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The democratic National Convention just ended ( I am an independent, for what it is worth ).  President Jimmy Carter gave a well thought out analysis speech.  

The speech can be found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-07-26-carter-speech-text_x.htm

All of the speeches at the convention can be found at http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-07-27-speech-text-index_x.htm 

Jimmy Carter's speech to the Democratic National Convention
The text of former President Jimmy Carter's speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention:

My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president. But here's what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.

Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president, and I said then, "I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people." I say this again tonight, and that is exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States.

As many of you know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles.

At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace. I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties. Both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders-in-chief, they exercised restraint and judgment and had a clear sense of mission. We had confidence that our leaders, military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating "wars of choice" unless America's vital interests were endangered.

We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when it came to issues involving our nation's security. Today, our Democratic party is led by another former naval officer—one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.

He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership, and I am confident that next January he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that is sorely lacking today. I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.

As you know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education, and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists. But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America—based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth—without trust—America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.

In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.

Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace—a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein—has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia. These are some of the prices of our government's radical departure from the basic American principles and values espoused by John Kerry!

In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth will define America's role in the world.

At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul. In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: do not underestimate us Americans. We lack neither strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards. Thank you and God bless America!


The Hypocrisy Bowl
A sunburst exposes the game's sex-sells ethos. Let the bogus outrage and culture wars begin!


Monday, Feb. 09, 2004
It was meant to be a super Sunday like any other. About 143 million people gathered to enjoy a wholesome evening of giant men knocking the living hell out of one another, cheered on by busty dancing women in skimpy uniforms, with occasional messages from crude talking animals entreating them to buy intoxicants.

Instead, something offensive happened. In a jaw-dropping denouement to the MTV-produced halftime show, Justin Timberlake sang, "I gotta have you naked by the end of this song," reached across Janet Jackson's black leather bustier and exposed — well, yes. But he exposed more than that. What the Super Bowl incident (Nipplegate? Boobytrap? The Tempest in a C Cup?) also revealed was the hypocrisies of the entertainment and sports industries, the commercial culture and even the viewing public.

After what Timberlake euphemized with the NASA-like "wardrobe malfunction," the accusations flew like flags on a late hit. The NFL blamed CBS and MTV. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) blamed the networks not just for the "reveal" but also for a halftime show that included rapper Nelly grabbing his crotch and sexual grinding between Timberlake and Jackson. The networks blamed Jackson, who said she cooked up the stunt at the last minute. Nonetheless, after the game the MTV website crowed that "fans of Janet Jackson and her pasties were definitely in the right place." (Actually, Jackson's right breast was adorned by a metal "nipple shield," the event's other gift to the lexicon.) Jackson apologized but blamed her outfit; she said it was supposed to reveal a red bra, which "collapsed."

The defenseless undergarment, alas, could not speak up for itself. The league said, however, that it had concerns about the tone of the show, and Timberlake's song, that MTV never addressed. "MTV did not live up to their end of the deal," said NFL executive vice president Joe Browne. "They told us, 'We'll address your concerns,' and then things never changed." But MTV Networks chairman and CEO Tom Freston said the league and the networks together reviewed the songs, costumes and choreography. He noted that MTV also produced the halftime show three years ago. "If you go back and look," he said, "you'll see the artists doing similar types of music with similar choreography. You even have guys in 'N Sync doing crotch grabbing. But none of it fell under the microscope." (CBS executives refused requests to speak for this story.)

MTV can make a case that the show, minus the pop-out, was not beyond the pale for TV. Just look how far MTV has moved the pale. At its Video Music Awards (V.M.A.), rapper Lil' Kim has sported a pastie-accessorized outfit that showed no less than Jackson, while Britney Spears has stripped down to a flesh-colored body stocking and has kissed Madonna on her publicity-hungry lips. And MTV has what CBS and the NFL want badly: young, especially young male, viewers.

The Super Bowl fiasco showed how tough it is to assemble a giant mainstream spectacle for today's niched audience. Even the audience reaction ranged from deep offense to bemusement. Bill Cleaver, of Pittsboro, N.C., watched the performance with his wife Julia and their daughter Annie, 10. "I'm not a Boy Scout," he said, "but I know in public what is appropriate manners and what is vulgarity." Then again, TiVo, the digital-video-recorder maker, said the event was the most replayed ever among its users. In a TIME/CNN poll, 47% of respondents said the incident marked "a new low in bad taste"; yet 68% said the government should not fine CBS. Attempting to please a torn audience has put all the big networks through growing, or rather shrinking, pains. Under fire from conservatives, CBS last year canceled its mini-series The Reagans, although it claimed the cancellation was not caused by the pressure. This, combined with the network's apparent quid pro quo offer to Jessica Lynch — a host of Viacom deals in exchange for her story of capture in Iraq — and reports of a similar offer to obtain a Michael Jackson interview, has put CBS's credibility at a low point.

