Eat At Joes

Just a regular Joe who is angry that the USA, the country he loves, is being corrupted and damaged from within and trying to tell his fellow Americans the other half of the story that they don’t get on the TV News.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Friday, October 22, 2004

In New Mexico E-Voting Machines Rigged to Score Votes for Kerry as Votes for Bush

Early voters in New Mexico are finding that even if they vote for John Kerry the Electronic Voting Machines are recording it as a vote for Bush. Read this article in which a number of voters tried over and over again to vote for Kerry only to have the machine record their votes as votes for Bush. Imagine that. These E-Vote Companies are run by Republicans, and somehow they record Kerry's votes as Bush votes. Anyone who doesn't catch it will have their vote cast for a candidate they didn't intend. Meaning George W. Bush. There were no reported occurrences of Bush votes being scored for Kerry. The head of Deibold the largest manufacturer of these machines said to a group of GOP supporters of Bush that he was going to make sure that Bush got as many votes as possible. Now we know how.

Bush supporters are wildly misinformed

A distilled version of my last post found here and below:

– 75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

– 74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.

– 72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.

– 72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.

– 69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

– 61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.

– 60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

– 58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.

– 57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.

– 56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.

– 55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

– 51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.

– 20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

(Program on International Policy Attitudes)


I would add that they also still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but that would be petty, wouldn't it?

Bush's Lies Work!!! Three out of four self-described supporters of President George W Bush still believe pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam was involved with September 11

Online article here.

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (IPS) - Three out of four self-described supporters of President George W Bush still believe pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or active programmes to produce them, and that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein gave "substantial support" to al-Qaeda terrorists, according to a survey released Thursday.

Moreover, as many or more Bush supporters hold those beliefs today than they did several months ago, before the publication of a series of well-publicised official government reports that debunked both notions.

Those are among the most striking findings of the survey, which was conducted in mid-October by the University of Maryland's Programme on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm.

The survey, which polled the views of nearly 900 randomly chosen respondents equally divided between Bush supporters and those intending to vote for Democratic Senator John Kerry in November's presidential election, found a yawning gap in the world views, particularly as regards pre-war Iraq, between the two groups.

"It is normal during elections for supporters of presidential candidates to have fundamental disagreements about values or strategies," said an analysis produced by PIPA.

But "the current election is unique in that Bush supporters and Kerry supporters have profoundly different perceptions of reality. In the face of a stream of high-level assessments about pre-war Iraq, Bush supporters cling to the refuted beliefs that Iraq had WMD or supported al-Qaeda."

Indeed, the only issue on which the survey found broad agreement between the two sets of voters was on the question of whether the administration itself actively propagated the misconceptions about Iraq's WMD and connections to al-Qaeda.

"One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these (erroneous) beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them," noted PIPA Director Steven Kull. "Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree."

The survey also found a major gap between Bush's stated positions on a number of international issues and what his supporters believe that position to be. A strong majority of Bush backers believe, for example, that the president supports a range of global treaties and institutions, which he is actually on record as opposing.

On pre-war Iraq, the survey asked each respondent questions about WMD and links to al-Qaeda on three levels: 1) what the respondents themselves believed about the two issues; 2) what they believed "most experts" had concluded about them; and 3) what they believed the Bush administration was saying about them.

The survey found 72 percent of Bush supporters believe either that Iraq had actual WMD (47 percent) or a major programme for making them (25 percent), despite the widespread media coverage in early October of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA's) 'Duelfer Report', the final word on the subject by the one-billion-dollar, 15-month investigation by the Iraq Survey Group.

It concluded Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programmes shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and had never tried to reconstitute them.

Nonetheless, 56 percent of Bush supporters said they thought most experts currently believe Iraq had actual WMD, and 57 percent said they thought the Duelfer Report had concluded that Iraq either had WMD (19 percent) or a major WMD programme (38 percent).

Only 26 percent of Kerry supporters, by contrast, said they believed that pre-war Iraq had either actual WMD or a WMD programme, and only 18 percent said they believed "most experts" agreed with those two possibilities.

Similar results were found with respect to Hussein's alleged support for al-Qaeda, a theory that has been most persistently asserted by Vice President Dick Cheney, but that was thoroughly debunked by the final report of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission earlier this summer.

Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they believed Iraq was providing "substantial" support to al-Qaeda, with 20 percent asserting Baghdad was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believed that clear evidence of such support has been found, and 60 percent believed "most experts" have reached the same conclusion.

By contrast, only 30 percent of Kerry supporters said they believe such a link existed and that most experts agree.

But large majorities of both Bush and Kerry supporters agree that the administration is saying Iraq had WMD and was providing substantial support to al-Qaeda. In regard to WMD, those majorities have actually grown since last summer, according to PIPA.

Remarkably, asked whether the United States should have gone to war with Iraq if U.S. intelligence had concluded Baghdad did not have a WMD programme and was not supporting al-Qaeda, 58 percent of Bush supporters said no, and 61 percent said they assumed the president would also not have gone to war under those circumstances.

"To support the president and to accept that he took the U.S. to war based on mistaken assumptions," said Kull, "likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about pre-war Iraq."

Kull added that this "cognitive dissonance" could also help explain other remarkable findings in the survey, particularly with respect to Bush supporters' misperceptions about the president's own positions.

In particular, majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed he supports multilateral approaches to various international issues, including the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) (69 percent), the land mine treaty (72 percent), and the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming (51 percent).

In all of these cases, majorities of Bush supporters said they favoured the positions that they imputed, incorrectly, to the president.

Large majorities of Kerry supporters, on the other hand, showed they knew both their candidate's and Bush's positions on the same issues.

Bush supporters were also found to hold misperceptions regarding international support for the president and his policies.

Despite a steady flow over the past year of official statements by foreign governments and public-opinion polls showing strong opposition to the Iraq war, less than one-third of Bush supporters believed that most people in foreign countries opposed Washington having gone to war.

Two-thirds said they believed foreign views were either evenly divided on the war (42 percent) or that the majority of foreigners actually favoured the war (26 percent).

Three of every four Kerry supporters, on the other hand, said they understood that most of the rest of the world opposed the war.

Kull, who has been analysing U.S. public opinion on foreign-policy issues for two decades, said misperceptions of Bush supporters showed, if anything, the hold the president has over his loyalists.

"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally into the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake," he said.

"This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters -- and an idealised image of the president that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgements before the war, that world public opinion would be critical of his policies or that the president could hold foreign-policy positions that are at odds with his supporters." (END/2004)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Angry citizens are hitting the right-wing broadcasting company Sinclair where it hurts – in the wallet

By Don Hazen, AlterNet
Posted on October 18, 2004, Printed on October 18, 2004

In the world of right-wing corporate media, Sinclair Broadcasting has long been overshadowed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and its cable mouthpiece Fox News.

But not any more.

Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBGI) created an uproar last week when it announced its plans to force its affiliate stations to preempt regularly scheduled programming and air an anti-Kerry documentary, titled "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," just days before the election. It was a blatantly partisan move on the part of a company that owns 62 stations, many of which are in the critical swing states of Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin. For example, in the highly contested state of Ohio, there are Sinclair stations in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

Sinclair became an instant cause celebre, as diverse groups, individuals and activists instantly banded together to protest its decision. Within days, a vital and energetic grassroots movement was born.

A number of fast-acting blogs and web sites, including Daily Kos and Democratic Underground, quickly compiled lists of contact information to allow outraged citizens to take action. Others immediately constructed a web site,, with a database of Sinclair advertisers so individuals could contact these companies and directly threaten to boycott their businesses if they did not pull their ads from Sinclair.

According to the media advocacy group Media Matters, an estimated 100,000 calls have been made to advertisers. And it's already taking effect – companies are pulling their ads in various parts of the country, including Maine and Wisconsin. According to the Portland Press Herald in Maine, Sinclair television station WGME's plan to air the anti-Kerry documentary prompted three Maine companies – Hannaford supermarkets, the Lee Auto Malls, and the law offices of Joe Bornstein – to pull their advertising from the Portland TV station.

Hitting Sinclair Where It Hurts

The rapidly growing, aggressive advertising boycott effort has already had a measurable financial impact on Sinclair, whose stock dropped 10 percent over the past week, closing on Friday at an all-time low of $7.04 – a $60 million loss in value.

