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Opinion

MONDAY, OCT. 18, 2004

Where will we get our troops?

"No draft! Got it?" That's what Congress appeared to say when it voted down a military draft bill by a resounding 402-2. But the bill wasn't proposed for passage; it was designed to make the political point that if all young men and women could be pressed into service, the country might be less supportive of military actions.

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The unanswered question

The following editorial, which does not necessarily reflect the views of The Spokesman-Review, appeared Friday in The Los Angeles Times: How can any government be considered effective if it can't provide protection for its citizens against a public health danger as serious and predictable as the flu? That question apparently hasn't occurred to President Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry, who both seemed stumped when asked in Wednesday's debate to explain why the closure of a single plant in Britain had cut America's flu vaccine supply by half.

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SUNDAY, OCT. 17, 2004

Reluctantly, we choose Bush again

George W. Bush promised to be "a uniter, not a divider," but today our country is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. George W. Bush entered office with a reputation as a consensus builder; yet, the United States is at odds with some of its longtime allies. George W. Bush was billed as a "compassionate conservative," but health care and housing for the poorest in our nation remain significant challenges. George W. Bush wasn't what we expected when we endorsed him four years ago.

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Congress ignores fiscal disaster

WASHINGTON – It's not true that people in Washington can't agree about anything. Across the policy spectrum, there's a clear recognition that the present path of budget-making is unsustainable – in fact, ruinous. The Concord Coalition, whose leadership includes prominent Republicans, says that with realistic assumptions but no change in policy, the federal debt will swell by a staggering $5 trillion in the next 10 years. The liberal Economic Policy Institute says that a "budget train wreck" lies ahead. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warns that it looks as if "substantial reductions in the projected growth of spending or a sizable increase in taxes – or both – will probably be necessary" to avoid fiscal disaster.

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Law can be bad for good schools

WASHINGTON – Anthony Fears, principal of Anne Beers Elementary School, should be the kind of school leader who swears by the No Child Left Behind revolution. In each of the last three years, Fears' students have produced marked increases in math scores on the tests that determine whether their school is a success or failure in the eyes of the federal government. Reading scores at Beers have lagged, but Fears is determined to turn that around; this year, he requires every class to spend two hours each morning on reading instruction.

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Rossi the better choice for economic recovery

For much of the past few years, Washington state has been one of the top-ranked states in one of the least desirable categories. Unemployment. The state's next governor needs to respond with a clear, targeted program to reverse that unfortunate status. Republican Dino Rossi has demonstrated the necessary resolve, both in his campaign and as a Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman who was instrumental in delivering a budget without raising taxes. The latter feat is especially noteworthy, given the serious revenue shortfalls that have tormented state government.

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SATURDAY, OCT. 16, 2004

Attack ads can teach a lesson

The negative ads keep on coming in Washington's U.S. House 5th District race between Cathy McMorris, Republican, and Don Barbieri, Democrat, despite promises from both candidates that they would run positive campaigns. And despite promises that they would protest when others use negative tactics in support of them. The good news: The ads provide some lessons in spotting where attack ads depart from the reality of political life.

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Kerry's vote shows lack of backbone

The best reason to be skeptical that John Kerry has the gumption to defend America's vital interests and allies is not that he has been all over the map about this current war in Iraq. Although such erratic behavior is unpresidential, Kerry's unwillingness to support military action in 1991 against Saddam Hussein after Iraq had invaded and raped neighboring Kuwait is the best reason to question his judgment.

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Truth falls victim to politics

A question for supporters of George W. Bush. Have you heard that CBS is planning to air Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" next week? And that, in order to get around equal time guidelines, they're going to classify it as news programming?

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The evolution of debates

After watching George Bush and John Kerry debate, I can't help but wonder, what would Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas think? Their debates, the most famous debates in American political history, weren't for the presidency but for the position of Illinois senator. Modern presidential debates have existed for only the past half-century, but have gained so much influence that they could affect the outcome of the Nov. 2 election. George Washington never participated in a presidential debate. He ran unopposed.

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FRIDAY, OCT. 15, 2004

Afghanistan's script unlike Iraq's

The sight of millions of Afghans casting ballots for the first time in their history was heartening. After decades of civil war, foreign invasion and extremist rule, the prospect of a peaceful future for Afghanistan is a cause for hope. President Bush eagerly seized on this as validation of his vision of implanting a model democracy in Iraq. That is not only wrong — it is also dangerously naive.

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Becker, Sanders best for bench

Two Washington state Supreme Court seats will be decided by voters Nov. 2. One features an incumbent seeking re-election; the other is a vacancy created when Justice Faith Ireland decided not to seek re-election. Position 1: Becker vs. Johnson

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Is Clarence Thomas model justice?

WASHINGTON – A little-noticed bombshell was dropped by Justice Antonin Scalia in a recently released biography of Justice Clarence Thomas. It poses an interesting dilemma for President Bush this election season, in that it raises the question of whether he should continue to cite Thomas as one of his model Supreme Court justices. The evidence, of course, suggests that a repudiation of Thomas by the president is extremely unlikely. Indeed, Ken Foskett, the author of "Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas," claims that top Bush administration officials have discussed with Thomas the possibility of his succeeding William Rehnquist as chief justice.

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THURSDAY, OCT. 14, 2004

Rankin showed focus can count

Love him or hate him, Ron Rankin was a political force that even Idaho governors feared. For four decades, he fought big government on behalf of Idaho's little guys: seniors on fixed incomes, laid-off loggers and miners, underemployed hospitality employees and young families, among others. Much of his time was spent in an old Cadillac with a "VOXPOP" vanity plate, driving alone on dangerous U.S. Highway 95, and southern Idaho roadways in search of signatures and votes to limit the state's property tax. In the 1990s, his initiatives lost at the ballot box, but he was able to put so much pressure on successful gubernatorial candidate. Phil Batt and the dominant Republican Party that the 1995 Legislature passed a bill that still provides tens of millions of dollars per year in statewide property tax relief.

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Terror won't ever represent 'nuisance'

Once again, John Kerry has been accurately misquoted. The Republican Attack Machine – that strange, clanking leviathan bristling with loudspeakers and cannons – has circulated devious contortions of Kerry's true positions, using the recent New York Times Sunday mag feature for ammo. Yes, he said that this war wasn't like Iwo Jima – well, tell it to the Marines, as they used to say. Yes, he said he wasn't really changed by Sept. 11 – true, inasmuch as he wasn't laid off when the economy tanked and didn't have to post a picture of a loved one on a NYC storefront. But here's the key passage penned by Times contributing writer Matt Bai: "When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. 'We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,' Kerry said. 'As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.' "

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