Charlie's Post election 2004 soapbox. . . 21 november, 2004

As promised. . . my adventures in Las Vegas, Election 2004

We drove into the forecourt of the EconoLodge, Las Vegas, and knew we weren't in Kansas anymore!

Myself, my wife Susan, and her sister Deborah had driven from Santa Monica to Las Vegas in order to be part of the "America Coming Together" (ACT) huge "Get Out The Vote" campaign. Nevada had been identified as a State that could swing either way, and our job was to mobilize and energize our Democratic base. Basically, that translated into combing the registration rolls for registered Democrats and making sure that they got to the polls to vote.

I will admit it now, Las Vegas is not my favorite place on earth. It is great for a short sharp shock of 21st century hyper-culture, if dropping large wads of cash in pursuit of a 24/7 party is not a problem. The energy level is through the roof, but it scares me. Not everyone would agree with me however. My kids think Las Vegas is second only to Disneyland!

Any city that builds it's entire industry around the exploitation of human weakness at it's basest level is going to make me uneasy. Listen, there isn't a city in the world that isn't guilty of this charge to some extent: there are sleazy sides to Duluth as well as Los Angeles, but it isn't the sleazy side of Las Vegas I'm talking about, it's the main street, all-lit-up, "tourist - mecca" side that gives me the heebie jeebies. Lined up on the Strip, like sideshows on a dementedly massive Boardwalk, sit Hotel/Casinos that cost literally billions to build. Each one beckoning the crowd, enticing them to indulge their addictions and greed for free ? free at least of any cost to the moral conscience . "Hey," they cajole, "this kind of thing may be frowned on in your local church: may not get you brownie points on the "moral values" chart, but here. . .? Heck it's what you came here for isn't it?!"

Interestingly enough, my particular "beat" on November 2nd. took me to a part of town in the shadow of the Hotel/Casino strip, where I could actually see the dazzling neon from the front stoops of some of the houses I visited. Now here's the thing that distresses me more than anything: I mean I'm not a prude, it's not the greed and the prostitution and the indulgence that you see in Las Vegas that sticks in my throat, it's the hypocrisy with which it is celebrated.

If you had seen the level of abject poverty and suffering that exists as a matter of fact, not two hundred yards from these billion dollar pleasure palaces, you would understand why I want to shove this country's moral values up it's own self-righteous, hypocritical, lying, mean-spirited and unchristian you-know-what. It is no secret that in Vegas, as long as you are considered a "High Roller" ANYTHING is available to you. Whatever your particular depravity might be, there will always be a "connected" concierge who can arrange it. . .for a price. It's all part of the service. No matter what your moral, religious social standing might be at home, don't worry, as the saying goes, "Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"

Meanwhile, I am climbing dangerously broken concrete stairs outside an apartment building that probably should have been condemned in the last decade, to a small door bordered by two dirty, newspaper- stuffed windows. The door is answered by a sweet faced 19 year old girl who is living in this one room cell with her two kids. Behind her desperate eyes is a story of crushed hope, foolish love and an uncertain future. She tells us that she is a registered Democrat, she knows where to go to vote, and promises that as soon as she can get the baby to stop crying, she will try to get them into the shopping cart she uses as a stroller and get to her polling place. Inside the hovel, I glance a pile of sheets on the floor where they all sleep and a small electric ring in the corner where she boils up the cans she can scrounge for food. I don't suppose she chose this life: she probably made some mistakes: but, you see, moral values are not so easily put on and off like a suit of clothes for some people.

For the bloated patrons up the street "moral values" mean keeping homosexuals out on the fringes, unless they are helping them amass more chips at the poker table; mean declaring a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body an abomination, unless the sweet/sad faced girl is their own daughter; mean only their heretical construct of a Christian God who abandons the sparrow in favor of the hawk, who punishes the weak and rewards the corrupt, who divides along fissures of hate and prejudice, only he should be worshipped; these are the "moral values" of these people. Christ himself would condemn those to the fires of Hell who talked so pompously about moral values while people like the sweet-faced girl live as she does.

So the three of us pounded the streets all day on that Tuesday. Our job was to reach out to people like the sweet-faced girl and persuade them to vote. To tell them that there was hope, that there was a country who cared about them and that their voice could bring about the change we needed.

