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Thursday, October 21, 2004

The buck stops where?

Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick was sentenced to eight years of prison today for conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act–all charges stemming from his guard service at Abu Ghraib prison.

Meanwhile, those higher in the chain of command (e.g. Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush) have largely escaped scrutiny. Read the classified Pentagon draft report sanctioning torture here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Using homosexuality as a campaign weapon could backfire for Republicans

From the desk of Frank Rich:
The deployment of homosexuality as a nasty campaign weapon has long been second nature to Mr. Rove. In the must-read article "Karl Rove in a Corner" in the November issue of The Atlantic, the journalist Joshua Green exhaustively researches the tightest campaigns of Mr. Rove's career and exhumes the pattern. As Mr. Green reminds us, George W. Bush's 1994 gubernatorial race against Ann Richards "featured a rumor" that Governor Richards was a lesbian. Gay whispers have also swirled around Rove adversaries like a rival Republican campaign consultant in the 1980's and a 1994 Alabama judicial candidate who was branded a "homosexual pedophile."

None of these rumors were, in fact, true, but Mary Cheney is unambiguously and unapologetically gay. For a campaign that wants to pander to the fringe, that makes her presence in the Bush-Cheney family a problem - just how big a problem can be seen by its disingenuously hysterical reaction to Mr. Kerry's use of the L word. But Mary Cheney isn't the only problem for Mr. Rove as he plays this game. The Republican establishment is rife with gay people - just ask anyone in proximity to its convention in New York - and the campaign doesn't want the four million [evangelical votes it is seeking] to know about them, either. But in this election season, actual outing has begun to creep onto the Internet, where the names of closeted Republican congressmen and aides who support anti-gay policies are a Google search away. Some named so far - one of whom dropped out of his re-election campaign in August - hail from districts where some of those four million live.

Sooner or later this untenable level of hypocrisy is going to lead to a civil war within the Republican party. But this hypocrisy is not just about homosexuality - it's about all sexuality, as befits a party that calls for the elimination of Roe v. Wade and the suppression of candid sex education that might prevent teenage pregnancy and AIDS alike. Should Bill O'Reilly-Andrea Mackris tapes exist, as many believe they do, we will learn graphically where the right's most popular cultural defender of G-rated values stands not only on lesbianism but also on extramarital sex, sexual tourism in Asia and masturbation -which all figure in the complainant's detailed description of her alleged conversations with her boss. But anyone who fears that Mr. O'Reilly has completely abandoned his political faith need not worry. According to Ms. Mackris's account, the one time this would-be Lothario succeeded in luring her to his hotel room alone it was not by offering to show her his etchings, or even Spectravision, but a televised news conference by President Bush.

Full story here.

Lynne Cheney's lost masterpiece

Shortly after her husband became a vice-presidential candidate, Lynne Cheney sent word to her publisher not to reprint her romantic masterpieces. But excerpts can be found here.

Stomp the vote

More allegations have come to light against Sproul & Associates, the Arizona-based consultants hired by the Republican party to conduct a voter registration drive.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Sproul & Associates, a consulting firm based in Chandler, Ariz., hired to conduct the drive by the Republican National Committee, employed several hundred canvassers throughout the state to register new voters. Some workers yesterday said they were told to avoid registering Democrats or anyone who indicated support for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.

'We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote,' said Michele Tharp, of Meadville, who said she was sent out to canvass door-to-door and outside businesses in Meadville, Crawford County. 'We were only to register Republicans.'"

Full story here.

Bush on eve of invasion: on top of the world

"The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, 'We're not going to have any casualties.'

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as 'the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life.'

'You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,'' Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now.'

'And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.''

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.'

Full story here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Back to the Mainstream

"As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The fact is that today’s 'Republican' Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word 'Republican' has always been synonymous with the word 'responsibility,' which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance."

