The Marine Corps, “Honorable People” Kill Haditha Families ©

President George W. Bush spoke today from the comfort of his Washington White House home.  King George II, a man that never served in battle said of the accused Marines, “I am mindful that there is a thorough investigation going on. If in fact the laws were broken there will be punishment.”  ?This statement was the first the Emperor made on the Haditha killings.

Mr. Bush assured the American public that “The Marine Corps is full of men and women who are honorable people . . . they know the law.”  “That proud culture will be reinforced.”  For they are the “The few.  The proud.  The United States Marines.” Bush said nothing of what war might do to minds that were once sound, though how would he truly know.

Update:
The Marine Corps Core Values Training Program
US probe finds Haditha victims were shot: NYT
Allegations of Haditha massacre and cover-up spark investigations, By Kim Landers. ABC News. Thursday, June 1, 2006
The aging Baby Bush offered no opinion on military personnel in command of these troops.  He said nothing of the quality of his protracted effort to spread democracy.  He only vowed as he often does, ??Justice will be done.’

Others are also speaking of justice.  Reporters vetted with the twelve accused soldiers are speaking in their support.  Families of those that suffered at the hands of these men are sharing their stories.  The mother of a serviceman that was part of the clean-up crew is speaking in defense of her son.  He has not been the same since the blood and brains of one of the younger female victims spilled out onto his shoe.  We have yet to hear from the men themselves.

In earlier reports, the trained killing machine Marines blamed an Improvised Explosive Device [IED] for the incident.  These accounts have proven inaccurate.  Erroneous details and culpability, there is plenty to go around.

Twenty-four persons, families of innocents, men, women, and children were brutally killed in the western town of Haditha.  They met their death on November 19, 2005.  The occurrence was reported by Time magazine in March 2006.  However, until last week, when a Pentagon official said charges might be filed against the Marines involved, the situation was barely or rarely discussed.

As of last week, the dialogue began with fervor.  Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, left for Iraq.  He talked to the troops.  The topic was the use of force and the core values of honor, courage, and commitment.  The General spoke of “the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life.”  He said, “We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force.  We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful.”

The law and the process of enforcement is now the focus.  At present, we know there has been an ongoing military investigation.  The conclusion is near.  Many say the particulars, once revealed, will be shocking.  A Pentagon representative says murder charges might be filed, likely, they will.  It seems that only those that cocked their triggers will be held responsible.  No surprise.

Comparisons are being made to the My Lai massacre, though military officials are quick to point out the difference in scope.  The mass murder that occurred during the Vietnam War took the lives of 124 innocent civilian persons; this carnage “only” involved twenty-four fatalities.

More recently, another incident was reported.  Iraqis civilians say just three weeks ago U.S. forces shed the blood of more innocent people.  Relatives of the deceased, Iraqi police, and army officers in Samarra, told reporters “U.S. troops killed three unarmed civilians.”  A 60-year-old woman and a mentally handicapped man were slaughtered.  This annihilation took place in the tranquil homes of the victims.  In contrast, a spokesman for the American military stated, “Only three guerrillas were killed.”

What are we to believe?  We were told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  American citizens were promised; the people of Iraq will embrace us with open arms.  The war would be short; there would be a broad coalition of support.  The Iraqi people want democracy.  They are ready to resolve their internal differences.  Is any of this true?  Was it ever?

I personally believed none of what was said by this administration then.  Now, I believe less.  What do you think is true?  As of today, we have more information; your stance might have changed.  I invite you to discuss all aspects of this issue.  You are the public.  What are you sentiments?

“Public sentiment is everything.  With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”Abraham Lincoln “Lincoln-Douglas debate at Ottawa” August 21, 1858

The Facts?
Bush Says He’s `Troubled’ by Report of Haditha Deaths Bloomberg. May 31, 2006
Bush vows to punish Haditha crime, Iraqis angry By Alastair Macdonald. Reuters Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Civilian deaths send top Marine to Iraq CNN News Thursday, May 25, 2006
Pentagon sources: Civilians likely killed without provocation CNN News Friday, May 26, 2006
One Morning in Haditha, By Tim MCGirk in Baghdad. Time Magazine March 27, 2005
Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha? By Tim MCGirk in Baghdad.Time Magazine
The My Lai Massacre  Vietnam Online PBS Online March 29, 2005
The Conflict in Iraq; Soldiers Caught Between 2 Sides, By Louise Roug. Los Angeles Times. February 28, 2006
Witnesses describe Haditha slayings of Iraqis By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post. May 27, 2006
In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre Iraqi, By Ellen Knickmeyer. Washington Post
Bloody Scenes Haunt a Marine By Rone Tempest, Los Angeles Times. May 29, 2006
• PDF Bloody Scenes Haunt a Marine By Rone Tempest, Los Angeles Times. May 29, 2006
Bush: ‘Justice will be done’ CNN News. September 20, 2001
The Few, The Proud. The Marines.
President Discusses the Future of Iraq. Bush Speech at Washington Hilton Hotel. February 26, 2003
Marines Kill Innocent Iraqi Family. Verdict “Not Guilty”? © By Betsy L. Angert

Update:
The Marine Corps Core Values Training Program
US probe finds Haditha victims were shot: NYT
Allegations of Haditha massacre and cover-up spark investigations, By Kim Landers. ABC News. Thursday, June 1, 2006

Bud Buys Rolling Rock; Latrobe Lives Lost ©

More often than not, life is personal.  Journalist, authors, and bloggers write of politics, economics, education, and the law; however, their interest is individual.  They, as people personally respond to a particular policy, position, or practice.  Writers also respond to people.  In this writing, I am.  Days ago I received an email from a friend; she wrote in desperation.  This woman sent out a mass mailing apologizing for the practice and stressing the situation is dire.

Mary [not her real name] wrote,

I know this is a mass email, but at this point, I will try anything to help save the jobs of not only my husband but also the other 249 families.  Please help and thanks for your support.

  Mary enclosed a link to the petition Keep Rolling Rock in Latrobe

I clicked on the link and began to read a well-composed and pleading letter.

To:  August A. Busch IV

Mr. August A. Busch IV, ??We, the people of Latrobe and surrounding communities, as well as Rolling Rock drinkers everywhere ask that Rolling Rock be kept in Latrobe Pennsylvania.  Your company and name have always been associated with strong family tradition.  You are quoted as saying, “We have an ideal opportunity to grow this historic brand.  This beer is not like others and its consumer following is equally distinctive.”  We ask you not ruin this beers rich history by moving it out of its birthplace.

You [Mr. Busch] would be stripping the city of everything it has known for over a century.  The brewery and everything it represents coincide with Latrobe; Latrobe is Rolling Rock, Rolling Rock is Latrobe.  We the people are not upset or bothered by the purchase; we hope you can help grow this great brand.  We do, however, ask that you keep Rolling Rock in its hometown.  If expansion is necessary, so be it.  But please, for the sake of a city and all Rolling Rock fans, we ask that you keep Rolling Rocks base in its mother city, and keep our family alive.

Sincerely, The Undersigned

At the time of this writing, there are a total of 11866 Signatures.

I am penning this quickly and asking you to reach out.  This for me illustrates how a big business, in this case a brewery, can purchase a smaller company, for all the right reasons, profitability, name recognition, reputation, a loyal following, because they are a force to be reckon with; yet, they forget all that made this company strong, the people.

