore. Michigan ended up being a Gore state, but as we all know Bush was handed a victory by the Supreme Court. In 2000 I took two shots at voting against Bush, both times my fellow Michiganders agreed with me as McCain beat him in the primary and Gore beat him in the general election, yet Bush became president. So what happened is that I kept voting to beat Bush and in the end it didn't matter.

So here I am again facing the same situation. Vote for Kerry because he has the only legitimate chance of beating Bush or vote for the candidate that really represents my thinking, Ralph Nader. The electorial college has a small part to play in my thinking because I am in a battleground state, but if it didn't exist it would still be a close election in a popular vote. It really does come down to voting my conscience or voting to beat Bush. I have been struggling with this problem since 2000 and here it is seven days away and I'm still struggling.

If I vote for Nader and Bush wins my state and the presidency, I will never hear the end of it from Democrats. I won't have a problem defending my choice, voting ones conscience is a brave and truthful stance, but I would have a sense of sadness if Bush wins. Further I have to realize that it would be astronomical odds that Michigan will be decided by my one vote.

And I still haven't forgotten David Cobb. I endorse the Green Party for their ideals and will be voting for Greens lower on the ticket. I've seen him on C-Span in a couple of third party debates and find him to be an enthusiastic idealist thinking for his party for the future. He knows the issues well and represents the Greens as a self proclaimed safe states candidate. This was a divisive issue within the party, run a full presidential campaign or run hard only in safe states (states that are heavy red or blue) in an effort to not alienate Democrats and to not be blamed for a Bush win. There are many progressives that want to work with Democrats in the future as the Green Party grows, but there are others that see the Democrats as being sell outs and are not worth negotiating with. For now the Cobb candidacy is the current strategy. And in the long run it probably is the better idea as they can let Nader once again be blamed if Bush wins.

I've always despised the villification of Ralph Nader as the reason Bush won. It was always just a place to blame the Gore loss. There were a number of reasons Gore lost, some of them because of the poor race he ran, some because the Democrats had a lack of fight in Florida. Other reasons include dirty tricks by Republicans (Florida voting roll purges) and a poor reasoned Supreme Court ruling. As well many Nader voters were disenchanted Republicans (not just Democrats), but most were simply either new voters or previously disengaged voters. This year anyone thinking that Nader's 1% polling are from Democrats are wrong. That 1% would never vote for the type of centrist Democrat that end up running for president, this time Kerry. These are conscience voters.

So here I am, still an undecided. I'm not one of those undecideds that the media speaks of. These are the people who are just waking up and realizing there is an election upon us. Or they are attention seekers, the media is interested in them. Or they just don't understand politics or their own idealism. These are people that probably couldn't even name any of the third party candidates, they only think the choice is Bush or Kerry.

I'm an undecided that the media doesn't really consider. My conscience is screaming at me. My feelings of dread of four more years of Bush are strong. My yearnings of a strong third party in the Greens are earnest. My independent streak is ever present. Nader, Cobb or Kerry, I'm still trying to decide. But I will, time is running out.

Monday, October 25, 2004

None Of The Above?

My local conservative newspaper the Detroit News made their endorsement this weekend and they picked "none of the above." The Detroit News endorsed George Bush in 2000 and has NEVER endorsed a Democrat. I sent off a letter-to-the-editor in response and here is what I wrote.
In one sense I can admire your choice of "none of the above" as being commendable in understanding that President Bush has not lived up to conservative principles. He has made numerous mistakes and dashed conservative values such as fiscal responsibility and the protection of individual rights.

But on the other hand it seems you limited your "none of the above" to only two of the presidential candidates that are on the Michigan ballot. President Bush and John Kerry do not have a monopoly.

As the Detroit News is a conservative voice I would not expect you would consider independent Ralph Nader or Green Party candidate David Cobb. But I wonder did you examine the idea of endorsing either the Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik or Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka?

Why would you essentially recommend to voters to leave the ballot blank in the presidential slot just because you've limited your choices to just the two major parties? Maybe it's not too late for an endorsement of one of the third party candidates. Maybe it's time to think outside of the two party box.
The Detroit News editorial that revealed their thinking for not endorsing Bush is damning of the president. Consider some of their reasoning.

"Four years ago, the choice was clear. We endorsed George W. Bush based on his promises of fiscal conservatism, limited government and prudence in foreign affairs. Today, we sadly acknowledge that the president has failed to deliver on those promises."

"So we are left with a decision we detest but are nonetheless compelled to make: The Detroit News will not lend its endorsement to a candidate who has made too many mistakes, nor to one who offers a governing philosophy that we reject."

"...this president has a knack for squandering success.

With the nation and the world firmly behind his operation in Afghanistan, he turned his sights too quickly to Iraq and Saddam Hussein, his family's old nemesis. Acting on intelligence that was faulty and too eagerly interpreted by the administration to match its agenda, Bush moved against Iraq without the support of key allies.

We backed the invasion of Iraq, accepting the Bush assertion that Saddam's weapons programs presented a gathering threat to the United States. While America, the world and the Iraqi people are better off with Saddam gone, we now believe that Iraq was a fight that might have waited, or been avoided altogether. Regardless, a president who takes the nation to war has an obligation to win that war as quickly, efficiently and painlessly as possible. Bush has not done that. The management of the conflict in Iraq is abysmal. The United States went into Iraq without enough international support and brought too few of our own troops to complete the job.

In shorting the generals, in allowing political concerns to trump military strategy, in assuming too much cooperation from the Iraqi people, Bush allowed Iraq to become a hotbed of terrorism, the very condition he struck to prevent. The messy result has allowed our enemies to portray the United States as a villain, and use our role as a rallying cry for terrorists elsewhere. There were too many poor calls, including disbanding the Iraqi army, leaving the borders undefended and trusting shady Iraqi nationals, all of which combined to turn what could have been a stunning liberation into a still uncertain, nation-building morass. Iraq has stretched America's military capabilities, strained friendships and will hamstring future strikes against rogue regimes. Such bad management cannot be forgiven in a wartime president.

At home, Bush has shocked us with his free-spending ways. Non-defense, domestic spending increased more than 30 percent during his term. At the same time, the president cut taxes. Together, the two resulted in a massive federal budget deficit that could have been mitigated had Bush kept his promise of fiscal conservatism. This was a failure of leadership. The American people will accept a call to sacrifice in times of crisis. But instead of asking for sacrifice, Bush delivered excess.

