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April 4th, 2004, 12:48 AM
April 4, 2004

In Campaign 2004, the Crystal Ball Is Fuzzy


WASHINGTON — President Bush and Senator John Kerry have spent close to $40 million on television advertisements in the past month alone. Their campaigns have plotted meticulously orchestrated battle plans. Mr. Bush's aides have even charted attacks on Mr. Kerry that they say will take them right through the first day of summer. Barely a week goes by without Bush or Kerry aides disappearing for a long, private strategy retreat.

But why bother?

It is hard to remember a presidential campaign with so many potentially critical and unpredictable events on the horizon, poised to rewrite the story line of the race within a news cycle. Because campaigns are at base a struggle for control - over the campaign agenda, over what voters are thinking about, over what your opponent is talking about - this has become an unsettling realization for both the Kerry and Bush campaigns.

Consider what everyone knows is going to happen before next November. There will be a transfer of power in Iraq this summer. The government will release new job creation and economic growth figures every month between now and Election Day. Gas prices will go up to among their highest levels in history - or will go down.

A federal court will rule, probably by the summer, on the legality of multimillion-dollar expenditures by independent Democratic committees that are helping Mr. Kerry keep up with Mr. Bush in the television war. The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is scheduled to complete its report the same week that the Democratic National Convention opens in Boston on July 26, giving the party a chance to take advantage of any further damaging revelations. And a week before the third anniversary of the attacks the Republicans will nominate Mr. Bush just a few miles north of Ground Zero in New York, bringing a renewed examination of the attack, this time in a supercharged political context that will no doubt again raise the question of whether the White House is exploiting a tragedy for political gain.

There's even more nervousness about the unknown. Will there be a pre-election terror attack, a concern obviously heightened by the pre-election train bombing in Madrid last month? Will Osama bin Laden be captured? Will weapons of mass destruction finally be found in Iraq? And will Bill Clinton really publish his memoir midway through the year, as has been promised, and if so, what dirt will the former president dish? "There are a lot of outside forces that are going to be important,'' said Ken Mehlman, Mr. Bush's campaign manager. "We recognize that. And we have got to deal with that.''

Campaign strategists say they have been busy planning for all these contingencies. But both sides learned a lesson when the normally sure-footed Bush White House and the less-sure-footed Kerry campaign seemed caught unaware by the publication of a book by Richard A. Clarke, Mr. Bush's former counterterrorism chief, challenging the president's record on terrorism.

While every campaign must anticipate shocks and bumps along the way (think of the New York City mayoral candidates whose primary election on Sept. 11 was canceled after it began) the sheer number of wildcards is of particular concern in a race that both sides expect to remain tight until the very end. A single event in October can wipe out everything the campaigns did until then.

"Every little change in the environment is reacted to with greater ferocity because people know now that the country is deeply divided and the likelihood is we could have another election that is extremely close,'' said David Axelrod, a Democratic consultant.

Nothing, it seems, can be taken for granted. Take the prospect of the capture of killing of Mr. bin Laden. Mr. Kerry's advisers are clearly worried that an event like that would provide a major lift to Mr. Bush. The White House certainly tends to agree.

But after Mr. Hussein was captured on Dec. 13, Mr. Bush enjoyed a spike of voter approval that barely lasted through the New Year. And what if the capture of Mr. bin Laden brings with it disclosures that the United States had missed opportunities to seize him earlier, a finding that might lend some heft to Mr. Clarke's criticisms. Mr. Clarke said that Mr. Bush's focus on Iraq diverted him from hunting down Mr. bin Laden.

Along those lines, Republicans and Democrats are alert to the possibility that Al Qaeda would respond to the capture of Mr. bin Laden with an attack to show that it was not dependent on him, an event that certainly would blunt the significance of his apprehension.

Beyond that, the transfer of power from American authorities to an Iraqi government takes place on July 1. Should it go well, Mr. Bush could presumably claim that he restored democracy and peace to Iraq, in addition to removing a dangerous dictator. But the White House got a reminder of one alternative course with the carnage in Falluja last week. Support for the Iraq war remains high, but Democrats say it could be replaced by impatience if Americans keep dying, or if civil rule breaks down after a new government takes power.

Officials in both parties say anxiety about the economy is not as palpable as it was in 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated Mr. Bush's father in an election that was based largely on economic issues. Thus, with inflation, interest rates and unemployment relatively low, one major economic statistic is looming as critical over these next six months: the monthly job creation figures.

The government reported on Friday that the economy created 308,000 jobs in March, a number that had the Bush White House celebrating. Mr. Bush's aides argued that strong job numbers this summer would complicate Mr. Kerry's effort to make the economy the centerpiece of his challenge to Mr. Bush, taking away one tangible measure he has been able to use so far to assail the president's economic policies. At least 125,000 new jobs a month would be needed to keep pace with population gains, so anything below 200,000 would probably keep the issue on the table.

Gas prices are another variable that has concerned both sides, as was obvious by the sparring last week by Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry over the issue. Gasoline prices typically go up in the summer, before starting to come down some time in the fall. Both campaigns are contemplating a battle that could take place against a backdrop of grumbling motorists facing record gasoline prices in crucial states like Ohio and Missouri. That is why Mr. Bush moved last week to spotlight statements Mr. Kerry had made in the past advocating a 50-cent-per-gallon tax hike on gasoline, while Mr. Kerry has reminded voters that the president and the vice president have made at least part of their fortunes in the energy industry.

Finally, there are upcoming events that might appear relatively trivial, but are no less consequential. Take Mr. Clinton's book. It certainly has the ability to roil the waters by raising all kinds of subjects, some helpful to Mr. Kerry (the Clinton economic recovery) and some perhaps not so helpful. (Do you really have to ask?)

And finally, the Olympics take place in Athens in a two-week stretch between the two conventions, at what should be a very busy time for Mr. Kerry, coming out of his, and Mr. Bush, going into his. It could divert the electorate's attention for a few weeks. At the rate things are going, that is a break that a lot of people might welcome.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 17th, 2004, 01:21 AM
What a couple of losers we have to choose from.

I didn't think we could stoop any lower than Bush vs. Gore, but Bush vs. Kerry must be the true low watermark in the history of American politics.

Have both America and the free world ever been in such need of leadership at a time when our options present such a vacuum.

April 22nd, 2004, 08:50 AM
Just a general perception: Kerry is starting to sound like he did in late 2003. Maybe that's why his poll numbers have remained static on key issues.

There may be a unfriendliness between Kerry and Edwards, but he should just pick him for VP. Edwards didn't have the experience and organization to win the nomination, but his campaign style connected with many uncommitted voters.

April 22nd, 2004, 01:21 PM
Do you think Edwards can play the usual VP nominee role of attack dog? Maybe, and maybe he won't need to with Ralph Nader running, but that's not what makes him appealing. I'd like to see Edwards picked, and I wouldn't mind Bob Graham either.

April 22, 2004

Kerry Opens New Bush Attack, Focusing on Iraq and Economy


WASHINGTON, April 21 — Senator John Kerry on Wednesday began what aides said would be an increasingly visible and combative challenge to President Bush, starting with a bus trip through the distressed Midwest and a television advertisement attacking Mr. Bush's Iraq record.

The moves, intended to define Mr. Kerry's candidacy, amount to a re-emergence of sorts by a candidate who largely yielded the spotlight to Mr. Bush after effectively winning the Democratic nomination in early March.

The television advertisement and the energized schedule came after two months in which Mr. Bush battered Mr. Kerry in advertisements intended to undercut him while he remained largely unknown to most of the country.

Mr. Kerry's aides repeatedly described Mr. Bush's spending as a waste, contending that voters were not paying attention to the race this long before Election Day.

But two newspaper polls this week found that Mr. Bush had succeeded in raising doubts about Mr. Kerry's credibility and ideology. That finding, coming after three weeks of unwelcome news for Mr. Bush from Iraq and a commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, unsettled many Democrats. Republicans said on Wednesday that Mr. Bush's overwhelming advantage over Mr. Kerry on the issues of terrorism and foreign affairs overrode any concerns voters might have had about the news that has besieged the White House in recent weeks.

Evidence of Mr. Bush's continued strength renewed questions about the decision by Mr. Kerry's advisers to ignore the Bush attacks for now.

As late as Friday, Mr. Kerry's campaign indicated that he would not begin his national television campaign until next week. Mr. Kerry's campaign announced Wednesday morning that instead, the advertisements would begin on Wednesday. An aide said that there had been no change in the timetable in response to the polls and that the advertisements began as soon as production was completed.

The campaign said that Mr. Kerry would broadcast two advertisements in 17 states for 10 days at a cost of about $4.5 million. One advertisement attacks Mr. Bush's record on Iraq, while the other seeks to present Mr. Kerry as someone who could protect the nation from terrorists.

Notably, Mr. Kerry's aides did not do what a number of Democrats have pushed them to do in response to attacks by the Bush campaign: run an advertisement that highlights Mr. Kerry's biography, in particular his war record, and begin to lay out some defining theme for his campaign.

"A minimum amount of positive information about Kerry is going to help," said Carter Eskew, a senior adviser to Al Gore in 2000. "There's a certain hunger out there for information about this guy."

A Kerry adviser said the campaign would begin broadcasting a biographical advertisement when the campaign was ready, possibly as soon as next week.

The adviser also said that the central theme of Mr. Kerry's campaign was in one of the spots released on Wednesday: "Together, we can build a stronger America," Mr. Kerry says in the advertisement, speaking firmly and looking directly into the camera.

Mr. Kerry's modest presence on the air was largely a matter of necessity. He has spent much of the last seven weeks raising money — he raised almost $55 million this quarter, a record — and hiring staff members to grapple with what has proved to be a relentless and efficient organization put together by Mr. Bush, who did not have an opponent in the primaries.

Mr. Kerry's aides proclaimed that they would expand the number of states where they would seek to compete with Mr. Bush beyond the 17 or 18 that most parties view as the battlefields. Mr. Bush's advisers scoffed at the assertion as bravado, though some Democrats and Republicans said that such a calculation could not realistically be made until this summer.

The developments underlined what has emerged as one of the critical strategic questions of this campaign: the extent to which television advertisements today shape the effect of an election seven months later.

Advisers to Mr. Bush, who has spent roughly $45 million on advertisements attacking Mr. Kerry, said that recent history — including, in particular, the 1996 election — had proven the power of such advertisements. Mr. Bush's advisers, noting the polls this week, contended that the same thing was taking place now.

"This campaign will be close until the very end," said Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's senior campaign adviser. "But perceptions have begun to gel."

Mr. Kerry's advisers argued that the fact that the two men remained close in polls, despite the huge investment by Mr. Bush, suggested that most voters were not paying attention now. They argued that in such a volatile year voters will not start to form opinions until the fall.

Tad Devine, a senior Kerry adviser, put it this way: "If you're the incumbent president of the United States having spent $50 million in six to seven weeks trying to define yourself, and you're in a dead-heat horse race with a challenger who's just beginning to come into focus, I would submit you're in trouble."

Other Democrats, though, were not as sure. Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that the period after Mr. Kerry effectively won the nomination was a time in which voters were paying attention.

"This was a period of opportunity for Kerry and Bush," Mr. Greenberg said. He said that that window had not yet closed but that Mr. Kerry had a more difficult task now.

"I think it was a tough period for Kerry," Mr. Greenberg said. "He's been attacked on taxes and flip-flopping and on defense, and his personal negative has gone up significantly in the period. I'm assuming there will be an accelerating amount of information about Kerry and hopefully he'll win back some of that ground."

Aides said Mr. Kerry's decision to attack Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq war reflected a conclusion that the conflict would continue to help define this contest, as it has for much of this campaign. Mr. Kerry's aides said he would follow up this television advertisement with a speech attacking Mr. Bush's Iraq policy next week, timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the appearance Mr. Bush made on an aircraft carrier to celebrate the fall of Baghdad.

In the other advertisement, he assures viewers he will remain committed to protecting the nation while focusing on improving the economy and health care, summing up by saying: "My priorities are jobs and health care. My commitment is to defend this country."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 1st, 2004, 11:48 PM

The Trouble Is, So Far Kerry Stinks On TV

by Joe Hagan

In recent weeks, even Senator John Kerry’s closest friends have been at a loss as to why the Democratic Presidential candidate has failed to communicate the most humanizing part of his biography: his war record as a decorated Vietnam veteran. "I know he’s quite capable of it," said Bob Kerrey, the president of New School University, former Nebraska Senator and fellow Vietnam veteran. "I don’t know why it’s not working now."

But there seems to be a very clear reason why: Mr. Kerry is terrible on TV.

"Abysmal," said John Weaver, the former strategist for Senator John McCain’s Presidential run and the man who coined the "Straight Talk Express."

Watching Mr. Kerry on TV, he said, "I don’t know if it’s a stream of consciousness or stream of unconsciousness."

"It’s a lot of words and no clarity, a lot of presence and no warmth," said Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball, who was preparing to interview Mr. Kerry for an hour on April 27. "And I think he’s got to deal with that."

Take a look, for example, at NBC’s Meet the Press on April 18. Tim Russert aired a tape of Senator John Kerry’s appearance on the show 33 years earlier, when he was a young, jut-chinned veteran, 27 years old, full of baleful gravity, expressing a sense of shame for his actions in Vietnam. The camera cut back to Senator Kerry, now a man running for President of United States.

"You committed atrocities," said Mr. Russert gravely, asking Mr. Kerry to address the statements of the young man on the screen.

Suddenly, the current John Kerry, of 2004, gave a stumbling, inexplicable guffaw.

"Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That’s a big question for me."

And suddenly, inexplicably, the question showed up: Where did all that gravitas go, John? That’s the big question for the viewer. The appealing young veteran disappeared, the angry, vengeful Democratic candidate disappeared, and John Kerry, the callow Swiss-prep-school boy returned, as vividly as George Bush the smirking frat boy makes his appearances on national television. "Awful," said MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. "Just awful."

In recent appearances, Mr. Kerry’s digressions and obfuscations about whether he threw a war medal or a ribbon on the White House lawn in 1971—or whether the young Mr. Kerry should have used the word "war crimes" to describe actions in Vietnam—have obscured the candidate. At every turn, he has managed to turn the TV screen into smoked glass: He’s right in front of you, but you can’t … quite … make … him … out. With his morose patrician mien and robotic delivery—parodied with precision by Jon Stewart on the Monday, April 24, Daily Show, surely not a good thing for the candidate—Mr. Kerry’s TV performances are sounding a gut-level alarm about his ability to inspire confidence in the electorate. "He needs to speak the truth and speak from the heart and not try to calibrate his views or his actions," said Mr. Weaver. "The public catches on to these things, and they can see through whether there’s a calibration going on or not. He needs to stop that."

He didn’t need to speak the name of former Vice President Al Gore. But a media strategist for another Democratic Presidential candidate said that Mr. Kerry had to lose the "legislative speak" and begin talking "like a normal person communicates, speaking in simple, more declarative sentences that have a clearer meaning for people." Compared to President George W. Bush, he added, Mr. Kerry appeared more intelligent, "but there are many instances in which George Bush communicates more clearly."

The Republican attack ads about Mr. Kerry that have run in 18 battleground states have set the tone for Mr. Kerry’s appearances. Since April 15, they’ve speared Mr. Kerry for having said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion—before I voted against it." The context, of course, was important: Mr. Kerry was criticizing Vermont Governor Howard Dean at the time, arguing over how to balance the budget in the context of the war in Iraq. But instead of squelching that image with a decisive blow, Mr. Kerry has continually cemented it with distended, lumbering TV appearances.

But it also showed the power of simplicity: a single one-liner could define an entire interview. Mr. Kerrey said the candidate needed to reconnect with his own history.

"I think he’s got to go back to remember what it felt like and help people understand what it was like in 1971," said Mr. Kerrey. "It was a terrible time, and he was a kid. And he just said some indefensible things. How unusual does that make him for a 25-year-old? Not very. Especially during that time. He served honorably, with great distinction."

But even when Mr. Kerry attempts to let his passion fly, he becomes hectoring and aggressive. On Monday, April 26, Good Morning America host Charlie Gibson asked Mr. Kerry to explain his inconsistent stories about whether he once tossed war medals or ribbons onto the White House lawn in 1971. Maybe it was a quibbling issue, all things considered. But was this the best way to tackle it?

Senator Kerry: Charlie, Charlie, you’re wrong! That is not what happened. I threw my ribbons across. And all you have to do is go back and find the file footage.

Charlie Gibson: And someone else’s medals? And someone else’s medals, correct?

Senator Kerry: Later, after, excuse me—excuse me, Charlie!

It hadn’t helped that the first live shot of Mr. Kerry was of him shaking his head in disgust at Mr. Gibson’s setup to the interview. On TV, Mr. Kerry projects a subtle disdain for the medium while he is appearing on it. He doesn’t even plan on answering the questions, if he can help it. "There’s no such thing as a trick question with Kerry, because he just won’t answer it," observed Mr. Matthews. "‘Well, let me put it this way, Chris,’ or ‘Well, the real question here, Chris …. ’ See, that’s the problem with him. And I find afterward, we’ll be having conversations afterward, and it’s hard to get to him even then."

Not only has Mr. Kerry not relayed his ideas with clarity, he has failed to relay the visceral presence of an unaffected personality. On his Meet the Press outing, he told Mr. Russert: "Now, we’re in a position now to be able to respond and introduce myself to the country. I look forward to that. I look forward to Americans getting to know who I really am." But why was he looking forward? There he was, live on television, with every chance to be himself.

"I’m not sure what the message is—that may be the essence of the problem," said Joe McGinniss, the author of The Selling of the President, the best-seller that detailed Richard M. Nixon’s media strategy. As a Massachusetts resident, Mr. McGinniss said he had never seen Mr. Kerry do well on TV—or even in public, for that matter. "When he sits down one-to-one with somebody, he’s not good," said Mr. McGinniss. But then again, he added, neither was Mr. Bush, or Mr. Nixon. "They knew Nixon was never going to be good in a situation like that. The shows that Roger Ailes directed had the appearance of spontaneity, but it was all carefully scripted. You put Nixon in a thing where he looks like he’s taking a risk where he’s not. They’re going to have to dress up the set for John Kerry, but he can’t do it on his own. He’s not Jack Kennedy, although he wishes he were."

Mr. Matthews described Mr. Kerry as more like Kennedy’s speechwriter, Ted Sorenson. "He’s kind of, like, world-weary, and he has that voice of wariness, almost like a Scandinavian winter," he said. "It’s cold and it’s weary. That’s what he sounds like when he’s interviewed."

Despite Mr. Kerry’s problems, a number of observers said it was still very early in the race. And it’s also not clear that the crucial voters even watch shows like Meet the Press or Hardball with any regularity, or even interest. "Typically, for the swing-voter type, when you’re asking somebody about the choice of words 33 years ago, those people have a 100 percent record of either forgiveness or completely not giving a ****," said Lawrence O’Donnell, the MSNBC political analyst. "Have we learned nothing from George Wallace’s career?"

Mr. O’Donnell said these TV appearances were simply testing grounds.

"The reason we stare at John Kerry in April is that Tim is the best indicator there is on how rough it’s going to be on you in a Presidential debate in October," said Mr. O’Donnell, who like Mr. Russert once worked for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "‘Oh, look at that, there’s a vulnerability there.’ And, ‘Oh, by the way, he’s got several months to work on that.’"

Still, Mr. Kerry has a lot more history to contend with—TV history. "You create a tremendous number of obstacles in the obstacle course of life by going on television for 27, 30 years," said Mr. Matthews. "Because the age of television has created this incredible archive system. No matter what you’ve ever said, it can come popping out at you. But the only way you can replace old stuff is with new stuff, so you have to constantly make your new stuff more compelling. That’s how you do it. So television has a permanence, but you almost have to do battle with your old tape."

Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for Mr. Kerry to transform.

"The Democratic friends I have keep saying, ‘Wait, wait, he’ll get better,’" said Don Hewitt, the executive producer of 60 Minutes. "Well, I’m waiting, and I don’t know if he will or not. He may yet surprise me and make it apparent why he’s the guy I’d like to see as President of the United States. I haven’t seen it yet.

"Maybe he needs some good professional advice," he added, "if he’s in a mood to take it."


May 25th, 2004, 05:23 AM
May 25, 2004

Campaign Ads Are Under Fire for Inaccuracy


WASHINGTON, May 24 — A record year for political advertising has brought with it a hail of televised exaggerations, omissions and mischaracterizations that pollsters say seem to be leaving voters with mistaken impressions of Senator John Kerry and President Bush.

The degree to which the advertisements push the facts, or go beyond them, varies by commercial. While Mr. Bush's campaign has been singled out as going particularly far with some of its claims, Mr. Kerry's campaign has also been criticized as frequently going beyond the bounds of truth.

In three of its advertisements, Mr. Bush's campaign has said Mr. Kerry would raise taxes by at least $900 billion in his first 100 days in office. Mr. Kerry has no such plan.

In an advertisement for Mr. Kerry, an announcer said, "George Bush says sending jobs overseas makes sense for America." Mr. Bush never said that. A report to Congress by his top economic adviser said cheaper production of goods overseas had long-term benefits but did not make the plain case that domestic job losses were a good thing.

Outside groups are getting into the act as well.

The League of Conservation Voters, which has endorsed Mr. Kerry, is running an advertisement in Florida warning that "President Bush opened up Florida's coast to offshore drilling." But the drilling area that was opened under Mr. Bush is 100 miles off the coast, much farther than it would have been under a Clinton administration proposal.

Of course, it is a time-tested practice to make one's opponent look as bad as possible in a political campaign, whether the race is for town council or the presidency of the United States. And the campaigns and outside groups say they are under no obligation to present defenses for their opponents in their own advertisements, all of which are at least tenuously based in fact.

But this campaign season, with total advertising spending at roughly $150 million since early last summer, the number of distortions and omissions is worrying some good-government groups, which say they fear that the big money behind the claims is leaving indelible impressions.

"Even people who don't think there is much information in these ads and say they don't learn anything from them tell us they believe factoids they could only have gotten from these ads, and they're wrong," said Brooks Jackson, director of Factcheck.org, an Annenberg Public Policy Center Web site that vets political advertisements for accuracy. "It's beyond subliminal — it's something else I haven't come up with a name for."

This month the Annenberg Center, at the University of Pennsylvania, released a poll of voters in battleground states that found many believed misleading statements made in the advertisements.

In a survey conducted from April 15 to May 2, 61 percent of the 1,026 voters questioned in the 18 swing states where most of the advertising has run said they believed Mr. Bush favored sending jobs overseas. And 72 percent said they believed that three million jobs had been lost during Mr. Bush's presidency. Mr. Kerry made that claim in a spot in late February, when the most commonly used Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed the actual net job loss to be closer to 2.3 million, down from 2.7 million in late summer. That number is now less than 1.6 million. (Mr. Kerry's figures did not include government jobs.)

In the same survey, 46 percent of those questioned said they believed Mr. Kerry "wants to raise gasoline taxes by 50 cents a gallon." Three spots for Mr. Bush have said that Mr. Kerry supported a 50-cent-a-gallon tax hike on gasoline, an assertion based from comments Mr. Kerry that appeared in two newspapers 10 years ago regarding a position he never acted on and has long since abandoned.

More than half of those surveyed also said they believed Mr. Kerry had "voted for higher taxes 350 times." That idea, Annenberg researchers concluded, is based on a commercial for Mr. Bush in which an announcer said, "Kerry supported higher taxes over 350 times." While Bush campaign aides say the contention is accurate and have made public a list of instances to which it refers, they acknowledge that in several of these cases Mr. Kerry had in fact either voted to maintain tax rates or even to cut them, but not by as much as Republicans had proposed.

"Each of these votes amounted to higher taxes than an alternative," said Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign. "We expect that voters will reach the obvious conclusion that John Kerry will increase your taxes or will oppose efforts to cut taxes."

Asked why the spot did not simply say that Mr. Kerry has consistently voted for higher taxes than Republicans have proposed, which even the Kerry campaign would not dispute, Mr. Holt said, "We said `supported higher taxes,' as provably true and totally accurate."

Several other commercials this year have been criticized for pushing past the facts when they could have indisputably conveyed similar points with less sensational-sounding claims.

For instance, one of Mr. Kerry's new commercials boasts that he provided "a decisive vote" for President Bill Clinton's 1993 economic plan, which, it maintains, "created 20 million new jobs." The bill passed by a single vote in the Senate, giving anybody who voted for it a claim to have provided a decisive vote. But at the time, it was the last-minute support of Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska, that was considered decisive. And even economists who credit the plan with playing a significant role in the 1990's boom say Mr. Kerry's spot goes too far.

"To say that any one economic package was responsible for all of the stuff going on in the 90's is kind of ridiculous," said L. Douglas Lee, president of Economics From Washington, an economic policy analysis firm. Still, Mr. Lee said, the 1993 package was an important factor in the boom.

Asked why the spot did not simply say Mr. Kerry voted for a package credited with helping to set the conditions for the boom, Michael Meehan, a Kerry spokesman, said: "That's why we have elections. People get to decide. We said it created 20 million jobs. If people don't believe that, they should vote for someone else."

Aides on both sides said privately that it was hard to fit all the nuance of complex policies into a vehicle designed to convey thoughts no more complex than "Tastes Great, Less Filling."

"There's only so much you can do in a 30-second ad," said an aide to Mr. Kerry, making a point that was echoed by a senior strategist for the Bush campaign.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, does not accept that. "When they could make the 30-second ad accurate and they don't, you've got to believe that they're intentionally misleading you," she said.

Kenneth M. Goldstein, an associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, said it was to be expected that the campaigns would take liberties, and that with both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush flush with cash, there was plenty of time for them to answer each other's claims.

"Politics is about putting your best foot forward and putting the other person in the worst light," Mr. Goldstein said. "Do we expect someone who's advertising to say, `You know, I really don't want to put this person's record in the worst light because that's not fair'?"

In the end, Mr. Jackson of Factcheck.org said, all that can be done is to continue to vet commercials for accuracy and try to set the record straight as publicly as possible. That, he said, is an occasionally thankless task:

"I've had consultants tell me, `Your ad watch runs once, my ad runs many times; who's going to win?' "

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 6th, 2004, 08:40 AM
June 6, 2004

Potential Kerry Running Mates Vie to Sing His Praises Loudest


WASHINGTON, June 4 — On Tuesday morning, Senator Bob Graham boarded a plane in Virginia, flew to Florida with John Kerry, and introduced him to an overheated crowd outside Palm Beach as "a man of high intelligence, great energy and a sincere commitment to what's important to us today for our children and grandchildren."

In Des Moines the same morning, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa stood outside the state capitol behind a "John Kerry for President" lectern and next to men wearing "Firefighters for Kerry" T-shirts and accused the Bush administration of cutting spending on domestic security.

Back in Washington, meanwhile, a top fund-raiser installed by Senator John Edwards inside the Democratic Party picked up the phone for another day of raising money for his new client, Mr. Kerry.

The campaign for the vice presidential spot on the Democratic ticket is on, and Mr. Kerry is reaping the benefits every day, as several men widely mentioned as possible running mates, including Mr. Graham and Mr. Vilsack, crisscross the country and wallpaper the cable networks on his behalf, talking up Mr. Kerry and talking down President Bush, raising money for Mr. Kerry, and shoring up his position in contested states and with constituent groups that might not have supported him in the primaries.

It seems hard to imagine that only a few weeks ago Democrats, worried that Mr. Kerry was being hammered regularly by Vice President Dick Cheney, were urging him to name a running mate quickly. But with his position in the polls strong, a decision is now unlikely until July, according to aides, and Mr. Kerry is able to unleash a kennel full of attack dogs, all standing to gain from impressing the man who could be their boss.

"Each of them has been very gracious, and they all understand that the name of the game here is to win the White House back for the Democrats in November," said Fred Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer who led Mr. Edwards's fund-raising and now is a chairman of Kerry Victory '04, the Democrats' coordinated campaign.

The process of picking a running mate can be a humiliating one for those who had or still have presidential aspirations, as it reportedly was for Mr. Kerry when he was closely considered four years ago but not chosen by Vice President Al Gore. Unlike Mr. Kerry then, Mr. Edwards, of North Carolina, and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri find themselves in the humbling position of hoping to be tapped after running presidential campaigns of their own.

But it is in the interests of nominees if running-mate hopefuls think they can improve their chances. Mr. Gore's campaign let it be known, for example, that people on his short list might help their appeal by raising money for him, said a Democrat close to Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, and Mr. Lieberman took the hint, holding a major fund-raiser for Mr. Gore in the final days before he made his decision, just as Mr. Kerry and the other senator on the list, Mr. Edwards, had done.

Mr. Baron said there were no fund-raising goals for those seeking the No. 2 spot on Mr. Kerry's ticket, nor was anyone keeping count of how much they were bringing in. And in general, Mr. Kerry is being even more discreet about his decision-making than Mr. Gore was. His campaign is doing little to encourage speculation about running mates; reporters traveling with Mr. Kerry only learned about a three-hour meeting he had on Thursday night in Minneapolis with James A. Johnson, the Minnesotan and veteran Democrat operative who is overseeing his selection process, when Mr. Johnson was spotted in an elevator afterward.

Those who have been vetted by Mr. Kerry to one degree or another deny, of course, that they are competing for his favor. "This is not a job for which a person runs," said Mr. Graham, who endured the screening process with Michael S. Dukakis, Bill Clinton and Mr. Gore. "It's not something that you audition for."

Like any presumptive nominee, Mr. Kerry has many more surrogates at the ready, from fellow members of Congress to governors to his own campaign officials and even his crewmates from the Vietnam War.

But those who have been considered by Mr. Kerry or still hope to be — a list that includes Mr. Edwards, Mr. Gephardt, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark of Arkansas, and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico — may have more cachet, aides acknowledge, and they have been quick to comply with requests from Mr. Kerry's campaign.

General Clark, for example, who formed a political action committee last month and quickly set to attacking Mr. Bush as having "chosen the easy life" over combat, has carried Mr. Kerry's flag in the South, speaking in Little Rock, Ark.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Jackson, Miss., in the weeks since.

Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who has frequently accompanied Mr. Kerry on campaign swings there, raised about $300,000 for Mr. Kerry over the telephone in the past week, Mr. Nelson's spokesman said. And Mr. Vilsack has already drawn criticism in Iowa for his work for Mr. Kerry, which last month included trips to Kentucky, Arizona, Boston and New York, and will take him to Wisconsin to give a keynote address at a Democratic dinner on June 11.

Mr. Edwards has been a whirlwind of activity, speaking on Mr. Kerry's behalf in Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland; and Duluth, Minn., in the past two weeks. On Thursday he sent out an appeal via e-mail to his own list of supporters to "reach deep down and work nonstop to support John Kerry." Next weekend he will speak at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner held by the Florida Democratic Party and raise money for Mr. Kerry on the west coast of Florida, and he plans political and fund-raising swings for Mr. Kerry to Houston; Baton Rouge, La.; and Alabama later this month, aides said.

If Mr. Edwards seems the most eager — or at least the most available — of the bunch, Mr. Gephardt could be said to be striking a pose of studied nonchalance. Though he spoke at a Washington fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee on Thursday night, he has taken a relatively low profile of late. In May, he participated in two conference calls with reporters, and gave the keynote address at the Michigan Democratic Party's annual dinner in Detroit, aides said, but he has nothing more on his calendar at the Kerry campaign's behest until late August.

Each vice presidential aspirant, by this point, has a practiced nonanswer to questions about whether he wants the job, but their friends and confidants are less constrained.

"His view of all this is that you don't campaign for this job," said an associate of Mr. Gephardt's. "Running around and saying `me, me' isn't Dick's style and isn't going to help your cause. Obviously he'd like to be vice president, but if he isn't, he'd be comfortable going off and enjoying his life and making some money, as opposed to some younger candidates for whom this is an important step in keeping their political career alive."

But Carter Eskew, a consultant to Mr. Gore in 2000, said there was more than one way for aspirants to position themselves for the job. "Playing it cool, that's fine as a strategy," Mr. Eskew said. "You don't egregiously lobby for the job. There are some people who say that lobbying doesn't matter, anyway. But if it's done skillfully enough, people respect it."

It is unclear if either the Democrats' posturing or their actual performance on Mr. Kerry's behalf will influence his decision much, if at all. While members of Mr. Kerry's staff work with surrogates to book them at political events and on television and radio, Mr. Kerry is seldom aware of their activities unless they slip up and draw criticism, or show up to share a plane ride or a microphone.

Besides, Mr. Eskew said, "Getting chosen to be V.P. is a little bit like what it used to be like to get into Harvard. All the extracurricular stuff — being president of the band — there are many paths to get to be considered for admission, but in the final analysis the interview matters most."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 6th, 2004, 11:09 AM
I also think that Mr. Edwards is best place for Vice President. He is young and sounds smart. He is from the south....which he can get some votes for Kerry and he is known to people already (I think). He seems active to get votes for kerry and might help Kerry's lack of enthusiasm. :P

June 29th, 2004, 07:12 AM
June 29, 2004

Bush's Rating Falls to Its Lowest Point, New Survey Finds


President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll found Americans stiffening their opposition to the Iraq war, worried that the invasion could invite domestic terrorist attacks and skeptical about whether the White House has been fully truthful about the war or about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.

A majority of respondents in the poll, conducted before yesterday's transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government, said that the war was not worth its cost in American lives and that the Bush administration did not have a clear plan to restore order to Iraq.

The survey, which showed Mr. Bush's approval rating at 42 percent, also found that nearly 40 percent of Americans say they do not have an opinion about Senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, despite what have been both parties' earliest and most expensive television advertising campaigns.

Among those who do have an opinion, Mr. Kerry is disliked more than he is liked. More than 50 percent of respondents said that Mr. Kerry says what he thinks voters want to hear, suggesting that Mr. Bush has had success in portraying his opponent as a flip-flopper.

Americans were more likely to believe that Mr. Bush would do a better job than Mr. Kerry would in steering the nation through a foreign crisis, and protecting it from future terrorist attacks. Support for Mr. Bush's abilities in those areas has declined in recent months, but the findings suggest that Americans are more comfortable entrusting their security to a president they know than a challenger who remains relatively unknown.

Even so, the poll was scattered with warning flags for Mr. Bush, and there was compelling evidence that his decision to take the nation to war against Iraq has left him in a precarious political position.

As he heads into the fall election, Mr. Bush appears to have much riding on the transfer of power in Baghdad yesterday. The 42 percent of Americans who say they approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job is the lowest such figure in a Times/CBS News survey since the beginning of Mr. Bush's presidency in January 2001; 51 percent say they disapprove.

Over the past 25 years, according to pollsters, presidents with job approval ratings below 50 percent in the spring of election years have generally gone on to lose. Mr. Bush's father had a 34 percent job approval rating at this time in 1992.

Similarly, 45 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of Mr. Bush himself, again the most negative measure the Times/CBS Poll has found since he took office. And 57 percent say the country is going in the wrong direction, another measure used by pollsters as a barometer of discontent with an incumbent.

Yet the survey found little evidence that Mr. Kerry has been able to take advantage of the president's difficulties, even though Mr. Kerry has spent $60 million on television advertising over the past three months.

Nationwide, Mr. Kerry has the support of 45 percent of registered voters, with Mr. Bush supported by 44 percent. When Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, is included, he draws 5 percent, leaving 42 percent for Mr. Kerry and 43 percent for Mr. Bush

In the 18 states viewed by both parties as the most competitive — and thus the subject of the most advertising expenditures and visits by the candidates — the race was equally tight. Forty-five percent of voters in those states said they would support Mr. Kerry, and 43 percent said they would back Mr. Bush. Indeed, on a host of measures, the poll found little difference in public opinion between the nation as a whole and that of voters in the competitive states.

The tight race indicated by the poll reflects how aides to both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have described the overall state of play for weeks. But other polls have, at times, shown Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush bumping ahead. A CBS News poll taken last month found Mr. Kerry with a lead of 49 percent to 41 percent over Mr. Bush.

The nationwide poll of 1,053 adults, including 875 registered voters, was taken by telephone June 23 to June 27. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

For all the signs of opposition to the war, Americans appear prepared to stay in Iraq until the situation becomes stable. The poll found that 54 percent of respondents said that the United States should remain in Iraq "as long as it takes," while 40 percent said the United States should withdraw "as soon as possible."

Overall, the poll's findings left little doubt about the extent to which Mr. Bush's decision to go to war is proving to be perhaps the most fateful of his presidency. About 60 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Mr. Bush's Iraq policy, while just over 50 percent said they disapproved of his foreign policy. Those disapproval figures are the highest measured in his presidency on those subjects.

And 60 percent of respondents, including a majority of independents, said the war has not been worth the cost.

"We attacked a sovereign nation, and we went in there and we did things that the United States shouldn't have done," Charles Drum, 36, a Republican from Alameda, Calif., said in an interview after the poll was taken. "I feel that we went after the wrong people, and it's unacceptable, and it's absolutely ridiculous that innocent people are dying over there in Iraq, and our own troops are dying for a cause that is not just."

Respondents said that Mr. Bush's policies in Iraq were having the effect of creating terrorists and of increasing the chances of another terrorist attack at home. Concerns about the war appear to undercut what has long been one of Mr. Bush's strong suits, his handling of the fight against terrorism. Fifty-two percent of Americans now say they approve of the way Mr. Bush is conducting that fight, down from 90 percent in December 2001.

"I watch the news quite a bit, and I'm kind of thinking it's getting these terrorists motivated to do more," said Charlie Buck, 54, a Republican from Indiana, Pa. "Whether it's their religious beliefs or it's us trying to step into their country, I just get that feeling that they feel that we're stepping into where we shouldn't be, and it's inciting them. It's stimulating them to be more aggressive in getting us out."

In what could prove to be a particularly far-reaching development for Mr. Bush — especially because he and his campaign have sought to undercut Mr. Kerry's credibility — nearly 60 percent said he was not being entirely truthful when talking about Iraq. Similarly, just 15 percent said the administration had told the entire truth when it came to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.

There are some ways in which Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush are viewed similarly. They are seen as political leaders who keep their word, and both are viewed as optimistic, suggesting that Mr. Bush's attempt to portray Mr. Kerry as pessimistic has not taken hold.

But there are signs that Americans are beginning to form very different personal perceptions of these two men. Mr. Kerry was described as more likely than Mr. Bush to admit a mistake, and to listen to divergent opinions. Mr. Bush is viewed as someone who takes a position and sticks with it, and while those interviewed were split on whether that was a positive trait, it is a contrast that Mr. Bush's campaign has encouraged as a way of trying to undercut Mr. Kerry

"Kerry has flip-flopped too many times," said Joseph Martin, 52, an independent voter who lives outside Seattle. "The one thing that I think that a lot of people understand is a position of strength, and you cannot be waffling around. You've got to show a commitment, show a determination and keep a steady hand, and I just don't think Kerry has got that."

For Mr. Bush, the poll contains a number of potentially worrisome findings. By 51 to 32 percent, Americans believe that he has divided the nation, rather than brought it together. The number of Americans who said that Mr. Bush did not care about the "needs and problems of people like you" edged up to 42 percent from 36 percent in March. More than 50 percent said that Mr. Bush did not have the same priorities for the country as they did.

On the issue of the economy, even though job-creation numbers have been rising over the past few months, 45 percent of Americans say that the Bush administration has been responsible for a decline in jobs, compared with 24 percent who say it has brought an increase. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned that they or someone in their house would be out of work over the next year.

Republicans, remembering what happened when Mr. Bush's father lost in 1992, have long expressed concern that any improvement in the economy will happen too late to capture the notice of voters.

Both men are disliked by more people than they are liked. The number of people who view Mr. Kerry unfavorably has jumped to 35 percent from 29 percent in mid-March, when Mr. Bush began a huge television advertising campaign against his opponent.

In Mr. Kerry's case, 36 percent said they had no opinion of him, despite the campaign's record-setting expenditure on television advertisements. That figure is fairly typical for challengers at this point in the campaign; in June 1992, 44 percent of the public did not have an opinion of Bill Clinton.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

42% and the election is deadlocked. Pick a running-mate you fool, and send him on the road.

July 4th, 2004, 07:10 AM
July 4, 2004

Swaying Unhappy Ohio Voters Could Be a Key to the Presidency


PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — It is tempting to view Ohio politics as a bipolar clash: liberal Northeast versus conservative Southwest, industrial Cleveland against white-collar Cincinnati. But this year's presidential race may come down to people like Robert Burton in the gently rolling, easily overlooked hills of southeastern Ohio.

Here, Appalachia meets the Midwest along the Ohio River, which carves a muddy border with Kentucky and West Virginia. The region is part New Deal Democrat, part Ronald Reagan Republican. The people are gimlet-eyed about politicians, fickle about political parties and adept at picking winners, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush.

Mr. Burton captures the temperament. An electrician, his business has been hurt by textile and steel plant closings. He nearly spits in disgust that a Wal-Mart Super Center will soon replace a coke processing plant, exuding the kind of burning resentment Senator John Kerry's campaign hopes to exploit.

"The best business around here is the U-Haul business," Mr. Burton, 36, said recently.

Yet for all his frustration about Republican stewardship of the economy, Mr. Burton is equally dismayed by the Democrats' support for abortion rights, gun control and welfare programs. Asked whom he plans to vote for, he says he is leaning toward President Bush.