-John Eisenhower, author and former ambassador


Come Back to the Mainstream is a group of Republican former Governors, Senators, and public officials. They are calling for a return to common sense in government. They would like the president and Congress to:

"Stop weakening environmental law - and once again protect our air, water and public lands as Teddy Roosevelt and other great Republican leaders intended;

Restore fiscal responsibility - with "pay-as-you-go" budget discipline to end record deficits that jeopardize economic growth;

Put the health of millions first - and clear the way for embryonic stem cell research;

Appoint mainstream federal judges - and respect the Constitution;

Make America safer - and protect cities and towns, still vulnerable three years after 9/11, by securing chemical and nuclear plants and shipping containers;

Rebuild our alliances – with real partnerships and restore America’s standing in the world."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Democrats signing up more new voters

"The Democrats appear to be gaining the upper hand in the battle to sign up new voters in the all-important swing states, an Associated Press analysis suggests.

The AP analysis of the most up-to-date figures from across the country found that, in every state where complete data is available, the Democrats have registered more new voters than Republicans. They have the edge in Arizona, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Only in Florida is the story different. Registration tallies from more than half the counties show that the Republicans and the Democrats are virtually tied in the race to increase their share of voters in the state that decided the presidential election four years ago. In those counties, the Republicans have signed up just a few thousand more."

Full story here.

Dirty tricks return to Florida

The Guardian reports:
Gordon Sasser first got the feeling that something strange was going on when the telephone pierced the silence of a weekday afternoon at his house on the swampy fringes of Tallahassee, northern Florida.

An automated voice had some surprising news: did he know that he could now cast his presidential vote by phone, and could do so right now, using the keypad? Mr Sasser's suspicion that somebody was trying to trick him into thinking he was casting a vote - presumably so that he wouldn't cast a real one - was far from unique.

James Scruggs, another Tallahassee resident, remembers a similar unease about the young woman who phoned him at home, insistently offering to collect his absentee ballot to ensure its safe delivery.

Then there was the elderly woman who called the local elections office last week to register her husband for an absentee vote. According to office staff, as she hung up she made a point of thanking them: she wouldn't have thought to get in touch about her husband, she said, if it hadn't been for their helpful call the night before, when someone had taken her own details, assuring her that she was now registered and would receive a ballot.

But the elections office makes no such calls.

"It's Alice in Wonderland here now," sighed Ion Sancho, elections supervisor for Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, Florida's capital. "Up is down, and down is up ... My feeling is that someone has essentially conned her into believing that she's going to be voting."

Mr Sancho is a longstanding thorn in the side of Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, who presides from a building across the street. But even he seems astonished by the reports reaching his office these days.

"I've been an elections supervisor for 16 years now, and nobody has ever called me with this kind of activity occurring," he said.

Story continues here.

Vladimir Putin endorses George W. Bush

Britain's Guardian newspaper reports today that Vladimir Putin, Russia's most notorious KGB bureaucrat turned tyrant, has endorsed George W. Bush for president. The two have many goals in common. Promoting human rights is not among them.

George W. Bush betrayed the strongest principles of the Republican party

The following statement was written by former Michigan Gov. William G. Milliken:

