Charles Shaughnessy's Soapbox January, 2006

Karl Rove has given a clear indication of the shape and direction of the GOP's mid-term election campaign. As usual, they will be falling back on the old misdirection technique that has stood them in such good stead in every election since 2000. Mired in scandal, corruption and failed policies everywhere you look, they are, once again, looking to Osama Bin Laden to play 12th Man on the team and win the game for them. Were the Democratic leadership not so inept, spineless and befuddled, this strategy would have unraveled for them a long time ago, but in a political landscape where opposition dare not show its face, they can trot out the old shibboleth with a deal of confidence.

When will a Democrat, any Democrat, point out the unassailable truth that 9/11, the worst lapse in security this country has seen, happened on a Republican President's watch? When will a Democrat point out the unassailable truth that 9/11 no more signaled the start of the "War on Terrorism" as did Superbowl XV signal the beginning of Football! This was not even the first time Al Quaeda had attacked the World Trade Center. Only good security and a whole lot of luck prevented 9/11 unfolding in 1993 under a Democratic President. I can assure anyone who decries this comparison that Bin Laden intended for those towers to come down that first time: he was not attacking SUV's in the parking garage! President Clinton had a quick and direct response to this first attack. When the Army balked at a full scale mission, a special forces raid was planned against Bin Laden himself. What would have been the end of Al Quaeda was only thwarted by the unexpected presence of a Saudi prince (one of the Carlysle Group's oil producing partners, no doubt) at Bin Laden's hunting camp. Nor was this to be the last time our unholy alliance with the Saudi Royal Family was going to cost us in the so- called "War on Terrorism." And all this time, of course, the loyal Republican opposition was screaming "Wag the Dog" and accusing the President of trying to distract the country from the REAL threat to National Security posed by an Intern who wore too much make-up.

Yet not one pusillanimous Democrat accused them of treachery or lack of patriotism. So here we are, five years on from 9/11, silent, as we see our liberties evaporate, our privacy invaded, our system of government corrupted and invalidated, our Constitutional guarantees ignored and the separation of powers trashed in this Administration's inexorable march toward an Imperial Presidency. The British Parliament is often derided for its boisterous and passionate debate: on BBC America, its members can be seen howling derision and criticism at the Prime Minister and his cabinet. It may appear unseemly at times, but let me tell you this: it is not for naught that Westminster is called the Mother of Parliaments. At least there the opposition opposes! At least there, the governing Party is held to high account for its actions; harried and questioned on every detail by an energetic and diligent voice for the people. Here, the Democrats well up with frustration and confusion lest they be called "unpatriotic" or "weak". Their lack of spine, and cowardly silence amid such an assault on the bedrock principles of American Democracy, proves them guilty as charged on both counts. I fear that a Party so gutless in opposition stands little chance of winning anyone's confidence in its ability to govern.

As always, I welcome your thoughts whether you agree with me or not. I encourage you to use this forum to have YOUR voices heard. . . .

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That being said, as always . . .let's have a discussion shall we?
. . .BRING IT ON!!!

Here is what you have to say. These are your opinions, that you have written in, as a reaction to what I have written above.

10 august, 2006

from kym in australia

I agree with you 100% Charlie. As an Australian I am looking from the outside in. I too watched as the Twin Towers fell and the world changed not just Amercia. It seems to me that President Bush has forgotton the people that died that day. It also seems to me that he has got no interest in finding Bin Laden. He has blamed the wrong people for the 9/11 attacks the people of Iraq had nothing to do with it. Saddam was a very cruel and sadistic person and so were his son's. But I don't believe that gives the right for Amercia or any other country in invade them.

I would love to see a Demercrat stand up to be counted. They need and another Kennedy or Clinton to lead the party. I surpose we will have to wait until November to find out. I would love to see the House go back to the Demercrats where it belongs. I hope it will but they really don't seem to have anyone outstanding in their ranks to lead them.

You are right Charlie when you say that the Westminster system of goverment fights back. Like England, Australia too has almost the same system. The oppostion has the right to fight back and try to keep the government honest. No system of goverment is perfect but to me the Westminster system of goverment is better.

I am not America bashing, I liked Bill Clinton when he was President, sure no one is perfect and I don't think that Bill Clinton ever tried to be. But whom ever occupies the White House affects no only America but the world.

