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THURSDAY, NOV. 4, 2004

North Idahoans get short-changed

In 1994, Hayden Republican Gordon Crow won his first term in the Idaho Senate by campaigning on the notion that it didn't make sense for North Idaho to send Democrats to the overwhelmingly Republican state Legislature. If North Idaho wants to be heard, he said, it should elect Republicans to represent the region in the dominant caucus. North Idaho voters responded to that message and have been electing delegations full of Republicans since.

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The youth vote was a no-show

Was it rock the vote or mock the vote? Forgive us, but wasn't this going to be the breakout year for young voters to finally grab their rightful share of the electoral pie? Wasn't this the year that cellphone-toting youths would flummox the pollsters and have a real impact? Wasn't this going to be the year that justified lowering the voting age to 18?

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Warning bells heard in Bush country?

When the dust settles on the presidential election of 2004, the most important insight should be about the political mood of the nation and not about the closeness of the race. George W. Bush's victory was not a fluke this time. Again it all came down to one state's electoral votes, but this time the raw numbers didn't tell the whole story. This turned out to be an election about gut values rather than purely partisan politics. The hordes of new voters, who were expected to favor Sen. John Kerry, surprised prognosticators by dancing to a variety of tunes. In key states, as many of them obviously chose Bush as Kerry.

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Leaky logic imperils media independence

Follow this closely because the logic gets tricky: Someone in the White House leaked the name of a CIA operative to several journalists, apparently to punish the husband of the covert agent for taking issue with the administration.

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India, Pakistan must sow seeds of trust

There are three potential flash points for war in Asia that keep security experts awake at night – the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, and India and Pakistan. All three crisis spots remain at a simmer. But in the case of India and Pakistan, there is at least some movement away from confrontation.

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Please, don't forget the wounded

Let me tell you about Greg. I met him in 1985, back when I was still a pop music critic. A guy named Paul Hardcastle had a hit that year called "19," all about the toll the war in Vietnam exacted on a generation of American soldiers. It inspired me to visit a vet center and interview some soldiers, one of whom was Greg.

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Smart kids take action via Web

Post Falls High seniors Holly Bowen and Nadia Aikins tested their administrators' knowledge of the First Amendment, and the school officials failed that test. Principal John Billetz and others overreacted to Post Falls Uncensored, an underground Web site written and edited by the pair and others – rather than view it as a free expression of the teens' views about their high school. Administrators called students into the office to find out who was involved in the online publication. Officials also blocked access to the site from school computers, which, of course, prompted students to seek a way around the filter or to enter the site from home.

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TUESDAY, NOV. 2, 2004

Casting ballots just the beginning

If predictions are accurate, today's voter turnout will be as robust as anything we've seen in years. Hurray for that. But that it should happen at the end of a campaign distinguished by vicious negativism and a bipartisan abuse of truth takes the luster off the comfort we ought to feel. Expect the antics to continue right up to 8 p.m. when the polls close. Last-minute voters will be coming home to automated campaign calls and the answering machine.

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Japan is getting serious about security

Slowly and quietly, Japan is shedding its post-war image as a military free-rider, content to rely on the United States for its defense. Japanese are not only talking seriously about national security — they are acting. Japan's image as a bastion of pacifism has long been out of sync with reality. While Japan confined its military to defense of its homeland, it built a powerful armed force. Its navy is considered by many to be second only to that of the United States in its strength and skill. And its air force is among the world's best.

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Time to focus on the big picture

There's a poignant moment for the American political conversation around dinner time on election day. The polls are closing, but the results aren't yet in. Or, more likely, everybody you see on TV already knows the likely result thanks to exit polls, which – in a nutty exercise of misplaced high-mindedness – they don't share with the public. In any event, for politicians and political journalists, there are about 10 seconds when there is truly nothing to say.

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SUNDAY, OCT. 31, 2004

A summary of S-R endorsements

An intense national election campaign comes to an end on Tuesday. Below is a summary of the ballot recommendations that The Spokesman-Review editorial board has presented over the past few weeks. The recommendation we make with the greatest conviction, however, is the one that goes to the core of America's political values: Vote.

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Nethercutt will represent us well

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt are good people, with solid congressional records, who have behaved badly in their campaigns for Murray's Washington Senate seat. Each has distracted the public with attack television ads that dredged up old controversies. Rather than concentrate on issues, Murray has slammed her opponent for moving to Bellevue and called his truthfulness into question for breaking his term-limits promise several years ago. Rather than focus on differences between Washington's senior senator and himself, Nethercutt has hammered away at Murray with a misleading account of comments she made about Osama bin Laden to a high school class.

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Richard best for commissioner

The contest between Republican Mark Richard and Democrat Bill Burke isn't a clash of ideologies. It's a battle over who best understands the job description. They both want to be the District 2 commissioner for Spokane County, replacing Kate McCaslin, but they have dramatically different ideas on what the job entails. If they were artists, Mark Richard would paint by numbers. Burke would produce abstractions. But the job isn't art; it requires concrete solutions and attention to detail.

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SATURDAY, OCT. 30, 2004

A health system in critical condition

For Allison Oler, the severe shortage of influenza vaccine is more than a story on the nightly news. As the mother of three children, she knows that her house will be incapacitated for a week if – or is it when? – the flu arrives. Worse, as a primary-care physician, she has several thousand high-risk patients who are now without an inoculation that could save their lives. Five years ago, there wasn't much interest in the vaccine; now it is more precious than a winning lottery ticket, and its distribution seems just as random. Oler has heard of vaccinations offered at supermarkets, pharmacies and prisons, but her clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School has none.

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