Dennis Kucinich. Bill Maher Helps Introduce America’s Best Candidate

Bill Maher Interviews Dennis Kucinich (04/27/07)

Humor intertwines with the tragedy that exists in the United States.  Millions are uninsured.  The infrastructure is crumbling.  The fragile environment is failing.  The reality of war is in contrast with the fact that “Peace is inevitable.” 

Host Bill Maher inquires, why is it that many might believe as Congressman Kucinich does and yet they do not consider him a serious contender.  Representative Kucinich states, “I think it is a matter of time before the American people learn that I am the candidate that would end the policies that keep us in war.”  He affirms we can focus on issues at home and re-connect with the world community.  America can again be a country that is loved and admired.

During the interview with Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, Bill Maher poses the question, “You agree; we should keep war on the table as an option.”  The response is quick and decisive, “No!”  However, “Some people need killing,” states Bill Maher.  The laughter increases.  Yet, the subject is serious and Kucinich says so.  “I do not believe in the use of assassination as a policy.” 

Nor do I, Congressman.  Perhaps that is why I voted for you in 2004.

I applaud that you are assertive and not aggressive.  I, as you, think the global war on terrorism is a hoax.  “It is a pretext for more war.”  Maher declares his hesitation.  Kucinich then counters, “If you want to seriously address the problems with the insecurities that exists in the world  you have to do it through uniting the nations of the world.  We already have an organization called, the United Nations.”  ‘Tis true; we must Unite as Nations.  This body cannot function and facilitate if we, the worlds largest power does not participate as others do. 

The crowd cheers.  Ah, the excitement, the energy exudes when war is defined as it is, unnecessary.

The use of diplomacy to reunite the world in the cause of peace is preferable.

We do need to look for ways to emphasize human unity.  The world is one; the continents are interconnected.

I too think people are waiting for an American President that says ‘We are not a nation above nations.  We are a nation among nations.”  Yes Dennis Kucinich, please let us work within the community of the world.  I long to actively do as we say we wish to do,  create global peace and justice. 

I wish to help you assist us.  I hope my sharing your words, and views can increase awareness and widen your appeal.  I thank Mister Maher for inviting a vital discussion.

I offer the following information as a reminder for those that may have missed my earlier missive, Kucinich Calls for Censure, Conversation, and Change.  Please peruse the candidate’s proclamations.  Ponder; register to vote if you have not yet done so.  The primaries are fast approaching.  Please cast your ballot for Dennis Kucinich. 

The Kucinich Plan for Iraq
Submitted by Dennis Kucinich

Kucinich unveils comprehensive exit plan to bring troops home, stabilize Iraq
Dennis J Kucinich
Monday, January 8, 2007

In November of 2006, after an October upsurge in violence in Iraq, the American people moved decisively to reject Republican rule, principally because of the conduct of the war.  Democratic leaders well understand we regained control of the Congress because of the situation in Iraq.  However, two months later, the Congress is still searching for a plan around which it can unite to hasten the end of US involvement in Iraq and the return home of 140,000 US troops.

There is a compelling need for a new direction in Iraq, one that recognizes the plight of the people of Iraq, the false and illegal basis of the United States war against Iraq, the realities on the ground which make a military resolution of the conflict unrealistic and the urgent responsibility of the United States, which caused the chaos, to use the process of diplomacy and international law to achieve stability in Iraq, a process which will establish peace and stability in Iraq allow our troops to return home with dignity.

The Administration is preparing to escalate the conflict.  They intend to increase troop numbers to unprecedented levels, without establishing an ending date for the so-called troop surge.  By definition, this escalation means a continuation of the occupation, more troop and civilian casualties, more anger toward the US, more support for the insurgency, more instability in Iraq and in the region, and prolonged civil war at a time when there is a general agreement in the world community that the solution in Iraq must be political not military.  Iraq is now a training ground for insurgents who practice against our troops.

What is needed is a comprehensive political process.  And the decision is not President Bush’s alone to make.

Congress, as a coequal branch of government has a responsibility to assist in the initiation of this process.  Congress, under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution has the war-making power.  Congress appropriates funds for the war.  Congress does not dispense with its obligation to the American people simply by opposing a troop surge in Iraq.

There are 140,000 troops remaining in Iraq right now.  What about them?  When will they come home?  Why would we leave those troops in Iraq when we have the money to bring them home?  Soon the President will ask for more money for the war.  Why would Congress appropriate more money to keep the troops in Iraq through the end of President Bush’s term, at a total cost of upwards of two trillion dollars and thousands of more troop casualties, when military experts say there is no military solution?  Our soldiers stand for us in the field, we must to stand for them in our legislature by bringing them home.

It is simply not credible to maintain that one opposes the war and yet continues to fund it.  This contradiction runs as a deep fault line through our politics, undermining public trust in the political process and in those elected to represent the people.  If you oppose the war, then do not vote to fund it.

If you have money which can be used to bring the troops home or to prosecute the war, do not say you want to bring the troops home while you appropriate money in a supplemental to keep them in Iraq fighting a war that cannot be won militarily.  This is why the Administration should be notified now that Congress will not approve of the appropriations request of up to $160 billion in the spring for the purposes of continuing the occupation and the war.  Continuing to fund the war is not a plan.  It would represent the continuation of disaster.

The US sent our troops into Iraq without a clear mission.  We created a financial, military, and moral dilemma for our nation and now we are talking about the Iraq war as our problem.  The Iraqis are forgotten.  Their country has been destroyed: 650,000 casualties, [based on the Lancet Report which surveyed casualties from March of 2003 to July of 2006] the shredding of the social fabric of the nation, civil war, lack of access to food, shelter, electricity, clean drinking water and health care because this Administration, with the active participation of the Congress, authorized a war without reason, without conscience, without international law.

The current combat is not all that troubles me.  Much that is occurring in present day America and throughout the globe causes great distress.  I want us to embrace every aspect of life completely.  Reform for me is not wise if it is random.  I have no desire to change for the sake of change.  My interest is in encouraging equality for all.  May we live for the Seventh Generation.  As I assess the Kucinich agenda, I believe this Representative has our shared health in mind.  Kucinich states . . .

I want to inspire America to take a new path, a different direction.

I envision an America which has the capacity to reconnect with the heart of the world; an America which proceeds in the world optimistically and courageously.  An America which understands that the world is interdependent, that it is inter-connected, and that what we do today impacts future generations.

I want to break the shackles of fear which have deprived our citizens of rights.  We need to change the way this country values humanity, so that instead of fear and lies, we can live our lives based on principles of peace and hope.  We need to regain the trust of the American people and we need to have a government which trusts the American people.

It’s time for America to resume its glorious journey; time to reject shrinking jobs and wages, disappearing savings and rights; time to reject the detour towards fear and greed.  It’s time to look out upon the world for friends, not enemies; time to counter the control of corporations over our politics, our economy, our resources, and mass media.

It’s time for those who have much to help those who have little, by maintaining a progressive tax structure.  It’s time to tell the world that we wish to be their partner in peace, not their leader in war.  Most of all, it is time for America to again be the land where dreams come true, because the government is on the side of its people.

Ten Key Issues

  • Universal Health Care
  • International Cooperation: US out of Iraq, UN in
  • Jobs and Withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO
  • Repeal of the “Patriot Act”
  • Guaranteed Quality Education, Pre-K Through College
  • Full Social Security Benefits at Age 65
  • Right-to-Choose, Privacy and Civil Rights
  • Balance Between Workers and Corporations
  • Environmental Renewal and Clean Energy
  • Restored Rural Communities and Family Farms

  • Furthering the future . . .

  • Kucinich for President 2008
  • Issues
  • The World Can’t Wait
  • The Kucinich Plan for Iraq
  • Universal Health Care
  • International Cooperation: US out of Iraq, UN in
  • Jobs and Withdrawal from NAFTA and WTO
  • Repeal of the “Patriot Act”
  • Guaranteed Quality Education, Pre-K Through College
  • Full Social Security Benefits at Age 65
  • Right-to-Choose, Privacy and Civil Rights
  • Balance Between Workers and Corporations
  • Environmental Renewal and Clean Energy
  • Restored Rural Communities and Family Farms
  • Sharing a War Tale with Strangers

    copyright © 2007 Possum Tales.  Sedalia Tales

    Encouraged and supported by friends and family, in the summer of 2006 I shared my Viet Nam experience with strangers.  Supported by edrie and following the example of other Kossacks today comes a sharing of the meeting experience.  These are my own perceptions and may or may not be the same as those of other attendees.  Follow me over the fold and down the yellow brick road to read the Possum’s Story of Sharing the Vietnam Tale.

    The meeting was sponsored by a local peace organization and attended by about forty people of whom seven were my personal family and friends.  Three speakers were asked to offer their personal war experiences and to discuss how those times led to the peace activism of today. 

    The first speaker offered recordings of Hiroshima survivors.  Many of the voices came from people well up in years, some telling their stories for the first time.  The speaker held to her appointed 30 minutes followed by a few questions and responses from the audience.

    The second speaker told a brief story of her time as a sixteen year old girl in Austria under the German occupation and the American bombing.  Her story was a powerful if brief one followed by several minutes of response and questions from the audience.

    I was the third speaker.  What was already a difficult and emotional time of sharing was made more difficult by the effect of following the first two speakers.  From the earliest of my words one woman in the back of the audience seemed to be quietly crying.  What she did or did not hear could not be told.  Others of the audience were nodding their heads in agreement.  All members of the audience seemed to follow the story with rapt attention.

    Ending with a pair of quotes from famous people who seemed to have the words I liked best, the floor was opened to the audience at about 25 minutes.  For the following 20 minutes came intelligent and penetrating audience questions and comments.  Much of my tale had to do with the dehumanization of both ourselves and the purported enemy.  The audience seemed to follow that line and wished to understand more about today’s military members and how they are likely to be affected by their own experience.

