Sunday, January 27, 2008

NY Times looks at FL early voting

The Sunday NY Times has a good rundown of the impact of early voting in Florida this year.

Summary: about 350,000 Democrats did it, and so did about 400,000 Republicans. My conclusion (not the NY Times’): We will have to work hard on this for the November general election. The Republicans still are very good at this important aspect of Get Out The Vote. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida, and we ought to be ahead in early voting.

It’s interesting that we early-voting Dems in Florida already outnumber all the Democrats who voted in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Same for the Republicans. This may not be surprising now, but cast your frame of mind back to before the Iowa caucuses. Were you certain that voting would be heavy? Well, now we are getting used to the idea that our supposedly reluctant voters may actually be inspired – by the candidates, by the war, by the economy – and vote.

And by the way, I just checked and my absentee ballot has been received back at the Miami-Dade Elections Department. Check by logging on to, on the left-hand menu click on Absentee voting, and when prompted enter your zip code and date of birth. Voila.

One point of the Times’ article is that unofficial grass-roots campaigning by backers of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may have boosted the number of early Democrats who voted. Darn, if it hadn’t been for my walking pneumonia, maybe I’d have gotten John Edwards mentioned in that sentence, too. We have been in the Miami Herald and expect to be in there again Tuesday morning.

One of the Times subheads says, “Democrats are turning out despite penalties by the national committee.”

Now I’d like to contrast that with the way the Sunday Miami Herald covered most of two pages with large-type Q-and-A about the early primary. Did any of this explain that the eventual nominee would seat the delegates?

  • In the 4th Q-and-A we read “The Democratic National Committee made Florida forfeit all of its delegates to the nominating convention.”
  • The 6th Q-and-A : “So does this mean Democratic votes won’t count?” “Yes and no.” The votes will be counted and reported. “However the results will not translated into delegates to the nominating convention. So on paper, Florida’s results won’t put the top vote-getter any closer to the nomination.”
  • The 16th Q-and-A: “Will Florida send delegates to the conventions anyway?” “Both state parties plan to send full slates of delegates to the nominating conventions in August and September. Party leaders say they expect the presumptive nominees to pressure party leaders to include the nation’s largest battleground state.”

In other words, readers of the Miami Herald have to be highly persistent to get even a hint that their delegates will be seated at the convention.

I’ll soon get discouraged and give up trying to convince the Herald otherwise. Best I’ve done so far is to get one of them to deny they ever wrote that our votes won’t count.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

South Florida in the next U.S. House of Representatives

I don’t like calling this the Battle of the Titans. It inflates Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Raul Martinez? Well, titan fits him just fine. I’m glad he’s finally in the race, though he will have to endure the slings and arrows of his tiny foe. Just stay calm, and come November, all will be well. Congressional District 21 will be part of a landslide sweep for the Democrats, and we can start to get out of Iraq, enact civilized health care and steer the economy into a green and fair mode. We’ll re-engage with the world community on an honorable basis and forge security alliances based on watchful peace and cooperation.

Let’s pause to bring in Districts 18 and 25, to complete the picture for Miami-Dade County. District 25 will see Joe Garcia, our Democratic Party chairman, running against and defeating Mario Diaz-Balart. In District 18 a new name has emerged, Annette Taddeo, Colombia-born and a successful businesswoman, to take on the ineffective Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo have yet to announce their candidacies, so let’s pause here to have a short talk on the telephone with Annette Taddeo.

First, she’s not announcing. “I am keeping all my options open,” she said.

She loves the district, to which she was brought by Hurricane Andrew. Her parents’ Cutler Ridge home was wrecked by that storm in August 1992. At the time, she had finished college and was planning to start work as an editor in the Spanish language. Instead, she bought a motor home in Alabama, drove it to Miami and parked it in front of her parents’ wrecked home. “We all lived in it for the next six months and I worked to rebuild their house. It was the first home to be finished there.”

Already, I like my new congresswoman. She gets things done. She does not sound like a rubber-stamp representative – that is, NOT like the incumbent.

I’m tempted to ask Annette Taddeo if she’ll be like Ros-Lehtinen and constantly send me franked mail seeking my praise for her exertions on my behalf: She got me $490,000 for Miami Beach pedestrian and bicycle access ways. Yes, but she also voted for torture, for the war in Iraq, for Bush’s vetoes and against SCHIP – all wrong on all the stuff that’s important!

