Election 2008: What readers say

September 23, 2008 

My father was in the Philippines in WWII. His generation provided the United States with the luxuries of American life. Recently, as a Barack Obama supporter, I have received numerous personal insults at random with no provocation on my part other than my T-shirt or bumper sticker.

Well, I am frustrated, too, my friends: I am 52, have diabetes and am unable to secure individual health or life insurance. Like you, what little I have saved for retirement has dwindled. I have the same fears regarding national security as you and place great value on the patience, tolerance and love demonstrated by Christ.

I am a data-driven guy: I examine the facts, question their source, dispense with the rhetoric and form a judgment based on my evaluation. I have done these things to choose my candidate and would like to engage in a fact-driven debate with any person who is honestly considering the McCain-Palin option. Bring your campaign-authorized policy statements and let's compare bullet points. Perhaps you can change my mind.

To honor the sacrifices of our grand-parents, our children's future and America we have an obligation to turn off our televisions and talk.

Jeffrey Harris
Raleigh

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Many of my friends are registered Republicans, and they're good people. Most agree that under the rule of vicious Republican politicians, our well-being, economy and civil liberties have been run into the ground.

George Bush, Dick Cheney and their cronies steadily pushed a great agenda for big corporations and themselves, while injuring everyone except the very rich. The Iraq war is killing our soldiers and economy and enabling the Taliban and al-Qaida resurgence in Afghanistan while Bin Laden freely roams.

This election might be our last chance to stop the madness and turn things around. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and John McCain loyally supported Bush's destructive agenda of the rich -- siding with him on over 90 percent of their votes. These are verifiable facts. In my mind, heart and soul, I know we can't give them another chance, regardless of their brand new awakening and promises they're making today. They've already been failing us over the past eight years so don't fall for their empty promises again.

I hope all good people think about their situation and consider whether they're better off today.

Mike Testa
Raleigh

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I apparently fall into several of the categories that the GOP/Karl Rove political machine is trying to pander to by selection of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate: I am female, Christian, a mother and former "working Mom," and I really would like to see a qualified woman serve our country in the highest position in government -- but be real, people! Palin might make a great "Mrs. America" (I'm expecting McCain to break out into song, Bert Parks-style every time I catch a glimpse of him on TV with Palin at his side), but she is in no way even remotely qualified to serve in a position that puts her next in line for the U.S. presidency.

Frankly, I can't even see how many real "working Moms" can identify with her lifestyle as governor of Alaska. I find it highly offensive if the Republicans really think women who have supported and respected Hillary Clinton will jump at the chance to vote for just any woman, especially one who is so obviously on the GOP ticket as eye candy to take attention away from the real issues this election should be addressing.

I fervently agree with Hillary: "No way, no how, no McCain-Palin."

Theresa Moore
Raleigh

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With the absurdity of even the international media covering Barack Obama exercising his Jesse Helms-given right to slander his opponent, I think we as Americans have completely missed the relevant issues. The issue that affects nearly everyone is that going to work costs more each day. President Bush has made fewer decisions that affect your cost of going to work than Rex Tillerson, Jeroen van der Veer, Tony Hayward, and James Mulva, the CEOs of Exxon, Shell, BP and Conoco Phillips. You probably voted for or against President Bush; you did not for or against those CEOs.

We, as a country, are in a pot of water on a stove. Everyone explicitly named in this letter is wearing a lobster bib. Too bad we're too busy arguing to notice.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the polls Nov. 4.

Chris Dukes
Wake Forest

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We're now less than two months from our next presidential election. It seems there is endless debate about the worthiness of candidates running for office at local, state and national levels.

Do you vote your professed values? Do you choose politicians who promise you things that might reward you financially or who promise to make your life easier at the expense of others? Do you vote for the person who tells you it is OK to terminate the life of an unborn baby for the convenience of the mother? Do you vote for candidates merely because of their race, gender or party affiliation?

I would argue that each of us votes his or her true values. What we genuinely value and cherish guides the selections we make when we enter the voting booth. In the aggregate, this country votes its values as well. In short, we get what we demand (and what we deserve).

According to recent polling data, less than 20 percent of America is satisfied with the performance of the U.S. Congress. If you're among the vast majority not happy with the values being championed by our elected officials in Raleigh and Washington, then take a close look at those representatives seeking re-election. Perhaps it's time for a change. And if you're wavering on whom to choose for our next president and vice president, simply look at the values each team espouses. An honest appraisal of their respective values (and their records) should make your choice much easier.