Yes, we did come across and have to counteract some of the dirty tricks like all those notices that had been sent to registered Democrats telling them that their polling places had been changed, (when they had not) or that they could check a box on the form to signify their vote without having to actually go vote! ! !, but we had expected it. We rang doorbells and thumped on windows. We were met by skepticism, fear, anger and, sometimes, delirium, but, at the end of the day we had helped to get enough of these people to the polls, that we helped carry Clark County for John Kerry, which gave each of us great personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. We felt that we DID make a difference. Sadly the rest of Nevada preferred the status quo, but I like to believe that, despite the result, a few of those people, (many of them first-time voters), felt noticed.

We had some personal victories too. Like the guy who ran up to us at 6:45 (the polls closed at 7:00!) and said he had been misdirected by one of those "s.o.b's flyers," and needed to get across town. We sprang into action and bundled him into our van. Speeding through intersections, hanging U turns whenever necessary, we burned to a halt at the polling station and raced him inside. He had just made it into the line when they cut it off. He was the last in line. Then we stood and watched as one of the three electronic machines was carted off for a malfunction. The other two left were so complicated it took everyone about ten minutes to vote. We waited for over two hours in that line with our guy, when our own polling place (right outside his own house) never had more than two people waiting all day!

Then we started noticing people being turned away. This was not legal. There were very strict instructions this year that anyone who felt that they had registered and had the right to vote, even if their name wasn't down, was to be given a provisional ballot to fill out. These would then be counted when and if the person was found to be legitimate, but no one was to be denied the right to vote if they felt they should. Turns out, the Secretary of State was disallowing provisional ballots in this Democratic precinct. Despite the bevy of lawyers present, there was really nothing anyone could do, but file a lawsuit that would be heard long after the election was over!

Anyway, our guy finally got to vote at 9:30 PM and I believe he was the last one to do so in the whole of Nevada! We were all exhausted, but made one last trip to the voting place to see how many of our "target citizens" had followed through on their word. I was thrilled and moved to see that at least the sweet-faced girl with the two young babies, had cast her vote! Despite the desperation and hopelessness of their situation, despite the sense that they felt that no one was listening anyway, despite the threats and intimidation from the other party, this girl and this man and so many others, had exercised the most precious right any of us have as Americans. Perhaps next time they will help to spread the word to the rest of the disenfranchised and we will be able to put the moral values of this country back where they belong.

ADDENDUM: 25 november, 2004

I have just read this Op-Ed from Mr. Friedman and I believe he has captured my thoughts so eloquently. I won't even try to summarize his article, so I have included it here. Feel free to comment to me about it though!

In My Next Life By Thomas L. Friedman November 25, 2004

In my next life, I want to be Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.

Yes, I want to get almost the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives to bend its ethics rules just for me. I want to be able to twist the arms of House Republicans to repeal a rule that automatically requires party leaders to step down if they are indicted on a felony charge - something a Texas prosecutor is considering doing to DeLay because of corruption allegations.

But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.

If I can't be Tom DeLay, then I want to be one of the gutless Republican House members who voted to twist the rules for DeLay out of fear that "the Hammer," as they call him, might retaliate by taking away a coveted committee position or maybe a parking place.

Yes, I want to be a Republican House member. At a time when 180 of the 211 members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Iraq who have been wounded in combat have insisted on returning to duty, I want to look my constituents and my kids in the eye and tell them that I voted to empty the House ethics rules because I was afraid of Tom DeLay.

If I can't be a Republican House member, I want to be Latrell Sprewell, the guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I want to say with a straight face that if my owner will only give me a three-year contract extension for a meager $21 million, then he's not worth working for, because "I've got my family to feed."

Yes, I want to be Latrell Sprewell. At a time when N.B.A. games are priced beyond the reach of most American families, when half the country can't afford health care, when some reservists in Iraq are separated from their families for a year, including this Thanksgiving, I want to be like Latrell. I want to make sure everyone knows that I'm looking out for my family - and no one else's.

If I can't be Latrell Sprewell, I want to be any American college or professional athlete. For a mere dunk of the basketball or first-down run, I want to be able to dance a jig, as if I'd just broken every record by Michael Jordan or Johnny Unitas. For the smallest, most routine bit of success in my sport, I want to be able to get in your face - I want to know who's your daddy, I want to be able to high-five, low-five, thump my chest and dance on your grave. You talkin' to me?

