Charlie's latest soapbox. . . 27 march, 2004

I'm sure many of you have been wondering why I have been so quiet in my "Soapbox" at such a critical time in the political life of this country. Well, it has not been for lack of interest or passion. The truth is, I have been so amazed and shocked at what I have been witnessing that I have been in some kind of paralyzed stupor. I just don't know where to begin! Yes, I am the first to admit that I am a Democrat by nature, though I am a registered Independent. But, come on! Even my Conservative father in England is begging me to do everything we can to stop this President from re-gaining The White House. Why do I think that this is singly the most important election we have had in my lifetime? Let me count the ways!

1. TERROR: In 1993 Al-Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center in New York. As luck would have it, and not for want of trying, the Towers did not collapse and casualties were light. Make no mistake, however, the terrorists' intention was NOT to blow up a garage. . .the plan was to blow up the whole building. Nor was this incident an isolated one. There were attacks against our Embassies in Africa and against the USS Cole in Aden. When President Clinton wanted to retaliate against Osama Bin Laden's training camp in Afghanistan, the military and the Republicans on the Armed Services Committee vetoed any ground action and left him with only the less effective option of launching a cruise missile strike. This hit the camp, but missed Bin Laden by a few minutes. The furor that erupted from the Right was not so much because Bin Laden survived, but because they felt that the President was using this to distract the country from the more important matter of his dalliance with a White House intern!

It has now been made clear that when the new President took over, the previous Administration's warnings about the seriousness of the Al-Qaeda threat were, once again, ignored. These missed opportunities to avoid the disaster of 9/11 are currently the subject of intense scrutiny by a bi-partisan committee, albeit one stymied by reluctance on the part of The White House to release the relevant documents and the refusal of the National Security Advisor (kind of a key post, don't you think?) to testify.

But here is what is truly disturbing about this current Administration's mind-set vis-?-vis the Terror threat to our country. In September 2000 Dick Cheney (soon to be Vice President), Donald Rumsfeld (soon to be Secretary Of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz (soon to be Rumsfeld's number two) and Jeb Bush (George's brother) commissioned a study from the Project for the New American Century think tank (PNAC). The study was entitled: "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For The New Century." Among other things, the Plan calls for a "blue print for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." As part of this strategy it spells out a pre-emptive policy in the Middle East that has NOTHING to do with Terrorism.

Part of the report reads as follows: "The United states has, for decades, sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The rest of the report is chilling in its discussion of the need to be able to fight wars on two fronts. It spotlights China for "regime change" suggesting that an increase in US troop presence in East Asia will "spur the process of democratization in China." In another part of the study it reveals a concern that Europe might try to rival the US. A situation that should not be allowed to materialize. And all this was BEFORE the Republicans on the Supreme Court had appointed Bush President!

OK, so you say: "So what if Bush had always planned to invade Iraq and was inventing an excuse to do it. Saddam was evil and we are better off without him." But here's the point. Apart from the fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction, the reason for invading Iraq was to strike a blow in the War against Terror, right? But Saddam was a mortal enemy of Al-Qaeda and Islam extremism. He was a determined, secular dictator and was quick to throw religious extremists into jail. . .or worse. In fact, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, Osama Bin Laden was the first to offer his Al-Qaeda mujahedeen in the fight to remove him. His offer was rebuffed by the first President Bush, who did not want Iraq to go the way of Iran (i.e. fundamentalist) and instead, US tanks rolled into the Holy Places, setting a match to the tinder of Islamic resentment that directly led to 9/11. By taking Saddam out of the picture, far from striking a blow at Islamic Terror, Bush junior has removed one of Bin Laden's mortal enemies and opened the country to the kind of chaos and terror that we are now reading about every day. It is hardly surprising that the country is now swarming with Islamic terrorists from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and just about every other hotbed of fundamentalism. I am not suggesting that Saddam was any kind of friend to humanity, but the dishonest and ill thought out invasion did NOT make anyone in the world safer from Terrorism. But, as we have seen from the PNAC study, "terror" was not on Bush's mind any more than fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Terror is the new "Cold War" and needs to be faced with the same energy and resolve. BUT it cannot be fought with the same methods, nor can it be fought in a vacuum. This is a Global ideological struggle between The Old world and the New. It is about hearts and minds more than real estate, and getting into invasions and occupying other countries is exactly how not to win this war. This is no time for arrogance, hidden agendas, shortsightedness or self-interest. A vision, far greater than that of Pax Americana is our only hope.

2. CONSTITUTION : This Administration has made it very clear that the Constitution, when it gets in their way of doing what they want, is nothing more than a blamed nuisance and needs to be ignored, or worse, changed. I can't remember when so many Constitutional Amendments have been in the air: Marriage, Flag Burning, Foreign born Presidents. Executive Orders and Recess Appointments to the Bench (appointment of Right-Wing judges to the federal Bench without the approval of Congress,) have been handed out like candy. Not only are these ways of skirting the Legislative process that should be used with great care, but they further illustrate this administration's unabashed plan to centralize power in the White House.

Government was set up with very distinct and vital safety measures to prevent too much power from ending up in one place. The independence of Executive, Legislative and Judiciary provided a balance of power that would ensure compromise over totalitarianism. This Administration's brazen attempt to politicize and coalesce the Judiciary and Legislature to the whim of the Executive presents a watershed of abuse that may prove impossible to reverse. I do believe it is not an exaggeration when I say that, should Bush be re-elected, we may have seen the last free, democratic election in this country. In fact, I would suggest that we might have already seen it when the Judiciary (The Supreme Court) appointed the current President.

Further evidence of this blatant disregard for impartiality comes in the form of Justice Scalia's dogged insistence that he need not recuse himself from the case he is about to hear in the matter of Dick Cheney's secret Energy Policy meetings. Both he and Rehnquist have a sorry history of using their position on the highest court in the land to make political decisions. In the 1970's Rehnquist refused to recuse himself from a case that involved the legality of the Government's spying on Vietnam Protesters: wiretaps, surveillance and infiltration etc. Considering Rehnquist, as a lawyer, had helped forge this legislation that broke the back of the Bill of Rights, it was outrageous that he should actually be the deciding vote that allowed this shameful practice to continue. Nor should we be surprised now that he and his colleagues are using the information they gathered to try to smear Bush's Presidential rival, John Kerry!

3. SOCIETY: America has always prided herself on the great dream offered to any of her citizens. Hard work, imagination and guts can lead anyone to The White House. With Education and Health taking such a back seat to every other aspect of our lives, that possibility is rapidly becoming no more than a dream. As tax breaks are handed out to the top 3% of our citizens, and education, health and social programs are cut, the gap between the haves and have nots is becoming a chasm. Sweetheart deals cut for big business, de-regulation and the repeal of anti-trust laws are turning us into one big Corporation with a few multi-billionaire cronies holding the strings. What's amazing to me is not that it is happening, but that it is happening right in front of our eyes, in the papers and on TV, in all the media and we seem totally unwilling to do anything about it.

Tell me why Martha Stewart (a democrat) is going to jail for selling some stock on a tip and fudging her phone records of the deal, while Ken Lay (Bush's greatest contributor), who cost thousands their pensions and jobs with the Enron scandal, has faded from view.

You know what . . .I could go on about the Environmental rollbacks that will take two decades to fix, the rise of intolerance for others fostered by an avowed Right-Wing Christian ethic at the Justice department, the drive to set the Middle East aflame in order to speed the Apocalypse and experience The Rapture. . .oh, you didn't know about this? Ask Tom DeLay (leader of the Senate) about his trip to Jerusalem and why he encouraged Sharon to reject the Peace initiative. . .the cavalier foreign policy that is putting ourselves and the world in a very real and very dangerous hole . . .I could go on. . .but I would still be writing this in November!

There has never been a more important time in this country to vote and get others to vote; that is, of course, so long as the new electronic machines (supplied by DieBold. . .again one of Bush's greatest campaign contributors!) deliver a fair count! I honestly believe that the futures of the country and the World are in our hands this year. It is an awesome responsibility, don't fumble it.

As always, I am not shy about my position and I hope you will not be. I welcome responses and comments and am especially pleased to hear from those that disagree with me. Informed debate and argument is what made this country a model for all others. . .so bring it ON!

This soapbox is now closed. Here is what you had to say. These are your opinions, that you wrote in, as a reaction to what I wrote above. Thank you for using this forum to have your voices heard. . . .

from susanne in austria

Quis Custodit Custodes?

Who guards the guards? This is what comes to my mind when I read the many of the responses to this soapbox. If you do not have an idea what I am referring to, I hope you will have in a few minutes. First I have to say that I am in wonder at some people's naivety and ignorance here, not to speak of the subliminal religious fanaticism I begin to sense here. I feel compelled to respond to some of the misinformation spread here.

"No one said war would be easy and short." That is a wonderful phrase, isn't it? So catchy, so very wise, and so out of place by the person who used it in the first place. It was *exactly* this pretension under which the Bush administration sold the war in Iraq to the world. Those who opposed the war were those who foretold and warned of the consequences. Sadly enough, most of them have come true.

Believe me, I do not deny the crimes that happened in my country under Hitler and still I think the WMD were a figment of fiction. For once, they still haven't found any yet and even Mr. Powell had to admit there might have been none at all. If you bring up plans, recipes, research and equipment to produce toxins like Aflatoxin and Ricin as evidence for WMD, you should research a bit on it first. Then you would know that, e.g. Aflatoxins are a by-product of metabolism of mould. Even I have the means and knowledge to produce it, my field of concentration for my chemistry finals was toxins and their derivatives. You can trace Aflatoxin in my granny's kitchen when she's forgotten that box of rice in her cuboard again and it got mouldy. Yet neither one of us has terroristic tendencies, however, if you had monitored my research habits, keywords and results when I was graduating from high school, you would have thought I could be a terrorist if I were a male Muslim (My luck I graduated way before 9/11). You would have done better quoting Paracelsus, "Anything is poisonous, everything contains poison, the dose makes the difference." Even oxygen, the same substance we need to breathe, can be lethal.

What about US military? I am sure they have biological weapons and long distance missiles as well. Mr Bush has made it clear with Iraq that US foreign politics are from now on, shoot first, ask questions later. He gives a damn about the opinion of the rest of the world and acts as if he were the world police. How do we know he will not attack another country with chemical weapons soon? Quis custodit custodes?

The US government is has started a huge database with personal information about US citizens, residents and visitors. If an airline refuses to give out personal information about their passengers the plane might/will be refused permission to land on US soil. The government has commissioned private companies to gather personal information about their customers for them. Yes, you read correctly: The FBI is buying info on you because Congress denied them direct access to every database in the US. More and more places are wired and monitored, soon every aspect of life of US residents will be documented by bugs and cameras. They will know what you had for breakfast, where you bought your new dress/suit and why you haven't come home to your spouse straight after work. They will read your mail, snake and electronic, and listen in on your phone calls and pillow talk. Whatever happened to people's right to privacy? Terrorism is a terrible thing; a phenomenon of violence that will occur at any place at any time. It needs to be fought - but at what stakes? Are you really ready to give up your basic rights? You will have no influence on what the government is recording and documenting about you in their files and how that information is used. Welcome to the national surveillance state. Quis custodit custodes?

What some US soldiers have done in Iraqi prisons is beyond my comprehension. How can you condone it with toning it down by saying it were only a minority, a handful of people? When I think of Guantanamo I think it may be just the tip of the iceberg. How can you condone it with stating dryly: It was a picture of a man with a bag on the head. I take it you never head to wear a bag over your head for a longer period of time, I hope you will never have to. If that is what upsets you I have to wonder whether sexual abuse, humiliating treatment and beating to death is the standard fare you get in US military prisons. I will not repeat here the inhuman things the soldiers did to the prisoners, get a copy of the Washington Post. But I will ask you again: Who will guard the guards?

Obviously Mr Rumsfeld and Mr Wolfowitz are no longer in control of the situation. For someone who wants to bring freedom and democracy to another country, they have set a very poor example. I can imagine the Pentagon would have liked to sweep even those few incidents under the carpet as they tried to do with My Lai. I saw a documentary on TV about an Iraqi man who supposedly died of a natural death in a US military prison. Of course, that's what the death certificate issued by the US Army says. Why doubt it? And yet the body was subject of a post mortem examination and showed signs of possible torture and abuse. Unfortunately we will never know the truth because once a body has been autopsied by the US Army, Iraqi officials must not doubt the diagnose and Iraqi pathologists must not perform their own autopsy to second the diagnose. Now, this is what I call a good hush up manoeuvre. When people died in concentration camps because of hunger, exhaustion, medical experiments, gas chambers or other executions, the Nazis issued a death certificate confirming a natural death and sent it home to the family...QUIS CUSTODIT CUSTODES?

President Bush has to blame himself for the bad situation he currently has to face. My, my, whatever happened to freedom and prosperity? George W. Bush would be the answer I guess. I can't think the situation Clinton left for him to clean up was so bad because soon after President Bush came into office he himself said "It's amazing I won. I was running against freedom, prosperity and incumbency." You don't believe me, google the quotation and you will find his words were broadcast LIVE by Swedish TV (For the Future, Mr President: The red light blinking means the camera's ON AIR!).

Let me share something with you that I was told by an acquaintance who studies with a Muslim guy who happens to have a fairly good insight on Islamic fundamentalists and the motivation for people to support Jihad. I personally was amazed at the simplicity at which they put it: Muslims oppose the Western way of separating religion from law, politic and society. For them Allah is the law, the foundation of society and politics. It's all one. They disagree with the deprivation of power from God we have here in the Western World and since we have begun to try to impose our beliefs onto the Middle Eastern World (i.e. The Crusades) they have sworn to fight us in the Jihad.

Only a man like George W. Bush can have the vision to serve the security of the American people by marching into Iraq and bringing Western democracy and values to the Muslims there. Exactly the ONE thing they Muslim extremists have sworn to defeat. Ever waved a red flag in front of a bull?

Saddam is a bastard and can rot in jail (or hell) for my part. No words are ever going to beautify his crimes. However, he was a declared enemy of Osama bin Laden. Now that he's gone, terror camps are sprouting like flowers in spring on Iraqi soil. On this powder keg President Bush is attempting to establish democracy and Western standards. Something the Middle Eastern Muslim world is simply not ready for. Have you ever gone into the lion's den to give it a good beating?

It is amazing what people read between the lines in Mr. Shaughnessy's letter. The issue of Christianity was not brought up until some Christians defended themselves, despite not being attacked. The only thing Mr. Shaughnessy did was criticise the intolerance the right wing Christians are encouraging but that's all. To jump to the conclusion he has anything against Christianity or any other religion is completely unjustified IMHO. Either some people here are heavily generalising or I haven't read the same letter like the rest of you. I will not discuss my religious beliefs here with fanatics who are blinded by their faith. But I will respond to what the same people have stated here in *their* religious beliefs.

I read words by so-called Christians here that go beyond my comprehension. "The book of Daniel and The Revelation foretell the evil in the middle east ...Our only hope is Jesus ...I feel sorry for children who are not tault [not sure what you mean - was this a typo for told?]about Jesus ...They will have to experience the horrible time." What is going on in the minds of the authors of these words? What fuels the hostility towards other religions in you? Basically you are saying Christianity is the only rightful religion; Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, etc. are evil and wrong. Don't say I am turning the words in your mouths because I am not, I am just speaking out their covert meaning.

I was born and raised catholic by my parents, I never questioned my faith until as a teenager, I went two years to a Catholic boarding school and served several years during mass. Religious education is a compulsory subject in Austrian schools until your sixteenth birthday. In all those times, however, I cannot recall any moment that I was taught to look down on other people who are of less worth because they share not our faith. On the contrary, I was taught to respect all human beings and other religions as much as my own. I was taught that "our God" is no longer the revengeful, angry deity from the Old Testament but has grown into a loving, tolerant and forgiving Father in the New Testament. Although I would no longer call myself a devout Catholic, I still build my life on Christian values. When I go to Christmas Mass, I pray to the same God that you worship. Yet, when I read your words I wonder: Can our Gods really be the same? Did we ever read the same Bible?

"If you read the Bible, you will see that the times the King (President) followed God, the people followed and God kept them safe. When the KING (President) did NOT follow God, the nation became corrupt and they were taken into bondage."

Now correct me if I am wrong but with the same right you claim that your religion is the right one, a Jew, Muslim or Buddhist may do the same. I think this is where the fundamentalism comes into play. You are blinded by your faith so much you can no longer look over the rim of your tea cup. I wouldn't be surprised if the authors of those words belonged to those fundamentalist Christians who deny creationism, selective evolution and Darwinism. You live by God's law, very much as the Islamic fundamentalists do. This is exactly what puts me off so much about religion: My God is better than yours. How dare you judge? How do you want to know?

"The permission to defend themselves (Kital) is given to those who are being waged (unfounded) war on, for they have been wronged - God has indeed the power to stand by those - all those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly, only because they said: Our only God is Allah." (Koran, sura 22, 39-40).