from joe in new york

Back in July of 2004 I wrote an E-mail to your website dealing with the tactics used by Karl "I'm in trouble with the justice Dept." Rove & co. against John kerry in the upcoming election. Then there was a fake "Joe from New York" posted on your web site alittle while later which just made me laugh. Gee, Let's look at what has gone down since these crooked meatheads stole the White house from us. Melons for nukes deal in India, CIA plame game, Attack on Social Security, Tax cuts during time of war, 2 to 3 trillion debt owed to foreign nations, spying on the people with no warrant, tax cut that favors the rich, Remember Bush's remark to a gathering of his rich buddies? "There are the haves, and the Have more's- you- have more's- are MY BASE"), Osama bin who? Are they still looking for those WMD's? Never in the histry of this nation has a group of criminals the likes of these occupied our government. I'm no fan of the Dems but I would vote them in ANYTIME. -

from marissa in indiana

First off, I do agree with you, Mr. Shaughnessy. But the thing is how do Americans know for sure that Bin Laden and possibly Sudam Hussein had something to do with the attacks on 9/11? This is what the media tells us. Does not our goverment control the media to a certain extent? What if these men are not the cause of the attacks or the war, but are probably just the "fall guys?" Is it their fault entirely or is part of it America's fault? Americans need to analyze the information that is given to them by the media because some of the information that were are receiving does not make sense.

from allison in california

Thank you Mr. Shaughnessy for having this forum. Staying with your subject of what ARE the Democrats doing, I'm going to write about another opportunity that should have outraged the Democratic party leaders as much as it outraged the American People, minus most of the politicians. I am so sick of the way we run campaigns in this country. We should have full public financing of campaigns so that the moneylenders and the lobbyists and the people with an agenda other than to make the United States an equal opportunity country for ALL Americans, will not be the ones that select the candidates for us, but select candidates who will truly represent the voices of the American people. Everything the Republicans touch turns to mud. We have lost the middle class, they have tarnished the reputation of The United States in the world, we should have health care available to all Americans that is affordable to each person's financial situation and able to be paid for as an individual. Not health care for the people with money or who work at corporations that can get health care, but for every American. It is almost unimaginable to me that people trying to have a mom and pop type business, or who work for a living, can't afford health care for them, their families and the people that work for them, or even have the opportunity to have it available to them! It would be almost unimaginable, but that is the reality of living in the United States of America!

There are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans. Just look at what happened with Katrina. Who gets help, how fast the help comes is not determined just by the color of your skin, but it is deemed by social status and socioeconomic level and geography between the "haves" and the "have nots." Help should be expected by ALL Americans from their government. And help FAST, NOW, not 6 days later, and not just for 6 months.

If a Katrina like situation of equal destruction and devastation happened in say a place like Washington DC or The Hamptons, do you think we would find the government saying, we weren't aware that people were living in their own excrement with no food or water in the convention center until 5 days after the fact? We weren't aware that people were being raped and beaten and ignored and starving to death or dying from lack of medication and proper nutrition and hydration. We weren't aware that young children who just 5 days ago had been running and jumping and having fun and going to school were now watching dead bodies float by them in the streets and crying in the night, because they were hungry & thirsty, because they had no place to go to the bath room, who couldn't go back home, who had only the clothes on their backs and they were wet and torn and dirty, afraid because the adults that make them feel secure, were afraid too, wondering, why doesn't someone help us?

No communications, no way of knowing the damage, the devastation, the news coverage. Can you imagine in this media age of instant information, what it would be like to have no phone, no computer, no TV, no radio, no blackberry. NOTHING. We freak out if our cable goes out for a day or lose our ability to read our email or surf the net. Not even a book to read to pass the time or a game to play, but worrying, how do I protect my child from being raped at night? Must have been thinking the world as they knew it, had come to an end. And actually, it did. They didn't have the basic necessities to exist safely, no medications, no food, no water, no dry clean clothing and no media of any kind to say, Hey, come help us and find out what was being done, or in this case not being done.

Human Beings in the United States of America - we didn't know the government says. But now that we do, don't worry. We'll be there in a jiffy to help you out. And they were not. Yes, we would send more troops to help out, but unfortunately they are off fighting a war in another country and so many of them have been killed because we were so ill prepared to send them into this hell hole of a fabricated war to properly protect them, so they, along with people they are there to protect, are dying by the thousands. You know the one. The one that our President lied about? Ms. Rice went to a Broadway show and went shoe shopping while Americans were being ignored in the worst natural disaster to hit our country. Oh, maybe that isn't in her job description to help keep Americans safe.

This was a shameful, shameful time for America under the leadership of Republicans who failed the American public miserably. And where was the rest of the political parties of our Government? I didn't see them doing anything to step up either. It was the American people and YES the entertainers who are always being told, keep your political opinions to yourself, no one cares what you have to say, stick to entertaining. Keep your ostentatious political opinions to yourself. Don't start a dialogue, don't try and rally people to give a damn by having discussions, or holding auctions or giving money and time to help out along with your fellow Americans. These people along with their communities and neighbors, worked side by side when the politicians did little to help out. And some were there as fast as they could get there. I say, Thank You to everyone who helped out. In any way. It was the grass roots movements of the American People that came together the fastest and most efficiently to help out their neighbors. And please, don't stop caring and speaking out. They, along with the outraged American people, they are the ones that stepped up to the plate and are STILL stepping up to the plate. Say what you will about Oprah, but she gave 10 million dollars of her own money and her viewers gave millions more, to help people rebuild lives, and still keeps this story in the forefront because she knows that it is a long, long battle that needs to be fought. The American people, not the politicians, stepped up to the plate to help in this situation. Not the politicians.