I want to be able to fight on the court, off the court, in the stands and on the sidelines. I want to respect no boundaries and no norms. And when I make your kids cry, I want to be able to tell you to just "chill" - that my coach says "stuff happens" and that my union rep is appealing my punishment in the name of the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. Yes, in my next life, I want to be The Man.

If I can't be The Man, then I at least want to be the owner of a Hummer - with American flag decals all over the back bumper, because Hummer owners are, on average, a little more patriotic than you and me.

Yes, I want to drive the mother of all gas-guzzlers that gets so little mileage you have to drive from gas station to gas station. Yes, I want to drive my Hummer and never have to think that by consuming so much oil, I am making transfer payments to the worst Arab regimes that transfer money to Islamic charities that transfer money to madrassas that teach children intolerance, antipluralism and how to hate the infidels.

And when one day one of those madrassa graduates goes off and joins the jihad in Falluja and kills my neighbor's son, who is in the U.S. Army Rangers, I want to drive to his funeral in my Hummer. Yes, I want to curse his killers in front of his mother and wail aloud, "If there was only something I could do ..." And then I want to drive home in my Hummer, stopping at two gas stations along the way.

If I can't be any of these, then I want to be just a simple blue-state red-state American. I want to take time on this Thanksgiving to thank God I live in a country where, despite so much rampant selfishness, the public schools still manage to produce young men and women ready to voluntarily risk their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to spread the opportunity of freedom and to protect my own. And I want to thank them for doing this, even though on so many days in so many ways we really don't deserve them.

from the new york times 11/25/04

A few more things from me . . .

Regardless of how you feel about the war in Iraq, please continue to show your support of the troops, all of our troops, and let them know we are behind them 100% and are grateful for their sacrifices, and pray that they all come home safely. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to be away from your friends and family during the holidays? Send them your love, your prayers and your wishes for their safe journey home and if you are able to, a USO package. If it is too much, think about making it a project and get some friends or kids at school together and all pitch in to send one. Due to the threat of anthrax following September 11, the Department of Defense suspended its practice of forwarding correspondence and personal care packages from the American public to "any service member." In its place, the USO created Operation USO Care Package to boost morale and provide a safe and secure way for the public to show their support.? The packages only contain items donated by or purchased from manufacturers in bulk.? Each USO Care Package contains, at a minimum, one prepaid international calling card, a disposable camera, toiletries, sunscreen, and a personal message of support from the sender. Other donated items from manufacturers are included so that the maximum weight of each package is approximately 2 lbs and cost $25.00 each.

To make it a little easier for you, we are going to piggyback onto Ellen's website for donating a little bit of home through the USO. Also, a couple of ways to make sure that emails get sent. Just click on any of the logos below to link to the websites.

I recently had the honor of appearing with Arianna Huffington at a fund raiser for John Kerry and John Edwards and of all the "talking heads" out there right now, this is the one I respect most of all. If I suddenly lost the power of speech (God forbid!) I would be satisfied to have Arianna do all my talking for me! This is her website. Check it out.


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


If you would like to write in response to what I have said, we will include some of them on the website but you have to follow a few rules.

If you do decide to write to me just to express your opinion and do NOT want your response put on the website, please indicate that in your email.

Please include your first name and where you are from, each time you write. We won't use any personally identifiable information other than your first name and where you are from, but if you don't include that information, we will not use your response on the website.

PLEASE, do not include links to websites, email links, or book recommendations that you think people should check out in your responses. Also, please do not include quotes from someone else. This is meant to be a place for you to share YOUR personal words and thoughts and views. If your response includes website or email links or book recommendations or quotes from another source, we will not put it up and you will receive a lovely email from AJ asking you to please modify your reply if you want to have it posted here.

Though you may write in response to what someone else has said on the soapbox, please do not point out their names in your response, as some people see that as a personal attack at them even though you might want to debate what someone else has said, that is fine, just don't point people out by name please.

Though we will not limit how many words you write, please try to keep your replies somewhat brief, ok?