Can you really not see where this is leading to or do you just want to practice your ignorance and close your eyes before it? How many wars have we fought in the name of God? How many of those had a positive ending? The persecution of Christians, The Diasporra, The Crusades, Turkish conquerors, The Thirty Year's War, The Huguenot Wars? It's always the same: My God is the only one, you have no (right) faith. Once it were Romans and Christians, then pagans, then it were Muslims and Christians, then Chrisitans and Jews, then Catholics and Protestants now it has become Christians and Muslims again. When will there ever be an end? As long as people do not become more tolerant, this is a loosing battle. We need to begin to listen to each other and respect the other one's opinion. I know it's difficult but it's the only way out. Accepting someone else's point of view and their religion does not mean you are deserting your own faith. I will not start a religious feud here but I am beginning to wonder whether some people might need to take a step back and think about what they write here.

from jenn in canada

Bravo Denise! You have so eloquently put into words many of the same thoughts which I?ve had since reading some of the recent responses that several of the self proclaimed ?Christians? have made in this forum. Some responses almost make me ashamed to be a ?Christian? by their extreme definitions.

I?ve had more than enough of zealots who proclaim that they alone can interpret what ?God? or ?Jesus? wants us to do and that their interpretation is the only true and correct one. They do not speak for me. What arrogance! What blind and self righteous charlatans these people are. No human should attempt to use religion to justify cruelty toward other humans. Can you, my fellow ?Christians?, actually imagine ?God? standing at the front of your churches on a Sunday morning and saying: ?today I want you to go over to another country and in my name, try to seek revenge on it?s citizens by abusing or killing anyone who dares to defy you or refuses to acknowledge your superiority.?

I cringe every time I?m reminded that George W. Bush shares a similar Protestant faith with me. He is using religion and faith as an excuse to justify actions which could not and should not ever be defined as Christian.

I believe religions were created to bring comfort to people who were in need of support. They were never intended to be divisive or cause suffering and yet many have done just that. The definitions of so many faiths have been horribly distorted by extremists of all nationalities who wish to use them to serve their own social, moral or political agendas.

Genuine faith has had many positive uses in society. Two hundred years ago, faith enabled people to overcome great adversity in a world which was short on comfort and safety. Harsh environments, lack of medicines, arduous labour all contributed to a great need in society for people to come together and be reassured that somehow they would make it though these trials. Religious leaders acquired enormous political power within communities, because without the support of the local priest, pastor or rabbi, their children might have starved or been ill clothed in the winter

As society became more advanced and the industrial revolution brought us ways to cure illness, make extreme climates liveable and enjoy more comfortable lifestyles, religion began to change. People didn?t need the church in the same manner that they used to and the political power of the church began to wane as the power and wealth of the state and it?s citizens began to rise. Naturally this has caused quite a decline in church attendance and many of the more extreme religious leaders have started to consider how to get back both their congregations and their power and they have adopted inappropriate and negative reinforcement methods in an attempt to regain them

Faith is a valuable tool which may help to sustain us when things are difficult, however, faith should enhance, not supersede, sound judgement, compassion and common decency towards others. One cannot justify inappropriate or ill advised actions by saying: I know best because I am Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim and my religious text says I'm right. Words can easily be twisted to fit the motivation of the reader. Instead of quoting religious texts, we should be working together to find solutions to problems by strengthening society and celebrating it?s diversities and it?s commonalities. Wise leaders should try to find ways to include and offer comfort, justice and safety to people of all faiths and should not exclude, diminish or alienate those whose beliefs are not the same as their own.

Instead of trying to conform to some narrow definition of what a true believer of a particular faith might be, perhaps it would serve society better if we each extended our hand to someone who really needs it.

from misty in massachusetts


Since you posted your new soapbox musing on your website, I have been reading what others have had to say about it, been taking in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of those who have written in. I have been a sideline observer up until now about the whole issue of our war with Iraq, President Bush and the way that he is running our country, 9/11 and all the mistakes people seem to think President Bush has made that le dup to 9/11. I have been trying to grasp and to make sense of all this madness, as I am sure you and others have been also. The last few responses to your soapbox have prompted me to step foot off the sidelines, and to enter onto the field, and to voice my thoughts and feelings. So here goes....

First of all, I want to say that I am very glad to be living in America. I have honestly never thought about how fortunate I am to be living in this country having grown up here my whole life and have never been out of this country to experience what others have to live through that makes them want to come to America. When you live in the richest country, the freest country, in the world, you tend to forget about what it is you really have. Maybe you all dont, but I know that I tend to forget what it is that makes me so glad that I am an American. Let's start with freedom. We are equal in this country. Men, women, children, old, young, black, white, we are all equal by law. Women can have any job that a man can have, and she can even hold a position over a man. She can walk down the street without having to cover her face or wear certain clothes, or wear a brand on her forehead tellnig people that she is married or not married. Children can go to school, and in this country it is illegal for kids NOT to go to school. That is truancy in this country and the parents can and are held legally responsible if their children do not attend school on a regular basis. Children in other countries do not have that freedom. They get sent to the military field at the age of 13 in some countries. At the age of 7 or 8 children are sent to the work force, to work in sweat shops for meager or no pay at all, so that us, the American people, can have the finest clothes and running shoes and other 'necessities.' When we are sick, we can go into a hospital and get treatment. People in other countries have no idea what a hospital is, only that they do not have access to one. We can, most of us, walk down the street at night without the fear of getting shot or taken hostage. The things in this country that we take advantage of, we should be praising God that we have. I saw a commerical on tv about President Bush the other day that said that instead of getting more teachers hired, and more medicaid given out, and more health insurance to the people who do not have any, he is off giving money to the people in Iraq. The commerical seemed to imply that President Bush is turning his back on his own country to help another, and that by him doing so, was making people angry. Well, you know what made ME angry? That commerical. President Bush is trying to help Iraq into a country like ours. He is trying to make peace over there so that the people who did not choose to live there, but were born there and born into that way of life, which we all have seen by the news stories and headlines in the papers that it is a hell on earth for them. President Bush is trying to see to it that they have the same opportunities that we have. That they have freedom and a Bill of Rights, a Constitution. And for that, America...we are angry? America is a great country to live in, but we are also the most selfish group of people in the world. It seems to go hand and in with being the richest country in the world. When I was a child, I used to see the commericals on tv asking people to sponser other families in other countries and I used to always ask my mom why couldnt we just pay to have them come and live with us so we could take care of them? Well, now as an adult, I realize that it is not as simple as that. People know what they know. They are raised in a lifestyle and in a place where no matter who bad it may be and most of the time is all they know, it is all they know how to do to survive. So it is not the answer to move these people out of their countries, but as Americans, who have so much to give, so much to offer, why are we so spoiled that we can't share the wealth? That is what President Bush wants to do for Iraq and the people, and they want it. They are the one's who are asking President Bush to send in more troops, to keep his troops there so that they can be properly trained in the military forces they have available to them, so that a new way of life can be started for them. Remember, America, there is no more draft in effect. The men and women of the armed forces are there on their own free will. They made the choice to serve our country and if they had to, to die for our country. And we know that many, many, many of US soliders have died in action with this war. But they did not die in vain, they did not die without honor. They died for a purpose, and they chose their purpose, and we should be proud.

I am not against welfare, or medicaid, or hiring more teachers. What I am against is the abuse of these things. Especially welfare. The commercial against President Bush said that he should be giving the money that he is using for Iraq to this country to help people who need assistance financially. I am not against government help to those in need. But let's take a good look at welfare. The whole point of welfare is for people who have gotten themselves into or have been put into dire circumstances that they need help getting out of. Okay, so welfare was introduced to help these people get out of the circumstances that they are living in. They get a little money, help pay some bills off, get day care for their children, so that they can go to work in hopes of saving some money so they can build a better life for their children and themselves. I am all for that, I think that is a great idea! But what has happened? People have abused welfare to the max. Staying on it longer than need be, not gettnig jobs, but sitting around letting the state take care of them while they go out and have more children. No, not everyone on welfare has done this, but we all know that there are people who have and those people ruin it for the rest of the people who are in desperate need of some assistance. The point of welfare was temporary help, that's it. A year, two tops. Not 10 years later still being on welfare while the piggy bank gets ready to explode. That is not the point of welfare. It has been abused, and because of that, the funds drained and drained so that welfare has made some major cuts and that hurt a lot of hurting and needy people out there. We all need to stop and think of what life would be like if we all DIDNT live in the United States. Let's paint a picture of how life would be...some countries have no running water, no electricity, and the heat is controlled city-wise so that you cannot adjust your heat if it is too hot o too cold. People pay their bills, they stay nice and warm for the winter months, people do not pay their bills, they fereze. Even if you paid your bills, but Joe Schmo down the road didnt pay his, YOU suffer right along with him. Imagine being in a country rnu by Suddam Hussein who would turn on a dime and kill you and your family. Imagine not being able to walk down the street, or ride a bus, or walk into a public building because there would be the possibility that a bomb could blow you to pieces. Imagine, all you parents who are reading this, and this includes you, too, Charlie, watching your eight year old son being taken into the work force to work to make things for a country that hates you. Imagine watching your 13 year old son being taken into battle, being taken away from you to go to learn to 'be a man' and fight for a country who also cares not about you, but only about killing the enemy and if you arent good enough to hold your own out there, and you die, no one cares because you are just another useless dead body to them. Imagine having your 13 year old son have a bomb strapped to his chest and walk into a public place and detonate that bomb killing himself and anyone within a 100 yard radius of him. All this for a country who doesnt give a rat's tail about him. We sleep at night, most of us calm and serene, because we know not, and our children know not, the ugliness of a world outside of our own. Maybe that is a false statement partly. Because maybe there are those out there who do know or at least think about the other countries and the hardships that they have to endure, but will it ever really hit home? Somehow I doubt it because we will not ever have to live like that. America will never be under a dictatorship, or a tyrrany. America will always remain a rich and free country, where we will have doctors and lawyers, and schools, and we will have the freedom to speak out about what we feel and how we believe without the fear of being killed. Now ask yourselves why so many of these people from other countries want to live in America? The people who want to come to America as spies and as suicide missionaries for people like Suddam and Osama, are blinding our eyes to the people who want to come to America for the RIGHT reasons, and rightly so that people who want to harm and kill Americans we should be wary of, but it is like the saying that one bad apple spoils the whole barrell full is true in more ways than one.

I will discuss those things in a separate response, as I do not want people to become overwhelmed with the volume and extent in which I wrote, so to make it easier on the eyes and on the brain, I will respond in another post to the other things I wanted to address.

Charlie, as always, the use of your website to reach people from all over is truly commendable and I thank you so much for allowing your fans to gather and discuss our thoughts and beliefs about this world and our President and anything else that may be weighing on our minds.

from denise in kentucky

In Joseph Goebbel's day, the key method of spreading propaganda was the Big Lie. It worked as follows: proclaim outrageous falsehoods repeatedly, declare the sordid stuff with wholehearted conviction, and eventually a majority of the public accepts the repugnant hogwash as the truth.

The Big Lie lives on today. Big lies have been posted in this forum. One specific lie that has been repeatedly mentioned is that Sudan offered to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the Clinton Administration. In his informative book Against All Enemies Richard Clarke totally refutes this lie. The Bush White House attempted to smear Richard Clarke everyway it could, yet it did not offer any evidence to challenge Clarke on this matter (or any other fact presented in his book). If such evidence existed, surely Bush and company would have jumped on the chance to disprove Clarke's claim. Yet they did not. They merely attempted nuanced character assassination, for the facts apparently support Clarke.

As the Clarke book points out, Bill Clinton understood the danger posed by al-Qaida and did about all he could do--within the constraints of the political realities of a pre 9/11 world--to combat terrorism. In the case of George W. Bush, quite the opposite is true. Not only did he apparently not understand the urgent danger posed by al-Qaida prior to 9/11, he has failed to properly conduct the war against terrorism in the post 9/11 world. We have recently learned the Bush administration had three separate chances to take out Abu Musab Zarqawi's terrorist training camp in Kurd-controlled Northern Iraq prior to March 2003, but failed to do so since the White House feared destroying the camp would damage their case for war against Saddam Hussein. When the Iraq war started the camp was finally attacked, but Zarqawi and his terrorists were long gone. For those of you who don't know about Abu Musab Zarqawi, he is the man who beheaded Nick Berg. The real pity is Bush is conducting the war on terrorism so unwisely that he is making the world an even more volatile and dangerous place than it already is.

As for the matter of WMDs, regardless of what has been said in this forum, the general consensus held by no less than David Kay and other experts in the field is that we have failed to find the WMDs that were the original justification for pre-emptive war. Just this past Sunday on Meet the Press, Colin Powell admitted that he now knows the case he made before the UN in February 2003 regarding the existence of WMDs was a misleading one based on flawed intelligence. What would be the point of making such an admission if we had indeed found the WMDs he was referring to?

I'm not keen to discuss my faith in forums such as this, for I have no desire to impose my beliefs on those who really aren't interested. Having said that, conscience requires that I now express my views. The concluding paragraphs deal with aspects of Christianity that have been discussed in this soapbox. For those who have no interests in such matters, please ignore.

Among the most striking themes of the Bible are the calls for justice and economic fairness, and the call to provide for those less fortunate than ourselves. These calls are found in many eloquent and moving passages throughout both the Old and New Testaments. I see no evidence that the Bush Administration is heeding these calls in a meaningful way. In fact, I see quite the opposite. Is justice served when prisoners die brutal deaths in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib and other prison camps? Is justice served when individuals are indefinitely detained without charges being brought against them and without access to legal counsel? For that matter, is justice served when environmental regulations are gutted and industries are allowed to increase the amounts of toxins they pump into the air and water? Is economic fairness served when the taxes of the extremely wealthy are repeatedly cut while the middle class bears a disproportionately large tax burden? Is economic fairness served when future generations are burdened with massive deficits? Is economic fairness served when we import goods that are made by people living under ghastly slave-like conditions? Do we provide for the less fortunate by reducing the strength of the social safety net? Do we provide for the less fortunate by refusing to extend unemployment benefits? Do we provide for the less fortunate by refusing to legislate a liveable minimum wage?

While I'm firmly in the camp of Christianity, I'm leary of that Christian element that is fanatically obsessed with eschatological matters. For nearly two thousand years the church has been dealing with end-time speculation. I've no doubt many of the espousers are sincere in their expressions and motivations, but I think obsessive Rapture theology is an unwise approach to faith. I'm not at all convinced anything like the Rapture event that is being promoted through such material as the "Left Behind" book series has actual basis in scripture. Indeed, total immersion in this type of teaching can easily become an impediment to the proper application of one's faith. Some think they are to throw up their hands and not do anything to try to make this world a better place, because the end of time is just around the corner and calamity is inevitable. That's a defeatist belief. Christians are called to work for peace at all times, they are called to work for justice at all times, they are called to provide for the less fortunate and social outcasts at all times. I'm to be a peacemaker, I'm not to cheer on the notion of war for war's sake. The zealous justification of violence is lost on me. The words of Christ are quite clear on this matter: Blessed are the peacemakers. His words NEVER encourage warmongering.

Want to talk about Old Testament times? On more than one occasion in the Old Testament, the dangerous combination of extreme arrogance, corrupting greed and vain belief in the power of one's own self caused kings to adopt foolish policies that led their nations down the road to ruin. The kings had no vision, nor did they have an awareness of their own fallibility, and so they continued in their ill-advised ways with disastrous consequences. Sound familiar?

I have read the statements put forth here by some self-avowed Christians and I respond by saying theirs is a version of faith I find primarily unrecognizable as Christianity. But more to the point it's thoroughly unappealing to me, and I find that grievous, for if it is unappealing to one who is already a Christian, how much more offensive and undesirable would a non-Christian find these arguments. What damage is being done by such words? No wonder so many people are wholly dismissive of the very notion of faith. I think if someone set out to deliberately make people hate the idea of Christianity, they could do no better than to concoct some of the Soapbox responses of those identifying themselves as Christians. If I were a non-Christian, rather than be drawn to many of the beliefs expressed here, I would be inclined to run far, far away from the Christian faith.