He plunged the federal government even deeper into the day-to-day operations of local school districts with the ill-advised No Child Left Behind Act; he failed to veto even one of Congress' pork-laden spending bills; he pushed ahead with his own spending agenda, including a confusing and deceptively expensive prescription drug plan, without regard to the budget demands of homeland security and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On trade, he exhibited protectionist tendencies that hurt American industry.

Finally, on the matter of civil liberties, Bush has turned away from the conservative doctrine that the Constitution must be strictly observed. His Patriot Act contained many important elements to break down the walls between law enforcement agencies and allow them to respond to advancements in technology. But it also trashed personal privacy protections, suspended due process safeguards and upset the balance between the power of the government and the rights of the individual.

The president's record does not recommend him for re-election."

As a progressive I can agree not only with the lack of endorsement of Bush, but also with many of the reasons the Detroit News cited. I've long not supported the Iraq War as I never believed in the weapons of mass destruction or link to 9/11 that was peddled by the Bush Administration. The Detroit News is quite accurate in assailing Bush (once the war was started) for total mismanagement of the war.

I also agree with the free spending, fiscal irresponsibility that Bush has embarked on. The pork has been served relentlessly particularily to corporations and the rich. And the tax cuts heavily weighed for the rich haven't helped the economy at all. The rich investor class for the most part simply pocketed the extra bucks and did nothing to reinvest into business as the trickle-down theory claims they will do.

The Detroit News is absolutely correct in their assessment of the Bush attack on civil liberties. Most of the Patriot Act has been wrong and should be allowed to sunset. And as anyone who has faced the prospect of being forced into "free speech zones" when practicing the first amendment of free speech knows how low Bush regards dissent.

The Detroit News would never endorse a Democrat and I nearly agree with this as well. They regard John Kerry as too far left. Here is where I differ, I regard Kerry as a centrist on too many issues and not far enough left to satisfy me. I certainly don't understand what Kerry intends to do about Iraq and he has not openly considered a quick withdrawal.

Disagreeing with the Detroit News, I think government has roles to play. For instance it seems obvious that the free market system is not working in regards to something that should be simple yet is important to our nation, the availability of flu vaccine. I can think of other areas where the free market is failing, the airline industry to name one.

But I have to admire the Detroit News for sticking to their ideals.

The full non-endorsement...

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Running On Ugly

I've become so sick of this election season and the attacks are getting ugly. Maybe I'm just noticing it more this time around as the Internet has allowed me to see more examples of the ugliness.

For instance Tom Daschle in his senate race has been slammed by stickers of "Vote for Daschle & Vote for SODOMY." Ugly. A Republican mailing in other states claimed Democrats want to ban the bible. Total hooey.

I have received several mailings this week and I was a bit shocked at the tone against one candidate from two different mailings. One claimed that the Democrat running as my state representative "supports dangerous ideas." Fear, danger, watch out!

Another mailing against this same candidate had pictures of coke lines. Fear, danger, drug mania!

As of yet I've not received mailings with any attacks on this candidates Republican opponent. I have to wonder if maybe the Democrat is leading in the polls, although I have no information on this as this is a state representative position and no media polls this race. The polling is probably internal party polling.

I've been looking at all the political mailings I've received and all the ones for local candidates have been positive (except for the two above examples) because they are sent from proponents of the candidates or from the actual candidates.

The other exceptions are for the presidential race. BOTH campaigns are sending negative mailings. At this point in the race I absolutely don't expect any positive mailings for either Bush or Kerry. It will be attack, attack, attack from here on out. So this is how the few undecided voters are suppose to finally make up their minds, get information from all the negativity. At least this is how the two presidential campaigns believe.

Ugly politics is nothing new in America, it has been going on since the dawn of democracy. We will probably never solve this aspect until it is proved it doesn't work. And there lies the problem, it works. If you can get voters to fear your opponent, you win. But logically, if both candidates are running on ugly, then both candidates ARE ugly.

Once again we are voting for the lesser of two evils. We know this because both candidates have told us that the other side IS evil. Both sides have shown their ugly sides by using ugly politics. Running on ugly, gives us a choice between ugly and ugly. I'm so PROUD of American politics, we do ugly better than anyone else.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Which Fundementalist Is The Fool?

Pat Robertson, who is founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of its program "The 700 Club," recently made an assertion about President Bush. Interviewed on CNN Robertson talked of a meeting he had with Bush befor the Iraq War, "I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President you better prepare the American people for casualties," but Bush said, " 'Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualites.' "

The next day the White House responded to Robertson's comments. "I think he must have either misunderstood, misheard or been confused about what the conversation was because I've never heard the president say anything of the sort, and he wouldn't have," Karen Hughes, a senior Bush advisor, told reporters. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "Of course the president never made such a comment."

Robertson then issued a statement confirming his support for Bush, but he did not withdraw his comments.

So where does that leave the Christian fundementalists? Either one of their top religious leaders or their White House man of God is not telling the truth. I'd sure love to get Bush and Robertson in the same room and make them swear on a Bible their story of that meeting. Which guy would break down and change their story?

I'd put my money on Robertson. I can't imagine anyone sending troops into battle actually believing there would be no casualties. But on the other hand, Bush may have felt lying to Robertson would put him at ease.

Personally I've never believed either man was much of a true believer in Jesus. Look at the two of them, both have that greed for power and money, not an attribute Jesus would have approved of. I've always considered these two are only part of a long line of false prophets that Chistian fundementalists tend to latch onto in hopes of being led.

The religious right will discount these two rich men as being confused of this past meeting. They will go out and vote for Bush thinking he is their religious/political leader. And they will be fooled once again. It's a wonder they don't take Bush in his own scambled words, "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."

Whatever Bush was trying to say, this is what I say to the religious right, "you are getting fooled again."


Oil For Food Finger Pointing

Sometimes the conservatives are so quick to spin a story in their favor that when more facts come out their spin soon topples and stops.

Conservatives wanted to selectively use the recent Duelfer Report concerning the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to criticize the UN oil for food program. The report true enough explained that Iraq was gaming the program, but conservatives were too fast on the gun pointing the finger at Russia, France and China. Days later it was found that five American oil companies were involved as well. WHOOPS! The eerie silence now emanating from conservatives is revealing.

Chevron-Texaco, Exxon Mobil, El Paso, Valero, and the Coastal Corp. were all involved in some way (under investigation) with Iraq possibly with the oil for food program. Conservatives wouldn't want to criticize them would they? Not a chance, they contributed at least $8.4 million to Republicans since 2000, and helped underwrite conservative publications and think tanks.