The boycott is just one among Sinclair's increasing list of woes. A financial analyst from Lehman Brothers has warned that showing the film is "potentially damaging, both financially and politically." William M. Meyers wrote in his analysis for the company: "In a best case scenario, we believe that this decision could result in lost ad revenues. In a worst case scenario ... the decision may lead to higher political risk. As management has increased the company's political risk, we are reducing our 12-month price target to $9 (from $10)."

Meanwhile legal experts such as Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig predict that Sinclair shareholders will surely file lawsuits against the company's management. According to David S. Bennahum, Senior Fellow at Media Matters:

[A]s a publically traded company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group directors have a responsibility to ensure that Sinclair takes actions consistent with enhancing shareholder value. Sinclair's decision to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" places partisan political interests ahead of shareholder value by jeopardizing the renewal of FCC licenses, stimulating grassroots advertiser boycotts and triggering potential investigations into the company's misuse of its licenses to use the public airwaves.

Media Matters is urging anyone who may be a shareholder in one of 20 mutual funds and six pension funds that invest in the company to request that their fund manager immediately divest their funds from Sinclair.

What Liberal Media?

The reason for the widespread anger is summed up by the blogger at Grass Roots Nation:

While Sinclair is hiding behind labels, claiming that this film and its subsequent programming is considered news, everybody – both conservative and progressive – can see what it really is: an in-kind donation to the Bush/Cheney campaign in the final stretch of the election cycle. This is the same company that refused to broadcast the Nightline episode of some months ago where Ted Koppel read the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq. At the time, they claimed it was too politically motivated. I guess they've come around, conveniently in time for the general election and conveniently in support of Bush/Cheney who happen to be their biggest hope for further media deregulation.

Sinclair is already a formidable force in the broadcasting industry. Its presence in 39 markets accounts for 24 percent of the national TV audience. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sinclair owns or operates two stations, called "duopolies," in more markets (20) than any other media company in the country. The company, which reported 2003 revenues of $738 million, also owns or operates more television stations (62) than any media company.

The company is using its unmatched power to air a rabidly anti-Kerry documentary that slams the senator for his anti-war testimony in front of Congress in 1971, where he testified that U.S. forces routinely committed atrocities in Vietnam. The movie directly links – without offering any concrete evidence – his testimony to the suffering of American POWs who were being held in Vietnam at the time.

The documentary is more evidence of a carefully coordinated strategy between a variety of right-wing groups. The movie itself was produced independently by Carlton Sherwood, a former reporter for the Rev. Moon-owned Washington Times who has worked for his friend, Tom Ridge, at the Department of Homeland Security. While Sherwood has refused to name his financiers – he claims that the film was funded by "individuals and entities nationwide" – the anti-Kerry group, Swift Vets and POWs for Truth (formerly Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) is cross-promoting the film as part of its $1.4 million advertising campaign. And, of course, there's Sinclair, a company that gave 97 percent of its campaign contributions to the GOP, which plans to air the documentary as "news."

Sinclair's behavior challenges the absurd but persistent notion that the media in America is liberal. Imagine the uproar if ABC told its affiliate stations to pre-empt its primetime programming for a special showing of "Fahrenheit 9/11" or perhaps more appropriately "Going Upriver," the powerfully positive biography of John Kerry that focuses on the same time period as "Stolen Honor."

Of course it would never happen. And Lawrence Lessig explains why:

The Sinclair case demonstrates the contrast between the aggressive political stance of the ideologically conservative media corporations like Fox and Sinclair. In a world where "mainstream" broadcasters such as CBS are too timid to broadcast a plainly relevant story about war "too close" to an election, or where NBC refuses to license clips from "Meet the Press" because it wants to stay "neutral" in a political debate, the action by a concentrated, powerful, right-wing network to use its power to direct the election is bad. If we could break up the government supported monopolies of broadcasters, and change the culture among broadcasters generally, I'd have no problem with it. But now, in this culture, in an election this close, the decision stinks.

Now that Sinclair's right-wing bias has been outed to some extent, it is easier for the public to understand how unfair the corporate media system is to Democratic candidates like John Kerry and John Edwards. The Fox News Channel is essentially a 24/7 infomercial for the Republicans and the Bush campaign. Robert Greenwald's film "Outfoxed" documents in hilarious and stunning detail how language and frames coming out of the White House are repeated verbatim every hour of every day by Fox newscasters and commentators. For example, Sean Hannity says after every one of his shows, "Only [blank] days until George Bush is elected President." Can you imagine Larry King, Chris Matthews or Tim Russert saying anything similar?

Sinclair's Right-wing Record

But this current imbroglio is hardly the first time that Sinclair has made its conservative bias blatantly clear. For example, Sinclair's Fox affiliate in Madison, Wisc. – Fox 47 – was the only one among four local stations to refuse to air ads produced by the Democratic National Committee during the summer.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Sinclair also recently directed its stations to broadcast spots "declaring support for efforts of President Bush and other government leaders." Local anchors were drafted to tape the messages, "stirring internal fears that they were compromising their professional objectivity."

The company's best known for a program called "The Point," extreme right-wing commentary produced at its corporate headquarters in Maryland that its affiliates must air as part of their local evening news. It's delivered by Sinclair vice president of corporate relations Mark Hyman, who has claimed, among other things, that Sen. Kerry supported Communists, falsified military records and dodged the Army draft by enlisting in the Navy. Hyman routinely denounces leftist agendas and calls animal rights advocates "whackos."

Worse, viewers are tricked into thinking that Hyman's commentary is part of local news coverage, when in fact like much of the local coverage on Sinclair affiliates, it's produced at the corporate headquarters.

"Sinclair has turned localism on its head," Mark Cooper, research director of the Consumer Federation of America, told the Chicago Tribune. "Instead of using its right to pre-empt national programming to preserve a local voice, it wants to impose its political will on 62 local stations."

"Their whole business model is about cutting operating costs," Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, said in the same article. "They fake the localism by presenting the hometown station feel but without any of the presence and journalism that local communities deserve."

Fighting Back

As the controversy has heated up, Sinclair has become more vague about its plans to air "Stolen Honor." A telephone recording at the company's headquarters claims, "The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are being promoted by groups pushing a political agenda." Nevertheless, Hyman says that criticisms about the documentary "are absurd." He told the AP: "Would they suggest a car bomb in Iraq is an in kind contribution to the Kerry campaign? Would they say that job losses is an in-kind contribution to the Kerry campaign? It is the news."

It may be that Sinclair underestimated the outrage that their decision would provoke and they are looking for a way out of the mess. Or maybe they are figuring the attention will help them, as it has Fox News. The station keeps on insisting that they have invited John Kerry on the air to respond to the allegations contained in the documentary. But Kerry campaign representatives, wary of being set up by the film, are demanding equal time for a program whose content will be determined by them. Stay tuned – literally – and we'll see how this latest skirmish in the media wars turns out.


Online article here.

The Bush Campaign Playbook: Step One - Filter Democracy


From the Democratic National Committee:

At campaign stops across the country, the Bush-Cheney campaign has practiced a Republicans-only policy, barring individuals that disagree with the President from public campaign events. The Republican National Committee has even required event-attendees to sign endorsement forms that pledge their support for the re-election of Bush.

Whether you’re a World War II veteran, a pro-choice independent, a grieving mother of a killed US soldier, a FEMA worker, or even a high school student, if you question Bush’s leadership or don’t belong to his political party, you don’t have the right to see your president, ask him questions and understand where he stands on the issues. What follows is a sampling of stories, from across the country, of individuals banned from Bush’s campaign events.