"As a lifelong Republican, I have had mounting concern watching this year's presidential campaign.
      I have always been proud to be a Republican. My Republican Party is a broad-based party, that seeks to bring a wide spectrum of people under its umbrella and that seeks to protect and provide opportunity for the most vulnerable among us.
      Sadly, that is not the Republican Party that I see at the national level today.
      My Republican Party has always been a party that stood for fiscal responsibility. Today, under George W. Bush, we have the largest deficit in the history of our country - a deficit that jeopardizes economic growth that is so desperately needed in a nation that has lost 2.6 million jobs since he took office.
      To make matters even worse, this president inherited a surplus, but squandered it with huge tax cuts structured primarily to benefit the wealthy and powerful.
      My Republican Party is the party of Michigan Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg who helped forge a bipartisan foreign policy that served this nation well and produced strong alliances across the globe. This president has, in a highly partisan, unilateral way rushed us into a tragic and unnecessary war that has cost the lives of more than 1,000 of our young men and women. In this arrogant rush to war, he has alienated this nation from much of the world.
      What's worse, the basic premises upon which we were taken to war proved to be false. Now, we find ourselves in the midst of an occupation that was largely unplanned and has become a disaster from which we cannot easily extricate ourselves.
      My Republican Party is the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who fought to preserve our natural resources and environment. This president has pursued policies that will cause irreparable damage to our environmental laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the public lands we share with future generations.
      My Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, who freed an enslaved people. This president fought in the courts to strike down policies designed to provide opportunity and access to our own University of Michigan for minority students.
      My Republican Party is the party of Eisenhower, who warned us to beware of the dangers of a military-industrial complex. This president has pursued policies skewed to favor large corporations in the defense and oil industry and has gone so far as to let those industries help write government policies.
      My Republican Party is a party that respects and works with the men and women of the law enforcement community who put their lives on the line for us every day. This president ignored the pleas of law enforcement agencies across America and failed to lift a finger to renew the assault weapons ban that they strongly supported as an essential safeguard for public safety.
      My Republican Party is a party that values the pursuit of knowledge. But this president stands in the way of meaningful embryonic stem-cell research that holds so much promise for those who suffer from diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
      My Republican Party is the party of Gerald R. Ford, Michigan's only president, who reached across partisan lines to become a unifying force during a time of great turmoil in our nation's history. This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today.
      Women's rights, civil liberties, the separation of church and state, the funding of family planning efforts world-wide - all have suffered grievously under this president and his administration.
      The truth is that President George W. Bush does not speak for me or for many other moderate Republicans on a very broad cross section of issues.
      Sen. John Kerry, on the other hand, has put forth a coherent, responsible platform of progressive initiatives that I believe would serve this country well. He wants to balance the budget, step up environmental protection efforts, rebuild our international relationships, support stem-cell research, protect choice and pursue a number of other progressive initiatives that moderates from both parties can support.
      As a result, despite my long record of active involvement in the Republican Party, and my intention still to stay in the Republican Party, when I cast my ballot November 2, I will be voting for John Kerry for President."

The Oregonian endorses John Kerry

"Even so, on the international front, Kerry understands something that Bush does not: Our nation's experience shows that strong international alliances are vital to erecting a bulwark against aggression, tyranny and terrorism.

The president's destructive rhetoric during the campaign reflects the administration's recklessness in this area. This nation's role as the world's only military superpower does not grant it the unquestioned right to lead. Other nations will follow a United States they respect and admire. They will resist a United States they fear.

Foreign leaders may well understand that their long-term interests lie in sticking with the United States. But Bush has made it politically impossible for them to do so. Kerry has some chance of rebuilding the international alliances that Bush and his people have shattered.

Kerry also has demonstrated, through his personal heroism in Vietnam and his positions in this campaign, that he is strong, aggressive and thoughtful enough to perform well as commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces.

A long record of public service shows that he possesses a deep, nuanced understanding of the central domestic issues of our time.

Kerry is likely to select strong Cabinet secretaries, and he may even listen to them when they disagree with his inner circle. During the Bush administration, there has been little evidence that solid Cabinet choices like Secretary of State Colin Powell are able to get their views heard on critical issues at critical times.

We believe the top choices in a Kerry administration also would be more vigorous in pursuing both the letter and spirit of the nation's environmental protection laws. A Kerry attorney general might have a more coherent and defensible view of citizens' civil liberties and constitutional rights than John Ashcroft, Bush's attorney general."

And so on.

On Oct. 10, the Portland Oregonian endorsed John Kerry.

Granny D: still shaking things up

"The Democratic candidate for US Senate has no political experience and so little money that her campaign cannot afford lawn signs.

But at age 94, Doris 'Granny D' Haddock does have an agenda -- ridding Washington of the influence of big-buck political contributors.

'Can a candidate win without taking a dollar from special interests?' she recently asked a small gathering at the University of New Hampshire. Her eyes narrowed and her voice grew determined: 'Watch me.'

Haddock is best known for walking across America four years ago to support campaign-finance reform. That 3,225-mile jaunt won her praise from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and President Jimmy Carter."

Story continues here.

Blacks, Hispanics hit harder by recession

From the Associated Press:

"The enormous wealth gap between white families and blacks and Hispanics grew larger after the most recent recession, a private analysis of government data finds.

White households had a median net worth of greater than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times more than Hispanics and more than 14 times that of blacks, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a study being released Monday...

Greater wealth means a greater ability to weather a job loss, emergency home repairs, illness and other unexpected costs, as well as being able to save for retirement or a child's college tuition."

Full story here.

Ralph Nader's former running mate endorses John Kerry

Winona LaDuke, who ran for vice-president in 1996 and 2000 on the Green Party ticket, has endorsed John Kerry for president this year.

