California Slaughterhouse; Human Cruelty Exposed

Overlooked: The Lives of Animals Raised for Food

copyright © 2008.  Betsy L. Angert

What if you were born to the world, hopeful, and full of life, only to be immediately separated from your mother and father.  What if you never felt the warmth of a parent’s love or the sun on your skin?  Imagine, instantaneously, after birth you were placed in a restrictive room with no space in which to spread out.  Your arms and legs frozen from confinement.  You are squeezed into a sealed cage, placed in a pen with other little beings.  In this crate, you are forced to eat food not to your liking.

From what you observe, there are hundreds of other orphaned newborns in this dark and dank dwelling. The stench in the warehouse that you call home causes you to gag.  Some of the other occupants are diseased.  A few have already passed.  Dead bodies, trampled by the live who are trapped with them, smell of decay.  Bugs eat at the flesh.  

The lack of involvement or intellectual stimulation is the reason you go mad.  Stressed, strained and in both physical and emotional pain, when you are provided an exit, you know not what to do.  You lash out, become aggressive, only to be poked and prodded into submission.  Your one day of freedom is not more than a funeral march.

A gun is placed at your head.  A round is fired.  You bleed, but do not die quickly or quietly enough for the killer who wants your flesh.  Tired and trying to survive, someone grabs your legs, and ties them together. Your beautiful body, one never before able to stretch out fully, is now hung from a great height.  A knife enters your sphere of vision, and your throat is slashed.

Soon your remains, or those of another species whose life was as awful as your own will be served up as nutritious meals on a child’s school lunch program.

Warning: This video contains graphic and disturbing footage.

In it, an HSUS investigator describes his experience working undercover in a slaughterhouse.

Cheap Meat Working in a Slaughterhouse

Video footage was released in the Twenty-First Century, in January of the New Year 2008.  In a civilized society, carnivores and omnivores show they are more concerned with what fills their stomachs and satchels of silver and gold then how there wants are satisfied.

In a culture, gone awry, animals are treated with malice.  Dairy cows, cattle bred for beef are brutally beaten and murdered. Laws against cruelty do nothing to deter malicious behavior.

[W]orkers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the “downer” cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals’ noses — all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation’s school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.

An undercover investigator for an animal welfare group, wore a customized video camera under his clothes.  This affords us an opportunity to see what no one should have to witness, and what need never occur.  This lover of animals, mammals, man, and all beings who breathe worked at the abattoir last year.

His or her efforts provide evidence that anti-cruelty and food safety regulations do not discourage or prevent unnecessary and inhumane abuse.  The current standards are derisory.  

Nevertheless, this footage reveals the Agriculture Department must inspect animal environments more thoroughly and enforce the rules with greater rigor.  The Humane Society of the United States, which coordinated the project, explained there is ample need to improve the laws and to better conditions for our four legged friends.

“These were not rogue employees secretly doing these things,” the investigator said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to infiltrate other slaughterhouses.  “This is the pen manager and his assistant doing this right in the open.”

The investigator and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said the footage was taken at Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, Calif. Hallmark sells meat for processing to Westland Meat Co. in Chino, according to Westland President Steve Mendell, who is also Hallmark’s operations manager.

Over the past five years, Westland has sold about 100 million pounds of frozen beef, valued at $146 million, to the Agriculture Department’s commodities program, which supplies food for school lunches and programs for the needy, according to federal documents.

In the 2004-05 school year, the Agriculture Department honored Westland with its Supplier of the Year award for the National School Lunch Program.

In an interview, Mendell expressed disbelief that employees used stun guns to get sick or injured animals on their feet for inspection.

“That’s impossible,” he said, adding that “electrical prods are not allowed on the property.”

Asked whether his employees use fork lifts to get moribund animals off the ground, he said: “I can’t imagine that.”

Asked whether water was sprayed up animals’ noses to get them to stand up, he said: “That’s absolutely not true.”

“We have a massive humane treatment program here that we follow to the n{+t}{+h} degree, so this doesn’t even sound possible,” Mendell said.  “I don’t stand out there all day, but to me it would be next to impossible.”

However, after a moment or two, as we watch the video, we recall, when humans are involved, merciless, heartless, callous, and sadistic practices are always possible.  Carnivores sharpen your teeth.  Salivate and contemplate; the sweet tender baby you are about to eat, was once prey at the hands of a person who cared not.  The quality of your meat is no better than the quality of how the life was sacrificed for your stomach.

References, Resources, Food For Thought . . .

Back from the dead, but still past due

To view the original art, please travel to Back from the dead, but still past due.

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

Left for dead more than once, John McCain seized control of the GOP primary race with a tough-fought victory in Florida today. If this were still 2000 – before eight years of kowtowing to the Bushies, and before his unwavering support for a misbegotten war – I might care. Back in 2000, McCain’s brand of straight talk was a breath of fresh air. But now the best thing he’s got going for him is that he’s not Mitt Romney. Sadly, that makes him the “Fresh Face of the GOP.”

Primary Election Day; Floridians Cry ‘Votes Fouled Again’

copyright © 2008. Betsy L. Angert

Florida Primary voters reporting problems at polls  What are we to think?  Oh, it is just Florida, again.  

I moved to the Sunshine State two years ago.  As I do, each time I change my residence, I register to vote, even before I take occupancy.  If I have an address and am certain of the change, I file the necessary papers.  

At the age of seventeen, I was fortunate enough to live in a state that allowed individuals to vote in the primary, if they were to be eighteen years of age by the time of the general election.  Circumstances in those earlier years changed quickly.  Hence, my polling place for the first two elections was not a walk away.

I had to hitchhike in a tumultuous thunderstorm to cast a ballot during the primaries.  In November, on election Day, there was a blizzard.  I still did not have an operable car.  With thumb out, I hit the road.  I arrived at the poll and was grateful for the privilege.  I pulled the lever for my preferred candidate.  I never felt so powerful, pleased, or proud to be part of the process.