    Once the questions from the floor ended and the official meeting ended, people gathered around for more conversation.  The first speaker spoke profound words about how my story had affected her and how important such sharings are in our world today.  Some audience members shared their own stories of occupied Europe in a pair of different countries.  Overall the time spent was a very powerful reminder of just how storytelling can touch the lives of people.

    None of us ever knows just who or just how our words will touch another’s soul.  We have been reminded at regular intervals in blogland that diaries failing to bring large responses may yet be a strong influence in some person’s life.  The same is true with the tales of our lives.  Each of us has a story to tell.  For those of us with war stories we should follow the example of testvet (a fellow Kossack who I truly admire), goldkeyrealty and others and share those stories.  Unless we share them the memories will die.  If we share we have an opportunity to change the future by reminding others of the mistakes of the past.  The tide of opinion against war is turning in this country.  Those of us with tales to tell can help turn that tide into a tidal wave but we are only effective when we share.

    Tillman. Lynch. Americans Weary of Lies and War

    How they lied when Pat Tillman Died. YouTube.

    The wars leave us all wary.  Soldiers in Afghanistan tire.  Troops in Iraq are exhausted.  The people in the states are fatigued.  Families and friends are drained.  America wants its soldiers to come home, alive.  Citizens cry when chatting with their Representatives.  They shriek when telephoning their Senators.  They write to the President.  Our countrymen spoke with their vote. yet, the combat continues.  The United States stays the course.  It is not the long days and longer nights of worry that weigh on the expectant public; it is the lies. 

    Listening to Kevin Tillman speak of his brother Pat, while testifying in front of the House Oversight Committee, I was reminded of the dishonesty.

    Earlier today, in dramatic testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Kevin Tillman accused the Bush administration of twisting the facts of his brother’s death to distract public attention from the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.

    The U.S. Army fabricated a story of his brother’s heroism in action, knowing he was killed by friendly fire, Tillman said.  Authorities constructed not only a story of combat action — accompanied by a silver medal – but lied about his medical care, saying he was transferred to a field hospital for continued medical care for 90 minutes after the incident, when the back of his head was blown off.

    “These are deliberate and calculated lies” and “a deliberate act of deceit,” Tillman said.

    His voice shaking, Tillman said the official account of his brother’s death in 2004 was “utter fiction ? intended to deceive the family and more importantly the American people.”

    He said the incident that led to his brother’s death was “clearly fratricide” and described the account of a soldier standing next to his brother who reported the slain soldier’s last words, “I am friendly, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman.”

    As Jessica Lynch shared her story and her confusion, my anguish increased.  Today, April 25, 2007, when the last soldier to see Army Ranger Pat Tillman alive, Army Specialist (SPC) Bryan O’Neal spoke of his orders not to divulge the truth of his comrades death, I wept.

    O’Neal particularly wanted to tell fellow soldier Kevin Tillman, who was in the convoy traveling behind his brother at the time of the 2004 incident in Afghanistan.

    “I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in a platoon and I knew that he and the family all needed to know what had happened,” O’Neal testified. “I was quite appalled that when I was actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him.”

    Asked who gave him the order, O’Neal replied that it came from his battalion commander, then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey.

    “He basically just said … ‘Do not let Kevin know, that he’s probably in a bad place knowing his brother’s dead,’ ” O’Neal told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. “And he made it known I would get in trouble, sir, if I spoke with Kevin on it being fratricide.”

    I have been doing a lot of crying lately.  As the causalities mount, so too do the stories.  Sadly, the legends told by our leaders President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Department of Defense are rarely factual.  Fiction is thought to be more favorable by this Administration.  It seems our leaders feel we “can’t take the truth.”  Therefore, they do not tell it.

    Vice President Richard Cheney, equipped with his five deferments was able to avoid military service; yet, repeatedly he states, the “United States does not have the stomach for the fight.”

    Mister Cheney is correct.  He, an American never had the guts to fight.  His compatriot, George W. Bush also gracefully avoided battle.  As young men, these two combative, hawkish chaps chose not to fight on foreign soil, or anywhere else for that matter.  Yet, today, they hypocritically claim American men and women are not willing to go to battle.  Oh, Dick, whom are the people fighting and dying for this country?  Certainly, you and your nearest kin are not on the front-lines.  I do not see the Commander-In-Chief dodging bullets now; nor was he as a lad.

    After years of what seems an endless, “protracted” war, most Americans feel as Mister Cheney did and apparently still does.  They do not wish to go to fight and chance death.  The Armed Forces are struggling. Recruitment is down.  Soldiers declining to re-enlist.  There are not enough recruits to maintain a volunteer service; yet, no one is willing to reinstate the draft. 

    As early as July 2003, there was talk of troop confidence; there was little.  Frustrated soldiers wrote to Congressional Representatives “requesting their units be repatriated.”  Morale was low, although according to the Administration, troop spirits were high.  After arriving home from a hastily scheduled trip to Iraq in November of the same year the President told the nation in his Saturday radio address.

    I’m pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail.

    Lies, more lies, and perpetual deception.

    Years later the problem persists.  Troops want to come home.  Families long to see their soldiers alive and comfortably seated in their own living rooms.  Yet, we were told, leaves will be shorter, rotations sooner.; However, the fact is this nation cannot finance such a decision, or is that the fiction.  One never knows.  I truly am perplexed.  Nevertheless, the new strategy is . . .

    Stretched military to get more leave instead of bonus pay
    By Pauline Jelinek
    Associate Press.  Baltimore Sun.
    April 18, 2007

    Troops will get extra days off — rather than “buckets full of gold” — for being sent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more frequently, the Pentagon says.

    After months of debate on the new plan, Defense Department leaders decided that time off was more in keeping with “the ethos” of military service to country than money — and that rest is more directly connected to the fact that troops are being stressed by repeated deployments, said Michael L. Dominguez, undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

    “We weren’t trying to find some metaphysical balance between the service you are rendering and buckets full of gold — or any other thing we could do for you,” Dominguez said Wednesday.

    “This wasn’t about that balance. This was about telling men and women of the armed forces that we know when we ask you to do something extraordinary, we’re conscious of it, we’re aware of it.”

    In a sometimes-contentious Pentagon news conference, Dominguez declined to say whether officials had studied whether troops themselves might prefer money, saying it was a leadership decision.

    In what Dominguez acknowledged was a complicated formula to explain, the policy starts with giving one day off for every month troops are recalled early and increases as various thresholds are reached.

    Fear of funding problems was not an issue, he said.

    “The Congress of the United States has been superb and excellent in terms of if we needed something for the troops, they’ve given it to us,” he said.

    Yes, when soldiers were needed they were provided.  The troops came from unexpected places.  Weeks ago, while standing with James on a local street corner, we conversed as we held up our “Make love not war” signs.  Cars passed us, tooting their horns in favor of “Exit Iraq” policies.  People leaned out their windows restating the words on our banners, “Bring the troops home now.”  “Cut the funds.”  “Grandfather and Veteran for Peace.” 

    As the vehicles raced by, James shared his story I winced as he recounted the details.  His older brother is thirty-nine [39] years of age.  He enlisted in the National Guard years earlier.  Financially the then young man needed financial assistance for college and saw the Guard as a means to an end.  A short time ago, James brother was assisting with the Katrina cleanup.  He was proud to help. 

    The older sibling was serving his country as expected, on American soil.  Suddenly, he was sent home early.  He was told he would be leaving for Iraq.  The shorter stint in New Orleans would allow for some time at home before he departs.  James’s elder brother has a wife, three children, and is physically not, what he was.  There was a time when the National Guard did not fight overseas.  George W. Bush might remember it well.

    At Height of Vietnam, Bush Picks Guard
    By George Lardner Jr. and Lois Romano?
    Washington Post.
    Wednesday, July 28, 1999; Page A1

    Two weeks before he was to graduate from Yale, George Walker Bush stepped into the offices of the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Field outside Houston and announced that he wanted to sign up for pilot training.

    It was May 27, 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. Bush was 12 days away from losing his student deferment from the draft at a time when Americans were dying in combat at the rate of 350 a week. The unit Bush wanted to join offered him the chance to fulfill his military commitment at a base in Texas. It was seen as an escape route from Vietnam by many men his age, and usually had a long waiting list.

    Bush had scored only 25 percent on a “pilot aptitude” test, the lowest acceptable grade. But his father was then a congressman from Houston, and the commanders of the Texas Guard clearly had an appreciation of politics.

    Bush was sworn in as an airman the same day he applied.

    However, those were the days when George W. was eligible to fight.  Now he orders others to tend to the frontline.  In 2000, George W. Bush entered the service as the supreme officer; duplicity continues as we spread democracy. 

    Oh, the deceit, deception, dishonesty, and finally the disillusionment.  When will it ever end; when will the war.  It is not worth asking this White House.  Obviously, we cannot trust the answers.

    Looking at Lies, Lives, Legends . . .

