Charlie's latest musings on the California recall . . .September, 2003

A lot of you have written and asked what I think of the recall happening in my home state. So here is my five cents worth on the California Recall. First, I think a recall for anything less than unacceptably immoral or unethical behavior is plain wrong and dangerous. What kind of precedent are we setting here that we can elect someone to office and then, because some of us don't like it, collect a few signatures on a petition and try again?!

You know I would give anything to have a different President right now, nor do I believe he was legally elected (the Supreme Court's actions having impeached itself) but even I would draw the line at some kind of petitioned "recall" just because I didn't like what he was doing.

Elections are the sacred bedrock of this Constitution and we are playing with fire when we disregard them so easily. Having said that, I agree that Gray Davis has been less than effective. But I also believe he was targeted by the Energy Industry and Dick Cheney as a vulnerable Democratic Governor in a State that they would dearly like to own. The fact that Enron executives, who have since been convicted of illegal market manipulation, were closeted with the Vice President in secret meetings only months before the California Energy crisis erupted, leads me to suspect more than just a cozy chat over bagels and coffee. Particularly as the Vice President seems determined to go to his grave protecting the secrecy of those meetings. So what are we left with now? A staggering field of equally unqualified and opinionated bozos. California is once again the fodder for Late Night Talk Show hilarity and we, it's citizens, the bearers of an unnecessary and costly bill. I would urge any right-minded Democrat or Republican to put sanity and Constitutionality before partisan opportunism and vote NO on the recall. Next election, sling Gray Davis out of office and onto the slag heap of ineffectual Political has-beens alongside Dukakis and Quayle.

But so long as we are determined to follow this idiotic path, let me give you my opinions on the clowns we have. Of all of them, I think Ariana Huffington would make the most innovative and interesting Governor, but she has no experience in practical politics and has no chance anyway. Bustamante is caught between a rock and a hard place because he cannot criticize the man he is running against (Davis) unlike everyone else, and yet will be associated with him. As for Arnold, the only serious challenger, . . .this is truly scary. He is a bad actor who projected some charisma when trained to spout mono-syllabic sound bites in a cute Austrian accent. Why is he going to be any different as a politician. PULEEEASE!!! This whole thing is just one more distraction from the real battle at hand, and, once again, we have fallen for it and will allow the Bush White House to settle in for another four years and gather Sacramento into its fold at the same time. It really does make me very angry.

As always, I welcome your thoughts whether you agree with me or not.

Here is what you had to say. These are your opinions, that you have written in, as a reaction to what I have written above. I encourage you to use this forum to have your voices heard. . . .

From Mark in California -- late response to recall thoughts. . .

Charles,

I read your opinions last fall re: the recall and decided against responding or sharing.... although I agree with them 100 percent. How could I not, as I am a 4th grade school teacher in one of LA's poorest neighborhoods.

Now that the dust has settled and we are learning more about Governor Arnold's problem-solving abilities, Dick Cheney's mafia-like business persona, and our President's never-ending ability to make fiscal, social, and political situations worse, I find myself wishing that your comments had been better circulated last fall. Your comments were honest and convincing. They probably would have educated many thousands who can't find the local op-ed section of the newspaper, but can locate anything with a website. Today, despite Washington's "No Child Left Behind" programs and our new governor's pledge to save public ed., I am watching class sizes grow rapidly, programs to promote English literacy for children of poverty disappear, and recognizing the likelihood that these situations will not be handled by the gentlemen in office.

I am a lifelong SoCal resident who has seen some really awful public-policy in the last 25 years, but being a school teacher, my sphere of influence is mostly with hungry nine and ten year olds. Your face is easily recognized, your voice is strong, and I understand you are now a US citizen. Any chance of your taking your political voice to a larger audience?

Please let me say that I enjoy your role on "The Nanny" and the sense of humor you bring to "Stanley", (remember-- I work with kids).

Best of luck and keep your commentary out there.


From Emily in New York -- The California Recall. . .

Wow. Yeah, that's my response to your views on the California Recall, the Cheney/Enron connection, the need to get Bush out of the White House. Why the one word response of Wow? -- because your "soap box" comments invoked absolute shock from me.

I never knew who your were til I was home in Louisiana at Christmas nursing a broken heart and watching TV all night long for several nights (including Christmas Eve and Christmas night) and not having cable TV was forced (I'm ashamed to say) to watch The Nanny. The only TV I watch is a few select sitcoms, old movies, PBS and Law and Order. Thus, I had never seen The Nanny before. Fell in love with the show, besides being charmed by Fran Drescher, found myself enamored w/ Mr. Sheffield. The strongest "draw" was your delivery of lines being so reminiscent of Cary Grant -- and later I came to realize that you bear a strong resemblance to an old beau of mine.