Mary, my acquaintance wrote to me of her situation.  Her husband, John, has worked for the company for over twenty-six years.  John is a hard worker; he cares and has for all these years.  He took so much pride in what was “his place” of work and the product.  According to Mary and to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review all of this was done in the dark of night.  No one had any idea of what was happening.  Lives were overturned with little care.

Please read the article and the sad stories residents of Latrobe and employees of Rolling Rock share.  They are painful; yet important.

Bud buys Rolling Rock; Latrobe Brewing’s future uncertain

The city is as Mary and John are, shocked and distraught.  Anheuser-Busch, leader in the U.S. beer industry, bought the Rolling Rock brand, the recipe, and the right to brew the beverage.  However, they had no interest in the facilities or the people that these breweries employed.

Those that know me well might wonder why I would write a communiqué on Rolling Rock beer and its production facilities.  In my entire life, I have never had a drink of alcohol.  Until two months ago, I never heard of Rolling Rock beer, though I recall the moment I did.  I was at a party, and when a young man saw that Rolling Rock was available, he decided he could stay all night. A month later, I had a similar experience.

You might wonder, dear reader how I could have not known of John’s employer.  I know Mary.  I knew that she lived in Latrobe; we spoke of her husband, their long and happy marriage, their five children and more.  Yet, we never spoke of Rolling Rock or the specifics of John’s job.  I was certain that he enjoyed his work and workplace; nothing more needed to be said, until now.

Now, I ask as Latrobe families do.  Please help; and sign the petition.  You may also wish to speak with your bartender and friends to join you in a boycott non-Latrobe Rolling Rock.  Extend your hand, hold your beer high, and hope that those that have infused the formula into these bottles for the last sixty-seven years brewed this blend.

References For Your Review . . .

Anheuser picks up Rolling Rock USA Today May 21, 2006
Bud pays $82M tab for Rolling Rock CNN Money. May 19, 2006
Bud buys Rolling Rock; Latrobe Brewing’s future uncertain By Richard Gazarik. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Saturday, May 20, 2006

Marines Kill Innocent Iraqi Family. Verdict “Not Guilty”? ©

That was an odd observation, or so I thought at the time.  The words of a close friend, a psychiatrist, and a veteran haunted me so deeply that now, days later, I cannot shake them.  In discussing the recent revelation, Marine soldiers brutally slaughtered innocent Iraqi families in their home; my companion said he thought  these men should go free.  He stated that were he among the psychiatrists to testify in the case, he would recommend they be acquitted.  I was stunned.  I had heard the news.

According to MSNBC News,

A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines “killed innocent civilians in cold blood,” a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.  One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents.  “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

I said nothing, or if I did, I do not recall.  I was in a state of shock.  I let him continue.  He mentioned the circumstances that preceded the soldiers’ attack, and mused of people in a place far from home, mired in daily battles.  I listened.  I thought, and I continue to ponder.  In this treatise, I ask you dear reader to do the same.

I am the ultimate peacenik.  For me, war is never an option.  I work hard to eradicate the thought from the minds of any, many, even in personal strife.  For me, the cycle is endless and need not be.  For centuries, soldiers have fought the “War to end all wars”; yet, we never cease-fire.

We, [people] kill, maim, and assault.  We identify others as evil, the enemy, and separate ourselves from them.  We speak of opposition and think those that disagree with us are, different, less than, and certainly of little or no value.  We [humans will] continue to justify war.

I have asked what is war good for, expecting to hear the retort, “absolutely nothing.”  However, rarely is that the response.  People prosper in war. [Dick Cheney was among millions of billionaires that benefited from the war in Iraq.]  The righteous glorifies their victories.  Troops tell tales; “It was the best of times and the worst of times.”  Some feel the service shaped them.  Leaders speak of their legacies.

With each discussion, I am left to conclude violence begets violence.  I want no part of it.  I know that most people say the same; however, they engage in it constantly.  In their homes, in their heads, and on fields, far far, far away human beings are battling.

In my life I have witnessed the heartache hostility bestows.  I have known persons that grew up in families where feuding was the manner in which they communicated.  They knew nothing else.  For them, life was survival.  My own experience was a quiet one and I am thankful; nevertheless, I have seen the hurt that brutality breeds.  The affects are devastating and they linger on, at times, they last for a lifetime.  Frequently, they are passed down from one generation to the next.  War is all most people know, even in their daily lives.  Physical abuse is a prime example of this.  It is being passed on from family to family, victim to victim, and abuser to abuser.  People survive, or so it is said.

Therefore, I am not surprised by what is thought to be “excusable”; yet, I am.  Still, I do understand.  When I think of a bloody war, a continual conflict, I trust the mind plays tricks; it does so in an attempt to endure.  There is no way to makes sense of continual killing.  When a friend, a familiar, one that you have shared a lifetime of stories with in a single month is executed before your eyes, you mourn.  Revenge feels reasonable.  Rage has replaced your comrade.  Reason is lost.

The commandant of the Marine Corps warns of this.  He has traveled to Iraq to warn his troops; they must guard against what he calls “the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of human life.”  So true, so powerful, and yet, they are marinating in a emptiness that causes them to question the value of existence, their own and their “enemies.”

Soldiers cannot look to their nation’s leaders or officers for support or sanity.  These persons have instructed them to fight; rationalizing this will guarantee “liberty and justice for all.”

Thus, I continue to ponder the quizzical words of my friend.  I try to imagine a world where, at every turn, there is gunfire.  Grenades are a constant, and life, even my own, might be very fragile.

In this tome, I could try to come to terms with war.  I could endeavor to be wise.  I could present information on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome however, for now, I can only wonder.  I am tired of war and the deeper wounds that it brings.

I offer this article for your review and ask you to please make comments.  Perhaps, dialogue can begin and we can move away from futile conflicts.  Possibly, empathy can prompt an evolution.  If only our leaders would work towards such a stronger stance.

“For Connecticut Marines, the Enemy is Everywhere,” By Jesse Hamilton of the he Hartford Courant.  It was published on this Memorial Day weekend, May 28, 2006.

FALLUJAH, Iraq — The Marines are filthy and tired and act hard, like they’ve been here two years instead of two months.

Charlie Company’s 200 or so infantrymen – half from Connecticut – are reservists, pulled from civilian life for the unit’s first trip into the war.  They will spend seven months running patrols, guarding posts, raiding suspect houses and manning checkpoints in one of Iraq’s most dangerous cities.

The men from Enfield, Colchester, Middletown, and East Windsor are fighting in Fallujah to keep things from getting worse.  They fight to buy time for the training of Iraqi replacements.  They fight for an unknown future under yet-to-emerge Iraqi leaders.  And, at the most basic level, the corporals, and privates first class fight to keep themselves and their friends from getting killed.

They rehash their battle stories sometimes before they’ve returned to safety, writing their own characters into the war movies they gravitate to.  They court death in their spare time, watching violent movies and some playing video games of war.  Under it all, they are young and far from home.

“We’re trying to keep Fallujah stable and get out of here,” said Cpl. Parke Stearns, 26, of Lebanon, Ct.

The Marines here are fighting a war.  But it’s not always clear whose war.

Charlie Company is based at the Civil-Military Operations Center, or CMOC, pronounced see-mock in the acronym jungle of military speak.  The compound is at the center of the city, facing the major east-west route through it.  Charlie Company owns downtown, the worst of Fallujah.  It is one company where four battalions with thousands of troops once operated.  The nearest Marine Company, another part of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, known as “New England’s Own,” is at the train station on the northern edge of the city.

