Supreme Court Rules; Brown Versus Board of Education Reversed

Affirmative Action: Separate But Equal

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

It is official Brown versus Board of Education has been reversed.  Providing equal education opportunities to all children, regardless of race, color, or creed is no longer a priority.  The 1954 Court decision that invalidated the principle of ‘separate but equal’ was overturned on June 28, 2007.  This day will live in infamy.  In another of the many recent 5 to 4 split decisions, the neoconservative Supreme Court canceled the promise made to students of color.

School integration, which was once considered essential, as of today, is no longer practicable.  Perhaps, more accurately, the work needed to improve the quality of education for those living in impoverished areas was not pleasurable.  Now, efforts to unify schools need not continue.  Endeavors to integrate are illegal.

Today’s Supreme Court ruling, Parents Involved In Community Schools v. Seattle School District Number 1 et al. has basically nullified the construct of racial equality in the schools.  According to the majority, Affirmative Action is no longer thought just.  The conservative Justices deemed this principle an illogical inconvenience.  The Judges in the majority stated students in white enclaves or Black must travel too far to ensure equal access to quality schools.  Justice Roberts declared.

The districts ”failed to show that they considered methods other than explicit racial classifications to achieve their stated goals.”

Perhaps, the school system did not demonstrate a means for combating what is the convention. Schools do not have the power to force people to integrate their local neighborhoods.

Educational institutions are not able dictate who lives in what community.  After receiving this ruling, Districts must relent, cease, and desist.  School Districts will not have the option to open enrollment to those that do not reside in their region.

Oh, if they could; schools might possibly be given an opportunity to truly teach tolerance.  However, for now, that prospect is but a dream, one Martin Luther King hoped we would realize.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

Sadly, the fantasy faded on this morning in June 2007.  The nightmare is vivid.  Facilitating awareness for diversity is a slow process, made more challenging when elders impose their preconceived notions on innocent children.  If we do not endure, then the forces of “evil,” malevolence will.

As of June 28, 2007, this newly formed bias will be built into the laws governing school enrollment.  The likelihood is bigotry will  flourish.  Culture clashes are now legal and encouraged by the dominant neoconservative  Supreme Court.

Thankfully, there was vocal dissent. Justice Stephen Breyer, ardently voiced his concern; however muted in its effect on the final decision.  In his fervent appeal Breyer offered.

Roberts’ opinion undermined the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

”To invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise of Brown.’

Justices Breyer went on to express his fury over the fallacy that is now prominent in the Court records.  In commenting on the opinion expressed by the Chief Justice Roberts, that the white students who didn’t get the school of their choice in Louisville and Seattle were equivalent to the black students in Brown versus Board of Education who were denied access to integrated schools in Topeka, Kansas, Justice Stephen Breyer forcefully spoke with some restraint stating . . .

“You have got to be kidding me, that the efforts in good faith of these schools in Louisville and Seattle to integrate their schools, to make sure that there’s diversity, how dare you compare that to the discrimination of Jim Crow?”

Nonetheless, it happened.  The words were uttered and the wheels of derision were set more deeply into the structure of society.

Division may have been the original intent of this Court.  The rulings delivered in this past week would indicate that the Supreme Court is definitively split.  The Conservative Jurists have no intention of seeking unity.  However, whether that is the actual goal long-term is unclear, as much is in this Court.  Chief Justice Roberts declared.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” he wrote

Apparently, we are to believe that in our attempt to reverse centuries of racial prejudice, which in my mind equates to fear of the unknown, stranger anxiety, or xenophobia, segregation must stand.  Humans will validate their reasons for racial discrimination characterizing these as the “natural.”  The unequal “process of selection” is firmly planted in the minds of many and as of this day mandated by the courts.

It is quite ironic to this author; as we philosophically battle against the idea of ethnic cleansing elsewhere, we here in America are proud to adopt policies that promote it.  We honor division in our local communities, and presently, with the Courts blessing.

Perhaps, that has always been the truer agenda.  In placing the newest neoconservative members to the Court, we have awarded lifetime positions of extreme power, to those that practice the policy of “Divide and Conquer.”  It seems some of the standing Justices already accepted the notion of separation as truth. Notably, Justice Clarence Thomas.  This Jurist stated his belief; separation is inevitable.

“Simply putting students together under the same roof does not necessarily mean that the students will learn together or even interact. Furthermore, it is unclear whether increased interracial contact improves racial attitudes and relations.”

Perchance, the evidence is ambiguous because Affirmative Action rules, those that advance unity have not been fully embraced or enacted.  Thus, we have this Court case and the oft-repeated belief of Justice Thomas Affirmative Action does nothing to help the disenfranchised.?  Judge Thomas has faith that is was the goodness of one insightful, intelligent, and intuitive individual that altered his life, Father Brooks.  In a March 12, 2007 interview Justice Thomas recounted his tale of trials and tribulations.

Why is Father Brooks such an important person in your life?

That was an era of in loco parentis. It was a transition period unlike today when you have these notions of race entrenched. It was a time, actually, when there was no set road map for kids. Father Brooks understood something intuitively, that we were just kids. He knew we were from a lot of different environments.

Father Brooks made a point of trying to recruit a lot more African Americans to campus in the months before you came. Do you think that recruitment drive helped you?

Oh no. I was going to go home to Savannah when a nun suggested Holy Cross. That’s how I wound up there. Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited. That’s a lie. Really, it’s a lie. I don’t mean a mistake. It’s a lie.

I had always been an honors student. I was the only black kid in my high school in Savannah and one of two or three blacks in my class during my first year of college in the seminary. I just transferred. I had always had really high grades so that was never a problem. It was the only school I applied to. It was totally fortuitous. The thing that has astounded me over the years is that there has been such an effort to roll that class into people’s notion of affirmative action. It was never really looked at. It was just painted over. Things were much more nuanced than that?.You hear this junk. It’s just not consistent with what really happened.

What did Father Brooks do?

Father Brooks realized that we needed to be nurtured not that we needed it every day but that we were going to have unique problems. When you have six blacks in a class of 550 kids, you need that. We all came from very different backgrounds. That’s something that gets lost in this weird notion of race that somehow you can come from New York and Savannah and Massachusetts and somehow you’re still all the same. That’s bizarre, and it denigrates individuals.

Father Brooks understood that. He saw people who were individuals who happened to be black who had very different outlooks.

Might we ask what will become of those that do not have a Father Brooks.  Will they feel as young Clarence Thomas did before he was given the gift that Affirmative Action provides to those without a mentor, as the youthful scholar felt when he first arrived at Holy Cross college?

I was a kid. I was confused. I was 20 years old. I had no place to go. I had no precedent for anybody going to college. I had no precedent for anybody being in New England. I had no road map. I didn’t know anybody to call. I had nobody to talk to. I had nobody to give me advice. Now, what do you do? You were just a kid, trying to make all these choices.

Were you angry?

Sure. I was upset. I was upset with a lot of things. You get there and you sort it out. Look at that neighborhood there [Thomas points to a photo of a desolate strip in Georgia]. How do you go from that to Holy Cross? How do you do it? That’s why some of us were really concerned about throwing some of these kids into those environments without thinking because you have a theory. That’s the neighborhood I lived in before I went to live with my grandparents. Doesn’t look very good, does it?

There were a lot of changes to absorb. Just to think about it was fatiguing. It’s still really fatiguing. It’s also fatiguing that people assume we all showed up the same. A friend of mine sent me that print there. [A sketch of an African American man, draped over a desk with his hands extended toward the floor.] He has since passed away. He thought it captured my life.

Does it?

Oh yeah. That’s why I keep it there. Look at the hand. Look at the exhaustion.

What sort of exhaustion?

Everything. Mental. Physical. Spiritual. Just constant change. You just want to slow down. You see people take a walk and you want to, too.

Mental, physical, spiritual exhaustion, exasperation, this is the legacy that we as a nation are leaving our children of lesser means.  A person can only live without hope for so long.  As the rich become richer and the impoverished plunge further into forced ignorance we can expect that this emotional fatigue will be felt by all of us.

Perhaps, we, as a country, by promoting principles that further division will experience what comes when the classes are truly separate and far from equal.  Once again, we may witness what comes when people are [class] war weary.  Possibly, rebellion will be the result.  I trust in time revulsion will turn into rage, and why not.  Deep division breeds revolution.

In just a few short years the craftsman President George W. Bush has created such strife abroad.  Civil War in Iraq is invasive.  With his recent appointments to the Supreme Court Mister Bush has secured the eventual possibility here at home.  If not Civil War, certainly civil unrest may become our shared truth.  Inequitable change often causes conflict.

This President, master of the message George W. Bush has definitely advanced imbalance.  Most of us accept that President Bush has altered world politics with precision.  He has done so with expediency.  It seems this world leader has not ignored the domestic front.  His appointments have altered the face of the Supreme Court.  The newer members serve to accelerate the schism.  Justice Stephen Breyer may have said it best.