When President Clinton lied to The American People, NO ONE DIED- and he was impeached. When President Bush lies to The American People - thousands upon thousands die. Mr. Bush is not protecting the American People. We are not safe under Mr. Bush's regime. In Iraq, in Louisiana, in Mississippi, in Texas and I could go on and on. Americans are not safe and protected under Mr. Bush and his equally as vile cronies.

We need a candidate who doesn't care who they offend in Washington or the DNC, who is a true patriot and outside of the corrupt machine of Washington to step up to the plate and be a voice of the people and then the American people need to care enough, once again, to step up to the plate with that person and rid the country of the political machine that has dragged us down into the Louisiana mud. We join together to help one another in time of crisis. Well, I think we are in a time of crisis and the American people need to take back the power in this country and have our voices heard. Lest someone here fire back and say well, do something about it. I have been. I helped to the best of my abilities when the hurricanes hit and I am still helping. I am working in my community with my neighbors to COME HOME AMERICA and have our voices be heard and make a difference in the political machine. Are you?

from laura in florida

Hello, I always enjoy Charles' work; however, this soapbox (Jan) I'm sorry to say seems somewhat ostentatious.

Good luck! I look forward to revisiting your site. Regards, Laura

from theresa in colorado

First let me say I agree with your thoughts completely. Being a staunch, lifelong Democrat, I can't help but wonder what has happened to the party. The leadership of the party has completely disappeared. The Republicans have handed the Democrats numerous opportunities to stand up.

For example: Plume-gate. Once it was revealed that the identity of a covert CIA agent was leaked from within the administration, Mr. Bush stood in front of the media and said emphatically that who ever leaked this information would be fired and be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Then, once it was revealed that Karl Rove could have been the possible source of the leak, Mr. Bush doesn't seem to remember ever making the first statement about firing the source of the leak. Did they not think that revealing her identity not only put her AND her family in great danger, but what about all of the people she had contact with?

When a Democrat (Ted Kennedy) does stand up and play "hard ball" with the Republicans, he is assaulted by the "liberal media" for it. I have to admit, it was a breath of fresh air to see his questioning of Mr. Alito. I was hopeful that someone would make him give an answer, let alone an honest answer to a question, any question. Also, I would like to know who coached Mrs. Alito on her performance during the questioning (which was almost award worthy). Did she not realize, that as part of the public life that her husband chose to enter, he would have to face some pretty tough questions?

I stop and look at what has happened here since the current administration has taken office. I have to shake my head and wonder if no one else has seen what's happened. This administration has to have the greatest routine that I?ve ever seen. It reminds me of the scene from The Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." And amazingly enough, NO ONE DOES PAY ATTENTION!! Over the last 5+ years our freedom and security have rapidly deteriorated, and no one seems to care.

In a democratic government there has to be a political system of checks and balances. This ideology is non-existent because Karl Rove and the Republican Party have played on, played up and exaggerated the fear of terrorism and used that fear to garner electoral votes. Is the threat real? Of course! Can Mr. Bush and the Republican Party guarantee our safety? Absolutely not!! Unfortunately the Democratic Party is not any better, because instead of standing up to the bullying tactics of Karl Rove and the Republican Party, they don't present a strong, solid front and when they do react to something it's generally a very weak response.

Because the Republican Party controls both the House and the Senate, Mr. Bush seems to think that he can bulldoze over the rights of citizens to achieve his agenda and make America "safe" which is a ridiculous illusion. If the House and/or the Senate were in the hands of the Democrats, Mr. Bush would be forced to cooperate and compromise. This is a situation that he has not had to face. The last 5+ years have not been easy for America; the last two years should not be easy for him!

If 9/11 had happened on a Democratic watch, Congressional hearings would have happened immediately because the "outraged" Republicans would have demanded that the President and intelligence agencies be held accountable.

If the issue of wiretapping happened under a Democratic President, he would be up on treasonous charges (compounded with the issues surrounding the terrorists attack/threats) so fast, Tom Delay's hairpiece would spin.

Finally, can you imagine how outraged people like Trent Lott would be, taking a Democratic President to task for not responding and aiding the citizens of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita?

from jennifer in ohio

As a registered Democrat I feel a need to address this problem. It?s one that has been weighing on my mind since well before the last presidential election.

Continuing the football analogy, yes, the Democrats have fumbled the ball and we could use some good draft picks and free agents to make the team a winner again. That?s going to take time. The problems didn?t just sprout up on 9/11. The failure of the Democrats in the Congressional elections in 1994 and 1998 were key factors. Losing the majorities in both houses forced President Clinton to work in an atmosphere of compromise and weakness while somehow still holding this nation together and even strengthening it. Even further back one can point to the election of Ronald Reagan and the emergence of the Fundamentalist Right as factors that have led to today?s problems. I don?t think many people took this movement as seriously as they should have. I could go yet another step backward and point out that as the Democratic Party aided African Americans in the Civil Rights struggle in the 1960s and the fight for a woman?s right to privacy and equality the White Southern wing of the party was most unhappy. They were the ones that became the ?Democrats for Reagan? and eventually left the party.