Only once did I miss an election.  I was in my late teens, perhaps, I was twenty.  There was one candidate on the ticket, a school board member who I was unfamiliar with.  I was not feeling well.  I decided to forego the election.  I have never forgiven myself; nor have I missed a vote since.

Time marched on and I transitioned from one State to another. I have been an active, avid voter for decades.  In the State where I became  of age, I pulled levers in a curtained booth.  In the region where I resided until 2005, I used a machine to punch cards.  I also popped paper holes out by hand.  I circled bubbles, used a computer; my experience with many methods for voting is vast.

Nonetheless, I was not prepared for Florida.  Here, I have been to the polls on numerous occasions.  I voted absentee as well.  Yet, each time, after I peruse the ballot, I realize, I am confused.  The butterfly ballot may have been placed back in the cocoon, still every alternative I have seen is poorly designed.  I never feel certain how to mark my preference.  I have asked poll workers and telephoned the Election Board.   While I continue to vote, after each encounter with a Florida ballot, I wonder, will my ballot be counted.  Perhaps I can be grateful, at least I receive the survey I request.

Florida Primary voters reporting problems at polls

One voter was told by poll workers there was no Democratic primary today

By Robert Perez

Sentinel Staff Writer

2:58 PM EST, January 29, 2008

On Florida Primary day, voters are reporting problems across Central Florida from Daytona Beach to Hunter’s Creek. Among the precincts experiencing glitches was one in Orange County where voters were told by poll workers early on there was no Democratic primary today.??

Phil Marjason said poll workers at precinct 145 in Hunter’s Creek would not give him a Democratic ballot.??  “I thought it was plain wrong,” he said. “We need to get Florida straightened out.”

Orange County Election Supervisor Bill Cowles confirmed that the clerk at the precinct made a mistake.

“I have learned that we did have a situation right at 7 a.m. this morning,” Cowles wrote via e-mail to the Sentinel. “The clerk admits she made a mistake.”

An error in a Florida election.  Imagine that.  The Primary Election date was  changed.  Florida wanted to be more influential; hence, among the first to select candidates.  Perhaps part of the problem was this action incurred the wrath of the Democratic Party.  Florida voters were disenfranchised.  

For months, the electorate was told votes did not count.  Many constituents thought there was no reason to go to the polls.  Other understood, the delegates were at issue.  Congressmen and woman wrote to the letters to the public at-large.  However, many citizens were not convinced.  Apparently, poll workers were.  A few truly believed Democratic ballots would not count.

But Orange County officials said their records show Marjason was given a Democratic ballot and it was cast. Marjason disagreed.

“You sign a piece of paper then you walk over to the next table and they hand you a ballot,” he said. “It probably shows that I signed for it, but they didn’t give me a Democratic ballot.”

??Sheneka McDonald spent 10 minutes trying to convince poll workers at the same precinct that she should have a Democratic ballot. She questioned poll workers when she was handed a Republican ballot but was told, “this is the only ballot we have.”??

“I said, ‘How can this be the only ballot,'” McDonald recalled. “That’s when the guy chimed in from the back and said the Democratic primary was in March.”

The poll captain eventually apologized to McDonald and told her they had forgotten to unpack all the ballots. “It was a little unnerving this morning,” she said. “I don’t see how you forget to unpack ballots. This is what gives Florida its reputation.”

Sharon McDonald said she was given an independent ballot at the Astatula Community Center in Lake County, even though she told the poll workers she was a registered Democrat.??

She said she was told that the Democratic primary votes didn’t count, so she did not question the ballot. “Shame on me,” said McDonald, a homemaker.

Sharon McDonald, I think we must say, ‘Shame on Florida.’  Can this State not create an organized, well designed, and functional voting system?  There is no excuse for poll workers or an electorate not to be better and fully informed. The Sunshine State must finally ensure that the people are able to be part of a significant process. Florida must decide to be part of the Union, an active participant in Presidential elections.  The citizens of this Everglades State must stand up and demand to be counted, correctly!

Personally, I want my vote to matter again!

References . . .

  • Florida Primary voters reporting problems at polls, By Robert Perez.  Orlando Sentinel. January 29, 2008
  • The State of the Union is Strong?

    The Real State of the Union… Call Bush’s Bluff

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    In 2007, the State of the Union was not as we were told it was; nor is it as we were told it would be.  Each year, and for eight long years, George W. Bush promised to unite us, and perhaps he has more so than most other Presidents.  Collectively, Republicans and Democrats alike understand that as a nation we are not strong.  

    We have not been judicious with our capital.  The President has not provided financial security as promised.

    To extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. (Applause.)

    A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, believes Americans will not recover economically from a George W. Bush presidency for at least a generation.  The next President, the person who follows that individual into the Oval Office, and even those who enter the White House later will be part of a struggle to recover from the economic catastrophe this President created.

    The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

    By Joseph E. Stiglitz

    Vanity Fair

    December 2007

    When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

    I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris-or even the Yukon-becomes a venture in high finance.

    And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have not been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands-or so he says-that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply dependent on both.

    Up to now, the conventional wisdom has been that Herbert Hoover, whose policies aggravated the Great Depression, is the odds-on claimant for the mantle “worst president” when it comes to stewardship of the American economy. Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover. The economic effects of Bush’s presidency are more insidious than those of Hoover, harder to reverse, and likely to be longer-lasting. There is no threat of America’s being displaced from its position as the world’s richest economy. But our grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush.