But no, that would be asking Annette Taddeo if she’s running for Congress, and that’s premature to answer.

It’s just as well now to steer away from the telephone transcript and say that I approve of the broad strategy that the Democratic gods are on the verge of using in our county. We’re up against three Cuban American rubber-stamp, hard-line politicians, and what are we about to deploy?

· For District 21: Raul Martinez is an accomplished local leader who was mayor of Hialeah for 24 years, thanks to many Republican voters who love him.

· For District 25: like Martinez, Joe Garcia is Cuban-American; he has a national reputation as a Hispanic political strategist.

· For District 18: Annette Taddeo is President and CEO of LanguageSpeak, Inc, a comprehensive provider of language services, a winner of awards and a civic leader. Check out her official bio (from which I nipped her portrait).

The Republicans are three rubber-stampers; our candidates are a local political genius, a national political genius and a brilliant businesswoman. This is Democratic Party diversity.

Just to depart from South Florida electoral politics for a minute: Today’s NY Times piece on the national mood says that the CBS News/New York Times poll shows we Democrats are so far ahead of the Republicans that it’s beyond funny. That is, if people are asked which party’s presidential candidate they’re likely to vote for in the November election, the results for 2000 and this year are as follows:

· In 2000, “respondents were evenly divided.” (Do you remember how that election turned out?)

· In 2008, “they favored the Democrats by 18 percentage points.”

For some months now I’ve brought up the idea of historic landslide a number of times, always coupled with the admonition that we’ll have to work and donate to make it possible. This 18-point lead is, of course, a national reading and it may not be so strong here in South Florida. Still, what if it’s only a 12-point lead? Does this sweep all our Republican members of the U.S. House out? How hard will we have to concentrate and work to make it happen?

I can only say how pleased I was to walk up to the center of Hialeah Tuesday morning and see a forest of TV-broadcast towers and trucks at City Hall – formally, the Raul L. Martinez Government Center. The lavish media coverage of Raul Martinez’ announcement and the hysterical Republican responses are in stunning contrast with the non-coverage that the media gave to the Democratic candidates in 2006. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Video on Raul Martinez announcing

Monday, January 21, 2008

More good video, This from Plum

Too good to be true

Overheard: Raul Martinez announcing candidacy Tuesday in Hialeah

Keep those ears open, folks. I heard today that Raul Martinez will announce his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday morning in Hialeah. Venue: city hall.

This will start a heavy ball rolling in Florida politics, like the powerful inevitability in those Indiana Jones movies when the huge rock starts rolling down the chute. Look out, Republicans! It’s the time of the new broom.

The first to be swept will be Lincoln Diaz-Balart, currently misrepresenting Congressional District 21. The wave will rise out of Hialeah, where Raul Martinez was mayor for many terms – a Democrat beloved by Republican voters – and Lincoln will be sent to retirement.

Then, soon but I don’t know when, Joe Garcia, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, will announce for Congressional District 25, and incumbent Mario Diaz-Balart will hear the knell of electoral doom.

And then, I don’t know when and haven’t heard who, someone with a lady’s name and a Latino background will announce for District 18, and we’ll see the end of too many terms in Congress for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

This will be South Florida’s contribution to the landslide in Congress that will support the Democrat who will be elected president in November. We can look forward to – well, I’d like to say it will be Paradise, but I’m afraid it will be Hell for a couple years trying to unstick us from the war in Iraq, to reapply for honorable membership in the world community and to wrench the economy over onto a track that benefits all while cleaning up the environment.

There’s a mission statement.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Florida somehow: A primary too early, but campaigning soon to get official

I'm at an early voting site in Miami Beach, the North Shore Regional Library, early Monday

A few weeks ago the Miami Herald was opining that the Florida primary vote wouldn’t count. To HELL with a newspaper’s civic responsibility! Citizens, don’t bother to vote. But that changed. I guess Florida’s flagship newspaper noticed that their darling, Rudy Giuliani, wouldn’t get his anticipated boost from Florida’s primary if the vote doesn’t count.

So the political tune has a new verse, and its title is “Florida still critical for Democrats.” That was the lead headline in Sunday’s Miami Herald, Jan. 13. Flip to the jump inside, and the headline is “Florida is pivotal in general election.” (Don’t ask how they leaped from the impending primary election to the November general election.) Nice photo there of my friend Big Dave Patlak and his wife Maryanne with a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama and a delighted passerby as if they’re doing a honk-and-wave – all gracing a long story to the effect that there is no official campaigning by the candidates in Florida, but it’ll count anyway. Bigtime. Somehow.