The political reality is that the Duelfer Report was damning to the Bush Administration as it showed how utterly devoid of WMDs Iraq was. It showed that Iraq was absolutely not an immediate threat to the United States or any other country for that matter. So conservatives had to find something else in the report to spin something positive for themselves. Too quick to spin about the gaming of the oil for food program, they missed the part about American oil companies. Instead of waiting for the several investigations into that program to be completed, conservatives jumped the gun.

We will know more when the investigations are completed. But for now it looks as if the conservatives pointed fingers and those fingers are now pointed back at them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A 9/11 Report Due, You'll Have To Wait Until AFTER The Election

This is the entire article from the Los Angeles Times about a CIA report about 9/11 that is being delayed until after the election.

Robert Sherr, LATimes

It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter 14 days ago asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report," she said. "We are very concerned."

According to the intelligence official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, release of the report, which represents an exhaustive 17-month investigation by an 11-member team within the agency, has been "stalled." First by acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and now by Porter J. Goss, the former Republican House member (and chairman of the Intelligence Committee) who recently was appointed CIA chief by President Bush.

The official stressed that the report was more blunt and more specific than the earlier bipartisan reports produced by the Bush-appointed Sept. 11 commission and Congress.

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."

By law, the only legitimate reason the CIA director has for holding back such a report is national security. Yet neither Goss nor McLaughlin has invoked national security as an explanation for not delivering the report to Congress.

"It surely does not involve issues of national security," said the intelligence official.

"The agency directorate is basically sitting on the report until after the election," the official continued. "No previous director of CIA has ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress."

None of this should surprise us given the Bush administration's great determination since 9/11 to resist any serious investigation into how the security of this nation was so easily breached. In Bush's much ballyhooed war on terror, ignorance has been bliss.

The president fought against the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, for example, agreeing only after enormous political pressure was applied by a grass-roots movement led by the families of those slain.

And then Bush refused to testify to the commission under oath, or on the record. Instead he deigned only to chat with the commission members, with Vice President Dick Cheney present, in a White House meeting in which commission members were not allowed to take notes. All in all, strange behavior for a man who seeks reelection to the top office in the land based on his handling of the so-called war on terror.

In September, the New York Times reported that several family members met with Goss privately to demand the release of the CIA inspector general's report. "Three thousand people were killed on 9/11, and no one has been held accountable," 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser told the paper.

The failure to furnish the report to Congress, said Harman, "fuels the perception that no one is being held accountable. It is unacceptable that we don't have [the report]; it not only disrespects Congress but it disrespects the American people."

The stonewalling by the Bush administration and the failure of Congress to gain release of the report have, said the intelligence source, "led the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with impunity. Unless the public demands an accounting, the administration and CIA's leadership will have won and the nation will have lost."

I find it telling that the two members requesting the report be delivered are divided politically but acting bipartisan. Yet it appears that the administration is acting partisan. And to put this in perspective, it is now more than THREE YEARS since 9/11, the report has no business being delayed even one more day. The family and friends of the victims of 9/11 are from all political parties, they are interested in more information and they are the ones that need to be placated. Further the American taxpayer has funded this report, we have a right to read what we payed for.

Bush Gets An Endorsement, From IRAN!

President Bush just got an endorsement from a place he doesn't want, the country of Iran. This would go against what they have been saying in campaigning in the last months, that terrorists want John Kerry. So the Axis of Evil country of Iran who have sponsored terrorists for years and had some involvement in training some of the highjackers from 9/11 (according to the 9/11 Commission Report) are pulling for Bush.

From the article Iran explained some of their reasons.

"Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans," said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body. "We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television.

Rowhani explained, "We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton. And we should not forget that during Bush's era---despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran---he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Iranian political analyst Mohsen Mofidi said "Democrats usually insist on human rights and they will have more excuses to pressure Iran."

We do know from history that the Reagan Administration traded arms for hostages with Iran, but later when Iran and Iraq were at war arms were supplied to both sides. After the war Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand, to develop a better relationship with Iraq. Iran and Iraq have been bitter enemies so turning Iraq into chaos helped Iran.

We can drag Halliburton into this. During Dick Cheney's time as CEO of Halliburton, they had been caught trading with Iran and Libya two countries that by law were not to be traded with. Halliburton had violated trading with the enemy law. So maybe Iran sees Dick Cheney the Vice President as an ally.

When Cheney and Bush during campaigns had suggested that terrorists would favor Kerry, I thought what a bunch of hooey. Terrorists probably don't care who our president is. But wait, Iran, a terrorist state, wants Bush. Can we expect North Korea to endorse Bush next?

You can bet Bush didn't want the public endorsement of Iran. "It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting anytime soon," Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said. "Iran should stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons and if they continue in the direction they are going, then we will have to look at what additional action may need to be taken including looking to the U.N. Security Council."

But as Hasan Rowhani said, "...despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran---he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran." So Scott Stanzel is probably only offering empty rhetoric.

It all seems so humorous. I can just imagine Bush/Cheney lawn signs going up all over Iran.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Coalition Of The Really Missing

In an earlier post I made on 10/8/04 called Coalition Of The Missing, I noted how I couldn't link to the White House coalition list of countries.

I came across another blogger who had the same questions and has now answered the question. The White House scrubbed the list and the link to that list. Bradblog had wondered the same question I did, whether the Iraqi Security Forces were on the list as Dick Cheney had claimed in the vice presidential debate.

So apparently the White House answered the question by eliminating the list. No surprise as the list keeps shrinking, they should now be calling it the Coalition Of The Dwindling. Poland has recently suggested that all of their troops will be gone some time next year and Britain has reduced its troop levels. At least six countries from the original list have pulled out of Iraq, but many on that original list had sent no troops in the first place as they didn't even have a military.

Bradblog link...

Bits And Pieces

The Sinclair Broadcasting Group Washington Bureau Chief was fired today for saying that he didn't think that they should be airing the anti-Kerry documentary. He said that he was trying to be a neutral voice reasoning that not airing the piece was staying out of the political battlefield. Sinclair still is not willing to allow equal airtime to an opposing viewpoint.

I just saw the DVD version of Fehrenheit 9/11 and came away with the same feeling I had when I saw it in the theatre. Sinclair has been offered Fehrenheit 9/11 for free and turned it down. Imagine the large audience that film would provide for Sinclair advertisers, yet they turn it down. It is quite clear how biased Sinclair is politically. They could run both pieces thereby giving some sense of balance, yet Sinclair refuses.

The DVD version of Fehrenheit 9/11 has a bunch of extras that add to the information. I was impressed with a piece about American-Arab comedians and the things they point out with that touch of humor.