“Never in the history of the court have so few done so much so quickly.”

Indeed we as a nation are deeply divided.  We have reason to expect that soon Civil War, will be here.  It is the natural outgrowth of a society divided.  I can only ask that we remember the words of many and take these to heart.

United we stand; divided we fall.

~ Benjamin Franklin, John Dickinson,  Abraham Lincoln

Sources for the Misnomer, Segregation is superior? . . .

Impeach. Support Increases for Censure of Cheney and Bush


Dennis Kucinich Move To Impeach V.P. Cheney Gains Support.

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The quiet little man from Ohio is making gains.  His mission is not yet accomplished; nor is his objective vengeful.  Honesty and integrity are his vision.  Congressman Dennis Kucinich does not think the President of the United States governs the people, or presides over the public as a ruler might.  Presidential Candidate Kucinich believes in a higher moral standard.  He has faith the person that holds the office of President has the power to bring peace to this planet.  The former Mayor also holds that the Vice President must act with honor.  He asserts neither in our current Administration does.  The Congressman claims as do others that are joining him in expressing their concerns, we must work to impeach this George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

John Conyers proposed impeachment of the President many months ago.  While the Congressman had support for the measure, House Resolution 635, [636 and 637] that movement languished under the weight of the idea we must wait, or not pursue that path for reasons that trouble the calm and peace seeking Congressman Kucinich. 

Dennis Kucinich observes that the current White House focuses on defense, destruction, and a deliverance from “evil.”  This concentration does not benefit or befit a President and his or her Cabinet.  Yet, the Bush – Cheney clan contends they must lie, cheat, and steal to secure our shores.  The Congressman thinks not and has said so for quite some time.

After months of appeals to an apathetic public, an extremely cautious Congress, or people that just feel powerless, there is a little bit of movement.  Today, in my own life two persons expressed a belief that the ?electability? factor they clung to may not serve us [citizens of the United States and the globe] well.

Earlier eight of those in Congress that once stated President Bush and his pals had not committed “high crimes and misdemeanors,” or at least they had not done so in a manner that might make a case for censure are now re-thinking their stance.  In April of this year, after delaying too long in the minds of many people, Dennis Kucinich called for impeachment.  This plan would not only introduce articles of impeachment against the President, this directive would address the transgressions of the man second-in command, Vice President Dick Cheney.

Kucinich introduced three articles of impeachment against Cheney: The first accusing the vice president of deceiving the country by “fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify” an invasion of Iraq; the second accusing him of “purposefully” manipulating intelligence to Congress and the American public about a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda “despite all evidence to the contrary;” and the third for “threaten[ing] aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States.”

In a synopsis, Kucinich wrote, “In all of this, Vice President Richard B. Cheney has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as Vice President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and the manifest injury of the people of the United States.  Wherefore Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.”

The progress is slow.  For Progressives it usually is.  However, we are patient people, at times too serene for our own good.

BREAKING: Five US Reps Support Cheney Impeachment
By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, Atlanta Progressive News
June 06, 2007

(APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) has become the fifth total co-sponsor of US Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) bill to impeach Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. In addition to Kucinich, the additional three Members of Congress who have signed on to H. Res 333 are US Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Albert Wynn (D-MD).

“This Administration has continued to erode the trust of the American people and enough is simply enough,” stated US Rep. Clarke in a press release issued first to Atlanta Progressive News.

“H.Res. 333 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio on April 24, 2007, and asserts that the vice president manipulated intelligence to make the case for going to war with Iraq, falsified a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and has threatened aggression against Iran,” US Rep. Clarke says.

“When the American people voted on November 7th, they asked for a change in direction by electing the Democratic party in the House and Senate. I have heard the loud cries of my constituents, and they want accountability. My support of HRes 333 reflects the voices of the residents of central Brooklyn.”

Congresswoman Clarke replaced US Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), who retired at the end of the 109th Session. US Rep. Owens had been one of the early supporters of Conyers? bill, H Res 635, which would have created a Select Committee to look into the possible grounds for impeaching President Bush.

Congresswoman Clarke is her own woman and “does not follow the crowd,” her spokesperson said, adding that constituents had regularly lobbied her to co-sponsor this bill.

“Vice President Dick Cheney is the architect of the Administration’s deception about the war. Cheney persistently and deliberately deceived the Congress and the American people about the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and the attack on September 11th. There should be a serious dialogue about the conduct of this Administration. Cheney should be held accountable for purposely misleading the American people. Despite the obvious lack of success on the ground, Vice President Cheney continued a barrage of propaganda claiming that we were winning the war and successfully rebuilding Iraq which is patently false. His statements and representations about the situation in Iraq amount to malfeasance for which he should be taken to task,” said Wynn in a press release prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.

Impeachment activist Tracie Stern of Atlanta World Can’t Wait said the new co-sponsorships are exciting, but at the same time, the case for impeachment is so clear that these Members of Congress are actually just doing their duty.

Those Members who do not co-sponsor H Res 333 are enabling the Bush Administration, Stern said, adding “People need to step on to the stage of history.”

Sadly, few do participate as they might.  Many see the government as separate from themselves.  Americans forget the Constitution defines the authority within a democracy as of, by, and for the people.  We, the citizens of this country must make our directives and desires known.  America, we have work to do.  Let us be active and aware and play a part in our lives.  If we wish to bring peace, we must deplore destruction.  We need to disengage from those that bring harm to humans anywhere in the world.

Do not forget when we assess the strife this country, this planet endures we cannot separate the parts from the whole.  George W. Bush and Richard Cheney are undeniably one.  Each has fostered global destruction, torture, and a lack of transparency.  If we impeach one we must indict the other.  We must remember.

House Resolution 635.
Creating a select committee to investigate the Administration?s intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.

Out of respect for House Leader Nancy Pelosi and a desire to be appointed to the Judiciary Committee this Resolution was taken off the table by its author Representative John Conyers.  Nevertheless, there were brave souls that supported this measure.

The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were . . .

US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

Let us not abandon hope or lose sight of our vision.  If we are to bring peace, prosperity, and form a more perfect union than we must work towards what we believe in.  Let us unite in our cause.  May our will be as strong as that of the Administration.  May we never forget, in a democracy the government is of, by, and for the people.  Without us, there is nothing but this awful mess.

There is reason to believe we can bring about change.  Only months, ago Dennis Kucinich was a whisper, a voice in the wind.  This presentation illustrates what was our truth. We shall overcome.  We shall overcome . . .


Dennis Kucinich Introduce H Res 333 to Impeach VP Cheney

We can use nonviolent measures to bring about peace.  Let us lead the world in a manner that is consistent with our rhetoric.  “All we are saying, is give peach a chance.”  Support nonviolent actions.  Impeach the aggressors.

I thank you for all that you do to help make America strong, the best, a truly tranquil superpower that promotes peace worldwide.

Support Our Troops and Truth, Justice, and the American Way . . .

  • Raising the Issue of Impeachment, John Nichols.  The Nation. December 20, 2005
  • Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Cheney. CQ Transcript wire.  Washington Post. Tuesday, April 24, 2007; 6:09 PM
  • pdf Kucinich Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Cheney. CQ Transcript wire.  Washington Post. Tuesday, April 24, 2007; 6:09 PM
  • At Last, Kucinich Begins His Quest for Impeachment, Mary Ann Akers.  Washington Post. April 24, 2007
  • BREAKING: Five US Reps Support Cheney Impeachment,By Matthew Cardinale. Atlanta Progressive News.  June 6, 2007
  • House Resolution 635.
  • Sex in America. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures Study



    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Sex is in the city and in the country.  Americans are aroused and sizzling.  They are hot and ready to trot.  Numerous are running rampant.  Others await Mister or Miss Right; these persons are tenuously evaluating the situation.  Some saunter into the sex scene.  A few wait on the sidelines.  Many find more than one partner that pleases them.  Nonetheless . . .

    Ninety-six percent of American adults have had sex.  According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Sex study finds men far more likely to play the field.  Women are doing the deed as well; however, these recent finding suggest feminine wiles are used sparingly.

    (Twenty-nine) 29 percent of American men report having [fifteen] 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only [nine] 9 percent of women report having sex with [fifteen] 15 or more men.

    The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four.

    We might contrast this information with an earlier, 2004 analysis, and realize numbers do not tell the whole story.

    For the first time since the government began the National Survey of Family Growth in 1973, more girls (47 percent) say they have had sex than boys (46 percent).

    We cannot be certain why younger women are doing the deed more than they once were.  Nor can we establish that the results from one study represent the sexual exploits of all men, women, adolescent boys, and girls.