But you can't eat credibility, and CBS is the most watched network on TV largely because it has rejuvenated its audience with edgier shows. Survivor is MTV's The Real World redone as a game show, and 33 million people watched the post — Super Bowl debut of Survivor: All-Stars, with the return of player Richard Hatch, who spent much of the episode nude (albeit pixelated). CSI, TV's most popular drama, may be the goriest show in broadcast. So what's a ratings-greedy mogul to do?

The answer, say some TV insiders: Be very afraid. The scandal awakened the FCC, which had been lenient on both standards and corporate consolidation under chairman Michael Powell but announced an investigation into the halftime show. This week House and Senate committees will hold hearings on broadcast decency. So the story swung from action (video delays instituted on the Grammy and Oscar ceremonies) to overreaction. Under pressure from affiliates, NBC cut a scene from Thursday's ER that briefly showed the breast of an 80-year-old heart-attack patient. "I think our viewers are intelligent enough to make their own decision as to whether their children should watch or not," complained executive producer John Wells. Hollywood is a favorite target in election years (in '92, Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown; in '96, Bob Dole vs. Ice-T; in 2000, Joseph Lieberman vs. Eminem). But some in the industry cheer the Super Bowl investigation. "I think everybody should be fined," said Vin di Bona, executive producer of America's Funniest Home Videos. "The networks, the artists, and if you really want to clean it up, fine the local broadcasters."

From the Feb. 16, 2004 issue of TIME magazine



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This piece by former President Jimmy Carter expresses my thoughts well.

March 9, 2003

Just War — or a Just War?


ATLANTA — Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

1.  The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options — previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations — were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

2.  The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

3.  Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered.  Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

4.  The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.

5.  The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists.  Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite
possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory.  American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions — with war as a final option — will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.


Mel is very concerned about death of innocents.  This essay, from a gun safety site, expresses my views well.  


There are an estimated 193 million guns in America. Some estimates range as high as 250 million. That's almost one gun for every man, woman and child in the United States. Guns are not just in urban and rural homes, they're everywhere – cities, towns, suburbs and farms. In fact, there is a gun in 43% of households with children in America. There's a loaded gun in one in every ten households with children, and a gun that's left unlocked and just "hidden away" in one in every eight family homes.

While the Brady Campaign united with the Million Mom March does not seek to prevent law-abiding citizens from owning, using, or purchasing firearms, people have the right to know the true risks associated with keeping a gun in the home. The fallacy that a home is safer with a gun in it and that a gun is a necessary means of self-protection is widely promoted by the gun lobby. The gun lobby also downplays or ignores the risks families take when they introduce a gun into the home.

Does a Gun in the Home Make You Safer?

No. Despite claims by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that you need a gun in your home to protect yourself and your family, public health research demonstrates that the person most likely to shoot you or a family member with a gun already has the keys to your house. Simply put: guns kept in the home for self-protection are more often used to kill somebody you know than to kill in self-defense; 22 times more likely, according to a 1998 study by the Journal of Trauma.[1] More kids, teenagers and adult family members are dying from firearms in their own home than criminal intruders. When someone is home, a gun is used for protection in fewer than two percent of home invasion crimes.[2] You may be surprised to know that, in 1999, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, there were only 154 justifiable homicides committed by private citizens with a firearm compared with a total of 8,259 firearm murders in the United States. Once a bullet leaves a gun, who is to say that it will stop only a criminal and not a family member? Yet at every opportunity the NRA uses the fear of crime to promote the need for ordinary citizens to keep guns in their home for self-protection. Furthermore, the NRA continues to oppose life-saving measures that require safe-storage of guns in the home.

Keeping A Gun in the Home Can Be Deadly

Because handguns and other firearms are so easily accessible to many children, adolescents and other family members in their homes, the risk of gun violence in the home increases dramatically. Consider this: The risk of homicide in the home is three times greater in households with guns.[3] The risk of suicide is five times greater in households with guns.[4] What's more, tragic stories of accidental or unintentional shootings from the careless storage of guns at home are all too common. The statistic noted above bears repeating: a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal, unintentional, or suicide-related shooting than to be used in a self-defense shooting. [5]

A Gun in the Home: Key Facts

bulletFrom 1990-1998, two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse murder victims were killed with guns.[6]
bulletGuns are the weapon of choice for troubled individuals who commit suicide. In 1999, firearms were used in 16,599 suicide deaths in America. Among young people under 20, one committed suicide with a gun every eight hours.[7]
bulletA gun in the home also increases the likelihood of an unintentional shooting, particularly among children. Unintentional shootings commonly occur when children find an adult's loaded handgun in a drawer or closet, and while playing with it shoot t hemselves, a sibling or a friend. The unintentional firearm-related death rate for children 0-14 years old is NINE times higher in the U.S. than in the 25 other countries combined.[8]

When Tragedy Strikes Home: Recent Incidents


On March 21, 2002, a 14-year-old South Carolina boy deliberately shot and killed his 12-year-old foster sister. The boy had taken live shotgun shells from his father's house and used them in a shotgun that he had taken from his mother's bedroom.
("Alleged shooter under house arrest," The Herald (Rock Hill, SC), March 27, 2002.)