Well now we have nine NASCAR drivers touring the midwest in support of Bush. So where is the complaints from the right about celebrity endorsements? The right will nag about actors or musicians/singers supporting Kerry, silence when endorsements are for their dude. But note that the left is not critizing the NASCAR driver endorsements, but maybe that is because the left understands individual rights of free speech. Conservatives understand the right of free speech, but view it as their right only. NASCAR drivers, free speech good. Actors, free speech bad. Maybe having a fellow race driver slam their car into the wall to then flip several times and end up burning somehow makes them more intelligent, in the eyes of conservatives.

And finally a Republican caught stealing yard signs gets his just reward...

For sign pilferer, politicians aren't only ones falling flat on their face.
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News
October 19, 2004

A Lakewood Republican stealing campaign signs late one night got nabbed when he ran across a low- hanging driveway chain, fell face first onto a pilfered sign and the concrete and knocked himself unconscious. Randal Wagner, 50, was loaded into an ambulance, treated at Lutheran Medical Center for abrasions and facial cuts and issued a summons.

Wagner, who unsuccessfully tried to steal a "Dave Thomas" congressional sign that evening, had signs for other Democratic candidates in his Toyota pickup, Wheat Ridge police reported.

"I did a very stupid thing," Wagner said Monday, admitting theft of the signs. "I got caught up in the political passions of this highly contested election." Wagner said that he and his wife, Jan, who was driving their pickup that night, "want to apologize to the people" they have offended. "Everybody has a right to express their political opinions," Randal Wagner said. Jan Wagner, who was not cited, said she did not want to discuss what happened. She also is a Republican.

The incident with the Wagners comes at a time when a record number of Democrats and Republicans are complaining that their signs are disappearing or being vandalized. Wheat Ridge resident Pete Klammer, whose 911 call last Wednesday eventually led police to the Wagners, said his frustration is that people mistakenly believe only their party is the victim. He said a Republican neighbor who lost two yard signs insisted, "It's not happening to Democrats."

Klammer said that late last Wednesday, shortly after the last presidential debate had ended, his wife heard a noise outside. Klammer said when he walked outside with his cell phone, he saw a pickup parked at the curb and someone using a box-cutter to try to take the "Dave Thomas" sign he had bolted to his fence, clearly on his property. Thomas is the Democratic candidate in the 7th District. Klammer said an earlier Thomas sign had been vandalized.

Klammer said he and the stranger tussled over the sign. As Klammer relayed the plate number on the pickup to police, he said the man hopped into the passenger side and the pickup fled west on West 32nd Avenue past Simms Street. Police said the pickup was registered to Jan and Randal Wagner, but they were not home.

Later that night, the officer heard Jan Wagner's name on the police radio and investigated. It turns out that other officers had discovered a man, identified as Randal Wagner, down in front of an office building at West 42nd and Kipling streets. Police said Randal Wagner had been stealing a campaign sign that promotes the Jefferson County school district's tax and bond election when he fell and hurt himself.

Police said Jan Wagner was parked across the street and had about two dozen campaign signs in the pickup. They include signs for U.S. Senate candidate Ken Salazar and district attorney candidate Mary Malatesta. "Jan said she and her husband have never done anything like this (taking signs) before," according to the police report.

What a laugh! Jan Wagner claims they had never done it before, yeah right. And notice how much they all of a sudden believed that everyone has a right to express political opinions AFTER they got caught. The police should have made them go around and put all those signs in their pick-up truck back where they stole them from and directly apologize to the owners of those properties. They apologize through the media, but not face to face with the people that owned the property they trespassed on.

In the big scheme of things is sign stealing some big crime? Not really, but these stories need big media attention to show the stupidity of the crime, how silly and adolescent the perpetrators are. Randall (50 years old) and Jan Wagner still haven't grown up. I wonder if they have kids that will see their behavior.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Boycott Sinclair

In a previous post (The Ugly Remaining Days) I had briefly mentioned the media corporation Sinclair Broadcasting Group that is forcing all its affiliates to air a negative documentary about John Kerry just prior to the election. Well, it turns out that this had got quite a few people hot under the collar.

There is a boycott rising up of advertisers on the Sinclair television stations and it is already having an effect as several advertisers have pulled their commercials. This has caused Wall Street to downgrade Sinclair stock and it has dropped costing Sinclair millions already.

You have to understand how right wing Sinclair is. They make campaign contributions and 97% of those are to Republicans. Sinclair has a vested interest in trying to get more media consolidation allowed by Congress and the FCC.

"Its presence in 39 markets accounts for 24 percent of the national TV audience. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sinclair owns or operates two stations, called "duopolies," in more markets (20) than any other media company in the country. The company, which reported 2003 revenues of $738 million, also owns or operates more television stations (62) than any media company."

This was the same media corporation that refused to broadcast Nightline when the show read the names of Amricans who had died in Iraq. Sinclair called it partisan politics, but somehow does't seem to think it is partisan to force the broadcast of the Kerry so-called documentary.

Sinclair is a good example of the problems of media consolidation. By owning so many local TV outlets they have the ability to order programming that the local outlet may not even want to broadcast. Local control is upsurped by the corporate behemoth.

The full story...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Gay Marraige Ban In My State

We've seen the issue of banning gay marraige sweep the country this past year and many states having votes to try to ban it. My state of Michigan is one of those states. We have it on the November 2nd ballot as Proposal 2, to define marraige as between a man and a woman that would become part of the state constitution.

I checked the recommendation of my local two paper newspaper, the Detroit News/Free Press which operates with a joint operation agreement with purposely seperated editorial boards.

I had expected that the two editorial boards would differ on their recommended vote about Proposal 2, but I was wrong. They both recommended voting NO on the proposal, with some differing reasons. More than likely though, voters will be guided by scare tactic advertising or emotions provoked by fear mongering homophobics.
Here are some of the comments from the two editorials.

Detroit Free Press;
The object is to ban marriage for gays and lesbians, already illegal under Michigan law that supporters of Proposal 2 fear will be overturned by the courts, as happened in Massachusetts. Members of Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, which collected the signatures that put Proposal 2 on the Nov. 2 ballot, take umbrage at accusations of bigotry. They argue that celebrating traditional marriage should not be taken to mean they're anti-something else. Whether it's naivete or ill will, they fail to acknowledge that the proposal is exclusionary in its decree that marriage is strictly for heterosexuals. Proposal 2 supporters also say it's about children -- families are healthier when one man and one woman raise their offspring. But families are healthiest when headed by two adults committed to one another. As many adoptive parents also have proved, biology can't claim the franchise on good child-rearing.