    Age matters, as does the era.  Exposure to the elements is a consideration; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, may alter the dialogue and influence the doings.  Trends may elicit a changing moral standard.  Perhaps, among adolescents, the feminine factor differs; possibly, it does not.  Young men now may be as they were, decades ago, or they might be as we all are, similar; yet unique.  The possibilities are endless.  People are people, fascinating, and never truly predictable.

    We must trust that everyone has his or her tales to tell.  However, few do, at least not to those asking about the numbers of sexual partners.  It is for this reason that this recently released study may be a slightly more accurate.

    Six thousand, two hundred, and thirty-seven [6,237] adults, ages 20 to 59 disclosed their deliverance secretly.  Heterosexual men and women shared their stories with a curious computer.  Face-to-face interviews were not conducted.  Scientists feared people might be less forthcoming when discussing their escapades with another human being.  Many people prefer not to kiss and tell.  Individuals believe they have an image to protect, his and hers.

    Appearances are important.  However, often we learn that nothing is as it seems.  When we met, Michael was tall, nice looking, a scholar.  He was a Professor.  He taught Economics at two local Universities, a private college, and a State school.  He was, and I believe is to this day, politically Conservative,  Michael is articulate, astute, and to me amazing.  I was and am a woman mesmerized by brains.  Brawn never was interesting or appealing to me.  Show me gray matter that gyrates and I am stimulated.

    Michael inspired me to think, to dream, and to wonder.  I was captivated by the capacity of this man?s mind and that energy extended to his body.  We became friends and soon after lovers.

    We were in our twenties at the time.  One night as we were “getting to know each other” Michael shared a story I never forgot.  When he was a sophomore in college, he and a male friend entered into a competition.  They were competing for “love.”  The two young gents decided they wanted to know who could “sleep with” more women during the course of a given semester.

    Michael, being the high achiever he was, and may still be, was passionately intent.  He knew his objective, and had no doubt, success would be his.  Michael was certain he could and would stand erect.  He was up to the task.  This wondrous chap would lift skirts up or pull pants down.  He would do whatever was necessary to take the prize.  He had pride and a reputation to secure.  This man was or would become a super-stud.

    Michael began his pursuit.  All was going well.  He found women a plenty.  He came; they went.  Then, long before the term ended, Michael tired of the “game.”  The rivalry began to wear on him.  This marvelous man, an academic, and obviously, or so I thought, not a player said, “I reached one hundred and forty-one and thought,  ‘What am I doing?’  Michael decided he could not or had no desire to stay in the race.  The chase no longer brought him to climax.  Doing the bump and grind without reason, upon reflection seemed ridiculous to him.  Nevertheless, he did it for quite some time.

    As Michael shared the details of his adventure with me that evening I thought, Wow!  These numbers are astounding, even staggering.  I could not imagine ever reaching such a peak.  Yet, as time went on, I engaged in what brought little excitement and what passes for much.  A bodily orgasm did not fulfill any fantasies; nor did it create a meaningful connection.

    I realized early on, I am a one-man woman.  I cannot, more precisely I will not do more.  For me, the remorse, the regret, and the confusion I feel within is overwhelming.  I am willing to absorb the shock that comes from filling a bed in an attempt to gratify my heart.  I enjoy my own company and believe no one can complete me.  With myself, I am whole.  Empty sex does not satisfy me.  I am not able to tell myself I “love” or “like” someone I barely know.

    Sex for sex’s sake was not a challenge.  Very early on, I discovered as Michael had, it bored me.  Unlike Michael, I realized this long before faces became a blur.  I never felt the urge to surge.  In fact, I feared the prospect.

    Perhaps, other Americans do too.  The numbers presented demonstrate Americans are not doing as Michael had done.

    Sixteen percent of adults first had sex before age 15, while 15 percent abstained from sex until at least age 21.

    Seventeen percent of men and 10 percent of women reported having two or more sexual partners in the past year.


    Twenty-five percent of women and 17 percent of men reporting having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime.

    Adults who were married or had more than a high school education were less likely to use street drugs than others.

    Yet, as I observe others, I wonder.  One lovely I know has her bed filled on most weekend nights.  Rarely is she with the same man.  His door swings open daily, or almost. Another, a man has a woman occupying his chaise lounge on Mondays and Tuesdays.  A beauty graces his boudoir on Fridays and Saturdays.  Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for a raven-haired lass.  Sunday is a day of rest.

    I met many.  Numerous women count men as they count the shoes in their closets.  I have yet to calculate the number of males in my drawers.  I do acknowledge there are less than there might have been and more than I am proud of.  Men, I am told carve notches in their bedposts.

    I do not think most are intending as Michael and his schoolmate were.  I trust that most people male and female are looking for love in all the right and wrong places.

    Many believe the intense muscle tightening in the genitals, the exchange of corporal fluids protecting mucous membranes is the ultimate in bonding experiences.

    Men frequently think if a woman is willing to spread her legs for him, her heart is open to the very special person he is.  Women wistfully wonder; is he the one.  If he calls continuously, it must be because he loves me.  Some realize sex, semen joining with the gush of juices may make babies; however, these do not always give birth to the blissful music of love.

    The findings of this report certainly intrigued me..  I went looking for greater enlightenment, the spark that might move me.  I discovered the original stud-yreport, Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002.  The findings were released on June 22, 2007.  Interestingly enough, when I read the text I was struck by a nuance barely touched on in the news articles.

    Introduction

    Drug-related and sex-related behaviors are of great public health importance.  Use of illicit drugs has been shown to influence sexual behavior and present risk factors for disease (1).

    Risky sexual behaviors can result in sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.  This report is intended to provide overall prevalence estimates of drug use and sexual behaviors in adults from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population.

    As I read this I smiled.  It seems much of the survey was omitted in the news reports.  There was a blurb.

    Twenty-six percent of men and 17 percent of women have tried cocaine or other street drugs (not including marijuana) at some time in their life.  Seven percent of men and 4 percent of women had done so within the past 12 months.

    However, I think the intent of the study may have been missed in the many calculations presented to the public en masse.

    Shyly, I admit, I met Michael in a restaurant bar.  He and I were not there to imbibe.  We were each meeting friends that worked in the establishment.  Nonetheless, I understand numerous people look for that significant someone  while drowning their sorrows with intoxicating beverages.  Drugs too I am told, add to the high.  The survey attempted to make allowances for this.  The researchers admit, the numbers may be as deceiving as people knowingly or unintentionally are when under the influence.

    Limitations of self-reported data include recall problems and intentional misreporting of behaviors.

    For me, my presence in a pub was then and is now an oddity.  In my entire life, I have not had a drink of alcohol.  That scene was not I.  In my younger years, I realized that meeting men or even friendly females in that forum would not benefit me.  Yet, even in my insolated world men intent on opening my thighs think the way to me “heart” is through wining and dining me.

    A few years ago, I engaged in what seemed an endless discussion.  All that know me, acknowledge I am extremely approachable, honest, willing to share all my stories.  There are no skeletons in my closet.  Indeed, I have no wardrobes with doors or locks on them.  Nonetheless, a man courting me insisted there was.

    Adam was adamant, I must sip a cocktail or two.  He said an alcoholic beverage would quench my thirst, or his?  I think access was his quest.  This longtime bachelor was certain much was concealed.  However, verbally, intellectually, emotionally nothing was.  Adam repeatedly assured me alcohol would open doors; perchance it was my privates that he thought too closed.  Sex, combined with drugs are just not what rocks me to roll in the hay.  Perhaps, this too is a subject for research.

    Drugs too are my dread.  For many being alone is the fear.  Depression often sets in when people are forlorn.  In the minds of many, sex is release.  The pressure passes with ejaculation.

    For others, intercourse creates greater unrest.  It is not sleep deprivation they fear, it is intimacy.

    Those that marry may have more sex, or at least more satisfying intercourse, and less partners.  However, that cannot be assumed.

    Widows and widowers cannot be characterized as clinging or free to be foot loose and fancy.  They are as are we all, uniquely engaged or disengaged for reasons that are physical, physiological, and physiological related to our peers, our personal history, our  individual perceptions, and perhaps numerous other factors.

    Chronological age and Auto Immune Deficiency (AIDS) are aspects that influence our decisions to dive deeply, just as the Age of Aquarius did.  Baby Boomers, some of which were surveyed in this recent study might believe that they suffer from obsolagnium.  Therefore, they are less active.

    You may not find it [obsolagnium] in an ordinary dictionary.  But if you are over 50, you may well be familiar with the concept, because it means waning sexual desire resulting from age.

    In fact, it is rarely age per se that accounts for declines in libido among those in the second half-century of life.  Rather, it can be any of a dozen or more factors more common in older people that account for the changes.  Many of these factors are subject to modification that can restore, if not the sexual energy of youth, at least the desire to seek, and the ability to enjoy sex.

    Nor is it just hormones.  Addressing only the distaff half of the population, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in its newest work, Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, points out: Our sexual desire and satisfaction may be influenced by our life circumstances, including the quality of our sexual relationships, our emotional and physical health, and our values and thoughts about sexuality, as well as by the aging process and the shifting hormone levels that occur during the menopause transition.

