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web posted October 9, 2000

Glassman announces presidential "tech straw poll"

TechCentralStation.com, the website that covers the convergence of politics, technology and investing, announced that it would be holding a Presidential "Tech Straw Poll." James K. Glassman, host of TechCentralStation.com said that the poll not only covers the presidential race, but also asks questions on important technology issues of the day.

The presidential preference question reads: "If the presidential election were held today, as someone interested in technology issues, which of the following candidates would you support?" The candidates listed on the question are: George W. Bush, Al Gore, Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan. Glassman said TechCentralStation's poll is important because it is the only presidential poll taken from a technology perspective.

"This presidential election has enormous implications for the future of technology and the New Economy. We are at a crossroads; we can choose to go in the direction of innovation and advancement or more government litigation and regulation," said Glassman.

Glassman has frequently pointed to the government's case against Microsoft as the most egregious example of government interference with the technology sector. One of the poll questions is dedicated to this issue. It reads: "Should the government break up Microsoft into two companies?"

Referring to the Microsoft case, Glassman said, "The Clinton-Gore administration's ill-conceived notion that government and not the market should dictate the rules of engagement in the new economy has placed at risk the security of millions of American shareholders."

James Glassman was early to link the sharp decline in the NASDAQ (the index has declined by one-third since March) to the government's suit against Microsoft. In the April 25 edition of the Boston Globe, the column "Boston Capital" reported, "James Glassman was the first to pin the blame (for the NASDAQ's decline) on the administration." Other analysts have since followed. Glassman pointed out that, not only has Microsoft's stock price declined but so have the prices of the stocks of Microsoft's toughest antagonists, companies that had expected to benefit from the suit: America Online, owner of browser maker Netscape; Sun Microsystems; Red Hat, maker of Linux software, and many others.

For more information about the Glassman Presidential "Tech Straw Poll," log onto www.TechCentralStation.com.

Rocker Marilyn Manson supports Bush. No, we can't believe it either

Marilyn MansonHe's a minister in the Church of Satan whose act was banned in Salt Lake City - but controversial gory Goth rocker Marilyn Manson leans Republican.

Interviewed in November's Talk magazine, Manson reveals that he can't stand President Clinton or Al Gore - and that he loathes the Dems' VP pick, Sen. Joe Lieberman, who partly blames Manson for the Columbine HS massacre.

"If I had to pick, I'd pick Bush, and not necessarily by default," Manson told Talk. "I know I don't support what the other team is about."

Canada's National Citizens' Coalition challenges election gag law in Calgary court

A national lobby group opposed to limits on the amount of money that can be spent on advertising during federal election campaigns took its battle to an Alberta court on Octber 2. "Here we go again," said Stephen Harper, president of the National Citizens' Coalition.

"We're in court for the fifth time in 17 years to defend basic freedoms," Harper said outside the Court of Queen's Bench. "We've had these kinds of laws struck down, consistently, categorically, and yet we're back in court again with the government up there with about a million dollars worth of legal assistance."

This time, Harper is challenging the federal government over Bill C-2, known as the "gag law," which received royal assent last May. Under the law, lobby groups can only spend up to $500 per riding - $150,000 nationally - on advertising for or against a candidate or party.

"The law is targeted specifically at small citizens," said Harper, a former Reform party member of Parliament.

"It explicitly outlaws ordinary citizens from pooling their resources to be able to buy media coverage that they couldn't otherwise get."

Inside the court, lawyers unleashed their ammunition for the two-week case - 76 binders of legal documents.

"Were I to be obliged to read all the material, you could expect a judgment next June," said Justice Robert Cairns.

"If I were to read one a day, it would probably be about Christmas before I read them all."

Cairns told lawyers he wanted to be directed only to pertinent references.

Lawyers for both sides said they intend to call several legal experts, including chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, but setting aside time for his appearance could be problematic.

"As you can expect, he is somewhat preoccupied these days," said Kingsley's lawyer, John Nelligan.

Federal lawyer Tom Wakeling told court that Ottawa admits to infringing freedoms of expression, but maintains that infringement is within reasonable limits of the law.

In a statement of defence, the federal government denies breaching the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Alan Hunter, lead counsel for Harper and the National Citizens' Coalition, told court that a decision needs to be expedited because of an impending federal election call.

"The rush this court has been put into is not the first time this has happened," said Hunter, who pointed to challenges of gag laws on the eve of an election in 1984 and as well in 1993.

"The spectre continues to be with us even as we speak," Hunter said.

"The irony today, while lying in state is the body of Pierre Elliot Trudeau - does the Constitution and charter mean anything at all to the Canadian government?"

While introducing the bill last year, Liberal House leader Don Boudria called it "charter-proof" and "the right thing to do."

"We have based this legislation on sound legal advice," he said.

Major issues dominate first Bush-Gore debate

Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush clashed over abortion, energy, taxes and Medicare in their first head-to-head debate the night of October 3, as both men hoped to define themselves on a national stage in a presidential campaign that still has no front-runner. [Read transcript here]

Gore and Bush just before the beginning of the debate"I have not questioned Governor Bush's experience. I have questioned his proposals," Gore said in his very first response of the night -- setting a tone that stayed thoughout the evening. Gore questioned Bush's proposals througout the first debate, while Bush repeatedly said the Clinton-Gore administration had failed Americans on many key issues.

