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The Nation

September 18, 2006
John Nichols
John Nichols

The Sunday Washington Post headline said it all. Echoing a theme that is finally being picked up by print and broadcast media that for too long has neglected the dramatic problems with this country's systems for casting and counting votes, the newspaper's front page announced: "Major Problems At Polls Feared: Some Officials Say Voting Law Changes And New Technology Will Cause Trouble."

Following a disastrous election day in Maryland that was defined by human blunders, technical glitches, long lines and long delays in vote counting so severe that some contests remain unresolved almost a week after the balloting, the Post declared that, "An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said."

No fooling!

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September 18, 2006
The Nation

The Bush Administration appointed political cronies to run Iraq and gave lucrative no-bid contracts to the former employer of our Vice President.

No wonder the occupation is turning out so badly.

Of the $18 billion spent on the now-halted Iraqi reconstruction, half is still missing. Since October 2004, the Department of Defense has not had one internal investigator on the ground.

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The Notion
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September 18, 2006
The Nation

Question: What activity burns through money "like jet fuel," involvesthree armored cars, forty-five full-time, Kalashnikov-toting securityguards, and two blast-wall-enclosed houses with belt-fed machine-gunsmounted on their roofs?

Answer: Reporting from Iraq. This comes from New York Timesjournalist Dexter Filkins, now home from Baghdad on a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.

According to an article by David S. Hirschman ofEditor & Publisher Online, he added as well that, essentially, if you're a Western reporter in Iraq, you can never go out. Filkinsclaimed that "98 percent of Iraq, and even most of Baghdad, has nowbecome ‘off-limits' for Western journalists."

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September 18, 2006
The Nation

Last Friday, I predicted that AFSCME'S Council 4--Connecticut's largest AFL-CIO union--would endorse Ned Lamont for the US Senate. While the union backed Lieberman in the primary, its delegates now realize that "it boiled down to a simple question: Which candidate will stand up to George Bush and Dick Cheney." Not a tough choice considering Lieberman, on the stump and at a recent speech at Fairfield University on Friday, sounded an awful lot like the White House and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

AFSCME'S delegates were also critical of Lieberman's "lackluster at best" support for the three Democratic candidates challenging Republican incumbents in the state. Those races--and others in the Northeast--are critical if Democrats are to take back the House.

AFSCME's Council 4 represents more than 35,000 state and federal employees. For more on this crucial labor endorsement, read the press release the union issued this morning:

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September 18, 2006
The Nation

Let's talk about Afghanistan, since no one else will. The nation is once again in crisis. The Taliban is resurgent. Opium production is soaring. Suicide bombings are on the rise. And the US and NATO-led coalition is feeling the strain.

Last week, NATO leaders issued an urgent call for more troops to stabilize the country. Thus far only one member of the twenty-six country alliance has offered assistance. The US has more than six times as many troops in Iraq as we do in Afghanistan.

As security takes precedence, reconstruction is halting. Afghanistan's collapse after the mujahideen repelled the invasion of the Soviet Union led to the rise of the Taliban. Another return to lawlessness and extremism would be a disaster for the country and a huge seatback for the US campaign against terrorism. We neglect Afghanistan at our own peril.

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September 18, 2006
The Nation

Conservatives who whine and bray that the media is presenting a distorted picture of the war may be inadvertently correct. Indeed, things are probably worse than even the darkest and most pessimistic reports.

Respected New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins says that Iraq has become so anarchic and dangerous that as much as "98%" of it is now off-limits to reporters.

Even worse, Filkins says, the U.S. military might be similarly isolated and out of touch. His description of the literal small army that the New York Times must deploy just to get minimal reporting done is both mind-boggling and depressing. Imagine a news organization that needs a fleet of armored cars and four-dozen machine-gunners to protect its reporters. Read the details here.

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September 17, 2006
David Corn

Robert Novak was on C-SPAN on Friday, and he took the opportunity to slime me. I don't know what the conservative columnist has against yours truly. Countle...

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September 17, 2006
John Nichols
John Nichols

"... it may, perhaps, on some occasion, be found necessary to impeach the President himself..." -- JAMES MADISON

On Sunday, September 17, I appeared on the National Mall in Washington as part of Camp Democracy's day-long session on impeachment.

Camp Democracy organizer David Swanson's timing was, as always, impeccable.

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John Nichols
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September 15, 2006
The Nation

Former state senator and US Senate candidate Burt Cohen (who currentlyhosts a progressive radio talk show) brings us news of a stunning upset inNew Hampshire's first congressional district. No one thought CarolShea-Porter could beat the well-funded, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-endorsed, middle-of-the-roadcandidate Jim Craig, but she did 54 percent to 35 percent. Her campaign spent about one-fifth of whatthe DCCC candidate spent.

Cohen, who remains cordial with Congressman Jeb Bradley (dating back totheir terms in the state house), reports that Bradley is indeed scared. Fortwo years Shea-Porter, a former social worker, dogged Bradley at townmeetings throughout the district. Focusing her primary campaign on heropposition to the war, Shea-Porter developed a knack for getting underBradley's skin and winning her debate points. He is not surprisingly duckingher challenges to debate. Cohen reports the presidential wannabes nowswarming the Granite State, will be helping--but Shea-Porter's real strengthis an army of grassroots volunteers. Now if she can buy TV ads, many believeshe can win in November.

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