Passion of Christ, Allah, Mohammed, the Almighty; All War ©

I am against the Israeli-Lebanese war on every count.  I have no interest in the idea of who started it.  Bush and his boisterous Bunch can claim Hezbollah the enemy, the bearers of barbaric gifts.  I see no difference between the bombs this grass-roots organized front drops and those heat-seeking missiles that Israel launches.  Many throughout the globe are blaming Israel for over-reacting, myself among these.  Others question this “truth;” they say Hezbollah, Hamas, the Syrians, and or the Lebanese are at fault.  As far as I am concerned, they too are responsible.

Nevertheless, this treatise is not meant to promote a discussion about the battles brewing in the Middle East.  My choice is to look within, at wars in America.

For me, any brutal battle on any field is troublesome.  I find what is going on in this nation disquieting.  What might we be building up to, what do we believe, and why do our actions belie our said truth?

I believe, every human being that accepts war as an option must look at this decision.  Yes, they can rationalize, intellectualize, justify, and blame.  Still I ask, “What good does that do?”  Will our verbal prophecies bring about peace?  Will discussions of what is happening abroad end these futile feuds? Half-hearted attempts at diplomacy are that.  The leaders of this nation have no interest in changing what is; if they had, they might start at home!  I see no evidence of tranquility in America; yet we ask those in other nations to do as we do not.

I surmise if we support one war or another, then we back them all.  America is at war and I am not speaking of the war on terrorism.  Religiously we are ridiculously hypocritical.  Racially, we uphold policies that discriminate.  United States citizens profess a belief in equality; yet, they advance a society of the classes and the masses. We are duplicitous or self-deceiving.  In this exposé, I intend to discuss sanctimonious attitudes towards religion and race.

I am too overwhelmed to write great prose.  In this post, I am only going to offer headlines and short snippets from various articles.  I am asking for a dialogue, not a debate.  I disdain the idea of “I win, you lose.”  I loathe the concept of “correct,” political, or otherwise.  The intent to prove another wrong for me is wasteful.  What do we learn when our eyes and ears are closed.  I abhor when words are wielded as weapons.  I want no wars here or anywhere!

I ask only that you read, reflect, and state/share your beliefs.  I crave a caring community and hope that in seeing the errors of our own ways we might choose to empathize with all others.  I yearn for communities where people accept one another, honor the differences, learn from other cultures, and co-habit in harmony.  However, this is not what I see.  I observe people posturing, stating that they are working towards peace.  Please, pray tell, where, how, and when?

Intentionally, I offer no articles on the combat across the sea.  I want Americans to look into the mirror and see what exists daily in this nation.  Peruse as you might.  Ponder if you wish.  Conclude as you choose.  I will share my deduction.  This is America, a land supposedly founded on the principle that all men are created equal.  I do not see this conviction applied.  I see only rampant racism and religious bigotry.  I observe intolerance everywhere, here, in the “United” States of America!

Gibson apologizes for driving drunk, ranting at police, By Sandy Cohen.  The Associated Press. Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Sheriff’s Department has refused to release either Gibson’s mug shot or the report of the arresting officer, Deputy James Mee.  According to Mee’s report, Gibson berated and threatened the deputy in an expletive-filled tirade.

“The Passion of the Christ” director also made anti-Semitic remarks, according to the Web site. Mee’s report, according to the Web site, quotes Gibson as saying, among other things, “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

The report of Gibson’s outburst struck some people who were already wary of what they saw as anti-Semitic overtones of “The Passion of the Christ” and who believe he has failed to disassociate himself clearly enough from remarks by his father denying the Holocaust.

In this country, we are shocked that a man made more famous by exploiting Christianity and promoting an anti-Semitic sentiments might be drunk with anger.  We cannot imagine that such a soul would blurt out his hatred of Jews.  Yet, has he not chosen to do so successfully for years?  Did he not make millions for denigrating a race, a religion, or an ethnicity?  He did, and with the blessing of the American people.  God was truly on Mel’s side, or so he and his adoring public thought.

Gibson found his calling; in his mind he was preaching from the bible.  Yet, he created contrary to peace.  I think this hypocritical stance is evident throughout the United States.  Our President states God is speaking through him.  Would God, or Christ choice to condemn others to death?  Would the divine censure or convict a group of people or even an individual?  Would Jesus cast the first stone and incite mass murder?  Might the Lord, our God see evil on every corner and terrorize the masses?  I think not, though I wonder.

I suppose if Jesus was an American, he may not be as he was.  Just as other US, citizens, Christ may have become acculturated.  Living among the apathetic sheep, he may have forgotten what it means to walk in peace and to show love to all men equally.

I invite you to read on, to ponder the truth and ways of your fellow citizens.  Are these people truly hoping for harmony worldwide or in their local communities?  Do they treat their neighbors as they would wish to be treated?  Oh, if only . . .

Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians? By Pauline Arrillaga. Associated Press National Writer.  Los Angeles Times.  July 29, 2006

The question they kept coming back to: Why?  Why, they asked, are Haitian immigrants singled out by the U.S. government for unequal treatment? On this day, earlier in the year, the topic was temporary protected status, a designation the federal government can grant to foreigners allowing them to remain part time in the United States because of political unrest or environmental disasters at home.

Central Americans have repeatedly been granted protected status following hurricanes and earthquakes in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Immigrants from Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan also enjoy such protections.

But Haitians have never obtained relief, despite decades of political turmoil, kidnappings and killings, and tribulations from tropical storms.

“Why aren’t Haitians good enough for the same basic protections?” demanded Steve Forester, of the group Haitian Women of Miami.

I ask as well, why are Haitians considered “not good enough?”  Why do we speak of equality and then not grant it?  American policies baffle me.

Only recently, Congress chose to reinstate the Voters Rights Act.  King George Bush II signed it into law.  Each thought them selves benevolent.  I see no goodwill in bestowing rights towards native-born Black citizens.  I observe only this comparison; Black is Black.  It seems to me that Americans can and will find a way to belittle those of dark color.  According to many United States citizens, once of African American heritage, always considered an African.  Is that term synonymous with subhuman?  I think not, though policy seems to belie my beliefs.

Families Challenging Religious Influence in Delaware Schools, By Neela Banerjee.  New York Times. July 29, 2006

For years, she and her daughter, Samantha, listened to Christian prayers at public school potlucks, award dinners and parent-teacher group meetings, she said. But at Samantha’s high school graduation in June 2004, a minister’s prayer proclaiming Jesus as the only way to the truth nudged Mrs. Dobrich to act.

“It was as if no matter how much hard work, no matter how good a person you are, the only way you’ll ever be anything is through Jesus Christ,” Mrs. Dobrich said. “He said those words, and I saw Sam’s head snap and her start looking around, like, ??Where’s my mom? Where’s my mom?’ And all I wanted to do was run up and take her in my arms.”

After the graduation, Mrs. Dobrich asked the Indian River district school board to consider prayers that were more generic and, she said, less exclusionary. As news of her request spread, many local Christians saw it as an effort to limit their free exercise of religion, residents said. Anger spilled on to talk radio, in letters to the editor and at school board meetings attended by hundreds of people carrying signs praising Jesus.

“What people here are saying is, ??Stop interfering with our traditions, stop interfering with our faith and leave our country the way we knew it to be,’ ” said Dan Gaffney, a host at WGMD, a talk radio station in Rehoboth, and a supporter of prayer in the school district.

After receiving several threats, Mrs. Dobrich took her son, Alex, to Wilmington in the fall of 2004, planning to stay until the controversy blew over.  It never has.

The clamor does not calm for it is not as a noise that begins and then ends.  The argument lingers in the air as it has for centuries.  In America, nine of the thirteen original colonies discriminated against those that did not subscribe to the official religion.  Judaism was not considered “correct” centuries ago.  It is no more correct in Delaware and other places today.  Mrs. Dobrich may wish to wait for the storm to pass; however, the wait is likely to be a very long one.

Shattering Glass Ceilings, By McCoy, Frank. Black Enterprise.  September 1995. Volume 26, Issue  2

The bipartisan Glass Ceiling Commission report on corporate American’s dismal record of advancing minorities to management and decision-making positions includes multiple example of the biased policies many – but not all – white corporate officers employ to support their exclusionary and racist decisions.

Black people get promotions white men deserve. Affirmative action hurts white men more than it helps black men or women.

The above falsehoods and other not-so-little white (male) lies were gutted recently by two studies that focused on minorities in the workplace.

The first light was shed by the bipartisan Glass Ceiling Commission report on corporate America’s dismal record of advancing minorities to management and decision-making positions. The paper includes multiple examples of the biased policies many–but not all–white corporate officers employ to support their exclusionary and racist decisions. The commission was headed by U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

The results are stark. In 1992, white males, while making up only 43% of the total labor force at Fortune 1,000 Industrial and Fortune 500 Service companies, were 97% of the senior-level decision-making managers. By contrast, only 0.6% were black, 0.4% Latino and 0.3% Asian.

The lack of corporate status translates into lower salaries as well. Black males with professional degrees earn only 79 cents for every dollar received by white males with the same credentials. And black women take home only 60 cents per dollar.

A Commission report calls to US, though we hear nothing.  The glass is not broken.  Stereotypes are not shattered.  Status and substantial salaries are not awarded to persons of color.  Again, America is discriminating.  Our wars may be subtle.  Our means for suppression are silent; still, we kill.  We do it with “kindness.”  Constitutionally we declare, “All are created equal.”  How thoughtful we are, with our words.  Actions speak!

OPINION: Immigration issue sparks American racism, Knight Ridder Tribune Business News.  July 19, 2006.

Perhaps the recent flare-up of the immigration issue started out more legitimately. Certainly there are serious problems with waves of hundreds of thousands of people entering any country illegally. But like the head of a monstrous snake coming out of a thorny bush, the issue has grown its own nasty viper. Immigration has become the new magnet of American racism.

It’s time to recognize this evil trend, and confront it.

From the oh-so-patriotic “Minutemen,” with their always potential overlap to vigilante violence, to the actual rise in incidents of race crime against dark-skinned Mexican and other Hispanics in recent months, the evidence is that a climate of disdain and potential race and/or ethnic hatred is being generated in North America. This is very evident in the type of language and self- definition put up by not so unconsciously race-based pundits and politicians.

Racism within the immigration issue is primarily directed at Latin American migrants coming north in search of economic opportunity. The shorthand language used has to do most of all with the sense by Anglo-Americans that the country is changing as so- called Hispanics or Latinos make up an ever-larger proportion of the minority population which, combined with blacks and Asian- Americans, now threatens to become established as the “new majority” and make the Euro-American population essentially the minority. Thus one can hear the likes of pundit and erstwhile presidential contender Pat Buchanan bemoan the fact that “we are losing our country,” shorthand in this case being that crucial “we” and all that such possessiveness implies.

Xenophobia directed at Mexicans has a long history in America. Anglo-America, after all, warred first with Spain and, later, Mexico for a century over more than a third of present-day U.S. territory. Stereotype and racial hatred, ethnic insults (Mexicans as a “mongrel race,” etc.) — apparent requirements of war — layered into the social consciousness of Anglo-Americans.

Salient points of this history not told by the conqueror were articulated in a recent New York Times essay by Tony Horwitz (“Immigration and the Curse of the Black Legend,” July 9, 2006). To be faulted for too brazenly bypassing the indigenous perspective, Horwitz recounts accurately that North America’s first European explorers and settlers were not English-speaking, but were from Spain. Horwitz: “Four of the sample questions on our naturalization test ask about Pilgrims. Nothing in the sample exam suggests that prospective citizens need know anything that occurred on this continent before the Mayflower landed in 1620.”

