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Ski content at the end of this message, VT content at the beginning:

Upon reading the fascinating fulminations of the many raconteurs,
intersting badinage, witty repartee, trepidant trolling and outright
ranting posted to this most auspicious list in the past two days, I am
struck by one thing: how unique and special is the State of Vermont, with
its influence cast about, magnified a thousandfold from its tiny size in
the grand scheme of this once Great Nation. Aside from the majesty of its
magnificent mountains and the beauty of its natural bounty, its many gifts
to our national culture obviously include the peculiar ways of the rugged
individuals who make up this remarkable amalgam of ideas, opinions and
customs. An anthropologist's dream, fer sure. Carlos fairly and
appropriately celebrates in his quiet way the triumphs of his favorites for
governor and lieutenant governor. However, all Vermonters should revel in
and celebrate their distinction in having the only independent,
unaffiliated Senator and Representative; each of our two highest
legislative bodies is enriched by a man who has a mind of his own and is
not bought by any special interest, courtesy of Vermont. The vilification
of Jeffords is incomprehensible to me. The man is a profile in courage. A
Republican in the finest sense of the word (think Abe Lincoln and Teddy
Roosevelt, the latter an enemy of the sinister tendencies of Big Business
to be overbearing in its influence on our lives, whom we need resurrected
now more than any time in our history), he found his core beliefs to be
irreconcilable with a party organization bent on lurching to the extreme
edges of reaction, and declared himself outside the ambit of an
organization that has completely repudiated the tenets upon which it was
founded approximately 150 years ago. This with no concern for his political
future,  or what was expedient or comfortable. Finding a natural alliance
with the opposition, he stayed true to his own personal moral center and
did not replace one dogma by embracing another. Pat Leahy is a national
treasure. He has brought the State of Vermont recognition and uncounted
sums of funding to protect and preserve Vermont's way of life and its
environment, far in excess of whatever tax revenues have been contributed
by its good people to the U.S. Treasury. And he stands up for what I
personally believe is right and good about America. I will brook no truck
with any dissing of Leahy, Jeffords or Sanders. All Vermonters should be
proud to have such men representing them in Washington.

That being said, for those who still care, permit me to briefly comment
upon some of the contributions.

Skip writes: "I shall not gloat". For that, I thank you. In return, I shall
refrain from any sentiments implying that I would be elated if your
ingestion of reeb were interrupted by the need for immediate administration
of Prof. Heimlich's maneuver; rather, I salute and enjoy your honorable,
respectful discourse, although our ultimate opinions may differ.

In remarkably vivid contrast, Mr. Guido gloats:

"I've tried to be good..." [when? Name one time you've tried to be good]
"Not once was a Clinton administration judicial nominee kept from a vote on
the Senate floor through a violation of the committee rules committed by
the committee chairman, was there?"
[the very question begs the question. Your GOP heroes in the Senate
exploited the process and used the rules to delay and block the President's
appointments to the Federal judiciary solely on ideological grounds! This
resulted in enormous case backlogs and basically deprived vast areas of the
nation from proportional representation in the Federal District and Circuit
Courts for EIGHT years. The fact that this was done in accordance with
Judiciary Committee procedures is irrelvant. Having perverted the process,
you folks are basically estopped from whining about whatever opposition
tactics are used to delay or block W's attempt to pack the Federal
judiciary with his own right wing ideologues. You forget that turnabout is
fair play].

"Libs are always crying that others aren't playing by the rules, but their
observation of the rules is quite selective..."
[I hold some opinions on some issues that you would call "liberal".
However, let's get real. Politics is not about playing by the rules.
Politics is about doing whatever it takes to get your people into positions
of power and once there, keeping them there. In recent times, the
Republicans have been far more adroit at this art than the Dems. Hence, the
results we saw on Tuesday.]

As Tag astutely observed:

"Of course the upside in 2 years is huge. The Republicans are running the
show so there will be no more excuses." [Exactly what Robert Reich said on
NPR. W won't have the Senate to kick around anymore. Give them enough
rope....]

Back to Marc's decidedly graceless attempt to provoke a full-blown food
fight:

"Instead of complaining about the opposition and crying in your reeb, why
not try to win based on policy initiatives next time, instead of trying to
win by complaining that Republicans are the big bad wolf?"[Duly noted and
lesson undoubtedly learned. However, my other reaction is, yeah right.
Unfortunately, real debates don't happen anymore and campaigns are
basically conducted by dueling TV ads funded by special interest money. The
day that attack ads are dropped in favor of real substantive discussions of
important policy issues is the day that Vail cuts their lift ticket prices
in half.]