I digress. On a whim I decided to try to find some information about you on the internet and found your website.

Now to the point: I'm just blown away by your opinions stated above. I am a social and political activist (now nursing a broken spirit after campaigning for Howard Dean -- but proud that he gave the Democrats some guts and a voice to people like me) and just never imagined that "Mr Sheffield" would have such strong, well-stated and similar opinions as myself. Just gives me a good feeling to know that there are people out there everywhere who feel as I do about the state of our country. I also read your holiday message from 2002 and your hopes that people wouldn't close up in fear after the Trade Center bombings and forget all the other, also far reaching, problems we still face each day. I recently moved to upstate New York from Louisiana and though I miss my family and the true uniqueness the state has to offer it's nice to be away from the good ole' boy south I never really belonged in.

I feel like I found a "little hidden treasure" upon discovering the soap box feature on your website. I look forward to your upcoming discourses.

Pleasantly surprised to find that you're not "just another pretty face"!


From Kristi in Minnesota -- advice from a Minnesotan to a Californian on the recall. . .

Hi Charles,

Hope its okay to call you that. :) I am a fan, (duh!) and I have been perusing your website of late and came across your "soapbox" section where I read your "5 cents" on the California Recall. Thanks for some of that info, on its circumstances, I would sit in front of the tv going, "huh?" Anyhow, I just thought I would offer some advice from one state with a Governor from Predator to another: (and recently SNL just pointed that fact out!)

It won't be as bad as you think. Yeah, Cali will be the butt of jokes for a while, but soon it will quiet down and fade into mildly entertaining pop-culture factology that will appear in some deluxe edition of Trivial Pursuit.

We were fortunate in that Jesse Ventura had already had some political experience, serving a term as Mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN where he pulled it out of the dumpster reforming education and crime in the area. He won all his campaigns using only his personal money to fund them, never using our tax payers dollars. Jesse was a hot head, but he knew what he was talking about and refused to take part in mud-slinging at anyone.

Jesse came into the Governor's seat and did everything he said he would, fixed what he needed to fix, and left after one term as he promised. He has done much better than our current idiot of a governor Tim Pawlenty who most recently passed a bill legalizing the right to conceal weapons, and is now lobbying for the death penalty.

So, back to my advice, at least Ahhhnold can't really do much more damage than has already been done, and there should be enough of a system of checks and balances in place to keep him from unleashing the four horsemen of the apocolypse.

I say, just let it run its course, and at least Maria Shriver is there, she's a Kennedy and knows politics. I'd be willing to bet she's the real Governor of Cali, not Arnold. All the best wishes as you start the new year, and break a leg in whatever project you work on next!!


From Cathy in Idaho. . .In re: California recall. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

Although it has been several months since the recall, I'm just now reading the opinion piece you put forth on and am compelled to reply. I am not as well-versed in California politics as one living there (I am a self-identified Minnestoan living in Idaho), but am inclined to agree with you and would rather have seen Mr. Davis ousted after legitimate full service of his term.

I was appalled - though not surprised - to see the voters of California put Arnold Schwarzenegger into office. That people were either so frustrated with the status quo or taken by the "movie star" ideal that Arnold seemed an apt choice is disheartening to me.

In this critical election year, I hope that we, the voters of the United States of America, will *not* allow a Bush second term and will evict the current resident of the White House.

I am a big fan of your work, and to be able to come to your website and see your "real life" and read your thoughts on various subjects gives me all the more cause to respect and admire you as a person and not just an actor.


From Michelle -- Recall. . .

I definitely will agree to disagree with you. I don't have first hand knowledge of the events in California but I've tried to keep up to date. I understand California is in a terrible financial status and I don't believe Gray Davis was the person to improve those conditions but only added to the problem.

California relied heavily on internet based businesses and many of those failed in the bad economy. The state government also failed to put aside the surplus as a safety net. Not many states did that but for those that have it has turned out to be a blessing in hard times. I also am aware there are many business taxes and these taxes are so expensive and outrageous, companies are moving elsewhere.

The majority of California citizens agreed with the recall and were happy to see it happen. No, recalls shouldn't be attempted on a whim, but I believe there were many valid reasons to recall Gray Davis. I do agree I have some reservations about Arnold S. However, I'd be willing to give him a chance and it seems the voters in California have faith in his ability. I also want to see the Bush administration in office for another four years. I appreciate the steps Bush has taken to protect our country's freedom and I feel proud about what's been done since 911.

As Americans we've reached a point in time where we should start to question what is being done in our government. If that elected official is doing a job that is so poor and is depleting resources that are beyond depleting, they should be taken out of office and replaced. If the residents of that state feel it's necessary to remove that official, it is their right as a citizen to recall and replace. It is my sincere wish that the senate of California drop their petty differences and form a good working relationship with Arnold S and work to rebuild California. Best of luck in your career. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


From Julie in West Virginia -- Reply about the recall. . .