The debate, held at the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts, may be a turning point for both candidates because many voter polls indicate the race is a statistical dead heat.

Debate moderator Jim Lehrer of the Public Broadcasting System struggled throughout the night to keep the two candidates within the agreed-upon debate format, as both men routinely ignored Lehrer's attempts to get them to move on.

Typical of the debate was an exchange between Bush and Gore on Medicare. Gore discussed a "lock box" proposal to protect Medicare funds, and Bush said the Clinton-Gore administration already had been given adequate opportunity to change the system.

"I cannot let this go by, the old-style Washington politics, trying to scare you with phony numbers," Bush said in response to Gore criticisms of his proposals. He accused Gore of "Medi-scare."

Abortion -- a clear defining issue between the two candidates -- also came into the spotlight. Asked about a recent Food and Drug Administration decision approving the use of the abortion pill RU-486, Bush said, "I don't think a president can" overturn such a decision. He then restated his willingness to sign legislation banning so-called "partial birth abortions," and said Gore wouldn't.

Gore said he would ban such late-term procedures, but only if it included exemptions to protect the life or health of the woman, the position Clinton has taken in vetoing two bills on the issue from the Republican-controlled Congress.

The discussion gave the candidates an opening to talk about whether Supreme Court justices they would appoint would face an abortion issue "litmus test."

"I don't believe in liberal activist judges. I believe in strict constructionists," said Bush. Gore called that response "code words" that guarantee Bush would appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that assures women have access to abortions.

Gore said his judges would be "very likely to uphold Roe v. Wade," but that there would be no abortion litmus test. "He'll put liberal activist judges on the bench" who will subvert the authority of Congress, Bush responded.

Energy policy -- which has gained a new focus this year thanks to high fuel costs -- also came into the spotlight.

"This is a major problem facing America. The administration did not deal with it," Bush said. Gore said he wanted to "protect the environmental treasures of America," and raised concerns that Bush's proposals focused only on added production in environmentally sensitive areas.

On the first foreign policy issue to come up, Gore and Bush agreed they would not use force to try and remove Slobodan Milosevic from power in Yugoslavia, even though they agreed he had been defeated in recent elections and should give up power.

To keep the candidates cool, university officials turned the thermostat inside the Clark Athletic Center gym well below 65 degrees. That's the show-time temperature, once the lights were flipped on and seats filled, that was required under contract by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Gore concedes debate story false

Vice President Al Gore conceded on October 4 that a dramatic anecdote he told during the debate was not exactly true and the accuracy of one or two others was questioned as well.

Gore — who said he traveled to Texas with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt to inspect wildfire damage — acknowledged he did not.

"I was there in Texas. I think James Lee went to the same fires. I've made so many trips with James to these disaster sites. I got that wrong," the vice president said on "Good Morning America."

The Gore campaign spent much of the day after the debate putting out other fires concerning other anecdotes, including one by Gore that a Florida school forced a female student to stand in an overcrowded classroom.

"Her science class was supposed to be for 24 students," the vice president said during the debate. "She is the 36th student in that classroom. . . . They can't squeeze another desk in for her, so she has to stand during class."

Sarasota High School Principal Daniel Kennedy, however, said that isn't true. The class was short a desk for just one day.

"That was probably one of the first days of school when we were in the process of leveling classes. And, she did have an opportunity to use a lab stool," he said on radio station WFLA in Sarasota.

"We don't really have any students standing in class and we have more than enough desks for all of our students," said Kennedy.

The Bush campaign criticized Gore as reporters scurried to check the veracity of anecdotes the vice president told during the debate.

"It's a troubling pattern of ongoing embellishments and exaggerations from the vice president under pressure," said Bush senior adviser Ari Fleischer. "It's an unsettling indication of how the vice president reacts to pressure by exaggerating personal stories that are easily verifiable."

Gore's latest gaffes follow the concocted story two weeks ago about how prescription drugs for his mother-in-law cost more than arthritis drugs for his dog. Aides later said the story was a "composite" using numbers from a congressional report.

That was followed by Gore's claim that he was involved with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve "since the days it was first established." In fact, he entered the House two years after the reserve was created in 1975.

Then he told a labor group that his mother had sung one of their union songs to him as a lullaby, but the song wasn't written until Gore was 27. He later said he had been kidding.

During the debate, Bush responded to a question from moderator Jim Lehrer about how he handled the unexpected by recalling his actions during wildfires in Parker County, Texas, in 1996. "I have to pay the administration a compliment," said Bush. "FEMA has done a good job of working with governors during times of crisis."

Gore, in a rebuttal, sought to do the governor one better.

"I want to compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in Texas," Gore said unasked. "I, I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out."

A quizzical expression crossed Bush's face as the vice president spoke.