Republican National Committee Requires Voters To Sign Loyalty Oaths

Rally-Attendees In New Mexico Were Required To Sign Endorsement Forms Before Entering Bush-Cheney Rallies. The Republican National Committee is requiring voters to sign endorsement forms before they attend campaign rallies featuring Vice President Cheney or President Bush. When Vice President Dick Cheney spoke on July 31st to a crowd of 2,000 in Rio Rancho, NM, voters were required to sign an endorsement form in order to receive a ticket to hear Cheney “Whose vice president is he?” asked a 72-year-old John Wade. “I just wanted to hear what my vice president had to say, and they make me sign a loyalty oath.” The form’s endorsement begins, “I, ___,” requiring individuals to state their name, position, hometown and state, “do hereby endorse George W. Bush for re-election of the United States.” Attendees then date and sign the form. A disclaimer box underneath the signature line states, “In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush.” [Boston Globe, 8/9/04]

RNC Falsely Claimed That Bush-Cheney Events Do Not Require Endorsement Forms. An RNC spokesman, Danny Diaz, claimed that RNC rallies are separate from Bush-Cheney campaign events and that the Bush-Cheney campaign does not require endorsement forms from attendees. Diaz justified the policy saying, “They want to make sure people can hear the president and vice president's vision for the next four years,” he said. “There are thousands of volunteers who sacrifice and work hard on the campaign and who deserve to see and hear their president without being disrupted and disrespected.” However, Democrats and Independents have been turned away at Bush-Cheney rallies in Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada and West Virginia. [Boston Globe, 8/9/04; AP, 7/10/04; Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 6/19/04; Telegraph Herald, 5/4/04; Reno Gazette-Journal, 6/19/04]

Secret Service Colludes In Keeping Events Bush-Friendly

The Secret Service Has Banned Anti-Bush Protesters Since September 2001. The Secret Service has actively barred individuals from protesting President Bush since he took office in early 2001. Individuals across the country have been banned from displaying anti-Bush messages at dozens of appearances. The ACLU filed a suit against the Secret Service in September 2003, seeking an injunction against the Bush administration from sequestering protestors at the president’s public appearances. Most recently in West Virginia, a FEMA worker and her husband were arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts at a public appearance billed by Bush as a presidential visit. The couple were forcibly removed from the event and arrested. Witold Walczak, a lawyer who has filed suit against the Secret Service for the ACLU, said that since the event was a presidential visit, it made it “an even more glaring violation of the First Amendment.” [Charleston Gazette, 7/14/04; Cox News Service, 9/23/03]

Internal Secret Service Memo From September 2002 Said Protestors Could Not Be Treated Differently. The Secret Service had an internal memo dated September 2002, saying that agents could not treat protestors differently or worse than anyone else at a presidential appearance. [Charleston Gazette, 7/14/04]

ACLU Case Against Secret Service Segregating Protestors At Bush Events Was Thrown Out. The Secret Service had been telling local police that they should be segregating anyone displaying anti-administration messages in areas out of sight and earshot of President Bush. However, when the ACLU filed a suit against the Secret Service, they agreed with the ACLU and said that they should not be separating protestors. Because they agreed with the ACLU, the judge threw out the case. Since that case was filed, the ACLU has reported only two incidences of a “no-protest zone” in Little Rock, AK and Knoxville, TN. [Charleston Gazette, 7/14/04]

Bush-Cheney Campaign Racially Profiles Journalists

Cheney Campaign Worker Demanded To Know Race of Asian American Newspaper Photographer. A Cheney campaign worker called the Arizona Daily Star to check the name, date of birth, social security number and race of a photographer assigned to cover a political event that the Vice President would attend in Tucson. The paper, which had never been questioned on the race of a journalist before, refused to answer the question. The Asian American Journalist Association’s [AAJA]national officers issued a statement saying that “the demand bordered on racial profiling.” Abe Kwok, AAJA vice president for print, said he was “troubled at published reports that the inquiry of race as made of some journalists and not others.” A Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman said the request came from the Secret Service, but reporters and photographers are usually asked to provide only name, date of birth and Social Security number when requesting access to political events. The paper was told that the journalist’s race was “necessary to allow the Secret Service to distinguish her from someone else who might have the same name.” “It was a very lame excuse,” said Terry Hayt, the paper’s managing editor. [PR Newswire, 8/3/04, Newsday, 8/3/04; Arizona Daily Star, 7/31/04]


Grieving Gold Star Mom Was Handcuffed At Laura Bush Event

A Gold Star Mom Woman, Who Lost Her Son In Iraq, Is Forcibly Removed From Bush-Cheney Event. Sue Niederer of Hopewell, NJ, a gold star mother, was handcufed and arrested for speaking out about the war in Iraq at a campaign event with Laura Bush. Niederer wore a t-shirt with the worlds “President Bush You Killed My Son” and brought a framed picture of him with her to the event. She interrupted Bush’s speech, demanding to know why her son, 24-year old Army First Lt. Seth Dvorin, had to die because of Bush’s misguided policy in Iraq. Secret service and local police handcuffed Niederer and detained her in the back of a police van. Laura Bush continued to speak, making many references to the September 11th attacks. “Too many people here had a loved one that went to work in New York that day," Bush said. "It's for our country, it's for our children, our grandchildren that we do the hard work of confronting terror." [AP, 9/16/04]

High School Students Threatened At Bush Campaign Event: “A Sniper” Could “Take Him Out”

John Sachs, an 18-year old high school senior went to see Bush in Clive, IA. Sachs got a ticket to the event from school and wanted to ask the president about whether there would be a draft, about the war in Iraq, Social Security and Medicare. At the event, a campaign staffer pulled Sachs aside and made him remove his button that read: ‘Bush-Cheney '04: Leave No Billionaire Behind.’ “The staffer quizzed him about whether he was a Bush supporter, asked him why he was there and what questions he would be asking the president. ‘Then he came back and said, 'If you protest, it won't be me taking you out. It will be a sniper,' Sachs said. ‘He said it in such a serious tone it scared the crap out of me.’” [Des Moines Register, 10/16/04]

Woman In West Virginia Was Fired For Protesting At Bush Event

FEMA Worker Was Lead Away In Handcuffs For Wearing Anti-Bush T-Shirt At A Presidential Visit, Then Ordered From Her Post In West Virginia. Nicole Rank and her husband were lead away in handcuffs during the President’s July 4th visit to Charleston, WV for wearing t-shirts that said, “Love America, Hate Bush.” The couple was ticketed, released and given summonses to appear in court. Rank, who was working in West Virginia for the Federal Emergency Management Association, was taken off her assignment and sent home by the federal coordinating office for FEMA. FEMA officials refused to say whether she had been fired from her job, but her husband later revealed that she had been fired. The event was billed as an official presidential visit and not a campaign stop, but Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were sold on the grounds of the Capitol. All those given access to the event had applied for tickets ahead of time, and were given a list of prohibited items that did not include political t-shirts, buttons or lapel pins. Those wearing pro-Bush t-shirts were left alone. [The Charleston Gazette, 7/9/04, 7/8/04]

West Virginia man who heckled President Bush at a political rally was fired from job. Glen Hiller, a graphic designer, expressed his disagreement with President Bush at a Hedgesville High School rally. When he returned to work the next day at Octavo Designs, he was told he had embarrassed a client and was dismissed. “All I did was show up and voice my opinion,” Hiller said. [AP, 8/21/04]

Pro-Choice T-Shirt Grounds For Removal At Bush-Cheney Events

Family of Three Was Kicked Out Of Bush Event For Bringing A Pro-Choice T-Shirt. The Millers, a family of three - husband, wife and daughter – were removed from a Bush-Cheney campaign event because the wife, Barbara Miller, brought a pro-choice t-shirt with her. A campaign worker confiscated the t-shirt informing the family that “We don't accept any pro-choice, non-Republican paraphernalia.” The campaign worker returned an hour later with another worker and a security guard and accused the Millers of “smuggling t-shirts.” Barbara Miller, who brought the t-shirt because she was cold and had not considered the implications of its pro-choice logo, reports that a guard grabbed their three tickets from her hand and ripped them up “violently and told her, ‘They’re no good anymore.’” A Bush campaign spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise, defended the right of the campaign to ask individuals who intend to “disrupt campaign events” to leave. "These events are put on ... for people of an open mind who are interested in hearing [Bush's] positive message and his vision for a future," she said. Theresa Miller, the daughter, said that was what she was there to do. “I'm not an American? I can't see my president?” she asked. [Saginaw News, 8/6/04]

Teachers Who Believe In Civil Liberties Are Kicked Out of Bush Event

School Teachers Are Threatened With Arrest For Wearing “Protect Our Civil Liberties.” In Medford, OR, three school teachers “were threatened with arrest and escorted from the event after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan ‘Protect our civil liberties.’ All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford,” the Associated Press reported. “The women said they did not intend to protest. “I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training. “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.” Republican officials attempted to distance themselves from the event. A Bush campaign spokesman, Tracey Schmitt, said: “It is not the position of the campaign that wearing a T-shirt that says protect civil liberties is enough to conclude someone is disruptive.” [AP, 10/14/04; Oregonian, 10/16/04]

