The Walls Cried Out; Why I Write

copyright © Judith Moriarty

A look back over my life, epitomizes to me, what has happened to America.  There was once upon a time those magic moments far removed from the madness of war, box stores, and shuttered towns.  My brother Johnny and I would spend summer days at our secret ‘camp’ called Sundown.  It sat above the steel mills far below in the valley.  We would take an iron skillet, eggs, bacon, and eat our lunch there near the waterfall.  I can’t remember that we ever spent a moment indoors during the summer.  

No ‘Danger Stranger’ – had our streets resembling a ghost town.  We had no TV – no video games etc.  There were no malls – and no designer duds, or exotic vacations.  People aren’t poor until the world tells them they are.  When you have the beauty of nature – nobody is poor.

Then one day the trucks came.  The church who owned the fields and woods; sold the land to the robber barons who owned the mills.  They covered the fields, the woods, and our secret camp, with tons and tons of ash and hot slag.  They didn’t live there so they didn’t care.  Pretty soon, there was just an ugly black mountain of black ash/slag.  Then people started dumping garbage there and the rats came.  

When we visited my Aunt Celie, (a newspaper editor) we could stand in her back yard and see the mountain hanging precariously over the town .  My aunt lived near the mills.  

Johnny and I worked on the slagheap after it covered our woods and waterfall.  We would chip away the slag from chunks of metal and then take our wagon to the junkyard to be weighed.  Johnny brought his bow and arrow to keep the rats away.  On a good day, (8:00 am to 4:00 pm) we could make $4.00.  Everyone thought that Johnny and I were the twins.  My twin Jackie (a head taller) didn’t care for woods, making stilts, or fishing in the creek.  As for slag, forget it.  Jackie was more into playing house and dressing up.  

Then one day the good news came (I was nine – Johnny was seven) we got the news that we were moving to the mountains.  My dad had gotten a job as an electrician, at the Joy, (they made mining machinery) in a small town, far removed from belching mills or mountains of ash.  We really moved there to be closer to my brother Jerry (older) who was autistic.  

After his last series of vaccine shots, he disappeared into a black hole.  He sang and danced and then he was silent.  Noise bothered him.  You couldn’t cry in our house.  My sister Jackie did – she lacked any sensitivity to my brother.  One day he threw a tobacco can at her.  It hit the bridge of her nose.  Blood covered the walls.  That’s when it was decided that an institution was the only answer.  This from the relatives.  

The small town that we moved to was magical.  There were sweeping parks, creeks to fish in,  Indian burial grounds, and forts.  The institution was about 20 miles outside of town.  You traveled over the river and winding mountain roads to reach its Gothic forbidding grounds.

Almost every weekend I would travel to the institution with my parents.  I had thought when they drove him away one day (I was nine) that he was going to a school that would take care of him.  I imagined that once he was gone that we would become a ‘normal’ family.  We wouldn’t have to worry about noise, or crying, or relatives coming to the house, like black crows on a clothesline, whispering about how he was ‘crazy’.  The neighbors wouldn’t tell me that my brother was ‘a cretin ‘ because of ‘the sins of my parents’.  Not that I knew what the hell sin was?

My parents never took my brother and sister to this place – only me.  They wanted somebody to care for Jerry after they died (I was chosen).  They needn’t have worried – I wouldn’t have forgotten him.  I spent many an hour with him in his bedroom (before he went away) – where he spit on toys and listened to music.  He never went outside after Eddie Perry (big bully) crushed his hand with a brick.  Even though I was a midget kid, I went up to Eddy, doubled my fist, and smashed him in the face.  It broke his nose.  Eddy wasn’t king of the hill after that.  Sometimes violence rears its ugly head despite the best of intentions.  I only regret that I wasn’t stronger.  He ruined my brother’s enjoyment of being outside in the dirt pile.  

People shouldn’t lie to their kids about a handicapped child in the family.  My mother told me that Jerry was a gift from God.  I didn’t think that God was putting various disabilities on certain people just for fun or to make life interesting for people? People are always blaming God for someone flawed, terribly injured, or killed in war.  As I saw it, most maladies came about through man’s pollution of the environment, contaminated (mercury) vaccines, accidents, or the greed of generational war.  Even so, – people such as my brother – are gifts.  It’s up to the individual to discover this gift in another.  Without the challenges of serving those in distress, maimed, or mentally challenged, how would we ever grow spiritually; in the gifts of kindness, compassion, patience, and the giving of ourselves? How would we develop the skill needed to hear the cry of the voiceless?

My parents (best of intentions) never should have exposed me to the traumas of visiting an institution at such a young and vulnerable age.  They should have arranged for me to meet them in the small restaurant downtown where they brought Jerry to eat.  Children are not psychologically developed enough to grasp the horrors of caged people (this goes for prisons also).Childhood is a small fragment of time – it needs to be protected.

I can still remember the first time I visited this place.  There were bars on the windows.  Nude men (it was summer) like rabid animals, were climbing on the bars, and screeching the most inhuman of sounds.  I couldn’t believe that my brother was locked up in the bowels of such a place.  They (staff) would NEVER let you go beyond the visitors’ room when you went to visit.  You would wait until they brought your relative out all dressed up.  I remember looking at those locked doors and wondering just what lay behind them? I knew my parents didn’t want my brother to be in that place but poverty didn’t have the choice of a special hospital, such as the private facility, where the Kennedy family put their daughter.  

Raised in the Catholic Church, I was convinced that if only we could get Jerry to one of those miracle places (Fatima – Lourdes ), he’d become normal.  For years I’d pray that he’d get well and then one day I stopped.  I then started praying (after visiting the institution) that he would die.  I couldn’t imagine him being imprisoned in such a place his whole life?  Then one day he did die.  He died from abuse and neglect.  He died from indifference.  He died because some people should never be employed to care for helpless, voiceless, crippled people.  It was a dreary winter day when they buried him in the institution’s potter’s field.  There was a blizzard.  In the end, it was only my parents and myself who stood there listening to the forever prayers of the dead.  

I was freezing and I was angry.  Still a kid, I remember my own prayers.  I said (to myself)….”So what was this all about? Why didn’t you (God) take him sooner – instead of him having to suffer all these years? I just want to know – just let me know if he’s safe and happy now.” The priest droned on and on.  He handed the crucifix off the cheap gray cloth box to my dad.  The snow was getting deeper.  I wondered how we’d get out of that desolate place.  Five, ten, and then fifteen minutes passed.  In all that time, not one drop of snow fell where the crucifix had lain.  All that was visible was a stark gray cloth cross.  It was enough for me.  My parents died a few years after my brother.  For years, my mother had battled for the rights and protections of the institutionalized.  I think she felt powerless, because, while she knew what was happening behind locked doors, from my brother’s physical condition, she couldn’t prove it.

And then one day I went to work in this institution.  It came about by an accident of sorts.  My friend and I were running a Dairy Store.  She was the manager and I the assistant.  We were cooks, clerks, and janitors.  We were fired when we went on strike (signs and all) for better wages for the employees.  We were told by the old timers in town that management never strikes for the workers.  Huh!

Kathleen wasn’t too keen on going to the institution to work – she was afraid.  I promised her that if it didn’t work out in a few weeks we’d quit.  She was assigned to a woman’s building, and I, to the same building where my brother had lived and died! Kathleen’s husband, who worked as a supervisor, figured it out once.  I could have been assigned to one of 700 different places – but I ended up where I had visited as a child! It was 6:30 am (first day of work) when I was led behind the locked doors that I had wondered about as a child? I was appalled.  

Nude men lay in the hallways, the place reeked of urine.  The employees screamed and cursed at the residents.  I almost quit that first day.  Then I remembered that my brother never had a choice of leaving.  He had been kept in restraints a great deal of the time which caused his arms to become deformed.  This was done because there was never enough staff.  Residents sat on hard benches or rocked back and forth.  There was little to no interaction or stimulation.  

The worst thing was observing the abuse.  Staff (mostly male) would kick, slap and throw residents down the stairs.  My first inclination was to report these assaults – but I waited.  I took the time to learn all the regulations, policies, and laws pertaining to those in institutions.  I wanted to have my arguments based on documentation rather than emotion.  I noted than whenever politicians were brought around for a visit everything was shined up and the residents dressed in clean clothes.  Then one summer day, I arrived at worked (2:30pm) .  The staff (all male) were standing around the desk smoking and telling lewd jokes.  I went to find the residents.  They were all (approx 30) laying in the cavernous bathroom (open toilets).  