  • Soldier said he was told to keep quiet on details of Tillman’s death, By Johanna Neuman. Los Angles Times Staff Writer. April 24, 2007
  • pdf Soldier said he was told to keep quiet on details of Tillman’s death, By Johanna Neuman. Los Angles Times Staff Writer. April 24, 2007
  • Soldier: Army ordered me not to tell truth about Tillman.  Cable News Network. April 25, 2007
  • Katrina poses key test for stretched National Guard, By Mark Sappenfield. The Christian Science Monitor. September 2, 2005
  • Transcript: Vice President Cheney on ‘FOX News Sunday.’ Sunday, January 14, 2007
  • Study: Army stretched to breaking point.  USA Today. January 24, 2006
  • U.S. Army Challenged to Meet Recruitment Goals. By Madeleine Brand.  Day to Day. June 10, 2005
  • War may have some Fort Carson troops leaving the ranks. By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News.
  • pdf War may have some Fort Carson troops leaving the ranks. By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News.
  • Cheney’s Five Draft Deferments During the Vietnam Era Emerge as a Campaign Issue, By Katharine Q. Seelye. New York Times. May 1, 2004
  • Troop morale in Iraq hits ‘rock bottom,’ By Ann Scott Tyson.  Special to The Christian Science Monitor.  July 7, 2003
  • pdf Troop morale in Iraq hits ‘rock bottom,’ By Ann Scott Tyson.  Special to The Christian Science Monitor.  July 7, 2003
  • Tillman, Lynch Testimony. Congressional Committee Told of Tall Tales

    Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents: Jessica Lynch’s Opening

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    He cried as he read his prepared text.  As I watched and listened, I too felt the tears flow.  Kevin Tillman, brother of slain serviceman and famous National Football League player, Pat Tillman is among many concerned citizens and soldiers speaking in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today, April 24, 2007.  Army Private, Jessica Lynch expresses her bewilderment.  Miss Lynch inquired as she referred to her esteemed prominence. She stated, “However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary.”  The Committee conferred and listened to the testimony.

    Pat Tillman, a noble man took to the battlefields to protect his country.  He left behind a lucrative career, fame, and inevitable fortune.  Believing the President, we must protect our shores, Tillman enlisted in the United States Army in 2002.  His life was taken in April 2004.  Allied forces shot the soldier.  However, that was not the story initially told.  His family and an anxious media received misinformation, propaganda, and party line rhetoric before the real facts were shared.  Perhaps, had their not been witnesses, we, the people would never know what truly occurred.

    Jessica Lynch also shared her saga on this day.  Lynch, an Army private in 2003, was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq.  Miss Lynch was hospitalized in an Iraqi infirmary.  Anon, American forces rescued her.  The tale of her ambush was told to citizens at home.  However, the scenario as presented to the American public was not what occurred. 

    The anecdote was changed so that this young, bright, beautiful soldier would be among the many American heroines.  Naturally, when Americans are told to “Stay the course,” they must have infinite reason to believe the direction we are going in is correct.  After all, we must “move forward.”  If our countrymen do not “support the troops,” pullout will be inevitable.  At least, that is what this Administration believes.

    In truth we are not “moving forward,” America is not safer, and the stories the public hears are contrived. 

    Years have passed.  America realizes this war never was what as described.  Thus, a House Committee was formed to investigate the reasons, the rationale, and the reality of misinformation.  We now know that much of what is released by the United States Department of Defense is not factual.  Military officers tell families and the media tales that rarely resemble the truth.  The actual circumstances that cause death or injury to our troops are frequently deplorable.  Yet, yarns are spun, and every event is envisioned as heroic.

    Americans servicemen frequently kill their fellow soldiers.  Yet, such actions are mentioned only is a hush.  Friendly fire is embarrassing; nevertheless, common.  Sweet young soldiers are victims of circumstances, and these are not glorious.  Nor is there a cause for celebration.  On this day, we hear some specifics.

    The brother of Pat Tillman, the U.S. football star killed in Afghanistan in 2004, accused the military Tuesday of “intentional falsehoods” and “deliberate and careful misrepresentations” in portraying Tillman’s death as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy instead of friendly fire.

    “We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family, but more importantly the American public,” Kevin Tillman told a hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. “Pat’s death was clearly the result of fratricide.”

    “Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters,” Tillman said, “so the truth needed to be suppressed.”

    In fact, it was.  Kevin Tillman was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident occurred.  This brave soldier was unable to see what happened.  Initially, he trusted; however, it was not long before he learned so much of what was said was a lie.

    Soon after Kevin Tillman shared his sorrow, <>Jessica Lynch testified before the Committee.  She approached the table, looking shy and subdued.  Yet, when she spoke this woman was powerful.

    Still hampered by her injuries, Lynch walked slowly to the witness table and took a seat alongside Tillman’s family members.

    “The bottom line is, the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don’t need to be told elaborate tales,” said Lynch, who was an army private at the time of her capture. . . .

    Lynch said she could not know why she had been depicted as a “Rambo from West Virginia,” when in fact she had been riding in a truck, not fighting, when she was wounded.

    Dr. Gene Bolles, a doctor who treated Lynch at a hospital in Germany after she was rescued, told the hearing that her injuries, while extensive, were not the result of bullet wounds, as first described.

    Jessica Lynch lamented, “I’m confused why they lied.” Shortly after Miss Lynch spoke, the mother of Pat and Kevin Tillman addressed the Representatives.

    Pat Tillman’s mother, Mary Tillman, told the committee that family members had been “absolutely appalled” when they realized the extent to which they had been misled.

    This distressed parent knew that earlier inquiries did no good.

    Last month the military concluded in a pair of reports that nine high-ranking army officers, including four generals, had made critical errors in reporting Tillman’s death but that there had been no criminal wrongdoing in his shooting.

    With disgust in her voice and distress in her face, the morning mother stated . . .

    Mary Tillman said she found it “horrific” that investigators had found no violations of rules of engagement.

    The Committee Chairman, Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, knew the small group seated in front of him was correct and credible.  The Congressman expressed his anguish, stating the government invented “sensational details and stories” about the shocking shooting that took Pat Tillman’s life and the 2003 rescue of Jessica Lynch. 

    These two soldiers were possibly the most prominent victims of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Their service was glorified, and indeed, they did serve their country well.  However, distortions and embellishments are cause for concern.  The Congressman continued.

    “The government had violated its most basic responsibility,” Waxman said.

    Lawmakers also planned to press the Pentagon with questions still hovering over Tillman’s shooting, including whether a Predator drone had been flying overhead when Tillman was killed and whether it had videotaped the incident. The military says no such videotape exists.

    Nevertheless, there is ample reason to believe that what the military says and what is or was are not the same.  An expectant public awaits action.  They want no more war and said so with their votes in the 2006 elections.  Americans crave the truth.  This Administration and the Department of Defense may not know what that is.  Lives are destroyed, evidence too. Meanwhile, the wars continue.

    Please review the testimony of Jessica Lynch.  Once located, I will offer the transcript of Kevin Tillman’s testimony.

    Testimony of Jessica Lynch

    Chairman Waxman, and distinguished members of the committee, it is an honor to be with you today and I am grateful to have this opportunity. 

    I have been asked here today to address “misinformation from the battlefield.” Quite frankly, it is something that I have been doing since I returned from Iraq. However, I want to note for the record, I am not politically motivated in my appearance here today. I lived the war in Iraq. Today I have family and friends still serving in Iraq. My support for our troops is unwavering. 

    I believe this is not a time for finger pointing. It is time for the truth, the whole truth, versus misinformation and hype.

    Because of the misinformation, people try to discount the realities of my story, including me as part of the hype. Nothing could be further from the truth.  My experiences have caused a personal struggle of sorts for me.  I was given opportunities not extended to my fellow soldiers – and embraced those opportunities set the record straight. It is something I have done since 2003 and something I imagine I will have to do for the rest of my life.  I have answered criticisms for being paid to tell my story.  Quite frankly, the injuries I have will last a lifetime and I had a story tell, a story that needed to be told so people would know the truth. 

    I want to take a minute to remind the committee of my true story. I was a soldier. 

    In July 2001, I enlisted in the Army with my brother. We had different reasons as to why we joined but we both wanted to serve our country.  I loved my time in the Army and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served this nation during a time of crisis. 

    In 2003, I received word that my unit had been deployed. I was part of a 100-mile long convoy going to Bagdad to support the Marines. I drove the 5-ton water buffalo truck. Our unit drove the heaviest vehicles. The sand was thick — our vehicles just sank. It would take us hours to travel the shortest distance.  We decided to divide our convoy so the lighter vehicles could reach our target.

    But then came the city of An Nasiryah and a day I will never forget.  The truck I was driving broke down.  I was picked up by my roommate and best friend, Lori Piestewa who was driving our First Sergeant Robert Dowdy. We also picked up two other soldiers from a different unit to get them out of harms way. 

    As we drove through An Nasiryah, trying to get turned around to try to leave the city, the signs of hostility were increasing with people with weapons on rooftops and the street watching our entire group. 

    The vehicle I was riding in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and slammed into the back of another truck in the convoy. Three people in the vehicle were killed upon impact. Lori and I were taken to a hospital where she later died and I was held for nine days.  In all eleven soldiers died that day, six others from the unit, plus two others were taken prisoner. 

    Following the ambush, my injuries were extensive. When I awoke in the Iraqi hospital, I was not able to move or feel anything below my waist. I suffered a six-inch gash in my head. My fourth and fifth lumbars were overlapping causing pressure on my spine. My right humerus bone was broken. My right foot was crushed. My left femur was shattered. The Iraqis in the hospital tried to help me by removing the bone and replacing it with a metal rod. The rod they used was a model from the 1940s for a man and was too long. Following my rescue, the doctors in Landstuhl, Germany found in a physical exam that I had been sexually assaulted. Today, I continue to deal with bladder, bowel, and kidney problems as a result of my injuries. My left leg still has no feeling from the knee down and I am required to wear a brace so that I can stand and walk. 

    When I awoke, I did not know where I was. I could not move, or fight or call for help. The nurses at the hospital tried to soothe me and tried unsuccessfully at one point to return me to American

    Then on April 1, while various units created diversions around Nasiryah, a group came to the hospital to rescue me. I could hear them speaking in English but I was still very afraid. Then a soldier came into my room, he tore the American flag from his uniform and pressed into my hand and he told me, “We’re American soldiers and we’re here to take you home.”  As I held his hand, I told him, “yes, I am an American soldier too.” 