Xenophobia, in America?  Not possible, though extremely probable.  We see it daily.  Newspapers, periodicals, and books are filled with messages of fear.  Our leaders reinforce the idea of terror.  Yet, they are the ones repeatedly creating it.  The killing our country allows here or abroad does not horrify many American citizens.  This surprises me.  We are murdering with guns, bayonets, or bombs foreign land and we slaughter with stereotypes here.  We suppress freedom and liberty throughout the globe.  We secure laws and policies that destroy lives and spirits.  We are outraged by injustices in the Middle East.  We declare that we know how to do good governance better.  I ask, “Do we?”

Americans claim to live in peace; they believe in equinity.  If only I could find the evidence.

• Mark Thoma, of Economist View, offers a discussion of a Robert Reich commentary, Oh What a Tangled Web.  Former Secretary of Labor Reich evaluates the economy and how it is affected by the war[s].  Reich assesses our interconnectivity.  He states it is obvious; the Middle East and the United States are joined.  What happens in one part of the world will influence occurrences in the other.  For Mr. Reich and me, issues do not exist in isolation.  Currently, “global economics, home economics, and domestic politics” are a mess!

You might also wish to participate in a discussion of this text at the Robert Reich Blog.  Speak with the Former Secretary and share your views on The Mess

May we walk and talk in peace.  Please ponder . . .

Live From…Firefight Between Israel, Hezbollah Continues.  CNN News. July 14, 2006
Bush blames Hezbollah for Mideast violence.  USA Today. July 15, 2006
Rice to seek ‘lasting settlement’ at U.N., By Katherine Shrader.  Associated Press. Chicago Sun-Times. July 31, 2006
Israel responsible for Qana attack; war crimes on both sides, Turkish Press. World News. July 31, 2006
Israel Overreacts to Hostage Situation,Inept Bush Fails to Intervene, By Lloyd Williams.  EURWeb. July 18, 2006
The Real Target of Arab Elites. The New Republic. July 21,2006
• PDF The Real Target of Arab Elites. The New Republic. July 21,2006
American Idle, By Dan Froomkin. Special to Washington Post. Friday, July 28, 2006
Monitoring Hate and Extremist Activity, The Intelligence Project. Southern Poverty Law Center.
Gibson apologizes for driving drunk, ranting at police, By Sandy Cohen. Seattle Times Company. July 30, 2006
As God Told Me …, On President Bush, Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson, By Andy Rooney. 60 Minutes. CBS News. February 22, 2004
Anti-Semitism – U.S. Anti-Defamation League.
Gibson personalizes ‘Passion of the Christ’, By Marco R. della Cava. USA Today. February 20, 2004
Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians? By Pauline Arrillaga. Associated Press National Writer.  Los Angeles Times.  July 29, 2006
• PDF Is Racism Behind Treatment of Haitians? By Pauline Arrillaga. Associated Press National Writer.  Los Angeles Times. July 29, 2006
National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR)
Black Racism: The Hate Crime That Dare Not Speak It’s Name, By David Horowitz. FrontPageMagazine.com. July 16, 2002
Voting act overshadows race debate, Democrats weigh diluting districts of black majorities, By Joseph Williams.  Boston Globe. July 31, 2006
Families Challenging Religious Influence in Delaware Schools, By Neela Banerjee.  New York Times.July 29, 2006
Shattering Glass Ceilings, By McCoy, Frank. Black Enterprise.  September 1995. Volume 26, Issue  2
Glass Ceiling Commission [1991-1996] DigitalCommons. Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
• Living as Jews in Christian America, By Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President. Toward Tradition. June 10, 2005
Bill of Rights in Action. Constitutional Rights Foundation.
From Test Oath to the Jew Bill, By Jerry Klinger. The Struggle for Religious and Political Freedom. Jewish Magazine.
Immigration & racism in the U.S., by Ruth Vela. Workers World Forum. December 21, 2005
A Nation of WASPs?, By Earl Shorris. The Nation. May 13, 2004
Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, September 20, 2001

When Will I Be Right? Is It Ever Okay To Be Me?

This is Chapter Seven in a series.


copyright © 2006 Betsy L. Angert

They observe how little she eats and then they say, “She eats like a bird.”  She wonders, ??Do they know how much birds eat?’  Might I inform them that birds will eat their own body weight daily?  Would it matter to them?  Why should I bother to discuss truth, for they are certain they know exactly what truth is.  They think they know me; yet, they do not even know themselves.  Criticizing me is their entertainment.  I can show contempt towards myself well enough.  I do not need their help.

They watch my weight and say that they are worried.  They are awaiting my passage.  They believe I want to die and think I am working towards this vision.  I am not; I never was.

They express their concern through ample condemnations.  First, I was too fat.  Now, I am too thin.  When I was eating more “normally,” I ate too much, or not enough.  I have never been able to do anything correctly, or at least I cannot live up to their standards.

They accuse me of being a “perfectionist.”  They assure me there is no need for precision.  I am exactly right just as I am.  Oh, am I?  I can do no wrong, nor can I do right.

They surmise that my current mission is to control my circumstances.  They tell me that I have concluded my body, my food intake, and my weight are all that I can control, truly.  Therefore, they believe I do as I do in order to feel powerful.  For them, food is my freedom.  My decision to eat or not allows me to feel independent.  Jeeeez, do they not see how dependent I am on my meals?  To have them or not, that is the question!  At least that is my quandary.  Theirs is only to get me to be as they are, do as they do.

That was then.  Ironically, now that I have left anorexia and bulimia behind, now that I have worked through all the battles with food, they still want me to be as they are, do as they do.  I suspect they think I want them to be me.  I do not, nor have I ever had a desire to change them.  I merely want to be me.

They believe that I want them to eat as I do.  If my diet is that of a vegetarian or a vegan, that is my choice, it has nothing to do with them.  I say, let them eat cake.  Enjoy!  I need not eat the same!

My progression was a challenge.  I studied food and feelings intensely.  I looked at the dilemma and pondered my path deeply.  I progressed.  I have no desire to transform others, be others, to think as others.  It took me a long time to give myself permission to be me!  I still struggle with this distress.  The “eating disorder,” does not haunt me.  It is only the decision to be as I am that causes me grief.  I know that my life is best when I am “me,” doing as I do.  However, the vilification from self and others can cause me great doubt and difficulty.

I now eat large quantities of food.  I relish my meals.  I still eat no meat and have not since I was sixteen.  While originally, this choice had little to do with humanitarian concerns, overtime, that changed.  Now, the idea of eating animals pains me.

In my quest towards better health, my research helped my to realize that chemicals can confuse the body.  These substances cause sensations that are not genuine.  The drugs used in food can drive feelings of hunger and satiation.  I want no more of that.  Thus, I no longer eat processed foods.  Sugar, flour, corn syrup, and honey are just not “my things.”

I never craved starches.  These literally leave my mouth feeling dry and stale.  Pasta and rice for me are filling, though not gratifying.  For years now, I have eaten only fruits and vegetables.  I love these.  The flavors, the zest, the tang as they touch my tongue, wow; it is all so wonderful.  I never imagined food could be so good, delicious.  I savor each bite.  Still, the criticisms continue to come.

I am questioned.  Why must I eat such so much?  A plate and one half of vegetables are considered gorging from those that digest so little.  They eat bread, pasta, and half a plate of meat.  A glass of soda or wine may accompany their meal.  After a short time, they are full.  I totally understand.  These foods are filling.

I consume my plate or two of spinach and broccoli and quench my thirst only with water, and I am told I am eating proportions that are uncalled for and unhealthy.  Again, as in years past, I am asked of dying.  I am told stories of this relative or that, who died with undigested food in their stomach.  Yes, I am the fool, for I do not recognize that vegetables are equal in volume to sugars, starches, breads, and animal protein.  God or what ever powers that be, please save me! [I guess, save me from myself, according to them.]

Please peruse Chapters One through Six, if you choose.

  • The Beginning. Bulimia and Becoming [Chapter One]
  • Bulimia. A Bit Becomes a Binge [Chapter Two]
  • Binges Build A Being, Separate From Self  [Chapter Three]
  • Hiding the Food. Hiding The Feelings, Hiding Me [Chapter Four]
  • The Satiated Stomach. The Study Of Food [Chapter Five]
  • Bulimia. Wait! It is Not My Weight [Chapter Six]
  • Miracle of Medicine Kills President Garfield and More

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I have long been fascinated by the juxtaposition of miracle and malady as it relates to medicine.  As modern physicians assess the findings of an autopsy, they too ponder.  Scientists discovered President James A. Garfield did not die from an assassin’s bullet; medical science killed him.  Currently, in an exhibit at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the perforated vertebrae of our last log cabin President is on display. This show offers photographs and other images that tell the Garfield story, or so we are lead to believe.  I think what is evident is only a small portion of the tale.  For me, what we are able to see is not the most important part of the parable.


    Granted, observers of the Garfield collection can view the three pieces of spine removed from the body of the James Garfield.  They can evaluate the placement and path of the red plastic probe, which represents the pellet that pierced the body of the President.  All while onlookers are asked reflect upon what was not known on July 2, 1881, the day Charles Julius Guiteau shot the late President.  It is hoped that they realize that if the same occurred today, the President would have lived.  According to a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a medical historian, Dr. Ira Rutkow, “Garfield had such a non-lethal wound.  In today’s world, he would have gone home in a matter of two or three days.”  I inquire, would he?

    President Garfield, once hit by buckshot, lay on what was to become his deathbed for 80 long days.  Doctors did little to help him; in truth, they harmed him.  This does not surprise me.  I have longed questioned the sanctity of medical science and surgery.  I surmise, practices may not be safer now, than they were then.  Still, I know nothing with certainty.  I understand only what I observe, as do those strolling through the Garfield exhibit.

    Spectators at this current showing, doctors and patients among these, marvel at how medicine and surgery have improved.  Still, mishaps, those that occurred more than a century ago, and those that occur now do not amuse me.  The numbers of persons that have been misdiagnosed or operated on in error causes me great dismay.  The myth of miracles does not bring me solace or a sense of security.  I rarely think surgical treatments are truly a cure.  For me, the events surrounding Garfield’s death do little to ease my mind; they only affirm my sense of doubt.

    As I contemplate my reservations, I ask you to consider these.  Please compare and contrast the story of James A. Garfield with those you know of personally.

    Assistant Curator of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Dr. Lenore Barbian, spoke of the President’s passing.  She stated, “No one expected Garfield to live through the night.”  At least a dozen medical experts probed the president’s wound.  They used their bare hands.  Metal instruments were not sterilized.  These practices were common at the time, at least in the States.  Ultimately, sepsis set in, and after eighty long and difficult days, James A. Garfield passed.

    It was not that sanitary practices and procedures did not exist.  They did.  These methods were in use and available in France, Germany, and other parts of Europe.  It was only in America that these systems were not widely accepted.  For me, this validates what I believe is typical in medicine, particularly in American medicine.  Innovations are thought too avant gardé.  They are considered untested, or untrue.  Thus, they are not utilized. I think what was true than is truer now.

    As I appraise the American Medical Association, the Food Drug Administration, and other health care commissions I am concerned.  The influence of Pharmaceutical Corporations and the power they wield disturbs me.  The deliverance of insurance is disquieting to say the least.  Anxiety overtakes me as I assess the way medical decisions are made in this country.

    I offer a few tales, sad, and true.

    Closed-Door Deal Makes $22 Billion Difference. GOP Negotiators Criticized for Change In Measure on HMOs, By Jonathan Weisman.  Washington Post.  Tuesday, January 24, 2006; Page A01

    House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade.  But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts.

