Words Have Suitcases

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

What is in a word.  Every word comes with its own baggage, a little suitcase filled with connotations from past usages.  What different emotions words bring to the surface by their mere mention.  Think for a moment of sex, torture, obscene, and f**k.  Just dwell a moment on the connections between this selection of words.  Simple one and all and yet so complex in the feelings that are aroused depending on the presentation.  Follow if you will over the fold to hear the possum’s thoughts on these words specifically and on words in general.

According to the Oxford Dictionary sex is a noun for sexual activity, specifically sexual intercourse.  Torture is the infliction of severe pain as a punishment or a forcible means of persuasion.  Obscene is an adjective meaning offending accepted standards of decency; offensive or disgusting.  F**k means to have sexual intercourse with.  Stories about sex are forbidden in today’s mainstream media as is the word, f**k.  In fact any mention of sex or any words surrounding the sense of sex is often not accepted in public.  

Just think about my tale of the peace vigil and the surrounding controversy.  On the other hand stories about torture are accepted in the mainstream media.  

Movie and TV depictions of torture draw real audiences these days.  At least one cinema withdrew a movie with sexual overtones (Brokeback Mountain) and continued to show a torture movie (Hostel).  Obscene pictures, writings, movies, and other presentation are restricted by various laws.  The exact definition varies somewhat from location to location.

Why do we as a society see such wide differences between various words and the images they conjure?  Why can we accept stories and movies about torture and decline those that concern sex?  Are we so misguided about our lives that we cannot define the right of sex and the wrong of torture?  Or are we more inclined to find solace somehow in the suffering of other people as they are being tortured?   Why does the simple word, f**k, arouse so much animosity when presented in public?  Is war not more obscene under the definition above than any measure of sex?

Justice Stewart was said to think he “knew pornography when he saw it.”  Apparently society as a whole today feels much the same way as people choose to view certain sorts of images and to refuse others.  Even the use of language today is fraught with peril.  To speak of sex is considered somewhat less than polite in society.  And to speak of war in realistic circumstances is verboten.  

The administration hides images of war and the returning dead Americans to “preserve the sensitive feelings of the public.”  Seems pretty strange that a society which allows movies like (Hostel) and its genre cannot view war images without being somehow offended.  And how can a person be offended by the word, f**k, and still allow torture to be an American pastime in the prison at Abu Ghraib (graphic warning!!)?  Are we so desensitized to the words and the images that we no longer care?

In my personal world words are fine as themselves.  In and of themselves words are not harmful.  Nor do they offer specific benefit other than as descriptors.  All comes from the presentation.  In my mind war is obscene and to that end its images may be suppressed if obscenity is to be avoided in public.  On the other hand the images of war at least allow a public to be informed as to the reality of the situation.  When the public is not allowed to see images or hear words directly describing the horrors of war, then war loses much of its obscenity.

Discussions of sex are also acceptable in my own world.  We make a point of keeping much of that discussion between consenting adults without making a public show.  But if a child of any age asks a specific question, the answer should be given.  The same is true if that child asks about torture.  

To my own mind torture should receive as great attention and definition as sex or reproduction and the rights thereof.  Both subjects deserve a public airing to the end of education and elevating the one (sex) while suppressing the activity represented by the other (torture).  Once again if words are not discussed in open forums, the full meaning of the word disappears.  

The thoughts come to an end point at last.  In the end is only the end.  One more word.  One more simple little word.  Maybe not the most important of all, but a significant word in that the process is finished to this point.  Additional reflection and extension may follow to another finality as the suitcase is opened and the baggage of these words is examined.  

Pondering Patriotism

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

Patriotism is defined as

love for or devotion to one’s country.

 If that be the case then I count myself a true patriot.  I love our nation or at least the nation we once were and the nation we may be once again.  I am devoted to the cause of restoring our nation to the benefit of all the people once and for all.

On the other hand, Julius Caesar was right when he said:

Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double- edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.

Any spirit of patriotism may be misused as we in America have seen in the aftermath of 9/11.

And in Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell found a different idea of where patriotism may lead in time:

The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering – a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons – a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting – three hundred million people all with the same face.