First off, let me say that I am a fan of yours, and that won't change due to differing opinions. I don't necessarily agree with actors using their status to project their political views, but I applaud you greatly for opening up these discussions and allowing everyone else's opinion to be heard as well.

Ok, I have to admit...I don't really care about politics. I understand that I probably should, but I just don't. Debates, arguments, and petty squabbles just aren't my thing. And since I am also not a resident of California...I don't know enough about all that happened with the recall to be qualified to form an opinion of any sort. However, when I read what you had to say about Arnold...I was more amused than anything. "He is a bad actor who projected some charisma when trained to spout mono-syllabic sound bites in a cute Austrian accent." Well, Mr. Shaughnessy...I must ask you this: do you honestly not think that part of YOUR acting charisma comes from your "cute British accent?" As a female, I can assure you that it does, and I found that statement to be a little bit...hypocritical?

I also don't believe that a person's career, be it actor or anything else, has anything at all to do with their political ability. I've heard Arnold speak, and I believe that he is a genuinely good man who means well. The same goes for George W. Bush.

I'm sorry that this reply sounds somewhat mean, that was not my intention. Once again, I thank you and applaud you for the interest you show in the opinions of your fans. God bless you and your family.


From Koba in Europe -- Political Frustration. . .

Hi Charles,

incidently I found your statement concerning the Californian elections. As an "old european" it's good to see, that there are actualy people in the US that DO think. Sometime I tend to think that there are only nitwits living in the US, sueing firms for not having warned that you shouldn't dry your dog in a microwave, not kissing thei children because one could prospect childabuse and electing actors because of a nice smile (no offense). Shortly ago I saw an interview with a woman who stated "Bush is our president, so we have to support him, but wait the elections...". I realy hope that there are more people who will vote diferent then than they talk now. But, by the way: if US-Americans are that supportive toward their leaders, why not in California?


From Sharon in Jackson, Mississippi -- California Recall. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

Congratulations on becoming an American citizen. I understand that it is a long and difficult process (one that probably most of us who were born here couldn't pass). I admire anyone who loves this country so much that they would essentially forsake the land of their birth in order to become a citizen. Bravo!

I read your update about the recall election in California. I agree that we are treading dangerously when we are allowed "do-over" elections. There are many I would have liked to recall. However, the only way to prevent another recall election from taking place in the future would be to amend the California law that allows for recalls. I have no idea how to actually go about amending a state constitution, but in your position I'm certain that you know people who are politically active in your state and would delighted to see things change for the better in California. While our political opinions could not possibly be more polar opposites, I must also agree that having Arnold Schwarzennger as your Governor is a frightening thought.

Just a few things to ponder.

I do enjoy seeing you in the re-runs of "The Nanny" and the occasional Lifetime movie.


From Tina in Mojave, CA -- My Opinion. . .

Hey I just finished reading what u thought about the recall...i know it's late to say this but I'm sorry I have to. What is wrong with you people..."uh...support davis" I am sooo happy arnold won I am only 16 and i could see what some adults couldn't california was going down the drain...I don't know about you, but I love CA and pete wilson had us at a 10 billion dollar surplus...now davis has gotten us 40 billion into the hole. Why do u support him? is that amount not that much to you because it sure as heck is to me. Anyways I would have used ur web site to e-mail u but it wouldn't work. So my name is Christina Lara, 16, and I am from Mojave, CA. (small town about 2 hrs north of LA).I just wanted to say I do agree with you about Pres. Bush...I don't think the election was fair and he needs to get out of office and let someone who understands take over! Pres. Clinton did way better, again we weren't even in debt...anyways I understand ur point of view i guess. I'm guess ur a full blown democrate and just did what u think was right...I am a democrate but when i vote it won't matter, i'll vote for who i think will do the best job and not judge them by their so called "party"


From Anne in Pittsburgh, PA -- Soapbox; California Recall & Election. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

If you're disenchanted in the state of politics in California and have trepidations regarding your new governor elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I would invite "younz," (you and your lovely family), to relocate here, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While we may not have reached "political nirvana" here in Pittsburgh, (or in PA), either, we can at least bask the beauty of the fall foliage and ever changing seasons, savor many traditional ethnic culinary delights, and enjoy the small-town neighborliness of our city. All this while we're taxed to death.

Meanwhile, I ran across this "Top 10" list and thought you might enjoy it. It was written by former Massachusetts governor, Jane Swift. (As written in the "Kennedy School Bulletin," Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.)