    While I might wish more money were spent on medical science, on prevention of illness, research, and development, I do appreciate the finer details of this story.  Lobbyists loom large.  Dollars doled out for preserving a flawed system benefit no one but the insurers.  We, the citizens of this country, with thanks to the Grand Old Party negotiators will spend twenty-two billion dollars that perhaps, we need not spend.  Apparently, the rates paid to Medicare may be out-of-balance; assessments may have been skewed.

    Private insurers attract healthier seniors than the traditional government-run Medicare system, so their payment rates — based on the elderly population as a whole — exceed the actual cost of treatment.

    I think this next article speaks for itself.  The echoing effects are quite loud.

    FDA’s Lobbying Questioned, By Brody Mullins. Published on Thursday, July 24, 2003 by Roll Call (Washington, DC)

    In a rare lobbying campaign by a federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration has formed an unofficial alliance with the pharmaceutical industry to urge House Members to vote today against a bill that could flood the nation with cheap prescription drugs from Canada and overseas.

    The FDA’s extraordinary moves to kill the bill ?” and the informal lobbying partnership between a federal regulator and the industry it oversees ?” has come under fire from several Members who support the legislation.

    “What they did might not be illegal, but it certainly was untoward,” said Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), whose office received a call from an FDA lobbyist.  “In my 11 years, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    In the last week, Administrator Mark McClellan and other FDA officials have spoken with key Republicans and Democrats to highlight the agency’s opposition to a bill sponsored by Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) that would allow “reimportation” of less expensive drugs sold abroad.

    Meanwhile, a pair of officials in the FDA’s Congressional affairs office spent last week calling key lawmakers in both parties to say, among other things, that the bill would cost the industry $2 billion a year because of new packaging to guard against counterfeits.

    The FDA’s lobbying effort against the bill is the latest example of the close ties the Bush administration shares with the pharmaceutical industry, one of the biggest financial backers of President Bush and GOP leaders, who oppose the legislation.

    I also wish to address the issue of a doctor in tow. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. has quite a record.  This man is a doctor, the Senate Majority Leader, and a mogul.  Dear reader, you might recall his expert testimony in the case of Terri Schiavo.  This profoundly professional physician thought himself able to accurately diagnose a “patient” from afar.  This good doctor is know as the Bad says Journalist Doug Ireland.

    The Bad Doctor. Bill Frist’s long record of corporate vices, By Doug Ireland.  LA Weekly.  Thursday, January 9, 2003.

    While TV gushed last week over the Republicans’ new Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, intervening in a traffic accident, portraying the former heart surgeon as a “Good Samaritan,” in truth the GOP has simply replaced a racist with a corporate crook.

    Frist was born rich, and got richer” thanks to massive criminal fraud by the family business. The basis of the Frist family fortune is HCA Inc. (Hospital Corporation of America), the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, which was founded by Frist’s father and brother. And, just as Karl Rove was engineering the scuttling of Trent Lott and the elevation of Frist, the Bush Justice Department suddenly ended a near-decade long federal investigation into how HCA for years had defrauded Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare (the federal program that covers the military and their families), giving the greedy health-care behemoth’s executives a sweetheart settlement that kept them out of the can.

    Yes, there is much to assess as we study medical science, then and now.  In science as in life, what is known seems to have greater credibility than what might be.  A Food and Drug Administration, though corrupt is a known entity.  A Pharmaceutical industry, that has its own best interests at heart, is better than no drug production at all.  An endearing doctor that speaks well and looks good, even as he steals from Medicare and Medicaid, is far superior to a fumbling bumbling fool, or are these one in the same?  I understand this.  Humankind is comfortable with what they know; change is a challenge, one we as humans hardly ever accept.

    However, I wonder if what we think we comprehend is often not valid.  We seek expertise; yet, I theorize, no one knows our body better than we.  Each individual has an intimate knowledge of what is within, or they can know if they choose to be sensitive and informed.  We want the wisdom of those that are trained to diagnose and treat illness and injury.  Are they truly wise?  “The number of people that doctors kill per day from medical malpractice is roughly equal to the amount of people that would die if every day, three jumbo jets crashed and killed everybody on board,” stated Dr. Welch.

    Thus, again I wonder what James Garfield was thinking as he lie, awaiting his own demise.  Did he know that he did not need to die, if only doctors would listen to him?

    In mid-August, the doctors insisted that Garfield be fed rectally, and he received beef bouillon, egg yolks, milk, whiskey, and drops of opium in this manner.  “They basically starved him to death,” said Dr. Rutkow, noting that the president lost over 100 pounds from July to September.


    People, physicians included, work to be objective; they wish to cause no harm.  Yet, this can truly be a challenge.  Still, humans attempt to be impartial, to be helpful; they endeavor to learn from history.  Hence, we have this display.

    We review the findings and acknowledge Garfield was struck down during a time of transition in medical science.  The doctors attending the President could not determine the location of the bullet and this became their primary concern.  We understand that perhaps, this need distorted their perception.  They were no longer able to look at the life and the man.  They thought only of their diagnosis.  They feared their own flaws and the possibility their failure.  [This attitude is still true today.  Consider doctors and their fear of malpractice and how their apprehension distorts their view of their patients.]


    We can muse that in the 1860s, more than two-decades before the assault, British surgeon Joseph Lister established the “Sterile Technique.”  We can accept that, twenty years later, this scientific method was frowned upon in America.

    We know that historians agree; the massive infection that took the life of the President resulted from practices that were not germ-free.  Nevertheless, due to negligence, the President, and his family suffered needlessly.

    Call me old fashioned and you will not be the first; still, I do not necessarily trust doctors.  A friend of mine, a physician, has long said that medical school is as a trade college.  Diagnosis is the most difficult procedure.  My acquaintance, the doctor, muses that a surgeon is as a mechanic.  S/he must use the tools at his or her disposal to determine ailments.  A distorted skeletal structure does little more than signal where an injury might be.  The details are often obscured or invisible.  Musculature gives clues to matters of concern; however, it does not direct a diagnostician to the specific source of pain.

    Years ago, ignorance and an unwillingness to change may have hindered the Hippocratic oath.  Diagnosis a weighty issue, as it is today.  In 2006, lack of knowledge and a reluctance to adopt new practices still affect our medical systems.  Passing up the dollar may be a more dire concern for many a doctor.  Political affairs also cloud the clear minds of numerous physicians.  Again, the patient suffers.


    In modern times, “Do no harm,” is not the cry that comes from those in medicine. It is for this reason I wonder; would a patient in modern America be better off than President Garfield was.  I think not.

    I offer the following articles for your further review.  These were not used within the body of this text; though, I think they are equally important.  I believe an assessment of these might broaden our view of American medicine in the year 2006.

    Superfluous Medical Studies Called Into Question, By David Brown.  Washington Post. Monday, January 2, 2006, Page A06

    In medical research, nobody is convinced by a single experiment.

    A finding has to be reproducible to be believable.  Only if different scientists in different places do the same study and get the same outcomes can physicians have confidence the finding is actually true.  Only then is it ready to be put into clinical practice.

    Nevertheless, one of medicine’s most overlooked problems is the fact that some questions keep being asked over and over.  Repeated tests of the same diagnostic study or treatment are a waste — of time and money, and of volunteers’ trust and self-sacrifice.  Unnecessary clinical trials may also cost lives.

    All this is leading some experts to ask a new question: “What part of ‘yes’ don’t doctors understand?”

    Former FDA Chief Joins Lobby Shop, By Marc Kaufman.  Washington Post. Wednesday, February 8, 2006; Page A06

    Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Lester M. Crawford, whose sudden resignation last fall after less than three months in office remains a mystery, has joined a lobbying firm that specializes in food and drug issues.


    Crawford is listed as “senior counsel” to the firm Policy Directions Inc.  Among the companies and organizations listed as clients are Altria Group Inc. (formerly Philip Morris Companies), Merck & Co. Inc., the Pharmaceutical Research, and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA,) the Grocery Manufacturers of America, and the American Feed Industry Association.  A spokesman for the firm said neither Crawford nor anyone else wished to discuss his appointment.  When he resigned in September, Crawford said simply that it was time for someone else to lead the agency.  Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) have asked the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general to look into whether Crawford resigned because of an undisclosed financial conflict of interest.

    Prescription for Power. Drug makers’ lobbying army ensures their legislative dominance, By M. Asif Ismail.

    Washington, April 28, 2005  “The deep-pocketed pharmaceutical and health products industry has lobbied on more than 1,400 congressional bills since 1998 and spent a whopping $612 million* during that period, a Center for Public Integrity review of lobbying records revealed. Drug companies and manufacturers of health products have used more professional lobbyists in the last six and a half years?”almost 3,000?”than any other organized interest, the analysis also found. In comparison, the insurance industry, second-largest in terms of spending, spent $543 million* in the same period and employed just over 2,000 lobbyists.

    In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has scored a series of legislative victories on Capitol Hill, which could potentially translate into tens of billions of dollars of additional revenue to drug companies annually. The federal government will buy drugs worth at least $40 billion from the companies every year once the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 goes into effect next year.  In addition, critics have accused the industry of having undue influence over the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates pharmaceutical interests.

    Industry-watchers say the drug companies’ recent successes in Congress and with the FDA show how effective their lobbying campaign is.  “The [lobbying] money is very well-spent,” said Dr. Jerry Avorn, author of Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs. “The fact that we are the only country in the industrialized world that does not have any provision for negotiating drug prices, the fact that we are spending far more per capita on drugs than any other country and the fact that when legislation is written it often seems to be exactly the kind of legislation that benefits the pharmaceutical industry [shows] they are getting their money’s worth.” 

    Prescription Drugs – Leading Killer in USA

    According to information we have received, a statistical study of hospital deaths in the U.S. conducted at the University of Toronto revealed that pharmaceutical drugs kill more people every year than are killed in traffic accidents.  The study is said to show that more than two million American hospitalized patients suffered a serious adverse drug reaction (ADR) within the 12-month period of the study and, of these, over 100,000 died as a result. The researchers found that over 75 per cent of these ADRs were dose-dependent, which suggests they were due to the inherent toxicity of the drugs rather than to allergic reactions.

    FDA Advisers Tied To Industry, By Dennis Cauchon

    More than half of the experts hired to advise the government on the safety and effectiveness of medicine have financial relationships with the pharmaceutical companies that will be helped or hurt by their decisions, a USA TODAY study found.

    These experts are hired to advise the Food and Drug Administration on which medicines should be approved for sale, what the warning labels should say and how studies of drugs should be designed.

    The experts are supposed to be independent, but USA TODAY found that 54% of the time, they have a direct financial interest in the drug or topic they are asked to evaluate.  These conflicts include helping a pharmaceutical company develop a medicine, then serving on an FDA advisory committee that judges the drug.

    Please Review the Rays.  They may not be X-Rays; however, they may reveal much.

    Sex Education; Abstinence or Advancing Knowledge?

    copyright © 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    The sight of a New York Times article peaked my interest.  It aroused my curiosity.  This piece stimulated my psyche.  Reading “Muzzling Sex Education on Anything but Abstinence,” by Samuel G. Freedman was an experience.  Reflecting on this essay was the climax of my day.  I found the information in this expose fascinating.  Were it not so sad, this scenario would be almost humorous.  It says much of today’s mores.

    Apparently, in the early part of this year, a Bill, the Healthy Teens Act, was working its way through the New York State Legislature.  In April, the proposed plan passed in the Assembly by a vote of 126 to 15.  In May, The Senate’s Health Committee approved the same measure; the tally was 15 to 2.  The initiative was doing well, just as expected.  It had bipartisan support.  A Republican representative sponsored the Bill in the Senate.  Moderate groups such as the League of Women Voter’s and the Young Women’s Catholic Association [YWCA] of Greater New York endorsed the measure.