Woman In Alabama Fired For Bush Sticker On Car

Alabama woman lost job for sporting Kerry sticker on car. Lynne Gobbell, of Moulton, AL, lost her job after her boss demanded she remove the Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker from her car. “The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' Gobbell said.” ‘It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine.’ ” [Decatur Daily News, 9/12/04; AP, 9/15/04]

Man in Maryland Fired For Hosting Pro-Kerry Message Board

An alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention forced out of job for support of Kerry. Ono Ekeh was dismissed from his position at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for organization’s computers in moderating a ‘Catholics for Kerry’ message board. He made 31 of the message board’s 401 posts between late August 2003 and February 2004. “U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesman Bill Ryan said the organization would not fire anyone merely for supporting a particular political candidate, but declined to comment on the Ekeh matter.” [Capital News Service, 7/23/04; Knight Rider, 7/30/04]

College Newspapers Denied Access To Bush Campaign Appearance

College Newspapers’ Reporters And Photographers Told That They Should Be In School Instead Of Trying To Report About Presidential Visit. Reporters and photographers from the Des Moines Area Community College [DMACC] and Iowa State University newspapers were denied access to see the President in Des Moines. The students were not included on the list of approved media when they arrived, despite faxing their request for credentials well ahead of the event’s press deadline. Mike Allsup, a student reporter from the DMACC Chronicle, said that the “White House advance staff told him his time would be better spent in school. ‘It really is not fair that we represent 14,000 students at my college and I’m disregarded and sent away.’” “A news crew from WQAD television in Moline, IL was not on the approved media list but allowed into the event,” alleged Iowa State Daily photography editor Eric Rowley. [Des Moines Register, 4/16/04]


Seating For Republicans Only: Minnesota

Campaign Staff Prevent Democrats And Independents From Attending July 13th Bush-Cheney Rally In Duluth, MN. Bush-Cheney campaign staff, trying to ensure a friendly crowd for Bush’s rally in Duluth, would not hand out tickets to Democrats or Independents, if they admitted that they weren’t sure they were voting for Bush. Many residents were angered that only Republicans would be given the opportunity to attend the Bush-Cheney rally. A Duluth resident, Jan Witte, questioned who Bush really represented. “He’s my president too… I just thought I should be able to hear him speak.” [AP, 7/10/04]

ACT Campaign Worker Told That Only Bush Backers Could Hear The First Lady Speak. Meighan Mills Stone, a spokeswoman for Americans Coming Together, a 527 working to defeat Bush, tried to attend a campaign event of about 1,700 Republican-faithful to hear Laura Bush in St. Paul, MN. Stone had received tickets ahead of time from the Bush-Cheney campaign. Stone had her tickets confiscated in line and was told that the event was for Bush backers only. [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 6/19/04]

Tim Walz, a 23 year National Guard veteran wanted to hear his commander-in-chief. He was allowed into the quarry event after the two young men he was escorting were told to leave the event because one of the young men had a Kerry sticker in his wallet. When Walz objected he was first told to leave as well. Then, a Bush official asked if he supported the President. When he said he did not, the Bush official told him he had to leave as well and he was threatened with arrest. When he informed the official that he had just returned from overseas, the official begrudgingly allowed him to stay with the admonition that the Secret Service would be watching him. [Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 8/13/04]

Two young high school students turned away from Bush rally in Mankato, Minnesota. The young men were denied tickets for making unfavorable comments while waiting in line for three hours. They were then given tickets, but when they got off the shuttle bus at the event, they were denied entry. A Mankato West High School teacher who defended the boys was also prevented from going in and threatened with arrest upon being ordered to leave. [Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 8/13/04]

Seating for Republicans Only: Michigan

A school teacher's ticket is torn up and she is barred from entry into Bush event for wearing Kerry-Edwards sticker on blouse. “But Ralph Soffredine, a Traverse City commissioner, school board member and former police chief who worked security at the front gate, said it is part of the Bush campaign policy.” The fifty-five year old wanted the experience of seeing a president and hearing him speak, but instead left wondering this is truly a democracy. [Traverse City Record-Eagle, 8/17/04]

if you are an undecided voter or an independent, you might have to make the case that you are willing to support Bush.” The Ottawa County Republicans handed out tickets after first asking for ID and if people were Republicans or open to the President’s ideas. [The Grand Rapids Press, 9/11/04]

Seating for Republicans Only: Wisconsin

Party workers made sure the audience was made up of Bush supporters. Individuals seeking tickets were brought in either individually or with another person and asked if they were Republicans. If they said “no” they were then asked if they had an open-minded approach to the coming election. A state spokesman confirmed that the campaign was primarily trying to reward past supporters. [The Chippewa Herald, 8/17/04]

Wisconsin elected official ejected from Bush event. Outagamie County Supervisor Jayson Nelson was removed from the VIP list for the event for ‘inappropriate attire’. He had a Kerry t-shirt fully hidden under his button down shirt. He was ordered out of line and told to take off his outer shirt revealing the Kerry t-shirt. At that point a female election worker called police over, exclaiming “Look at his shirt! Look at his shirt!” The police told him he must leave and directed him to the Secret Service. The Secret Service informed him he had broken no laws, that the same would happen at a Kerry event and that he still must leave. [The Post Crescent, 7/18/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Iowa

A World War Two Veteran Didn’t Qualify To Hear The President. Bill Ward, a veteran of World War II, got into line at 7:30 am to get tickets to see Bush in Dubuque, IA. He waited in line for an hour, and when it finally came time to show his identification campaign staff asked him if he had voted for Bush in 2000. “I didn’t vote for him then and I won’t vote for him now,” declared Ward. Ward identified himself to the campaign workers as a World War II vet who served in France and Germany. Critical of the war in Iraq, Ward said, “The only thing I wanted to do was get down to the riverfront and ask Bush some questions.” Ward recalled, “They asked some girl to escort me out and I told them I don’t need to be escorted out. I’m a veteran of World War II.” [Telegraph Herald, 5/4/04]

19-Year Old Political Science Major Need Not Apply. Matt Trewartha, a 19-year old political science major was excited to see hear the President during his campaign stop in Dubuque, IA. However, after waiting in line for more than an hour, Matt was turned away empty handed. He writes in an editorial in the Telegraph Herald, “When I finally reached the [campaign] office, I was pulled aside by a campaign official and told that I would not be given the four tickets that I desired because of a comment I had made in line about not being a Republican. After a lengthy discussion and my promise to be respectful, I was turned away empty handed. I though this was a public event with the community as the guest, but the man told me that they were selecting the guests.” [Opinion, Telegraph Herald, 5/11/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Nevada

Campaign Staff Rips Up The Tickets Of Three Teenagers. In Reno, Nevada, Bush’s campaign workers stalked the line of attendees to a Bush rally to ensure that only his supporters were allowed inside. “Three Reno teenagers had tickets pulled out of their hands and ripped to pieces by a campaign staff member after someone in line pointed out an anti-Bush sticker on one of the teens’ shirts.” 17-year old Jonathan Daniel tried to assure staff that he wouldn’t make trouble and only wanted to hear the president on the issues. The campaign would not be swayed. Daniel protested, “I believe it’s my right as an American to hear where he is leading our country.” [Reno Gazette-Journal, 6/19/04]

Seating For Republicans Only: Arizona

Bush Spokesman Says Woman Should “Come To Her Senses” and Support Bush If She Wants To See Him. Sue Walitsky, communications director for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Arizona, had a valid ticket to see Bush speak at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ, but the Bush-Cheney campaign refused her admittance with no explanation. Walitsky said that she wore no Kerry button and did not bring any Kerry campaign chum that would have upset Bush supporters. Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Bush campaign said, “If she’s willing to come to her senses and support him, we’ll be happy to welcome her in.” Walitsky said that the Kerry campaign allows everyone with valid tickets, regardless of political affiliation, to attend Kerry campaign events. [Arizona Republic, 8/11/04]


Sinclair Broadcasting Accused of Dodging FCC Rules

Online Knight-Ridder article here.

by Leon Lazaroff

Poised to pre-empt programming on its 62 television stations to run a negative documentary about Sen. John Kerry, Sinclair Broadcast Group has come under fire from critics calling it partisan and questioning whether it is failing federal broadcast requirements to reflect local interests.