But there are other supposed allies.  Iraqi police, most of them locals, work from stations scattered around Fallujah, driving little pickups with patches of steel welded to them for armor.  Three Iraqi Army battalions – increasingly trusted by their U.S. partners – also operate here, brought in from elsewhere.

The area is a stronghold for the Sunni branch of Islam.  The Iraqi Army soldiers are mostly Shiites, so they are among the insurgents’ favorite targets.  While the Iraqi police are mostly Sunni, their partnership with American occupiers invites attacks on them, too, leaving them walking a crooked line.

As 1st Sgt. Ben Grainger, Charlie Company’s chief noncommissioned officer who is from Enfield, said, “They live in the community, the same community the insurgents live in.  It’s not a matter of them dying; it’s a matter of their wife, family and kids dying.  They’re almost forced to play both sides.”

When working with either security force, Grainger said, Marines are told, “Treat them as our counterparts, but be ready to kill them, if necessary.”

On May 19, a car on the “new bridge,” the main crossing over the Euphrates River, rolled up to the point of the bridge where Iraqi soldiers sat in a sandbagged post.  It detonated, tearing the car and suicide driver into hunks of black shrapnel.  Only one of the soldiers was wounded in the explosion that wrecked two of their armored vehicles, but the blast also punched holes through the bottom of the bridge, knocking it out until it could be repaired.

Soon after the attack, Iraqi soldiers milled around, laughing and taking pictures.  One of them showed off a plastic bag that held a license plate.  He signaled that the other item in the bag was the blackened foot of the driver.

That evening, as engineers checked out the bridge, another company from the battalion watched the area.  They came across a group of men who scrambled into vehicles and fled.  Chasing down one of the cars, a taxi, the Marines watched its driver run the car into pedestrians before bailing out into a building.

Charlie Company responded as backup, to help surround a section of the notorious area of town known as the Pizza Slice, a triangle formed by two main roads and the river.  Inside the taxi, Marines found a few automatic weapons and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.  Night fell on their search, which ended with a suspect who fit the description, but couldn’t be held without more proof.

As they prepared to leave, a few shots popped in the distance across the adjacent cemetery.  The Marines who heard barely reacted.  Bullets are almost as common as mosquitoes when the sun goes down in Fallujah.  But the Marines carry night-vision equipment.  As they like to say, “We own the night.”

The following day, again, a suicide car bomb struck.  This time, it hit an Iraqi police station.  The car blew up at the outer security perimeter, injuring some people there, but no officers.

When Iraqis are hurt or killed in the city, it slides off most of the Marines in Charlie Company.  It’s when their own get hit, as they have a few times in the last several weeks, that the news grips tight.

On Wednesday, Marines from Charlie Company’s 2nd Platoon are returning to base when an Iraqi boy, maybe 11, throws a grenade at them.  It lands within lethal range but doesn’t go off.  The boy gets away.  Explosives disposal guys are called in to grab the grenade.  They arrive with a flat tire, so more Marines from 2nd Platoon come out for security.

An arm pokes around a corner and throws another grenade.

This one blows as Marines dodge for cover.  Two Marines are hit with minor shrapnel: Lance Cpl. Jordan Pierson, of Milford, in the arms and leg, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lambert, of Oxford, Mass., in his right thigh.  Both are taken to the hospital at Camp Fallujah.

Afterward, as he limped from his treatment, Lambert said to the medical staff, “It’s nice meeting you guys, but I don’t want to see you again.”  He and Pierson returned to the unit.

Another day, when gunfire crackles and blasts start shaking Charlie Company’s building, the Marines get ready for a fight.  They gather in the entryway of their four-story building, like greyhounds at the starting gate, the air heavy with the smell of gunpowder.  In squads, they start to reinforce guard posts and head into the city.

The explosions come from a combination of rocket-propelled grenades streaking into the big compound and mortar shells dropping from above, in greater numbers than usual.  With fire from three machine guns on top of it, the coordinated attack is the nastiest on CMOC since the unit got here in March.

Within a few minutes, Marines have shot back and hit two or three attackers – news that puts smiles on faces back inside their building.  The surviving insurgents vanish, taking their wounded with them.  The leaders of Charlie Company count it as more of the same – hit-and-run, no real threat to the Marines, though more organized than they like to see.

But theirs isn’t the only building in this dusty hub.  In one corner is the equivalent of a town hall.  There is another building that houses the mayor’s offices.  And a new police headquarters just opened on the northern edge, which could also have been a target for the rain of more than a dozen mortars.

No Marines were hit, though one dud mortar embedded itself on the roof of the former education administration building they live in and another landed a dozen yards away.

The attack did kill three Iraqi police officers on a nearby guard post – Iraqis killed by Iraqis.  Much of the violence in this wounded city is between Iraqis, leaving U.S. troops as the referees in a game with more teams than rules.

Just a few hours earlier, out at a Charlie Company checkpoint on the west side of the Euphrates River, a car drove up with a dying man in the back seat, his curled-up form full of bullet holes and soaked red with blood.  The car was allowed to pass through to a nearby hospital, where a doctor turned it away after a quick check that concluded the man had died.

When the car got back to the checkpoint, Marines tried to figure out what had happened.  They gathered the six other men from the white Toyota and held them aside while a translator questioned them.  Meanwhile, a Navy corpsman – a medic who travels with Marine units – checked the man in the back seat.  “He has a faint pulse in his wrist,” the corpsman said.

“He’s still alive.”

The man’s brother leapt from his kneeling position and began weeping and moaning, trying to get closer through the knot of Marines.

The corpsman kept working, looking for further signs of life.  He couldn’t find a pulse in the man’s neck.  And his heart was still.

“He’s done,” the corpsman finally said.

The other man continued to cry, his tears rolling through his brother’s blood where it stained his face.  He had the eyes of an animal struck by a car, stunned and confused.  As he folded against the car trunk and put his head down on his arms, the story was told by the others through the translator.

Their car had been at a gas station down the road.  A group of men got out of a gray BMW and fired an AK-47 – Iraq’s favored assault rifle.  Nobody in the Toyota said they knew why.

Bottom line: The shooting didn’t involve a Marine.  So the Marines waved them on, back down the road.

References for your Review . . .
Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ??in cold blood’ By Jim Miklaszewski and Mike Viqueira. NBC News. May 17, 2006
Marines and the ‘massacre’: a neighbour tells of aftermath From Ali Hamdani in al-Haditha and Ned Parker in Baghdad. Times Online. May 29, 2006
Marines may face trial over Iraq massacre By Suzanne Goldenberg Guardian Unlimited. May 27, 2006
Did Marines Massacre Iraqi Civilians? By Jonathan Karl. ABC News. May 26, 2006
Why Are We Still Fighting in Iraq? The military doesn’t know how to end a war. By Fred Kaplan. Slate. Tuesday, June 17, 2003
War: What Is It Good For?, By Ben Tripp. CounterPunch. December 11, 2005
WarMemories.com
Bush’s legacy hinges on Iraq. By James O’Toole. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sunday, January 23, 2005
Finding meaning amid the carnage in Iraq, By Alex Quade. CNN News. Sunday, May 28, 2006
What did the Vice-President do for Halliburton? By Jane Mayer. NewYorker. February 9, 2004
Who Won the War$ By William Thomas. Convergence Weekly. June 23, 2005
2 CBS Crew Members Killed in Iraq Bombing By Krista Larson. ABC News. May 29, 2006 [Associated Press]
Not Just Following Orders; I’m ashamed of the unit I once commanded, By James D. Villa. The Washington Post May 12, 2004
Bus bombing kills 11 people in Iraq: police Reuters. May 29, 2006
Family Conflict Resolution
Domestic Abuse – Why Do They Do It? From Buddy T.  About
Passing Violence to the Next Generation From Buddy T.  About
The War in Iraq National Center for PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs

Bush Boasts Of Battles in Memorial ©

On this day of Memorial, our Commander and Chief advocated war.  He professed his strident belief in conflict.  President Bush was speaking to the graduating class at West Point.  Mr. Bush proclaimed their futures would be filled with battle.  He should know; he started so many of these, Afghanistan and Iraq to name a few.  The Emperor is plotting and planning for more.  Many suspect that Iran and Korea are his next [possible] targets.

