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February 10, 2004, 7:15 A.M.

Okay, so I'm not that conservative, but I’m not really all that liberal, either. I try to stay open-minded and judge an issue on its merits and this puts my opinions across a broad spectrum. I don’t like those labels anyway because they are often used to minimize the arguments and points of view of others. Not all Republicans are automatically conservatives, and not all Democrats are liberals. I try hard not to be a knee-jerk anything. I often find my views appealing to folks on both sides of the aisle, and I’m often persuaded, not by arguments from the left or right (port or starboard), but from people who put some thought into issues, like Walt and Bob.

On a more or less local note, I got some similar comments from a friend the other day, who wrote:

“I listen to Arnie Arneson and everything is reduced to them and us. Why can’t anyone in politics work together for the real good of their constitutency?”
He goes on to suggest, as Bob did, that Kerry will not make a big difference and sighs, “There has to be a better way.”

February 9, 2004, 9:30 P.M.

I received two great letters from Republican friends who raise some very good points about my last article. I should say that we have received a lot of letters about this column and it seems to have struck a nerve.

Bob B’s “devil-you-know” argument has merit when you realize that Kerry is vulnerable in a lot of ways. He does not have a strong record and his whole strategy seems to be getting elected. In my comments regarding his visit to Laconia, I noted a frustration regarding a lack of substance. Kerry also must escape the fact that he was lieutenant governor to Dukakis, he lacks substance, and he really doesn’t have any big accomplishments to ride home on as a Senator.

Here also, Walt K is correct, except that he calls me a leftie when I am as conservative a Democrat as there is. Walt suggests, and I think correctly, that if Kerry were elected, we might not see much change in terms of foreign policy. I also disagree about Bush as a liar. He is. There is a very long litany of things he has lied about that were more significant, in the greater scheme of things, than sex.

What smart Democrats outght to see here is that the smart Republicans, and there are a few, are willing to look critically at the candidates and to recognize, as Bob does, that regardless of who emerges as the Democratic challenger, we are left with poor choices. I, too, am sick of mediocre, “lesser-of-two-evils” choices. We can do better than Kerry and Bush, and we deserve better.

I really appreciate comments like these; they stimulate thought and discussion and that’s what I want my website to do. I don’t just want a pat on the back from folks who agree (like President Bush).

Unlike Bob and Walt, my vote falls on the side of getting Bush and his posse out of office, but I also favor a system that allows the cream to rise. We deserve better than we are getting.

February 9, 2004, 9:15 P.M.

Another from the mailbag: New reader and first time writer, Bob B., writes:

Ed:

Yes, I do read them.

You close with:

“Yet that is where we are. People are willing to vote for anyone who can run against this guy. Bush has a chance at re-election because I think the guy who offered the bet in the scenario I described earlier called Rove a few months later and said, “Double or nothin’, Karl.”

Unfortunately, what might come to pass is that the “devil you know” syndrome wins out. We just might need to sadly admit that neither party has provided a stronger candidate. That’s where the real change needs to take place.

Americans are being forced to choose among weak players when we deserve the best. Hopefully, better choices will emerge during the next four years.

Choosing Kerry –now-- is akin to biting your nose to spite your face. And, I expect a nasty election once his record is revealed on a national level—and it will, in spades. That’s not a good thing for America especially in these trying times. Going from bad to worse on the global stage will really hurt us.

BTW, you might be throwing gasoline on the fire with the “conspiracy” stuff—even tongue in cheek.

We all know that Democrats have a propensity to subscribe to conspiracy theories—and usually makes them look silly. Remember Hillary trying to pin Bill’s problems on “the right wing conspiracy” rather than just accepting it was just another case of his own libido combined with arrogance that finally got him.

Personally, never had a problem with the Monica issue—what incensed me was that he hung his own friends out to dry (couldn’t come clean even privately so they could save themselves—hey, there’s a pun in there.) Then, blinded by the same arrogance, figured he could lie his way out. Even I’ll concede it cost Gore the election.

I actually felt for Clinton since he was the best politician I’ve ever seen. But in the final analysis, he made a mockery of himself, defocused anything he did well while in office, and damaged his party simply because he was smarter than everyone else. What he didn’t possess was the common sense to just admit, apologize, and move on with his life’s ambition.

Kerry has many of the same traits. And, electing a career politician with an obvious obsession to be POTUS in and of itself carries a lot of baggage that IMHO simply can’t best serve the needs of America. His interest in the title supercedes his interest in what the job actually entails.

Regards,

Bob

February 9, 2004, 9:00 P.M.

From the mailbag: Reader Walt K writes:

Hi Ed,

I'm back from business travel to the great socialist nations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In my mind these are all very nice people and countries with excellent qualities, although the left (or would you prefer port side?) is not is not my political leaning. But, the Scandinavian people do thrive and live well under left-leaning political systems. So, they can't be all bad.

Now, I hope you lefties can see the same perspective with the righties. Bush and the Republican administration are not as bad as you describe them. Please don't get carried away with the Democrat emotion. Bush is not a liar. He is a bumbler. That makes him look kind of dumb and inept to an intelligent guy like you. As I've told you, I didn't vote for the guy either.

So, as things are shaping up, it looks like we will have a choice between Bush, Kerry and some independent To Be Announced. I wish the choice would have been between Bush and Lieberman. At least I would have had an intellectual challenge to choose. My choice between Bush and Kerry makes me pull the Republican lever. ( We had levers back in Philadelphia) Now, why would I do that after all the nasty things you said about Bush and the Republican organization?

