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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Broken Government: Encore Presentation
Aired October 22, 2006 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So I saw this great bumper sticker the other day, it read had enough? We're being bled to death, literally and figuratively in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no border security to speak of, no port security fives year after 9/11, Social Security and Medicare well on their way to insolvency. Our national debt is staggering.
China is kicking our butt. Like I said, had enough? Our leaders lie to us and steal from us, and do it all with a straight face. They don't think we get it. I think we do. I honestly think the upcoming midterm elections will be breathtaking in the message that deliver to Washington. It's my fervent hope that every single incumbent on the ballot will lose. It's time to start over.
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN election special, BROKEN GOVERNMENT. From our broadcast center in New York City, here's Jack Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: Good evening. We're on the verge of what could well be the most important midterm election in this country's history. Look at these numbers. They're shocking. Sixty-eight percent think this country is headed in the wrong direction; more than two thirds. Sixty-four percent against the war in Iraq. Sixty-one percent disapprove of the job President Bush is doing leading the country.
Oh and the war in Iraq was his idea. And then there's Congress, a joke. Seventy-one percent disapprove of the job Congress is doing. The other, what is it, 29 percent they just haven't read the paper. Our government is broke and Congress has failed to do anything meaningful. They vote on amendments for flag burning and gay marriage, but nothing on immigration, Social Security, health care, nothing that matters to the middle class in this country.
The Bush administration has all but ignored the Constitution since 9/11, all in the name of national security and fighting terrorism. We're being overrun by millions of illegal aliens and Washington does nothing. There are serious questions about the integrity of our elections and our reputation overseas, well that's pretty much shot now, isn't it.
We sent crews around the country to find out what you think about all this and here's some of what's on your mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What frustrates me to see our elected officials act like a bunch of second graders. And that's not even fair. Second graders have better discourse in the classroom than our representative does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How useful is this Congress when they can't do anything about immigration or the war, you know, bipartisanship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both parties, if they're not broken, they're in bad shape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think they're doing a good job. I think that they're not listening to people, they have their own agenda. They're not working as hard as they should be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everything is running pretty smooth. I think with the gas prices dropping back down and everything, I think they're getting their act together. The president is going to get reelected again this -- next term I believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAFFERTY: Well, don't bet your lunch money. Joe Johns joins us now with a look not at what Congress has done for us, but rather what they're doing to us. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jack, it's been called the do- little, do-nothing, dysfunctional Congress. We counted the black marks on the 109th Congress and it is a rough list.
JOHNS (voice-over): Number ten, all pay, no work. Every member of the House of Representatives makes at least $165,000 a year. So far, they have spent only 94 days in session. That's almost $1,800 a day. Nice work if you can get it.
Nine -- what illegal immigrants? Wasn't immigration reform supposed to be about the most important issue this year? And what did they do about it? They voted to build a fence.
Eight -- what are you wearing? The skanky way Florida Republican Mark Foley is reported to have talked to former congressional pages in electronic messages and when he got caught like a real a profile encourage, he announced he was gay, abused as a teenager by an unnamed priest, checked into alcohol rehab, and left his colleagues to sort out the mess.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And he deceived me too.
JOHNS: Seven -- oh say can you thieve. Duke Cunningham, a former fighter jock turned jailbird, once seemed like a poster child for patriotism until it turned out the California Republican was on the take and getting paid with just about everything but the stars and stripes.
Six -- the booze made me do it. The congressional pilgrimage to rehab that featured some household names this year, including Foley, Ohio Republican Bob Ney -- more about his later -- and Rhode Island Democrat Patrick Kennedy. People wished them well, but were left wondering if rehab isn't just an easy way out.
Five -- addicted to pork? The Congress is going to have to face it, it's addicted to pork, bridges to nowhere, a museum to honor the folks responsible for the New Orleans levees that failed, emergency money for non emergencies, and at the end a record deficit.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: The fellow over here with the yellow shirt...
JOHNS: Four -- the macaca moment. Senator George Allen of Virginia called a guy of Indian decent who was shadowing him macaca, then claimed he didn't know what it meant. Well it means monkey.
Three -- throwing in the towel. Texas Republican Tom DeLay, he was the House majority leader got indicted in Texas in a case that was far from water tight, denied wrongdoing and then up and quit. What's up with that? The Capitol's tough guy, "The Hammer", gave up before fighting it out in court.
Two -- frostbite, the case of the cold-hard cash. The feds said they videotaped Louisiana Democrat Bill Jefferson accepting $100,000 then found 90 grand in his freezer. They claim they're investigating several allegedly shady deals. He hasn't been charged with anything and says he hasn't done anything wrong.
