Larry Craig; Gay Issues, Hypocrisy, Out of the Closet, Into Romney Campaign

Barney and Bill on Larry Craig and Gay Republicans

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Tonight, word leaks out Senator Larry Craig was arrested in June 2007.  Today, this married man pled guilty to crimes unthinkable to such a staunch Conservative.  Tales of duplicity abound.  In this moment, we are focused more on this man and his drama than we are on the many deceitful accounts that fill the halls of Congress. I question why.  Is being Gay a crime.  “Solicitation” may be considered illegal.  However, when two consenting adults seek sexual gratification for love or money is that truly immoral?  Might we ponder what unethical, extraordinary, and cruel actions we accept into our lives each and every day, particularly from those that supposedly represent us?

During an eventful afternoon, a report was released.  Craig Arrested, Pleads Guilty Following Incident in Airport Restroom.  Stories were spun, and explanations mounted.  Just as he had in October 2006, Idaho Senator Larry Craig Denies Allegations of Same-Sex Affairs. 

Talk of the how members of Congress ignore the doings in the Justice Department for so long faded.  Conversation about how Congress allowed for the resignation of the embattled Attorney General Gonzales rather than impeach the man of questionable ethics subsided.  Spy stories may be sensational.  However, they are nothing in contrast to sex. 

As this scandal unfolded, few contemplated the irony in Iowa.  Presidential candidates, fully insured, spoke of their health care proposals and avoided mention of the Pharmaceutical companies that back their campaign.

Words of war moved off the stage temporarily.  No matter.  Even when we chat about this dynamic, Americans do not struggle with what might be considered immoral.  The Representatives that say they want an end to combat, were placed in their Congressional offices after they promised to end the conflict, continue to fund the war efforts.

Tête-à-tête as it pertains to the tiniest among us was hushed even before it began.  It is of no consequence that millions of children will go without health insurance coverage with thanks to the White House.  The Administration quietly imposed stipulations on the State Children’s’ Health Insurance Program [SCHIP]  that severely restrict eligibility; yet, few speak of this.  Why should they?  Tens of millions more adults have been without the benefits of health care for, oh, so very long.  Americans have been without adequate care since before their babies were born.

Chatter of all these concerns fell silent.  In cyberspace, throughout the airwaves, and on street corners was America  discussed, and likely will continue to discuss days from now, sex.  The flame of flirtation fills the every avenue today as it did in October 2006.  It is hot, happening, and when mixed with politics, a hazard.

Then, the Mark Foley scandal brought the issue of Gay Republicans to the forefront.  Bill Maher and Senator Barney Frank discussed the disclosure; Senator Larry Craig was among those thought to be Gay.  The possibility was raised often and for years.  However, each time, Conservative Idaho Senator Craig denied the “accusation.”  For Craig the idea was considered an indictment.  He had long advocated against Gay rights and Gay marriage.  In 2004, and 2006, amendments to make Gay marriage legal were introduced on the senate floor.  Craig voted against these.  Nonetheless, suspicions remain.

Months ago, Senator Frank indignantly spoke of this possibility.  For Barney Frank, Mark Foley, perhaps, Larry Craig, and all other Gay “Conservatives” that rail against homosexual rights are hypocrites.  The proud-to-be Gay Senator from Massachusetts discussed the depth of this issue.  The Massachusetts Senator noted, Republicans that would wish to ban Gay intercourse, at times, are closet Gays.  “Conservative” homosexuals that are out of the closet of confinement, Senator Frank believes, are truly charlatans.  He inquires how can you support a Party that is opposed to your lifestyle.

Tonight, after Americans learned the Idaho Conservative was caught with his pants down, the titillating topic ignited again.  Sex sizzles, especially when people are caught in compromising entanglements.

Once more we witness, no matter how many stories of import occur during the day, if we can be distracted by the dim lights of “doing it,” then we will be.  Larry Craig could have walked into a court room and plead guilty to another crime.  He might have lied about his finances.  He may have told tall tales regarding his voting record, and granted, these might have been mentioned on the Nightly News; however,  neither would have diverted attention as this yarn did. 

Sex, with a touch of homosexuality, and a hint of controversy, a Conservative claims guilt, and innocence simultaneously . . . now that is a story.  That is entertainment!  An escapade, an escape, whatever it is this anecdote for much of the populace is better than the real news, which they think is often so depressing.

Discussions of the Larry Craig crisis were visible in our living rooms.  Televisions broadcast the report and journalists offered commentary.  As we reflect we might consider, talk of homosexuality is omnipresent in most American homes daily.  Much of the population is Gay, or has a family member that declares him or herself homosexual.  In Seattle, 12.9 percent of the population is Gay or Bisexual.  In San Francisco, the numbers are higher.  The numbers vary as does conventional wisdom; nevertheless . . .

9% of men between 18-59 in LA, NYC, Chicago and San Francisco self-identified as Gay or bisexual.  (Random study in The Social Organization of Sexuality, 1994)

Other estimates: 10% of population (Kinsey, 1948); 2.8% of men, 1.4% of women.  (Univ. of Chicago survey, 1994, and national random surveys in England and France)

An estimated 6-14 million children in the U.S. live in Gay or lesbian headed households.  (Harvard Law Review, 1990)

3-10% of teens in America are Gay or lesbian.  (TIME Magazine, December 8, 1997)

Senator Larry Craig does and does not deny to state he is a homosexual; it depends on the day, the time, and circumstances.

Craig Arrested, Pleads Guilty Following Incident in Airport Restroom. 

By John McArdle,
Roll Call
Monday, August 27, 2007; 4:48 pm

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.  On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court.  He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed.  He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.

After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report.  At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.

Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct.

Tonight, as reports are being broadcast throughout America, the earlier dialogue between Bill Maher and Senator Barney Franks seems more apt. 

As the evening wears on, we hear Senator Craig now vacillates.  The public ponders.  Senator Craig proclaims either he or the officer misunderstood.  The Idaho representative returns to a stance he embraced earlier, and for more than a score, denial.  As we read, listen, and consider all the angles, we might realize, perhaps, the point is moot.  Hypocrisy may be the more viable issue.

Senator Craig withdraws from Romney campaign role
Political Intelligence
The Boston Globe
August 27, 2007

US Senator Larry Craig resigned tonight as Senate co-chairman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, within hours after news broke of Craig’s guilty plea to disorderly conduct after an incident in a men’s bathroom.

“Senator Craig has stepped down from his role with the campaign.  He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision,” Romney’s campaign said in a statement.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported today that Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of disorderly conduct after he was arrested in June at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public bathroom.

Craig denied any “inappropriate conduct” and said his actions had been misconstrued.

Senator Craig, prior to today’s revelation played a prominent role in the campaign of Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.  Romney, arguably, the most traditional of the Republican candidates recognized the threat of this situation.  The candidate known for his pious pronouncements reacted quickly.  Romney recognized his choice of Craig as credible representative might damage his image among those that think homosexuality immoral.  The outspoken former Massachusetts Governor fears memories may be long.  His own words might haunt him.

In February, Romney announced that Craig of Idaho and Robert Bennett of Utah would serve as co-Senate liaisons.

“Both men have a unique perspective of the new generation of challenges confronting our nation,” Romney said in the statement announcing their roles.  “I look forward to working with them to find the solutions needed to ensure that our country remains a strong world leader.”

In May, Romney’s campaign announced that Craig would be co-chairman of the Romney for President Idaho Leadership Team.

“Our government is in need of a proven leader like Governor Romney, who will put in place benchmarks and streamline our government using proven conservative principles,” Craig said in the Romney campaign’s statement.  “His message is resonating with voters and I’m looking forward to helping him on his way to winning the Republican nomination.”

Perchance, Craig thought his restroom entanglement might benefit the Romney crusade.  It certainly will advance discussion, one that for too long has been hidden, even by Larry Craig himself.

1982 Larry Craig denial, 1982

Today, might we consider there are other duplicitous dynamics amongst Senators, Congressmen and women, and Presidential hopefuls that affect us all.  Health care is an interesting subject.  What Senator or Congressperson has been without health insurance as 44 million Americans are?  How many work for minimum wage or think they could survive on such a stipend?  Are any of our representatives going off to fight on the frontlines; yet, they continue to sponsor the combat that kills thousands of average Americans, and innocent Iraqis.  Let us truly talk of treacherous trickery, dishonesty, and deceit.  We need not go to the bedroom or bathroom to find fraud and deception.

Sex, The Scandal, Substance, and Sources . . .

  • Idaho Senator Larry Craig Denies Allegations of Same-Sex Affairs. By Jill Kuraitis.  NewWest, Boise. October 17, 2006
  • Administration Paper Defends Spy Program, Detailed Argument Cites War Powers.  By Carol D. Leonnig.  Washington Post. Friday, January 20, 2006; Page A01
  • pdf Administration Paper Defends Spy Program, Detailed Argument Cites War Powers.  By Carol D. Leonnig.  Washington Post. Friday, January 20, 2006; Page A01
  • New Bush Policies Limit Reach of Child Insurance Plan, By Christopher Lee.  Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A04
  • pdf New Bush Policies Limit Reach of Child Insurance Plan, By Christopher Lee.  Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A04
  • Edwards knocks Clinton for taking money from health care lobby. Cable News Network. August 27, 2007
  • Northwest senators divided on Gay marriage, By Matthew Daly.  The Associated Press.  Seattle Times. June 7, 2006
  • Senator Craig withdraws from Romney campaign role.  Political Intelligence.  The Boston Globe.  August 27, 2007
  • 12.9% in Seattle are Gay or bisexual, second only to S.F., study says, By Lornet Turnbull.  Seattle Times.  November 16, 2006
  • The Sacrifice; Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] Costs

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Each evening I go to sleep and hope that in the morning when I awake, the nightmare will be over.  I am unsure whether it has been days, weeks, months, or years since I felt as though there was reason to expect all would be well.  I contemplate the plight of many, and my heart bleeds.  I wonder; can we say we live for the Seventh Generation or must we accept that our progeny will not survive. 

