Is next week’s presidential election outcome already under the cloud of fraud?

There are already so many anecdotal tales that it makes us all wonder, “What exactly is going on out there?”

Here are just a few reports/tales/rumors:

• In New York City - Manhattan, to be exact - supposedly there are 45,000 registered voters who also vote in Florida!

• In Florida, a regular and reliable reader wrote to me to report that in the Early Voting system, he has 8 voting centers in his area. He says he could go to all 8 and vote in each place without the others even knowing about it!

• In Ohio it has been widely reported than in 5 counties there are more registered voters than there are people actually living in those counties!

• In North Carolina there are supposedly tens of thousands of voters who are also registered to vote in South Carolina.

• In Miami it has been reported that 60,000 absentee ballots have been mailed out - but never arrived at the voters’ homes! (The board of elections is today calling and Fedexing these people to get their ballots to them. But would they have addressed this massive mistake without media attention?)

• In Pennsylvania, state prisoners can vote but our soldiers overseas had their absentee ballots mailed to them too late by the county boards of elections. The state refuses to extend the counting deadline so most of the soldiers’ votes will not be counted! In other words, prisoners can vote but soldiers don’t count.

• MSNBC ran an online poll earlier this week. The question was: “Do you believe the votes will be counted honestly next week?” The answers: 34% Yes; 64% No. In other words, two out of three Americans do not have faith that our election next week is on the up and up. (Granted, this was an online poll - not a scientific poll.)

But the point is clear: in the aftermath of 2000 and the Florida Fiasco, there is growing doubt about the honesty of our election system - and there is also perhaps some huge fraud going on, too.

This must be addressed - and fixed - before we descend into the chaotic morass of a banana republic.

How do we fix it?

1) After this election, we need a bipartisan federal commission - with subpoena power - to investigate every single one of these so-far unproven reports/tales/rumors.

2) In instances where voters are knowingly double-voting, i.e. voting twice in New York and Florida - those voters should be prosecuted and punished according to the law.

3) Cheaters such as this should be made an example of. So, too, should campaign officials who had any role in any fraudulent voting activity.

4) White states run their own elections, the feds do have the right to set certain standards for federal elections. Perhaps those standards need to be tightened up.

Conclusion: if the results of American elections are not considered reliable and honest, then the moral leadership of our country is gone.

We must restore the integrity of our elections.

Only then will the integrity of out elected officials also be credible.


With one week to go and tons of reports of potential post-Election Day litigation, multiple ‘Floridas,’ and each party engaging thousands of lawyers, one thing is clear: for the sake of our country - and the new President - we need to know for certain on Election Night who was cleanly and clearly elected.

Ever since the 2000 Florida fiasco, President GW Bush has been running a nation in which 50% of the voters believed he was an illegitimately elected president. And that doubt and cynicism of his right to rule has undercut him for most of the past 4 years.

True, 9/11 temporarily erased that stigma. In the wake of that awful day, the President saw his approval rating soar to an astounding 89% - surpassed only by his father’s 91% after the successful 1991 Gulf War. But Mr. Bush then took that newfound sense of national unity and re-divided the nation on the War in Iraq.

The failure to find WMD - the stated premise of the invasion - undercut the President’s credibility to such a degree that he is today struggling to defeat the most liberal of all 100 senators in a nation that has never been more conservative politically.

The country is divided right down the middle with that same 50% again doubting Mr. Bush’s legitimacy.

Next Tuesday is our next opportunity to expunge ourselves of this doubt, this wonderment over whether our president is really the choice of the American people.

We desperately need - and so does next Tuesday’s winner - a clear and definitive outcome so that the new President can run the country with a sense of unity and cohesiveness.

And the world needs to know, too, that we are led by a legitimately elected representative of the American people. That way, when the President speaks the world knows he indeed speaks for America.

As Americans we have always come together after elections and supported the President - even if we did not vote for him. But when voters doubt the legitimacy of the outcome then that bond between the American people and the President is shattered.

Over the weekend MSNBC ran one of their online polls asking, “Do you think the votes will be counted honestly or not?”

A shocking 64% said, “No.” Only 36% thought the result would be tabulated honestly.