And the winner is number one on the list of dubious accomplishments of the 109th Congress, Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, the corrupt couple, the lobbyist and the mayor of Capitol Hill united by guilty pleas, things of value exchanged for official acts, plus a passion for golf, meals, tickets to sporting events and power.
Jack is out of the lobbying group. But Ney is still a congressman, still cashing paychecks until his colleagues throw him out -- at $1,800 a day who can blame him -- a tip of the fedora to old Jack, Bob and a session that many would sooner forget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2006.
JOHNS: Now the truth is, obviously a lot of people ask, why can't Congress get anything done, and if you ask people in Washington, they'll say well, in the first place, Congress was set up to slow things down. The one thing of course they haven't been able to slow down is the allegations of corruption.
CAFFERTY: One of my favorite things they pulled this year is they appropriated $20 million from the general treasury -- they've already reached in and taken this money out of our pockets for a victory celebration for the war in Iraq. If they would put that money in a C.D., by the time we win that thing in Iraq, they could pay off the national debt.
(LAUGHTER) CAFFERTY: Good to see you.
CAFFERTY: All right. Joe Johns. Republicans bogged down by scandal, bloody war leading up to these midterm elections. We'll have more on that as we move through the hour. First the Democrats -- history suggests they're perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Republicans are doing everything they can to hand the Democrats the election. The question is, will they take it.
Candy Crowley is in Asheville, North Carolina for us tonight. Candy, you could get rich selling tickets to people to watch the Democrats try to get their stuff organized.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Listen, Jack, before we start this piece, I want to ask you a question, ask you to do something I think is difficult for you. I want like a one-word answer here. I'm going the say something. You respond with one word -- Democrats.
CROWLEY: Well OK, that's not exactly the answer we got, but pretty close.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Free association. I say Democrat, you say...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it stands for anything now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Losers. No, I don't mean that like, you know, they are losers. I mean it in a form of they're not standing up.
CROWLEY: One may have something to do with the other. Democrats have been the minority in Congress for 12 years. When George Bush leaves the White House, Democrats will have occupied the Oval Office for 12 of the last 40 years, which brings us to the next question -- what's wrong with these people. Number one -- no backbone.
DAVID "MUDCAT" SAUNDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We do not fight back. This wuss factor in the Democratic Party is real.
CROWLEY: Two -- all policy, no pulse.
GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: They keep talking about these issues in a very complicated way where all of the money's coming from, where it's all going to go, how long this program's going to last. And people are looking at their watch wondering how do I get out of here.
DOUG HATTAWAY, FORMER GORE ADVISER: Democrats need to stop trying to sell people policy papers and start talking people's heart, as well as their head.
CROWLEY: Every since the tumultuous early 70's when the Democrats got tagged as the party of acid, amnesty and abortion, they have been on the losing side of the values debate, the defense debate and oh yes, the guns debate. Al Gore and John Kerry lost every Southern state and most of the mid and interior West.
BRUCE REED, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: Our biggest problem is that of late we've been losing elections.
CROWLEY: Maybe this is the year that proves the exception and Democrats will sweep into power, so when I say 2008 Democrats running for president you say...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, right now, they seem to stand for opposing George Bush, so I think they need to figure something else out.
CROWLEY: If Democrats do sweep into power this year, Jack, it will be through no fault their own. This time, the fault, dear Jack, lies with Republicans.
CAFFERTY: Candy, let me ask you something. You've been covering these weasels for a good long while, do you get the sense that Congress is aware that most of the people in this country simply cannot stand them and does it bother them at all?
CROWLEY: Usually, let me tell you something. When you say to someone, you know this is a wrong policy or why are you doing this or why are you doing that, generally a congressman or a senator will say to you, well we just haven't been able to shape our message. They generally sort of lay it off on well we haven't communicated it correctly.
CAFFERTY: Yes. Well, they're not doing a very good job. But you are and the next time you're in New York, I want a writing lesson. I think you might be the best writer in television.
CROWLEY: Bless you. Thanks.
CAFFERTY: Thanks Candy -- Candy Crowley, Asheville, North Carolina. E-mails, it's your program this hour and we got some. We begin with this from Maggie in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
The Democrats are gutless. The Republicans are amoral. We the people need to reclaim our power or we will find ourselves sliding down a slippery slope that steals our freedoms and our children's futures.
Federica in Livonia, Michigan writes, my answer to the question regarding the broken Congress is simple. Throw out the baby, the bathwater, and the bathtub.
And Jerry in Roswell, Georgia, I'll tell you Jack if there's something rotten in my refrigerator I throw it out and buddy there's a big stench coming from Washington, D.C.
You can keep e-mailing us right through the rest of the hour. The address is JackBrokenGovernment@CNN.com. Let us know what's on your mind. Also check out the bottom of the screen. We did something no one else has been able to do at CNN. We have taken over the crawl and although it's not visible on my monitor -- I see one across the -- we're going to run your e-mails across the bottom of the screen during the entire hour. So if you don't hear your e-mail read, you might see it if you pay close attention.