"Top 10 Reasons Why Mothers Make the Best Governors"

10. Sometimes legislators just need a good spanking.
9. Cookies, milk, and nap time are powerful tools.
8. Who best to lay down the law?
7. "Do you think Iım made of money?" works like a charm in budget season.
6. If the choice is between children and lobbyists, children always win.
5. Big Labor is no longer intimidating.
4. Taxpayers get more for their money with the multi-tasking talents of mothers.
3. Mothers know the magic word, and itıs not taxes.
2. Thereıs nothing like changing diapers to prepare you for the State House press corps.
And the No. 1 reason why mothers make the best governors:
1. Because I said so, thatıs why.

What's Mrs. Shaughnessy up to these days? :)


From Meredith in Texas -- California Recall. . .

First off let me say that I do not agree with recalls. All a recall is is an easy way out of a problem. Since I am not from California I really don't know what all the "important" details that amounted from Governor Davis' recall, except for what I read in the paper. But I do know that electing Arnold is a mistake. While he has charmed himself into many people's hearts with one line zingers (seriously everyone at one time or another repeated "I'll be back"), his lack of experience will hurt the state of California. His lack of experience allows him to become a perfect puppet for the big guns in Washington. No disrespect to ya'll Californians but I would have elected his wife (Maria Shriver) before I elected him.

Most of you probably could care less about what I have to say, but I've been there. I've lived in a state where a celebrity turned politic, and it was he roughest 4 years of my life. Yeah that's right I lived in Minnesota. Where t-shirts with "My governor can kick your governor's butt" were sold by the hundreds. (Don't worry Californians you'll get t-shirts too) I made a major mistake but I was 18 and it was my first election, my first time I got to vote... it wasn't like learning how to drive where you had someone to help you along the way to inform you of the rules and regulations of driving. It was just dumb commercials about how Jesse V. would be a good governor better than all the rest and all that garbage... but not once in any of those commericals did he one say how he was going to fix the "real issues"... Anyways when election day came, I went down the street to UMD and casted my vote for Jesse V. just like 95% of college age students that were allowed to vote. 95% that's a lot of uneducated voters casting a lot of uneducated votes. Do you know how much got accomplished in the state of MN during his 4 year reign??? neither do I and I lived there. Let me point out that if you were to look at the schools in the Twin Cities (minneapolis and st paul) there a good one here adn there but the majority are horrible. and one of Jesse V's biggest goals... One he worked the hardest on was to get the Twins and the Vikings new playing facalities... Anyways maybe California will be different maybe your celebrity governor will be better, I mean California is a lot bigger than Minnesota (population wise)... But chances aren't good...

Before I go allow me to say this one thing... Some of the best advice I ever got was: "An uneducated voter is worse than a person who doesn't vote..." So if you aren't going to take the time to educate yourself than please don't vote... While it is California's governor, he will play a role in everyone's life...

Charlie I am your biggest fan... one more thing... I'd like to thank ya'll Californians for voting Arnold into office for two reasons: No more stupid Arnold flicks and now Minnesota isn't the laughing stock for having the dumbest governor ever...


From Benjamin in New York -- An Excerpt From Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece". . .

When I read your endorsement of Ariana Huffington, I decided to email you - even if just to let you know that a kindred spirit is looking in. I make no apologies for it - I am a Ralph Nader kinda guy.

Before he rapes her, Tarquin soliloquizes" 'What win I, if I gain the thing I seek? A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy. Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week? Or sells eternity to get a toy? For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy? Or what fond beggar, but to touch the crown, Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?

Hello Charles -

The quote above, goes to the heart of the human condition. I can only cast myself forward and see ominous times. We never seem to think of the long-range effect of current deeds - not much different than .

I couldn't agree more with your positions on the current administration. I always ask myself, what's wrong with the people? How can they allow themselves, like guiltless cattle, to be ushered off to the slaughterhouse? They permit elections to be hijacked, while glaring limp-faced!

I have a background in theoretical and nuclear physics, yet I am appalled by NASA's misuse of technology and their dangerous and sequestered agenda, i.e. The Cassini Project. When asked if he thought the 3rd world war would be fought with nuclear weapons, Einstein replied, "I cannot say, but the 4th will be fought with sticks and stones."


Hi Mr Shaughnessy,

Are you going to Immigrate!! Tonight on local TV a member of the American Academy in Berlin who is from California said her fellow Californians who live here in Berlin, CANNOT understand that Arnold actually was voted into office and are thinking of "immigrating" to other states because disaster was programned. I have enclosed a cartoon from "The Australian" a national daily newspaper which I think says all. Arnie a bad omen for White House Analysis by Roy Eccleston October 09, 2003

THE US's influential state governors are key allies in the race for the White House - so will Arnold Schwarzenegger's poll victory help fellow Republican George W. Bush's re-election bid next year? Many experts think not. In fact, prominent pollster John Zogby believes the discontent in California is a sign the "angry voter" is returning to US politics after a seven-year break - and that's a danger for anyone in power, including the President.

