I am writing about a travesty of American democracy that I find very difficult to accept.
As a proud U.S. citizen living in Canada, I did not hesitate to register to vote for the upcoming federal election. Because my former U.S. address was in Toledo, I knew that I had to register through the Lucas County Board of Elections. I received my official federal ballot, and have already cast my vote to ensure it arrives in Ohio early enough to be counted.
However, my 20-year-old son's right to vote as a U.S. citizen has been quashed. Although he was born in Canada, he has full U.S. citizenship. He holds a U.S. passport, and has registered for the U.S. draft. He will even have to file a U.S. tax return for 2004.
But because he has never permanently resided in the United States, he does not have the right to register to vote. Ohio will not let him claim my previous residence, and New York, where he attended college last year, does not consider him a resident. Therefore, he will not be able to cast his vote in November's election.
I find this amazing and unbelievable.
My son is a bright young man who has followed the presidential election with great interest. He has been taught to be proud of being an American, and he was looking forward to casting his first vote. Now, he has learned he doesn't get to exercise the most important fundamental right of citizenship.
How does one explain this oversight of the registration program to a young person who was hoping to contribute to the democratic process? In an election year where every vote could be crucial, my son's intended vote will not count.
I completely disagree with an Oct. 13 Forum writer. I'm Catholic, and the election does not come down to the issue of abortion for me. I personally do not believe in abortion, but I do believe in the right to make that choice for myself. I want a president who supports me on that issue, and John Kerry is that man.
Being pro-choice does not mean that you are pro-abortion, and I take issue with anyone that would accuse me of that. I firmly believe that a life-altering decision should not be dictated by anyone but the person who is making it and has to live with the consequences.
A recent letter writer mentioned the "irony" of having a pro-life non-Catholic candidate, a reference to President Bush, our notoriously anti-abortion leader.
However, he failed to note our President's record involving the death penalty and an unnecessary war. How ironic. Pro-life indeed.
As a registered Catholic voter, I have recognized the need to examine every issue in depth before making my final choice this November. While I believe in the gentleman's right to say what he wants, I believe he has no right to speak on behalf of the many other Catholics planning to vote in this election. Any Catholic (or any Christian, for that matter) should encompass all aspects of being "pro-life." Speak for yourself and not for the rest of us.
Holly Valley Drive
So now the dirty tricks squad has squatted to a new low - stealing computers from Toledo Democratic Party headquarters. The thieves went straight for the computers containing the most sensitive information, ignoring cash and other valuables, apparently trying to foil the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort.
This, combined with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's attempt to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Ohio voters by ignoring provisional ballots, and rampant thefts of pro-Kerry/Edwards lawn signs (including in my own neighborhood of Old Orchard) suggest that some Republicans are afraid to compete in a fair fight - and for good reason, given the current administration's dismal record on everything from the economy to foreign affairs.
All voters, regardless of party affiliation, can express their disgust with these freedom-stifling, Third-World, brown-shirt tactics by voting for change on Election Day.
A recent article covering the annual banquet of the Greater Toledo Association of Arab Americans quoted one community leader as saying that, "We were tricked by Israel into doing its dirty work" in Iraq. This theory must be put to rest.
The Israelis were certainly glad to see Saddam out of power (as were others in the region). Before the war, however, there was ample evidence that Israel was very nervous about the prospect of a U.S. attack on Iraq.
During the buildup, Ariel Sharon expressed concern to President Bush over the possibility that a U.S. invasion would provoke a barrage of WMDs against Israel. He went on to publicly declare that, unlike in the previous Gulf War, Israel would strike back directly against Iraq in the face of Iraqi missiles, even if this meant fracturing the U.S.-led coalition.
Diplomatic translation: "If you must do this thing, fine, George. But if we get hurt as a result, don't be surprised if we spoil your party." At the same time, Israel's defense minister publicly stated that he "wasn't losing any sleep over Iraq." Diplomatic translation: "Don't do us any favors, George. We can defend ourselves just fine."
On the eve of war, it was Israel who was passing out gas masks to its citizens. The Israeli economy, already under stress because of the intifada, was further damaged by the war. One should also note that Israel certainly isn't getting any construction contracts in postwar Iraq.
What of America's other allies who contributed to the war effort? Did Israel also "trick" Britain, Australia, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Denmark into participating in the war?
If Arab-Americans truly desire a more "evenhanded" public approach to matters concerning Israel, then they can start by being a little more objective themselves.
In 1999 I was a spokesman for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority levy opposition group, PORK. There were two opposition groups that year and ultimately the other group capitulated and backed the levy. Later Jerry Chabler, a spokesman for the other group, was appointed to the port authority board. The port authority levy passed and taxpayer funding for the port authority remained unbroken.
After the levy passed I wrote an e-mail to Jim Hartung congratulating him and the port authority on their election night victory. I also told Jim I would be keeping an eye on the port authority.
As a result of my letter of congratulations I received the following e-mail letter from Don Jakeway:
Just received a copy of your recent e-mail regarding the 1999 port levy. Thanks for your congratulations and for taking the time to send us your message.
I know that Jim and I will be doing everything we can to make ourselves as financially independent from future levies as we can. Now the hard work will begin to move in that direction. Thanks again Don Jakeway RGP."
I believe heavy taxes are an impediment in retaining or gaining business in Toledo and Lucas County, thus the port authority levy is part of the problem, not part of the solution. My questions to Lucas County taxpayers are these: Do you believe the port authority or its economic development arm, the Regional Growth Partnership, ever intended to, or will ever, operate without asking for taxpayer money in the form of a levy?
Is the money being extracted from taxpayers worth the dismal results?
After 49 years of taxpayer funding, will the port authority ever be financially independent?
I am feeling more hopeful every time I pass those certain "desperately large" Bush campaign yard signs.