Republicans and Democrats have given new meaning to the word hypocrisy. For example, one of the non-negotiable positions of Republicans is less government, not more. Yet the current Republican administration has created the largest bureaucracy in the history of our nation with the Homeland Security Act. How can this departure be ignored, let alone supported, by Republicans?

Meanwhile, most of the incumbent Democrat candidates are voraciously criticizing the USA PATRIOT Act, a bill that each of these wannabes staunchly supported and voted for just after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. My question is: Where is the mainstream media on this point? The backsliding on such an important issue should reveal these candidates as disingenuous and unworthy for the highest office in our land.

Which brings me to the more urgent question: Why don't voters hold candidates accountable for their voting records as elected officials? Nothing is more revealing than a candidate's voting record relative to the issues. The mystery is taken out of the equation by examining the record for each incumbent. Voters can determine whether a candidate performed consistently based upon his/her platforms during the term, or whether the candidate actually participated by casting his/her vote during particular sessions. Voters can also connect a candidate's support of specific campaign contributors and special interests by examining his/her voting record as it pertains to the relative issues. There is nothing more clarifying than a candidate's actual voting record.

This information is readily available to voters, reporters, and anyone interested in learning about elected officials. One place such information can be found is (http://www.vote-smart.org), a nonpartisan Web site dedicated to empowering voters to make informed decisions at the polls. The Web site is purely factual, without bias or opinions on any party, candidate, or issue.

MidCoast and Riverssance made in Heaven

It should be widely celebrated that MidCoast Fine Arts' first year operating Riverssance was a huge success, with over 10,000 art fans of all ages in attendance. Thankfully the weather was superb right up until the last hour on Sunday. The event was first-class, with all the ambiance of a fine arts exhibit nestled in the serene, pastoral setting of Linsdsay Park. I heard many comment that this was their favorite festival of the year. Kudos to the group for adding a lovely wine garden to the event, which provided a good reason to contemplate the inspiring view of the Mississippi River, the event's namesake no less. Wonderful food and great music can't hurt an outdoor festival, either. The slide-guitar-blues sounds of Kraig Kenning were especially relaxing.

Meanwhile, the artists who exhibit are among the region's finest, with more than 100 having booths. Many a visitor was seen leaving with artworks wrapped in newsprint, plastic, or bubble wrap. This year's merit awards ($200 and a plaque) were judged by local ceramicist Rob Lipnick, who awarded the following artists: John Willer (oils), Maxon/Park (sculpture), Karen Blomme (mixed media), Richard LaMartina (photography), Donna Schilling (jewelry), Dean Schwarz (ceramics), Katie Kiley (intaglio), Ron and Donna Johnson (jewelry), Deb Doehler (jewelry), Mary Weisgram (ceramics), Steve Nowatzki (prints), and Sandy Winborn (watercolor). The Best of Show award ($600) went to Daniel Edler (glass).

MidCoast, ever true to its stated mission of "bringing art to where the people are," has done it again, and with great mastery and panache. Congratulations to all the volunteers, sponsors, organizers, and artists who contributed to a sensational arts fair.

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