James Womack
Sanford

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I am the mother of two elementary school children and am constantly reminded of the need for quality education for all of the children in North Carolina. In this area we consistently struggle with school reassignments, overcrowding and a lack of resources. While I have the ability to ensure that my children receive the education that they need, most North Carolinians are not that fortunate. It is shameful that almost 30 percent of North Carolina students still never graduate from high school, and almost half of our 1.4 million students attend under-funded schools.

It is obvious to all parents that the educational system in North Carolina and throughout the nation has gotten worse under the leadership of President Bush. Barack Obama will make education a priority and will reform and strengthen our public school system.

He is committed to enhancing early childhood education, afterschool programs, and teacher quality. His American Opportunity Tax Credit will provide the first $4,000 of a college education for most students. What family wouldn't benefit from that plan?

This is why I support Barack Obama for president!

Jenny Bryan
Chapel Hill

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Sarah Palin makes me, along with countless other women, proud to be a conservative. Her values, strengths and integrity inspire us to be more than we are right now. Her experience in raising a family, running businesses, serving on a city council, being a successful mayor and governor is certainly more soothing than the Obama-Biden team's background.

It is troubling to see the nasty liberal backlash against her obvious wholesomeness. She backs her talk with follow-through actions, from not obtaining a convenient abortion to getting rid of luxury governor perks like an airplane and a private cook.

I could not think of a better team than McCain-Palin to guide us through the current world struggles. Those who think otherwise need to study history. Start with the history before WWII and the economic history of the USSR. Options offered by Obama and Biden have failed miserably all over the world in many ages. Strength and free market capitalism win far better lives for more people when compared to "everybody-likes-us" popularity and socialism fanned by envy and bitterness.

Furthermore, the growing entitlement thinking shrinks the human spirit and its potential.

Patrice Cooke
Raleigh

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I am sick and tired of people comparing Sarah Palin to Barack Obama. He beat the only woman, in my opinion, who could qualify to be the president of this United States, and Palin couldn't measure up to Hillary Clinton's little finger. The people chose him over her, knowing Clinton's experience versus Obama's, so how anyone can continue to compare Palin to Barack is beyond me.

Sadder still is her lack of knowledge of the "Bush Doctrine." She should be angry at her campaign for putting her in such a position to be made to look so incompetent as to not prep her on the "Bush Doctrine." Then again, things not well put together eventually fall apart.

Scarier still if, God forbid, she did step in for McCain, would some of these be the same people giving her advice? She did not "even blink" when asked to be V.P? A woman with a baby with Down syndrome and a pregnant 17-year-old daughter didn't even for a moment count the cost and consequences of going for such an important, public position?

I'd have more belief and respect for Palin had she said, "Well, of course, I had to think about it, discuss it with my family and consider how it would impact my family and my life, much less my country."

Didn't even blink an eye? Unbelievable -- and horrifying.

Adrianne Powell
Garner

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So it's really true that as Adlai Stevenson once said, "Anyone can become president. That's one of the risks you take."

We really do live in dangerous times. If that phone in the White House should ring at 3 a.m. sometime next year, I certainly hope the president who answers it is a lot smarter than I am. I want him to be well enough informed and a clear enough thinker that any decision made will be made with from a background of extensive knowledge and with a comprehension of the implications for national security of any course of action he orders. I certainly don't want him to come to some ill-considered decision "without blinking." I want him to know what he's getting us into.

I want to minimize the risk of just anyone becoming president. That's why I'm going to put an Obama-Biden sticker on my car.

Roger Bullard
Wilson

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I am 80 years old. I say, in all sincerity, that most people don't immediately believe it, for I don't look it, nor do I act as the stereotyped 80-year-old is expected to act. I have stated this because John McCain will be, after serving two terms, no older than I am now. I have reason to feel that he will be lacking in neither judgement nor capability, as well as profound experience.

John knows that this is his last chance to contribute his great ambition and potential as president of the United States. I think that it is quite possible that he decided it was time to place his chips on the line, to shake up the presidential race with a new and imaginative approach. The gauntlet had been thrown. He knew that he was facing a novel challenge in the Democrat candidate. For his own reasons, he therefore picked a vigorous, capable, experienced and attractive female running mate.

Women make up at least half of the voting population, yet they have almost never been given a realistic opportunity to share executive power at the national level. He has opened that opportunity, and time will shortly tell whether thoughtful, capable and proud women will vote to keep that gate open, and to assert their right to have a role in the national action.