But he is far from sure.

"I'm a Republican until it comes to economic policy," he said. "Then I'm in no man's land. And there are a lot more people like me."

Mr. Burton helps explain why the Kerry campaign has high hopes for Ohio — and why it still faces high hurdles in trying to win it. Victory here could be pivotal: no Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio. No surprise, then, that Mr. Bush has visited the state 18 times since 2001.

"I don't see how the president wins without carrying Ohio," Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, said.

But Democratic victory will also require convincing fence straddlers like Mr. Burton that Mr. Kerry has the right character, experience and message to run the country. So far, polls and interviews show, Mr. Kerry has yet to do that, despite having spent about $7 million in the state. (Labor unions and private groups opposing Mr. Bush have spent about $6 million more.)

In dozens of conversations across the state, many voters asserted that they knew little about Mr. Kerry, or did not like what they had heard about him. Many support his economic policies but distrust him as a Northeastern liberal. Some expressed unease about changing leaders in a time of war and terrorism.

And others had clearly been influenced by the $9 million in advertising, much of it attacking Mr. Kerry's character, that the Bush campaign has already broadcast in the state.

"I think Kerry's too negative," said Mark Allbaugh, 39, a fifth-grade teacher from Dennison in eastern Ohio. "I haven't seen a whole lot in him that I like."

But Mr. Allbaugh remains undecided. He disapproves of the American military occupation of Iraq, dislikes President Bush's signature education program, No Child Left Behind, and believes the administration has mishandled the economy.

"I'm not really fond of either candidate," he said. "I thought Bush was down to earth, told you what he thought, like a normal person. But once he got into office, he changed."

Such skepticism helps explain why Ohio has been a presidential bellwether for decades - and is perhaps the most closely watched swing state this year.

Sometimes called the state of presidents, having produced seven of them, Ohio has voted with the winner in every national election since 1960. In 2000, Mr. Bush won Ohio by less than 4 points, after Vice President Al Gore pulled his advertising just weeks before the election, believing he was trailing by 10 points.

Recent polls indicate the race will be tight again. Several surveys earlier in the year showed Mr. Kerry with a slim margin. A more recent poll in The Cleveland Plain Dealer had Mr. Bush with a 47 percent to 41 percent lead.

Eric Rademacher, co-director of the Ohio Poll at the University of Cincinnati, said Ohio had closely reflected national attitudes and demographic trends for decades. The rural South, the agricultural Midwest and the industrial Great Lakes flow together here.

Labor unions, though shrinking, remain influential. So do conservative Christian groups. The Republican Party, which has dominated the state for a decade, has a history of moderation, as embodied in its senators, George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine.

But this year, Ohio could be different in one crucial way, Mr. Rademacher said: its economy was harder hit by the downturn than most states and has been slower to recover.

Since 2001, the state has lost 200,000 jobs. It is ranked among the bottom states in personal income growth and retaining college graduates. And though there are signs of new job growth, the 5.6 percent unemployment rate in May was still well above the 4 percent of December 2000.

"The real challenge for both Bush and Kerry is convincing Ohioans that they have an economic plan that will put the state back on track," Mr. Rademacher said.

The lagging economy has energized Democrats, who have maintained a laser-like focus on the issue. Mr. Kerry has been in the state eight times since wrapping up the nomination in March, usually to talk about the economy.

"It will all boil down to jobs," said Dennis L. White, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "Try sending your kid to college working at a Taco Bell."

For months, union workers and canvassers from private liberal groups, like America Coming Together and MoveOn.org, have been going door to door across the state registering new voters and criticizing Mr. Bush's policies, like lifting tariffs on imported steel.

Democrats are hoping their efforts will generate a huge turnout of angry and anxious voters determined to oust Mr. Bush. One of their targets has been Stark County, a swing county surrounding Canton in the northeast, which was rocked by the recent announcement that the Timken Company would be closing three plants and laying off 1,300 workers. The company, whose founding family are major contributors to the Republican Party, has been an economic mainstay in Stark County for nearly a century.

Dave Drummond, 48, is a line supervisor at a Timken bearing plant in Canton who expects to lose his job. He did not vote in 2000. But his union, the United Steelworkers of America, registered him this year and there is little doubt about how he will vote.

"Bush is out the door," he said. "Kerry, some of his views are good, some are bad. I just want him for the change."

Republicans argue that the economy is stabilizing and that voters will focus on national security and character issues. Both play to Mr. Bush's strengths, they contend.

"He's had a horrible couple of months," said Mike Allen, the Hamilton County prosecutor and director of the Bush campaign in southwestern Ohio. "But the numbers show he's weathered that storm. I think it's because people trust the guy."

Still, Republicans say they are taking no chances. They have mounted their largest get-out-the-vote operation in history, recruiting more than 40,000 volunteers and organizing registration drives in Republican-leaning suburbs and rural areas. Their goal, which they say they are close to exceeding, is to add more than 100,000 pro-Bush voters to the rolls.

"The Democrats had a much better ground operation than us in 2000," said Robert T. Bennett, chairman of the state Republican Party. "That's not going to happen this year."

The Bush-Cheney operation in Brown County, one of several rapidly growing exurban counties ringing Cincinnati, exemplifies the kind of well-oiled operation the Republicans hope to replicate in dozens of other counties.

Almost weekly, Republican organizers gather in local businesses to call unregistered voters, recruit volunteers and put together lists of people who are likely to vote for President Bush among the upscale, mostly white and independent voters who have moved into their county.

"We can't win if we just get out 3,000 Republicans to the polls," said Paul Hall, chairman of the Brown County Republican Party. "We need to get 10,000 independents to counterbalance Cleveland."

In their bastions, the two parties are mostly focusing on the core issues of jobs, trade, national security, character and experience. But the race is a bit different in rural areas, like southeastern Ohio, where cultural issues are likely to play a larger role.

The National Rifle Association will be influential here, with its anti-Kerry message. But so will labor unions. Recently, the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America; and a host of other labor leaders rolled into Portsmouth to deliver the Democrats' central message.

"This fight is not about the right to bear arms, the right to pray in school, the right to choose," Mr. Jackson told a crowd of several hundred people gathered around a Civil War memorial to Union soldiers. "This fight is about the right to have a job."

In the rear of the crowd, Edward Shouse, 61, listened intently. The pastor of a local African-American church, he has seen his congregation fall on hard times because of layoffs. It has affected him, too: he cannot afford health insurance for his wife.

Yet he remains undecided about the election. He admires Mr. Bush's character, though he is unhappy with administration policies on Iraq and the economy. But while he is open to Mr. Kerry, there is something about the Democrat he does not quite trust.

"I haven't heard either man say the right thing yet," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


July 6th, 2004, 11:25 AM
Kerry Picks Edwards as His Running Mate

New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/06/politics/campaign/06CND-KERR.html?hp)

CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/07/06/kerry.vp/index.html)


NY Post picks wrong running mate (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Post-Gephardt-Gaffe.html)

July 10th, 2004, 04:16 AM
D’Amato tries to pull out Dick...

Drop Cheney? Democrats hope not
Speculation abounds in Washington after GOP ex-senator urges new Bush running mate

By Tom Curry
National affairs writer
MSNBC July 09, 2004

WASHINGTON - When former New York Sen. Al D’Amato suggested this week the time had come for President Bush to replace Vice President Dick Cheney with either Secretary of State Colin Powell or Arizona Sen. John McCain as his running mate, was D’Amato voicing Republican hopes and Democratic fears? Or was he simply being provocative?

"On through September, the Democratic ticket of Kerry-Edwards could very well build an insurmountable lead among a public that is hungry for change,” said one Washington-based political consultant, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney listen to reporters' questions at a White House meeting last January.

“If Cheney is dropped it would be the highest example of desperation in the history of presidential elections,” he said. “Without a doubt, it would happen in response to the fear Republicans have at Edwards being selected as Kerry’s VP."

While some Democrats acknowledge they’d love Cheney to stay on the ticket because they consider him a drag on Bush, most want to talk instead about their exuberance over Edwards.

Bush will play his hand

“I take the president at face value when he says that he is going to stand by Cheney,” said Washington-based Democratic campaign consultant Jim Duffy. Dumping Cheney? “I just don’t see it,” Duffy said. “It flies in the face of how Bush plays his hands. I see the president playing the hand he has right to the bitter end.”

Democrats, Duffy said, “are talking about how elated they are about the Kerry-Edwards ticket. This (Cheney speculation) is not something I see Democrats engaging in.”

“We’re praying Cheney stays on the ticket,” California Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland said. “Cheney is an albatross around the neck of the president, so Democrats are supporting Cheney.”

Mulholland noted that on Tuesday the Bush-Cheney campaign unveiled a new television ad featuring McCain.

“It wasn’t featuring Cheney,” Mulholland noted. “If Cheney were a plus for the ticket, they’d have him out there in that ad.”

“I’m hoping it doesn’t happen,” Mulholland said of a Cheney exit. “We want Cheney so we can beat up on him for the next four months.”

Mulholland said that one potentially troublesome story for Cheney that may get wider exposure in the next four months is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation of alleged payments of $180 million in bribes by several firms, including a subsidiary of Halliburton, to officials in Nigeria, in order to smooth construction of a liquefied natural gas complex off the Nigerian coast.

Some of the payments were allegedly made at the time Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said, "We are working with officials in Europe and the United States as well as conducting our own investigation to determine the truth of these unproven assertions. We do not believe that the company has violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act," a U.S. law that prohibits payments of bribes by American firms to foreign officials.

The Bush-Cheney campaign did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the Nigeria allegation.

D'Amato urges 'bold stroke'

For his part, D’Amato portrayed his dump-Cheney proposal as a move not dictated by the urgent need to avoid Republican defeat, but rather as way to bulk up Bush’s victory margin.

"While I believe George Bush will win re-election even without this bold stroke, he will insure a broader, deeper, more resonant reaffirmation of his leadership if he places his duty to continue as president above any one individual," D'Amato said.

But tradition and logic suggest that such a “bold stroke” would be necessitated only if the vice president’s heart ailment really did require him to step down or if Bush and his strategists thought his re-election hopes were slipping away.

Polling data released Thursday suggested that while Edwards’ selection as vice presidential candidate may have given Kerry a positive bump, Bush-Cheney is still quite competitive.

A John Zogby poll released Thursday showed the Kerry-Edwards ticket only two percentage points ahead of Bush and Cheney, a lead within the poll’s margin of error.

An Associated Press poll released Thursday found that 50 percent supported the Bush-Cheney ticket while 46 percent chose the Kerry-Edwards ticket, within that question's margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Threshold for drama

In an era of spectacular political events, from Bill Clinton’s impeachment to the 2000 election recount to the airplane crash deaths of Democratic Senate candidates Mel Carnahan in 2000 and Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002, the electorate’s threshold for drama has been raised.

But by any standard, a Cheney adieu would qualify as truly dramatic.

A memo written by a Washington-based political consultant and currently making the rounds in the capital sketches a Cheney exit scenario.

The memo notes Bush’s low job approval ratings in national polls.

“Only dramatic events create dramatic opportunities to change these perceptions. Why? During dramatic events the public’s attention is fixated on nothing else but the event in question,” the memo says.

A Cheney resignation would, it says, push Kerry and Edwards to the side. The news media coverage of who’d replace Cheney would be “pervasive and overwhelming. With less than a week to the Democratic Convention, little attention is given to Senator Kerry’s policy and political agenda. The Democratic nominee is relegated to the second-tier of the news cycle.”

A Cheney resignation would give Bush the opportunity to nominate his successor who, under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, would have to be confirmed by a majority vote of the House and the Senate.

The memo assumes McCain would be the nominee.

“Can Sen. Kerry vote against the Vice-President select? Of course not,” the memo says. “Can he vote for him? Of course not. Can he abstain? Of course not. There is no right answer. Can anyone imagine a more dramatic moment in recent political history?”

And perhaps it is a moment that will play out only in the summer nightmares of some Democrats.

© 2004 MSNBC Interactive

July 12th, 2004, 07:45 AM
New York Times July 12, 2004

Mr. Cheney's Troubled Doctor

The doctor who regularly vouched for Vice President Dick Cheney's good health had a secret debilitation of his own — a grievous addiction to prescription drugs that has recently been thoroughly aired in public. Unfortunately, we now know a lot about the medical history of Dr. Gary Malakoff but very little about that of his patient, the vice president.

Skimpy, upbeat generalizations have always been offered about Mr. Cheney, who has a history of heart ailments and complex ongoing treatment. In contrast, President Bush, by all accounts a picture of health, has released full details about his own checkups.

In the face of Dr. Malakoff's failings, candor is more urgent than ever from Mr. Cheney. Even as Dr. Malakoff pronounced his patient "up to the task of the most sensitive public office" four years ago, the doctor was spending tens of thousands of dollars on his addiction and making hollow promises of rehabilitation to colleagues.

Dr. Malakoff has been dropped as Mr. Cheney's personal internist. The vice president reportedly has known about the doctor's five-year struggle with addiction but has no concerns about the care he received, according to his press office.

The favorable summaries may have been the best collective judgment of a team of doctors, including cardiologists, but Dr. Malakoff was the lead doctor offering ringing reassurances about Mr. Cheney's health. In retrospect, voters are entitled to question the rosy prognoses. The vice president must put aside his obsession with secrecy and finally offer a detailed report on his medical history. For that matter, so should Senator John Kerry, who has not yet fulfilled promises to release his own records.

July 12th, 2004, 01:27 PM
It's all about the states. Here's how they roughly stand prior to the Democratic Convention.

The following maps don't agree on which party is represented by red or blue - be forwarned.

First, the 2000 Election:



Here are some websites showing current maps based on the latest state polls. Results vary, but taken together they tell a similar story; it is very close. The candidate with the advantage depends on which polls are used and how heavily each are weighed.







State polls also available here:


Electoral College Calculator (http://www.uselectionatlas.org/USPRESIDENT/evcalc.php?year=2004)

July 15th, 2004, 07:56 AM
July 15, 2004

Hear the Rumor on Cheney? Capital Buzzes, Denials Aside

WASHINGTON, July 14 - In the annals of Washington conspiracy theories, the latest one, about Vice President Dick Cheney's future on the Republican ticket, is as ingenious as it is far-fetched. But that has not stopped it from racing through Republican and Democratic circles like the latest low-carb diet.

The newest theory - advanced privately by prominent Democrats, including members of Congress - holds that Mr. Cheney recently dismissed his personal doctor so that he could see a new one, who will conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run with Mr. Bush. The dismissed physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff, who four years ago declared that Mr. Cheney was "up to the task of the most sensitive public office" despite a history of heart disease, was dropped from Mr. Cheney's medical team because of an addiction to prescription drugs.

"I don't know where they get all these conspiracy theories," said Matthew Dowd, the Bush campaign's chief strategist, who has heard them all. "It's inside-the-Beltway coffee talk, is all it is."

It may be inside the Beltway, but in recent days the Washington summer clamor about dropping Mr. Cheney has so greatly intensified that Mr. Cheney himself was forced to address it on Wednesday. Asked in a C-Span interview if he could envision any circumstances under which he would step aside, Mr. Cheney replied: "Well, no, I can't. If I thought that were appropriate, I certainly would."

In the interview, to be broadcast Sunday, Mr. Cheney also said that Mr. Bush "has made very clear he doesn't want to break up the team," but that chatter of his stepping down was to be expected.

"I suppose right now, because we're in the run-up to the convention, people don't have much to talk about so you get speculation on that," he said. "It's normal. When we get to the convention, I think that'll put an end to that." Who would replace Mr. Cheney has nonetheless became a favorite Washington guessing game, with the names of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Senator John McCain of Arizona whispered about the most. Never mind that neither has a particularly cordial relationship with Mr. Bush, and that neither has expressed interest in the job. Other names that keep popping up include Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, and Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader.

There is also something of an under-the-radar campaign among Republicans promoting their friends for a job that may never come open. As an example, boosters of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, have long tried to toss his name in the mix, despite the fact that friends of the president say he would never pick Mr. Giuliani.

The rumblings about Mr. Cheney are similar to those that plagued Vice President Dan Quayle in 1992, when Secretary of State James A. Baker III led efforts to push Mr. Quayle off the ticket. But the reasons are different.

Mr. Quayle was seen as a bumbler who could not spell "potato," making him an easy target for Bill Clinton's campaign. Mr. Cheney, who has suffered four heart attacks, has faced persistent questions about his powerful role in promoting the war in Iraq and insisting that Saddam Hussein had unconventional weapons.

But like Mr. Quayle, Mr. Cheney suffers from low approval ratings. Last month, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that 21 percent of voters had a favorable impression of Mr. Cheney, compared with 39 percent for Mr. Bush.

Democrats, as part of their campaign to discredit the competition, are energetically promoting the idea that Mr. Cheney is a drag on the ticket. But none of them are suggesting that Mr. Bush should drop him.

"He has come to be a polarizing figure who repels voters," said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Senator John Kerry. But asked if that did not make Mr. Cheney a dream candidate to run against, Mr. Devine demurred. "I'm not going to lob one in that direction," he said. "I don't want to be the Kerry guy who says 'We want Cheney.' "

Republicans close to the Bush campaign say that the Democrats are using Mr. Cheney as a powerful way to attack Mr. Bush and undermine the White House. "When the Democrats attacked Dan Quayle, it didn't matter a lot," said Vin Weber, a former congressman who is the Bush campaign's chairman for the upper Midwest. "Nobody thought Dan Quayle was the president's most trusted adviser, with broad responsibilities. But Democrats understand that when you go after this vice president, you really go after the administration.''

But even some Republicans are now questioning whether Mr. Cheney should stay on the ticket. As one House Republican said, conspiratorially, outside the House chamber this week, "Watch Cheney." Another Republican member of Congress said that Mr. Cheney was increasingly viewed as a political liability.

"I don't think you fix the problem by changing the No. 2 horse, but Bush is facing so much heavy baggage going into November, he's going to have to throw some of that baggage off," said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

One recent contribution to the buzz about Mr. Cheney came Tuesday in a column by Charlie Cook, the editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "Stipulating that dumping a totally loyal, integral part of his inner circle is something that is absolutely not in George W. Bush's DNA, losing with plenty of notice does not appear to be part of his genetic makeup either," Mr. Cook wrote. He concluded that in an election year as close as this one, "the president badly needs something to shake this race up, and I can think of just one thing. Cheney may need to watch his back."

Mr. Cook's column came less than a week after Alfonse M. D'Amato, the once-influential Republican senator from New York, said on the cable station NY1 that Mr. Bush should replace Mr. Cheney with Mr. Powell or Mr. McCain. Mr. D'Amato's motives have stirred speculation among New Yorkers, although some who know him well said that getting attention might have been primary among them. An assistant in Mr. D'Amato's office said Wednesday that he would have no further comment on the matter.

Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said that Mr. D'Amato's comments had not thrown the White House into any evident frenzy. As Mr. King recounted it, he was recently at the White House with another member of Congress and had a brief conversation with Mr. Bush. The other member of Congress mentioned Mr. D'Amato's comments to Mr. Bush, Mr. King said, and Mr. Bush laughed.

"He didn't seem concerned or angry," Mr. King said. "And then I said that Al is getting married on Sunday and he's got other things on his mind." Mr. Bush responded, Mr. King said, by saying, "Tell him the president wishes him well on his wedding day."

Copyright 2004*The New York Times Company

July 26th, 2004, 04:44 AM
July 26, 2004


Where Do They Stand?


Source: Ideological positions calculated by Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, see "Common Space Data," http://voteview.uh.edu/readmeb.htm .

Most campaigns feature efforts by the candidates to characterize their opponent as being out of the mainstream - as an extreme liberal or as part of the far right. The current presidential campaign is no exception.

Thus far, most of the ideological fire has been directed at the Kerry-Edwards ticket. The Bush campaign has gotten particularly good mileage out of a National Journal analysis of roll call voting in 2003 that ranked John Kerry of Massachusetts as the No. 1 liberal in the Senate and John Edwards of North Carolina as the fourth-most-liberal senator.

Yet the senators' ratings are misleading because of the large number of votes each man missed. Mr. Kerry, for example, attended so few votes on social and foreign policy that his composite score in 2003 was based only on economic policy. Even then he was not the single most liberal senator on economic issues; it was a distinction he shared with six other senators, including Bob Graham of Florida.

So where do the Democratic nominees really fit along the left-right spectrum? Well, you get a different answer if your calculations are based on nearly all votes cast by the candidates in their Senate careers. Using this measure, we have arrayed Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards from left to right in the above figure based on their voting history in the Senate. For comparison's sake, we also have included Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, John McCain of Arizona, and the parties' median senators. We even have scores for President Bush (from his announced positions on roll call votes while president) and Vice President Dick Cheney (based on the votes he cast when he represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives from 1979 through 1988).

Assertions that the Democrats' presumptive nominees are extreme liberals fall flat. True, Mr. Kerry's voting history places him to the left of today's median Senate Democrat (Tom Daschle of South Dakota). But he is closer to the center of the Democratic Party than he is to the most liberal senators, including Mr. Kennedy. John Edwards falls just to the right of the median Democrat. In fact, he is nearly indistinguishable from Mr. Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2000.

On the other side of the partisan divide, Mr. Bush - like Mr. Kerry - is more extreme than his party's median senator (Richard Shelby of Alabama). He is also noticeably more conservative than his primary challenger in 2000, John McCain. So any assertion that the Democratic candidates are out of the mainstream might easily be applied to the Republicans as well. In fact, if any of the four candidates on the national party tickets this year is out of the mainstream, it is Mr. Cheney, who in his last full term in the House was on the right flank of roughly 90 percent of his Republican colleagues.

Sarah Binder and Thomas Mann are senior fellows at the Brookings Institution. Alan Murphy is a senior research assistant there. Paul Sahre is a graphic designer.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 6th, 2004, 12:39 AM
Anti-Kerry Ad Is Condemned by McCain

The New York Times
Published: August 6, 2004

McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five years

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 - Senator John McCain on Thursday repudiated a new advertisement accusing Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts of lying about his Vietnam War record and called on the President Bush to do the same.

At the same time the Democratic Party said three television stations had agreed to its request to cease showing the advertisement.

"I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad,'' The Associated Press quoted Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona and a Vietnam War veteran, as saying.

Mr. Bush's campaign did not do so, but Nicolle Devenish, Mr. Bush's campaign communications director, said, "We have never and will never question John Kerry's service.'' She did not address the content of the advertisement, from a group of anti-Kerry veterans calling themselves Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Mr. Kerry earned a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts commanding a Swift boat in Vietnam.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is one of the so-called 527 committees, named for a provision in the tax code that created them. Federal law allows such groups to raise unlimited donations and run advertisements so long as they do not expressly call for the election or defeat of a federal candidate. The Democrats have been far more reliant on such groups than the Republicans this election.

Asked in a briefing Thursday if the Bush campaign would repudiate the advertisement, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, said, "The president deplores all the unregulated soft money activity.''

In the advertisement, running on stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, men who served on Swift boats say Mr. Kerry "is no war hero'' and "lied to get his Bronze Star.'' The spot opens with some of the men saying "I served with John Kerry.'' None of the men served with Mr. Kerry on his Swift boat but claim to have served on boats that were often near his.

Lawyers for the Democratic National Committee on Thursday called upon television stations to refuse to run the advertisement. The party said it had persuaded at least 3 of the 27 stations carrying the spot to cease showing it until they could establish if it contained outright falsehoods.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 6th, 2004, 11:22 AM
Good for McCain. I'm sure he's still smarting from the sludge Bush threw at him in 2000.

Criticizing the validity of Kerry's medals is pretty foul, but it's nowhere near calling voters to suggest that McCain fathered an illegitimate child.

August 9th, 2004, 07:34 PM
Kerry leads 291 to 215 in electoral votes...

Behind The Numbers: A Hidden Bounce For Kerry

Undecided voters seem more impressed than ever with Kerry

By Lee Walczak and Richard S. Dunham in Washington
Business Week
AUGUST 16, 2004

First came the seamless convention, a Democratic pageant unblemished by doubt or discord. Now pundits are puzzling over a new phenomenon -- the bounceless convention.

In what looks like an anomaly, Democrat John Kerry, who delivered a well-received acceptance speech at his party conclave in Boston, seems to have reaped little gain. While post-convention jumps in opinion polls typically range from 10% to 15%, new surveys show the Massachusetts senator left Boston gaining at most 5% against President George W. Bush. One, the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, even shows Bush pulling ahead 50% to 47%, leading critics to argue that Kerry missed his big chance to convince folks that he's got the right stuff.

But such interpretations miss the significance of an electorate where most voters have made up their minds. With just 7% still undecided, according to a July 30-Aug. 1 ABC News/Washington Post poll, tectonic shifts aren't likely. "There's a lot of ice in the river, and it's hard to get much movement," says ABC polling director Gary Langer. That means when the President decamps from New York City on Sept. 2 after the GOP convention, he may not move the dial much, either.

A better way to assess Kerry's performance is to look past the horse-race numbers and dig down into the public's answers. By that standard, he helped himself. In an ABC/Washington Post post-convention poll released on Aug. 2, Kerry holds a 49% to 47% edge among likely voters, a 6-point swing from a month earlier. The Democratic candidate fared much better on personal qualities, where he had suffered in comparison with Bush. On the crucial question of leadership, Kerry cut Bush's pre-convention lead of 19 points to just 6. On the question of which man would keep America more secure, he sliced a 16-point Bush margin to only 3.

How about "values," a word that kept ricocheting inside the FleetCenter? While Bush had a 6-point advantage before the Democratic gathering, Kerry now leads the President by 6. "The convention allowed voters to deepen their understanding of John Kerry's background, values, and plans for the nation," contends campaign pollster Mark Mellman. "From that point of view, it was completely successful."

Bush aides, of course, beg to differ. Senior strategist Matthew Dowd crows that Kerry received "the worst lift in the polls since [Democrat George] McGovern in '72," which was the biggest debacle in modern electoral politics. Indeed, polls show that Republicans reacted to the Democratic pageant in Boston by becoming even more ardent in their support for Bush -- an intensity factor that could play out in higher voter turnout.

Still, Republican strategists have a much harder time explaining why swing voters are more smitten than ever with Kerry. And while national polls appear little changed by the convention, the extravaganza may have solidified the Democrat's edge in the only count that matters: the state-by-state battle for the Electoral College.

According to a Zogby International poll released on Aug. 3, Kerry holds a clear electoral vote lead over Bush, 291 to 215. That's 21 more votes than needed to win, with some 32 electoral votes left in states too close to call.

Of course, the tally is likely to change if the Republicans manage their convention as successfully as the Democrats ran theirs. And swing voters -- who are impressed with Kerry but not yet sold on him -- could easily shift back and forth a few more times before the election on Nov. 2.

In an era of ultrapolarized politics, the 30-point bounce received by victorious challenger Bill Clinton in 1992 or the 15-point spurt enjoyed by eventual loser Bob Dole in '96 is unlikely to be repeated. But that's not to say that a mini-bump should be dismissed out of hand. These days, a Presidential candidate should be grateful for any bounce that he can get.

August 15th, 2004, 08:03 AM
Moved from another topic:

If not Bush or Kerry, vote Barbie
Mattel launches 'presidential campaign' of flagship doll, which is being sold by Toys R Us for $20.

August 13, 2004: 7:10 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Look out Bush and Kerry, Barbie's making a run for the White House.

No. 1 toy manufacturer Mattel Inc. (MAT: Research, Estimates) launched a presidential campaign for its popular fashion doll at the flagship Toys R Us (TOY: Research, Estimates) store in Manhattan's Times Square on Thursday.

The promotion is being conducted in partnership with the White House Project, a group that encourages women to run for public office.

Dozens of girls aged 3 to 12 attended the "press conference" wearing shirts emblazoned with slogans like "Future Frontrunner" and carrying signs that said "Go Vote. Go Run. Go Lead. Go Girl."

The event comes months after Mattel announced a "break-up" of longtime doll couple Barbie and Ken. The company is working to capitalize on its best-known product, which has been losing its appeal to older kids. The move is less a money-making initiative for Mattel, and more a labor of love, Mattel spokeswoman Julia Jensen told Reuters.

"This educates girls and also engages them with the Barbie brand in a new way," Jensen said. "It also gets parents involved." Mattel and the White House Project are also encouraging parents to bring daughters to the voting booth.

A Barbie for President doll will be sold exclusively at Toys R Us stores through the end of the U.S. presidential election and the balance of the year for about $20. Each doll comes with a leadership tip sheet.

Of course, Barbie is no stranger to the career world. She's been a veterinarian, surgeon, police officer, astronaut and business executive. Girls can vote on her campaign issues at the Barbie Web site.

Copyright 2004 Reuters All rights reserved.

:? Sure Barbie for president why didn't I think of that.

Got to run to the store in Manhattan's Times Square... See you later!

August 15th, 2004, 08:05 AM
August 15, 2004

Styles Similar in Bush and Kerry Duel on Deficit Numbers


WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 - For months, Senator John Kerry and his top advisers have accused President Bush of pushing through tax cuts and big spending that have added trillions of dollars to the federal debt.

Then early last week, Mr. Kerry's campaign boasted that he would offer "more than twice as much in new tax cuts" as the president and still follow through on his promise of a $653 billion health care plan.

The campaign trumpeted its proposal for "more than $400 billion of new tax cuts" in a news release that declared "these tax cuts are fully paid for without increasing the deficit by one dime," before going on to list a variety of tax breaks for college tuition costs, health care and investment in new technology.

While Mr. Kerry carefully listed ways he would pay for the new tax cuts, totaling $419 billion over 10 years, he has also called for permanently extending Mr. Bush's tax cuts for middle-income families. Because those tax cuts are set to expire under current law, making them permanent would cost the Treasury about $425 billion over 10 years.

Budget analysts see striking similarities in the ways Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush have glossed over major omissions in their goals to reduce the deficit.

Each candidate has promised to cut the deficit by half over the next four years, from its level this year of roughly $400 billion. And each has proposed major tax cuts without saying how he would pay for them. Each has also avoided the subject of the future costs of war in Iraq and the much bigger fiscal problems that lie just beyond their four-year horizon, when 76 million baby boomers begin to reach retirement age.

Nor has either candidate budgeted for changing the alternative minimum tax, which was originally created to prevent the wealthy from taking too much advantage of sophisticated tax breaks.

But the alternative minimum tax is not indexed to rising incomes and is expected to snare millions of middle-income families over the next few years. Both candidates have said they want to prevent that from happening. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that doing so could cost $549 billion over 10 years.

"It's unclear to me that either candidate is better," said Robert Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan research group that has denounced the Bush administration's budget policies for years as reckless and misleading. "Both of them have the same goal, and both of them are avoiding many of the same issues."

Last week, the two battled over who would do more to cut taxes for middle-income families. Citing new calculations by the Congressional Budget Office, Mr. Kerry denounced Mr. Bush's tax cuts as overwhelmingly favoring the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

The Bush administration fought back, saying the tax cuts had reduced tax burdens at every income level. Each candidate has accused the other of fiscal irresponsibility and playing with the numbers.

"John Kerry only has a patchwork of proposals that simply don't add up," said Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "He has spent what he would raise from taxes a half-dozen different ways."

Democrats have accused Mr. Bush of presiding over the worst fiscal deterioration in history, from projected surpluses of $5 trillion over 10 years to projected deficits of $5 trillion if all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts become permanent.

"The difference is between night and day," said Gene Sperling, a top economic adviser to Mr. Kerry. "George Bush didn't just run up the deficit. He completely changed the climate in Washington from a rare moment of bipartisan fiscal discipline to a 'deficits don't matter, pay for anything' kind of culture."

Mr. Bush's tax plans would cost about $1.13 trillion over 10 years, according to the White House's own estimates. Mr. Bush would freeze spending on domestic discretionary programs outside of the military and domestic security, but that would affect only about 20 percent of the federal budget.

Mr. Kerry's plan would raise $860 billion over 10 years by reversing recent tax cuts for families with incomes above $200,000 a year; he would use that money to finance his $653 billion health care plan and a host of other programs.

Compared with Mr. Bush's plans, Mr. Kerry's proposals would amount to an increase in taxes. But the full panoply of Mr. Kerry's proposals would lead to tax cuts totaling $425 billion over 10 years, which would rank him as one of the biggest tax-cutters in history.

Under pressure to shore up his fiscal credibility, Mr. Kerry has in recent weeks scaled back some proposals, including one for a national service corps, and warned that other proposals may have to wait if there is no money to pay for them.

But he still offers an ambitious list. Mr. Kerry would spend $207 billion on education over the next 10 years, from expansion of after-school programs and school modernization to tax credits for college tuition costs. Other major proposals include $55 billion for veterans' health care and military families; $30 billion in tax cuts and spending for high technology; and up to $80 billion for an extra 40,000 soldiers.

In a tacit admission that the numbers are hard to reconcile, Mr. Kerry's supporters argue that the crucial issue is not so much the numbers as the commitment of the candidate to reduce the deficit.

"It is imperative that the next president has an internalized sense of how important this is," said Robert E. Rubin, who was Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton and is an informal Kerry adviser. "The only way you are going to deal with it is if you have a very committed president."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 18th, 2004, 03:27 PM
A report from another forum I participate in.

Bush Has People Putting In Change Of Addresses For Voters, Then They Can't Vote

"Are you registered to vote? Are you sure you're registered?

I am currently pissed off. Let me tell you why.

Today, around lunchtime, I went with my parents to the polls to vote in our primary election. When I got there, I found that I had somehow been removed from the books, and hence could not vote.

Frustrated, I took the day off work and my mom took me down to the Election Board at 18th and Walnut. When we got there, we found that the reason I was not on the books is that SOMEONE had sent in an address
change card for me. I live near 76th and Troost, but the voting database now had me down as living at 52nd and Locust - I've NEVER lived there, and have in fact lived at this address all of my life (well, except for the year in England, and even then this was my "permanent address"). It took about two hours, but the elections commission director straightened it out and I was finally able to vote. However, she told me why this has been happening, and it's very worrisome.

Apparently there are groups out there who buy copies of the voter registration rolls, then send in new registrations for registered voters giving them a new address. It's really a more sophisticated version of the whole thing with the felony lists in Florida in the last election - however, people aren't being REMOVED from the voting rolls, and hence there's no red flag being raised. After all, people DO move and send in change of address, so there's no reason for them to suspect voter fraud.

And there's really no way to trace this, so there's really no way to detect this. But in effect what it means is voters are removed from the rolls - after all, if you're unknowingly registered in another precinct, how can you vote at yours? I was lucky...I have the job flexibility and transportation to go down to the election board and find out the problems, but I'm betting a lot of the other people with the same problems don't. And there are a lot - at my precinct, during the period we were at the polls, which was
pretty slow, there were only about five or six people in and out, including us. And of those, me and one other guy found ourselves off the rolls, and one woman said she'd had the same thing happen to her during the 2000 presidential election and had to spend the entire day down at the election board.

By the way, I'll just say that I think it's significant that I happen to live in a largely minority, heavily Democratic district in a swing state. You can draw your own conclusions from that. But I'll add that I've recently been reading Bush's Brain, a book about the INCREDIBLY F-ING SCARY Karl Rove, and this scheme has a distinct Rovian stench to it. (Three guesses who masterminded the similar scheme in Florida for Bush?)

Anyway, I have a feeling that this problem is only going to get worse as the November election approaches. So I'm urging everyone, especially if you live in a swing state - either check with your election board a few days
before the election to make sure you're on the rolls at your current address, or vote absentee early (which will also let you know whether you're on the rolls or not). "

August 19th, 2004, 12:28 PM
The NY TImes seems to be giving legitimacy to the above claim:

August 19, 2004
The New Hanging Chads

ne of the scandals of the last presidential election was the large number of voters who were denied the right to vote because of foul-ups in the election system, like errors in the voting rolls or problems in directing voters to their correct polling places. As a result, Congress required that this year, voters be allowed to fill out provisional ballots if their eligibility is in question, and that the validity of those ballots be determined later on. It was a crucial reform, but in many places the ballots aren't working out the way they are supposed to, because of poor procedures and overly technical regulations. If this year's election is close, there are likely to be furious battles over how these rules were applied. While there is still time, state and local officials should fix the provisional-voting problems.

The nation's voting rolls are notoriously inaccurate. One study found that as many as six million votes were lost in the 2000 presidential election because of registration problems and that the use of provisional ballots nationwide could have cut the loss significantly. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandated that such ballots be given to every voter in a federal election who shows up at the polls but doesn't seem to be listed on the voting rolls. Unfortunately, Congress left local officials too much discretion in carrying out the law. In Chicago this March, 93 percent of the provisional ballots were thrown out, often for dubious reasons.

One of the biggest problems is that some states are refusing to count provisional ballots cast in the wrong polling place. In Chicago, this rule voided more than 20 percent of the votes with provisional ballots. But when voters cannot locate their polling places, elections officials are often just as much to blame. This month, Claude Hawkins went to four Kansas City, Mo., polling sites, trying to vote, only to be told he was in the wrong place. No poll workers, however, could direct him to the right place. The Board of Elections phone lines were busy or not answered all day. At his fourth stop, Mr. Hawkins cast a provisional ballot, which was disqualified - because he had voted at the wrong polling place.

Mr. Hawkins and other Missourians are challenging the wrong-polling-place rule in federal court. They rightly argue that it violates the Help America Vote Act, which says provisional ballots "shall be counted." They also argue, in an equal-protection claim, that in Missouri's 2002 election, African-Americans were significantly more likely than whites to have their provisional ballots thrown out. The judge has ordered Missouri to wait before certifying this month's primary results, and he has put the case on a fast track.

This week, several unions filed a similar suit in Florida, which also disqualifies provisional ballots cast at the wrong polling places. The wrong-precinct rule serves no legitimate purpose, and it denies eligible voters the right to vote. States should not wait for a court to tell them that rule is unacceptable. At the very least, election officials who intend to throw away ballots cast in the wrong locations must have a foolproof way of directing voters on Election Day to their correct polling places.

Many more provisional ballots are disqualified because of errors in completing them. Some 2,400 of the 5,914 provisional ballots in Chicago this year went not counted because the accompanying affidavits were incompletely or wrongly filled out. Provisional ballots cannot be a literacy test, preventing all but the most sophisticated voters from casting valid votes. The ballots and affidavits should be simple and the instructions clear, and well-trained poll workers should be on hand to help voters complete them. When the time comes to count provisional ballots, highly technical rules should not be used to disenfranchise voters.

Finally, and most basically, elections officials must have enough provisional ballots on hand. Since this is the first presidential election with mandatory provisional voting, and interest in this year's race is so high, they should err on the side of excess. In California's March primary, voters were turned away because polling places had run out of provisional ballots. Some voters had to make three trips before new ballots arrived.

The guiding principle behind the Help America Vote Act's requirement for provisional ballots is that glitches in the election system should not keep eligible voters from voting. State and local elections officials must not handle provisional voting in a way that frustrates this core democratic ideal.

Making Votes Count: Editorials in this series remain online at www.nytimes.com/makingvotescount.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 27th, 2004, 09:37 AM
August 27, 2004

Bush Dismisses Idea That Kerry Lied on Vietnam


FARMINGTON, N.M., Aug. 26 - President Bush said on Thursday that he did not believe Senator John Kerry lied about his war record, but he declined to condemn the television commercial paid for by a veterans group alleging that Mr. Kerry came by his war medals dishonestly.

Mr. Bush's comments, in a half-hour interview with The New York Times, undercut a central accusation leveled by the veterans group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose unproven attacks on Mr. Kerry have dominated the political debate for more than two weeks.

In the interview, which included topics like preparations for the Republican National Convention, the reconstruction of Iraq and the twin nuclear threats of North Korea and Iran, Mr. Bush portrayed himself as a victim of the same type of political interest groups - called 527 committees for the section of the tax code that created them - that are attacking Mr. Kerry.

"I understand how Senator Kerry feels - I've been attacked by 527's too,'' he said, adding that he had spoken earlier in the day to Senator John McCain and had agreed to join him in a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to bar the groups.

Mr. Bush also acknowledged for the first time that he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be'' in postwar Iraq. But he insisted that the 17-month-long insurgency that has upended the administration's plans for the country was the unintended by-product of a "swift victory'' against Saddam Hussein's military, which fled and then disappeared into the cities, enabling them to mount a rebellion against the American forces far faster than Mr. Bush and his aides had anticipated.

He insisted that his strategy had been "flexible enough'' to respond, and said that even now "we're adjusting to our conditions'' in places like Najaf, where American forces have been battling one of the most militant of the Shiite groups opposing the American-installed government.

Mr. Bush deflected efforts to inquire further into what went wrong with the occupation, suggesting that such questions should be left to historians, and insisting, as his father used to, that he would resist going "on the couch'' to rethink decisions.

On environmental issues, Mr. Bush appeared unfamiliar with an administration report delivered to Congress on Wednesday that indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades. Previously, Mr. Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties in understanding the causes and consequences of global warming.

The new report was signed by Mr. Bush's secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser. Asked why the administration had changed its position on what causes global warming, Mr. Bush replied, "Ah, we did? I don't think so."

Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's press secretary, said later that the administration was not changing its position on global warming and that Mr. Bush continued to be guided by continuing research at the National Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Bush conducted the interview in an unusual setting: A cinderblock dressing room, outfitted with a conference table and leather reclining chairs, accessible only by walking through a men's room underneath a small stadium here, where he appeared for a campaign rally. The president was joined by one of his closest advisers, Karen P. Hughes, who is now traveling with him; the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice; former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who was introducing him at rallies across the state; and his press secretary, Scott McClellan.

In the interview and at three rallies across the state, Mr. Bush appeared relaxed in an open-collared shirt with his shirtsleeves rolled up. Aides said he was in a good mood because of recent polls that showed him gaining ground on Mr. Kerry after months of bad news in Iraq.

A poll conducted by The Los Angeles Times found that Mr. Bush was running ahead of Mr. Kerry for the first time this year and suggested that some of the erosion in Mr. Kerry's support could be linked to the attacks on his military service. But the Times poll and several others released on Thursday showed the race to be deadlocked, with neither candidate holding a lead beyond the margin of sampling error.

One senior political adviser to the president said the shift in Mr. Bush's favor was due to Mr. Kerry's statement two weeks ago that he would have voted to give the president the authority to invade Iraq even if he had known that the country currently possessed no weapons of mass destruction.

"It felt like he had finally made his position clear,'' Mr. Bush said in the interview, referring to Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Bush also took issue with Mr. Kerry's argument, in an interview at the end of May with The New York Times, that the Bush administration's focus on Iraq had given North Korea the opportunity to significantly expand its nuclear capability. Showing none of the alarm about the North's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq, he opened his palms and shrugged when an interviewer noted that new intelligence reports indicate that the North may now have the fuel to produce six or eight nuclear weapons.

He said that in North Korea's case, and in Iran's, he would not be rushed to set deadlines for the countries to disarm, despite his past declaration that he would not "tolerate'' nuclear capability in either nation. He declined to define what he meant by "tolerate.''

"I don't think you give timelines to dictators,'' Mr. Bush said, speaking of North Korea's president, Kim Jong Il, and Iran's mullahs. He said he would continue diplomatic pressure - using China to pressure the North and Europe to pressure Iran - and gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.

"I'm confident that over time this will work - I certainly hope it does,'' he said of the diplomatic approach. Mr. Kerry argued in his interview that North Korea "'was a far more compelling threat in many ways, and it belonged at the top of the agenda,'' but Mr. Bush declined to compare it to Iraq, apart from arguing that Iraq had defied the world community for longer than the other members of what he once called "the axis of evil.'' Nor would he assess the risk that Pyongyang might sell nuclear material to terrorists, though his national security aides believe it may have sold raw uranium to Libya in recent years.

Mr. Bush spoke on the first leg of a multistate tour in advance of the convention: He spends late Friday in Florida, Saturday on another bus trip through Ohio, and Sunday in West Virginia. All are considered crucial swing states.

Mr. Bush did not hesitate when asked about the central charge issued by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the veterans' group that has leveled unsubstantiated attacks against Mr. Kerry's record in Vietnam. "I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record,'' Mr. Bush said. "No, I don't think he lied.''

But when pressed repeatedly if he would specifically denounce the advertisements, which Mr. Kerry has said were being run with the tacit approval of the Bush campaign, the president refused to condemn then. Instead, he said he would talk only of the "broader issue'' of the political committees that take to the airwaves with attack advertisements.

"Five twenty-sevens - I think these ought to be outlawed,'' he said. "I think they should have been outlawed a year ago. We have billionaires writing checks, large checks, to influence the outcome of the election.''

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Dominican NYC the 2nd
September 7th, 2004, 06:13 PM
I'm upset with this match- up. I don't really like Kerry and I don't like Bush. I just dont want Bush for 4 more years. I don't believe in any of his values.

September 10th, 2004, 02:15 PM
Cheney: Economic stats miss eBay sales
September 10, 2004

Indicators measure the nation's unemployment rate, consumer spending and other economic milestones, but Vice President Dick Cheney says it misses the hundreds of thousands who make money selling on eBay.

"That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," Cheney told an audience in Cincinnati on Thursday. "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."

San Jose, Calif.-based EBay Inc. is an Internet auction site where anyone can sell just about anything, including clothing, cell phones, jewelry, memorabilia, trinkets and automobiles.

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards responded that Cheney's comments show how "out of touch" he and President Bush are with the economy.

"If we only included bake sales and how much money kids make at lemonade stands, this economy would really be cooking," Edwards said in a statement.*

© Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

September 10th, 2004, 05:42 PM
Would they count the guy who wanted to auction his head on EBay as advertising space (tatoos).

September 12th, 2004, 08:42 AM
September 12, 2004


Westerns and Easterns


It's a remarkable feat, but teeter-tottering John Kerry is even managing to land on both sides of the ambition issue.

For his entire life, he was seen as so ambitious to be president, as so eager to consort with heiresses, that it was off-putting; his St. Paul's classmates played "Hail to the Chief" on kazoos when he walked by, and in the Senate, Bob Dole mocked the Massachusetts senator's love of cameras by nicknaming him Live Shot.

But this summer, when that lust for power should have been coursing through his veins, Mr. Kerry grew timid and logy. He let the Bush crowd and Swift boat character assassins stomp all over him and, for the longest time, didn't fight back. He stumbled into every trap Bush Inc. set.

Finally, the only Democrat who has fended off the WASP Corleones reminded the nominee of the prep-school mantra: punch the bully in the face, and do it in the same news cycle.

When he hasn't been busy with his quadruple-bypass operation, Bill Clinton has been chatting with John Kerry on the phone from the hospital, urging him to juice it up. The Clinton posse - James Carville, Paul Begala, Joe Lockhart, Mike McCurry, Stan Greenberg, Lanny Davis - has intervened to prop up the sagging leadership of Bob Shrum, who had advised Mr. Kerry not to go negative (and allowed the once-hot John Edwards to vanish without a trace).

Mr. Kerry listened to Shrummy, despite the fact that the strategist renowned for his speechwriting talents had not even given his candidate a single stirring speech.

Writing about the Curse of Shrummy in The Washington Post, Mark Leibovich said: "It is common to see him in the back seat of a car driven by a young aide, an image that reinforces a somewhat regal bearing. He loves gourmet food and fine wines and has his suits handmade by a Georgetown tailor."

Democrats were rolling their eyes at the spectacle of a former president in a hospital bed resuscitating a would-be president.

"Howard Dean had the base all warmed up and now Kerry's turned into a girlie-man," said a Democratic insider, comparing it with the scene in "The Godfather" when the singer Johnny Fontane shows up at the wedding of Don Corleone's daughter and whines that a studio chief is being mean to him.

The godfather slaps the singer and barks, "Act like a man!"

Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney jumped in the polls because they cast their convention as a Western. They were the "Magnificent Seven," steely-eyed, gun-slinging samurai riding in to save the frightened town: Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zell Miller, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and Poppy Bush, who was on "Imus" comparing Mr. Kerry with Jane Fonda.

The vice president played up the Western motif by giving ABC an interview at his Wyoming ranch.

"The cowboy riding tall in the saddle and holding the reins for a little girl on her pony could have been Shane," wrote Alessandra Stanley in her TV Watch column in The Times.

After 9/11, Americans want tough guys who will protect them from Al Qaeda. They seem to be willing to settle for an impersonation of tough guys by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who were so busy with their vanity war in Iraq that they missed critical opportunities to vanquish Al Qaeda and spent money on a foreign occupation that could have been used to secure American ports and come up with plans before the Beslan tragedy to protect children from terrorists.

But the White House has cleverly co-opted the imagery of Westerns, leaving Mr. Kerry to star in a far less successful movie genre: the Eastern.

In Westerns, the heroes are men of smoke-'em-out edicts and action, played out in gorges on their ranches; in Easterns, the heroes have windy, nuanced dialogue, delivered with a lockjaw in mansions on Beacon Hill and on windsurfing expeditions off Nantucket.

In Easterns, the effete heroes get upset when the wrong kind of people join their Boston clubs, and quibble, in the style of the "Late George Apley," about the rules when suit jackets must be worn.

In Westerns, the heroes treat womenfolk with gallantry, but tell them to stay back. In Easterns, Teresa rides shotgun and calls the opposition "idiots." There's a reason Easterns never caught on in Hollywood. High tea in a drawing room is just not as compelling as high noon in the town square.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
September 13th, 2004, 07:01 PM
9/11 letters

Arthur Schlesinger tries to allay European anxieties about the bellicose new America. Timothy Garton Ash replies

Arthur Schlesinger and Timothy Garton Ash

Saturday September 11, 2004

The Guardian

· Arthur Schlesinger Jr is a former adviser to President Kennedy and the author, most recently, of War and the American Presidency; Timothy Garton Ash's latest book is Free World: Why a Crisis of the West Reveals the Opportunity of Our Time

Arthur Schlesinger:

My European friends, do not despair of America! It is still the bold and idealistic country of FDR and JFK, though boldness and idealism have latterly turned somewhat into bellicosity and arrogance.

This is the result of two history-making experiences. One is the victory of democracy over communism in the cold war. The dissolution of the Soviet Union leaves the US as the planet's unchallenged and unchallengeable superpower - not just in the military and ideological sense, but in economics, technology and popular culture.

Neoconservative ideologues in Washington were confident that the US could dispense with allies and international institutions. They systematically disparaged and vilified the UN, ironically enough, in the house of its founders Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. Many Americans sought comfort in reverting to traditional mistrust of what Jefferson called "entangling alliances".

The second history-making experience we mark today - the third anniversary of the assault by hijacked airplanes on the World Trade Centre in New York and on the Pentagon in Washington, twin symbols of what President Eisenhower once called "the military-industrial complex". This has had a terrific impact on the national psyche, even more so than the surprise Japanese attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941.

After all, in 1941 we knew who the enemy was. The Japanese attack took place on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, far from American shores. The target was American naval power, not innocent civilians going about their daily business. Today the enemies are stateless; they strike in cities well know to every American; they blow themselves up or retreat into the shadows; they turn a familiar convenience - the aeroplane - into a vicious weapon; and ordinary people are the target.

The second world war was a far more menacing conflict with far more dangerous foes. But it did not threaten Americans in the daily rounds of their lives. Today many feel an intense personal vulnerability they have never felt before. Of course, Europeans have grown accustomed to local terrorism - ETA Basques in Spain, Red gangs in Italy and Germany, Corsicans in France, and the old IRA in Britain. For Americans terrorism is a novel and horrid experience.

This mysterious new threat led a new administration in Washington to change the basis of US foreign policy. That basis had been containment and deterrence, a combination that won us the cold war. The new basis of US foreign policy is preventive war, which cold war American presidents had abhorred and vetoed. The Bush doctrine is to attack an enemy, unilaterally if necessary, before it has a chance to attack us, a right reserved to the US. This casts the US as the world's judge, jury and executioner. Hardly a popular position.

Most Americans had supported the war in Afghanistan against al-Qaida, which committed an act of monstrous aggression, and against the Taliban, which protected the terrorists. The second, and separate, war against Iraq was an optional war, a war of presidential choice. That war was fought on two false premises - the alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and the alleged partnership between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

The case for preventive war rests on the assumption that we have near-perfect intelligence about the enemy's intentions and capabilities. Post-mortem inquiries into our intelligence agencies show how imperfect our knowledge of Iraq was.

In the meantime, "homeland security" anxieties abide in many American households. People in the age of terrorism are willing to pay a price for the protection of their families. As all wars do, the Iraq war has expanded presidential power. More than 30 years ago, I wrote a book called The Imperial Presidency, and an imperial presidency has been born again in Washington today.

A so-called Patriot Act, rushed through in the wake of 9/11 by an imperial attorney general, it imposes restrictions on civil liberties of American citizens. The Supreme Court has condemned the presidential suspensions of due process for detainees held for many months without access to counsel at Guantanamo Bay, the American base in Cuba.

The Bush administration is the most secretive within memory and grows more secretive every day. The attorney general has done his best to sabotage the Freedom of Information Act. There has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of classified documents from 2001 to 2003. The administration of Richard Nixon had held the record for secrecy heretofore, but now Nixon's counsel, John Dean, has written a bestseller called Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W Bush.

Such restrictions trouble many Americans. It must not be supposed that a majority of voters elected George W Bush. He was a minority president, elected by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision. If the votes cast for Al Gore and Ralph Nader are combined, Bush lost the popular vote by three million. Opinion polls suggest that 45 per cent of the electorate love Bush, another 45 per cent loathe him.

It is not likely that many people in the two opposing camps will change their minds between today and November 2, election day. The battle is for the undecided 10 per cent. The Democratic candidate, Senator John F Kerry of Massachusetts, is in the school of FDR and JFK. His campaign has faltered momentarily but in the past he has shown himself to be a hard fighter and a strong finisher.

Immediately after 9/11 a wave of worldwide sympathy engulfed America. Three years later, America is regarded with hostility around the world. Never in American history has the US been so unpopular abroad. That is not lost on the American voter. And the great strength, the great virtue, of democracy is its capacity for self-correction. So my European friends, do not despair!

Timothy Garton Ash:

We have not forgotten. We will never forget. We all know where we were the moment we learned the news of the assault on the twin towers. I heard it first from a Frenchwoman. I remember her stumbling words of bewilderment and instant solidarity. That solidarity between Europe and America - the twin towers of the historic West - lasted about three months, through the rout of Al Qaida in Afghanistan. But where is it now, three years after 9/11?

Not lost and gone for ever, but waiting to re-emerge. Waiting for the America that will enable it to re-emerge. The America evoked by Arthur Schlesinger. The America whose best hope is the rather wooden yet statesmanlike John Kerry.

A recent international poll shows that most of the world overwhelmingly wants Kerry to win. If any American thinks that counts against the Democrats' candidate I can only conclude that the shock of the 9/11 attacks has led them to stop thinking straight. And that's a result that Osama bin Laden, if he's still alive, will be celebrating today.

This great argument inside the West is about how, not whether, we should defeat the human evil that showed itself in New York on September 11 2001, in the bombing of Madrid on March 11 2004, and in the massacre of the innocents in Beslan last week. Three years on, the West is divided roughly thus: half of the Americans are with about four fifths of the Europeans against perhaps one fifth of the Europeans who line up with the other half of the Americans. In this case, the majority is right.

Let me, however, make one big European self-criticism. Sometimes it's not enough to be clever, subtle, cultured, tolerant, reasonable and understanding. Sometimes, if we are to defend tolerance, reason, culture and understanding, we have to be fierce, militant and downright bloody-minded. We have to fight. For we face enemies who love death and will not be deterred by sweet reason. I think more Americans than Europeans understand this.

The conduct of the Bush administration in the war against terrorism has been strong. But it has not been wise: unconditional backing for Ariel Sharon in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Washington's war of choice on Iraq, in claimed pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist and with wholly inadequate preparation for the postwar occupation. These foolish policies have alienated moderate Muslim opinion everywhere, set Europe against America, increased the threat of terrorism, and made the US resented in almost every corner of the globe.

To win this struggle together, we need to be both strong and wise. That means recognising that this is a war that war can't win. Because Washington has such a giant hammer, it tends to see every problem shaped like a nail. Unfortunately, terrorism is not a nail; it's more like an underground fungus, spreading invisibly for miles before suddenly reappearing above ground in a different place.

I am alarmed by the militarisation of political rhetoric in the US over the three years since this century's Pearl Harbor. Too often, the country seems to be engrossed in a mythic, heroic narrative of patriotic, martial prowess. This extends to the heroic pleasure of standing not just tall but alone, like Gary Cooper in High Noon. In real life, it helps to have a few friends.

Terrorism is never excusable, but it is often explicable. Explanations point to causes. Only if we address the political and economic causes of terrorism, as well as the thing itself, will we ever have a chance of winning this war. There is not just "terror" or "terrorism"; there are terrorisms, and they differ greatly. What the Chechen terrorists did to those children in Beslan was among the most evil acts that any human being can perpetrate against another. But it had causes, and some of them lie in the brutality and stupidity of Russian policy towards Chechnya over the last decade.

To reflect on the political causes and how they can be removed is not weakness or appeasement, as the American right insists. It's the kind of common sense that the US itself showed when it encouraged political negotiations with representatives of the Kosova Liberation Army, the Albanian-Macedonian National Liberation Army and the Irish Republican Army, all of which used the methods of terrorism to achieve their political goals.

Equally, nothing can justify Palestinian suicide bombers killing innocent Israeli civilians. Nothing. Ever. But their acts have causes, and if we are to win the war against terrorism, we have to remove those causes. We have to be strong, but also wise. At the moment, Europe needs a bit more strength and America a bit more wisdom. So, my American friends, we're in this together and we look to you. We have not forgotten; we will never forget.

· This exchange of letters was commissioned by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

September 23rd, 2004, 10:23 AM
NBC poll: Bush holds narrow lead

Many voters don't believe Kerry has a clear message

By Mark Murray
Updated: 7:24 p.m. ET Sept. 22, 2004

WASHINGTON - Less than six weeks before Election Day, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows President Bush with a lead over Democratic challenger John Kerry — but it's within the margin of error, and it's much smaller than some other recent post-GOP convention polls indicate.

Still, the survey has some troubling numbers for Kerry as he tries to close Bush's narrow lead: Female voters aren't flocking to the Massachusetts senator as they have to past Democratic candidates, and a solid majority of overall voters believes he doesn't have a message, or doesn't know what he would do if elected.

The poll, conducted by Hart/McInturff, shows Bush receiving support from 48 percent of registered voters, Kerry getting 45 percent, and Nader getting 2 percent. Among likely voters (defined as those expressing high interest in the November election, who represent 78 percent of the survey), Bush holds a four-point lead over Kerry, 50 percent to 46 percent.

"The difference between those couple of points and being in a dead-even race is modest," said GOP pollster Bill McInturff. "This is not a difficult race [for Kerry] to get quickly back to being functionally tied."

In fact, the results among registered voters are virtually identical to the results from past NBC/Wall Street Journal polls — even though many experts claim that Bush had a resoundingly successful convention, and noted that Kerry (dogged by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who attacked his Vietnam record, and Democrats who questioned whether his campaign had a concrete message) had a dreadful August.

In the last poll, which was released just days before the Republican convention, Bush held a 47-45 percent lead over Kerry, a result unchanged from the survey in July. Moreover, June's poll had Bush leading 45 percent to 44 percent; May's had him up 46-42; and March's had him leading 46-43.

At odds with other polls

In addition, the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll — conducted Sept. 17-Sept. 19 among 1,006 registered voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points — finds that Bush's lead among registered voters may not be as large as some other recent polls have suggested. For instance, the CBS News/New York Times survey had Bush's lead at 9 points; Gallup had it at 8 points; and ABC News/Washington Post had it at 6 points. (Other national polls, however, have shown a much closer race.)

Nevertheless, examining the national polls might not be the best way to gauge the current state of this race; what really matters is the electoral map. And according to an NBC analysis of that map, Bush has 222 electoral votes leaning his way, Kerry has 200, and 116 appear up for grabs.

Although Kerry narrowly trails Bush in this poll, the survey also has some discouraging findings for the Democratic candidate. For example, he has just a 48-45 percent lead among women voters. By comparison, exit polls from 2000 show that that Al Gore won the women's vote 54-43. And the reason behind this shift, it seems, can be attributed to the war on terror. In the poll, when asked what set of issues is more important, 44 percent of respondents said terrorism, social issues and values, while another 44 percent said the economy and health care. Among women, though, 45 percent cited the economy and health care, while a surprisingly large 42 percent said terrorism and values.

Another troubling sign for the Kerry campaign is that most voters don't know what its message is. Fifty-four percent of respondents say that the campaign doesn't have a message, or that they don't know what a Kerry-Edwards team would do if elected. That's compared with just 36 percent who believe the campaign has a message. On the other hand, 68 percent say the Bush campaign has a message, while just 23 percent think it doesn't.

Troubling signs for Bush, too

But Bush has some troubling signs of his own. Even though the president has a slight lead in this poll, when voters were asked what they would want in a second term for Bush, 58 percent say they want major changes, compared with only 9 percent who say they want his second term to look a lot like his first term. "Look, he has to prove that he will pivot" in a second term, said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. Yet McInturff, the GOP pollster, added that this is something Bush can accomplish at the upcoming debates.

And heading into those debates, this poll — with a near-even horse race and problematic signs for both Bush and Kerry — shows that the presidential contest could be as close as the one four years ago. "For now, the race has all the hallmarks of a photo finish," Hart said.

Mark Murray covers politics for NBC News.


I don't see how Bush can easily "pivot" after that ridiculous UN speech. A classical horse-with-blinders.

September 23rd, 2004, 11:12 AM
The only way he will pivot is toward fear and away from civil liberties.

Opponents Say Republicans Plan Sequel to Patriot Act (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/23/politics/23panel.html)

September 26th, 2004, 09:27 AM
Official campaign slogan of Kinky Friedman, running for Texas governor in 2006:

How hard can it be?

October 1st, 2004, 08:03 AM
October 1, 2004

Standing Firm for 90 Minutes


In the end, it was a real debate: sharp, scrappy and defining, just what the nation seemed to be yearning for during a wartime election campaign. Again and again, President Bush defended his conduct of the war in Iraq, insisting, "there must be certainty from the U.S. president." Over and over, Senator John Kerry asserted that Mr. Bush had led the country into a debacle in Iraq and it was time for a "fresh start, new credibility" in foreign affairs.

From the very first question last night, Mr. Kerry was determined to show, as he put it, that "I can make America safer than President Bush has made us." He was cool, respectful, rational in offering a detailed brief that Mr. Bush had embarked on a diversion from the war on Al Qaeda and global terror by invading Iraq, and his answers never exceeded the time limits.

By the time the debate ended, Mr. Kerry appeared to have accomplished his primary goal for the evening: establishing himself as a plausible commander in chief.

Mr. Bush, who seemed defensive and less sure of himself at the outset, quickly gained his footing, counterpunching effectively by repeatedly charging that Mr. Kerry was inconsistent and lacked the resolve to defend the nation against terrorism.

He was just as relentless as Mr. Kerry, and perhaps more emotional, never ceding ground in his insistence that he had used every available means to defend the nation after Sept. 11. At times, he seemed to lean into the camera, pursing his lips, at some pains to disguise his apparent exasperation at Mr. Kerry's attacks, insisting, as he did at the outset, "People know where I stand."

At one point, Mr. Bush burst out a spontaneous answer to a question that Mr. Kerry had posed only rhetorically, declaring before the moderator, Jim Lehrer, had recognized him, "Of course we're doing everything we can to protect America." At another point, after Mr. Bush justified his use of pre-emptive military action by saying "the enemy attacked us,'' Mr. Kerry pointed out that that enemy had not been Saddam Hussein, leading Mr. Bush to jump in to say, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us."

The two agreed that the threat of unconventional weapons in the hands of rogue actors would be the biggest challenge facing either of them as president, and that Mr. Hussein had seemed to pose such a threat. They agreed that the United States could not pull out of Iraq precipitately. But they disagreed on virtually all else, from how to handle what both called genocide in Sudan to nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran.

Perhaps their sharpest disagreement on future actions came over North Korea, with Mr. Kerry favoring direct talks with Pyongyang intended to halt its development of nuclear weapons and Mr. Bush contending that two-party talks would be unwise and wreck the regional six-party talks in which the United States is counting on China's leverage to pressure the north.

Facing by far the largest national audience of the campaign to date, with polls suggesting that something between one-fifth and one-third of voters might be influenced by last night's encounter, Mr. Kerry was at pains to rebut the Bush campaign's portrayal of him as a fickle flip-flopper who has repeatedly changed his position on the war in Iraq and would cede too much control of the nation's defenses to foreign allies.

When Mr. Bush noted that Mr. Kerry had voted against an $87 billion appropriation for military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, then said he had initially voted for another version, Mr. Kerry's rebuttal could hardly have been crisper.

"Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war," Mr. Kerry said. "But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse? I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war, I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say so. But I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory."

Mr. Bush was just as blunt in his insistence that Mr. Kerry's criticism of the conduct of the war had demoralized the troops and the interim Iraqi leaders struggling to impose some stability on that country.

"What kind of message does it say to our troops in harm's way 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time,' '' Mr. Bush said, echoing Mr. Kerry's recent formulation. "That's not what a commander in chief says when you're trying to lead troops."

After the debate, each man's backers claimed victory, with Mr. Kerry's adviser Tad Devine declaring that viewers "saw somebody who could be president, and who could step into that role," and Ken Mehlman, Mr. Bush's campaign manager, declaring, "George Bush spoke plainly," and insisting that Mr. Kerry's "credibility gap became a chasm."

Indeed, each man was true to type, and gave his committed supporters comforting lines of argument to cling to, with Mr. Bush using tested lines from his stump speeches to argue that his course was simple and direct and Mr. Kerry doing the same to argue that only a greater awareness of complexities and more support from allies could keep the nation safe.

As the challenger, Mr. Kerry had the greater burden, and his performance was more disciplined and controlled than usual. He may well have struck undecided voters as not much like the Republicans' worst caricatures. He spoke plainly, politely, but did not shrink from direct and pointed criticism of Mr. Bush's policies.

"You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad, beyond Basra, and the reason he didn't is he said - he wrote in his book - because there was no viable exit strategy," Mr. Kerry said. "And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today." He added: "Almost every step of the way, our troops have been left on these extraordinarily difficult missions. I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions where you don't know what's around the corner, and I believe our troops need other allies helping."

Mr. Kerry did not explain how he would secure international help, beyond calling an international conference, and by not being Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush's response was skeptical.

"What's the message going to be?" he asked. "Please join us in Iraq for a grand diversion? Join us for a war that is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time? I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with world leaders frequently, and talk to them on the phone frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The more immediate question is whether voters will continue to follow a president who insists the war was right, in the face of polls suggesting widespread doubt about whether it was worth the cost. Mr. Bush is banking almost everything on his belief that they will, as long as they believe he is clear and resolute.

It is too soon to know whether Mr. Kerry, trailing in pre-debate polls, accomplished what Mr. Bush did four years ago when he came out of his first debate against Al Gore stronger than when he went in (or what Ronald Reagan did when he leapfrogged ahead of Jimmy Carter). But he is hoping that voters will agree with his own succinct assessment of Mr. Bush last night: "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong."

October 1, 2004

Candidates Most Telling When They Aren't Talking


When President Bush leaned over his lectern and talked directly into the camera, he had the same firm, squared-off look he brings to a presidential address from the Oval Office.

When the networks (flouting the debate rules) cut to Mr. Bush while Senator John Kerry was speaking, the president had the hunched shoulders and the peevish, defensive look of an incumbent under heavy attack.

And it was body language as much as rhetoric and one-liners that distinguished the two candidates in last night's debate. The networks were right to disregard the campaigns' ban on cutaways and reaction shots. Instead, all the networks, including Fox News, lavished viewers with split screens and shots of the candidates from almost every angle, including shots from behind the president's tensely knotted back.

Television homes in on feelings hidden beneath rehearsed words and reveals instinctive responses and glimmers of personality.

The cameras demonstrated that Mr. Bush cannot hear criticism without frowning, blinking and squirming (he even sighed once). They showed that Mr. Kerry can control his anger and stay cool but that he cannot suppress his inner overeager A student, flashing a bleach-white smile and nodding hungrily at each question.

Mr. Kerry's confident, calm manner may have paid off. CBS was one of several news organizations that conducted instant focus group surveys during the debate. A few minutes after the candidates finished their closing statements, CBS News said 51 percent of the 200 uncommitted sample voters thought that Mr. Kerry had a clear plan for Iraq. Only 38 percent thought the president did.

Even Fox News analysts thought Mr. Kerry did well. Mort Kondracke of Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, said Mr. Kerry looked like a "commander in chief" and Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post said she thought the polls would tighten a bit after the debate.

The moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS, asked polite, obvious questions that failed to take either candidate by surprise. Going into the showdown, Mr. Bush had clearly planned on seizing the offensive. He walked out first, moving so fast that he met Mr. Kerry past the midpoint of the stage, in front of Mr. Kerry's lectern. Face to face, Mr. Kerry told a joke, and clung to Mr. Bush's hand, perhaps seeking to hold him in close enough to flaunt his greater height. Bush gave a polite laugh, turned away from the handshake, and his body had left while Mr. Kerry was just letting go of his finger tips.

The decision to have the two lecterns be of matching height (50 inches) turned out to work against Mr. Bush. The agreed-upon lectern cut the president mid-chest, and made him look smaller, as if he were in a bunker. He did not extend himself beyond its confines, but instead kept his arms in front of him, barely peeking above the lip of the lectern.

If Mr. Bush looked too testy when his opponent spoke, Mr. Kerry looked a little too engaged. He kept picking up his pen and scribbling notes and smiling to himself, like an overly confident prosecutor in court.

But he moved gracefully. Mr. Bush slouched and stayed coiled tight, but Mr. Kerry seemed at times to be waltzing with his partner, the lectern. Mr. Kerry moved his hands almost continuously, at one point folding them over his heart like a French mime as he explained that he felt "nothing but respect" for Tony Blair and British soldiers serving in Iraq.

At the end of the debate, the candidates' wives had their own moment of nonverbal oneupmanship. Both wore white silk suits, and both tried to be gracious. Laura Bush smiled and whispered something in Teresa Heinz Kerry's ear; Mrs. Heinz Kerry turned their hug into a jaunty joint wave to the crowd. Mr. Kerry got into the shot with the two women. Mr. Bush went to his daughters in the corner and rushed offstage.

Mr. Bush, who seemed to grow tired as the night wore on, repeatedly used the phrase "hard work" to describe the war in Iraq. Mr. Kerry repeatedly referred to his first-hand experience sending men into battle in Vietnam, and that seemed to unnerve Mr. Bush. The president said he understood that fighting was hard work and added, "I see on the TV screens how hard it is."

TV debates are also hard work.

October 1, 2004

Around Swing-State TV's, Armies of the Undecided


SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va., Sept. 30 - Mary Lou Wiegand came into the Teamsters hall here Thursday night knowing why she didn't like President Bush. She was searching for reasons to feel good about Senator John Kerry.

"Until now, I've been really disappointed with the clarity of his views," Ms. Wiegand, 55, said moments before the debate began. "It's been back and forth."

By the end of the night, she seemed to have gotten some of what she wanted. Each time Mr. Kerry called the invasion of Iraq a mistake, each time he accused Mr. Bush of having misled the country into war, she muttered "yes!" or pumped her fist or nodded her head vigorously.

"I was so glad to hear Kerry say what I've believed all along: that the war was a mistake," she said.

The New York Times watched the debate with voters in five swing states, listening for the arguments that seemed to sway the undecided or energize the committed.

This blue-collar town along the Kanawha River, lined with auto parts stores, chemical factories and fertilizer plants, has seemed to be moving toward Mr. Kerry. The city has lost 1,500 jobs in the past few months, and even its Republican mayor has said he might vote for Mr. Kerry.

In this union hall, filled with Kerry-Edwards posters, there was little doubt about the crowd's sentiments. Each time Mr. Bush made a face or struggled to find a word or uttered the line, "It's hard work," people burst into derisive laughter.

But like Ms. Wiegand, who works with disabled people, some attendees were searching for answers about Mr. Kerry.

Her husband, Pat, for instance, wanted to see if Mr. Kerry could defend himself. At times he was disappointed. When, for instance, Mr. Bush criticized Mr. Kerry for having voted for and then against a bill to finance the war, Mr. Wiegand, a chemist, groaned, feeling that Mr. Kerry hadn't answered the charge directly enough. But he laughed when Mr. Kerry likened the invasion of Iraq to attacking Mexico after Pearl Harbor.

"He needed to take the gloves off, and I think he did a bit," Mr. Wiegand, 49, said. "But it might be too late. It should have happened a long time ago."

Pennsylvania: Some Hoots First,but Questions Linger

WAYNE, Pa., Sept. 30 - Some two dozen neighbors sitting Thursday evening in front of a large-screen television in the basement of State Representative Daylin Leach, a Democrat, had near-universal praise for Senator John Kerry, calling him eloquent. And they criticized the president for verbal gaffes.

But few of those who watched, including the handful of voters who were undecided, walked away with their minds changed.

"I was a bit disappointed in how the president communicated his message," said Shlomi Leon, 30, a human resources consultant and a supporter of Mr. Bush. "He seemed a bit confused compared with Kerry.

"But they each have different strengths and weaknesses,'' Mr. Leon continued. "Bush is very decisive. Kerry is a better communicator, but he is not as decisive and in leadership decisiveness is more important. I remain with the president."

The middle-class crowd of men and women gathered with Mr. Leach had different opinions about the validity of the war in Iraq, but all said they remained confused about the solutions offered by the two candidates.

Some viewers considered the proposals vague. No viewers were swayed far from the opinions they held when they arrived to sit on the carpeted floor or take one of a ring of chairs.

"I am agonizing over this election," said Adrienne Redd, 43, who teaches at Cabrini College and has two children. "I wanted to hear something specific from Kerry or something specific from Bush to help me make my decision.

"I wanted to see if President Bush understood that his refusal to build alliances had done 10 years of diplomatic damage," Ms. Redd added, "and I wanted to hear Kerry talk about our relationships with nations around the globe who are not our traditional allies. I am worried we may face a war in which half a billion Muslims get killed."

The group found Mr. Bush's expressions amusing, but many also pointed out his effective use of emotional images in his answers.

When he praised Mr. Kerry for his service to the country and for being a good father, Rob McCord, 45, who has voted for candidates from both parties, shook his finger at the screen and shouted, "This is smart! This is his best answer yet!"

Mr. McCord said he voted for Vice President Al Gore in 2000, but he also said he thought that Mr. Bush would be a moderate "like his father."

"I was reassured when Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld joined the administration," he said. "I thought that with the president's impulse to delegate we would be fine."

"But I have been shocked at the way the president has veered away from the moderates,'' he continued, "and the fantasies he has about the war and turning Baghdad into another Berlin."

Well before the first debate of this presidential campaign, Mr. McCord said, he had decided to vote for Mr. Kerry; he said that nothing he saw had made him change his mind.

Florida: An Immigrant Votes for Nader's Presence

MIAMI, Sept. 30 - Like so many other Floridians, Didier-Laurent Paris moved here from somewhere else, immigrating to Miami from France in 1984. He became a partner in a beauty salon and eventually an American citizen because, he said, he wanted a say in the national political dialogue.

But after watching 90 minutes of dialogue between President Bush and Senator Kerry on Tuesday night, Mr. Paris, who voted for Al Gore four years ago, said he still hadn't made up his mind about this year.

When Mr. Paris, 48, voted here for the first time in 2000, he disliked Mr. Bush's father and the Bush family's "attachment to oil," he said.

Mr. Paris said he likes President Bush better now, but remains skeptical of both candidates because, he said, neither has a strong plan for reducing the cost of health insurance.

Though friends have attacked him for it, Mr. Paris said he might vote for Ralph Nader, the Reform Party candidate.

"He doesn't have any big special interests to please," Mr. Paris said of Mr. Nader, "so he can say, 'We're going to do national health care tomorrow.' "

As the candidates condemned each other's positions on Iraq, Mr. Paris said Mr. Kerry appeared more focused and better versed in facts. But he said Mr. Kerry did not respond adequately when Mr. Bush kept pointing out his early support for the war.

"He doesn't explain it," said Mr. Paris, who said Mr. Bush should have worked more closely with the United Nations before invading Iraq. "He could tell us, 'I made a mistake.' "

He said that Mr. Bush's defense of the war appeared heartfelt, and that the debate highlighted one of the president's best qualities. "When he goes to what he believes in, George Bush is good and he gets his message across," Mr. Paris said. "In times of turmoil, this is what people want to lead them."

But toward the end, Mr. Paris decided that Mr. Bush went on the defensive too often. Mr. Kerry, he said, appeared "too evasive." Mr. Paris said he would need to see a debate about domestic policy before making up his mind. Having Mr. Nader participate would help, he said.

"He would force the two others to go to a higher level," he said.

Missouri: A Strong Turnout by College Students

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo., Sept. 30 - So many people showed up to watch the presidential debate at Webster University here that surprised organizers had to bring in more chairs.

Many of the nearly 100 people who gathered before a large-screen television at a campus student center said they thought that Mr. Kerry came across more effectively. They did not all say, though, that they would vote for him.

Kerry backers said the debate strengthened their support. "I was probably going to vote for Kerry anyway, but I definitely will now," said Maggie Gardiner, a 21-year-old senior. "I have a better idea of what he wants to do, especially in Iraq. Bush definitely turned me off. I really don't like his idea of America always being on the offensive."

One of Mr. Bush's supporters, Brandon Glen, an 18-year-old freshman from Wyoming, agreed that Mr. Kerry performed better. He quickly added that he didn't care.

"President Bush isn't really great at debating," Mr. Glen said. "He's not the best at thinking on his feet. But in theory and in practice, he's a great leader and commander in chief, and that's what this country needs now."

Another freshman who is leaning towards Mr. Bush, Peter Fanson, said the debate raised his doubts about Senator Kerry.

"Bush didn't strengthen himself tonight, but Kerry's the one who needed to, and he didn't, or at least not enough," Mr. Fanson said. "He does seem like he changes his mind a lot. It doesn't give you confidence."

Several audience members complained about the candidates' criticisms of each other. "They spend most of their time cutting down the other guy," said Jessica Neal, a 20-year-old junior. "To me, it doesn't seem like they're getting the priority right."

Perhaps the happiest people in the room were the student organizers who expected no more than a few dozen to come to watch.

"This shows that college kids really do care," said Trevor Zickgraf, a student activities manager who helped organize the event. "The stereotype is not true."

Colorado: Veterans in Denver Lean Toward Bush

DENVER, Sept. 30 - Tom Kottenstette counted the take from Spaghetti Night as the debate began, glancing at the television over the glasses perched at the end of his nose.

About 60 people had come to the American Legion Post No. 1 on Denver's South Side for a $5-a-plate dinner of pasta and garlic bread, but most were gone by then. The dozen or so who remained were there to watch the debate, or nurse their drinks at the bar, or both.

The military veterans here - Mr. Kottenstette, the post commander, served in Korea in the early 1950's - mostly don't talk politics. It's post policy. Tonight, as the candidates battled on the post's three televisions, people made exceptions.

"John, it's not a commercial, will you just respond to what he said?" asked Brian K. Wagner, speaking to Mr. Kerry on the screen and rolling his eyes. Mr. Wagner, who served in the Army in the early 1980's, is undecided and seemed exasperated equally by both Senator Kerry and President Bush.

Many of the former soldiers here - probably the majority, post members said - support Mr. Bush.

Eddie Smith, a veteran of World War II who intends to vote Republican, sat close to the post's big screen and didn't move for the full 90 minutes. He said it bothered him how much Mr. Kerry used the personal pronoun.

"All the time it was this 'I, I, I, I'll do this, I'll do that,' " Mr. Smith said. "Bush spoke for his administration."

Joe Torti, another World War II veteran, sat at the bar through the debate nursing a drink and smoking a big cigar. He described himself as a Democrat, but an undecided one.

"I thought Bush was on the defensive all night," he said. "But I'll wait until the week before the election to make up my mind."

Mr. Kottenstette said he thought both men promised more than they could deliver. He added that he'd probably vote for Mr. Bush, though not with overwhelming enthusiasm.

"I still like his approach," he said. "But there's some party loyalty in that statement."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 3rd, 2004, 11:59 AM
Comeback Kerry delivers the goods...

Newsweek poll puts Kerry ahead 49-46% as Bush fights back

61% say Kerry easily beat Bush in debate

Sydney Morning Herald
October 3, 2004 - 2:05PM

Eyes on the prize ... John Kerry campaigning in Florida

US presidential candidate John Kerry, buoyed by a strong showing in his televised debate with George Bush, has recaptured a small lead in their White House race.

A Newsweek poll, the first survey released on the race since the debate, gave Kerry a 49-46 per cent edge over Bush among registered voters in a two-way matchup, and a 47-45 per cent margin in a contest also involving independent Ralph Nader.

The poll, conducted among 1,013 registered voters, reversed the findings of the last Newsweek study three weeks ago that put Bush six points up in a three-way race at 49-43 per cent.

Bush had been leading since the August 30-September 2 Republican national convention in New York that wiped out a modest Kerry advantage and turned the race the President's way.

The new turnaround in the Newsweek poll, with a margin of error of four points either way, came after the debate at the University of Miami on foreign policy and homeland security which the magazine said Kerry clearly won.

Its poll showed 61 per cent of those who watched the showdown thought the Massachusetts senator came off better and 19 per cent felt the Republican president had prevailed.

The Democrats have hailed the debate as a turning point in the campaign after weeks of Republican attacks on Kerry's command capacities, Vietnam war experience and record as an alleged flip-flopper that had him on the ropes.

Bush yesterday claimed Kerry would put US national security in the hands of foreign leaders, and Kerry slammed huge White House tax cuts as a gift for the rich.

The rivals revved up the rhetoric which erupted in their televised head-to-head clash on Thursday night, ahead of a potentially decisive 12 days which will see two more presidential contests and a vice presidential debate.

The President refused to let Kerry move the argument on from questions of statesmanship to bread-and-butter economic issues, where he is considered more vulnerable.

He lambasted what Republicans are calling the "Kerry doctrine" after his challenger said Thursday that US action abroad should be put to a "global test" to prove to Americans and the world that it is legitimate.