    This Sex Education Bill was written with compromise in mind.  The consensus a cooperative sponsorship would appease many concerns, and discussion of a controversial issue could be concluded.  However, this was not the case.

    The measure never became law.  It did not reach the floor for a vote.  The expected final passage never came to fruition.  Instead, the initiative never moved after being sent to the Senate Finance Committee, ultimately, the Legislative session concluded and hopes were dashed.

    the demise of the bill, though, makes plenty of sense when understood in a national context.  This piece of legislation provided just one more front in a much larger political, cultural and scientific battle between proponents of sex education that teaches abstinence only, led by the Bush administration, and those who want classes to deal with contraception also.

    As the Healthy Teens Act was faltering, similar bills were being denied floor votes in Illinois and Minnesota, states that, like New York, are far from strongholds of the religious right.  While about two-thirds of states require public schools to teach about H.I.V. and sexually transmitted diseases, fewer than half mandate sex education, and most stress abstinence, according to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group.

    Thus, we have it.  The Christian Coalition rules America.  Its reign has been long and arduous for those that think more freely.  This organization has controlled America’s purse strings and dictated philosophical position since Ronald Reagan took office.  Ronny called them the “silent majority”; however, under his tutelage this organization gained fame, fortune, and force.  Since the early 1980s, the Christian community has gathered greater strength and more political prowess.  Now they are the dominant force.  They cannot be reckoned with.  There is no reasoning with this dogmatic assemblage.  They have God on their side, or so they believe.  What they do have are dollars.

    “An ideological push and a billion bucks creates a wave,” said William Smith, the vice president of public policy for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a sexual-health advocacy organization.

    What Mr. Smith referred to is a trend toward federal financing of abstinence-only education that began in the early 1980’s but gathered money and momentum as part of the welfare-reform law passed in 1996.  That statute provided $250 million over five years to courses that had the “exclusive purpose” of promoting abstinence.  The pace of federal spending on abstinence-only education grew to $80 million annually by the last budget of the Clinton administration, and to $170 million by 2005, according to a report by Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat.

    Abstinence and sex education are interesting subjects for me personally, for I was not raised conventionally, while the vast majority of my friends were.  Prior to my birth, and possibly, probable before the birth of my elder sisters, my Mom filled the bathrooms with magazine racks.  My family was well known for spending hours on the bowl.  In each of the lavatories were books, strategically placed.  The topics of these were no less significant than their position.  The titles related to sex and reproduction.

    In my younger years, constipation was my constant companion.  Perhaps that is too much information, or more than you wished to know.  However, that too may be relevant to this story.  At the ages of 1 to 5 years, I had no interest in sex or reproduction; however, I did want something to pass the time with something other than my own thoughts as I sat on the pot.  

    At this point, I need to share my truth.  I toilet trained myself at eight months.  I began reading in school seven months later.  Therefore, for me, time in the bathroom could be used wisely; it could be devoted to learning.  My Mom understood this and took advantage of an opportunity to teach.  She did not wait to have “the talk.”  Nor did she anxiously await my queries.  My Mom never bothered to anticipate those crucial questions.  She acknowledged that children are curious.  Early on, they investigate; they begin with their bodies.

    My mother thought this a healthy exploration and she did not wish to leave me wanting.  She made information readily available.  Biology books geared to children were easily accessible in the restroom.  Adult references were also within reach.  Hardbound joke-books addressing issues of the body were nearby.  As was the now famous Eros series by Allan Ginsberg.  Discussions of sex and reproductions could be found in these impressive periodicals as well.

    Periodically, my Mom would ask me of my understanding of the human body and its reproductive organs.  By the age of five, she was satisfied; I understood.  Later, as friends began asking quizzical questions, or telling “dirty jokes,” I found these silly.  They knew nothing, postulated much, and accepted theories of the uniformed, immature mind.  I never engaged in these musings.

    At the age of eleven, my parents decided that there was reason to fear the life of suburbia.  While an academic education may be better in these elite communities, the opportunity for learning may be limited in such a culture.  The conclusion was, we would move to the city for two years.  I would attend middle school in an area that might expose me to sex, drugs, and violence.  While that might be thought scary, risky, or ridiculous to some, my parents thought, during the middle years peers mattered more.

    All through my junior high school experience, I was open to those expected elements.  I recall attending a slumber party shortly after school began.  The boys crashed the gathering.  Through the rumor mill, I had heard that one young man established, he and I were “going steady.”  I was not flattered.  I thought it foolishness.  I also discovered he expected that on that night I would “put-out.”  I did not even know this person of the male gender.  Nor, did I intend to get to know him; at least, not in the way he demanded I must.  When physically rejected, he threatened to break-up with me.  I thought that was fine, actually better than fine.  I never thought we were “going together” in the first place.  I had no interest in pursuing a sexual entanglement with a man I was not familiar with.  

    For me, the lessons I learned in the bathroom and through discussions with my Mom and Dad were more meaningful than having someone physically touch me.  I had been touched more deeply by the wisdom of words and images, those furnished by my parents.  They helped me to understand that sex would not satisfy a need for love.  Naturally, it would stimulate the body; however, that differs from the stimulation a mind, spirit, or soul might need.

    The constant, continual, caring, and informative dialogues with my parents came naturally.  There was no pretense or posturing; punitive pronouncements were not offered.  I believe these conversations created a sense of comfort and confidence that, at the time, I did not know I had.  Upon reflection, I think the reason I did not engage in the drug scene that surrounded me; nor did I participate in the violence was because I felt no need to escape, find the love I did not feel, or prove myself powerful.  My parents did not cause me to feel less than.

    I am and was aware of the fact that many of my friends did not have an open relationship with their parents.  They craved love and attention.  They wanted to feel safe and secure in their homes; however, mostly they did not.  My acquaintances were desirous of dialogue.  They wished to have parents that they could talk to about anything.  Few did.  In most families, the pattern was established; parents were authority figures.  The relationship was not friendly.  Asking for answers was a futile endeavor, especially if the subject was sex.  Thus, my friends sought soothing elsewhere.  Often, they found it in sex.

    While my parents presented me with literature on contraception and assured me that when I was ready, I could come to them and we would discuss the options.  The parents of my fellow classmates did not speak of sex; nor did they offer information.  The topic was off limits, or boundaries were set.  Some acquaintances found themselves pregnant; others married early just to get away from their families.  Situations were sad, and for many the sorrow increased as they aged.  

    Early decisions to engage were not informed; they were emotional.  Those that were taught to abstain indulged more frequently and freely.  Those given restrictions, rebelled.  The stories are numerous.

    I, on the other hand, waited until I thought the time and person was right.  I discussed the decision with my parents.  I obtained contraception with my parents’ permission.  Sex for me, was not an escape.  I had no reason to run.

    Yet, my reality is feared.  The “right” believes sex education is the enemy.  [My parents did enroll me in a district that provided sex education.  For me, this instruction came late; my earlier instruction was solid.]  Opponents of the Bill most notably the New York State Catholic Conference stated, in a formal memorandum, this initiative presents a “failed philosophy of sex education.”

    The conference raised the specter of classes being “turned into preparatory courses on casual sexual intercourse, with encouragement to use birth control.”

    As journalist Freedman offered, this . . .

    contention hardly qualified as a new line of debate.  What is different now is the broader dispute, inextricably bound up with national partisan politics, about whether abstinence-only programs work.  This dispute is the ambient radiation around the Healthy Teens Act and its failure.

    As abstinence-only programs have become more common, rates of teenage pregnancy and out-of-wedlock childbirth in the United States have indeed dropped – by one-third for girls, ages 15 to 19 in the years from 1991 through 2003.  In New York State, rates not only of teen pregnancy and birth but also of most sexually transmitted diseases have been declining.

    While these statistics give rise to hope for such programs, I think what is hidden safely from view is vital.

    Two prominent researchers in adolescent sexuality, Peter Bearman of Columbia, and Hannah Brueckner of Yale, found a more complex picture. While teenagers who took virginity pledges as part of abstinence-only programs started sexual activity later and had fewer partners than did other peers, they were just as likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases, the scholars concluded.  These young people also tended not to use contraceptives if they became sexually active, and engaged in oral and anal intercourse in the belief such that activity did not violate the virginity pledge.

    It seems obvious to me, though my opinion is only my own.  Restrictions among my peers may have been more punitive and thus led to greater rebellion.  However, limitations offer little learning.  Those lacking a full understanding will seek further fulfillment.  A confined or controlled mind will benefit no one.  The body will become its conduit.  It will explore, seeking the knowledge it does not have.

    The New York State Senate leaders may have decided to let the Healthy Teens Act lie.  However, sadly, those without sex education are likely to choose a “good [and unprotected] lay.”

    Iraq, Israel, Lebanon; Trees of Life in a Wilderness of War. ©

    Our countrymen see the diseased and devastated trees and speak of the color of the leaves.  People in the United States ponder the slow death of the foliage.  They think caterpillars are the cause.  Others, here and abroad dispute this theory and say, “No, it is blight.”  A scientist enters the scene and voices his hypothesis.  His neighbor started the spread of this syndrome; yes, that man is to blame.  Had the national not introduced the dynamic of destruction, all would be well.

    Another quiet dissenter enters the fray.  She says, “This virus has existed for centuries.”  No one can change what is and has always been.  A group gathers and grows.  They all argue amongst themselves.  Finally, there is a loud explosion, or was it an implosion.  The tree and all those surrounding it are engulfed in flames.  Within minutes, there is silence.  This world exists no more.

    For well over a week now I have witnessed the whirlwind of discussions, disagreements, and dialogues pertaining to rhetoric, religion, and rage.  People are discussing the crisis in Lebanon and Israel.

    Persons pose the prospect; President Bush is responsible, culpable, and guilty of causing another war.  No, it is Hamas, Hezbollah, the Israelis, or the Zionists that are liable.  Perchance, the boy next door started this newer war in the Middle East.  After all, he is Lebanese, or is he from Syria.  Nevertheless, he looks suspicious.

    Historical facts flitter about.  Feelings flourish and of course, the seemingly practical solutions prosper, or at least people speak of these.  Musings about methods of diplomacy mysteriously rise and fall.  Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is waiting for the “appropriate time” to mediate international relations

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she will travel to the Middle East to help with peace efforts “when it is appropriate and necessary.”  A day earlier, a State Department spokesman said Rice would be traveling to the Middle East for talks, but didn’t specify a timeframe or location for the trip.

    Emperor Bush has better things to do.  He need not be bothered with details or even Presidential acts.  King George II knows who is to blame and how to stop all this sh)(*&.  On an open microphone the Bushman said,

    “See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this (expletive) and it’s over.”

      Earlier, at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he stated his feeling.  These were intended for public consumption, “Israel has a right to defend herself; every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life.”

    Before the current conflict, Cheney was proud to chime in on Mid-Eastern affairs.

    If the leaders of Hamas desire the help of America and the international community to build an independent, prosperous Palestinian state, then the way forward is very clear.  The Palestinian government must recognize Israel’s right to exist.  (Applause.)  And Hamas must renounce terror and dismantle the infrastructure of terror.  (Applause.)  One thing is certain: The United States will not be a party to the establishment of a Palestinian state that sponsors terror and violence.  (Applause.)

    Meanwhile, the world is coming apart [the tree is about to implode.]  War is in the wind; it is on the airwaves, and within the hearts, minds, souls, and bodies of many a man and woman.  Yet, it is not here, in America, now.  The combat and brutality exists only in lands far from our home.

    Americans sit safely, smugly, and snugly in their quaint little homes.  They cuddle up to their computers, or televisions sets.  They contemplate the causes and effects of battles in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  United States citizens posture and postulate, they know what is occurring and why.  Rarely do they consider that the facts are just fancy.  They are nice, entertaining, and yes, even interesting.  I love being informed, even if only from a distance.  Actually, in this situation, I rather my awareness be distal.  For I cannot truly imagine the fear, I might feel if bombs were blasting within a few feet of my home.  I wonder during my waking and “restful” hours.

