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Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)
But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)
America refuses to see that it isn't colorblind
Published on: 08/09/06
The hour for reflection on America's racial tensions — a brief period brought about by Hurricane Katrina — has passed.
The devastating hurricane opened a narrow window when Americans might have engaged in a civil and rational, if passionate, conversation about race and poverty in this country. For the first 48 hours, after TV news footage of the flooded city revealed the desperate circumstances of stranded New Orleans residents — scared, suffering, practically abandoned — many Americans, including white Americans, seemed to grasp the consequences of the color line.
But those first hours of widespread compassion were quickly overwhelmed by a simpler story line, one that featured lawless thugs looting, pillaging and preying on the few law-abiding citizens around. Never mind that much of that never happened. Once news coverage and analysis began to concentrate on black crime, Americans — especially white Americans — disengaged emotionally. They no longer felt compelled to discuss society's larger crimes of inequality and discrimination.
In a lecture Monday at the Margaret Mitchell House, author and documentarian June Cross mentioned the nation's failure to take advantage of the Katrina aftermath for a frank discussion of race. She was in town to discuss her memoir, "Secret Daughter." Cross, who is biracial, also talked about her next project, a documentary on what she calls "the Katrina diaspora," during an interview later that evening.
By DAVID ESPO
The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 8, 2006; 11:47 PM
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joe Lieberman's primary defeat Tuesday night came at the hands of Democratic voters angry over the war in Iraq and demanding that lawmakers stand up to President Bush rather than stand with him.
It wasn't a polite message they sent their three-term senator, a former vice presidential running mate who fell to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont. It was an eviction notice, served by an electorate that has grown remarkably sour about the course their country is on.
That makes the result both an opportunity and a challenge for Democrats nationally as they head into a fall campaign with control of the House and Senate at stake.
To triumph in November, Democrats will need the same intensity, including the support of bloggers and groups such as MoveOn.org, that powered Lamont to victory in Connecticut.
Revenge of the Irate Moderates
The defeat of Senator Joseph Lieberman at the hands of a little-known Connecticut businessman is bound to send a message to politicians of both parties that voters are angry and frustrated over the war in Iraq. The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House.
Ned Lamont, a relative political novice, said he ran against Mr. Lieberman because he was offended by the senator’s sunny descriptions of what was happening in Iraq and his denunciation of Democrats who criticized the administration’s handling of the war. Many other people in Connecticut may have felt that sense of frustration, but no one else had the money and moxie to do what Mr. Lamont did. Mr. Lieberman was stunned to find himself on the defensive, and it was only in the last few weeks that the 18-year veteran mounted a desperate campaign to reclaim his party’s support.
"As far as I know, I have a green light," said state Sen. Joy Padgett, as party lawyers reviewed a state law that bars politicians who lose one primary from entering another one during the same year.
The developments came one day after Ney announced he would abandon his race for re-election, acting under pressure from party officials who feared the loss of his seat. The six-term lawmaker has come under scrutiny for his ties to Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist at the center of a congressional corruption scandal.
Ney has not been charged, and denies all wrongdoing.
In stepping down, Ney threw his support to Padgett, who also said she had been encouraged by House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, to run.
One Republican strategist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said lawyers had concluded Padgett was likely covered by the so-called political sore loser's law and thus would not be eligible to run.
Shine a light on fat pay packagesA Times Editorial
Published August 9, 2006
The Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted sweeping new rules that require much fuller disclosure of compensation packages for top corporate executives. Armed with this information, shareholders will be better positioned to protect their investments.
Even Gov. Jeb Bush recently decried outlandish executive pay. "Corporate America's executive compensation system is broken," Bush told Fortune magazine, adding, "If the rewards for CEOs and their teams become extraordinarily high with no link to performance - and shareholders are left holding the bag - then it undermines people's confidence in capitalism itself."
When CEOs are paid hundreds of millions of dollars as they walk out the door, shareholders are right to feel cheated and blindsided. By manipulating and hiding the full value of retirement benefits and stock options, among other perquisites, companies have found creative ways of keeping investors in the dark.