Thank you Mr. Shaughnessy for your wise words concerning the War in Iraq and for providing this forum.

from gerry from pennsylvania

Hi Charlie...I come from a republican home but I'm a democrat because I never wanted to forget how I felt when President Kennedy was killed and, like you, I'm a democrat at heart...I really enjoy all the hub bub you're an independent yet ! Get off that fense, Charlie...I love all of our presidents and I love America and the fact that we can tell each other where the bear poops in the buckwheat ! I agree with you that this election is critical...They ALL are...What a country ! I did'nt realize you care so much...Love ya !...President Kennedy was one of my favs 'cause he was a bypartisan Pres...Way before his time...America has had a wake-up call on 9/11...I have mellowed and still cry ! I cry when I see pictures of President Kennedy ! ( It's called a flash bulb memory )...I cry about President Reagan...Bypartisanship is the key ! ( Maybe you're correct in registering independent ! )...I'm voting for the guy who got down in the rubble with the policemen and firem! an and cried but assured us that we are strong...In his short time in ofc, G.W., has gotten Afganistan a Pres. and has captured many Taliban and Al-Queda higher-ups and is in the process of liberating Iraq...Yes, Charlie, I'd call President Bush an executive alright ! You see, growing up after WWII, I've had a lot of heros to admire and that's what America does...L-I-B-E-R-A-T-E..." The cost of freedom is high, but American's have always paid it.." Stated by one of my most favorite disabled vetran heroes...The 35th President of The United States...( God love him... )...Audie L. Murphy was one of my heroes too and not a bad little actor ! General Eisenhower,etc, Harry Truman, and the list goes on...While I appreciate your deep feelings, I;m voting for the President who seems to have convictions...( One of President Kennedy's Profiles In Courage...would'nt you say ? ) Thanks for the opportunity, Charle, this is fun ! Gerry from Pa. P.S. You're a gutsy guy, Charlie, you're o.k. in my! book ! I admire Tony Blair...seems like he has convictions too !

from april in maryland

As with all political parties opinions vary in so many different ways. There have been good and bad democrats and republicans. I think when a person decides to run for public office they have one of two reasons for doing so. One is they think it would be cool to be head of a country. He would be top dog, so to speak. The second reason is they think they could really do some good for their country. President Bush came into a presidency that had just shamed America to the world. Not only was Bill Clinton part of a sex scandal but he was caught lying in court about the sex scandal and nothing was said or done about it. You used Martha Stewart as an example of a democrat (who did wrong) being punished because she is a democrat yet Clinton got away with embarrassing our whole country.

It is easy for an actor to have all the answers because they live in a world that is make believe. I could never begin to say what was in George Bush's mind prior to his presidency. Maybe he did have plans or wants to go into Iraq. Maybe it was a decision that came after 911. Either way, As a country that has so much freedom and the manpower to keep this freedom, when we look at a country like Iraq, we need to rethink our priorities. You said Saddam was not a friend of Al Qaeda. Maybe, maybe not, but he was still a terrorist. If you lived in a country that hung you up and slowly lowered you into a vat of acid or into a shredder as you are slowly (excruciatingly) killed, you would want someone to rescue you. I know you have a daughter Mr. Shaughnessy, how would you bear the fact that if you were to be an example to others, that someone like Saddam would take your little girl and execute her in front of you to get your submission and loyalty? This happened all the time and no one stepped in to help. If our Nation sat back and did nothing to avenge 911, terrorist attacks would be all the more rampent. Back when Clinton was president, Our soldiers had Osama Bin Laden in firing range. They were ready to shoot and needed Clintons OK. He refused to take the call because he was out playing golf with uppercrust. Warnings of terrorist attacks came all the time. When does one act on these? Had President Bush acted on these warnings and nothing happened, I'm sure you would be writing to your public about how foolish and overreacting our president was. Yet when one of yours (democrat) has the opportunity to eliminate a known terrorist and chooses not leave the golf course, tell me who is more irresponsible?

I take it from your letter that you are anti-republican. I think it interesting that democrats always bash republicans leaders about their taxes or way their handling our Nations debt. Without stopping to see that the debt we are in are because of the previous administration. When republican Robert Ehrlich became governor of Maryland, he came into office with such a hugh debt from Glendening that the clean up was thrown on him. The same with the Clintons. They left our country in such bad shape (with the clean up thrown on Bush) that people didn't want Gore (who proved himself a liar more than once) as president.

Ted Kennedy said that we (America) is nothing more than another Nazi Concentration camp because of the pictures taken in the prison. A picture of an Iraqi soldier with a bag on his head. Ted Kennedy along with every newspaper and TV station called this torture. NO! Torture was when the Iraqi's beheaded one of ours in retaliation. Compare the two. And why was this retaliation done? Because the News Media spread it across the world letting them see what 10 Americans out of thousands did. Also is it not interesting that those pictures had to be taken by a soldier because it was inside a prison. Those soldiers knew that conduct like this is never permitted, yet their they were posing in plain site of a camera... just in time to try and ruin President Bush's campaign. If that is not a set up, then I don't know what is. All the scandal's that have followed the Kennedy's from the father to the son's to the nephews and yet they always walk away free and clear, how dare any democrat say woe is them for their ill treatment from a republican.

I'm not saying President Bush has made all the right moves or choices. I am saying he is taking a horrible situation and is acting on it. He has counsel and advisors but ultimately the decisions are his and he has to think in the long run. Our future as a country. People think one man can get in office and make all the boo boos go away. People need to grow up. It?s a dangerous world out there. If it?s a hit and miss situation then you pray you make the right choice. I have no doubt about the mass destructive weapons. Saddam used them on his own people. They were there, but he had time to hide them. Those who say there were never any weapons are like the people who say Hitler never executed the Jews in Germany. The evidence is in the witnesses and dead bodies.

I realize you don't like Christians from your letter. I have to say I am one. I believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him as my savior. I vote one particular way. If the candidate votes against abortion and against same sex marriages. These are specifically in the Bible as sins before God. I do not vote for lower taxes or better jobs. I do not favor someone who promises wealth. The bible says that if we obey HIS commandments than HE will take care of us. If you read the Bible, you will see that the times the King (President) followed God, the people followed and God kept them safe. When the KING (President) did NOT follow God, the nation became corrupt and they were taken into bondage. Mr. Shaughnessy, I believe in the apocalypse and the rapture. The evil that goes on over in the middle east is foretold in the books of Daniel and Revelation. There is to be a time of war and unrest. Times will get worse before they get better. Our only hope is in Jesus. There will be peace treaty signed. There will come a time of world peace. It will only be a short time, then someone far worse and horrible will be in charge. Read it for yourself. I feel sorry for the children that are not tault about Jesus. They too will have to experience the horrible time that is yet to come.

I know this may not be anything you want to hear. But I feel strongly about it. I think people are sometimes blinded by what the media tells them. People in most part do not think for themselves. They hear other opinions and never stop to think that they might be wrong. Thank you for excepting my email. I hope you read it through. I know its long but I've been so frustrated by all the negative words against President Bush, that it all spilled out on you.

from wende in florida

I agree with Megan from Indiana! But I still have no idea who to vote for. I just think Kerry will rip America from God's Will on anything going on in the lives of anyone or anything having to do with America. I don't know if I want Bush in for a second term. I like him as a person, but I think God may be closing the door on Bush for a second term. I try not to listern to a lot of the news, it only upsets me. So I would like to know if there are plenty of canidates for the November election, so we can have more to choose from to be the Chief and Leader of America. Instead of singing the song God Bless America, we should be saying the words, America Bless God.

from rochelle in illinois

I?m starting to wonder if most of Charlie?s fans are liberal, Bush-haters. This seems to be a mostly one-sided debate with everyone agreeing with Charlie. As such, I feel compelled to chime in here on this topic one more time.

I support the president and this administration 100%, and it frustrates me to read these postings.

I absolutely agree with what we are doing in Iraq. I will not be discouraged by the infinitely small minority whose misdeeds are getting way too much play in the media. Instead, I will focus on the fact that we have improved the infrastructure and quality of life for Iraqi citizens such as:

1) Increasing the power grids? capacity ? now Iraq has power 16 hours out of the day, much more than before the war. 2) Increasing basic human rights such as the freedom of speech ? no longer are the newspapers run by the government where the journalists are told what to write. 3) There is now a judicial system in place with judges where accused citizens are guaranteed the right to remain silent, right to a defense attorney and the right to a speedy trial. 4) Oil production is up from what was being produced prior to the war ? all money going to the rebuilding of Iraq ? not to the coalition!!! 5) Mosul is now cleaned up ? for 17 years the residents lived with raw sewage in the streets ? The coalition paid $40,000 to local workers who cleaned this mess up.

I urge you all to read ?Plan of Attack? by Bob Woodward. I read this book in one day because I could not put it down. You may be surprised if you open up your mind a bit and dig a little deeper and not take what the media spoon feeds you. You will find that President Bush is not the ?cowboy? the media will lead you to believe. He is a strong, thoughtful leader, and I am proud to call him my president.

Let me share with you a little from the book? President Bush requested to meet with 3 leading Iraqi dissidents to ask them questions about Iraq during the military planning. From pages 258 ? 260, ?At 2:15 P.M. on January 10 Bush and Cheney met privately with three leading Iraqi dissidents in the Oval Office. The president was blunt. ?I believe in freedom and peace. I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat to America and to the neighborhood??... ?Rend Francke, the director of a foundation promoting human rights and democracy in Iraq, said, ?I believe the Iraqi people can practice democracy if given the opportunity.??? ??Does the average citizen in Iraq hate Israel?? Bush asked. ?No,? the doctor said. ?They?re so self-absorbed, they?re just inward-focused.?? ?Author Kanan Makiya, who wrote Republic of Fear, the most credible account of torture and the sadistic nature of the Baath Party and its rise to power, said he was now researching the regime?s war crimes. ?You?re going to break the mold,? he said. ?You will change the image of the United States in the region. Democracy is truly doable in Iraq. Force for destruction can be turned to a force for construction. Iraqis are a technically able people. They are literate with electricized villages.? ?We?re planning for the worst,? Bush said. ?People will greet troops with flowers and sweets,?one said.? Woodward continues to note in the book the other questions that President Bush asked the 3 such as if there was starvation, and what their vision was once Saddam was gone. They believed it would take a 2 to 3 year stay of our military to stabilize the country. ??We haven?t reached conclusions,? the president told them, ending the meeting. ?I view you and the Diaspora (Iraqis living out of the country) as partners. Your job is to gather the people who want to help and rally their hearts and souls. My job is to rally the world and win the war?I truly believe out of this will come peace between Israel and the Palestinians.??

On page 320? ?Elie Wiesel, writer, survivor of Auschwitz and Nobel Peace Prize winner, came to see Rice on February 27 and the president dropped by her office?Wiesel told the president that Iraq was a terrorist state and that the moral imperative was for intervention. If the West had intervened in Europe in 1938, he said, World War II and the Holocaust could have been prevented. ?It?s a moral issue. In the name of morality how can we not intervene??? Bush told Wiesel, ?If we don?t disarm Saddam Hussein, he will put a weapon of mass destruction on Israel and they will do what they think they have to do, and we have to avoid that.? The prospect of a military exchange between Iraq and Israel would be a disaster, no doubt foreclosing any possibility of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states joining any effort against Saddam. In the face of such evils, neutrality was impossible, Wiesel said. Indecision only promoted and assisted the evil and the aggressor, not the victims. ?I?m against silence.?? ?In the days after, Bush routinely repeated Wiesel?s comments. ?That was a meaningful moment for me,? he recalled later, ?because it was a confirming moment. I said to myself, Gosh, if Elie Wiesel feels that way, who knows the pain and suffering and agony of tyranny, then others feel that way too. And so I am not alone.??

On page 379 regarding the final directive to go to war? ???For the peace of the world and the benefit and freedom of the Iraqi people, I hereby give the order to execute Operation Iraqi Freedom. May God bless the troops.? ?We?re ready to go,? the president said. ?Let?s win it.? He raised his hand in a salute to his commanders, and then abruptly stood and turned before the others could jump up. Tears welled up in his eyes, and in the eyes of some of the others. The president moved rapidly out of the room, returning to the Oval Office? He went through a door in the Oval Office outdoors for a walk by himself. Bush later recalled that moment. ?It was emotional for me. I prayed as I walked around the circle. I prayed that our troops be safe, be protected by the Almighty, that there be minimal loss of life.? He prayed for all who were to go into harm?s way and for the country. ?Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord?s will?I?m surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case I pray that I be as good a messenger of His will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for personal strength and for forgiveness.??

Page 27... "Two years after 9/11, during an interview in his office in the White House residence, President Bush said, 'September the 11th obviously changed my thinking a lot about my responsibility as president. Because September the 11th made the security of American people the priority...a sacred duty for the president. It is the most necessary duty for the president, because if the president doesn't take on that duty, who else is going to?' It changed his attitude toward 'Saddam Hussein's capacity to create harm,' he said, adding that 'all his terrible features became much more threatening. Keeping Saddam in a box looked less and less feasible for me.' Saddam was a 'madman', the president said. 'He had used weapons of mass destruction in the past. He has created incredibile instability in the neighborhood.' Saddam had invaded Iran in the 1980s and Kuwait in the 1990s. Bush added, 'The options in Iraq were relatively limited when you are playing the containment game.'"

On page 88-89... "'Let me make sure you understand what I just said about the role of the United States. I believe the United States is the beacon for freedom in the world. And I believe we have a responsibility to promote freedom that is as solemn as the responsibility is to protecting the American people, because the two go hand-in-hand. No, it's very important for you to understand that about my presidency.' ...'I say that freedom in not America's gift to the world. Freedom is God's gift to everybody in the world. ...And I believe we have a duty to free people. I would hope we wouldn't have to do it militarily, but we have a duty.' I asked whether such a conviction translated into a policy that could seem 'dangerously paternalistic' to people in other countries. 'Unless you're the person that happens to be liberated,' he said...'Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, John Howard all share that same zeal for freedom. It probably looks paternalistic to some elites, but it certainly is not parternalistic to those we free. Those who become free appreciate the zeal. And appreciate the passion.'"

I believe these passages provide more insight as to why we went to war, and Bush?s feelings towards war. I don't believe that Bush is portrayed accurately in the media so I hope these quotations provide more insight into him and encourage you to read more. The other part of the book that was very interesting was the stories that he reveals regarding the CIA?s work in Iraq prior to the war ? very interesting reading. One big gap that I thought Woodward left out of the book? He recounts how the CIA was able to infiltrate the Republican Guard, Iraqi Intelligence Service and Special Security Organization. We had approximately 100 people (code named ROCKSTARS) on our payroll and yet Woodward never mentions our questioning these folks about where the weapons of mass destruction are. I have to believe that during our ongoing interrogation of them leading up to the war, we would have asked where they were, especially as Powell was preparing to present our findings to the U.N. Security Council. I found this as a complete oversight on Woodward?s part ? he does a lot of questioning of President Bush on this topic because he said that he had to cover the aftermath of the war and that this was a key question. I?m surprised that he didn?t address this question with his intelligence sources. I?m also surprised that no one asked him about this on his book tour. As a reader of the book, I find this the most gaping open question unaddressed by the author. My ot! her big question is how George Tenet could state twice that the WMD case on Iraq was a slam dunk when the president questioned him about it.

To all of the soapbox responders that state that they will vote for a Democrat in the upcoming election because they are upset by Bush, I ask you, ?What does John Kerry stand for??

from david in france

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

I spent a long time trying to organize my thoughts in order to post an apropriate response. I'm not sure whether or not they're organized at this point in time, but I'll post them anyway.

Mr. Rumsfeld & Co. parade every now and then, acting arrogant and not giving a damn about others' opinions -WHOEVER they are - and George W. Bush seemed very proud - at the beginning of his mandate - to say he had never set foot in Europe before his election. I'm not saying that Europeans are a "must see" in one's life, I'm just wondering how accurate his foreign policy can be if he hasn't trained his mind to meeting with foreign cultures... Trouble is that because of what History brought us, a hell of a lot of things depend on America's economy in the western world right now. When the Euro should be worth about 1 dollar, 1 Euro = 1.20 Dollar at the time I'm posting this. This has a rather disatrous effect not only on European economy, but on America's economy too, and as the most used currency in the world is the US $, on the world's economy too... Of course, there are other external factors to that, but it does have a strong influence.

Now, about what I would call the Iraq fiasco. I won't say "told you so", but it's burning my tongue. How many said "don't go!", how many said "it will open the gates of terrorism!", etc... Now we are all there, because of one man's obsession. Thank you Mr. Bush. Iraq was a no man's land for Al Qaeda before, now, it's a breeding factory for terrorists. I'm not saying "bring back Saddam!" far from it, I'm just saying that indeed, Americans do know how to win a war, but they have absolutely NO idea on how to with the PEACE after the war... War iS NOT a video game. War is dirty, war means death - real death, war means other horrible things that I don't need to mention here: the news are already full of horrendous things as it is...

We ain't seen nothin' yet! Like I said before, Terrorism has no country, no army... It strikes in EVERY country and uses several armIES. For instance, France did not participate in any armed action against Iraq this time, and yet, because we dared say the Islamic veil should not be worn at school, we received terrorists threats. We are as much a target as any other country which took part in the Gulf War II (it sounds like a bad movie's title). All that thanks - once again - to one man's obsession. Striking Iraq that way set fire to the entire area and attracted organizations like Al Qaeda like magnets. What awaits us now for Iraq is an Islamist republic. Way to go, Mr Bush. Now that petroleum your friends were so happy to set hands on, is wasted for I don't know how long. Not to mention the proximity of Israel and the ongoing war happening there too. The entire region is like a bubbling caldron, and nobody knows what will come out of it. Nothing good for sure.