Scandal, corruption and a botched war, broken Republicans, how does Don Rumsfeld keep a job? We'll talk with one conservative who says the GOP deserves to lose control of the Congress. Also, hacking the vote -- find out how it's possible to rig an election. Princeton University says it's easy. A hard look at electronic voting machines and one governor who wants to go back to paper.
And war, terror, politics playing on our fears in order to prey on our freedoms. It's your government and your vote.
CAFFERTY: Christian conservatives the Republican base. They might not be so willing to vote Republican this time around. There's the Mark Foley scandal, of course, a Republican congressman hitting on teenage members of the page program, a real gem this clown. His disgusting behavior apparently well-known in Washington and yet the Republican leadership of the House chose to do nothing until Foley's behavior became public.
And now comes an explosive new book by a former senior aide to President Bush named David Kuo. He talks about how members of Bush administration laughed at the evangelical Christians behind their backs, mocked them, all the while taking their money and their support. People in Karl Rove's office, according to the book, reportedly used to refer the evangelicals as the nuts. I talked to a conservative -- a good one -- about where the Republicans have gone wrong.
Joining us now is Andrew Sullivan, who is the author of "The Conservative Soul" or what's left of it. Welcome. Nice to have you here.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, "THE CONSERVATIVE SOUL": Thank you Jack.
CAFFERTY: How much trouble are the Republicans in over the Foley scandal and the way they have chosen to deal with it or not deal with it? We've got a month before the people vote and it's a big election.
SULLIVAN: I think it shows that they have been in power too long and they're too full of themselves and think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. And it looks like they're getting away with it or try to blame it on some staffer here or staffer there. I mean Hastert, if he didn't know, should have known.
CAFFERTY: Well there's reason to believe that four of his aides, four of them, were told at some point that long precedes his admission to having any awareness at all about it.
CAFFERTY: Could he have just bitten the bullet and walked out of town right away or...
SULLIVAN: Well the Republicans are scared that would lose them the election all-together. But you know I actually believe in something called responsibility. And if you're the top guy and this is happening, you don't blame your aides. I'm tired of these people always chewing out their staff.
SULLIVAN: They're the ones that have to walk the plank. At some point -- and this starts from the top down. I mean if you're Bush, why have you not fired Donald Rumsfeld by now?
CAFFERTY: Of course.
SULLIVAN: I mean when you have screwed up a war so obviously...
CAFFERTY: Well, two of them. You know Afghanistan's not exactly going well either, right?
SULLIVAN: ... Afghanistan, the Taliban...
SULLIVAN: The violence in Iraq, which we're responsible for its security. Remember...
SULLIVAN: ... Colin Powell, you break it, you own it. We own it and we have destroyed it.
CAFFERTY: Well, in our foreign policy in other parts of the world we're trying to impose our will on Iran, on North Korea. They go blithely along doing their nuclear programs and paying absolutely no attention to George Bush.
SULLIVAN: Well, because he's shown that his only real weapon is this military power and that he doesn't even know how to wield it competently. I mean, I was for the war, Jack. I believed what they told me.
CAFFERTY: A lot of us were. I was too in the beginning.
SULLIVAN: I was passionately in favor of it, but as soon as I saw they had to intention of winning it, they were only going to send enough troops to lose...
CAFFERTY: ... why are they there...
SULLIVAN: ... our kids are out there, you know, putting their lives on the line and they don't have the manpower to support them.
CAFFERTY: Why are we in there? Why do you think we're really there?
SULLIVAN: I think we went in there for a multiple of variety of reasons. Mainly, we generally feared WMDs in the hands of terrorists.
SULLIVAN: And secondly, we realize that unless there's some Democratic space in that part of the world, the possibility of moderate Muslims fighting back against these extremists...
SULLIVAN: ... was minimal. And we though Iraq would be a great place to do it. Well look what we have done, we've actually empowered the extremists, weakened the moderates, and the rest of the region is getting more extreme, not less.
CAFFERTY: So what do we do now?
SULLIVAN: We punish them.
CAFFERTY: I mean is it time to get out...
SULLIVAN: I think we have to make a decision. My view, given what I know, is that as long as Donald Rumsfeld is secretary of defense, I don't want any more troops in that sense.
SULLIVAN: We need accountability at the top. And then my view is if the military can provide a real strategy, and they have on the ground changed a lot. They've understood better how to deal with this that we should provide them with more troops and a real strategy to win.
CAFFERTY: Either go in there and get it won or get out and let them figure it out on their own.
SULLIVAN: Yes, the Rumsfeld grind...