Does this mean that we should never stand up for the rights of the oppressed? Or, as some have suggested, become more like the Republican Party to bring in larger numbers? I don?t think so. At least, that is not a party that I would want to be a part of. However, I believe that Democrats can learn from Republicans. The Republican Party had been in a long standing minority and went after every Achilles? heel that the Democrats had, whether right or wrong. They knew that the key was to just keep pointing out every weakness.

That is what the Democrats must do. No one in the opposition should be allowed to get a free pass through the next election. Every issue that has come up must be addressed. First, going back to the Congressional elections in the 1990s, many of the Republicans who ran and won did so with a platform of term limits saying that they would serve for two terms and leave. Well, tick tock, time is up. Anyone still in Congress who said that needs to be asked why he/she has failed to live up to the very first promise he/she made. Second, if character is indeed an important factor in elected people, the words Enron, Halliburton, Abramoff, WMDs, domestic spying, FEMA, health care, gasoline, and most importantly, ethics should be words heard night after night not just on national news but on local news as well.

The opinion polls have shown that Americans are unhappy with the record and performance of this administration. They also have shown that people have no faith in the government as it now exists. Democrats need to get a bigger bullhorn and let their voices be heard. Today?s American society is a culture conformity, anxiety, and blind obedience to the status quo. In the 1960s and 1970s it took brave people to stand up and say that it was time for a change and I believe we have reached that point again. A whole generation has grown up not knowing how to fight for a cause and it?s time that the Democratic Party showed them the way. Names like Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Betty Freidan, and Margaret Sanger, along with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy have to be more than just pages in a history book. They need to be seen as people who saw a problem and tried to fix it.

All of this reminds me of the turn from the Republicans to the Democrats in the first election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. The country was in The Great Depression. The Republican Party was no longer the party of Lincoln. Too many years of not addressing the needs of the poor and the middle class had finally angered many and years of Jim Crow laws had finally worn down African Americans. In that election, the idea was presented that since the Republican Party no longer seemed to be the party of Lincoln it was time to turn that picture to the wall and vote Democrat.

None of this will be easy and there will be mistakes made along the way, but the most important thing is to get people motivated and thinking that change is possible. Each of us must believe that the fight can and will be won. I firmly believe that we?ve succeeded before and we will again.

from maria in massachusetts

Let me start by saying that I am no Bush Fan. I never voted for a Bush and never would. Besides his feelings on Iraq there is much about the policies of this administration that I question and look forward, with hope in my heart, to 2 years from now when "Hail to the Chief" will be played to honor another. However I would be a bit na?ve to think that Mr. Bush is the first US President to have used "spy" tactics, even on private citizens, to protect the United States and its citizens. I live within walking distance of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and if eaves-dropping on telephone conversations, or reading private E mail will squash terrorist plots to blow up Seabrook, then power to our Government. I love my family, my home, this beautiful seacoast area, my neighbors, I love my life and hope and pray that our Government will do everything in its power to protect all of it.

This area has long been a magnet for immigrants. From the late 1800's to the present, people have left their homelands to start new lives here. These nationalities have melted together to form a strong community, one where they are free to express themselves, free to disagree (even with our political leaders), free to vote, free to worship, free to start their own businesses, and welcome the educational opportunities available to their children. If things in this country were as bad as some want to portray, do you think that some of the new immigrants would have risked their lives and the lives of their children to get here? I think not! And I base my observations and opinions not on what some have called propaganda fed us by our media, but based on everyday interactions and conversations with some of our newer citizens. Many of you know me to be outspoken and quick to offer my opinion on certain topics, I am the same whether addressing a Town Meeting or a State Senate Sub-Committee and I have never been asked to sit down and to keep my opinions to myself.

from JoAnn in new jersey

I am coming here to the Soapbox as an American, and a moderate Republican who leans to the right on most issues. That in itself makes me very different from most of the Soapbox readers and responders. I don't think that it's just the Democrats who need to stand up and be's ALL Americans who are unhappy with the corruption and nonsense that goes on within the Capitol Beltway. Our political system has become a prestigious job for the wealthy, who can use their own money to finance a campaign, and then supplement that money by prostituting themselves to lobbyists, special interest groups, and big business....including being partial to the "big business" that made them wealthy in the first place, which is only human nature. This is a BIPARTISAN problem, not a problem of "this administration". refer to the Bush 43 administration as "scandal ridden"??? Yes...they ALL have been in the past 50 years, and that's just in my lifetime. Have we forgo tten Whitewater, Monica-gate, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Warren Commission, the rumors of LBJ's hand in JFK's murder, Marilyn Monroe's suspicious death, Chappaquidick?? Politics as stands now INVITES scandal, back room deals, calling in "favors" to cover up a mess you've made, and making a business of placating and paying-back those who financed your campaign. Decent, moral, upstanding citizens can't afford to run for office, and even if it was possible...don't want to compromise their integrity in that big cesspool. It's the SYSTEM that is flawed.....and it all boils down to money and power.