They were nude and covered with feces and flies.  Some were eating out of the toilets (nobody had taken them to the dining hall).  I just cried.  Then I cleaned them up and wrote a long detailed (3 pages) report in the logbook on what I’d found.  This was NEVER done! Usually the Log read, “Found the cottage in good order all residents accounted for.” When the supervisor came around to sign the book, he had a fit.  He told me I couldn’t write something like that because the employees would be upset.  I told him I hadn’t come there to please the employees and that since a Log book was an official document it couldn’t be altered.  

That was the start of a three-year battle.  The proverbial crap hit the fan.  They tried to kill me – and went on strike to get me fired.  They refused to talk to me.  They and got together to falsely charge me with abuse.  On and on it went.  I was made to take a lie detector test (the abusers refused).  I won every court battle.  The small town paper was filled with venom and charges against me.  When they tried (administration) to remove me, I called every major newspaper – TV station in the state.  When a helicopter arrived from the nearest city (100 miles away) with reporters they stated, “Ms Moriarty we’ve been to the institution.  They tell us you’re a trouble maker and a rabble rouser.”

I replied, “If reporting patients being thrown down stairs, held under water, kicked, not clothed, not fed, allowed to die tied to a toilet, and not being given proper medical care, makes me a ‘trouble maker’ – YES that’s exactly what I am.  I will continue to be one until somebody in this state pays attention and does something.” that was on every news station in the state.  

It worked.  An investigation was started from the state level.  The superintendent, who once called me to his office, and told me he’d destroy me,  was fired.  So were numerous other people.  Meantime, I had gotten the residents new clothes, furnishings (instead of benches).  I painted murals on the depressing bile green walls (fishing ports – lake pictures) and brought music in to cheer the place up.  The nurse and her husband, the dentist, were fired.  They had worked there for years and years.  They cleaned up on lucrative salaries and lived an elegant lifestyle with their two fat sons.  I reported her for the death of Felix who died tied (her orders) to a toilet.  

And then things changed.  People noted that I hadn’t gotten myself killed and hadn’t quit.  They slowly (at first) started to come forth and report all the abuses they’d witnessed.  They weren’t afraid any longer.  Late at night, reading my mother’s diaries, I saw that she mistakenly assumed, that she was the person meant to reveal the hidden atrocities taking place.  She wasn’t – all along, it was my job – assigned to me as a child.  I now knew why I had visited the place throughout my childhood.  I finally had the answer that I asked at my brother’s grave, “What was this all about?”

God had waited for over a hundred years for someone to speak up for those without a voice.  He just needed somebody to rise above their personal fears and believe.  It’s hard to explain.  Once you are totally committed that something is worth dying for – there’s nothing that stands in your way.  I knew that I was totally in the right! You don’t go harming helpless period!

Many of the institutions are closed now.  America hasn’t dealt with those most in need.  Parents are left begging for non-existent help.  Programs are being cut.  Many of the terribly handicapped, have been shuffled off to nursing homes, where they languish and die.

I remember one night walking though the corridor from one area to another.  It was late and I was tired.  I thought to myself of what the walls had witnessed down through the decades? Just then, I heard a moaning.  I turned and saw these gray faces/hands reaching out.  It was a living wall of faceless memories.  I heard the words, “Write so the world will know.” People think that people in institutions are without personalities or don’t respond to love.  This is such a lie.  

It just takes some time and ingenuity to reach such people.  They were so abused for years, that at first, they afraid of touch.  Andrew liked for me to tousle his hair and kiss his cheek.  John was harder.  He was deaf, blind, and severely retarded.  I thought about how hard it would be for someone to not know where they were or feel any love.  He used to sit in fetal position.  Then I had the idea of wrapping him tightly in a summer blanket (like you do a newborn).  That made him smile – he felt secure.  Donny loved music.  He chewed his wrists raw! Once I put socks on his hands that stopped.  And so it went.  Everybody responds to touch and love.  

And so now, I write.  I live far from the small town of magic that my brother Johnny and I so enjoyed.  Johnny is dead now.  We had planned to visit the places where we fished and hiked last summer.  Now I sometimes visit the Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont.  It’s a magical place of giant puppets & political theater.  It keeps a remembrance, through art, of the grave injustices of man’s inhumanity to man.  It speaks for the voiceless.  Mine is its own story – but basically, we can see through the memory glass, that our lives are covered in ash – garbage – and unconscionable pollution.  I wasn’t shocked at the pictures of torture – minus the dogs, I’d seen similar incidents at the institution.  

Shocking to me was to live in a town, where seemingly ‘normal’ people, could go to work, and commit such heinous acts on helpless people.  They once mocked me and said, “Those people don’t feel anything.” Isn’t that what we’re witnessing today? The greatest sin is not to hate – but indifference.  My life is just a microcosm of the whole.  FEAR immobilizes many today – just as it did with the people employed at the institution.  The INSTITUTION today is just on a grander scale – global.  

JM

What It Means To Support Our Troops



Dr Drew Westen on How Democrats should frame their Positions

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Weeks ago, as I stood my post in support of peace, our soldiers, and all civilians worldwide, a young fellow stopped and asked me how could I do as I did.  The fellow declared my actions treasonous, disrespectful of the troops.  I replied.  I have family who served, and one about to enter the fray.  The man, visibly irritated, yelled as he pointed to other protesters. “What about them?” he said.   I began to explain how one of the women has a son stationed in Iraq, another . . . my voice trailed off as he waved in disgust.  Then, the inquisitive chap left.

It seems that many who advocate global harmony know not what to say when they are told to protest against the war is to dishonor those that serve our country.  Peace people could explain as Drew Westen, Psychology Professor, at Emery University has.  Doctor Westen offers, when George W. Bush declares we must continue to fight, and fund a futile battle built on false assumptions, Americans who care must respond . . .

Mr. President, do you want to know what it means to support our troops?

1. Don’t make the families take up a collection for their body armor.

2. Armor their Humvees so they don’t lose their lives or their limbs when they don’t need to.

3. Don’t send them into someone else’s civil war.

4. Don’t send them to war unless you would send your own children.

5. When they come home damaged  . . .when they come home with their bodies frayed from that war, don’t you dare warehouse them with cockroaches in Walter Reed Hospital.

6. When they come back to the shores that they will never see again after having given their life for this country, don’t wisk their bodies in the middle of the night because it’s good PR for people not to see their bodies. You proudly display their flag-draped coffins like every American president has done in American history before you.

7. Don’t you ever, ever write a letter to their parents, to their spouses, to their children — when they lost their lives for this country — with a mechanical pen. You write it your own hand so you feel what it means when they lost their lives for this country.

Do you really want to know what it feels like to support our troops?

Bring them home.

~ Drew Westen, Professor, Emory University, November 7, 2007

I thank you for the thought, for the guidance, for the wisdom you share, Professor Westen.  I hope all Americans will embrace the essence of your words.  It is time we truly show our support for soldiers, for the principles we hold dear.  Stop the killing. End the madness.  Exit Iraq; not possibly in the next five years, if then, but now.

Bhutto Died; Cable News Network [CNN] Made Clinton President



Hillary calls for investigation into Bhutto’s assassination

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Often a King, a Queen, a Prime Minister, or even a President is anointed for they have what it takes.  A bloodline qualifies a person for a position of authority.  An individual may have married well.  A network of acquaintances often secures an honorable appointment.   After all, people profess, “It is not what you know, but who you know.”  A court may declare an individual all-powerful, or a media mogul, with monetary ties to those who “count” may commit him or herself to a candidate, or to a campaign.  

The reasons for a selection may not be obvious, or at least a naïve public would not fathom the possible influences.  Yet, we observe the obscure rendezvous daily.   The so-called objective press tells us what to think and whom we must consider a credible source.  On Friday, December 28, 2007, America was reminded that Hillary Clinton was the chose one.  She alone is more than qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.  

Less than a week before the Iowa caucus, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, was invited to speak to a global audience, to an expectant nation, to the American people.  She did so with conviction.  Cable News Network featured the former First Lady in an exclusive interview.  The presumed future occupant of the Oval Office appeared Presidential indeed.  

Definitively, Clinton discussed the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.  As she assessed the nations’ next necessary move, the New York State Senator was treated as though she was Commander-In-Chief, President of the United States of America.

One might ask, “Who died and left Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office?”  Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was slain, or accidentally, she took her last breath, or insert the theory of your choice.  Hence, “The Most Trusted Name in News” chose to select our next President, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Regardless of Hillary Clinton’s recent slip in national polls and the possible cancellation of the previously planned coronation, Wolf Blitzer, Ted Turner, or parent company Time Warner thought the former First Lady was the best person to advise Americans on the crisis in Pakistan. In truth, there has long been an alliance between the Cable News Network and the Clinton clan.  