1. I like the tax cuts as they pertain to the middle class. I could have gone along with Lieberman's position to have a heavier burden on the truly rich. I'm afraid that the normal Democratic Party definition of wealthy is wage earners making more than $50,000 per year. I strongly dislike the perennial Democratic harangue that boils down to a class warfare argument. Serious Democrats should knock this off, and maybe they would get more middle of the roaders like me to listen to them. "Tax cut for the rich" makes me gag.

2. Say what you will about Homeland Security and Ashcroft and loss of personal freedom. The terrorists have been deterred from pulling something off since 9/11/01. We're still not home free. I believe that all the Democratic rhetoric about this issue would not bring us to a safer place. As a frequent traveler, I wish our airport security people would learn methods from the Europeans and not the Israelis.

3. I take Bush's word that regardless of what has been said, the war in Iraq is part of the bigger picture of the War on Terror. Somebody had to take action. We are at war. And, this war is not over. Appeasers would not solve the problem. There are too many POLITICAL Monday morning quarterbacks mouthing off on this issue. If John Kerry is chosen, he will inherit a war. What would he do? Don't be too surprised if the course of action doesn't change a whole lot.

4. The economy. Both parties don't get it. I really think the economy is bigger than either the Republican or Democratic Party. It is driven by economic cycles, strongly affected by the emerging economic power of Asia, and is bombarded by immorality, greed and corruption. Bush thinks that tax cuts and Federal fiscal policy are an economic stimulus. I think somewhat true. Many say we are spending too much. I think true, and I think that neither political party knows how to manage spending efficiency. So, neither Bush nor Kerry would get my confidence on the Economy.

Outside of that, I'll keep on reading your web page for enlightenment about the issues.

Walt K.

February 9, 2004, 7:50 P.M.

A Call to Arms: Last week I attended the organizational meeting of the Laconia School District’s Joint Facilities Planning Committee. The Committee was formed by the School District as the next step in the District’s implementation of its Capital Improvements Plan.

I have also been hearing a lot about the balance between the need to replace the middle and high schools and budgetary concerns. These concerns are compounded by the uncertainty over school funding at the state and federal levels. As we know, neither the state nor the federal governments are meeting their current obligations for education funding. The federal government continues to underfund its mandated IDEA requirements, and the President’s proposed budget provides even less money for its No Child Left Behind boondoggle.

In Concord, our Governor actually believes himself to be a friend and supporter of public education because he convinced a few friends to make tax deductible contributions of laptop computers available for high profile distribution around the state. At the same time, the Governor shows absolutely no leadership in resolving the state’s education funding crisis. Instead, he touts a constitutional amendment to remove the Supreme Court’s ability to review funding decisions by the legislature, he supports a voucher system that does nothing but further drain funds from school districts and he supports a charter school system that completely removes any semblance of local control from the process of establishing charter schools. Rome burns, Benson fiddles.

The constitutional amendment issue failed. The voucher bill failed. All attempts at arriving at a constitutional, fair and efficient method of funding public education have also failed. The Constitution is too precious, and so is our tripartite system of government, for us to seek to change its basic structure because we cannot agree on how to meet our basic needs. Likewise, vouchers are a bad idea if for no other reason than, given the proposed amount of the vouchers, they will not succeed in allowing families to have choice, but they will draw funds out of the coffers of local school districts. Hello, Craig, not everyone can afford to make up the difference between the voucher and the actual cost of private tuition (not to mention that special education – remember that unfunded mandate? – cannot possibly be “vouchered”).

So in Laconia we are facing a real need to replace our two largest schools. We have a fantastic plan in place and we are ready to begin conceptual designs. Our only problem is uncertainty about what the state and federal governments will do to live up to their funding obligations. If, for example, all of our IDEA and NCLB costs were fully funded, school construction bonds would be an easy burden to bear.

This is where we need to insist on competent and energetic representation in Concord and Washington for Laconia. We need to ask what our legislative delegation is doing to ensure that the pocketbooks of Laconia citizens are protected. For too long our legislative delegation, with a few notable exceptions such as Jim Fitzgerald and Jane Wood, has been unwilling to do more than to mindlessly rubber stamp any legislation that the Republican party leadership sets in front of them. In the eyes of the rest of the state, this little jewel of a city is a laughing stock. I don’t believe that our delegation is doing anything right now to ensure that Laconia doesn’t lose $1 million in state funding this year. If they are fighting for us on this issue, I want to know how, and what they are doing. Prove me wrong. Prove to me and the rest of your constituents that you are working to make the quality of education in this community as good as it can be, and that this burden is not shifted to local taxpayers.

I also don’t want to hear about how it is a “local control issue,” because if you voted for the Governor’s charter school bill, you cut the legs out from under towns and school districts by allowing a minority to circumvent the will of the majority and have a charter school imposed on a community by the state. If you voted to amend the constitution to avoid complying with the Supreme Court’s orders, you avoided your responsibility to find a fair funding formula. If you voted for vouchers, you undermined the concept of adequate public education.

The people of this city will not continue to suffer legislators who don’t show up or don’t stay awake. We need, want and deserve to have our facilities upgraded to match the outstanding quality of the public schools in this city, and we need to know that someone is looking out for us in Concord. As the facilities committee gets down to work, we as a community need to ask ourselves and our representatives how, not if, we can get these buildings done.


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