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. I encourage you to use this forum to have your voices heard. . . .

from star in south carolina

Dear? Charlie,

?I totally agree with you about Vegas, and casinoes in general. When they but the cassino? up on our reservation, all it did was destroy everything we had worked so hard for. The little old people who had lived and worked there all their lives were just uprooted again. I admire your political views and your guts! Did you get to vote yourself? Did your citizenship come through? I got to see your Stargate!? It was awesome. And you looked as always too sexy for words! Stay Cool Charlie. And you guys have a great holiday season.


from christina in california

What can I say. First off I think this election was totally bogus! Personally I didn't think either candidate should have won, you don't know that Kerry would have made things better. All I can say is thank God, or whoever you believe in, we only have Bush for four more years. Let's just hope that Hillary Clinton does run next time, she'd make an excellent first woman President; hopefully this country is ready for a woman in office. You seem to be very Democratic Mr. Shaughnessy, I'm glad you feel so strongly. There was one thing I disagreed with you on, you said in your letter "Christ himself would condemn those to the fires of Hell who talked so pompously about moral values while people like the sweet-faced girl live as she does." How do you know what Chirst would do? I'm not trying to start a big fight, I'm just saying, you don't know how Christ thinks. Well I suppose I should cut this short, so basically what I'm saying is, let us pray that we get through the next four years without being taken back to the time when women had no rights and America was still a weak nation. As for voting...DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PARTY YOU ARE PEOPLE, WORRY ABOUT WHAT IS BEST FOR THIS WONDERFUL COUNTRY OF OURS! AND AS ALWAYS, SUPPORT THE TROOPS! GOD BLESS THE USA!


from wende in florida

I scanned over your new soapbox of post election 2004. I just wonder why you would go to the trouble of seeking people to vote; it is their choice to vote for which ever political party they choose. I heard on either the Fox News Network or MSNBC, I believe it was just before the election, an interviewer ask his guest why Hollywood is so set on the Democrat party, the guest only smiled with out saying anything. I wish I could have heard his answer. My brother and I are on opposite sides of the political party, he is on the left, I am on the right though I am close to the middle probably. I can't talk to my brother of why I perfer my choice. I know one of my cousin's is so far right wing he might fall off the other side if there were an edge to fall of off. But personally that cousin of mine is a nice person. I remember when President Bush won the 2004 election, and I believe very fairly; he and John Kerry spoke over the phone and both agreed that the country was split apart. THAT IS SAD!

Why can't this country act as a family? The country sticks together in disasters, but it seems that is the only time they do, except during the December Holidays. What ashame it is for a country to fight between themselves. Charlie; wars won't completely cease in our life time, there still will be wars to follow. I believe the New York Times wrote you and said that we must support our troops, and I agree. I was standing in the Atlanta Georgia airpoint this past summer when a woman stepped up to one of our U.S. soldiers and shook his hand and said thank you for his work for our country; the soldier said "you are welcome" and he kept on walking on to the gate where the plane he was taking would depart. I don't know where he and his fellow soldiers were heading off to, except where they were meant to go, I imagin. Charlie, when you were having the soapbox prior to election 2004 there were a lot of people who said many things to upset YOU and I and Other People but we must get past that.

Charlie, you do a lot of good for people I believe and that is so fantastic, you are an ordinally person, where many other entertainers could care less. Thank you, I may not agree with every thing you are passionate about but you do what you feel you ought to do. You seem like a nice person. I enjoy your acting and hope you continue to be seen on Stargate SG1, I even hope Stargate SG1 gets to stay on the SCI-FI channel for another couple of years. Charlie, will you think about getting on the theater/stage again?


from arlene in california

Dear Charlie

Your soapbox article was of interest to a point. I knew the outcome of the election ahead of time. I heard a marvelous speaker tell his audience "there is a silent majority in the county that will turn the election to four more years" no matter how hard you work to get out the vote. We do not know what people will do in the voting booth. I worked the polls in a 90% low income Latino area. They got registered by people walking to "get out the vote". After the ballots were counted, our precinct was mostly republican--go figure?

Maybe they thought things "would get better if no change." as a poll worker we knew anyone could vote in any district. We sure had a lot of people from all over California that also were aware of the new law. I enjoy your views. My god bless this county and all of the men and women that are keeping it safe. Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season. Lets all pray for peace


from shelley in michigan

You're alot braver than me, going to Las Vegas, and on top of that during voting crunch time!

John and I went to our polling station around 12:30 pm, lunch time, and were in and out in nearly 15 minutes. The good thing was there was nobody there when we got there, the bad thing was, well, there was nobody there when we got there. Perhaps other voters came later, at least I hope so......