    Americans proclaim they care; yet, they do little to effectuate true change.  We can accept and acknowledge what is and what was.  We can advance academic scholarship and all this is essential but not enough is it?  The wars rage on, the dead and maimed pile up.

    I am forever told I am an idealist for I do believe war is not an option; for me, it is never necessary.  Some perceive me to be a fatalist, for I fear further doom.  I am certain Condi would accuse me of this.  Secretary of State Rice declared, “It doesn’t help to speculate on kind of apocalyptic scenarios,” though I do not believe that I am predicting an unprecedented future.  I am asking that we assess ourselves before we begin to think that we can “improve” the world for others.

    I will again pose what most believe is impossible.  We as a society must look within.  We must teach our children and ourselves to be true to our beliefs.  We must not bellow and then belie our words in our next breath.  Until we walk our talk and work towards peace in our homes, on our streets, in our communities, and within our own country we will not be trusted.  Our hypocritical stance will continue to create conflict.  We must question our human habits.

    It came to me that reform should begin at home, and since that day,
    I have had no time to remake the world
    – Will Durant [1885-1981 American Philosopher, Historian, and Writer]

    As I realized in my own life, [reference the Mountain Dew Story] and have since shared with others, what we believe is our nature, is actually what was nurtured as we grew.  Many of us have learned to be combative, competitive, and calculating in our personal lives.  None of these characteristics promote peace, tranquility, or calm.  What we do in our personal lives is reflected and projected in our professional existence.  Human beings are profoundly consistent in both the best and the worst ways.

    If you choose not to look at yourself, then look at your neighbor, your President, Prime Minister, or perhaps your parent.

    The longest journey is the journey inward.
    – Dag Hammarskjold  [Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961]

    Study their relationships at home or abroad.  Contemplate what they create as members of a Board or a brood.  Ponder what they present and how consistent they are.  If a President, Prime Minister, or a parent is corrupt and combative in one position, they will be so in another.  We are who we are, wherever we are; however, we can be otherwise, if we choose.  For now, most are busy assessing others, telling them they need to change.

    Most are contemplating the specifics, the particulars, and the details of war.  They do this all day.  Dissecting the issues within the Middle East has become a daily doing.  Some blog what they believe.  Journalists write what they think is correct.  Pundits pronounce this or that truth, as do politicos.  We twirl and whirl ourselves into a tizzy.  Flame wars ignite throughout this country.  These are the verbal versions of physical strife; they are as hand-to-hand combat.  Americans are engaged in a war of words as they ask for peace.  They revel in conflict as they speak of a desire for calm.

    The bickering and bantering continue as individuals strongly stress their idea of the perfect solution.  Yet, little changes.  I believe, until we work on ourselves from within and teach through our example, nothing will.  The cycle will continue, just as it has for centuries!

    The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat.
    The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks,
    can never be relaxed and never abandoned.
    – Dag Hammarskjold  [Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961]

    The pursuit of peace cannot be achieved through external means.  It is an internal truth.  If you talk of peace; yet, you do not walk in peace, then you are denying your truth.  You are pretending to be what you profess.  The world will reflect what is within you; this is what you will teach for it is what you believe.

    I understand that habits are a challenge to change; however, until we grow from within, all the world will stay the same, or so I believe.  We will continue to see what we saw, for our perception is our perspective.  If our viewpoint accepts, allows, and advances violence, then violence will be our reality.  If we alter our interpretation of what it is that we see, then what we see will no longer be what it once was.  As we evolve, so too do our thoughts.

    It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
    – Alfred Alder [Austrian psychologist; Founder of School of Individual Psychology]

    Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
    – Leo Tolstoi [Russian Author]

    I can look at a tree and see beauty or I can envision the bugs buried within the bark.  As I gaze out my window and notice the bend of the tree, I can blame the wind, or I can appreciate that the arch and arbor the leaves create.

    I am upset not by events,
    But rather by the way, I view them.
    – Epictetus  [Philosopher, 1st century AD]

    What I believe, I will conceive.  I believe the tree is tremendous.  It s branches are abundant; all grow separately; yet they are still connected.  Vegetation is as civilization itself.  There is much splendor and majesty.  There is also the contrast.  Some will love and others will war.  A few will speak of calm; more will cultivate chaos.  There are infinite reasons for every action and reaction.  Compassion and conflict are complex.  Even indifference holds many intricacies.

    Nevertheless, I, as do we all, choose whether I will contribute to one characteristic or another.  I need not find reasons for combat.  I need not find grounds for disputes.  Explaining the roots of all evil will eliminate none.  If I am to work towards peace, I must be peaceful in my approach to life and to people.  If I differentiate between those that I admire and those that rub me the wrong way, then I am not truly tranquil.  I can contemplate corruption and controversy.  I can clash with those whose facts differ from my own or I can choose otherwise.

    As I gaze upon the tree and I observe serenity.  It is harmony that I wish to emulate and encourage.

    May peace be with you and I.  May we walk the path of wisdom together.  May we never war.  Please let us live and let live.  If you or I want to stop this war or that one, then I think we must end the battles we create in our own world.

    He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent.
    He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
    – Lao-tzu [Father of Taoism]

    References for those mired in details, obviously myself among these . . .

    Middle East News Tracker, Updated regularly with news on the Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon crisis. Wall Street Journal. July 19, 2006
    Opportunist Killers, By Father Jonathan Morris. Fox News. July 18, 2006
    War Takes Lebanon Back to Civil War Days,By Donna Abu-Nasr. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Monday, July 17, 2006
    Bush, Putin Disagree Over Call for Mideast Cease-Fire, By Richard Keil. Bloomberg. July 15, 2006
    Don’t Blame Bush, The war in Lebanon isn’t his fault,By Jacob Weisberg. Slate. Wednesday, July 19, 2006
    Caught in the crossfire of blame, By Danny Katz. The Age. Fairfax Digital. July 20, 2006
    Updated report on the war in Lebanon – Day 7, Ya Libnan. Tuesday, July, 18, 2006
    All-out war feared as Beirut, Haifa hit. Almost 60 killed in two days of fighting. By Mitch Potter. Toronto Star Newspapers . July 14, 2006
    Israel pounds Lebanon, G8 leaders blame Hizbollah, By Lin Noueihed. Reuters. July 17, 2006
    Bush blames Syria, Iran for violence, 2 nations called the ‘root causes’. By Finlay Lewis. Copley News Service. July 18, 2006
    Rice: Urges restraint from all sides as Mideast explodes, Office of the Press Secretary. Chicago Sun Times. July 16, 2006
    Rice, Abulgheit differ on timing of ceasefire between Hizbollah, Israel. Kuwait News Agency. July 20, 2006
    Condoleezza Rice: Press Briefing: Situation in the Middle East U.S. Department of State. Noticias.info
    Transcript: Vice President Cheney Speaks to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference. Office of the White House Press Secretary. Washington Post. Tuesday, March 7, 2006
    Cheney: no US help for PA unless Hamas renounces terror By Associated Press. Israelinsider.  March 8, 2006
    War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building © By Betsy L. Angert. Be-Think. July 10, 2006
    Drawing In, Lashing Out, Israelis want to turn inward, but occupational hazards — and a new crisis in the territories — keep them from doing so, By Jo-Ann Mort.  The American Prospect. July 10, 2006
    Bush defends Israel’s attacks in Lebanon, By Associated Press. MSNBC. July 13, 2006
    Animal House Summit; [Op-Ed] By Maureen Dowd. New York Times July 19, 2006
    A Rare Unscripted Moment, Bush fires off some pleasantries — and a four-letter word about Hezbollah, By James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times. July 18, 2006
    Childhood Obesity. Adult On-Set Diabetes. Osteoporosis. Soda © By Betsy L. Angert. Be-Think. July 10, 2006

    Accountability; History Textbooks Receive a Failing Grade ©

    A New York Times article, “Schoolbooks Are Given F’s in Originality,” caught my attention.  It stated that two of this nation’s most prominent history textbooks were virtual duplicates.  The authors were not the same; however, the words within these books were.  I was not totally surprised to see this, for I have often mused, “Who writes our history?”  We read the words within textbooks, repeat these, and recognize the specifics as fact.  Yet, how do we know that what we read is true.  According to the New York Times,  much of what is presented is not as it appears.

    Authors and academician whose names appear on the textbook cover do not pen what is within.  Dead authors do.  Ghostwriters compose even more; their contributions are expansive.  These indistinct individuals construct a convention.  Then we, a trusting public, accept what these unknowns inscribe.  What most of us believe is valid is not a universal veracity.

    Things change in the translation, much to the chagrin of noted authors.  When told that text within his book, “America: Pathways to the Present,” was essentially the same as that found in “A History of the United States,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Daniel J. Boorstin, Brooks Mather Kelley, and Ruth Frankel Boorstin, author, Historian Allan Winkler, stated “They were not my words.”  He continued, “It’s embarrassing.  It’s inexcusable.”  Yet, he excused it.

    Professor Winkler said he understood the editorial perils of textbook writing, but wanted to reach a wider audience.  He said he was not motivated by money.  Named authors share royalties, generally 10 to 15 percent of the net profits, on each printing of the text, whether they write it or not.

    Allan Winkler, a Historian at Miami University of Ohio, who supposedly wrote the 2005 edition of “Pathways,” book with Andrew Cayton, Elisabeth I. Perry, and Linda Reeder, was now making history, though not necessarily writing it.

    According to The New York Times, much of the text offered in the 2005 high school editions of each of these history textbooks was identical.  In discussing the September 11, 2001 tragedy or the Persian Gulf wars the verbiage was effectively the same.  We might conclude history no longer guides our textbook writings; power and money do.  Surprise!  Significant stories of eons gone by now must be short, sweet, and yes, even stup**.

    The American Textbook Council reports, the problem is

    what educators, critics, and journalists informally refer to as “dumbing down.”  Many history textbooks reflect lowered sights for general education.  They raise basic questions about sustaining literacy and civic understanding in a democratic society and culture.  Bright photographs, broken format and seductive color overwhelm the text and confuse the page.  Typeface is larger and looser, resulting in many fewer words and much more white space.  The text disappears or gets lost.  Among editors, phrases such as “text-heavy,” “information-loaded,” “fact-based,” and “non-visual” are negatives.  A picture, they insist, tells a thousand words.

    What appears in black, white, and is read all over is not as it appears. Authors are not as noted, and facts are flimsy.

    As editions pass, the names on the spine of a book may have only a distant or dated relation to the words between the covers, [it is] diluted with each successive edition.

    This according to people within the publishing industry.  Authors themselves make similar assertions.

    Again, the American Textbook Council states,

    Textbook content is thinner and thinner, and what there is, it is increasingly deformed by identity politics and pressure groups.

    Apparently, Political Action Committees produce much of the literature.  Politicians exert their power; they want those with these groups to vote for them.  Money and the market are influential. A contract with a major school district is worth tens of millions of dollars in profit.  If a State Department adopts a textbook series, the bucks will surely pour in.  Publishing is a business and we know businesses have their own self-interest at heart.

    Asking academicians to document a dynamic occurrence or two can deplete profits, and that would not be economically wise.  Therefore, it is rarely done anymore.  Historians may write the first edition, from there on, no one knows who authors a text.

    Professor Winkler, one of the authors of “America: Pathways to the Present,” said he and his co-authors had written “every word” of the first edition, aiming to teach American history from a sociological perspective, from the grass roots up.  But, he said, in updated editions, the authors reviewed passages written by freelancers or in-house writers or editors.