DeLay Rules Out Campaign for His Former House Seat
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 — Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who resigned from Congress in June, said Tuesday that he would not campaign for his old seat in Texas and would try to remove his name from the November ballot. That move could give another Republican a better chance of a write-in victory.
A series of federal judges have ruled that the Texas Republican Party cannot replace Mr. DeLay’s name on the ballot because he won the primary in March. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court refused to consider an emergency stay of those rulings.
Bush seeks war crimes exceptions
Legal loophole devised for degrading POWs
By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post
August 9, 2006
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading prisoners of war, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments.
Officials say the amendments would alter a U.S. law passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions, a set of international treaties governing military conduct in wartime. The conventions generally bar the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.
The draft U.S. amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 specific categories of illegal acts against detainees during a war, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.
Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts--such as forced nakedness,use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq--that fall short of torture.
It Takes More Than Schools to Close Achievement Gap
WHEN the federal Education Department recently reported that children in private schools generally did no better than comparable students at public schools on national tests of math and reading, the findings were embraced by teachers’ unions and liberals, and dismissed by supporters of school voucher programs.
But for many educators and policy makers, the findings raised a haunting question: What if the impediments to learning run so deep that they cannot be addressed by any particular kind of school or any set of in-school reforms? What if schools are not the answer?
The question has come up before. In 1966, Prof. James S. Coleman published a Congressionally mandated study on why schoolchildren in minority neighborhoods performed at far lower levels than children in white areas.
To the surprise of many, his landmark study concluded that although the quality of schools in minority neighborhoods
School Districts Devising New Ways to Offer Teachers Affordable Housing
In a new wave of plans to recruit and retain teachers who say they cannot afford to buy or rent homes in pricey school districts, officials are considering measures that would put affordable housing within their reach.
In Nevada’s Clark County, for instance, school officials are considering buying land and building affordable homes they would sell to teachers. In Florida’s Osceola County, the school board is lobbying to team with developers and build apartments that teachers could rent at below-market rates. And in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District in San Luis Obispo, Calif., school leaders are looking into the possibility of offering short-term loans to teachers to make it easier for them to buy houses.
According to the latest figures available from the American Federation of Teachers, the average salary for a beginning teacher in the country was $31,700, and $46,600 for the average teacher, in 2003-04. “By the time they have paid for college loans, transportation, and insurance, there is not much left in the paycheck for housing,” said Jewell Gould, the AFT’s director of research.
Three-Term Senator Plans to Run in General Election as an Independent
By Dan Balz and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 8, 2006; 11:18 PM
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug . 8 -- In a stunning repudiation, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) lost the Democratic Senate primary here Tuesday night, falling to antiwar candidate Ned Lamont in a campaign that became a referendum on the incumbent's support for the Iraq war and what opponents charged was his failure to challenge President Bush's war policies.
Lieberman conceded the race to Lamont late Tuesday, but vowed to run in the general election in November as an independent.
The three-term senator lost his bid for renomination exactly six years after he was chosen as Al Gore's vice presidential running mate, marking a fall from grace among his fellow Democrats that came with brutal swiftness and that signaled the growing strength of the antiwar movement inside the Democratic Party.
A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749
Buried in a list of 20 million Web search queries collected by AOL and recently released on the Internet is user No. 4417749. The number was assigned by the company to protect the searcher’s anonymity, but it was not much of a shield.
No. 4417749 conducted hundreds of searches over a three-month period on topics ranging from “numb fingers” to “60 single men” to “dog that urinates on everything.”
And search by search, click by click, the identity of AOL user No. 4417749 became easier to discern. There are queries for “landscapers in Lilburn, Ga,” several people with the last name Arnold and “homes sold in shadow lake subdivision gwinnett county georgia.”
Anti-U.S. Feeling Leaves Arab Reformers Isolated
DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 8 — Moderate reformers across the Arab world say American support for Israel’s battle with Hezbollah has put them on the defensive, tarring them by association and boosting Islamist parties.