Bush's "re-election" wasn't a surprise. When you're dirty, you're dirty. I wasn't as upset as alot of other people were. Surely, things will get worse before they get better, but frankly nothing changed from November 2nd.

What I found interesting about the latest in your Soapbox is the reference to religious faith that carried Bush through, and the blantant (at least to those of us who aren't brainwashed as such) abuse OF religion for his own personal gain. If I was a Christian (etc.) I would be absolutely insulted that Bush would even dare to use belief as an excuse to divide and conquer the country. Government supported discrimination via a direct violation of the First Amendment. So long as it's in the name of 'god', well then everything is A-OK.

What good could possibly come of the next four years? I expect to see the destruction of the Republican party from the inside out. In fact, we're already seeing it beginning. For instance, the piece you have on your site now called In My Next Life. It begins with things like this - do as I say, not as I do - and it will end with things like this.

I welcome all the corruption, scandal, thievery, witch hunting, two- faced lies, discrimination, suppression, oppression, deficit, death and destruction they can muster. They have become their own worst enemy and will be their own undoing. And in the end, they will have no one to blame but themselves.


from jenn in canada

Hello Charles.

Your comments are thought provoking as always. We share many of the same political and sociological views but I was a bit surprised to learn that a fellow political liberal shared some of my views about Las Vegas and casinos in general.

Like you, I know many people love Vegas, Atlantic City and many other casino laden resort areas but I?ve never really understood the fascination or obsession that some have with them. They simply don?t interest me much at all and I?ve never given much thought to the morality or immorality of their existence. What did intrigue me however, was something you described about your experiences while working within the shadows of the casinos.

In many of your past soapboxes, I?ve expressed my thoughts on the Iraq war and war in general, and on the Bush administration ( or at least the thoughts which are polite enough for these forums), so I won't repeat myself on those issues. If you?ll allow me, I?d like to focus on the comments which you made about the poverty stricken young woman and her two children who you met in Vegas.

I?m old enough and mature enough to know that there are some: Democrats & Republicans; Liberals & Conservatives; Catholics & Protestants; Jews & Muslims; French & English; etc, etc who will never agree that more than one political, social, religious or cultural ideology can be moral or just or even co-exist with theirs. What are we to do if people refuse to give an inch or consider the validity of opinions different than their own?

In the case of the USA, like it or not, we?re all stuck with G.W. Bush and Co. for four more years. Perhaps now is the time to look for ways to accomplish some good in this world in spite of the vast differences in how many people view America, it's government and modern society. Here?s how I think that young woman and her children in Vegas could inspire us to work together. We shouldn?t just talk about the tragedy of poverty, especially child poverty, or misery or illness. We should all do something about it!

I too have met young women in dire straights. I?ve stood on their doorsteps and seen their substandard apartments, their exhaustion and frustration and their crying children. When I was nineteen, my summer job was with the government of the province of Ontario. My task was to go to the homes of the poor and interview them to see if they met the criteria required to obtain free places for their children in government subsidized summer camps.

I showed up for my first day doing interviews, wearing a Saville Row blazer and tweed skirt. I figured I was a sharp young university student from a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood and should dress the part. Boy did I feel out of place when the first door opened. I found myself in the threadbare apartment of a young single mom only a few years older than me. She had dropped out of high school after having her first child and she eked out a sparse living as a retail store clerk.

She might have looked at me with hostility and treated me as a na?ve, over privileged, young stuffed shirt, sent by the government to grill her. Someone likely getting paid more than she earned, who was there to pass judgement on her life. She didn?t do that though. Instead she taught me a valuable lesson about life. She opened her door to me and welcomed me into her home. It was a steamy hot summer day and she had no air conditioner but she offered to hang up my blazer, made me comfortable on an old kitchen chair and offered me a cold glass of water and together we sat and worked on those forms for summer camp. That?s when it really dawned on me that people who are very different can still have some things in common. They can treat each other with courtesy and work towards a common goal. She wanted to help her children have a better life and I was there to help her do it, if only for a few weeks one summer.

My point in all this? It relates back to not only to that woman and her children that you met in Las Vegas but also to what you said in regard to your Kindness contest Charles. People need to get up off their sofas and chairs and help someone else in society to make their life better. Volunteer for an hour, a day or a month. Who knows, it could become a life long habit, which is what happened in my case. Twenty five years have passed since I sat filling out forms and having a drink of water with that young woman. I don?t know what became of her and her family but who knows? Maybe she had a bit of spare time to take some extra work training while her kids were away at camp? Maybe she somehow made her way out of poverty to a better life? I hope so, but I?ll always remember the incentive she gave me to try to help others and I'll keep on trying as long as I'm able.