Rather than touch on the topic of war while promoting peace, in honor of our fallen men and women, Mr. Bush pushed his standard agenda.  Our leader spoke of terrorism, ignoring the acts he has committed.

King George II proclaimed his pride in the country’s newest leaders. With the terrorist rhetoric, post September 11, 2001, Bush was able to breed this force for the future.  This class was the first to complete their studies after the “terrorists attacks.”  Baby Bush was pleased; he beamed with delight.

Today, Saturday, May 27, 2006, the first day of this Memorial Day weekend, our leader praised wars of the past and those of his making.  The Commander and Chief spoke little of love or life.  He only honored his killing machines, men, and mechanisms.

Congratulations graduates, you have entered a world not of your making.  I salute your lives; long may you live these.

With deep regrets for the losses, I offer many missives I wrote in honor of our soldiers, fallen and injured, fighting, and surviving.  May they all rest and go in peace.  May the future be tranquil and serene.  May war never be considered an option.

The Cost of War Causalities! ©
In Memory of Our Soldiers, Bush “Mindful” Of War ©
Support Our Troops Tentatively! ©
Tillman Tale Tells Truth of Pentagon ©
Still Tentative Support; Photographs of the Fallen ©
The Silent Press © [Part Three In An Unintended Series]

References For Further Investigation . . .
Excerpts From Bush’s Address at West Point. Forbes. The Associated Press. May 27, 2006
Bush addresses West Point grads Canoe Network May 27, 2006
Bush Tells West Point Graduates Terror War Is in Early Stages Bloomberg May 27, 2006
Bush Honors West Point Class Of 2006 CBS News. May 27, 2006
Bush lauds military ahead of Memorial Day CNN News
Rules For An Unruly New War By Liz Halloran. US News. March 27, 2006
Killing Fields, By Nir Rosen. Washington Post. Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bush: Afghanistan is a victory over terrorism CNN News. Tuesday, June 15, 2004
The Coming Wars, By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. January 17, 2005
Journalist: U.S. planning for possible attack on Iran CNN News
U.S. Said to Weigh a New Approach on North Korea, By David E. Sanger. New York Times.  May 18, 2006
9/11 Commission Report
Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation George W. Bush. September 11, 2001
Killing machines prepare to do warfare’s dirty work By Tim Weiner. FairfaxDigital. February 19, 2005
Turn 9/11 rubble into a killing machine? Hello? By Martin Samuel. Times Online. May 27, 2006
DARPA, PNAC and the Perfect Killing Machine, By Maureen Farrell. BuzzFlash. June 24, 2003
• UPDATE: The Soul Of War Speaking of Faith. National Public Broadcasting. Sunday May 28, 2006

The Law. Bush Versus Attorney General Gonzales ©

This issue confuses me, entertains me, scares me, and fascinates me.  I am thankful that the “letter of the law” was followed, a warrant was granted and that is good, particularly in light of recent revelations.  I do think the principles that guide society are important.  I prefer to believe that politicians are altruistic; when bribes are buying influence, I shutter.  Nevertheless, I am conflicted.  Having experienced an administration that routinely violates the law [thus far, 750 of them in fact], alters the Constitution, and hides behind privilege, I fear for what might be.

Representative William Jefferson, a Louisiana Congressman is under investigation.  The charge is bribery.  Apparently, serious allegations have been made.  It is said that this prominent political leader was videotaped accepting $100,000 from an informant.

The case against Mr. Jefferson has been building for months.  This week the court awarded a search-and-seizure warrant.  Federal Bureau of Investigation examiners were sent out.  Ninety thousand dollars in cold, hard, and ice-covered cash was found in the Congressman’s home freezer.  The suspect’s computer was taken from his office.  The money, while fascinating, has caused little clamor.  The legality and constitutionality of a Congressional office search has brought much comment.

Rummaging through the workplace went on for eighteen long hours.  Others in Congress, also under investigation; however, on different charges, feared for themselves.  These persons were decidedly nervous.  They questioned privately, might these unprecedented exercises affect them?  I wonder how it might affect us all.  When there is no separation of power, no checks, or balances, what is there?  Oh yes, totalitarianism, exactly what this administration claims we are fighting against.

Publicly, some Congresspersons rancor was raised.  They asked what of our system of checks and balances.  They pondered and proposed legal scholars to do the same.  Does a practice such as this suggest that we, as a nation, endorse policies that negate the separation of power?  These rabble-rousers, normally calm and contrite were criticized.  It was said they are more worried about themselves than the law of this land.  However, orators such as House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared, “Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, proclaimed, Justice Department investigations must follow “constitutional protections and historical precedent.”  House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, chimed in stating he has “grave concerns” about this search and seizure.

Democratic Representative William Jefferson, who has not yet been charged, felt justified in stating an FBI search of his Capitol office “an outrageous intrusion.”  The Congressman said, “There are two sides to every story.  There are certainly two sides to this story.”  He was empathic; though asked by leader Pelosi, Jefferson said, no, he will not resign.  Interestingly, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might.

Attorney General Gonzales conceded, “I will admit that, these were unusual steps that were taken in response to an unusual set of circumstances.”  Nevertheless, he thinks these actions were necessary and just.  You might recall, dear reader, this same man thought it wise to discount standards set by Geneva Convention.  He stated they were obsolete.  Principles of compassion, and humanitarian gestures are archaic.

George W. Bush did as well; however, now, with the weight of polls looming large on his shoulders, he is more repentant or reluctant to cause himself greater grief.  The President is seeking solace and therefore, wants to end the wrangling.  King George II wishes to give each side time to think, a novel concept coming from this White House.

Mr. Bush explained everyone needs time to cool down.  Possibly, they might meet in William Jefferson’s freezer.  In an attempt to achieve greater calm, President Bush has asked the Justice Department to seal all the documents and keep them for 45 days.  Mr. Bush is expectant that in the interim more facts will emerge, tempers will cool, and all persons involved might have a cleared perspective.

The Attorney General is clear.  Gonzales has offered to tender his resignation if the President enforces his command.  Cool, as cash is in a well-insulated freezer.

References For Review . . .
Bush challenges hundreds of laws By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe. April 30, 2006 for PDF Bush challenges hundreds of laws
Congressman in bribery inquiry won’t resign Associated Press. MSNBC. May 22, 2006
Angry lawmakers demand FBI return seized documents CNN News May 26, 2006
GOP, Dems blast FBI for searching congressional office. CNN News May 25, 2006
Alberto Gonzales: A Record of Injustice Center for American Progress
Memorandum on the Geneva Conventions Center for American Progress
Hastert Irate at ABC Story; Bush Freezes Files, by Luke Burbank. All Things Considered. National Public Radio. May 25, 2006
Gonzales was ready to quit over evidence, By David Johnston, Carl Hulse, New York Times. San Francisco Chronicle. Saturday, May 27, 2006
Hastert, Pelosi issue rare joint statement Joint Statement from Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi. By Lynn Sweet. Chicago Sun Times. May 24, 2006
Bush Orders Jefferson Documents Sealed CBS News. May 25, 2006
Finally, a search warrant is used–and Republicans in Congress don’t like it By Mitchell J. Freedman. MF Blog. May 25, 2006

President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Come To Visit, Converse With Me ©

All words attributed to George W. Bush are his.  He said these at his Thursday night, May 25, 2006, press conference.
Possibly, you, as I, look forward to our meetings with the President, infrequent as they are.  Perhaps, that is why we treasure them so.  These conferences are rare, though, nevertheless, a treat.  When President George W. Bush asks Prime Minister Tony Blair to accompany him, well that is truly a delight.  I am overjoyed.  I revel in these exchanges.  I can hardly wait to invite the two in my parlor for a chat.  This Thursday night was such an occasion.

