As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
When I got that department, I decided, on a whim, to just take a look at the nutritional label (something I've never done) since I just went to the doctor's for a cholestrol test.
I think I just swore off hot dogs.
I had to switch doctors recently because my regular one moved out of the area. During a special trip to the office, I decided on one particular doctor because she seemed to be...more "fun" to be around. A few weeks later, I found out why: yes, she's a dancer.
As a longtime home owner and more recently, a landlord, I'm learning much more than I ever wanted to know about owning a house. As I might have mentioned in another editorial, I learned a lot about the different qualities of standard interior paint. Many years ago I standardized on Martin Senour paint (available at Waltham Wallpaper and at Johnson's Paint on Newburt Street) as the brand that I was going to use for my house because I wanted a good paint that was going to last and hold up to use. Even my tenant's apartment was done over with this brand. I figured that you could pay now or pay later, and doing it right now was a better investment. At least I would get the choice of paints and not worry about what my tenant was going to use.
As I went through the process of stripping the wallpaper off my living room walls and sanding the woodwork, I found quite a bit of the paint "peeling" off the woodwork, the way I might peel off a rubber glove. The alleged primer below the paint was like "dust" and it's covering enamel paint probably had questionable adhesion qualities. Oh, what's that glossy paint underneath?
While I've used Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start and California Paint's Fres Coat primer, I somehow always need two coats to fully cover whatever's on the way. But it'll look nice when I'm done.
Like I'm always hear, "you get what you pay for". I definitely didn't want to have to do this over later on.
As a landlord, I think that paint stores should include instructions for their customers on some of the basics, like sanding or roughing down old glossy paint so the new paint would adhere to the surface. I'm going to cringe very time I see renters buying paint for their new apartments.
I'm going to do something that I had been resisting for a long time. I'm going to use this Soapbox to make a political statement. Note that the opinions in this editorial are my own and do not necessarily reflect that of the sponsors of this website, much less the opinions of anyone listed on this website.
I see at this point that there are many people who are "undecided" in this upcoming election. The facts *are* in. The histories of the 2+ candidates for the presidency of the United States are available and open to scrutiny. Some people are complaining that there is no difference between the two candidates, yet the differences are glaring. These people who are "undecided" spend a lot of time nit-picking over superficial quirks and habits that belittle the relevance of the big issues. These "undecideds" just have a fear of commitment. To those people people, I offer my observations. I make my decision based on a long list of information.
To be honest, I didn't watch the debates because I had already decided which candidate I'm going be voting for. Some people might consider this being closeminded; I calling it paying attention to everything that's happened over the last four years (actually, more than 4 years). The debates were merely window-dressing and pandered to those who just could not (or would not) make up their mind.
Some things to consider:
The founders of this country were very wise. They also remembered the influence of one man's religion intruding on their lives and made sure that:
George Bush called John Kerry "bad for Catholics". Last I heard, the Catholic Church was against the death penalty, even to the point of organizing vigils and protests in Texas at scheduled executions. Who presided as governor over one of the largest numbers of government-sanctioned executions in one state administration? Anyone who calls himself a "Christian" should take a look at the Ten Commandments and take note of number 6.
If George W. Bush chooses to embraces only some of the tenets of his religion and ignore others (i.e., makes up his own mind), then he should not fault his opponent for the same.
It was John F. Kennedy who said, during his presidential campaign, that he didn't speak for the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church didn't speak for him.
I was out in California during the time of rolling blackouts when large numbers of energy plants somehow went off service. When California called upon the federal government to investigate for a conspiracy to jack up the energy market, they were told that there was no conspiracy and there would be no investigation. I remember reading in the San Jose Mercury News that one energy plant manager was told by a company manager that it would be advantageous to the company if they went offline for "scheduled maintenance".
Who got indicted for manipulating the energy market? People who helped Dick Cheney form this administration's energy policy.
Dick Cheney said that conservation had no place in the adminstration's energy strategy. Does forcing conservation help this country? The car companies complained that it couldn't be done and it would be too expensive. Look at all the fuel efficient cars that went on the market after the government implemented the fleet CAFE rules. Look at how much gas isn't being used in today's cars and how much cleaner the air is. What is the result of the current (Bush's) strategy? A dependence on *foreign* oil. Is this good for American security?
The administration's policy for this is to drill for oil in one of the last pristine wildernesses we have left. It is *a* solution; unfortunately, their narrowmindedness does not allow them to see that this is not the *only* solution.