Real danger lurks in the wrong that blind patriotism may bring upon the people.

We need a return to basic ideas of right and wrong in this nation today.  We who love the country stand for its principles of liberty and justice for all.  We stand for ALL the people, not just the privileged and powerful few.  America is a nation filled with promise and built on a long history of both right and wrong.  It behooves us today to review our past and learn the lessons contained within.  Together we can build a nation which deserves patriotic fervor and which responds to that feeling with the reward of living in the greatest country in the world.

To bring about the changes we need today we must all stand together for what is right and good in life.  Law and government should be held to standards of right and for a level playing field in which any person may find real success based upon hard work.  The people of this great nation, no matter their skin color or sexual preference, no matter their religious leanings, no matter their  physical accumulations, all deserve a nation of which they can be proud.  We all need a country about which we can say we love that nation as only a true patriot can love.

Can we find that nation in America?  I believe the foundation was laid in the Constitution.  There are no more powerful words to my mind than the opening of the preamble:

We the People…

 We who live in America today hold the reins of government by right of law.  The question is, can we take back that right and move our nation in the ways needed for the good of ALL the people?

September 15 in DC (photo diary)

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

At last the date arrived and we were on the bus.  The rally and march were on and we were off.  The teen and I took a bus chartered by Delaware Pacem in Terris, our local peace group.  The directions given our group were somehow in error the driver wandered around the site a bit before a final parking for us to unload.  About noon we arrived in front of the White House for the pre-march rally.  Follow over the fold for pictures.

We left the bus to join a group that was forming across the street from the White House in preparation for the rally.

We joined a group of bloggers along with the web designers from Campaign Advantage

for the march down the street.

There were characters galore amidst the crowd.

Including the possum himself:

And even a few pets were in on the protest.

Some people had interesting views of the rally:

The signs were multitudinous.

The excitement of the day was palpable in the street.  The police presence was large as war supporters were held behind barricades along the march route.  At the Capital building the entire front was ringed by police, many of whom were in riot gear.  Protesters who broke through the police lines were arrested.  While we spent a fair amount of time trying to find the die-in that was set for the same day, we were not successful.

The rally, the march, and the fellowship demonstrated democracy as good as it can be.  Both sides were represented although the war supporters were pretty few in number.  The marchers were annoyed by the other side, but for the most part the march was all about protecting the rights of every person in the country.  For too many years we have seen our rights taken away bit by bit.  Yesterday was a demonstration not just in protest of the war, but as a mark of democracy at work and a showing of what the people believe is right for our country.  Let us hope there is no similar march needed in 2008.

All photos are personal property taken by the author or friends.

Homeless in the USA

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

Under the US government definition a person is homeless if they fit the following criteria.

1.  an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and

2.  an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is-
  (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);
  (B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

 

According to HUD

754,000 people were homeless in the U.S. on a given night in January 2005. Among these persons, 415,000 were sheltered in emergency or transitional housing and 339,000 were unsheltered.

Unsheltered means those people were living on the street with no other place to go.  Among all these homeless people 66% were unaccompanied adults and youth.  The remaining 34% were adults and children in families.  According to reports as many as 600,000 families with as many as 1.35 million children may experience homelessness over the course of a given year.  Veterans make up 40% of the total male homeless population when adult men account for only 34% of the population. 

Homelessness is an issue that effects the entire community.  When people are homeless they are much more vulnerable to hate crimes and other crimes of the moment.  Women who find themselves homeless are likely to be raped within a few short weeks of hitting the streets.  Teens may turn to sex as their body may be the only remaining asset they have for survival on the streets.  The community suffers from the image of homeless people wandering the streets.  People complain about the homeless urinating on the street.  The tragedy is less the presence of urine on the street than that the urinating individual is homeless in America today.