"Senator Kerry's approach to foreign policy would give foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions.

"I'll continue to work every day with our friends and allies for the sake of freedom and peace," said Bush, who pioneered a pre-emptive US policy to meet global threats at a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

"But our national security decisions will be made in the Oval Office, not in foreign capitals," he said.

Kerry has repeatedly vowed not to give foreign states veto power over US military action - indeed, it was one of the first things he said in Thursday's debate. His campaign staff says the Bush team took Kerry's remark out of context in a sign of desperation.

The veteran Massachusetts senator, hoping to move out of Bush's slipstream in opinion polls, linked what he said was Bush's stubborn failure to change course in Iraq to his style of economic policy.

"It's not just on Iraq. Over the past four years, he has made a series of serious misjudgments here at home, choices that have hurt middle-class families," Kerry told supporters at a school in Orlando, Florida.

Meanwhile, a new Democratic ad accused Bush of lying about their candidate's defence policies after the president accused Kerry of a readiness to give other countries a veto over US military action.

"George Bush has lost the debate. Now he's lying about it," said the advertisement, which the Kerry campaign planned to run wherever the Bush camp airs spots on what it called the "Kerry doctrine" of appeasing allies.

October 5th, 2004, 09:13 AM
October 5, 2004


Poll Finds Kerry Assured Voters in Initial Debate


Senator John Kerry came out of the first presidential debate having reassured many Americans of his ability to handle an international crisis or a terrorist attack and with a generally more favorable image, but he failed to shake the perception that he panders to voters in search of support, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll also found significant doubts about President Bush's policies toward Iraq, with a majority of the public saying that the United States invaded too soon and that the administration did a poor job thinking through the consequences of the war. But Mr. Bush maintained an advantage on personal characteristics like strong leadership and likability, as well as in the enthusiasm of his supporters.

Four weeks from Election Day, the presidential race is again a dead heat, with Mr. Bush having given up the gains he enjoyed for the last month after the Republican convention in New York, the poll found. In both a head-to-head matchup and a three-way race including Ralph Nader, the Republican and Democratic tickets each won the support of 47 percent of registered voters surveyed in the poll.

Last month, Mr. Bush led Mr. Kerry by 50-42 in a two-way race and 50-41 in a three-way race.

The results, which parallel those of several other national polls in the past few days, are likely to intensify interest in tonight's debate in Cleveland between the vice-presidential candidates, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the two additional presidential debates, on Friday and Oct. 13.

Aides to both campaigns said yesterday that the running mates' debate, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, was unlikely to have a major impact on the vote in November. That did not stop them, though, from trying once again to set high expectations for the other side, as each campaign pointed to the debating strengths of its opponents.

Some of the drop in Mr. Bush's numbers appeared to reflect the traditional cycle in which a candidate's standing surges after his nominating convention and then declines somewhat. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns have said for months that they expect the race to be tight at the very end.

But Mr. Kerry also scored notable gains in several areas that could be vital in a campaign being largely fought over the war in Iraq and the threat of terrorism.

Forty-one percent of registered voters said they had confidence in Mr. Kerry's ability to deal wisely with an international crisis, up from 32 percent before the debate. Thirty-nine percent said they had a lot of confidence that Mr. Kerry would make the right decisions when it came to protecting against a terrorist attack, up 13 percentage points.

On both scores, however, Mr. Kerry still trailed Mr. Bush. Fifty-one percent of voters said they had confidence in Mr. Bush's ability to deal with an international crisis, unchanged from before the debate, and 52 percent said they had a lot of confidence in his ability to protect against a terrorist attack, up slightly from 50 percent last month.

Mr. Bush's strategy of portraying Mr. Kerry as an unprincipled flip-flopper appears to have stuck in the national consciousness. Sixty percent of registered voters said Mr. Kerry told people what they wanted to hear rather than what he really believed, about the same level as throughout the spring and summer. The corresponding figure for Mr. Bush was 38 percent.

It is unclear whether the race for the White House has merely reverted to a steady state in which neither candidate can establish a clear lead, whether Mr. Bush can regain the advantage with a strong performance in the next debates or whether Thursday was a turning point at which Mr. Kerry seized the initiative.

There is also considerable uncertainty over whether national polling numbers reflect the state of play in the 18 or so swing states where the election will be decided and where the relative success of get-out-the-vote efforts by both sides could prove to be the difference. In recent weeks there has been a surge of new voter registrations in many states as the two campaigns and their allies seek to ensure that every possible supporter goes to the polls on Nov. 2.

The Kerry campaign said the poll showed that the race was moving in its direction. The nationwide telephone poll of 979 adults included 851 registered voters. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample, and for registered voters, is plus or minus three percentage points.

"The public took a measure of John Kerry standing next to the president, and came to the conclusion that he had the strength, judgment and experience to be the commander in chief," said Joe Lockhart, a senior strategist for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Bush's team said he remained ahead in the ways that would count most on Election Day.

"We always said this race would be close," said Matthew Dowd, Mr. Bush's chief campaign strategist. "When style fades quickly, leadership and policies remain, and that is where the president has the advantage."

Over all, Mr. Kerry appears to have come off well in the debate, which respondents to the poll said, 60 percent to 23 percent, that he won.

The proportion of registered voters saying they viewed Mr. Kerry favorably jumped to its highest level, 40 percent, from 31 percent in mid-September, while the number of people who said they did not view him favorably, 41 percent, did not change appreciably.

The percentage of voters who said their opinion of Mr. Bush was favorable dipped slightly, to 44 percent from 47 percent last month, while the percentage of voters who said they did not view Mr. Bush favorably increased to 44 percent from 38 percent in that period.

Mr. Kerry, who sought to emphasize during the debate how aggressive he would be in hunting down terrorists and protecting the nation from attack, made some headway in winning back women who had been drifting toward Mr. Bush. Mr. Kerry led Mr. Bush 48 percent to 46 percent among women; last month Mr. Bush led among women 48 percent to 43 percent.

The results show not only how closely divided the nation is, but also how clearly defined the differences are between the candidates, especially on foreign policy. Just under half of voters said both Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry would bring the right balance to judgments about when to go to war. But 46 percent said Mr. Bush would not be careful enough and 31 percent said Mr. Kerry would be too careful.

The poll indicated that Americans continued to have doubts about both candidates. Mr. Bush's job approval rating, at 47 percent, was little changed from last month and close to what has traditionally been a danger zone for an incumbent seeking re-election. His approval ratings for his handling of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy were even lower, and a narrow majority of respondents, 51 percent, said the country was on the wrong track.

The poll suggested that the daily bloodshed in Iraq and Mr. Kerry's strategy of hammering away at Mr. Bush's handling of the war might be resonating among voters. Asked what kind of job Mr. Bush had done in anticipating what would happen in Iraq as a result of the war, 59 percent said he had done a poor job and 34 percent said a good job. A slight majority, 52 percent, said the United States had been too quick to go to war in Iraq, compared with 37 percent who said the timing was about right.

But Mr. Bush maintained his reputation as an effective leader in confronting terrorism, with 57 percent of respondents saying they approved of his handling of the issue and 37 percent disapproving. Asked whether they thought of Mr. Bush as someone they would like personally, even if they did not approve of his policies, 61 percent said yes, versus 48 percent for Mr. Kerry. Asked whether both candidates have strong qualities of leadership, 62 percent said yes for Mr. Bush and 56 percent said yes for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry continued to generate increased levels of enthusiasm for his candidacy among those who said they supported him, with 48 percent saying they strongly favored him, up from 40 percent last month. But, in a race that could hinge on turnout, Mr. Bush maintained a strong advantage on that measure, with 70 percent of his backers saying they strongly favored him, up from 63 percent.

Fifty-five percent of voters said Mr. Bush had made clear what he wants to accomplish in the next four years, a five-point increase since last month, while 45 percent of voters said Mr. Kerry had a clear agenda, up seven points in the same period.

The poll found that 65 percent of voters did not think Mr. Bush had a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq, and that 59 percent of voters did not think Mr. Kerry had one. Half of voters said they thought Mr. Bush made the situation in Iraq sound better than it is, and 43 percent said Mr. Kerry made it sound worse.


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 9th, 2004, 11:43 AM
Bush Fails to Stem Kerry Momentum in Second Debate, Polls Show

Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush failed to gain a victory in the second presidential debate to stem the momentum built by John Kerry, a four-term Massachusetts senator, since their first match-up last week.

Two polls gave Kerry an edge in the 90-minute contest at Washington University in St. Louis. An ABC News survey of registered voters showed 45 percent considered Kerry the winner and 41 percent picked Bush. In a CNN poll, 47 percent said Kerry won and 45 percent favored Bush. Both are within the margin of error.

Bush, 58, took aim at Kerry's 20-year record in the U.S. Senate, saying he voted to slash intelligence spending. Bush told the audience of undecided voters, that Kerry, 60, would raise their taxes to fund his health care proposal and other spending plans. Kerry said Bush turned his campaign into ``a weapon of mass deception.'' Bush doesn't have a plan to ``win the peace'' in Iraq, Kerry said.

``I think Kerry got the better of the president,'' said Alexander Lamis, a professor of political science at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. Bush ``did not detract from whatever momentum Senator Kerry is building up.''

National Tie

Ten national polls taken this week showed Kerry pulling into a statistical tie after trailing Bush by as much as 13 percentage points before the first debate on Sept. 30.

Bush and Kerry each have the support of 45 percent of 886 likely voters surveyed Oct. 6-7 by Time magazine, the most recent of the polls. Independent candidate Ralph Nader won the backing of 3 percent of respondents. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. In a Time poll before the first presidential debate, Bush led by 6 points.

The first half of last night's event was devoted to foreign policy, and Iraq was the main topic, even when the questions weren't directly about the conflict.

`Mass Deception'

For the first question, Kerry was asked what his response is to people who think he is ``too wishy-washy,'' a charge Bush makes in speeches and campaign ads.

``The president didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so he's really turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception,'' Kerry said. ``And the result is that you've been bombarded with advertisements suggesting that I've changed a position on this or that or the other.''

Bush returned the criticism.

``I can see why people think that he changes position quite often, because he does,'' Bush said. ``I don't see how you can lead this country in a time of war or a time of uncertainty if you change your position because of politics.''

Defending his handling of the planning for the war, Bush said he asked U.S. generals the day before sending troops, ``Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?''

The generals told him they did, Bush said.

Responses on War

``You rely on good military people to execute the military component of the strategy, but winning the peace is larger than just the military component,'' Kerry said. ``The military's job is to win the war. A president's job is to win the peace.''

At one point, Bush stopped moderator Charles Gibson of ABC News and walked forward on the stage to respond to Kerry's remarks that Bush had rushed to war in Iraq without building a broad enough alliance. Kerry pressed the issue, saying he wouldn't ``go alone like this president did.''

``Tell Tony Blair we're going it alone,'' Bush said. ``Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going it alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going it alone.''

Kerry said eight countries have left the coalition, and that if Missouri were a country it would be the third-largest member of the coalition behind the U.S. and Great Britain.

Some analysts said all Bush needed to do in this debate is improve from his Sept. 30 performance, which polls showed Kerry won.

`Restore Confidence'

Bush ``did what he needed to do to restore confidence to Republicans who were beginning to panic,'' said James Lucier, a political analyst at Prudential Equity Group Inc. in Washington. ``Kerry came in with high expectations, Bush came in with low.''

``I think the president looked angry from the get-go,'' said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster with the Washington firm Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates.

Evans Witt, chief executive officer of the polling firm Princeton Survey Research International said the debate produced no clear winner.

``It was one of those debates where you're going to see what you want in it,'' Witt said. ``If you are undecided I don't think the debate pushed you one way or the other.''

Thomas Foley, a Democrat who is a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, called the debate ``balanced.''

``The president was much more animated and effective tonight than in the first debate,'' Foley said. ``Senator Kerry maintained the same very high level of clarity and performance.''

Drugs Prices

Bush and Kerry took questions on their plans to bring consumer prices down for pharmaceutical drugs and improve the availability of health care.

``I haven't yet'' made a decision on whether to import drugs from Canada, Bush said. ``I just want to make sure they're safe,'' he said. ``I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.''

Last month, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said the safety of drug imports from Canada and other countries was ``a huge problem.''

Kerry said that Bush said four years ago he thought imports from Canada made sense. ``Ladies and gentlemen, the president just didn't level with you right now, again,'' Kerry said. He said he would fight to allow drug reimportation.

Bush supported a drug benefit for seniors under Medicare legislation passed by Congress. Kerry said the Republican-backed bill helps drug companies more than patients.

Health Care

Kerry said health insurance premiums and the number of uninsured increased under Bush's presidency. Kerry plans to offer to pay for companies' health care bills for employees whose hospital bills exceed $50,000. Bush said Kerry didn't have the money to pay for his program.

``He's going to tax everybody here to fund his programs,'' Bush said. ``That's what liberals do. They create government- sponsored health care,'' Bush said.

During one exchange, Bush said Kerry's plan to cancel tax cuts for families earning more than $200,000 a year would force 900,000 small businesses to pay more to the Internal Revenue Service.

Kerry said that isn't true because Bush was counting partnerships and businesses that include holding companies rather than active companies. As an example, he said the president is counted as a small business owner under his own definition because he owned an interest in a timber company.

``I own a timber company?'' the president responded, turning to the audience. ``That's news to me. Want some wood?''

Bush did report income from a timber company, according to copies of his tax returns on a Web site operated by Tax Analysts, an Arlington, Virginia, publisher of tax information. Bush earned $425,000 in income from partnerships in 2003, more than his presidential salary of $400,000.

The debate may have appealed mainly to the core Republican and Democratic supporters of both candidates, said former U.S. Senator Donald Riegle of Michigan. Riegle, 66, who started his political career as a Republican and ended as a Democrat, is chairman of government relations at Apco Worldwide, a Washington- based consulting firm.

``I don't know if the debates at this point are going to make that much difference,'' Riegle said. ``The realities the country is facing with Iraq and domestically loom much larger.''

October 14th, 2004, 06:52 AM
Early poll gives Kerry the edge in final debate

Thursday, October 14, 2004
Web CNN.com

According to a poll taken after the debate, Sen. John Kerry had more reason to smile.

TEMPE, Arizona (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry appeared to gain more momentum heading toward November 2, easily beating President Bush in the third and final debate, a poll taken late Wednesday night suggests.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup snap poll taken immediately after the presidential debate found that respondents gave a significant edge to Kerry over Bush, 52 percent to 39 percent.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The numbers were similar to the results of a poll taken the night of the first debate September 30 in Miami, Florida. That night Kerry was favored by a 53 percent to 37 percent margin.

Kerry and Bush were almost even in the second debate on October 5, with the numbers falling with the margin of error.

The respondents Wednesday were 511 registered voters who watched the debate. Their political affiliations broke down as 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 28 percent independent.

The poll is a reflection of immediate impressions of only those voters who saw the debate on television, and cannot be applied to all registered voters. Views of all Americans can change in the days after a debate.

Kerry scored big gains, as 42 percent of respondents said they had a more favorable opinion of him after the debate. Bush only increased with 27 percent of those polled.

When asked who would handle domestic issues better, Kerry scored higher in health care (55-41). There was no clear leader on the economy (Kerry 51, Bush 46), education (Kerry 48, Bush 47) or taxes (Bush 50, Kerry 47).

Kerry's biggest win came on the question of who expressed himself better, where 61 percent of respondents chose him over Bush (29 percent).

The president was viewed as more likeable, but Kerry appeared to respondents as having the better understanding of issues (49-37).

As expected, both campaigns declared their candidate the clear victor.

"I think tonight that Americans saw someone who's ready to be commander-in-chief," said Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's campaign manager. "Someone who has plans for where he wants to lead this country. I think that he did extraordinarily well and he delivered a faithful and optimistic vision of where the country can go in the future."

Karl Rove, a senior adviser to Bush, disputed the accuracy of such instant polls, noting that a similar snap poll in 1984 showed Walter Mondale won the second debate with President Reagan.

"The president was the clear, commanding victor tonight," Rove said. "It's going to give us a great momentum rolling out on the trail here for the last 19 days."

October 15th, 2004, 07:08 AM
I wonder if Kerry ran that comment about Cheney's daughter by his advisors. No wonder the Democrats are having so much trouble getting that fool out of the White House.

October 15, 2004

Courting the Finicky Women


I'm just not that into them.

I could apply all the rationalizations women use to make excuses for men who are clearly not their dream guys from the new best seller "He's Just Not That Into You," by two former "Sex and the City" writers:

"It's better than nothing." "It's just the way he was brought up." "He just says things he doesn't mean." "He's got a lot on his mind." "Maybe he's intimidated." "He's just finding himself."

But in the end, I'm forced to admit, I'm just not that into them.

The third debate date with Long-Faced Guy and Mini-Me was not particularly gratifying, edifying or electrifying. Neither the robotic Kerry (still struggling to land an open punch on a president divorced from reality) nor the herky-jerky Bush (still struggling to find an appealing onstage persona) seemed presidential or inspiring.

The two candidates were trying for sparks on Wednesday night, jousting over the 61 percent of undecided voters who are women, such as the single women, the security moms and the Medicare grandmas.

John Kerry and George W. Bush remembered the ladies with bouquets of uxoriousness and spirituality.

It was a contest to see who was closer to his family and who was closer to God. Sounding like a New Age guru, Mr. Kerry burbled: "I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do in this country and on this planet." Sounding like Moses, he intoned: "We're all God's children, Bob."

The two gentlemen callers competed to offer the sweetest encomiums to their wives and daughters, though Mr. Kerry showed the bite in his overwhitened, overeager "I'm smarter than you but I'm trying not to show it" grin when he strategically dragged Dick Cheney's gay daughter back into the debate, a dead-wrong thing to do.

The president - realizing that it's not enough to simply scare women to death about their kids by letting his creepy vice president put out his spooky threat that there will be more terrorist attacks if Mr. Kerry is elected - wooed women voters with a reminiscence that sounded like a gauzy Lifetime movie scene: love-at-first-sight over the burgers.

"I can't tell you how lucky I am when I met her in the backyard of Joe and Jan O'Neill in Midland, Tex.," Mr. Bush recalled. "It was the classic backyard barbecue. O'Neill said, 'Come on over, I think you'll find somebody who might interest you.' So I said all right, bopped over there. There's only four of us there. And not only did she interest me, I guess you could say it was love at first sight."

Mr. Kerry tried to show more anima than Mr. Bush by talking about the strong moral compass provided by his wife and daughters and throwing in a sentimental tribute to his late mom: "And just before I was deciding to run and she was in the hospital, and I went in to talk to her and tell her what I was thinking of doing. ... And she just looked at me and she said, 'Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity.' Those are the three words that she left me with."

After too much time spent on chummy talk about wives and not enough spent on tart talk about stem cells and on how the president and vice president should not be considered authorities on foreign policy or national security, given their dismal performance in these areas, I was missing the unsentimental fireball Howard Dean, whose wife never even showed up to see him campaign until the press made a fuss about it.

Wednesday's exchange was saintly, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The rivals, dressed in almost identical reddish polka-dot ties and the inevitable flag lapel pins, sparred with equally lame lines: Tony Soprano versus the Left Bank.

Watching Mr. Bush's tired retread of his dad's barbs against Michael Dukakis (He's a liberal! He's a liberal! He's from Massachusetts! He's on a first-name basis with Teddy Kennedy! Teddy Kennedy!), I found myself longing for some original moment. If only Mr. Kerry, who follows Mr. Bush's lead too much, had broken out with a Looney Tunes lapel pin.

Or if Mr. Kerry had only taken off after Mr. Bush when he began ranting that "only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough."

Mr. Kerry should have at least tried to pierce Mr. Bush's nimbus of mendacity on Iraq and Saddam and Al Qaeda and the economy, and reached for a dramatic moment - à la Captain "Ah, but the strawberries" Queeg, or Jack "You can't handle the truth" Nicholson - by riposting, "Only a delusional frat boy from Crawford. ..."

Then I could have gotten into them.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

October 15, 2004

Nader Emerging as the Threat Democrats Feared


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, the Nader factor seems wildly unpredictable.

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 15th, 2004, 08:46 AM
I wonder if Kerry ran that comment about Cheney's daughter by his advisors.
Sure he did. Edwards hit the same point. Kerry's comment was no accident and it wasn't out of bounds -- it's a known fact, moreso now that Lynne Cheney is trying to play the victim card, which just goes to show that the GOP saw its ghost on Wednesday night.

October 15th, 2004, 09:36 AM
That's not the point. The "fact" of what Lynne Cheney is doing is not how the undecided electorate is going to judge the remark. When the issues are generally against the incumbent and the majority opinion is that the country is heading in the wrong direction (as is the case here), the challenger needs to appear presidential to convince voters to change leadership.

The only people that are going to analyze that statement as you did are already going to vote for Kerry. The people that haven't made up their minds are going to view it as a cheap shot.

That other stupid remark by Edwards about Christopher Reeve also made me cringe.

October 15th, 2004, 10:16 AM
This morning, most of the network news shows played Lynn and Dick Cheney's response to Kerry's remarks. However, they also replayed the debate video. I think that, when they are played side by side, voters will wonder what exactly Kerry said that got the Cheney's are so upset.

Cheney's daughter and the Vice President's unwaivering support of her is a major contradiction to Bush's stance on Gay Marriage and the Christian Rights opposition to any kind of Gay Rights. It is one thing for the Cheney's to say it was unfair to drag their daughter into the debate. It is another to say that focusing attention on their daughter's homosexuality is "a cheap and tawdry trick". I think the longer this little sideshow plays out the deeper the Lynn Cheney's foot will be thrust in her mouth. She chose her words poorly and will have to explain exactly what she meany by a "cheap & tawdry trick".

I think the Kerry campaign has, for the first time all election season, truly thrown the Bush team off balance. It will be interesting to see how it plays, although I think, in the end, it all hinges on Democratic voter turnout vs. Republican success in suppressing or destroying the Democratic vote.

October 15th, 2004, 11:12 AM
This remark is now a major topic on TV news. Regardless of how it turns out, it takes the spotlight off Bush. His position on gay marriage is quite clear, and nothing that comes out of this will make voters change their opinion of him.

Bush doesn't have to look presidential - like it or not, he is president. Voters have to visualize Kerry as president. It's always a problem for challengers in a 2nd term election.

Latest Reuters/Zogby poll numbers show Bush/Cheney have opened up a 4 point lead. While not much, it shows a reversal in the momentum (something polls are good at indicating) that Kerry/Edwards had after the 1st debate.

October 15th, 2004, 12:08 PM
Mary Cheney worked as a PR rep for Coors beer's relations with the gay community. If her family wants to talk about cheap and tawdry, they should start there.

October 17th, 2004, 09:04 AM
October 17, 2004

John Kerry for President

senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.

There is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure. Nearly four years ago, after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency, Mr. Bush came into office amid popular expectation that he would acknowledge his lack of a mandate by sticking close to the center. Instead, he turned the government over to the radical right.

Mr. Bush installed John Ashcroft, a favorite of the far right with a history of insensitivity to civil liberties, as attorney general. He sent the Senate one ideological, activist judicial nominee after another. He moved quickly to implement a far-reaching anti-choice agenda including censorship of government Web sites and a clampdown on embryonic stem cell research. He threw the government's weight against efforts by the University of Michigan to give minority students an edge in admission, as it did for students from rural areas or the offspring of alumni.

When the nation fell into recession, the president remained fixated not on generating jobs but rather on fighting the right wing's war against taxing the wealthy. As a result, money that could have been used to strengthen Social Security evaporated, as did the chance to provide adequate funding for programs the president himself had backed. No Child Left Behind, his signature domestic program, imposed higher standards on local school systems without providing enough money to meet them.

If Mr. Bush had wanted to make a mark on an issue on which Republicans and Democrats have long made common cause, he could have picked the environment. Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor chosen to run the Environmental Protection Agency, came from that bipartisan tradition. Yet she left after three years of futile struggle against the ideologues and industry lobbyists Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had installed in every other important environmental post. The result has been a systematic weakening of regulatory safeguards across the entire spectrum of environmental issues, from clean air to wilderness protection.

The president who lost the popular vote got a real mandate on Sept. 11, 2001. With the grieving country united behind him, Mr. Bush had an unparalleled opportunity to ask for almost any shared sacrifice. The only limit was his imagination.

He asked for another tax cut and the war against Iraq.

The president's refusal to drop his tax-cutting agenda when the nation was gearing up for war is perhaps the most shocking example of his inability to change his priorities in the face of drastically altered circumstances. Mr. Bush did not just starve the government of the money it needed for his own education initiative or the Medicare drug bill. He also made tax cuts a higher priority than doing what was needed for America's security; 90 percent of the cargo unloaded every day in the nation's ports still goes uninspected.

Along with the invasion of Afghanistan, which had near unanimous international and domestic support, Mr. Bush and his attorney general put in place a strategy for a domestic antiterror war that had all the hallmarks of the administration's normal method of doing business: a Nixonian obsession with secrecy, disrespect for civil liberties and inept management.

American citizens were detained for long periods without access to lawyers or family members. Immigrants were rounded up and forced to languish in what the Justice Department's own inspector general found were often "unduly harsh" conditions. Men captured in the Afghan war were held incommunicado with no right to challenge their confinement. The Justice Department became a cheerleader for skirting decades-old international laws and treaties forbidding the brutal treatment of prisoners taken during wartime.

Mr. Ashcroft appeared on TV time and again to announce sensational arrests of people who turned out to be either innocent, harmless braggarts or extremely low-level sympathizers of Osama bin Laden who, while perhaps wishing to do something terrible, lacked the means. The Justice Department cannot claim one major successful terrorism prosecution, and has squandered much of the trust and patience the American people freely gave in 2001. Other nations, perceiving that the vast bulk of the prisoners held for so long at Guantánamo Bay came from the same line of ineffectual incompetents or unlucky innocents, and seeing the awful photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, were shocked that the nation that was supposed to be setting the world standard for human rights could behave that way.

Like the tax cuts, Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein seemed closer to zealotry than mere policy. He sold the war to the American people, and to Congress, as an antiterrorist campaign even though Iraq had no known working relationship with Al Qaeda. His most frightening allegation was that Saddam Hussein was close to getting nuclear weapons. It was based on two pieces of evidence. One was a story about attempts to purchase critical materials from Niger, and it was the product of rumor and forgery. The other evidence, the purchase of aluminum tubes that the administration said were meant for a nuclear centrifuge, was concocted by one low-level analyst and had been thoroughly debunked by administration investigators and international vetting. Top members of the administration knew this, but the selling went on anyway. None of the president's chief advisers have ever been held accountable for their misrepresentations to the American people or for their mismanagement of the war that followed.

The international outrage over the American invasion is now joined by a sense of disdain for the incompetence of the effort. Moderate Arab leaders who have attempted to introduce a modicum of democracy are tainted by their connection to an administration that is now radioactive in the Muslim world. Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves.

We have specific fears about what would happen in a second Bush term, particularly regarding the Supreme Court. The record so far gives us plenty of cause for worry. Thanks to Mr. Bush, Jay Bybee, the author of an infamous Justice Department memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique, is now a federal appeals court judge. Another Bush selection, J. Leon Holmes, a federal judge in Arkansas, has written that wives must be subordinate to their husbands and compared abortion rights activists to Nazis.

Mr. Bush remains enamored of tax cuts but he has never stopped Republican lawmakers from passing massive spending, even for projects he dislikes, like increased farm aid.

If he wins re-election, domestic and foreign financial markets will know the fiscal recklessness will continue. Along with record trade imbalances, that increases the chances of a financial crisis, like an uncontrolled decline of the dollar, and higher long-term interest rates.

The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education's handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.

Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 18th, 2004, 08:53 PM
Well, I am voting for Bush - because he prays a lot. George W. Praysalot. Anyone else is voting for him because he prays a lot? Wait, I cannot vote. Never mind. Disregard...

TLOZ Link5
October 18th, 2004, 11:31 PM
The Chicago Tribune is endorsing Bush.

October 22nd, 2004, 11:51 PM
* 2004 Compact Voter's Guide *
Bush / Cheney: pro-life, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-death penalty.
Nader / Comejo: see above.
Kerry / Edwards: just in case the rapture will not be televised.

October 24th, 2004, 07:51 AM
October 24, 2004

Bush and Kerry Focus Campaigns on 11 Key States


FORT MYERS, Fla., Oct. 23 - President Bush and Senator John Kerry move into the last days of the presidential contest in agreement that the race has come down to just 11 states, and have laid out plans for a barrage of visits and television advertisements across this final battleground between now and Nov. 2.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry will spend virtually all their time - and most of their remaining advertising budgets - in those states, aides said, starting here in Florida, and extending as far west as Colorado and as far north as New Hampshire. [Page 24.]

Both sides have reassigned staff out of states that once appeared competitive, like Missouri for the Democrats and Washington State for the Republicans, and scattered them across the 11 states.

Fittingly enough for this year, with polls showing the race deadlocked, five of the states were won by President Bush in 2000 and six by Al Gore, the Democratic candidate. And at least 7 of the 11 states are now considered tied in nightly polls being conducted by the campaigns, aides said.

"Where we are is where we ended in 2000: with a limited number of states that are very, very close," said Matthew Dowd, a senior adviser to Mr. Bush. "And the good news for us is more of those states are Gore states than Bush states."

Tad Devine, a senior Kerry adviser, disputed that assessment, arguing that Mr. Bush was struggling in two states that were the bedrock of his victory in 2000, Ohio and Florida. "We're in enough states to win a clear and convincing victory in the Electoral College," Mr. Devine said.

This geographical repositioning comes as Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have sharpened rather than blurred their differences as the race comes to a close, staking out vastly different positions on tax cuts, health care, Social Security, abortion rights and America's role in the world. In the process, the two candidates have offered one of the sharpest choices between two presidential campaigns in a generation.

Of the 11 states on this final battleground, representing 135 of the 538 electoral votes, Mr. Bush won Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Ohio in 2000. Of those, analysts and aides to both campaigns say Mr. Kerry has the best chance of winning New Hampshire, Ohio and Florida, while Nevada appears least likely to turn Democratic.

The Gore states in play are Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Of those, analysts and aides said Mr. Bush had the best chance of winning Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico.

A sudden surge by Mr. Bush in Michigan, a state that Mr. Kerry thought he had put away, caught both sides by surprise, and both men scheduled last-minute trips there for next week.

Ed Sarpolus, a pollster in Lansing, said that Mr. Kerry was paying a price for having campaigned in other parts of the country. "He hasn't been here," he said.

More than anything, Mr. Bush's aides say, his central focus over the final 10 days will be what they have always seen as his strongest suit: the fight against terrorism. Mr. Bush's advisers will attempt to command the agenda in the remaining days with an intense and grisly procession of television advertisements and attacks by Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on the issue.

Mr. Bush returned to the theme of terrorism during a campaign stop here in Fort Myers on Saturday, roaring into a rally in a procession of machine-gun-toting helicopters escorting Marine One as it settled, in a swirl of wind, in the middle of a field. It was a display of the power of incumbency and a reminder of a dominant theme of Mr. Bush's campaign. On television stations here this week, it was all terrorism all the time: images of the smoldering World Trade Center and Republican claims that Mr. Kerry would be weak in the face of terrorist threats.

"We will basically be talking about who will win the war on terror, who will make America safer and who will lead the effort to reform our government," said Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's senior adviser.

The emphasis on terrorism is part of a calculated appeal to some female voters, who tend to be among the late deciders in a campaign, and among whom Mr. Kerry has had difficulty building the kind of support Democrats typically have.

The president plans to conclude his campaign with an advertisement in which Mr. Bush, recounting the trauma of the nation these past three years, makes a personal appeal to be returned to office.

Bob Shrum, a senior adviser to Mr. Kerry, said Mr. Bush had been "reduced to a one-note-Johnny" campaign. He said Mr. Kerry would respond by challenging Mr. Bush's management of the war in Iraq, but also promising what Mr. Kerry has called a "fresh start" for the country, with am emphasis on job creation and health care.

"John Kerry has a fundamental argument that we need a president who can defend the country and fight for the middle class," Mr. Shrum said. "Bush can only talk to one half of that equation."

In a reflection of the rapidly changing landscape, Mr. Kerry's campaign has reassigned campaign workers once stationed in Missouri and Arizona - two states that have slipped off the Democratic wish list - to Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada. Mr. Bush has moved his staff out of Washington State.

Of the 11 states, all but Nevada and Colorado were described by both sides as being effectively tied. Mr. Kerry's aides said they had a statistically significant lead in Ohio and New Hampshire as well, but Mr. Bush's advisers disputed that.

The dynamics of the endgame are varying state by state, though the fact that 39 states are now considered firmly behind Mr. Kerry or Mr. Bush has made the challenge faced by both campaigns at least somewhat less daunting.

In Ohio, for example, aides to both men said the outcome was likely to be driven by concerns about the economy and jobs. In Wisconsin, Mr. Kerry's campaign is attacking Mr. Bush on milk prices, while in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush has emphasized his opposition to abortion and gay marriage in an attempt to undercut Mr. Kerry and appeal to the state's sizable Roman Catholic vote.

But in places like Florida - arguably the most competitive of the 11 - minds seem so made up that the outcome is almost surely going to be a function of turnout and voter registration. And for all the talk of speeches, issues and conflicting perceptions of these two men, the power of get-out-the-vote operations that both sides have spent two years putting together may well prove to be the most important factor.

"Pennsylvania remains a tight race with Kerry having a slight edge, but it's just down to turnout now," said Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin and Marshall College.

Eric Rademacher, a political scientist at the University of Cincinnati, said, "Our most recent polls show a dead heat," and he added that for all of the advertising money, campaign appearances and attention poured into Ohio this year, "it will still come down to ground-force execution."

"I don't think there is anything the candidates can do at this point to try to change minds," Mr. Rademacher said. Even the arrival of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California in Ohio next week on behalf of Mr. Bush may have little effect, he said, because "we've passed the level of saturation."

Mr. Dowd argued that support for Mr. Bush among Republicans would counter what he acknowledged was intense animosity toward Mr. Bush among Democrats, a remnant of the disputed 2000 election.

"You should start seeing some movement next week because people are trying to make up their mind," Mr. Dowd said. "But a big part of this is who turns out. Are Democrats more motivated than Republicans on Election Day?"

Mr. Kerry's senior aides said that Democrats in states like Florida were showing motivation and interest in levels they had never seen. A procession of polls that show the race as deadlocked has fed that sense.

"People waking up in these battleground states and the media telling them that the race is neck-and-neck - that's the greatest motivator of all," said Michael Whouley, a longtime friend of Mr. Kerry and a seasoned operative who is working as a senior strategist at the Democratic National Committee.

The candidates began the campaign this spring looking at a much wider universe of swing states, from 18 to 21. The narrowing of states is typical late in a campaign, though it does not always happen. It would not be surprising if Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry moved to other states in the last days should they see an opening.

The starting assumption of both campaigns is that whoever wins two of the top three - Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio - will win the presidency.

Mr. Bush's aides noted that Mr. Kerry was now in a situation where more Gore states were at risk than Bush states, suggesting that might allow them to endure even a loss of those three states. In addition, they said they were skeptical that Mr. Kerry would continue being competitive in Nevada and Colorado, and that Mr. Kerry would come to regret a decision to fly across the country Saturday to Colorado.

That said, Mr. Bush is in a situation where he is still fighting in states that were critical to his victory in 2000, Ohio and Florida, and that have been critical to his re-election strategy. He returned to Ohio on Friday after a 19-day absence, during which Mr. Kerry appears to have made clear gains there.

Beyond that, even though Mr. Bush has visited Pennsylvania 41 times since he took office, some state polls still show Mr. Kerry with a slight lead there. And a brief flirtation with New Jersey, one of the more solidly Democratic states, has now been abandoned by the White House, Republicans said.

The campaigns' advertising dollars reflect this shrinking list. Both Mr. Kerry's and Mr. Bush's biggest advertising buys have been in Florida, where they have both saturated several markets.

In many ways, the contest has become a battle between character traits and issues, as Mr. Kerry tries to turn the campaign into a referendum on Mr. Bush's record and proposals for the future, while Mr. Bush relentlessly seeks to paint his opponent as intellectually inconsistent and too weak to protect Americans in a time of terrorism.

And so aides to both sides say the critical question is which candidate can determine what the debate in the final days is about - terrorism or the economy.

"The most important thing to watch is the struggle for control of the agenda," said Charles Black, a Republican consultant who advises the White House. "The president wants people to have their top priority to be terrorism and security. Kerry should want their priorities to be jobs and health care."

Adam Nagourney reported from Fort Myers for this article, and Katharine Q. Seelye from Washington. Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting from St. Petersburg, Fla.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 24th, 2004, 02:03 PM
Kerry, Bush Even in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Polls Show

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator John Kerry pulled even with President George W. Bush in election polls in Florida, partly helped by a surge in newly registered voters, according to a survey done for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

The two candidates also are in statistical ties in surveys taken in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Both campaigns say the three states, which together have 68 of the 270 Electoral College votes need to win the presidency, are among the key battlegrounds for the Nov. 2 election.

Bush was in Ohio on Friday and is attending a rally today in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Kerry is speaking in the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the states most frequently visited by Bush and Kerry over the past six months, according to travel summaries released by the campaigns.

The Oct. 18-21 Florida poll shows Kerry supported by 48 percent of registered voters and Bush supported by 47 percent. The survey of 600 adults who have a history of voting in statewide elections has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The survey was conducted by Rockville, Maryland-based Research 2000.

Kerry is backed by 53 percent of voters age 18 to 34, compared with 44 percent for Bush. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida- based Sun-Sentinel reported that Kerry has strong support among the record number of newly registered voters in the state.

Other Polls

Polls by Quinnipiac University and Mason-Dixon Polling and Research released last week showed Bush with an edge of 2 to 3 percentage points in Florida.

Florida decided the 2000 election after the U.S. Supreme Court halted a recount of ballots in the state, leaving Bush with a 537-vote winning margin out of about 6 million ballots cast. That gave Bush 271 electoral votes to Democrat Al Gore's 267. The electoral votes, apportioned among the states based on congressional representation, decides the election rather than the national popular vote tally.

In Ohio, which Bush won in the last election, Kerry was backed by 50 percent of likely voters and Bush was supported by 46 percent in a poll conducted by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center for the Cincinnati Post. The result is within the poll's 5.3 percentage point margin of error.

The survey of 358 adults identified as likely to vote was conducted Oct. 17-21.

No Republican has won the presidency without also winning Ohio.

Kerry and Bush also are waging a close battle in Pennsylvania, a state that went for Gore in 2000.

Kerry led Bush 48 percent to 46 percent in a poll conducted by the Morning Call newspaper and Muhlenberg College, both in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The results are within the poll's 3.5 percentage point margin of error. The poll of 787 registered voters was taken Oct. 17 through Oct. 21.

A poll in May by the Morning Call and Muhlenberg gave Kerry a 48 percent to 43 percent advantage over the president, the paper said.

Bush and Kerry plan campaign stops in Pennsylvania this week.

October 25th, 2004, 10:14 AM
Well, it is goingto be a slugfest between the Democrat's "Get out The Vote" plan and the Republican's "Suppress the Vote" plan. Can anyone tell me which of these plans is a direct threat to democracy in America?

October 26th, 2004, 11:15 AM
by The Editors
Issue of 2004-11-01
Posted 2004-10-25

This Presidential campaign has been as ugly and as bitter as any in American memory. The ugliness has flowed mostly in one direction, reaching its apotheosis in the effort, undertaken by a supposedly independent group financed by friends of the incumbent, to portray the challenger—who in his mid-twenties was an exemplary combatant in both the Vietnam War and the movement to end that war—as a coward and a traitor. The bitterness has been felt mostly by the challenger’s adherents; yet there has been more than enough to go around. This is one campaign in which no one thinks of having the band strike up “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

The heightened emotions of the race that (with any luck) will end on November 2, 2004, are rooted in the events of three previous Tuesdays. On Tuesday, November 7, 2000, more than a hundred and five million Americans went to the polls and, by a small but indisputable plurality, voted to make Al Gore President of the United States. Because of the way the votes were distributed, however, the outcome in the electoral college turned on the outcome in Florida. In that state, George W. Bush held a lead of some five hundred votes, one one-thousandth of Gore’s national margin; irregularities, and there were many, all had the effect of taking votes away from Gore; and the state’s electoral machinery was in the hands of Bush’s brother, who was the governor, and one of Bush’s state campaign co-chairs, who was the Florida secretary of state.

Bush sued to stop any recounting of the votes, and, on Tuesday, December 12th, the United States Supreme Court gave him what he wanted. Bush v. Gore was so shoddily reasoned and transparently partisan that the five justices who endorsed the decision declined to put their names on it, while the four dissenters did not bother to conceal their disgust. There are rules for settling electoral disputes of this kind, in federal and state law and in the Constitution itself. By ignoring them—by cutting off the process and installing Bush by fiat—the Court made a mockery not only of popular democracy but also of constitutional republicanism.