    When I remember those difficult days, I remember the fear. I remember the strength. I remember the hand of a fellow American soldier reassuring me that I was ok now. 

    At the same time, tales of great heroism were being told. My parent’s home in Wirt County was under siege of the media all repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills who went down fighting. 

    It was not true. 

    I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary.  People like Lori Piestewa and First Sergeant Dowdy who picked up fellow soldiers in harms way.  Or people like Patrick Miller and Sergeant Donald Walters who actually fought until the very end. 

    The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes and they don’t need to be told elaborate tales. 

    My hero is my brother Greg who continues to serve this country today. My hero is my friend Lori who died in Iraq but set an example for a generation of Hopi and Native American women and little girls everywhere about the important contributions just one soldier can make in the fight for freedom. My hero is every American who says, my country needs me and answers the call to fight. 

    I had the good fortune and opportunity to come home and I told the truth. Many other soldiers, like Pat Tillman, do not have the opportunity. 

    The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it always more heroic than the hype. 

  • Saving Private Lynch story ‘flawed’, By John Kampfner.  BBC News. May 15, 2003
  • Pat Tillman. Wikipedia.
  • Ex-NFL star Tillman makes `ultimate sacrifice’.  MSNBC News. April 26 2004
  • Jessica Lynch  Wikipedia.
  • The truth about Jessica. Guardian Unlimited. May 15, 2003
  • Tillman Tale “Pure Fiction”: Brother  CBS News.  April 24, 2007
  • Pat Tillman’s family accuses U.S. military of lying. Associated Press. New York Times. International Herald Tribune. April 24, 2007
  • “President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq. Delivered at United States Naval Academy.  Office of the Press Secretary. November 30, 2005
  • Teachers Work For Salaries or Students

    Taylor Mali on what teachers make. YouTube.

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    You have heard it said, perhaps you uttered the statements.  “I want to be a teacher and work only ten months a year.”  “I want a career that allows me to leave the “office” at 3 in the afternoon.”  “Those that can do; those that cannot teach.”  Some think, the job of an educator is a simple task.  There are no challenges.  The time spent on campus is short and sweet.  Yet, studies show that individuals are leaving the profession in mass.  According to the Washington Post half of new teachers quit within five years. 

    Educators flee from a profession they once thought prized.  This has been the trend for quite some time.

    Jessica Jentis fit the profile of a typical American teacher: She was white, held a master’s degree and quit 2 1/2 years after starting her career.

    According to a new study from the National Education Association, a teachers union, half of new U.S. teachers are likely to quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries.

    Jentis, now a stay-at-home mother of three, says that she could not make enough money teaching in Manhattan to pay for her student loans and that dealing with the school bureaucracy was too difficult.

    “The kids were wonderful to be with, but the stress of everything that went with it and the low pay did not make it hard to leave,” she said. “It’s sad because you see a lot of the teachers that are young and gung-ho are ready to leave.”

    The proportion of new teachers who leave the profession has hovered around 50 percent for decades, said Barry A. Farber, a professor of education and psychology at Columbia University in New York.

    Nevertheless, the misnomers surrounding this vocation continue to circulate.  Life is bliss when you work to help children learn.  Perhaps that is why teachers work as hard as they do.  They know they will not be fully financially compensated for doing as they routinely do.  Yet, their actions and the results of these are extremely rewarding.

    Recently, Education Week published Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down.  This exposé discusses the dynamics of the teaching profession, from hours paid to hours worked.  Recently, a report , still in its preliminary stages revealed that teachers work, on average 15 ½ hours a day.  In an article published in the The Honolulu Advertiser teachers share their perspectives.

    Dawn Kodama-Nii, a third-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary, called the study “pretty accurate,” at least in describing the amount of extra time she and her colleagues work.

    She arrives at school by 7 a.m. to prepare lesson plans and get her classroom ready. She leaves at around 5 p.m., taking work home. Nearly every Sunday she puts in another seven-hour day.

    “We put in so many hours,” said Kodama-Nii, who is married with a 2-year-old daughter. “As a teacher, your job is never done.”

    But Sylvia Koo, a veteran math teacher at Farrington High who works an average of 10 hours a day, said it’s not the quantity but the quality of hours that should matter more.

    “We do work more than our seven-hour day, but I don’t work 15 1/2 hours every day,” said Koo, who also advises the school’s math team and teaches math in an adult education class twice a week. “The fact that some teachers go home at 3 p.m., though, doesn’t make them bad teachers.”

    Nor does it make them a teacher, “absent without official leave.”  Educators take their work with them wherever they go.  Most instructors cannot and do not leave their work at the “office.”  In my own life, once I exited the school building, my day was not done.  I graded papers while dining.  I wrote plans beginning in the late afternoon.  I was working and reworking into early evening.  Before I realized it, the day began again and I had yet to go to sleep.  Rest seemed less essential than preparing for my classes.  On most mornings, while in the shower, I would think of a better way to present the material. I would quickly make changes.

    I drove back to the school building and waited in line to use the copy machine.  Well, I could have stood still and chatted; however, other arrangements needed my attention.  Students scurried in before the bell, hoping to speak with me.  There were parents to call, electronic mails to file through, paperwork to complete, and of course meetings.  Weekends were slightly different.  There was time to look for resources and materials.  These could help me motivate minds individually.  In truth, I must excite each pupil personally if they are to truly learn.

    My story is not unique.  Teachers throughout the world could tell the same or similar tales.  Nevertheless,  those not driven to the teaching profession think this scenario is overstated, unreal, or simply not credible..  Individuals quarreled over the findings in this recent report.

    An Advertiser editorial said that the 15½-hour workday “defies logic,” and added that the newspaper’s reporter should have spoken with someone outside the committee who could have brought perspective to the matter.

    But the debate in Hawaii throws up a question with as many answers, it appears, as there are education interests: How many hours does the average teacher clock in?

    Further complicating the issue is the fact that teachers work a calendar different from that of other professions-usually around 38 weeks a year.

    Based on the shorter work year, some researchers have argued that teachers are on a par with other professions in pay for actual hours worked. A controversial report that came out earlier this year from researchers Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters of the New York City-based Manhattan Institute computed hourly wages for teachers using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find that, on average, they earn more than economists, registered nurses, and architects, among others. In fact, it said, the average public school teacher was paid 36 percent more than the average white-collar worker in 2005.

    While I, and many studies dispute this claim, I think it is vital that we look at what goes on in the classroom. On average, a single class may have twenty to forty students.  Each pupil has his or her own history and manner of working, coping, or relating to information and instruction.  These may not be complimentary.

    The stress on a student or a teacher takes a toll.  While most educators feels connected to the scholars in their space and to the curriculum, troubling matters amass.  Frequently, a teacher is frustrated.  They feel they have little time to teach.  Discipline is a dilemma.  Class size does not always lend itself to effective instruction.  Efficacy is reduced.  Sadly, educators no longer believe that they can facilitate growth.  We have all heard the phrase, “teacher burn-out.” Frequently, educators, as people in all professions expect much of themselves.

    We all see parents unable to “control” the crying of a lone child.  Perhaps, we are the forlorn mother or father embarrassed when our offspring runs rampant up and down store isles.  Imagine, being an instructor, trying to stimulate a class full of students, each with their own individual interests, while maintaining a constructive classroom demeanor.

    The ability to control students in a classroom is a critical factor in any educational setting.  After all,  if teachers do not react adequately to students  when their behavior is disruptive, instruction suffers.  Teachers who distrust their ability  to maintain classroom order cannot avoid this key  factor of the job.  Day in, day out, they must  continue to instruct students in order to reach educational goals.

    Teachers who have no confidence in their classroom management abilities are confronted by their incompetence every day, while  at the same time understanding how important that competence is if they are to perform well and  achieve the educational goals.  Furthermore, they are likely to know that their colleagues routinely  succeed in obtaining a comfortable classroom environment (Metz, 1978). 

    Teachers who (1) distrust their classroom management abilities under standard job conditions  and (2) understand the importance of that competence, (3) cannot avoid the management tasks if they  are to reach the educational goals, and (4) are informed that colleagues routinely obtain a comfortable learning environment, can easily suffer  stress, exhaustion, and negative attitudes (Davies  & Yates, 1982; Usaf & Kavanagh, 1990).

    Several  studies demonstrate that doubts about self-efficacy can in themselves trigger the burnout process.  Chwalisz, Altmaier, and Russell (1992) found that  teachers who score low in self-efficacy reported a higher degree of burnout than their counterparts who score high in self-efficacy.

    Greenglass and  Burke (1988) conclude that doubts about self-efficacy contributed significantly to the development  of burnout among male teachers.  The more specific  relationship between teachers’ perceived self-efficacy in classroom management and burnout has  been investigated as well.  Friedman and Farber  (1992) found that teachers who considered themselves less competent in classroom management  and discipline reported a higher level of burnout  than their counterparts who have more confidence  in their competence in this regard.

    Sigh deeply and continue to assess the predicament of educators.  When the Manhattan Institute cited their conclusion, there was a clamor among educators.  Career professionals spoke not of the circumstances within the learning environment.  They addressed other concerns, those mandated by government.

    The study met with vehement opposition from teachers’ unions, which pointed out that it did not take into account additional hours that teachers put into their jobs outside the classroom.

    While school days have always been long, “there is a lot going on now in terms of the No Child Left Behind Act,” said Reg Weaver, the president of the 3.1 million-member National Education Association, referring to the mandates of the 5-year-old federal law.

    “There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be done in addition to other responsibilities, and teachers are trying to juggle the duties and responsibilities they have both in classroom and after school,” he added.