The homeless among our society are invisible to most people.  Ignoring the homeless or wishing them away are not solutions.  We must face the issue and begin to seek solutions.  There is much evidence for the root causes of homelessness but now how do we find solutions?  Of course providing some measure of shelter removes people from the street.  Such shelters need to provide more than just a bed and food for the night.  People suffering longer term needs may also require drug and alcohol counseling along with basic job skill training.  Some people need mental health care.  Many homeless people are qualified for jobs and need help in that search.  Some need child care in order to take a job.  Job seekers need an address not identifiable as a shelter in order to rent an apartment once they get on their feet or even to get a job on the way to returning to stability.  Each individual must be evaluated and given specific care to meet their needs in the shelter situation. 

More and better shelters need to be provided.  The issue is not one of giving people a free ride but rather one of rehabilitating disadvantaged human beings to a point where they can become productive members of society once again.  Once people are able to return to the working force their income taxes will more than pay for any monies used for their care during a  homeless time.

Housing is a basic issue in homelessness.  Affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce.  In many places the real estate business is more profitable when vacant buildings are sold to developers for luxury apartments than when the same empty building is renovated for subsidized housing.  Laws must be changed to require lower income or mixed housing in our society if we are to make real progress toward a nation that cares for all its people.

We need programs in place to insure people who fall behind in rent or mortgage payments have alternatives.  If short term monetary support is needed then such should be provided in order to keep people in their homes. 

Increased amounts of safe and secure shelter needs to be provided for the abused among our homeless.  Abused women account for a significant proportion of homeless people with children.  These women may need various forms of support in order to both keep the family intact and to return to society as productive citizens.

Despite the common perception that homeless people are more likely to be troubled, the fact is they are most often just poor in comparison to the average member of society.  Poverty and the failure of so many to earn a living wage is a root cause of homelessness that must be addressed if we are alleviate the problem.

The overall issue of homelessness is a difficult and complex one.  We as a nation must begin to look at the problem.  This among so many more tough issues cannot be ignored if we are to be a leader among nations.  We cannot leave people on the streets day after day and be the example we wish to be in the world of tomorrow.  As with so many social issues facing our country today, we must begin to see other people as the human beings they represent.  We must seek the similarities and leave the differences for later discovery.  Only when we begin to be unified as humankind can we begin to resolve many of the major problems of the day such as homelessness.

Support the Troops?

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

Last night in a diary by Democratic Consultant there was mention of what must one do to really demonstrate support for the troops.  The diary and the following discussion reminded me of an interaction at our weekly vigil last Saturday morning.  Every week a local group of us stands in protest against the war.  We do this on Friday night and again on Saturday morning.  The group began the vigils even before the initial invasion of Iraq.  I was privileged to join more than two years ago and have been a regular protester since that time.

Last Saturday was a normal, hot day in the baking sunshine.  We were our usual crew with various signs and one large banner.  About 15 minutes before we were to end for the day (each vigil is a one hour episode) we were approached by a woman who was visibly upset.  She began by telling us we were hurting the troops by our protest.  This statement came in spite of our long line of yard signs saying

END THE WAR,
BRING THE TROOPS HOME

The lady went on to explain that she had a son in Iraq who was helping the Iraqis build a better country for themselves.  This mother was accepting no part of our explanations or protestations that we do indeed support the troops, but hate the war and the misuse of American military members in this way.  At the end of the conversation which lasted more than 10 minutes middle ground was found in the thought that a draft would end the war very quickly.  Some members of the group and the mother found minor solace in that agreement, but she still left with seeming anger in her face and her body language.

We, the protesting group, were left frustrated and disappointed.  We each do all we can to make sure the troops come home safe and sound.  We write letters to our Congress critters and letters to the editor.  We make calls to anyone who will hear us out.  We protest every week and at other times and other places when the chance comes along.  Various regular members of our group have been arrested in events of nonviolent protest.  If there is an effective action to take one or more members of our protest group will have taken that action.

What else can we do?  Our Congress critters no longer respond to our requests for meetings.  If a meeting can be scheduled we are often treated cordially in the office but then politics as usual continue and the  war goes on and on and on as the losses of American life mount.  If we could gather thousands of protesters every weekend we’d do just that.  If we were able to close down Washington, DC, for days at a time in open protest we’d do that, too.  But we cannot manage such large scale events.  Too many are apathetic or just unwilling to take action.