Members of Congress and independent media groups have questioned the company's willingness to respect "localism," a section of federal law that requires media companies to cover local issues and provide an outlet for local voices.

"Sinclair has turned localism on its head," said Mark Cooper, research director of the Consumer Federation of America, a union of 300 consumer groups. "Instead of using its right to pre-empt national programming to preserve a local voice, it wants to impose its political will on 62 local stations."

Sinclair's practices as a television operator have also been criticized for removing local control. The company increasingly uses "distance-casting" whereby local news, sports and weather is uniformly broadcast to its many stations from Sinclair's headquarters in suburban Baltimore.

Television viewers receive on-camera reports from "News Central" that appear to be coming from local stations. Sinclair spokesman Mark Hyman delivers conservative commentary that must be carried on local news reports.

"Their whole business model is about cutting operating costs," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president and CEO of the Media Access Project, a legal watchdog group. "They fake the localism by presenting the hometown station feel but without any of the presence and journalism that local communities deserve."

Widespread ownership

Sinclair's stations include 20 Fox affiliates, eight from ABC, six from UPN, four from NBC, three from CBS and 19 from the WB, a network partly owned by Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune. Sinclair has a "shared services" arrangement with two additional stations.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sinclair owns or operates two stations, called "duopolies," in more markets--20--than any other media company in the country. The company, which reported 2003 revenues of $738 million, also owns or operates more television stations--62--than any media company.

Sinclair did not respond to repeated requests to comment for this article. However, a telephone recording at the company's headquarters says, "The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are being promoted by groups pushing a political agenda."

Listeners are given a phone number for Sen. Kerry's campaign office in Washington, D.C., and asked to urge him to appear on the show. Kerry's campaign on Friday asked that each station carrying the "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" documentary provide a similar amount of time to Kerry supporters.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and 84 other House Democrats on Thursday joined 19 senators in calling for the FCC to investigate Sinclair's apparent intentions to air "Stolen Honor" on its stations just days before the Nov. 2 election.

Democrats strike back

Prompted by Sinclair's plans to run the documentary, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) this week pledged to attach limits to media mergers to one of a handful of spending bills that must be approved before legislators adjourn at the end of the year.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell made clear that the commission would not attempt to stop Sinclair from airing the program. While emphasizing that he was unsure whether the program would trigger "equal-time" rules, Powell emphasized their importance when discussing controversial issues.

"We do have equal-time rules and I do think that in a political season it is beneficial for both sides of an issue to be heard," Powell said at a public appearance Friday in New York City.

Launched in 1971 with a single UHF station in Baltimore, Sinclair grew rapidly during the 1990s, buying stations mostly in medium-size cities such as Milwaukee, Dayton and Nashville.

Using a business arrangement known as a Local Marketing Agreement, or LMA, Sinclair became the operator of stations in markets where it already owned a television broadcaster.

Sinclair operates six LMAs through a company called Cunningham Broadcasting, previously known as Glencairn Ltd. Cunningham is controlled by trusts in the name of Carolyn Smith, the mother of Sinclair president and CEO David Smith, as well as two Sinclair vice presidents, Duncan Smith and Frederick Smith, and Robert Smith, a director on Sinclair's board.

The FCC established LMAs in the early-1990s to assist failing stations or to help start-ups share costs for such expenses as maintenance and advertising with older, established broadcasters.

However, Schwartzman says Sinclair used these business arrangements for the sole intention of eventually acquiring the stations themselves. "Sinclair has operated these LMAs as little more than a fig leaf for all but owning them outright," he said. "They've been pressed on this but unfortunately this FCC has let them off the hook."

Sinclair's use of LMAs goes back to 1991 when it purchased WPGH-TV in Pittsburgh and then sold a Pittsburgh station it already owned, WCWB-TV, to a station employee, an African-American named Edwin Edwards. Edwards became the president of Glencairn, owning it under a minority tax-incentive program.

Between 1994 and 1997, Sinclair acquired second television stations in San Antonio, Greenville, S.C, Asheville, N.C. and elsewhere, placing them under Glencairn.

When the FCC liberalized its "duopoly rules" in 1999, permitting companies such as Sinclair to own two stations in markets with eight or more independent television owners, Sinclair applied to the FCC to purchase all of Glencairn's stations.

However, Rainbow/PUSH, which has historically lobbied broadcasters to cover minority issues, filed a complaint charging that the company had "misrepresented facts and concealed the true extent of their business relationships" to own television stations that otherwise would not have been permitted under federal rules.

Pulitzer Broadcasting and Post-Newsweek Stations, a joint venture between the Washington Post Co. and the magazine by the same name, filed similar complaints with the FCC alleging that Glencairn was a Sinclair shell operation.

Practices called `disquieting'

In November 2001, the FCC fined both Sinclair and Glencairn $40,000 for violations to the 1934 Communications Act. However, FCC Chairman Powell and two other Republican appointees approved Sinclair's request to purchase all but six stations. Shortly afterward, Glencairn's name was changed to Cunningham Broadcasting.

In his dissent, Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat, called Sinclair's practices "disquieting." He said the company's maneuvering "raises questions of whether these stations were merely owned by Glencairn but controlled by Sinclair until such times as Sinclair could own them under our revised multiple ownership rules"

Rainbow/PUSH filed a follow-up petition in 2003, still pending before the FCC, that calls on the commission to determine whether Sinclair's present and past conduct of its LMAs makes it qualified to hold licenses to use the public airwaves.

At present, rules governing duopolies are in flux.

In June, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ordered the FCC to rewrite rules that would have allowed one company to own as many as three TV stations, eight radio stations and a newspaper in a single market.

The FCC has not announced whether it will appeal the 3rd Circuit Court's decision.

© Copyright 2004 Knight-Ridder

Friday, October 15, 2004

Cheney is a Leftist!

Dick Cheney as a member of Congress from Wyoming voted to raise taxes 144 times. If 98 tax-hike votes make Kerry a far-out liberal, than Cheney would have to be placed somewhere in the ideological vicinity of Che Guevara.

Excerpt from Jon Chait's George Bush, tax hiker smackdown column in today's Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Halliburton's Interests Assisted by White House which has lent support to a lucrative drilling technique damaging to to environment

Online article here.

WASHINGTON — Over the last four years, the Bush administration and Vice President Dick Cheney's office have backed a series of measures favoring a drilling technique developed by Halliburton Co., Cheney's former employer.

The technology, known as hydraulic fracturing, boosts gas and oil production and generates $1.5 billion a year for the company, about one-fifth of its energy-related revenue. In recent years, Halliburton and other oil and gas firms have been fighting efforts to regulate the procedure under a statute that protects drinking water supplies.

The 2001 national energy policy report, written under the direction of the vice president's office, cited the value of hydraulic fracturing but didn't mention concerns raised by staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since then, the administration has taken steps to keep the practice from being regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which Halliburton has said would hurt its business and add needless costs and bureaucratic delays.

An EPA study concluded in June that there was no evidence that hydraulic fracturing posed a threat to drinking water. However, some EPA employees complained about the study internally before its completion, and others have strongly criticized it publicly since its release.

One of them, an environmental engineer and 30-year EPA veteran in Denver, last week sought whistle-blower protection in an 18-page statement sent to the agency's inspector general and members of Congress. The statement alleges that the study's findings were premature, may endanger public health and were approved by an industry-dominated review panel that included a current Halliburton employee.

"EPA produced a final report … that I believe is scientifically unsound and contrary to the purposes of the law," Weston Wilson wrote to lawmakers.

EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said Wednesday that the agency was reviewing Wilson's statement but did not "believe that any of the concerns raised by his analysis would lead us to a different conclusion."

Cheney declined to be interviewed or to answer specific questions for this story. His spokesman, Kevin Kellems, cited the vice president's commitment to keeping the 2001 energy policy deliberations confidential, a principle Cheney is defending in federal court.

"There is an important principle at stake in protecting the ability of the office of the president and vice president to receive the most candid and direct advice and counsel during the policymaking process," Kellems said.

Halliburton, where Cheney was chief executive from 1995 to 2000, is the leader among three large companies providing most fracturing services to oil and gas drilling operations around the world. Fracturing affords access to hard-to-reach energy deposits by forcing pressurized fluids deep into the earth, creating underground fissures that permit oil and gas to flow toward surface wells.