And Marc, as far as your utterly tasteless references to "Senator Wellfare
in Minnesota" are concerned, you might be interested in knowing that many
of his "far out, radical ideas" were part of none other than Richard
Milhaus Nixon's policies during his first administration, when he brought
in Daniel Patrick Moynihan and tried to position himself as a Disraeli-like
"Tory reformer" on the domestic front. His ideas, including universal
health care, are pretty middle of the road in other Western democracies.

"Trent Lott, who had the proper moral standards to travel to Minnesota to
give tribute to a principled man(however misguided I think that his
principles were)"
[Yeah, I agree. I'll give ol' Trent credit for traveling into "enemy
territory" to attend the funeral of a fellow colleague. It's the least he
can do. However, look at the State he represents, Mississippi. Travel
there.Ride through the rural areas and see how the African-American
communities live. See for yourself if their lives are measurably better by
any objective indicator since the days the Klan kidnapped Goodman, Chaney
and Schwerner and dumped their mutilated bodies. Look at any quality of
life-related statistic from education level to funding per pupil to health
care to infant mortality to per capita income and tell me if you find any
instance in which Mississippi ranks other than at or near the bottom.They
still PROUDLY fly the Confederate flag down there. The thought of this man
as Majority Leader of the United States Senate scares the living tihs out
of me]

Your decrying of the alleged snub of Vice-Pres. Halliburton by the Party
faithful in Minnesota intrigues me. Did he even request to attend? Where do
you get your inside information? From Rush?

"It's only unfortunate that we'll see all of these modern day Carvilles in
another 2 years"
[Your worst nightmare, buddy. Gloat and snipe while you still can. Two
years is a long, long time in politics. Wait till the body bags come home
from Iraq by the thousands while we continue to coddle North Korea, China
and Saudi Arabia. The saddest thing is that there will be lots of pain and
suffering of a lot of innocent people in this country because of the flawed
judgment of a bare plurality (NOT even close to a majority) of them]

"Amendment 6 that allows government to tell restaurant owners how to run
their businesses"
[Huh? I'm not familiar with Florida's Amendment 6. Might this possibly be a
smoking ban? If so, you find that unreasonable, in the face of scientific
evidence that there's no significant differences between levels of 4,000
harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke in smoking and "non-smoking" areas? I
thought you worked in the insurance industry. Do you consider it
appropriate risk management to expose restaurant owners to ruinous lawsuits
from the estates of patrons and employees who die of coronary or
respiratory illnesses associated with the involuntary ingestion of
second-hand smoke? I think not. All you Righties want the government off
your backs until a terrorist attack, or the highways need to be fixed, or a
sniper needs to be caught, or some business you invested a huge wad in goes
belly up, or your "undesirable" neighbors down the road are offending you,
or you see, Heaven forbid, a couple making love on a cable TV channel
instead of car chases, gunfights and buildings blowing up, or you don't
like the books, CD's and magazines they sell at the drugstore at the strip
mall or you want some tinpot dictator in some faraway land taken out, but
let someone else's kids do it, of course].

"mandatory 'free' public pre-school"
[Really. The hell wit' them dam' welfare mommas--they have too many kids
anyway. And so what if they gotta leave a baby or toddler home alone to
work at their minimum-wage job--that's their problem. What ever happened to
the so-called "compassionate conservatism" that you people were hawking two
years ago?]

"unqualified and underqualified teachers" which, unfortunately is too much
a part of "our pathetic publc education system"
[this is pure, mean-spirited knee-jerk ranting without the benefit of any
facts or any real evidence. Do you even have children in school, Marc? Tell
it to your drinking buddies, because I'm not buying any of it.]

Fine. The "Booboisie" (H.L.Mencken, for the illiterate) have spoken. Go
back to watching "Survivor, Part XXX, Rodeo Drive", Anna Nicole Smith's fat
ugly mug and the Osbournes. The rest of us have a nation to save and work
to do preserving what's left of our freedom. El Scorpion, you can make me a
charter member of the American Anti-Fascist Association and I suggest you
include His Editorship's vituperative venom as quotes in your informational
brochure to show what we're up against.

;-)   ;-)    ;-)

Oh, yeah--ski content. I can't believe the Evril K-Mart got its act
together and tripled its trail count. I am so there!

Miguel

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