SULLIVAN: ... of failure, that has to go. We have to decide either out or really commit to win. CAFFERTY: Let me ask you about the role or the responsibility of the leadership of this Congress. They have done nothing but rubber stamp anything Bush has wanted since 9-12, whether it's NSA spying without warrants or going through people's financial records or telephone records or rewriting the War Powers Act and the Geneva Conventions. What responsibility do Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert, and Republican members of Congress, because the majority in both sides, what responsibility do they have for the state this country is in?
SULLIVAN: Huge responsibility -- I give you one figure. The debt for the next generation inherited in 2000, was $20 trillion. By last year, it was $43 trillion.
CAFFERTY: Now, you're including unfunded liability...
CAFFERTY: ... Social Security, Medicare, all that stuff...
SULLIVAN: I'm talking about -- this is a number from the Government Accountability Office.
SULLIVAN: The amount they promised to pay out they have no way of paying for -- now that's conservative?
CAFFERTY: Well we tried to reform Social Security so that it would be a bone to throw to the Wall Street guys, right...
SULLIVAN: Yes, they never bit the bullet on being honest with people. You can't afford this indefinitely. They're not honest with people.
CAFFERTY: Why are they lying to us, Andrew? They've lied to us about a lot of things. I don't remember that happening a lot. I know politicians aren't the most honest guys in town, whether it's Republicans or Democrats, but it seems to me we've been fed a pretty steady of diet of untruths and lies on a lot of these issues for a very long time.
SULLIVAN: I'm afraid you're right. I gave them the benefit of the doubt until I couldn't. After 9/11, Jack, you tell me, if the president had asked the country, we need more troops. We probably need to have more taxes to pay for that.
CAFFERTY: Like that.
SULLIVAN: We need you all to sacrifice.
SULLIVAN: And we're going to win this war, Americans would have given him anything he wanted. Instead he said I'll handle it. You go shopping. No sacrifices. And then, he carries on this policy, which has failed.
CAFFERTY: You feel like you have been had?
SULLIVAN: I feel really angry.
CAFFERTY: If Ken Mehlman called you, the head of the Republican National Committee and says you know what, I don't like what the Republican Party is becoming or has become in the last five years. What do I do to fix it? What would you tell him?
SULLIVAN: I'd tell him remember what conservative is supposed to be about, balanced budgets, limited government, small government, and competence. If you're going fight a war do it well. Send enough troops...
SULLIVAN: ... and take responsibility for your actions. If you have failed, admit your errors, fire the people who screwed up and start over. They're so incapable of admitting error. They think conceding a mistake is weakness. You know what, conceding a mistake honestly is strength.
CAFFERTY: And the Americans are very forgiving. Anybody who stands up and they made a mistake and says I'm sorry, the American public tends to say hey, you know what, give him another chance. That's fine.
CAFFERTY: But we haven't even had that opportunity. Who's going to win the midterm elections?
SULLIVAN: Well I don't know, Jack, and neither do you. I'm telling you this. If the mood in the country is what I think it is, and this Congress doesn't go to the other party...
SULLIVAN: ... then there's something wrong with the system. My feeling is that gerrymandering is a big problem.
CAFFERTY: What about these machines that nobody trust. Princeton says you can hack into them in an hour and make them do anything you want.
SULLIVAN: Well they scare the bejesus out of me.
SULLIVAN: I want a piece of paper frankly...
CAFFERTY: Yes, me too, right. SULLIVAN: ... a record, as simple as that. And so there's a paper trail. So we know what's going on. I feel I'm a refugee, like a lot of people. I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a liberal. But I sure am not a conservative like these guys. I don't believe in what they stand for.
CAFFERTY: Andrew Sullivan, thanks for coming in and joining us. I appreciate it very much. Good luck with the new book.
SULLIVAN: Thank you very much.
CAFFERTY: Nice to see you.
SULLIVAN: You too.
CAFFERTY: Good guy. Coming up -- security breakdown, we're going to go to the Arizona Mexico border where terrorists or anybody else for that matter, can walk freely into these United States, an estimated one million illegal aliens a year do just that. Mexican border security is a joke.
Plus, a congressional race in that part of the country, where immigration policy will decide the outcome.
Also, a lot of people think the fix is in. We'll find out if we'll get an honest count when they total up the numbers on those electronic voting machines.
And terror politics, using fear to get out the vote and take away our freedom, whether there's a reason to be afraid or not. Stick around.
CAFFERTY: Problems at the polls -- ballot box meltdown, computer glitches, human error and the possibility -- that's right Virginia -- the possibility someone could actually rig an election. Steal it, even. Find out if your vote's going to count.
And war, terror, politics, the White House has used the fear of terror to hijack the Constitution and keep their party in power.
Also, open borders, security breakdown -- we're going to live to the Arizona/Mexican border where some of you are absolutely fed up. It's your government, your vote. Stay with us.
