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Questions for The Diane Rehm Show, News Roundup, October 17, 2008

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I've begun to post the questions I send, separately, in each Friday morning to the most listened-to NPR talk show.

Feel free to offer some version of these same questions/comments to other broadcasters and journalists:

 1.  Yesterday on your show analyzing the debate, no one seemed to know what NPR's economy reporter, Chris Arnold, had just stated on Morning Edition in a segment called "Double-Checking Candidates' Claims in Last Debate". Mr. Arnold first acknowledged that if Joe the Plumber earned $250,000, ABOVE AND BEYOND his expenses and supplies, then "yes, under Obama's plan his taxes would go up."

Then he continued, "But, again, that implication that that represents middle income people is misleading. MIDDLE INCOME AMERICANS WOULD GET THREE TIMES THE INCOME TAX BREAK UNDER OBAMA THAT THEY WOULD GET UNDER MCCAIN."

These days, with excellent fact-checking websites quick responses, shouldn't analysts be discussing the accuracy of tactical accusations?

2.  I am deeply concerned about the national focus on voter registration fraud or voter fraud. It is not a threat. Major studies have shown that deliberate fraud is extremely rare, and when it happens, it is even more rare for it to result in any fraudulent votes being cast.

In response to the insignificant nuisance of voter fraud, the Republican Congress passed a law ordering states to verify their voter registration lists. Now we find that in key battleground states, the Republican party is particularly aggressive about widespread purging of the lists and challenging new voters, which is highly intimidating and will be enormously time-consuming and labor-intensive on election day.

Have we already forgotten that the ugly reason behind the U.S. Attorney firings was often Republican anger at their failure to prosecute voter fraud cases just prior to the 2006 election?

Are Americans going to be fooled again by Rovian trickery?

3.  Isn't purging voter registration lists to prevent voter fraud akin to treating a cold with chemotherapy?

4.  To set the record straight, ACORN is a very legitimate organization, a decades-old advocate for the generally disenfranchised low-to-middle income often-minority population. Its work is irritating the McCain campaign because it is so successful in registering low and middle income voters, and these people are less likely to vote Republican. They have a very large workforce and some employees have been problems, but they are fully cooperative with election officials in finding bad apples and reporting problems. When they are accused of turning in fraudulent registrations, it should be noted that they are required by law to turn in all the registrations they collect, and in most cases, they are already flagged as fraudulent.

What good would it possibly do for ACORN to destroy their own voter registration drive?


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