    The same, of course, is true of men.  Difficult life circumstances can do much to dampen anyone’s libido.  Stress at work or home, looming bankruptcy, impending divorce, serious illness, depression, a history of sexual abuse and a host of medications are among the many things that can put a big crimp in your desire for sex at any age.

    While this recently released report tenderly touches on the dynamics of our sex drive, while the statistics titillate and tantalize the public, there is so much missing from this survey.

    People ponder and read the results wondering, Is it normal to forego fondling?  Are we weird if we want or do not want a partner, a playmate, or perhaps something is wrong with society if men stray more than women.  Any and all of these queries are valid; yet without answer.

    This survey implicitly states Sex alone is not a significant indicator of what is.  Statistics may measure the size and scope of an issue while not satisfying  the soul.

    The study of intercourse while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may elicit information that is more revealing.  Nevertheless, after assessing all the data, I think we must come to the same conclusion.  For the most part, sex is in the city and it occurs throughout the country.  Many citizens in America are hot and trotting.  Might you be a person off to the races.  Do you seek lovemaking or sex for conquest.  Is the act an indulgence when in a drug induced stupor, or is a real connection your quest.  Do the numbers make you more or less of a cad or are they an occurrence in your evolution?

    There is much to think about.  I will ponder as I rest.  I wish you pleasant dreams.

    Sex, the Sources . . .

    Cheney; Comedy. A Rogue Nation, or Rebel Without a Cause

    ( – promoted by Betsy L. Angert)


    Countdown: Cheney Casts Himself Out

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Updated, June 25, 2007
    Each day the Bush/Cheney Administration entertains us.  They offer new twists and turns in what is seen as a ?comedy of errors.?  Possibly this latest report is classified as ?comedy of the absurd.?  This week it was revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney is not part of the Executive Branch.  Indeed, he is above the law, at least that is what the Vice President’s office claims.

    Apparently, there are nuances within the definition of the Executive Branch that exclude the Vice President.  Literally, the term ?Vice President? is not contained in the description of this arm of the government.

    Executive Branch

    The power of the executive branch is vested in the President, who also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.  The President appoints the Cabinet and oversees the various agencies and departments of the federal government.
    . . .
    To learn more about the Executive Branch please visit the President?s Cabinet page on the White House web site

    If we seek further understanding and travel to the designated page, we cannot help notice there, under the heading Cabinet Rank Members we see the esteemed Executive Richard B. Cheney.  If we journey further into the depths of cyberspace deliverance, we learn that the Vice President has been proudly proclaimed a policy decision-maker for decades.  He has held numerous positions within the White House, and served under Presidents since 1969.

    Nonetheless, this exclusive and exceptional public servant claims he is not part of the Cabinet and therefore need not abide by rules governing this group.  A man well-known for frequently invoking Executive Privilege when he does not wish to testify about the doings of his office claims he is not affiliated with the Branch of government that affords him rights under or above the law.

    Cheney claims a non-executive privilege
    He asserts he’s exempt from showing an agency how his office keeps secrets because he’s not fully part of the administration.
    By Josh Meyer
    Los Angeles Times
    June 22, 2007

    WASHINGTON ? For the last four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has made the controversial claim that his office is not fully part of the Bush administration in order to exempt it from a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information, officials said Thursday.

    Cheney has held that his office is not fully part of the executive branch of government despite the continued objections of the National Archives, which says his office’s failure to demonstrate that it has proper security safeguards in place could jeopardize the government’s top secrets.

    According to documents released Thursday by a House committee, Cheney’s staff has blocked efforts by the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office to enforce a key component of the presidential order: a mandatory on-site inspection of the vice president’s office.  At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time ? when Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and other aides were under criminal investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

    In an eight-page letter to Cheney on Thursday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) also charged that Cheney or his top staffers tried to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office this year after its director tried repeatedly to force Cheney’s office to comply with the presidential order.

    Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride confirmed the vice president’s position Thursday but said she could not discuss the matter in detail, including whether Cheney or his aides tried to abolish the information security office.  “We are confident that we are conducting this office properly under the law,” McBride said.

    Nevertheless, there is information demonstrating that indeed, Mister Cheney and his cohorts wish to eliminate the Information Security Oversight Office.  The two administrative centers have been in conflict for years. The Oversight agency, a division of the National Archives, in accordance with the President?s policy, has attempted to gather information from the Vice President pertaining to what documents his office has deemed classified.  Mister Bush, in his infinite wisdom claimed the American people have the right to know what the ?executives? representing them have are doing; albeit if not in the present at least in the future.  Information must be preserved for posterity.

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to further amend Executive Order 12958, as amended, it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12958 is amended to read as follows:
    “Classified National Security Information

    This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism.  Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government.  Also, our Nations progress depends on the free flow of information.  Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations.  Protecting information critical to our Nations security remains a priority.

    The President?s office has abided by the rules and done as required by his law.  However, the Vice President never has.  Dick Cheney has resisted all attempts to retrieve the required information.

    Ultimately, the Information Oversight Office appealed the issue to the Justice Department.  That division has yet to rule on the case. 

    Nevertheless, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Henry A. Waxman took action.  In the midst of this ?comedy,? Representative Waxman, Democrat of California, disclosed that documentation from the Richard Cheney?s office validates that this Vice has long endeavored to close the Oversight Office. 

    Admittedly, Congressman Waxman, is prominent among those Democrats wanting to investigate the Bush administration.  However, Representative Waxman states this issue is only one of many that cause him to  question the practices of this Administration.  His efforts towards resolving this quandary are separate from his other concerns.

    On Thursday, June 21, 2007 Chairman Waxman sent an eight page letter sent to the Vice President stating his alarm and his desire to resolve what surely must be a misunderstanding.

    Officials at the National Archives and the Justice Department confirmed the basic chronology of events cited in Mr. Waxman?s letter.

    The letter said that after repeatedly refusing to comply with a routine annual request from the archives for data on his staff?s classification of internal documents, the vice president?s office in 2004 blocked an on-site inspection of records that other agencies of the executive branch regularly go through.

    But the National Archives is an executive branch department headed by a presidential appointee, and it is assigned to collect the data on classified documents under a presidential executive order.  Its Information Security Oversight Office is the archives division that oversees classification and declassification.

    ?I know the vice president wants to operate with unprecedented secrecy,? Mr. Waxman said in an interview.  ?But this is absurd.  This order is designed to keep classified information safe.  His argument is really that he?s not part of the executive branch, so he doesn?t have to comply.? 

    Absurd, did Chairman Waxman say ?absurd??  This is beyond ridiculous.  This comedy is replete with the bizarre.  On June 23, 2007 the President himself stated that he too is exempt from his own law.

    The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, President Bush’s office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

    An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 ? amending an existing order ? requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight.  Although it doesn’t specifically say so, Bush’s order was not meant to apply to the vice president’s office or the president’s office, a White House spokesman said.

    Oh my.  I understand there is much inferred and implied in this writ.  I never truly thought disclosure was the intent, only the claim.  In this post-September 11 era, privacy for Federal officials is preserved.  Records are rescinded.  Nonetheless, I did see this small clause posited below repeated referrals to the Office of the President and his Vice.

    Sec. 1.7.  Classification Prohibitions and Limitations. (a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

    (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
    (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
    (3) restrain competition; or
    (4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.

    My mistake.  After re-reading that last line, I grasp the truer meaning.  In the Bush Administration, every action is taken as an effort to secure the nation.  Mister Bush often reminds us he and his Cabinet are protecting us, the people, from [a perceived] ?evil.?  Sadly or strangely, these Executives hear hatred in every utterance.  They see malice in all endeavors, excluding those executed by them, the executives in the White House . . .  or is it the Senate.  I am so confused. 

    Mister Cheney is President of the Senate is he not, or is he a member of the Cabinet?  Is the Presidential appointees part of the Executive Branch.  Might Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney be  a rogue, a rebel . . . What of Mister Bush?  Where doe he stand, and does the law he wrote apply to him or his office?

    Perhaps Assistant Press Secretary Dana Perino can help me understand.  During a press conference on June 25, 2007 Miss Perino expounded.

    Q Dana, as long as we’re talking about branches of government, can you go back to Vice President Cheney again, the argument that he’s not part of the executive branch.  Does the President believe he’s part of the executive branch?

    MS. PERINO: I think that that is an interesting constitutional question, and I think that lots of people can debate it.  I think when we were talking about the EO from last week, we’ve gone over that several times.  You probably don’t want me to go over it again.  But the Vice President — any Vice President has legislative and executive functions.