A result so inimical to both majority rule and individual civic equality was bound to inflict damage on the fabric of comity. But the damage would have been far less severe if the new President had made some effort to take account of the special circumstances of his election—in the composition of his Cabinet, in the way that he pursued his policy goals, perhaps even in the goals themselves. He made no such effort. According to Bob Woodward in “Plan of Attack,” Vice-President Dick Cheney put it this way: “From the very day we walked in the building, a notion of sort of a restrained presidency because it was such a close election, that lasted maybe thirty seconds. It was not contemplated for any length of time. We had an agenda, we ran on that agenda, we won the election—full speed ahead.”

The new President’s main order of business was to push through Congress a program of tax reductions overwhelmingly skewed to favor the very rich. The policies he pursued through executive action, such as weakening environmental protection and cutting off funds for international family-planning efforts, were mostly unpopular outside what became known (in English, not Arabic) as “the base,” which is to say the conservative movement and, especially, its evangelical component. The President’s enthusiastic embrace of that movement was such that, four months into the Administration, the defection of a moderate senator from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, cost his party control of the Senate. And, four months after that, the President’s political fortunes appeared to be coasting into a gentle but inexorable decline. Then came the blackest Tuesday of all.

September 11, 2001, brought with it one positive gift: a surge of solidarity, global and national—solidarity with and solidarity within the United States. This extraordinary outpouring provided Bush with a second opportunity to create something like a government of national unity. Again, he brushed the opportunity aside, choosing to use the political capital handed to him by Osama bin Laden to push through more elements of his unmandated domestic program. A year after 9/11, in the midterm elections, he increased his majority in the House and recaptured control of the Senate by portraying selected Democrats as friends of terrorism. Is it any wonder that the anger felt by many Democrats is even greater than can be explained by the profound differences in outlook between the two candidates and their parties?

The Bush Administration has had success in carrying out its policies and implementing its intentions, aided by majorities—political and, apparently, ideological—in both Houses of Congress. Substantively, however, its record has been one of failure, arrogance, and—strikingly for a team that prided itself on crisp professionalism—incompetence.

In January, 2001, just after Bush’s inauguration, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office published its budget outlook for the coming decade. It showed a cumulative surplus of more than five trillion dollars. At the time, there was a lot of talk about what to do with the anticipated bounty, a discussion that now seems antique. Last year’s federal deficit was three hundred and seventy-five billion dollars; this year’s will top four hundred billion. According to the C.B.O., which came out with its latest projection in September, the period from 2005 to 2014 will see a cumulative shortfall of $2.3 trillion.

Even this seven-trillion-dollar turnaround underestimates the looming fiscal disaster. In doing its calculations, the C.B.O. assumed that most of the Bush tax cuts would expire in 2011, as specified in the legislation that enacted them. However, nobody in Washington expects them to go away on schedule; they were designated as temporary only to make their ultimate results look less scary. If Congress extends the expiration deadlines—a near-certainty if Bush wins and the Republicans retain control of Congress—then, according to the C.B.O., the cumulative deficit between 2005 and 2014 will nearly double, to $4.5 trillion.

What has the country received in return for mortgaging its future? The President says that his tax cuts lifted the economy before and after 9/11, thereby moderating the downturn that began with the Nasdaq’s collapse in April, 2000. It’s true that even badly designed tax cuts can give the economy a momentary jolt. But this doesn’t make them wise policy. “Most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans,” Bush said during his final debate with Senator John Kerry. This is false—a lie, actually—though at least it suggests some dim awareness that the reverse Robin Hood approach to tax cuts is politically and morally repugnant. But for tax cuts to stimulate economic activity quickly and efficiently they should go to people who will spend the extra money. Largely at the insistence of Democrats and moderate Republicans, the Bush cuts gave middle-class families some relief in the form of refunds, bigger child credits, and a smaller marriage penalty. Still, the rich do better, to put it mildly. Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington research group whose findings have proved highly dependable, notes that, this year, a typical person in the lowest fifth of the income distribution will get a tax cut of ninety-one dollars, a typical person in the middle fifth will pocket eight hundred and sixty-three dollars, and a typical person in the top one per cent will collect a windfall of fifty-nine thousand two hundred and ninety-two dollars.

These disparities help explain the familiar charge that Bush will likely be the first chief executive since Hoover to preside over a net loss of American jobs. This Administration’s most unshakable commitment has been to shifting the burden of taxation away from the sort of income that rewards wealth and onto the sort that rewards work. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, another Washington research group, estimates that the average federal tax rate on income generated from corporate dividends and capital gains is now about ten per cent. On wages and salaries it’s about twenty-three per cent. The President promises, in a second term, to expand tax-free savings accounts, cut taxes further on dividends and capital gains, and permanently abolish the estate tax—all of which will widen the widening gap between the richest and the rest.

Bush signalled his approach toward the environment a few weeks into his term, when he reneged on a campaign pledge to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, the primary cause of global warming. His record since then has been dictated, sometimes literally, by the industries affected. In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rescinding a key provision of the Clean Air Act known as “new source review,” which requires power-plant operators to install modern pollution controls when upgrading older facilities. The change, it turned out, had been recommended by some of the nation’s largest polluters, in e-mails to the Energy Task Force, which was chaired by Vice-President Cheney. More recently, the Administration proposed new rules that would significantly weaken controls on mercury emissions from power plants. The E.P.A.’s regulation drafters had copied, in some instances verbatim, memos sent to it by a law firm representing the utility industry.

“I guess you’d say I’m a good steward of the land,” Bush mused dreamily during debate No. 2. Or maybe you’d say nothing of the kind. The President has so far been unable to persuade the Senate to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but vast stretches of accessible wilderness have been opened up to development. By stripping away restrictions on the use of federal lands, often through little-advertised rule changes, the Administration has potentially opened up sixty million acres, an area larger than Indiana and Iowa combined, to logging, mining, and oil exploration.

During the fevered period immediately after September 11th, the Administration rushed what it was pleased to call the U.S.A. Patriot Act through a compliant Congress. Some of the reaction to that law has been excessive. Many of its provisions, such as allowing broader information-sharing among investigative agencies, are sensible. About others there are legitimate concerns. Section 215 of the law, for example, permits government investigators to obtain—without a subpoena or a search warrant based on probable cause—a court order entitling them to records from libraries, bookstores, doctors, universities, and Internet service providers, among other public and private entities. Officials of the Department of Justice say that they have used Section 215 with restraint, and that they have not, so far, sought information from libraries or bookstores. Their avowals of good faith would be more reassuring if their record were not otherwise so troubling.

Secrecy and arrogance have been the touchstones of the Justice Department under Bush and his attorney general, John Ashcroft. Seven weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the Administration announced that its investigation had resulted in nearly twelve hundred arrests. The arrests have continued, but eventually the Administration simply stopped saying how many people were and are being held. In any event, not one of the detainees has been convicted of anything resembling a terrorist act. At least as reprehensible is the way that foreign nationals living in the United States have been treated. Since September 11th, some five thousand have been rounded up and more than five hundred have been deported, all for immigration infractions, after hearings that, in line with a novel doctrine asserted by Ashcroft, were held in secret. Since it is official policy not to deport terrorism suspects, it is unclear what legitimate anti-terror purpose these secret hearings serve.

President Bush often complains about Democratic obstructionism, but the truth is that he has made considerable progress, if that’s the right word, toward the goal of stocking the federal courts with conservative ideologues. The Senate has confirmed two hundred and one of his judicial nominees, more than the per-term averages for Presidents Clinton, Reagan, and Bush senior. Senate Republicans blocked more than sixty of Clinton’s nominees; Senate Democrats have blocked only ten of Bush’s. (Those ten, by the way, got exactly what they deserved. Some of them—such as Carolyn Kuhl, who devoted years of her career to trying to preserve tax breaks for colleges that practice racial discrimination, and Brett Kavanaugh, a thirty-eight-year-old with no judicial or courtroom experience who co-wrote the Starr Report—rank among the worst judicial appointments ever attempted.)

Even so, to the extent that Bush and Ashcroft have been thwarted it has been due largely to our still vigorous federal judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Like some of the Court’s worst decisions of the past four years (Bush v. Gore again comes to mind), most of its best—salvaging affirmative action, upholding civil liberties for terrorist suspects, striking down Texas’s anti-sodomy law, banning executions of the mentally retarded—were reached by one- or two-vote majorities. (Roe v. Wade is two justices removed from reversal.) All but one of the sitting justices are senior citizens, ranging in age from sixty-five to eighty-four, and the gap since the last appointment—ten years—is the longest since 1821. Bush has said more than once that Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are his favorite justices. In a second Bush term, the Court could be remade in their images.

The record is similarly dismal in other areas of domestic policy. An executive order giving former Presidents the power to keep their papers indefinitely sealed is one example among many of a mania for secrecy that long antedates 9/11. The President’s hostility to science, exemplified by his decision to place crippling limits on federal support of stem-cell research and by a systematic willingness to distort or suppress scientific findings discomfiting to “the base,” is such that scores of eminent scientists who are normally indifferent to politics have called for his defeat. The Administration’s energy policies, especially its resistance to increasing fuel-efficiency requirements, are of a piece with its environmental irresponsibility. Even the highly touted No Child Left Behind education program, enacted with the support of the liberal lion Edward Kennedy, is being allowed to fail, on account of grossly inadequate funding. Some of the money that has been pumped into it has been leached from other education programs, dozens of which are slated for cuts next year.

Ordinarily, such a record would be what lawyers call dispositive. But this election is anything but ordinary. Jobs, health care, education, and the rest may not count for much when weighed against the prospect of large-scale terrorist attack. The most important Presidential responsibility of the next four years, as of the past three, is the “war on terror”—more precisely, the struggle against a brand of Islamist fundamentalist totalitarianism that uses particularly ruthless forms of terrorism as its main weapon.

Bush’s immediate reaction to the events of September 11, 2001, was an almost palpable bewilderment and anxiety. Within a few days, to the universal relief of his fellow-citizens, he seemed to find his focus. His decision to use American military power to topple the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, who had turned their country into the principal base of operations for the perpetrators of the attacks, earned the near-unanimous support of the American people and of America’s allies. Troops from Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Norway, and Spain are serving alongside Americans in Afghanistan to this day.

The determination of ordinary Afghans to vote in last month’s Presidential election, for which the votes are still being counted, is clearly a positive sign. Yet the job in Afghanistan has been left undone, despite fervent promises at the outset that the chaos that was allowed to develop after the defeat of the Soviet occupation in the nineteen-eighties would not be repeated. The Taliban has regrouped in eastern and southern regions. Bin Laden’s organization continues to enjoy sanctuary and support from Afghans as well as Pakistanis on both sides of their common border. Warlords control much of Afghanistan outside the capital of Kabul, which is the extent of the territorial writ of the decent but beleaguered President Hamid Karzai. Opium production has increased fortyfold.

The White House’s real priorities were elsewhere from the start. According to the former counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke, in a Situation Room crisis meeting on September 12, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld suggested launching retaliatory strikes against Iraq. When Clarke and others pointed out to him that Al Qaeda—the presumed culprit—was based in Afghanistan, not Iraq, Rumsfeld is said to have remarked that there were better targets in Iraq. The bottom line, as Bush’s former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill has said, was that the Bush-Cheney team had been planning to carry out regime change in Baghdad well before September 11th—one way or another, come what may.

At all three debates, President Bush defended the Iraq war by saying that without it Saddam Hussein would still be in power. This is probably true, and Saddam’s record of colossal cruelty--of murder, oppression, and regional aggression--was such that even those who doubted the war’s wisdom acknowledged his fall as an occasion for satisfaction. But the removal of Saddam has not been the war’s only consequence; and, as we now know, his power, however fearsome to the millions directly under its sway, was far less of a threat to the United States and the rest of the world than it pretended—and, more important, was made out—to be.

As a variety of memoirs and journalistic accounts have made plain, Bush seldom entertains contrary opinion. He boasts that he listens to no outside advisers, and inside advisers who dare to express unwelcome views are met with anger or disdain. He lives and works within a self-created bubble of faith-based affirmation. Nowhere has his solipsism been more damaging than in the case of Iraq. The arguments and warnings of analysts in the State Department, in the Central Intelligence Agency, in the uniformed military services, and in the chanceries of sympathetic foreign governments had no more effect than the chants of millions of marchers.

The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was made on the basis of four assumptions: first, that Saddam’s regime was on the verge of acquiring nuclear explosives and had already amassed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons; second, that the regime had meaningful links with Al Qaeda and (as was repeatedly suggested by the Vice-President and others) might have had something to do with 9/11; third, that within Iraq the regime’s fall would be followed by prolonged celebration and rapid and peaceful democratization; and, fourth, that a similar democratic transformation would be precipitated elsewhere in the region, accompanied by a new eagerness among Arab governments and publics to make peace between Israel and a presumptive Palestinian state. The first two of these assumptions have been shown to be entirely baseless. As for the second two, if the wishes behind them do someday come true, it may not be clear that the invasion of Iraq was a help rather than a hindrance.

In Bush’s rhetoric, the Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, with precision bombings of government buildings in Baghdad, and ended exactly three weeks later, with the iconic statue pulldown. That military operation was indeed a success. But the cakewalk led over a cliff, to a succession of heedless and disastrous mistakes that leave one wondering, at the very least, how the Pentagon’s civilian leadership remains intact and the President’s sense of infallibility undisturbed. The failure, against the advice of such leaders as General Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, to deploy an adequate protective force led to unchallenged looting of government buildings, hospitals, museums, and—most inexcusable of all—arms depots. (“Stuff happens,” Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld explained, though no stuff happened to the oil ministry.) The Pentagon all but ignored the State Department’s postwar plans, compiled by its Future of Iraq project, which warned not only of looting but also of the potential for insurgencies and the folly of relying on exiles such as Ahmad Chalabi; the project’s head, Thomas Warrick, was sidelined. The White House counsel’s disparagement of the Geneva Conventions and of prohibitions on torture as “quaint” opened the way to systematic and spectacular abuses at Abu Ghraib and other American-run prisons--a moral and political catastrophe for which, in a pattern characteristic of the Administration’s management style, no one in a policymaking position has been held accountable. And, no matter how Bush may cleave to his arguments about a grand coalition (“What’s he say to Tony Blair?” “He forgot Poland!”), the coalition he assembled was anything but grand, and it has been steadily melting away in Iraq’s cauldron of violence.

By the end of the current fiscal year, the financial cost of this war will be two hundred billion dollars (the figure projected by Lawrence Lindsey, who headed the President’s Council of Economic Advisers until, like numerous other bearers of unpalatable news, he was cashiered) and rising. And there are other, more serious costs that were unforeseen by the dominant factions in the Administration (although there were plenty of people who did foresee them). The United States has become mired in a low-intensity guerrilla war that has taken more lives since the mission was declared to be accomplished than before. American military deaths have mounted to more than a thousand, a number that underplays the real level of suffering: among the eight thousand wounded are many who have been left seriously maimed. The toll of Iraqi dead and wounded is of an order of magnitude greater than the American. Al Qaeda, previously an insignificant presence in Iraq, is an important one now. Before this war, we had persuaded ourselves and the world that our military might was effectively infinite. Now it is overstretched, a reality obvious to all. And, if the exposure of American weakness encourages our enemies, surely the blame lies with those who created the reality, not with those who, like Senator Kerry, acknowledge it as a necessary step toward changing it.

When the Administration’s geopolitical, national-interest, and anti-terrorism justifications for the Iraq war collapsed, it groped for an argument from altruism: postwar chaos, violence, unemployment, and brownouts notwithstanding, the war has purchased freedoms for the people of Iraq which they could not have had without Saddam’s fall. That is true. But a sad and ironic consequence of this war is that its fumbling prosecution has undermined its only even arguably meritorious rationale—and, as a further consequence, the salience of idealism in American foreign policy has been likewise undermined. Foreign-policy idealism has taken many forms—Wilson’s aborted world federalism, Carter’s human-rights jawboning, and Reagan’s flirtation with total nuclear disarmament, among others. The failed armed intervention in Somalia and the successful ones in the Balkans are other examples. The neoconservative version ascendant in the Bush Administration, post-9/11, draws partly on these strains. There is surely idealistic purpose in envisioning a Middle East finally relieved of its autocracies and dictatorships. Yet this Administration’s adventure in Iraq is so gravely flawed and its credibility so badly damaged that in the future, faced with yet another moral dilemma abroad, it can be expected to retreat, a victim of its own Iraq Syndrome.

The damage visited upon America, and upon America’s standing in the world, by the Bush Administration’s reckless mishandling of the public trust will not easily be undone. And for many voters the desire to see the damage arrested is reason enough to vote for John Kerry. But the challenger has more to offer than the fact that he is not George W. Bush. In every crucial area of concern to Americans (the economy, health care, the environment, Social Security, the judiciary, national security, foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism), Kerry offers a clear, corrective alternative to Bush’s curious blend of smugness, radicalism, and demagoguery. Pollsters like to ask voters which candidate they’d most like to have a beer with, and on that metric Bush always wins. We prefer to ask which candidate is better suited to the governance of our nation.

Throughout his long career in public service, John Kerry has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character. The physical courage he showed in combat in Vietnam was matched by moral courage when he raised his voice against the war, a choice that has carried political costs from his first run for Congress, lost in 1972 to a campaign of character assassination from a local newspaper that could not forgive his antiwar stand, right through this year’s Swift Boat ads. As a senator, Kerry helped expose the mischief of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a money-laundering operation that favored terrorists and criminal cartels; when his investigation forced him to confront corruption among fellow-Democrats, he rejected the cronyism of colleagues and brought down power brokers of his own party with the same dedication that he showed in going after Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal. His leadership, with John McCain, of the bipartisan effort to put to rest the toxic debate over Vietnam-era P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s and to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Washington’s normalization of relations with Hanoi, in the mid-nineties, was the signal accomplishment of his twenty years on Capitol Hill, and it is emblematic of his fairness of mind and independence of spirit. Kerry has made mistakes (most notably, in hindsight at least, his initial opposition to the Gulf War in 1990), but—in contrast to the President, who touts his imperviousness to changing realities as a virtue—he has learned from them.

Kerry’s performance on the stump has been uneven, and his public groping for a firm explanation of his position on Iraq was discouraging to behold. He can be cautious to a fault, overeager to acknowledge every angle of an issue; and his reluctance to expose the Administration’s appalling record bluntly and relentlessly until very late in the race was a missed opportunity. But when his foes sought to destroy him rather than to debate him they found no scandals and no evidence of bad faith in his past. In the face of infuriating and scurrilous calumnies, he kept the sort of cool that the thin-skinned and painfully insecure incumbent cannot even feign during the unprogrammed give-and-take of an electoral debate. Kerry’s mettle has been tested under fire—the fire of real bullets and the political fire that will surely not abate but, rather, intensify if he is elected—and he has shown himself to be tough, resilient, and possessed of a properly Presidential dose of dignified authority. While Bush has pandered relentlessly to the narrowest urges of his base, Kerry has sought to appeal broadly to the American center. In a time of primitive partisanship, he has exhibited a fundamentally undogmatic temperament. In campaigning for America’s mainstream restoration, Kerry has insisted that this election ought to be decided on the urgent issues of our moment, the issues that will define American life for the coming half century. That insistence is a measure of his character. He is plainly the better choice. As observers, reporters, and commentators we will hold him to the highest standards of honesty and performance. For now, as citizens, we hope for his victory.

October 26th, 2004, 04:34 PM
New Florida vote scandal feared

By Greg Palast
Reporting for BBC's Newsnight

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".
It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.

Mass challenges

They may then only vote "provisionally" after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status.

Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not one challenge has been made to a voter "in the 16 years I've been supervisor of elections."

"Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting."

Sancho calls it "intimidation." And it may be illegal.

In Washington, well-known civil rights attorney, Ralph Neas, noted that US federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.
The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents.

When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature.

Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together "in order to create" a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner.

Rather, she did acknowledge that the party's poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, "Where it's stated in the law."

There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.

Private detective

In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every "early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with blacked-out windows.
The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day services.

On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the Republican Party to intimate and scare off African American voters, almost all of whom are registered Democrats.

Greg Palast's film will be broadcast by Newsnight on Tuesday, 26 October, 2004.

Newsnight is broadcast on BBC Two at 2230 BST every weeknight in the UK.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/10/26 17:06:30 GMT


TLOZ Link5
October 26th, 2004, 10:20 PM
If this is confirmed, get the news out. This should be shown to as many people as possible.

October 27th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Email the article or the link:


To as many people as you can and ask them to keep forwarding it. Eeryone should be encouraged to bring multiple forms of identification and proof of address to the polls on election day.

October 27th, 2004, 10:48 AM
After reading the lengthy New Yorker article, I thought about the death of Ronald Reagan. In a discussion with friends at the time, although we disagreed with most of his policies, we acknowledged that his getting so many missles pointed away from us was a singular achievement of his presidency that overshadowed everything else.

Looking back at four years of G W Bush, I can't think of one thing he has done that was a positive. The worst president in my lifetime.

October 27th, 2004, 11:26 AM
Easily. Can you believe this election is as close as it is?

The president took us on a pre-emptive war based on false pretenses. Whether that was an honest error or not, it is a colossal enough mistake to deny a second term.

If Al Gore was president, and 9/11 happened on his watch, and he had brought us to war with a country that had nothing to do with it based on WMD that weren't there, then had no peace plan resulting in thousands of casualties and a new haven for terrorists, not to mention he never caught the guy who destroyed the WTC, and all while the deficit spirals out of control on top of a net loss of jobs.....what do you think the Republicans would have done? Or even the Democrats for that matter!

Next! You blew it Bush. We can't afford four more years of that kind of judgement and incompitence. You're absolutely right Zippy, there's not one thing I can think of that he's done right. Then again, I'm not a CEO of an oil company. I'm sure they love him.

October 27th, 2004, 12:27 PM
Local 10 Uncovers Big Ballot Mystery
Elections Office Says Situation Is 'Odd'

POSTED: 4:10 pm EDT October 26, 2004
UPDATED: 6:14 pm EDT October 26, 2004

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. -- Local 10 has received many phone calls from viewers in Broward County who say they have not received the absentee ballots –- and the news from the elections office doesn't sound good.

Local 10 has learned that many as many as 58,000 ballots that were supposed to mailed out on Oct. 7 and 8 could be missing.

The Broward County Supervisor of Elections office is saying only that the situation is "unusual," and they are looking into it.

Gisela Salas, Broward Deputy Elections Supervisor, said, "I hate to say 'missing' at this time because that has not yet be substantiated. Some ballots are starting to arrive. But there is an extraordinary delay."

An elections office representative told Local 10 that the office has investigated with the U.S. Post Office what might have happened to the ballots, but so far, no one has been able to figure it out.

"It is unusual. It's a puzzle on the part of our office and the postal service," Salas said. "Our office did make the delivery and the post office assures us they were processed. What happened is in question."

The postal service told Local 10 late Tuesday that they don't have 58,000 ballots floating around. They did say that they have several employees assigned to deal only with ballots and they are being delivered in one to two days -- once they get them.

How Will You Vote?

As far as the voters go that haven't received their ballots, the elections office is now suggesting that they take the opportunity to vote early.

Since many who request absentee ballots cannot physically vote in their county, there are likely to be some angry voters.

If you are able to and would like to vote early in Broward County, click here to find a voting location.

Watch Local 10 News for more coverage of this missing ballot controversy.

Copyright 2004 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

October 27th, 2004, 03:02 PM
The GOP's Shameful Vote Strategy
By Harold Meyerson
The Washington Post

Wednesday 27 October 2004

With Election Day almost upon us, it's not clear whether President Bush is running a campaign or plotting a coup d'etat. By all accounts, Republicans are spending these last precious days devoting nearly as much energy to suppressing the Democratic vote as they are to mobilizing their own.

Time was when Republicans were at least embarrassed by their efforts to keep African Americans from the polls. Republican consultant Ed Rollins was all but drummed out of the profession after his efforts to pay black ministers to keep their congregants from voting in a 1993 New Jersey election came to light.

For George W. Bush, Karl Rove and their legion of genteel thugs, however, universal suffrage is just one more musty liberal ideal that threatens conservative rule. Today's Republicans have elevated vote suppression from a dirty secret to a public norm.

In Ohio, Republicans have recruited 3,600 poll monitors and assigned them disproportionately to such heavily black areas as inner-city Cleveland, where Democratic "527" groups have registered many tens of thousands of new voters. "The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters -- I call them ringers -- have created these problems" of potential massive vote fraud, Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman James P. Trakas recently told the New York Times.

Let's pass over the implication that a registration drive waged by a liberal group is inherently fraud-ridden, and look instead at that word "ringers."

Registration in Ohio is nonpartisan, but independent analysts estimate that roughly 400,000 new Democrats have been added to the rolls this year. Who does Trakas think they are? Have tens of thousands of African Americans been sneaking over the state lines from Pittsburgh and Detroit to vote in Cleveland -- thus putting their own battleground states more at risk of a Republican victory? Is Shaker Heights suddenly filled with Parisians affecting American argot? Or are the Republicans simply terrified that a record number of minority voters will go to the polls next Tuesday? Have they decided to do anything to stop them -- up to and including threatening to criminalize Voting While Black in a Battleground State?

This is civic life in the age of George W. Bush, in which politics has become a continuation of civil war by other means. In Bush's America, there's a war on -- against a foreign enemy so evil that we can ignore the Geneva Conventions, against domestic liberals so insidious that we can ignore democratic norms. Only bleeding hearts with a pre-Sept. 11 mind-set still believe in voting rights.

For Bush and Rove, the domestic war predates the war on terrorism. From the first day of his presidency, Bush opted to govern from the right, to fan the flames of cultural resentment, to divide the American house against itself in the hope that cultural conservatism would create a stable Republican majority. The Sept. 11 attacks unified us, but Bush exploited those attacks to relentlessly partisan ends. As his foreign and domestic policies abjectly failed, Bush's reliance on identity politics only grew stronger. He anointed himself the standard-bearer for provincials and portrayed Kerry and his backers as arrogant cosmopolitans.

And so here we are, improbably enmeshed in a latter-day version of the election of 1928, when the Catholicism of Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith bitterly divided the nation along Protestant-Catholic and nativist-immigrant lines. To his credit, Smith's opponent (and eventual victor), Herbert Hoover, did not exploit this rift himself. Bush, by contrast, has not merely exploited the modernist-traditionalist tensions in America but helped create new ones and summoned old ones we could be forgiven for thinking were permanently interred. (Kerry will ban the Bible?)

Indeed, it's hard to think of another president more deliberately divisive than the current one. I can come up with only one other president who sought so assiduously to undermine the basic arrangements of American policy (as Bush has undermined the New Deal at home and the systems of post-World War II alliances abroad) with so little concern for the effect this would have on the comity and viability of the nation. And Jefferson Davis wasn't really a president of the United States.

After four years in the White House, George W. Bush's most significant contribution to American life is this pervasive bitterness, this division of the house into raging, feuding halves. We are two nations now, each with a culture that attacks the other. And politics, as the Republicans are openly playing it, need no longer concern itself with the most fundamental democratic norm: the universal right to vote.

As the campaign ends, Bush is playing to the right and Kerry to the center.

That foretells the course of the administrations that each would head. The essential difference between them is simply that, as a matter of strategy and temperament, Bush seeks to exploit our rifts and Kerry to narrow them. That, finally, is the choice before us next Tuesday: between one candidate who wants to pry this nation apart to his own advantage, and another who seeks to make it whole.

October 27th, 2004, 06:40 PM
The Wild Card in White House Race - Who Will Vote?

Wed Oct 27, 1:23 PM ET

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite a torrent of polling and millions of dollars spent on get-out-the-vote drives, the deadlocked battle for the White House will likely turn on the race's last great unknown -- who shows up to vote.

The political fates of Republican President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry rest in which unpredictable combination of new voters, young voters, minority voters, evangelical voters or even what one pollster calls "disinterested" voters turn up at the polls Tuesday.

A surge of new voter registrations across the country, and the intensity of partisans on both sides, has raised questions about whether an unexpectedly large turnout could shatter historical voting patterns and make liars of the polls.

The uncertain climate also has cast doubt on a variety of U.S. political truisms, including the likelihood that most undecided voters in a presidential race break late for the challenger.

The result? High drama, deep anxiety and shaky nerves for both camps in a race that has been stuck in a virtual tie for most of the last eight months.

"Nervousness is the only appropriate response to an election this close," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. "No one knows who will win it. It may not be knowable until people get in those voting booths and start voting."

The biggest wild card is the explosion in new voter registrations amid heightened interest in the White House race.

Some polls show new voters are younger, more pessimistic about the country's future and leaning toward Kerry by double-digit margins. But young voters and newly registered voters traditionally vote at lower rates than the electorate as a whole.

"No one knows if they are really going to turn out, or despite their best intentions decide to stay home," said independent pollster Thomas Riehle of Ipsos Public Affairs, whose survey found new voters constituted about 12 percent of the likely electorate.

Democrats argue new and young voters are not represented adequately in polls because many rely primarily on cell phones rather than the land-line telephones used by polling firms to contact voters.

Analysts predict a turnout among 18- to 24-year old voters rivaling or passing the 40 percent who voted in 1992. Less than 33 percent cast ballots in 2000.


Another critical element in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida is the turnout among blacks, who gave more than 90 percent of their vote to Democrat Al Gore in 2000 but have been slow to warm to Kerry.

A survey by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio found Bush and Kerry tied in 12 battleground states, but when the data was weighted to reflect minority turnout based on 2000 exit polls Kerry moved ahead by 3.5 percentage points. If minority turnout was weighted to census levels, Kerry's lead expanded to 5.2 percentage points.

"If one assumes minority turnout exceeds their 2000 election levels, then it appears a number of these states would tip to Senator Kerry," Fabrizio said in a polling memo.

Bush's biggest question mark is evangelical voters, more than 80 percent of whom backed him in 2000. But White House political adviser Karl Rove believes 4 million evangelicals sat out the election and organized a mammoth get-out-the-vote drive through churches, Christian radio and conservative religious leaders.

Riehle labeled another key bloc "disinterested" voters -- those who say they will vote but are not interested in election news. That group -- lower income, less educated and mostly women -- usually leans Democratic and does not vote. But this year, they favor Bush, he said.

"Blindly using historically based models for turnout, I'd say throw them out, they aren't voting," Riehle said. "But if they show up they could move the election three points in Bush's direction."

Another historical pattern that could be out the window this year is the late shift of undecideds toward a challenger. Incumbents in recent presidential elections attracted about the same or less of the vote on Election Day than the final polls predicted.

With Bush stuck in the high 40s in most polls, that would be good news for Kerry. But in a campaign waged under the threat of terrorism and in a nation at war, it could be just another example of a pre-9/11 mind set.

"The undecideds look a little more Democratic and more critical of Bush, but they also have a much stronger view of Bush on terrorism and in terms of leadership. Which of those things prevail?" asked Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.

October 28th, 2004, 08:00 AM
October 28, 2004

A Hole in the Heart


When you read polls showing a significant number of Americans feel our country is on the wrong track, what do you think is bothering people? I think it's a deep worry that there is a hole in the heart of the world - the moderate center seems to be getting torn asunder. That has many people worried. And they are right to be worried.

American politics is so polarized today that there is no center, only sides. Israeli politics has become divided nearly to the point of civil war. In the Arab-Muslim world, where the moderate center was always a fragile flower, the political moderates are on the defensive everywhere, and moderate Muslim spiritual leaders seem almost nonexistent.

Europe, for its part, has gone so crazy over the Bush administration that the normally thoughtful Guardian newspaper completely lost its mind last week and published a column that openly hoped for the assassination of President Bush, saying: "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. - where are you now that we need you?" (The writer apologized later.) Meanwhile, French and German leaders seem to be competing over who can say more categorically that they will never send troops to help out in Iraq - even though the help needed now is to organize the first U.N.-supervised democratic election in that country.

How do we begin to repair this jagged hole? There is no cure-all, but three big things would help. One is a different U.S. approach to the world. The Bush-Cheney team bears a big responsibility for this hole because it nakedly exploited 9/11 to push a far-right Republican agenda, domestically and globally, for which it had no mandate. When U.S. policy makes such a profound lurch to the right, when we start exporting fear instead of hope, the whole center of gravity of the world is affected. Countries reposition themselves in relation to us.

Had the administration been more competent in pursuing its policies in Iraq - which can still turn out decently - the hole in the heart of the world might not have gotten so large and jagged.

I have been struck by how many foreign dignitaries have begged me lately for news that Bush will lose. This Bush team has made itself so radioactive it glows in the dark. When the world liked Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, America had more power in the world. When much of the world detests George Bush, America has less power. People do not want to be seen standing next to us. It doesn't mean we should run our foreign policy as a popularity contest, but it does mean that leading is not just about making decisions - it's also the ability to communicate, follow through and persuade.

If the Bush team wins re-election, unless it undergoes a policy lobotomy and changes course and tone, the breach between America and the rest of the world will only get larger. But all Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney have told us during this campaign is that they have made no mistakes and see no reason to change.

The second thing that is necessary to heal the hole in the world is a decent Iraqi election. If such an election can be brought off, the Europeans, the Arabs and the American left will have to rethink their positions. I know what I am for in Iraq: a real election and a decent government. The Europeans, the Arabs and the American left know what they are against in Iraq: George Bush and his policies. But if there is an elected Iraqi government, it could be the magnet to begin pulling the moderate center of the world back together, because a duly elected Iraqi government is something everyone should want to help.

The real question is, What if we get a new Iraqi government but the same old Bush team incompetence? That would be a problem. Even an elected Iraqi government will see its legitimacy wane if we cannot help it provide basic security and jobs.

Last, we need to hope that Ariel Sharon's hugely important effort to withdraw Israel from Gaza will pave the way for a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. When there is no peace in the Holy Land, and when America has no diplomacy going on there, the world is always more polarized.

I am no Sharon fan, but I am impressed. Mr. Sharon's willingness to look his own ideology and his own political base in the eye, conclude that pandering to both of them is no longer in his country's national interest, and then risk his life and political career to change course is an example of leadership you just don't see much of any more in democracies.

I wonder what Karl Rove thinks of it?

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 31st, 2004, 09:09 AM
October 31, 2004


Will Osama Help W.?


WASHINGTON — Some people thought the October surprise would be the president producing Osama.

Instead, it was Osama producing yet another video taunting the president and lecturing America.

After bin Laden's pre-election commentary from his anchor desk at a secure, undisclosed location, many TV chatterers and Republicans postulated that the evildoer's campaign intrusion would help the president.

O.B.L., they said, might re-elect W.

They follow the Bush strategists' reasoning that since President Bush rates higher than John Kerry on fighting terror, anytime Americans get rattled about Iraq and Al Qaeda, it's a plus for the president. And Republicans can keep claiming that Al Qaeda wants the "weak" Democrat elected, even as some intelligence experts suggest the terrorists prefer that the belligerent Mr. Bush stay in power because he has been a boon to jihadist recruiting, with his disastrous occupation of Iraq and his true believer, us-versus-them, my-Christian-God's-directing-my-foreign-policy vibe.

The Bushies' campaign pitch follows their usual backward logic: Because we have failed to make you safe, you should re-elect us to make you safer. Because we haven't caught Osama in three years, you need us to catch Osama in the next four years. Because we didn't bother to secure explosives in Iraq, you can count on us to make sure those explosives aren't used against you.

You'd think that seeing Osama looking fit as a fiddle and ready for hate would spark anger at the Bush administration's cynical diversion of the war on Al Qaeda to the war on Saddam. It's absurd that we're mired in Iraq - an invasion the demented vice president praised on Friday for its "brilliance" - while the 9/11 mastermind nonchalantly pops up anytime he wants. For some, it seemed cartoonish, with Osama as Road Runner beeping by Wile E. Bush as Dick Cheney and Rummy run the Acme/Halliburton explosives company - now under F.B.I. investigation for its no-bid contracts on anvils, axle grease (guaranteed slippery) and dehydrated boulders (just add water) .

Osama slouched onto TV bragging about pulling off the 9/11 attacks just after the president strutted onto TV in New Hampshire with 9/11 families, bragging that Al Qaeda leaders know "we are on their trail."

Maybe bin Laden hasn't gotten the word. Maybe W. should get off the trail and get on Osama's tail.

W. was clinging to his inane mantra that if we fight the terrorists over there, we don't have to fight them here, even as bin Laden was back on TV threatening to come here. The president still avoided using Osama's name on Friday, part of the concerted effort to downgrade him and merge him with Iraqi insurgents.

The White House reaction to the disclosures about the vanished explosives in Iraq was typical. Though it's clear the treasures and terrors of Iraq - from viruses to ammunition to artifacts - were being looted and loaded into donkey carts and pickups because we had insufficient troops to secure the country, Bush officials devoted the vast resources of the government to trying to undermine the facts to protect the president.

The Pentagon mobilized to debunk the bunker story with a tortured press conference and a satellite photo of trucks that proved about as much as Colin Powell's prewar drawings of two trailers that were supposed to be mobile biological weapons labs.

Republicans insinuated that it was a plot by foreign internationalists to help the foreigner-loving, internationalist Kerry, a U.N. leak from the camp of Mohamed ElBaradei to hurt the administration that had scorned the U.N. as a weak sister.

In their ruthless determination to put Mr. Bush's political future ahead of our future safety, the White House and House Republicans last week thwarted the enactment of recommendations of the 9/11 commission they never wanted in the first place.

While pretending to be serious about getting a bill on reorganizing intelligence agencies before the election, the White House never forced Congressional Republicans to come to an agreement. So the advice from the panel that spent 19 months studying how the government could shore up intelligence so there wouldn't be another 9/11 may be squandered, even though Dick Cheney's favorite warning to scare voters away from Mr. Kerry is that we might someday face terrorists "in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us," including a nuclear bomb.

Wow. I feel safer. Don't you?

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 31st, 2004, 11:37 AM
Is that a critique or a colonic?

p.s. hard to tell the difference between Matthew and Maureen.

October 31st, 2004, 06:09 PM
I hope this holds up.

From Reuters:

In every presidential election since 1936, the Redskins' last home game has accurately predicted the winner. If they win, the incumbent president's party wins. If they lose, the challenger wins.

The Redskins lost to Green Bay 28-14 and Kerry quickly celebrated.

October 31st, 2004, 06:55 PM
Weekly Reader kids select Bush in Presidential Poll

The students who read Weekly Reader’s magazines have made their preference for President known: they want to send President Bush back to the White House.
The results of this year’s Weekly Reader poll have just been announced, and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican President more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students have correctly picked the president 11 out of 12 times, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.
President Bush was a strong winner in the student poll; the only state Senator Kerry won was Maryland. Senator Kerry was also in a statistical dead heat with President Bush in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Vermont. President Bush won most grades, although Senator Kerry did win among tenth-graders.
This year students caught election fever, with an increase of more than 20% in the number of students participating in the Weekly Reader poll than in any prior year. While there were participants from grades K through 12, third- and fourth-graders were the most enthusiastic voters. More than 57,000 students from each of those two grades voted.
The presidential poll, in which teachers collected their students’ votes and forwarded them to an independent polling company to be tabulated, is part of Weekly Reader’s “Promote the Vote” program, created to teach students about the election process, the issues, the candidates, and how democracy works.
“This program teaches students that voting is a privilege and a responsibility,” said Emily Swenson, President of Weekly Reader. “Through this authentic experience, we are hoping students will become advocates and lifelong voters. And even though the election may be over in eight days, the learning will continue.”
As part of the Promote the Vote Program, Weekly Reader will also conduct an essay contest called Write Your Own Acceptance Speech. In this contest, students from grades three through 12 will be asked to write the speech they would give if they were going to be inaugurated as President in January. Contest rules will be posted at the Weekly Reader Website (www.weeklyreader.com) beginning November 8.
To select this year’s presidential poll winner, classrooms across the country submitted ballots, called in results via a toll-free number, or voted online. The results were tabulated by Zogby International, which has been conducting public opinion polls since 1984.
For results by grade click here. (http://www.weeklyreader.com/election_results.asp)

October 31st, 2004, 07:43 PM
Football is an exacting science.

School kids smoke pot.

Come to think of it, so do football players.


October 31st, 2004, 10:02 PM
Family Circle’s Cookie Cook-Off (http://www.familycircle.com/food/food4.jsp) has actually predicted the past three Presidents -- In 1992, Clinton’s oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies beat Barbara Bush’s chips, The First Lady Clinton’s chips repeated victory against Elizabeth Dole’s pecan roll cookies in 1996, and Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Chocolate Cowboy Cookies won over Tipper Gore’s Ginger Snaps in 2000.

Results (http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/31707.htm)

November 2nd, 2004, 09:37 AM
November 2, 2004
Fighting That Feeling of Irrelevance

THE esteemed political theorist Edward Kennedy Ellington saw this presidential election coming. Decades ago, he understood instinctively what voting would be like in 2004 for New Yorkers and everyone else living in states not consecrated with an adjective like "battleground."

He anticipated the feeling of irrelevance that would overcome those people as they prepared to cast their ballots. Mr. Ellington, possibly better known to you as Duke, did his best to capture that mood as crisply as he could. In collaboration with Irving Mills, he succeeded admirably:

"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."

No, it don't.

Oh, sure, it's important to vote today. But let's not kid ourselves, fellow New Yorkers. In the Electoral College, where the real game is played, a vote cast in our sapphire-blue state hardly counts as much as one in wobbly Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida. Perhaps it goes too far to say that it don't mean a thing. But without that swing, it certainly don't mean as much.