Most people summoned before the 9/11 commission showed up, were sworn in, and gave their testimony, and left. How come George W. Bush needed to be accompanied by a responsible adult (Dick Cheney). It was assumed that the whole point of all the testimonies was to figure out what really happened by looking for inconsistencies in what the different people say. How many people are allowed to testify in court under oath with their lawyer or their mother standing beside them? Why wasn't George Bush's testimony done in public? What was there to hide? George W. Bush has been very persistent and very consistent in preventing the American people from learning the truth about him.
Actually, when Bush was testifying for the 9/11 commission, I was expecting to see his lips moving but hear Dick Cheney's voice. Think about who's really running for the presidency.
There were a lot of people who stepped forward to say that they saw John Kerry serve in the military and that he didn't deserve his medals (even if the records of some of his critics show that they never served near him when they were around). How many people have come forth saying they saw George Bush serve in the National Guard?
The point is *not* how John Kerry earned his medals. The point is that John Kerry *volunteered* to go into harm's way when his country asked him to and he willingly faced enemy fire. The enemy shot at him and he shot back. That is a recorded fact.
No one wants to get a medal in war because of what you have to go through to earn it. A Silver Star and a Bronze Star have to be earned (and approved by a superior). Remember, you have to get *injured* to get a Purple Heart. If I had to go to war, I would have been perfectly happy to come home without a Purple Heart. How can anyone question Kerry's service 35 years after the fact, particularly if they weren't there? As for Bush? People aren't asking if he did well in his service; they're asking if he showed up.
Going to war and seeing what happened gave John Kerry the informed right to speak out against it. He wanted the people to see the truth in the war. Many of the people who called him a traitor also didn't go to Vietnam.
*My* point? If military service is important in this race, I'll give points to the guy who knows what it's like to have someone shoot at him and miss...maybe he'll think twice about sending others out to die...for the wrong reason.
George W. Bush has made a big issue of John Kerry's "flip-flops" of his decisions. He makes it sound like a weakness. Being stubborn and closed-minded is not a sign of strength or leadership. If you were in a car being driven along the road and you noticed that bridge ahead was out, who do you want as a driver: the guy who wants to show conviction and strength of purpose by not wavering from his decision to continue ahead or someone who can admit his original decision was made with bad information and change direction? Wouldn't you want someone wise enough to make that decision?
Answer: Depends on the time and date and which answer didn't work anymore. Sorry, that was a trick question. The real answer is "oil". That's an okay answer and I might even accept that if the president was willing to admit it.
I want to ask all Conservatives this question: If the *only* justification for invading Iraq was to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein, would you have agreed to the invasion? Remember now, George H. Bush, "Dubya's" father, didn't think so 10 years ago.
Is it proper for this country to force its form of government on another country? If we can do it to Iraq which had little, if anything, to do with 9/11, perhaps we should invade a country from where most of the 9/11 terrorists came from? A government that represses the rights of women and minorities?
Can we invade a country which doesn't like us, whom we don't like, with whom we disagree with? Every country in the world should be scared now, even Canada. If we invaded Iraq to free their people from oppression, why haven't we done so with Cuba (since their communist backer is now out of play). The answer? Because Cuba doesn't have oil so the plight of their people don't matter to the two oilmen who occupy our country's top two offices.
We already had Iraq against the ropes with all the sanctions which weren't going to be ending anytime soon. Why didn't we invade Libya instead who also has oil and has a *proven* record of supporting terrorists and had *committed* terrorist acts in the past?
Did over 1000 American citizens and residents die for the wrong reason in Iraq? How many American families have been destroyed or damaged because a loved one either died or got crippled in Bush's war?
To be honest, I think it was a good thing that we took out Saddam Hussein. The good guys should always step up to the plate when evil people cause pain and misery. I am really disappointed that George W. Bush couldn't come up with a better reason or a better way to do it. I don't think it needed to cost over 1000 American lives. We're suppose to have one of the top 2 or 3 intelligence services in the world (once headed by George, Sr., by the way); they could have done a better job of it.
Police chiefs around the country wanted the assault rifle ban to be extended. George W. Bush did nothing to get that ban extended; he just let it expired and copped out by saying that Congress didn't send him an extension. His fellow travellers in Congress didn't want that bill renewed and Bush did not create a bill to extend that ban. Do we want to make it easier for people to buy semi-automatic weapons with large ammo clips? Didn't some guy unload such a semi-automatic weapon on a yard full of school children in California?