Some might recall another discussion during the most recent New York Senatorial campaign.  In a cover story, Time Magazine the crown jewel periodical in the Time Warner media kingdom, explained to “uninformed” voters, Senator Clinton had “virtually nonexistent opposition for her senate seat.”  Hence, Time Warner’s NY1 TV news channel [“the CNN of New York”] vehemently refused to host a Democratic New York Senate race debate stating there was no need.  Clinton did not have a viable opponent.

Notwithstanding numerous protests, and cries of foul, the New York Cable News Network claimed her antiwar challenger, union leader Jonathan Tasini, has not raised enough money to be considered creditable.  The station capriciously stated, a candidate must raise a half-million dollars before they are worthy of note, or are granted an opportunity to speak to the television audience.  Apparently, actual money buys airtime that support from the electorate cannot.

Ironically, NY1 has already hosted and televised a Democratic New York gubernatorial debate between frontrunner Eliot Spitzer and a Democratic challenger who was at only 10% in the polls.  But that candidate had raised about $6 million.  So spending millions to get just 10% in popular support was rewarded by Time Warner’s channel, while building a more effective grassroots campaign, largely of volunteers, was punished.  (One wonders how much of the money went to NY1.)

Did I mention that Time Warner’s Political Action Committee [PAC] is one of the many corporate PACs that underwrites Hillary Clinton’s reelection campaign against the “virtually nonexistent opposition”?

While Hillary Clinton does face a field of qualified opponents in this national Presidential campaign, according to Cable News Network she is still classified as the presumed winner again and again, at least in CNN polls.  

The American public may never have a chance to ask “Which came first, the media’s preference or the people’s opinion?”  A Clinton victory may have been cinched before the public campaign began.

In an earlier era, Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the candidate with “experience,” lived in the White House for eight long years.  While she may not be George W. Bush, the man who, current Chief Executive Officer of Time Warner, Richard Parsons has long supported; nor is she John McCain, a Republican nominee that Parsons now backs, of those considered electable, Clinton may be the best Bush clone.  That alone may be important enough to an elite entrepreneur who wishes to ensure his interests will be protected.  Hillary Clinton has corporate connections more meaty than all other contenders.  

A bevy of current and former Hillary advisers, including her communications guru, Howard Wolfson, are linked to a prominent lobbying and PR firm–the Glover Park Group–that has cozied up to the pharmaceutical industry and Rupert Murdoch. Her fundraiser in chief, Terry McAuliffe, has the priciest Rolodex in Washington, luring high-rolling contributors to Clinton’s campaign. Her husband, since leaving the presidency, has made millions giving speeches and counsel to investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. They house, in addition to other Wall Street firms, the Clintons’ closest economic advisers, such as Bob Rubin and Roger Altman, whose DC brain trust, the Hamilton Project, is Clinton’s economic team in waiting.

Even the liberal in her camp, former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, has lobbied for the telecom and healthcare industries, including a for-profit nursing home association indicted in Texas for improperly funneling money to disgraced former House majority leader Tom DeLay. “She’s got a deeper bench of big money and corporate supporters than her competitors,” says Eli Attie, a former speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. Not only is Hillary more reliant on large donations and corporate money than her Democratic rivals, but advisers in her inner circle are closely affiliated with unionbusters, GOP operatives, conservative media and other Democratic Party antagonists.

For Richards Parsons, the list of Clinton’s top contributors establishes Hillary Clinton is an attractive aspirant.  She is solidly in the Conservative Camp.  This is likely the reason that Parsons, the individual, also invested in her Senate campaign in 2006.  Now, in 2007, he and his network can further assist the candidate in her endeavors . . . and they are.

After the death of Benazir Bhutto, Americans were invited into the Situation Room, not the one located in the White House.  We, the viewing public entered the halls of the  Cable News Network.  There we discovered who died, and who was made President.  As the Time Warner, Cable News Network broadcast began Journalist Wolf Blitzer announced right from the outset who was in charge of the nation and foreign policy.  Blitzer proudly declared  . . .

Hillary Clinton’s get-tough approach to Pakistan — in our exclusive interview, she has some harsh words for President Musharraf and for the Bush administration . . .

The television audience then saw the presumed “future” President of the United States. Her face filled the screen.  The United States flag was visible over her shoulder.   A golden ambiance set the tone; then the words of our “leader” echoed through the air.  Former First Lady, soon to be Madame President Clinton proclaimed her beliefs.  She shared her policy and offered instructions to  the world at large.

I don’t think the Pakistani government, at this time, under President Musharraf, has any credibility at all.  They have disbanded an independent judiciary.  They have oppressed a free press.? ?Therefore, I’m calling for a full independent international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.

I think it’s critically important that we get answers.  And, really, those answers are due, first and foremost, to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani, because we cannot expect to move towards stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination.

And, therefore, I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly the security forces or the military in Pakistan.

You know, the thing I have not been able to understand, Wolf — I have met with President Musharraf — I obviously knew Benazir Bhutto and admired her leadership — is that President Musharraf, in every meeting I have had with him, the elites in Pakistan, who still wield tremendous power, plus the leadership of the military, act as though they can destabilize Pakistan and retain their positions, their positions of privilege, their positions of authority. . .

That is not the way it will work.

Or is it Senator Clinton.  It seems if you and your cronies, your contributors wish to retain positions of privilege, and positions of authority a destabilizing death may be to your advantage.  Perchance, it already was.  You certainly appeared to be in control, as a Commander-In-Chief addressing the nation in our time of need.  Americans awaited an explanation after the Bhutto assassination, and before we could blink, we had the answer.  “Who Died and made you President?”

Sources of Authority . . .

Benazir Bhutto Rests In Peace. Will We?

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Millions of Americans awoke to the news; Benazir Bhutto was killed in an attack.  The daughter of a former Prime Minister, and twice Prime Minister herself, Bhutto, months ago returned to her homeland, after a self-imposed eight  year exile.

The Harvard graduate ventured forth with a hope and a dream that she might unite her mother country.  The scion and scholar arrived in Pakistan amidst much fanfare and furor.

Benazir Bhutto was a deeply controversial figure.

Western-educated and charismatic, she presented herself as a moderate, democratic force. As such she was widely courted in the West. The United States hoped she could restore popular legitimacy to President Musharraf’s failing war against Islamist militants.

But she was widely seen as having misused her office for her own financial gain and faced a number of court cases, both inside Pakistan and outside the country. Islamist militants hated her for her pro-American views.

Earlier this year, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf had been working on a power-sharing agreement. The talks failed, leaving Ms Bhutto as the biggest political threat to President Musharraf, rather than an ally.

Therein lies the question many citizens of the United States ask.  Who, among the leaders in Pakistan is a friend to America and who is the foe.  Benazir Bhutto was our lover, devotee, and we her enthusiast.  Yet, for years the White House has happily courted the current President of Pakistan.

Despite talk of terrorist encampments and anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, the Bush Administration spoke of General Musharraf as a friend of the States.  Oh, the President of the United States and President, General Pervez Musharraf had their differences.  There was a time when the leaders aired their angst aloud.  However, ultimately, the two kissed and made-up as couples often do.  The world powers then walked off into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Each, revels in the joint venture to fight against Islamic insurgents.

Granted, there were other rifts.  Commander-In-Chief, the American military commandant demanded that the General take off his uniform.  After Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law and suspended that nation’s Constitution, there was fear within the White House.  Federal officials stated our ally had gone too far. His decision to wear military garb exacerbated the situation.  An elected official cannot be considered militaristic.  During a telephone conference with the Middle Eastern Head of State, President and Commander George W. Bush expressed his distress with the man who supported the United States in its endeavor to spread democracy.

“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” Bush said. “I had a very frank discussion with him.” . . .

“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Bush said.

Perhaps this derision was the last straw.  It was time to move on, move forward, or stay the course with a new face at the helm.  Certainly, there is no need to imagine; were Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan, she too would have joined US in combat against “terrorists.”

The U.S. has long supported a return to power by Bhutto, who was perceived to be a moderate willing to work with Washington on the war on terror. She was also seen as a democratic leader who would serve as a counter to the plummeting popularity of Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup. It was thought that a power-sharing deal between the two, in which Musharraf stayed on as president while Bhutto lead as prime minister, would promote stability in this nuclear armed nation of 165 million. But from the day of her arrival in Pakistan after eight years in exile, Bhutto’s return has been marred by violence.

We can only surmise that the hostile environment did not worry the Americans, the Bush Administration much.  After all, aggression is the way of this White House.  It matters not who leads or lends a hand as we go into battle.  As long as the war continues, a surge strategy is maintained, and fear is sustained.  Then, the hawks win.  All must inquire; is that not the most important aspect of this New World Strategy.