So here?s my challenge to all of you reading this. There are times when it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or Republican, or what your religion is or what country you live in. Stop focusing on how different we might be from each other and start learning to work with different people instead of preaching against them. In the past I've worked side by side with people who held very opposite views to mine but instead of expressing distaste for each other, we worked together and collected food donations from grocery stores for a food hamper project at Christmas. After the day was done we shared postive stories and some respect for the efforts of each other. Read your local newspaper. In it you'll find there are lists of organizations that need your help. Open your wallets, give a few hours of your time or donate some items which might be useful to someone else. I promise you, it will make a difference to someone somewhere. If we all did it, differences of opinion between political parties, religions, countries and cultures might start to fade in significance. People might begin to realize that underneath we?re all human and we can lend a hand and treat each other with respect and dignity. If you don't quite believe me, try it and you?ll soon learn that it?s the best gift you'll ever give and the best feeling you?ll ever receive.

Thanks for allowing me the time and space to express my thoughts Charles and AJ.


from liane in germany

Charlie! I nearly sent you that article you mentioned in your addendum, but I thought being Thanksgiving I would let holiday be holiday. It made me really think , where is America going ,under the new elected President and the Republican Party.

All of my American friends here in Berlin are appalled at the outcome of the elections and suspected irregularities in the voting system , which was verified today in the media .There were obvious iregularities in Ohio and where? you guessed it ! Florida.Also I find it amazing that someone is voted in because of his morals, when young Americans are dying for what?Ok I admit Bush got rid of Saddam but at what a price.

I ask where are the morals of Bush for which he was alledgedly voted ? Are they now lies, taking away civil rights,Guantanamo , the death penalty, millions of kids without health insurance,analphabetism and so on.This to me doesn?t sound very promising.Unfortuneately as Bush is in 2nd term he more or less has a Carte BLanche which frightens me and so does the fact that the moderate people like Powell have left , yet Rumsfeld and Rice stay. Some of my US friends who live in the States,say, that Germany and France are so ungrateful for not helping in Iraq, seeing the US helped them after WWII. Well all I can say to that is, this generation either hasn?t learnt much about these times AND the situation was totally different to that of Iraq. In 1945 the Europeans wanted to be freed from the Nazi Regime! So much for that.I found during my visits, that little is known or interest shown in the US about Europe or other Continents so sometimes I ask what is taught in some schools. It has always been a puzzle to me that someone who can play a sport well gets into University for that, but not for his/her academic grades?I guess different culture, different criteria.

Finally one must not forget Kerry got around 48% of the votes so that "victory" isn?t that great especially as it may only have occured because of several disruptons that happened (machines breaking down, people being refused a vote because they were registered with the police and so on)and all this in the swing states .I thought America is a land of freedom? Where all citizens have equal rights, but obviously some have more rights than others especially if they are affluent.Also I have come to the conclusion that Kerry was too educated and a cosmopolitan , and didn?t have the abillity to walk as if he had just dismounted a horse!!maybe this didn?t get Kerry the votes he needed!

You mentioned Las Vegas Charlie where you saw all this poverty ,LV is probably an extreme example of contrasting societies, but I think that is found all over the US in one way or another.That is the hyprocracy I found many times .Going to Church and praying for a better world, but at the same time ignoring the needs of some unfortunate people in their vicinity, or as I have heard calling someone "white scum" because they live in a mobile home park! I?ve been to DC, Detroit and several other large cities and found the same gap between the haves and the have nots and even in rural areas one sees this difference.

I think that "American Dream" for which the US was once so envied has gone for the present. Thanks again for letting me voice my opinion!


from brielle from nevada

I read your soapbox webpage and found it disconcerting.

I may be a minor but your standpoint on The war on terror seems ill-founded, even to me.The war was and continues to be a necessary evil. Saddam had great potential to become a spark for the next world war. Why take the risk of losing more lives? Many saw the brewing potential for a conflict in Germany prior to World War II. Hitler had the same disregard for past treaties and agreements that Saddam has. The same warning flags that Hitler presented in WWII have now been cropping up in Saddam's actions; his lack of feeling for any kind of life, and his disregard for his obligations regarding treaties and agreements announce that the war in Iraq is necessary, if only to prevent the future occurance of something far worse.