I hope I am being a pessimist here, but this is not a pretty world we're leaving to our kids...

from megan in indiana

Hi all! Hope everyone is well... I think it's safe to say we're all concerned. I'd like to ask David in TX why our president is shameful. He has done a great job UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. I support this war, but I won't lie in saying I question it daily! So many people "love" Michael Moore ( I bring this up only b/c David's shaming Mr.Bush is synonymous to Moore's speech accepting his Academy Award)...he laughed at the people on the hijacked plane saying they were cowards for not fighting back (in the UK mirror 2002). He felt it appropriate to fight weapon carrying extremists....but America shouldn't fight back and defend it's freedom. Oxymoron much?

I was sickened by the beheading. It's evil and totally irrational. So were the way our soldiers treated the prisoners, but again you are dealing with such a small precentage (that we know of)...that's why Rumsfeld and others have made surprise visits recently to make sure all is well. If we don't take care of this now - then that means we'll have to deal with it again in 10 more years. No one said the war would be short or easy. It's not a war just on terrorism. What you have to see is that it's a war against good and evil! It won't be long and it won't be easy.

People see our defense as "He might hit me so I'll be nice" but fact of the matter is, most peace treaties (N Korea included) have been ignored - and weapons were made by US $. It's them or us basically - and sorry to be selfish, but I choose me. This is a reminder of what we HAVE found in Iraq to those who are uncertain of this war :chemical and biological systems, plans, recipies, and equiptment; reference strains of biological weapons agents (found in home of prominent Iraqi scientist home); new research on brucella and Congo-Crimean hemmoragic fever also ricin and alflatoxin; prison laboratory complex for testing biological weapons on humans; long range missles (suitable for carrying a variety of diseases and chemicals - also prohibited by UN treaty); documents showing Sadam trying to obtain long-range ballistic missles from N Korea; facilities for manufacturing fuel propellant useful only for prohibited scud-carrying missiles. Rumsfeld is only 1/100th of anything that happens in the US. Nothing can ONLY be his fault. Mrs.Clinton should be ashamed for grilling him in questioning. There was no reason to be so undignified and childlike...she may as well have challenged her to meet him after session on the "playground" it may have been as successful as what they got accomplished in session. I really respected her for how she dealt with Bill after the scandal - now she's totally off her rocker. She politicised the second 9/11 anniversary by chatting with Ms.Couric live trying to tear Giullianni apart. She's very vindictive. If we weren't loosing soldiers we'd be loosing civilians to this awful terror. Whether it be bombs or hijackings or a biological weapons. 9/11 I don't think was primarily Clinton's fault, but alot of the economy is. An economic agenda doesn't show until AFTER a President is out of office. Economy is not "right now" takes time.

I'll play my "Christian" card now. God doesn't like hate...but if anyone has read the Old Testament, there are times when He told his followers to go into a town/village (tribe, whatever you want to call it) and had the wiped out! God is the same yesterday today and forever. Like him or not Bushie prays for this country and for all of us in it. I myself have prayed for his guidance. We are in this was and we have to stick it out...if we don't support it, WE LOOSE. That's what the terrorists want. A country divided. And that's exactly what they got. I wish both candidates would grow up and stop the pushing and shoving of one another...I want to hear facts! Obviously don't politicize the war, but I want to know what's going on. Have I made up my mind to vote for Bush again? sign in my yard shows that - unless Kerry can turn that around and he still has a chance. He needs to grow up first. Until he can stop the backstabbing he's not worth me listening to.

from susan in oklahoma

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

I've just visited your website for the first time and read your latest soapbox piece. I must say that it certainly tells me everything I need to know - about you. I hope you enjoy your stay here in the land of the free. The way things are going in England I expect the Islamisization of your homeland will make it impossible for you to spout such drivel over there. So long Mr. Shaughnessy and may God bless America.

from grace in louisiana

Dear Charlie,

This is just a short little comment. I agree with every single word you said, and I only wish I was going to be 18 this Saturday instead of 17 so that I could vote this November.

from wende in florida

You know Charlie, I am starting to get discourage a lot more now with this country's government, and what is happening in this world, it makes me sick. And where is more canidates for elections, shouldn't we being seeing and hearing from them a lot more? I don't know who to vote for in November. No matter who gets in, it won't help this country out of many things it has gotten itself into.

I was sickened and sadden of the American that was beheaded and I was disgusted what some of the U.S. troops did to some of the Iraq people. Lets face it this is not a great world to live in anymore! I know, you know and everyone knows I talk about God and Heaven a lot. Well I know that God is surely displeased with what is happening in this world. It wouldn't surprise me if He'd strike the evil ones with a bolt of lightening! I won't pretend to know much about political things. I can't always listen to the news and what is going on, it only gets me upset and uptight. I do wish to know what is going on in the world every day. But to hear it and see it all the time only makes me feel sickened by what is going on in the world. How can U.S. soldiers serve as troops and be like degrading animals, what is wrong with some of them? When is this country going to stop the wrongs of this world? Well I may as well answer my own question. I don't believe anyone in this world can or will ever stop the wrongs going on. People have fallen away from God and the devil is playing with the minds and hearts of the people in this world. Now if this upsets anyone who is reading this. Well, I am sorry if this angers you. But I am not the only on in America who feels this way. I am just one person who is speaking out for other people who won't dare to stand up with their beliefs.

Charlie, I am glad you put out soapbox topics! This is good for us to get off our minds what is on our minds. I am afraid for us all, like danger is hiding behind the corner somewhere waiting to attack us all! And we must be aware of the danger that would maybe creeping up behind us! What is the name of that fellow in Tennessee (not Gore) that tried running in the last election? I think he is trying again. I would be willing to give him a try for the White House. But there is no guanty if he'd do well. I am so inbetween, the middle of the road, with politics that I have no idea who to vote for anymore. And that is a scarey thing! Everyone is not going to be happy with who gets into the White House anyway. There is no guanty that who gets in either Dem., or Rep., that things would get better. So I just have no idea what I ought to do. I know I sound different then the other times in writing on the soapbox page, but there has been a lot that has happened in the news and the world since I last wrote. I just want this war to stop. I would love the evil to cease in this world.

from julie in illinois

Dear Charlie,

I'm ashamed to say that I had actually supported this war when it began. Now I realize how wrong I was. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. But now I think we could have gotten Saddam without loosing any of our soldiers or civilians.I am outraged at what has happen, and I will never support George Bush again. I am a Conservative, but I will be voting Democratic this time. It is time for Bush to go. I am very angry of what's going on with all the abuses of Iraqi prisoners. How George Bush can sit there and stand up for Donald Rumsfeld is beyond my comprehension. I could not believe when Bush on National TV said that Rumsfeld was a good Leader. He should be fired. I guess now I am seeing this adminstration for what it really is. Bush and company are the most self absorbed,uncompassionate people I have ever seen.

from carol in colorado

Wow, I am so pleased to see that you are speaking out against Bush. He is an embarrassment to our country. I just cannot understand why Americans are not outraged by the condition of our country. Gas prices, our economy, this ridiculous war, and now the horrible abuse of the Iraq POW's. I just don't get it! How does he rally support? Have heard of the MOVE ON organization? You can find them on the web. They are a great organization that I think you would like. They working hard to get Bush out of office. Check it out! Love your website. I just found it for the first time today. Take Care---and keep speaking your mind!

from sofia in england

I am absolutely disgusted by the recent revelations concerning the treatment of Iraqi Prisoners of War. Furthermore I am sickened by the possibility that this treatment involved forms of sexual abuse.

It came as no surprise to me this morning when I read the newspaper to hear that Bush has already kicked his "spin" machine into overdrive, over- feeding Americans with pictures of U.S. soldiers being thanked by Iraqis for their efforts.

The pictures are a testament to how much of a hypocritical sham the reasons for going to war were.

It's time to get rid of Bush {and Blair for that matter.} Everyone, especially Americans in November, would do well to remember what Robert Kennedy said: "Each time a man stands up for an ideal he sends forth a ripple of hope."

Make your voices heard. Use your vote and us Brits will do the same when its our turn. P.S. Best wishes Charlie. Keep up the good work- you are inspirational.

from David in Texas

Can you imagine what the United States would do if US prisoners of war were treated the way the we treated these Iraqi prisoners? There would be an outrage that would be heard around the world.

Rumsfeld needs to be fired and his unscrupulous, war monger bosses need to resign.

This is just shameful. SHAMEFUL Mr. President!! Instead of what should happen, resignation of the triumverate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, we are now going to be subjected to so much "spin" from Rumsfeld and the White House, that we are going to get dizzy.

By not firing Rumsfeld, the president is just inviting terrorism into our country. He is further jeopardizing the safety of the American people and all of our allies. SHAMEFUL!

from Kat in Switzerland

Dear Mr Shaughnessy,

CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just read your article. . .and I couldn't agree more. I am just writing to say THANK YOU for your courage to speak out loud. I am neither an American- nor a British-Citizen. I am Swiss. But what is going on now MUST be stopped. . .or the whole world will have to pay for it in the end. What kind of administration (any administration) is this? When I was in my teens, I simply wouldn't have believed it, had someone foretold me that once I would see America with very critic eyes ( and I really don't mean the American People here). And what's going on now, also somehow reminds me of the facts the world has found out about Pearl Harbor. So I pray for all of us that this coming to an end ? the time for a change is here! Best regards and wishes

from Vanessa in Ohio

Hello Mr. Shaughnessy!

I have a few comments to you. First of all, i agree with you 100%. 2nd, I say, why don't YOU run for the president. I would vote for you. You seem to know a hell of a lot more than the yahoos in there now! And don't try to play the "I'm an actor" card, or the "I'm a foreigner " card. We've had Ron Regan, and look at Ahhhnold in politics. =) (not that I'm comparing them with you) Anyway, if you decide to run, get ahold of me, I'll campaign for you. I bet a TON of people would vote for you! WOOOOO HOOOOO CHARLIE FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!

from Jenna in Michigan

Dear charlie,

I agree with your opinion, and I like that you dont care what other people think.Keep speaking out loud! I love to hear your opinions on things. Good luck with your career, you are GREAT!!

from Julia in Atlanta

I completely agree with you that Bush CANNOT be re-elected. If everyday people knew even half of what you just explained, it would be easy to get him out. The problem is that most people don't know or pay attention to these things. They think their vote won't make a difference.

Thank you for helping spread the word about the true atrocities committed by our so-called "Mr. President."

from Sylvie in Luxemburg

Dear Charlie

It's really remarkable that you speak out that loud your own political thoughts. I understand not much in politics but I know one thing that it is late but hopefully not too late to open our eyes because there are so much things going on right in front of us and we all let them continue without offering any resistance. Much, too much is going in the wrong direction the last time and not only in the U.S., but what's going on in America affects the whole world and therefore we must all together try to change things in a better direction. One thing is sure - there are bad times coming up even if many of us are unfortunately not perceiving it until now. Americans, rock that vote!!! The whole world is looking hopefully at you. One single vote can make the scale move in an other direction. Every single vote can affect the future of the whole world. A lot depends on every-one of you. Thank you Charlie for being you! I have much respect for you.Thanks for this opportunity but sorry for my bad English!

A few days ago I received a mail and I want to share it with you. It was in German, so I translated it. During the last month the UN made a world-wide inquiry ... The question was:
Please tell us your honest opinion about a solution to the food-shortage in the rest of the world?
The opinion poll came out, not unexpectedly, as a big flop:
-- In Africa the participators didn't know what "food" is
-- East-Europe didn't know what "honest" means
-- West-Europe had no knowledge of the word "shortage"
-- The Chinese people didn't know the word "opinion"
-- The Near East asked the meaning of "solution"
-- South-America didn't know the meaning of "please"
-- And in the U.S. no one knews what "the rest of the world" is ...

from Wende in Florida

Charlie, I just want to say thank you to Megan in Indiana for that well done letter on this update section. I relate to what she has to say. And I also am not a radical who marches and pickets, it makes the rest of us Christian believers look bad. And Megan hit it on the head concerning political things. Thank you Megan for all you had to say. I wish everyone would/could experience how Megan and I and other people see things. And Charlie, I really truly want to thank you for your generosity for letting us say what is on our minds and thank you for not being upset with what we have to say. You truly are a nice person, I seem to feel even though I have never met you personally. Keep it up.

from Al in California


You certainly speak your mind don't you? It's surprising that an actor whose career depends on public perception is so willing to put such controversial statements so unequivocally out there for everyone to see. I admire that. I also appreciated your rant very much.

How will history judge George W. Bush? Did he make a courageous decision in invading Iraq? Will this mean an island of stability and democracy in the heart of the Middle East, a desperately needed new ally for America, and a way out of the petroleum strangle- hold the less-than-beneficent OPEC nations have put us under? Has he liberated an oppressed people whose tyrannical leader gassed thousands of his own citizens? Did Bush have the foresight to stop a growing threat towards the US before it was too late, i.e., Saddam's quest for WMDs? Are we spared the hand wringing and regrets of a future generation of Americans attacked by Iraqi WMDs, wondering why our leaders didn't prevent it while they were able?

The answer to all of these questions is "No." It is such a huge, resounding "No" that it is difficult to imagine anyone ever thinking such a course of action was a good idea, especially in these times when the US must concentrate all of its attention on terrorism. Was this a case where we see to all of our regret just how much damage a president with minimal facilities for critical thought and curiosity (okay, a moron if you insist) can do in only one term? Or are there more nefarious plots afoot? Cheney and Wolfowitz inspired wheels within wheels?

It is clear that we have not gained a new ally, Chalabi's Wormwood whisperings of flower and candy bearing citizens aside. Now that we're in it, we dare not leave lest radical Islamic fundamentalism take hold and impose a Talibanesque dictatorship on the population. We must now remain to insure we don't "liberate" the people into a regime even worse than Saddam's; one that builds their own terrorist training camps and indoctrinates their children into a US-hating suicidal frenzy. Now we must spend hundreds of billions of dollars whereas before Saddam was effectively and safely contained by the United Nations. Now hundreds of thousands of troops are embroiled in the one part of the Middle East we *knew* was not sanctioning or harboring terrorists. Anyone who doesn't see Bush's war has made us a far less secure country is either in denial or completely brainwashed by rightwing propaganda. We have alienated our allies, forever compromised our credibility (recalling images of Powell before the United Nations and his slides of the compelling evidence of Iraq's WMDs), sent hundreds of American soldiers to their deaths, circumvented the Constitution, put our grandchildren into debt ... and made it more dangerous world yet.

Your point about the animosity between Saddam and Osama bin Laden is one we don't hear enough. Why aren't we hearing this every night on the news? Where was this question during the 9/11 hearings? Most Americans still believe there is alink between Saddam and 9/11 and they need to hear more of these kinds of facts and often. So, thanks for doing your part.

Very Best Regards, PS. Loved you in The Nanny (I bet you get sick of hearing that!)

from Tammy in Indiana

You've stated that West Wing is Susan's and your favorite tv program. I, too, try to never miss it. Keeping in mind that it's fiction but seems very close to reality, I've begun to have more compassion for whomever occupies the presidency. How much does a president - with the very best of intentions - affect events, and how much do events affect him (or possibly, in the future, her)? Wouldn't you agree that most are basically good people in situations they couldn't envision?

It's obvious there are a lot of problems in our country and around the world. It's also obvious that we can't address all of them. Defeat one; another rises up to take its place. This world is so complicated that no answer will completely bring about Nirvana. I know that I can't begin to solve the problems. Of course I can and do vote but there a lot of other things each of us can do. Inequalities in my own neighborhood, prejudices I see (and sadly, harbor), poverty, simple loneliness, neglected children and adults all need my direct attention. Of course that sounds Pollyanna, but those are the areas where I KNOW I can make a difference.

That hardly speaks to your well-thought-out opinion, does it? But someone with your public persona is more likely to be heard than many of us. Just please, don't let anyone persuade you to run for elected office! --oops! Not that you'd be no good! It's just that many of us would rather you continued your great acting career.

from Angela in England

Dear Charlie

On reading your latest SOAPBOX I must agree that the USA's political situation is very dire and I admire your determination to stir up some political conscience in your adoptive countrymen. it is ironic that is takes an outsider to acknowledge the blinding obvious and to begin to battle the corruption and huge bankrolls that run American politics. Just now the American people seem to be in a stupefied state having just realised that the government is not the safe pair of hands most of them have been brought up to believe in and that there really are people out there who want to kill Americans just for being American, here in England we are in a similar position and we are at a stage when if Tony Blair read form the Bible you would need to check the facts for their truth. It seems both in the US and the UK these slippery eels that are politicians seem to avoid their responsibilities time and again, all we can do is to keep asking questions and make all politicians accountable and as you are advocating everyone must use their vote.

Hope you will do something in London someday.

from Megan in Indiana

Hi Charlie!