We can peruse the Pakistani papers.  We can read the rhetoric of the Right and the Left in America.  Candidates can recount their experience of Benazir Bhutto.  Still, there is reason to believe we know nothing of what really happened and why.  The common folk are not even certain they understand how to care for a tragic event that has now become a campaign battle cry.  Americans listen to the words of woe, and the warnings.  Again we are told, in the name of democracy, we are at war . . . and do not forget it!

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush said. “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.” . . .

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses just a week away, U.S. presidential candidates also swiftly condemned the killing and stressed the need to fight terrorism.

The assassins who killed Bhutto “must be brought to justice,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

“Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence,” said Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is trailing fellow Democrats Clinton and Barack Obama in polls, said a leader has died in Pakistan “but democracy must live.”

“It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists,” Richardson said in a statement.

Campaigning in Florida, current Iowa-caucus Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee said he is “deeply troubled” by the news of Bhutto’s killing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the U.S. must stand with moderate forces across the Islamic world “and together face the defining challenge of our generation — the struggle against violent, radical jihadists.”

“For those who think Iraq is the sole front in the war on terror, one must look no further than what has happened today,” said Romney, a Republican. . . .

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, said Bhutto’s death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere “is an enemy of freedom.”

“We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us,” Giuliani said in a statement.

“This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation,” Huckabee said in a statement.

Once again, Americans must acknowledge that purposely, we are not fully informed.  As long as war remains in the wind, we cannot and will not speak of peace.  In an era where faux-Progressives stress the need for global tranquility, as they plan to wage war for at least another term, we must remember that when conflict is the cause of strife, it will also be the effect.

Americans and citizen worldwide can only hope that we, as  a world will decide not to focus on assignations and the aggressive demeanors that lead to these.  We might dream of the impossible, harmony, and create it.  

Together let us take a moment and rest in peace.  Perchance, we might listen to the words of the one Presidential hopeful from either nation, Pakistan or the United states, who wishes only for serenity planet-wide.  The aspirant that believes we can achieve the impossible, what same think absurd offers his words of wisdom.

U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

“This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said. . . .

“The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

If we truly wish to establish world unity, Americans and Pakistanis alike cannot condone combat, in any form, on foreign or domestic shores.  If we are to authentically invite and work for peace, we, as a nation, as individual people must live  our lives in harmony.  We must be calm when in the company of our neighbors, strangers and genuinely care for our selves.

Peace, Pax. Hasiti. Amniat.

Source of Serenity or Strife . . .

Americans Have No Choice; A Diet of Fats, Salts, Sugars

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  From Thanksgiving Day to the dawn of the New Year, Americans are encouraged to eat.  He, she, you, and I are expected to fritter our fears away.  We will worry not of weight gain, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, strokes, or diabetes.  Citizens in celebration will gorge on and gulp down millions of morsels.  Americans will eat, drink, and be merry with reckless abandon.  There are some expressed concerns for food safety, especially after a year of scares; however, for the most part we will dine with delight.  

Then, come the First of January we will do as we did last year and the year before, we work to munch more wisely.  Most of us will make a conscious effort to decrease the fats, salts, and sugars in our daily diet.  Individuals throughout the country will convince themselves it is only a matter of self-control.  We can eat well if we decide to.  Citizens in the USA believe what they ingest, how, and when is a choice.  In the land of the free, and home of the brave, we boldly do, as we desire.  Here, in America, there are food choices galore, or so we are led to believe.

However, since the late twentieth century Americans have actually had a very limited selection.  They, we, are not free to dine as we might.  Our menu is extremely restricted.  We can chew on Acidulants, enriched Baking Aids and Mixes, luscious Cocoa and Chocolate, chemical Emulsifiers, Texturants, and Stabilizers, refined Flours, “organic” Nutrition Ingredients, [meager when available], processed Oils and Fats, palatable Protein Products, and “naturally” Sweeteners.  If we wish to ingest more wisely, we can; that is, if we are up to the challenge.  In the States, the Recommended Daily Allowance is wrought with ruse.  

The public professes they want no government in their lives, or more importantly, on our dinner plates.  Yet, Americans accept that administrative authorities must regulate to ensure that what we eat is truly safe.  Federal Officials are necessary and tolerated in moderation.  Indeed, Americans actually appreciate the Food and Drug Administration.

According to a survey of 30 federal agencies being released today, consumers asked about the FDA’s performance believe that food labeling is useful, clear and understandable, that consumer alerts of food safety issues are useful, and that customers trust FDA to ensure food safety in the future . . .

The survey asked about the usefulness and clarity of food labeling; customer awareness and the effectiveness of inspecting, testing, and labeling efforts; and the usefulness of consumer alerts; meats and poultry are regulated by USDA.

In addition to consumers’ positive views of the food label and FDA’s ability to ensure that food is safe, the survey also indicated that the FDA should increase public awareness of actions to ensure food safety and focus on awareness efforts during consumer alerts.

Despite the claims of contentment, for the most part Americans resent government influence in their daily lives.  Americans are independent minded mavericks.  Granted, we are grateful for the small favors the Food and Drug Administration affords us; however, we want no more assistance than we deem suitable.  Citizens in this country are selectively scrupulous.

Americans prize and advocate a free enterprise system.  We want the freedom to decide for ourselves what is best.  Where food is concerned, citizens of this civilized nation want to preserve their right to choose.  We welcome the rise of an innovative industrialist who might introduce an ingredient into the mix.  A crunchier cookie, a sweeter soda, tastier tenderloins, a savory sauce, and a flavorful fondue, all are appreciated in abundance.

Cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, margarine, and animal products all taste good to the average American..  Regardless of the warnings, that each of these manufactured or mechanically prepared foods contain trans-fatty acids, are high in sodium, and are filled with high fructose corn syrup, those in the Western World continue to consume these tidbits with fervor.

Intellectually, we may know trans-fatty acids, salts, and sugars are hazardous to our health.  We sacrifice some.  Nonetheless, we do so slightly or on occasion.  Mostly we gorge, gulp, guzzle and stuff our gullet with these gems and then die.  

Clogged arteries might cause our demise.  A heart attack could end our life.  Obesity may do us in.  Still we say, we rather eat fats and be happy.

Scientific evidence shows that consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad cholesterol,” levels, which increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, more than 12.5 million Americans have CHD, and more than 500,000 die each year.  That makes CHD one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

People say they might as well enjoy now.  After all, we will all pass eventually.  An additional year or two will not make a difference.  The quality of our life is what matters.  Besides, any true danger is moderated by the system.  

In this agri-industrialist nation, we trust that if a corporation wishes to make a profit, they must  and will keep the consumer in mind.  That construct alone will guarantee quality.  When it does not, then, the government will step in to preserve safety . . . well sort of.

Years ago, Josh joyfully ingested his early morning Egg McMuffin ™ in a Fifth Avenue McDonalds.  As he ate, he read the news.  An article in The New York Times, screamed for his attention.  Hold That Fat, New York Asks Its Restaurants.  He thought of how much he loves his partially hydrogenated oil filled foods.  Joshua would not wish to be deprived of the greasy flavors that warm his belly.  The young gent contemplated what might this announcement mean to him.  Then, Joshua concluded, he need not worry.  At least Gotham City officials give restaurateurs a choice.  Proprietors will cater to what the their customers crave; thus, the world will continue to turn as it has.

Months later, a content Joshua sat in his overstuffed chair and snacked on a bag of Doritios®.  He could not imagine a life more complete.  Suddenly, that tranquil sense of calm disappeared.  A radio announcer declared our democratic right to choose would be constrained.  The broadcaster bellowed,  New York City Plans Limits on Restaurants’ Use of Trans Fats.  The earlier “request” had done nothing to reduce usage of the hazardous oils.

The Board of Health vote comes a year after it conducted an unsuccessful campaign to persuade restaurants to eliminate trans fats from their recipes voluntarily.  It said yesterday that despite mass mailings about the hazards of trans fats and training programs for 7,800 restaurant operators, about half the city’s restaurants continued to serve trans fats, about the same as before the campaign.

Trans fats, derived from partially hydrogenated oils, became popular in the 1950’s as an alternative to the saturated fats in butter.  They allow fast-food restaurants to use frying oil for longer periods and make crunchier cookies and flakier piecrust.  They also have a longer shelf life than butter, olive oil, corn oil or other alternatives.