The very people whom the United States wanted to encourage to promote democracy from Bahrain to Casablanca instead feel trapped by a policy that they now ridicule more or less as “destroying the region in order to save it.”
Indeed, many of those reformers who have been working for change in their own societies — often isolated, harassed by state security, or marginalized to begin with — say American policy either strangles nascent reform movements or props up repressive governments that remain Washington’s best allies in the region.
Buffett and Hezbollah
Warren Buffett. The most important thing you need to know about Israel today and how it has performed so far in the war with Hezbollah is Warren Buffett.
Say what? Well, the most talked-about story in Israel, before Hezbollah started this war, was the fact that on May 5, Mr. Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and the world’s most successful investor, bought an 80 percent stake in the privately held Israeli precision tools company, Iscar Metalworking, for $4 billion — Mr. Buffett’s first purchase of a company outside America. According to BusinessWeek, as a result of the deal, Iscar’s owners were “likely to pay about $1 billion in capital gains taxes into the Israeli government’s coffers — an unexpected windfall. With the Israeli budget already running a $2 billion surplus, the government is considering slashing value-added tax by one percentage point to 15 percent.”
The New York Times
The Lieberman Lesson
IF you asked Senator Joseph I. Lieberman why he faced the fight of his life in yesterday’s Democratic primary in Connecticut, the answer would likely be “Iraq.”
It’s basically an argument by deduction. Mr. Lieberman has repeatedly said that his endorsements from a who’s who of environmentalists, abortion rights groups and labor unions certify that he’s a Democrat in good standing. The war, he has suggested, was the only major issue on which he dissented from his party. So the fact that many Democratic voters turned on him in the primary must mean that the party has become intolerant of dissenting foreign policy views.
In truth, Mr. Lieberman’s problem wasn’t so much the war as the perception that he’s a less than reliable partisan. To see why you probably have to go back to his overly civil performance during the 2000 presidential campaign. Or to his 1998 speech denouncing President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Or to his occasional flirtation with school vouchers. Or to his ... well, you get the idea.
The primary race between Senator Joseph Lieberman and Ned Lamont in Connecticut managed to embrace an extraordinary number of different political themes — the war in Iraq, the influence of bloggers, the power of personal wealth vs. longtime incumbency, and the utility of the word “Joementum,” to name just a few. But the most haunting issue was Mr. Lieberman’s self-described centrism, and what it means to be sticking to the middle in the age of George W. Bush.
Connecticut is an unlikely place for a populist revolt. A state that calls itself the Land of Steady Habits, where elected officials never seem to wear out their welcome (unexpected indictments withstanding) is not supposed to be fickle, or given to sudden changes in the political temperature. But there was Senator Lieberman, a household name flung into a whirlwind of desperate campaigning after polls suddenly showed him behind Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich with only modest political credentials.
The New York Times
West Point Thesis Challenges Gay Policy
Filed at 6:22 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alexander Raggio says he was 16 when he learned one of his relatives was gay -- and watching that person's struggle gave him a grim introduction to discrimination against gays.
He carried those feelings into West Point, and in his senior thesis argued that the military's policy banning gays is not only wrong, but harmful to the Army.
The Pentagon may not agree, but the U.S. Military Academy gave him an award for the paper.
''I love the Army and I think that this is hurting the Army,'' said Raggio, 24, in an interview this week from his new military post at Fort Riley, Kan. ''I see it as my obligation to say 'I don't agree with what you're doing.' I'm not being insubordinate -- I just think we're making a mistake here.''
Washington Post Company
By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; A17
Of all the signs that the American people are fed up with the war in Iraq, the one that the administration should fear most was put forth last week by a longtime supporter of both the president and the war, Virginia Republican John Warner.
While chairing a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner suggested that the president might need a new congressional resolution authorizing our presence in Iraq, since the conflict there has become (or, best case, may yet become) a civil war.