Assault weapons are not necessary to the legal recreational enjoyment of firearms (hmm..I wonder what I did with my Firearms ID card). If you need a large number of bullets flying to bring down Bambi during deer season, you should not be hunting in the first place.
I'm not against legal ownership of hand guns or firearms; I also don't believe that regulating guns is a plot to take away all guns, as some of the paranoid Right will have you believe. Regulating doesn't necessarily mean banning. I don't think that convicted criminals should have guns nor should people with restraining orders on them. There's absolutely no reason for *personal* ownership of assault rifles; there's nothing wrong with a gun club having them for practicing at a safe and fixed location. If we need assault rifles to combat foreign invaders, that means the US military failed and we'd have bigger problems. Regulating guns just gives the police an additional tool to combat crimes, just like tax laws are used to fight organized crime and I'm all for that.
If we can restrict and regulate who can drive cars and trucks and boats, then regulating guns should be a no-brainer.
There was a report about a certain Saudi prince confirming to this administration that gasoline prices would fall just in time for the election. Can we say "political manipulation by foreign entities"? Why is the American government allowing this to happen?
Yes, much of the crises that are affecting oil prices in the world are actually beyond the control of this country (i.e., problems in Nigeria, Russia, and other countries). What is the government doing to stabilize those problems so we can expect more oil to be produced cheaply?
What's wrong with trying to convince people to use less energy? Does it happen to have anything to do with the top two people in this administration being former big-oil men?
What's wrong with developing alternative energy sources? Viable alternative energy sources would be good for this country's independence and sovereignty. It would also be good for business if the US suddenly became the biggest source of alternative energy solutions. It would remove the impact of other countries' political issues on our economy. *That* is a better way to fight terrorism because those countries supporting the terrorists would have less power and influence in the world.
What's wrong with transforming Exxon/Mobil from a petroleum company into an energy company?
Up and coming third world countries (is China considered third- or second-world?) countries are going to be siphoning larger shares of the world's oil production and this is going to drive up prices...a lot. Yes, I think we should *consider* other petroleum sources, but we should also be open-minded about considering alternative energy sources that will not be dependent on other countries.
More than any other in the past, this administration has used secrecy and national security to limit access to readily available information that would show their mistakes, often after the fact.
For instance, an analyst wrote a memo to point out that a translation of some potential terrorist communications was done incorrectly and a correct translation might have pointed out the future threat of the 9/11 attacks. This document was suddenly classified years later when that analyst pointed out the memo and that same analyst was fired for pointing out the CIA's error.
When the planes came back from Iraqi with the bodies of soldiers killed in battle, the administration wanted to keep the pictures of the coffins out of the news. Why? Because George W. Bush didn't want people to be questioning his motives/rationale for going into Iraq or whether it was "worth it". The flights were shifted to the nighttime to avoid the press' coverage.
Information is the key to power. A better educated populace holds the power; uneducated people cede that power to a select few. The current administration has done all it can to withhold information from the congress and the people. A democracy can't work in the absence of information. A dumb population can't question the actions of a dictatorship.
We, the people, need more information to be forth-coming from our government. Much of that information is classified under the pretense of national security when it's obvious that it was done only for political reasons (of the party in power). It was Bill Clinton who gave much power back to the people by having a lot of old non-valuable and non-relevant information declassified.
It would seem that the right of the American people to know what their government is doing (wrong) is being subverted and the Constitution of the United States is being ignored.
It's outrageous that the FBI monitored people who were protesting against the war. The president is being simple-minded when he paints the world as being black & white. There is plenty of "gray". One of the fundamental rights in our Constitution is the right to speak your mind, even if it's against the policies of this government. George W. Bush's attempts to paint opinions against him as "unpatriotic" is in of itself "unAmerican" and "unConstitutional".
It's outrageous that the current "no-fly" policy never took into consideration that it's *possible* that other people might have the same name as a possible terrorist threat. How many people got their lives disrupted because the government didn't think through their security policies? How many war protesters were put on the "no-fly" list just because of their political views? (yes, I *do* think it's hilarious that Senator Ted Kennedy got stopped at the airport).
To be honest, I really *don't* care about gay rights. I'm quite straight and will never understand what it's like to be gay. I don't have a personal stand on gay marriage and I don't want an opinion on the subject. (I'm in no hurry for gays to get married while I'm still quite single...:-P )
However, thinking logically...