While the hour was late in London, and therefore, few Englishmen and women would be able to join us, I acknowledged that I was fortunate.  Two men of such great stature, power, and fame [infamy] were coming to visit me.  We would gather in my living room.  They stated earlier that they were ready, willing, and of course able to discuss politics, particularly the Iraqi war.  This was such a dream come true.

I invited each of my guests to speak first.  I requested they share their points of view; I would listen, and then discuss.  Blair spoke some, though his words were not as poignant as those of the President.  Mr. Bush has a style and finesse that is engaging, thus, he and I conversed.

President Bush proposed, “The United States and Great Britain will work together to help this new democracy succeed.”  I inquired, is it not true that a Democracy is a government chosen by the people and not forced upon them through war?

He ignored me and continued, “We’ll take advantage of this moment of opportunity and work with Iraq’s new government to strengthen this young democracy and achieve victory over our common enemies.”  “Common enemies,” I blurted out.  Might we the aggressors not be seen as adversaries?

Did we not invade a country without reason or a request?  Did America and Great Britain not choose to unilaterally attack a nation of people merely to overthrow their leader?  Did the “allies” and “broad coalition” not create turmoil in a land that once entertained at least a sense of stability and could they have not achieved a similar turn without all the killing?  President Bush remained placid.

Mr. Bush remained good-natured and composed.  His stilted smirk never betrayed him.  His monologue, his mantra was steady.  The naked Emperor  said, “Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing.”

Mr. President I retorted loudly, “Do you really believe it was correct to enter a country on false and contrived pretenses?”  “Do you think killing the young, the innocent, and the unarmed in worthy?”  Do you honestly believe, battles such as the ones that you yourself, even in your youth were never willing to engage in are just?”  “Mr. President,” I declared, “I think not!”

George W. Bush looked over at me, wincingly, and said, “The decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was controversial.  We did not find the weapons of mass destruction that we all believed were there, and that’s raised questions about whether the sacrifice in Iraq has been worth it.”

He repeated, “Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing.”  After all, “Saddam Hussein was a menace to his people.  He was a state sponsor of terror.  He invaded his neighbors.”  “Oh, sir,” I proclaimed with a shrug, “Is it only because there is an ocean and other countries between us that you do not believe that we too, America, invaded one or more of its neighbors?”  “Are we not as a state, as a nation, sponsoring terror?  Look what we have and are repeatedly creating worldwide.  Both before and after our aggressions, I see little evidence of US diplomacy.”

King George II mused for a time and then replied, “We’ve learned from our mistakes, adjusted our methods, and have built on our successes.”  Have we Mr. President?

Smugly George W. acknowledged, “No question that the Iraq war has, you know, created a sense of consternation here in America.  I mean, when you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country.”  Turn on your television see what?  Mr. Bush, it has been documented repeated, not since Vietnam has there been so little coverage of a war.  Your administration and Pentagon have flown the fallen and wounded in at night so that photographs cannot be taken.  Your own personnel have spoken of the Dover Effect and have worked to control against it!

Only recently, since citizens began exposing the truth of this war, has American been given more access.  Dear George, is it not true that without citizen activism, this conflict would still be invisible?

Hemming and hawing, King George reluctantly offered, “Listen, I want our troops out, don’t get me wrong.  I — you know, I — I — I understand what it means to have troops in harm’s way, and I — and I know the — there’s a lot of families making huge sacrifices here in America.  I’ll be going to a Memorial Day ceremony next Monday, paying tribute to those who’ve lost their life.  I’m sure I will see families of the fallen.  I fully understand the pressures being placed upon our military and their families.”  He mumbled, “But I also understand that it is vital that we — that we do the job, that we complete the mission.”

Apologetically, though resolute, the President affirmed, “And it has been tough.  It’s been tough, because we’re fighting an unconventional enemy that is willing to kill innocent people.  There are no rules of war for these people.  But make no mistake about it.  What you’re seeing in Iraq could happen all over the world if we don’t stand fast and achieve the objective.”

A friend of mine then reflected aloud, “Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq.  Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?”

Bush recounted,  “It sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here.”  The living room filled with laughter, nervous chuckling.  “Saying “Bring it on.”  Kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people.  That I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner.  You know, “Wanted dead or alive,” that kind of talk.  I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted.  And so I learned — I learned from that.”  I mumbled inaudibly, “you learned that good ole boy ??plain speaking’ is unwise; nothing more?”

Perhaps he heard me, for he then suggested there were other lessons.  “And, you know, I think the biggest mistake that’s happened so far, at least from our country’s involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib.  We’ve been paying for that for a long period of time.  And it’s — unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice; they’ve been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.”  Were they Mr. President?  Did America actually judge all those that were responsible or only the “peons,” the persons that were expendable?

With that, President Bush thanked me for my hospitality and said his good-byes.  Would we meet again soon?  I suspect the answer is as the one frequently asked, “When will the war end?”  No timetable will be given.

For Fun or Fears . . .
Transcript of Bush-Blair News Conference National Public Radio
Blair and Bush Are Duo Even in Descent By Glenn Kessler. Washington Post. Friday, May 26, 2006
President Bush Meets with Prime Minister Blair The White House. January 31, 2003
President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours The White House. March 17, 2003
President Addresses the Nation The White House. September 7, 2003
President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended President George W. Bush, USS Abraham Lincoln, At Sea Off the Coast of San Diego, California. U.S. State Department. May 1, 2003
Iraq election at-a-glance BBC News Monday, 24 January, 2005
International Responsibilities Task Force
Iraq Coalition Casualty Statistics
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Casualties CNN News
War Tracker/Archive CNN News
Bush’s Guard Service In Question, By Lois Romano. Washington Post Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Saddam statue toppled in central Baghdad CNN News. Wednesday, April 9, 2003
The Tragedy of American Diplomacy in Iraq By Carl Mirra. CommonDreams.Org January 30, 2005
Bush Legitimizes Terrorism, By Robert Fisk. The Independent and CounterPunch. April 16 – 18, 2004
Administration hides reality of war. Wednesday, By Daniel A. Weiner, Rabbi. Seattlepi.com. February 4, 2004
Photos of Military Coffins (Battlefield and Astronaut Fatalities) at Dover Air Force Base
• PDF The invisible wounded, By Mark Benjamin. Salon.com or html The invisible wounded
Camera/Iraq
Arab Opinions, By Khaled Dawoud. Al-Ahram Weekly, July  30, 2004
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Bush: ‘Bring on’ attackers of U.S. troops USA Today July 2, 2003
Bush: bin Laden ‘prime suspect’ CNN News. September 17, 2001
Annals of National Security, The Gray Zone How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib. By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. May 15, 2004
Torture at Abu Ghraib. By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. April 30, 2004
The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos AntiWar.com
Defense rests in case of Abu Ghraib dog handler, By Stuart Grudgings. Reuters and Washington Post. Friday, May 26, 2006;
Bush and Blair turn their backs on exit plans By Michael Gawenda. Fairfax Digital, The Age Company. May 27, 2006

Day of Deliverance For Enron Employees? ©


Will September 11, 2006 live in infamy, as did September 11, 2001?  Will former Enron employees feel redeemed once the sentences are delivered?  Today, May 24, 2006, the verdict is in.  Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling are guilty, Ken Lay on all counts, Skilling on some.  Still to be determined, the sentence.  what will their terms be?