LaDuke writes in Indian Country Today:

"I love this land, and I know that we need to make drastic changes in Washington if we are going to protect our land and our communities. I am committed to transforming the American democracy so that it is reflective of the diversity of this country. I believe in a multi-party system and a multi-racial democracy. I believe there are many opinions, not simply two, that merit a hearing on any issue. I believe we should be working harder to increase the numbers of people of color, women, and Native people elected to office because we are this country and we are what America looks like. I'm voting my conscience on Nov. 2; I'm voting for John Kerry."

Howard Dean: bring independent and local family ownership back into broadcast media

"Last week, communications giant Sinclair Broadcasting announced that they would require all 62 of their television affiliates to pre-empt regularly scheduled programs and air a film that casts Sen. John Kerry in a very unfavorable and false light. Many of these stations, affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and UPN, are in battleground states like Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. This essentially becomes free advertising for the Bush-Cheney campaign in some very important and influential states during this election season.

This is not the first time Sinclair Broadcasting stations were required to do something that advanced the right-wing agenda. Last spring, Sinclair refused to allow any of its ABC affiliates to carry a Nightline episode that honored soldiers who had been killed in Iraq. The episode was a way to memorialize and remember the soldiers that gave their lives fighting for our country. But at the time, the executives at Sinclair Broadcasting unilaterally decided that the program 'appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.'

This election cycle, executives of Sinclair Broadcasting have contributed tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions, 97 percent of which have gone to Republican candidates. Their vice president for corporate relations and their spokesperson, Mark Hyman, is also a conservative commentator for Sinclair Broadcasting. Every day a one-to-two minute report by Hyman is distributed to stations that promotes the agenda of the Republican Party...

Kowtowing to large corporations, like Sinclair Broadcasting, is President Bush's specialty. And, behavior like this will only continue to grow by other media conglomerates if President Bush is re-elected. He is clearly more interested in doing the bidding of big corporations than he is in jobs and health care for ordinary Americans.

The media needs to be re-regulated and corporate ownership of media outlets needs to be limited in favor of independent and local family ownerships. But, we can make a difference today. If you live in a city with a Sinclair Broadcasting station, I encourage you to consider calling companies that advertise on that station. This is already working in some cities, like Madison, Wis. - a restaurant that was advertising on the local Sinclair Broadcasting station received numerous complaints and decided to pull their advertising.

Since the public owns the airways, Sinclair Broadcasting and other big corporations ought to be required to act in a way which supports democracy, not attacks it. Sinclair Broadcasting has violated the fundamental responsibilities they are accountable for in a democratic society. If the president will not do his job to rein in corporate power, we will have to stand up for American democracy ourselves."

-former Gov. Howard Dean, "Take Our Airwaves Back"

Court: Sept. 11 "cannot be the day liberty perished in this country"

From the Associated Press:
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Friday that protesters may not be required to pass through metal detectors when they gather next month for a rally against a U.S. training academy for Latin American soldiers.

Authorities began using the metal detectors at the annual School of the Americas protest after the 2001 terrorist attacks, but the court found that practice to be unconstitutional.

"We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War on Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over," Judge Gerald Tjoflat wrote for the panel. "Sept. 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country."

City officials in Columbus, Ga., contended the searches are needed because of the elevated risk of terrorism, but the court threw out that argument, saying it would "eviscerate the Fourth Amendment."

"In the absence of some reason to believe that international terrorists would target or infiltrate this protest, there is no basis for using Sept. 11 as an excuse for searching the protesters," the court said.

Story continues here.

Three teachers evicted from Bush event for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" t-shirts

We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

Three schoolteachers were evicted from a Bush event and threatened with arrest Oct. 14 for wearing "Protect Our Civil Liberties" t-shirts, the Progressive reports.

"The U.S. Constitution was not available on site for comment, but expressed in a written statement support for “the freedom of speech” and “of the press” among other civil liberties," a Democratic news release said, according to Bend.com.

Bend.com reported:
Thursday’s actions in Oregon set a new standard even for Bush/Cheney – removing and threatening with arrest citizens who in no way disrupt an event and wear clothing that expresses non-disruptive party-neutral viewpoints such as “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 17, a 54-Year old woman named Perry Patterson was charged with criminal trespass for blurting the word "No" when Cheney said that George W. Bush has made the world safer.