But benefits such as health care -- for spouses, partners and children -- tend to be doled out through jobs. Denying benefits to the households of gay employees means public systems will have to pick up those costs. A government stamp of approval makes it harder to walk away from a union, so if the real interest is in keeping families together, gay marriages would help. In a turbulent world, it's tempting to cling to tradition. But tradition is full of practices America long since shunned as discriminatory. The constitutional amendment blocks any possibility that gay couples might get the recognition to which they are entitled. Michigan should not ban gay marriage. Vote NO on Proposal 2.

Detroit News;
Opponents of same-sex marriages see them as a threat to traditional unions and an affront to the moral and religious values of many citizens. They are offering Proposal 2 on the ballot, which says “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as marriage or similar union any purpose.” Those fighting the amendment say its language is so restrictive it would also ban homosexual civil unions, a legal arrangement a half-step down from marriage contracts and which has greater public support.

Michigan already has a state law banning same-sex marriages. Amendment backers fear that a court could overturn the law and, as the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court did, order state recognition of gay marriages. This is not an issue that should be decided by the courts. But neither is it one that should be permanently settled by a constitutional amendment.

Public attitudes toward homosexuals and gay marriage are shifting, as are moral values in general. What was not acceptable 20 years ago is regarded as perfectly OK today. Locking into the Constitution a permanent ban against same-sex marriage ignores the changing nature of attitudes about relationships. This is a matter the Legislature should continue to handle. A law is far easier to change, if necessary, than a constitutional amendment. Michigan voters should be content at this time to let its current law banning same-sex marriage stand and vote NO on Proposal 2.

I also recommend voting NO on Proposal 2, both editorials give my differing reasons. My main concern is that it seems more like constitutionalizing homophobia. Just as denying African Americans the right to vote was racist and not allowing woman equal rights was sexists, this proposal is motivated by hate.

Unfortunately I'm guessing that Michigan is going to pass this proposal and if that happens I will have a sense of shame about a majority of my states population.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Ugly Remaining Days

It is down to the last 17 days of the election campaign. For many in this country it has seemed like this has been going on for years. I guess we could say that it has. George Bush has essentially been campaigning since he was crowned king by the Supreme Court. First term presidents always try to conduct business with an eye on the next election. And the Democrats had begun to look to this day since the votes were ordered not to be counted in Florida back in 2000.

This race is tighter than a steel drum. The remaining battleground states will be the focus of both candidates with utmost intensity. The party polling combined with tracking polls will help determine which states will be inundated with visits from the candidates as well as round the clock advertising.

By now if you haven't seen Kerry or Bush come to your state in a few weeks, if at all, you know your state has already made up its mind. If your state has been relatively advertisement free of the faces of George and John, your state is true blue or rabid red.

On the other hand if you live in Florida or Ohio, you can bet your life savings on nearly daily visits from the two candidates. The perception by the two parties are that these two states will be the key to winning the election. There are other toss-up states, such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, Michigan, Nevada and a few others, and surely the candidates and their ads will appear between now and election day. But Florida and Ohio might as well plan for the deluge.

The political ads are going to get vicious, with charges of lies and complete deceptions of the other candidates words and deeds. If you still haven't made up your mind by now (and I have to wonder what are you waiting for?) don't bother judging the candidates by the political ads, they will be distortions from both sides with very little truth to be derived out of any of the 30 seconds of smear artistry.

The last days of stump speeches in campaign rallies will be written and spoken with only one audience in mind, TV. The whole idea is to find the most fiery attack on the other candidate that will fit in nicely as a news sound bite. These sound bites are aimed mostly for the local state television they are stumping in and for the cable news channels that will allow viewers from the other battleground states to hear them as well. These stump speeches are going to get almost as ugly as the political ads.

And finally we can probably expect the "October Surprise," that penchant for some unexpected event or newly discovered information to reveal itself in these final days to possible throw the election to one of the candidates. There has been the long rumor that Osama bin Laden will suddenly be captured, in fact there is a website called Osama bin Lotto, where you can bet on which day it will happen. The expected surprise is most likely to come from the Bush team, afterall they have the power of the White House and the government to work any October magic.

There is already a conservative (97% of their campaign contributions went to Republicans this year) television broadcast company called Sinclair that has announced they have ordered the airing of a very critical "documentary" about Kerry on their chain of networks in the days before the election. They have as well denied equal access to Kerry and the FCC run by Colin Powell's son Michael has refused to get involved. I call that October Not Such a Surprise Number One.

Oh, yes, this is going to get ugly. I'm thinking of getting some body armor so that I feel safe when I go vote. I certainly would not be surprised to see the announcement of code red on the terrorist alert warning. I expect that we will be thrown some piece of fear to worry about. Have your duct tape and bottled water ready, who knows what's going to happen.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Right Wing Garbage Report

A couple of observations about the garbage that the right wing will give us, and we are suppose to stupidly not question it.

No matter about what you think about the lawsuit against Bill O'Reilly (which was actually filed after O'Reilly filed his) from FoxNews, his statement about it is GARBAGE. I will explain.

O'Reilly has claimed that the charges of sexual harrassment are "politically motivated." Yet O'Reilly has repeatedly said that he has not endorsed either candidate George Bush or John Kerry, claiming that he has not made up his mind and portraying himself as neutral. So where is the political motivation for the charge against him? Either O'Reilly is admitting that he is indeed a backer of one political party or candidate over another or he is just throwing out "politically motivated" as an unsubstantiated attack. We the viewers are suppose to believe his garbage, don't questions it.

I accidently caught the post debate "analysis" from FoxNews that followed the third presidential debate. Right wing monopolizing garbage.

It is quite easy to see that all four of the talking heads regaling the viewers with their "expertise" had no interest in giving John Kerry any credit for his debate performance. Just look at their pedigree. Fred Barnes is executive editor for the Weekly Standard a far right wing low circulation magazine. FoxNews regular Bill Kristol is a long time contributer and currently an editor to the Weekly Standard. Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke tries to give an image of being a neutral voice, yet constantly harped on Kerry's performance. And finally Brit Hume who as the host is supposed to give no opinion, strongly suggested Bush won the debate.

Where in that gang of four were ANY representatives of the left? Two of the four are arch conservatives, far right wing mouthpieces. To be "fair and balanced" two voices should have been arch liberals, far left wing progressives, to balance out Barnes and Kristol. Hume as a host is suppose to be opinionless. So that left Kondrake who might at best be described as a centrist, but sure sounded like a conservative when I was listening.

No surprise that they had a consensus about who won the debate, they all thought it was George Bush. Yet, as they were pontificating and wallowing in right wing religion, all the snap polls were showing John Kerry won.