    He said the authors collaborated on their last major revision before September 11, 2001, working with editorial staff members in Boston.  But he said that after the attacks, he was not asked to write updates and was not shown revisions.

    “There was no reason in the world to think that we would not see material that was stuck in there at some point in the future,” Professor Winkler said.  “Given the fact that similar material was used in another book, we are really profoundly upset and outraged.”

    However, this practice is not a new one.

    Susan Buckley, a longtime writer and editor of elementary and high school social studies textbooks who retired after 35 years in the business, said that “whole stables” of unnamed writers sometimes wrote the more important high school textbooks, although in other instances, named authors wrote the first editions.  In elementary school textbooks, Ms. Buckley added, named authors almost never write their own text.

    She said even if named authors did not write the text, they had an important role as scholars, shaping coverage and reviewing copy.

    What that role might be is illusive.  It escapes many that read of this situation.

    Nevertheless, the concept and customs do not go unnoticed.  The watchful eye of William Cronon, a Historian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison is aware of what is happening in the textbook publishing world.  Mr. Cronon authored the statement on ethics for the American Historical Association.

    He said, textbooks are corporate-driven collaborations efforts.  The publisher governs the market.  They have well-defined rights to hire additional writers, researchers, and editors.  They may make major revisions without the authors’ final approval.  The books typically synthesize hundreds of works without using footnotes to credit sources.  The reason for these declaratory privileges is profit and a conciliatory stance to those in power.

    Professor Cronon affirms,

    “This is really about an awkward and embarrassing situation these authors have been put in because they’ve got involved in textbook publishing.”

    Textbook publishing is an industry like all others; the driving force is the desire to increase earnings.  Publishers must be innovative, imaginative; yet, they need not be truly instructive.  It is assumed educators will do that.  The printers of textbooks create a market regardless of a need.  Publishing houses know they have a captive audience.  Curriculums change little from semester to semester.  However, the text is altered regularly.  The publisher must create a demand so that they can offer a supply.  They have bills to pay.

    In a recent Washington Post article, Textbook Prices On the Rise, journalist Margaret Webb Pressler reported,

    the California Student Public Interest Research Group found that the average release time between textbook editions is 3.8 years, regardless of whether the information has changed since the previous version.  Of the textbooks surveyed, new editions cost 58 percent more than the older version, rising to an average cost of $102.44.

    Publishing corporate bigwigs cut corners as they relate to production and quality; however, they never lower the prices.  School districts know this, as do college students.  Again, according to the Washington Post,

    The National Association of College Bookstores says wholesale prices of college textbooks have risen nearly 40 percent in the past five years.  And students are finding that many of the same books are sold overseas at much lower prices.

    Yes, textbook publishing is quite beneficial.  The printer of these volumes realizes great earnings.  Textbook writing can also be quite a prize; authors satisfy their yearnings.  A textbook writer may achieve fame and perhaps, further his or her fortune. Allan Winkler acknowledges this.

    “I want the respect of my peers,” Professor Winkler said.  “I’ve written monographs, biographies,” but these reach a limited audience.  “I want to be able to tell that story to other people, and that’s what textbooks do.”

    Schoolbooks do tell a substantial story, though it may not be the tale Mr. Winkler or we expected.

    Thus, I ask again, “Who writes our history?”  The answer is, publishers, guided by profits, politicians promoting favorable policies, pressure groups, then historians.  After all, Historians seeking acknowledgment from their peers do submit their anecdotes; however, these contributions are less important.  Over time, historical accounts will be lost, just as our past is.  Apparently, profits and power are our only presents [presence.]

    • Author and Professor, James Loewen was kind enough to visit Be-Think and read this exposé.  He offered his reflections, and I realized I was remiss in acknowledging Mr. Loewen in my missive.  Now, I wish to present this prominent researcher and writer.

    With thanks to James Loewen, the staff of the New York Times became aware of the conundrum existing in our schools.  Dr. Loewen disclosed the fact that high school Social Science textbooks are not as they appear to be.  It was his awareness for the sad the state of affairs that enhanced the knowledge of others.  I wish to publicly acknowledge a wise and wonderful scholar, James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, and now Sundown Towns.  Please visit the James Loewen webpage and ponder further.

    Read What is Written, if you choose . . .

    Schoolbooks Are Given F’s in Originality, By Diana Jean Schemo. The New York Times. July 13, 2006
    “America: Pathways to the Present,” By Andrew R. L. Cayton, Elisabeth Israels Perry, Linda Reed, Allan M. Winkler
    “A History of the United States,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Daniel J. Boorstin and Brooks Mather Kelley, Ruth Frankel Boorstin
    Allan Winkler, Organization of American Historians
    Daniel J. Boorstin 1914-2004 The Library of Congress
    America: Pathways to the Present, This Prentice Hall “History” Text Is Essentially a Propaganda Tract By John Fonte. The Textbook League.
    Widely Adopted History Textbooks American Textbook Council.
    American Textbook Council.
    Testimony of Gilbert T. Sewall, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. American Textbook Council. September 24, 2003
    Doing It by The Book, Textbook Publishers Profiting from Students’ Loss. By Tim Paulson. Corporate MOFO.
    Textbook Prices On the Rise, Frequent New Editions, Supplemental Materials Drive Up Costs, By Margaret Webb Pressler. Washington Post. Saturday, September 18, 2004
    California Student Public Interest Research Group
    Frequently Asked Questions About Textbooks The Association of American Publishers (AAP)
    Directory of Publishers and Vendors, Education Publishers, AcqWeb.
    Getting Started Creating A Textbook, By David A. Rees, Southern Utah University. Society of Academic Authors.
    When Government Writes History, A Memoir of the 9/11 Commission. By Ernest R. May. The New Republic. May 16, 2005

    Activist Unite. Veterans For Peace 2006 National Convention


    Photograph and Composition By Betsy L. Angert ©

    Recently, the political blogosphere has been buzzing with talk of action, activism, and conventions.  Some are seeking a connection to “real” American heroes.  Bloggers wish to show their support for the people that truly serve this nation.  Still, they want to promote peace.  This announcement might offer the opportunity some crave.  Veterans For Peace is hosting a National Convention.  The conference will begin August 10 and close on the 13th.  Speakers such as author John Perkins, peace loving Mom, Cindy Sheehan, and anti-war activist, Dahr Jamail will welcome attendees.  I will share the schedule and specifics below.

    Years ago, I discovered Veterans For Peace accidentally.  I was an active member of the Orange County Peace Coalition.  A person I not yet met, placed a request into the Coalition’s cyberspace.  James Ameen, veteran and co-organizer of Arlington West, Huntington Beach project, was looking for assistance.  Mr. Ameen was planning a performance piece, an installation, and a work of art.  He was documenting the deaths from this country’s most recent aggression, and memorializing these.

    Mr. Ameen and co-coordinator, Tom Lash, another Veteran for Peace, were focused.  They were seeking persons willing and able to contribute time and energy to their effort.  The hope was that they, along with others, would enlighten a seemingly apathetic public.  They would tell their personal tales of war and discuss the occurrences in Iraq.

    Upon meeting Mr. Ameen and discussing the undertaking, I became absorbed in this anti-war effort.  I regularly participated in this commemorative to fallen soldiers and civilians.  For months, Arlington West, Orange County became my home away from home. The Veterans For Peace organization became a close friend.

    I helped to construct, sand, and paint wooden crosses.  I placed these in the sand on the beach each weekend morning.  Twelve hours later, I lent a hand in loading these crosses into cars and then taking them to a safe storage.

    Each week I collected and updated the information necessary for the display.  I typed comments, created a database of passer-bys and interested parties.  I placed flowers on these headstones and I met many Veterans and active duty service persons during this endeavor.  Hours were dedicated to Peace and peace activism.  There were plenty devoted to destruction that passed by the installation.  They spoke of their beliefs; I listened and discussed my own.

    For me, the time I spent engaging with Veterans For Peace was fruitful.  Now, that experience might be yours.  I received this announcement and I wish to pass it on to you dear reader.  This is another opportunity for activist to unite.

    Veterans For Peace – 2006 National Convention

    Seattle, Washington, University of Washington Campus

    August 10 – 13, 2006

    “Sow Justice, Reap Peace: Strategies For Moving Beyond War.”

    Convention SpeakersJohn Perkins, Cindy Sheehan, and Dahr Jamail head an All-Star cast of speakers to the 2006 Veterans For Peace National Convention.

    And that’s not all.  This is shaping up to be an incredible list of speakers, and it doesn’t even include The Musicians!

    John Perkins, Cindy Sheehan, Dahr Jamail, Ann Wright, Ray McGovern, Brian Willson, Jennifer Harbury, Elliott Adams, Stacy Bannerman, Antonia Juhasz, Pablo Paredes, Malik Rahim, Bruce Gagnon, Diane Benson, Monica Benderman, Camilo Mejia, Majorie Cohn, Diane Rejman, Simona Sharoni, Diane Wilson, Anthony Arnove, Bridgett Cantrell, David Cline, Michael McPhearson, Gerry Condon, Eli Painted Crow, Mike Ferner, Vivian Felts, Ellen Finklestein, Lynn Fitzhugh, Tina Garnanez, Jennifer Harbury, Ed Heim, Andy Heims, Evan Kanter, Dan Kenner, John Kim, Kathleen McFerran, Alene Morris, Steve Morse, Paul William Roberts, David Swanson, Bob Wing, Todd Boyle and more . . .

    You will not get a recital of old, familiar material.  You will get the state of the art, the leading edge of thinking.  You will be in a conference room with Ray McGovern or Brian Willson or Dahr Jamail, in a discussion with other leading activists.

    This will be the biggest convention of the year for any serious student of nonviolent political change.

    Everyone in this struggle is welcome. Please join us!

    Convention Workshops

    Veterans for Peace Convention – August 10 – 13, 2006

    Workshop Schedule

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    2:30 – 3:45

    ? Chapter Organization/Innovations: Spreading the Peace/Anti-war Movement: Why is it so White and Middle-class? (Michael McPhearson and Bob Wing)
    ? Communication: Hearts and Minds: Spiritual Activism in a Time of War (Stacy Bannerman)
    ? Environment and Culture: A World of Hurt or Hope: The National Security Implications of Global
    ? Warming and Abrupt Climate Change, (John Seebeth)
    ? Human Effects of War: Finding the Way Back Home: Readjustment and Traumatic Stress (Drs. Bridgett Cantrell, Scott Michael, and Evan Kanter)
    ? Veteran Support: Vets4Vets, Peer Support, and Empowerment Groups for Iraq-era Veterans (Jim Driscoll.  Kelly Dougherty, Garett Reppenhagen)
    ? Issues of War: War profiteering and U.S. Strategic Goals in the Middle East (Dahr Jamail)
    4:00 – 5:15
    ? Chapter Organization/Innovations: Walking to New Orleans (Malik Rahim, Vivian Felts, Ward Reilly, Michael McPhearson et al)
    ? Communication: Creating Safety Through Connection: Nonviolent Communication (Kathleen Macferran)

    ? Environment and Culture: Agents of Destruction: DU and Agent Orange (David Cline et al)

    ? Human Effects of War: Writing About War by Live video feed from Toronto (Paul William Roberts)

    ? Veteran Support: International Panel (Frank Houde et al)

    ? Issues of War: Nuclear weapons (Carol Reilley Urner)

    Friday, August 11, 2006
    9:45 – 11:00

    ? Chapter Organization/Innovations: Counter recruitment

    ? Communication: How to Speak the Truth in Difficult Times (Alene Moris)
    Environment and Culture: The Peace Movement, Knowing What to do Next (Elliot Adams)
    ? Human Effects of War: Health Consequences of War: Challenges Beyond the Battlefield (Drs. Gene Bolles and Evan Kanter)
    ? Veteran Support: An American Peace Veteran in Vietnam (Diane Rejman)
    ? Issues of War: The Politics of Obedience: Breaking the Habit of Voluntary Servitude (Brian Willson)