CAFFERTY: Welcome back to the second half of our "Broken Government" special. Two and half weeks we'll all vote. Might be the most important midterm election we've ever had. Two hundred and thirty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and greatest democracy the world has ever known is in trouble. Like some banana republic, if you will, Americans will go to voting booth wondering if their vote will count, and recorded accurately. The integrity of the system by which we govern ourselves is in danger, and Zain Verjee is here now with more -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Jack, you want your vote to count for something, right? But it's actually not a sure bet that it will be. If you're voting electronically, beware.
(voice-over): Hanging chads and a hung election. The year 2000, and the paper ballot debacle. The disaster triggered a dash to go digital. Electronic voting machines, you touch, you vote. Easy, efficient, a paperless route.
But that, it seems, is the problem.
KEVIN ZEESE, MARYLAND SENATE CANDIDATE: You spend $100 million on machines where you can't do an independent audit. There's no way to know if the machine is right. It's pretty embarrassing.
VERJEE: The September Maryland primary was an embarrassment. Systems crashed and had to be rebooted.
AVI RUBIN, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Software is always full of bugs.
VERJEE: And election-day mess. Human error compounded the chaos. Election officials forgot to distribute cards needed to operate the machines. In some precincts, election workers didn't remove memory cards needed to count votes. Maryland's Governor Robert Ehrlich says, just take it low tech, back to good old paper.
GOV. ROBERT EHRLICH, (R) MARYLAND: Let's ere on the side of safety, get an election everybody can count on, and then go higher tech next time.
VERJEE: Too late, the election's just around the corner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just what the hell are people in America doing?
VERJEE: Disputes over e-voting, coast to coast. Colorado, California, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio, Illinois. Voters are frustrated, fearful, too, that foul play could steal votes.
Computer scientist Edward Felten at Princeton University says a bad guy can hack into a Diebold voting machine and rig a real election in under a minute.
ED FELTEN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Once the virus is there, it flips the votes within a few seconds.
VERJEE: There's no way for election observers to know. It all happens in the software. Diebold says glitches have been fixed, and strongly rejects the Princeton study, saying, "By any standard - academic or common sense - the study is unrealistic and inaccurate."
Diebold is not the only maker of e-voting machines. But none of the other manufacturers have been independently tested. Scientists say the security of their systems is a complete unknown.
FELTEN: We want elections to be held accurately, so that people's votes count.
VERJEE: So how you can be sure your vote will be count?
RUBIN: Swallow hard if you don't like the technology that's being used. The one way that you can guarantee your vote won't be counted is not to go cast it.
VERJEE (on camera): Experts say that the solution is simple, just get a printer and attach voter-verified paper trail to each of the machines. Now some states already have that, but not all. There's no national standard. In this election season, eight out of ten Americans will vote on an electronic machine.
So Jack, let's see what happens.
CAFFERTY: So the manufacturer of these machines says the study done by Princeton University that says they're vulnerable to being hacked and the totals being manipulated, their answer is, well, the study was no good?
VERJEE: Yes. They're saying the study is just no good at all, they have absolutely no basis, and they don't have the common sense, and it's entirely inaccurate. One of the interesting things that one of the critics of the machines that I spoke to said, you know what the problem is here, in the software? It's kind of like an overdone steak, you know, no matter what tweaks you do to it, no turning back. You can't uncook an overdone steak.
CAFFERTY: There you go. Based on your reporting then, do you trust the electronics, or should we go back to the paper ballots?
VERJEE: Everyone we've spoken to, all the experts say, you know, trust, but verify. You know, have a voter-verified paper trail.
CAFFERTY: And many of the states have nothing approaching that.
CAFFERTY: Zain, thank you.
CAFFERTY: We talked to a leading Republican who says this whole e-voting thing, far from ready for prime time.
Joining us now is Maryland's Governor Robert Ehrlich.
Governor, welcome to the program, nice to have you here.
The estimate is that up to 80 percent of the people in this midterm election are going to use the electronic machines. Based on the experience you have in Maryland and your knowledge of how these systems work, how much should we trust this stuff?
EHRLICH: I'm not there. I'm not where I need to be. I'm not where I should be in America in 2006. That's for sure.
CAFFERTY: You were -- within days of the primary and the problems were discovered, you said, wait a minute, this isn't working, let's go back to paper ballots. You were rebuffed on that.
EHRLICH: I was rebuffed by the President of the Senate and a elections administrator that is very close to the President of the Senate. The bottom line here is, I don't know, I can't answer that question. I know this. What I saw on primary election day, if repeated on general election day, would be a disaster in the state of Maryland.
CAFFERTY: How is it possible that we're sitting here, having this discussion in 2006?
EHRLICH: It's embarrassing.