    When I consider the circumstances of children I weep.  Their health and welfare do not seem to fit into our adult plans or our budget.  I am concerned when I hear whispers and discussions; the State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] costs too much.  I am more anxious since I learned the Bush Administration imposed stipulations; now the program will not cover many offspring in need.  Each of these distressing dilemmas, I think is symptomatic of an endemic problem.  We, the elders focus on financial matters more than physical realities. 

    In America, adults believe a healthy economy equates to profits, not authentic assets.  Mature minds act as though people are worth less than a pocket full of coins.  Yet, individuals of age whose priorities are askew, determine what is best for the beloved young.  Frequently, those old enough to support themselves think of little but their individual survival.  Rarely, do working stiffs realize they are part of a community.  In America, until there is a time of crisis, it is every man or woman for his or herself.

    It seems we, as a society, do not recognize that in each moment, we are part of a whole.  Each and every one of us belongs to a community.  Americans feel isolated, insulated from their neighbors.  As inhabitants of Earth, we are one.  What any of us does, will affect another.  Yet, we ignore this truth.  We disregard much.  We allow for what occurs, as long as we do not think it will harm us directly. 

    This week, the Bush Administration took advantage of our apathy.  The Administration altered the regulations of the State Children’s Health insurance Program [SCHIP.]   Few Americans will blink an eye.  Most people are focused on providing for their families in the only way they know how.  They work.  Parents of the millions of children without insurance have learned to accommodate.  Some never knew they could apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

    Residents of this country think themselves too busy, too stressed, too overwhelmed to worry about those outside their circle.  They go about their day doing what they know needs to be done, and do not realize what they overlook.  What occurs, even to the offspring they say they love is often too much to bear.  To ideate our intention, then ruminate on our reality is painful.

    Many Eligible for Child Health Plan Have No Idea
    By Kevin Sack
    The New York Times
    August 22, 2007

    Greensboro, N.C. – During the four years that her children were uninsured, Cassie O. Hall used the emergency room as their pediatrician.  When Tayana had an asthma attack or Darren developed a stubborn rash, they would head to the hospital and settle in for a long wait.

    The children never got physical exams or booster shots.  And as the unpaid hospital bills stacked up, the threshold for a visit grew higher.  “They would have to be half-dead before I would take them,” said Ms. Hall, a day care operator who could not afford private insurance.

    It was only in May that Ms. Hall learned that her family qualified for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides subsidized insurance to children of the working poor.  That she had never heard of the joint state and federal program made her typical of countless parents of the estimated eight million uninsured children.

    Despite a decade of marketing efforts by governments and private foundations, nearly 30 percent of children who are eligible for the health insurance program and are not covered by private plans have yet to enroll, according to a new government study.

    The reasons for this are ample.  In America, families are in flux.  People move.  Households split.  One parent or another might think they are not responsible for the health care coverage of their child.  Those without often hide.  They are embarrassed by their circumstances. 

    If a mother or father changes jobs, insurance may come or go.  Transitions may initially be thought temporary.  Perhaps, what occurs is merely characteristic of our culture.  People are busy.  They wait for a catastrophe before they act.

    Possibly, the public will not express their concern because they do not recognize the depth of the dilemma.  Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Peter R. Orszag understands the reasons for this.  In a letter addressed to  United States Senator, Max Baucus, Chairman of the Committee on Finance he offers some insight into the information regarding uninsured children.

    In response to your letter of July 10, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has examined available estimates of the number of children who lack health insurance, but are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance program (SCHIP). Some empirical studies have found that there are between 5 million and 6 million such children. In contrast to those studies, the Administration recently estimated that a much smaller number, 1.1 million children, lack health insurance but are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.

    In an August 2005 report prepared for the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and completed by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) and the Urban Institute using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) researchers stated, in 2003, 8.4 million children are uninsured.  As noted, there is ample reason to believe the number is now much higher.  However, it is difficult to know what is valid.  Unfortunately, few care.  They have no time for such technicalities.

    All around the nation, for adults, life goes on; day-to-day perceived “necessities” overwhelm them,.  Mature and “civilized” persons “must” consume petroleum products.  Grown-ups are required to ravage the terrain in an attempt to supply for our infinite “needs.”  We fight for freedom so that we might incinerate more oil.  We spoil the soil with waste from our factories.  Waterways are boulevards for gas-guzzling boats.  American citizens devour foods contaminated with chemicals. 

    In the meantime, roads crack.  Rivers fill with filth.  The ozone layer deteriorates, as does the health of the planet.  Our children may feel the burden of our lifestyle more than we do.  Their little bodies are more susceptible to environmental influences.  Healthy habitats seem a thing of the past.

    While we wallow in war and work for our individual riches, we ignore what matters most.  The quality of our shared existence; the importance of our common well-being, the children, their health, and ours.

    Currently, young persons, those older and the elderly acquire chronic respiratory illnesses at a rate not thought possible.  The weight of the world settles in the bellies of a population grown fat.  We trust that someone, somewhere, will do what we dare not, consciously choose to care about more than the moment.  We seek a quick fix to all that ails us.  Perhaps, drugs will reduce the pain; however, who can afford a prescription.  Parents struggle to pay their own bills.  Children dependent on the care of a mother, father, guardian, or two parents often realize that unless they are severely ill, medical procedures must be postponed.

    Many parents of uninsured children say they cannot afford unexpected medical bills and emergency room visits.  They report that they avoid medical costs whenever they can by treating illnesses at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies.  Almost all say they postpone medical care for their children and put off buying prescription drugs when they can.  A parent of an uninsured child in Miami said, “We try not to get sick.  I try not to think about it too much.”

    Americans avoid much in word and deed.  Citizens feel powerless.  They perceive the government is separate from them.  Senators, Congressmen, and women, even the President does not represent the common folk.  The conventional wisdom is “‘Politicians are crooks.”  The public, for the most part sees no reason to be politically active; apathy is rampant in the United States.

    We do not understand that we “the people” are the authority.  Democracy defines ‘government’ as of, by, and for the people.  Our vote counts.  Yet, in a nation where the Administration implements regulations that conflict with the intent of the law, citizens forget, they have the clout.  In recent decades, Americans are reluctant to go to the polls. 

    When the populace does vote, and embrace their authentic power, image, or electability, govern most decisions.  Candidates are sold to the people.  Pretty or popular persons are thought profound.  Yes, money moves much, perhaps all.  Certainly, the power of wealth is influencing the state Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Consider the Bush proposal.

    [President Bush] He has proposed about $5 billion in new funding for children’s health insurance over five years, for a total of $30 billion — an amount that the Congressional Budget Office says would be too little to keep covering even just the number of children enrolled in the program now.

    George W. Bush is not alone in his desire to under-fund the needs of the nation and its residents.  Most Americans want to keep their earned income in their personal pocket.  Residents in my region proclaim property taxes are too high; they must be cut.  The possibility alone has caused massive layoffs in this community.  City workers were awarded pink slips.  Immediately vandalism rose in public facilities.

    Weeks ago, the nation heard of the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis and discovered there are thousands more troubled structures throughout the States.  As we, the people, spend billions, trillions on defense, our infrastructure crumbles beneath us.  Our progeny fall to pieces before our eyes, and we do little to help them.  Indeed, the rules are changed so that less of the littlest people will be cared for.

    Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children
    By Robert Pear
    The New York Times
    August 21, 2007

    The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

    Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a month-long Congressional recess.  In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

    After learning of the new policy, some state officials said yesterday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.

    “We are horrified at the new federal policy,” said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. “It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”

    Stan Rosenstein, the Medicaid director in California, said the new policy was “highly restrictive, much more restrictive than what we want to do.”

    The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level – $41,300 for a family of four.  In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent- $82,600 for a family of four – but the change is subject to federal approval.

    California wants to increase its income limit to 300 percent of the poverty level, from 250 percent. Pennsylvania recently raised its limit to 300 percent, from 200 percent. New Jersey has had a limit of 350 percent for more than five years.

    As with issues like immigration, the White House is taking action on its own to advance policies that have not been embraced by Congress.

    Immigration is not the only issue of import that calls the White House to action.  Frequently, the Bush Administration wields its power to protect entrepreneurs and discounts the value of employees.  The Executive Branch plans to do so again and again, much to the detriment of everyday folk.  Only weeks ago, workers died in mines notably too dangerous for man.  Wealthy businessmen or women, such as the colliery owner prefer to pay fines when “government” imposed industry standards [laws enacted for the good of the greater community] are not meet.

    Mattingly: Robert Murray bought the Crandall Canyon mine only a year ago and, until the accident, it was one of his safest mines.  But “Keeping Them Honest,” we checked government records, and found they list Murray as the head of 19 mining operations in five states.  Only seven are active underground mines, and four of them have injury rates above the national average.  At the Galatia mine in southern Illinois, the rate of injuries has exceeded the national average every year since Murray bought the mine in 1998. The rate of injuries was almost cut in half from 2003 to 2006, but the mine has also racked up over 3,400 citations in the last 2 1/2 years, 968 so far this year, with nearly a quarter considered significant and substantial. 

    Ellen Smith, Mine Safety & Health News:  You wonder how that many violations can build up in that little amount of time.  Now, you have to remember he’s challenging a lot of the citations, but when you look, he’s also paid a lot in fines. 

    Mattingly: He paid almost $700,000 in fines from 2005 and 2006. So far, this year Galatia has been hit with 31 major citations, each exceeding $10,000. That’s more violations than any other mine in the country and second in total fines.  (on camera) And Galatia wasn’t Murray’s first big problem. In 2003 managers at his mining company in Kentucky were found guilty of violating safety standards and attempting to cover it up. The company was ordered to pay a $306,000 fine.

      (voice-over) Requests for comments from officials at Murray Energy were not answered. CNN asked Murray about safety records of his other underground mines at a news conference Monday.  Murray said he would only talk about Crandall Canyon.

    Mine owner Robert Murray apparently recognizes that he, just as George W. Bush can control the conversation.  People will not protest loudly or for long.  It is [usually] safer to talk about the weather.  Let us discuss our current climate conditions.