Sometimes terrible sacrifices are necessa! ry for the common welfare. We should be proud of our President and the armed forces that are willing to put their lives on the line to prevent potential harm to us. How ungrateful can we be? We honor those who fought in Korea, even though their own generation chastised their involvement. I hope that we can rise above what our predecessors have done. After all, isn't that what America is all about?

Regarding your stand on the amendments proposed on marriage I find your view far too one-sided and slightly misinformed. Granted, my views are shaded by my religious opinions and political standing but the marriage amendment needs to stand. Our society is based on religion indeed the family unit. America has the highest rate of church-going Christians in the world and our political aspirations should reflect that. Homosexuals have every right to be happ! y but we also are obligated to protect institutions like marriage and family. The family is the basic unit of our society, it's how children are taught to be decent, patriotic, productive citizens. We have to draw the line somewhere, and this is a test of our society's character. By no means am I suggesting that homosexuals should be deprived of leading their own lives and making their own decisions, I merely suggest that marriage, and its various benefits should be restricted to a man and a woman united together.


from liz in new york

Dear Charlie,

As usual, it's a pleasure reading your musings. We most often seem to be on the same wavelength, and you express so eloquently what I'm thinking. I'm also not a prude, love to travel and have a good time, but one place I have never had any desire to go visit is Las Vegas, for exactly the reasons as you described. I'm open-minded and flexible, but one thing I can't tolerate is hypocrisy. A similar situation of abject poverty virtually next-door to glutinous wealth in the form of billion $$ casinos exists a few hours from here in Atlantic City. I went once, years ago, and found it so depressing.

The hypocrisy of what exists in Las Vegas is a perfect metaphor for the Republican Party and this adminstraition as they presently operate. What gets me, and what I just can't fathom, is the " moral leadership" and "family-values" that is identified with this administration. To me morality and values were traits to strive for, but the way they are practiced now, to me are now perjoratives.

There was a terrific op-ed piece in the New York Times the day after the election. I can't remember who wrote it, but he discussed why the poor voted for Bush. The Republicans don't give a damn about the poor, yet they get the votes. It's all about faith.

I watched a program on CNN the other night about Evangelical Christians. It was really scarey! To me it's like brain-washing. Not all Evangelical Christians are lilke that, but obviously enough are- they are his base. On the Capitol Gang this weekend, Robert Novak was stating that he felt is was wrong of W. to go to Bill Clinton's library opening because his "base" wouldn't lke it. Al hunt got really annoyed and said that he thought that Bush was supposed to be President of all Americans, not just those in his base. I don't get it - and they called Reagan the Teflon President.

As I'm writing this letter, the tv is on in the background and there was just a story on MSNBC about the vote re-count in Ohio, and the slight possibility that if the count changes the outcome an appeal could be made to the Secretary of State to change the Electoral College votes for Ohio. Can you imagine if the results were reversed. We can only hope. I can dream, can't I?

One thing that you can be very proud of is that your Soapbox got people thinking about the importance of issues and our right and responsibility to vote. Some of my earliest memories are going into the voting booth with my parents and pulling the lever. My husband and I did the same with our kids. This year, one of my daughters is in London for the semester and the other is at school in Baltimore. They both voted by absentee ballot.

By the way, I had a wonderful time visiting my daughter last month in your home town. After New York, London is my favorite city. I've had the pleasure of visiting there 5 times now, and never tire of it. I always especially enjoy the theatre. Please keep getting up on your Soapbox. One thing we know is that there is going to be plenty for you to write about. It ain't gonna be pretty!

My best to your family. Enjoy all the holidays. In my house, we have a really big Chanukkah party and play some serious dreidel. I wish you all good health, happiness and prosperity for the New Year.


from carmen in holland

Dear Charlie,

I've written you before in response to this election. I couldn't believe the story I read about your adventures in Las Vegas. I heard about the dirty tricks the republicans pulled during this election, but I didn't think it would be this bad, misleading people, telling people that their polling places had been changed and so on, how low can people get. I thought this was America, where everybody could speak their mind freely, I guess not!!