Marriage is a religious institution that didn't take hold in the church until around the 1300's when the church decided to take control of this, particularly where telling people to "go forth and multiple" meant generating more followers and money for the church.
I personally think that we should leave marriage in the church because marriage has nothing to do with the obligations of a "legal" entity.
What the government does have control over is "civil unions" which, if we think hard about it, is not much different from "partnerships" where the rights and obligations of all the participants spelled out on paper and defined by law. As far as I know, every marriage in this country is also a "civil union" because you have to get a marriage license and follow some government rules. You don't have to have a church's blessing in a civil union where it involves a man and a woman. The church and the government have their own laws and rules. Let's keep them separate.
Not having ever been married, I'm quite confused as to the argument that Gay Marriage will destroy the ever-existant bond of holy matrimony (ah, "Holy". That's a clue for the church connection). Perhaps it's a result of my limited education I received at the Boston Latin School and Rensselaer Polytechnic Instiute that tells me that the leading threat to marriage is...*divorce* (I read somewhere that 50% of all marriages end up in divorce). No one has come up with a logical and reasonable explanation as to how gay marriage, oops, excuse me, "gay civil unions" would hurt "traditional" marriage. Remember, interracial marrriages were not considered "traditional" marriages at one point in our history.
(Pop quiz: which right-wing conservative Speaker of the House served divorce papers on his wife while she was in the hospital recovering from surgery? So much for the sanctity of marriage.)
What about the purpose of marriage being the creating of children? If so, how come the government doesn't annul those marriages that purposely do not result in the birth of children? Why doesn't the government outlaw divorce and force child-bearing? Because it's none of their business! Likewise with gay people forming legal bonds. "Children are best brought up with a mother and a father". Is that true? If so, are they saying single parents are bad? Or just not as good? Does it matter if that a single parent is straight or gay? I'm sure there *must* be gay single parents out there and if that's so, wouldn't having two parents around for the children be better for the kids, even if the parents *were* gay? (yes, such couples already exist).
Why would some people be against gay marriage? Well, perhaps because it's harder to say that gay people are "different", that they should be shunned, if they have the same rights and "family values" (love, trust, honor). Perhaps they're in denial that gay marriages can involve the same level of commitment.
Perhaps it's one of the many ways that conservatives know how to punish people....through their wallet. The amount of money a legal spouse can inherit before taxes is much more than what a gay person can inherit from their significant-other. Now that the administration is working on eliminating the "marriage tax", they're not going to want gay couples to marry to receive this benefit. There a lot of "benefits" to being legally married and the conservatives don't want to share them with gay couples.
But all that is irrevelant to the important issue: a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Such an amendment would never explicitly ban gay marriages, but we know it's purpose. What some people are asking for is a law for the sole purpose of restricting the civil rights of a specific minority group of *American citizens*. In the lengthy history of this country, we've never done that. America has used the US Constitution to demonstrate and declare that arbitrary limits on the rights of a particular class of American citizens *are wrong*. The US Constitution has always been used to protect the rights of minority groups in this country.
I think that the Republicans' theological reasoning comes out here because they're obviously ignoring the *economical* benefits of allowing gay civil unions. Why have gay civil unions (aka "gay marriage")?
George Bush was reading a children's book to a class when one of the planes hit the World Trade Center. What amazes me is that the President continued reading for 7 minutes after an aide told him about the crash into the building. Is that what anyone else would have done?
(Is it true he kept reading after the *second* plane hit, or just the first? Someone mentioned this, but I don't remember the news coverage.)
Some people would have you believe that Bill Clinton was responsible for not protecting the country against the 9/11 attacks.
The rest of us remember who it was who worked really hard to distract Clinton from the business of running this country.
Bill Clinton was one of the most successful and popular presidents and the Republican Party had it in for him. They hounded him continuously on issues that had no material effect on this country. Travelgate? Whitewater? None of it would stick. Monica? They wasted a lot of this country's time and resources to impeach him and *knowing* that they couldn't convict him. It wasn't even the original stated purpose of the independent prosecutor; Ken Starr just latched on to that when all other attempts to hurt Clinton failed. They distracted the goverment and the people and Bill Clinton from taking care of the nation's business. Let's not even talk about the money that was wasted on that (wasn't it $55 million for the government's investigation?). And who should have been the only ones who cared? his wife and daughter. No one else. It's no one else's business. The Republicans were just voyeurs in someone else's private stupidity. I expect all right-wing conservatives who have secret affairs outside of marriage to come forth and take their punishment in the court of public opinion. Whoops. We'd have to put alot of congressmen in jail for that, I think, including Republican ones.