    Every Vice President has legislative and executive functions.  The executive functions are given to him by the President.  For example, the Vice President’s paycheck comes from the Senate.  So these are — that’s an interesting constitutional question.  When we are talking about this EO, it is separate and apart from — the President and the Vice President oversee the executive agencies.  Supreme Court precedent shows that the Vice President and the President are not seen as an agency when it comes to executive orders.

    Q I know that’s your argument about an agency, but it’s very separate from the argument the Vice President is making.  And what is the President — what is the White House’s view of the argument the Vice President is making on whether or not he’s part of the executive branch?

    Q For one, I think — I mean, the information is clearly ?

    MS. PERINO: I’m not opining on it, because the President did not intend for the Vice President to be subject as an agency in that section of the EO.

    I understand; I think.  Dick Cheney works for those that pay him.  I thought the American public paid his salary.  Perhaps I am wrong.  Please help me dear reader.  Did the people not place Mister Cheney in the Executive Branch; was he not elected to serve as an Executive?  Tell me this all but a dream.  It must be.  For now I experience up is down, and down is out or above the law.  Were this all not so tragic this truly would be a comedy. 

    I as a citizen of this country, or correction, a person in the American audience can only hope I will awaken from this nightmare and discover the theatre is closed.

    Bush and Cheney; Comedy of the Absurd, of Errors, of the Executives . . .

  • Cheney claims a non-executive privilege By Josh Meyer.  Los Angeles Times. June 22, 2007
  • pdf Cheney claims a non-executive privilege By Josh Meyer.  Los Angeles Times. June 22, 2007
  • Executive Order Office of the Press Secretary. March 25, 2003
  • Representative Henry A. Waxman letter to Vice President, Dick Cheney. The Oversight Committee June 21, 2007
  • Bush claims oversight exemption too, The White House says the president’s own order on classified data does not apply to his office or the vice president’s.  By Josh Meyer.  Los Angeles Times. June 23, 2007
  • Bush claims oversight exemption too, The White House says the president’s own order on classified data does not apply to his office or the vice president’s.  By Josh Meyer.  Los Angeles Times. June 23, 2007
  • Press Briefing by Dana Perino. Office of the Press Secretary. June 25, 2007
  • Bush; Historic High. President’s Performance Low in Polls


    Newsweek poll: “51% of ALL voters impeachment a priority!

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Six months ago, in a Newsweek Poll the people favored impeachment.  However, that did not happen.  What has occurred is President Bush has hit an all time high, a new low in political surveys.  His approval rating has dipped down to twenty-six [26] percent according to the most recent Newsweek Opinion Poll conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International.  George W. Bush, a man that often states history will judge his performance, and polls numbers are meaningless, leaves a legacy comparable to that of Richard Milhous Nixon.

    In January 1974, seven months after leaving the Oval Office in disgrace, President Nixon?s approval ratings were grim.  The numbers approving of the two-term President plummeted to a low of twenty-three [23] percent.

    As well as George W. Bush is doing statistically, he has yet to achieve what the man mired in the Watergate Scandal did. 

    Perhaps impeachment is the current President’s goal.  He may wish to accomplish a mission more historic than any other President.  Mister Bush is certainly well on his way to realizing what no other Commander-In-Chief has.  With little effort George W. Bush’s could surpass the Nixon record. 

    George W. Bush has realized what Jimmy Carter was unable to.  President Carter?s popularity plunged to twenty-eight [28] percent in a Gallup poll conducted in June 1979.  Jimmy was never able to compete with Dick.

    Yet, as we can see, George is doing well.  Were Mister Bush assessed solely on his war record, the numbers would be better.

    A record 73 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush has done handling Iraq. Despite ?the surge? in U.S. forces into Baghdad and Iraq?s western Anbar province, a record-low 23 percent of Americans approve of the president’s actions in Iraq, down 5 points since the end of March.

    But the White House cannot pin his rating on the war alone. Bush scores record or near record lows on every major issue: from the economy (34 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove) to health care (28 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove) to immigration (23 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove). And?in the worst news, perhaps, for the crowded field of Republicans hoping to succeed Bush in 2008?50 percent of Americans disapprove of the president?s handling of terrorism and homeland security. Only 43 percent approve, on an issue that has been the GOP?s trump card in national elections since 9/11.

    Yes, George W. Bush has done well.  You might recall, while campaigning for the presidency in 1999, Candidate Bush promised he would bring this divided nation together.  He has. The people of the United States of America almost unanimously agree; we do not approve of the way you are handling your job as President.

    Congratulations George.  You are the man!  With thanks to all your “hard” work, this nation is finally thinking as one.

    Congress is so impressed with your feat they are working to follow in your foot steps.

    Overall, 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, including 60 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Independents.

    These numbers look good.  They reflect the height of hypocrisy.  Do the opposite of what you say and people will take notice. The Executive and the Legislative Branches have branded themselves as high achievers.  We the people must be proud or pitiful.  These are the persons we elected to govern.  Yikes.

    Survey the Sources . . .

  • Bush’s approval rating continues to plummet. Independent Online. June 21, 2007
  • Historians vs. George W. Bush, By Robert S. McElvaine.  History New Network.
  • Majority Predicts History Will Judge Bush Harshly, By Lydia Saad. Gallup Poll. December 13, 2006
  • Newsweek Poll: June 21, 2007: Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
  • Polling Report.
  • How Low Can He Go? MSNBC News. June 21, 2007
  • Can Bush Bring Us Together? By Eric Pooley.  Time. December 17, 2000
  • Transcript: First Presidential Debate.  Washington Post. September 30, 2004
  • Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law. Discrimination is Not Democracy.


    Arabic translator fired from the Navy for being gay

    They did not ask.  He told.  Stephen Benjamin was one of over 11,000-service member discharged from the military in the last fourteen years.  These soldiers did not ask to be dismissed.  Physically fit men and women were not released after being injured. These troops were not ill.  Nor were they insubordinate.  These select servicemen and women did not tire of their tour.  Loyal military men and women were and are gay, not joyous, just not heterosexual.

    At a time when our country is in dire need of trained professionals willing to serve in our armed forces, when America is looking for linguists able to speak Arabic fluently, many of those that speak the language have been dismissed on the grounds of gender preference.  Our Department of Defense apparently believes those boys and girls that do not share conventional ?standards? or do not engage in ?acceptable? sexual relations must be banned from service.

    You may wish to read the Stephan Benjamin story  printed in The New York Times, Don?t Ask, Don?t Translate.  Possibly, you would like to sign the petition, Urge Your Representative to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Now!  Let us Lift The Ban. Repeal the Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell law.  Discrimination is not democracy.

    World Refugee Day 2007; Mourn “Necessary” Migration


    Celebrating World Refugee Day

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I cannot sit comfortably in my cozy home, at my glorious computer [The Old Soul] without crying out in pain.  Throughout the world, today, more so than yesterday, or last year, we witness man?s inhumanity to man. 

    Forty million persons, men, women and children crouch on street corners, squat in small rooms, sit in squalor, and wonder if they might survive.  Some are in better circumstances.  They have found homes; however, they remain in exile from their families, friends, and all that is familiar.

    The United Nations Refugee Center tries to reach out; they have for more than half a century.  This organization works to promote awareness.  Yet, they need our help.  For those that remain as I do snug in my surroundings, it is difficult to relate to a life so challenging.  Nonetheless, I believe we must try and keep hope alive.

    In Iraq alone the continuous flood of violence has left many homeless.  In December 2006 the Guardian Unlimited reported findings that were distressing then.

    A report (pdf) by Washington-based Refugees International said an influx of Iraqis threatened to overwhelm other Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, Jordon and Lebanon.

    Last month, the UN estimated that 100,000 people were fleeing the country each month, with the number of Iraqis now living in other Arab countries standing at 1.8 million.

    Today’s [December 7, 2006] report came, as George Bush and Tony Blair were due to discuss the situation in Iraq, which the bipartisan Iraq Study Group yesterday described as “grave and deteriorating”.

    Refugees International said the acceleration in the numbers fleeing Iraq meant it could soon overtake the refugee crisis in Darfur.

    “We’re not saying it’s the largest [refugee crisis], but it’s quickly becoming the largest,” spokeswoman Kristele Younes said. “The numbers are very, very scary.”

    Ms Younes said the most pressing concern was to prevent other countries from sending Iraqis back to the violence that had forced them to flee their mother country.

    The report revealed Iraqi refugees were facing tough restrictions in other Arab countries, preventing them from finding work or gaining access to healthcare and other public services.

    That was three hundred and sixty-five long hard days ago.  Today, the situation is worse.  As the brutality increases so too do the numbers.  People are fleeing for their lives.  They leave the native soils they love.  Approximately fifty thousand Iraqis escape from what was once their sanctuary, their country each month.  The numbers of individuals internally displaced is innumerable. More than 2.2 million Iraqis have fled since the current American-led war began. Two million Iraqis have been displaced inside this Middle Eastern nation.