Putting a magnet or a sticker on the car and honking at the protesters on the side of the road is so very simple and easy.  Armchair protesters we call them as they drive by in air conditioned comfort this summer.  What can we do to get people out of their cars and onto the streets?  How do we overcome the apparent misconception that magnets and honks are really supporting the troops?  Can we change this situation by any action of our own?

Action is my personal way of staying alive and sane.  For many years after coming home from Vietnam I stewed in my own mind and protested to my friends and neighbors.  One day that was no longer enough.  On that day my first letter to the editor was written and submitted.  The paper accepted and published that one along with lots more since that time.  Action taken gives me a personal feeling of having done something within my grasp to help end the war.  If nothing else is accomplished at least the issue is kept in the public eye by our weekly protest vigils.  That, in addition to the other actions the group takes, is to my mind supporting the troops the best we are able. 

What Price Victory

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

Victory is defined as

the overcoming of an enemy or an antagonist.

President Bush and members of the administration continue to say America must stay the course in Iraq until victory is achieved.  At what cost will that victory be gained one should be moved to ask.  As of this morning 3665 American casualties have been reported.  Recent reports put the cost of the continuing occupation of Iraq at near $12 billion per month.  In addition there are cultural costs with

the disappearance of some of the most important archaeological pieces of all time

and the displacement of various populations within Iraq. 

The human costs of the Iraqi invasion and occupation continue to rise.  Recent reports tell of the exodus of as many as 3000 Iraqis per day.  Many of these folk are of ancient cultures, some of the oldest communities in the world.  Christians  have lived in Iraq for more than 2,000 years coexisting with various other groups.  A small Jewish community is all but gone as a result of ongoing persecution.  Other groups including Mandaeans exist only in Iraq and Iran.  Yazidis are primarily ethnic Kurds.  Given the relative size of some of these minor groups, extinction is a real threat.  Even Palestinian and Turkoman populations which are significantly larger are at relative risk as the war escalates.  Being in the minority, adherents to these religious groups are easily targeted by kidnappers and death squads.

In a country of approximately 25 million the UN High Commissioner for Refugees gives estimates as many as 1.6 million Iraqis displaced within the country and as many as 1.8 million displaced outside the country.  Inside Iraq estimates suggest as many as 50,000 people are leaving their homes each year.  The internal strife and dislocation of people is a basic human rights issue.  Violence leads to conditions which are no longer acceptable for families.  People leave their homes in search of better conditions.  Most refugees find themselves in camps rather than finding settled living.  Violence and unrest often follow as these populations are so vulnerable.

So long as wartime conditions continue in Iraq and other countries around the world, the refugee issue will continue.  The solution is not easy without peace being restored.  Ancient cultures as well as more modern cultures will cease to exist if their members cannot find places to coexist with their neighbors in tolerance.  When those old cultures are gone, we as a race will have lost a valuable part of our heritage.  The human costs of war must be considered when we total the investment.

The cultural cost to the American people as a result of the endless playing of the fear card by the administration is very high.  We have seen passage of the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act,(MCA)  both of which limit the freedoms of all Americans.  The MCA takes many rights considered basic to the Founding Fathers away from detainees held in Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention centers around the world.  Habeus corpus is all but dead in America today.  Faith in government has been lost to the lies and half-truths put out so often by the administration speakers.  The moral standing of the United States has reached an all time low in the eyes of the world.  How long will we need to recover our sense of pride and our basic freedoms in this country? 

Education, rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, and infrastructure repair and maintenance are suffering as result of the monetary drain on the US economy as a direct result of military spending.  Monies spent in Iraq and Afghanistan are not available for schools, highways, and bridges (just look at Minnesota recently).

The real question becomes just how much are we as a country willing to sacrifice for a “victory” in Iraq.  Even more to the point, how do we define that victory?  Does victory mean a peaceful Iraq with a stable government and a rebuilt infrastructure?  Or does victory mean we simply claim to be victorious and leave the country to end our losses.  In so many instances the victor is not a real winner, but the one who manages to lose least in the battle.  How much are we as a nation willing to lose to count ourselves winners?

