Since my Little League days in the ’60s, my dad has always reminded me of the importance of focusing on watching the ball. As a Democrat in despair over our country’s leadership, I want to now remind our Democratic political leaders to please, please keep your eye on the ball!

So much energy has gone into bashing Cheney over the shooting incident … Democrats should be embarrassed! Two weeks ago, I watched the “Now” news commentary program on KCET and Hans Blix, the infamous U.N. Weapons Inspector, was being interviewed. He said that, two months prior to our invasion of Iraq, he met with Rice, Bush and Cheney.

He reported to them that he had inspected nearly 500 sights in Iraq and had found no trace of WMD. He then said that Cheney’s response nearly floored him. Upon hearing Blix’s report, Cheney replied that they wouldn’t hesitate to discredit him if those types of reports continued.

Please, thinking people everywhere, do you think there was any doubt that Cheney was biting at the bit to invade Iraq? Thousands of innocent people have died … thousands have been disabled, thousands have been emotionally scarred for life and we are putting all our energy into bashing Cheney for a hunting accident with his drinking buddy?!?!

God help us … Please, keep your eye on the ball! Republicans can teach us a lot about keeping focused. Clinton was impeached for Lewinsky!

Face your fears, Democratic leaders … history will view you as our most patriotic of citizens if you will release yourselves from this mushroom-cloud trance you’ve been in and boldly stand up for what you really believe to be true!

And religious leaders, here is your greatest test of faith. Let us know what you really think about all of this without fear that you’ll possibly offend congregation members who might not agree with you. If you believe that the truth can set us free, then please, tell it like it is.

No more getting sidetracked … innocent victims are losing their lives and the U.S. has never been more hated nor have we ever been a bigger prize for our enemies. Only the oil companies, the defense industry, Haliburton and other major Bush-Cheney campaign contributors (coincidence?), all reporting historical record incomes, are sleeping well these days. Democrats … keep your eye on the ball. There is a lot at stake.

Marty Kinrose, Ventura

Make my vote count

The single most precious right we have is the right to vote, but it means nothing if it is not counted, or is corrupted. The use of poorly engineered electronic voting machines subject to well-documented failures traced to system crashes, human error, hacking and other sinister manipulations has cast considerable doubt over the outcome of the 2004 election, and promises to do the same this year.

An exhaustive new analysis of national exit poll data shows that Kerry beat Bush by 3 percent, but official vote counts show that Bush won by 2.5 percent, which amounts to a 5.5 percent discrepancy. The odds against this happening due to random sampling error in the exit polls was calculated to be between one in 9,600 and one in 16 million, depending on mathematical assumptions. A study of Ohio precinct-level exit polls reveals that 6 percent “ … show virtually impossible vote counts, and over 40 percent show improbable vote counts.” The full report is available at electionarchive.org, and I strongly recommend a careful study of this truly disturbing analysis.

The rush to install the new, improperly tested or uncertified voting systems mandated by the cynically entitled “Help America Vote Act” (HAVA) to be in place by the primaries of 2006 is a blueprint for disaster. HR4666, introduced by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, would extend the unrealistic deadline beyond the primary without the HAVA penalties currently in place. This is about the only rational alternative we have to this impending train wreck, which will further erode what little confidence we have left in our ramshackle election system

We should all let our representatives know that we care deeply that our votes should count, and that the mechanism for counting them should be believable. Without that precondition, representative government is just another quaint relic of the past.

Donald Wallace, Camarillo