What's a nonswinging New Yorker to do except that which we in this navel-gazing, celebrity-conscious town do best? Why not see what some of our most famous politicians are up to?

There is Senator Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat running for re-election with even less serious opposition than President Hamid Karzai recently faced in Afghanistan. Although a shoo-in, Mr. Schumer has stockpiled enough cash to buy a small country. He wants everyone to believe he has no plans to use it for, oh, a governor's race in two years. He has no higher ambition, he says - before adding, "at this point." You decide.

New York's other Democratic senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been out campaigning for Senator John Kerry. If he loses, the Democrats will face a vacuum for the 2008 presidential nomination. That would leave Mrs. Clinton heartbroken. Or not. You may decide this one, too.

Then there is Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, an example of the possible complications of undergoing Rino-plasty. That is a special kind of plastic surgery. It turned Mr. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, into a Republican of convenience, or as some prefer, a Rino: Republican in name only.

This Rino endorses Mr. Schumer and not his party's candidate, Howard Mills. And while he says he supports George W. Bush, Mr. Bloomberg went out of his way during the Republican National Convention to be nowhere near the president when a camera was around. Who needs inconvenient pictures when you run for re-election in a Democratic city? A Bush-Bloomberg hug? You stand a better chance of finding J. D. Salinger on the Leno show.

New York is not just Rino territory. It also has Dinos. One Dino-in-training is former Mayor Edward I. Koch.

He calls himself "a lifelong Democrat." But he is campaigning vigorously for Mr. Bush. Over the last dozen years, Mr. Koch has endorsed or said he would vote for Republican candidates for governor, senator and mayor. Imagine what he might have done as a lifelong Republican.

One real Republican is Gov. George E. Pataki, who has a knack for making himself scarce when bad news is afoot. Mr. Pataki did just that last week when the New York subway celebrated its 100th anniversary. The governor was supposed to show up for the ceremonies. Instead, he sent his lieutenant governor.

HAVING trouble conjuring the name? That's what we thought. It's Mary O. Donohue. While she filled in, Mr. Pataki roamed out of state, campaigning for the president. Thus he managed both to show party loyalty and to spare himself troublesome questions about those looming subway fare increases.

Messy questions have surely dogged former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani now that he has made himself a dutiful spinmeister for Mr. Bush. On the "Today" show the other morning, Mr. Giuliani said that American soldiers, not the president, bore "the actual responsibility" for those missing explosives in Iraq. The buck, apparently, stops not here but way out there.

It was an atypical stumble for the former mayor, basking in secular canonization since Sept. 11 (and forever reminding audiences where he was when the towers burned). No doubt, though, he has plenty of time to regain his footing.

Which may be more than can be said for the rest of us in New York, where only two things seem certain: We ain't got no swing, and a guy who went to Yale will emerge today as the winner.

On second thought, drop that "today." It might be going too far out on a limb.

November 2nd, 2004, 10:29 AM
The one good thing to have already come out of this election is increased voter interest and, hopefully, turnout. The steady erosion of citizen participation has been the most serious threat to the political process, since it allows campaign organizations to more easily focus in on target groups.

This renewed interest could be dampened by the relentless specter of battleground states. Voters in Illinois and Georgia have to believe that their efforts count for something, other than bragging rights to a meaningless popular vote count. More sophisticated polling and the availability of data make "battleground states" more easily identified. As a result, the majority of the electorate become bystanders months before election date. I know many people from Ny that traveled to Pennsylvania to volunteer as campaign workers, just for the feeling of involvement.

It is time to abolish the Electoral College.

Messy questions have surely dogged former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani now that he has made himself a dutiful spinmeister for Mr. Bush. On the "Today" show the other morning, Mr. Giuliani said that American soldiers, not the president, bore "the actual responsibility" for those missing explosives in Iraq. The buck, apparently, stops not here but way out there.
I guess Giuliani is going out of his way to top the "Thank God George W Bush is president" remark he had the presence of mind to make while buildings were falling around him. I vaguely remember my words, standing on Liberty and South End Ave as the south tower began to collapse, were "Oh shit!"

November 2nd, 2004, 11:39 AM
The one good thing to have already come out of this election is increased voter interest and, hopefully, turnout. The steady erosion of citizen participation has been the most serious threat to the political process, since it allows campaign organizations to more easily focus in on target groups.

This renewed interest could be dampened by the relentless specter of battleground states. Voters in Illinois and Georgia have to believe that their efforts count for something, other than bragging rights to a meaningless popular vote count. More sophisticated polling and the availability of data make "battleground states" more easily identified. As a result, the majority of the electorate become bystanders months before election date. I know many people from Ny that traveled to Pennsylvania to volunteer as campaign workers, just for the feeling of involvement.

It is time to abolish the Electoral College.
Rather than abolishing the Electoral College, which would need a Constitutional Ammendment quorum of 3/4th of the States (small States would never ratify it), proportional assignment of electors is within the purview of individual States. For an example of this check out what Colorado is trying to do during this election.

Of course this could lead to this situation more often, (especialy with third or fourth party canditates):

f no candidate receives an absolute electoral majority for President, then the House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President. In this case, the top three electoral vote getters for President are the candidates for the House of Representatives to select from, and the House votes en-bloc by state for this purpose (that is, one vote per state). If no candidate receives an absolute majority of electoral votes for President, then the Senate must do the same, with the top two vote getters for that office as candidates. If the House of Representatives has not chosen a winner in time for the inauguration (noon on January 20), then the Consitution specifies that the new Vice President becomes Acting President until the House selects a President. (If the winner of the Vice Presidental election is not known by then, then under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House would become Acting President until the House selects a President.)

Freedom Tower
November 3rd, 2004, 05:29 AM

Freedom Tower
November 3rd, 2004, 05:31 AM
This is very interesting... foxnews.com is reporting bush with 269 electoral votes and kerry with 242. at the same time cnn.com is reporting bush with 254 and kerry with 252. recount???? :roll:

November 3rd, 2004, 07:28 AM

There were also cheers when the Germans rolled into Paris.

November 3rd, 2004, 08:39 AM
You two appear to be on the same plane.

TLOZ Link5
November 3rd, 2004, 10:01 AM
Ohio is being contested. It's going to be Florida all over again.

November 3rd, 2004, 10:36 AM
No, the number of provisional ballots are not there for Kerry. Even if 100% of them are validated and not thrown out, nearly ALL would need to be for Kerry.
Extremely doubtful.

November 3rd, 2004, 10:52 AM
I don't think the numbers are going to be there. The provisional ballots are a different demographic than the 2000 Ohio election, where a very large majority went to Al Gore.

Some people here have questioned me when, during the campaign, I "cringed" or :roll: when Kerry made certain statements. It wasn't the validity of the statements, but how they would define Kerry in Middle America.

When you run around the heartland like some doofus in (as stated on the Daily Show) a "borrowed hunting jacket," calling the place the Packers play Lambert Field, it tells the audience that he's not one of us.

It may sound trite, but how else do you explain losing a state with massive job loss. If you say, well, the turnout of specific groups was low - the question is why?

Last night, an interesting point was made, I think, by Ed Bradley (CBS) or Tim Russert (NBC). In recent times, the challengers who beat incumbents all had interesting personas that allowed them to take their message to a wide range of people.


Jimmy Carter: A Georgia farmer who broke northern perceptions of southerners. Billy Beer.

Ronald Reagan: America's uncle.

Bill Clinton: Still hugely popular.

...with John Kerry.

I can't blame Kerry. In the final analysis, you are who you are.

The only positive for me is that Bush & Co are going to have to clean up the mess they made.

TLOZ Link5
November 3rd, 2004, 03:19 PM
Judging by the absence of new posts at this hour, I can discern that most of us here are still a bit bummed by the results.

Just got out of Spanish class (Estoy triste), and I have one more class than ends at 6:10. Después, voy a estar borracho. Muy borracho :?

...Bueno, no realmente. Solamente un poco.

November 3rd, 2004, 04:52 PM
I'm not so much bummed as I am really angry.

November 3rd, 2004, 07:12 PM
We get to sit back and watch the conservative, christian fundamentalist, right-wing extremist Republican Party dismantle a democracy, destroy an economy, isolate us diplomatically, and over-extend us militarily.

I was upset. I was angry. I think the fix was in from the beginning. But now, the Repugnicants will have a full 8 years, unencumbered by opposition, working with a clear majority, unrestrained by a judiciary to run amok. I am already getting excited to see who they are going to blame everything on in 2008. They are only good at running "against" things - at attacking and smearing. I think Democrats should just abstain from every vote and let the Repugnicants take FULL responsibility for the direction and results 8 years from now.

Either way, I will never - EVER - vote for either Dem or Rep again. I will vote 3rd Party or join the 40% of eligible voters who rightly concluded, "It really doesn't matter".

November 3rd, 2004, 07:21 PM
I'm not so much bummed as I am really angry.

Why are you angry? Just because the blue states that actually have economies, that generate jobs, that can pay taxes, were beaten by the red states, where "economy" is synonymous with "Wal-Mart", and all of our tax money goes to build them roads and fund pork barrel rojects? You're mad at THAT?

You seem to be implying you have no like - let alone respect - for hillbilly imbecils whining about the high price of gas while smoking Marlboros in their Semi sized pickup trucks.

We ain't got jobs - not Dubya's fault. We ain't got healthcare - not Dubya's fault. We ain't got privacy - not Dubya's fault. We ain't got rights - not Dubya's fault.

You see, they like 'im cause he be like them - A good ol' boy who don't know much.

Four more years of monkey cartoons.

November 3rd, 2004, 09:23 PM
Somewhere in one of these topics, a few months ago, I referred to the "protesters" at the national GOP convention as having done really nothing for their cause(s) and, in fact, were helping George W. Bush's re-election effort by showcasing for the entire USA what the left looks like, acts like, and sounds like. In subsequent responses to that posting, I explained that the "protesters" were still living in 1968. So here we are with yet another GOP sweep, an extra 4 million votes for W., and the Democratic Party trying to figure out why most every state outside of the typical socialist/leftist states went for Bush. No complaints here. In fact, I would GLOAT over the election results, but of course that would put about 99% of all WiredNewYork readers into a real tailspin. Oh, what the heck, I'll GLOAT, anyway.

On a related note, I tip my hat to John Kerry. He showed real CLASS today when he overruled his advisors, and conceded the election. Mr. Kerry could have pulled an Al Gore, but chose not to. Classiest move he made throughout his entire campaign.

November 3rd, 2004, 11:24 PM
Yes, John Forbes Kerry's comments seemed much more sincere and from his heart compared to previous speeches. We all know that he has been liberal for a very long time. But getting outside of Boston has ever so slightly changed his tones. He is more and more sounding very moderate. Is he trying to get the votes by reaching to the common american, or does he now, really, have a better sense of this country's value and a love for this country and God. An appreciation that would be hard to get in Cambridge or Beacon Hill.
The economy is not going to be operating in the same way across the country. We all need to understand the many facets of the economy. The middle america economy is stable, including the midwest America. Where small business firms are predominate that employ somewhere around 50 people. This sector of the economy is doing well. This is not northwestern Ohio, where there's mass union employment in aging factories. That sector hasn't doesn't well, but if you look at the numbers, the peak of manufacturing employment was more than 20 years ago. We are not a union economy anymore, we are service-based economy. So calling amereican people in the heartland of america, a bunch of hillbillies is a very emotional and stereotypical argument. The economy wasn't the issue, or which plan had better provisions for a specific section of the populace. Because those details are done at a more local level. In this specific case, people voted according to their morals and that the commander-in-chief bests represents those views.

November 3rd, 2004, 11:43 PM
I dont want to fuel a fire here, because you are a fellow American and New Yorker. But i have to say that Republicans are the people "against everything." is a very interesting stance. For over 25 years now, the Republicans, even more so the conservatives have had the same stance. We generally believe in more local control, limiting government, protection of the constitution, a tax cut(regardless of your standing in society), stronger military, and a moral country. Our stances on these issues have always been the same, they've never changed. The democrats have. It's because as conservatives we have some backbone, God and the constituion, two steady sources, unwavering in times of uncertainty. The democrats are generally liberal, but they never could say it in public. So their policies is a mixed bag that is unclear trying to reach middle america. Because of that, it seems that the democrats don't actually stand on anything. (Note: I said democrats, not liberals). So as a suggestion, if democrats went to make themselves clear on what exactly they stand on and clear to the public, they need to choose some positions and stick with them, they might seem more liberal, but that is who they are. And at least it will be clear to America where they stand.

November 4th, 2004, 01:04 AM
nybboy, I applaud your enthusiasm about the issues; however the outcome of this election was decided by demographics and geography. The truth of the matter is that people are born Republicans or Democrats, and rarely change parties.

November 4th, 2004, 01:10 AM
My sympathy to everyone who wanted Kerry to win – all I can offer is a shot of vodka in Russian Vodka on 52nd Street.

November 4th, 2004, 06:59 AM
November 4, 2004

A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America


Senator John Kerry took Manhattan, with more than 80 percent of the vote. Shortly before 2 p.m. yesterday, his concession speech was all over Times Square.

Striking a characteristic New York pose near Lincoln Center yesterday, Beverly Camhe clutched three morning newspapers to her chest while balancing a large latte and talked about how disconsolate she was to realize that not only had her candidate, John Kerry, lost but that she and her city were so out of step with the rest of the country.

"Do you know how I described New York to my European friends?" she said. "New York is an island off the coast of Europe."

Like Ms. Camhe, a film producer, three of every four voters in New York City gave Mr. Kerry their vote, a starkly different choice from the rest of the nation. So they awoke yesterday with something of a woozy existential hangover and had to confront once again how much of a 51st State they are, different in their sensibilities, lifestyles and polyglot texture from most of America. The election seemed to reverse the perspective of the famous Saul Steinberg cartoon, with much of the land mass of America now in the foreground and New York a tiny, distant and irrelevant dot.

Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush. (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.) Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.

"Everybody seems to hate us these days," said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired psychiatrist. "None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.' "

City residents talked about this chasm between outlooks with characteristic New York bluntness.

Dr. Joseph, a bearded, broad-shouldered man with silken gray hair, was sharing coffee and cigarettes with his fellow dog walker, Roberta Kimmel Cohn, at an outdoor table outside the hole-in-the-wall Breadsoul Cafe near Lincoln Center. The site was almost a cliché corner of cosmopolitan Manhattan, with a newsstand next door selling French and Italian newspapers and, a bit farther down, the Lincoln Plaza theater showing foreign movies.

"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."

"New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.

His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say."

"They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."

Dr. Joseph acknowledged that such attitudes could feed into the perception that New Yorkers are cultural elitists, but he didn't apologize for it.

"People who are more competitive and proficient at what they do tend to gravitate toward cities," he said.

Like those in the rest of the country, New Yorkers stayed up late watching the results, and some went to bed with a glimmer of hope that Mr. Kerry might yet find victory in some fortuitous combination of battleground states. But they awoke to reality. Some politically conscious children were disheartened - or sleepy - enough to ask parents if they could stay home. But even grownups were unnerved.

"To paraphrase our current president, I'm in shock and awe," said Keithe Sales, a 58-year-old former publishing administrator walking a dog near Central Park. He said he and friends shared a feeling of "disempowerment" as a result of the country's choice of President Bush. "There is a feeling of 'What do I have to do to get this man out of office?'''

In downtown Brooklyn, J. J. Murphy, 34, a teacher, said that Mr. Kerry's loss underscored the geographic divide between the Northeast and the rest of the country. He harked back to Reconstruction to help explain his point.

"One thing Clinton and Gore had going for them was they were from the South," he said. "There's a lot of resentment toward the Northeast carpetbagger stereotype, and Kerry fit right in to that."

Mr. Murphy said he understood why Mr. Bush appealed to Southerners in a way that he did not appeal to New Yorkers.

"Even though Bush isn't one of them - he's a son of privilege - he comes off as just a good old boy," Mr. Murphy said.

Pondering the disparity, Bret Adams, a 33-year-old computer network administrator in Rego Park, Queens, said, "I think a lot of the country sees New York as a wild and crazy place, where these things like the war protests happen."

Ms. Camhe, the film producer, frequents Elaine's restaurant with friends and spends many mornings on a bench in Central Park talking politics with homeless people with whom she's become acquainted. She spent part of Tuesday knocking on doors in Pennsylvania to rustle up Kerry votes then returned to Manhattan to attend an election-night party thrown by Miramax's chairman, Harvey Weinstein, at The Palm. Ms. Camhe was also up much of the night talking to a son in California who was depressed at the election results.

When it became clear yesterday morning that the outlook for a Kerry squeaker was a mirage, she was unable to eat breakfast. Her doorman on Central Park West gave her a consoling hug. Then a friend buying coffee along with her said she had just heard a report on television that Mr. Kerry had conceded and tears welled in Ms. Camhe's eyes.

Ms. Camhe explained the habits and beliefs of those dwelling in the heartland like an anthropologist.

"What's different about New York City is it tends to bring people together and so we can't ignore each others' dreams and values and it creates a much more inclusive consciousness," she said. "When you're in a more isolated environment, you're more susceptible to some ideology that's imposed on you."

As an example, Ms. Camhe offered the different attitudes New Yorkers may have about social issues like gay marriage.

"We live in this marvelous diversity where we actually have gay neighbors," she said. "They're not some vilified unknown. They're our neighbors."

But she said that a dichotomy of outlooks was bad for the country.

"If the heartland feels so alienated from us, then it behooves us to wrap our arms around the heartland," she said. "We need to bring our way of life, which is honoring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles, on a trip around the country."

Michael Brick and Brian McDonald contributed reporting for this article.


Some Bush Supporters Say They Anticipate a 'Revolution'


ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 3 - Exulting in their electoral victories, President Bush's conservative supporters immediately turned to staking out mandates for an ambitious agenda of long-cherished goals, including privatizing Social Security, banning same-sex marriage, remaking the Supreme Court and overturning the court's decisions in support of abortion rights.

"Now comes the revolution," Richard Viguerie, the dean of conservative direct mail, told about a dozen fellow movement stalwarts gathered around a television here, tallying up their Senate seats in the earliest hours of the morning. "If you don't implement a conservative agenda now, when do you?"

By midday, however, fights over the spoils had already begun, as conservatives debated the electorate's verdict on the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's spending and the administration's hearty embrace of traditionalist social causes.

Conservative Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, were first in line to stake their claims, citing polls showing that a plurality of Bush supporters named "moral values" as the most important issue and arguing that a drive to ban same-sex marriage boosted turnout in Ohio.

"Make no mistake - conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress," Mr. Viguerie wrote in a memorandum sent to other prominent conservatives. "It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this - as much as some will try," he said, underlining the final clause.

"Liberals, many in the media and inside the Republican Party are urging the president to 'unite' the country by discarding the allies that earned him another four years," Mr. Viguerie continued. "They're urging him to discard us conservative Catholics and Protestants, people for whom moral values are the most important issue.''

Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and an influential evangelical Protestant, said he had issued a warning to a "White House operative" who called yesterday morning to thank him for his help.

Dr. Dobson said he told the caller that many Christians believed the country "on the verge of self-destruction" as it abandoned traditional family roles. He argued that "through prayer and the involvement of millions of evangelicals, and mainline Protestants and Catholics, God has given us a reprieve."

"But I believe it is a short reprieve," he continued, adding that conservatives now had four years to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage, to stop abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, and most of all to remake the Supreme Court. "I believe that the Bush administration now needs to be more aggressive in pursuing those values, and if they don't do it I believe they will pay a price in four years," he said.

Dr. Dobson and several other Christian conservatives said they believed the expanded Republican majority in the Senate and the defeat of the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, put them in striking distance of both amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage and approving the appointment of enough conservative Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and other abortion rights cases.

"I think it is a real possibility," said Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, a champion of social conservative causes. In the meantime, he said, he also hoped to pass other measures conservatives had campaigned for this year, including an "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act" requiring some women seeking abortions to be offered anesthesia for their fetuses.

Austin Ruse, president of the conservative Catholic Culture of Life Foundation, suggested that if Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist steps down, Mr. Bush could begin to repay his social conservative backers by naming Justice Antonin Scalia to replace him. "We'd love to see Scalia in that spot, and I think we have earned it," Mr. Ruse said.

The strongest argument that Christian conservatives played a decisive role in the election came in Ohio, where a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage passed by an overwhelming margin. Conservatives said the proposal increased conservative turnout and helped Mr. Bush win a narrow, pivotal victory.

Phil Burress, the veteran Christian conservative organizer who headed the effort to pass the measure, said his campaign registered tens of thousands of voters, distributed 2.5 million church bulletin inserts and passed out 20,000 yard signs. His group called 2.9 million homes, he said, identifying 850,000 strong supporters whom it called again on Monday as a reminder to go to the polls.

"The president rode our coattails," Mr. Burress said.

Although the Bush campaign courted conservative Christians assiduously, the exact level of their turnout is not yet clear. Surveys of voters leaving the polls showed that "moral values" outweighed concerns about the economy or the war with more than 20 percent of the voters - more than chose any other issue - and about 80 percent of those voters supported Mr. Bush. But some pollsters cautioned that the multiple-choice format of the questions asked might have influenced the responses.

Sarah Chamberlain, a spokeswoman for the Republican Main Street Coalition, a group of moderates within the party, argued that high-profile moderates on social issues also played a pivotal role for the campaign in Ohio and elsewhere. Those moderates included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"Frankly, he wouldn't have been elected without us either, and the conservatives need to remember that," she said.

"Social conservatives are a very important part of the base, but they are not enough alone," said Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a conservative strategist close to the Bush administration, noting that in Illinois, Alan Keyes had taken a drubbing in the race for the Senate after running a vigorously conservative campaign on social issues.

Mr. Norquist eagerly predicted the accomplishment of a long agenda of government reduction: repealing the estate tax, privatizing Social Security, restricting medical and other liability lawsuits, closing military bases, opening more government jobs to competitive bidding to lower costs and weaken unions, imposing new disclosure requirements on organized labor, and expanding health care and investment savings accounts.

Most conservatives, however, agreed that among the three arms of the right - religious traditionalists, opponents of big government and foreign policy hawks - it was the religious right that pulled the most weight in Mr. Bush's re-election.

Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, a group that advocates limited government, said the Bush administration's spending had irked many of his members. "My fear is that Republicans will learn the wrong lesson from this victory and say, hey, we can spend and borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and the voters won't hold us accountable," he said. "There were a lot of conservatives who really had to hold their nose to vote Republican."

By all accounts, the war in Iraq only hindered Mr. Bush's re-election, renewing debate among conservatives over its wisdom, especially during the hours on Tuesday when early polls suggested that Mr. Bush might be headed for defeat. "We need a major national debate on, what kind of foreign policy is this country going to have?" said Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and now chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. "Are we going to continue on the offense, where we make more enemies than we can defeat? Or are we going to return to the traditional foreign policy that we do not attack unless attacked?"

But some of the intellectual proponents of the war known as neoconservatives called the vote something close to a vindication of Mr. Bush's policy of pre-emptive action against potential sponsors of terrorism.

"The world saw this as a referendum on the Bush doctrine, and I think the world was right," said Charles Krauthammer, a neoconservative columnist.

Kenneth R. Weinstein, chief operating officer of the neoconservative Hudson Institute, was more cautious "Certainly," he said, "we have avoided the blood bath in the Republican Party that would have taken place if Mr. Bush had been defeated."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Enjoy the "freedom."

November 4th, 2004, 08:18 AM

November 4th, 2004, 11:42 AM
My sympathy to everyone who wanted Kerry to win – all I can offer is a shot of vodka in Russian Vodka on 52nd Street.

Now THAT sounds tempting.

November 4th, 2004, 12:25 PM
I really hate those county maps like the one that Jasonik posted. It's is such a gross distortion of how people voted. Take Nevada for example - all red, yet 48% voted for Kerry. Most of the counties with low population went for Bush. Vast unpopulated desert is shown red because of the few Republicans who actually live in such places.

Not picking on you, Jasonik, it's just that I keep seeing it held up by neo-cons who use it to "prove" that most of the US is for Bush. The PEOPLE are split almost down the middle - the land doesn't vote.

November 4th, 2004, 03:50 PM
I'll just toss out that the exit polling was incredibly off - WILDLY off - in states that have electronic voting. While the exit polls were fairly consistent, in states that had a paper trail.

The Bush "mandate" is a sham.

But, I'm just walking away. I keep thinking of those folks who make up the 40% of eligible voters who didn't vote. They woke up Tuesday and - la - di - da - it was just another Tuesday.

That's my plan in the future. I fully engaged in this election - the first time I can say I was "engaged". Never again.

Now, I just have a bitter, nasty dream that the war intensifies, the draft is instated and Bush supporters watch their sons and daughters march off to sure death. At the same time, the bottom falls out of the economy - jobs are lost, inflation skyrockets, unemployment hits new highs. Virulent strains of flu hits and decimates a population largely uninsured. Terrorists come to the US and Dallas is flattened by a nuclear bomb, along with Cheyenne and Atlanta. Both Iran and North Korea form an alliance to blackmail the US with nuclear destruction and the rest of the world goes on holiday. Then I wake up and remember that I just don't care anymore.

November 4th, 2004, 04:04 PM
November 4, 2004

Two Nations Under God


Well, as Grandma used to say, at least I still have my health. ...

I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that yesterday, asking myself this: Why didn't I feel totally depressed after George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled yesterday?

Answer: whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out.

The election results reaffirmed that. Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on.

This was not an election. This was station identification. I'd bet anything that if the election ballots hadn't had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, "Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?" the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way.

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad. I respect that moral energy, but wish that Democrats could find a way to tap it for different ends.

"The Democrats have ceded to Republicans a monopoly on the moral and spiritual sources of American politics," noted the Harvard University political theorist Michael J. Sandel. "They will not recover as a party until they again have candidates who can speak to those moral and spiritual yearnings - but turn them to progressive purposes in domestic policy and foreign affairs."

I've always had a simple motto when it comes to politics: Never put yourself in a position where your party wins only if your country fails. This column will absolutely not be rooting for George Bush to fail so Democrats can make a comeback. If the Democrats make a comeback, it must not be by default, because the country has lapsed into a total mess, but because they have nominated a candidate who can win with a positive message that connects with America's heartland.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk that Mr. Bush has a mandate for his far right policies. Yes, he does have a mandate, but he also has a date - a date with history. If Mr. Bush can salvage the war in Iraq, forge a solution for dealing with our entitlements crisis - which can be done only with a bipartisan approach and a more sane fiscal policy - upgrade America's competitiveness, prevent Iran from going nuclear and produce a solution for our energy crunch, history will say that he used his mandate to lead to great effect. If he pushes for still more tax cuts and fails to solve our real problems, his date with history will be a very unpleasant one - no matter what mandate he has.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
November 5th, 2004, 01:57 AM
How about if the blue states merge with Canada? It might involve consolidating some Northeastern States into amalgamated provinces to match the Canadian provinces in size.

Let's think... Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine would merge into New England, with Boston as the capital.

New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, DC and New Jersey would merge into New Ontario, with Philly as the capital (continue NYC's status as a cultural and financial, as opposed to political, mecca). We shouldn't be complacent about having Baltimore and DC so close to enemy territory, so they would not be viable provincial capitals. Convert the Capitol in DC into a Mandarin Oriental, with the rotunda converted into a grand ballroom.

Peninsula Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa would merge into South Manitoba, with Chicago as the capital; Mainland Michigan would merge into Ontario and Detroit and Windsor would merge into one city, and Toronto would remain the provincial capital.

Oregon and Washington would become part of British Columbia, with Vancouver remaining the provincial capital; California would be its own province, Sacramento remaining the provincial capital.

New Mexico would be renamed Aztlan and granted independence. Our new ally will be used as a base for the sons of the Aztecs to push the gringoes out of the American Southwest — so long as they leave California alone.

Hawaii would become its own province, with Honolulu remaining the capital.

Political amnesty would be offered to any and all red-staters who want to move to the newly-christened United Republic of North America, and a similar agreement would be reached with the United States of Middle America so that blue-staters who wished to could also emigrate.

As for the problem of intercoastal jetsetting, either Bush will let us use Mid-American airspace, or Calgary or Saskatoon or someplace can enjoy the economic boom that comes with being a JetBlue hub.

November 5th, 2004, 10:10 AM
I jokingly thought of the blue states seceding to Canada too, but that bitterness is gone. We are the real United States - the ones who maintain the respect of the rest of the world. THEY are the ones who have been bamboozled.

November 5th, 2004, 04:15 PM
Guess we're not alone, it's all over the web:


November 5th, 2004, 07:12 PM
November 5, 2004


Why They Won



The first thing Democrats must try to grasp as they cast their eyes over the smoking ruins of the election is the continuing power of the culture wars. Thirty-six years ago, President Richard Nixon championed a noble "silent majority" while his vice president, Spiro Agnew, accused liberals of twisting the news. In nearly every election since, liberalism has been vilified as a flag-burning, treason-coddling, upper-class affectation. This year voters claimed to rank "values" as a more important issue than the economy and even the war in Iraq.

And yet, Democrats still have no coherent framework for confronting this chronic complaint, much less understanding it. Instead, they "triangulate," they accommodate, they declare themselves converts to the Republican religion of the market, they sign off on Nafta and welfare reform, they try to be more hawkish than the Republican militarists. And they lose. And they lose again. Meanwhile, out in Red America, the right-wing populist revolt continues apace, its fury at the "liberal elite" undiminished by the Democrats' conciliatory gestures or the passage of time.

Like many such movements, this long-running conservative revolt is rife with contradictions. It is an uprising of the common people whose long-term economic effect has been to shower riches upon the already wealthy and degrade the lives of the very people who are rising up. It is a reaction against mass culture that refuses to call into question the basic institutions of corporate America that make mass culture what it is. It is a revolution that plans to overthrow the aristocrats by cutting their taxes.

Still, the power of the conservative rebellion is undeniable. It presents a way of talking about life in which we are all victims of a haughty overclass - "liberals" - that makes our movies, publishes our newspapers, teaches our children, and hands down judgments from the bench. These liberals generally tell us how to go about our lives, without any consideration for our values or traditions.

The culture wars, in other words, are a way of framing the ever-powerful subject of social class. They are a way for Republicans to speak on behalf of the forgotten man without causing any problems for their core big-business constituency.

Against this militant, aggrieved, full-throated philosophy the Democrats chose to go with ... what? Their usual soft centrism, creating space for this constituency and that, taking care to antagonize no one, declining even to criticize the president, really, at their convention. And despite huge get-out-the-vote efforts and an enormous treasury, Democrats lost the battle of voter motivation before it started.

Worse: While conservatives were sharpening their sense of class victimization, Democrats had all but abandoned the field. For some time, the centrist Democratic establishment in Washington has been enamored of the notion that, since the industrial age is ending, the party must forget about blue-collar workers and their issues and embrace the "professional" class. During the 2004 campaign these new, business-friendly Democrats received high-profile assistance from idealistic tycoons and openly embraced trendy management theory. They imagined themselves the "metro" party of cool billionaires engaged in some kind of cosmic combat with the square billionaires of the "retro" Republican Party.

Yet this would have been a perfect year to give the Republicans a Trumanesque spanking for the many corporate scandals that they have countenanced and, in some ways, enabled. Taking such a stand would also have provided Democrats with a way to address and maybe even defeat the angry populism that informs the "values" issues while simultaneously mobilizing their base.

To short-circuit the Republican appeals to blue-collar constituents, Democrats must confront the cultural populism of the wedge issues with genuine economic populism. They must dust off their own majoritarian militancy instead of suppressing it; sharpen the distinctions between the parties instead of minimizing them; emphasize the contradictions of culture-war populism instead of ignoring them; and speak forthrightly about who gains and who loses from conservative economic policy.

What is more likely, of course, is that Democratic officialdom will simply see this week's disaster as a reason to redouble their efforts to move to the right. They will give in on, say, Social Security privatization or income tax "reform" and will continue to dream their happy dreams about becoming the party of the enlightened corporate class. And they will be surprised all over again two or four years from now when the conservative populists of the Red America, poorer and angrier than ever, deal the "party of the people" yet another stunning blow.

Thomas Frank is the author, most recently, of "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
November 5th, 2004, 08:24 PM
Guess we're not alone, it's all over the web:


Oh, if only...

November 5th, 2004, 09:13 PM
The Times has more revealing maps (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/khtml/2004/11/03/politics/20041103_px_ELECT_GRAPHIC.html).

November 6th, 2004, 12:10 AM
Manhattan (http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/NY/P/00/county.001.html#36061) results from CNN: 82% for Kerry, 17% for Bush

November 6th, 2004, 11:30 AM
I think nearly all germans hoped for Kerry, i see most of the new yorkers too.
We feel with you. :cry:

November 6th, 2004, 08:25 PM
November 6, 2004

Man commits suicide at Ground Zero

Staff Writers

Distraught over the re-election of President George W. Bush, a Georgia man traveled to New York City, went to Ground Zero and killed himself with a shotgun blast, police said yesterday.

The suicide victim, Andrew Veal, 25, was discovered just before 8 a.m. yesterday when a worker for the Millennium Hotel looking at Ground Zero from an upper floor saw a man lying atop the concrete structure through which the 1 and 9 subway lines run.

The worker, thinking the man was sleeping, alerted colleagues and the Port Authority police were notified.

But when they got to Veal's body, they realized he had killed himself with a shot to the head from a .12-gauge shotgun.

No suicide note was found, but according to a Port Authority police source, family members said Veal, a registered Democrat, was despondent over Bush's defeat of Sen. John Kerry. A second source said Veal, who lived in Athens, Ga., and worked for the University of Georgia, was also adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq.

More than three years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Ground Zero remains a top tourist attraction, the site rife with symbolism.

Visitors there yesterday reacted in different ways to news of Veal's suicide. Bobbie Jensen, 54, a Republican from Phoenix, said that while she understood how Bush's victory disturbed those who dislike him, Ground Zero is not the place to act on those emotions.

"You can be upset about the war, about Bush, but this is a sacred place," she said. "You got to accept what happened and not kill yourself." But Frank Franca, an East Village artist and registered Democrat, suggested the suicide was symbolic.

"I'm very moved by it," he said. "Obviously, this person was devastated. I can see why he would come here."

Franca's friend, Jeffim Kuznetsov, a 25-year-old student from Russia who lives in Atlanta, said the suicide is evidence of how deeply many Americans were affected by Kerry's defeat.

"It's a national tragedy," he said. "This election is devastating to all who believe in democracy."

Another visitor to Ground Zero, Arushi Raval, 34, a businesswoman who lives in Chelsea, said Veal might have been active in campaigning for Kerry, only to taste defeat.

"Maybe he felt ineffective," she said of the victim. "You feel ineffective if you tried and it all failed.

"I know so many New Yorkers who are depressed over this."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

November 6th, 2004, 09:40 PM
November 7, 2004

Dear New York: Some Feel Your Pain (7 Letters)

To the Editor:

Reading "A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America" (news article, Nov. 4) left me feeling an unexpected kinship with the people of New York.

I live in rural Maine, as culturally and aesthetically distant from Midtown Manhattan as I can be. I go weeks without hearing a foreign language, or even an accent; no one would mistakenly call my corner of the world "cosmopolitan."

But I, and a majority of Mainers, share New Yorkers' feelings of disbelief over President Bush's re-election. It is inconceivable to us that millions of Americans would trivialize or deny outright the social, spiritual, international, economic and environmental disasters this president has wrought. And to send him back to Washington because they agree with his "morals" is nothing short of immoral.

We hear you, New York. We feel your pain.

Lisa Wesel
Bowdoinham, Me., Nov. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

As a Wisconsin resident, I, too, am bewildered by our "red" America. I woke up on Wednesday morning afraid for this country and for our future. New York is not alone in its confusion, hurt and shock over the result of the presidential election. New York does not have a monopoly on the progressive, informed and socially conscious politics in this country.

Almost 56 million people voted their hopes and dreams in this election and voted for John Kerry for president. These people live all over this country - many in the Northeast, but also many in the Midwest, the West and the South.

There is a great divide in this country, and the red and blue on the map are in many respects geographical. But New York is not alone. Washington, D.C., is not alone. Madison, Wis., is not alone. We can still realize a progressive vision for this country if we work together.

Alyssa Luckey
Madison, Wis., Nov. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

On behalf of 2,827,556 Texans and the majority of Travis County, Tex., voters who supported John Kerry, we share your amazement at the outcome of the election. New Yorkers, please remember that there are people in the red states who are not all Bible-thumping, redneck conservatives whose worldview ends at their backyard fence line.

But I have to confess, I did say a prayer when President Bush was re-elected: God help us.

Tish Brandt
Austin, Tex., Nov. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

Reading "A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America," I quickly related to the sense of bewilderment and alienation many New Yorkers feel in the wake of President Bush's victory.

I, along with tens of millions of other voters, felt the same way when our fellow Americans chose Bill Clinton as president not once, but twice.

John Wiley Jr.
Midlothian, Va., Nov. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

I'm proud that New York rejected the Bush message that seduced most Americans. America's prosperity has always been tied to its middle class. President Bush's policies exacerbate a polarized economic class structure. Many fear that in four years, most of us will be a lot worse off, and Mr. Bush just doesn't seem to care.

Henry Riger
Little Neck, N.Y., Nov. 5, 2004

To the Editor:

"A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America" exemplifies why much of the rest of the country looks with disdain upon New Yorkers. It's not because we're liberal, but because we're arrogant.

Yes, John Kerry got 82 percent in Manhattan, but he also got 90 percent in the District of Columbia, 81 percent in Philadelphia and, in the heart of red country, 81 percent in St. Louis and 77 percent in New Orleans.

In other words, much to many New Yorkers' surprise, New York is not the center of enlightened politics in this country. It's an urban thing, not a New York thing.

Chris Dana
New York, Nov. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

Disconsolate New Yorkers describe the rest of us as "obtuse," "shortsighted" and "redneck." Now that's what I call "honoring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles"!

Mary M. Lewis
Cornwall, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2004

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
November 7th, 2004, 01:23 AM
Unfortunately, "obtuse" and "redneck" is the stereotype for Bush supporters; it is not an impression that should be cultivated and is just as reprehensible as labelling all Kerry supporters as hippies, socialists, media pundits, PETA activists, homosexuals or the Hollywood elite. Voting for Bush because you feel there is a good reason to and that you can back it up with believable convictions is one thing, and can be respected (my father, for all his intelligence, level-headedness and sophistication, falls into this category). The same goes with those of us who voted Kerry.

Yet there are the radically conservative, morally zealous, closeminded individuals who voted for Bush as a knee-jerk reaction because they feel threatened by more liberal, progressive values. At the same time, again, there are Democrats and others who fall into the same exact category; they just happen to be defined by a different primary color and have different social views.

Voting for Kerry for no reason other than a disdain for rural/suburban America is equally as close-minded. There were many informed people who voted both red and blue, and at the same time many uninformed people who voted both red and blue. I love my family in Kentucky, even if they overwhelmingly voted for Bush. They are not obtuse hicks, but I still dislike their politics; it does not mean that I dislike them — we simply don't discuss politics because we find it divisive, and we love each other just the same and love visiting each other.

Judging people by their vote, regardless of whether we find it misguided, is self-defeating and simply widens the rift that is already so palpable in this country in particular and the West as a whole. I can only hope that in his second (read last) term, that Bush can work to heal that rift, both at home and abroad.

November 8th, 2004, 10:51 AM
Gotham Gazette -

What Does It Mean to New York?

November 11, 2004

What Does The Election Mean for New York?

For New Yorkers who voted 3 to 1 in favor of Democrat John Kerry on Election Day, the initial reaction to George W. Bush's reelection was one of shock, frustration, and anger.

In lower Manhattan, a woman wept on the street corner as she watched Kerry's concession speech through a bar window. Internet message boards and blogs flooded with angry postings questioning how people in the Midwest could rank terrorism and the war in Iraq as less important than "moral values." Some wondered out loud if they could move to Canada.

Even politicians, who are rarely at a loss for words, were dumbfounded. When asked about the election result, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller swallowed hard like he had been hit in the gut and said, "It was a bad day."

Not all New Yorkers shared in the sense of the collective mourning -- "The demographic center of power keeps shifting to the West," said Fred Siegel, a professor at Cooper Union. "Come to grips with it." -- but even Siegel concedes that with a huge deficit, a war in Iraq, and increased spending on anti-terrorism, there is little money for domestic issues: "We're in a bad position in Washington regardless of who's in power."

But George W. Bush is in power. And his administration's policies will surely affect the daily life of New Yorkers.

When the Republicans came to New York for their national convention this summer, each day featured a different general theme, such as "A Safer World," "Opportunity," and "People of Compassion." Just how those feel-good slogans will translate into policies presents many unanswered questions about what President Bush will or will not do for New York over the next four years.


New York's economy is fueled by many different sources: Wall Street and large corporations, middle-class workers, small business owners, and the working poor. What is President Bush thinks is good for one segment of the city's economy is, of course, not always good for the rest of it.

How Will the Election Affect the Economy? - Wall Street

Two days after the election, President George W. Bush outlined plans for his next term and promised to continue $1.9 billion worth of tax cuts over the next 10 years, overhaul the tax system, and push for the partial privatization of Social Security, which would allow people to invest a portion of their Social Security in the stock market.