Sending jobs overseas helps only the companies' executives who get bigger bonuses for increasing profitability. Improving profits *is* their job.
However, it is not in the government's best interests to take jobs away from Americans and send those jobs elsewhere. It's hard to collect taxes to make the goverment function when the people have no income to tax. And if they have no money, the people can't be buying products to raise the economy.
At one company which shall remain nameless, I was told that the only new hires allowed are from *Russia*. These are high-tech highly-desireable positions that any software engineer would want.
Some economists theorize that by moving these less desireable positions elsewhere, it frees up (human) resources for better jobs. Those same economists ignore the fact that these laid-off workers don't have another job to go to. How many people lost jobs they *wanted* because their work was sent to another country? How many of these laid-off professionals are now working for substantially less money or have sunk below the poverty line? Is that good for this country? Is George W. Bush *our* president or is he someone else's?
Coming up with a quick solution is a sign of intelligence; arriving at the right decision is a sign of *wisdom* and they're not the same thing.
President Bush, when asked, has been unable to admit that he's done anything wrong during his administration. Over 1000 deaths in Iraq would constitute a mistake since most of them happened *after* he declared the major fighting to be over. Going after Iraq for WMD's was a mistake. Not having enough soldiers in Iraq is a mistake. Disbanding Iraq's army after the war was a mistake. Making up different excuses to start a war was a mistake, especially when his father *didn't* take out Saddam Hussein for a good reason.
As a side note, from previous experience, the military's leadership indicated that the recommended number of soldiers for invading and holding Iraq was 400,000. We went in with much fewer. Anyone who's understands wartime combat knows that it is the ground soldier that wins the war, it is the ground soldier that *holds* territory. Planes, ships and technology will get the soldier there, but if no one is on the ground, they can't call it a victory. George W. Bush should admit that he made a mistake by not having enough troops on the ground.
It was also a mistake to start a second war on a flimsy reason. The American military was built to fight 2.5 wars at any given time. We went into Iraq before we finished Afghanistan. We *are* stretched thin and now we have a "backdoor draft" as soldiers are prevented from going home after their tour of duty is over. George W. Bush has also gone out of his way to antagonize North Korea (this was 6 months before 9/11) so there is also a danger of an outbreak of hostilities over there. Was this or was this not a mistake?
President Bush is living in a different world from the rest of us. Either he's too stupid to recognize his errors or he's not man enough to admit them.
The last three Republican presidents were good at winning the war (Reagan, the Cold War; Bush I, the War in Iraq; Bush II, the War in Iraq, part 2). The last two Democrats were good at winning the peace.
It was Jimmy Carter who brought two life-long enemies to the bargaining table (Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin). Bill Clinton brought Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat to together (pushing them together to shake hands on the stage was a nice touch, I think).
It's time to get the warhawks out of office and put in someone who's interested making an honorable peace.
It's interesting that the pharmaceudical companies can make a profit in Canada with low prices, but they can't offer the drugs at the same prices in the US, even when many of the medicines are produced in the same plant.
It's also interesting that a Republican administration appears to have no interest in reducing the costs of medicine for the government. The Medicare program is not allowed by law to use its enormous buying clout to negotiate lower prices for the medicines it buys. I had always thought one primary commandment of the Republicans is to lower the cost of government, giving more money back to the people to spend on their own choices.
The FDA says that imported drugs could be dangerous. I think that the logical thing for the FDA to do would be to put its energy into other areas, such as either making those imports safer or making domestic medicine cheaper. And if it's made in the US, why isn't safe?
I think that patents on new medicines are a good thing because it allows companies to recoup the expenses of discovering new medicines. However, after such costs are recouped, it is in the best interests of the people *and* the biotech companies if more people could afford those medicines. According to the economics that I remember, reducing the prices would boost usage and demand (and *purchases*) for a product as well as reduce the incentive for fake imitations (wish Bill Gates would consider that). That sounds like supply-side economics to me; the Republics should love that.
Americans shouldn't have to decide between paying the rent, buying food, or preventing their next heart attack.