Not all women agree with Sarah Palin, of course, no more than all men agree with McCain. It is obvious, however, that John McCain, even if he is never given opportunity to do anything more, has established a precedent for women in government almost as important as was the women's suffrage movement itself. Those who do not vote with him, as well as those who do, should acknowledge their gratitude for his action.

That's why I feel that he made the right choice. Quentin C. Haning
Raleigh

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Well, you've got to hand it to Sarah Palin. She's been able to do something no one's done since Bill Clinton and Bob Packwood were chasing women around Washington -- expose the rank hypocrisy of the left when it comes to feminism.

It's not a breakthrough victory for Sarah Palin to come from humble beginnings, have a career while raising a family and rise to potentially history making heights in her field. This woman has the nerve to do all that as a conservative with traditional values! The unmitigated gall. What is she thinking? She needs to get on back to Alaska and take care of those younguns.

But these despicable attacks bring a consolation.With every snarky swipe, her popularity rises and with it her chances of being elected VP. The liberals' answer to Brer Rabbit.

Make no mistake, this woman poses as great a threat to the left's definition of feminism as there has ever been. The stakes are high, and we will see a full assault on this candidacy. They will stop at nothing to prevent this validation of traditional values along with high feminist achievement. And with every salvo, the hypocrisy will reveal that the real battle has been ideological and political all along.

John Thomas
Cary

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You might have heard that Sarah Palin said, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Charlie Gibson pulled that out on her in her interview on ABC TV, asking her, "Are we fighting a Holy War?" They edited out her objection that she didn't believe that was her exact quote.

In reality, she had been speaking in her church to her congregation and was not asserting that our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God; she was asking her congregation to pray that that be the case. Her exact words were:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that were praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

No wonder so many people have lost faith in the reliability of news media.

Harold McFarland
Chapel Hill

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Just how stupid does the McCain campaign think we North Carolinians are? I just saw a new commercial approved by John McCain under the title of the "New Mavericks" in which it is claimed that Sarah Palin "stopped" the Bridge to Nowhere. Anyone who has paid any attention to the news should know that is an outright lie. By repeating, it they want to make us believe it. Not only was Palin for the project before the ground shifted against her in Congress, but as governor she took the money any way even though the project was not to be built. I have been voting for more than half a century, but this Republican campaign is the dirtiest in my memory.

Gerald Gura
Chapel Hill

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From what I'm reading in The N&O and elsewhere, it appears that Sarah Palin has many of the same characteristics as George W. Bush. For example, she highly values loyalty. That's evidenced by her wholesale firing of staff in the Alaska governor's office when she was elected and replacing them with old friends. Also, she wants to keep the workings of her administration secret, again evidenced in her administration in Alaska. She is overconfident, which is evident in how easily she takes extremist positions and forcefully defends them, not to mention the tone of her speech in general.

Notice that the McCain-Palin campaign is claiming that Obama supports sex education for kindergartners, whereas what he actually supported was "age- and developmentally appropriate education."

There is more, but the general issue is whether we should again elect a president and vice president who surround themselves with cronies and "yes men" who won't confuse them by offering alternative information or opinion, so secretive, and so willing to lie in order to get what they want.

We've been down that road for eight years, and it has cost us our reputation worldwide, thousands of human lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, and our own self-esteem as an honest, humanitarian, and knowledgeable society.

Robert P. Hawkins, Ph.D.
Cary

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As an older white Southern woman, casting the most important vote of my lifetime, I look at Barack Obama and I see:

1. A young black man growing up with a single white mom and hard-working Kansas grandparents, overcoming obvious odds, committing his life to the one nation indivisible for which we Americans still strive.

2. A college graduate driving a beat-up car into neighborhoods of poor and jobless whites, blacks and Latinos, listening to them, taking action, recruiting local churches to help in his mission of public service. 3. A public servant whose striking leadership qualities move to Washington, supporting the needed change of direction there, developing fresh ideas to fix a failing economy and healthcare and energy plans.

4. A leader who grasps the big picture in the many crises we face, just as he did in opposing the Iraq war from the beginning. A leader respected by our allies and other world leaders. A smart, tough guy who is willing to listen to and work with them before plunging headlong into another morally wrong and disastrous war.

I see him as the candidate most ready to follow Jesus's command to love one another.

Barbara Bates Smith
Clyde

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Up until July, Phil Gramm was a co-chairman of John McCain's election campaign. McCain depended heavily on Gramm's advice on economic matters and suggested that Gramm would be a good candidate for Treasury secretary in a McCain administration.