    11:15 – 12:30

    ? Chapter Organization/Innovations: Waging Peace Workshops, an Overview (Elliot Adams)
    ? Communication: Voices of Women Veterans – (Ann Wright, Tina Garnanez and Eli Painted Crow)
    ? Environment: How Can We Avert the Converging Catastrophes of Global Climate Change, Global Oil Depletion, and the U.S. War Response to Oil?  (Roland James)
    ? Culture: Creating a Culture of Peace (Ellen Finkelstein)
    ? Veteran Support: Alternative Medicine Breakthroughs and PTSD and PTSD and EMDR – the End of the Nightmares (Lynn Fitz-Hugh and Dan Kenner)
    ? Issues of War: Structural Causes of War, Todd Boyle, and Antonia Juhasz
    2:00 – 3:15
    ? Chapter Organization/Innovations: Chapter Building (Patrick McCann)
    ? Communication: Practicing Nonviolent Communication (Bob Hendricks)
    ? International Issues: Israel/Palestine (Souliman al Khatib and Assaf Oron)
    ? Issues of War: Lies, Secrecy and Lawlessness – How to Stop the Coming Police State and Protect Yourself Along the Way (Ray McGovern and Ed Hein)
    ? Veteran Support: Resisting in the US and Canada (Gerry Condon and Pablo Paredes)
    ? Issues of War: Impeachment (David Swanson and Mike Ferner)

    3:45 – 5:00

    ? Innovations: Passing the Torch: Training Youth to be Peace Activists (Youth panel from FOR)
    ? Communication: Media (Virginia Rodino)
    ? Culture: Unity Beyond War Time (Andy Himes)
    ? Human Effects of War: Torture (Jennifer Harbury)
    ? Veteran Support: GI Rights and GI Advocacy (Steve Morse)
    ? Issues of War: Axis of Evil v. Great Satan (John Amidon, John Kim and Keith Leitich)

    We really hope you can join us.  It promises to be an exciting event.  Last year’s convention in Dallas kicked off Camp Casey, the Bring Them Home Now Tour, and the Katrina Relief Effort in the Gulf.  There is no telling what kind of momentum we’ll generate this year.  Come to Seattle and be a part of history!

    For more information and to register please see the following links:

    Convention Website:

    http://www.vfpnation…

    Convention Flyer:

    http://www.veteransf…

    Registration Page:

    https://www.seattlet…

    Register By Mail Form:

    http://hfs.washingto…

    Register By Phone: 206-543-7634

    Thank you,

    Veterans For Peace National Office

    216 S. Meramec Avenue

    St. Louis, Missouri 63105

    314-725-6005

    ? Orange County Peace Coalition.

    War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building ©

    9/11 Photograph, By Ted S. Warren, Associated Press.
    WABC News. Photograph July 10, 2006.

    A building in New York City is buried.  Fires are blazing.  It is highly possible people were killed or injured.  The public speculates.  Could it be a bomb blast, an act of terrorism, homegrown or international?  Might the cause be a gas leak or an electrical explosion?  Perhaps, it is a crime of vengeance.  Early on, suicide was not considered.  For me, while the cause is important, it pales in comparison to the fact.

    War is in the air; it blows with the wind.  Acts of violence travel.  They cannot be isolated or contained to lands far from our shores.  If we accept war anywhere, we consent to it here.  Warfare is not a concept; it is concrete.  Combat comes easily to the minds of men or women in conflict.  Witness today, yesterday, and everyday.  We as a nation are at war.  While the struggle is far from our shores, it looms large in our collective psyche.

    Our leaders reassure us, and on the surface, Americans accept the façade they present.  [Some] Americans love when Bush bellows and Cheney chants, “We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home.”  Americans applaud this non-sequitur logic.  They surmise war can be isolated and they are insulated.  In 2004, that was the battle cry.  There were no terrorist attacks on American shores since September 11, 2001.  Therefore, the theory was proposed, President Bush and his hawkish policies protected us.  Many accepted this as true.

    They then cast their ballots for this magnificent man.  They gave the Bush, Cheney team their mandate, or so that is how the Administration framed it.  Again, and again the Emperor exclaimed he had capital to spend and he spent it.  Thus, we have the cost of war.

    Causalities abound; the numbers are climbing.  Iraqi civilians are raped, maimed, murdered; yet, they do not count.  They are merely collateral damage.  Citizens of the United States remain safe, sane, or so it appears.  Thus, we support our President and allow him to continue in office.

    However, in our heart-of-hearts, we know; America is not out of harm’s way.  We recognize war is in the wind.  When a building explodes or implodes in New York City, we all panic with reason.  Citizens understand what they never wish to express.  As long as we accept war is an option, we are admitting that it can and will touch us, just as it affects our “enemies.”  No one is sheltered from the scars combat causes.

    King George II cannot protect and defend America from farther feuds; nor can Cheney or Rumsfeld.  These lovelies created what comes closer.  With thanks to our beloved President and his Cabinet, the possibility of war within the United States is real.

    For now, the prospect settles only in the recesses of our minds, and on drawing boards elsewhere.  Still, we all know the threat is valid.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can rant and rage about States rights; yet, she too has no power to guard against the aggression she helped to promote.

    Once the notion is placed on the table, the tremors will be felt throughout the globe.  No man is an island; nor can any of us ever be insulated or isolated.

    After receiving many replies to this treatise, I realized that what might be so obvious to me, the writer, is not apparent, to many a dear reader.  Perchance I was not clear in my communication.

    Possibly some are so offended by this Administration and the ample accusations; terrorists are everywhere, they missed my message.  Those persons, and admittedly, typically I am among these, distrust Bush and the Bunch so much, that they see any talk of terrorism as a means for distracting Americans from the real issues.

    There are those that awoke hours after the initial blasts.  They already read and heard the theories.  These individuals knew the explosion was likely a suicide attempt.  Therefore, these bookworms thought I was telling tales.  I was stirring the National Security soup of the day.  For these persons, I was making an issue of what was nothing more than a “normal” event in the course of any day.

    Numerous persons are concerned even consumed with an exit strategy.  They want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  An event in a single day is not their focus.  These individuals might not question the entrance into war per se.  They struggle with the constant loss this conflict brings.  They may think stuff happens; hostilities occur, related to Iraq or not.

    I am repeatedly reminded, that as a whole, most people think war is an option, the one of last resort; however, the alternative is often considered acceptable.

    Conceivably, that may be the challenge.  When I wrote this treatise, I was speaking of my truth.  For me, “War is not an option, not now or ever!”  I do not think terrorism is a reason for combat.  I believe slavery, genocide, homicide, rape, and racism were not the causes of wars in the past.  Economic power and the desire for supremacy are, in my mind, the rationale behind battles and bickering.

    For me, the blast was a reminder of where we have been.  It is where we still are.  On this planet, war is in the wind!  It has been for centuries.

    For those that rose hours after investigations began, they could again sink into the comfort of complacency.  For the many that bash-Bush, more power to you.  I was not denying the validity of your beliefs.  I share these.  My only question was and is, why is war an option, ever?  I believe that if it is in the wind in the East, it will be in the air traveling westward.

    We can sit in the comfort of our cushy chairs.  We can profess how terrible the terrorist are or how awful the insurgent Bush is.  However, as long as we, Americans, allow for and accept war as an option, on our shores or on those aboard, then we can never know with certainty where the next strike will hit.  I think this is why those on the streets at the time of the blast were shaken.

    When I penned this missive, I was speaking to the stress exhibited by those there, near the building in New York City.  I was also addressing my own eternal anxiety.  Why is violent behavior ever an option?  Even now, believing the cause of the blast was an attempted suicide does not ease my mind.  Why do we aggressively strike out and hurt others or ourselves?

    I hope this communiqué helps to clarify my intent.  Perhaps, those that felt confused will re-visit the message.

    Please Peruse the Possibilities When War is in the Wind.

    Four-Story Building Collapses on East Side of Manhattan, New York Times. The Associated Press. July 10, 2006
    New York building collapses, burns, CNN News. July 10, 2006
    At least 11 injured in Manhattan building collapse, By Wil Cruz, Lauren Johnston and Chick Benett. Newsday.com. July 10, 2006
    UPDATE 2-Building collapses in New York City, Reuters. July 10, 2006. 9:59am ET
    President Bush Discusses Progress in the War on Terror July 12, 2004
    Policies in Focus. National Security Strategy, The White House.
    Cost of War.
    Causalities
    Iraq Body Count.
    Bush has a big agenda for 2005, By David Gregory, Chief White House correspondent. NBC News. December 30, 2004
    President Holds Press Conference. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” November 4, 2004
    Iraq insurgency in ‘last throes,’ Cheney says, CNN News. Monday, June 20, 2005
    Iraq: Collateral damage, By Ashok Mitra. Rediff.com India Limited. March 25, 2003
    Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11. Book Says President Called Secrecy Vital. By William Hamilton. Washington Post. Saturday, April 17, 2004
    How Many Dead Iraqis? Guessing about collateral damage. By Fred Kaplan. Slate.Tuesday, February 25, 2003
    Strictly Confidential. Likely Humanitarian Scenarios. United Nations Document.  December 10, 2002
    Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?, By Tim McGirk, Baghdad. Time Magazine. March 19, 2006, PDF version
    The Promise of Democratic Peace, Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security. By Condoleezza Rice. The Washington Post. Sunday, December 11, 2005
    Remarks at the American University in Cairo, By Secretary Condoleezza. Rice Cairo, Egypt. June 20, 2005
    “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way.”
    The Iran Plans,
    Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. April 17, 2006
    North Korea missles rattle European markets, El Financiero en línea. July 5, 2006

    Assertion: To Defend America, We Must Attack Aggressively ©

    Americans were under attack.  It was September 11, 2001.  Ultimately, this peace-loving country initiated all out war.  The United States sought a broad coalition; however, the President and others were willing to go it alone.  This nation, its leaders, and citizens concluded their safety and stability were being threatened.  Our countrymen thought enemies were everywhere and thus, the battles began.  Policies were adopted.  The idea of privacy was altered.  The Patriot Act was drawn and passed.  The National Security Strategy for the United States of America was accepted.

    People throughout America were ready to protect themselves no matter what the cost.  Aggressive reactions were booming.  Americans declared loudly, “You are either with us or against us.”  If you choose to terrorize me or mine then you will be taken, “Dead or alive!”  Thus, the cycle begins again.  America believes, we must aggressively attack.

    Post-September 11, 2001, America went to war.  This was not the first time; nor do I think it will be the last.  Americans seem to accept a cycle of conflicts.  Some say it is the nature of man to war.  Others offer evolution as the rationale.  After all, man is descended from beasts; therefore, we as humans fight for our survival.  When Americans felt threatened, we brawl, batter, and beat our adversaries vehemently!  Enemies might be terrorist, Tories, or any persons or groups that tempts or taunts them.  However, none is a foe unless they pressure us [the people of the USA] personally.  On balance, we are people of peace; we believe in diplomacy.  We are a democratic nation.  Our history demonstrates this or does it.

    We work towards peace whenever possible.  We intentionally avoid conflict.  Confrontation must come to us before we engage.  The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 during what was the Second World War to stop all wars.  Battles had been raging for two long years in Europe; Hitler and Mussolini were on the rise for years prior to the war.  While Chamberlain tried to quell the aggressive advances of these comrades, his own passivity, policy of appeasement, gave them strength.  The drum beats of warfare heightened.  However, the United States stayed distant.  Until, this country believed itself vulnerable they thought it was none of their business.  Americans wish to wound no one, unless provoked.