On March 28, 2002, 15-year-old Quinton Bridges was shot and critically injured by his 15-year-old friend, Derek Scott Oaks in Tucson, AZ. The youths had been tossing water balloons and wrestling before Oaks loaded his father's rifle and aimed it at his friend's head while the teen sat at a computer playing a game. According to police, the boys were not arguing; Oaks didn't think the firearm worked because he tried to pull the trigger before he went in the room and it didn't fire. Oaks has since been charged with attempted second-degree murder.
("Teen charged with attempted murder," Tucson Citizen, March 30, 2002.)


On March 30, 2002, a 9-year-old Seattle boy was wounded when a .22-caliber rifle he and his 13-year-old brother were playing with discharged. The boys were playing with the gun in a bedroom in their uncle's home.
("9-Year-Old Boy Wounded In Apparent Accidental Shooting," KOMO News web site, March 30, 2002.)


On April 6, 2002, 3-year-old Stephon Starks shot and wounded himself with a .22-caliber pistol that he found in a dresser drawer in his mother's bedroom in Nashville, TN. Police said Stephon had gotten up to get some clean underwear after he wet the bed when he found the gun. He was climbing back into bed when the gun went off.
("Boy, 3, wounds himself after finding gun in mom's room," The Tennessean, April 7, 2002.)


On April 8, 2002, a 4-year-old Jacksonville, FL boy died after unintentionally shooting himself, while playing with his grandfather's gun while the rest of the family was sleeping.
("Boy, 4, accidentally kills self," Florida Times-Union, April 9, 2002.)

Do Parents Do a Good Job of Keeping Kids Away from Guns in the Home?

No. A 1998 study by Peter Hart Research on behalf of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) found that, even though most parents realize that guns in the home endanger their children, many parents still leave guns accessible to kids.

Specifically, in the nationwide survey of 806 parents, 43% of households with children have guns, and 23% of gun households keep a gun loaded. 28% keep a gun hidden and unlocked. 54% of parents said that they would be highly concerned about their child's safety if they knew there was a gun in the home of their child's friend. Despite many parents' concern about the immediate dangers that guns left in the house pose to their children, they are failing to take the necessary steps to help ensure their children's safety. Perhaps most significantly, many parents simply do not view guns as a personal threat to their children or their family whatsoever.

Too often a parent drops off their child at a friend's house for an afternoon play session or a sleep-over party not knowing that the car ride would be the last time they would see their child alive. Why? The study found that most parents don't discuss the issue of guns in the home with the parents of their children's friends. Amazingly, only 30% have asked the parents of their children's friends if there is a gun in the home before allowing a visit. 61% of the parents included in the survey responded that they never even thought about asking other parents about gun accessibility.

Clearly, parents don't think about the tragic possibilities of an innocent visit to another home. While parents are asking each other about supervision, food allergies, adult television access, they are ignoring guns — the one factor that could mean the life or death of their child.

Child Access Prevention Laws

The Brady Campaign supports Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, or "safe storage" laws that require adults to either store loaded guns in a place that is reasonably inaccessible to children, or if they decide to leave their guns left out in the open, to use a safety device to lock the gun. If a child obtains an improperly stored, loaded gun, the adult owner is criminally liable.

Although the primary intention of CAP laws is to help prevent unintentional injury, CAP laws can also serve to reduce juvenile suicide and homicide by keeping guns out of the reach of children. Currently, 18 states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin — have enacted CAP laws. In addition, Kansas courts have held that gun owners in Kansas may be held liable if they leave guns easily accessible to children.


  1. Kellermann AL. "Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home." Journal of Trauma, 1998; 45(2):263-67.
  2. Kellermann AL. "Weapon Involvement in Home Invasion Crimes." JAMA 1995; 273(22):1759-62.
  3. Kellermann, AL, Rivara, FP, Rushforth NB, et al. "Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home." New England Journal of Medicine. 1993; 329: 1084-1091.
  4. Kellermann, AL, Rivara FP, Somes G, et al. "Suicide in the home in relation to gun ownership." New England Journal of Medicine. 1992; 327: 467-472.
  5. Kellermann AL. "Injuries and Deaths Due to Firearms in the Home." Journal of Trauma, 1998; 45(2):263-67.
  6. "Homicide Trends in the United States." Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, from the WONDER Injury Mortality Data.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Rates of homicide, suicide and firearm-related death among children – 26 industrialized countries." Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report. 02/07/97; 46:5. 101-105.

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