    Citizens in the Midwest experienced rains such as they have never seen.  Cities built on concrete cannot absorb the deluge.  The few trees that budgets maintain are toppled.  No matter. 

    We have come to expect and accept global warming as a fact.  We do little or nothing to change the course nature now takes.  We discount the health of the planet, just as we disregard the well being of our babies or our own bodies.  Man does not seem to recognize a need for the oxygen foliage and flora provide, evident by deforestation and the lack of tree-lined streets.  Nor does he or she realize the health of our children correlates to the physical and moral condition of our broader communities.

    Today, winds gust at speeds not recorded in year’s prior.  Hurricane Dean in Mexico, is now on people’s radar.  I am reminded of how, during the 2005 hurricane season, people in the plains expressed their resentment for the possibility that they may need to supplement the effort to rebuild with Federal funds.  Some thought those that live in areas such as Louisiana and Florida silly to request financial aid from those that reside in other areas of the country.  The cry was, “It is not my concern.”  Followed by “Why should I care?”

    Perhaps, I can respond to that query in a meaningful manner.  When we do not care for others or their needs; ultimately, we will likely realize we did not care for ourselves.  We are indeed, all connected.

    Children’s Healthcare Is a No-Brainer
    By Amy Goodman
    Truth Dig
    July 24, 2007

    Deamonte Driver had a toothache. He was 12 years old. He had no insurance, and his mother couldn’t afford the $80 to have the decayed tooth removed. He might have gotten it taken care of through Medicaid, but his mother couldn’t find a dentist who accepted the low reimbursements. Instead, Deamonte got some minimal attention from an emergency room, his condition worsened and he died.  Deamonte was one of 9 million children in the U.S. without health insurance.

    Congress is considering bipartisan legislation that will cover poor children in the U.S.

    The major obstacle? President Bush is vowing to veto the bill, even though Republican and Democratic senators reached bipartisan agreement on it. The bill adds $35 billion to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program over the next five years by increasing federal taxes on cigarettes.

    The conservative Heritage Foundation is against the tobacco tax to fund SCHIP, saying that it “disproportionately burdens low-income smokers” as well as “young adults.” No mention is made of any adverse impact on Heritage-funder Altria Group, the cigarette giant formerly known as Philip Morris.

    According to the American Association for Respiratory Care, with every 10 percent rise in the cigarette tax, youth smoking drops by 7 percent and overall smoking declines by 4 percent. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, says: “It is a public health good in and of itself and will save lives to increase the tobacco tax.  Cigarettes kill and cigarettes provoke lung cancer, and every child and every [other] human being we can, by increasing the cigarette tax, stop from smoking or slow down from smoking is going to have a public health benefit, save taxpayers money from the cost of the effects of smoking and tobacco.”

    Two programs serve as the health safety net for poor and working-class children: Medicaid and SCHIP (pronounced “s-chip”).  SCHIP is a federal grant program that allows states to provide health coverage to children who belong to working families earning too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance when their employers do not provide it.  It’s the SCHIP funding that is now being debated in Congress.

    The Children’s Defense Fund has published scores of stories similar to Deamonte’s. Children like Devante Johnson of Houston. At 13, Devante was fighting advanced kidney cancer.  His mother tried to renew his Medicaid coverage, but bureaucratic red tape tied up the process.  By the time Devante got access to the care he needed, his fate was sealed. He died at the age of 14, in Bush’s home state, only miles from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer treatment and research facilities.

    Our children depend on us and we ignore their pleas and their plight.  Possibly, we are as we remember. Our parents counted the available cash, they pinched pennies, or saved for the rainy day.  Perhaps, we are far worse.  We are not the providers our mothers and fathers were, and there in lies the problem. 

    The percentage of children under 18 who are uninsured rose from 10.8 percent in 2004 to 11.2 percent in 2005, while the number of uninsured children climbed from 7.9 million in 2004 to 8.3 million in 2005, an increase of 360,000.

      We cannot be certain these numbers are accurate.  As stated earlier, the current Administration tweaked the accounts.  Thus, what we believe to be true may be as dependent as our children are.  Nonetheless, we must understand that uninsured children will suffer even if Congress can override an expected Presidential veto. 

    As of late August 2007, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program Bill [SCHIP] is not the healthy plan it was intended to be.  For months, the White House wrangled with members of the House and Senate; they argued over the finer points of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, The cost and the conditions necessary for application were in question.  Lawmakers see a need to expand the program.  The Bush Administration favors cuts.  While Congress was in recess, during the quiet days of summer, the Executive Branch stepped in and stripped the law.  The effectiveness of a popular children’s health insurance program is now lost.  In its current form, the Bill is but a skeleton, bare to the bone.  New rules mandate States . .

    – Establish that the child
    has been without health insurance for at least one year.

    – Assure the federal government that at least 95 percent of children currently eligible for S-CHIP or Medicaid are enrolled in one of those programs.

    – Make sure that an S-CHIP family’s contribution to its health care costs (premiums, co-pays and deductibles) is only slightly less than the family would pay for a comparable private insurance plan.

    One can only sigh as Ann Kohler, New Jersey Deputy Commissioner of Human Services does.  She shrugs and states this part of the law is unfair.  “I cannot imagine any state being able to comply with that.”

    Judith Solomon, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, used to run the outreach program for Connecticut’s S-CHIP program. She says you couldn’t get that enrollment rate up to 95 percent even if you knocked on every door in the state looking for eligible kids. There are language barriers – people who just don’t want public assistance – and it’s a population that’s always in flux.

    “Children are born, children age out, they reach age 19 and are no longer eligible,” Solomon says. “Family income goes up, family income goes down; it’s a very dynamic situation.”

    Once again, we are reminded, the elders focus on financial matters more than physical realities.  In this nation, people are not the priority.  Political gestures, those that favor friends, take precedence.  For the President, insurance companies are more likely to fill his pockets than the poor and impoverished will.  For we, the people, particularly those whose purses are empty, might we stop and consider what brings us greater fulfillment.  Is it our children, our community, or our self-imposed ignorance.  Might we embrace empathy, love our neighbors more than the almighty buck, endow our children with quality health care services, and enjoy what truly matters, people and the profound affect we have on the life of our community.

    Sources for State Children’s Health Insurance Program . . .

  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  U.S. Department of Health.
  • The Number of Uninsured Americans At An All time High.  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. August 29, 2006
  • Who’s uninsured in 2007? It’s more than just the poor, By Julie Appleby.  USA Today.
  • Going Without; America’s Uninsured Children. Covering Kids and Families. August 2005
  • Bush Administration Outlines New SCHIP Standards That Would Keep Program Limited to Low-Income Children. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. August 21, 2007
  • Surveillance for Asthma — United States, 1980-1999. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Updated 2002
  • Americans Relying More on Prescription Drugs, Report Says, By Robert Pear.  The New York Times. December 3, 2004
  • pdf Americans Relying More on Prescription Drugs, Report Says, By Robert Pear.  The New York Times. December 3, 2004
  • PrescriptionDrugTrends. Kaiser Family Foundation. May 2007
  • Americans see fat as normal as weights rise: study. Reuters. August 7, 2007
  • Global Warming Fast Facts. National Geographic News. Updated June 14, 2007
  • Forest Holocaust.  National Geographic News.
  • Setting Urban Tree Canopy Goals. American forest.
  • Bush Is Prepared to Veto Bill to Expand Child Insurance, By Robert Pear.  The New York Times. July 15, 2007
  • Letter to The Honorable Max Baucus, Chairman of the Committee on Finance.
  • Belief that Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction Has Increased Substantially. The Harris Poll® #57. July 21, 2006
  • Many Eligible for Child Health Plan Have No Idea, By Kevin Sack.  The New York Times. August 22, 2007
  • pdf Many Eligible for Child Health Plan Have No Idea, By Kevin Sack.  The New York Times. August 22, 2007
  • Air Pollution and Children’s Health.  Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment .
  • Child Health Insurance Stalls in Congress, Plans to Renew Program Bog Down as Lawmakers Debate Funding, Philosophy. By Christopher Lee.  Washington Post. Sunday, July 15, 2007; Page A04
  • pdf Child Health Insurance Stalls in Congress, Plans to Renew Program Bog Down as Lawmakers Debate Funding, Philosophy. By Christopher Lee.  Washington Post. Sunday, July 15, 2007; Page A04
  • Enrolling Children in Medicaid and SCHIP: Insights from Focus Groups with Low-Income Parents. Prepared by:  Michael Perry and Julia Paradise.  Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. May 2007
  • Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children By Robert Pear.  The New York TimesAugust 21, 2007
  • Anderson Cooper; 360 Degrees.  Transcripts. August 22, 2007
  • 25 dead as storms collide in Midwest, Plains Cable News Network August 23, 2007
  • Dean Likely To Return To Mexico.  CBS News. August 22, 2007
  • Children’s Healthcare Is a No-Brainer By Amy Goodman.  Truth Dig. July 24, 2007
  • New Bush Policies Limit Reach of Child Insurance Plan, By Christopher Lee. Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A04
  • pdf New Bush Policies Limit Reach of Child Insurance Plan, By Christopher Lee. Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A04
  • August 26, 1920; Women’s Suffrage. Election Day; Women Exercise Right

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    August 26, 1920 is a date that lives large in history.  Those of the female persuasion may be more familiar with the day; however, few mark it on their calendars.  They may instead honor the occasion on the first Tuesday in November, or on another Tuesday in the Spring of the year.  On August 26, 1920, women received the right to vote.  Since that date the weight of womanly wisdom is exercised on election days.

    For many decades, women, typically single adult females, did not honor the inherent privilege their predecessors fought to provide.  A colonial woman believed the right to vote was a vital liberty.  Today, more and more women acknowledge women’s suffrage is significant.

    Women, older people, and married people are more likely to vote.

    Among citizens, women were more likely than men to vote in the 2002 election (47 percent compared with 46 percent) . . . Although men historically have voted at higher rates than women, women’s rates surpassed those of men in the entire 18-and-older population for the first time in the Presidential election of 1984.  This trend coincides with a number of other social changes for women in recent decades.  Educational attainment and the labor force participation rate, both strong correlates of voting, have risen dramatically among women. 