I cannot judge, do not have a law degree, a circuit bench, or a judicial post.  I am only human and thus offer a human perspective.  I am sharing the thoughts and circumstances of three former Enron employees.  These narratives were recounted to Steve Hargreaves, staff writer for CNNMoney.com, on January 30, 2006. 

I ask that you read these stories, put yourself in the place of these men, read an interview with Former Enron Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lay. Listen to a speech of his. The Chief will speak of his innocence. Then, you decide; if you had the power to deter, diminish, and eliminate corporate crime, what would you do.  What sentence would you deliver?

Preston, once a prized employee of Enron had amassed $1.3 million in Enron company stock.  He had worked as a natural-gas operator for the Houston-based firm.  The company that preceded Enron also employed this loyal man.  Preston invested in Enron liberally.  The executives of this conglomerate reassured his decision, this move was wise.  The endowments of praise by Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were numerous. this prosperous institution and its founders  gave people faith.

Preston had much.  He planned to pay his mortgage in full, retire comfortably, and live well, secure in the knowledge that he had enough in reserve. upon his passing, he would be able to leave a good sum to his progeny.

Now, Preston is struggling.  He is selling same parcels of land off to cover his expenses.  His income is meager; his pain is great.  He is disillusioned and dismayed with the celebrity status of his former bosses. He is disgusted by their lack of denial for wrongdoing.

“When I retired I thought I had all my ducks in a row,” Preston told a CNNMoney.com reporter.  “But now I run out of money before I run out of bills.”

Preston is one of more than 20,000 former Enron employees who lost their life savings when the energy company went bankrupt in 2001.

Roy Rinard, 58, an Oregon-based lineman for Enron-acquired Pacific General Electric in 1997, said, “It was just terrible.”  Rinard sadly had invested solely in the parent company.  All his retirement savings were held in Enron shares.  These were once worth $470,000.  He was left to cash-out his worthless stock papers.  He received only $2,400 for his investment.

“By the time I realized what was going on, I was just in shock — I couldn’t do anything.”  He admits that he would have been better served had he diversified, still . . . he blames Enron executives for his devastation and virtual demise.

Rinard now works for PGE.  This company now operates independently and that feels safer to Mr. Rinard  Originally, the plan was he would retire at 60.  Now he hopes to stop working by 67 years of age.  This is not he desired; it is a necessity with thanks to Lay and Skilling, among other corporate criminals.

‘What we do is hard, hard work,” Rinard said.  The life of a lineman, requires being out of doors at all hours, day and  night.  A lineman must climb utility poles; often during rainstorms, wind gusts, hail, and other types of severe weather.  “But what keeps you going is the fact that you can retire and finally get some rest.  They’ve taken that away from us.  It was pure greed.”

Steve Lacy agrees.  “The sad part is the emotional toll it’s taken over the years,” said this 25-year veteran of PGE.  Mr. Lacey, 50, tell his tale.  He lost somewhere around $200,000 in the Enron debacle.  He too has had to postpone retirement; he hopes the delay will only be a short one.  However, one never knows.

Lacey thinks he is fortunate in contrast to older co-workers.  They lost more money and are less agile.  Physically, laboring longer takes its toll.  “It’s just not right to have to watch guys in their early 60s climb poles for a living because someone else stole,” said Lacey.

UPDATE-Enron’s Lay, Skilling convicted, face years in jail

Thursday 25 May 2006

Lay, 64, and Skilling, 52, who were once lauded as two of the world’s top business leaders but later became poster boys for corporate deception, looked shaken when U.S. District Judge Sim Lake read the decision to a packed courtroom.

Skilling looked down as the verdict was read.  Lay sighed heavily, as his wife Linda grabbed his arm.

Lay was convicted of all six counts of conspiracy and fraud and faces a maximum of 45 years in prison.

Skilling was found guilty of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading, and making false statements, which, combined, carry a maximum sentence of 185 years.  He was not convicted on nine criminal counts.

In a separate trial for Lay, Judge Lake found Lay guilty of all four bank-fraud charges for illegally using money from $75 million in personal loans to buy stock.

ach of those four charges carries a maximum of 30 years, but experts say he is unlikely to get a sentence more than six months for each because he paid off the loans and the lenders suffered no economic damage.

Skilling will remain free on a $5 million bond, while Lake said Lay must post a $5 million bond and give up his passport to stay out of jail until sentencing, set for Sept. 11, 2006.

For Your Enron Enjoyment . . .
Enron Chiefs Guilty of Fraud and Conspiracy By Alexi Barrionjevo and Vikas Bajaj. New Yok Times. May 25, 2006
Ex-Enron workers: ‘Give ’em 50 years’ Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com. January 30, 2006
Former Enron Chief Kenneth Lay on the Firm’s Demise by Wade Goodwyn. All Things Considered. December 13, 2005
Interview Kwn Lay Frontline
ENRON’S TOP MAN NewsHour. February 12, 2002
Enron Trial Update, Carrie Johnson. Washington Post Friday, April 28, 2006

Press Secretary Tony Snow Cried. He and I Touched Humanity. ©

This passage is not political in nature.  It is about people.  When Press Secretary Snow thought of how fragile his own life was, he cried.  When a homeless man helped me to recall how lovely life can be when we care, he touched my heart.  Tears flowed down my face.

This story is about Tony Snow, a homeless man, humanity, and me.  I will begin with Press Secretary Snow.  My focus will not be on the unforgivable term, though I too struggle with its usage.  Instead, I will discuss what for me, was a more meaningful lesson.

In this day and age of snarky, once known as snide, rude, and crude, it was a delight to witness genuine emotion.

Tony Snow exhibited feelings, heart-felt, and deep, at his first news conference.  The novice Press Secretary was asked what might have been considered a casual and innocuous question; journalists inquired of his Live Strong bright yellow bracelet.  These bangles are as ubiquitous as clothing itself.  They can be seen anywhere, everywhere; rarely are they worn with significance.  Still, when queried of this wristlet, Tony Snow paused.  He was sincerely and visibly choked up.  For a time he could not speak.

Moments later, with a quiver in his voice, and tears in his eyes, Snow replied.  The Press Secretary was sobbing softly as he spoke.  He told this audience of journalists that he was a survivor of colon cancer, an illness that had taken the life of his mother when he was very young, seventeen years of age.  Snow stated, that years ago, such a malady was considered fatal; however, with the use of modern technology, he was able to fight the disease and live on.  He was thriving and staying strong.  While acknowledging all the turmoil over health care in America, Tony Snow said, with thanks to the quality attention he received, he was here and enjoying life.

This event was newsworthy.  Tony Snow, a White House Press Secretary cried.  His tears were not exaggerated or put on.  They were not meant to evoke empathy or sympathy.  These were not the playful antics of a plotting personality.  The tears were not those of a clown or a court jester; they were unexpected, unadulterated, untainted by position or pretense.  The cries sprung from a man who had suffered, and was given reason to reflect; they were from one that learned.