    We, the people of the United States loathe war, or so we say.  In truth, citizens of this nation love fighting. Repeatedly, our countrymen accept violence and reject harmony.  They claim this acceptance is reluctant; however, there is ample evidence that affirms the contrary.

    Frequently, I find myself saying “War is never an option,” to those advocating the effort.  I receive in retort this reply, “Brutality is justified when it is an act of self-defense.”  From my perspective, fighting is never an act; it is what we do when we react.  Actions are loving, they are giving they demonstrate care and concern.  When we take action, we are productive.  We yield growth.  Actions are lively and full of vigor.  When we react, we destroy!  A reaction is elicited when we fear for our families, our familiars, or for ourselves.  Pain causes a fight or flight response.

    Intellectually, Americans state, “War is the option of last resort”; however, this country, it leaders and citizens choose it often, more often than not.  We fight conflict after conflict.  We clash here and abroad.  We win battles; some say we win wars.  Yet, we never achieve peace.  The reasons for this are plentiful.  Among these is “Might does not make right.”

    The numbers may be on our side; however, success is much more than a tangible strength.  The United States often has more servicemen and women than its enemies.  Our artillery is ample.  The tools this nation produces are quite superior.  Still, our will at times is less strong than that of our adversaries.  On these occasions, victory is not ours.  In truth, I think when aggression is involved no one triumphs.  Everyone suffers a loss when we wage war, except perhaps the businesses that produce our weaponry and supplies.

    In case the citizenry ever forget that this nation was founded on war, our leaders remind us.  Their words are written into our policy.  Most recently, our glorious king, George II etched his wisdom into our doctrine.  Bush and his Bunch drafted the National Security Strategy for the United States of America in 2002.  Our Eternal Emperor, the man chosen to speak for God, and selected to serve by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, President George W. Bush is quoted throughout the document.  He offers,

    “Our Nation’s cause has always been larger than our Nation’s defense.
    We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace?”a peace that favors liberty.
    We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants.”
    – President Bush.  West Point, New York.  June 1, 2002

    The President sounds so eloquent, so astute, and so contrary.  I wonder; how does one defend peace as they fight.  Is liberty achieved when we exert our will on others?  History proves it is not.

    People may pretend to circumvent their truer desires.  They may appear to be abiding by the laws set by those deemed superior.  However, they plot, plan, and pursue their personal philosophies, no matter what or who tries to control them.  Consider Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and yes, even the early American colonists.

    Nevertheless, we pursue.  We Americans conclude we must protect, defend, and preserve our safe space.  If anyone or any group threatens us, we must act aggressively.  “To achieve these goals, the United States will: Prevent our enemies from threatening our allies, our friends, and us with weapons of mass destruction.”

    These weapons may be in the form of arsenal or they might be mere articulations.  No matter what their shape or appearance, any action taken against this State must be defended against.

    We the people of the United States know how to form a more perfect union, a compassionate community, even if we have to do it through war; we will do it.  It is as our President postures,

    “Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong.  I disagree.
    Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities.”
    – President Bush.  West Point, New York.  June 1, 2002

    Thus, the President declares,

    “War has been waged against us by stealth, deceit, and murder.  This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger.  The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others.  It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.”
    – President Bush.  Washington, D.C. (The National Cathedral).  September 14, 2001

    Yet, it does not.  It never has.  They start a conflict.  We commence the battle.  Each fights the war to end all wars, over, and over, and over again.

    When wills this end?  It will conclude when we realize that “War is Not an Option!”  Aggression is never a solution.  We can be assertive; yet, not aggressive.  Wow, what a concept.  It might be an important one to consider before we engage in another war, or the next fight.  Yes, we have rights; however, so too do they.

    Thus, I offer a discussion of aggression and assertiveness.  I hope this might broaden our perspective.  As you review the following information, I ask you to extrapolate.  Consider what we witness locally, in our daily lives.

    I believe that what we do in our homes, in the workplace, and on our streets becomes our habit and our truth.  If we are snide, rude, crude, hostile, violent, or just plain aggressive with members of our family, with friends, or familiars we are likely to be so elsewhere.  If we believe belligerent behavior is justifiable in defense of ourselves, might we also be more willing to accept it as a strategy for our nation?  Sadly, I suspect we are.

    Understanding Assertiveness, By Stuart Sorensen ?” RMN

    What it will do is provide some information about the nature of assertiveness and how it differs from other methods of dealing with people.

    Most people confuse assertiveness with aggression or “getting my own way.” True assertiveness, however, is much more than that.  Assertiveness considers the rights and needs of everybody.  It assumes that everyone is equal.  Because of this assertiveness can be thought of as a method of increasing choices for everyone.

    When we are unhappy with a situation, we have at least four choices.  We can:
    • Accept the situation
    • Be aggressive
    • Be passive
    • Be Assertive

    Most People Behave in Each of These Four Ways in Different Situations.
    If we are happy to accept a given situation, then all is well and good.  If not then we must choose one of the other three options.  Let’s look at these more closely.

    Aggression
    The aim of aggression is to get our own way ?” to win whatever the cost to other people.  Aggression is not interested in the rights, wants or needs of others.  Aggression is usually destructive, either physically or psychologically.  It’s true that people who behave aggressively often get what they want but aggression has other results as well.
    • Aggression often breeds aggression.  This means that once people start behaving aggressively with each other it can be very hard to stop.  People start looking for new ways to hurt each other and before you know it they’re lifelong enemies.
    • Aggression can make us unpopular.  Once we get a reputation for being aggressive, people start avoiding us.  This may be because they’re frightened we might turn on them or because they think we’ll embarrass them by behaving aggressively to other people.  They may also be worried that they’ll lose friends or influence as people might assume that they are just as aggressive.  In the end, the only friends aggressive people have are people who are just as aggressive they or people who are frightened of them.  They lose out on a lot of friendships because of their hostility.
    • Aggression discourages people from helping us in the future.  If we force people to do what we want by using aggression, they will probably feel bad about us.  This often means they refuse to help us when we really need them.
    • Some people believe that behaving aggressively makes others respect us.  It doesn’t, it simply makes them fear us.  Frightened people only do what we want for as long as we are watching.  As soon as our backs are turned, they tend to do their own thing.  This makes our aggression a waste of time.
    • Aggression can make us feel good for a short while but is it worth it?

    Assertiveness
    The aim of assertiveness is to find the best possible solution for all people.  It’s about finding ??win:win’ solutions.  [Here I need to assert my own belief.  I believe that if there is a win, there is also a loss!  I prefer the term “grow:grow.”]  Assertiveness sees everyone as equal with equal rights and equal responsibilities.

    • Assertiveness increases the chances of our needs being met.  If we are able to tell people what we want without becoming aggressive, they will be more likely to help us.  Also, if they can’t help us and we are able to accept that without becoming aggressive they will remain friends.
    • Assertiveness allows us to remain in control.  We can decide for ourselves what we want to do and then seek out opportunities to do it ?” or to do something similar.  It puts us back in the driving seat.
    • Assertiveness brings greater self-confidence.  As we learn to take control and see what we can achieve our confidence increases.  This in turn increases our feelings of self worth and self esteem.  We begin to feel better ?” more effective.
    • Assertiveness lets us have greater confidence in others.  This is because it also helps others to state their needs and wants.  By dealing honestly and fairly with them we encourage them to do the same with us.
    • Assertive people have more friends.  As we begin to treat people more fairly they begin to trust us, to like us and to want to spend more time with us.  We make friends who truly respect us instead of walking all over us (passivity) or fearing us (aggression).
    • Reduced stress.  The more in control we feel the less stressed we feel.  We don’t need to worry about doing things we’d rather not.  We don’t have to let other people control us.  Nor do we have to worry about trying to control other people.  We have the power to choose our own destiny.
    Remember that there are many ways to interact with others.  We can inform, explain, discuss, or simply have a relaxed conversation.  It’s often useful to know in advance precisely, how you intend to interact.

    The article continues.  I do not necessarily agree with the premises or phrasing in the latter portions of this presentation.  Therefore, I am choosing to assert myself.  I will offer one further aspect though I have chosen to alter one term.  The author speaks of “rights” and states the “right” we each have as individuals.  I might list those however, I experience that most people are very familiar with their rights.

    Rarely do they acknowledge what social scientists term as “responsibilities.”  I struggle with that word for I, as many cringe when another person declares that we must be responsible.  Often the speaker of this dictum is not.  Therefore, I will replace the word responsibility with a phrase, “I can consciously choose.”

    Dear reader, the choice is yours.  Please consider we will get what we give.  That we cannot control.

    • I can consciously choose to treat others fairly, honestly and with respect for their dignity.
    • I can consciously choose my own actions and their consequences.
    • I can consciously choose to uphold the rights of others whenever I can.
    • I can consciously choose my own decisions.
    • I can consciously choose to be aware and acknowledge my role in my own life.
    • I can consciously choose to accept, what happens to me is, generally, a result of my own decisions.
    When we question the value of war, if we are honest with ourselves we will realize there is none.  Aggression need not be our habit, preference, or option, first or last.  We can assert ourselves.  We can and must acknowledge that we have rights and privileges; yet, we must remember that others have the same.  Theirs are equal to our own, no less worthy and no more.

    Yes, speak up when you feel threatened; defend yourself assertively.  However, you need not do so aggressively.  Realize that if you choose conflict, you will get what you ask for.  The force with which your enemy engages will be equal and opposing.  I invite us as a nation and as individuals, to acknowledge peace is the greatest path.  When we truly pursue tranquility, we understand war is not an option, ever.  May peace be with you, everyone.

    • On American Independence Day, July 4, 2006, this nation celebrates war or freedom, depending on your chosen perspective.  North Korea fires its test missiles.  Their mission is to exert their independence or to initiate war.  We choose; they will act in kind.  They have already.  We show our strength and our ability to engage in war.  They offer the same.  Assertiveness or Aggressive attacks, which cycle will be chose this time?

    Please, sing it with me.  War, By Edwin Starr

    Peruse if You Choose.  No Worries.  No War . . .
    President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat, Office of the Press Secretary. October 7, 2002
    Poll: Don’t Go It Alone On Iraq.  CBS News. September 7, 2002
    The Patriot Act
    National Security Strategy for the United States of America
    • Casualties in Iraq, The Human Cost of Occupation, Antiwar.com
    Economists say cost of war could top $2 trillion, By Bryan Bender. Boston Globe. January 8, 2006
    Bush pledges to get bin Laden, dead or alive, USA Today. December 14, 2001
    ‘You are either with us or against us’, CNN News. November 6, 2001
      World War I and World War II By Jerrie S. Cheek. Educational Technology Center.
    President Addresses the Nation. Office of the Press Secretary. September 7, 2003
    The National Priorities Project
    The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
    War remains the option of first resort – not last, By Simon Tisdall. The Guardian. Thursday February 27, 2003
    The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler, The History Place?
    Neville Chamberlain Wikipedia.
    Appeasement Spartacus.
    War as Self-Defense, About.
    Why America Goes to War, By Richard Corliss. Time. January 16, 2006. Vol.167, Iss. 3;  pg. 127
    Not Just A Last Resort?
    A Global Strike Plan, With a Nuclear Option,
    By William Arkin. The Washington Post.  Sunday, May 15, 2005
    National Security Strategy for the United States of America
    President’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, The National Cathedral. Office of the Press Secretary. September 14, 2001
    President Bush Delivers Graduation Speech at West Point, George W. Bush. June 1, 2002
    North Korea Test-Fires Several Missiles, By Maureen Dowd. The New York Times. July 4, 2006
    War, By Edwin Starr