Joshua became extremely concerned.  He exclaimed aloud, “What is this a Police State?”  Eatery entrepreneurs have a right to serve what they believe is best.  Customers can digest what they think delicious, or at least they could in some municipalities.  In time, concern for the health of a crowded community increased.  Last year, during the holiday season, a peaceful Josh took in the decorations in his favorite restaurant.  He dined with delight.  After he ate, Joshua released his belt buckle.  A friend seated across from a full and sleepy Josh inquired, had he heard, New York Bans Most Trans Fats in Restaurants.

The usually quiet chap was aghast.  Now officials in this cosmopolitan metropolis had gone too far.  How and why would a municipality choose to restrict what the people consume?  Josh began to ponder how all this change might affect him personally.  He thought of the mashed potatoes and gravy, he consumed only moments ago.  Would he be deprived of such tasty fare in the future?  

Certainly, the potatoes would not taste as sumptuous if they were prepared differently.  Joshua reveled in the delicacy just as he had been for decades.  The recipe as is, is wonderful, this fit fellow thought.  Joshua belched.  Then he pondered; the dozen or so doughy delights he digested moments earlier.  These goodies would never be the same.  Joshua dreamt of the cookies, cakes, and creams he just ordered for desert.  The word “Ridiculous!” rolled trippingly off his tongue,

“No one has the right to tell me what I can consume.  It is my life, my body, and I will take care of it as I see fit.”  In a huff he continued,  “I eat a little bit of everything; it is called a well-balanced diet.”  “No matter what we gulp down or scarf up, it all turns into sugar once in our blood stream.”  “All food is natural.”  This news is preposterous.”  “Who has the authority to tell us what to eat or drink?”  The government is already too involved in our lives.  “Let them eat what they like and I will munch on what brings me pleasure.”  Does the Constitution not grant us  liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  “I want to be left alone, to be free to be me.”

Joshua grappled with what seemed inevitable change in his diet.  He wondered, “What is all the fuss about trans-fatty acids?  Are there not more important issues of concern?”  Almost immediately, he received an answer.  Another blow brought Joshua to his knees.  A condiment that he was certain could cause no harm was listed as injurious to his health.

It was not an e coli spinach scare that altered his awareness.  Salt shocked his sensibilities.  What could be more safe than salt?  For goodness sake, this savory substance sits on his dinner table.

A hulk of a man, Josh knew, to spill salt is an ominous sign.  He understood, since the beginning of time, people believed if they were to waste the commodity considered as valuable as gold, certain misfortune would follow them into the future.  Still, this gent never thought there was anything to fear from the sodium substance.  Such mythical legends have lived long.  As Joshua mulled over the latest revelation, he laughed, he acted as though he believed if he were to carry salt, or throw the small white crystals over his shoulder, he would be assured the best of luck.

A jovial Josh has long assumed the want of good will was the reason we poured the crystalline element on every entrée.  Good flavor or good fortune; both together might be wondrous.  This healthy man was aware the traditional use of this prized substance is in question.  However, he never imagined, the Food and Drug Administration would contemplate a serious and severe crackdown on the zesty zinger of a spice.  Yet, as Joshua perused the paper and listened to radio and television reports he learned . . .

Putting the Pinch on Salt, Medical Groups at Odds Over Proper Solution to Sodium Problems

By Carla Williams?

ABC News Medical Unit

Nov. 29, 2007

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding a public hearing today to determine whether to place federal limits on the salt content of processed foods, such as canned soups and breakfast cereals.

The hearing comes at a time when medical experts are becoming increasingly concerned over the amount of salt contained in many foods on grocery store shelves, including products not normally associated with salt.

For example, said Dr. Randall Zusman, associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, a bowl of one popular cereal brand may pack more of a sodium punch than many consumers realize.

“One cup of Cheerios — frequently advertised as heart healthy — has 300 milligrams of salt,” he explained.

“No one eats only one cup, so two to three cups each morning would be nearly 50 percent of your daily allotment.  Yet, the FDA allows Cheerios to be advertised as a healthy alternative.”

But while most agree that the excess salt in the diets of many Americans poses significant health risks, experts in the medical community remain divided over what should actually be done to address the problem.

Some agree with advocacy groups and believe that the FDA should require stricter labeling for manufactured foods.  Such labeling could take the form of warnings placed prominently on the packaging of high-sodium foods.

But others think the focus on salt regulation is misdirected and say that the FDA should address more harmful elements of the American diet and lifestyle, such as obesity.

The American Dietetic Association, for one, has spoken out in favor of stricter product labeling to tackle the problem.

My goodness; Cheerios, a food that Americans such as Josh ate to protect themselves from a coronary crisis may actually place them at risk for a heart attack.  What, and whom, can we trust.  Do we do as we are told or as the specialists do?

Physicians often gobble just as regular folk do.  We have seen stout surgeons, rotund nurses, hefty dieticians, and even a lean doctor dine on junk.  Our spouse may insist we eat healthy; yet, he or she does not.  Acquaintances swig and swallow whatever they wish.  No one seems to suffer serious repercussions at less not while in our range of vision.  Thus, we conclude there is little reason to change.  People are just overly cautious.  Certainly, federal, state, and city officials are wary without cause.

A mild mannered Joshua was familiar with the cautionary tone of doctors.  He heard his wife whisper her concerns.  For years, medical professionals and his Mom expressed their angst when they discussed his fervent application of this sour, yet sharp, condiment.  Josh reduced his use; although admittedly he wondered whether there was reason to do so.  Oh, sure, Joshua saw the advice columns.  Caveats called him, or at least those who love him suggested he read the literature.

University of Maryland Medical Center, expert on hypertension, Dr. Stephen Havas, states, high-salt diets cause 150,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. Heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and strokes are the frequently result from obesity, high blood pressure, and the perilous pre-hypertension.  Each of these afflictions can be traced to the intake of salt.  Havas declared there is an imperative need for the Federal Health authorities to reduce sodium consumption.  

However, contrary to what this and other physicians think wise, most persons in this civilized country retain the attitudes of their ancestors.  Americans are as the rugged individualists, or at least, Joshua was and is.  Our countrymen can take whatever is dished out.  Salty, sweet, or saturated in oils, citizens of this wild and western nation have the stomach for it.

Americans are independent and we like it that way.  No government agency, guy, or gal in a white lab coat will tell US what to eat.  They certainly will not dictate to Joshua what he eats.  In truth, the Food and Drug Administration does not tell us what is best to consume.  Nor do they closely monitor corporate claims; although they would wish us to believe they do.  Joshua trusted that his food was safe with thanks to this industry watchdog.

Fake Food Fight

by Paula Kurtzweil

“It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

–Abraham Lincoln

When it comes to fraudulent food in the marketplace, Lincoln’s sage observation has certainly rung true. In the Food and Drug Administration’s experience, when hucksters try to cheat Americans out of millions of dollars of genuine foods, their schemes are ultimately exposed by a sharp-eyed consumer, a competitive industry, or FDA itself.

Known as economic adulteration of food, this practice involves using inferior, cheaper ingredients to cheat consumers and undercut the competition.  And even though the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act specifically bans it, economic adulteration persists, challenging FDA’s resourcefulness to remain vigilant against it.

In recent years, FDA has sought and won convictions against companies and individuals engaged in making and selling bogus orange juice, apple juice, maple syrup, honey, cream, olive oil, and seafood.

According to Martin Stutsman, a consumer safety officer in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA relies heavily on industry and consumers to help identify instances of economic fraud.

What businesses will not do for money.  Artificial adulterants put much dough in many a breadbox.  The Food and Drug Administration discovered some producers sold, what they said was pure orange juice; however, the beverage was loaded with corn syrup or beet sugar.  Dairy cream was, in fact, corn oil.   Corn syrup passed for honey.  Bottles of horseradish were actually containers of potato starch.  Salt mixed into water was advertised as milk.  Scallops, an expensive delicacy on occasion was found to be water worked into sodium tripolyphosphate (STP).

The fake foods, [mixtures of trans fatty acids, salts, and sugars] may yield temporary financial benefits.  However, what qualifies for natural, and approved, fodder feeds fills more pockets than the illegal imitations ever did.  Corn syrup found in a product labeled pure orange juice is considered an adulterant.  However, when the same sweetener is listed on a can of orange flavored juice the Food and Drug administration thinks that fine.  

There is a delicate balance between healthy and harmful sustenance.  Equilibrium is difficult to maintain when the scales are tipped in favor of corporate influences.  For many in the Food and Drug Administration dough is more flavorful than moral fiber might be.

Former FDA Investigator Exposes Aspartame As Deadly Neurotoxin That Never Should Have Been Approved

Can Republish, Namaste, Vol 6, Issue 1,UK

Many policies, I found out, were not made to protect the public health, but rather, to provide leverage at appropriation time before Congress, and to protect the industry and their political government.  This is especially true when they were paid for their ‘services’ by the pharmaceutical or chemical industries.  This is what I call ‘social cancer’.