I'm also a little baffled why I'm hearing everyone from everyday people to members of Congress talking about how we are a "great Democracy". America is NOT a's a REPUBLIC. The framers of the Constitution designed our government to be run by a select group of representatives who would be elected by the people...intending for that select group to be the most upstanding, moral citizens of stellar reputation, whose job would be to know the Constitution inside and out, and insure that it was followed. This would allow the people (many of whom, at the time, were struggling to start farms and build businesses) to concentrate on THEIR jobs without having to vote day in and day out on all manner of trivial business, and to prevent dissension among neighbors at every turn. At the time, there were 13 sparsely populated states.....maybe it is not the proper way to do things now, and America may need to rethink that. But, this is NOT a democracy...if it were, Al G ore would have been elected President in 2000. President Bush won the electoral college vote....and I think it's very unfair to compare that with Hitler using tryanny and oppression to be the leader after he had lost. If you are unhappy that Mr. Gore lost that election(and that whole mess with the hanging chads on ballots sure didn't help that situation).....then lobby to have the electoral college stopped so that our President can be elected by popular vote, like the other politicians are. Winning the electoral college vote does NOT mean that he stole the election from Al means that the rules of Presidential election were followed.

While I voted for President Bush both times, I am not 100% happy with every decision he has made, with everything that has come out of Washington, or with some of the people he has placed in important positions. However, I feel that the blame that has been put on the man is bordering on the ridiculous lately, and some of it defies logic. Yes, Pres. Bush was in power on 9/11, and our nation should have been more aware of the threat. However, the 9/11 terrorists had spent YEARS infiltrating our country, living in our towns, working in our offices, and training in our flight schools. I can't even put the blame on Bill Clinton, as it may have been already occuring during Bush 41. Our national security messed up big time, and it trickles down to the people who knew something was going on with those late night meetings in their neighbors' apartments, lived with the smell of bomb-making chemicals in their neighborhoods, and who took cash under the table to teach men to tak e off and land, but had no desire for lessons in landing those planes. Hindsight is 20/20, and those who had contact with the terrorists beforehand and had suspicions, will have to live with that knowledge, and hopefully will never make that mistake again. Also, in my mind, it defies logic that during Hurricane Katrina, Pres Bush followed the procedures set by our government...allowing the mayor of NOLA and the governor of Louisiana to act and appeal to the federal government for help. While I understand the desperation of the people, there was outrage and outcry that Pres. Bush should have circumvented the system and taken control. More recently, given our war on terror and the increasing problems in the Middle East, he has made statements that he will be the final authority on issues....and the outcry against that is just as loud. I, too, agree that the rules of government should be followed so that one man does not have power of ultimate authority.....but I also expec t ed those rules to apply during the Hurricane. It boggles my mind(and I watched it happen!!) that Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco have escaped with no political punishment over that mess. Both of them sure knew where those poor victims lived when it was time to take them by bus, van and car to the voting booth....then "forgot" they were there when the floods came? But, I digress, and I assume that there will be another Soapbox soon focusing on the hurricanes.

This brings me to my final thought....Charlie, you mentioned that the Democrats feel "silenced" for fear of being called "unpatriotic". Well, honey, welcome to MY world. Freedom of speech has paved the way for all sorts of perverse, immoral, and obscene words and pictures to appear in the world...and when I exercise MY freedom of speech to complain or respond to the situation...I am "politically incorrect", "intolerant", and am "forcing my agenda down your throat". Doesn't feel very good, does it?

Thanks you for the opportunity to present my views, and thanks to our brave men and women in the military(especially a certain sergeant who came to see you in 'Camelot') for the freedom to be able to speak.

from fiorella in new york

Can I just say how sick and tired I am of having my country dumped on by peoples of other nations? The comparison to Hitler, imperialistic regimes, comparisons to impoverished European cities, making us sound like we, the citizens of the US are being spied on and bullied and intimidated into believing things that are not true because we are constantly being forced fed propaganda!! Come on people, gimme a break!!!

First of all, not to defend the current boob in residence at the White House, (we all know of his failures and shortcomings) but he is /was spying on people with ties to known terrorist activities. To assume that our government has not used spying tactics in the past is na?ve. How else is the government supposed to know what?s going on? It?s not as if the terrorists will take out an ad in the paper ?Hey! Tomorrow we are going to blow up this or that bridge!? I say let him spy on anybody he sees fit, as long as everything is done within his power to ensure that the country is not attacked again. If he does nothing, he?s considered weak and asleep at the helm; if he exercises what power he does have, he?s compared to one of the most maniacal men in history (Hitler!!)?. I am sorry, but I don?t see the logic there?