    We have heard that from many a teacher; yet few take the time to consider the truth of this statement.  Assumptions are made.  Instructors often have students grade their own, or a classmates work.  Yet, those methods for correcting are not always practical, possible, or pedagogically sound.  Humans crave attention and the admiration of those they perceive as experts.  When a pupil works diligently, and receives a score on a paper and no comments, they feel lost, devastated, and desirous of more.  If an academic is expected to excel they must have information to assist them.  Authentic achievement involves much nurturing.  It is challenging to stimulate learning within a large group.  Individuals want and need attention.

    Showing interest in each learner takes a lot of time.  The clock is ticking.  Twenty students, perhaps forty, five, six, or seven subjects to teach, this is the dilemma.  Journalist, Vaishalo Honawar, writes, this is a complicated question and the answer is equally complex.

    Across the political spectrum, experts tend to agree that many teachers put in hours well in excess of the seven-hour workday stipulated in most union contracts.

    According to Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, teachers work as hard as professionals in other fields, and then some.

    “Teachers work as many hours per week as other college graduates, ? or at least women teachers work as much as or more than women college graduates in other professions, while male teachers work slightly less than male graduates in other professions,” said Mr. Mishel, whose board of directors includes labor-union officials.

    “I think it’s a mistake for people to think teachers only work their contracted hours,” said Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a conservative-leaning advocacy, and policy group in Washington. It is “difficult and almost impossible” for teachers to get all their work, including preparation for class, done within the hours stipulated in the contract, she added.

    Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that there is more to the question of teacher work hours than hard facts. In its latest annual survey on worker compensation, released last August, the bureau found that elementary teachers worked 36.5 hours a week, while secondary school teachers worked 36.9 hours. Special education teachers worked 35.4 hours.

    But the bureau also says, in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, that after including school duties performed outside the classroom, many teachers work more than 40 hours a week.

    Teachers’ unions, meanwhile, have their own figures. According to Mr. Weaver, the average teacher spends 50 hours a week on instructional duties, and 12 more hours on non-instructional tasks, such as grading papers, advising students, and serving on bus duty.

    Those responsibilities, in essence, stretch the workday of an average teacher to more than 12 hours-almost twice what is stated in most contracts.

    Yet, many quibble.  Among the economists and researchers, remarks are made.  Michael Podgursky, an Economics Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison quipped, “People always think they’re working. But if I’m on a treadmill thinking about work, does that count as work?”  Nevertheless, in Hawaii there may be some hope for overworked and underpaid teaching professionals.  It seems the Time Committee cares.  Will parents, Principals, School Boards, and Districts?

    $63,000 More?
    In Hawaii, the Time Committee was set up in 2005 as a result of a collective bargaining agreement between the school board and the union. (Hawaii has a single, statewide school district.) It was in response to teachers’ concerns of spending many extra hours on the job, said Joan Lee Husted, the executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

    “Our teachers have been complaining that with NCLB and with standards-based education, they have been doing more testing, more paperwork, and more committee meetings than they are preparing for delivering instruction,” she said.

    The preliminary report found that teachers spend 1,780 additional hours a year, or 254 additional seven-hour workdays, on noninstructional duties that include creating lesson plans, grading tests, counseling individual students, and communicating with parents, among many other tasks. If teachers were compensated for the additional work at the average daily rate of pay, the report says, it would cost $63,000 more per teacher per year.

    Meanwhile, the NEA’s Mr. Weaver said a teacher working for 15 hours does not sound, to him, beyond the realm of possibility.

    For most teachers, he said, a 12-hour workday is common.

    “Teachers are always engaged with the children and the community,” Mr. Weaver said. “We spend a lot of time working.”

    Perchance an additional $63,000 per teacher is ah, but a dream.  Nonetheless, in a time when American students are falling behind, we as a nation might consider that investing in education and educators benefits society as a whole.  Schools are not meant to serve as storage spaces for children, while parents go off and play or make money to pay the bills.  Our educational institutions are the foundation for our future.

    A Teachers Work and Wages . . .

  • pdf Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down, By Vaishali Honawar.  Education Week. April 18, 2007
  • Teacher’s day ends long after bell, By Catherine E. Toth. Advertiser Urban Honolulu Sunday, March 4, 2007
  • How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid? By Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters.  The Manhattan Institute
  • The National Compensation Survey (NCS) U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post.  Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • pdf Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post. Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • Insights Into Why U.S. Students Lag Behind in Global Academic ‘Horse Race,’ By Edward B. Fiske. International Herald Tribune. Tuesday, February 11, 1997
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “We will prevail.”

    Virginia Tech Convocation, Professor Nikki Giovanni.

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
    Today, the thirty-three fatalities are memorialized. It will not be the first time we honor the passing of these glorious souls; nor will it be the last. The entire world mourns with the Hokies, their families, friends, and all those touched by the loss of lives. Cyberspace communities have come together. Dedicated boards are offered so that each of us might write a word of remembrance.

    I present an opportunity to connect with those that we love, who sacrificed their human souls so that we might live and learn.

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.

    A week has passed since the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus was ravaged. However, students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alum maintain, they were not destroyed. They are, nevertheless, devastated. Students received much support from people throughout the nation.

    Throughout the week, students who have remained in Blacksburg have found support in a variety of places on campus and in the larger community, as local vendors and schools from across the country have shown their support in many different ways.

    On Tuesday, at the convocation, President Bush, along with Gov. Tim Kaine, Vice President for student affairs Zenobia Hikes, and distinguished professor Nikki Giovanni, spoke to the crowd that filled Cassell Coliseum, and flowed over into Lane Stadium.

    Bush encouraged the community of mourners by stressing “normalcy” in the community. He added, “Such a day will come.”

    The largest response from the crowd came after Giovanni spoke and performed a dramatic reading. Her poem reminded the crowd that tragedy strikes everyone. After ending with “We are Virginia Tech,” the crowd began a series of cheers, shouting, “Let’s go Hokies.”

    The esteemed Professor enthralled and embraced the crowd.  She spoke the words that guide us all. The Virginia Tech community was her audience and perchance the focus for her words; yet, the message might be considered our human mission.

    Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address
    Delivered April 17, 2007
    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.

    We are the Hokies.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We will prevail.

    We are Virginia Tech.

    I too do not understand.  I cannot comprehend why difficulties enter our lives.  I know not why we must breathe our last breathe at the hands of a gunman.  Acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS] confuses me.  The idea of war racks my brain.  The reality of brutal battles stresses my soul.  Illness and injury boggle my mind.  Man’s inhumanity to man is incomprehensible.  Nature wreaks havoc and this causes me to wonder.

    Perhaps, I can only trust that the reasons for such tragedies will reveal them selves upon my passing.  Nonetheless, I do believe those associated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are granted great sustenance from those whose physical presence can be seen no more on Earth.

    I have faith that those gunned down are our finest teachers. Their passing may provide us with a path towards greater understanding.

    While in the human form, we cannot fully comprehend why what occurs does. Death does not make sense. When a person takes his or her last breathe before they have had a chance to truly live; it seems so unfair. If a person has experienced much hardship and has been spared in the face of death, we have hope. When we witness such individuals serve many, we are thankful that they are alive. Yet, when the time comes and their days on G-d’s green grass end, it is challenging to grasp.  We may muse, ‘What is the purpose.’ Why would anyone even wish to terminate the live of another.

    I do not know.  I have no answers. With each passing moment, I am more certain I cannot comprehend our existence here on Earth. There is little that makes sense to me.

    Yet, I am comforted by  my experience, observations, and what others share of their circumstances.

    In my life, much has happened that did not seem just or fair. However, I learned from what I once thought awful.  In my own life, much was not as I wished it would be. Tremendous sorrows befall.

    I too mourn the loss of innocent lives that were too short.  I cry for these vibrant individuals; they did not need to die.  Oh, to be cut down in your prime, no matter what the age, is sad beyond belief.  I do not negate the sorrow that Seung-Hui Cho felt. Oh, how his family must be suffering.

    Any life is of infinite value.  I think, although I may not like the actions of many, I must love their being, for oh, but for the grace of G-d go I.

    Please Peruse the References . . .

  • In their honor. Massacre at Virginia Tech. Cable News Network.
  • Remembering the victims. Roanoke Times.
  • Va. Tech Students Return to Campus, Ny Justin Pope. Associated Press. Time Magazine. April 22, 2007
  • Students receive support from across community, nation. By Collegiate Times Staff. April 23, 2007
  • Transcript of Nikki Giovanni’s Convocation address. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Delivered April 17, 2007
  • rack/wrack Word of the Day.  Random House
  • Graceful, Gallant, Genteel President George W. Bush

    Letterman ‘Top Ten George W. Bush Moments’ Correspondents Dinner

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    They say truth is funnier than fiction.  For me, it always has been.  I do not enjoy slap-stick.  It seems so contrived.  Snide, rude, and crude remarks leave me cold.  I am forever thinking about my Karma.  Hurting another, particularly just for a laugh is not my style.  Teasing, I believe says more about the person taunting than the object of their attention.  Irony is interesting.  Political satire can be sensational, however, if a slight is slanderous I am not amused. 

    Last evening, at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner David Letterman delivered another of his famous Top Ten Lists.  No words were said.  Letterman let the tape roll.  The images speak for themselves.

    I too have nothing to say.  Please sit back in your chair, relax, and enjoy.  If your reaction to this visual recording is as mine was, grab the tissues.  Tears of delight will soon flow. Feel free to share your thoughts after viewing our graceful, gallant, and genteel President, George W. Bush.

    It is a new day and I realize, perhaps, I do have a thought or two to share.

    After receiving comments at My Left Wing, I realized I do have a thought to add.  lawnorder  stated . . .