    Nonetheless, a man who reminds us that his legacy is not important to him, a President who frequently states, history will decide how well he did, performed miserably.  Some believe we are in a recession.  Others claim the economy is decidedly depressed.  So too are the people.  The common folk are perhaps in greater need of mental health care services.  Daily stresses in America have taken a toil.  Physically, we fare no better.  The expense of medical insurance and the cost of services to aid in our well being cripple our citizenry.  When ill or injured, millions delay before they see a physician.  The expense is thought more painful than a cure.  In the last state of the Union, President Bush addressed this issue.

    A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

    Our offspring can least afford Health Care Services.  The babies are dependent on Mom and Dad for medical coverage.  Parents can no longer provide as they did years ago.  Jobs no longer last for life.  Benefits are not a given.  Employers, who feel the impact of an economy gone wrong, also understand the problem with the current Health Care system.  Numerous corporations and institutions have dropped insurance plans from personnel contracts. Our little ones are in dire straits.  While the Federal government once helped to ensure that, at least the children would be cared for, since the Compassionate Conservative concluded he was the ultimate decider, our progeny suffer in silence.

    Bush Vetoes Children’s Health Bill

    By David Stout

    The New York Times

    October 3, 2007

    President Bush vetoed the children’s health insurance bill today, as he had pledged to do, setting the stage for more negotiations between the White House and Congress and sparking unusual dismay from some prominent Republicans.

    Mr. Bush wielded his pen with no fanfare just before leaving for a visit to Lancaster, Pa. The veto was only the fourth of Mr. Bush’s presidency, and it may have spawned the most anger, not just from Democrats but also from some members of Mr. Bush’s own party.

    To cause confusion among colleagues once was not enough.  To hinder parents whose only desire was to provide for their progeny did not seem Presidential.  To repeat the practice would be unthinkable.  America wept for her children and will the stroke of a pen continues to cry.  

    As Expected, Bush Vetoes SCHIP Bill Again

    By Martin Kady II

    CBS News

    December 12, 2007

    (The Politico) For the second time, President Bush has vetoed a major expansion of the children’s health insurance program, making it clear that the debate will linger as a political issue throughout 2008.

    In 2008, and far beyond this New Year, Americans will feel the pain of policies invoked by the Bush Administration.  We may recall, that in 2000, two oil men entered the White House.  With the Blessings of oil magnate Bush, Vice President Cheney met with other industry leaders and devised an energy policy for the benefit of friends and family.  The White House did not seek to invest in alternative fuels.  The profits from petroleum were great.  There was no reason for change. Corporations prospered and the people need only line the pockets of those in power.  While the President’s words were wondrous . . .

    On Oil Prices Topping $100 a Barrel

    By Speaker Pelosi

    Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

    It is unfortunate that President Bush opposed our legislation to repeal multi-billion dollar subsidies given to Big Oil companies. We will again seek to repeal these subsidies and to enact strong legislation to stop price gouging at the pump and pursue anti-trust actions against OPEC entities that fix the price of oil.

    Perchance oil has always been the main issue.  Originally, for George W. Bush, crude would certainly help America to remain on the road to prosperity, or at least the United States citizens who own petroleum pumps would do well.  Indeed, for those at the top, times are good.

    This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way.

    Indeed, it is Mister President.  Economically, America spirals downward.  There is no stability in the  market or market place.  Our scant dollars are in decline.  Our hopes and dreams have been all but destroyed.  The average citizen cannot be certain from day-to-day whether they will have a job.   If an individual is privileged enough to work, will their income remain the same.  Some workers are asked to labor for less.  New hires are offered a lower wage.  More Americans live without a job, and without hope.  This tumble downward began early in the Bush Years.

    Poverty rate in U.S. rises as median income falls

    Weak economy trimming middle class earnings, too

    By Robert Pear

    ?New York Times

    September 25, 2002

    Washington – The proportion of Americans living in poverty rose significantly last year, increasing for the first time in eight years, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

    At the same time, the bureau said that the income of middle-class households fell for the first time since the last recession ended in 1991.

    The Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty provided evidence that the weakening economy had begun to affect large segments of the population, regardless of race, region, or class. Daniel Weinberg, chief of income and poverty statistics at the Census Bureau, said the recession that began in March 2001 had reduced the earnings of millions of Americans.

    The report also suggested that the gap between rich and poor continued to grow.

    All regions except the Northeast experienced a decline in household income, the bureau reported. For blacks, it was the first significant decline in two decades; non-Hispanic whites saw a slight decline. Even the incomes of Asian and Pacific Islanders, a group that achieved high levels of prosperity in the 1990s, went down significantly last year.

    The Census Bureau said the number of poor Americans rose last year to 32.9 million, an increase of 1.3 million, while the proportion living in poverty rose to 11.7%, from 11.3% in 2000. Median household income fell to $42,228 in 2001, a decline of $934, or 2.2%, from the prior year. The number of households with income above the median is the same as the number below it.

    We continue to bleed.  Americans can no longer find shelter from the storm of Bush, his policies, and the ploys now in place, each of which favors big business, banks, and balloon payments.  Citizens of this country find themselves out on the streets, or in homes that are not worth what they once were.

    America’s Hardest-Hit Foreclosure Spots

    Matt Woolsey


    January 28, 2008

    What could be worse than getting behind on mortgage payments? Owing your lender more than your home is worth.

    That’s what’s happening to homeowners across the country, many of whom just a couple of years ago opted for interest-only or adjustable-rate mortgages. For them, just as their loans reset and interest rates rose, home values began to plummet, leaving them with negative equity; this is where their mortgage is greater than the value of their home.

    Of course, some homeowners started off walking a shakier tightrope than others. Many subprime borrowers acquired piggyback mortgages, where a second mortgage covered the downpayment, leaving them with negative equity from the beginning. Congress’s Joint Economic Committee estimates that 2 million Americans will lose their home over the next two years, a figure in line with most research firms and rating agencies.