Voters are no longer quiescent now the economic boom is over and unemployment remains high, Zogby argues. "California is now the bell wether," he says. People are demanding governments do something about their problems. "We're seeing angry voters everywhere," Zogby says. "That doesn't bode well for incumbents."

But Schwarzenegger's success is still a boost for the Republicans in the nation's most populous and trend-setting state, which has become strongly Democratic over the past decade. The actor's socially liberal views on gays and abortion may attract more Californians back to the Republican Party, which in recent years has assumed the conservative moral and religious attitudes of the American South. "But I don't think it tells us a hell of a lot about California in the presidential election," Washington Post political columnist David Broder says.

"There the issues are more likely to be foreign policy, the economy and Bush's record in office -- and those issues haven't beendebated in this campaign." Norm Ornstein, a political analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, agrees. "The fundamental reality is that any idea this is going to give Bush a leg-up for 2004 is wrong," he says. But the Bush team may disagree. Bush spent a lot of time and money in California before the 2000 election, and has been the state at least eight times since. His political adviser, Karl Rove, wanted to run a socially liberal candidate in the governor's race in 2002. So they haven't given up. Why does California matter? Remember the US president is elected not by a majority of voters, but a majority of the 538 votes cast bythe 50 states and the District of Columbia in the national Electoral College.

California will have 55 votes in 2004 -- the biggest by far -- and that's more than 20 per cent of the total needed to win. The Democrats must win California to win the White House, but Bush showed last time he can scrape in without it -- just. Clearly the Golden State lives up to its name come election time. In the 1970s and 80s it backed Republicans, including two of its own, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. But these days, more liberal and Latino than the rest of the US, and unimpressed by the social conservatism in the Republican Party, it is perhaps the most Democratic state of the union. In 2000, Al Gore won 53 per cent of the Californian vote, and Bush managed just 42 per cent. Green candidate Ralph Nader got 4 per cent. So the first problem for Bush is that the climb to victory in California is steep, even if the muscle-bound Schwarzenegger were able to lift him. The second difficulty is that Schwarzenegger will have plenty of problems of his own. He will not only inherit Gray Davis's economic troubles but the same limited toolbox for fixing the budget deficit that now stands at $US8 billion ($11.6billion). California's troubles stem in large part from the collapse of the technology bubble, which slashed its tax revenues. But most states are in economic trouble -- about 40 have budget deficits. Broder says this means many governors have no energy to play a national political role, being absorbed by their own troubles. "And I would think that would probably be the case with Schwarzenegger as well."

Ornstein says Republicans are nervous about Schwarzenegger. "The first thing he says he'll do is repeal the car tax," the analyst says. "That raises the deficit from $US8billion to $US12 billion.But 80 per cent of the budget is off-limits. And he's put more off-limits by taking education out of the mix. "That means he's going to have to cut $US12 billion from prisons and health care, or raise taxes. Either way he's going to alienate lots of voters. And I don't see it getting better in California in the course of the next year." Zogby says Bush hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of winning California, even with Schwarzenegger. He sees a potential upside for the Democrats, who will try to energise their supporters with the claim California is yet another example of the Republicans usurping democracy.

"Democrats are now going to say, 'Republicans don't like it when the elections don't go their way'," Zogby says. "You impeach, you recount and go to the Supreme Court, you redistrict as in Texas, and you recall." But mostly the Democrats will be hoping they can capitalise on voter activism and anger over the economy. The Democrat front-runner for the presidential nomination, Howard Dean, set the tone last night, blaming Bush's massive tax cuts for undermining budgets in all the states. "Tonight the voters in California directed their frustration with the country's direction on their incumbent governor," Dean said. "Come next November, that anger might be directed at a different incumbent ... in the White House."

Although several comments in various US papers (including NY Times)have stipulated that Arnold could be a risk for Bush next year,I'm certain that just this Mr. Bush will see to it that the "right "people will be in CA.at the right time.Arnold´s advisors tell all, they are SO obvious( Schulz & Warren Buffat)!

Finally, all I can say is, how desperate the Californians must have been to recall the Governor after only 11 months in office , which I believe cost money which could have been used elsewhere for a better purpose.

Is this really the better solution?


From Nelda in California -- Soapbox Recall. . .

I clicked off my TV last night as I watched Arnold Schwarzenegger claim victory. I can't believe the majority of Californians fell for it. For the past few weeks over dinner, I kept telling my kids who are 19 and 12 yrs old, that no way he would win.