One day before, Sue Niederer, 55, the mother of a slain American soldier in Iraq was cuffed and arrested for criminal trespass when she interrupted a Laura Bush speech in New Jersey. Both women had tickets to the event.

Here is a partial account of what transpired in Oregon Thursday, as told to the Progressive:
The campaign officials said they could go in if they could guarantee they would not make a scene, [Tania] Tong says. "We assured them that we did not come with any intention of being disorderly, so they said fine and said they respected our differing opinions," she recalls.

At that point, the three teachers assumed they were in, and that they could take their seats and listen to the President.

No such luck.

"As we were walking over to sit down, a woman grabbed me by the arm from the back and grabbed my shirt," Tong says. "She said she would have to look under my shirt for offensive language. I told her she wouldn't find any there. She still looked. Then we walked about two more steps and a man came up and asked to see our IDs again and then made a comment abut my sister living in Ashland. But he gave us our IDs back, and we proceeded to sit down."

Campaign officials did not leave the three alone, however. They followed them to their seats, and when Janet Voorhies got up to go to the bathroom, she was tailed, Tong and [Candice] Julian say.

When Voorhies did not return promptly, they became concerned and got up to see what was going on.

"A guy had Janet by the elbow and was leading her away," says Julian.

"And he said to us, 'Give us your tickets.' "

"We said, 'Why?' And I put the ticket behind my back, and one of the guys who had been following us ripped it out of my hands."

Seeing what happened to her sister's ticket, Tong put hers down her pants, she says.

Campaign officials then told all three women to leave.

"They said it was a private event, for invited guests," Tong recalls.

"We said we were invited because we were given tickets.

"One said, 'You don't have tickets anymore.'

Full story here.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Star Tribune endorses John Kerry for president

"Long steeped in U.S. foreign policy, Kerry understands that safeguarding Americans and pursuing national interests require strong alliances and deft diplomacy -- that the exercise of military power by itself does little but breed resentment. He knows that an indispensable part of the United States' power to lead in the world derives from its status as a beacon of freedom, morality and justice. Kerry recognizes that to prevail in the struggle against terrorism, America must return to the moral high ground rather than unilaterally pursue a perverted, narrow vision of its national interest.

At home Kerry would roll back Bush's tax cuts to the nation's wealthiest taxpayers, now the chief cause of massive federal deficits, and work to shore up the middle class. He has presented a sound plan for affordable health care, while shunning GOP efforts to privatize pieces of Medicare and Social Security. He would reverse Bush's devious dismantling of environmental protections, and he would preserve the safety net that protects America's most vulnerable citizens...

Bush has governed with mendacity and secrecy at home as well, undermining the democratic imperatives of accountability, transparency and openness. Just as his reasons for war in Iraq have shifted repeatedly, his rationale for tax cuts has changed to suit his convenience: In 2000, candidate Bush said his tax package was designed to return a big surplus to taxpayers; later, with the government running massive budget deficits, he said the very same tax cuts were designed to give the economy short-term stimulus and rebuild government revenues.

As recently as last week, Bush claimed that middle-class families are receiving the bulk of tax relief under his fiscal policies, even though a widely published nonpartisan analysis shows that two-thirds of the tax relief this year went to the top 20 percent of households."

-Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial, "John Kerry: The right choice for president"

The New York Times endorses John Kerry

The New York Times endorsed John Kerry today.

"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."

The New York Times editorial board then goes on to castigate President Bush for...
1) "ideological, activist" judicial nominations
2) censorship of government websites
3) shutdown of new stem cell research
4) underfunding No Child Left Behind
5) systematically weakening "the entire spectrum of environmental issues"
6) failing to secure America's ports against terrorism
7) a "Nixonian obsession with secrecy"
8) imprisoning American citizens without access to an attorney
9) disregard for international law
10) "misrepresentations" to the American people, and
11) "inept management."
Among other things.

The New York Times writes:

"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."

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. "

Another four years under Bush would create far more damage, the Times contends.

"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...

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. "

By contrast, the Times writes:

"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. "

The full editorial can be viewed here.