These numbers - although not a scientific poll - reflect a deep-seeded cynicism about our voting mechanics and procedures.

And if there is doubt about the results - especially among two thirds of the people - then we are rapidly descending into the neighborhood of a banana republic.

That is why we need a clear winner - with no doubt - next Tuesday night.

One other note: preliminary data from Early Voting in 30 states is beginning to support the Passion Differential theory written about in this space many times this year. The Passion Differential is the difference between the white-hot anti-Bush sentiment and the pro-Bush sentiment.

The Passion Differential posits that if Bush and Kerry are tied going into Election Day then Kerry will win because of this differential in who votes. The Democrats - still convinced the Bushes “stole” the 2000 election in Florida - are out for ‘political payback’ this year. And they will stream to the polls.

So far the turnout of Early Voting seems to bear this theory out. In Florida, for example, the Early Voting turnout in Democratic areas is substantially higher than in 2000 while the GOP turnout in their areas is slightly down from 4 years ago.

Indeed, we have a long 8 days to go, but could this be proof of the Passion Differential in play?

Whatever the causes and motivations, we all need - as Americans - a clear winner with no doubt about the outcome next Tuesday night.


In this week’s Sunday New York Times cover story on President Bush’s reliance on his religious faith, author Ron Suskind has unearthed a recent statement by the President that in a second term he is “going to privatize Social Security.”

Yesterday the Kerry Campaign seized upon this statement and by last night was already running TV commercials slamming Bush for wanting to “cut Social Security by 35-40%.” And Kerry himself has incorporated this into his basic stump speech.

From a strictly political point of view - and not from an economic basis - the Bush desire to keep talking during a campaign about privatizing Social Security is totally suicidal.

Not for nothing is this sensitive issue called the ‘Third Rail of American politics.’

Four years ago Mr. Bush pulled the same tactic. At that time I wrote the same thing: the political costs of bringing this issue up in the final stages of a campaign far outweigh the negligible benefits. (Many readers objected to my column. But history showed that in areas with strong senior citizen populations - Florida and Pennsylvania - Mr. Bush lost a whopping 25% of his vote in the last week of the campaign.)

I am not arguing that Social Security doesn’t need to be fixed; I am saying that bringing it up in the final 2 weeks of a campaign simply hands tons of ammo to Kerry and the Democrats who are dying to have a new line of attack against President Bush.

Who exactly does Bush think he is going to get to vote for him who otherwise would not have voted for him? The ones most keen on Social Security Reform are members of the so-called ‘Investor Class’ - a group overwhelmingly pro-Bush already.

On the other end of the equation - seniors - are apoplectic over anything that even hints of cutting their fixed Social Security income payments. And these voters vote in extraordinarily high percentages. Many are already wary of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit - and now this ‘privatizing’ Social Security just spooks them even more.

Seniors in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona could be the very voting bloc that decides this presidential election. And now Bush has handed Kerry a potent weapons for the final two weeks.

One other point today: for almost a year this column has focused on the Passion Differential - that gap between those voters who have a white-hot hatred for Bush versus the pro-Bush forces. This differential - not John Kerry or much that he says or does - will determine the winner on November 2.

We can already see signs that this differential may be happening: huge last-minute registration of new voters is occurring across the nation - especially in Democratic areas. Election offices are so swamped that they have to hire new temporary workers to process all the new applicants.

Funded by the DNC and George Soros, the Democrats have done politics the old fashioned way: they have gone out and identified Democrats who aren’t registered and thus did not vote in 2000. They are Iding each and every one of these potential Kerry voters, registering them and you can bet they’ll get them to the polls on November 2.

The GOP has always done a much, much better job of this grass-roots registration and get-out-the-vote program. So the upside for the GOP is much less; we already have these voters registered and voting.

If Kerry goes into Election Day tied, he will win based on this Passion Differential. And we will know it by noon or so when we see lines in Democratic areas - Cleveland, Philadelphia, Madison, Minneapolis and Miami - around the block.


After each of the three presidential debates - including last night’s - various news organizations have posted ‘online polling sites’ for any of us to go online and ‘vote’ for the winner.

Have you been paying attention to these?

Have you voted and seen the constantly updating results?