First of all, I was very much set dead against recalling Gray Davis. Yeah, he dropped the ball and he could have been doing a better job, but he was elected and so should serve his term. And recalling him is going to be so expensive.

As I stood there in the election booth punching a hole in my ballot, (which is an easy 1 - 2 system of aligning and pushing down - do you think I can make $ doing an informercial broadcasted only in Florida?), I voted for Bustamante in case of a recall. I felt he was the best qualified. Schwarzenegger is going to be a puppet. He's in over his head, but he is what the majority of my fellow Californians want so all I can do is hope that all will be well and work out my frustration in the gym. Then again, a walk on the beach would probably be more soothing to the soul.

Governor Schwarzenegger.... oy!


From Misty in Massachusetts -- Your 'musings'. . .

Hey Charlie, ?p> Well, I probably do not have any right to respond to your musings about the recall in California because I am not a registered voter, but as I was reading the responses you posted,?I wanted to respond in some way. ?p> The reason I never registered to vote is because when I was in 8th grade my?ocial studies?eacher told us that our votes dont count.?He said that our votes are merely an "opinion" that are counted and tallied, but in the end it is not who we want to be our President, but it is who the "big guys on top" want to be our President.?I am 24 years old now, so 8th grade was well over a decade ago for me, but his words still ring in my ears and I have refused to register to vote having been told that whatever I say or whomever I vote for does not matter.?If that is the truth, then what is the point?? So as being? non registered voter, I have no right to say anything about politics, but I do disagree with recalls.?That is like a jury handing down a sentence and the judge not liking it, so he or she overturns the jury's verdict.?A lot of people do not like having President Bush in office, and from your musings it sounds like you are one of those people.?The way I look at it is this is our country.?Yes, it is also the country of the people who decide who our president is going to be, but the people in this country have to be run by the President and the country suffers when he does stupid things and the country hurts and gets scarred when a President does not do his job properly or with the country as a whole in mind.?If people vote?or a certain guy to be the President and the guy who has the most votes in the end is not who the "big guys on top" want to be "their" president, they do a recall and then all of a sudden everything changes??I for one do not think that is fair.?This country should be run by a man whom the people want running their country.?I know, Charlie, I know, not being a voter means I should be silent on anything that has to do with politics, and in a way I would agree with that, but can you understand why I do not want to vote??Think about it.....if our votes do not count, and they are just "taken into consideration" or they are just "opinions that count for nothing" what is the point of voting??In the end this country as a whole does not get to be the ones who have the final say or make the final decision about who is going to run our country.?I do have to say that I do not think President Bush will be re-elected, and whether I am a voter or not, I am an American who lives in this country, so I am also being run by President Bush and I have to say that I had a?ot of faith in him when he became President and i thought that he was going to be the best president we would ever have, but with everything i read and see about him, that is proving to be the most ignorant thing I have ever thought.? ?p> A lot of people are on my case for not being a registered voter, but I just do not see why I should become one if my vote will not count??It is like voters have no voice, altho everyone who knows I am an unregistered voter says that makes me have no voice, and perhaps they are right, but what my history teacher taught me some 11 years ago or so is still stuck in my head and ringing loud in my ears, and I have not been able to bring myself to the logic of why I should register to vote.


From Julie in Florida -- Election Recall Soapbox. . .

Being from the Land of the Inept Voters, I have a few thoughts regarding your Soapbox comments about the Supreme Court having decided the outcome of the last presidential election. I agree that the matter should never have reached the court system in the first place. But please don't forget that it was Al Gore who insisted that the courts decide the Florida election results, thereby paving the way for all future elections to be decided in that fashion. As you know, the A.C.L.U. had attempted to stop the California recall, which would have resulted in another judge, or a panel thereof, deciding an election. That lawsuit was brought before the court in the face of a legally-filed recall. Yes, we do have a Constitution here in the U.S., and we also have the Electoral College, be it for better or worse! And, although there were many recounts of "hanging chads"--now THERE'S a term I hope I never have to hear again--the results were always the same. Mr. Bush won the State of Florida and therefore a legitimate claim to the presidency. If Mr. Gore had had a notion that he might be unhappy with the results of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, which is the chance he took, he should probably have given more thought to the possible outcome before he began the process himself. So you can see my point, that this Pandora's Box has now been opened. The question is: how can we close it? Perhaps recalls and other voting matters may need to be revised for future elections, but current law as it stands on the books must be adhered to until such changes are made into law.

I wish you luck out there in California. Please know that all us outsiders are laughing at Californians. We're still smarting from the whoopin' we endured in Florida, even though most of us know exactly what we're doing when we step into that voting booth! "I'm your biggest fan"!


From Liane in Germany -- Soapbox. . .