But this is what FoxNews does, propaganda. Stack the panels with right wingers and declare victory.

It is more than shameless. It is so transparent and obvious what they are doing. When I see the day that two of their panelists are writers or editors from the Nation magazine (a left wing publication that out sells the Weekly Standard) I might actually believe they are trying to be "fair and balanced." But I know that day will NEVER arrive at FoxNews.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Last Debate

The debate season is officially over and how soon it did arrive and leave. Three up, three down, game over.

Who won? Well, I would estimate it was John Kerry and most snap polls would agree with me. But if I had my way, the debate would have ended less than three minutes into the debate. In the first question exchange John Kerry ended with a quote by George Bush,

SCHIEFFER: Anything to add, Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden? " He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned. "

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Gosh! George Bush lied. The President had this to say on 3/13/02 "So I don't know where he is. Nor - you know, I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you. I...I truly am not that concerned about him."

When I heard Bush makes his claim, I knew right away, LIE! I knew this because it is a well known Bushism on the web, or Internets as Bush thinks it's called. It is included as a flip flop among the many Bush flip flops as we all remember how tough he initially spoke of bin Laden, 9/17/01 "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'"

He went from "dead or alive" to "not that concerned about him" in about six months.

So as to last nights debate, I would have ended the dabate right there. A proven lie. At the least, send Bush to the penalty box and let Kerry continue on without him. By allowing Bush to lie so early, to me it set a tone that lies are not something to care about. To me it makes any lies made by Kerry subsequently, perfectly OK. Moderators should be obligated to point out disinformation at the point it happens. It wouldn't have been much for Bob Schieffer to explain to the audience that yes indeed Bush had been quoted at a press conference and that there is video to prove it that Bush had expressed his lack of concern about bin Laden.

By having moderators (assisted off camera by fact checkers) interject the truth at the point of misinformation, that would set the tone for candidates to watch what they say. It would also push candidates to vet any information they plan to use during the debate prior to the event.

It's not worth parsing all the misstatements made during the debate. Once again I feel the viewers were the losers with yet another poorly done debate. At this point it really doesn't matter what lies were told because once the statement is made to a large viewership, the only way to actually correct it after the fact is to make all those same viewers see the truth, and that can't be done. Once one of the candidates tells a fib, then the tone of fibbing becomes the norm of acceptability.

All I can hope is that Americans learn from these poor debates and insist on better discourse four years from now. Throw out the monopoly Commision on Public Debates (CPD) and replace it with the Citizens Debate Commission a non-partisan group.

Last debate transcript...

Voter Fraud

Yesterday I posted an article about voter fraud in Nevada and Oregon by a voter registration group called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes. They are alleged to have both torn up voter applications of Democrats and not even signing up anyone who said they were Democrats.

This story has hit the cable news channels today and both of those states are now investigating the group. As well a third state may be involved, West Virginia.

It seems that these states need to make it well known to everyone in the state that the possibility of their registrations never occurred. These states may have to make some large efforts to provide a second chance for these voters.

These kind of things really make me upset. It goes to the heart of our democracy, and the fact that we claim to the world how great we are and then prove that we are not so great. We want to claim we are for freedom, yet we have problems like voter fraud that denies our most basic freedom, freedom of speech in the simple act of voting.

Until we can claim something more akin to perfection in our voting system, politicians like George Bush should shut their big mouth about pushing "freedom" and "democracy" around the world. Note that this story is one among many voter frauds as we approach the 2004 presidential election. Also note the dead silence from Bush about these problems. As president he should be vocally opposing these frauds and making it well known that these actions will not ever be tolerated in the supposed home of the free.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nevada Voter Fraud

It turns out that a private get out the vote company may be guilty of fraud in the state of Nevada. It seems their interest was in only registering Republicans and that people who registered to vote with the company that declared they were Democrats had their registration torn up. Those registrations of course did not make it to the election department thus leaving some voters believing they will be ready to vote on election day and will be instead be told that they are not registered.

The KLASTV had obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas and Reno for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations. Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

After doing their dirty work in Nevada, Voters Outreach left the state and headed to Oregon to do the same dirty work.

This should be a crime with huge penalties, jail time, and this should include any large funders of this organization. The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. This type of voter fraud must be stopped. Certainly organizations like this should probably be made illegal and some simple ways of registering voters without political party bias should be created. If not then these organizations need to be giving receipts to those that sign up as a proof of registration for the voter.

Now, I'm not going to say that this might not happen in the opposite political wind. A Democratic Party get out the vote organization may be doing similar frauds. It is not beyond the possibility. And what of voters that register as alternate political parties such as Libertarian or Green, are their registrations being tossed as well?

These types of voter frauds perpetrated on voters is a part of the reason so many Americans are so cynical about elections.
A person believes they are doing what they are supposed to do, register to vote and then come election day they will be told they are not registered. Most of those people won't fight it, thinking it was themselves that made the mistake or chalk it up to "you can't fight city hall." Certainly these people will be given another reason to feel that elections are a waste of time.

In the days that follow election day, you can bet that in many states across America we will be hearing all sorts of cases like this. I think it is time for the burden of proof be on the states. They need to prove they run clean elections. Anyone caught denying a vote because of partisan politics should be thrown in jail.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Blog The Freeway

Some days I seem to have too much to say. Some days I can't decide what is more important between a few ideas. Sometimes I just don't feel like blogging for various reasons (lately I've been under the weather). And occasionally I just don't want to put fingers to keyboard.

Today, I just want to inform about a website.

If you have had an urge to advertise your political sentiments but don't have the money to buy expensive billboard space, there is always "do it yourself." I'm not speaking of graffiti which is a problem to remove, just grab yourself some cardboard, write on it in very large letters the sentiment you wish to convey and then find a place along the freeway where it might be seen for a few hours or so before someone finally removes it.

Bear in mind it might not be quite legal, but in the big picture of breaking laws it probably is less of a crime than how many of the drivers speeding along on the freeway break laws.

The website "freeway blogger" can give you advice on how to post your freeway message. Try it out...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Afghan Elections, Reminds Me Of America

All 15 opposition candidates to interim President Hamid Karzai declared Afghanistans first democratic election a fraud and refused to recognize the results. And this was before the polls closed.

It turns out there were a few problems mostly having to do with with people voting more than once. Kind of the opposite of our elections where people are denied the ability to vote even once or to have their one vote counted. Although there has been the charge that some voters in New York and Florida had been able to vote in both states back in 2000.

I guess it just goes with the territory with a representative democracy, if there is a free election there will be a free-for-all at the polls.