Gramm, now an executive for the giant Swiss bank UBS, then let slip some remarks suggesting that Americans were "whiners" regarding the current economic problems and financial market turmoil. To many the remarks reflected a disdain for the financial hardships suffered by Americans. Gramm soon thereafter left the McCain campaign.

During his long career as a U.S. representative and senator, Gramm was Mr. Deregulation. Get rid of the old financial safeguards and protection laws. Get the government off our backs and let the "free markets" work. To some people it sounded great. But now untold billions of dollars are lost, huge companies have gone belly-up, taxpayers are on the hook for bailouts and credit markets have practically stopped operating. I think I see where that vaunted deregulation gets us.

Selecting Gramm as a key adviser revealed John McCain's basic philosophy of the economy. Now that the results of this policy are becoming clear, I'm betting that McCain will change his stripes very soon.

Tom Marchner
Durham

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It is ludicrous to me that John McCain and Sarah Palin are claiming they will bring change to Washington. Not only does McCain admit to supporting Bush's policies 90 percent of the time, but Palin is already continuing the secrecy and denial we've endured from the Bush administration for eight years.

Palin reportedly has used her office to reward and punish people for their opinions, and she is now fighting subpoenas to get to the bottom of her influence in the firing of her sister's ex-husband. Further, she and her aides regularly used personal e-mail accounts for government business for the sole purpose of circumventing future subpoenas of the governor's e-mail exchanges! This is not change; this is exactly what Bush and his people have done throughout their administration.

Also, why hasn't Palin been asked about her church's teachings the way Obama was? Does she speak in tongues? Does she believe all non-Christians will burn in hell?

Investigating these issues is necessary and legitimate. Her reluctance to cooperate should be a giant red flag to us all.

George Johnson
Clayton

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John McCain's claim that he will end the "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" that caused this financial crisis would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. He is among those most responsible for this mess. He has called himself "fundamentally a deregulator"; he helped abolish the Depression-era rules designed to protect Americans from the "unbridled greed" of special interests on Wall Street by vigorously supporting both the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

Chief sponsor of both bills was Phil "Enron Loophole" Gramm, the man McCain picked to co-chair his campaign and who insisted there was no real crisis, only a "mental recession," and that hard-working and anxious Americans were "whiners." McCain is now attempting to deceive us into thinking he will "reform" the very system he put in place. Don't believe it. Republicans have always subscribed to the notion that "We need to let business alone and let business figure it out." Well, we let business alone at Gramm and McCain's urging and now the taxpayers are forced to provide a safety net for billionaires.

Enough is enough. Common sense tells us that some regulation is vital if we are to prevent such meltdowns. Barack Obama will work to streamline the regulatory framework and to crack down on manipulation of financial security markets.

In November, we have what may be a last chance to free ourselves from the clutches of those like McCain who for decades have enabled reckless conduct, corruption and "unbridled greed." It's time to give them their pink slips, call security while they clean out their desks and show them the door.

Christina Askounis
Lecturer, Department of English Duke University Durham

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America is seeing the second major "surge" of this Republican administration, the dumping of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into Wall street. Not surprisingly this financial bailout has much in common with the "surge" in Iraq. Both actions were required after capricious failures of leadership.

In both cases the Republicans failed to make good decisions. They failed to regulate Wall Street in this most recent surge. We were lied into the Iraq war to begin with, then we have been saddled with terrible prosecution of the war/ Finally an "all in" strategy that has taken our military to the breaking point has helped give some relief.

The Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in particular, are calling the surge a "victory." Sen. Graham conveniently forgets how bad President Bush let it get in Iraq in the first place and fails to explain what happens next for out troops and our treasure in this boondoggle. How much more will this lie cost us?

Running a government by boom and bust followed by a surge has become the hallmark of the Republicans. This country needs tax increases, not for Democratic spending, but to cover for the disastrous mistakes of the Republicans.

John Long
New Bern

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Both candidates are flying the "change" banner. As with any broadly worded slogan, it's unclear what that means. Here's what I want to see changed:

Energy: the debate over sources of nonrenewable fuels misses the major point -- the hurricanes are payback for our energy policy (www.voanews.com/english/2008-09-17-voa43.cfm). Stop the "drill, drill, drill" mantra and invest only in renewal sources.

Foreign policy: Iraq will require a firm hand on restoring sovereignty. We must then restore our standing as a good world citizen renouncing preemptive invasion and torture -- for a start.

Finance: Level with the citizens that we have financed our overspending with foreign-owned Treasury bonds. Explain what that means to us. Stop pandering to the greed of the few with high-end tax cuts. Restore our sense of common purpose in fixing the imbalances.