After reading your September musings,I decided to inform myself regarding the present elections in CA.and found that it is indeed an unusual situation.I was of the opinion that a recall can only be made if a politician has caused harm to his/her State either through corruption or being morally not suitable to represent the people, but kicking someone out because he is not doing his "job"properly ,doesn´t make sense .After all which politician keep their word once elected and furthermore are able to so because of altered situations that may arise.As someone who lives outside the US,this all again smells like lobby,money and mainly power which dominated the Federal Election in 2000.

Finally when we here in Germany heard that Arnold was a candidate,we all had a good laugh,and the comments made were,"that can only happen in America,and that it all seems like a Hollywood film ".My friend who comes from CA.just said OH!!In order to give Arnold a bit of justification, he probably means well,but I think the REAL aim is to get him into office and others will do the governing!I am unable to comment on the other candidates,and having read some of the comments already made,many of them, don´t have any more competence than Arnold .

I hope the Californians will in the end make the right choice and I wish them the best. Ca.always has been regarded as the MOST democratic ruled and cosmopolitan State in the US because of it´s multinational population,and we Aussies love you because you import lots of our wines, and maybe also becausewe share the same ocean! (Pacific)

PS I have included a cartoon from our daily paper. The translation of the caption is :"De Governur von (from) de peoples"


From Michelle in North Carolina - - Soapbox. . .

Mr. Shaughnessy,

I don't really know about the election in Calf. but I don't really agree with some of what you said about our President. Do you really think that Gore would have done a better job with 9/11? I don't think that being the President is an easy job and President Bush is doing the best he can. I understand and agree that we all should have the right to voice our opinions nomatter what our feeling. I, myself, have more of conservative views but I like to look at all sides to get more of an understanding from all sides.

I would like to know your feeling on our kids today. I understand that you are a hands on dad and also the dad of two young girls. I am the mother of two young girls myself and find it hard to look at the news or read the newspaper. It seems that everything you turn on the news or open up the paper there is another shotting at a school or a child being killed by a parent or someone the child knows. In my county a 13 year old girl was raped and kill by a family friend because of a disagreement with her father. It really shock our little county. I know that it is hard raising kids because for me I don't want to hurt them or do something that will scar them. I want them to be strong young women and to be able to handle what life throws at them. When you have time I would to know some of your views on being a father.


From Christina (17 years-old) in Pennsylvania -- Reflections on your 'musings': 2003 California Recall Election. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy:

The other day I happened to come across your "Soap Box" musings on the California Recall Election of 2003. The Recall has not only fomented the political situation of California, but it has also stimulated the attention of the entire nation as it watches this recall play out. When visiting with family in California this summer, I was able to learn more of the situation and gain some insight as to what exactly this recall entailed. Although I was able to ascertain information from many different sources; be it television, newspapers, the internet, etc., I have been unable to form my own personal stance on the Recall as a whole. I found your personal analysis very enlightening, partly because of the fact that you were brutally honest on your stance. At some points while I read your commentary I happened to agree with you, and with others I did not. By being an outside spectator to this Recall Election, your thoughts helped me to look at it from the viewpoint of one who is being directly affected by it: a citizen of California.

The words you have written are your personal opinion; and I truly respect them to the highest degree. As I progressed through my reading of the commentary, however, I was taken aback by some of your comments made regarding what you referred to as "the clowns we have:" the recall candidates. Of which, I found your personal view of Recall candidate, Mr. Arnold Schwarzeneger, to be the most scathing. I was wondering why you feel that having this "only serious challenger" is a "really scary" situation? I always thought that having a person who takes something seriously, such as governor's recall election, to be a good thingŠbut maybe that's just me. Mr. Schwarzenegger, in my opinion, is the only candidate that you have listed that seems to genuinely have the welfare of the citizens of your home state and the political well-being of California at the top of his priority list.

As I reflected on your above statements, trying to get a feel for which direction you were trying to go in your commentary, I only became more aghast by the next sentence. You stated that: "He is a bad actor who projected some charisma when trained to spout mono-syllabic sound bites in a cute Austrian accent. Why is he going to be any different as a politician? PULEEEASE!!!" Don't you believe, Mr. Shaughnessy, that it is a tad condescending to base your opinion that a man's competence of being a knowledgeable and coherent politician is directly related to their aptitude as an actor? Let's not forget that in our nation's great history that actors have become politicians and positively made an imprint forever on the inner-workings of the United States (i.e., President Ronald Reagan). Should this man come under such scrutiny because he, an actor and a citizen of California and of the United States of America- just like you, is trying his best to turn the present negative conditions in California into something positive by running in this recall election? I, for one, think he is entitled the right to at least have a chance to do so if he wishes. Do you?