"I thought for a moment I was going to call him on it," Bush told Fox News Channel the next day. "I don't remember him being in Parker County. But I took the man at his word.

"This is a man — he's got a record, you know, of sometimes exaggerating to make a point."

Gore acknowledged he had been in a Houston hotel — possibly for a fund-raiser — at the time and had not traveled to Texas with Witt to survey the fire damage. He said he had been briefed by FEMA officials.

"I was there in Texas in Houston with the head of the Texas emergency management folks and with all the federal emergency management folks. If James Lee was there before or after, then, you know, I got that wrong then."

The Bush campaign said Gore visited Houston on June 25, 1998, not during the 1996 fires to which Bush was referring. They said Gore attended a hastily arranged airport briefing on the fires before he drove off to a political fund-raiser. Witt was not with Gore during the briefing.

Gore spokesman Chris Lehane explained that the vice president had confused Witt with his underling, Buddy Young, a regional FEMA director who was actually the official who met with Gore on the occasion in question.

"The vice president traveled down to Texas in June of '98, flew over the fires and then did an event with Buddy Young," Lehane told The Washington Times. "He was not with Witt. We've been with Witt in the past in other disaster areas and emergency zone. He was just mistaken.

"The point was he saw the fires and held a meeting on them — he was complimenting the governor," said Lehane. "I think it shows how touchy the Bush campaign is — you can't even give them a compliment these days. I think those guys are getting a little stressed out down there."

Reporters also examined Gore's claim that a Florida schoolgirl, Kailey Ellis, had to stand in her classroom.

"I want the federal government . . . to make improvement of our schools the number-one priority so Kailey Ellis will have a desk and can sit down in a classroom where she can learn," Gore said in the debate.

School officials in Florida acknowledged that the 15-year-old girl did indeed go without a desk in science class — for a day. They said she was late for school and it took officials a few hours to find a desk for her.

"We were refurbishing that classroom and in the back of that picture, if you look carefully, you can see probably about $100,000 worth of new lab equipment that was waiting to be unpacked, which is one of the reasons the room looked as crowded as it did," Kennedy, the school principal, said in the radio interview.

This exchange between the talk-show host and Kennedy followed:

Host: "The way that it was framed last night was that they couldn't fit another desk in there because there were so many students in the classroom."
Kennedy: "Right I think that's a little bit misleading to tell you the truth, because I've been in the classroom many times."
Host: "Ah-ha. A little twisting of the truth."
Kennedy: "Yes, I think so."

The Gore campaign refused to backtrack on the anecdote. Aides made copies of a Sarasota newspaper article on the girl and passed them out to reporters traveling with the vice president.
Lehane said his boss was merely referring to the newspaper article, which had been sent to him with a handwritten note from the girl's father.

The principal, however, was disappointed. "I think it's unfortunate the vice president didn't call the school to check," said Kennedy.

Former Starr spokesman acquitted in leaks case

The former spokesman for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was acquitted on October 6 in a contempt of court case in which he was accused of leaking information about the investigation of President Clinton and trying to hide his role.

The former spokesman, Charles Bakaly III, was cleared by Norma Holloway Johnson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court. She had initiated the case after Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, filed a complaint.

"Even if some of his statements are misleading by their negative implication that Mr. Bakaly was not a source of information that he in fact supplied or confirmed, such a finding does not provide a sufficient basis for a criminal contempt conviction for making false statements," Johnson wrote in a 50-page ruling.

Johnson conducted a six-day nonjury trial of Bakalay in July. The Justice Department, which had declined to indict Bakaly, served as prosecutor at Johnson's request.

One of Bakaly's lawyers, Robert Weinberg, said , "We are pleased and gratified and we believe that the judge reached the right result." Another Bakaly lawyer, Michele Roberts, said, "He's in the clear.... He and I and the rest of the defense team are very pleased." Bakaly was charged with misleading Johnson in a February 1999 court submission that denied leaking material to The New York Times while Starr was investigating Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. If convicted, Bakaly could have faced up to six months in prison.

The judge had to decide whether Bakaly misled her court when he denied being the source quoted in a Times article that appeared January 31, 1999, in the midst of Clinton's impeachment trial. It said Starr had decided that a sitting president could be indicted.

"The defendant was untruthful with many falsehoods and lies," Justice Department prosecutor Alan Gershel said in his closing argument. "This lie is built on a house of cards. One lie begets another lie. At the end of the day, it all falls apart."

Gershel contended Bakaly initially tried to hide his role from Starr's investigators and the court, but later changed his story and admitted he provided some information for the article.

In her closing, defense lawyer Roberts scoffed at the accusation that Bakaly revealed secret matters, describing the material he disclosed as "garden variety" information discussed in every newspaper and talk show during the Lewinsky investigation.

Roberts said her client was trying to inform the judge he did not provide the reporter "with any information about (Starr's office's) intentions" on a possible Clinton indictment.

She said in that context, "The statement was true then; the statement is true now."

Roberts also accused a Starr lawyer of omitting Bakaly's proposed changes to a court submission last year that would have more precisely defined his relationship with Times reporter Don Van Natta Jr.

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