It's Megan from Indiana again. I wanted to thank you for keeping an open mind and posting someone's opinion other than your own. I am grateful for this opportunity. I don't know you personally but your actions speak louder than anything you could say to me. the following is my rebuttal to a few of yours and others comments.

As far as Martha Stewart goes I feel sorry for the woman. She is being "prostituted" by the media. Anyone who says they wouldn't have done the same thing she supposedly did is lying through their teeth! Including myself!! She won't go to jail just like Winona Ryder, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and the woman that plays Rosario on "Will & Grace" (no disrespect to her, I just cannot think of her name right now).

In 1996 (also 1997, 1998, and 2000) Sudan offered Osama bin Laden to the Clinton administration on a silver platter (as part of a peace agreement) and Clinton refused him saying he "had no case." That's a lie b/c bin Laden took responsibility for the '93 bombings 3 years earlier. As far as invading Iraq, Rumsfeld himself said Sadam was firing at US planes as well as British planes before 9/11. I see that as a threat. Not to mention he ignored the cease fire treaty signed after the Gulf War. Bush also gave him how many hours to leave the country before it was invaded? I'm sure many war agents (biological or other) were destroyed at that time. Sadam's "right hand man" confessed to the US that Sadam was indeed building and planning for an attack and by the year 2005 would have had 4 atomic/nuclear bombs. Had Clinton enforced the illegal immigration laws (don't get me wrong, I'm not against immigration we're talking ILLEGAL and that's over 8 million people) then Mohammed Ata would have been deported before 9/11 his Visa and drivers license had expired.

Taxes: Clinton's tax hike was the biggest in American history. That's all that needs to be said.

To Mary Jo I am Christian and Republican and I think it?s uneducated of you to categorize "us." I don't do that with "you." Those idiotic extremists with signs telling people they are going to hell outside gay rallies and parades. I don't want those people speaking for me. Please do not think that we are all like that. Do I believe gay marriage is right. Frankly, no. My God and His Son Jesus Christ have specifically said "Man shall not lay with man and woman shall not lay with woman." The creator of the universe has spoken on that, and that is good enough for me. But I don't run down allies and picket. By the way, even if military votes weren't counted in 2000 ? Bush still would have won by 200 votes. Michael Moore isn't the most educated person in the world, I wouldn't base my belief system solely on what he has to say. I think the last election made! it clear the two main political parties are equal in number, however it seems Democrats tend to have more say (ie certain celebs and CEO's). It's rare that a Republican's say is even listened to, if you disagree just watch the news.

If we want to talk about judiciary partiality, then we'd have to talk about the three federal judges who let a sex offender free b/c his victim (16 years old) committed suicide. That's crap. The jury has spoken. Even though the man had admitted to sexually offending 200 boys, he still went free. THAT is what's wrong with this country.

A few comments on Clinton: he himself said in 1974 (reguarding Nixon) "If a president of the United States ever lied to the American people he should resign." let anyone reading this who hasn't lied email me. Clearly every president would have had to resign. It's not what Clinton did its the praise and "cover up" by (most of) his party that is sick.

Republicans against minorities is ludicrous and in fact a lie. In the Reagan-Bush years, black companies grew three times from $2.3 billion to over $8 billion. The Latin American stats are just as great.

This countries economy has been on the downslide since 1999, if you look through history we were due for a recession. War costs. We as Americans were lazy. We have an economy, just not the one people want. I for example recently graduated from college. I am a Physical Therapist/Massage Therapist/Physical Therapy Aide. I looked for months for a job and am currently working nights at Fed Ex pushing boxes. Is that what I want to do? No but I suck it up and do it. If you have a family support you will flip burgers for a living. No one is costing you your future but you. It's not the economy's fault, it's ours. The more expansive the gov't the harder it is to dismantle. Dependency on welfare, SS, and gov't all together isn't the greatest. Clinton said his agenda was to get rid of welfare all together. Clearly he forgot.

This may sound sadistic, but I think countries that have commented (among those you've heard from England and Australia) they would be singing a slightly different tune if their country was in trouble.

J.Kerry now seems so proud of his military record, but at his college campus I find it interesting that he opposed Vietnam and attended many anti-war rallies. My father is a Vietnam vet. I love to hear stories of what he did for me and all others in the country. Kerry cannot proudly proclaim any of it, because he did not believe in it. If he doesn't believe in helping others and securing my country then he needs to get the heck out.

Thanks Charlie. God Bless you and keep you safe. You're in my prayers!

from Mary in Nevada

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy --

Well said, sir!!!

from Susanne in Austria

Dear Mr Shaughnessy,

If you have followed international politics a little in the recent years like I did, you might have observed and might even agree with me that there has been a notable and ? for me rather alerting ? shift in the nature of political leaders of democratic countries. Not only in the United States, but especially in Europe, heads of states have begun to govern over their people's heads without giving a damn about their opinion. It must be some kind of sneaky, contagious disease that has struck democratic countries, some kind of raging fever that has infected for example Mr Bush in the Unites States, Mr Blair in the United Kingdom, Mr Aznavar in Spain, Mr Schr?der in Germany and even our Chancellor Mr Sch?ssel in Austria. All these politicians have lied to their people, disregarded the vast majority's will or even invented flimsy reasons to justify their actions. Those self-appointed know it alls claim they want the best for us, while all they are doing is stuffing their own pockets at our cost.

Under the guise of counterterrorism and budgeting, democracy is being corrupted by it's executives, human rights are trampled all over, laws are violated and if all else fails there are still amendments to be made to the constitutions. To me it seems that the true meaning of democracy and its roots have vanished and been forgotten in favour of some politician's individual goals and objectives. Yet it is always the people who have to pay the price. Mr Aznavar's support of the US in Iraq has cost the Spanish people dear, hundreds of innocent people have paid a prime minister's solo run with their blood and lives. . .for a war they never wanted. Bravo to the Spanish people who voted him and his party out of office and made it clear what they thought of being ignored on such crucial topics. I hope the American people and other countries will follow this example and won't condone being ignored as vast majorities by their governments anymore. Don't be fooled and deceived by masterful lies of your political leaders, cause that's what they can do best: Lie straight to your face through their teeth.

All those political lies and vain pre-election promises shatter people's trust in their politicians. Finagling elections (I do indeed think the last US elections were not "free democratic" ones anymore) and jumping over people's opinions on serious matters such as war are a threat to democracy. Here in Austria - we have presidential elections in late April - both parties' candidates try to attract voters with the same slogan "Politics needs a conscience." How true, but even more so politicians need honesty and the skill to listen to their people. All of the above mentioned politicians have lost their peoples' support because they didn't give a damn about them, they cut the bond to their voters.

If people get the feeling that their vote doesn't matter anyway since those politicians do as they please anyway then fewer and fewer people will bother to go to the poll in the future - no matter which country or continent. Why vote for someone who disregards my vote as soon as they are in office?

After some time the poll will drop to the lowest range and when it reaches a ten or fifteen percentage mark, someone, a shady politician, might raise the question if elections still make sense if nobody comes to the poll.

And even more alarming should be what will happen next if people continue to feel ignored and looked over by their politicians. They will turn against their government, disturbances will be created, scapegoats who can be blamed for the misery will be sought. . .then when the economy bottoms out and unemployment skyrockets, the call for someone to mend the disaster will be voiced. And a very shady character will enter the political stage, they will tell the people that they are one of them, they will promise the people the solution to all their problems, they will give them a scapegoat, and the people will believe them because they need to believe, want to believe them in their misery. And no one will see through their lies nor question their motives. No, everybody will put their hopes into this new politician who will make everything better because worse it can't get anymore. This very shady politician will claim all the power - forcefully if they have to, they will establish a dictatorship and pursue their own agenda. . .democracy and freedom have seen the end of their days.

I have seen many calls from people for people, especially young people to go and register for voting here. The system here in Austria is totally different. Every citizen aged 18+ is required by constitutional law to exercise their right to vote in presidential elections. If you don't, you'll have to go to jail -theoretically. Practically the first official duty of the new president is to grant amnesty to all the non-voters. Like before every election in the past years, I'm trying to mobilize all the people I know to go to the polls, and if only they cast an invalid vote to voice their disagreement with politics, as long as they exercise their right! 30% who vote invalid say that 30% don't agree with politics; 30% who do not vote say 30% do not give a damn about what is going on in their country. I can only agree with what you've said about the importance of going to vote. Our right to vote was something our forefathers fought very hard for and paid with their blood. Do we really want to gamble away thoughtlessly one of our most precious rights? Our chance to influence what is going on in our countries? Don't complain about people condoning Mr Bush violating international laws and the UN charta withhout being taken to responsibility. DO something about. For heaven's sake sacrifice those few minutes on election day to give out your vote and then proudly say that you have done something about it.

To complete the picture, let me remind you all of the origin of the word "democracy" - and it wouldn't hurt most politicians to look it up in a dictionary from time to time again - which is Greek and consists actually of two words, "demos" ? the people and "kratein" ? to rule, hence democracy is the rule of the people, or as your President Lincoln once so beautifully said, "Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people". So for all those who are still in doubt over their vote's impact: "Demos" is YOU! Democracy is *all* about YOU! You are the people. You are the vote!

I am not a US citizen but I really hope that the Bush administration will be voted out of office. Liane I think described the Bush Administration as a regime, I wouldn't go that far already, totalitarian democracy is more like it. Mr Bush is on his best way to isolate the US in international politics. Other countries do not like the self-righteousness with which the Bush administration violates international laws to marches into other countries under fales pretenses (also known as WMD to the piblic) and the guise of democracy and freedom. If any other state did that, the US would be the first country to protest and refer to the UN charta (which they by the way violated themselves) and be all over the invaders. An Austrian cartoonist has made a book about George Bush and his ulterior motives and has depicted him as a bold cowboy, and frankly that is just how Mr Bush behaves on the international political floor. It's either for him or against him and "him" he equates with the American people. Let me tell you I am FOR the American people but dead set against Bush. Funnily enough of all the Americans I got to know very well and have met personally not one of them was a fan of Mr Bush.

If elections in any dubious democratic country are finagled by parties, they are condemned as illegal and a shame for democracy around the globe. If Mr Bush finagles elections he calles for help from "Bush Father & Sons & Friends Inc." and is being appointed into office by the Supreme Court. What a bright example of democracy - you remember of the people and for the people. I won't pretend that I've fully understood the American presidential election system. . .all I say is it is less complicated to take a voting in kindergarten with fifty kids raising all their arms in a mess at once than to rely on computer programmes that are run by companies who support the president.

The Bush administration claims the war in Iraq was to combat terrorism - and as a nice side effect they would give the Iraqi people freedom and democracy - so that the world could feel safer again. Well, Mr Bush, Saddam may be out of the picture but I ain't seen nothing of peace, freedom nor democracy in Iraq. Oh I forgot, I read today in the papers that Mr Rumselfd is still denying the situation in Iraq is escalating in violence. And frankly, Mr Bush, I don't feel one bit safer, now that you incur the wrath of the Islamic fundamentalists against the western world. Since President Bush is on his personal crusade it is either pro or against America. After the terror attacks in Spain most countries will give it second thoughts to support Mr Bush's war politics. As I said Mr Bush is on the best way to isolate the US - threats, bribing and insults is not the way to win friends or allies in hard times.

We all know democracy is by no means the perfect form of government, nor will it ever be possible to combine contrasting ideas of opposing political parties; and yet democracy is the best form of government there is and probably will ever be. If carried out properly it preserves human rights and the freedom of the individual, that is something worth being protected from corruption and abuse.

Something else that piqued my interest. . .in that little note that you mention Mr Rumsfeld's and his little oligarchical - or should I say plutocratical not much difference in this case, huh? - government's stance on Europe becoming a possible rival to the US. . .no offence now but do they really think we'd sit back and watch the European Union being undermined and invaded by US politics and economy? For heaven's sake if we want to survive we have to be a political as well as economical match for the US! I wonder what Mr Rumsfeld's plans for us are, should the Bush administration wangle its way into the White House again. Will he bomb us to thy kingdom come if we refuse to lick the Bush administration's boots and continue pursuing our own political and economic agenda? You know. . .kinda like in Iraq. From the Marshall-Plan to the Rumsfeld-Plan. . .

P.S. Let me express my deepest thanks to all the Californians who've voted for Arnold to become Governor, you've put an end to my nightmare he could realise his other political ambitions, i.e. his threat to run for Austrian president if need be. It's already bad enough this year to decide between bad and worse without having to deal with the terminator. Well, sometimes democracy means to cast your vote for the lesser evil.

from Sue in Florida

I just read your latest SoapBox posting on the web, and I just had to say - You are definitely one of the good guys!

from Monika in Germany

Wow! Your soapbox smashes in! You really put your finger in an open sore and I agree with you at 100%, Mr. Shaughnessy. Day by day I ask myself: 'Quo vadis, America?'. Well, I have been a fan of this wonderful country for many years, and it really hurts to see how it has changed during the past four years. George W. Bush and his incendiaries are playing a very dangerous game. They opened Pandora's box by invading Iraq and, contrary to George Bush senior, they did it without international legitimation. Affronting the United Nations Organization was the most important reason why the so-called 'Old Europe' (as Donald Rumsfeld taunted) had to say 'no' (in Germany some other reasons were e.g. that Chancellor Schroeder also wanted to be re-elected and the German Bundeswehr is not an invasion army by constitutional law).

Mr. Bush & Co. underestimated Islamic fanatism and hatred against America. They didn't realize that the elimination of Saddam Hussein -as the common enemy to all the different groups in Iraq- would have been nothing less than a gift. They should have known that the majority of Iraqi people are shiites like in Iran. And Iran has major interests in creating a fundamentalist shiite leadership in Iraq.

Did Mr. Bush and his advisors really expect a glorious welcome in Baghdad with masses of people howling euphorically and throwing flowers?The Middle East is not 1944's Western Europe. The situaton there is escalating and I'm afraid we are eye-witnesses (thanks to the media!) of a new Vietnam or Afghanistan (with a Soviet Army defeated by guerilla tactics in the 1980s).

But the main question is what Senator Kerry will do if he wins the election. How can he get the U.S. and the Western World out of this mess? Will he be able to repair the immense political damage concerning the relations to the United Nations within his term of office? Whatever he intends to do he will have to do it fast.

As a German citizen I'm not allowed to vote but I'm still hoping that all Americans will do. Dear friends, please, don't let the Supreme Court raise the Texan cowboy to the throne once again! Good luck, and God bless you!

from Kerstin in Germany

Hello Charlie, ?

unfortunately I can't express my thoughts as much as I like because I can better read and understand English than write it down in my own words. But I want to know if all the people here on the soapbox really think that only a new President of the US will change everything that happened these days in the world? Will the Islamists really stop attacking the western world only because the President?would no?longer be?George W. Bush? Will the fights stop in Iraque? Will we?get any safer in Europe without having to think that our country will be the next for the Islamists attacks? What will it really change? ?

I think it will change nothing, because the Islamists are not only fighting against the USA but against the whole western world - and this only because they want to clean the world off the Christians. In their stupid minds is only space for their Islam - only Allah is a God, and all people have to believe in Allah. They don't accept other-believing people. ?

Now, it was President Bush who was responsible for his country when the 9/11 happened. What would we have done in his case? How would?we have reacted? Would we have really taken it and done nothing? Would we have cried about all the people who died and not think about revenge? ?

I can't say if it was?right or wrong to begin this war in Iraque, but I find it very surprising that so many people think it was a wrong way. There must have been a sign for the Islamists that the western world will at least try to fight them, because if there wouldn't be any sign of fighting those brickheaded people who don't accept people with other beliefs than their Allah, then we would be lost to them and they would do what they want. It's bad enough that they have so many supporters around the world. They live in the US, in Germany, in Spain. . . they enjoy the western advantages, they live between us, studying, working and getting money. . . but when Allah calls, they do what?they want - even if it means to kill their neighbours.

? I can't understand why we shoudn't fight them. THEY have started it on September 11! THEY think the world would only be clean without the Christians. THEY are intolerant because THEY don't accept other people's Gods. We have Jesus Christ and they have Allah. I accept that but they don't. And as long as there won't be tolerance?towards us Christians?there will be?terroristic attacks?in the world - with or without President Bush. ?