CAFFERTY: It is embarrassing.
EHRLICH: It's America in 2006.
CAFFERTY: I mean, there is a suspicion among the people that write to me in the "SITUATION ROOM" every day that we're not getting a straight count on some of these election returns. And I suppose there's a fundamental question, can this democracy survive if people don't think the elections are honest, if they think the numbers are being fudged and fiddled with.
EHRLICH: Well, I have not concrete evidence to back that up. There will always be, as you know, conspiracy theorists, so you kind of throw them out. I'm talking about the vast folks in the middle, both sides, both sides of the aisle, both parties, whatever. All parties, they want an accurate election. And the bottom line here is, one way to get in that direction, to secure at least what you think a verifiable result, is a paper trail. And that bill was killed in the Maryland Senate, by Maryland Democrats by the way, so it's a bipartisan thing. You would hope that at least when it comes to elections and being able to count the votes cast, it would be nonpartisan. But the stakes are very high here.
CAFFERTY: The stakes are very high. And there are only 27 states in the union that are going to use a paper trail in conjunction with these machines. The rest of them don't have any.
EHRLICH: And that is going to open, again, the door for conspiracy theorists.
CAFFERTY: In 2003, a guy named Walden O'Dell, who was the head of Diebold, apparently told some Republican fund-raisers that he was going to try to make sure, that he was committed, that the state of Ohio was going to deliver its electoral votes to President Bush. Ironically, is the state that by the narrowest of margins, delivered the presidency to President Bush. They got a lot of people's attention. Is that a coincidence, do you suppose?
EHRLICH: Well, I'm not sure. I guess there's a partisan aspect to this, but I won't get into the partisanship. The bottom line here is, it's America in 2006, people have a right to expect a legitimate, accurate outcome. It's the reason Republicans and Democrats, like in Maryland, are asking people to cast absentee ballots, i.e. paper ballots, because they're certifiable, at least you can count them, it's a very transparent thing.
CAFFERTY: And, I mean, can these elections be rigged? Can somebody go in and change the outcome?
EHRLICH: You know what, I'm a lawyer, I'm a governor, I'm a former Congressman. I'm not a software engineer. We had Professor Avi Rubin, someone very familiar to you, testify in front of the Board of Public Works in Maryland, which is the comptroller, the governor, and the treasurer, and he talked about, you know, his experiences, the ability to manipulate this system, which would result in an inaccurate outcome. So, clearly some experts out there in the field, who do this for a living, believe the system can be manipulated.
CAFFERTY: Governor Robert Ehrlich, the Republican Governor of the state of Maryland, thank you for being with us.
EHRLICH: My great pleasure, Jack.
We're getting a lot of e-mail on this subject, as you might expect.
Hunter writes this: "Without a verifiable paper trail, electronic voting machines are an open invitation to election fraud and manipulation of the democratic process."
And Karl down there in Wagoner, Oklahoma: "Let's make this simple: Would you do business with an ATM that didn't you a paper receipt?"
We invite you to check out the bottom of the screen because this was accomplished with great angst and struggle with the management of this place. We took over the crawl for this hour, no small feat, that, and we're streaming your e-mails for the entire hour of the broadcast, so if we don't read it, you might see it crawl across the bottom of the screen. Or, in the event that it wasn't interesting, you won't see or hear it at all.
Still to come as we continue, war, terror, politics, playing on your fear to get out the vote. Will it work this time around? It's been golden for the Republicans for the last few years.
Security breakdown, a wide-open border, and an angry electorate. Have you had enough? It's your government, it's your vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. I think it will go relatively quickly. But we can't count on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weeks, months?
CHENEY: Weeks rather than months.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
CHENEY: I think they're in the last throws, if you will, of the insurgency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAFFERTY: A look back on those old sound bites. It's just unbelievable.
The events of 9/11 gave President Bush the perfect excuse for a power grab, the likes of which this country has never seen before: the NSA domestic spying program, trolling through financial and telephone records without permission or knowledge of private citizens, changing the War Crimes Act and the Geneva Conventions, establishing secret prisons in Eastern Europe, prisoner abuse, torture, allowing the government to hold people indefinitely with no right to a court hearing.
We should be real proud of ourselves. This was all done in the name of the war on terror, and it makes you wonder if what we're doing to ourselves is a whole lot worse than what the terrorists are trying to do us. What's worse than what the president has done is the fact that Congress and the public -- all of us -- stood around, sat on our hands and allowed all this to happen.
Suzanne Malveaux is here now with more on perhaps the most troubling aspect of this whole hour.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jack, clearly the White House is determined to keep the Republicans in power, and the one way that they know how to do that is to get you the voters to think about this.
G. BUSH: We're fighting an enemy that knows no rules.
CHENEY: This is a hard fight.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Terrorist.