Halliburton and other energy companies have applauded the administration's support of fracturing, which they say has proved safe for decades.

Efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing became a concern for the industry during Cheney's tenure at Halliburton. A group of Alabama residents went to court in 1995 seeking to force regulation of the practice under the federal drinking water law. Halliburton filed a brief in the case, arguing that environmental regulation of the practice "could have significant adverse effects" on its business.

The company subsequently played a leading role in lobbying against efforts to regulate fracturing under federal drinking water laws.

Cheney, who left Halliburton in August 2000 to run for vice president, has said he has severed all ties to the company.

Since he took office in January 2001, Cheney has received $398,548 in deferred compensation, and he will continue to receive annual payments through 2005. He also has 433,333 options to purchase Halliburton stock, according to financial disclosure records filed in May 2004.

But his staff has pointed to an insurance policy that guarantees that the vice president will receive the deferred compensation no matter how Halliburton does — and to his commitment to donate any profits from the stock options to charity.

The administration's ties to Halliburton have become an issue in the presidential campaign. Democrats criticize the administration for awarding the company billions of dollars in contracts in Iraq. Cheney has said he played no role in the Iraq contracts.

Less attention has been paid to Halliburton's domestic operations. The company, like many in the oil and gas business, has benefited from an administration led by two former oil executives, both of whom have made clear their belief that too many regulatory hurdles hamper efforts to increase domestic energy production.

Energy Breakthrough

In 1949, engineers from Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. gathered in an Oklahoma field to experiment with a new drilling technique: They pumped gasoline, napalm, crude oil and sand into the ground under enormous pressure in hopes of stimulating oil from a 4,882-foot-deep well.

This successful test of hydraulic fracturing would "forever change the workings — and fortunes — of the energy business," said a Halliburton news release commemorating the experiment's 50th anniversary.

The company estimates that the technique has increased recoverable oil and gas reserves in North America by as much as a third. About 28,000 wells a year are fractured. Halliburton services at least one-third of the market, analysts say.

The ingredients used in fracturing vary with the job and the terrain. Most of them are as benign as food additives, but they can include toxic chemicals. In every case, the fluid includes water and a "propping agent" — usually fine sand or ceramics mixed with a chemical gel — that is pumped into the cracks to keep them open. A second chemical mixture liquefies the gel so that much of the injected water and chemicals can be removed before the gas is extracted.

But some of the fluid remains in the ground, a cause for concern in heavily drilled areas.

Energy companies say there is not a single proven case that fracturing fluids caused contamination.

But in Alabama, a group of residents petitioned the EPA in 1994, saying that their drinking water had been fouled by fracturing fluid used to extract methane from coal beds.

They asked the agency to force the state to regulate fracturing under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. They argued that wells subjected to fracturing should be held to the same pollution standards as wells used to dispose of waste from energy production.

The EPA denied the request. Residents asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision, and in 1997, the court ruled that fracturing should be regulated under the federal drinking water law.

The Alabama case set off a scramble in the industry, which feared it would lead to wider regulation of fracturing — imposing costly requirements for permits, inspections and testing.

While the court case was unfolding, lobbyists for Halliburton and other energy companies began pressing the Clinton administration to exempt fracturing from regulations under the drinking water law.

They made limited progress. Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner was called to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress from gas-producing states. She said more study was needed, and the agency launched the drinking water study that ended this year.

Cheney-Led Task Force

Nine days after his inauguration in 2001, President Bush asked Cheney to head a Cabinet-level task force to draw up a national energy strategy.

The task force consisted of the vice president, nine Cabinet members and five senior administration appointees. Research and writing was directed by two aides to Cheney supported by a working group of representatives from participating Cabinet agencies. The working group met through February and March, often in the vice president's ceremonial office, to develop recommendations for the principals — Cheney and Cabinet members.

The Cheney-led task force would tackle some of the highest-priority issues on the new administration's energy agenda: expanding oil and gas production, improving pipeline and power line transmission systems and developing a new approach to regulating air and water pollution.

To the surprise of some of those involved in the effort, the Cabinet-level panel also would consider a narrower topic of importance to Cheney when he headed Halliburton: hydraulic fracturing.

Cheney has cited executive privilege to keep task force deliberations secret. But interviews and records obtained by The Times show that Cheney's office was involved in discussions about how fracturing should be portrayed in the report, and that it resisted EPA attempts to include concerns about its effects on the environment.

The Energy Department drafted language for the task force that described hydraulic fracturing as essential to increasing domestic gas production and that asserted that production would be hurt by regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Documents obtained by The Times show that in the spring of 2001, EPA officials corresponded with the vice president's office at least three times requesting modifications in the proposed language. The EPA specifically asked that the report note that the EPA was studying potential environmental consequences of the technique.

A May 1, 2001, e-mail from the EPA to Karen Knutson, a Cheney aide serving as deputy director of the task force, proposed the addition of the following paragraph:

"As a result of the … lawsuit on hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane wells, the EPA recognizes this issue raises concerns and is conducting an investigation to evaluate the potential risks to ... drinking water." The proposed language described the ongoing EPA study of fracturing and water quality, and noted that it could culminate in "a regulatory determination."

On May 3, EPA employees said, they received a final pre-publication draft of the report. Agency staff members met into the evening to discuss the lack of responsiveness from Cheney's office on fracturing and several other issues. They decided to ask then-EPA Administrator Christie Whitman to write to the vice president personally to request modifications.

The following day, Whitman initialed a memo to Cheney asking him to reconsider parts of the final draft, including the section on fracturing. Her note pressed Cheney to scale back the recommendation exempting hydraulic fracturing from regulation.

Whitman warned that the administration could be "walking into a trap" by taking a public position against any regulation before the EPA completed its study of drinking-water pollution.

Whitman, who resigned last year, declined to be interviewed. Through a spokesman, she said, "EPA offered its expertise and input on relevant issues whenever possible," but she said she didn't recall details concerning the task force's handling of hydraulic fracturing.

"From my perspective, the vice president's office was driving the issue of hydraulic fracturing," said Jeremy Symons, a former EPA staffer assigned to the task force, who now works for a wildlife conservation organization.

When the task force report was released on May 16, 2001, the reference to an exemption from regulation was gone. But the report described the benefits of fracturing in detail without any mention of the EPA study.

"In certain formations, it has been demonstrated that the gas flow rate may be increased by as much as twenty-fold by hydraulic fracturing," the report said, noting that "most new gas wells drilled in the United States will require hydraulic fracturing."

Although Cheney declined to answer questions about his office's role in the fracturing discussions, his spokesman, Kellems, said the task force encouraged "environmentally sound production" of energy.

During the next three years, the administration supported a regulatory exemption for the practice on Capitol Hill and at the EPA.

Cheney participated in House-Senate conference committee negotiations last year that produced a sweeping national energy bill with a provision that would exempt fracturing from EPA drinking water regulation. Bush and Cheney immediately endorsed the energy bill. Some of those involved in the meetings said they could not recall or did not know whether Cheney intervened on behalf of fracturing.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company "did not contact Vice President Cheney or his office about hydraulic fracturing or the [provision in] the energy bill."

The bill has passed the House, but has languished in the Senate under the threat of a filibuster.

EPA Study Attacked

Although stymied in Congress, the gas and oil industry won an important victory within the administration.

In June, the EPA released its long-awaited study initiated in response to the Alabama lawsuit. The report focused on the use of fracturing to recover methane gas from coal beds, which often lie close to the surface and near groundwater used for drinking.

The report concluded that "injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into coal bed methane wells poses little or no threat" to drinking water supplies and "does not justify additional study at this time."

Hall said the study confirmed Halliburton's "long-standing belief that hydraulic fracturing poses little or no threat to drinking water sources."

But the EPA study has come under sharp attack within the agency. An EPA water expert, who reviewed drafts of the report before its release, said he complained internally about several flaws. The water expert, who did not want his name used because he was speaking without authorization, said his concerns were largely ignored.

Wilson, the EPA environmental engineer, and two other specialists from the EPA Denver regional headquarters told The Times they were not consulted, even though their territory included the country's richest coal bed methane fields and some of the nation's most vulnerable water supplies.

In his statement to the EPA inspector general and members of Congress, Wilson said the study did not follow approved methodology, relied on a panel of experts with conflicts of interest and failed to include any field investigation.