    These trends point to increased levels of political involvement by women, including voting participation.

    It began in 1776, prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  As our forefathers assessed the future of the colonies, so too, did our foremothers.  In 1776, Abigail Adams as the Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, penned a note to her husband, John, who attended.  Missus Adam asked that he and the other men gathered together to work on the historic document, “Remember the Ladies.”  She thought John responded with humor; others thought his remark a bone of contention.  John inscribed; The Declaration’s wording specifies, “All men are created equal.”  Then and today, some say, what of women.

    For many decades more, “The Cult of Domesticity” dominated the American culture.  Then, in 1821, Emma Hart Willard founds the Troy Female Seminary in New York.  This was the first endowed educational institution solely for girls.

    Twelve years later, in 1833 Oberlin College was the first college in the United States to enroll men and women.

    In 1841, Oberlin awards the first academic degrees to three women.  Early graduates include Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown.

    Sarah Grimke begins her speaking career as an abolitionist and a women’s rights advocate.  She is eventually silenced by male abolitionists who consider her public speaking a liability.

    The first National Female Anti-Slavery Society convention meets in New York City.  Lucretia Mott, a Quaker activist, is instrumental in organizing the convention, having had the experience of being denied membership in earlier anti-slavery organizations because she was a woman.  Eighty-one delegates from twelve states attend.

    Mary Lyon founds Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, eventually the first four-year college exclusively for women in the United States.  Mt. Holyoke was followed by Vassar in 1861, and Wellesley and Smith Colleges, both in 1875.  In 1873, the School Sisters of Notre Dame found a school in Baltimore, Maryland, which would eventually become the nation’s first college for Catholic women.

    Mississippi passes the first Married Woman’s Property Act.

    The drum beat on.  The rhythm was slow.  The path towards authentic progress was slower still.  In 1868 and 1869 respectably, women were shunned and gained ground.  Females were denied rights and given their full due.

    The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified, which extends to all citizens the protections of the Constitution against unjust state laws.  This Amendment is the first to define “citizens” and “voters” as “male.”

    The women’s rights movement splits into two factions as a result of disagreements over the Fourteenth and soon-to-be-passed Fifteenth Amendments.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the more radical, New York-based National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). 

    Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe organize the more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which is centered in Boston.  In this same year, the Wyoming territory is organized with a woman suffrage provision.  In 1890, Wyoming was admitted to the Union with its suffrage provision intact.

    The fissure grew among women and within the States.  There was support for a voting standard in some regions; others rejected the idea outright.  Attempts to obtain the provision, failed and succeeded.  Women remained undeterred.  During the following year and for five years hence . . .

    Several women–including Virginia Louisa Minor, Victoria Woodhull, and Myra Bradwell–attempt to use the Fourteenth Amendment in the courts to secure the vote (Minor and Woodhull) or the right to practice law (Bradwell).  They all are unsuccessful.

    In the subsequent three years efforts to secure full rights for women did not wane.  Finally, in 1878, a Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in the United States Congress.  However, it would be another forty-one [41] years before the amendment would pass in both houses.  The words ratified in the Bill passed in 1919 were identical to those proposed two score earlier.  The text did not change, times did.

    More than a century after Abigail Adams expressed her concern, womankind were awarded equal rights, in 1919, females were granted some liberties.  Officially, following ratification by the necessary thirty-six states, the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted on August 26, 1920. 

    Today, on the anniversary of this rite of passage, I wish all women well.  Each election day, as you exercise your right to cast your ballot, please remember the women before you that worked for centuries to ensure that you had the freedom to speak.

    Suffrage Sources . . .

  • Voting Registration in the Election November 2002. U.S. Census Bureau.  July 2004
  • Wooing the Single Women Vote.  Women’s Voices.  Women’s Vote. January 15, 2004
  • American Memory. Library of Congress.
  • General Peter Pace Joins the Ranks; Exit Iraq!

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    It is official, or expected to be.  Once again, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are expected to advise President Bush against staying the course.  You, dear reader may recall in December 2006, the highest Commanders were not in favor of the short surge and said so.  Then, the military leaders concluded the President’s plan would ultimately worsen conditions on the ground.  Nevertheless, George W. Bush did as he does; he “moved forward” with his strategy, as ill-conceived as senior officers thought it to be. 

    Today, citizens discovered another disagreement may be in the wings, the wings of the White House.  In a Los Angeles Times article released on Friday, August 24, 2007, a day after Republican Senator John Warner expressed his concern for the circumstances in Iraq, news of another possible recommendation for troop reduction was released.  Sources say, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will suggest George W. Bush bring some of the troops home.

    Top general likely to urge troop cut
    Advice by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs poses a potential clash with supporters of the buildup.
    By Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel
    Los Angeles Times
    12:23 PM PDT, August 24, 2007

    Washington – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.

    Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military.  This assessment could collide with one being prepared by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, calling for the U.S. to maintain higher troop levels for 2008 and beyond.

    Asked about the report that Pace favored the troop cut, White House Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe said today in Crawford, Texas, where Bush is spending several days at his home, that “the president has received no recommendations regarding our future force posture in Iraq.”

    He forecast a rash of reports in the weeks leading up to the report by Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, and Bush’s subsequent report to Congress, on the conditions in Iraq and discussion of the next steps there.  “The most important thing is to wait” until the mid-September accounting is delivered, Johndroe said.

    Petraeus is expected to support a White House view that the absence of widespread political progress in Iraq requires several more months of the U.S. troop buildup before force levels are decreased to their pre-buildup numbers sometime next year.

    Pace’s recommendations reflect the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who initially expressed private skepticism about the strategy ordered by Bush and directed by Petraeus, before publicly backing it.

    According to administration and military officials, the Joint Chiefs believe it is of crucial strategic importance to reduce the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in order to bolster the military’s ability to respond to other threats, a view that is shared by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

    Pace is expected to offer his advice privately instead of issuing a formal report.  Still, the position of Pace and the Joint Chiefs could add weight to that of Bush administration critics, including Democratic presidential candidates, that the U.S. force should be reduced.

    Those critics include Republican Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, who on Thursday called on Bush to begin withdrawing troops in September to pressure the Iraqi government to move toward political compromise.

    What is a President to do.  There is dissent among the faithful.  Hawks are leaving the nest.  The “Architect” and his building are no longer strong.  Support is on the decline.  Can President bolster what is left of his force; if so how.

    For now, Peter Pace, remains true to his past.  He is loyal to the Commander-In-Chief.  The General works to be discreet and diplomatic.  When asked of this probable assessment, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs offered no specifics. 

    As stated in this report, the General will discuss the decision in private.  However, as enthusiasm wanes for the war, and the President is in his last year in office, the Administration and its attempts to win the war seem less persuasive.  Any whisper of withdrawal will likely echo loudly in Washington District of Columbia. 

    Another inescapable reality may cause the President great harm.  The troops are ragged; recruit numbers are down.  The fury from military families is rising.  The men and women on the street may not be willing to wait for the war to end.  January 2009 is a long way away.  Perhaps the people in the United States will revolt.  They may throw up their arms and demand this Administration be taken out of the White House.  One can hope.

    Resource and Supplies . . .

  • White House, Joint Chiefs At Odds on Adding Troops, By Robin Wright and Peter Baker.  Washington Post.?Tuesday, December 19, 2006; Page A01
  • Top general likely to urge troop cut, Advice by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs poses a potential clash with supporters of the buildup.  By Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel.  Los Angeles Times  August 24, 2007
  • Pace leaving as Joint Chiefs chairman.  Cable News Network. June 8, 2007
  • Senator Warner Wants Us Out of Iraq

    Senator John Warner Interview, Part One August 23, 2007.  News Hour.

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Senator John Warner, former Chair of the Armed Services Committee, spoke out.  The Senator has been contemplated his decision for quite some time.  On August 23, 2007 after returning from a trip to Iraq, the Senior Republican Senator suggested that we begin to remove troops from Iraq. 

    The esteemed Senator expressed, he feels a need to clear his own conscious.  He declared “We must hasten to stop this senseless violence.”  Warner asserts the President makes statements that do nothing to move us forward.  The noted Presidential toughness does nothing to end the conflict or advance democracy; nor does our staying the course bring peace. 

    News Hour Judy Woodruff interviewed Senator Warner.  She inquires, why did he resist making this proclamation for so long.  She reminds Senator Warner the White House wants America and members of the Congress to wait, to hear what General David Petraeus offers his September report.  Woodruff wonders if the Senator is concerned that we might sacrifice the gains we have made thus far.  Warner avows he is concerned; he will listen with interest to what the General has to say.  Nonetheless, we cannot continue as we have.

    I offer the full transcript of the conversation for your assessment.  You may wish to discuss this stance with your friends and family, particularly those that support the war effort as Senator Warner did and does in degrees.  When those on the Right and Left meet, we reach the pinnacle, Middle Path.  I encourage a calm and empathetic exchange.  In my own life,  many friends and persons in my family politically disagree with my beliefs.  Yet, we always seem to discover, when we discuss and do not attack our foundations are similar.

    Perhaps Senator Warner has done more than ask to begin troop withdraw.  This thoughtful fellow may have opened doors for diplomatic discussions, at home and aboard.

    Judy Woodruff: Senator Warner’s surprise announcement that President Bush should call next month for the start of a pullout of U.S.  troops came on the heels of a bleak intelligence report today about the political climate in Iraq.  The so-called National Intelligence Estimate forecast that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to twelve months.

    The estimate concludes that, despite some headway made by coalition forces, “Levels of violence will remain high, and the Iraqi government will continue to struggle.”

    Senator John Warner, just back from a trip to Iraq himself, cited the report at his news conference today.  And the senator, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, joins us now.

    Senator, thank you for being with us.

    Senator John Warner [R], Virginia: Thank you.

    Judy Woodruff: What is it exactly that you want the president to do next month?