G. BUSH: Terror.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrorism.
G. BUSH: The war on terror.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): The Bush administration message is clear. Be afraid, very afraid. The threat of terrorism is real, and only the Republicans are suited to protect American people.
VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There's an element of fear that properly ought to be instilled in people, and that has been in every previous world.
G. BUSH: There's an enemy that still lurks, an enemy that still plans, and enemy that still plots, an enemy that still wants to hurt the United States of America.
MALVEAUX: Democrats say it's fear mongering.
HOWARD DEAN, DEM. NATL. CMTE. CHAIRMAN: What the Republicans bring you is fear and smear.
MALVEAUX: Cut through both sides' spin, the strategy of focusing on this doomsday scenario is one that works. In 2002, Republican lawmakers successfully captured eight seats by making the fight against terror their party's platform.
ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: It was before the war in Iraq and before the war in Iraq went badly.
G. BUSH: I see a great day coming for our country and I'm eager for the work ahead.
MALVEAUX: Two years later, President Bush successfully won reelection, despite the growing violence in Iraq, by painting his opponent, Senator John Kerry as weak on terror.
WEBER: The theme is the Republicans are strong when it comes to security issues and the Democrats are not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's vicious and dangerous.
MALVEAUX: The late President Reagan hammered that theme in his drive for reelection with his famous bear ad, representing the Cold War threat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations.
MALVEAUX: President Bush used a pack of wolves to illustrate the terrorist menace in his reelection bid.
WEBER: If the people don't feel some sense of threat, they're not going to vote on national security issues.
MALVEAUX: That's why analysts say the president and Republicans are constantly talking terror, now leading up to the congressional midterm elections. But pollsters warn it may not work this time.
KOHUT: There's one word that explains it, and that is Iraq.
MALVEAUX: And, Jack, really that explains a lot of things.
You talk to political analysts, you talk to Republican strategists, and they say the Iraq war has really thrown the political equation off tremendously. It no longer allows the Republicans to have that same kind of advantage when it comes to national security.
CAFFERTY: Do you look for them to try to do anything in the way of an adjustment of strategy? We've got two-and-a-half weeks until the people go to the polls, and all the polls indicate the Republicans are in big trouble.
MALVEAUX: You know, you talk about broken government -- this is really a broken strategy, if you look at it, because it's evolved. It started off with stay the course, and then it kind of broadened to this broader war on terror. And then people said, well, you haven't acknowledged Iraq, the dangers. So they talk about Iraq being a part of it.
Now it's really is -- instead of stay the course, it's more like mend the course. It's the White House trying to convey, look, we get it. We're still strong on terror.
CAFFERTY: All right. Suzanne, nice to have you with us. Thank you very much. Suzanne Malveaux.
I want to read you something I got from a fellow named James. Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He's the guy on the left in this picture with the moustache. "Dear Mr. Cafferty, I am proud to send you the photos that I have taken in Iraq. I was stationed in Samarra, Iraq and assigned to train and equip the 102nd Iraqi Army Battalion there. It worries me to think that my government is telling the American people that we need to stay the course, and my generals do not seem to be voicing their needs, when the reality of the whole war is really getting worse. I probably shouldn't be writing to you out of loyalty to my unit and the U.S. Army, but then again, I have a responsibility as a senior NCO to voice my opinion and to be heard."
CAFFERTY: James, I'm happy to have gotten your note, and thank you for your service to this country.
And we got this from Ray, my buddy down there in Lubbock, Texas. This is an I-Report. Check it out.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Considering how embarrassing it is to me for George W. Bush and Tom DeLay to be from Texas, thank heavens, Mark Foley is from Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAFFERTY: That would be Ray from down there Lubbock, Texas. That was me in the background, by the way. He had me on the TV in his living room when he taped that. Turn the camera on yourself. You can send us your video to CNN.com/ireport.
Straight ahead, from war and terror to a failure of security, open borders. We're going to go to Arizona. People are fed up with a broken federal policy. This is your government and it's your vote.
CAFFERTY: There's no greater proof of our broken government than our broken borders five years after 9/11. We have done virtually nothing to stem the massive flow of illegal aliens into this country, mostly from Mexico. An estimated 3,000 a day cross into the United States. That's about a million a year, they're already an estimated 12 million of them already here.
And yet the government looks the other way. Why? Because the corporations that own our government want it that way. They want the cheap labor, and the politicians want the Hispanic vote. You and I? We don't matter anymore on this issue. This single issue should be reason enough to vote every single incumbent out of office. It's a disgrace.