Wall Street loved it. The Dow Jones industrials gained more than 177 points for its best day of the year, and the S&P 500 closed at its highest level since 2002.

"The reelection of George W. Bush is a tremendously good thing for New York," said E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute. "His policies favor investment."

In New York, the general rule is that when Wall Street does well, so does the city; every $1 billion in Wall Street profits translates to $77 million in tax revenue for the New York, according to the mayor's office. Many of the city's gains of the 1990's - more police, cleaner streets, and improved parks - resulted from money made in the stock market boom.

Still exactly how the president plans to implement his economic plans remains unclear.

On the privatization of Social Security, Bush has not said how he will continue to pay for benefits of retirees if taxes of current workers are diverted to private accounts. The president said he would begin the process by having Congress consider a report on the private accounts, which was authored by the former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

For the time being, Wall Street seems glad that the election - and the uncertainty - is over. And those who support Bush's pro-business economic agenda argue that New York businesses will much better under Bush than they would have under John Kerry.

"New York's long-term economic fate remains in its own hands," McMahon wrote in the New York Sun. "Four more years of Mr. Bush will at least ensure that the federal government is a help, not a hindrance, to New York's prospects for growth."

-Mark Berkey-Gerard

How Will the Election Affect the City Economy? - The Middle-Class

Taxpayer President George W. Bush has made two distinct campaign promises that are likely to complicate and further compromise our city and national fiscal condition. One is the simplification of the tax code and the other is making his tax cuts permanent.

Both will further increase the federal budget deficit, add to the national debt, and squeeze discretionary domestic spending that could help New York.

Bush has not said exactly how he plans to simplify the tax code.

For most conservatives, tax simplification means replacing progressive taxes, like the federal personal income tax, with a regressive "flat tax," often some kind of national sales tax. (The newly elected Republican senator from South Carolina has proposed a 23 percent national sales tax.)

In the past, the president has supported the idea of a national sales tax, but that will only be one of the options that will be considered. Such a tax would be consistent with the premise of Bush's basic tax policy - redistributing the nation's tax burden from the wealthy to the middle and working classes - but is only one of the options reportedly being considered.

The impact of Bush's first-term tax cut policy was outlined in a January Gotham Gazette article, "Bush Tax Cuts and New York": In 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts produced over $1 trillion in benefits over six years, but - because the president borrowed to pay for the tax cuts - largely contributed to budget deficits now over $400 billion a year, skyrocketing national debt now at $7.4 trillion, and an increasing gap between rich and poor (especially in New York).

Since then, two other tax cut bills have been signed into law that exacerbate the deficit and debt problems. The September extension of some of the first-term tax cuts was also paid for with more borrowing ($146 billion over 10 years) and benefits the wealthy more than the middle-class, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

In addition, the October $210 billion corporate tax cut bill, a pork-barrel bonanza, will not protect its primary target -- manufacturing jobs - and won't pay for itself as promised, says a recent Citizens for Tax Justice report. (in pdf format)

It's in this budget-busting, debt-financing context that President Bush now promises a simpler system. But the current tax policy looks all too simple already: It's a radical, fiscally irresponsible tax policy that serves corporate and wealthy America very well, but has yet to serve any useful social or economic purpose.

-Glenn Pasanen

How Will the Election Affect the Economy? - The Poor and Working Class

Neither President George W. Bush nor Senator John Kerry spent much time on the campaign trail discussing how to help the poorest Americans. Now, though, Congress and the Bush administration will have no choice but to act.

Given the limited amount of funds available for domestic programs and the Bush administration's record on social issues, advocates for the poor are worried.

"Overall the looming deficit is going to put - as it was intended to put - increased pressure to cut domestic programs, particularly social programs" such as welfare, housing and Food Stamps, said Nancy Rankin, director of policy, research and advocacy for the Community Service Society.

With about 1.5 million New Yorkers living in poverty, these programs have a big impact on the city.

Welfare Reform

Welfare will certainly be on the agenda. Congress has tried since 2002 to reauthorize the sweeping 1996 welfare reform act and failed to reach an agreement. Many of the disputes have been along party lines, with Democrats in the Senate trying to hike funding for childcare and, earlier this fall, to link the welfare bill to an increase in the minimum wage.

The increased Republican majority could make it easier for Republicans to pass their version of a welfare bill. President Bush has proposed putting additional requirements on welfare recipients, such as making them work more hours, but also called for increasing the average amount of money a family on public assistance would receive. Republicans have proposed tighter requirements on what constitutes work - something opponents say would make it more difficult for welfare recipients to go to school or get job training - and want to encourage welfare recipients to get married.


With its high housing costs, federal housing programs are particularly important to New York. The administration backed away from several measures that would have cut housing aid to the city - particularly the Housing voucher plan known as Section 8 - earlier this year. The program helps pay the rent for 220,000 New Yorkers, but three times that number are eligible.

But, as Joe Lamport reported in Gotham Gazette, "the housing voucher program will still face significant cuts next year, advocates fear, particularly if President George W. Bush is reelected."

Some of these changes may be hard to detect. "HUD is doing its best using administrative changes to cut aid," said Rankin. "It's a stealth tactic. You don‚t say openly, 'Let's cut spending.' You just make these administrative changes," such as altering the formula for determining market value rents under Section 8.

One proposal has been to pay for the cost of the Section 8 housing program by cutting other housing initiatives like block grants, supportive living, and public housing. "The administration is rewriting 80 years of federal housing policy," said Joe Weisbord of the group Housing First.

Faith Based Initiatives

For his part, Bush has vowed to continue his policies of supporting religious groups that do charity work.

This could help some of the many religious groups in New York that provide services such as shelters and food programs. But the impact of faith-based initiative programs may be less than its supporters would like.

A recent report by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government found that federal and state budget crunches have put a crimp in funding for such efforts.

Minimum Wage

Beyond specific poverty programs, a number of other, broader policies have a disproportionate effect on low income New Yorkers. These include certain health care programs, the minimum wage, some tax policies and family and medical leave plans.

Bush has opposed any increase in the minimum wage for now. "This is still a recovering economy and you don't want to do anything to weaken it, so the president knows we need to be careful and cautious," said John Bailey, deputy policy director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, told the Detroit Press in October.

As long as the federal minimum wage remains where it has been since 1997 - at $5.15 an hour - pressure grows on New York State to increase its own minimum wage. This year, the legislature increased the wage, but Governor George Pataki vetoed the raise.

-Gail Robinson

How Will The Election Affect the Economy?

Small Businesses and Neighborhood Development

Small business development played a prominent role in this presidential season as both candidates struggled to explain how they would create jobs in an economy that continues to under perform in employment terms. Both George W. Bush and John Kerry ran on platforms in which tax incentives, reduced regulatory impediments and lower business-related insurance costs were all promised to the small business community.

Unfortunately, New York was not counted among Bush's red state constituency. More importantly, battle ground states, areas which have not yet successfully made the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a "new economy", have become the prime focus of domestic agenda discussions, especially those regarding job "outsourcing."

In a political environment like this, it will be difficult for community development concerns in New York to receive much attention during the next four years, especially when Bush will be under increasing pressure to reduce the deficit while maintaining his promise to continue cutting taxes.

Whereas former President Bill Clinton directed capital into poor urban (and rural) areas such as Harlem through initiatives like the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) fund and Empowerment Zones, Bush's newly conceived "Opportunity Zones" explicitly reference and cater to "economies in transition." Perhaps most conspicuously, Opportunity Zones are big on tax incentives for small businesses, but fail to make investment capital available, something New York-based businesses routinely clamor for.

This reliance on tax incentives, not to mention free-market forces, deregulation, and corporate self-policing, defines the Bush community-building approach. The "Ownership Society" that he invokes is one in which socio-economic safety nets are privatized and the government for the most part gets out of the way of the individual's pursuit of the American dream.

Most notably, Bush has cut funding for Section 8 housing vouchers and the Small Business Administration and is supportive of the weakening of the Community Reinvestment Act.

While fair banking advocates might at first glance be encouraged by Bush's vow to fight predatory lending practices, they will be disappointed to discover that his prescriptions are limited to home ownership counseling. As a point of comparison, Kerry had promised to maintain funding for low-income housing; build a permanent trust fund for affordable housing production; create a 170 million small business investment fund; oppose the weakening of Community Reinvestment Act and support national legislation to fight predatory lending practices.

In his victory speech, Bush declared he would reach across the aisle and try to find common ground with those who did not vote for him There are many, particularly those in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods here in New York, who hope this comes true.

-Mark Winston-Griffith


Before President George W. Bush fulfills any new campaign promises, some New Yorkers say he should make good on the ones he made in the last term.

In the days following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush promised $20 billion in federal aid to help rebuild New York and its economy.

The $20 billion, which came in the form of cash, grants, bonds, and tax relief, was divided roughly with: -$6.3 billion in emergency response funding in the immediate weeks after the attack -$4.4 billion in economic recovery grants -$9.7 billion for long term rebuilding projects.

By this summer, it looked as if Bush had delivered.

The federal government had allocated about $18 billion in promised aid and a few weeks before the Republican National Convention, President Bush, at the urging of politicians like Governor George Pataki, supported a plan to let the city use the remaining $2 billion in tax relief to help build a rail link between Lower Manhattan and John F. Kennedy airport.

However, when it came time to vote on the measure, House Republicans opposed it. New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton blamed the White House for the bill's demise.

"I hope this was more than a pre-convention gimmick and that next year the White House will persuade the House to go along with it," said Schumer.

A spokesperson for the White House said at the time that the administration was still working on the issue and "make sure the president's full $20 billion commitment to New York is met."

Schumer has said that the measure is popular enough to pass if the president backs it. But some question if the Republicans, who already enjoyed their summer party in New York, have any incentive to come to the aid of the city.

"I'm not sure we're going to able to count on getting a lot of support from President Bush or this Congress," said Jonathan Bowles of the think-tank Center for an Urban Future.

-Mark Berkey-Gerard


New York State currently ranks 49th among the 50 states in per capita Homeland Security funding. In 2004, New York State received $5.47 per capita in Homeland Security grants, while North Dakota received $30.42 per capita and Wyoming received $38.31.

And the city's funding has been cut from $188 million in 2003 to approximately $96 million in 2004, according to Commissioner Joseph Bruno of the city's Office of Emergency Management. At that time, Bruno said that city agencies had identified $1 billion in funding needs.

City and state politicians have been lobbying for New York to receive a greater share of federal money, arguing that the city faces a much greater terrorism threat, but those efforts have yet to pay off, tied up in broader homeland security legislation.

Last month, bi-partisan legislation in the Senate and House, drafted primarily to create a new national intelligence director and implement some reforms recommended by the 9/11 commission, included as amendments changes to the formula used to allocate federal funding.

New York Senator Charles Schumer touted an amendment that would allow federal funding to flow directly to New York, bypassing state authorities.

In the House, however, 11 of the 13 Democratic representatives from the city voted against a similar intelligence reform bill that included an amendment, which would have boosted funding for the city. They cited concerns about parts of the bill that would have tightened immigration laws and expanded the Patriot Act. The bill passed anyway, and efforts to reach a compromise between the two bills (the Senate bill says less about expanding the Patriot Act) failed before the election, leading some observers to argue that the reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission are simply a non-issue for many Americans. (Each of the city Democrats who voted against the House bill won reelection.)

Now that the election is over, it would seem likely that some reforms based on the 9/11 Commission may have a chance of passing, and the politics involved in whittling a compromise would seem to bode well for efforts to get New York more homeland security dollars - unless partisan intransigency carries the day.

- Jaime Adame


When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, he pledged that he would be "the education president." And on the campaign trail this year, he repeatedly cited his No Child Left Behind law - a federal measure aimed at setting standards for the nation's public elementary and middle schools - as one of the key achievements of his first term. But Bush set out few, if any, new initiatives for education in this year's campaign.

One thing the president has indicated he would like to do is extend No Child Left Behind's standards - set by states and measured by standardized tests - to high schools. "As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation," Bush said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in September.

But Joseph Viteritti, a Hunter College professor and expert on education policy, expects any such change to have little impact in New York City, home of the nation's largest school system.

"New York has already moved pretty far in that area," he said. "The state commission has already been very aggressive about implementing standards for high school graduation."

No Child Left Behind passed with bipartisan support, but criticism of it has increased as it has gone into effect. For example, the law says that children who attend failing schools - called schools "in need of improvement" - may transfer to other schools. But in New York City, where about a third of schools are failing, this has proved to be virtually impossible - there simply are not enough good schools to accommodate all the children entitled to attend them.

Schools are deemed failing not only if their overall student body performs poorly, but also if their African American, Latino, low-income, English-language learners and disabled students score badly. If schools cannot show they are making progress with each group, they can be determined to be failing. Some educators complain this puts the stigma of failing on good schools. And some states - although not New York - have been faulted for setting overly lax standards.

In light of this, many experts expect that No Child Left Behind will get some fine-tuning. "I think the question is no longer shall the law be changed," Rog Weaver, president of the National Education Association, which endorsed Senator John Kerry for president, told Education Week. "I think the question is how it should be changed."

Sandy Kress, a former Bush education adviser, agrees. While praising No Child Left Behind, he told Education Week, "That's not to say administratively and legislatively, there won't be opportunities to improve and strengthen and make things work better and smarter."

With few specific proposals out there, though, it remains unclear how any changes would affect New York.

One possibility, according to Viteritti, might be an increased emphasis on charter schools - schools that are privately run but publicly funded - to provide alternatives to failing public schools. But, again, he said, this might not have much effect of New York, which has already embraced charter schools.

Vouchers, which parents can use to send their children to private or public schools, have been proposed as another way to provide alternatives in education. Although many conservatives favor them, Viteritti does not think a second Bush administration will bring vouchers to New York City.

"There's a reasonable policy argument for [vouchers] even though people in New York are ideologically opposed to it‚" Viteritti said, "but I can't see them fighting that battle." The administration might try an experiment with vouchers - similar to one already conducted in the District of Columbia - but any such test would take place in more sympathetic territory than New York, he said.

Educators have complained that No Child Left Behind has set requirements on them without giving them enough funding to meet those requirements. The administration counters that it increased federal spending for education during the past four years. Whatever the merits of each side's argument, the huge federal deficit seems to rule against any new infusion of money into the nation's schools, including its largest public school system.

-Gail Robinson


In the next four years, at least one vacancy on the Supreme Court is almost assured with the illness of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. This is President George. W. Bush's chance to remake the high court for a generation and he has given every indication that he will appoint hard-line conservatives (what he would call "strict constructionists") as he has to virtually every federal court in the country - jurists hostile to advancing the rights of women, racial minorities, and gay people.

One of the most prominent people standing in the way of Bush's quest for a more conservative judiciary is New York's Democratic Senator Charles Schumer who was just re-elected with a record-breaking 72 percent of the vote. Schumer has been the Democrats' point person in Senate battles to block the confirmation of judges they see as "out of the mainstream" on issues of civil rights and liberties, particularly a woman's right to choose an abortion.

While the Democrats are down to 44 seats in the Senate (often joined by lone Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont), it is likely he will continue to use the filibuster to stop Bush's more extreme appointments, denying nominees an up-or-down vote by requiring 60 votes to end the debate on their confirmations. While both Democrat and Republican Judiciary Committees have blocked nominees in past years, Schumer was the first to use the tactic of a filibuster against them.

Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who will likely chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, may aid Schumer in his quest for more moderate judges. In an interview just after his reelection, Specter said that the current Supreme Court lacks "legal giants" and warned the president about trying to appoint judges who would overturn a woman's right to choose. His impending accession to the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee has made conservatives furious.

-Andy Humm


The Bush Administration's agenda on civil rights and civil liberties won't be changed much by the president's re-election. What has changed is the political momentum for advancing that agenda with an outright victory for Bush and the election of a Congress that is not just more Republican, but more deeply conservative. This agenda will not sit well with New Yorkers who strongly opposed Bush's reelection and sent relatively liberal Democrats to Congress in all but the Staten Island/South Brooklyn district.

Will John Ashcroft Step Down? With conservative John Ashcroft expected to step down as Attorney General due to health reasons, much will depend on who will replace him at the helm of Department of Justice.

One of those mentioned most frequently as a successor to Ashcroft is former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was one of the most visible partisans for Bush's reelection this year. Giuliani is opposed in conservative Republican circles for his unwavering support for abortion rights (including late-term abortion) and at least partial support for lesbian and gay rights (though not the right to marry). But of concern to civil libertarians is the contempt Giuliani showed for the First Amendment as mayor, whether it was banning demonstrations and even press conferences in front of City Hall or telling the Brooklyn Museum what art they could and could not display. In those cases and more, civil liberties groups sued Giuliani and beat him. The former mayor's lack of respect for the rights of criminal suspects and victims of police brutality was also decried during his City Hall years.

Patriot Act New York is also home to a large Muslim and South Asian population, those who have suffered most from the misuse of provisions of the post-9/11 Patriot Act. The first Patriot Act was supported by both of New York's Senators, Schumer and Hillary Clinton, also a Democrat, as well as the vast majority of the city's Congressional delegation. Manhattan Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler has been leading the charge against the excesses of the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II on the table in Congress, but with increased Republican majorities in both houses, Nadler is unlikely to be able to succeed.

Gay Marriage Same-sex marriage was a huge issue in the 2004 campaign, with a constitutional ban on it promoted by Bush and 13 states barring it through their state constitutions this year. This election will give new life to the failed effort to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, but that is likely going nowhere unless and until a federal court orders a state that doesn't want to recognize a legal same-sex marriage from Canada or Massachusetts to do so. Then all bets are off.

New York is making steady progress toward recognizing same-sex marriages. Just last month, State Comptroller Alan Hevesi ruled that the state pension system will treat gay New York couples married in Canada as legal spouses. Governor George Pataki also recently signed a bill giving domestic partners the right to visit each other in the hospital. Several lawsuits are working their way through the state courts seeking the right of same-sex couples to marry. And it does not appear, with Democratic gains in the State Senate and Assembly, that the New York State legislature will pass a law banning same-sex marriage as all but a handful of states have done.

-Andy Humm


Boxes of "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner" were handed out at the Republican National Convention in New York this past August. Enlarge image

Unlike the majority of New Yorkers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg voted for George W. Bush for president. But few believe the city will greatly benefit from Bloomberg's support for Bush.

While Mayor Bloomberg did support the Republican National Convention and donate $7 million of his own money to help pay for it, the mayor - who faces 2005 reelection in an overwhelmingly Democratic city - was not an active campaigner for the president.

The mayor has also spent a considerable amount of time attacking Congress for shortchanging the city. In June, Bloomberg even barred Ohio Congressman Bob Ney from a lunch at his house because the mayor said that Ney blocked homeland security funding from coming to the city.

"Mike Bloomberg spent much of the summer hiding from Bush," said Douglas Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. "The mayor has done everything humanly possible to NOT be a Republican, both politically and on policy issues."

The mayor will also be unable to overcome the lack of an urban agenda in Washington. New York City's overwhelmingly Democratic delegation to Congress (which includes only one Republican) will be vastly outnumbered.

Democrats interested in challenging Bloomberg next year are already placing some of the blame for Kerry's loss on the mayor.

"George Bush has not been a good president for this city," said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who is a possible mayoral candidate. "I think New Yorkers at least recognize that, and I wish our mayor and governor did."

U.S. Rep. Anthony Wiener, who is also considering a run, put it more bluntly; the day after the election he issued a statement that read; "New Yorkers turned out in record numbers to defend their city. Mike Bloomberg was fighting on the other side."

-Mark Berkey-Gerard

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Gotham Gazette - http://www.gothamgazette.com

November 9th, 2004, 10:14 AM
Five articles from New York Magazine (http://www.newyorkmetro.com/) on the Capital of the Loyal Opposition:

In Bush II, the Only Thing (Well, One of the Only Things) New York Has to Fear Is Fear Itself

By Chris Smith

New York is a national capital again. It is still unofficial, of course; no one wants to undo the deal Jefferson and Hamilton made in 1790, with Washington getting the legislators and New York getting the money. But after the reelection of George W. Bush last week, the city’s political primacy is real in another sense. If kicking in one third of John Kerry’s campaign war chest hadn’t certified it already, Kerry’s defeat certainly does: For the next four years, at a minimum, New York is the capital of the opposition.

New York has always attracted people who didn’t feel at home in the homogeneous majority. Now the city will become Lyons, the capital of the French Resistance during World War II. Well, perhaps we’ll be more Echo Base, the capital of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars, a strange outpost on a frozen planet. Yes, last Tuesday was for many a dark day (only 24 percent of New Yorkers voted for George Bush—and that’s including Staten Island). But the future is bound to be an exciting time, if infuriating.

One of New York’s senators, Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn, will be in the middle of the Senate judiciary committee’s fight against reactionary Supreme Court nominees—at least until he runs for governor. And New York’s junior, suburban senator, Hillary Clinton, is the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination—at least until the party remembers how many empathy-challenged Northeastern liberals have won the White House lately.

A centrist Democratic brain-trust-in-exile, or White House Cabinet-in-waiting, bides its time in New York: Robert Rubin, Richard Holbrooke, Bill Clinton. The executive director of MoveOn.org, Eli Pariser, lives in a fourth-floor Manhattan walk-up. The instruments of the city’s media power—the Times, the TV networks, Jon Stewart—will be further demonized under Bush II, reinforcing their centrality to the city’s self-image. The city also has a chance to set a democratic example—as a place where difference is tolerated and there’s plenty of morality without moralizing—which could spur a reinvention of the Democratic approach. Or it could simply wallow in Bush hate.

“New York has often been out of sync with the rest of the country,” says Thomas Bender, a professor of history at NYU. “That goes back to the time of the Constitution, when they moved the capital away. One of the things that New York is good at is going on its own and doing its own thing. Obviously, there are limits to what you can do on your own. But there’s a pretty good history of New York thinking about itself. It’s one of the things that the rest of the country doesn’t like about New York. But it may be one of our greatest assets.”

Attitude had better be our strongest asset. Because the kind of asset flowing from the federal budget is going to be mighty scarce for the next four years. A long list of issues central to the city’s character and beliefs are in jeopardy during the next Bush term: money for public schools and the construction of public housing, religious tolerance, legalized abortion, to name just a handful that don’t involve the invading of other countries. The president’s reelection is also likely to damage the city’s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, though whether that’s a good or bad ramification is open to debate. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine the Olympic committees of other nations giving the nod to an American city, particularly when the other leading contender is . . . Paris.

“Transportation funding is the only area in the federal budget where New York gets more back from Washington than we send,” says Tom Wright, the executive vice-president of the Regional Plan Association. “Now, though, states like Georgia, where people drive more, are pushing for federal transit dollars to be distributed based on how much gasoline tax is collected within each state.” The existing, favorable–to–New York formula was due for long-term congressional reauthorization last summer, but Democrats went for a short-term extension instead. “I talked to Jerry Nadler and other Democratic congressmen, and they said, ‘We’ll do a continuation because we think we can get a better bill out of President Kerry,’ ” Wright says. “Ha, ha.”

New York will be like Lyons, the center of the French Resistance in World War II—or like Echo Base in Star Wars, a strange outpost in a frozen world.

So the bad joke is definitely on us. The pervasive postelection despair is warranted. While the city’s share of federal education money did increase in the past four years, most of the possible upsides of Bush II are along the making-chicken-salad lines: The president wants to privatize Social Security. The biggest immediate beneficiary would be the securities industry, which would issue the private-investment accounts. And where is the headquarters of the securities industry? New York is also home to thousands of millionaires, so bring on more upper-income tax cuts!

But go to the shrink, unload your fantasies about both Air Force One and Two going down, and realize that there are a few reasons for uncynical hope. Michael Bloomberg, for one. The mayor is, after all, a Republican. When he was trying to sell the city on the idea of hosting the 2004 Republican National Convention, Bloomberg talked about the boost to hotel, restaurant, and tourist business during the traditionally dreary weeks of late August. That didn’t quite work out, with the convention’s bottom line roughly neutral, pending the civil suits sure to be filed by arrested protesters.

Bloomberg had better be right on his other major pro-convention argument: that hosting thousands of New York’s enemies was an essential marketing opportunity, and not just to red-state tourists. “We’re selling ourselves to members of Congress,” said Kevin Sheekey, the mayor’s chief deputy for convention planning. Sheekey is a longtime Washington insider who was tutored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Back in August, Sheekey claimed that the game was about geography, not party affiliation. “The challenge for New York City is not a Republican challenge,” Sheekey said, standing in a Madison Square Garden hallway as workers hammered convention bunting into place. “The challenge for New York in Congress—and even, to some extent, in the administration—is a rural-urban challenge. When [New York Republican congressman John] Sweeney put an amendment on the floor to move more money to New York and other large cities, it was defeated not along Republican lines. It was defeated on rural-urban lines. That’s really the fight. New York needs to make its case to people whose self-interest is not to help us.”

Unfortunately, last week, even more of those people were elected to the Senate and the House. Bloomberg gave $7 million out of his own pocket toward Bush’s reelection. His Democratic opponents in the 2005 mayoral race are already blaming Bloomberg for helping defeat Kerry. For his own electoral sake as well as the city’s welfare, Bloomberg needs to make his investment in Bush pay off in more than just a fairer distribution of federal anti-terrorism dollars.

The mayor does have a few key Washington allies. Sweeney, whose district is outside Albany, has pushed the city’s case for distributing homeland-security money according to terrorism-threat levels. Another upstate Republican is crucial to the city’s prospects in Washington. Tom Reynolds just ran the successful campaign for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and he’s a deputy majority whip. “The president governs with fairness, and that’s important,” Reynolds says. “In addition, sometimes politics is about relationships. Our governor enjoys a tremendously close relationship with the president. And it’s no secret how much Rudy Giuliani lent his time and energy and stature to surrogate work for the president. And Mayor Bloomberg did a fantastic job as the chief host of the RNC. New York pleasantly surprised America—particularly Republicans from the South and the West and the Midwest. That can only help in goodwill.”

All the fond memories of Alabama delegates who took in Bombay Dreams, however, are no match for raw political calculus. Ask Reynolds when the formula for homeland-security money will actually be changed to benefit New York, and his victory-glow happy talk gives way to Beltway mush-speak. “We know where Bush is on that. He’s responded to the aspect of looking at threat-formula consideration,” Reynolds says. “But we’re also in a situation where we have nine New York Republicans in Congress. Florida has 19, California has 20, and Texas will soon have 22. We can no longer demand many of the things we could when we had a sizable delegation.”

It would be swell to get our share of the pork, at least to keep the subways running. But what’s going to sustain the city for the next four years is attitude, not policy.

The morning after the presidential election, at nearly the exact time that John Kerry, in his Beacon Hill townhouse, is giving up on Ohio’s provisional ballots, a Moroccan family huddles against a brutal wind on lower Broadway. They’ve been waiting for hours for an immigration appointment, trying to straighten out the family’s residency status. Shavir Eridis, the husband and father, is stylish in Rocawear; Saadia, the mother and wife, demure in a head-scarf. Eridis studied to be an English professor when he lived outside Casablanca. Now he sells hot dogs from a cart outside an NYU dorm. “In Arabic, we have a saying which I can’t quite translate completely,” Eridis says, glancing at his 6-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. “But it says that even if an insect has a child, he sees it turning into a gazelle. Everybody dreams of their child being higher than themselves. But it wouldn’t happen in Morocco for us.”

New York is a place driven by dreams and tenacity. It’s a place that has endured the pain of two planes knocking down the World Trade Center. George W. Bush has just been reelected? We’ve dealt with worse. We’re gonna be fine. This is New York, dammit.

The Gathering Darkness of the Blue State of Mind

By James Atlas

The glittering city rose up in the distance as we headed for the Lincoln Tunnel after a long day in Philadelphia getting out the vote. The Towers were gone, as if a lamp in a bright room had been switched off, but Manhattan was still there, vulnerable now but still thrilling, a luminous island crammed with the most ambitious, driven, hyper citizenry on the planet. On the radio, we’d found a station that played sixties classics; the Band was singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Annie and I were tired, eager to get home for dinner, but the news we’d heard on NPR sounded good: Zogby had Kerry ahead by a healthy margin.

Even before Election Day, I’d been experiencing uncharacteristic twinges of optimism. At cocktail parties, there had been a steady drumbeat of hopeful rumors. Arthur Schlesinger says the American people don’t like war. . . . Joe Klein, the Time columnist, says the polls are way off because they’re not counting college kids with cell phones. . . . And the huge turnout was clearly in the Democrats’ favor; in Ohio, voters were standing out in the rain for nine hours. A Republican is going to stand in the rain for nine hours to vote for George W. Bush?

The day had been frustrating but exhilarating. We had enlisted with the grass-roots organization MoveOn, and gone down to ring doorbells and drive voters to the polls. We voted at our local school on West 76th Street when the polls opened at six, picked up our rental car, and sped off for Philadelphia, wherever that was. Two hours later, we were at MoveOn’s modest headquarters in the “transitional neighborhood” of Germantown. The twenties-vintage house had kids’ drawings tacked up on the refrigerator, a worn sofa in the living room, and sports equipment on the porch. At the dining-room table, our leader, a harried schoolteacher named Judith, sat going over lists of every person in every house or apartment in the neighborhood. We were supposed to work our way down each phone number on the list, but after an hour of getting recorded messages, I was Manhattan-antsy, so Annie and I jumped in the car. We drove around aimlessly for a while, before spotting a stubbled guy in a windbreaker ambling down the sidewalk.

“Did you vote?” I yelled.

“I can’t find the polling place,” he said.

“Get in the car.”

His name was Joe. When I asked what he did, he answered, “Get beaten up.” We initially took him to the wrong polling place, and I thought we were going to lose him. “Aww, I give up,” he moaned. But I had some cookies in the car, and handed him one while we sped over to the YMCA. Success: Joe was on the rolls.

Around five, we bagged our second quarry, a pretty young woman in a state of advanced pregnancy who was lugging two bags of groceries. “I was going to vote after I dropped these off,” she said shyly. “We’ll drive you,” I said. She hesitated—never get in a car with strangers, even if they’re wearing glasses. But we finally prevailed. Two votes for Kerry. Don’t forget that Gore lost Florida by 537 votes. Two hundred sixty-nine New Yorkers canvassing Miami-Dade County as obsessively as we’d worked Germantown could have gained him the White House.

Back home, we plunked ourselves down in front of the TV and settled in for a long night of inanity from the talking heads on CNN. The New York City polls were a paradox, Wolf Blitzer burbled: On the one hand, New Yorkers were overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq; on the other, they were deeply concerned about terrorism. Wolf! Wolf! Don’t you understand that the two are inextricably linked? We’re “concerned” about terrorism because we’re concerned about the war in Iraq. The deeper we get into this war, the more despised we are by the Islamic world. War in Iraq = likelihood of attack. Why is this simple equation so hard for the American people to get?

By eleven or so, I was getting nervous. It was disturbing to see that little cluster of blue states huddled in the upper right-hand corner of the map: Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York. . . . Why was that configuration so familiar? Of course! The thirteen colonies! What if we’d lost the Revolutionary War? We would have ended up a tidy, boring commonwealth like Canada, or a civilized transatlantic outpost of Europe. New York could have been its cosmopolitan capital. Instead it’s perceived as a mega–Key West dominated by gays and old-fashioned liberals and progressive rich people and media pundits and academics and Jews and intellectuals and academic Jewish intellectuals—marginal, eccentric, foreign. It’s the obverse of Sally Fields’s famous Oscar cry: You really hate me!

“We’re too self-involved to listen to the rest of the country and hear through the din and clutter of the white noise that drowns out everything but our own thoughts, how afraid they are that the world is changing too fast for them and that there’s no place to hide,” says the CUNY historian and biographer David Nasaw. Put simply, they don’t care about the same things we care about. Very few of the people lined up at the fish counter of Zabar’s are fretting about their right to bear arms. We live in a post-Copernican universe. Manhattan thought it was the Earth and that all the planets—the red states—revolved around it. Only it turns out that the red states are the sun. The center will not hold because it’s not the center. Remember that much-reproduced Saul Steinberg cover that showed the United States from the typical New Yorker’s perspective? New York City stretched almost to the Pacific; the rest of the country was a sliver. Now we’re the ones who’ve vanished on the horizon.

I set the alarm for 1 A.M. and crashed. When I resumed my bleary vigil, concern turned to panic. It was all up to Ohio now, and Ohio was 52 percent Bush, 48 percent Kerry. Click. “I felt like Charlie Brown after Lucy yanks the football away for the umpteenth time,” a friend said later.

Up again at six, I heard the Times’ heavy thump in the hall: BUSH HOLDS LEAD. In the kitchen, I turned on WQXR; the mellifluous, cultivated voice of Annie Bergen introduced some tootling Haydn wind ensemble. Do you mean there’s still going to be civilization? Classical music, summaries of the week’s New York Times Book Review, murmurous programs on the “Treasures of Ancient China” exhibit at the Met? New Yorkers are so sensitive. Think how worried we are about our image abroad: When I was last in Paris, the concierge at the Pont Royal was so rude to me. I don’t think people realize how many enemies we’ve made. . . . The Republican line on foreign policy is less agonized: Who gives a ****?

On the Fifth Avenue bus, I gazed blankly out the window. The trees in Central Park were still in their vivid autumn plumage, red, yellow, and green set on fire by the early sun. I found myself thinking that what my friend Edgar, the radical novelist, calls “incremental fascism” doesn’t seem so incremental anymore. There will be a draft, and we’ll have to leave the country: No way I’m letting our 17-year-old son, Will, be sent to Iraq. They’ll drill the Alaskan tundra for oil, and the polar ice caps will melt; Manhattan will be inundated like in The Day After Tomorrow. They’ll teach creationism in the schools; our grandchildren will scratch their armpits like orangutans and laugh, “Can you believe people used to think we were descended from apes?” Anyone who belonged to Students for a Democratic Society 35 years ago will be fingerprinted. The Patriot Act will be broadened to stifle dissent in the media—Paul Krugman will be sent to Gitmo. The deficit will mount, and they’ll loot Social Security; I’ll end up in an SRO on upper Broadway. And the Jews will be rounded up like in Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. Did only Paul Wolfowitz stand between us and concentration camps in Kentucky? New York will be attacked again and . . . Wait. Maybe the guys in power want us to be attacked. What better way to get rid of all those noisome New Yorkers than to have an Al Qaeda dirty bomb explode in Grand Central at rush hour? No more need to bail out New York, because there won’t be any New York.

In my office, I surveyed the detritus of the ground war on my desk: contact numbers, campaign brochures, directions to Philadelphia. I flicked on my computer. A message from MoveOn, dated November 2, 5:20 A.M.: “This is it. If you haven’t voted yet, now is the time.” I stared at the screen. Why was the sensation that gripped my heart so familiar? All at once it came to me: It was the same sensation I get when I notice the black-framed photograph of my late father on the wall. He’s gone, and he’s not coming back.

Learning to Live With a Bush Dynasty, in Five Uneasy Stages

By Ana Marie Cox

Yes, George W. Bush is still your president.

You allowed your hopes to get up, didn’t you? New Yorkers should know better. Yet, sparked by the Kerry campaign’s last-minute surge of energy—not to mention those distressingly bullish early exit polls—there was the glimmer of a different world. You thought your country might be welcoming you back into its glowing amber bosom. And all the skepticism you had to overcome in order even to silently hold the thought that Kerry could win made the moment of defeat all the more bitter.

If you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the next four years without that bitterness eating you alive, relax. It should pass as quickly as a street-vendor hot dog, so long as you recognize that you are going through the five stages of mourning.

New Yorkers, being famously hardheaded, cycle through this stage pretty quickly. But here are telltale signs you’re not yet a member of the reality-based community:

You are still playing with Electoral College vote tabulators on the Web.

You are writing pedantic letters to the editor about how electronic voting is a vast right-wing conspiracy.

You are on a plane to Akron to oversee the processing of provisional ballots.

This one may take a while. It is already a signature New York emotion, and it offers a wide range of possible expressions. There’s the adorably passive-aggressive: flipping the bird as you pass the Fox News building; writing anti-Bush graffiti on whatever space for it still remains in the Bedford Avenue subway stop; adopting Giuliani as a vulgar verb. And there’s the borderline criminal: assassination reveries; plots to use swing voters as stem-cell test subjects; fantasies of hijacking the Supreme Court for some long-overdue Bush v. Gore payback.

But most will fall somewhere between these two extremes. You will bitch incessantly to friends and make crude jokes about ignorant red-staters. Still, try not to blame Ohio—or other swing states that let you down—as if they were monolithic formations of turncoats. A petition already circulating online to “boycott” the Buckeye State presumably would hurt the 49 percent of Ohioans who agree with you. If you feel the need for direct confrontation, try seeking out a conservative S&M fetishist on Craigslist.com. Not only will you experience the sweet relief that only physical violence can bring, but you might get paid. Plus there’s the added satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your part to undermine family values.

It’s too late for that Votergasm ballots-for-sex thing. Sorry.

Again, not something that New Yorkers need a great deal of instruction in. However, you may be experiencing symptoms specific to the prospect of hearing your commander-in-chief mispronounce nuclear for another four years. Do you have dreams about goose-hunting—only to find that you’re the goose? Are you lying awake at night replaying Swift Boat ads in your head? Do you still feel guilty about giving money to Dean?

There isn’t a cure for this syndrome, but you can treat its more painful manifestations. This would be an excellent time, for example, to learn how to make bathtub gin. It will keep you busy—and distracted from such grim pastimes as handicapping future Bush nominees to the Supreme Court. More important, it will orient you toward the future: Once every state has outlawed gay marriage by voter initiative, it’s but a short step to reenacting Prohibition.

Ah, yes. You’ve stopped fighting it. You may even have started to give in. Have you exchanged your Soho House membership for one in the NRA? Has NASCAR replaced Sopranos reruns on your TiVo? Maybe William Kristol’s foreign positions are starting to sound reasonable. But remember, New York: You don’t have to go that far. Acceptance doesn’t have to be surrender. You can come to terms with Bush-Cheney II, but only as a challenge. In fact, combine your bitter politics with your Gotham obsessions. Buy Michael Moore a Coney dog. Get Eliot Spitzer moving on a suit against the Diebold company. Oh, and by all means: Kick Curt Schilling in the ankle.

MoveOn and ACT: A Movement in Search of Its Next Cause

By Robert Kolker

For many of us, here’s the real agony: New York money and sweat and political muscle played more of a role in this election than in any in recent memory—and even that wasn’t enough. George Soros and others with the means and the motive pounced on a loophole in the campaign-finance law to invent the most emotionally potent, lavishly funded, politically sophisticated campaign machine in Democratic Party history. We nurtured the so-called 527 groups that skirted fund-raising rules, like the Internet attack-engine MoveOn.org and the policy-sharpening Center for American Progress. On Election Day, the get-out-the-vote group America Coming Together actually spent twice as much as the Democratic National Committee luring voters to the polls. It was a movement, a crusade, and it didn’t exactly work. Where can it possibly go now?

Ask the movement’s leaders and they’ll tell you that groups like ACT could become synthetic versions of what the Republicans have done so well organically over the years through church groups. “I’m a true believer that if you engage people at the local level, it trickles up,” says Tom McMahon, executive director of Howard Dean’s Democracy for America. “For a small organization that started six months ago, we did very well. Our goal is the next ten years. This is something that the Christian Coalition and the Gingrich revolution had. That’s what we’re trying to copy.”

“I hope a thousand flowers bloom,” agrees consultant Howard Wolfson, who helped on Hillary’s Senate campaign. “The Republicans have many think tanks. We need a network of idea-generating institutions like ACT. And we need infrastructure to promote our message, like our equivalent of talk radio and Fox News. If I were a billionaire and I wanted to promote progressive politics in this country, I would start a cable network. I would buy a newspaper, I would buy radio stations. When you have Sinclair running anti-Kerry propaganda and Clear Channel suppressing Democratic voices, you have a problem.”

But the trouble with crusades—Democratic ones, at least—is that they tend to field candidates that are, say, less than palatable outside the New Hampshire primary, particularly after their scream is sampled over and over on the Internet. Which leaves insiders wondering: Are MoveOn and the like a machine in the service of a party, or a movement with an agenda of its own? “The truth is, for the next election, we’re better off moderate, but if you want to start a movement, you have to plant a flag,” says consultant David Doak. “That’s what the Republicans did, starting with Barry Goldwater and coming to fruition with Ronald Reagan. We have to decide: Do we want to convince America what we believe is correct, or do we have to change our beliefs? I don’t know the answer. But trying to have it both ways hasn’t worked well, has it?”

If you believe we are in the midst of another Great Awakening—that Evangelicals now control any election—then you need another crusade. But what if all this heavy breathing over the Evangelical vote is overblown? In that case, says Harold Ickes, the movement should be narrowed and sharpened. “Look, there was no huge vote for George Bush,” fumes the longtime New York operative who helped raise money for ACT and headed the Media Fund, a pot of advertising money for Kerry. “He’s a sitting president during wartime. He won by only 3 million votes—that’s no big mandate.” Evangelicals were drawn to the polls, he says, by gay-marriage ballot questions—the same way Republicans used race as a wedge issue in the sixties. “So are the Evangelicals a runaway force in America? No.” MoveOn and ACT will carry on, Ickes says, though instead of targeting twenty states, “ACT will concentrate on three to five states, and use databases, modern technology, and old-fashioned door-knocking.”