    Senator John Warner: In the first place, the president on January 10th invited members of the Congress and others to make suggestions from time to time.  And this is a suggestion that I’ve had on my mind for some several months.
    And it’s just not based on my trip, but it’s a collective study.  And I spent a tremendous amount of my time — because I think this is the most important issue, as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee that I have.

    What I suggested is as follows.  And it’s interesting, Judy, that the thoughts that I had, the report that Senator Levin and I filed — the written report — reflected very closely the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate.  We did not have it at a time.  We prepared our report in Iraq, or actually, it was done in Jordan.

    So, it’s an idea that we’ve got to do something in recognition that we’re constantly losing our brave soldiers, airmen, and Marines, and their families are suffering.  And we’ve got to show strong leadership.

    And I suggested that, given that it was our judgment before we arrived in Iraq that this government is simply not living up to its agreement made with the president and the people of this country on January 10th, that we would do the military security part of it, they would do the political part, namely, to bring about reconciliation to hasten this — stopping this senseless fighting.

    Judy Woodruff: And you’re asking, you’re saying the president should announce next month what?

    Senator John Warner: I’ve recommended — and it’s his option, in consultation with his military commanders.

    Withdrawal suggestions
    Judy Woodruff: That he should announce that there would be a drawdown, an initial drawdown of U.S.  troops of how many?

    Senator John Warner: Up to the president.  I just suggested 5,000; that’s about 2 percent of our overall force.
    Judy Woodruff: And when would you like to see them come home?

    Senator John Warner: Well, I just said, having been a trooper overseas once myself in Korea with the Marines, get them home by Christmas.  Everybody focuses on that.

    I wasn’t trying to surprise anybody.  I simply came out forthrightly with my own thoughts and because I knew that, this government — as the NIE confirms — is in a very precarious state.  They have failed to live up to the obligations they made to the president, our troops, and the American citizens in connection with the surge.

    Judy Woodruff: And you said this would send a message.  What message would it send?

    Senator John Warner: Yes, it will.  It would send a message that, when the president has said — and I quoted the president — he said, “I made it clear” — this is what he said on January 10th.  “I made it clear to Prime Minister Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that Americans’ commitment is not open-ended.”  He then said later, “Iraqis do not want U.S.  troops patrolling their cities forever any more than the American people do.”

    Then our ambassador in Iraq said yesterday, he said, “The progress in Iraq government is extremely disappointing” and warned that U.S.  support for the Maliki government did not come with a blank check.  We’ve got to put teeth behind those statements.

    And the teeth I suggest is to announce that we’ll make one initial withdrawal, then assess the consequences, and the president can opt to do another one sequentially.  Let the president set the timetable; let’s not have the Congress set any timetable.

    Judy Woodruff: You have resisted until now, Senator…

    Senator John Warner: That’s correct.

    Judy Woodruff: …  urging the president to do any sort of a withdrawal on any sort of timetable.  Why change your mind?  What changed your mind?

    Senator John Warner: What’s in this NIE.  It so happens that I had come to basically the same conclusions that were made public today at 1:00.

    Judy Woodruff: You were saying to me a moment ago you’d been thinking about this for the last two-and-a-half or three months?

    Senator John Warner: That’s correct.  That’s correct.

    Judy Woodruff: But you waited until today?

    Senator John Warner: Well, I waited until I got back.  I’ve only been back 48 hours.  I waited until I got back, assembled my thoughts, offered to make consultations at the White House, which I did.
    I felt very strongly that — I wrote the law, together with Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, that requires Petraeus and Crocker to come over, that requires the president to make such decisions about strategy as he deems appropriate and make it public no later than September 15th.  In deference to the president, I carefully just said, “Here’s a suggestion.  Consider it.”

    Waiting for word from Gen.  Petraeus
    Judy Woodruff: Now, the White House said today — they were asked about your statement, and the White House spokesman said, “Well, we believe we should wait and hear what General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker say.”

    Senator John Warner: I agree with that.  I have no disagreement.  I said that in the press conference.
    Judy Woodruff: And you were at the White House today.  You discussed this…

    Senator John Warner: In a group meeting, sure.  They’re consulting regularly with members of the Congress, senators, and House of Representatives who make the trips.

    Judy Woodruff: And what was the reaction at the White House?  Did you talk to the president today?
    Senator John Warner: You know, Judy, I’ve been in the Senate 29 years and visited many times with presidents and staff.  I consider it confidential.  I keep it confidential.

    Judy Woodruff: But did you talk to the president today about this?

    Senator John Warner: No, I did not, but I have in weeks past.

    Judy Woodruff: The White House also said today — they said that they are concerned that, if troops are pulled out too soon, if the mission changes, they said it could undermine everything that’s going on.  In fact, the NIE report that you’re citing there said, if troops are pulled out too soon, it would hurt the mission.  You’re not concerned about that?

    Senator John Warner: Wait a minute.  No, think what I said.  I said it’s up to you, Mr.  President, in consultation with your military commanders.  Of course, I’m concerned that we not lose the gains that our brave troops, with life and limb, have achieved thus far.

    But can you or anyone else come up with a better measure as to how to deal with a government that is precarious, how this security situation is not likely to change for the next 12 months?  Are we going to continue to force our troops in there or show some boldness and initiatives?

    Now, they’re perfectly willing to reject it.  If that’s what they want to do, reject it.  But at least I have spoken out with clarity and cleared my own conscience.

    Senator John Warner Interview, Part One August 23, 2007.  News hour.

    Sending a signal
    Judy Woodruff: Let me ask it from another perspective, and that is, what real difference would it make to pull out 5,000 troops out of 160,000?  Would it make a difference?

    Senator John Warner: It’s a signal.  Militarily, it would probably not make any difference whatsoever.  But it would be a signal. 

    As we traveled through this region, as I’ve studied the reports beforehand, all of the bordering countries are sitting there, wondering what it is we’re going to do.  The president has said on January 10th — and I quoted him — we’re not there, we’re not giving them a blank check, we’re not there forever.

    You can’t keep making statements like that.  You’ve got to put some teeth into it, show the sincerity that, if they don’t get their situation improved, bring about reconciliation, which should lessen the internal strife and the killing, then we’ve got to decide what’s in the best interests of our country.

    I agree with the president: This region is vital to our security interests and to other interests we have.  The bordering countries, I think this will get their attention.

    Judy Woodruff: So you think pulling just 5,000 troops out to begin with could cause the Iraqi government to get its act together?

    Senator John Warner: That’s an idea.  I believe that, or I would not have said this.  And then it also would say to the bordering nations and others that have a vital interest in that region, why don’t you come forward with your ideas, if you’ve got a better one, and try and help the United States of America resolve this problem?

    Judy Woodruff: Do you have reason to believe that they would do that?

    Senator John Warner: I’ve been in all those countries many times over the near 30 years I’ve been in the Senate, and I would not try and predict.  You’ve got to start with the fundamental thing that democracy is not a word that I think they embrace.  And we started out on that concept and perhaps will not achieve what we understand a democracy to be.  But we do want a freely elected government in Iraq to make the decisions in the best interests of their people.

    Now, somewhere in between we’ve got to find a solution, because we simply cannot let our troops be subjected, day in and day out, to this situation without some strong leadership to try and explore other options.

    Reconciling Iraq’s differences
    Judy Woodruff: Senator, just, again, to try to understand what you’re saying, you say you want the administration to put teeth in what they’re saying, and yet you just want it to be a 5,000 troop gesture.  Aren’t you going to…

    Senator John Warner: That is the initial — just a minute.  That’s up to the president.  I don’t want to see the Congress — the Congress has repeatedly tried to set timetables and a total plan by certain dates to have a withdrawal.  I have voted against that, and I will continue to vote against that type of proposition.

    I want, under the Constitution, our president to exercise his authority to make the decisions.  And he — all I suggest…
    Judy Woodruff: But 5,000 troops…

    Senator John Warner: …  take 5,000, fine.  That sends a signal that I mean business when I say we’re not going to stay there forever.  Then assess the — what is the reaction to the bordering countries?  What is the reaction internally?  What is the Maliki government doing?  What’s their legislature…

    Judy Woodruff: But you don’t think it would take more troops to send to have real teeth?

    Senator John Warner: Wait a minute.  The president has an opportunity to make that assessment.  Do step one.  Take a short but decisive and clear step.  Then analyze, was it a correct step?  Did it begin to bring about greater reconciliation among the factions?

    Mind you, you’ve got to have a unity government joined with the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds.  And right now, I think the external influences from Iran and to some extent Syria are trying to ensure that the Shia remain in just disproportionate control of that country without an adequate voice by the Sunnis or the Kurds.  And somebody has got to begin to force this thing in a way to reconcile those differences.

    Judy Woodruff: Senator John Warner, we’re going to be watching where this goes from here.  We thank you for coming in tonight.

    Senator John Warner: Thank you very much.

    Judy Woodruff: Thank you.

    I thank you too Senator Warner.  While for me, your proclamation is far from what I desire, I prefer taking the smallest step over doing nothing.  I do not wish to continue with a failed surge.  We have no more soldiers to send.  Those there are tired and tattered.  Emotionally and physically, their lives are in shambles. 

    Please, I plead; bring some troops home.  Ultimately, return all to sanity, if we can.  I fear it may be decades before we fully, if ever recover from such a debacle.  Nonetheless, until we commence, the combat will continue, and likely escalate.  Might we empathize with the soldiers and civilians whose lives are torn asunder.

  • Senator John Warner Interview.  News Hour. August 23, 2007
  • Bush Invokes Vietnam Analogy; Insists On Victory In Iraq

    Bush’s Speech on Iraq and Asian Wars

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Today history was made or perhaps, rewritten.  On this date, August 22, 2007, the President of the United States of America, who has long declared there is no comparison between the flawed and failed American involvement in Vietnam and the protracted and poorly planned engagement in Iraq made one.  In truth, he offered many.  George W. Bush, in a very lengthy speech, delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars documented world history in a manner that mesmerized people throughout the planet.  Some thought his words wise; other decidedly disagreed.  Mister Bush brilliantly crafted the content of his speech in hopes of promoting support for his program, the surge.