Unlike other countries where people fear for their lives on a day-to-day basis, without a glimmer of hope for a free future, our country?s current Presidential term will end in approximately two years. And we begin, as a free society, to elect a new leader. Whether we choose someone whose ideals and values mirrors this president will depend on the voters. It all comes down to the power of the vote. It?s very easy to criticize the leaders of our lands (and by this I refer to all people elected to public office?from city council to mayors, from senators to governors, and to Presidents and congress) without bothering to get out there and vote.

Our country may not be perfect, and yes, we have flawed human beings in power, but never, not for a moment, believe that its citizens do not have a say, a voice, an opinion and every right to express them freely. And for those of you living abroad: we are very aware of the damage our current leader has done to our global reputation and we DO protest?loudly?at every possible opportunity. Need proof? I invite you to visit New York City's Union Square any day of the week!

from susanne in austria

A sword always cuts both ways, so let's recap the flip-side of the coin:
President Bush came into power although the majority of the people did not vote for him. So did Hitler.
President Bush has used the same propaganda to seek support for his crusade over and over again after 9/11. So did Hitler.
President Bush has lied to his own people and manipulated the media to start a war under false pretences against a people that has never threatened the USA. So did Hitler.
President Bush has made it clear in the past that every country that does not support his "cause" is automatically against the US. So has Hitler.
Hundreds of Muslims are imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without having ever seen a court room from the inside. Iraqi prisoners have been humiliated, tortured and tormented in Abu Ghoraib at least in the past. Several Iraqi prisoners have found death in prison in mysterious ways. Auschwitz, Dachau and Mauthausen are the names of the concentration camps which have gained notoriety after WWII.
President Bush has Americans spied on and wiretapped, ultimately invading their privacy, and gathers personal information of people worldwide for a huge reference database. So did Hitler with NSDAP files.
President Bush calls his countrymen who oppose his agenda unpatriotic. So did Hitler and got rid of them.
Other nations bow humbly before the US and its president, for they fear their wrath if they oppose. So did the Austrians when they were annexed by the Germans in 1938.

President Bush picks randomly nations that pose an immediate threat to the US and attacks them. He would have had the choice to attack North Korea, which does have nuclear weapons and has threatened the USA, instead of Iraq but he decided for diplomacy in this case. Right, how many oil reserves does North Korea have again? The US claim they are liberating Iraq but at the same time they are establishing a dozen of military bases there to use them as a base to control the Middle East later on. All under the guise of counter-terrorism, of course. To me this shows clearly signs of pursuing imperialistic politics. So did Hitler's plans.

Now, despite these few comparisons I am not saying that Bush plays in the same league as Hitler. Nor am I accusing any other American of being a Nazi. Let's not forget that Hitler had whole peoples and groups euthanised, shot and burnt for their ethnical background, political believes, medical conditions or sexual preferences. However if you stop a minute and think about it, these are an awful lot of analogies to a totalitarian regime above...for a *free* democracy. Isn't it about time that we really wake up and begin to question our political leaders again? Not just in the United States, but in the European Union as well. Time, that we stand up and hold them responsible for everything they do in our names with our tax dollars for the good of our countries respectively? If our political representatives can't do it on their own anymore, then we have to make our voice heard and remind them again who is the boss in a democracy.

from andrea in florida

Hi Charlie, I read your letter, and I have to say that I can't believe that no politician, Democrat or Republican, once to stand up and fight for America. What happened on 9/11 is still very fresh in my mind, and it makes me very angry. I'm even more angry that our President or anyone else in power wants to step up and do something about it.

When President Bush was talking to the Rescuers at "Ground Zero" and said that he would make whoever was responsible "pay." What happen?? Bush let everyone down. Bin Laden is still calling the shots and I'm almost positive that another location in America has been targeted for an attack, when, where, and how bad are the questions.

COME ON, SOMEBODY!!!! Stand up and fight for OUR country!!!!!! Don't let Bin Laden think he got the best of us and he can do it again whenever the thought strikes his sick mind. Let's get in the fight, guys!!! Like the Nike slogan says: "JUST DO IT."

RaeLynn from California

for one, would you rather ur privacy be invaded? or ur security be invaded? I personally would let them do whatever they want just to keep me safe. especially since we are in a war. I have nothing to hide, and I bet you don't either, so why would you care? Oh, and could I just point out that ALL the wars that have happened b4 this one in this nation's history, were ALL started by democrats. look it up if you wish. Oh, and all of them were ENDED by republicans. I am neither republican nor democrat. I don't believe in the party system. I believe it seperates the country into 2 and it's not a true democracy because face it, you CAN NOT win if you don't belong to a party because you have those irresponsible people who just vote for whatever party they are, and don't even bother to listen to their views. The person who can run this country is most likely independent, but can't win, cuz no1 will hear them out. you can only win if ur a repulican or a democrat. how is that a democracy? but that's a different issue. I do believe in this war on terrorism. no, not "war with iraq." it's war on terrorism. we're their to get the terrorists out, not to just kill iraqis. And could I also say that this war has like no casualities compared to the other wars. adn people, THE PEOPLE SIGN UP TO BE IN THE MILITARY! THIS IS THEIR JOB! The majority of the country wants us there. It's the evil media that is turning the whole thing upside down to make the small minority (which is the same minority who supported wonder they hate us) look like the majority. Because to the media, there is no such thing of good news. It all has to be bad. So they do whatever they can to make it bad news.