I suppose this is really part of the abortion/religious issue. I'm surprised that the Republicans aren't jumping on it from a business point of view. Stem-Cell research is going to take place, if not here, then elsewhere. We are deliberately ceding leadership in a potentially explosive-growth industry. Other countries will be the ones developing new cures and medicines AND MAKING ALL THE MONEY. Is that going to help the American economy? What's to stop American companies from doing their research overseas anyways? What's the point of stopping them in this country?
After the high-tech boom, the biotech industry is our next chance at the brass ring. More importantly, think of all the people who could be helped with the future discoveries from stem-cell research. We should be the leaders, not the followers. Those are the industries that could replace the tech jobs that were outsourced to other countries.
I can see using the death penalty for those extreme cases where someone's crime is so obvious and heinous that they are beyond redemption. I'm not all that sure I want to be spending $30K a year for room and board for the rest of someone's life if they're just going to kill again if they escaped.
At the same time, the government has proven that it's been wrong...a lot. There's that old saying, "Better that 100 guilty be let go than 1 innocent be executed". I think it should be "Stick 'em in in jail so we know where to find them just in case one of them really is innocent." An appeal of the death penalty costs around a million dollars to go through the process. I'd rather have that money to go the victim's families or put to some better productive use. Also the death penalty is too quick for someone who caused a lot of pain and suffering; the criminal needs to have a long time to regret their act.
I'm not sure which view is the one I want to support.
George W. Bush is using an old and tired tactic of calling John Kerry a "liberal" as if it were a bad thing. Last time I checked, a liberal is someone who's open to listening to new ideas and a conservative is someone who clings to the old ideas and is closed-minded about considering alternatives.
I remember coming up with a conclusion at the end of the 2000 elections. It seemed to me that the states that voted for Gore were those that had more educational institutions, where you were more likely to meet different kinds of people and ideas. Those states also seemed more likely to have higher-tech and better paying jobs.
I think that being a "liberal" isn't a bad thing.
And I'm pretty sure that John Kerry won't call us "unpatriotic" and "a traitor" if we don't agree with him.
Americans have always thought of themselves as being "righteous" in whatever endeavor they've undertaken. This country is not suppose to do things that harken back to the Dark Ages or even as recently as Hitler. We're used to telling other countries that they can't or shouldn't do certain things that violate the basic laws of humanity. In World War II, the international determined at Nuremburg that leaders of the countries can't just view the world as their playground and do whatever they wanted. The law will be used to establish guilt and punishment of violations of international law.
The Bush Administration had established the detainment of "illegal combatants" for which I don't disagree. However, by declaring them prisoners not of a war, but of an "illegal" action, and allowing inhumane techniques of torture to wring information (and confessions) from these prisoners, the United States has contravented the accords of the Geneva Convention, of which the United States is a signatory member. Even serial or mass murderers in the United States get better treatment. Since many of these enemy combatants were captured by Northern Alliance troops and not by American soldiers, there is still the benefit of the doubt that *some* of these "enemy combatants" are actually...innocent. Some have finally been freed after long periods of incarceration. What will the United States do for these people in the case of unjustified imprisonment?
The United States is suppose to be above all of that. We don't do those inhumane things and we're expected to show the rest of the world how to behave as human beings. Now anyone who is against this country will feel justified in doing what they want to any Americans they capture.
From several straight years of balanced budgets in the Clinton administration, the Bush administration has produced the biggest budget deficit in the history of this country. Yes, much of it is due to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, if the country is in hock, does it make sense to make tax cuts? Shouldn't we pay down some of that debt? If you're neck-deep in credit card debt, do you take some of your paycheck to pay down your credit card or do you take out a cash advance to buy yourself something nice?
At this point, the government is going to have to borrow money to finance this debt. This drives up interest rates, the costs of borrowing for you. This also increases inflation and drives down the available money for services.
Do you want want your children to be saddled with the debt created by George W. Bush?
I am happy to be a man. I am happy that I will never get pregnant. And I know I will never know what it's like to be pregnant. I will never have to wonder if I'm going to die or have complications while giving birth. As such, I wonder if men should have any say in whether or not women are allowed to have abortions.
George W. Bush naively promotes "abstinence". I want to know which planet he lives on. We're talking about human nature. If they can't stop sex in China with its rules and control, it's definitely not going to work in America. If people get condemned to being stoned to death in Nigeria for having sex out of marriage and they do have people "guilty" of that, is asking for "abstinence" in this country going to be effective?