The report was based largely on a review of fracturing studies, reports of water contamination and consultations with state regulatory officials. The EPA decided against proceeding with a second phase of independent fieldwork.

"This study was hijacked," Wilson said in an interview. The EPA's multiple failures "may result in danger to public health and safety," he said.

Wilson's statement said the study found that fracturing fluids often contained hazardous chemicals. But because their patented formulas are proprietary, all the potential compounds are not publicly identified, he said.

"EPA cannot objectively nor scientifically defend its claim that this practice does not risk endangering sources of underground drinking water," Wilson said in an interview. Agency officials said the chemicals were diluted and dispersed enough to minimize the risk. And they said their analysis of incident reports found no firm proof that fracturing had directly caused drinking water contamination.

"Unless we actually see threats to drinking water supplies, the Safe Drinking Water Act admonishes EPA not to regulate injection for oil and gas production unnecessarily," said EPA spokeswoman Bergman.

The report did find that diesel fuel in fracturing fluid posed a risk to drinking water. But EPA officials said no regulatory action was necessary, because the three major fracturing companies voluntarily agreed to stop using the fuel in coal bed methane operations. Wilson's statement says the arrangement is inadequate, because the EPA has no way of enforcing it and any of the parties can drop out at will.

The EPA report was reviewed by a seven-person panel: a senior technical advisor at Halliburton, a manager from an industry-funded research institute who previously worked for Halliburton, a senior engineer with BP Amoco and two academics who had worked for the energy industry. A sixth member, a state regulator with an engineering background, also had worked for Amoco. The final member was an expert on hydraulic fracturing from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

"EPA selected panel members who we believed would be unbiased and fair in reviewing this study, and selected a representative group," the EPA's Bergman said.

One reviewer, Peter E. Clark, a professor at the University of Alabama who specializes in hydraulic fracturing fluids and previously worked for the industry, said the panel was fair. "Nobody tried to grind any axes."

He said the original draft of the report reviewed by the panel overstated the risks of fracturing and needed to be toned down. He said he requested changes and that, in the end, "EPA made the right decision."

The EPA's Bergman said the final report incorporated only changes suggested by the panel "to make the study as scientifically accurate as possible."

In addition to the peer review panel, the agency sought broad input through public meetings and notices and consultation within the EPA, including the Denver regional office, officials said.

Cynthia C. Dougherty, director of the agency's groundwater and drinking water office, said there was no political influence on the selection of the peer review panel or preparation of the report. Halliburton's Hall said the company did not recommend its employee for the panel and "had no expectation of specific benefit" from his participation.

The EPA report was a victory for Halliburton. Although only 1% of the company's fracturing business is in coal bed methane fields, it is one of the fastest-growing sources of gas production in the U.S. The study is seen as a boost to industry's efforts to win a blanket exemption for fracturing.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who has followed the fracturing study's progress, said the EPA review "made a faith-based leap to conclude that injecting toxic materials" underground posed little or no threat, he said. "The unanswered questions in EPA's report cry out for further study."

Geoffrey D. Thyne, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines who has done consulting work for energy companies and local governments, said fracturing is generally safe but needs to be monitored, particularly in areas where oil and gas deposits are close to water supplies. Exempting fracturing from EPA regulation "is premature, unwise and goes against the public interest," he said.

Times staff researchers Robin Cochran in Washington and Janet Lundblad in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

The fight over a drilling technique

When Dick Cheney led Halliburton Co. in the late 1990s, the firm opposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a technique that pumps pressurized fluid into the ground to boost oil and gas production. Halliburton and two other companies dominate worldwide use of the method. The administration of President Bush and Vice President Cheney has taken steps to keep the practice of hydraulic fracturing from being regulated by the EPA under federal drinking water laws.

1995: Dick Cheney becomes chief executive of Halliburton Co., a leader in fracturing.

1997: Alabama residents win a ruling in U.S. appeals court that fracturing should be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

1999: Following up on its ruling, the U.S. appeals court orders the EPA to oversee fracturing in Alabama.

2000: Halliburton lobbies in Washington to exempt fracturing from regulation under drinking water law.

2001: Vice President Cheney convenes task force to devise a national energy policy.

2001: The EPA chief presses Cheney to scale back language recommending the exemption of fracturing from a task force report. The exemption recommendation is removed, but the report notes the benefits of fracturing.

2003: Bush and Cheney back a sweeping energy bill that includes a provision to exempt fracturing from EPA drinking water regulation.

2004: An EPA study concludes that fracturing does not threaten drinking water.

2004: An EPA environmental engineer seeks whistle-blower protection after telling the agency inspector general and lawmakers that the EPA fracturing study is scientifically unsound.

Sources: Federal court records, national energy policy report, EPA records, interviews and news accounts

Sinclair Subsidiary Recipient of Gov't Contract; Executives Give $109,000 To Bush, Sinclair Gets Taxpayer Dollars in ‘war on terror’ contract

Sinclair the company that is forcing their 62 TV stations accross the country especially in swing states to air an anti-Kerry documentary pre-empting prime-time programs right before the election is the recipient of a ‘war on terror’ contract from the Bush Administration. Also Sinclair executives give the Bush Campaign and the Republican National Committee $109,000 in campaign contributions in addition to using Taxpayer-Owned Airwaves to air Pro-Bush Propeganda in Prime Time right before the election. Are these guys connected with Haliburton by any chance? Here is the online article.

Here is the text:

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, under fire for ordering its 62 networks to broadcast a film sharply critical of John Kerry’s opposition to the Vietnam War, is a major investor in a company recently awarded a military contract by the Bush Administration, RAW STORY has learned.

Jadoo Power Systems, Inc., a producer of portable power systems, announced Sept. 28 that it had been awarded a contract to supply its products, which are used for covert surveillance operations, to US Special Operations Command. According to the SOCOM website, SOCOM “plans, directs, and executes special operations in the conduct of the War on Terrorism.”

Jadoo, whose name in Hindi means “magic,” is owned by Sinclair Ventures, Inc. and Contango Capital Management. Sinclair Ventures is “a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. as well as other individuals.”

A Jadoo press release (in PDF format) reveals that in February, 2003, President Bush was personally briefed by the CEO of Jadoo, Larry Bawden, about Jadoo products.

According to Fortune Magazine, Jadoo has sold its fuel cells to Boeing; government agencies like the CIA, the Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and the U.S. Army.

For the 2004 election, Sinclair executives have donated nearly $59,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee (RNC), and a $50,000 gift to the RNC from Sinclair Vice President Fred Smith.

Sinclair Broadcasting announced this week that it intends to air an anti-Kerry film on all of its 62 television stations, many of which are in battleground states. The film, Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, claims that Kerry’s anti-war activities undermined morale of POWs then held in Vietnam.

Sinclair received national attention earlier this year when it preempted the April 30th Nightline television program on which host Ted Koppel read the names of the 523 American soldiers killed in Iraq up to that date.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Jadoo is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair Ventures, one of two investors in Jadoo, is the wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcasting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Another Republican Voter Registration Firm This One In Oregon Trashing Thousands of Democratic Voter Registrations!! Again This Is VERY Illegal!!

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Attorney General Hardy Myers plan to investigate allegations that a paid canvasser might have destroyed voter registration forms.

"There have been allegations made that someone threw out some voter registration forms that had been submitted to them," Bradbury told The Associated Press late Tuesday. "This is a violation of the law and I will meet with the attorney general in the morning to talk about what we can do to pursue this, and to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Bradbury learned of the conduct from KGW-TV, which interviewed Mike Johnson, 20, a canvasser who said he was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms. He told the TV reporter that he "might" destroy forms turned in by Democrats.

"I have never in my five years as secretary of state ever seen an allegation like the one that came up tonight — ever," Bradbury said. "I mean, frankly, it just totally offends me that someone would take someone else's registration and throw it out."

Bradbury said the law requires that groups registering voters submit forms no later than five days after they were filled out. He added that canvassers can't turn away a voter because of his or her party affiliation.

Rory Smith, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party in Oregon, said the young man interviewed by KGW-TV was not in their rolls. "We do not condone this type of behavior," Smith told the Portland-based station.

In Nevada earlier Tuesday, KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate, interviewed an employee of a private voter registration organization who said hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Democratic registration forms had been destroyed.