    Who is most feeling the crunch? Using data from RealtyTrac, a national firm that tracks foreclosures using data from multiple listing services, bank-owned property records, bankruptcy records, loan histories, tax liens and lender information, we evaluated which of the nation’s counties had the most negative equity loans, by examining all loans currently in foreclosure.

    Our President failed us economically.  He failed to ensure our energy independence.  Mister Bush did not provide adequate Health Care for our children or us.  George W. Bush moved us closer to poverty and kicked Americans to the curb.  We need not delve into the subject of war or Iraq.  There is enough pain without that discussion.  The President of the United States, George W. Bush has failed us, or perchance we, the people have caused our own demise.

    America, we have done nothing to prevent this President from acting as though he has absolute power.  We have but a year left in this term.  Will we, the people continue to watch George W. Bush destroy the nation and shred the Constitution.  Citizens of this once great country, you have a choice.  Move to impeach this Administration, or watch as we wane further.  The future is in your hands.

    The State of the Union, The Slide, The Sources . . .

    Down Home: Black Annie

    copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    “Black Annie” is the name of an oldtime tune the origins of which I do not know.  The name was taken for a woman in childhood to protect both hers and my ongoing anonymity to whatever degree that is possible in these times.  So many people contribute to the care and education of all us when we are children.  Black Annie was one such woman in my childhood.  Her story reflects the human rights abuses that were prevalent in our society only a few short years ago.  Follow down the trail, around the curve, and over the hill for another of the Possum’s tales.

    The story of Black Annie is tied to the story of my hometown.  The town was in the southern part of the USA.  My youth was around 1950, so the story begins in that time.  My family lived outside town where we had no real neighbors.  Until the time of my high school education we were driven to school or to town as need be by my parents.  On the way to the public high school we passed the local black school.  In those times black students were allowed to attend the local public schools but such attendance was so very much discouraged that most chose not to do so.  By the mid-sixties only 4 black students attended a school of about 400 students.

    The black school held both elementary and high school students in a ramshackle, three story, red brick building next to a railroad track.  There was no semblance of a playground and no provision for any athletic activity.  Only classrooms were built into the structures.  The neighborhood on that side of the railroad track housed only black families.  White neighborhoods bordered but did not mix with the black areas.  As children we were taught by our parents that this situation was the norm and the status preferred by the black residents.  We children were not taught to question, simply to accept.

    Black Annie grew up and still lived in the black quarter of town near the railroad track.  She had only minimal education and could not read at the standard of even us young children in those days.  Annie was brought to our house by my father on the times when we needed extra help in the household.  Annie cooked, cleaned, ironed, and generally worked very hard at all the domestic chores Mother found for her.  Annie’s appellation as we heard it was not Black Annie, but was Nxxxxx Annie.  We were teens heading for college before we had a chance to realize with certainty that Annie’s first name was not Nxxxxx.

    Annie cooked a fine meal, but always stood in the kitchen while our family sat to eat at the table.  Her dinner was taken after the main meal from whatever leftovers there may have been in the same standing position in the kitchen.  We children asked repeatedly why she didn’t eat at the table with the family, and were always told the kitchen was her preferred place to eat.  Somehow in the light of today I find that difficult to believe.

    Annie’s life was restricted far beyond her schooling and housing.  She lived in a society where “White Only” signs were posted on water fountains, public restrooms, and store windows.  Lunch counters admitted no blacks to their facilities in those years.  The distinction between races was stark and ever present.  The difference between the facilities offered to black and white residents was severe.  Water fountains offered to blacks were often inoperable.  Restroom facilities offered were mostly so unacceptable in condition that most people would avoid their use at all costs.  Blacks coming to town or shopping or business planned to be back home before needing any public accommodation.

    In those days of my childhood black people were not given the status of human in most respects.  The society that surrounded blacks in those days saw them as somehow animalistic as the various epithets used as adjectives clearly showed.  Today we see the same degrading behavior toward the various foreign populations both in and out of this country.  One satellite radio channel uses derogatory terms to describe the opposition fighters in Iraq.  Many such epithets were applied in Viet Nam as has been discussed here already.  The abuse of human rights has a long history in our country.  We have much work to do to reverse the effects of our past action in this area.  Progress is being made, but we can never forget our history lest we fall back into old patterns once again.  


    copyright © 2008 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    Ambition is a passion, at once strong and insidious, and is very apt to cheet (sic) a man out of his happiness and his true respectability of character.~ Edward Bates

    Bates who went on to become Abraham Lincoln’s attorney general was speaking of his personal perspective at a time when he and others including Lincoln were being considered for nomination to the Presidency.  We all today might find a measure of wisdom in the thought.

    Ambition is

    an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power

    We see increasing amounts of this apparent desire among so many in the political ranks today.  There is much to be said for having ambition if one is able to direct that feeling to productive efforts.  Lacking the drive to be successful in any endeavor will often lead to failure and collapse of the effort instead of success.

    Ambition is like unto a team of horses pulling a fine carriage in my mind.  The team needs a firm hand on the reins.  A good driver knows each member of the team and recognizes their strong points as well as their weaknesses.  With a firm idea of the trip ahead a driver can make the trek so much better for all concerned.  Letting go of the reins or letting that team take more control may lead to one bumpy ride for the passengers and the driver, too.

    In the world of American politics today there are many driving forces with which to be reckoned.  Money is always an issue.  No campaign ever has too much money.  Trust me on that one.  And people are another big concern.  No politician wishing to be successful ever turned away the people who volunteer time and energy to be helpful.  Experience in the community and in the ranks of the local political establishment is also helpful to the success of a campaign.

    For many today the final piece of qualification for political campaigning is that personal ambition that drives a person to strive for new heights of public recognition.  In too many instances the individual then finds him/herself losing whatever measure of personal integrity may have been in place at the onset of the political process.  Too many find themselves in the position of bending principles in order to placate one group or another and therefore gain support.  In the end one is in danger of losing personal integrity altogether if the hand on the reins is not firm and steady.