    Ugh… I feel being taken for a ride.

    I wish to share my response for your reflection. I am expanding the comment.  I think the additional background will better explain my thoughts.

    The long and trying ride

    Dear lawnorder  . . .

    Oh, I have felt that since before William Rehnquist selected George W. Bush President.  Study this chap’s history and it is so obvious.  He was groomed for all that he wrought.  I truly believe his Presidency was planned for years.  Slowly, all was put in place

    George W. Bush: Easy to underestimate
    By The Associated Press 
    June 8, 2000

    His speeches are sure to be sound Republican doctrine, the campaign trimmings just right for whatever the occasion. And yet there is a hint of irreverence to George W. Bush.

    The two-term Texas governor, the multimillionaire businessman, the son who would follow his father’s footsteps to the Oval Office is single-minded in his quest – but never ”too serious,” in the words of wife, Laura.

    If that leads some people to underestimate him, all the better, says Bush.

    Over the past 25 years, he has transformed modest oil-business profits into an eye-popping $15 million payoff on his ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team. And his high-profile baseball niche – along with that famous Bush name – stood him in good stead as he defeated popular Democratic incumbent Ann Richards for the Texas governor’s seat in 1994.

    Now 53 and midway through his second term, Bush offers himself as a governor who has gotten results and the man to restore ”honor and dignity” to the post-Clinton White House.

    Serious talk for the man known as ”life of the party” since his frat-boy days at Yale. And from a man whose critics question whether he has the intelligence to be president.

    ”I’ve got confidence in my capabilities,” Bush retorts. ”I love to be underestimated.”

    After his graduation from Yale came a stint in the Texas Air National Guard. No Vietnam. He recalls it as a ”nomadic period” in which he tried to ”reconcile who I was and who my dad was, to establish my own identity in my own way.” After a series of jobs, Bush went east to claim an MBA from Harvard. Then it was back to Texas, a 29-year-old looking to find his way and his fortune.

    The fumbling and bumbling endears him [the President] to the common man.  For me, the final moment, the top of the ten, when George for the first time in this clip did not have a childish look on face, but was stern, he spit . . . on American soil.  That was the real George revealed.

    Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush
    By Ron Suskind
    New York Times.
    Published: October 17, 2004

    Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ”if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.” The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it?  Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

    ”Just in the past few months,” Bartlett said, ”I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.” Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush’s governance, went on to say: ”This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. . . .

    ”This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,” Bartlett went on to say. ”He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.” Bartlett paused, then said, ”But you can’t run the world on faith.”

    George W. Bush is a man of faith, blind faith.  He expects the same from his constituent and Cabinet.

    [In] the first presidential debate, many Americans heard the discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first time, the issue of Bush’s certainty — the issue being, as Kerry put it, that ”you can be certain and be wrong.”

    What underlies Bush’s certainty? And can it be assessed in the temporal realm of informed consent?

    All of this — the ”gut” and ”instincts,” the certainty and religiosity -connects to a single word, ”faith,” and faith asserts its hold ever more on debates in this country and abroad. That a deep Christian faith illuminated the personal journey of George W. Bush is common knowledge.

    But faith has also shaped his presidency in profound, nonreligious ways. The president has demanded unquestioning faith from his followers, his staff, his senior aides, and his kindred in the Republican Party. Once he makes a decision — often swiftly, based on a creed or moral position — he expects complete faith in its rightness.

    The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions.  Since 9/11, those requests have grown scarce; Bush’s intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased, and few dare to question him now. A writ of infallibility — a premise beneath the powerful Bushian certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains — is not just for public consumption: it has guided the inner life of the White House. 

    As Whitman told me on the day in May 2003 that she announced her resignation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: ”In meetings, I’d ask if there were any facts to support our case. And for that, I was accused of disloyalty!”  (Whitman, whose faith in Bush has since been renewed, denies making these remarks and is now a leader of the president’s re-election effort in New Jersey.)


    For me, the film is funny in that it is so sad.  This presentation is not a funny [ha-ha].  It is droll, for this is our nation’s leader.  It makes sense.  We, as a country are academically far beyond other nations.

    Results of the General Knowledge Assessments
    When we look at the results, we see that the U.S. was among the lowest performing countries on both the mathematics and science general knowledge assessments. U.S. performance was below the international average in both mathematics and science. In mathematics we were outperformed by 14 out of 20 countries, were similar to four countries, and outperformed two countries. In science we were outperformed by 11 countries, were similar to seven, and outperformed the same two countries. This relatively low U.S. performance is not a change from patterns of previous international assessments at this grade level.

      It seems reasonable a buffoon [someone that amuses others by clowning] would be our Commander-In-Chief.

    Please assess this presentation for yourself.  I have no desire to be “right” or correct.  I only wish to share how what passes for satire is often so sad; it bring me to tears.  Perhaps my pleasure in viewing this video relates to the proverb . . .

    For those who think, life is a comedy.
    For those who feel, life is a tragedy.

      ~ Horace Walpole [Father of Gothic Novels, Member of Parliament]

  • Gore v. Bush. Supreme court of the United States of America.  December 12, 2000
  • George W. Bush: Easy to underestimate. By The Associated Press.  USA Today. June 8, 2000
  • Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush, By Ron Suskind.  The New York Times. October 17, 2000
  • The Release of U.S. Report on Grade 12 Results From the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)?February 24, 1998
  • Seung-Hui Cho. I Mourn Your Life and Loss

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    My heart aches.  Of course I mourn the passing of the thirty-two Virginia Polytechnic University students, as do we all throughout the globe.  Nevertheless, I cannot forget how my heart hurts for the thirty-third victim, the one the media never seems to count among those killed, Seung-Hui Cho.  On April 16, 2007 thirty-three lovable and fragile individuals passed.

    Seung-Hui Cho, as he called himself, was a young man locked in Hades for decades.  His death began long before the day of infamy.  He longed for comfort and company.  All he received was chiding.  Even in death, Seung-Hui Cho is scorned.  I am forlorn.

    From the first, there were labels.  Many said he was “Chinese”; they would then add their political concerns for China.  Then he was, and today he is still frequently referred to as a Korean National.  Calls for restraints on immigration are common.  Of course, in the minds of many American’s anyone that is not white is not right, and definitely, if they are not born in this country, they are aliens. 

    Among some, there is ample discussion for the name of this now notable student, the “shooter.”  Many believe his ethnicity is more important than the person.

    The Asian version of the name – Cho Seung-Hui – appeared to be more widespread, in part because of its use in the ubiquitous wire stories from Reuters and the AP. As a result, some Korean-Americans felt media groups were playing up Cho’s foreign-ness, according to the Asian American Journalists Association, which advised reporters to use the American order.

    Thankfully, and I do note the use of the name is Americanized, as family members and Cho himself seem to prefer, National Public Radio retorted as I had when speaking to friends and family.  This young and deeply disturbed man was, is an American.

    How American was Seung-Hui Cho? Despite being a South Korean national living in America, his upbringing, and his problems, were distinctly American.

    The system or lack of social services in the United states let this man slide through many a crack.

    Seung-Hui Cho and his parents were hoping to find streets paved in gold in America.  Unfortunately, they discovered what many of us do, life is good if you are among the fertile few.  Actually, life, even for the affluent can be a struggle.  Life is life.  People yell; they scream, they damn, and they slam.  Consider the woes of an eleven year old.  The daughter of Alec Baldwin may have been born into money; nevertheless, she receives the wrath of a supposedly loving father.  She is verbally slammed and damned.

    Imagine how loved this little girl must feel after being told she is a “thoughtless little pig,”  Her Dad, actor Baldwin, threatens to set here straight during their meeting the following day.  Were I she I would want to run for my life.  Seung-Hui Cho, the wounded must have often felt a need to escape.  Perhaps, his sullen manner was his means for flight.  Seung-Hui Cho said in an 1,800-word rambling . . .

    ‘I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But no, I will no longer run.’

    Cho lived in shadows, deep and dark.  He attended classes at a prestigious University.  He was a scholar, a writer.  Yet, he was shunned.  His dialect was odd, mumbled, and his words were difficult to discern.  This academic was nearing graduation, a scary proposition all in itself.  He did not feel excepted in the world.  From what we know of his history, he never had.

    Some say he was paranoid, obsessively anxious, or unreasonably suspicious.  Perhaps he was.  Many of us feel family and friends expect much of us and from us.  Often we compare ourselves to others and we believe we fall short.  Acceptance into an esteemed University is glorious.  Maintaining good grades is meaningful.  Yet, any of us may wonder, is that good enough.  Perchance when our sibling excels, we are far more aware of our failings.

    Though Monday’s shootings at Virginia Tech had already cast a shadow over campus, the news yesterday morning that the gunman’s older sister is a recent Princeton alumna brought the tragedy even closer to home.

    Sun-Kyung Cho ’04 was an economics major who interned at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok during the summer before her senior year and wrote briefly for The Daily Princetonian. She now works as a “State Department contractor,” The Washington Post reported yesterday, and was listed on Princeton’s alumni directory as living in Centreville, Va., with her parents.

    The parents of these fine children are so devastated, they are residing in a community hospital.  They feel deeply pained by their son’s circumstance.  The mother and father meant no harm; they as all parents hoped to provide the best for their children.  In an interview with Seung-Hui Cho’s grandfather, the elder stated

    “Seung-hui troubled his parents when he was young because he wouldn’t talk, but he was well-behaved,” said the man, who asked to be called Mr Kim, in interviews with two Korean newspapers.

    “I don’t know how I can compensate for the responsibility for raising my kids improperly. I don’t know how he could do this when his parents went to a country far away and worked hard.”