Many systems for protecting the public health are (were) less than effective . . . making very little difference on public health issues.  Much of it was for ‘show’ and for funding.  It was the folks in Rockville and Washington who made the final decisions on how to play most of these issues out.  Unfortunately for us, it was not to favor the public health processes.  The entire process reeks of political and corporate influence.

If Americans had the time or energy to do more than eat what is easily available they might notice how ubiquitous industry is in our diets.  Advertisers have captured our attention.  

“Shouldn’t your baby be a Gerber baby?” “Trix are for kids.” “Keebler. Uncommonly Made, Uncommonly Good.” “Mmm Mmm good. That’s what Campbell’s Soup is; Mmm good.”  “Subway. Eat fresh.”  “Taco Bell. Think Outside the Bun.”  “McDonalds.  I’m lovin’ it,” and you do, we do.  We are trained to eat prepared foods from birth.  At Burger King, we can have it our way.  At Kentucky Fried Chicken, we can trust it is finger lickin’ good.  At Subway, we can “Eat fresh.”  If only we knew what that was.

Manufacturers and marketers choose what we consume.  High fructose corn syrup is an ingredient is most  American food.  Many Americans, sadly, a vast majority, do not even know what unprocessed fruits and vegetables truly taste like.  Apples?  That is the crisp, wet fare under the caramel.  Tomatoes top pizza.  Strawberries and cherries await your bite when you sink your teeth into that piece of bittersweet chocolate.  Squash and pumpkins grace the doorstep during the Fall holidays.  Spinach is for cartoon characters.  Potatoes, yum-yum.  This starchy crop, when deep-fried is absolutely ambrosia.  

Even when we think we are ingesting only wholesome fare, surprise, we discover, there is more to the meal than meets the eye.  The local bakery still creates healthy doughy fare.  The smell of fresh baked flour and yeast reminds us that quality food does exist.  Have you read the ingredients on baked goods?  Let us consider the plainest of plain preparations, a bagel.  The elements that go into this not so enticing ring of dough are numerous. Unbleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour), water, dough conditioner (sugar, salt, malted barley flour, molasses, mono & diglycerides, ascorbic acid, L-cysteine, azodicarbonamide, enzyme, ammonium chloride, DATEM, potassium iodate, brown sugar, yeast.

As we study the marketplace we realize, what satisfies our senses is not so sensible.

In the 1980s, manufacturing methods improved, prompting a boost in production of high-fructose corn syrup and a drop in price to just pennies below that of refined sugar. “While that may not sound like much to the average consumer, when you consider how many pounds [the soft drink industry buys], it was millions of dollars if not hundreds of millions of dollars in savings,” says Drew Davis, NSDA’s vice president for federal affairs.

The switch made economic sense and, as Davis notes, “back then, there was no suggestion that high-fructose corn syrup was metabolized differently” than other sugars. More recent research suggests, however, that there may be some unexpected nutritional consequences of using the syrup. “Fructose is absorbed differently” than other sugars, says Bray. “It doesn’t register in the body metabolically the same way that glucose does.”

For example, consumption of glucose kicks off a cascade of biochemical reactions. It increases production of insulin by the pancreas, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells, where it can be used for energy. It increases production of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and it suppresses production of another hormone made by the stomach, ghrelin, that helps regulate food intake. It has been theorized that when ghrelin levels drop, as they do after eating carbohydrates composed of glucose, hunger declines.

Fructose is a different story. It “appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn’t increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain.” Whether it actually does do this is not known “because the studies have not been conducted,” said Havel.

Another concern is the action of fructose in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of trigylcerides more efficiently than glucose. Like low-density lipoprotein — the most damaging form of cholesterol — elevated levels of trigylcerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A University of Minnesota study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that in men, but not in women, fructose “produced significantly higher [blood] levels” than did glucose. The researchers, led by J.P Bantle, concluded that “diets high in added fructose may be undesirable, particularly for men.”

Other recent research suggests that fructose may alter the magnesium balance in the body. That could, in turn, accelerate bone loss, according to a USDA study published in 2000 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

We can thank the Food and Drug Administration for our fodder, and we can express our gratitude to Archers Daniel Midland, the mother or father of invention.  A financial crisis in the parent company led the this corporation to merge and grow beyond their wildest dreams and ours.

In 1971 [Archer Daniels Midland] purchased Corn Sweeteners, Inc., producer of high-fructose syrups, glutens, oil, and caramel color. Corn Sweeteners brought good returns for Archer Daniels Midland and increased the company’s finished-food capabilities.

Currently we can find Archer Daniels in most every “finished-food” option.  Bread and brews are loaded with high fructose corn syrup.  Cereals, before the flakes are frosted, are filled with the fluid.  Spaghetti sauce is supplemented.  The sugary additive makes up a substantial portion of this tomato-based product.  Sodas are essentially high fructose corn syrup, as is . . . [name your food of choice.]  While high fructose corn syrup is good for earnings, it endangers human health.

Loading high fructose corn syrup into increasingly larger portions of soda and processed food has packed more calories into us and more money into food processing companies, say nutritionists and food activists. But some health experts argue that the issue is bigger than mere calories. The theory goes like this: The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function.  It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.

The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.

Sheer will power must be our guide, for certainly the Food and Drug Administration does not point us in the direction of good health.  Nor do the conglomerates have our best interests at heart.  Most Americans believe given a choice, people buy what they sense their body craves.  Unfortunately, few acknowledge that certain foods create a chemical reaction that fools the physiology and the psyche.

No mysterious ingredient. The Cadbury’s secret is out. Chocolate is drug-like in its effect. Artificial taste explodes in the mouth with crunchy, smooth, sweet flavors, supplying intense pleasure. Every texture and nuance of taste contrived to stimulate your 9,000 taste buds into sending pleasure signals to the brain.  The intensified pleasure effect is addictive.  We don’t care about the additives or empty calories.  Chocolate junkies crave a fix, driven by the desire for that chocolate pleasure.  Pleasure for which we will pay any price, even our health.

Chocolate bars are loaded with salt, sugar, caffeine and fat, up to 300 calories per bar.  Like a body demanding heroin for its balance, the body will crave sugar, salt and fat.  Take candy from a sugar junkie, and look out! Quitting causes withdrawals.  Remove sugar, processed fat or salt from your diet, and you will crave them.  You will go through the discomfort of facing withdrawal similar to the withdrawal from drugs.

Humans hunger for sweets.  We are extremely fond of fats.  Salt is savory.  Eons ago, our bodies learned to love what would help us survive in the wild.  We needed the weight and the energy.  The habits of our ancient ancestors now seem innate.  Food and chemical industry leaders know this.  They exploit our obsession for the flavors that excites the palette and satisfy the electrical impulses within our gray matter; thus, expanding their profits.

Physiologically we cannot resist.  Psychologically, we are easily swayed.  Financially, we turn our fate over, and fortunes are made.  Most of us forget what we once knew before our brains and bellies were filled with trans-fats, salts, and sugars.

The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat ever got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science and – ahem – journalism, three parties that stand to gain much from widespread confusion surrounding what is, after all, the most elemental question an omnivore confronts.

Humans deciding what to eat without expert help – something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees – is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company, distinctly risky if you’re a nutritionist and just plain boring if you’re a newspaper editor or journalist.  (Or, for that matter, an eater.  Who wants to hear, yet again, “Eat more fruits and vegetables”?)  And so, like a large gray fog, a great Conspiracy of Confusion has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition – much to the advantage of everybody involved.  Except perhaps the ostensible beneficiary of all this nutritional expertise and advice: us, and our health and happiness as eaters.

Hence, dear Josh, if you do not wish to be controlled by the government or the corporate kings and queens, if you wish to eat well, remember, to look beyond what seems to be your freedom to choose.  Do not travel to the eateries that serve only what they know will leave you yearning for more.  Do not frequent food pantries that prefer you be fat.  Venture not into the aisles of processed ambrosia.  If you wish to be free from the thought police and those that place temptation on the plate, carefully consider foods that are not fake. You can enjoy real foods, unprocessed provisions, and your health if you truly peruse the labels, make meals from scratch, and ask for more than just the menu when you dine out.

Bon appetite Josh.  A happy and healthy holiday, every day to all, and to all a good night.

Satiated, Satisfied, and Sources . . .