    How can one guard against ambition that drives the wrong ways?  Can one do so at all?  I suggest that all of us have measures of ambition that keep us moving toward our goals in life.  How do we assure ourselves that we are making a positive difference in the world and not moving toward personal reward that helps no one but ourselves?

    We can start by examining our motives.  We can move to a hard look at the reality of our life as it stands today.  For myself there are a few questions I find helpful.  Is my goal going to further life for any other person?  Is my success going to mean any person outside my immediate family finds their life improved in some way?  Or is the entire issue about me and personal rewards that benefit no one else?  If I can answer the questions in a manner that means society benefits and be honest in my thinking I know the process is a good one and is outside personal ambition.  Then the process of keeping to the straight and narrow must begin.

    Ambition is not only a powerful driving force, but as Judge Bates suggested the effect can be insidious.  A person may not recognize the losses in one’s self until too late unless the safeguards are set in place early on in life.  One needs trustworthy and reliable friends who are willing to point out any deviation from the established course.  With enough careful attention paid to the entire process ambition can be the driving force that puts real fire in the belly of any course in life.  Ambition drives each of us to heights in life which may otherwise not be attained.  The trick for every one is to keep that ambition under control and directed to the overall good of society.  

    Together we can stand for a new tomorrow.  If we all direct our personal ambition toward the good of society in general a tidal wave of glorious redirection may result.  If we continue to allow personal ambition to drive toward goals of any individual we are bound to continue our downward trend of the past several years.

    How many politicians today do we see progress through the ranks of local and state government to end in Congress or some other high ranking political position?  Did any one of the begin the process by thinking only of themselves?  I believe most people who enter the political arena today do so with good intentions.  It is the ambition that sneaks in and takes over for far too many.

    And what are we the voters to do about all this?  Can we effect a change in the system to insure we have the best candidates with our interests in mind in office?  Or is the process too heavy with its own inertia to provide the opportunity for people with new ideas to be successful?  Or is the system already populated with people whose ambition is for the good of the people so no change is really needed in the first place?

    The Life of a Believer, The Rare Reality of Courage to Dream

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    He was a beautiful, bouncing, baby boy.  He entered the world enthusiastically.  As an embryo, he seemed to absorb all the energy that surrounded him.  Once a fetus, the soon to be “Dennis” delighted in the warmth of his mothers womb.  He turned and tumbled as the unborn do when some event in the outside world stimulates a response.  Once infant Dennis entered into an Earthbound existence, he was delighted.  His brown eyes shone with joy.  Little sponge that he was, Dennis showed an instant interest in everything.

    Dennis’ parents encouraged the young toddler to think.  The little lad had zillions of questions.  He inquired fervently and frequently.  “What does this mean?”  Why does this occur?  How might that affect him, her, you, or me?  The tot cared; he was concerned.  Young Dennis was infinitely curious.  However, as occurs with most of us, this sweet child began to learn what ultimately deadens the desire we each feel or felt.  Dennis discovered that if he were to be accepted and acceptable, he could no longer be the person he was born to be.  

    At home, the youngster, once praised for his inquisitive inquiries was told, his mother and father had no time to answer all his questions.  Tired and torn by the stress necessary for survival, Mom and Dad could not devote themselves to their son’s scientific search for truth, knowledge, and the wisdom that might better the world.

    Father, Frank, drove a delivery truck.  Mother, Virginia, cared for the children at home; that is, when the family could afford a conventional dwelling.  There was a time when the car was the family’s shelter.  Among the working  class, life could be quite grave.  The times were tough when Dennis was a boy. His Dad “salary” was meager.  As the sole source of income for the family, frequently Frank did not make enough to pay the rent,  

    Dennis entered school and discovered there, he could consume more information.  Facts, figures, formulas, and the fluid data that changes in a chaotic culture called life.  Scholar Dennis dived in deeply.  This active academic was challenged in the classroom; he was ready to reach for the stars.  Sadly, the road was, at times rough.  There was little money to secure the basic needs.  Staples were short in supply.  Extras were that.  There was no money for stylish garb.

    The lad was chided for his distinctive clothing.  In appearance alone, Dennis was different from his peers.  The apparel available to this youngster of little means set Dennis apart from his classmates.

    While the young lad understood what was true for most, a certain amount of conformity is preferred, Dennis could not do the accepted thing even when he wanted to.  He had fewer choices than most.  His wardrobe consisted of a pair of turquoise blue pants with black pinstripes.  Later in life, he would describe these “like something out of a psychedelic prison.” Yet, he wore them pridefully.

    One of the nuns at his school noticed other kids making fun of him for wearing the same pants a lot and provided clothing for the entire family.

    As an adult, Dennis would recall, upon reflection, his younger years helped him to realize the importance of being rather than having.  Through the strife and the struggles . . .

    “Every step along the way, there was someone who offered the roof over our heads, clothing, or financial help.”  . . . “Any family who’s ever been through that knows you don’t make it through life alone.”

    People care.  Neighbors within a community provide.  Perhaps, love is all we truly have.  For Dennis’ family a shared fondness was as gold.  Affection and appreciation were available and abundant in the world of this wondrous child.

    Dennis made friends easily.  He did not fret for what he did not own.  He reveled in what he might be.  Although, many adolescents lost their spirit to soar as children,  confronted with comments such as , “you ask too many questions,”  “I do not have time for you and your antics,” or “do it, because I said so,” Dennis did not lose his.  For him, the absurd was achievable, if only he believed.  Dennis did.  