    In the Republic of the Congo, another fifty six thousand refugees fight for a semblance of the life.  The good life that most Americans take for granted is far more than a step away.

    Most of us are familiar, if only in words with the situation in Sudan.  However, might we begin to consider more than the numbers of persons in exile.  Let us attempt to place ourselves in the situation that envelops the émigrés. 

    There are 116,746 refugees in Eritrea, 20,000 in Chad, 14,633 struggling to survive in Ethiopia, 7,895 fraught in Uganda, 5,023 burdened and begging for a sense of normalcy in Central African Republic.

    In a May 2004 News Hour report Correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro spoke of the conditions refugees in Sudan endured daily.

    For 15 months, more than 100,000 people have trekked across some of Africa’s most forbidding terrain to reach safety in eastern Chad. They arrive in small groups, bringing stories of rape and other atrocities committed by people they call Arabs — allegedly supported by the Sudanese government — in neighboring Sudan’s Darfur region. Another one million so-called “black” Sudanese who have been displaced from their homes remain in Darfur. Human rights groups back up their accusations of ethnic cleansing even though Darfur has been mostly closed to the outside world.

    In the relative safety of Chad’s refugee camps, the day usually begins around 5:00 am. Women like Jamila Numere start a daunting pursuit of life’s most basic needs. Water comes from a hastily dug, shallow well.

    Behind the people at the well are donkeys, prized beasts of burden. But their needs must come second. There’s simply not enough water to go around. The stench of death is everywhere. One of relief worker Gillian Dunn’s top priorities has been to burn thousands of animal carcasses.

    It is challenging to feel hopeful, to dream of a better life when there is not enough water to sustain oneself, let alone the animals.  To think, these were the conditions three years ago in this desert region.  In Darfur, two years later, there was evidence of a deepening decline.

    A Loss of Hope Inside Darfur Refugee Camps
    Over Two Years, a Genocide Comes Into View
    By Emily Wax
    Washington Post.
      Sunday, April 30, 2006; A12

    NAIROBI — On a stretch of the austere desert in Chad, just across the border from the Darfur region of Sudan, signs of tragedy came into full view: tattered clothing caught on the branches of thornbushes, carcasses of camels and goats that died on the long journey out.

    Then the people began to appear: haggard young girls with siblings on their backs, old men riding atop donkeys piled high with cooking pots, water jugs and mats, and elderly grandmothers, some with gunshot wounds, being pushed through the sand in wheelbarrows.

    And then: a group of female teachers, squatting in a dry riverbed, trying to find shelter from sandstorms that were building over the horizon and turning the air into a wall of thick, orange dust.

    It was a boiling-hot day in February 2004, and it was my first trip to investigate what were then vague reports of refugees streaming across the desolate border.

    A woman came out from under some trees in the riverbed to greet me. Her name was Armani Tinjany, and she was a beautiful 29-year-old Sudanese teacher, tall and gracious in a flowing orange polka-dot dress tied to her thin waist.

    She grabbed my hand and in clear English told me she had a college degree and taught Arabic and agriculture to high school students. She had lived a comfortable life with her family in a village of stone compounds.

    A month before I met her, her village was attacked by Arab militias known as the Janjaweed — slang for devils on horseback. The militiamen galloped into town, burned homes and buildings, raped women and killed dozens of men while government aircraft bombed the area. The assault was a strike back at rebels who had risen up against the Arab-led government, claming economic and political discrimination.

    In her rush to leave, Tinjany left her parents and her husband behind. Were they alive? She did not know.

    “Are they going to leave us like this forever?” she asked. “My life, as I knew it, is finished.”

    She answered all my questions slowly, and often referred to a wrinkled notebook in which she had recorded the atrocities. Even with people out to kill her entire family and her tribe, she softly apologized for not being able to offer me tea.

    At that time, Darfur was just another confusing African conflict. Today, it is known as the site of the first genocide of the 21st century, a human catastrophe that has pushed nearly 2.5 million people off their land and into camp cities, some housing as many as 80,000 people.

    Might we begin to believe that life is fragile; refugees were once as we are.  A college graduate, a teacher, who lived a ?comfortable life, now lives in dire need.  Today, this woman, Armani Tinjany exists, not much more.  Her circumstances cause her to question everything she ever believed to be true.  She is genteel, has the manners of a lady.  This graceful and generous soul apologizes for not offering her guest tea.  Yet, few apologize to Armani Tinjany.  Less even acknowledge her or her circumstance.

    I know not how to honor those that have no real home, no sense of connection to their roots.  I only submit this invitation.  May we each endeavor to empathize, open our hearts and our minds to what we cannot and rarely do imagine. 

    I offer this plea on behalf of the people and The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  If we do nothing else, let us remember the high cost of gas means little to those without a place to call home. The debate on whether to exit Iraq is not as vital as actually leaving this war torn nation whole.  Our presence in the Middle East has not been a humanitarian mission.  We have only served to increase the refugee crisis in that region. 

    War inevitably does more to damage what was once a mother country for thousands now living in exile and fear.  Those in other nations feel this; they experience it.  Ethic cleansing dirties the landscape in Sudan.

    Ignorance or ignoring those in other distressed nations does much harm.  Our choosing to disregard our connection to the quality of life for citizens throughout the globe does not benefit them or us.  While we  may worry about property taxes, few there have land to live on.  Often Americans focus on a topic, to the exclusion of others.  Currently, the war in Iraq dominates the news.  However, there is more we must attend to. 

    Some battlefields are less visible; yet, equally critical.  I do not deny that caring for our fatherland is essential.  However, if we sacrifice others while attending to our own selfish needs, all will suffer.

    Please, I implore us all, myself included; do not let another day go by without working to provide peace worldwide.  Let people live in the countries they love.  Fretting and flittering about in cyberspace is great fun.  However, we must do more.  Give, in whatever way you can, even if it is only discussing the conditions of your fellow man with your neighbor.  Speak to those that rarely mention or think about these issues. Let us raise consciousness and create harmony in every land. 

    Bring all  boys and girls home, no matter what their country of origin.

    I share this thought for your review.

    World Refugee Day: Challenges of the 21st Century

    GENEVA, June 20 (UNHCR) ? Today is World Refugee Day, a day when the UN refugee agency tries to focus worldwide attention on the plight of millions of refugees and displaced people around the world. To mark the day, High Commissioner António Guterres is visiting South Sudan to witness the rapid changes in the nature of the refugee challenge in Africa.

    Some 40 million people worldwide are uprooted by violence and persecution, and it is likely that the future will see more people on the move as a growing number of push factors build upon each other to create conditions for further forced displacement.

    People are forced to seek refuge for increasingly interlinked reasons. They do not just flee persecution and war, but also injustice, exclusion, environmental pressures, competition for scarce resources and the miseries caused by dysfunctional states.

    The task facing the international community is to understand this new environment and to find ways to unlock the potential of refugees who have much to offer if they are given the opportunity to regain control over their lives.

    “Our greatest satisfaction comes from helping a refugee family to go home. Their repatriation is a ray of hope in a strife-torn region. Working together with our partners and with the support of our donors we have made a difference. But we need to do more to help refugees once again become active players in society,” said António Guterres, who traveled with Sudanese refugees as they returned home from Uganda after years in exile.

    Results on the ground show UNHCR is making progress. Last year, UNHCR helped hundreds of thousands of refugees return home. In Africa, in addition to stepped-up repatriation to South Sudan, bright spots include winding up of UNHCR’s operations in Liberia and Angola.

    Working in partnership is key. UNHCR’s Council of Business Leaders, for example, is providing solutions to equip refugees with the tools and skills they will need for their future. One example of partnership in action is ninemillion.org, an online advocacy tool and fund-raising campaign aimed at providing refugee children with access to education and sports programmes.

    Another is a programme supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is building skills and capacity among the returning population in South Sudan.

    “We cannot do this alone. But with your support UNHCR can begin to turn the tide, giving refugees hope for the future and new opportunities for their families and their communities,” said Guterres.

    Please join those that care; be a guiding light, a good neighbor, and a friend to peace, prosperity, and a long healthy life for all.  Remember the refugees each day.  Live your live as though it depends on the goodwill afforded your fellow man.  It does.

    Please do not forget the homeless in America  they too are refugees. They are our internal displaced.  Only three years ago the numbers of American displaced was astonishing.

    About 3.5 million US residents (about 1% of the population), including 1.35 million children, have been homeless for a significant period of time.  Over 37,000 homeless individuals (including 16,000 children) stay in shelters in New York every night.  This information was gathered by the Urban Institute, but actual numbers might be higher.

    In my own home community I see more persons living on the streets each day.  As I read their signs, speak with a few, I am forever reminded, every man, woman, and child is my brother, my sister, and could be me or perhaps you.  I trust I cannot forget we are all connected. if one man is poor we all suffer.  If I contribute to the passing of another person through my ignorance, neglect, or through battle, I will take blame.

    Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind;
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

    ~ John Donne

    References for World Refugee Day 2007 . . .

  • Basic Facts. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • World Refugee Day: Challenges of the 21st Century  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • pdf Iraqi Refugee Crisis. Refugee International.
  • Warning over spiralling Iraq refugee crisis, By Matt Weaver.  Guardian Unlimited. Thursday December 7, 2006
  • The Iraqi Refugee Crisis, By Dahr Jamil.  The Nation. April 23, 2007
  • Iraq refugees chased from home, struggle to cope, From Arwa Damon.  Cable News Network. June 20, 2007
  • Refugee Crisis in Sudan. Online News Hour. May 13, 2004
  • Africa > Congo, Republic of the > Immigration statistics. NationMaster.com 2003-2007.
  • A Loss of Hope Inside Darfur Refugee Camps, Over Two Years, a Genocide Comes Into View. By Emily Wax.  Washington Post Foreign Service.  Sunday, April 30, 2006; Page A12
  • pdf A Loss of Hope Inside Darfur Refugee Camps, Over Two Years, a Genocide Comes Into View. By Emily Wax.  Washington Post Foreign Service. Sunday, April 30, 2006; Page A12
  • Violence in the Sudan displaces nearly 1 million.  MSNBC News. April 16, 2004
  • This Could Be You! Homeless in America. By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.
  • Homeless in America.  Washington Profile.
  • Free Flow of Information Act or Bloggers Beware


    Society of Professional Journalists; Defending the People and the Press

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Bloggers beware; the Bush administration thinks you are a threat.  According to federal officials if the most recent version of the Free Flow of Information Act is approved there is ample cause for concern.  The country will be in danger.  Bloggers might be rebels in disguise.  Indeed, some do not hide behind a cloak of darkness.  They proudly proclaim, they are insurgents.  Nonetheless, the definition of a rebel is in question, as is the characterization of a reporter.  The burning question is, ‘Can a radical also be a reporter?’

    We may never know.  The terms of Free Flow of Information Act has been bantered about for years.  This measure is now pending in the House and the Senate.  If passed, as is, bloggers would be granted perilous privileges said Rachel Brand, Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

    “The definition is just so broad that it really includes anyone who wants to post something to the Web.”

    Brand spoke at a recent House Judiciary Committee meeting.  The Assistant Attorney General empathetically stated this proposed plan would shelter “a terrorist operative who videotaped a message from a terrorist leader threatening attacks on Americans.” 

    In its latest form, the document specifies a “covered person” includes a blogger.  Citizen journalists would be protected from prosecution under the “reporters shield.”  The Internet publishers would be awarded the right to withhold the names of confidential sources. 

    While this is the latest deterrent to the passage of a federal shield law, it is not the first.  Federal officials, political pundits, and prominent scholars, have argued against this legislation for a years.  Thus, ratification has long been delayed.  In October 2005, the discussions were rampant and ripe.

    Senators: Bloggers may not be true journalists
    By Anne Broache,
    CNET News.com.
    October 19, 2005, 12:00 PM PT

    WASHINGTON–Politicians indicated on Wednesday that a proposed law offering journalists special privileges might not be extended to Web loggers.

    “The relative anonymity afforded to bloggers, coupled with a lack of accountability, as they are not your typical brick-and-mortar reporters who answer to an editor or publisher, also has the risk of creating a certain irresponsibility when it comes to accurately reporting information,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said in a statement prepared for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on reporters’ privilege legislation.

    In this article, published almost two years ago it was apparent, the discussion in 2005 was not novel then.

    Cornyn on Wednesday [October 19, 2005] called for “serious discussion of what constitutes the term ‘reporter.'” Lack of agreement on that definition has stalled federal efforts at shield law legislation for years, said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, in a statement.

    “With bloggers now participating fully in the 24-hour news cycle,” he said, “we might face similar challenges in defining terms today.”

    Today is now yesterday. In June 2007, the dialogue continues.  Currently, each Congressional chamber is considering a Bill that would cover . . .

    anyone engaged in journalism, which is defined as “gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.”

    This worries Democratic Representative Brad Sherman.  This week he stated his apprehension for what he thinks a broad characterization.  “I’d say anyone who didn’t want to face legal action would immediately try to put up a blog and try to get journalistic protection.”  He then went on to state he is willing to work with colleagues to refine the definition.

    Yet, the possibility of resolution is long in coming.  The debate goes on.  We, the American people, might wonder how much longer can we postpone ensuring freedom of the press and freedom of speech.  If we are to preserve a democratic system, these rights must be declared and documented.  A fearful press will do more harm than good.  A representative government, by definition, requires an informed public.  That seems self-evident.  Nonetheless, there is much opposition.

    George Washington University Law School professor Randall Eliason, argues against the Bill.  Still, he states, “anything narrower is going to run into severe First Amendment problems.” At least, those that oppose the measure acknowledge that “free speech” is our right, awarded to all citizens equally under the Constitution.  Our forefathers thought the right to speak without fear of incrimination or imprisonment was [and is] vital.

    Thankfully, there is support for the current plan. New York Times columnist and former Nixon Administration speechwriter William Safire, extolled the bill’s current definition.  This esteemed writer explained that actions are more important than labels.  A journalist is not defined by his or her attachment to an organization.  Their work distinguishes them as a professional.

    “Whether you’re a blogger or whether you’re The New York Times or CBS or The Wall Street Journal, if what you are doing is aimed at informing the public, then you’re a journalist, whether you get paid for it or not,” he said. (The New York Times, the National Association of Broadcasters and other journalism groups have endorsed the latest bill, according to its sponsors.)

    At Thursday’s hearing, the bill’s chief sponsors, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), never directly addressed the issue of the journalist definition they crafted.  Boucher told CNET News.com in an interview earlier this year that they intended to include bloggers “who are regularly involved in newsgathering and reporting.” Any refinement of that definition would be left up to the courts.

    Might the judicial branch have an opportunity to decide what is Constitutional if the legislation never leaves the House or the Senate.  The obstacles appear to be never-ending.  The Administration is firm.

    [The] bill’s sponsors continued to tout the necessity of passing their measure as soon as possible. The measure, Pence said, “[it] is not about protecting reporters, it’s about protecting the public’s right to know.”

    While the public, according to the First Amendment has certain freedoms, inclusive of the right to know, there is reason to believe, the Justice Department and many members of Congress think these civil liberties threaten the nation.  Perhaps, in fact the peoples’ right to a free press and free speech endanger those in power.  If the people truly knew what went on in the White House, the Department of Justice, in the House, or in the Senate, they might be appalled. Citizens might actually be concerned enough to give up their apathetic inclinations.

    That cannot happen if the lawmakers [and breakers] are to be safe.  Thus, politicians procrastinate, deliberate, and debate. Many obviously wish to prevent reporters from having a protective “shield right.”  Bloggers, this may mean you, or it may not, depending on what Congress or the courts decide.  Perchance, the point is moot. 

    If Congress continues to delay, bloggers will have no power, no rights, or means for reporting.  The certainty of Net Neutrality and access to information is waning.  In little more than a year the writing tool, the means for distribution may be lost.  Ma Bell may have more power than all these politicians combined.

    Hold on to your mouse; grab your keyboards.  Protect yourself from the terrorism.  It is closer to home than you might imagine.

    A Discussion of the Free Flow of Information . . .

  • Free Flow of Information Act
  • Bush administration attacks ‘shield’ for bloggers, By Anne Broache. CNET News.com. ZDNet News. June 14, 2007
  • Bills propose reporter’s shield for bloggers, By Anne Broache. CNET News.com. ZDNet News. May 4, 2007
  • US House of Representatives.  Committee on the Judiciary.
  • Senators: Bloggers may not be true journalists By Anne Broache. CNET News.com. ZDNet News. October 19, 2005
  • Network Neutrality; Frequently Asked Questions. Save the Internet.com.
  • Ma Bell; She’s Back. Net Neutrality in Jeopardy. By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.
  • Deniability

    copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

    Recent reports of the retirement of General Antonio Taguba and his involvement in investigation of the Abu Graib detainee abuse have prompted a good deal of soul searching for me as an individual.  To that end I offer my thoughts and pondering as to deniability and its failure in our society and in our world today.

    Deniability is defined as the ability to deny knowledge of or connection to an illegal event.  What a morass we see in our government today as so many people in leadership positions are shown to be using deniability as a way of life.  Repeated reports talk about Donald Rumsfeld?s performance in the Abu Graib scandal.  Apparently he was able to deny any knowledge of the events involving detainees as his legal advisors told him not to view the photographs.  Not having seen the photographs gave Rumsfeld a way out during his testimony before Congress in 2004.