In every one of these after each debate - and the vice presidential one, too the results have Kerry swamping Bush. Often the margin is about 80%-20%.

Yes, pro-Kerry ‘voters’ are being directed by the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry Campaign to ‘vote’ on these sites in order to generate a positive ‘Kerry Wins Debate’ story for the next news cycle. That is obvious.

But here is something curious: why isn’t the Bush Campaign and the RNC doing the same thing?

Why are the Republicans ceding this news headline to the Democrats and thus helping them create a positive ‘spin’ for Kerry?

As former Howard Dean campaign manager and Internet political guru Joe Trippi said last Friday on MSNBC, “The Bush Campaign boasts of having an email list of 7.5 million supporters. Why aren’t those people ‘voting’ as pro-Kerry supports are?”

Does this refusal of pro-Bush supporters to bother to ‘vote’ in these online polls presage a lethargy on November 2 when the real voting takes place?

That may be the significance of the Kerry online post-debate ‘victories.’

The PASSION DIFFERENTIAL is the key to this race: that is the difference between the white-hot anti-Bush voters and forces versus the pro-Bush side.

Kerry is riding a wave of hatred/loathing/disdain/disgust of GW Bush that is causing unprecedented new levels of registration all over the country. All accounts so far are of a disproportionate Democratic tide of new registrants for this election. Logic tells us that the DNC and George Soros-paid-for registration effort will be followed by a massive and efficient get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day. Otherwise, why go to the expense and effort of getting new registrants at all?

This anti-Bush fervor is exemplified with the zeal with which these people hop online and begin ‘voting’ right after each debate.

Worrisome for the pro-Bush side is repeated ‘losses’ in these otherwise meaningless polls - coupled with a much less successful job of registering new GOP voters.

Indeed, there is inside the GOP base a certain small - but significant - fraction of previous Bush voters who will not vote for him this time. Just that subtraction of 1% or 2% of his 2000 vote could cost him the election this time.

That is why these online ‘polls’ may be a leading indicator of trouble looming on Election Day for the Bush-Cheney campaign.


The sad, sad death of Christopher Reeve - the “Superman” actor who became a quadriplegic 9 years ago - again makes us wonder, “Why does God allow such suffering? Is there a higher purpose to it? What is the lesson to be learned?”

Sixteen long years ago my older brother had a similar disastrous accident, broke his neck - and many other bones - and became a quadriplegic. He is still alive - thank God.

Along with our mother, I have run his care for all those 16 years - and it is not easy.

The collective suffering among the family is too often ignored. And the patient’s suffering is transferred into his loved ones.

After you get through all the medical problems and the financial ones, too (they are many!), you have to draw back and ask, “Why?”

Why do these things happen?

Is it simply a random case of bad luck?

Or is it meant to lead us to a new level of awareness?

In Christopher Reeve’s case, he is a true American hero because he used his immense suffering combined with his celebrity status to lead the charge for more medical research for spinal cord injuries. Up until about 15 years ago, this was a dead-end medical field. Bright, young, up-and-coming scientists were choosing other fields of medical science to explore and thus not much progress had been made.

But today spinal cord research is a “hot”area of research now - in no small measure thanks to Chris Reeve.

Perhaps God selected this brave young man - who He knew could withstand the suffering of the injury and the subsequent depression - to ‘teach’ the world about these damn injuries.
In the United States alone each year there are more than 10,000 new spinal injury cases. Each one is a devastating tragedy with huge consequences mushrooming throughout a community of people. The family, the nurses and doctors, other care-givers - even carpenters and plumbers and home-builders who often have to renovate bathrooms, ramps, floors and doorways. And none of this takes into account the financial cost - to someone: the family, the insurance companies, and charities who pitch in.

The bottom line of it all: we must cure spinal cord injuries - along with many other disastrous afflictions like MS, Parkinsons’, Cystic Fybrosis, ALS and many, many others.

The key to finding cures?

Yes, money is one. But so, too, is prayer. Prayer not only for the victims and all who are affected, but also prayer for those searching for scientific progress. Cures do not often come in one fell swoop; instead they are incremental - bit by bit.

Christopher Reeve is with God today. We all should pray for his family - and for his soul up in Heaven.