    The wunderkind had faith in himself, and in humanity.  At times, he was distracted.  When he saw people at war, he worked to resolve their differences.  If his parents bickered, Dennis concentrated on prompting peace and talk between them.  On these occasion, his siblings did not always understand.  Brothers, Larry, Frank Gary, and Perry; and sisters, Theresa and Beth Ann might have felt slighted when their elder brother paid more attention to Mom, Dad , and their immediate needs than he did to them.

    In the hallways at school and on the streets, as a teenager, Dennis was often misunderstood for his focus.  When the whimsical fellow observed another in distress, he acted to alleviate whatever caused the harm.  Some friends thought this folly.  They wondered why Dennis did not do as his peers did.  There was fun to be had.  For a few, the fight was exciting.  To watch others engage in physical or verbal combat, that is entertainment.  For the deliberately tranquil Dennis, strife seemed nonsensical.

    Oh, there were times in his younger years when Dennis was viewed as confrontational.  He was easily angered by what he thought unreasonable.  The excessive bothered Dennis even as a boy.  It seemed the elite prospered, and the poor fell further into poverty.  When the young man witnessed what he thought unwarranted, he did not always deliver his message well.  Frequently, he felt the soul pain of others so deeply, he did not know what to do other than what he had seen others do, rage.

    Yet, even when he emulated the behavior of an angered individual, his concern was less for himself, and more for the good of the community.  That, for most was difficult to discern, or understand. Most people are more interested in them selves and  their personal success. Dennis John was a man of the people.  Yet, he seemed strange among them.

    Sure, Dennis could try to fit in.  He could go along to get along.  However, for this special person, being popular was less important.  Dennis had principles, among these love and peace.  Sadly, when in his early thirties, he was unsure how to create harmony when confronted with those whose power seemed limitless.  This hindered Dennis’ early rise.

    Many of us might relate.  In our youth, we see societal ills and we long to change what is.  We are stopped at every turn.  If we were not defeated as children by the words of our elders, “you cannot, you will not, that is unacceptable,’ then, after years as a rebel, a person with promise may come to believe they have no cause, or at least no way to move the mountains of mildewed minds.  Without hope, dreams are left behind. As the defeated among us say, “We are born, and then we die.”

    Dennis John Kucinich conceived he could help change the world.  He trusted he would achieve.  Dennis wanted no war; nor did he see a reason for the woes inflicted on the impoverished. At an early age, this lively dreamer was confident, all men were created equal., just as the founders of the United States of America declared in the Constitution,

    As a student, Dennis loved history, He learned his lessons well.  His own life experience taught him to empathize with his brethren.  If an individual was discussed unfairly or dealt with in a manner that was not just, Dennis took the time to assuage the situation.  He calmed the combative, and quieted any chaos.  However, on occasion his own enthusiasm seemed contrary to his message.

    Nonetheless, at the young age of thirty-one years, Dennis John Kucinich was recognized for his genius.  Citizens of Cleveland, Ohio elected the boy wonder as mayor.  

    Kucinich ran as a populist, railing against the city’s tax policy and strongly opposing its plan to sell the struggling municipal power company to a private competitor that local banks had a vested interest.

    “The next mayor of the city of Cleveland must be his own man,” Kucinich declared during a debate. “[He] must be willing to take the chances in going after the utility interest, the banking interests, the big business interest for exploiting this community.”

    Dennis Kucinich served the city well.  When a huge corporation sought to privatize the city’s utility, Mayor Kucinich stood strong.  He remained true to the people, the common folk, the citizens of Cleveland, much to his own political demise.

    In 1978, Cleveland’s banks demanded that he [Kucinich] sell the city’s 70 year-old municipally-owned electric system to its private competitor (in which the banks had a financial interest) as a precondition of extending credit to city government.

    When Mayor Kucinich refused to sell Muny Light, the banks took the unprecedented step of refusing to roll over the city’s debt, as is customary. Instead, they pushed the city into default. It turned out the banks were thoroughly interlocked with the private utility, CEI, which would have acquired monopoly status by taking over Muny Light. Five of the six banks held almost 1.8 million shares of CEI stock; of the 11 directors of CEI, eight were also directors of four of the six banks involved.

    By holding to his promise and putting principle above politics, Kucinich lost his re-election bid and his political career was temporarily derailed.

    While heartbreak and defeat may have done another in, the forever idealist and lover of life’s lessons learned.  He reflected on what had happened, and realized that if he were to give birth to tranquility, he must be the calm he intended to create.  Four years after his expulsion from the office of Mayor, a humbled Dennis J. Kucinich returned to public service.

    The Kucinich who returned to the Cleveland City Council was not the same firebrand who had antagonized and frustrated the council as mayor. He so abandoned his confrontational style that Council President George Forbes said at the time, “He’s not the same person. He has done a good job on the council. I have a lot of respect for him.”

    There were many words of vindication.  Absolution from those once labeled adversaries was abundant.  The city praised the man once blamed and banished from City Hall.  Appreciation and admiration for the outcast was ample.

    [T]oday, Kucinich stands vindicated for having confronted the Enron of his day, and for saving the municipal power company. “There is little debate,” wrote Cleveland Magazine in May 1996, “over the value of Muny Light today. Now Cleveland Public Power, it is a proven asset to the city that between 1985 and 1995 saved its customers $195,148,520 over what they would have paid CEI.” He also preserved hundreds of union jobs.

    Ultimately, although this small in physical stature of a man still did not seem to be the average Joe, John, Bill, or even a Barack, he was endearing, engaging, and had great appeal.  He may not have been the conventional conformist a Hillary, Nancy, or Diane might be.  However, perhaps, that was his beauty.  Ohio residents elected Dennis J. Kucinich to the House of Representatives, in 1996.  At home in Congress, where the populist could truly serve the people, Dennis fought tirelessly for Union workers, civil rights, and human rights.  He strived to bring the world to peace.  Kucinich did not vote to fund the war, nor would he advocate for fellow Democrats who did.  Dennis John Kucinich, true to his principles worked to restore the State of the Union.