Let me give you an example. OK, Hitler wasn't doing anything to us. He wasn't coming over to America or anything. He was just destroying Europe. So, if hitler was in now-a-days, these liberals would be saying, "Don't get in their business! It's none of our business!" OK, well, what do u think woulda have happened if we were to just let hitler go about his business, murdering all those people. He would have destroyed ALL of Europe, then he would have eventually got bored with just ruling all of Europe and then try to come over to this side of the world an try to take over this side, and then wipe our this whole nation. He was a dictator. Most dictator's goals are to soon rule the world. So, if we were to just let the terrorist groups (which i view as the nazis) they would have wiped out the middle east, and so on. Wake up hippies!! There are sick creeps out in the world!! we can't just sit there and watch everything happen and watch innocent people suffer!! That would be sick on our part! Saddam would seriously, walk out onto the street and shoot random people for target practice. and that's not wrong?!?! we shouldn't get involved?!? If the people there don't like us, then how come they are STILL celebrating about saddam being outta power, and how come they were SOOOOO happy with us there at the begginig when they pulled down the statue of saddam. I think that the reason why we haven't had another terrorist attack is cuz we're doing something. I bet you ANYTHING that if we were to just look at 9/11 and just ignore it, our country would have so many disasters cuz the terrorists will think that we have no power. and that it would be sooo easy to destroy us. think about it. just PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE people, WAKE UP! Please don't make all your decisions and all your views based on the media! the media is evil!! Think, can you remember a time where you heard good news on a news station? It doesn't exist in the news room. They twist things to make them look bigger. A good example is of that ! one news lady who was sitting in a canoe in a flood, and everyone was thinking, "wow, that's a pretty big flood since she is in a canoe." but then 5 seconds later these two guys go walking through it right in front of her and the water only came up to their ankles. see how easy it is to believe something that's not true? Just please, WAKE UP!!!! Do you really want another 9/11? Think about the families of the people who lost their lives on that day. just...wake up.

from emily in louisiana

To my new friend in Holland I would like to extend a sincere gesture of understanding/ "i feel your pain" at the frustration you feel with Bush's criticism of the actions of other countries for things he would be or has been guilty of himself given the right set of circumstances or should he decide that it is justified. That is the "American way" these days (and to be completely honest, has been to some to degree in the past just never as blatantly so) in the person of GW Bush. His imperious attitude borders on narcissism and the effects of his regime are beginning to make this country anything BUT the "land of the free and home of the brave". Not only are we not truly free to speak our minds, but instead feel completely intimitated when pointing out absolute truths that the powers that be would have us remain ignorant of, more to the point too many are giving in to fear of terrorism to the point of sacrificing the freedom we're supposed to be fighting to defend in Iraq and other chosen parts of the world. Thanks for your words of encouragement to speak up and fight the good fight. The ranks of those willing to do so are beginning to grow, though in a journey of a thousand miles I'm afraid we've only taken a few awkward baby steps.

from carmen in holland

After I read your soapbox, I only thought one thing: I couldn't agree with you more.

You know I've been amazed with the American politics after Bush became president. He (and his government) seem to think, that everybody has to do as they please. And you know what the strange thing is, everybody seems to do exactly that and I'm not just talking about the Democrats now, but also about the rest of the world. Almost every country in Europe and other continents seem to do what America wants.

Bush and his government have gotten away with so many things. If any other country would have done these things, Bush and his government would have been the first to say, that this country couldn't get away with these kind of things and yet Bush himself CAN get away with these things, how weird is that!!

OUR GOVERNMENTS (and especially Bush and his government)have made us so scared of terrorists attacks, that the terrorists have really gotten what they wanted (without doing anything), a whole world scared to death off them and that can not be what we want.

So I think it's time for people, from the Democrats to the rest of the world, to speak their minds and not to put up with everything. I heard on the news this morning that America itself is in bad shape and the only thing that matters is the War on Terrorism. About 80% from America doesn't want Bush as their president anymore and I've stopped counting all the protests, that have been in the rest off the world against Bush and his government so why is everything still going as they please???

The last thing I've heard is that America is still a democracy, so I really thought that this was possible in the States too. It's a shame people are not using this possibilty!!

So everybody let your voice be heard and let your government know when you disagree. I'm glad I live in a country where this is possible, where you actually get heard!!