From Jenn in Canada -- Common Concerns From Canada to California. . .

To be chosen for most jobs in modern society, applicants are usually required to possess a least a bare minimum set of requirements in terms of their skill, education and practical experience. Paradoxically, when we seek to fill many of the highest offices in politics, people with woefully inadequate qualifications are allowed to take on some of the most serious responsibilities in our governments. Frighteningly, politicians are often chosen based on campaigns waged on our TV screens via slick and highly biased ads. Political campaigns have long been fraught with speeches filled with ill-informed opinions and even complete fallacies, designed to appeal more to the base emotions of the electorate rather than to their intellect.

Actors audition, lawyers article and physicians serve a period of residency before we allow them to take the main stage, try a court case or treat a patient unassisted. Why are we so apathetic about allowing people who have never sat in a council room or reviewed even the most basic of municipal bylaws, to govern us? Shouldn’t we insist that a candidate for public office have enough skill and experience to be able to demonstrate a decent understanding of important issues in relation to the needs of the community they wish to serve?

With regard to the California recall election, ask yourselves this: Does it make sense to spend millions of dollars unseating an unpopular government before appropriately skilled candidates have been found and "interviewed" as potential replacements? Electing unqualified or inappropriate people to high office is akin to handing a first year medical student a patient with a serious and complicated condition and expecting the student to correctly diagnose and treat him. The patient might be fortunate enough to survive the treatment but will almost certainly suffer greatly during the process.

Residents of California who vote to prematurely replace Governor Davis with candidates whose work experience may be limited to jobs such as: action movie star; stripper; porn publisher or fortune teller, may as well walk into Harvard medical school and volunteer to have a first year student perform neurosurgery on them... but then again, those who intend to vote for an action star or a stripper for Governor probably weren't really planning on making good use of their brains anyway, were they?


From Theresa in Colorado - California Recall - Politics as Usual . . .

First of all it's good to see you "on your soapbox" again, especially as busy as you must be right now!

Not living in California you don't get the whole picture of what Gray Davis has or has not done. I agree that unless he has broken the law in some way a recall is not warranted. This will only add unnecessary expenses to the tax payers of California (who already pay more than enough taxes, like the rest of us). If this recall happens the kind of precedent this will set is more than any of us care to imagine! What would be the use of any elections at all. This could keep many good people from seeking any elected office. Imagine if a John Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt were running for President today. They might run let alone be elected!

The Constitutionality of all of this is not even considered. Why do we even Constitution if it's not even considered? This is exactly what the Constitution is for!! I feel that the current residents in Washington don't even know that the Constitution exists. They have "run" over it for the last 2 1/2 years, starting with the election in 2000.

I hope that the citizens of California are smart enough to not fall for some "slick" actor because they like his sound bites. Does Arnold think that because he married into a political family this qualifies him for the office?

Thanks for your time! I hope you have a GREAT time on Broadway!


From Jennifer in Ohio - Soapbox--CA rcall . . .

Dear Mr.Shaughnessy,

I am very pleased to see this topic brought up and I agree with your position. But if I may, I would like to make a few more points.

Let me preface this by admitting that I also view the current California crisis from my liberal [It's not a dirty word] Democrat point of view. Still, I have to think that Floridians must be sighing with relief now that they are no longer the leading joke for late night monologues. And while it may appear to be just a monumental joke now, the possible results of the actions of the self-serving recall initiators could be disastrous not only for California, but the rest of the country as well. If public officials have to worry that rather than establishing a record for a term, they can be recalled for no reason other than partisan politics, nothing of substance can ever be accomplished. Every decision and vote that these representatives make will be questionable. Are they thinking of the good of their constituents and the future? Or are they merely concerned with getting through the next few weeks? We've already had one bogus election result, must there be more?

But to even add more fuel to this potential firestorm is the position of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the frontrunner for the Republican Party. Here is a man who can only enter a debate if he has the questions in advance and still does not do well at answering them. [I agree with you that he's obviously a bad actor if he can't succeed in that type of debate.]

Beyond the absurdness of this campaign is the fact that at a time when Affirmative Action is being gutted and Title IX is being challenged, there is a clear threat that the future governor of California may be a man who has shown himself to have no respect for the equality of women. Yes, he may argue that the remarks atrributed to him were taken out of context from over twenty years ago; however, he has had to admit that he made them. Therefore, it is impossible for me to believe that at least a remnant of this attitude does not still linger in his rather vacuous brain.

I hope for the best for all Californians. Thank you.


From Cynthia in Tennessee - Recalls . . .

Charlie,

According to your musings, you must therefore have supported the movement a few years back to recall and/or impeach Clinton, since it was for immoral behavior. Correct? I'd be interested in hearing your response.

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