    In Congress, Kucinich has authored and co-sponsored legislation to create a national health care system, preserve Social Security, lower the costs of prescription drugs, provide economic development through infrastructure improvements, abolish the death penalty, provide universal pre-kindergarten to all 3, 4, and 5 year olds, create a Department of Peace, regulate genetically engineered foods, repeal the USA PATRIOT Act, and provide tax relief to working class families.

    Kucinich has been honored by Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters as a champion of clean air, clean water and an unspoiled earth. Kucinich has twice been an official United States delegate to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (1998, 2004) and attend the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    In his district, Kucinich has been recognized by the Greater Cleveland AFL-CIO as a tireless advocate for the social and economic interests of his community.

    Kucinich led the effort to save Cleveland’s 90 year-old steel industry and the thousands of jobs and retiree benefits it provides. While hundreds of community hospitals have been closed throughout the country, Kucinich led a community-based effort to reopened two Cleveland neighborhood hospitals.

    Kucinich worked with the nation’s largest railroads to create a merger agreement that improved rail safety while diverting a heavy volume of train traffic away from heavily populated residential areas of his district.

    In Cleveland, Kucinich has been honored by the Cleveland AFL-CIO, the Ohio PTA, the NASA Glenn Research Center, the Salvation Army, the United States Post Office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio’s Boys Town, and the Human Rights Campaign.

    Gratified with all he had been able to do for Cleveland residents, and those in Ohio , cognizant of how as a Congressman, he was also able to assist people throughout the country, Dennis Kucinich felt a need to do more.  This caring gentle man decided it would be wise to help more people help themselves.  Thus, Dennis J. Kucinich chose to seek a higher office.  Congressman Kucinich concluded he would pursue the office of President of the United States.

    The man who since birth, was never fully understood struggled to reach those who learned to conform.  Those who had given up on dreams and could no longer envision equality and justice could not conceive as Dennis could, or does.  Again, the commerce elite thought this profoundly principled person was a threat.  Talk of trade agreements gone awry frightens those who profit from the sweat and toil of cheap labor in foreign countries.  Business persons, who benefit from war, and earn billions as long as America continues to bomb innocent Iraqis tremble at the thought of Dennis Kucinich in a debate.  Just as Muny Electric worked to quell the message of this ethical giant, so too did the powerful Corporate Chief Executives.

    Those who own and operate media markets, manufacture weaponry, and feed the nation did all they could to ensure that Dennis Kucinich never spoke to a national audience for more than a minute here or there.  The Big Business Bosses slammed Kucinich, damned him, and better yet, they silenced a man who would, as President destroy the possibility of ill-gained profits.  

    Kucinich was barred from debates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina.  This man of the people was kept off of ballots and prohibited from campaigns in state after state.

    Once more Dennis was distracted.  As he worked to bring peace and understanding, just as he had in his youth, those close to him felt left behind.  The people of Ohio believed as his siblings and peers might have when Dennis was on a quest.  “What about us.”  Those who know America’s Don Quixote  well, those who he has helped to succeed and believe want him back home.  The industrialists who would welcome the demise of the decent Dennis Kucinich are happy to have an opportunity to destroy him.

    Americans who have never accepted the man, who live as almost everyone of us is told to do from birth, barely miss Dennis Kucinich.  All along, they wanted to support  a presumed winner, not a moral man [or woman] to be President of the United States.  Citizens of this country, beaten down as children, now repeat as their elders did, “Do not ask questions.”  “Do not stand up for truth.”  “Settle for what you are supposed to think, say, do, feel, or be.”  “If you never expect much, you will never be disappointed.”

    As children we learn, it is important to be popular, pretty, perceived as acceptable [electable.]  A peaceful person cannot get ahead.  It is a tough world out there and if you are to get ahead, you better do as you are told or as others do.  If you dare to be different, only those who took the time to know you will want you.  Those who are dear will treasure you.  

    To the beloved people of Ohio, please honor the man who cherishes you, and please pity superficial Americans not ready for the change they crave.  Ohio residents, I hope you will reelect Dennis Kucinich to Congress.  We need Don Quixote, Dennis Kucinich to remind us that dreams do come true, and we can create what other tell us is impossible.

    The Life of A Believer, Biographical References, and a Rare Reality . . .

    Pondering Change

    copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

    Change is defined in the dictionary as the following:

    to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone

    Every politician on the trail today bandies the word, change, about as though we could expect to see real progress tomorrow if that person is elected.  This candidate or that one will make a difference.  With so many saying the same things what are we to expect?  Can a politician today bring about real change?  If so, by what means?  Might we think a real difference is forthcoming when intellectually we know most major politicians are entrenched in the system or backed by the same money influences that already rule the day?  

    American stands at a crossroads today.  We see the world  does not have a high opinion of America.  There is a lot of news about how far the nation has fallen from grace.  The stock market tells a tale of woe in the past several months.  There is real volatility these days.  In the US the housing market is an unmitigated disaster.  The Federal Reserve is pumping money into the system to avoid a recession.  What can we expect in the future?

    For the near future any real difference is unlikely no matter what the politicians continue to say.  The inertia of the system will not be moved quickly.  Even worse, not one of the major candidates today is offering substantive ideas for the future.  We hear lots of words, but most of the talk has more to do with personality and entertainment than about the major issues that concern America today.

    Real change in terms of our nation will require serious attention.  We need leaders at all levels of elected office to stand in front the people and tell the truth about the state of affairs.  Only by facing the absolute truth can we hope to find ways to accomplish the changes needed for a successful tomorrow.  

    I for one am sick to death of hearing people talk about change and continue to offer the same tired expositions we have heard for years.  We need new ideas as the old ones are failing.  We need a new direction for America, one which acknowledges the intent of the Founders.  In the America we should desire, a true democracy, government is of, by, and for the people, and one in which the people are the government.  If we are to survive into the future, we must change from a government directed by money and corporate greed to an establishment that serves the common interests of all.

