My last week's Inbox commentary concerning the election elicited more than it's share of attention (mostly emails, torches and pitchforks), which was greatly appreciated. The tongue-in-cheek tone was intended to address a few issues that are hot buttons for me in approaching the election. I have registered to vote, but to date, I am still undecided on either of the two major presidential candidates, thus my hot buttons are serving as a filter of sorts in making an educated decision. Specifically, these buttons include:

Hot Button #1: If you don't plan to be involved, keep your opinions to yourself. That one was pretty obvious last week. Chances are we can all think of people who take a strong stance on the issues, but then don't vote. I mean, what was the voter turn out in past elections? For the loud-mouths it's more about drawing attention to themselves that putting forth effort to make a difference.

Hot Button #2: Know the issues that affect you & where YOU stand on them. I was a senior in high school living at home in my first opportunity to vote so making a choice boiled down to which candidate did my parents go with, which wasn't hard to guess because Republicans are always right. Nearly, 20 years later, I know what affects me. I worked for a home building company that downsized and laid me off over 6 months ago. I switched from a gas-guzzling hemi to a fuel efficient, foreign-made minivan to afford $4/gal gas, and yes, I really did have an electric bill over $400 last month. Maybe I'll expound upon these later, but in any case, I clearly have issues (clearly) that will be impacted by the next administration, and I'm going to make sure I'm educated.

Not sure where to get non-partisan information? Try these sites: On The Issues, Glass Booth, and

Hot Button #3: Jesus is not a Republican... or a Democrat. Remember when I said Republicans are always right? Well, that's because they are all Christians. Uuuuh, no. This can be a tricky one, and I don't mean to offend or insult, but if you're picking a president because they are "God's choice," then that is idiotic. However, if you're using your religious beliefs as a baseline in evaluating where a candidate stands on pertinent issues, that's something different. Listen, I may agree with the "Religious Right" on a number of issues, but I also subscribe to the bumper-sticker mantra, that the Religious Right is neither. It's sad they've become a political entity and not examples of how to treat your neighbor.

Hot Button #4: It's okay if we don't agree, but baseless, personal tirades are a turn off. There are some of you out there that will not agree with me and visa versa. Heck, my own wife I don't agree. I can respect someone who has some valid points behind their position, but I loathe it when a someone reduces themselves to making personal attacks or use obviously slanted info to create a soundbite for a crusade. There is a popular blogger I read on a regular basis doing this right now. I believe that person to be well-intentioned, but the way they present themselves on the matter makes me want to tell them to stick to their day job as a photographer and playing second fiddle, and refrain from political commentary.

Hot Button #5: It's great that we DO agree, but personal tirades are not facts either. Same concept except you are damage the credibility of a credible position when you sound like a jackass. The blogger I mentioned above, guess what? I agree with them. However, if we were in a bar together and they started going off like that, I'm acting like I don't know them.

That said, there's one more thing I'm going off of - my gut. I can read all the facts. I can listen to the speeches. I can watch all the debates. I can filter all of these through my "hot buttons," but at some point I'm going to have to make a call based on what I feel in my gut. The one thing I feel compelled to state, after making my earlier points, is that my gut is purely subjective, and if anyone can provide me a well-articulated argument to the contrary, I'm all ears.

In the mean time here's a few other posts and articles I've read this week.

Rebel Dad weighs in on Sarah Palin, Parenting and Dads.

Rude Cactus - Won't Get Fooled Again by the Gov Palin

Dad Gone Mad - On being objective & other things in "On Notice"

Whiskey In My Sippy Cup - An Independent... like me.

Most commonly used words in both the party's convention speeches from the NY Times

The chosen party of the Religious Right bends the rules on telling the truth. Isn't lying a sin?

Speaking of which, don't mess around with God, politics and blogging as Neil at Citizen of the Month found out... almost the hard way.

Finally, an example of how to help/hurt your political party's cause by talking out of both sides of your mouth.

This clip was posted by the Lunchbox and I approve of (laughed pretty hard at) this message.

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