So, please, do your election and vote. But don't be surprised if the new President doesn't change anything - maybe he won't be able to. Or do you really think that the Islamists will stop all their future attacks (which they probably are preparing?right now)?after the new President is announced? I don't think so. I enjoy democracy and don't want to change it - ever, but some people don't deserve to live in democracy. Those people must be fighted when they?create any danger to jeopardize democracy, peace and freedom.

from April in South Carolina

Charlie, I just read your latest soapbox, and I agree with you 100%. This world has gone mad. Most of all for us Native Americans. For example this one man Leonard Peltier. He has been in prision for the past 28 years for a crime he never commited. Check out He is a political prisioner because he believed in helping his people. And he hasnt stopped. As for the presidential aspect...if we let Bush back in office, we will all be in trouble. If you have a chance to look over Leonards web page, I would love to hear your opinion on it. And as a support group cordinator, I would love to discuss it with you.

from Wende in Florida

I want to say to Caleb from Florida, and to anyone reading this to what they might be thinking they are taking from what I am saying. Also to Charlie and AJ. I am not harrassing Charlie, I think Charlie is doing okay with what he has to say. I only feel if someone feels so strongly about something and they are very knowledgeable about many things they know such as Charlie is, then why not step up and stand up(and be counted) to try to make a difference. We all could use someone like Charlie. I would never want to harrass you Charlie. I have never met you, and what I read and see of you I like. I like you! You seem like a reasonable nice person to me. And one great looking man! I enjoy watching The Nanny reruns every day. And AJ I apologize for the two letters I sent a day apart of each other about the recall. It was only after the second letter was sent that I noticed the update was that day, which I sent the second letter. I had hoped that the second letter was not going to go on. But I feel what I had to say was worth something.

Charlie said we could say what we wanted, like if we agreed with him or not. Charlie I think you are a reasonable person who is willing to listen to anyone, and I don't think you would turn someone away. So if I offended anyone with anything I was saying, I apologize to each one of you. Everyone have a great day, and a Blessed Holy Week, and Happy Easter! God Bless Everyone Of Us!

from Anne in Pennsylvania

Hello, Charlie!

Thanks so much for voicing your personal political opinions via your "Soapbox" page. I particularly enjoyed, (and also agreed with), this, your latest "Soapbox" on the Bush administration and the political life of this country. This is a brave thing for you do, particularly in your line of work, particularly in this political climate. Thanks for your example.

As I read over some of the responses to your opinion, I noticed several posters mentioned they were a bit apprehensive about voicing their non-conservative viewpoints to their "neighbors." Some were having trouble finding people with whom they can calmly discuss their views - without the fear of being chastised or vilified. Well, there is an "oasis" for those of us with liberal or moderate viewpoints. A place we can go for respite from the conservative, right wing ear poundings we've taken, not only from our "neighbors," but also from many personalities in the media. A place we can go to listen to views that are other than right-wing; where we can speak our mind and not feel as though we're un-American. This "oasis" of which I speak is, "Air America Radio." Not only is this new radio network an outlet for points of view and opinions that are, thankfully, something other than right-wing conservative, but it's also a valuable alternative source for news and information. "Air America" creates a camaraderie, a rallying point, and is a voice for those of us with a liberal bent. Folks, check it out. Here's the web address;

Thank you again, Charlie, for running something that is much more than just another celebrity website. I really look forward to reading the "Soapbox" page. What a great forum you've created.

from Liane in Australia/Germany

Well, well Charlie you really have poured out your thoughts this time!

I have mailed all my US friends and relatives to go to your "Soapbox" to get informed on the present US position in the world and in the US; as you have, I think voiced your opinion strongly and precisely. Also I want those who are reluctant to see the truth to open their eyes, and maybe get them to the polling booths in November! Mind you I don't expect some of them to agree with you, but I at least want to contribute to a change in Government in the US by starting a discussion. Where has the "American Dream" gone? The one where there was freedom of speech, where civil rights weren't cut (Patriotism Act") where one could go from "rags to riches" where telefones weren't "bugged", where parcels weren't "terror checked" when they came from outside the US and were opened and then the contents put into a plastic bag before it reached it's recipient!!! This we have to thank Mr. Bush and cohorts.

I had mentioned in a previous "Soapbox " if the US attacks Iraq there will be a bitter price to pay, and unfortuneately I was right. How many more young Americans and those of the coallition forces have to die before all this ends? What is most distressing, these boys were sent to Iraq by a bunch of liars, who are still lying up to their noses! Although I think Colin Powers has finally realised how wrong everything is. The others Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice still live in their cocoon of lies.

As an expatriate Australian (i.e. an Aussie not living in Australia) I have watched the situation from Germany where I reside. I experienced the condemnation of the German Government by the US for not sending troops to Iraq, and although I do not vote in Germany and don't think much of the Government there either, I do agree with Germany not sending troops to Iraq, as at the time there was such uncertainty over WMD's being there. However they are in Afghanistan trying to fight terrorism there and as peacekeepers with troops from other nations.

I'm in my home country at present and am experiencing great anger over the Australian Government being in agreeance with the US over Iraq and having a small but very effective group of soldiers there. At present there is a big discussion on bringing them home, started by the oppositon here, and as usual the US have threatened "consequences" if this should occur. Most Australians at present are against any further participation in Iraq and condemm John Howard (the Primeminister) for assisting the Bush regime!! Yes I'm using this term as I find very little with which I would call the US a free and democratic country at present . Regarding going to the polls, there is a difference between the the US and Australia, which accounts for the political awareness here. Here voting is compulsary, which accounts for the present political discussion, as here there are also federal elections coming. You may not regard this voting system as very democratic (I didn't either when I was young!), but at least for a certain period of time it makes people aware of what is going on in the coluntry, and it is this lack of interest I found in many of my US contacts that I find disturbing. It is phrases like "we can't alter things anyway" or "I/we have other worries", which I can more or less understand as many aspects of normal life have been "hit" through the Bush adminitration, .e.g. education, healthcare and many more.

Here again, it is interesting that US citizens who live outside the US are very interested and some quite active in encouraging their fellow citizens to lodge a postal vote, which I would in this case call true patriotism, as they all state they don't want their "home country " to go to the dogs if the present administratration stays in office.

In the meantime we have experienced the latest carnage in Iraq, the terror attacks in Spain and France, and there seems no end in sight. As I once mentioned the wrath of the radical Islamic groups have spread through the world. All of this because of oil and prestige.

At present there is a lot of hostillity towards the US. Not towards its citizens but the administration ruling them. Australia who has always helped it's allies is now 4th on the list from AL Qaida! This is very distressing for the population here, as it is a vast country sparcily populated and surrounded by vast oceans and unpopulated coasts which makes surveillance very difficult. All this we have to thank the Bush administration and of course it's Australian cohorts, hopefully for not much longer than necessary.

We have April 5th today and I have just heard that Bush is climbing up on opinion again as alledgedly over 300,000 jobs have been created these past few months. Dear Us Citizens think of the future and not just for the moment. Remember Spring is coming and probably these "new" jobs are only seasonal anyway. Also many tourists will stay away from the US because as from September travellers from even "friendly countries" will be fingerprinted and photographed on arrival to the US which will make air travel again longer and I guess the passengers will again have to pay for these measures! I don't mind being checked, but I`m an honest traveller ! Does the Bush adminitration really think they will stop terrorism this way? What about all the "sleepers" already in the country? All I can say regarding this, is "hello 1984" (George Orwell) and it frightens me!!

As for the enviroment which is being systematically destroyed, I can only say that, it is one of the things which concerns every one of us wherever we live and we all could start by being less wasteful with our resources by using less sprays (ozone layer) maybe drive one car instead of two or even more . If we used our resources sensibably, then there would be no need to drill for oil in Alaska, or destroy the forests in the Amazonas which is being done by some of the large US enterprises all for greed and profit.

I too could go on and on on this "Soapbox" with issues like human rights (Guantanamo)and many more, but as this is an open forum I shall leave it at that. Thanks Charlie for giving me this forum to voice my opinion with which I'm sure many will disagree.

from Sally in Australia

Dear Charlie,

The Soapbox discussion is very informative and I think it is of vital importance that people have a forum to discuss the important issues regarding the Bush administration.

Even though I live in Australia, I feel that we have all been touched by what has happened in America. We too have had terrorist attacks against Australians in the Bali bombings. Those responsible for the Bali bombings are now calling for a holy war against all Americans and her allies. As a spiritualist I am totally opposed to the concept of a 'holy war' - there can be no such thing, as war and religion are not compatible. Wake up everyone!

Being a mother I am very worried about what the future will bring for my children and their children. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this whole terrorist attack and retribution roundabout is that innocent people are being caught up in it and killed - and what is the real reason for all the violence. I think the governments have all lost sight of what is the right thing to do - there is little or no political integrity or diplomacy in evidence.

I cannot for the life of me understand why President Bush 'forgot' all about the capture of Bin Laden and bringing him to justice and then turned his attentions to Saddam Hussein. I cannot see any connection. The United Nations, Bishop Tutu, and other world leaders all called for a halt to the American threat of war with Iraq, but the Bush Government seemed to be hell bent on some personal vendetta against Hussein. It was widely publicised that President Bush would, in effect, become a war criminal if he invaded Iraq and that he would face prosecution for his pig-headed actions. The invasion did go ahead. Americans are still dying in Iraq. There has been no resolution in the threat of terrorism and it would seem that this threat has increased. America and other countries are still as vulnerable as before. No-one is safe. Bin Laden is still free and laughing.

What I must ask is why the Bush Government is still operating and why has President Bush not been arrested for being a war criminal and put on trial by the United Nations? Why are people blindly following the Bush government and closing their eyes to the facts in front of them - facts that are being highlighted by yourself and Michael Moore? When will people pull their heads out of the sand?

There must be a way of bringing peace to the world.

from Mary Jo in Michigan

Hi Charlie,

I was going to send you an e-mail recently just to tell you how much I enjoy "The Nanny"--I never really watched it when it was on originally but sort of stumbled on it on Lifetime recently and realized for the first time that it was actually really good. So thank you for that. But then today I read your soapbox piece and could hardly believe it! I'm not even sure why I went to your website but I assumed it would contain the usual celebrity stuff rather than an insightful, thoughtful, political piece. It's excellent and I'm with you 100%.

I just finished reading Michael Moore's book, "Dude, Where's My Country?" and felt like you--paralyzed. Eee gads. We're all in big trouble. I knew this before but to see it spelled out so explicitly was just a horror. I keep thinking, "why aren't more people seeing this????". So to come across your soapbox statement made my day.

It's not that I don't know anybody else who "gets it" but living in West Michigan, a bastion of Christian Reformed, Republican right-wingers, and even working at a university (where one would hope to find some brains!!) I have to go out of my way to meet people who really grasp what's going on in our country--or care! (I attended a lecture by Michael Moore recently in which he thanked those of us in the audience for choosing to remain in this area--in the trenches so-to-speak--among the enemy :) That gave me a good laugh and some renewed energy about living here.

One of my biggest frustrations is feeling like there's no way to talk to ignorant people who, for example, think that George W. walks on water. You really can't reason with them. It's kind of like either people get the "big picture" in terms of the environment, social welfare, affirmative action, gay rights, and so on, or they are still living in a world where you just have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and ain't the President great! It's hard not to despair and yet as Michael Moore says, there are actually more of us than them and we just need to rally the "us" to get rid of W and begin to undo all the damage he has done. So your call to get out the vote is probably the single most important thing we can do. Perhaps we need to leave the far-ignorant alone and concentrate on the "confused middle", eh? Afterall, the country DID elect Al Gore president.....(never mind that "our country" is the same one that elected Ronal Ray-gun :)

Thanks again for sharing your views and let's all keep working on THE VOTE!

from Jennifer in New Jersey

Dear, Charlie

I've never been much of a political person myself but I was curious to see your opinion on what has been going on in our country this year and I have to agree with you Charlie. I'm 21 myself and have never registered to vote but this year I am. I live very close to NY city and witnessed with my own eyes the lackadaisical form this country has on terror. My brother is a police officer and was their the day of 9/11 and I never realized until that day the severity of terror here in the US. My family is full of republicans our family restaurant is the republican head-quarters in the area, But now I'm seeing things differently. I never thought I would say that maybe Clinton wasn't that bad of a president after all, now watching Bush destroy our nation and send us into a unneeded war when we should be concentrating on Bin-Laden and not Husein. It's killing our soldiers and our economy and more than anything now I am registering to vote to get Bush out of the White house and hope it's not to late.

from Caleb in Florida

I just want to say that I have been reading the pieces that other people have written in here and I have to mention the ones from Wende in Florida because it seems she is kind of harrassing you, not that you can't defend yourself, but here is my take on this.

She has now written 3 times. She says, " Please Charlie, just don't talk how things should be changed, do something about it" and "just talking about it won't get anything done"

I believe that Charlie IS doing something about it, just by talking about it. Knowledge is power. If even one person that reads this soapbox who thought that voting would not make a difference, is now going to vote because they want their voice to be heard in our democracy and made that decision after reading this soapbox, then talking is doing something very, very important. How many actors have the wherewithal and are brave enough to even voice their political views for the purpose of getting dialogue to transpire between people? He has always said, these are his views, and he wants to hear ours, whether we agree with him or not.

Maybe he wants to run for political office and maybe he just wants to be an American actor that uses his website to get people talking about what is going on in the world and in the United States. But, whatever it is, God bless him for what he has done here. I hope that more and more people write in to share their views with Charlie and the rest of the people that come to his website.

I loved what A.J. said in the website update that was sent out about the soapbox and think it bears repeating here:

"My only editorial comment at this time is, that, if you live in the United States and are or will be of legal voting age (18) before election day, please make sure you are registered to vote and then exercise that right in November of 2004. This coming election for the President of the United States, impacts every single human being regardless of where you live, and not just for now, but for our future. It is your right and in this country, it is your honour and privilege to vote. I have put up the link to a non-partisan website with information and help in registering to vote. It?s MTV?s rock the vote at During the years of our having the soapbox on the website, many people, especially younger people, have written in and said that they don?t think that their vote will make a difference. But it does. In this country every human being has the right to free speech and the ability to make a difference. That is an awesome responsibility and opportunity. Exercise that right by voting. We are looking forward to hearing from you and hearing what you have to say."

So, Charlie, keep on talking and talking and talking! You Rock and Rock the Vote People!

PS I think it is amazing that you and AJ update this website as much as you do. Hey Wende. Can't you cut them some slack for not updating the soapbox on Sunday!???!!

from Wende in Florida

I see my letter didn't get on your website yesterday, so I shall try to attempt another one.

I am not going to pretend to understand much about politics, all my adult life it has been a puzzlement to me, it has boggled my mind. Someone says something, I tend to believe one thing or another, then something else gets said the it is vis-a-versa. I said before politics is about all backbiting and attacking the other parties. I can't understand why polititions can't come to some kind of understanding about things.

I don't think their ought to be recalls in any elections unless it is more serious then one person getting more votes then another. That I do understand. Besides when someone has been elected no matter if it is Rep. or Dem. there is always criticism. I often just turn away from it. Maybe that sound wrong, but I can only take so much myself. Did you know that God says we are to respect authority? Maybe not like what authority does, but there at least should be some respect. Besides a person only lasts to one term unless that person is reelected, depending on the length of the term.

Charlie, I was saying to you in your early April Soapbox that you probably could run for office. Why do you do that, somewhere in the country? You like NY State, why not run as a Senator, in that State. I know a person has to be American born to be Pres. and I think V.P., but there is the Senator postions, reach I think it doesn't matter if you are foreign born or American born. I think you could do a excellent job at it! I may not end up agreeing with what you say, I don't know. Please Charlie, just don't talk how things should be changed, do something about it. You are a wonderful actor Charlie, though if you moved forward into something else, with what you want America to know, maybe it is time you be apart of the system, try your hand at being a Senator, or something close to it.

I can't do much commenting on the California situation. And Arnold has only had his position a few months, are people giving him the chances he needs, or are they just hard headed with wanting the State to be all Dem. People need to share in responsibilites, give it a little longer, then if everyone still feels the same later on, then just vote him out when the time comes. I don't know how long a Gov.'s term is, but if it is a two year thing, then will be the time you can vote in who you all think if the right person for the job.

from Wende in Florida

Charlie, if you feel so strong on making your points on the political scene, why don't you just run for something in the political field? I asked, or I made that request to you on your soap box just last week.

You seem to be an educated individual, you have studied much in your life. Even though you are a fine actor, maybe stepping up to the podium should be the next level up for you. Because just talking about it won't get anything done. I really think you would be capable in doing something. I may not end up agreeing with something you would say or do, but to make an effort at trying to make a point in the political field could be achieved if you wanted to do it. And maybe you could work in Washington in the senate. I don't believe a foreign born can get the high position as a president or v.p. but look at your govenor, even if you don't like what he is doing, he is wanting to try to prove something. So I guess foreign born people can run for some political office in the political front.

It is something to think about Charlie. :-)

from Lindsay in Texas

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy, I would like to say a huge thank you for finally getting the time to write up your thoughts on your soapbox. I am two days shy of turning 18 and have been outspoken in my political beliefs. I declare myself a democrat but on certain issues I remain independent. I agree 100% with you on what you have to say and for the most part, I think that the Administration is out of control. While our country may have been founded for christian values, we as a society can not condemn others for what they choose to belief. As citizens, America claims to be an independent free country yet I consider them hypocrites. I mean COME ON!!!!! Bush is only in office to satisfy his own political desires and I have a feeling that if he takes office, he's going to end up getting himself killed.