At a younger age, Mr. Snow might have forced himself to suppress the sniffles.  He might have feared what people think, would say, or do if they witnessed a grown man cry.  Snow in his twenties might have been concerned that a man in his position, appearing on television, and working within the White House cannot show sorrow or sentiment so publicly.  However, I suspect with age comes wisdom.  Experiences teach us empathy and we evolve.  Still, sadly, few of us ever expose our emotions or ourselves. His story takes me to my own.

While my pain may not have been as life threatening, it did cause me to ponder.  The care I received was not in a hospital; nor was it from medical personnel.  My mentor had been through much and had much to teach me.

Today’s older and wiser never expected to be.  They are from a generation that rallied round stating, “You cannot trust anyone over thirty years of age.”  They meant it; they believed it.  Few ever thought they would live beyond that age.

The youth of the sixties was certain that they were more informed and aware than their elders, and possibly, they were.  Probably they were.  These rebels were willing to question everything and every authority.  I do not challenge that idea.  Humph, I live it, bathe in it, and believe it to be vital.  Nevertheless, in some subtle ways I think this cynicism has worked against us.  It has created a counter culture that no longer feels anything but anger.

Anger has replaced action; in a sense, anger has evolved into apathy.  [I offer this aside for those not familiar with the way in which I define action versus reaction.  For me, actions are loving, caring, creative, and productive.  Reactions are the result of fear, hurt, and pain.  They are often counter measures and thus, counter-productive.]

No, it is not that all persons are unconcerned; they are not.  Many are “activist,” in a reactionary sort of way.  Nevertheless, too many are indifferent to the way in which their thoughts words, or deeds affect others and the ultimately result in an unwanted outcome.

People walk around spouting the words “I don’t care.”  They do not care about other than their interests, their friends, family, and themselves. I myself work so hard to avoid using this pervasive phrase because “I do care.”  I have come to realize that if we do not care for or about others then we care not for or about ourselves, because, in truth, we are all connected.  “No man is an island.”

“If you love yourself, you love everybody else as you do yourself.  As long as you love another person less than you love yourself, you will not really succeed in loving yourself,  But if you love all alike, including yourself, you will love them as one person and that person is both God and man.  Thus he is a great and righteous person who loving himself, loves all others equally!”Meister Eckhart from The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm, page 56

In the world today we work hard to forfeit and fight against connections.  Walk down the street and watch, as the faces of others turn away from your own.  Smile at your neighbor and notice how often they do not beam back.  They as you are in a hurry, preoccupied with their own thoughts, their own worries, and their own fears.  They have no time to engage you or yours.

Weeks ago while wallowing in my thoughts, I was engaged; I was drawn to a sign.  I was driving from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center going to PetsMart, and traveling down highway 441.  I was pondering my recent decisions and determining what was to become of me.  I had recently made extreme changes in my life.  I had entered the world of the unknown.  Fear had become my unwelcome friend.

For years, I had lived happily in my habits.  I went to work.  I swam; I wrote and I cooked great quantities of healthy food.  I played with my babies.  I chatted with friends.  I lived in a home I made my own.  On occasion, I would walk around the lake.  Life was good, very good.  Nevertheless, I sought more.

For decades, I lived in California.  I had never wanted to live in that state; still, my family moved there and since I love my family, I followed.  I never regretted that decision; however, I did not feel connected to this territory.  For all the years that I lived there I was never willing to say, “I am from California.”

For me, weather is not a superficial subject; it influences the way I feel.  The climate in “Sunny Southern California” is not that.  A maritime malaise fills the sky until late afternoon.  The June gloom begins in May, and it affects me.  I wanted out.

Since childhood, I reveled in Florida weather.  The topics were my treasure.  Therefore, I decided to move South and East, to go where my heart was.  However, much was not as I expected.

I planned for my employment.  I intended to do as I had done for decades in California.  I did not fear financial ruin; I trusted all would be well.  After taking time to complete my house, I returned to work.  “Returned” is not the right word for this is a different state, city, and circumstance.  What was once my bread and butter, my staple, my stability, now left me nauseous.  The nuances are too numerous to explain.

Upon entering the work force, I was repelled.  I knew I could not do this.  Worry began to fill my mind, my heart, my soul, and even my dreams while asleep. On this day, as I drove to the store, I was in a stupor.  I stopped at a red light.  I was in the left-hand turn lane.  A homeless man was standing on the medium.  He held a sign expectedly asking for money.  I had none.  I rarely carry any and even if I had, I always leave my purse in the trunk.  I knew I could not give him change; I did not have enough for myself.  In truth, I worried I would soon be him.

I did not wish to meet his eyes, to see his soul.  I could not face my own and his presence reminded me of whom I might become.  I did, however, read his sign.  It said, “Imagine me being you, and looking away.”  Oh my, that was exactly what I was imagining, my life could easily be as his.  I believe there was more on the sign; however, in this moment, I recall my feeling overwhelmed more than all the words that took me there.

In an instant, I remembered that a week earlier my father had taken the toll-way.  He had left the change in my car and told me to keep it.  I might need it at some time.  Perhaps if I ever drive the turnpike, the change will do me good.  When he said this, I thought, ??not likely.’  I will never waste money on such a highway.  I had tucked the quarters away in the side pocket of my car door.

When I saw the man, I knew the money was meant for him.  My father was always giving to the homeless.  He would not object to my doing so also.  I pulled the quarters out and called to the destitute and scruffy man.  I extended my handful of change apologizing as I did so.

I explained this was all that I had and though I knew it was not much, I hoped it would help.  [Tears are flowing again as I retell this tale.]  He sweetly smiled and explained, “There is no need for you to apologize.”  He said, “Say God Bless.”  I was reluctant.  I believe “Thou art God.”  Yet, I was not feeling the least bit divine.  I reject religious overtures; too often, they seem insincere.  However, coming from this man, in this moment, I decided to oblige.  I thought ??I am okay with this.’  Thus, I said, “God Bless.”

The gentle man then replied, “If you say God bless and I say God bless than all will be well.”  Perhaps it will.  Whether God is within, above, or throughout, even if God does not exist other than in the recesses of our minds, I believe what is God, or the personification of such, is “goodness.”  If we say and act upon all that is good, if we remember and consider that we are all connected to our neighbors and treat them with reverence, all will be well.

This week, Tony Snow was reminded of his humanity, weeks ago I recalled mine.  Imagine what the world would be if we each chose to be human and humane daily, if we chose to connect to each other and ourselves.

References For Your Review . . .
Fox anchor named Bush press secretary CNN News. Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Understanding poverty and homelessness in America By Gerry Roll. Yahoo News. Monday May 22, 2006
Tony Snow gets personal in first on-camera session CNN News. Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Couric failed to question Snow about “tar baby” remark Media Matters. Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The tears of Snow, By Michael Scherer. Salon.com May 17, 2006
Tony Snow Has 1st On-Camera Press Session, By Jennifer Loven, The Washington Post. Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Snow Pick May Signal Less Insular White House, By Jim VandeHei and Michael A. Fletcher. Washington Post. Thursday, April 27, 2006; Page A01
Tony Snow Cries During First Formal Briefing Massachusetts News
Snow Meets the Press By John Eggerton. Broadcasting & Cable, Tuesday, May 16, 2006
FNC’s Tony Snow Has Colon Cancer By Don Kaplan. Fox News. Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Tony Returns to the Microphone! By Tony Snow. Fox News. April 21, 2005
FOX News’ Tony Snow Among Possible White House Spokesman Candidates. Fox News. Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow James S. Brady Briefing Room. May 16, 2006
“Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”
Erich Fromm, Biography By Dr. C. George Boeree
Meister Eckhart
Homeless in America By Raven Tyler. NewsHour. December 11, 2002
Homeless in America Witness for Justice. May 13, 2002

Lloyd Bentsen Passes. “Not the typical, back-slapping politician” ©

Only twice in my life have I been willing and able to vote for the same candidate in the Presidential primaries and the general election.  Michael S. Dukakis was one of these.  I worked diligently on his campaign, was a precinct Captain, and met the man more than once.  Granted, a voter cannot know who the Vice Presidential contender will be; however, in 1988, I thought the ticket solid.