    They are troubled and think themselves responsible.  Perhaps, America has let the Cho family down.  They expected so much, all Americans do.  However, little is received. The rewards are few.

    In an editorial, the Hankyoreh newspaper wrote today that Cho’s case illustrated a problem faced by many South Korean immigrants in the US, where parents are too busy at work to take care of their children. 

    “It is the reality of our immigrants that parents are so busy making a living that it’s not easy for them to have dialogue with young children,” the newspaper wrote. 

    “We should think about whether our society or our (Korean) community abroad has been negligent in preventing conditions that could lead to such an aberration,” it said.

    Many in the Korean community think the problem lies in the life of an émigré; however, even native born Americans struggle to make a decent wage or create a comfortable caring environment for their children.

    Most neighbours could barely recall talking to the couple. “They’re very quiet, very nice people. They worked very hard for him. It’s very sad,” their next-door neighbour, Abdul Shash, told the Associated Press.

    “They valued education, just like any other parents in this country, and they worked sometimes 12, 13 hours a day to send a daughter to Princeton and to send their son to Virginia Tech,” said Jeff Ahn, president of the League of Korean Americans in Virginia.

    Most of us think our lack of personal success is our fault.  When our offspring struggle or hurt another, we are pained.  A  Grandfather feels responsible for his own progeny and the product of their love.  Mister Kim the eldest representative of a kind and caring family reflects,

    “How could he have done such a thing if he had any sympathy for his parents, who went all the way to another country because they couldn’t make ends meet and endured hardships,” Cho’s maternal grandfather, identified only by his last name Kim, was quoted as saying.

    As a child Seung-Hui Cho was ridiculed and bullyed.  As an adult he hid; he hoped to avoid the taunts and teasing.

    Former classmates recalled Cho being taunted over his speech difficulties.

    He almost never opened his mouth and would ignore attempts to strike up a conversation, said Chris Davids, a Virginia Tech senior who graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., with Cho in 2003.

    When Cho read out loud in class, other students laughed at his strange, deep voice that sounded “like he had something in his mouth,” Davids said.

    In a video Cho mailed to NBC in the middle of his rampage at Virginia Tech, the 23-year-old portrayed himself as persecuted and rants about rich kids.

    One professor saw his angst.  She read the words of a tormented soul.  She was frightened.  Initially, she embraced the long-suffering spirit of this neglected man.

    Lucinda Roy, a co-director of the creative writing program at Virginia Tech, taught Cho in a poetry class in fall of 2005 and later worked with him one-on-one after she became concerned about his behavior and themes in his writings.

    The professor pondered.  She realized Seung-Hui Cho was without friends.  He did not know how to relate; perhaps, he had never had the chance.

    Roy told ABC News that Cho seemed “extraordinarily lonely-the loneliest person I have ever met in my life.” She said he wore sunglasses indoors, with a cap pulled low over his eyes.

    In his writings he was lashing out as all wounded animals do.  His actions amplified the distance he felt and thus, created.

    He whispered, took 20 seconds to answer questions, and took cellphone pictures of her in class. Roy said she was concerned for her safety when she met with him.

    Professor Roy became fearful.  Sadly, we all are when we do not understand.  Often, when any of us think we are threatened, instead of continuing to assist, we withdraw from what causes us great apprehension.  We avoid knowing what we recognize and prepare to protect ourselves further.  Thus, we as a society discuss increasing security in our schools rather than raising the standards and funding for mental health.

    Such is the situation, the shortsightedness.  It is all so sad to me.  We separate ourselves from each other.  We create stress.  Then instead of coming together we try harder to take control.  Emotions cannot be regulated; in truth, we cannot mandate behaviors.  If we are to be truly safe, we must ensure that every individual feels cared for to his or her core.  I believe we must interact, not react.

    I beseech us all; I ask Americans, émigrés, and individuals in every corner of the globe, do not hold your children tighter, lock them up in buildings where there is little genuine affection.  Love them; they need to feel safe and secure and only your authentic fondness can fill their hearts and provide stability.  Pay attention to the progeny.  They are our future. 

    Do not apply pressure as a tourniquet might.  Suffocating a wound appears to stop the flow.  However, scars form from within.  What is not released, calmly and with care, in the moment builds up.  Feelings must be felt, expressed, and received gently with concern. 

    Please let your loved ones be and breathe.  Provide them with the freedom to speak and to feel.  Be with those that are special to you. Listen to their concerns.  Allow them to lean on your shoulder when they wish to.  Tenderly teach autonomy.  Do not dismiss the essence of interdependence as well.  May we honor our children wholly in our homes and schools.

    Please let us not place imprison our pupils, our progeny.  Provide for them in meaningful ways.  Trust them to grow and nurture them on their unique path.

    Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner; put yourself in his place so that you may understand
    . . . what he learns and the way he understands it.?

    ~ Soren Kierkegaard

    Everything depends upon the quality of experience . . . just as no man lives or dies to himself, so no experience lives and dies to itself. 
    Any experience is mis-educative that has the effect of arresting or distorting the growth of further experience. 
    The central problem of an education based upon experience is to select the kind of present experience that live fruitfully and creatively in subsequent experiences.

    ~ John Dewey [American Philosopher, Psychologist, Educational Reformer]

    The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.
    ~ R. M. Hutchins [American Educator, Author, The University of Utopia and The Learning Society]

    The sorrow is deep and the family feels more than any of us might imagine.  I share the Cho family statement.  I think that we each can feel their pain in these words.

    Text of Cho family statement
    By The Associated Press
    Statement issued to The Associated Press by Sun-Kyung Cho, sister of Seung-Hui Cho:

    On behalf of our family, we are so deeply sorry for the devastation my brother has caused. No words can express our sadness that 32 innocent people lost their lives this week in such a terrible, senseless tragedy.

    We are heartbroken.

    We grieve alongside the families, the Virginia Tech community, our State of Virginia, and the rest of the nation. And, the world.

    Every day since April 16, my father, mother and I pray for students Ross Abdallah Alameddine, Brian Roy Bluhm, Ryan Christopher Clark, Austin Michelle Cloyd, Matthew Gregory Gwaltney, Caitlin Millar Hammaren, Jeremy Michael Herbstritt, Rachael Elizabeth Hill, Emily Jane Hilscher, Jarrett Lee Lane, Matthew Joseph La Porte, Henry J. Lee, Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, Lauren Ashley McCain, Daniel Patrick O’Neil, J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Minal Hiralal Panchal, Daniel Alejandro Perez, Erin Nicole Peterson, Michael Steven Pohle Jr., Julia Kathleen Pryde, Mary Karen Read, Reema Joseph Samaha, Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, Leslie Geraldine Sherman, Maxine Shelly Turner, Nicole White, Instructor Christopher James Bishop, and Professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Kevin P. Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan.

    We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced.

    Each of these people had so much love, talent, and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act.

    We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless, and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn’t know this person.

    We have always been a close, peaceful, and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence.

    He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare.

    There is much justified anger and disbelief at what my brother did, and a lot of questions are left unanswered. Our family will continue to cooperate fully and do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well.

    Our family is so very sorry for my brother’s unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us.

    Source: North Carolina attorney Wade Smith, who provided the statement on behalf of the Cho family

    Seung-Hui Cho My Sadness for Yours . . .

  • In Virginia, a Day of Mourning Associated Press. The New York times. April 20, 2007
  • pdf In Virginia, a Day of Mourning Associated Press. The New York times. April 20, 2007
  • Cho Seung-Hui or Seung-Hui Cho? By Michelle Tsai.  Slate. Thursday, April 19, 2007
  • Weighing Cho’s Heritage and Identity, By Robert Siegal.  All Things Considered. April 18, 2007
  • Alec Baldwin’s Threatening Message to Daughter. By TMZ. April 19th 2007
  • Tragedy at Virginia Tech, Gunman kills 32 in dorm and classrooms before taking own life. By Jonathan Zebrowski.  Princetonian. April 17, 2007
  • Virginia Shooter Spoke Little As Child, By Bo-Mi Lim, Associated Press.  SFGate. Thursday, April 19, 2007
  • Text of Cho Family Statement.  Seattlepi.April 20, 2007
  • War of Words. Bloggers, Broadcasters, Rappers Code of Ethics

    Oprah on Imus (Public forum with Russell and others) 2

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert
    In this tome, I am not advocating autocratic censorship.  I ask each of us to look within and consciously choose an empathetic ethical code.

    “There is a problem.”  However, Americans do not agree what the problem is.  Sexism, racism, homophobia, violence, or the words we use to promote such social ills.  For weeks, language has been in the news, on the blogs, in the airwaves, and in music-industry executives meeting rooms.  Free speech is the topic in question, as is the power of words.  As children, we learned that “Sticks and stones may break our bones; but names will never hurt me.”  In fact, the opposite is true.  Words and the inferences can cause greater, and more last injuries than twigs or rocks might.  The body heals far better than the heart does.

    After receiving numerous death threats, blogger Kathy Sierra called on the blogosphere to confront the culture of cruelty in cyberspace.  This active author and public speaker, fears for her life.  Missus Sierra recently canceled public speaking engagements and suspended her site.  On her weblog, Kathy Sierra writes . . .

    If you want to do something about it, do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence).  Do not put these people on a pedestal.  Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary,” “protected speech,” or simply “criticism.” 

    For weeks, Missus Sierra has been immobilized.  After becoming the focus of ample threats, inclusive of a post that featured a picture of her next to a noose, she stated . . .

    “I have cancelled all speaking engagements.  I am afraid to leave my yard, I will never feel the same.  I will never be the same.” 

    The police are investigating the harassment and the blogosphere is blazing.  Discussions of how women are treated online are fueling a fire.  While, on her own site, Creating Passionate Users, Kathy Sierra receives much support, there are those that think her call for civility and courtesy is ridiculous.