The Religious Right is absolutely against abortion; I thought our civilization had progressed to the point where we stopped reducing women to mere incubators.
I think that the label "pro-life" is incorrect. Many of the people who are against abortion are also "pro-death penalty"; that's inconsistent. It's okay to be "anti-choice" while also being "pro-death penalty"; in most cases, "pro-life" is a misleading label.
It's clear as to what the IRS thinks of it: it's not a baby until it's born since you can't take a tax deduction until *after* the baby shows up.
For a while now, George W. Bush has been trying to scare the American population with the question: Whom do the terrorists want to be elected to the White House? The president implies (or explicitly says) that John Kerry would be less dangerous to the terrorists' purpose.
The truth of the matter, George W. Bush is the posterboy for the terrorists' recruitment drive. How many *more* terrorists are there now because of George W. Bush's actions? How many more hate and/or distrust the USA because of George W. Bush? Who will be their "Satan" if George W. Bush is voted out?
It gets more interesting as, on October 20, 2004, the Associated Press reported that the head of Iran's security council indicted that the re-election of Bush "was in Tehran's best interests". This is coming after Iran was designated as one of Bush's "Axis of Evil". The head of that council indicated that Democrats have historically "harmed Iran more than Republicans".
Note that I consider myself either a Conservative Democrat or a Liberal Republican (I voted for Bill Weld and would have voted for Nixon if I had the chance). Am I against Republicans? I probably would have voted for John McCain if he had run. No, I'm against far right neo-conservatives who wish to remake the world in their own image and who have no use for anyone who doesn't toe their party line. Remember who stopped Bill Weld, a Republican nominated by a Democrat president, from being confirmed as the ambassador to Mexico? (Note that I have no use for bleeding-heart Liberals, either).
I recognize that I haven't said much in the way of positive comments on John Kerry. I don't think I need to. He's been the junior senator from Massachusetts for a long time; if it weren't for the longevity of Ted Kennedy, he would have been the senior senator a long time ago. The people of Massachusetts have continued to trust and respect him year after year and have consistently returned him to Washington, DC to protect our interests. He's been on the national and international scene for years. I *trust* him.
I've watched George W. Bush for four years. I can't say the same for him. When I read more about his past, I feel even worse. I'm going to vote for Kerry because I believe it's a good thing to have a president who's *smart*.
Those of you who have the right to vote in this upcoming election have a duty. You don't have to vote for either the Democratic or Republican candidate; however, you do have a duty to make your voice heard. Don't let anyone tell you your vote doesn't matter. Florida in 2000 proved that notion wrong.
Don't shirk your duty on November 2.
Jim Calderone, formerly of Boston and now in Norway, is the webmaster for Total Swing (technically, a competitor to this website, though I don't think either of us really think so). He was responding to the October 17 & 24 editorial, but I include another reply of his with regard to my soapbox from May 30, 2004. I had asked him if he would consider rewriting a section of that prior letter because I wasn't sure of the tone of his words. Since then, after finally getting around to a reply to my request, he felt that his original note was relevant and appropriate so I also present that letter for your reading.
Jim said "...your recent soapbox which I found to be one of your best, if not THE best. Really enjoyed it".
Oh yes, please note a note I got from another reader at the end of this soapbox.
Hi Benson, just wanted to say, FABULOUS soapbox this week. I had intended to comment in detail but given that it was so long, suffice to say bravo. We may not agree on every detail point for point, but the important thing is that you HAVE an opinion and you exercise your right.
You sum up one important aspect of this election in your final words. Trust. I also "trust" John Kerry. I also feel he IS the right person for the job and not a compromise. I don't have to agree with him on every point, and I don't. But I'm certain I wont be considered a traitor, or "with the terrorists" if I don't agree with him and actively voice my opinion. From across the pond, and without the "noise" of US media, the current administration is a disaster, on every issue. "It's sad when you don't believe a single word that comes out of the white house". A friend of mine said this to me and about me not too long ago, and my reply was, "yes, it is sad isn't it".