Eric Russell, a former Voters Outreach of America employee, told the TV station he had personally witnessed his supervisor take out Democratic registration forms from the pile and shred them.

The company has been largely funded by the Republican National Committee, the station reported.

A spokesman for the Las Vegas bureau of the FBI said he did not know if an investigation had been initiated.

Republican Voter Registration Firm Accused of Trashing Thousands of Democratic Voter Registrations in Nevada!! This Is VERY Illegal!!

Online article here.

Hundreds or Thousands of Democrat Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed

(Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters. It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure you really are registered.

Call the Clark County Election Department at 455-VOTE orclick here to see if you are registered.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Conservative Media Corporation Sinclair to Force TV Stations to Air Anti-Kerry Propoganda to 25% of American Homes

Sinclair who owns 62 TV stations broadcasting to nearly a quarter of US homes is going to force their TV Stations to Preempt Prime Time Programs in order to broadcast Anti-Kerry Pro-Bush Propaganda right before the election especially in Swing States. This will be a clear violation of the FCC Licenses those stations have requiring them to be balanced and provide for the public's good. Sinclair doesn't care if it can put Bush back in the Whitehouse. Here is what a former FCC Chairman, Reed Hundt, had to say in his letter to Sinclair.

Dear sirs:

I'm told you were involved in a decision to order Sinclair stations to carry anti-Kerry propaganda. If my information is false, please forgive this intrusion. While I do not believe you should be required to carry pro-Kerry content, except of course for an even-handed sale of your advertising time to both campaigns, I do wish to register my objection and concern if in fact you have obliged your stations to carry anti-Kerry propaganda.

I assure you that if you were carrying anti-Bush propaganda I would be equally concerned.

The problem is this: How can it be part of a broadcaster's public interest obligation to aspire to alter the perceptions of the audience about a presidential candidate by showing biased content that in no way reflects either breaking news or even-handed treatment of the issues? Why should a broadcaster keep its licenses if it behaves in this manner? I hope you will reconsider your edict -- unless, of course, I am misinformed, in which case I do hope you forgive this message.

-- Reed Hundt

Here is what another blog had to say:

How To Deal With Sinclair Broadcast Group's Attempt To Play Kingmaker

The next time our GOP friends charge the media with being liberal, remember this story. Sinclair Broadcast Group, a publicly-traded company with direct control over the programming of 62 TV stations around the country, is ordering its TV outlets to run an anti-Kerry piece of propaganda on the public’s television airwaves in the days leading up to the election.

The conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.

Sinclair has told its stations — many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida — to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry — a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester — of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan.

Comparisons between this smear and “Fahrenheit 911” are disingenuous at best simply because you could choose to go, pay, and see a movie even if propaganda, whereas this piece of propaganda is being beamed into your home on the public airwaves with the specific intention of swinging the election by using taxpayer-subsidized airwaves.

Second, Sinclair is being as usual grossly hypocritical here. Back in April they ordered their affiliates not to air a Ted Koppel “Nightline” segment in which Koppel was simply reading the names of fallen US service personnel in Iraq because ABC was supposedly "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," and because supposedly "ABC is disguising political statements as news content." So what exactly is telling your affiliates to preempt regular programming in swing states to run an anti-Kerry piece of propaganda? Is that not a political statement and a political agenda?

Third, what will the networks do if they find out that Sinclair is preempting network programming to carry this piece of propaganda? ABC has already demonstrated the willingness to deal with Sinclair’s political agenda when it went around its own Sinclair affiliates to offer the “Nightline” episode to nonaffiliates in those same Sinclair markets. Will ABC intervene here again with Sinclair, on the premise that such a blatant political agenda by a major affiliate group harms ABC by association as well? And what will ABC do if the Sinclair pre-emptions affect ABC programming? Perhaps letters and emails to each of the network VPs for affiliate relations asking what the network plans to do about this would be warranted.

But what can be done on this in the time between now and the election?

Chris Bowers over at Jerome Armstrong’s MyDD wrote about this on Saturday, and ChicagoProgressive over at Daily Kos is all over it as well, with a thread that shows how quickly the blogosphere can react in this case. There is information in both threads on how to contact the FCC, and local organizing efforts to contact stations and arrange pickets. I think that in the short time we have left to deal with this before the election, informational picket lines at each Sinclair affiliate pointing out to the local competing media that each of these stations that carry the film upon Sinclair’s orders are nothing more than taxpayer subsidized extensions of the Bush/Cheney 2004 election campaign is about all that can be done. Writing your member of Congress and Senators, including John McCain, would also be a way to get some national notice similar to what McCain and others saw happen when the FCC considered relaxing its media ownership rules earlier. But what else can be done here to make Sinclair pay for this?

The usual way to lean on broadcasters is to arrange boycotts of them or pressure their advertisers, as Chris indicated in his piece on MyDD, and this is already being worked on. There are groups out there with experience in holding the media accountable, such as the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Alliance for Better Campaigns. They could be brought in to coordinate a national letter writing campaign to the FCC that may make a dent before the election, as would any protests and boycotts locally at each station to get media coverage in the week before the election to show that the station is nothing more than a partisan front for the Bush campaign.

But what isn't done a lot which requires the broadcaster to rack up expensive legal fees, is to challenge every one of their affiliates' FCC license renewals as they come up this year and next.

The FCC rules state that anyone who has an interest, presumably a local interest, in the renewal of a TV license may file either an informal objection or a more formal petition that must meet specific requirements. Note that Petitions to Deny are required to be filed with the FCC one month in advance of the station’s license expiration date. According to the FCC’s schedule of station expiration dates by state, any move to file Petitions to Deny or objections in advance of the station’s license expiration date are already too late to be accepted for Sinclair stations in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, or the District of Columbia, as the expiration date has passed and the file has closed. However, note that there still is time to organize and file Petitions or objections by November 1, 2004 for Sinclair stations in North Carolina and South Carolina, and for Florida by January 1, 2005.

Bloggers could link up with local media law attorneys of like mind in each of these Sinclair affiliate towns to gather informal objections and formal petitions challenging the renewal of these Sinclair licenses, which would then be forwarded to the FCC for inclusion in the station's renewal file at least one month prior to the license expiration date for consideration at the time of the upcoming license renewals this year and in 2005-2007. For example, here are the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida stations with upcoming license expirations, for which objections and petitions must be filed by November 1, 2004 for the Carolina stations, and by January 1, 2005 for the Florida stations.

North Carolina:




South Carolina:






I have no illusions that the FCC and Michael Powell may actually reject some Sinclair licenses over this, but the commission would have a hard time ignoring a station's application for renewal if each file had hundreds or thousands of letters of complaint or petitions on file. Plus, Sinclair would have to defend each one and incur the legal costs of doing so.

Sinclair assumes that this would not happen because a national campaign opposing a major media conglomerate would cost their opponents way too much. Yet they are not counting on how cheaply the weblog community, working with outfits like the Alliance for Better Campaigns, the Center for Digital Democracy, Take Back the Media, and others that would join in, could organize the opposition by working with local media law attorneys who could work pro bono on organizing the license renewal opposition campaign, while of course getting some local and national media coverage themselves.

I think if the major weblogs starting talking about this, it could happen. As for what to do about Sinclair's last-minute attempt to swing this campaign for Bush, as I said earlier the only thing I see that local Democratic activists can do on short notice is to organize pickets and get media attention by calling these affiliates out as fronts for the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign through their ownership and affiliation with Sinclair. That will be enough to get the media attention and to plant the image in local voters' minds that Sinclair and its affiliates are really nothing more than biased abusers of the public's airwaves. But I don't really expect Sinclair to back down on this because this was sprung on us (by design I expect) too late for us to organize sufficiently to do them damage on this, as is the case in Maryland and the Virginias.

But on the longer term, I think the license challenge campaign can really send a message and point media coverage to this issue and to Sinclair's detriment. And more importantly, it would demonstrate that the Internet can be used to take on a major right wing media conglomerate and hold them accountable for the corporate welfare they receive in the form of these public airwave licenses, and their abuse of those public airwaves for partisan politics obviously aimed at influencing elections to their benefit through an organized smear campaign with connections to the White House.

Steve Soto :: 10:14 AM :: Comments (39) :: TrackBack (6)

Other blogs commenting on this post