Going off topic... I have a friend who lives in Plymouth, England. As one of his closest friends, he tells me that Tony Blair is nothing but a fraud and that Bush and Blair are in it together. He wants to move here, but I found it ironic that Bush has a restriction policy in place considering the fact that my friend is finding it difficult to come to the United Sates due to visa issues.

With the many news stories of Iraqi people murdering American troops it makes me sick what politics has all boiled down to. The Republican party wants to change the constitution and are consistently bad-mouthing Democrats. Don't even get me started on the bill that Bush passed yesterday about federal charges against harming a fetus.

What is this world coming to? The latest polls show Sen.. John Kerry tied neck to neck with Bush but is either side actually trying to prove their point? I'm going to continue to listen to the news but if worst comes to worst I'll vote for ! Nader, because at this point I don't think that either candidate is swaying my vote.

By the way where did you obtain the information regarding the findings on the PNAC? Let me say that although I do not know that much about politics I have a high resentment towards Bush. It's because of his arrogance and stupidity that he is leading our country into an economic depression. He claims that the economy is improving but is it really? Jean from Tennessee quotes, "In my personal opinion, many of our problem are not so much the President's fault as they are American's in general. Americans don't have jobs because they are LAZY!" I have to disagree with this statement. My mother will be 44 in a few weeks and she has been unemployed since December. My mom has struggled with finding a job off and on for close to 3 years now and unfortunately the city I live in is currently not hiring anyone. Due to the fact that me and my sister are still in high school my mom does not want to! relocate my family to another state. I believe that citizens are unable to find work because the economy is in such bad shape. If the economy was improving we wouldn't be having such high gas prices or unemployment rates.

I'm have to admit that I am ashamed that I have a President who is from Texas. Once again, thank you for allowing me to share my views about this issue, and ROCK THE VOTE! It's a shame that teenagers my age are not as passionate as I am about voting. To those citizens who claim that your vote doesn't make a difference: IT DOES!!!!!! That vote makes a big difference in deciding the fate of our country.

from Laurel in California

While some folks might take issue with actors using their "elevated" soapbox to voice political opinions, I'm all for it. I'm all for *everyone* getting on their soapboxes.

In response to this particular soapbox topic... Having been raised by very liberal parents in the heart of the very liberal city of San Francisco, moving to a much more conservative part of the state several years ago was a bit of culture shock. There are times when it's so easy to just keep my mouth shut as the political climate around me grows ever more frightening. However, your soapbox has me energized and all "riled up!"

Very eloquent, well put, and timely. I've got a "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Jed Bartlet" sticker on my car, but the levity is perhaps not as appropriate as it should be. This upcoming election is the most critical we've seen in decades.

Rock that Vote!

from Theresa in Colorado

Mr. Shaughnessy,

Let me start by saying I couldn't agree with you more!!! What has happened to our country the last 3+ years is shocking and appalling. I'm sure that by my responses that you'll be able to tell the I am a staunch Democrat, and proud of it. The points that you brought up I think are only the tip of the iceberg. I would like to reply point by point.

1. TERROR - What we were told over a year ago about Sadam and his WMD's was a flat out lie!!! I do agree that the man was evil and we are better off without him, but is the Middle East? That area is a keg of dynamite and this "conflict" could be the match that lights the fuse. Also, the fact that the current administration is content on blaming the previous administration for Bin Laden just further reassures my idea that they were only after Sadam to begin with. That he was going to finish what his father didn't.

If the administration was so convinced that there were WMD's in Iraq, why didn't Sadam use them as soon as they invasion started. They have not been able to find even a trace of anything in over a year. I think that if they were there SOMETHING should have shown up by now. Also, if this treat was so emanate, why did Mr. Bush feel it was right to joke about it with the Whit House Press corp. I'm sorry, but over 600 men and women have died that did not have to. Don't get me wrong I FULLY support our troops and am very grateful every day for what they do, but they were purposely sent into harms way and didn't have to be.

I can only wonder why Mr. Bush is so adamant about not testifying in front of the 9/11 commission. I have heard the Ms. Rice will testify to the commission, but will we hear the whole truth. I don't trust any one in the current administration to tell us the truth simply because they don't know what that is.

Thanks to Mr. Bush we are now the worlds "bully". We've always in the "protector", but after what has happened in Iraq he is no better that Sadam.

2. CONSTITUTION - This truly is a foreign term to the current administration. I have never seen anyone that can use it only when it benefits them. A constitutional amendment is something that should be used only when absolutely necessary.

The checks and balances that were created are there for a reason. Our founding Fathers left "dictatorships" to create a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is definitely not the case today. It appears that is a government for the highest bidder like Haliberton, Enron, etc.......

As for foreign born Presidents (Arnold), I feel that you must win a fair election first before you even consider running for a higher office. This was the most blatant "use" of the Constitution. They didn't like Gov. Davis, and they had a popular "candidate" that used "catchy" sound bites that married into a political family. A family, that by there own admission, doesn't feel that he has what it takes to do the job effectively. This same family that was very vocal about the recall election and campaigned for Gov. Davis.

3. SOCIETY - There are things that should be important, and that the administration should improve, for example healthcare, education and the economy. None of these items are even remotely within the realm of interest for Mr. Bush. He has proven that he can take care of his rich "fat cat's" and the corporations that support him. It seems as though we have reverted back to the trickle down effect. It didn't work before and it won't work now. I'm so tired of hearing how the economy is improving, I would certainly like to know where, because it isn't improving here.

I would like to see Ken Lay or even his brother Neil answer some questions on how they run a company. Mr. Bush's brother was a key figure in one of the largest Savings & Loan's that failed. I unfortunately worked for that S&L and saw first hand how the Bush family "worked". The frustrating part is that what happened was criminal and not one of those "gentlemen" (and I use that term loosely) were even questioned let alone charged with any crime.

Thanks for your time and you can guarantee that I'll get out an vote!!

from Megan in Indiana

I guess I'll just jump right in.... As far as the recall being immoral - do we even need to say the name Clinton? Our country is in an economic depression, but that's less important to me than being morally bankrupt. We all know war costs. What gets me is that everyone seems po'd or off on a tangent that Bush could have prevented 9/11...but people are upset at him now for having a reason to be at war, much less going gung ho after Bin Laden or Saddam before 9/11. Intelligence gets MILLIONS of tips a day, how do you know which is true, false, important and not? Plus the volume of things we don't even know about is uncertain. No one is perfect. And I think he does the best he can. He isn't the only president who is "shady" (ie Nixon, Kennedy, Clinton and those are just the ones off the top of my head).

I don't think we'd be in any better condition if Gore was in office. He was the one who said "A zebra cannot change it's spots" ("Overlooked" The Hotline September 27, 1991. Al Gore said this on the senate floor and it was stricken from the Congressional Record). He also said "I always had a very vivid and clear sense that men and women were entirely and completely equal - if not more so" (Speech be VP Al Gore at the Emily's List Majority Council Conference Breakfast, Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington DC. Federal News Service, June 11, 1999).... Fact of the matter is the terrorists needed to be dealt with, if not now, then when, and at what other cost? MAny more lives could have been lost, we don't even know what has been prevented and probably never will. Why is it that these things are overlooked, but Bush is stared at constantly like he's going to implode? All those against Bush seem to call him one thing and one thing only "Stupid". Will someone tell me why? I mean honestly?! I want facts, no one else takes anything at face value so why start with others opinions of our Commander in Chief?

I agree with Ann Coulter " ' Stupid' means one thing: "threatening to the interests of the Democratic Party.' The more conservative the Republican, the more vicious and hysterical the attacks on his intelligence will be. Liberals have not only run out of arguments, they've run out of adjectives. (Coulter, Slander, 125)". I respect everyones ideals and thoughts, but I also feel it's up to me to uphold and voice my beliefs and those who think and believe as I do.

As far as ENRON goes...NY Times columnist Paul Krugman (a Gore supporter) attacked the Bush administration for receiving campaign contributions when he himself was paid a $50,000 "consulting fee" from Enron he also said in 1999 in Frotune magazine that Enron was "making freewheeling markets possible". Enron bought more influence w/Krugman than Bush. He claimed Enron put Bush in the White House. When "outed" Krugman said it was a right-wing conspiracy.

Irrelevant is my thought of what "could have been". Bush is president whether some like it or not. It's not forever. We can complain and point fingers all we want but we need to put more energy forth in "what can we do to better the future?". I can dislike Clinton all I want - but that doesn't change the fact that he was president. I can live in the past or I can get over it and do all I can to change my future. Things won't get better unless WE DO.

The parallels between the recall and the 2000 elections...Gore was the one who insited on 3 times the vote count. Even though the law clearly states " If the county returns are not recieved by the Department of Stateby 5 pm of the seventh day following an election, all missing counties shall be ignored and the results shown by the returns on file shall be certified" (section 102.111). New York times stated it was "the Republican contention that state law allowed no leeway in the deadline"...NOT the Constitution and the State of Florida. Gore also asked the Supreme Court for a fourth time at bat. AND THEY ALLOWED ITinterpreted" the words " it seems liberals believe hard statutory deadlines are valid only when the Democrat wins. But if the democrat looses, deadlines are merely helpful suggestions (Coulter, 89)."

Sad thing is all quotes are fact. Well not really sad. I have no problem stating I am republican and voted for Bush, my first election too! I was barely 18. I do not regret it and plan to vote for him again. I went to school in Springfield MO, and therfore also got to vote Ashcroft into office. I wanted to get that off my chest... hope you are well Charlie...Tell Fran we love her if you hear from her soon. Can't wait to see your new projects as well. God Bless and keep safe.

from Jean in Tennessee

Mr. Shaughnessy,

Before I go off on a tangent about my political views, let me first explain something. First off, I''ll barely be 21 in time for the election in November, so I wasn't old enough to vote when Bush was elected. (Though you don't seem to believe that he truely was elected, but I'll touch that later.) I've been raised Republican (for the most part) and in the heart of the Bible Belt. So obviously where I'm from has shaped some of my views on certian issues that have been brought up in your soapbox. Secondly I am a Christian, I will freely admit that, and for the most part I'm not against the admendments Bush has tried to make to our Constitution, although I do think he should proceed with Caution.

Okay, first things first. I've lived in TN my entire life. Al Gore called TN his home state, but did you happen to notice that fact that BUSH carried TN. In fact, if Gore had managed to carry his "home state" FL wouldn't have been nearly the issue that it was. Obviously, I supported Bush when he ran for office. I won't condemn his christian morals, because honestly I agree when him. America was founded on Christian ethics, conservative or not. (But I dare say that they were mightly liberal in 1776.) The Declaration of Independace sights 27 Biblical verses and how England had violated them. The idea of a "Christian" White House is nothing new, it has been that way from the start, some more devout than others. I live in a town where being a Christian is normal and universally accepted, the courts had to force us to stop praying over the loud speaker at Football games at the public high school I attended. And even when they told us it was illegal to used the speak, the cheerleaders began screaming the Lord's Prayer from the field. It has always amased me how Americans want to shut God out when everything is going good, but when disaster strikes everyone in one loud voice asked, "God save us." Is Bush wrong for wanting to admendment to Constitution (founded on the Bible, mind you) to state that Marriage is between one man and one woman? I dare say that he's not wrong. (Let me state, that this isn't a big issue where I am from, although I am sure there are a few gay couples, they are not nearly as openly gay as in other parts of the country. They would probably be shot. I don't agree with that practice, but that is just the part of the country that I'm from.) Are these Christian ethics a bad thing? Or should we continue to accept divorce as no one's fault and let our kids suffer for it. How many of your daughter's friends come from broken homes? I can almost promise that well over 50% of them do. The "American Dream" used the be a house with a fence, two and a half kids, a mom, a dad, and probably a dog or cat. But now what is the normal American family? A single parent raising 2 or 3 kids alone in a small apartment with no help for anyone. Does that sound like a dream or a nightmare? NO wonder our health care system is failing! Is it the government's job to raise OUR kids? (Okay back to my original point.)

In my personal opinion, many of our problem are not so much the President's fault as they are American's in general. Americans don't have jobs because they are LAZY! Bush, nor anyone else can do anything about that. Why should they go looking for a job, when they can whine about it and the government will support them? Give me a freakin' break! Things do need reforming I definately agree, and I'm not saying that Bush is the man for the job. Actually I haven't seen a candiate that I really like, but I will make a decision based on fact and ability not on party lines.

One other thing, I don't mean to sound like I will condemn everyone who doesn't believe that same way I do. I support relious freedom, but I think I should have freedom to express my faith just like anyone else and not be blasted for it. I don't completely agree with Bush, you made many vaild points as to why he is failing at this job, I'm just saying don't blame everything on his faith. I do wish we'd change our way of dealing with Iraq, we have our own problems and I can't see how we have the right to come across as "holier than thou" with other countries. No government or leader is going to be perfect. Even Washington had his faults, but what makes a great leader great is thier abilty to listen and understand people. I do believe that Bush has failed at this. Thanks for reading my somewhat long opinion on the matter. I'm young and probably still have a lot to learn, but it's kinda fun to see what other people really think, even when I don't totally agree with them.

from Wende in Florida

Wooo Charlie - you had a mouthful to say in your soapbox on March 27, 2004. I can not say I understand politics nor do I like causes much friction and division with the country and with other countries (amoungst the people). There is backbiting and attacking against the other parties. I can be at time oblivious of what is going on in the political front.

Maybe you ought to run for political office in the Independant party, maybe run for the Senate. You like New York State, you could try to run in that State. "Senator Shaughnessy!" SOUNDS GOOD! I hear that Fran is running for office.

I grew up with Conservative parents, I suppose it has rubbed off on me, though one of my brothers is a Democrate. I would probably lean towards being Independant but tend to vote Republican.

I disagree with a lot of Democrates who believe many things ought to be exceptable in our society. I do not agree with abortion, homosexuality, some sex partners, same sex marriages. I believe if someone has committed the Ultimate/Hideous Crime that the death penalty should not be ruled out.

I believe in smoking bans and drug control and gun control, at least check out the gun buyers background, throughly investigate the buyers.

This country was founded and built on Christian Values and morals, we have let immorality and sin corrupt our hearts, souls and minds and control our actions we have put the Values and Morality on the back burners.

Why is all the blame on Pres. Bush junior? Pres. Clinton had eight years to take action and go in after and attack Bin Laden and his buddies and Saddam Hussan and his buddies. Had Clinton gone in after the enemies before his presidency was up I do not think we would have been attacked on 9/11,2001 and the people today would feel safe in this country. Former Pres. Clinton has to share apart of the blame and the responsibility. He was just as much irresponsible at many things.

I have to take sides with Rochelle from Illinois, if you do not recall what she said, reread it Charlie, please.

If people allow it, politics can ruin friendships. Maybe that is a reason I do not like politics. Friends are too important to me/people are too important to me. I have many friends, some vote Rep (Conservative), some vote Dem.

Charlie you are an excellent actor, you could do well outside of acting as well!

Got this out of the Christian booklet Our Daily Bread - March 30,2004.

WAKE UP CALL! On February 26, 1993, a powerful bomb exploded in the under-ground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six people and injuring more then a thousand. It sparked an aggressive investigation with many arrest. But few enforcement authorities reconized it as apart of an international terrorist plot. When the Trade Center Towers were destroyed by terrorist September 11,2001, police commissioner Raymond Kelly looked back on the first attack and said, "It should have been a wake-up call for America".

I would advice everyone to read Revelations 3:2&3 in the NIV edition of the Bible. Peace will not come to this earth unless we turn our ways, and hearts to God! Like this country's first intensions were back in the 1700's. God tells us to WAKE UP! That is my soapbox!

from Jennifer in Ohio

Mr. Shaughnessy,

I was a little girl in the early 70s during Watergate. At the time, I didn't really understand what was happening and what I was seeing on television. I just knew that offices and homes were bugged by the government and the CIA. Standard procedure, right? I also knew that I had an uncle who worked for the CIA. With these facts in my young imagination, I assumed my home was bugged and each time I left a room I would walk up to the lamp and announce where and what I would be doing next. This true story used to be amusing because it was so farfetched. However, now I'm not so sure. As I write this, I wonder if because of my liberal views I will be under the scrutiny of Tom Ridge and his cohorts. So if you're reading this guys, when I've finished writing, I will go to the kitchen and get a glass of wine!

That is what the policy on Terror and War has done to us. We are isolated not only from the rest of the world, but from each other. We are afraid to speak and even more afraid to act. The Bush Regime has even created a color coded system of anxiety that keeps us in a constant state of fear. Personally, I have had more sleepless nights since Bush was crowned than I ever had before.

Mr. Shaughnessy, you mentioned that you fear for the Constitution. I'm beginning to question if we still have one. I thought that Homeland Security got rid of it. As someone who has gone through work-related explanations of my legal responsibilities in carrying out the Patriot Act, it certainly seems that way. However, I know that I'm legally allowed to only tell you this, "I am not at liberty to say whether or not the FBI has looked at your records today." Our rights are dwindling to so few that it will soon be known as the Bill of Wishful Thinking.