We have 10 million registered voters and a primary on Jan. 29. The problem is that the Republican-dominated state legislature passed legislation putting the 2008 primary ahead of the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday – flouting rules of both parties – thereby screwing us addled beach bums out of our seats at the national nominating conventions. Except the rules will change by the time of the conventions. And we’ll be seated. Somehow.

We have a history in Florida of mangling elections, and this is Chapter Umpteen. Plus, we’re already voting: Our early voting started on Monday Jan. 14. I’ll put up a photo of myself trying a honk-and-wave at the early-voting site near my addled beach home. You’ll see that I’m for John Edwards. I even went to Iowa, my birth state, and campaigned for him before the caucuses. Now I’m on a steering committee helping to organize grass-roots campaigning in South Florida – alas, no cardboard cutout of JRE, but we’re doing the best we can. Unofficially. Somehow.

I’m glad we already started, because the pressure is building to let the Democratic campaigns wash over Florida like Global Warming in Al Gore’s wet dream.

My little steering committee is begging John Edwards’ campaign to come and do (permitted under the rules) fund-raisers in Florida. I should know, I wrote the news release and the DailyKos diary about it.

Hillary Clinton is about to do Florida fund-raisers after the Jan. 26 South Carolina primary, and the Obama campaign is complaining loudly. Funny, but wasn’t that Barack Obama raising money like gangbusters in Florida back in the summer? Including a rally for 2,000 people in Miami’s Little Havana to benefit the local Democratic Party? I should know, I wrote some of the news releases for that and organized the media as best I could. Even the Wall Street Journal covered that event – but it wasn’t campaigning, just a little fund-raising.

Others have noticed the logic of campaigning in Florida. Here’s the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial of a few days ago urging the national parties to let up on Florida:

The surprising results and record turnouts in Iowa and New Hampshire show this year's presidential race has lit a fire among voters. So why would national party bosses, of all people, want to pour cold water on that fire in Florida?

Indeed. I saw the enthusiasm in Iowa. Trying to get to a caucus site in Waterloo, where I was working for Edwards, I found myself in a huge traffic jam, and like hundreds of others I never got to the site. They couldn’t caucus; I couldn’t observe, though the view was good when I got to the Irish bar downtown and watched C-span with a jar of well-tended Guinness in hand.

A break here to defend Iowa. The newspapers all call it overwhelmingly white, and therefore, sort of, unAmerican. Well, the Democratic side of the Iowa equation is NOT overwhelmingly white. Maybe the Republicans are, but the Democrats in Iowa are more concentrated in the strongly industrial cities in the east, like Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Dubuque (where I was born), some with sizeable minority populations. I’m not saying it’s like Birmingham, just not lily white. Waterloo has several Mexican restaurants and groceries. And Iowa is where I went on my first civil rights marches, in the late ‘50s, so I like to think Iowans have their hearts in the right place in as high a proportion as anywhere in this country. And their reps in the U.S. House are four Democrats and one Republican, with a Democratic governor. What’s yours, progressive Florida? A lot of ground to make up, huh? Well, Florida and Iowa are tied in the U.S. Senate with one each of Republican and Democrat. The Iowa climate is ahead of Florida’s in suitability for having the occasional jar of Guinness. Enough. Not talking here about the perils of glaze ice on the Waterloo driveway.

Back to voter enthusiasm. It’s cooking in Florida. On Monday over 20,000 Democrats used the early-voting privilege, topping Republican turnout by about 3,000. Democrats also are cutting into the usual Republican advantage in absentee voting. Read about it here on the Democratic Party web site. They’re forecasting almost a doubling of the Democratic absentee vote.

Does that sound like Iowa? Yes, Iowa Democrats also came out in almost double their numbers from the previous cycle. That amounted to about 240,000, while in Florida, maybe one million Democrats will vote. That’s to admire and strive for, to campaign for. And that’s why this observer and participant expects campaigning to start to look almost official in the next week.