    Worldwide people pondered the intent of the prose and the broader significance.  Missives can be woven carefully.  Meanings manipulated.  Constructs contrived, and the effects can be innumerable. is concerned that messages are easily shaped in support of a desired spin.

    On Monday, Hillary Clinton told a crowd, “We’ve begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it’s working.” And on Tuesday, Barack Obama said, “My assessment is that if we put an addition 30,000 of our outstanding troops in Baghdad it is going to quell some of the violence short term.”

    Now, the Washington Times is using those quotes to suggest that Democrats are embracing President Bush’s surge strategy. The headline reads: “Democrats See ‘Results’ in Iraq.”

    History is easily manufactured to mean what we wish it to denote.  His story or hers is a unique perspective; that is unavoidable.  However, a President, particularly the Commander-In-Chief of the world’s greatest superpower has the wherewithal to create more than a note.  This man [or woman] can and does affect lives throughout the globe.

    Many historians thought the President’s assessment much folly.  While a few experts admit Mister Bush was accurate in some respects, they opined his statements ultimately were incorrect.  Without the advent of this American-led war, circumstances in Vietnam would have not been as they were.

    President Bush is right on the factual record, according to historians.  But many of them also quarreled with his drawing analogies from the causes of that turmoil to predict what might happen in Iraq should the United States withdraw.

    “It is undoubtedly true that America’s failure in Vietnam led to catastrophic consequences in the region, especially in Cambodia,” said David C. Hendrickson, a specialist on the history of American foreign policy at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

    “But there are a couple of further points that need weighing,” he added.  “One is that the Khmer Rouge would never have come to power in the absence of the war in Vietnam – this dark force arose out of the circumstances of the war, was in a deep sense created by the war.  The same thing has happened in the Middle East today.  Foreign occupation of Iraq has created far more terrorists than it has deterred.”

    Nonetheless, the words of George W. Bush are his truth and could become our policy.  What the President says carries enormous weight.  President Bush marches on as he leads us all into an unwarranted battle.  A man that chose to avoid the frontlines in his youth, and rarely if ever ventures to the fields now, felt a need to justify this American-Iraq War and demonstrate that his legacy will live large and be labeled a successful endeavor to establish democracy worldwide. 

    Mister Bush explained it is in the best interest of the United States that we continue to work until we stabilize Iraq.  Today, as on every other day, the Commander-In-Chief disregarded calls from Generals who spoke out from the start. He ignored the notion that the Iraq war was a mistake.  Whispers suggest President Bush will defy the logic of experts in defense again.  Some say even General Petraeus will state we must lower expectations; we cannot expect Iraqis to embrace democracy. Many recognize the White House may merely frame the General’s words to meet the President’s wants.  The citizens know, Congress understands Mister Bush prefers to stay the course no matter the human or monetary cost.  For President Bush history, or his story is reality.

    Finally, there’s Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech. So I’m going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end. . .

    Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There’s no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like “boat people,” “re-education camps,” and “killing fields.”

    There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle — those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001.  In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that “the American people had risen against their government’s war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today.”

    His number two man, Zawahiri, has also invoked Vietnam. In a letter to al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Iraq, Zawahiri pointed to “the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents.”

    Zawahiri later returned to this theme, declaring that the Americans “know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet.”  Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility — but the terrorists see it differently.

    We must remember the words of the enemy.  We must listen to what they say. Bin Laden has declared that “the war [in Iraq] is for you or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever.”  Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror — but it’s the central front — it’s the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again.  And it’s the central front for the United States and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating. (Applause.)

    If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits. As we saw on September the 11th, a terrorist safe haven on the other side of the world can bring death and destruction to the streets of our own cities. Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home.  And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America. (Applause.)

    Recently, two men who were on the opposite sides of the debate over the Vietnam War came together to write an article. One was a member of President Nixon’s foreign policy team, and the other was a fierce critic of the Nixon administration’s policies.  Together they wrote that the consequences of an American defeat in Iraq would be disastrous.

    Here’s what they said: “Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate.  Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences.”  I believe these men are right.

    In Iraq, our moral obligations and our strategic interests are one. So we pursue the extremists wherever we find them and we stand with the Iraqis at this difficult hour — because the shadow of terror will never be lifted from our world and the American people will never be safe until the people of the Middle East know the freedom that our Creator meant for all.  (Applause.)

    I recognize that history cannot predict the future with absolute certainty.  I understand that.  But history does remind us that there are lessons applicable to our time.

    Apparently, the reason Mister Bush does not authentically learn from the past, is because he writes his own version of what was.  What is most distressing for me is that President Bush is not alone.  The veterans in the audience applauded.  Many saw or heard George W. Bush speak in September 2001, and even on this day, thought the man persuasive.

    Might we recall that the past is painted and is easily tainted to appease the masses or the man.  On April 14, 2004, George W. Bush avowed any attempt to equate the two American lead wars was erroneous. 

    Q. Mr. President, April is turning into the deadliest month in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, and some people are comparing Iraq to Vietnam and talking about a quagmire. Polls show that support for your policy is declining and that fewer than half Americans now support it.  What does that say to you and how do you answer the Vietnam comparison?

    A. Yeah, I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy is – sends the wrong message to our troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy.

    Yet, this morning the man who diligently avoided active service during the Vietnam conflict devoted much time to draw a parallel.  In a lengthy speech, Mister Bush argued the situation in Iraq is similar to what was in Vietnam.  Senator Ted Kennedy, form Democrat from Massachusetts made the argument months ago.  Senator Ted Kennedy thought the similarities striking and said so.

    Senator Kennedy: “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam”

    Today, we must decide for ourselves, which historical account will we ascribe to.  War is good; it brings peace and [forcefully imposed] democracy, or only people can work together as one if we are to give rise to harmony.  For me, there is no other option.  Diplomacy, face-to-face interactions, amongst world leaders and the common folk, are the only avenue towards understanding. 

    President Bush cannot and does not speak for me.  Hillary Clinton’s claims that warfare might work do not deliver me from judgments of “evil.”  Words of a temporary reduction of violence, no matter the intent do not quell my fears.  Senator Barack Obama does not restore a faith I never had in combat.  I believe as Buddha offered.

    Believe nothing,
    no matter where you read it,
    or who said it,
    no matter if I have said it,
    unless it agrees with your own reason
    and your own common sense.

    ~ Buddha

    Prefer to pounce as we have for centuries, or Give Peace a Chance . . .

  • President Bush Attends Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, Discusses War on Terror,  Office of the Press Secretary.  August 22, 2007
  • “Democrats See ‘Results’ in Iraq.” By S.A. Miller.  Washington Times. August 21, 2007
  • Ex-General Gives His Take on Iraq War, In His Memoir, Franks Also Seems Supportive of the Bush Administration. By Thomas E. Ricks. Washington Post.  Sunday, August 1, 2004; Page A10
  • Retired generals rising up against Iraq war, By Erin Solaro.  Seattle Post Intelligencer. April 16, 2006
  • Why Iraq Was a Mistake. By Lieutenant General Greg Newbold.  Time Magazine. April 9, 2006
  • Historians divide on Vietnam’s lessons for Iraq, By Thom Shanker.  the International Herald Tribune.  August 22, 2007
  • Bush Cites Past Conflicts to Urge Staying In Iraq. The New York Times. August 22, 2007
  • pdf Bush Cites Past Conflicts to Urge Staying In Iraq. The New York Times. August 22, 2007
  • Press Briefing by Tony Snow. Office of the Press Secretary.  August 1, 2007
  • Transcript of Bush’s Remarks on Iraq: ‘We Will Finish the Work of the Fallen.’  The New York Times.  April 14, 2004
  • Postmodern Times; The Beginning or the End?

    Postmodern Times

    Postmodern Times is a series of short animated films presenting new ideas about global consciousness and techniques for social and ecological transformation. Our first episode, “Toward 2012”, introduces the project, explaining concepts from the best-selling book, “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” (Tarcher/Penguin, 2006) by Daniel Pinchbeck, in the author’s own voice. Future segments will focus on shamanism, sustainability, alternative energy systems, the Mayan Calendar, quantum physics and synchronicity, human sexuality, and a host of other subjects.

    I have long been fascinated by time.  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years are all man-made concepts.  Humans control the construct; yet, the perception of these notions rules us. 

    People perceive time as a constraint, a constant, and an excuse all at once.  Writer, Daniel Pinchbeck asks us to analyze the element we call time.  I invite you to share your point of view, your reality, what you believe is our “psychic evolution.”  Will we advance individually and as a whole, or will this era be our end?

    Vigorous Vermont Senator Leahy Falls Victim To Dynamic Bush/Cheney Duo

    Patrick Leahy on the Wiretapping Subpoena Deadline

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I wish I could applaud.  I long to feel hopeful.  As Congress continues to succumb to the current Administration, I watch all the antics, listen to the rhetoric and cringe again. 

    Wave the flag, walk all over the Constitution, no matter the position, nothing changes.  Journalist Dana Milbank was able to find humor in what for me is too painful to ponder.  This creative columnist wrote of the recent Patrick Leahy address and I smiled.

    The Caped Crusader From Vermont
    By Dana Milbank

    Washington Post.
    Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A02

    “Sen. Patrick Leahy has a part in the next Batman movie.” — Associated Press, Aug. 19.

    “Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) holds a media availability on the deadline for subpoenas for documents relating to the … Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.” — Reuters, Aug. 20.

    Somewhere in Gotham, the Batphone rings. Loyal butler Alfred (played by Robert Byrd) summons Bruce Wayne ( Leahy). It’s Commissioner Gordon on the line, and the news is grim: A villainous alliance has been formed by the Riddler (Karl Rove), the Penguin (Dick Cheney), the Joker (Alberto Gonzales) and Catwoman (Harriet Miers).

    The fearsome foursome has brainwashed the previously incorruptible White House counsel (Fred Fielding), and the villains are trying to take over the American government through wanton and reckless claims of executive privilege. The latest sign of doom: Fielding has missed yet another deadline to respond to Senate subpoenas probing a secret eavesdropping program.