EPA Proposes Lower Toxic Reporting Standards

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

A recent report issued for the Colorado Public Interest Group, Toxic Pollution and Health, PDF analyses the release of toxic chemicals into air and water in America.  Current standards of reporting require industries to monitor more than 600 toxic chemicals.  Under new rules promulgated by the Bush admininistration, these strictures will be reduced.  That may mean we will see few or no more reports like the one just released.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a mission statement which states the following is their responsibility:

to protect human health and the environment.

To accomplish their stated purpose the EPA employs more than 17,000 people across the nation.  The agency sponsors research and publishes information necessary to the public interest.  Sorting through the current body of laws and regulations is a daunting task, but the information is available for those so inclined.

Now we hear the EPA wishes to stop the oversight of

waste that companies say is destined for recycling and reuse in the manufacturing process

This will leave the public and American consumers without the protections we previously enjoyed. 

Critics say the rule change could lead to mismanagement of hazardous materials, creating new toxic dumps and increased risks to public health.

The proposed rule allows companies to provide a one time reporting which states the name of the company and the address.  No requirement for quantity or disposal means is required to be reported.  And since this is a program of exclusion, the EPA, according to director of hazardous waste in the Identification Division Bob Dellinger, will not

be doing an environmental risk assessment because it was not an “appropriate analysis for these kinds of exclusions.”

The Bush administration once again demonstrates its opposition to fair and responsible treatment of the American public and the environment in response to industry pressure.  The new regulations will more than likely be cheaper than the old ones.  And maybe there will be a savings in overall paperwork, but the question remains, will this be better for our world?  I submit the damage is predictable only in that it will occur.  The magnitude of the damage will not be known since we can get no information under these rules.

This writing is based on an article in The New Standard which may be read here. and from RH Reality Check.

The Poor Are Losing Their Privacy In San Diego

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

Once again we see the human rights of the poor taken away just because they are poor and dependent on the state.  A report taken from the NYTimes (behind the subscriber firewall) gives the facts of the case which originates in San Diego, California.  In that fair city poor people who want public benefits are left without personal privacy.

Investigators from the district attorney’s office there make unannounced visits to the homes of people applying for welfare, poking around in garbage cans, medicine chests and laundry baskets.

Of course the recipients of government largesse are not required to let the investigators into their homes and into their lives, but refusal ends their benefits.  How many of us live without some measure of government benefit such as tax relief or other provision.  Just how many of us are going to open the sacred halls of our homes to such an invasion at any price?  Why are the poor left in this lurch?

The Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution guarantees

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

yet the searches continue to this day. 

“They’re looking for boxer shorts in a drawer,” said Jordan C. Budd, a law professor who represented the plaintiffs when he was legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego. “They’re looking for medicine in a man’s name.

Where does freedom end in this country?  How can this be?

The county claims the searches and supervision are reasonable steps taken to reduce fraud.  Taking the case to court bought no relief for the victims.  A three judge panel ruled against the appeal saying

people are free to opt out – by giving up their welfare benefits.

  That seems to be a pretty lousy excuse for a ruling.  At least one judge on the panel seemed to agree with my assessment calling that

a false choice for an applicant desperate to feed her children.

I wonder just how many government employees would be willing to give up their privacy in order to keep their jobs.  Or what about those judges who ruled against the case?  Maybe they’d like to have their trash and their home searched in order to keep their fancy homes and fine jobs.

Inequality and discrimination abound in this country.  Discrimination in schools is returning as a a result of the recent SCOTUS.pdf decision in a Seattle case.  Now we hear more discrimination is being enforced against people whose only crime is to be poor.  Not that other crimes are not uncovered in the searches. 

If they come across evidence of other crimes, like drug use or child abuse, they pass it along to the police and prosecutors.

And again the Fourth Amendment is raped.