Footnote: this analysis doesn’t apply to the Republicans, who are campaigning in Florida like no tomorrow. As usual, they don’t care about rules.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Great piece in the Miami Herald online about Guantanamo Demo

Talent at work

The newspaper industry, which loves to give itself awards, needs to set up a category for multimedia stuff, and I’m making a nomination:

Ricardo Lopez of the Miami Herald for his piece on the Jan. 11 demonstration to close Guantanamo and stop torture. I was there, and his report is terrific. The photo above is mine, and no awards are contemplated for it.

Dems also violate the rules on political money

I missed this story from earlier this week – the wrapup of that small fuss that arose during the 2006 election season over dubious fundraising by OUR side. Seems some money is being paid out in fines.

It makes me wonder about our laws. Shouldn't it be clear that it's wrong to do something? If we need a lawyer standing over us all the time to advise whether some action is legal or not, have we not made life too complicated? Take a browse through the Florida election laws: Title IX, Chapters 97-106, 126 pages of rather small print. Got it memorized? Now you can think about running for office or giving/accepting campaign contributions.

I have to confess that sometimes I'm over there on the Ron Paul side of things -- Get out of my life, big government! And stop changing the laws all the time. Get it right and stop fiddling! It's the wet dream of the prison-building industry: people going to jail all the time for violating laws they didn't know existed.

While I'm unloading: Miami Beach city commissioners are also guilty of too much fiddling when they (unanimously!) ban restaurants from displaying their dishes. Geez, go back to telling us what color we can paint our houses. And I voted for most of these meddlers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Take 2 on: Diaz-Balart may face challenger

Over at one of my favorite web sites,, they're making fun of Lincoln Diaz-Balart -- differently from the take I posted a couple days ago. Here's what they're saying:

This is big. A secret plot has just been discovered by South Florida Republicans on the possibility that they may face challenges in their re-election bids. That’s right, three South Florida Representatives are going to face Democratic challengers in US House elections and they have lots of evidence to prove it. From the Miami Herald:

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart points to a trade publication article as evidence of a Democratic plan to unseat him and two other Republican Cuban-American members of Congress…

I find it funny how Lincoln portrays this as an evil plan to take “his” seat, to “unseat him.” He’s out of touch just like about every other Republican. I think he’s going to learn in this election that he doesn’t own this seat, it belongs to the constituents he’s supposed to represent. The voters will choose who they want to serve them and not have it designated down from the lobbyists and insiders in Washington. I mean “evidence of a Democratic plan,” what’s he talking about here? This is the first time, in America, I’ve ever heard of running candidates in an election being treated as some kind of terrible act, like a secret plot. Hilarious.

But wait, there’s more. There’s going to be Three Top-Secret Plans to run candidates in US Elections.

”For the first time, we’re going to have two very viable candidates running against Lincoln and Mario,” Fernández told Cuba News.

“As important as Washington, D.C., is, if we want real change, it has to come from South Florida. Once we knock off one or both of these guys, things will start changing.”

Mario Díaz-Balart’s potential opponent, according to Democratic sources, would be Joe García, Miami-Dade County’s Democratic Party chief.

Ros-Lehtinen remains unopposed but Fernández is quoted in CubaNews as saying, “Trust me, all three will be challenged.”

How dare we have elections! What kind of Democratic Party are we now?! Don’t we know we’re just supposed to give them a free ride?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Herald: Diaz-Balart may face challenger

It's tempting to rip into the Miami Herald for the headline above. Hey, that's perceptive. But no, let's look at the content.

There’s a sophomoric debating tactic called “the straw man.” The debater attempts to destroy the opponent’s argument by describing it as something different from what it really is, and defeating that (the fallacious straw man) rather than what the opponent actually argues.

We see this in Wednesday’s Miami Herald, back in the local section, where U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) declares that the Democrats want to defeat him and his two cohorts in order to “improve relations with Cuba,” especially to get rid of the embargo.

Oh yeah? What about torture? The war in Iraq? SCHIP? We want someone with political courage to represent us in Washington, not a rubber-stamp. Someone intelligent and wise and future-oriented, not stuck in the past. Someone with true compassion, not the conservative lip-serving compassion. Someone who would complain about “signing statements” that eviscerate legislation. Someone who would save our environment, not pave it over. Yes, let’s have a reasonable Cuba policy, but that’s somewhere down in the lower half of our long list of complaints.

So, Mr. Congressman, your straw man is laid bare. And by the way, you confirmed our suspicions as to how you will campaign: with sophomoric debating tactics. Thank you for telegraphing your punch, which is a sophomoric boxing tactic.