What makes all of this even worse is that Bush doesn't even like us. He must not if he continues to destroy the domestic economy. More and more people are not only out of work, but are so long without work that they are dropping off the unemployment figures. Again, on the personal level, this is a source of real fear for me. I have a Master's Degree in History and I am an Archivist. Sounds impressive? Well, it should be at least a little, but it's not. I'm working three jobs and I have only an emergency health care policy that I pay for privately. (I believe that I have to be hit by a bus on a Tuesday with an even number date during a full moon to be covered.) Funding for libraries and historical societies and everything else that doesn't produce a bomb or pump oil is dwindling fast. My life is the reality of what happens when stupid people get power. Bush has had no plan for the economy and he will never have a plan!

As a registered Democrat, I intend to do everything I can to prevent four more years of this downward spiral where the best we can hope for each day is to survive-- or maybe move to Canada.

Thank you. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Ridge, I'll be having that glass of chardonnay now.

from Jenn in Canada

Way back in the days when I was still a university student, my friends and I used to sit around and talk about how someday, we might like to move to the USA. In the late 70's and early 80's it seemed like the USA was the place to live and work. Don't get me wrong, I love being a Canadian and have always been proud of my own country but the USA had a special allure to people from all over the world.

Things have certainly changed haven't they? It's a sad commentary when so many of us who are citizens of other countries no longer view the USA as the "golden land." In fact the USA appears to have become an example of what we don't want to become or what we hope to avoid. You have a President who disregards the will of the people who elected him, who follows his own personal agenda of revenge and right wing morality. You have soaring debt, declining health care, a damaged environment and rising social and racial unrest. Worst of all, you've become a target for religious and political extremists. We all share some of those problems to a degree but when most Canadians look southward these days, it's often with relief that we aren't Americans.

It's really unfortunate that the world view of the USA is declining. For decades people have judged Americans based on what they read or see in the media and for the most part, the USA had a good image globally. In the past few years, however, what we're seeing is overwhelmingly negative.

I feel privileged to have been able to get to know many Americans personally and thus I've been able to form opinions based on those people that I've met and talked with instead of forming my opinions based solely on media reports. The problem is that much of the world doesn't have the option of getting to know individual Americans to the extent that those of us living next door to you have.

They may not get to chat with the librarian in Ohio or the teacher in Massachusetts or store clerk in California. They will only be able to judge your country based on the news footage that tells them that on behalf of the USA, Bush is: spending billions in Iraq or that he's trying to modify your constitution to prevent gay people from marrying; that he's appointing judges who seem intent on passing judgements which revoke women's health rights or that he is restricting trade with nations who don't agree with everything he believes; that he refuses to safeguard the world's environment by signing the Kyoto Accord while instead protecting the interests of oil companies and that he's handing wealthy executives huge tax breaks while many ordinary Americans can't afford to pay for health care insurance.

These are just a few of the images of the USA that the rest of the world is seeing since Bush took office. Yes it's true, the media can and does distort things to a certain extent and we also saw some bad sides of Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan and Carter. No administration has been perfect but the world has never seen such negative images of the USA as we're seeing now. You have always been a proud people and I believe that for the most part that you are a nation of good people. I doubt very much that most of you are happy with the fact that the image of Americans has taken such a beating abroad. When the trains in Spain were bombed by terrorists recently, I found it rather telling when Spaniards declared en mass that they felt they were targeted because they had sided with the USA in Iraq. Right or wrong, many countries are coming to believe that if you help the USA, you endanger the safety of your own country.

When you reach the point in time where your own people aren't happy with what's going on within the USA and much of the rest of the world is trying to disassociate themselves from you out of fear or anger, it's time to consider making some serious changes before it's too late. Can the Democrats fix all your problems? Probably not, but many of us in other countries feel that they'd be a far more positive government in terms of global influence and that they'd at least try harder to make your country work better for you. Perhaps then, to say we're friends of America may not be such a frightening prospect.

In the meantime, the world will be watching you to see what course you choose for your future. I wish you well and hope that in time you'll be able to return to being a country that the world's people seek out for positive reasons and are proud to call their friend.

from Rose in New York

Wow, great commentary Charlie. Before you read my response, since people know a bit about you and your backround, let me explain, in short, about myself. An optomist by nature, raised catholic, now just call myself a christian, also raised and registered a democrat. I choose to see the good and always try to look beyond and behind what the media says as a result of knowing bad news sells better than good news and sensationalism really sells! Oh if only John Edwards had been the democrats choice. I wouldn't be in turmoil now about who to vote for.

1. If what you are saying is completely true about how the war on terror is being fought, I think Bill Clinton and every other democrat with a microphone would be stating what you just said every day and the news media would be all over it more than they are. There is probably partial truth in your remark and I am the first to say that Clinton's personal affairs were bloated out of proportion however, I don't think it is that black and white. If you lived in one of those countries, perhaps your view would be different about how and why the war on terror is being fought. Walk a mile in my shoes, actually my sisters shoes. She lives in Saudi Arabia, goes to Kuwait and other cities in that region and I feel she would blow holes in your theory and I would agree with her that an essential jumping off point in fighting and ridding the world of terror is to convince countries like Iraq that being a democratic society is the way to go. Sure the fundalmentalists will try and worm ! their way in the country during transistion. Transistion equals weakness to many. Iraq will go thru their own baptism of fire just like America did and does, the suffrage movement, civil rights, equal employment, just to name a few. As to your musings on who to point the finger of blame to, ask yourself this question, is living the life of a fundalmentalist better than living in a democracy? For surely without intervention, that would be the way these people would be living or even possibly worse.

2. We the People, the beginning of the Constitution, beautiful words and one's not to be taken lightly. I agree with what you say about power being dangerous if deposited in the hands of one, and I cannot comment on Rehnquist or Scalia due to a lack of education and I will not pretend to know about such things. Actually, thank you for pointing this out, I can see I have more work to do to consider myself informed. Keep in mind one thing, whether good or bad, the proposals of these amendments is reactionary of the actions of others and not created by those proposing amendments.

3. Martha. Poor Martha. The trappings of celebrity bring on certain disaster when faced with legal matters doesn't it. Dear friends, get off this woman's back. If her name was Martha Blodget and she was from Sandusky, her verdict may have been the same but she wouldn't have had to suffer the media blitz and public humiliation. One more note on this, I applaud K-Mart for continuing with her line of products. As of this Sunday they are still advertising them in their flyers and on their web site. Go big K.

As for taxes, my family and I have long believed that everyone should be taxed a set common percentage of their income, 10% comes to mind. For those of you like me, in the 20% bracket (which, after all taxes and fees {social security etc.} means I take home about 60% of my income) think about this concept. It's fair and level. However, I don't think Bill Gates will like it.

It's completely obvious your legal backround assures us that research is your first tool prior to printing your thoughts, Bravo! How I would have enjoyed running into you at Joe Allen's (been there, done that too!) and sat with you talking. We would have closed the joint! And although I don't agree with all you think, I am completely proud to see a now fellow citizen who is in the public eye take a chance and set it out for all to see.

This was a cleansing process, writing this down and sharing. Of all the sites I visit on the net, this site is the most versatile. Fun, informative, open and honest. My thanks to you.

from Stacey in Australia

Dearest Charles,

When I was a young girl about 10 years of age, I used to always dream of living in America when I grew up, after all that is where everyones dreams came true, no matter what the circumstance may be.? Now that I am an adult with?5 wonderful children of my own, and reading the papers and watching the news, I am so glad that I still live in Australia.? Although we do have our fair share of government boobs here (we don't have a president here as we are still under the queens rule), telling us one thing and meaning another, we are told by our prime minister that we are under no terrorist threat at all, all you have to do is pick up the paper and read about it.? I think no matter where abouts in the world you live you should always we aware that someday there may just be a terrorist attack on you, and that you should be alert to that and that the government should make it aware to everyone exactly how bad it really is instead of sweeping it under the rug ! so to speak.? It is such a shame that everyone can't live in peace, as Louis Armstrong once sang "What a Wonderful World"

from Hope in Pennsylvania

Dear Charlie,

Rock on! I agree with you 100% This nation is in total chaos and no one can see it! Everyone has been dragged along by the conservative media to believe that Bush is a wonderful and inspiring president. Well I think that the Ameican population has been greatly mislead and lied to to say the least! Everything he tells is a lie and no one can see it. I know people who will vote for him in this next election just because he disapproves abortion. Did any of these people even think to look at how many people he put to death alone while in Texas? How can he be for saving the life of one person and not another? Now I'm not saying that I support abortion because I am against it, but how can someone freely kill so many people? It makes no sense.

Everyday we are lied to. He never went to Iraq to rid of Saddam. It was just an easy excuse to take more oil for his buddies back in Texas. It just makes me sick to think that people will vote for someone on account of one issue. People need to take in account everything that Bush has done to destroy this nation. I mean for goodness sake, Americans that lost their jobs, due to him, will probably vote for him anyway. I just don't know how to reach through these people and let them see the truth. America needs a huge wake up call, and the first step is to vote him out of office!

Thank you for speaking the truth Charlie and Rock the Vote!

from Chasity in California

Rock on about the voting. I just turned 24. I was of voting age in the last presidential election, but because, like those you spoke of, I didn't think my vote mattered. . .I did not vote. Also, at that time, I had so many other non-political things on my mind. . .such as college parties, hanging out with friends, parties. . .you get the idea. I really didn't care what was going on in the country, didn't care who became president or what any of the candidates views were, and didn't want to waste my time going to the polls. I've grown up a lot in the last four years. I've learned much about politics and what my own views are. I am a registered voter and I do plan on voting in the election. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated what you had to say about voting and it's great you are encouraging people to get out and make a difference, exercise their right to free speech and all that good stuff. You are right, everyone's vote makes a difference. There was a time when women couldn't even vote! Now we can. And we should. I'm proud I have that right. And you can bet I'll be exercising. ROCK THE VOTE BABY!!!!

from Hope in New Jersey

Hello Mr. Shaughnessy,

Thank you for giving us, your fans, the opportunity to read your thoughts and letting us "sound off" with our thoughts on different subjects. I personally ?feel that anyone elected into any political office in this great country of ours should be born and raised here. Arnold may be an American, but he isnt from our soil.

Thanks for listening, and on a more personal note, I would like to say I think you are a wonderful actor. Thank you for your web site. I can see how you really appreciate your fans. Thank you

from Christina in California

Hey Charlie,

I have to agree with just about everything you say on your latest thoughts! I really don't think that President Bush is doing a good job at all. I also have friends in England who are even saying that he shouldn't be re-elected! That's sad, when friends from England think he's bad. Anyways, I'm a kind of an independent as well, but I don't know what I'll regester as. Well it's always nice reading your thoughts, no matter what they might be, because this is America, and that is part of being an American, having a voice of your own. I have great respect for what you think and what you believe. Please keep posting your thoughts!

from TaRa in North Carolina

I proudly admit that I am a Left-Wing Christian. The reason I write to you instead of the board is to admit even though I registered to vote on my eighteenth birthday, my interest in politics did not peak until reading your soapbox. I went to a private Baptist (no I'm not Baptist) university where the majority study law or religion. September 11, began an extremely heated neverending debate as to who was to blame and how can we as citizens bring about a positive evolution. Needless to say, the using the words evolution and Baptist is like combining Oil and Water. Thanks to your soapbox, I joined the Democrat society. Since graduation this theatre alumni has continued to follow the media coverage and debate whenever opportunity knocks. . .Knowledge is Power.

from Andrea in Florida

Hi Charlie, I agree with you 100%!!!! I think it's time to get our guys out of Iraq and start looking for the Terrorists again. While Bush has been playing in Iraq, who knows how many of Bin Laden's men are in our country right now planning their next attack on us, possibly by using our planes as flying torpedoes!!! My husband and I are flying back home to Pennsylvania for a family visit in June. I'm scared to death to fly even with all the so-called security they have in the airports. It only takes one "Nutcase" with a gun and a bomb on a plane to mess-up your vacation.

I'm a Republican, but I know I won't vote for Bush just because he has lost sight of what he started to do, and that was stopping terrorisum. We have to get back on track with this real fast or Bin Laden is going to Rule the World because there will be no one out there to stop him. Thanks for taking time to read this, Charlie.

from Emily in New York

Mr. Shaughnessy,

Shortly I will be leaving to attend reception, dinner and talk with Al Franken to raise funds for some particular Jewish group in Rochester, New York. Am I Jewish? No. Born and raised Catholic in Louisiana and now do not espouse any organized religious belief. I'm going because, since the advent of Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, he has become my hero. He has brought me up from the depths of despair about what is happening to my country under the "Rain of Bush", he has given me a voice and made me able to laugh my ass off about it. I want to thank him.

And now I want to thank you...for your wonderful Soap Box dirges. Thank you for, indeed, not being bashful with your thoughts. You are reaching out to people and may be effecting a change of heart in some who might otherwise have never considered the point of view you put forth. Being a fan of yours they will "give it a listen" and we need any and all converts to the cause.

God Bless you Charles Shaughnessy. Thanks again.

PS -- watched The Nanny for the first time in December of last year. Am now an avid fan -- have withdrawal symptoms on Sundays when it's not on. Just one particular comment regarding the show: Pierce Brosnan "ain't got nothin' on you" which is not the same as saying his has nothing on you!!

from Rochelle in Illinois

Charlie. . .Charlie. . .Charlie,

You say that you are a registered Independent and yet your position does not seem to be independent at all. I consider myself an independent having voted for President Clinton and President Bush. Having said that, I am curious as to why you have not addressed the latest disturbing news regarding John Kerry - once a member of an organization that voted whether to assassinate elected officials??!! I have a feeling that if this was a Republican, you would have been all over it.

And, you briefly mention President Clinton in reference to fighting terrorism - do you not think that the previous administration has a tremendous amount of culpability in regards to 9/11 and our failings to understand the terror threat posed by Al-Qaeda? How on earth did these terrorist cells crop up without any detection by our intelligence services?! Our terrorism experts have reported often that human intelligence is what failed us, which was a major shortcoming of the previous administration's policies. How is it that after 9/11, we are scrambling trying to find individuals that speak Arabic to join the CIA and FBI?! I believe that the democratic leadership at the time focused too much on domestic issues while terrorists were plotting our demise.

I am not happy with the current administration for many of the reasons that you commented upon, but at this time, I also cannot see voting for John Kerry (nor Ralph Nader for that matter). I will watch the events as they play out and vote for the person who has the best balance between foreign and domestic policies. It seems to me that from your statements, you are not advocating John Kerry, but instead taking the stance of anyone but Bush.

from Lauren in Scotland

Hi Charlie ok well just done reading ure new soapbox article well what can i say i aint from America i am from Scotland but from what i have seen and read about Bush is that well the moment that man got into power the US was in big trouble. Him become president was fixed if you ask me. Just so happend to the the state that his brother is govenor off that had a recall it was odvious that he was going to win it i think that it was all a fix yes he was right to go to war but i think it is time he got out of iraq now as he seems to be doing more harm than good there now. To me he has nevr really been intouch with what the people of the USA want and he isnt interested what they have to say or think. So i think that a change is in order.

Another point on a different topic is about the Scottish Parliament and how much it is costing and all the money that has been wasted . I don't know if you get much of this in the US but people in scotland are very upset about this building most of the puplic didnt want it in the first place. We got a building that is 3 years behind schedule and at the moment it has a price tag of ?431 million. Way over the price that it was supposed to cost. We got builders that turn up to work and can't and each time they get paid for doing nothing and when they come back they get paid more again. Millions of pounds have been wasted on this and now they are bomb proofing it as well this may be a good thing but i think that the parliament that we have at the moment is good and nothing wrong with it so why we need this new one i have no idea the money could have been spent on the health care over here that is in a bad way. I don't see any of the money coming from the pockets of the idiots that are in charge of building this parliement only us the tax payers who dont want it.

The blame for the cost of this building seem to be getting put on our dead first minister donald dewar which i think is wrong as he aint there to tell us what exactly he thought about this building and the ones that are getting the rap resort to crying to get the Scottish public to feel sorry for them. The Labour government that is running scotland and the rest of the Uk have to be one of the worst that i have seen. Scotland seems to get the bad end of the stick on most things were the guinea pigs of britain the prime ministers that we have had seem to think it is ok to test everything out on us first going back to the poll tax then the rest of the Uk get stuck with it afterwards.

So i think that it is time for a change get Tony Blair out and try someone new as the UK is in great danger of being the next place to get attacked and Tony Blair aint making it anymore easier as long as he takes sides with Bush they are 2 dangerous men and it time that the US and Britain seen this. Yes they were right in going to war but now that they have i cant see what they are going to do now to stop there counties from getting attacked once again.

hope you get the chance to read this i am sorry about the length of the email i feel very passionate about the whole blair and bush thing as well as the scottish parliament. Your website is looking great and love watching the re runs of the nanny your a great actor. Keep up the good work

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