    The Congressional inquiry followed a report released in March, 2004, of the Abu Graib investigation findings.  While the report details numerous incidents of detainee abuse and wanton criminal offenses, Rumsfeld denied any knowledge of the situation.  Apparently deniability works for those in high places in the Bush administration.  Some folk seem to have no measure of shame at all.  Or if they once had any such feelings, those feelings were apparently left checked at the door upon entering the power circles inside the DC Beltway.

    How can America find its way back from the brink?  Can we restore accountability in government?  Must we always fall back on strict legal interpretations in the place of open and complete honesty?  Or are we so bound in our history that we can no longer escape?

    I was lucky to live a childhood in simpler times.  In those days my father was known throughout the hometown as an honest and upright person.  He taught all his children to live by the Golden Rule and to treat other people as we ourselves wished to be treated by them.  To that end we were taught to be honest with every person we met.  Granted that honesty did not require full disclosure, but we were not allowed to be evasive to an end of hiding important facts.  In those days my father often needed to borrow money for one reason or another.  On the basis of a handshake and some minor paper work my father got the funds he needed and the bank was repayed in due time without further remark.

    What ever are we to do to bring back a sense of responsibility and accountability in our world today?  When will deniability be dismissed as the lie it represents?  As a father and a stepfather I accept the responsibility of teaching the children in my life to be honest and to be responsible for their actions.  As a role model in my work life I toy to hold myself to the same standards stated for the youngsters in the place.  To that end I must stand up for what I deem to be  both right and honest.  ?Ask a question only if you wish to know the answer,? for I am obligated to tell the truth.  Certainly there are times when asked about wardrobe choices or hair color the appearance may not be perfect as I might wish so the harsh truth is tempered, but the kernel of real truth remains inside.

    Only the truth has the chance to set us free.  Only by telling the truth and by seeking the truth can we hope to restore any facet of responsibility to our country today it seems to me.  We in BlogLand have a responsibility that extends beyond ourselves.  We are public figures in that we represent a way of life and we intend to change the course of history by our actions and our lives.  To that end we cannot allow deniability to creep in under the guise of anonymity or in any other form.  We must remain responsible for our own actions and we must insist on the same from our government officials.

    Crossposted from Truth and Progress.

    Vietnam: A Personal Recollection, Part II

    copyright © 2007 Possum Tales.  Sedalia Tales

    Part I of my story was posted earlier as a crosspost from Daily Kos.  [You may also wish to read Part I at BeThink.]  I am humbled with gratitude for all who took time to read the previous posting.  The support for one another so often expressed here in BlogLand takes my breath away one more time.  You cannot know how much that support means until you, too, have been a beneficiary.

    This diary picks up just where the first part ended.  Travel down the yellow brick road and over the fold to the second part of the possum’s tale.

    Once I left the field misery struck the company three more times.  One patrol called in air support that hit the patrol by mistake.  Several men died.  A lone Kentucky boy (I remember him best because were from the same home state) was killed by a sniper while on daytime sentry.  Another man was killed as he awakened a sleeping soldier for a change of the night sentry duty.  I learned of each tragic event from fellow soldiers out of the field and had no opportunity to discuss any of the episodes with fellows from the field company.  The dead men were all folk I knew superficially in the field.  Their deaths were just taken as part of the war and not given any special attention at the time.  The pure lack of emotion at the time seems remarkable today.  Just one more aspect of war that defies easy explanation or acceptance.

    Endless days dragged by spent on a helicopter loading zone.  Long, boring, hot days punctuated by the occasional loading.  One memorable day included a helicopter flight as the lone passenger.  I held a security clearance high enough to deliver code books to field units and this was one of those days.  The pilots were having a fun time as we zipped along following the course of a small river part way.  When we left the river a man working his rice paddy with a water buffalo became the target of mischief.  In accordance with giving locals no respect the man was buzzed by a very low flight.  He dove into the water and the water buffalo left the scene running scared.  I always wondered just how that man recovered and what he lost along the way.

    There were so many stories along the way.  Christmas was officially celebrated when the artillery ceased firing for 24 hours.  The sudden silence was deafening.  The children who were employed as drug runners near the helicopter pad were an interesting bunch.  They were chosen to carry drugs from seller to buyer since the MP’s were less likely to arrest or harm them in any way.  Most times the police just ran the kids off.  Today those children who survived might be in their 40’s an 50’s. 

    Food in the field was always a challenge.  C-rations came in various incarnations, most of which would be considered inedible in our society today.  We managed to concoct different ways to make the stuff easier to consume and heated our meals on fires of burning C-4 (a plastic explosive very effective for making large explosions if struck or detonated by a spark).  We all carried a personal supply of C-4 for cooking.  After watching a landing zone being cleared with explosives we went about our mealtime without a single thought.  One day on sick call found me in a front line hospital unit.  The sights and sounds of that tent were a far cry from the TV show, M*A*S*H. 

    The wounded were everywhere in the tent.  Medics were working feverishly to stabilize the members of both Vietnamese and American forces for transfer to other hospital units.  The scene was one of controlled chaos from which I quietly retreated, taking my aches and pains back to my unit.  Isolation was nearly complete.  We had very little news of the outside world.  An occasional Stars and Stripes came our way, but no real outside news was available.  We only had our daily struggle in a very limited world.

    The time to go home arrived at last.  I remember a very different trip altogether than the trek over.  We were alive and well.  We were going home.  Happiness reigned.  I remember no real war stories on the return trip; although some such might have been a natural occurrence at the time.  Many of us were finished with our tours, while others were going home on leave before returning to some other duty.  The plane landed in Alaska in deep winter.  Disembarking from the plane dressed in jungle fatigues we faced a winter wind blowing snow across the tarmac.  Even though we went inside quickly, I still remember the cold shock of that landing.  Once back at Fort Lewis I got my new uniform with all the patches earned on the tour.  Traveling home in that new uniform with the serious suntan from days on the helicopter pad made me feel very self-conscious.  No one else seemed to take any special notice.  One airport layover had TV scenes of one early moon walk.  I was so disconnected from the real world that I had to be reminded later that the show was live and not a science fiction movie. 

    Entering society once again was traumatic.  The transition from an all male war zone to family life was difficult.  For many months I was startled and would duck by reflex at any loud noise.  My family took many days to get over their concern at my reactions.  After time those automatic responses of mine died away. 

    My two younger brothers were both facing the potential of being drafted.  By the time I was home my opposition to the war was deep.  My parents and I discussed the possibility of sending the brothers to Canada.  Luckily both were assigned lottery numbers that kept them from the draft.  To this day I am grateful we as a family did not face the decisions that tore so many families.

    For years after coming home I tried to be a good citizen.  Voting in every election and keeping relative track of world news has always been important to me.  Still I kept my own counsel and did not speak out other than to the closest of friends.  Then came the first Gulf War with live coverage on a daily basis.  The memories of Vietnam began to come back in a flood and I came to believe that we as a nation were repeating the mistakes of history.

    9/11, the run up to Afghanistan, and the subsequent invasion of Iraq solidified my worries.  At the time I remained opposed to the war and all it meant at home and abroad.  Learning that the administration outright lied about WMD’s and other facets made me really angry.  I found Delaware Pacem in Terris on a march commemorating an anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  I found many new people with similar views of the war.  These new friends along with the regular vigils on the bridge in addition to a lengthening series of letters to the editor became a new way of life.  Not venting my anger and disappointment ceased to be an option.

    Today I live in real fear of what world we are leaving behind.  Today I feel obligated to act in all the ways available to me as an individual to end the senseless violence that is war.  To that end I am grateful for the opportunity to share my personal story.  Nothing I might say can convey the reality of war.  To say that war is ugly is very much an understatement. 

    To get some grasp of the reality that is war, put yourself in country.  Think of the fear.  Live in abject fear for a few moments.  If each minute as a single day in your life.  Remind yourself each moment that some people in the room may have just died.  Remind yourself that each minute might just be your last one on this earth.  Remember all the time the true face of war is ugly.  Think of living the fear of each and every day without admitting to any such thought.  The psychological trauma is the worst part.  No person can return from war without being changed inside.  The outside may be the same, but the inside always changes.

    Today I do not know how to end the ongoing occupation of Iraq, or how to avoid such conflicts in the future but I do know with great certainty what many of our troops in Iraq today are going to feel in 30 years or so.

    Two quotes to end.  These people said it all much better than I ever could.

    I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
    ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Wars are rarely fought for the reasons that are claimed.  Those reasons amount to nothing more than bogus excuses, ways to hoodwink the gullible public, and the vilest propaganda designed to incite people to sacrifice their children for a supposedly glorious cause. 

    The defense of freedom and democracy is one false claim that we often hear in this country.  This shameful claim could not be further from the truth. 

    No one ever bothers to explain how our freedom and democracy are at risk in some obscure little country halfway around the world.  That’s because the sad and dirty truth is that wars are fought for empire and the financial gain of the few.
    –Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, two time medal of honor winner at the time of his death the only such person.

    Crossposted from Daily Kos.