But we should also thank God for using Christopher to help ‘teach’ the world that spinal cord research must be a top priority. Yes, he played ‘Superman’ in the movies, but he was much more heroic when serving a Big Plan to help so many suffering people.


1) Who won last night’s debate?

Victory is in the eye of the beholder. If you liked Cheney going in you still like him today; the same applies for Edwards.

Both scored points - and both did their political job: attacking the top of the other ticket.

Dick Cheney went after John Kerry as a flip-flopper and a lefty on national defense much more effectively than did GW Bush last week.

Edwards simply echoed Kerry’s lines from last week - because polls show those lines are working.

2) Did last night have any effect on the campaign?

Probably not. All the focus has already shifted back to anticipation of Friday night’s presidential debate.

Friday night is critical for the Bush campaign. Another lame performance could be devastating to the Bush Campaign. Even one sight of pique or cockiness will be magnified by the media.

Expect the audience to ask pretty tough questions of both candidates. Kerry can handle them because he’s been getting attacked all year during his primaries. The question is: can Bush suppress his temper and keep a nice smile plastered on his face for 90 minutes even when he is ticked off?

3) Bremer and Rumsfeld: these two have gone a long way toward discrediting Bush/Cheney at the key moment of the campaign!

Bremer’s admission that we did not originally have enough troops in Iraq to maintain order is a devastating indictment of Bush’s conduct of Iraq - right at the crucial time of the campaign!

And Rummy’s claim that he has seen no evidence linking Saddam to Al Qaeda also completely undecuts Bush and Cheney - and gives Kerry new ammo for the final weeks of the campaign including - Friday night.

What were these two thinking anyway?

4) State of the race today: the campaign is basically tied. The final debates are big - especially for the loser of either because he won’t have much time to clean up his mistakes.

Bush has squandered his lead but is still probably ahead marginally.

Kerry has a bit of upward momentum. And if he is tied going into Election Day he will win because of the huge increases in Democratic registration and the ‘Passion Differential.’


There is an old sports axiom: You play in the game the way you practice.

This also applies to other things, including presidential debates.

The more you practice, the better you get also applies here.

Last August - while getting savaged by the Swift Boat Vet advertisements - Kerry was hunkered down on Nantucket Island doing what? Debate preparation! And that was before any agreement had even been reached to have any debates!

In other words, Team Kerry knew that these debates - especially the first one with its build-up and curiosity factor - was going to be a potential turning point in this campaign.

Thus, he was focused, ready, crisp and totally prepared for every eventuality.

Team Bush, on the other hand, is now revealing some troubling facts: according to White House sources on TV Saturday morning: during the debate prep sessions the week before, the Bush staff fired off tough questions at the President to get him ready. He did not like this. And he often expressed his displeasure with flashes of facial anger and grimaces. The staff repeatedly warned him to assume TV cameras would be focused on him despite the 32-page agreement prohibiting ‘reaction shots.’ (Please note that the TV networks were not a party to this agreement.)

Bush performed in the debates exactly as he had in the practice debates. Those flashes of anger and facial expressions have cost Bush dearly.

In the past, GW Bush was always a disciplined campaigner and debater. Opponent were often frustrated by their inability to get him “off-message.”

Not last Thursday!

Bush was an undisciplined, meandering, inarticulate shell of a major political candidate.

Indeed, he, too, performed in the ‘game’ the way he practiced.

And now that his staff is leaking about his own failure to heed their admonishments, Team Bush is showing a measure of internal panic. Plus, the Bush Family hate leaks. So that is also now a factor internally in the dynamic of a reeling campaign.

Now, looking ahead to this weeks two debates:

1) Veep debate: Cheney is going to try to rebut Kerry’s successful debate performance last week. He is going to try to do what Bush failed to do: paint the Kerry record as weak and vacillating.

Edwards, on the other hand, is going to rip Cheney up and down - always with a smile -just as he did as a trial attorney going after a ‘corrupt corporate CEO.’

Edwards has a free ride in this debate. He can’t be hurt by relentlessly attacking Cheney; only the GOP base likes Cheney and they aren’t going to ever vote for Edwards anyway.