I still can't believe Bush is president again. This guy who's only interested in making war (and pulling the rest of the world with him) and not in his own country. Look at what's happening now, Bush has won the election and the war in Iraq is back on and I don't think it will be over any time soon. And then this speech of him, that history will prove him right (about Iraq), I couldn't believe my ears, who does he think he is?? When will he solve the problems in his own country instead of the problems in the rest of the world??

The people in Europe are really scared of what will happen next, for America has so much influence on the rest of the world (there is even a song here in Europe, it's called we all live in America). When will this war be over, when will be able to live in peace?? I guess no one knows.

I know that a lot of people don't agree with me and that's ok, because everybody has a right to their opinion and we should all respect that, that's the most important thing in this world respect. Everybody is different, but that doesn't make him/her a bad person, that just makes the world more interesting, we could all learn from eachother.

Thanks for reading my email and giving people the chance to speak their mind, it's so important. All my best to all of you


from leslie in tennessee

After looking over your website, I thought your family and my family have a lot in common. I've been married for 21 years to a guy in the music business ( a fellow emmy winner), and we have two wonderful daughters. I grew up in Florida, lived in Studio City, and now find my home in Franklin, TN, just outside of Nashville. I was amazed about your adventures in Vegas. I've never been there, but my husband produces a show for charity at the House of Blues every year. He describes it very much like you do, really not our kind of place. We enjoy the quiet beaches along Florida's gulf coast. I guess the main difference between you and me is that I'm a self-righteous, hypocritical, lying, mean-spirited, unchristian Republican. I never thought of myself that way, but I voted for Bush, so I guess I am. I'm a member of Brentwood Baptist Church. We have a tremendous mission program, housing homeless people in our family life center weekly, starting a English as a second language program, distributing over 200 meals to needy people for Thanksgiving. We just dedicated one our of most recent Habitat for Humanity homes this Sunday. I've been involved in a tutoring program and after school care for children of the working poor. I definitely don't believe in gay marriage, although I feel like gay couples should have the same rights of ownership, hospital visitation, etc. as a husband and wife should. I just don't think we need to mess around with the institution of marriage to do that. I definitely believe in small government. I also believe that lowering standards of accomplishment in our schools or the workplace, is racism in the purest form. I think income redistribution is criminal. The death tax should be abolished, it's double taxation and should be done away with. I don't think I'm a mean person because I feel this way. The way you describe Christianity is almost scary to me. It's definitely not how I see it or any of my friends do. I believe God is a God of grace and mercy. I also think this nation will continue to grow apart as long as people continue to make the generalizations that you made in your soapbox message. The ironic thing is, after looking over your resume, the people you seem to condemn the most are the ones who probably watch the shows you've appeared in.


from marina in texas

After much contemplation, I have decided that I am officially fearful for the future of our country.

Bush's 2d speech about "spending that political capital" makes it quite clear that he has no intention of ever living up to his "uniter not a divider" rhetoric. I foresee the country going into even more isolationism internationally - a black hole that will take either decades of fence mending by our future leaders, and from positions of extreme weakness, or a major international war to recover from.

Domestically, I see us moving ever more into reactionary conservatism, with a great loss of the civil rights gains we have made over the past 50 years, and a devastating evisceration of the Bill of Rights that we may never recover from. What ever happened to our great land of opportunity, where anyone of whatever gender or political, ethnic, economic, religious, philosophical or social background could realistically believe that he or she could have a brighter future for both himself/herself and his/her family? This nation is severely polarized in a way we haven't seen in our history since before the civil war.

At least I am proud of being where I am - in the criminal trial trenches. With what Bush will surely do to our appellate courts (he did a "recess appointment" to put an activist former KKK member on the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this year, when congress absolutely refused to confirm him - and the Republicans had a majority then!), that is the last hope for preserving some of our rights for all the people. The appellate courts will still allow the government to kill (execute) people on questionable evidence confronted by inept defense lawyers operating under "hide any good evidence from the defense" rules, with not a hint of sorrow for their decisions when scientific evidence totally exonerates the convicted. The supporters of that murderous rampage then turn right around and declare that "every life is precious," and demand an end to a woman's right to abortion, and refuse to support stem cell research. How can those two positions possibly come out of the same brain? Can reinstitution of the failed "report on your neighbor" program be far behind?

Not ready to go eat some worms just yet, but I am looking closely at the worm market.


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