Discrimination in all its forms must end in this country.  The Declaration of Independence declares

certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Our country was founded on principles of liberty and justice for ALL, not just the white ruling class.  No discrimination of any sort was written into those founding principles.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their comrades.  We, the privileged class for the most part, need to take to the streets and to the airwaves and to the telephones to protest this egregious treatment of those who have less resources than we.  We can each one deliver at least some thoughts about this situation and push our Congress critters toward remedies.  We cannot let this situation linger.  Human rights are basic to all of humankind.  If we allow situations like this one to persist we stand to lose our humanity once and for all.

Summer Protest Project Kicks Off in Delaware

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

Today, Friday, July 6, 2007, the midday protest in downtown Wilmington, DE, aimed at Republican Representative Mike Castle was held.  The group, organized by the Iraq Summer project and sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, began to assemble about 10 AM for the ll AM scheduled protest gathering.  Organizers were busily setting up a table and beginning to arrange their signs when the missus and I arrived. 

As a last minute invited speaker (the call came the night before) I was feeling pretty anxious and excited about the whole affair.  Thankfully the weather was beautiful if a bit on the hot side.  Follow over the fold for the text of my personal speech and more pictures (all from my personal collection) of the affair.

Before the speaking began we had some time to stand around and visit.


Myself (the taller one) and Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, the man beheaded in the infamous internet video.

The organizers were easily identified by their shirts.

There were lots of signs in the group.


A well known (at least around here) Michael Berg sign.


Used by permission of the subject who reminded me he is over 16 and able to give that permission for himself. :)

along with at least one pretty interesting button:


Michael Berg was the first speaker.


Next up was me, possum.

We were invited to speak for 2-3 minutes each.  The text of my speech follows.

Good morning everyone.  Thank you for being here today.  I’m grateful to be here this morning.  I am especially honored to represent one part of the voice of so many veterans who find themselves standing in opposition to the war in Iraq.  The company of speakers and organizers for this event is a fine and representative group indeed.  I stand before you today as one proud American; proud of the gathering and purpose of this morning. 

In late 1969 and early 1970 I spent time in Vietnam as a member of the United States Army.  As a direct result of that service I find myself obligated to speak up and speak out against any further war.  As a member of an infantry company in the Central Highlands of Vietnam I have seen what war can do to the citizenry, the enemy, and to the American soldier. 

Like Dwight Eisenhower said so very well,

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

President Bush and the Republicans led us into Iraq.  Now is the time for for those same leaders to end the occupation, and bring our troops home safely.  President Bush’s current policy, that many in Congress have continued to support keeps our troops in harms way on the battlefields of Iraq.  Americans are dying on a daily basis while Congress twiddles its collective thumbs.  We here in Delaware can no longer continue to stand by leaders who support this mismanaged war.

Congressman Castle has voted time and time again to continue the occupation.  The amounts of money wasted to date are nothing short of staggering.  It is time to end the losses of both money and lives.  To that end I urge Congressman Castle to cease his support of the occupation and to vote only for those bills which contain withdrawal plans which include a definite timeline for ending the American occupation.  I urge Congressman Castle to join the majority of Americans who today stand in opposition to the war.  We deserve politicians who represent both our interests and our ideas.  Continuing support of the occupation of Iraq is no longer acceptable.  The time has come for real change.

Let the message ring out loud and clear.  The only way to really support the troops is to bring them home alive.  We have no more children to lose to this illegal and immoral occupation.  Bring them home now.  Thank you.

After each speaker finished his/her words, they were asked to sign the petition.

Once the speeches were completed the group marched around the corner to a position across the street from Congressman Castle’s office.

While marching the group chanted “Take a stand, Mike Castle, take a stand.”  We were little but we were loud.

The local newspaper and at least one local television channel sent people.  The TV crew set up at the end for some interviews and everyone in attendance was given a chance to sign the petition.

Even the Peace Pup


might have put her paw print to the document if her legs were not so darned short (she is a dachshund).

This was the first of a series of events in Delaware and part of a summer of such events planned across the country.  The goal is to stir people to protest.  The numbers of people opposed to the war as indicated by various polls is huge compared to the numbers of people who bother to take a stand on a street corner.  Action is all that will change the world.  We each and every one must keep our feet on the ground and make our voices heard in all the ways that are possible. 

Deniability

copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crossposted from Truth and Progress.