We’ll assume that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and your brother Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) will be using the same tactics.

Become a delegate: You WILL be counted

Now it's becoming clear, despite all the Republican misleading. Florida's Jan. 29 primary will have a strong effect on choosing the Democratic nominee for president, and that person will see that Florida's delegates will be welcome at the national convention.

With that in mind, the Miami-Dade Democratic Party wishes to remind that it is time to apply to become a delegate to the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver. Here are the guidelines:
  • Deadline to apply is Noon Jan. 29, the date of the primary.
  • Download application forms from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party web site or the Florida Democratic Party web site
  • Complete and notarize the loyalty oath, submit the forms to the party.
  • Registered Democrats are eligible.
  • Delegates will be elected at caucuses in each congressional district on Saturday March 1.
  • Florida has a total of 210 delegates and 31 alternates.
    Forms can be mailed to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, 1200 NW 78th Ave. Suite 214, Doral FL 33126. Call 305 477-4994 with questions.

The mixed results from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary have awakened even the political reporters at the Miami Herald, whose analysis in Wednesday's paper predicts that Florida will be a "battleground few expected." Well, they didn't expect it. They were telling people their votes wouldn't count. The Florida Democratic Party, meanwhile, beseeched people to vote on Jan. 29 - on the referendum questions, as well as on the presidential primary. But many Floridians did not heed that message and fell for the argument that Florida's delegates would not be seated at the National Convention in Denver because the primary date was too early.

True, it is earlier than permitted. However, here is reality: Once the nominee is known, which may be soon after the nationwide primaries of Feb. 5, that person becomes head of the party with authority to waive rules and seat contested delegations. Voila, Florida's delegates will have full voting powers. Can anyone imagine that a candidate for president would snub Florida?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Why we need new members of Congress

Traveling lets you learn stuff. One way I try to accomplish that is by buying the local newspaper when I’m on the road and stopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I get hit by a stab of envy when I see that the other town has a better deal going than my town.

This happened the other day when I pulled off I-65 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, found a motel and a restaurant, and I perused the Louisville Courier-Journal over a meal.

Front-page headline: “Bridges’ finance plan OK’d.”

First paragraph: “The federal government has approved a plan to pay for the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project, clearing the way for Kentucky and Indiana to start construction this year.”

Stab of envy arose: I have closely followed the Everglades Skyway Project to build one measly bridge on a part of the Tamiami Trail and thereby help restore natural water flow in the Everglades. This eminently fine idea is going nowhere because there’s supposedly no money in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget to build it.

So, I ask, how is it that Kentucky and Indiana raise a ton of federal money for their dang bridges? When they seem to have little plan for how to raise their share? And how is it that we here in South Florida, with the only Everglades in the known universe, have spent a lot of state money on restoring the Everglades but can’t get federal money?

Answer: We have feeble members of Congress, who may say they love the Everglades, but they’re not delivering. I’m referring, of course, to the infamous Republican trio of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FK-25), who were in the majority in the U.S. House from 1994 until recently but haven’t done jack when it comes down to important stuff for the ages.

Solution: New members of Congress. Brilliant.

Here are links to the Courier-Journal's articles of last Friday Jan 4 and Sunday Jan 6. For good measure, here's one on Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign treasury of $11 million. Finally, here's one on a Democrat announcing to run against an incumbent Republican member of Congress -- in Kentucky, unfortunately.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How bad things are, and what needs to be done

The following is from an editorial in the NY Times, emailed by a friend, and it summarizes pretty well why I'm politically active these days (in frozen Iowa trying to get a new Democrat into the presidency):

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country.
Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some
of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of
prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes
of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of
the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the
Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we've felt this horror, this
sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has
become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened
by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there
is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot
that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals,
that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals
are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America's position
of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and
treaties, sullied America's global image, and trampled on the constitutional
pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and
challenging times. These policies have fed the world's anger and alienation and
have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually
humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been
punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen
mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen
the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own
citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping
phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government's top lawyers huddled in
secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to
circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow
Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to
abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for
abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn't go just a bit too
far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national
unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more
power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time
fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others
determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq,
were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could
claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with
no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence
and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not
permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where "high-value detainees" were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that "experts" could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush's two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.