    Enter the caped crusader, who has flown in from Vermont wearing a Batman-gray business suit and Batman-black loafers. He strikes back at Gotham’s criminal masterminds with his signature weapon: the news conference. Meeting reporters in the Judiciary Committee hearing room, the Dark Knight encounters so many Batmicrophones on his Batlectern that he has to hold his Batspeech in his hands.

    “The administration has produced no documents!” Leahy growled.


    “No adequate basis for noncompliance!”


    “No privilege claims!”


    “No complete privilege log!”


    However, the comedy turn to tragedy, as inevitably those that that care knew it would..  When the Senator from Vermont was asked about attempts to move forward, formulas that would impose consequences on officials that care not for the Constitution, the reply was prosaic, the passion void.

    Aspiring superhero Leahy came up short when asked at a news conference yesterday what specific weapon he might use to force the White House to comply. But he left little doubt that, if the ne’er-do-wells continue to defy him, he may give the White House another good scolding when Congress returns from recess. And — who knows? — he may bring Robin the Boy Wonder (played by Chuck Schumer).  . . .

    The first questioner riddled Batman with this.

    “The full Judiciary Committee will have to sit down and determine whether to seek contempt from the full Senate,” said the noncommittal action hero.

    Does that mean he would seek a contempt-of-Congress citation? “What I want to do is get the response to these things,” Leahy demurred.

    Rebecca Carr of Cox News tried again to pin him down, but Leahy continued to escape. “What we have to find out is what happened here,” he answered.

    The forlorn female then posed another supposition.

    How about withholding money from the administration? “Let’s take it step by step,” he [Leahy] proposed.

    Perhaps there is no reason to turn in next week at the same time.  The audience can predict as Journalist Milbank states.

    Holy incrementalism, Batman!

    Someone please, hand me the remote.  I want to change the channel.  Patrick Leahy and his supporting cast of characters have lived in the Batcave for too long.  There is no light in sight.  There is no end to this tunnel.  The diabolic duo live on and live strong in the Oval Office.  The Bushman and the Quail Hunter remain strong.  Their position solid. 

    With or without a Turd Blossom to be their “Brain,” these two are ready, willing, and able to battle Batman Leahy and his band of Benign Boy and Girl Wonders.  The Joker of an Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales does justice in his role.  Crafty Catwoman Miers continues to mesmerize those that cannot see her appearance.  The adventure continues; however, the outcome seems a foregone conclusion.  Few expect Congress, the country, or the citizens will ever be free from this folly.  Might I have missed an episode, the one in which the Constitution was burned.

    The Source . . .

  • The Caped Crusader From Vermont, By Dana Milbank.  Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A02
  • pdf The Caped Crusader From Vermont, By Dana Milbank.  Washington Post. Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A02
  • Achieving Peace In A World Built On Defense

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Again, I stood alone on the corner, as I had for months.  My intent was as it has been for years; I seek to achieve world peace.  However, after a short while I realized, today was like no other.  I received the usual smiles and signals of serenity; nonetheless, the number of shuns, shrieks, and screams were as they had never been before.  I held the same sign that I embrace each Saturday.  The words “Love Not War!” are displayed for all to see. 

    My attire advances my message.  Each afternoon, as I plead for harmony, I am dressed in white.  My arm is out-stretched.  My forefinger and middle finger are extended above my head as I offer a recognizable gesture.  I only ask we give peace a chance. 

    Initially, as people passed me on this busy street, life was good.  It has been for as long as I can recall.  An automobile would pass.  The occupants would toot their car horn.  Numerous individuals would exchange nods or note that they too yearn for global tranquility.  I would express my pleasure aloud.  Repeatedly, as I encounter my fellow citizens I exclaim, “Thank you.”  My salutations of joy for our like desire fill the air.  It is a pleasure to experience so many individuals in a shared quest for world harmony.

    Then, suddenly, a car came very close.  A United Sates flag was flying high above the chassis of this vehicle.  An elderly man slowly rolled down the window and leaned toward me.  Good naturedly he inquired, “Where is my love?”  I grinned and said, “It is all around us.”  I continued, “We get what we give,” or so I have long believed.  However, as the afternoon wore on, I wondered was that so.

    On this day, I was bombarded with flailing fingers, thumbs down, waves that connote wrongdoing, and of course, the third digit on either hand crossed my path.  While these expressions were less than warm, they did not concern me.  Individuals may have a difference of opinion.  I accept and appreciate that.  Each of those that offered a characteristic contrary conviction politely stated their case.

    My reason for concern came from the few that expressed their disdain with fury.  One man came very close to the corner, rowed down the window, and shouted, “Your actions support the terrorist.”  He asserted, “You are a traitor.”  I listened and said nothing.  I contemplated the concept. 

    I thought of how I love this country.  I never had a notion to leave the shores of America.  I long to ensure that the United States of America will be exemplary.  Others will look to us and trust mankind can “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Indeed, my hope is that by our actions we will illustrate that “all men are created equal.”  Admittedly, my hope is that if we are all truly good to our fellow man, here and abroad, there will be no reason for resistance.  As this chap shrieked, I offered no reply, not verbally, or otherwise.  The young man sped off.

    I contemplated terrorism.  I wondered.  Who is a greater threat, those that kill in the name of freedom and justice while dressed in American uniforms, or those murder the persons that they deem “the enemy.”  Reveries of scholar, Sam Keen filled my head.  I recall the text, “Faces of the Enemy,” and the message.  The tome . . .

    Examines the techniques of propaganda used to teach us “to hate all the people our relatives hate.”  Some 400 posters and cartoons show how enemies are dehumanized by portraying them as enemies of god, barbarians, terrorists, sadists and aggressors so that we will be able to kill without remorse or pity.

    I think of this frequently.  When I hear Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush speak, I trust that the “overeducated at Harvard and Princeton,” former Professor of Philosophy and Religion, and contributing editor of Psychology Today, Sam Keen is, for me, correct.  Speeches made by Bin Laden, or Bush, are at times, interchangeable.  Each tells us to hate an enemy.

    You have  . . . defiled our honour, violated our dignity, shed our blood,  . . . and tampered with our security.  We will treat you in the same way.

    I trust to my core, I sponsor no violence or campaigns that promote intimidation.  Bombs and brutality are not a means to the end I endorse.  As I stand solid and resolute, I hum the tune, “give peace a chance.”

    Moments passed; perhaps it was many minutes later.  I was so lost in thoughts I do not recall now.  The lovely city bus driver entered the intersection.  From half a block away, I saw her smile, her kind face, and as I do every Saturday, I experienced her delight at the sight of me.  She beamed.  I could see, even from a distance her fingers were positioned as mine were.  We each granted the other our traditional gesture.  Together we promote peace.

    I have long stated, when we connect with another human in a loving manner we can, and will, receive what we bestow.  I believe Newton’s Third Law of Motion governs the universe.  Yet, sadly, some have yet to realize that a reactive stance will elicit the same in kind.

    I recall a discussion in cyberspace just over ten months ago.  The question was posed.

    If you had to make a conscious, affirmative choice, would you rather win? Or would you rather be right?

    “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.”
      ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes [Prominent Writer, Physician]

    The discussion that ensued astounded me.  In truth, the query itself puzzled me.  I do not believe in the concept of victory.  For me, if one triumphs, they too are defeated.  I believe the only absolute “right” is love, which translates to peace. 

    “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”
    ~ Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13,’ May 3,1919

    Many muse, “Love is an action.”  Indeed, I believe it is.  Conversely, I postulate, “Fear is a reaction.”  As I stand before those that support a conflict that kills young, old, innocent, and innocence I realize many feel a need to defend their claim.  “We must win the war before we leave Iraq.”  These were the words yelled to me from another open car window.

    Again, I perpend.  “Win” and “war” are constructs that I think untenable.  Nevertheless, we as a nation are obsessed with each.  Americans, and perhaps citizens worldwide, are quick on the trigger, swift when we wish to snipe, careless when critical.  We welcome a Department of Defense.  Many believe weapons of mass destruction, be they chemical, biological, nuclear, or words, serve society well. 

    People do not accede a need to pursue peace profoundly.  The populace professes to believe, we must “fight” for freedom.  I inquire, can we not all be free to feel as we do and still be civil, calm, and considerate of our fellow man.  Some state, humans living in harmony is but a dream.  I think the dream is possible. 

    I sigh as I consider this series of confrontational events, all in a single day bring no serenity.  I weigh what is occurring.  The sun was bright, the humidity high.  I could feel the heat of the summer day scorch my skin.  Hurricane strength winds were off in the distance.  Might the moon influence the attitudes of people as they pass by?  Perhaps the temperature, the hour, or the culture of combat that is pervasive in this country created what came next.

    As I stood at my usual post on the northwest corner, I faced the traffic traveling away from the beach.  Red, yellow and green lights directed the wave of cars.  Ever and anon, drivers see me as they sit stopped, before they are given the right of way.  Many beep prior to reaching the intersection.  Others wait until they are closer.  On occasion, an individual will decide to respond after they are farther down the road.  Some want to read my sign, reflect, and than throw caution to the wind.  Whatever people chose to do is fine with me, or so I thought.  I had not contemplated an extreme confrontation.

    It was close to one post-meridian time.  The red light that held westward bound cars at bay changed to green.  A very large, shiny, and new truck, cut across two lanes of traffic.  The driver quickly raced towards me.  This vehicle had been in the farthest left lane, nowhere near the curb on which I stood.  The lorry careened.  Its occupants clearly wished to be close to me.  I saw the swift motion and feared the automobile would jump the sidewalk.

    As the rig approached, I saw the side window was open.  An extremely rotund man sat in passenger seat.  He and the stout fellow steering the motor vehicle, each leaned towards me.  Their skin was tanned, faces flush, veins were bulging, and their voices very loud.  They deliberately declared, “You f***ing loser!  You f***ing c***!  You f***ing bit**!”  I stood still.  I said nothing.  Words escaped me.  I only knew my thought.  I wish you peace and love.  I hope you will find these.  My desire is that we all will.