Leadership: We have had years of being hostage to fear. Do what needs to be done for national safety quietly. Our new leader must inspire us with a better vision and instill us with the hope that we will achieve worthy national goals.

The last item enables the other two, and many, many more. It's clear to me that Barack Obama already meets that inspiring leadership requirement. He has my vote.

Craig Nygard
Cary

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Homeschoolers in North Carolina increased by 4 percent last year, and there are currently over 71,500 homeschool students in North Carolina. As parents, we take our children's education seriously. It is a right that we have, and we should support those elected officials that support this right.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole supports homeschoolers and deserves your support for re-election. Just one example of this is when she sponsored a bill (S. Res 572) that says that homeschooling is a "fundamental and constitutional right of parents." It also states, "...the modern homeschool movement in the United States demonstrates that homeschooled children are a vital component of the United States education system ... homeschool graduates act responsibly as parents and as students in colleges and universities, are valuable in the workplace, and are productive citizens in society at large ... many studies confirm that children who are educated at home score considerably above the national average on nationally-normed achievement tests, and above the average on both the SAT and ACT college entrance exams."

Dole strongly supports a parent's rights to homeschool. I urge you to support her and vote for her this November!

Jeff Farnham
Kernersville

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I am writing in response to the recent focus on Veterans Affairs in the U.S. Senate race. I attended the forum with state Sen. Kay Hagan and former Sen. Max Cleland at the VFW in Raleigh. I did not realize that Hagan has so many family ties to the military. Her father, brother, father-in-law, husband and two nephews have all either served or are currently serving some capacity. Because of these intimate ties, Hagan has been an ardent supporter of our veterans.

North Carolina needs a representative in Washington who knows the struggles and the needs of such a huge population in North Carolina. I think we all agree that despite our feelings about this war, all of our veterans should be cared for. Kay Hagan is this voice for North Carolina.

Jonathan Lucas
Raleigh

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Everyone needs to do a reali.ty check when it comes to listening to the Democratic Party media ads pertaining to our state. Listening to Kay Hagen and Bev Perdue you'd think they and the Democrats had done tremendous deeds over the past 10 years, but I strongly disagree. Let's look around the state

A. As you ride down our state highways, the grass is 3 to 4 feet high because our Transportation Department hasn't mowed. Instead I notice that they're preparing and planting flower beds at intersections with tall grass all around. Mismanagement?

B. Bev Perdue is supposedly for our public school teachers and state education, but the state only provided partial bonuses that were promised the state teachers.

C. State school funding for the counties across the state is insufficient, so much so that they sneak a vote on a controversial lottery program that was suppose to solve all funding problems. Yeah, right! The school systems are still only partially funded leaving counties in a bind to make up the difference.

D. Our state commercial fisheries have been reduced to nothing, thanks to lack of action by our Democratic controlled state government. Bev Perdue can take credit for this situation because some 10 years ago, she was the main voice in forcing the then director of N.C. Fisheries, Dr. Bill Ho-garth, to leave his position. She and her cronies thought his ideas for conservation and restrictions were too radical.

So do we want another tenure of Democratic controlled state government? I know not! Pat McCrory is a seven- term mayor of Charlotte, the largest city in the state. He has faced the issues of schools, utilities, etc. for that exploding population and has succeeded in directing a Democratic local government in getting the job done.

Open your eyes, people!

Ken Smith
Greenville

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Kudos to the Beverly Perdue campaign for its recognition of the potential role that mental health courts can play in repairing our broken mental health system. As a psychiatrist and attorney, I am afforded daily reminders that our prisons are becoming the new "safety net" for those not served by community resources.

There are dozens of such courts across the nation as well as a pilot program here in Orange County. The premise is simple: nonviolent offenders are given the option of having their cases adjudicated on a separate docket by a judge who has training and familiarity with mental health issues; voluntary entry into this multi-disciplinary effort can result in eventual dismissal of charges should the offender successfully adhere to a therapeutic plan. The offender benefits from a less-restrictive environment, treatment and supervision; our prisons avoid unnecessary incarcerations; and society gains a monitored and cost effective alternative to imprisonment.

The difficulty in establishing this regimen will stem from an absence of a functional mental health clinic network -- you can't divert a mentally ill person from prison unless there is somewhere to divert them! At present, gaping holes in community services would hobble the effective implementation of any such plan.

I am nevertheless heartened by the Perdue campaign's interest in exploring this avenue, and I await the day when all North Carolina citizens can enjoy the full spectrum of services now lacking.

John Carbone, M.D.
Cary

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