Edwards can help his ticket - and his own political future - by tearing Cheney apart as a corrupt Big Oil businessman who rigged government contracts (Halliburton) for his old company and even had close ties (Enron) with the other biggest evil corporation of the decade.

2) Friday night’s Presidential ‘Town Hall’ in St. Louis: GW Bush must realize that he is under the gun. One facial expression that is ‘off,’ one grimace or flash of annoyance and the media will crucify him. Plus, you can bet that the audience will be ‘packed’ with pro-Kerry voters who will ask Bush some tough questions.

Team Bush cannot afford another disastrous debate performance; they need a tie at least to forestall the pro-Kerry momentum now sweeping the country.

One other item: the New York Times is reporting unprecedented voter registration numbers in many key states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and others. Most seem to be in pro-Democratic areas.

This could lead to a phenomenon on Election Day: a huge turnout - especially among anti-Bush voters.

Kerry’s debate-driven resurgence has given those anti-Bush forces real hope that he can win.

Team Bush better realize they are now in trouble and can ill afford any more example of an undisciplined candidate acting peevish and petulant.


Objective analysis of last night’s debate:

1) President Bush continued a strange pattern of coming up ‘tired’ and oddly ‘passive’ in major media appearances this year: A) a weak State of the Union address in January; B) A subdued Meet the Press performance with Tim Russert in the Oval Office in the winter; and C) a surprisingly ineffective major speech on the War in Iraq at the Army War College at Carlyle, Pennsylvania.

Now, he did give a damn good nomination speech at the Republican National Convention and he has been strong on the campaign stump ever since.

But last night he was not “on his game” at all - and thus resumes another ‘disturbing pattern’:

2) From a purely political point of view, the Bush Campaign should have primed Bush to “finish Kerry off” last night. In other words, when you have your opponent down on the canvas, knock the hell out of him and finish the job once and for all!

In 2000, Gore squandered a similar chance in September to put Bush away. He didn’t - and thus lost the election.

This summer - after his Boston Convention - Kerry held an 8-point lead over Bush and went out on the road. What happened? He sat on his lead and allowed the Swift Boat ads to crucify him. Suddenly Bush was back in the game and soon leading the race.

Then came last night. With Bush ahead in all polls going into the debate - and with Democrats ‘demoralized’ over Kerry’s lackluster campaign appearances - Bush had his one chance to finish Kerry off and perhaps win in a landslide on November 2.

Instead, he came up oddly passive, halting, washed out and - by his own staff’s admission - ‘tired.’

His staff is attributing this fatigue to the emotionally draining visit to Hurricane Jeanne survivors in Stuart yesterday morning. Whatever caused it, the White House staff simply cannot allow the President of the United States to look tired and thus annoyed by his opponent’s attacks.

In this space I have previously written that any President has a hard time prepping for contentious debates because of the deference shown to a President by his staff. And you could see the result last night: Kerry was used to attacks because of the dozens of Democratic debates held during the past year while the President clearly looked ticked off at Kerry’s unrelenting attacks on the Bush record. (This may be why the Bush forces tried to eliminate ‘reaction shots’ as part of the ridiculous 32-page debate agreement. The networks were not a party to that agreement; the reaction shots are often more telling that the questions and answers.)

3) Kerry’s supporters are re-energized. Going into last night they were fearful of a trouncing on November 2. Today they believe the next 4 weeks may count for something.

The Bush forces are not daunted by last night - but the next two debates are now even more important because everyone will be wondering how the President will look and act. Will he look less tired? Will he be more aggressive?

Prediction: Bush will be much better next Friday night precisely because the first debate was good ‘prep’ for him. The more you debate, the better you get.

Overall prediction: the race is now going to tighten a bit. How much? A bit. Kerry has reversed his downward momentum. Whether he can generate upward momentum is the next question.

But this race is not over.

And Kerry can and will win if he goes into Election Day tied. In that case, the “Passion Differential’ - more ‘anti-Bush sentiment’ driving voters to the polls than ‘pro-Bush’ sentiment - will propel Kerry to a narrow victory.

The Bush Campaign needs to make sure his lead holds up - and they go into Election Day at least 3-5 points ahead.

This race has a long, long way to go.