Well, I'm far from the US right now -- but I haven't felt more strongly about an election in a long time. My absentee ballot has already been mailed in.
The US has been heading in a dismal, dangerous direction since the 2000 elections -- and if you feel the same and are in the States, you may want to click on the above link to the MoveOn.org website. They are organizing folks across the US to call eligible Democrat voters and encourage them to get out and vote. If you have the time during the next week and a half -- DO IT!
The US government does not run well if only one party has control of the executive and legislative branches -- and has also appointed much of the judicial branch. With no substantial limits to his powers, you can be sure G W B has begun to act and think less like a president and more like a dictator. And a lying, half-witted one at that. If you doubt this is true, check out some of these quotes from him:
"I think -- tide turning -- see, as I remember -- I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of -- it's easy to see a tide turn -- did I say those words?" --George W. Bush, asked if the tide was turning in Iraq, Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006
"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound largemouth bass in my lake." --George W. Bush, on his best moment in office, during an interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, May 7, 2006
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- GWB, December 18, 2000 on CNN
"Wow! Brazil is big." --George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
"You work three jobs? -- Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." --George W. Bush, to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
"Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --George W. Bush, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004
"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004
"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000
"For a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times."—Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 18, 2002
"I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'What did he say?'" --George W. Bush, Beaverton, Oregon, Aug. 13, 2004
I could go on. I could mention the war in Iraq, the 3000 dead American soldiers, the tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, the lack of WMDs found in that country -- even though they were the basis of his argument to go to war.
Or I could go on about Katrina, the Gulf Coast, the amazing city of New Orleans. Or the millions of Americans without health insurance, or the minimum-wage-earning adults who are under-employed. Or the loss of rights and freedoms.
And I hope you leave my webpage today and say, "How do I get to my polling place? How do I take some of the power AWAY from this deranged man? And just what AM I going to put on my family for dinner tonight?"
On Saturday, Dave and I took a day-trip up to Fehmarn -- an island north of Lübeck in the Baltic Sea.
On one side, the island is now connected to the mainland by a bridge, but ferries and ships leave the far side of the island for Denmark all day long.
Here you see Dave taste-testing wine from a wall of wine boxes. We stopped at two stores (one big, one humongous) that cater to the Danish daytrippers. They can purchase apparently nearly unlimited amounts of alcohol at cheaper German prices and then load up their vehicles and drive back to Denmark with it. Although boxed wine is pretty taboo elsewhere in Germany, Dave and I now know the exact store that must sell more than anywhere else in the country! They had hundreds of types from dozens of lands -- all in handy cardboard boxes with convenient carrying handles. Who would fuss with breakable glass and moldy corks again? :-)
The main town on the island, Burg, is a cute little place with cobblestone streets and a distinctly north German/Scandinavian architecture. The rest of the island seems to be pretty rural -- would be nice to see some of the countryside and the coast next time. But, the drive up and back was relaxing (thanks, Dave!) and we did get to walk around the town and have a late lunch/early dinner, too. Also, Daphne seemed to enjoy herself.
Took a few extra days off work last weekend and went back to Berlin for four days. Man, I love that city!
My friend and former co-worker Toni was in the Netherlands all week on business. After her week of work, she planned another week of play and we meet for the weekend in Berlin.
I took her to all the usual spots -- Brandenburg Gate, the Parliament and Reichstag/Bundestag, Unter den Linden, Potsdamer Platz, Friedrichstraße and all the shopping there, KaDeWe, Ku'damm, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche -- but my favorite destination this weekend was a new one for me -- Potsdam.
It is a short S-Bahn trip from Berlin to Potsdam -- and worth the trip. The city grew in importance during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was the location of the summer palace of the Prussian royal family and the majority of the great buildings were built during Frederick the Great's reign 1740-1786.
It has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. I was amazed by the architecture and gardens at Sanssouci, but there is great variety of architecture in the city itself. If you are in Berlin, do not miss Potsdam. (Sorry, Bill and Tj. -- I wish we'd gone there this summer when you were here!)
See my new Berlin and Potsdam pics at the Picasa link.
On the Wednesday before my trip to Berlin, Dave made carrot cake for my birthday (my favorite!) and had us over to their place to celebrate. We had a good time -- although, for the life of me, I'm not sure why I brought champagne. Every time I drink it, I remember why I don't like it. Good champagne, rot-gut champagne -- it all gives me a headache that night and the next day. No other liquor has quite the same effect on me. I can drink beer all night and just have a dry mouth the next morning. But a few glasses of champagne and I'm poppin' Advils like they're M&Ms....
I had a great time this past weekend visiting the city with Dave. Friends Hormoz and Rob were the best of hosts and getting to know Macha and Trevor from Dublin rounded out the weekend.
Great restaurants, fun bars, very impressive Victorian architecture, a beautiful and modern downtown (rebuilt after a tragic bombing of the city center in 1996) all make Manchester an impressive and friendly destination.
Want to see more pictures? Click the Picasa link on the right.