My preference is for the far left, the liberal, and the Progressive person.  However, I recognize that an individual such as this will never meet the mindset of the masses.  Thus, combining a moderate, at times conservative, Southern speaking, and influential man to a questionable ticket, I thought was wise.  Lloyd Bentsen was such a man.

The former four-term United States Senator from Texas was not my first; nor would he have been my second choice for the 1988 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, still he was a worthy opponent.  He certainly gleaned more integrity than Bush or Quayle.  Bentsen and Michael S. Dukakis ran a strong campaign; however, there were many stumbles.

The aspirants were credible, educated, and esteemed in their own circles.  Though victory was not theirs, success was.  The two made their mark on history.  Neither was personally defeated by the loss.  However, today, ill health caused one to pass on to greater rewards.

Today, Tuesday, May 23, 2006, former Senator Bentsen departed from this Earthly existence.

Bentsen was eighty-five years of age and had been ill for quite some time.  He suffered from two strokes in 1998 and his health had not stabilized.  Fortunately, this distinguished man took his last breath in his Houston home; he was in the company of family.

Senator Bentsen served as President Clinton’s first Secretary of the Treasury.  He represented his home state of Texas for twenty-two years.

Bentsen was a tall, handsome, and chivalrous man.  .  He was a wealthy man and sadly, I think for this nation, he often voted as one might expect of a person with money to do.  On foreign policy and economic issues, he was conservative.  However, on social issues he was more moderate.  For me, he was way too conservative and too closely tied to corporate concerns.  Nevertheless, reluctantly, I knew then as I know now, my choice will never survive alone.  At least, not until much of the accepted structure and conventional wisdom wanes.  Therefore, as a running mate to Dukakis, the “Liberal” Governor, who for me could have been more so, Bentsen was ideal.  The two together offered a balanced and beautiful ticket.  Still, the country rejected the duo.

Though the Dukakis/Bentsen team endured a resounding defeat, the prominence of this powerful Senator was not diminished.  Bentsen, “known as a bipartisan coalition builder” and was considered among the most influential congresspersons in Washington.  From 1987 to 1992 Senator Bentsen headed the respected Senate Finance Committee.  Then as stated earlier, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.

In 1999, Former President William Jefferson Clinton awarded Bentsen the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  This is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The Clintons spoke highly of this mild-mannered man as did all that knew him.  The two, President Bill and Senator Hillary Clinton released a statement on Tuesday, in memory of Lloyd Bentsen.  They said, “His leadership was critical to the development and passage of our economic plan, and he deserves much credit for the prosperity, fiscal responsibility and poverty reduction it produced.”

His guidance and finesse were his trademarks.  These qualities made Bentsen most memorable.  Never before, or after, in any televised political debate has a candidate’s comment been so applauded.  Unlike the characteristic jab and dig often exhibited in these deliberations, it was Bentsen’s calm and certain demeanor that captured audiences’ worldwide.

After listening politely to a remark made by Vice Presidential Dan Quayle contender Bentsen turned and looked soberly at the man.  He stated with a sense of dignity unmatched, “I served with Jack Kennedy.  I knew Jack Kennedy.  Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  Those viewing exploded in delight.  The consensus was unanimous.  This statement showed America how poignant, how perfect, and how powerful this stalwart man could be.  Bentsen had showed himself to be a man of substance.

Patrick Cox, Associate Director of the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, said of the Senator, he “successfully confounded both admirers and critics as he followed both a conservative and progressive agenda, often seeking to find consensus to issues that challenged the nation.”

Bentsen said of himself in a 1988 interview with the Dallas Times Herald, “I’m not the typical, back-slapping politician.  That’s not my nature?¦.  I’ve always been one who, in spite of being a very quiet person, likes to do new, challenging things.”

Dear Lloyd Bentsen, I personally appreciate your challenging the Bush Quayle White House and the conventions this nation holds near and dear.  My hope is that in the world beyond this one you will progress well.  I trust that one day we will meet in this novel and better place.  My vision is we will join forces and the results will be more fruitful than they might have been here on Earth.  I thank you for your efforts in the 1988 campaign and your attempts to help bring power back to the people.

References For Your Review . . .
Ex-Senator, VP Candidate Bentsen Dies By Wendy Benjaminson. Guardian Unlimited. Tuesday May 23, 2006
Lloyd Bentsen Dies at 85; Senator Ran With Dukakis, By David E. Rosenbaum.  New York Times. May 23, 2006
FOX Facts: Lloyd Bentsen FOX News[sic]
BENTSEN, Lloyd Millard, Jr., (1921 – 2006)
Lloyd Bentsen, 85; U.S. Senator Zinged Quayle in ’88 VP Debate By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2006
Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy. Wikipedia
Televised Debate History 1988
Ninety Long Minutes In Omaha. By Richard Stengel. TIME, October 17, 1988

Immigration. Walls at The Borders. Barriers or Buttresses? ©

On occasion, I am fortunate; I find that an essayist heard on National Public Radio has written a commentary and published the text for all to read.  Thus far, I have yet to locate the transcript for “‘Good Fences’: Misreading Poetry,” an essay I heard this evening on All Things Considered.  However, I will keep searching.  Until then, I am offering a link to the story so you might listen to the author himself.

Jay Keyser, Professor of Linguistics at MIT is baffled and distressed by the use of a Robert Frost verse in defense of building walls between borders.  He speaks of how the oft quoted poem, “Mending Wall” is misunderstood, if analyzed at all.

The poem closes with the line we all recall “Good fences make good neighbours.”  When people speak of immigration, or more accurately segregation, they use this declaration to justify their stance.

However, as Professor Keyser so aptly points out the elegy begins,

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”

Mr. Keyser offers, Robert Frost thinks there are walls that function as “walls.”  They are practical parapets, or purposeful buttress. However, sadly, according to the poem, Frost recognizes walls and fences can be barriers.

Keyser, reflecting on history and using the verse to support his belief, surmises countries build “walls” to “keep out the unwanted and keep in the unwilling.”  They build barriers that fight against the blending of people.

Linguist Keyser objects to these fortifications, as he states Frost does. The academician argues, Frost is questioning the reason for such ridiculous artifacts.  So too is [Samuel] Jay Keyser.  I hope that after listening to his commentary and reflecting upon the famous Robert Frost poem, you too will ask why would we wish to build a wall.  Frost does . . .

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know,
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”

I certainly have no desire to create fences; I do not love a wall. I love my [thy] neighbors.

References for your Review . . .
National Public Radio
All Things Considered
“‘Good Fences’: Misreading Poetry” The Xenophobic School: Misreading Poetry
“Mending Wall,” By Robert Frost
Robert Frost
Samuel Jay Keyser, Professor of Linguistics at MIT
Samuel Jay Keyser, Bibliography