    However, once more I am haunted by the vastness of defensiveness.  For me, the claim that self-defense is justifiable encourages destructive engagement and advances assaults.  Yet, that is the battle cry.  President George W. Bush proclaims . . .

    I want to thank my fellow Americans for caring about the subject of peace, and that’s what I’m here to discuss.

    We meet at a time of great consequence for the security of our nation, a time when the defense of freedom requires the advance of freedom, a time with echoes in our history . . .

    Like an earlier generation, America is answering new dangers with firm resolve.  No matter how long it takes, no matter how difficult the task, we will fight the enemy, and lift the shadow of fear, and lead free nations to victory.  (Applause.)

    Like an earlier generation, America is pursuing a clear strategy with our allies to achieve victory.  Our immediate strategy is to eliminate terrorist threats abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home.  The theory here is straightforward: terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they are worried about their own security.  When terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks.  We will keep the terrorists on the run, until they have nowhere left to hide.

    Never does the Commander-In-Chief mention the horror he released on civilians.  Nor does he consider the reality that violence begets greater violence.  Brutality increases exponentially when we engage in battle.  Yet, this is what people often do.  They bump and bruise their fellow global citizens all in the name of achieving tranquility.

    At times, the downtrodden in exasperation do as the self-proclaimed “masters” of the universe do.  They wage war for what they think right.  The poor and mistreated fight in defense of freedom, as might we all.  Perchance, those defined as “plebeians” determine they must defend themselves for those in power so eagerly attack.  Parents may be the authority figure doing as was done to them.  Peers may also adopt a repressive role.  Interestingly, often, the “prominent” population is numerically less large.

    We might consider the circumstances of well-known Civil Rights Leader, Malcolm X.  In his endeavor to seek liberty and justice for all, he experienced as many Americans do, infinite inequity.  In frustration, Malcolm expressed his fury.  He spoke of the need to defend self, just as the President does.

    “It doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time, I am not against using violence in self-defense.  I don’t call it violence when it’s self-defense; I call it intelligence.”

    Few recall that late in his life, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage that seem to prompt a change from within.  While the revered revolutionary had little time left on Earth after his holy journey, there was reason to believe that ultimately Malcolm X would have embraced non-violence.  Still, in this climate of conflict most prefer to recall the man that stood strong in the face of danger, as he declared . . .

    “The price of freedom is death.”

    The slain leader did not live to see peace; nor have we reached that preferred pinnacle.  We can only hope that Malcolm rests in peace.  In his name, we may wish to pursue the prospect, however, belatedly.

    My day on the corner gives me little reason for hope.  While the vast majority joined me in peaceful expressions, the experience reminded me of what I fear is too often true.  George W. Bush may have said this best.

    America’s military is fighting in many theaters, yet always for the same cause. We seek to preserve freedom and peace for ourselves and for our friends.

    I observe that often, American’s, our followers, and those they label foe only wish to establish peace for their pals.  A person, or a nation, given any unforeseen circumstances can easily be considered an adversary.  A slip, a slight, a misstep in the mind of this superpower or that supposed subversive can alienate an ally.  One never knows what can trigger an attack.

    In cyberspace, the same dynamic is evident.  People posit an opinion, and those that disagree lash out in defense of their stance.  An offensive retort is often delivered as a bullet might be.  Words when used as weapons can pierce a heart and soul.  Indeed, frequently, that seems to be the intent.

    I return to the inquiry posited in a local Internet neighborhood; would we rather be right or win.  Might we consider if any of us think ourselves righteous in comparison to another then we lose the empathy essential for peace.  We cannot win a battle and lose a war.  Any confrontation weakens us all.

    “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless,
    whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

    ~ Mahatma Gandhi, “Non-Violence in Peace and War”

    Almost a century ago, we fought the War to end all Wars.
    The number of men mobilised by both sides: the central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey), and the allied powers (Britain and Empire, France, Belgium, Russia, Italy, USA), totalled over 65 million.

    When the fighting was finally over, no-one could tell exactly how many had been killed but historians estimate that up to 10 million men lost their lives on the battlefield – and another 20 million were wounded.

    We declared that destruction, The Great War.  Decades later the globe was again on fire.  Certainly, this more recent conflict would bring world peace.  Countless skirmishes occurred before and after each of these battles.  The cycle never seems to end.  Fighting is accepted as a fact of life.

    There are hostilities in our homes, fractures in our factories.  Campaigns of cruelty in cyberspace are common.  Offices are not exempt; offensive rhetoric lives large in every cubbyhole.  On the streets, the battle continues.  Gangs come to blows, and a little girl, all of five feet tall, is attacked for holding high a banner that pleads for peace.

    Still, the virtuous declare victory, while the battle rages on.  Might we consider if we truly wish to achieve harmony, “mission accomplished” must be the manifestation of shared love.

    Defend the Right to Love . . .

  • U.S. Constitution: Preamble. FindLaw.
  • Text: ‘Bin-Laden tape.’ By British Broadcasting Company.  January 19, 2006
  • Faces of the Enemy. By Sam Keen.
  • Question of the Day – Hard Choices Edition. By shanikka.  My Left Wing.  October 11, 2006
  • President Discusses War on Terror. National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair.  Office of the Press Secretary.  March 8, 2005
  • Malcolm
  • The War to End All Wars.  British Broadcasting Company.  Tuesday, 10 November, 1998
  • The Great War.  Community Television of Southern California. British Broadcasting Company. 
  • President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended. Office of the Press Secretary.  May 1, 2003
  • Bush: Iraq is one victory in war on terror, Cable News Network.  Friday, May 2, 2003
  • Impeachment; Bush and Cheney Convict of Constitutional Crimes

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The question is often posed.  Each day a few Progressives ponder the possibility and offer their plea.  Conservatives on the “Right” and “Left’ languish when they discuss what may be apt.  They state there is no time.  Some posit, impeachment will distract a nation at war.  Ah, how the White House welcomes that theory.  Many dismiss the notion.  They question the feasibility.  Others are ready, willing, and waiting to start the impeachment proceedings.  Rants, rage, reasons fill the air; they flood the airwaves.  Cyberspace is clogged with conversations.  Congress declares the topic is “off the table.”  Yet, here it is.  Few have stated the rational so concisely.  I present the position for impeachment as detailed by the Voice of the Environment.  I invite a discussion.

    Voice of the Environment’s August 9, 2007 advertisement appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Santa Monica Mirror and New York Times.

    America Betrayed (#23 in a series of 30)
    Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . .

    Step One: Impeachment
    We the people have the legal right and the moral obligation to enforce the Constitution and the rule of law.  If we allow George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to subvert and break the law, we ourselves become complicit in the illegality.

    The Case for Impeachment

  • George W. Bush and Dick Cheney lied to Congress and to the American people in fabricating a case for an illegal, “preemptive” war against Iraq.  They lied about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction and they tricked the American people into believing that Saddam was responsible for the tragedies of 9/11.
  • Bush and Cheney have subverted the Constitution through illegal surveillance of American citizens and the suspension of habeas corpus, a legal right dating back to the Magna Carta (1215).
  • The president and vice-president have caused the illegal detention and torture of foreign nationals they call “illegal combatants” (a new category created to circumvent the Geneva Conventions).  They have also caused citizens to be kidnapped and taken away for torture.
  • Bush has issued more than 800 “signing statements,” whereby he alone decides which laws or sections of law he will enforce. One such signing statement allowed the continuation of torture, even after a congressionally-mandated ban. Last December, Bush asserted the authority to open US mail without judicial warrants in a signing statement attached to a postal reform bill.
  • On September 30, 2003, George W. Bush said “if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.  And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.”  The same George W. Bush recently took care of Cheney aide I. “Scooter” Libby, commuting his 30-month prison sentence. Libby was convicted by a jury of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in the case of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The constitutional provision allowing the president to pardon convicted criminals was never intended to facilitate the cover-up of crimes committed by the White House.

    Step Two: Indictment
    The president is protected from criminal prosecution while in office. The vice-president is not. In fact, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy are currently challenging the administration’s expansive claims of executive privilege by issuing a subpoena for Karl Rove and initiating contempt proceedings against other executive branch officials including Harriet Miers. 

    Once Bush and Cheney are impeached (or termed out of office), both are liable in criminal proceedings. Justice can and should be done through an indictment brought by a federal grand jury for treason in conspiring to defraud and deceive the American people into an illegal war.

    World opinion of the United States is at an all-time low.
    Bringing President Bush and Vice-President Cheney to justice will begin the process of restoring respect for the United States and restoring our own self-respect as a democratic people.

    Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and the House Judiciary Committee must address this crisis by taking the Constitutional steps necessary to bring about impeachment proceedings in the House and a trial in the Senate. To delay or avoid such remedy is to place our democratic republic and the separation of powers in grave danger now and for the foreseeable future.

    Paid for by Voice of the Environment (a 501(c)3)

  • Ultimately, we the people are responsible for the actions of our government.  We are responsible for the thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – including civilians, women and children – killed, maimed and displaced.

    We are ashamed at what is being done in our names!  After six years of imperial adventurism, Bush and Cheney have set the stage to attack Iran.

    Such an attack could mark the beginning of World War III, an unthinkable conflict pitting the west against much of the Muslim world.

    In 1933, as Hitler rose to power, the German people still had a chance to rise up and change history. They failed to act and tens of millions paid with their lives.

    Today, the American people face a similar challenge.  If we don’t change history, we may be doomed to repeat it.

    If you agree with the ideas expressed in this ad, support Voice of the Environment with a tax-deductible contribution.  Please mail your check to:
    Voice of the Environment
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    Voice of the Environment’s mission is to . . .
      educate the public regarding the illegal seizure of our natural resources
    and the unconstitutional usurpation of our inalienable right by a corporate-driven government.
  • Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . . America Betrayed.  Voice of the Environment
  • Voice of the Environment
  • pdf Let’s put Bush & Cheney where they belong . . . America Betrayed.  Voice of the Environment