    How do we achieve the authentic change the nation needs today?  I may not have all the answers but for a start we must learn to think in a different way.  Every person in the nation must begin to think of themselves as one member of a greater society and must begin to act in ways that benefit all of society.  We cannot survive the current culture of “me, me, me” for much longer.

    If every person in the country today began to look for the similarities between all of us humans instead of focusing on the differences we’d be a long way ahead in this world.  We are all human beings no matter our sex, skin color, or living condition.  The sooner we begin to look to the welfare of one another the sooner we may find a way to turn our nation around.

    In years past government served to provide a social safety net in order to catch people who are in need and are not being served some other way.  We need to restore that net as soon as possible.  We cannot afford to have a nation with millions facing health issues while uninsured and millions more grossly underinsured.  We cannot allow homelessness and poverty to continue to rule so many lives in this country today.  We cannot afford to let our veterans continue to suffer the failures of a medical system that is overwhelmed today.  We cannot allow torture to be used as a means of interrogation of any person in American custody.  We must not allow ongoing government surveillance of our private communications in direct and open violation of the laws of the land.  We can no longer allow money to be the primary ruling force for government at the expense of people’s lives and health.  We must take immediate and drastic steps to protect our environment.  We must find alternative energy sources if we are to continue our consumption into the far future.  

    We as a nation deserve better than we find today.  We the people are worth more to ourselves and to our society.  Yet, currently, we allow our government to diminish our value.  The actions of those “in charge”, some of the same individuals who promise change, demonstrate by their actions that they do not care about us.  Personal greed among “government” officials disavows the notion that as Americans we are part of a local, state, national, and global community.

    Beginning today and extending for the remainder of each of our lives we must work to see we to the election of leaders who represent real leadership.  Our nation depends on our finding and putting into office people who are willing and able to face the truth and take the necessary steps to bring about real differences in our tomorrows.  If we fail to push for substantive change and fail to do so very soon we stand to lose the nation we all loved once upon a time.

    Let us create change with this in mind; transformation begins with us.  As Gandhi said so very well, “be the change you wish to see.”

    Bush Administration; Study Reveals 935 False Statements Preceded War

    Treason = BUSH = betrayal of one’s country. PROOF

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The facts, the fabrications, it is all a matter of perspective.  The Center For Pubic Integrity in conjunction with the Fund for Independence in Journalism released a database, False Pretenses which allows users to search terms and locate statements made by the Bush Administration, post-September 11, 2001.  The Progressive portion of the public is elated.  Finally, there is an archive of information.  Those in support of impeachment are satisfied.  High crimes and misdemeanors have been documented. Nearly one thousand of these pronouncements are stored in a single place.

    President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

    Granted, ultimately, President George W. Bush did admit “Mistakes were made.”  However, he did not make them.  Intelligence was in error.  It certainly was.  While the President claims his judgment was not flawed, he concedes the facts presented to him were just wrong.  On March 11, 2002, George W. Bush stood before the nation and cited with certainty . . .

    Here is what we already know: some states that sponsor terror are seeking or already possess weapons of mass destruction; terrorist groups are hungry for these weapons, and would use them without a hint of conscience. And we know that these weapons, in the hands of terrorists, would unleash blackmail and genocide and chaos.

    These facts cannot be denied, and must be confronted. In preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, there is no margin for error, and no chance to learn from mistakes. Our coalition must act deliberately, but inaction is not an option. (Applause.) Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to control the ultimate instruments of death. (Applause.)

    President Bush, we can agree on that.  Regardless of the gender, people who do not revere other persons and recognize that all life is of equal value must not be in placed in a position where they have the power to create, control, or be in command of a forces intent on destruction.  If however, such an individual, or a group of characters, is in change of armed forces, he or she must be held accountable.

    Yet, it seems this will never happen.  Conveniently, Congress has taken impeachment off the table, or at least the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has.  Those in power who rather not admit to their own “mistakes,” and deny that the United States continues to act in error certainly see the newer study as just another meaningless moment.  Even Journalist who write for esteemed publications, such as The New York Times find no fault with what was; nor do they see any reason for excitement, or let alone censure.  John H. Cushman Junior states . . .

    There is no startling new information in the archive, because all the documents have been published previously. But the new computer tool is remarkable for its scope, and its replay of the crescendo of statements that led to the war. Muckrakers may find browsing the site reminiscent of what Richard M. Nixon used to dismissively call “wallowing in Watergate.”

    While wallowing may be dismissed as “a waste of time,” and naysayer’s declare what is done is done, in truth, Americans have yet to take any action.  Citizens rant; they rage, and relent.  Nothing can be done, and little is attempted.  While the research may not reveal more than we knew, it is captivating to consider the depth of duplicity.

    What perhaps is of greater interest is, that in America a President and his Cabinet can lie, lie, and then lie again, and the citizenry and Congress will do nothing.  An observer, not yet jaded, might express deep astonishment.  Apathy, or a sense of helplessness, has replaced democracy.

    Might we honor the commitment the President made to us.  Our citizens, our country must act as a coalition.  We must deliberately ensure that any person who does not revere all life is never allowed to command an armed force or control the ultimate instruments of death and destruction.  Americans must pledge their allegiance to peace.  We, the people must impeach an Administration that falsifies information, and leads us into an unwarranted war.

    Sources and Open Secrets . . .

    ‘Two for the Price of One,’ Take Two

    To view the original art, please travel to ‘Two for the Price of One,’ take two.

    copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

    If there’s going to a sequel to the Hill ‘n’ Bill show, Mrs. Clinton is going to have to do a better job of dealing with “The Bill Factor.”