Bulimia; Science of the Holiday Season and Food

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The holiday season is the best and worst of times.  It always was.  The food is phenomenal.  The feelings that fill a heart, mind, or is it my stomach can cause enormous misery.  For a person immersed in the rituals of bulimia the latter weeks of the year are better than all others.  Opportunities to indulge are ample during the holy days.  The selection of food fare is far superior.  Scientific research on food reaps ample rewards.  The secretive practice of self-imposed solitary confinement causes much angst, or could, if one were not able to find an escape in food.

Fortunately, a bulimic can and does take flight.  She or he can sprint to the stores.  There selves are filled with cashew nougat cookies.  Boxes of these white wonders melted in her mouth.  Delicate doughy dinner rolls lined every end display.  These delicious buns were strategically placed in case a customer forgot to grab them when in the bread aisle.  Buns sold for pennies.  Christians, Jews, Gentiles, those who worship Jehovah, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, and more must love these doughy delights.  While stuffing was a staple, in the winter, the cost was nominal, and the supply was grand.  She could fill her shopping cart with boxes a plenty.

In the dairy section, sweet and savory eggnog was available.  This liquid ambrosia did not appear before or after the national celebrations.  She could hardly wait for the New Year.  Grocers would reduce the price on this stock and she would buy all she could.  She would place the excess in the freezer and save these for another day.  As America celebrated, so too did she.  However, her festivity was a bit less conventional.

She needed no lights, no tinsel, or tree.  A menorah, or a Kinara were not necessary.  An image of the crescent moon, or the five-pointed star, was not important parts of her ceremonial gala.  All she needed was food.  She no longer required family to enjoy.  Food was her kin, her kind of company.

When Bethany was a child, Thanksgiving Day brought songs of the good cheer.  Merriment filled the house.  Mommy and the little lass would sing all the traditional carols.  Dradle, dradle, dradle, I made it out of clay.  O Tannenbaum, oh Christmas tree, Sleigh bells ring on a silent night.  As December 25th approached, the family dashed through the snow, roasted chestnuts, and pa rum pum pum pumed with the Little Drummer Boy.  Her Daddy said the gaiety made no sense to him.  Yet, he laughed aloud and reveled in the expressions of glee.  Daddy tried not to croon and carol; however, at times he joined in the caroling.

Times were good.  The late November dinner was usually turkey.  Mashed potatoes and gravy made from scratch graced the table.  Home-baked breads also adorned the setting.  Daddy carved the meat with studied finesse.  Mom dished out the stuffing.  Homemade pies and cookies sat in wait.  There were many choices.  Mommy baked for days on end.  Lemon meringue was for Lisa.  Bethany preferred pecan pie.  Dad did not decide until he was ready for desert.  Would he dive into a traditional pumpkin pie or save that slice for another occasion?

In her family, food was considered the means to celebrate life.  Mom, Lisa, and Bethany ate when they were happy, dined when they were sad.  Each of the ladies filled lonely days and nights with chow.  Fodder brought thought; it stimulated reflection.  Realizations occurred over a bowl of soup, cereal, salad, or stew.  Daddy was not as dependent on victuals.  However, Bethany’s first father was a glutton, for punishment and pleasure over a plate of steak, veal, lamb, or lobster.  That man customarily consumed as though there was no tomorrow.

Bethany recalled every New Years Day, Michael sat on the bathroom floor slumped over the toilet bowl.  He puked and purged until he could do no more.  When his stomach was empty, then he would stop, only to await the time when he would fill up again.

For Michael, bingeing and ridding himself of all he ingested was not habitual.  However, it occurred often enough.  The activity was a vivid memory for Bethany.  Perhaps she learned to adopt bulimic behaviors.  After all, aspects of the conduct were part of her experience.

For her natural father Michael, life was an adventure.  He thought it fun to be spontaneous.  Bethany was more of a scientist just as her Grandfather had been and as her Dad trained her to be.  The little bit of a girl questioned everything.  Studious as she was she researched the minutia.  There was nothing in her life that did not involve great thought.

When she first chose to relieve herself of food, it was a calculated decision.  Early one evening, during dinner Bethany ate so much.  After the meal she could barely move.  Consumed with a sense of discomfort she sought relief.  It occurred to her, if she simply flushed out the food, all would be well.  However, she discovered as all scientists do, it is never possible to truly control the environment, or the outcome of any experiment.  Indeed, in an investigation, what seemed a solution to a problem, could, and did control the researcher.

Physiology and psychological components are more powerful than mere mortals might wish themselves to be.  Addictions may begin with a conscious decision as all actions do.  Nonetheless, there are forces that preclude logic and rational thinking.  The body is more than a reasonable brain.

Quickly, what was meant to be a moment became a lifestyle.  Hence, Bethany concluded she must learn to cope.  To survive this young being would have to learn the science of intake and surrender.  She measured her moves.  What edibles went down smoothly, and which released themselves from the stomach walls smoothly.

While cottage cheese is often considered the finest pabulum for those who wish to lose weight, for a bulimic, this provision is a nightmare.  The tiny curds stick to the innards.  The amount of acidic bile needed to breakdown this dairy product is ample.  It seems a single soul cannot produce enough enzymes to eliminate this compound within a reasonable amount of time.  Most cheeses clump once in the digestive system.  

All through the holidays, cups of cheese spreads fill the grocers delicatessen cases.  Spreads are smooth to the taste, and smoother on the tongue as they slide in and out of the most central orifice.

Milk will cuddle if it sits on the kitchen counter for too long.  It does the same if left for any length of time in the stomach.  Eggnog, however, glides through the system.  She knows not if the egg, sugar, or other additives make the difference.  Bethany only understands that this is a delight.

Summer potato salads may be flavorful.  However, a boiled and particularly pulverized tuber does not travel as well as the mashed perennial plant does.  The moist breadcrumbs that we call stuffing are an interesting delicacy.  The ingredients within the mixture matter more than the actual entrée.

Hard cookies can crumble into bits in the outside world.  They do the same once digested.  Miniscule particles spilled on the floor can be difficult to clean up.  When in the body cavity these small pieces scatter.  The fragments of food do not gather in as a group, and exit as one.  Flat crisp baked goods do not easily escape; yet, the holiday goodies cashew nuggets, goes down and comes up as a silk scarf might.

Indeed, the holidays are wondrous.  The food is more fun than time with family might be, or so Bethany hoped as another year approached.  Sadly, in truth, during the winter solstice she felt more alone than she ever did.  No matter the trials and tribulations, the gift of a shared experience means more than any other event might.

Science and food could not, did not, and would never suffice for what she sacrificed.  Those the little bit of a being was closest to were a greater source of solace than what she, a bulimic labeled nourishment.  Nature, in the form of ingested plant or animal products, does not nurture a starved soul.  A satiated stomach could not compare to a heart filled with joy.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, a Joyous Kwanzaa, a regal Ramadan, none would be as long as Bethany remained bulimic.  If only emotions, epidemiology, and the effects of these could be as easily understood as the study of food.

Special Christmas Gift; Starthrower

copyright © Judith Moriarty

A Special Christmas Gift

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.  He had the habit of walking along the beach before he began his work.  One day he was walking along the shore; as he looked down to the beach, he saw a human figure who was moving like a dancer.  He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day, so he began to walk faster to catch up.  As he got closer, he saw that it was an old man and that he wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.  

As he got closer he called out, ‘Good morning!  What are you doing?’  The old man paused, looked up and replied, ‘Throwing Starfish into the ocean.  The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.’  ‘But,’ said I, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can’t possibly make a difference!’

The old man listened politely, then bent down and picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves.  ‘It made a difference for that one.’



His response surprised the man, he was upset,  he didn’t know how to reply, so instead he hurried away and walked back to the cottage and began his writings.

All day long, as he wrote, the image of the old man haunted him; he tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted.  Finally, late in the afternoon, he realized that he the scientist, the writer, had missed the essential nature of the old man’s actions.  Because he realized that what the old man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and watch it pass by, but was choosing to be a participant and make a difference.

That night he went to bed, troubled.  When morning cam, he awoke knowing that he had to do something; so he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the old man; and with him spent the rest of the morning throwing Starfish into the ocean.

You see, what the old man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and every one of us.  We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference.  And if we, like the old man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision to change the future!  We must find our Starfish, and if we throw our stars wisely and well, our tomorrows are going to be a wonderful place.  Remember (overwhelmed as we are by the magnitude of need and suffering etc) Nobody can help everybody – but everybody can help Somebody.  

JM

~ Note this is inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley

  • The Starfish Story as told by Loren Eiseley
  • Wexler, Gutierrez, Baldwin, Kucinich, and the People Call For Cheney Censure



    Rep. Wexler Wants Cheney Impeachment Hearings

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    May I offer my sincerest gratitude to Representatives, Robert Wexler, Luis Gutierrez, and Tammy Baldwin.  These glorious members of the House Judiciary Committee, recently raised the volume on the issue of impeachment for Vice President Cheney.  The three invite us, the average citizen, to join them.  Please express your distress; sign the petition.  Call for Hearings. Without you the Vice President will continue to avoid an official and necessary censure.