You missed one very important point however: The next president of the US is likely to appoint at least one and possibly more supreme court justices. On Nov, you may be voting for the next 4 years of the executive office, but that vote carries with it ramifications for the next 40 years. If you consider most of the topics you do rightfully point out, remember also that the president has opinions and makes laws related to these topics, but the supreme court has the final say if something is deemed unconstitutional. Take for instance DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Now that Massachusetts has made same sex marriage legal, this opens the door for opponents of DOMA to challenge its constitutionality as far as the supreme court and there are efforts to do so. Voters must ask themselves what kind of supreme court do you want to hear cases like this and others ranging from Roe V Wade, gay rights, and because of our current attorney general, possibly even cases about who has access to your library records etc.
I've heard a few people already tell me they will not vote because a "no" vote sends a message to Washington. What message? We already have arguably 50% Voter turn out in the US. What possible message can a "no" vote send!. Anyone who believes this is simply wrong, and more probably affected by some propaganda campaign to decrease voter turn and increase voter apathy. One should wonder who a low voter turn out actually benefits, and whether or not increasing voter turn out is a real goal or not for some political institutions.
I have had arguments of the same regarding 3rd party candidates. Right now, with the things that are at stake in this election, we don't have the luxury of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 3rd party candidates simply take votes from the democratic party. You might as well just vote for Bush if you think a vote for Nadar will give anyone a "message". But its a free country (at least at the moment), so one should vote as one sees best. But it gets no respect from me. In fact, I'll respect a voters right to vote for the Republican party, but I question the values those people have, or whether they understand the values of the republican party have shifted to a small minority of neo-conservatives who are firmly running the GOP. I jokingly said to a friend here in Norway.... "Support Republican values, vote Democrat". Sad but true.
So, in closing, I totally agree with Benson, get out and vote, and don't throw your rights away. For the record, I have already voted as of Oct 20. I'm registered Independent; I'm socially aware and lean heavily toward fiscal responsibility in government. I also believe in the governments role of safety net for those less fortunate, and I believe in government accountability for social programs.
Have a good one!
This is Jim's response to my May 30 soapbox.
Great soapbox and great response to your friend. If the 2000 election taught us anything its a) that every vote DOES count and b) there are some political parties that will stop at nothing for power. A few nice readings are Richard Clarke's recent book, Against all Enemies, and Worse than Watergate by John W, Dean, both long time Washington brats with exposure to many administrations and their respective policies.
When a president claims to have a mandate and speaks for the majority of Americans, its important to note that the current president did not win the popular vote and therefore doesn't speak for the majority of people. But more insidious is what's really going on in Washington ranging from the erosion of those very freedoms so many gave their lives for, to a neo conservative agenda that is nothing short of shameful.
I've had and interesting vantage point, viewing what happening in the America from across the pond these many years. But what has struck me is how much I have felt the ramifications of decisions that are made by my own government while I'm living in a foreign country.
In addition to voting, I'd encourage people to read, then read again, then read some more about how this administration runs. Be discriminating. Don't just read pro or con, but both. And take special notice of where there are facts, and where there is mudslinging and name-calling.
Be knowledgeable and then make a decision and vote. Hell, vote for Bush, but make an informed decision... that is, if you haven't lost your right to vote in the past four years. And just to be sure, if you are a minority that demographically tends to vote Democratic.... I'd check before the election to make sure you in fact DO still have the right to vote, especially if you live in Florida.
From a different reader:
"By the way, that's the last Soapbox I ever read."which begs a question from the editor:
"And that is useful...how?"I appreciate that Jim Calderone took the time to put down in words what he was feeling about the upcoming election. Writing down those words mean that you have to defend those words to *yourself*. It also prepares you for that question from your friends: "why?". If you can't put those thoughts down into words, then the only thing you're demonstrating is that you really *don't know* and are afraid of being called out on the carpet to explain yourself to everyone. How much of your decision is based on emotions (and Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)) and how much of it is based on information and logic? Jim and I aren't afraid of defending our views and we're not afraid of exposing ourselves to cross-examination.
And we don't get into a snit if someone disagrees with us.
Oops...some more readers wrote in...
"I enjoyed your article but I was disappointed that you made no mention (perhaps I missed it in skimming) of the general ignoring of the geneva convention and the authorization of torture of prisoners." - JL
Editor's Note: Whoops...
"..that must have felt so good. I only wish it could have been in video so we could SEE you dancing on the soapbox. Seriously, though, I do agree and I am extremely nervous about next Tuesday. However sweet the world series is, I'd gladly keep the curse on the Redsox to be sure I never have to call W. a president again." - BP
"Very nice piece. Thanks!" - MC
"Ok, I finally read it and it's great. I have lots of comments if you want them." - DM