    In Death threats and blogging, by the famous Kos condemnation of a proposed code was evident.

    [T]he rantings of a lunatic. For my part, I’ve gotten my fair share of such vile emails.  Some of them have threatened my children.  One or two actually crossed the line into “death threat” territory.  But so what?  It’s not as if those cowards will actually act on their threats.  For better or for worse, this isn’t a country in which media figures — even hugely controversial ones — are routinely attacked by anything more dangerous than a cream pie.

    Email makes it easy for stupid people to send stupid emails to public figures.  If they can’t handle a little heat in their email inbox, then really, they should try another line of work.  Because no “blogger code of conduct” will scare away psycho losers with access to email.

    This dictum on Daily Kos was posted on April 12, days before an angry aggressor, Cho Seung-Hui avenged those he loathed at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  The shooter’s rants were his truth.  His threats proved to be powerful.  Cho Seung-Hui may not have sent his last package in a timely manner.  Nevertheless, he did warn and alarm many years before he carried out this horrific and planned deed.

    Words can be wicked.  They are often used as weapons.  Expressions wound a heart and soul; they hurt.  Yet, we excuse these repeatedly.  Mel Gibson declared, “I am not anti Semitic” after a tirade that was terribly intolerant.  This was not the Directors first show of fury against Jews.  Nevertheless, it was excused.  It did promote momentary concerns.

    Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Gibson’s apology “unremorseful and insufficient.”  Prominent Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel called for an industry boycott of Gibson in a blog posted Monday.

    “At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements,” he wrote.  “People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.

    “There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money.” 

    Nonetheless, money ruled.  His next movie “Apocalypto,” distributed by The Walt Disney Company received rave reviews, even from periodicals that some consider Progressive.  The almighty buck may not reduce bigotry.  Actually, it may help to create it.

    In recent years, [Mel Gibson] has turned his attention to producing films and TV shows through his Icon Productions.  The hundreds of millions of dollars he made producing the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” has given the star the ability to finance his own films, giving him a measure of independence from the major studios.

    Some “artists” using racial slurs make millions.  They defend their right to do so.  Many or most apologize.  However, there is skepticism.  Why are they contrite.  Can a heart change in a moment or is cash their concern. 

    When Michael Richards railed against Blacks in his audience, he was quite impassioned.  His “hate speak” seemed infinitely sincere.  Smears spewed; slights slammed, all said with sincerity.  These affronts fell trippingly off his tongue.  The comedian apologized while explaining, “I am not a racist.”  The response was “Really?”  It is difficult to know whether Michael Richards has or will recover from such a blunder or the unbelievable statement, “I’m not a racist, that’s what’s so insane about this.”

    Will Don Imus be deeply effected by his debacle?  The debate continues.  Again, cash was cut off, at least temporarily.  Imus was apologetic and ashamed, perchance more so after advertisers raised the volume on this discussion.  Ultimately Don Imus lost his battle.  The major television and radio networks that carried the Don Imus Show felt they could no longer support him.  The load was too great; the rewards realized too little.  Don Imus had become a distraction.

    Executives at CBS and MSNBC saw where the numbers were heading.  They may well have been genuinely disgusted by Imus’ reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos,” but their decision to dump him had little to do with moral outrage.  They simply did the math.  They’ll miss the millions they would have earned from Imus’ show, but they stood to lose even more if they let him stay on the air, and so he was toast.

    Free speech, meet free enterprise.

    However, unlike Don Imus who justifies his antics as comedy, and whose money is or was tied to corporate sponsors, there are the rappers.  They too are coming under attack.

    For political prominents, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bruce Gordon enough is enough.  These gentlemen want the smears to end.  These Black leaders think even Black on Black rubs need to be eliminated from our common language.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Racism, bigotry, and misogyny cannot be defined differently depending on who exhibits such behavior.  Reverend Al Sharpton is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to punish artists and announcers alike for advocating violence in word and deed. 

    In 2005, this issue was fresh and addressed.  Then, a  member of rap group, The Game was wounded during a shooting outside a New York hip-hop radio station.  The cause was clear; another hip-hopper, 50 Cent was on the air criticizing The Game.  Tempers flared.  The effect of word weaponry was realized.  The rest is rap or American history.  After this volatile event, civil rights leader Al Sharpton . . .

    The founder of the National Action Network emphasized in the letter: “We cannot sit silently by while young Americans feel that shootings and bloodshed is now synonymous with success and celebrity.  We understand you’re in the business of making money, but it cannot be at the expense of polluting the cultural outlook of young Americans.”

    However, two years later, rappers again speak to their creativity, just cause, and the need to communicate their concerns.

    Rappers reason they are poets; they please the people.  Although admittedly, not all the people.  The recent allegations of racial and misogynistic rhetoric against Don Imus amplified a too often delayed or dissuaded discussion.  Is it proper to demean women or people of other ethnicities.  Might a poet use his or her artistic licenses?  Is it just when an performer uses racial slurs, or vile vernacular against one of their own?  Today, USA Today reported . . .

    Imus fallout: Music execs discuss rap lyrics

    NEW YORK (AP) – In the wake of Don Imus’ firing for his on-air slur about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, a high-powered group of music-industry executives met privately Wednesday to discuss sexist and misogynistic rap lyrics.

    During the furor that led to Imus’ fall last week from his talk-radio perch, many of his critics carped as well about offensive language in rap music.

    The meeting, called by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, was held at the New York home of Lyor Cohen, chairman, and chief executive of U.S. music at Warner Music Group.  The summit, which lasted several hours, did not result in any specific initiative.

    Organizers billed the gathering as a forum to “discuss issues challenging the industry in the wake of controversy surrounding hip-hop and the First Amendment.”  Afterward, they planned to hold a news conference at a Manhattan hotel to discuss “initiatives agreed upon at the meeting.”  But by early afternoon, the news conference was postponed, because the meeting was still going on.

    After the meeting ended, it was unclear whether there would be another one.  Simmons’ publicist released a short statement that described the topic as a “complex issue that involves gender, race, culture and artistic expression.  Everyone assembled today takes this issue very seriously.”

    Although no recommendations emerged, the gathering was significant for its who’s-who list of powerful music executives.

    Again, we stand still.  Money moves mountains; yet, capital does not necessarily change minds.  We think, and act on our beliefs.  When people profess their deepest, darkest chauvinistic values, spirits are often broken.  Lives can be lost.

    Rappers know this as do bloggers.  Suffering students are realizing that words, written or spoken cannot be ignored.  The common folk and tycoons agree; yet, they disagree.  This is evident when we listen to recent Oprah Winfrey town-hall meeting.  Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of Hip-Hop Summit Action Network stated his beliefs . . .

    “We’re talking about a lot of these artists who come from the most extreme cases of poverty and ignorance … And when they write a song, and they write it from their heart, and they’re not educated, and they don’t believe there’s opportunity, they have a right, they have a right to say what’s on their mind,” he said.

    “Whether it’s our sexism, our racism, our homophobia or our violence, the hip-hop community sometimes can be a good mirror of our dirt and sometimes the dirt that we try to cover up,” Simmons said.  “Pointing at the conditions that create these words from the rappers … should be our No. 1 concern.”

    I wonder; might our number one concern be the hearts and minds of all humans, men, women, Black, White, Yellow, Brown, Red, and Jew, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians too.  Whether we are born in poverty or into wealth, we are human.  We hurt; we bleed.  We can love; however, as long as our language degrades another, love will not survive.  Perhaps, neither will we.  I am reminded of the phrase, “race riots,” or “the war against women.”  I fear the folly of expressing emotions in a manner that kills heart, mind, body, or soul.  I prefer the words, “May peace be with you my brother and my sister.”

    For me, a code of ethics need not be written or etched in stone; it must be lived because we believe in love, peace, and tranquility. 

    The Rap and Resources . . .

  • Blog death threats spark debate.  BBC News. March 27, 2007
  • Death threats and blogging, By Kos.  Daily Kos. April 12, 2007
  • Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks cited in official police report, By Jeremiah Marquez.  Associated Press.  SFGate.  July 31, 2006
  • Daily Kos
  • Imus fallout: Music execs discuss rap lyrics  USA Today. April 18, 2007
  • Officials Knew Troubled State of Killer in ’05, By Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora.  The New York Times. April 18, 2007
  • pdf Officials Knew Troubled State of Killer in ’05, By Shaila Dewan and Marc Santora.  The New York Times. April 18, 2007
  • Apocalypto, By Peter Travers.  Rolling Stone.  November 21, 2006
  • Jews, Mel Gibson, War. Rehabilitating Hatred, By Betsy L. Angert.
  • Sharpton Asks FCC to Regulate Rap By Tracy L. Scott.  Free Press. March 25, 2007
  • Rev. Al Sharpton asks FCC to punish violent rappers.  Jet. April 11, 2005
  • Oprah on Imus (Public forum with Russell and others) 2  YouTube.
  • ‘Kramer’ Apologizes, Says He’s Not Racist. CBS News. November 21, 2006
  • 32 killed in gun rampage at Virginia university, By John M. Broder. International Herald Tribune. April 16, 2007
  • Imus vs. free enterprise, By Kevin Nance.  Chicago Sun-Times.  April 17, 2007
  • pdf Imus vs. free enterprise, By Kevin Nance.  Chicago Sun-Times.  April 17, 2007
  • Sharpton complains to FCC about rap music.  USA Today. March 25, 2005
  • National Action Network (NAN).
  • Open Thread. Wednesday, April 18. Albert Einstein

    “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

    Albert Einstein
    Died on April 18, 1955

    “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

    “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
    ~ Albert Einstein

    On this a day celebrating deep thought, please share yours.