The other medium, of course, is the message. “I think our side needs to figure out how to talk about these issues,” Ickes says. “Did you know that the number of abortions went up under Bush I, down during Clinton, and up again under Bush II? We never talked about that. Bill Clinton did a very good job of talking about alternatives to abortion and defused its potency.” Or, as another highly placed consultant puts it: “The reason we lost is we had a bad candidate who ran a bad campaign. Hopefully our next candidate will be a better candidate.”

Then there’s the other side’s machine to worry about. Though in the race’s final months, Republican-friendly 527s (perhaps you’ve heard of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?) raised six times as much money as the Democratic groups, one fear is that the Republicans, now that they own the playing field, will rewrite the rules. “No one should be surprised if the Republicans in Congress try to put the 527s out of business,” says David Dreyer, a former deputy communications director in the Clinton White House whose consultant company advised Soros on where to make his political donations. “They wouldn’t miss their 527s if they were gone. The Republicans have more people capable of making $2,000 contributions, and they have richer relationships with groups like the NRA.”

But that’s hardly a reason to abandon the machine by the side of the road. In New York, it’s the passion and the money that matter, not the delivery system. “There’s a real risk that the Democratic Party runs,” says Dreyer, “and that is, when it finds something that works, it tries something else. If it walks away from this election thinking these organizations were ineffective, that would be a disaster. My biggest fear is that the money for these groups in 2008 won’t be as plentiful.”

Though, after four more years, New Yorkers may be ready to meet any hardship, bear any burden—and, if your name is Soros, pay any price.

What the Democrats Missed at the Populist Revolution

By Thomas Frank

It is almost a ritual in Washington: The Democrats are handed some stunning defeat—losing Congress, losing the presidency, losing Congress some more—and the powerful Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) holds court, comes to a verdict, and announces that the Democrats in question have lost because they foolishly clung to the party’s old, liberal, thirties identity. They remained friendly with organized labor. They didn’t understand the inevitability of free trade or the magic of the New Economy or the rise of the “wired worker.” They failed to reach out to the “center.” Make that the “vital center,” a favorite DLC term that I’ll bet Arthur Schlesinger Jr. regrets having coined.

The paramount folly leading Democrats astray is supposed to be “populism.” Al Gore, for example, may have been a loyal DLC centrist for his entire political career, but as soon as he failed to win the presidency in 2000, the organization flayed him for the sin of identifying with the people versus the powerful. By so doing, the DLC’s magazine, Blueprint, maintained, Gore was “reverting to old class warfare themes that villainized U.S. corporations and cast working families as victims.” The DLC’s “CEO,” Al From, further declared that “Gore chose a populist rather than a New Democrat message,” which meant he was “talking to industrial age rather than information age America.” And everyone knows populism doesn’t work.

Another thing that doesn’t work, according to the DLC’s many postmortems of Democratic failures, is mobilizing the base. Although Dems should of course try their best to rally their supporters on Election Day, Al From wrote in the Wall Street Journal after the catastrophic mid-term elections of 2002, they must also realize that “the base just isn’t big enough to win.” That was why—despite the greatest outbreak of corporate scandal in recent history—“moving left [was] counterproductive.” Again, Democrats must reach out to those in the moderate, mushy middle. Make that: to entrepreneurs and professionals, two of the DLC’s favorite fantasy constituencies.

The DLC seemed to get their way with the Kerry campaign. They got a moderate Democrat who had supported the DLC’s beloved NAFTA; who seemed to be tough on defense issues; who steered clear of “villainizing” corporate America even when such treatment was richly deserved; who dutifully muted the populist voice of his running mate; and who did so much reaching out to the center that he had little vitality left for his base. The CEO was in love. “Much to the chagrin of Republican strategists,” From claimed in a starstruck essay in August, “Kerry and Edwards are New Democrat stalwarts.”

And, of course, Kerry lost. Which means that it is only a matter of time before the inevitable autopsies conducted by the experts at the DLC discover traces of that dread poison, populism, in the Kerry campaign’s corpse.

But before they do, I want to suggest that we look a little further afield to test the DLC’s theories about populism and centrism—namely, to the 2004 campaign of George W. Bush, the guy who handed Democrats their latest crushing defeat. How did Bush do it? Why, with populism, huge dollops of class warfare, and a galvanized base—exactly the tools that the DLC insists Democrats must never touch.

When the Republicans are beaten, do they simply surrender their principles and flee for the center? No. They build—and come back stronger.

Consider the “values issues,” a.k.a. the culture wars, which, as everyone now knows, handed Bush the White House. At the center of them all stands a powerful vision of—yes—working families as victims, helpless subjects of the cruel “liberal elite.” This is how the GOP framed a host of killer wedge issues: abortion, flag-burning, gay marriage, as well as the timeless complaints about media bias, the snobbery of the East Coast, and the horrors of Hollywood.

Million-volt populist issues like these, it is also apparent, were very, very good for mobilizing the GOP base. Karl Rove all but announced that it was to be a showdown over turnout; his people were at Armageddon, battling for the Lord, while once again the goo-goo Dems preened over their small-scale triangulations.

Let us consider a final piece of strategy that Doctor DLC routinely prescribes for the ailing patient. This one comes from that same essay From wrote in 2002: “The harsh reality,” he pointed out, “is that there are more conservatives than liberals in America.” True enough. But his organization’s advice is not for the Democrats to remedy this by somehow creating more liberals, but instead to move the party somewhere else—to the “center,” naturally. Liberalism doesn’t have a constituency anymore, so abandon it.

Again, let us contrast this philosophy with the practice of the political party that causes all those disasters for Democrats, namely, the Republicans. When beaten, do they surrender their principles and flee for the center? No. Consider the Goldwater debacle of 1964, one of the worst defeats in history. Did it keep the GOP from entering the ideological fray in the next election cycle? Hardly. Instead, the leaders of the New Right learned from that defeat the lessons that all successful political movements must master: They organized. They built institutions. They dreamed up hand-grenade issues designed to shatter their enemies’ coalition. And, principles intact, they came back stronger four years later to capture the presidency. Then, after the interregnum Carter years, they emerged into their first modern mandate, under the populist revolution led by Ronald Reagan.

Reagan was also the first GOP leader to bring in the Evangelical conservatives as a major Republican bloc, and this year we have again been forced to admire his wretched handiwork. Another thing that Democrats will notice if they care to look is that this constituency, made up mostly of middle- and working-class voters, is the very group that the Establishment right takes most for granted once it’s in power.

The reason for this is simple: GOP leaders know that Democrats have left this huge part of the electorate with nowhere else to go. The challenge for Democrats is to provide them that place. They need to counter the sham populist themes of Republican culture warfare with real populism—and, yes, with “villainization” of this country’s real elite.

In 2004, the Democratic ticket enjoyed every advantage the DLC could have hoped for. Its economic proposals were tailored to please investors and entrepreneurs. It waxed moderate-to-right on trade policy. The Democrats even kept pace with the GOP in fund-raising and ad buys.

But the Kerry team pulled even with the Republicans on the wrong racetrack. In a political system like ours, there are only two natural ideological positions to choose from: money and numbers. When one party has for a century been known as the organ of business, the other cannot simply decide one day to yell “me too” and hope to succeed. Its only realistic choice is to work to counter the influence of money with the power of the ballot, the power of the people. This means advocating elementary measures of economic fairness, so that voters in deindustrialized swing states can recognize a meaningful difference between the two parties. This means reclaiming the Democrats’ powerful historical identity as the champion of the common American. And this means, most of all, relinquishing the cynical opportunism of the DLC, which has now led to the worst debacle of Al From’s advice-giving lifetime.

November 9th, 2004, 02:58 PM
First, holy cow on the article sizes there batman!!!!

Second, I agree with you T. The thing that shocked me the most was not that GWB got elected, but WHY he got elected. That so MANY people out ther STILL do not know what the heck is going on. 42% still believe that Saddam was involved in 9-11!

Voting for a candidate because you know what they are doing and you agree with it is one thing, but voting for them because you do not know, and you are filling in the blanks yourself is not.

When you define your campaign as being "For morals" and "anti terror" it is as ephemeral and insubstantial as "For good" and "Against evil". But people bought into is, and assigned their own morals and terrors to the lists they thought GWB was campaigning about.

As much as I hate the electoral college, I think the founding fathers had some good ideas when it came to filtering out the idiocy of the general public. Allowing them to decide unfettered leads to things akin to the witchburnings, which should never be allowed to happen on a national scale.

In all fairness, it is not just the Bush supporters that are guilty of this. Kerry supporters and some "liberal" far left protestors had their own idiocies (such as immediate withdrawal from Iraq) that just do not show any comprehension of the world scheme.

But that is what we get when we rely on the 5 o'clock news and our morning shows for our information.

Unfortunately, "obtuse" and "redneck" is the stereotype for Bush supporters; it is not an impression that should be cultivated and is just as reprehensible as labelling all Kerry supporters as hippies, socialists, media pundits, PETA activists, homosexuals or the Hollywood elite. Voting for Bush because you feel there is a good reason to and that you can back it up with believable convictions is one thing, and can be respected (my father, for all his intelligence, level-headedness and sophistication, falls into this category). The same goes with those of us who voted Kerry.

Yet there are the radically conservative, morally zealous, closeminded individuals who voted for Bush as a knee-jerk reaction because they feel threatened by more liberal, progressive values. At the same time, again, there are Democrats and others who fall into the same exact category; they just happen to be defined by a different primary color and have different social views.

Voting for Kerry for no reason other than a disdain for rural/suburban America is equally as close-minded. There were many informed people who voted both red and blue, and at the same time many uninformed people who voted both red and blue. I love my family in Kentucky, even if they overwhelmingly voted for Bush. They are not obtuse hicks, but I still dislike their politics; it does not mean that I dislike them — we simply don't discuss politics because we find it divisive, and we love each other just the same and love visiting each other.

Judging people by their vote, regardless of whether we find it misguided, is self-defeating and simply widens the rift that is already so palpable in this country in particular and the West as a whole. I can only hope that in his second (read last) term, that Bush can work to heal that rift, both at home and abroad.

November 9th, 2004, 08:37 PM

November 9th, 2004, 08:56 PM

I got a perfect score on the Bible Quiz - and then the truth was revealed to me.

Different views
Of reds and blues.

November 10th, 2004, 12:03 AM
2002 Per Capita Income from the statistical abstracts, ranked by presidential vote:

State PCI Ranking
CN 38540 1
DC 37922 2
NJ 35541 3
MA 35333 4
MD 32680 5
NY 32451 6
NH 30912 7
MN 30675 8
IL 30075 9
CA 29707 11
DL 29512 13
WA 29420 14
PA 28565 16
RI 28198 17
MI 27276 19
HI 27011 21
WI 26941 22
VT 26620 25
OR 25867 30
ME 24979 34
Avg 30411.25 13.35

State PCI Ranking
CO 29959 10
VA 29641 12
AK 28947 15
WY 27530 18
NV 27172 20
NE 26804 23
FL 26646 24
OH 26474 26
KN 26237 27
MO 26052 28
GA 25949 29
TX 25705 31
IA 25461 32
IN 25425 33
NC 24949 35
TN 24913 36
ND 24293 37
SD 24214 38
AZ 23573 39
KY 23030 40
OK 23026 41
LA 22910 42
SC 22868 43
AB 22642 44
ID 22560 45
MT 22526 46
UT 21883 47
NM 21555 48
WV 21327 49
AL 21169 50
MS 20142 51
Avg 24696.19 34.16

With the regressive flat tax and national sales tax proposals, makes you wonder why we're not Republicans, doesn't it?

November 10th, 2004, 01:30 PM
How to tell if you are living in a Red State (http://www.bettybowers.com/nl_redorblue.html)

TLOZ Link5
November 10th, 2004, 03:45 PM
Here's another secession map floating around...


November 10th, 2004, 09:34 PM
why only the shoreline is included for Calif? The state as a whole should be blue. :?

TLOZ Link5
November 10th, 2004, 11:27 PM
why only the shoreline is included for Calif? The state as a whole should be blue. :?

The interior, which is not as heavily-populated as the coast, voted overwhelmingly Republican.

November 11th, 2004, 06:54 AM
November 14, 2004


On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

FAREWELL to Swift boats and "Shove it!," to Osama's tape and Saddam's missing weapons, to "security moms" and outsourced dads. They've all been sent to history's dustbin faster than Ralph Nader memorabilia was dumped on eBay. In their stead stands a single ambiguous phrase coined by an anonymous exit pollster: "Moral values." By near universal agreement the morning after, these two words tell the entire story of the election: it's the culture, stupid.

"It really is Michael Moore versus Mel Gibson," said Newt Gingrich. To Jon Stewart, Nov. 2 was the red states' revenge on "Will & Grace." William Safire, speaking on "Meet the Press," called the Janet Jackson fracas "the social-political event of the past year." Karl Rove was of the same mind: "I think it's people who are concerned about the coarseness of our culture, about what they see on the television sets, what they see in the movies ..."

And let's not even get started on the two most dreaded words in American comedy, regardless of your party affiliation: Whoopi Goldberg.

There's only one problem with the storyline proclaiming that the country swung to the right on cultural issues in 2004. Like so many other narratives that immediately calcify into our 24/7 media's conventional wisdom, it is fiction. Everything about the election results - and about American culture itself - confirms an inescapable reality: John Kerry's defeat notwithstanding, it's blue America, not red, that is inexorably winning the culture war, and by a landslide. Kerry voters who have been flagellating themselves since Election Day with a vengeance worthy of "The Passion of the Christ" should wake up and smell the Chardonnay.

The blue ascendancy is nearly as strong among Republicans as it is among Democrats. Those whose "moral values" are invested in cultural heroes like the accused loofah fetishist Bill O'Reilly and the self-gratifying drug consumer Rush Limbaugh are surely joking when they turn apoplectic over MTV. William Bennett's name is now as synonymous with Las Vegas as silicone. The Democrats' Ashton Kutcher is trumped by the Republicans' Britney Spears. Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out.

If anyone is laughing all the way to the bank this election year, it must be the undisputed king of the red cultural elite, Rupert Murdoch. Fox News is a rising profit center within his News Corporation, and each red-state dollar that it makes can be plowed back into the rest of Fox's very blue entertainment portfolio. The Murdoch cultural stable includes recent books like Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" and the Vivid Girls' "How to Have a XXX Sex Life," which have both been synergistically, even joyously, promoted on Fox News by willing hosts like Rita Cosby and, needless to say, Mr. O'Reilly. There are "real fun parts and exciting parts," said Ms. Cosby to Ms. Jameson on Fox News's "Big Story Weekend," an encounter broadcast on Saturday at 9 p.m., assuring its maximum exposure to unsupervised kids.

Almost unnoticed in the final weeks of the campaign was the record government indecency fine levied against another prime-time Fox television product, "Married by America." The $1.2 million bill, a mere bagatelle to Murdoch stockholders, was more than twice the punishment inflicted on Viacom for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." According to the F.C.C. complaint, one episode in this heterosexual marriage-promoting reality show included scenes in which "partygoers lick whipped cream from strippers' bodies," and two female strippers "playfully spank" a man on all fours in his underwear. "Married by America" is gone now, but Fox remains the go-to network for Paris Hilton ("The Simple Life") and wife-swapping ("Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy").

None of this has prompted an uprising from the red-state Fox News loyalists supposedly so preoccupied with "moral values." They all gladly contribute fungible dollars to Fox culture by boosting their fair-and-balanced channel's rise in the ratings. Some of these red staters may want to make love like porn stars besides. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) An ABC News poll two weeks before the election found that more Republicans than Democrats enjoy sex "a great deal." The Democrats' new hero, Illinois Senator-elect Barack Obama, was assured victory once his original, ostentatiously pious Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race rather than defend his taste for "avant-garde" sex clubs.

The 22 percent of voters who told pollsters that "moral values" were their top election issue - 79 percent of whom voted for Bush-Cheney - corresponds almost exactly to the number of voters (23 percent) who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. They are entitled to their culture, too, and their own entertainment industry. And their own show-biz scandals. The Los Angeles Times reported this summer that Paul Crouch, the evangelist who founded the largest Christian network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, vehemently denied a former employee's accusation that the two had had a homosexual encounter - though not before paying the employee a $425,000 settlement. Not so incidentally, Trinity joined Gary Bauer and Fox News as prime movers in "Redeem the Vote," the Christian-rock alternative to MTV's "Rock the Vote."

But the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering "rampant" lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging "irresponsible sexual behavior" and taking "network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes." The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of "parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere" was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List."

It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, "The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment." That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't.

Mr. Wittman echoes Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?," by common consent the year's most prescient political book. "Values," Mr. Frank writes, "always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won." Under this perennial "trick," as he calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry "to clean up its act" - until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes. Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.

But it's not only the G.O.P.'s fealty to its financial backers that is predictive of how little cultural bang the "values" voters will get for their Bush-Cheney votes. At 78 percent, the nonvalues voters have far more votes than they do, and both parties will cater to that overwhelming majority's blue tastes first and last. Their mandate is clear: The same poll that clocked "moral values" partisans at 22 percent of the electorate found that nearly three times as many Americans approve of some form of legal status for gay couples, whether civil unions (35 percent) or marriage (27 percent). Do the math and you'll find that the poll also shows that for all the G.O.P.'s efforts to court Jews, the total number of Jewish Republican voters in 2004, while up from 2000, was still some 200,000 less than the number of gay Republican voters.

When Robert Novak writes after the election that "the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, socially conservative agenda is ascendant, and the G.O.P. will not abandon it anytime soon," you have to wonder what drug he is on. The abandonment began at the convention. Sam Brownback, the Kansas senator who champions the religious right, was locked away in an off-camera rally across town from Madison Square Garden. Prime time was bestowed upon the three biggest stars in post-Bush Republican politics: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. All are supporters of gay rights and opponents of the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment. Only Mr. McCain calls himself pro-life, and he's never made abortion a cause. None of the three support the Bush administration position on stem-cell research. When the No. 1 "moral values" movie star, Mel Gibson, condemned the Schwarzenegger-endorsed California ballot initiative expanding and financing stem-cell research, the governor and voters crushed him like a girlie-man. The measure carried by 59 percent, which is consistent with national polling on the issue.

If the Republican party's next round of leaders are all cool with blue culture, why should Democrats run after the red? Received Washington wisdom has it that the only Democrat who will ever be able to win a national election must be a cross between Gomer Pyle and Billy Sunday - a Scripture-quoting Sun Belt exurbanite whose loyalty to Nascar does not extend to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was fined last month for saying a four-letter word on television.

According to this argument, the values voters the Democrats must pander to are people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical "Bush votes come to life" apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by "moral absolutes," support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the "working poor." Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Freedom Tower
November 13th, 2004, 09:14 PM

There were also cheers when the Germans rolled into Paris.

I have been pretty busy lately and just came back to read what all of you are saying about the election. I expected this thread to be abandoned by all of you dissapointed liberals, but I guess I shouldn't be too shocked that even after Bush gets almost 4 million more popular votes than Kerry and also the necessary electoral votes and then some, AND all of the country rebelled against the liberal elite in the media and hollywood, that you liberals manage to turn it around and make it sound like the whole country is out of touch with the exception of 10 or so states.

And now for my response to LuPeRcALiO:

And there were cheers when the Americans drove the Germans out... but some years later the French not only forgot about it, but completely turned against America. So I don't see what the problem is cheering on Germans rolling into Paris. If the Germans rolled into Paris today I'd be cheering. Only this time us Americans wouldn't lose American soldiers' lives saving an ungrateful elitist nation such as France.

Same as if all the blue states wanted to go to Canada, I would not miss them at all. Also funny how everyone says the blue states are the tax paying states. Then you say that republicans are rich and don't want higher taxes for the rich. So who is paying the taxes now? Get it right. Because it is the librals that want to tax the rich more and give to the poor, which one of you liberals suggested a few lines back.

And people really need to stop including Canada in the map to make it seem as if there is a stronger liberal presence than conservative. We all know canada is liberal but they have nothing to do with our elections. When you show red states and blue states - without our northern neihbors - then you truly see who is out of touch and confused in our country.

November 13th, 2004, 09:41 PM
View at your own will.. If your ANTI-BUSH http://www.hatethemainstream.com/

November 13th, 2004, 10:30 PM
Didn't FT state he was going to join the military?

I guess not.

Cold feet?

The map of Canada is satire, a political joke. How can anyone be so dense? :roll:

The "contradiction" you stated you found about blue states paying more in taxes and rich republicans wanting lower taxes has a major error. Since the map jokes sailed over your head, it would be a waste of time to explain it, but I'll give you a hint.

People and acres.

Have some fun and figure it out.

TLOZ Link5
November 13th, 2004, 11:20 PM
View at your own will.. If your ANTI-BUSH http://www.hatethemainstream.com/

How sweet of him. So glad that we have a man with morals and values in the Oval Office.

Freedom Tower
November 14th, 2004, 02:58 PM
Didn't FT state he was going to join the military?

I guess not.

Cold feet?

The map of Canada is satire, a political joke. How can anyone be so dense? :roll:

The "contradiction" you stated you found about blue states paying more in taxes and rich republicans wanting lower taxes has a major error. Since the map jokes sailed over your head, it would be a waste of time to explain it, but I'll give you a hint.

People and acres.

Have some fun and figure it out.

Hmm.. FT isn't one who likes to reveal personal information over the internet for all to see, but FT is 17 years old. He still has to wait three months before joining the military is even an option. That is why I tried to avoid the issue before - but I may as well clear it up now. P.S. - I still haven't decided whether to join or not when I am 18 - I'm still considering my options, just in case that is your next question.

Now that you can get that out of the way, let me mention something else: I understand that the map with Canada was political satire but it also seems ironic that the same group of people who say Bush is such a "divider" are the ones that like to label the rest of the country "Jesusland" and are really the ones making divisions in this country. Satire or not you shouldn't label one party a "dividing" party and then turn around and divide the country on a map yourself.

BTW, an above post shows the PER CAPITA income in states for Bush and Kerry. That would mean per person, and just because Kerry states are more densely populated has nothing to do with the Per Capita Income. Individuals on average, earn more money in Kerry states than in Bush states. It makes all that conservative flat tax idea and liberal "progressive" tax idea seem hypocritical, which I believe is also mentioned above.

At the same time, if you are insisting that because Kerry states are more densely populated that means kerry has more supporters paying taxes to the government, while bush people are just benefiting from them that is still wrong. Bush has over 4 million more popular votes. So therefore Bush people are still probably paying more money to the government as a group than kerry people despite the fact that they have a lower PCI.

Anything I'm still missing?

Freedom Tower
November 14th, 2004, 03:02 PM
View at your own will.. If your ANTI-BUSH http://www.hatethemainstream.com/

How sweet of him. So glad that we have a man with morals and values in the Oval Office.

I've seen that video a few times myself. While I don't personally think it's the best thing he can be doing morally, I believe his morals are great in comparison with Clinton's. Personally I believe "flipping the bird" is nowhere near as immoral as cheating on your wife with your secretary, but that's just me. It's also not as immoral as Ted Kennedy's "leave a girl to drown in your car" mentality. It would be absurd to think that everyone doesn't use a little profanity or obscene gestures every now and then.

November 14th, 2004, 05:52 PM
Roll this one around in your skull:

Black and white thinking leads one to lose sight of the fact that it's not only Republicans who are rich and Democrats who are poor. So when Republicans' tax policies shift the burden from higher to lower income groups, rich Democrats benefit and poor Republicans suffer.

I am certain that I have a much higher income and more wealth than you. The Bush tax cuts don't hurt me at all. In fact, I would really benefit if Bush would just eliminate the capital gains tax. Of course, given the deficit and impending SS shortfall, new sources of revenue and/or cuts in government spending would have to be found. Where do you think the Republicans are going to place that burden? Not just on middle and low income Democrats, but on loyal Republicans like you.

Of course, I didn't pull the lever for Bush because my own economic well being is not my only criteria for choosing a candidate. I don't think it is fair that I should do better by stepping on someone less fortunate than me, as I expect the same from someone more fortunate.

So I hope you are happy with our "moral" president, because you are the one who is going to be asked to refund SS while I am drawing money out.

P.T. Barnum was right.

Freedom Tower
November 14th, 2004, 09:21 PM
Roll this one around in your skull:

Black and white thinking leads one to lose sight of the fact that it's not only Republicans who are rich and Democrats who are poor. So when Republicans' tax policies shift the burden from higher to lower income groups, rich Democrats benefit and poor Republicans suffer.

I am certain that I have a much higher income and more wealth than you. The Bush tax cuts don't hurt me at all. In fact, I would really benefit if Bush would just eliminate the capital gains tax. Of course, given the deficit and impending SS shortfall, new sources of revenue and/or cuts in government spending would have to be found. Where do you think the Republicans are going to place that burden? Not just on middle and low income Democrats, but on loyal Republicans like you.

Of course, I didn't pull the lever for Bush because my own economic well being is not my only criteria for choosing a candidate. I don't think it is fair that I should do better by stepping on someone less fortunate than me, as I expect the same from someone more fortunate.

So I hope you are happy with our "moral" president, because you are the one who is going to be asked to refund SS while I am drawing money out.

P.T. Barnum was right.

You're right. It is not only republicans who are rich and democrats who are poor. It is never that clear cut. It is also not only white people who are rich and black people who are poor. That is why when liberalism on the supreme court decided affirmative action was a good policy, rich african americans benefitted and poor caucasians suffered. For a policy that was designed to help the disenfranchised and end discrimination you would think it would not include racial biases but only be based on wealth and income levels. I know this is a completely different topic, but since you are on the topic of rich and poor, and politics, I thought i'd bring it up. Also, maybe pulling the lever for a candidate who supports real equality and doesn't put one group ahead of another because of their race is another criteria to choose from. (You said: I don't think it is fair that I should do better by stepping on someone less fortunate than me, as I expect the same from someone more fortunate.) I agree 100%. Therefore why is it ok when democrats support race-based affirmative action? there are rich minorities and poor caucasians. Why should anyone get to step on anyone else? If you are really concerned about fairness and equality, I must ask you: Do you support affirmative action as it is and as most democrats want to keep it, or do you support a change in it to make it benefit all poor/disenfranchised people, not just minorities?

As for social security, President Bush has a plan where people can put it into the stock market and earn much more than they are getting now. How do you feel about that? And as the baby boomers are getting older and people are living longer how else do you think social security can be saved?

Freedom Tower
November 14th, 2004, 09:23 PM
Oh, by the way, when you Said "Barnum was right" did you mean his alleged quote "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute"? That was actually not his quote, look:


An excerpt:

"Barnum is also affiliated with the famous quote "There's a sucker born every minute." History, unfortunately, has misdirected this quotation. Barnum never did say it. Actually, it was said by his competitor. Here's the incredible story."

November 14th, 2004, 10:27 PM
I am not going to debate particular issues with you. I tried that many months ago, and it was pointless. I don't care if you are insulted by this or not, but in my opinion, you are confused on many issues. Stay that way or not, it's your life, I don't care.

I only responded to you to address your "all of you dissappointed liberals"(sic) remark. The fact of the matter is, I (a Democrat) will fare much better under Republican policy than you ( a Republican) will. The GOP are masters at getting their less-than-rich constituency to happily vote for policies that will impact them negatively. The issue 16 years ago was Willie Horton and crime. Crime is no longer a hot button, so the issue this time was the vague morality. I guess you think the next issue to distract the suckers is affirmative action.

Your idea for SS was born during the market run-up in the 90s. Any experienced investor will tell you it's not as easy as "put it in the stock market and make more money." People also lose money in the market. Bush knows this. He is lying. All this does is relieve the government of obligation.

Good luck. You'll need it.

November 15th, 2004, 02:35 PM
I thought this was pretty good....

Is That What You Said, America?

Kara Swanson, author of "I'll Carry the Fork! - Recovering a Life After Brain Injury", currently cares for her stroke-injured father while continuing to cope with her own permanent injuries from an automobile accident caused by an uninsured driver.

Is That What You Said, America?

Is that what you said, America? That it's OK for our troops to be fighting with sub-par and unsafe gear. That you don't mind the troops' families actually spending personal money at home to pay for and ship bullet proof vests, night goggles and radios to their sons and daughters overseas because our government hasn't given them the right equipment to fight. That the humvees aren't protected on the bottom from land mines. That the U.S. is hurriedly sending "support kits" of armor for the sides because we sent our kids over there without right and safe vehicles. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

Is that what you said, America ? That it's OK that we've lost more jobs with this president than any other in 75 years. That the jobs he's replaced
average $ 9,000 less per year. That it's OK our deficit has more zeroes than we can possibly fathom. That it's OK we have been trained to celebrate when gas comes DOWN to $2.02 a gallon. That it's OK my
Dad, myself and millions other older and disabled folks routinely choose between meds and meals. Between meds and utilities. That it's OK we haven't opened the prescription wars with Canada in order to bring down prescription prices. That it's OK when Medicare costs are greater than their minimal raises. That it's OK when countless families are already
scrambling to pay outrageous heating costs in early November. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

Is that what you said, America ? That it's OK if gays and lesbians lay down their lives in the war on terror, as long as they don't come out of the closet. That it's OK for them to work around the clock against terrorists and drug lords and dangerous gangs. That it's OK for them to save your lives as surgeons, police officers and firemen and women but it's not OK
to have committed relationships. Is that what you said? Beyond the states banning gay marriage, eight states banned civil unions for gays and lesbians. Is that what you said, America? That gays and lesbians can pay taxes and work jobs and pull their load and contribute to the economy and suffer every loss as a normal American except they cannot celebrate a civil
union? That they are first-class citizens right up until they fall in love. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

Is that what you said, America? That it doesn't matter if the world considers us a laughing stock. That it doesn't matter if the terrorists themselves have said George Bush makes their recruiting easier because he is so hated. That it's OK we've alienated all the world powers. That it's OK that we don't have secured ports and borders at home. That it's OK we
were lied to about going into Iraq. That it's OK that more than a thousand soldiers have died. That it's OK we are extending tours of duty for soldiers who have already done their duty and who have chosen to leave
the service. That it's OK we had the world's sympathy and support after 9-11 and have turned it into ridicule and scorn. Is that what you said, America ? Because that's what I heard.

Is that what you said, America? That if your daughter is raped and gets pregnant because of it, that she should have that baby. That, if your niece is the victim of incest and is carrying her father's or uncle's baby, that she should not abort it. That if your wife is raped and is pregnant because of it, that you are going to welcome her bastard child. That the decision should be made by politicians and not by the woman whose body has been brutalized. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

That's what I heard, America. I heard you loud and clear when you said that our situation in every facet of our lives is just fine with you. That Bush did such a great job that he deserves another four years to continue this path. That you take hatred and call it morality. That you take care of the ones who already are well and well off and leave the rest to themselves. That you choose dismal and deceitful and dangerous over different.

That's what I heard, America. Sadly, that's what I heard.

-Kara Swanson

Freedom Tower
November 15th, 2004, 09:18 PM
I am not going to debate particular issues with you. I tried that many months ago, and it was pointless. I don't care if you are insulted by this or not, but in my opinion, you are confused on many issues. Stay that way or not, it's your life, I don't care.

I only responded to you to address your "all of you dissappointed liberals"(sic) remark. The fact of the matter is, I (a Democrat) will fare much better under Republican policy than you ( a Republican) will. The GOP are masters at getting their less-than-rich constituency to happily vote for policies that will impact them negatively. The issue 16 years ago was Willie Horton and crime. Crime is no longer a hot button, so the issue this time was the vague morality. I guess you think the next issue to distract the suckers is affirmative action.

Your idea for SS was born during the market run-up in the 90s. Any experienced investor will tell you it's not as easy as "put it in the stock market and make more money." People also lose money in the market. Bush knows this. He is lying. All this does is relieve the government of obligation.

Good luck. You'll need it.

LOL. :lol: I'm sorry but you are missing the point. I didn't say you wouldn't fare well under the Bush administration. I'm sure you will fare well under his four more years (like all americans)- sure probably even better than I will since you seem to have a good amount of money. I just said the "liberals are dissapointed". Is that not true? Are you trying to debate with me that liberals are not dissapointed that Bush has four more years in office?

I don't believe I said "liberals in America will be negatively affected by Bush in office for 4 more years", I believe I said "The liberals are dissapointed". Find me a liberal American who is glad bush won re-election and ill give you a prize. And dont find one who is glad Bush won so that "in four years people will see how horrible he made america." I'm asking to see one liberal in America who actually wants to see bush in office again. The liberals are dissapointed over the outcome of the election - is that not true?

With the stock market thing, obviously people lose money in it too. My first priority right now is not social security, mainly becuase of more current problems facing us like terrorism and war, so I do not know much about Bush's social security plan. However, isn't it true that he gives people the option to invest in the stockmarket or get SS the traditional way? Maybe it's not true, but I thought I heard it on a news program at one time or another.

Freedom Tower
November 15th, 2004, 09:29 PM
I thought this was pretty good....

Is That What You Said, America?

Kara Swanson, author of "I'll Carry the Fork! - Recovering a Life After Brain Injury", currently cares for her stroke-injured father while continuing to cope with her own permanent injuries from an automobile accident caused by an uninsured driver.

Is That What You Said, America?

Is that what you said, America? That it's OK for our troops to be fighting with sub-par and unsafe gear. That you don't mind the troops' families actually spending personal money at home to pay for and ship bullet proof vests, night goggles and radios to their sons and daughters overseas because our government hasn't given them the right equipment to fight. That the humvees aren't protected on the bottom from land mines. That the U.S. is hurriedly sending "support kits" of armor for the sides because we sent our kids over there without right and safe vehicles. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

The beginning of it (the part i quoted above) was very good. It is true that sending troops to Iraq without the proper equipment is horrible and despicable even. Sending American soldiers to war without giving them adequate protection and equipment is one of the worst things a country can do.

But let's look at something the quote didn't mention: both bush and kerry supported the war in iraq (well kerry did at one point).

Bush started the war and also asked congress for $87 billion to buy more armored humvees, bullet proof vests, tanks, and other equipment necesary for our military. He wanted to supply our troops as best he could and the military as best he could.

Kerry voted for the war but voted against the $87 billion to give our troops the equipment they need.

That, coupled with the fact that liberals and democrats traditionally favor less military spending, while conservatives and republicans favor more military spending - makes it very easy to see why that was the only part of the quote from Kara Swanson that is not biased.

Every chance she gets she gets blatantly biased and is sometimes rightout lying about things (ill post more below). But for that topic, one of the strongest arguments of the piece, there is no bias. Why is there no bias? Because it is pretty hard to try and make it sound like republicans are less supportive of our military than liberals. Why is it so hard to do? Becuase generally republicans DO support the military more than democrats.

It just seems like the first, and best, paragraph is highly misplaced in an otherwised bias and filthy piece of writing.

Freedom Tower
November 15th, 2004, 09:52 PM
Here is the lies/bias section that I promised to post:

Is that what you said, America ? That it's OK that we've lost more jobs with this president than any other in 75 years. That the jobs he's replaced
average $ 9,000 less per year. That it's OK our deficit has more zeroes than we can possibly fathom.

This is bias: Swanson finds it very convenient to completely forget that one main reason the economy fell apart was that the largest terrorist attack on US soil in history occurred. Maybe that many jobs were lost, but it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact America's financial hub was attacked and people became frightened to go to New York City or fly in airplanes for a while, could it? Of course not. And of course, that attack didn't occur because a Democratic President (Bill Clinton) ignored Bin Laden's decleration of Jihad against American in 1996 or the 1993 WTC attacks, or the 1998 embassy bombings. Of course a Democratic President couldn't be at fault for letting terrorism grow to the point where an attack like this was inevitable and imminent. It happened to occur during a Republican administration. How convenient for Miss Swanson to be able to blame the job loss on President Bush.

This one is just a plain old lie:

Is that what you said, America ? That it's OK if gays and lesbians lay down their lives in the war on terror, as long as they don't come out of the closet.

A lie: Because there is no law against coming out of the closet! Some states have passed gay marriage bans, and that probably isn't constitutional or right because people should be allowed to marry who they want to without the government telling them who to marry. However, she makes it seem like we are sending out gays and lesbians en masse to fight wars and then when they get home we tell them they can't be gay. I agree the bans on gay marriage are discriminatory and should be repealed but it is nonsense to say that coming out of the closet has now been declared a crime.

Is that what you said, America? That it doesn't matter if the world considers us a laughing stock.

Back to the extreme stupidity of a few ignorant people. Of course, we should only be protecting our country and security if France agrees right? If France doesn't want us to pre-emptively take out terrorism/WMD we shouldnt right? After all, we owe it to France, since it was France that saved us in WWI and WWII.

So, we need to pass a global test before pre-emption takes place right? At the same time you most intelligent people say "We will never allow another country to place a veto on our national security" (John Kerry 2004). So then how would this global test work? If they actually couldn't veto anything what would the global test really be? Try two letters: "B.S.".

Is that what you said, America? That if your daughter is raped and gets pregnant because of it, that she should have that baby. That, if your niece is the victim of incest and is carrying her father's or uncle's baby, that she should not abort it. That if your wife is raped and is pregnant because of it, that you are going to welcome her bastard child. That the decision should be made by politicians and not by the woman whose body has been brutalized. Is that what you said, America? Because that's what I heard.

This is just plain old biased: Funny how she mentions rape twice, and incest once. Then she says that you will necesarily welcome your wife's bastard child after she was raped. There is also something called adoption, which she conveniently leaves out. She also fails to mention that under liberal leadership (liberal leadership, is that an oxymoron by the way?) that any woman who wanted to could just have unprotected sex and kill her baby with no penalty. Funny how liberals always like to say they fight for the small and weak, but at the same time they abandon the smallest and weakest. The babies can't protect themselves from being killed. However, this issue will never be solved. The two opposing sides are too hard headed and stubborn to reach some middle ground. A woman's "Right to chose" would be a fine policy if there were no heartless women out there. If a woman chooses to have an abortion because having the baby may kill her, because she was raped, etc. - for any legitimate reason - ok, then maybe it is her choice. However, what is to stop women from killing babies just because they forgot to use a condom? Because they made a mistake and don't want to be inconvenienced they have the right to kill another human being? I wonder why our great unbiased leader Miss Swanson left that part out.

I can't wait to read the responses to this one.

November 15th, 2004, 10:08 PM
I wasn't talking about ME, I was talking about YOU. The fact that you still don't understand what I am talking about is why I wished you luck.

*The post above is as funny as anything on the Daily Show.

November 16th, 2004, 10:28 AM
^Like when he stares out at the audience with a perplexed look on his face as if to say, "did you hear what I just heard?"

November 16th, 2004, 11:12 AM
"However, what is to stop women from killing babies just because they forgot to use a condom?"

Interesting that your entire argument against abortion lays blame solely on women.

November 16th, 2004, 12:12 PM
Or how he completely missed the meaning of...

Is that what you said, America ? That it's OK if gays and lesbians lay down their lives in the war on terror, as long as they don't come out of the closet.
by stating...

A lie: Because there is no law against coming out of the closet!

She was talking about soldiers.

November 16th, 2004, 12:40 PM
The French Connection is always popular in Jesusland...

After all, we owe it to France, since it was France that saved us in WWI and WWII.
Americans should be proud of our actions in liberating Europe, but contrary to now popular belief, we did not enter WWII to free France, the UK, or anybody.

WWII began on Sept 03, 1939, when Great Britian and France declared war on Germany.

At the time, US public opinion was split on getting involved in a European matter. Over 2 years passed before we entered WWII. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 07, 1941, the US declared war on Japan, but not on Germany. That happenned on Dec 11, right after Germany declared war on the US.

January 7th, 2005, 07:22 AM
January 7, 2005


The Election's Last Gasp

Congressional Democrats staged an unusual protest yesterday when Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio objected to certifying the results of the 2004 election. Supporters of the defeated (and absent) John Kerry then spent two hours making speeches, most of which began with the declaration that George W. Bush had definitely won.

It could not have been a totally satisfactory afternoon for the president's angry supporters or for the conspiracy theorists who still believe that Bush operatives managed to steal Ohio's electoral votes. The final count showed that Mr. Bush had won the state by more than 100,000 votes, and the Democrats who rose to complain about the process prefaced their remarks by saying things like "the irregularities in Ohio would not have overturned the results."

But the Democrats were right to call attention to the defects in the system. Our elections need to do more than produce a legitimate winner. They need to do it through a process that seems fair to all reasonable citizens. On that count, the United States has a way to go.

Electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper trail that can be rechecked in contested elections create worries that a contest could be stolen by computer hacking or by tampering with the machine software. Those concerns seem to have been unfounded in the last election, but it did not require paranoia to think that such things might happen.

It is not illegal to require voters to stand in lines so long that they wind up being forced to give up or to skip work, but it is unfair - particularly when such delays happen mainly in poor and minority neighborhoods. It is not illegal to leave election operations in the hands of a partisan elected official, but such a situation will make the system seem biased to voters from the other side of the political divide. That is what happened in Ohio, where the secretary of state was also a co-chairman of the Bush campaign in that state.

Democrats were obviously most vocal about the sloppy and highhanded way the election was run in many places, but the Republicans should also object. Mr. Bush won the most votes, but he has been deprived of universal confidence in the way they were counted.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company