    Please sign the petition. Join Congressman Wexler’s Call For Cheney impeachment Hearings.

    Please do not stop there.  Americans have seen what occurs when we are complacent.  For too long Congressman Dennis Kucinich spoke of what many thought obvious, and only a few listened.  

    Throughout his term, Vice President, Richard B. Cheney acted on questionable  information.  He made decisions that many considered problematic.  Cheney “may” have committed numerous “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  However, no matter how many millions of Americans joined in the call to censure, the cry was hushed.  The mainstream media barely and rarely spoke of the measure.  Only a scant number of Representatives endorsed House Resolution 333, submitted by the Representative from Ohio.

    As House leaders sat silent, Vice President Cheney continued to violate the doctrine known as the United States Constitution.  He did so without charge or challenge.  

    For years, Richard B. Cheney declared the Executive Branch has “supreme” power.  Many scoffed; however, Congress initiated no formal action.  The Vice President did not stop doing as he pleased.  Complaints from the House and the Senate mounted; yet, Cheney remained safe from censure.

    It seemed the Vice President’s skin, and his contempt for law, were impenetrable.  Richard B. Cheney refused and rebuffs accountability.

    The Vice President prefers aggression and plans attacks against other Nation States.  Until now Congress, and the American people stood by.  Finally, the tide may have turned.  

    Each day, Americans and Legislators discover much occurred within the White House walls over the last seven years.  We are increasingly certain the Vice President acted with dubious authority.  The more we learn, the more we realize a need to impeach Richard B. Cheney.  Representatives and House Judiciary Committee Members Robert Wexler, Luis Gutierrez, Tammy Baldwin, and the cyberspace community have stated their extreme concern.  However, just as Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich realized during his campaign to hold Cheney accountable, the media would rather not address this state of affairs.

    If we the people are to be served, if we are to honor the rights afforded us by the United States Constitution, we must do more than wait for Congress to act.  Our signature on a petition will not be enough to convince a reluctant House Speaker that it is time to embrace this cause.  I invite you to submit a Letter to the Editor of any and every newspaper.  For Representative Wexler alone, although he tried, cannot create the news storm necessary for impeachment.

    I offer my own submission for your review.  Please request coverage.  Ask Journalist nationwide to report on more than this Administration wants us to hear.  I thank you for all that you are and all that you do.

    If you wish to use my letter, without the links and signature, I offer a Portable Document Format [pdf] version.

  • Letter to the Editor, Call to Cover Cheney Impeachment Hearings.

  • Dearest Editorial Staff . . .

    I am aware of a troublesome campaign to ignore the call to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.  I write to express my distress and to request coverage.

    On Florida Progressive Radio, Representative Robert Wexler spoke of what he and his colleagues experienced when they submitted an Op-Ed essay on the topic.  The major print media outlets did not publish this important treatise on impeachment.  The message was not muffled; it was ostensibly silenced.

    The mainstream media acted as though an investigation into the practices within the Oval Office, or the Office of the Vice President, were permanently “off the table.”  No matter the outcry from the masses, the media continues to dismiss the call.  

    Auspiciously, after the news organizations cast the cry for censure aside, Representative Wexler turned to the public.  The cyberspace community connected to the memorandum the Congressman and his colleagues wrote.  Those that surf the Web not only endorsed the crucial communication, Internet users garnered greater support for the proposition.  An ambitious online effort heralded the need for immediate impeachment hearings.  Within a short time, more than a hundred thousand signers stated they were in favor of a move to censure Vice President Dick Cheney.  

    Constitutional scholars have warned us.  The precedent we set when we overlook what an arrogant Administration does will forever damage our nation.  If Americans do not uphold democratic principles, we weaken our Constitution.

    For too long, Presidential aspirant Dennis Kucinich has been a lone Congressional voice.  On more than one occasion, Kucinich spoke of the need to censure Vice President Cheney.  In November 2007, Representative Kucinich presented a Privileged Motion on the floor of the House.  Even that bold overture received little press.  

    Nonetheless, some of his fellow Representatives considered the possibility.  With the introduction of new evidence, three prominent Representatives felt as though they too had reason to move forward with an investigation and hearings.  

    Representatives Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), all Members of the House Judiciary Committee, considered the novel revelation offered by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.  The Vice President and his staff purposefully gave then Press Secretary McClellan false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson, a covert Central Intelligence agent.  Dick Cheney and his team intentionally chose to release erroneous reports to the American people.  This realization prompted the newly stated and amplified concern for impeachment.  

    Only after much protest from readers did the Miami Herald print an edited version of the original letter from the Representatives.  However, it seems that Florida publication and all other periodicals are happy to leave the issue behind.  We, the people are not willing to remain silent.

    The need to impeach is imperative.  I implore you.  I invite your newspaper to truly inform Americans.  Rather than encourage apathy, please tell the people, print, more than the White House wants us to know.

    Sincerely . . .

    Betsy L. Angert

    Florida

    Dear friends, family, and familiars; I thank you all for your interest and participation in the process.  On behalf of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Representatives, Robert Wexler, Luis Gutierrez, Tammy Baldwin, our country, and the Constitution may I extend my deepest appreciation for your thoughts, words, and deeds.  We can only hope that United, America will peacefully stand strong again.  We cannot know unless and until we begin to censure those that fight against us.  We are one, or were, the United States of America, a democratic nation, of, by, and for the people.  Together we can take our country back.

    References and Resources in Support of Impeachment Hearings . . .

    Dogs World; Comfort of White House Home or Cold Homelessness

    copyright © Judith Moriarty

    During this Christmas Season, nothing epitomizes more to me, the great divide in this country, than [the image we often see splashed across the airwaves, and the one we rarely see published in print or on the silver screens]!  

    The President announced today that the “economy is doing good.”  It all depends on where you’re living!  

    Indeed the economy is good for those living  within the Washington beltway.  If a person (the President) is raking in $400,000 a year in pay – the best of medical care – free housing – ( heat) – travel – and elegant meals,  prepared by dozens of staff, indeed things are very good.  

    Same goes for the politicians.  They have lucrative salaries (working a few days a week), travel reimbursements, housing allowances, the best in health care (tax payer funded), pensions (with yearly cost of living increases) and the best of food,  in their on site dining room (laden down with food).  Is it any  wonder,  that those residing in Washington (running for office),  are detached from the outside world?  

    They don’t call it ‘Foggy Bottom’ for nothing.  There is no urgency, in providing affordable health care, livable wage jobs, nor affordable housing.  The purpose of getting to Washington is to feather one’s own nest (and family members).

    Of all the candidates running for office, only Representative Kucinich can relate to the downtrodden.  He was once homeless.  Note how none of these ‘debates’ are held under bridges, in homeless shelters, or empty paper mills!

    The pampered White House dogs, Barney & Mrs. Beasley,  will most likely be eating better than the multitudes of homeless,  and those unemployed, due to the actions of ‘Foggy Bottom’,  in voting for various trade agreements, that have emptied America of its livable wage jobs.  

    Since the President, nor the majority in Congress,  have never suffered the indignities of hunger, a crisis in medical care, homelessness, or unemployment – they don’t care, because they don’t have to.  

    Soup kitchens are crowded (some churches are seeking to close theirs), factories are shuttered, food pantries are scrounging for food, citizens are freezing (unable to afford heating fuel), and multitudes are living in tents, from Seattle, to New Orleans.  Meantime Congress (without reading) passed a 35lb-spending bill.  Rest assured, none of it will reach America’s disposable society.  All animals are equal – but aha, some are much more equal than others!

    JM

  • The Courage to Survive. By Dennis Kucinich

  • This Is How The War On Christmas Started

    © copyright 2007 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson

    To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.

    The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of the ancient Pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life.  In actuality, when the Roman Empire was converted en masse to Christianity, many cultures did not give up their Pagan ideals and traditions and so they were incorporated into the Christmas tradition.

    Many of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of Christmas such as the burning of the Yule log, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe, etc. are apparently derived from traditional northern European Yule celebrations.  When the first missionaries began converting the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it convenient to provide a Christian reinterpretation for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, versus trying to confront and suppress them.  The Scandinavian tradition of slaughtering a pig at Christmas (see Christmas ham), and not in the autumn, is probably the most salient evidence for this.  The tradition derives from the sacrifice to the god Freyr at the Yule celebrations.  Halloween and Easter are likewise assimilated from northern European Pagan festivals.