Chris Lawrence is with us tonight from the border in Nogales, Arizona -- Chris.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jack, you know, securing the border is the number one issue for Arizona voters. I mean, let's face it, it's not that hard to get across. There's some 400,000 undocumented immigrants living in this state. And the issue of what to do with them and how to keep their numbers from growing have caused so many divisions and defections among Republicans and Democrats, it's impossible to tell who's who.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, good, good.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Don't be fooled by all of the handshakes and thank yous.
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, ARIZONA DEMOCRAT: Hey, how are you? Thank you for being here.
LAWRENCE: This is not just another race for Congress. Take the issue of immigration.
GIFFORDS: I stand exactly where Senator John McCain is, Governor Napolitano, and even President Bush.
LAWRENCE: The woman praising prominent Republicans? She's the Democrat.
RANDY GRAF, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN: Mr. Giffords just talked about supporting the president's comprehensive immigration reform plan of which it's not comprehensive.
LAWRENCE: The President Bush basher? He's Republican. Randy Graf supports The Minutemen, and opposes a guest worker program.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the safety of our children and all Americans, vote for Randy Graf. It's a vote for a secure border.
LAWRENCE: Graf didn't even get endorsed by Jim Kolbe, the returning Republican he's trying to replace.
GRAF: I stood up to our congressman two years ago. I stood up to the establishment. I stood up to our president.
LAWRENCE: And now they won't stand by him. Because of his immigration views, the National Republican Party has stopped spending money on his campaign.
WILLIAM DIXON, POLITICAL ANALYST: Gabrielle Giffords has taken a broader approach, one that ironically is much closer to President Bush's approach and John McCain's approach.
LAWRENCE: While Republicans across the country are running away from the president, this Democrat is stride for stride on immigration.
GIFFORDS: If an idea is a good idea, it is a good idea. It doesn't matter whether or not it's a Republican idea or a Democrat idea.
LAWRENCE: The thing is, John McCain a the chief sponsor of that very same immigration legislation, the one that includes a guest worker program. And who did McCain endorse?
GRAF: Hi, Randy Graf running for Congress out here in the district.
LAWRENCE: Yes, that's right, Randy Graf. You know, he and Gabrielle Giffords do agree on one thing. If you look at this fence, there's a problem, that more illegal immigrants try to get across into Arizona than New Mexico, Texas and California combined. Whichever candidates wins will take a strong, but very different immigration message to Washington -- Jack. CAFFERTY: All right, Chris. Let's just hope whoever winds up doing anything with this policy at all does something that's more effective than what they've done for the last five years. Chris Lawrence, reporting live from Arizona where the sun is still up.
Some e-mails -- we get a lot of them on this issue every time we go near it.
Allison in Middleburg, Florida: "Why if these enemies are so ruthless, violence, and determined are we Americans being spied on in our homes through the Internet and our telephones and violated through our travels, and yet the entire government seems to want to open wide all our borders to anyone and everyone?"
Matt in Shonto, Arizona: "Jack, America is becoming a neo-feudal society. CEOs live as pharaohs, we the people as drones. We gloat in our power and diminish our nation's people and wealth. One day, we shall be on the History Channel."
Janel in Federal Way, Washington: "I sent proof of my dog's voter registration to the nine Washington state congressman. No response. No paper trail. No people trail."
Dick in Orlando, Florida: "The government is broken because we let it break and we did nothing to fix it. A pitiful number of Americans take the time to vote. We can't name our two United States senators, our Congressman, more than one or two of the Supreme Court justices. We can name all of the winners on "American Idol," tell you who won the last World Series and the Super Bowl. The government is broken because we don't care."
And from an 8-year-old I got this: "If I do something bad in school I get a timeout or I have to say after school, and sometimes the school will even kick out really bad kids. All the way out of school. They're never allowed to come back. Why can't we do the same thing to all those people who do bad things in those two houses in Washington, D.C.?"
I don't know. I wish I had the answer. We would like to hear your ideas. E-mail us at JackBrokenGovernment@CNN.com.
Liars, weasels in Washington. If you ever wanted to speak your mind, this one is for you. It's your government, your vote. This is your program. Stay with us.
CAFFERTY: So the time's come. We own this place, not the career liars and weasels in Washington. We elect these people in good faith to go to Washington and look out for us. They have sold us out. They look in us in the eye. They lie to us day after day after day.
They scurry around behind our backs. They take money from the lobbyists and the corporations, then they give that money away to their friends to buy stuff we don't need. The legislation they do get around to passing isn't for us. It's to benefit their contributors. And they think they're entitled to sit there and do this stuff forever. Well, enough already. Want to have a little fun on Election Day? Go to polls and vote against every incumbent on the ballot. Throw them all out. Think about it for a minute. No matter who we replace them with, how much worse could it be?
And what a message it would send. You have one term to prove to us your worthy of representing us, or you're gone. It's not as far- fetched as it sounds.
I'm Jack Cafferty. Thanks for watching.
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