So what might happen in Afghanistan? My guess is that they will have to have another election, otherwise Karzai will be considered illegitimate by many in the country. Oops, again like the United States as many still believe George Bush was not legitimately elected as president. Of course the difference in Afghanistan is that at least one candidate is a regional warlord.

From the article I link, "If the election is questioned or even annulled—the least likely outcome—then many Afghan voters will feel disenfranchised. If the election results stand then a candidate like Qanooni, who represents the powerful Tajik ethnic minority group, could demand a high price for his political cooperation, thus undermining the election results. Either way, the election that was supposed to have brought Afghans together may end up dividing them further."

Again it sounds like America, where did I hear that "I'm a uniter not a divider" slogan? Oh, yeah, George Bush in 2000. And four years later I see a very divided country.

Afghan story...

Debate Supreme Court Ramblings

George Bush on a question about picking a Supreme Court judge.
GIBSON: Mr. President, the next question is for you, and it comes from Jonathan Michaelson, over here.

MICHAELSON: Mr. President, if there were a vacancy in the Supreme Court and you had the opportunity to fill that position today, who would you choose and why?

BUSH: I'm not telling. (LAUGHTER) I really don't have -- haven't picked anybody yet. Plus, I want them all voting for me. (LAUGHTER) I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. I would pick somebody who would strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

Let me give you a couple of examples, I guess, of the kind of person I wouldn't pick.

I wouldn't pick a judge who said that the Pledge of Allegiance couldn't be said in a school because it had the words "under God" in it. I think that's an example of a judge allowing personal opinion to enter into the decision-making process as opposed to a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

Another example would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges, years ago, said that the Constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights.

That's a personal opinion. That's not what the Constitution says. The Constitution of the United States says we're all -- you know, it doesn't say that. It doesn't speak to the equality of America.

And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. We've got plenty of lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Legislators make law; judges interpret the Constitution.

And I suspect one of us will have a pick at the end of next year -- the next four years. And that's the kind of judge I'm going to put on there. No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution.

This goes to show you how much Bush does not understand the evolution of law in our country's history based on the Constitution. I could speak volumns on his simplistic ideas about the Constitution, but I'm going to focus on his desire for "a strict interpretation of the Constitution" on just one small part of the Constitution and why Bush actually does not believe in the strict interpretation ideal.

The Second Amendment reads, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Whenever you hear Republicans and the NRA defend the right to bear arms based on the Second Amendment note that they never quote the first half of the amendment. They like to claim that bearing arms is for the protection of yourself or your property, to defend ones self. Where does it say that in the Second Amendment?

Take a minute, read it over carefully and find what reason is given to enable people to keep and bear arms. It is the first half of the amendment. It requires a well regulated Militia for the purpose of the security of a free State. Nothing about protecting or defending yourself, you are to allowed arms for the defense and protection of a free State.

The Supreme Court over these many years agrees with that. They have always allowed states to regulate the arms of its citizens based on the Second Amendment. The courts have recognized these key words, "well regulated," "militia" and "free State." They allow for any state to well regulate a militia for their own security.

They also understand why the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution. Early in our nations history the fear of repression from a central authority, the federal government, based on being newly freed from the repression of King George of England. The several Supreme Court decisions have always seen this connection.

In United States v. Miller (1939), the United States Supreme Court held that the "obvious purpose" of the Amendment was "to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness" of state militias. The Court added: "It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view." Miller made it clear that there must be some connection between arms bearing and the "well regulated Militia" to trigger constitutional protection.

The Supreme Court has indeed followed a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment. But George Bush and his NRA buddies reject this strict interpretation, they want a mythological or opinion driven interpretation that allows individuals to own arms to defend themselves.

Bush claimed in the debate "And so, I would pick people that would be strict constructionists." But that would be a lie when it comes to his desires about the Second Amendment, or he is lieing to the NRA, either way it's a lie. Another possibility is that George Bush simply doesn't understand the Constitution, the history of constitutional law and Supreme Court rulings. I believe it is a combination of his misunderstanding and a lie to the American people about the Second Amendment. For the Second Amendment he desires those evil activist judges he always rails about to reinterpret the amendment to exclude the first half of the amendement and to see in it a new "obvious purpose," to defend ones self.

Bush Is Caught In The Internets

Last nights debate President Bush offered up another Bushism, his penchant for fumbling his words. To me it was revealing and when I heard him utter it I was struck with the thought that he doesn't know the subject. Here it was from the transcript,
GIBSON: We're going to move on, Mr. President, with a question for you. And it comes from Daniel Farley. Mr. Farley?

FARLEY: Mr. President, since we continue to police the world, how do you intend to maintain our military presence without reinstituting a draft?

BUSH: Yes, that's a great question. Thanks.

I hear there's rumors on the Internets (sic) that we're going to have a draft. We're not going to have a draft, period....
Internets? Only someone not familar with the Internet would pluralize it. Think abut it. When you talk to anyone about going online and you verbally refer to it, do you ever pluralize the word Internet? Have you ever accidently thrown an ess on to the word? Not likely once you learned the word. Many of us refer to it in the shortened version, "the net." Even then we don't pluralize it to "the nets."

This reminds me of Bush's father back in 1992 who was unfamiliar with scanners at the grocery store checkout line. All of us common people had experienced scanners for years, but Bush's father was dumbfounded by the technology.

I have to think Bush must avoid the Internet and be ignorant of the technology. Once again all of us commoners are aware of an increasingly everyday part of our lives and Bush just tipped us off that he isn't.

This doesn't really surprise me. He has spoken openly of not liking to read. The Internet is all about reading. I find this very disquieting. In the age of the Internet and the need for reading skills, our leader doesn't like to read and thinks we live in the age of the Internets. Further, what kind of an example can he really offer school kids? He can listen along to an elementary book like My Pet Goat, but would he be in the dark when those same students showed Bush their Internet knowledge?

And you know that any kids watching the debate must have sat up and snickered at Bush saying Internets. A ten year old might not know much about the boring subjects of economics or taxes, but they instantly understood they knew more than our president about the Internet.

I can't imagine George Bush does much swimming on the Internets, checking out spiderwebsites, talking rooms and certainly not my webtimber.

Debate Depression

I watched last nights presidential debate and once again found myself feeling ripped off. I have once again felt that the American people are given too few choices, or rather just two choices. In the supposed land of plenty we have a lack of plenty of presidential candidates.

A recent Zogby poll of likely voters revealed that 57% want to see "other candidates" included in the presidential debates. Americans approve of more candidates and can't get what a majority would like. And we call this democracy?