Thank you for letting us speak our minds!!!

from jenn in canada

My sole remaining grandparent is an elderly woman in her mid eighties. She grew up in the Ukraine under the communist rule of the USSR where it was dictated how people must act, what opinions were appropriate, who got assistance from the government and who didn't. Ordinary people feared they were being spied on, the rule of the judiciary mirrored the policies of the government and rights to a fair trial could be waved at the will of the political leaders. Public disagreement with the government could get you declared an enemy of the state or worse. Disproportionate numbers of the population were poor and living in substandard housing and had little or no access to quality healthcare. Natural disasters, social problems, wars and political strife all took their toll on the USSR and it's territories.

I recently asked my grandmother what she likes about our system of government in Canada. She replied that she loves the fact that ordinary people can have a say and make a difference. She can think whatever she wants and it's okay to write or phone her member of Parliament to complain or express an opinion so he or she can tell the Prime Minister what she said. Grandma has actually received replies from high level politicians who took the time to listen to her.

Sounds simple enough. If you aren't happy or want something done, speak up and someone will listen. More importantly though, if you think your government is doing something wrong, it's not only okay to say so, but it's encouraged in this country. Just like the British, our Parliament can be a free for all session of yelling members of the House of Commons. We can turn on our televisions or visit the public gallery on Parliament Hill and see politicians from all four officially recognized federal parties challenging each other to live up to their promises or to act in the best interests of the people who elected them. Yes, on occasion the Speaker of the House has to step in and calm things down a little and sometimes debates can drag on or get ridiculous but we all agree that it's important to hear and consider different viewpoints so that Canadians can get the best results possible from our government. Wise, compassionate, efficient and effective government is something every citizen of the world wants. It doesn't always happen. No government is perfect but at least here we haven't given up striving for our ideals.

So why has the world's largest democratic country, our neighbour to the south, become so politically dysfunctional? Why does my grandmother's description of life under the rule of the USSR in the mid 1930's bear odd similarities to politics in the USA today? A President who declares that he has the last word on everything? A ruling party that forbids dissention among it's ranks and bars those who aren't members from attending it's public events. A bill to permit spying on it's people is on the verge of becoming law. American citizens who protest or even speak out about disagreeing with the government stand on Iraq are shouted down, ostracized or called unpatriotic. Poor, ill or disadvantaged people find themselves under served or ignored with alarming and increasing regularity and anyone who doesn't fit the 1950's stereotype of the bible fearing All American man and woman may not be welcome in America anymore.

There's been a lot of talk in the USA lately about Enemies of Freedom. I just hope that through their misguided actions and inaction, the politicians and citizens of the USA don't become their own worst enemies by allowing the failure of a once great system of government. Maybe it's time to think about the wisdom of Grandma. Speak up and be heard. Work together. Hopefully things will start to get better.

from harriet in new jersey

I live in Republican country here in Northern New Jersey. I saw what they did to Clinton, they rendered him unable to govern, of course, one could say he made it easy. I am frightened that I will not see another Democratic president in my lifetime.

Bush is never challenged by an idea, he believes, he does not think. The lack of government response to the horrors of a hurricaine that killed so many, the wounded in the Middle East, the health threats here in our own country, point to a government that is only supportive of the individuals who directly benefit from it.

Thank you for letting me speak out.

from emily in louisiana

What can one say, except that you are, indeed, too right on the money here. I spent a great deal of time Friday and will again today calling various Democratic Senators imploring them to join with John Kerry and others to filibuster Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court. My overriding plea to their clerks manning the phones was "when are the Democrats going to quit laying down" to the Republican machine. How can they continue to not be smart and continue playing right into the hands of the Republicans. How many times do these things have to unfold for them to finally, someday, "get it".

Right now, the Republicans, various conservative ideologues and the general media are decrying the efforts of the few Democrats attempting this filibuster. These people are repeatedly saying what a ridiculous move it would be mount a filibuster. And if these people continue to say this often enough and loud enough, everyone, INCLUDING THE DEMOCRATS, will fall in line lock step believing the same. That's exactly what 'THEY' would have us do, people!!

I've been so frustrated with the performance of the Democrats -- yes, I was one of those who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 -- but don't tell me that I elected Bush by doing so. I digress; one other point I would like to make regarding the lack of a backbone of the Democrats and how easily they allow themselves to be cowed by the Republicans and the mass media. The very idea that we (Dems) allowed ourselves to be run rough shod over by the media and Republicans regarding Mrs. Alito crying at the Judiciary Committee interview of her husband. The very idea that Lindsey Graham sat there and apologized to Alito himself for what he had gone through that day. My God, why are we apologizing to this man who is given the great opportunity and HONOR to be there that day, for consideration of one of THE most powerful positions in the most powerful country in the world. The word power engenders the idea of toughness -- you better be tough to take on this role, and I AM SORRY, being a sensitive female myself, that Mrs. Alito felt like crying, (no one made her) but she should long ago have known what was involved in this process and in this appointment.

But, then of course, we had various political pundits, Chris Matthews even, carrying on about how awful Ted Kennedy was in his questioning of Alito that day. Ted Kennedy, being a tough guy indeed, gets assaulted for playing tough politics. Tough politics, imagine that....

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