There are several candidates who have worked hard to get qualified on enough state ballots and theoretically could collect enough electoral college votes to win the presidency. The two major parties and their candidates of course are given a free pass into the debates, no surprise as the two parties control the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).

The other candidates who are on enough state ballots and were absolutely not invited to the debates were, independent Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate David Cobb, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka and Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik.

Two of these candidates were in St. Louis and tried to enter the debates by passing through police barricades and were arrrested. Cobb and Badnarik proved that democracy is a joke in our country, reminding us of 2000 when Nader was physically denied access to a debate. These candidates represent the majority in our country, the 57% that want more candidates in these debates. The two party controlled CPD and the police that protect their monopoly represent the minority.

Go to any of these candidates websites and you will see that they offer many differences that are not given a chance to be heard. Approximately 50% of the country now thinks that the war in Iraq is a mistake. John Kerry of the two major candidates may be saying that it is a mistake but he has really only offered a solution of continuing the war. Several of the uninvited candidates offer withdrawal as their viewpoint.

Did we hear one word about poverty in America in last nights debate? No. We heard alot about the rich and the middle class, but not the poor. Did we hear about corporate crime? No. Did we hear about election fraud and voter disenfranchisement? No.

Consider some of the latest news stories left unspoken in the debate. The lack of available flu shots for Americans for this coming season. The continuing saga of corruption at Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac. In recent weeks there have been two stories about aborted plans of school shootings. The case of the prescription drug Vioxx allowed on the market despite studies that showed increases in heart attacks and cardiac deaths. Record highs in oil prices. The possible jailing of reporters in the Valerie Plame investigation. Alledged faked inspections at NASA. Some of these stories are life and death matters to Americans right here at home.

Not only do we get only two choices of candidates and their opinions which in plenty of cases were much more similar than the two candidates make it appear, but we get limited subjects to debate about. Reading over the other candidates websites you can bet that they would offer other ideas and other subjects as well. You hear the expression "the marketplace of ideas" all the time. In our political election system that marketplace is nearly devoid of ideas.

Americans don't have to sit back and stand for only two choices of candidates. We can reject them and vote for the other candidates to prove we don't all believe in the monopoly political system. If you are left minded there is Nader or Cobb and if you are right leaning there is Badnarik or Peroutka. As well these candidates can offer cross appeal on certain issues, many of their viewpoints are actually wanted by the majority of Americans but those views are not even discussed by the two major parties.

I ask people to search your souls. Have you really investigated ALL the candidates running for president? Do you really believe our democracy is being served when we only see two candidates? Do you really feel liberated being told to vote for one of two people? Do you ever expect that this will change if each of us individually continue to vote they way we are told to vote?

The more votes these other candidates receive the more likely that someday in the future that they (or their party) may get that debate opportunity. They won't win this years election, but the idea is that we lose the battle but eventually win the war for democracy. This is free speech, the right to assemble, open democracy, this is our most basic right in the free country we should always be fighting for. This is a fight without weapons but with something easy, a vote.

Just as much as the voter issues of the right to vote and that our votes will be counted, we have the flip side for candidates, the right to ballot access and the right to be a part of the democratic process in public debates.

So who won last nights debate? Isn't that the question we are told to answer by the media? The true answer is that the American people lost. Certainly at least 57% felt that the other candidates should have been there. We know that two of them were arrested for trying to attend. We are worried about democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan? We have democracy worries right here at home.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Coalition Of The Missing?

I have been having trouble finding an updated list of the "coalition of the willing" on the White House website. I had been wondering if Costa Rica had been placated and had their name removed from the list. I am also curious if the list included the Iraqi security forces as Dick Cheney included them on the list in the vice presidential debates.

The only list I've been able to find is one from March 2003 (the link).

I did find a reference to a list at the website which was this address,

At this site there is a link entitled "Who are the Coalition members?" but when I opt for that link it comes up as an error page.

"The file you have attempted to access cannot be found. Please check the URL you entered to make sure there were no typing or copy-and-paste errors. You may also use our search facility to help you find the file you are looking for."

Clicking their link apparently is my mistake?

I had found a reference to the list including the web address in a Washington Times article (which remarked the list was dated Feb. 2004) and was given the same error message.

I'm getting a little suspicious. Has the White House decided the coalition list is not good for publicity anymore? I wonder with the last two debates having references to the coalition whether the White House was getting alot of hits and in turn embarrassment at an inaccurate list. I wonder whether Costa Rica caused them to attempt to update the list, but they don't even know who are still members of the coalition.

If anyone knows of an official White House coalition list updated in recent months, please let me know what the URL is.

March 2003 coalition of the willing list (with countries that have since pulled out of the coalition)...

Tort Reform, A Frivolous Campaign Issue

Whenever I hear the Bush Boys and Republicans complain about frivolous lawsuits and the need for tort reform I just shake my head at the propaganda and realize that if they lie long enough and often enough someday people will believe it. The facts do not back them up.

It is not individuals suing corporations that file the most lawsuits or have the most cases declared frivilous, it is corporations that bring lawsuits that lead those categories, by far.

Corporations have higher rates of judge declared frivolous lawsuits. In fact a very public case was dismissed as frivolous not that long again. Remember when FOX News filed a case against writer/comedian/radio host Al Franken for using the phrase "fair and balanced" on his book cover? The case was literally laughed out of court, frivolous.

I link to a study done by Public Citizen which found that;

*U.S.Businesses file four times More lawsuits than private citizens and are sanctioned much more often for frivolous suits.
By way of comparison, the number of American consumers (281 million) outnumbers the number of businesses in America (7 million) by 40 times.

*Federal judges punish businesses far more often than trial attorneys representing plaintiffs in tort claims for tying up the court with frivolous claims or defenses.

*Some of the loudest voices for restricting the legal rights of consumers and patients also are the biggest users of the court system.  For example, claiming that it is inundated with class action lawsuits, the insurance industry has led the charge for federal legislation that would restrict the rights of consumers to bring such cases. Yet in Cook County, Ill., insurance companies filed about 8,000 lawsuits in 2002 — 35 times the number of class actions filed there by individuals that year.

It turns out that the claim of "greedy trial lawyers" should really be "greedy corporations and corporate lawyers." But you can bet we'll hear George Bush in tonights debate bring up the tort reform propaganda once again. And when he does you can also bet it will prefaced with nothing in the way of statistics to back up his rhetoric.

Tort refrom is a frivolous campaign issue. Seeing as citizens don't file nearly the amount of frivolous lawsuits as do corporations, wouldn't it be nice if we could start suing politicians for lieing to us? A huge class action lawsuit against Bush for the many outright lies he will be telling tonight for his own gain, not the citizens.