Politician, Represent Thyself

copyright © 2010. Jerry Northington. Jerry Northington.com

For years now I have been a blogger and avid reader of political blogs.  A recent post by an immigration blogger used the title of today’s pondering.  The point of the other posting was to make politicians (and other people in the nation today) stand up for what is right against what is wrong.

In my childhood, people in my hometown did not allow other people to be mistreated the way we see on the news today.   People were allowed to live their lives and work to sustain their families without lots of questions.  When people had trouble, they were given aid.  If a farmer was ill or injured and unable to plow or harvest his crops neighbors pitched in to take care of the job and insure the success of the farming community.

 Too often today, we hear politicians and others railing about one subject or another in ways that are often empty rhetoric without supporting evidence or real substance.  The fear card is often played these days by politicians hoping for election or reelection.  The pols twitter about and change positions like a bird on a live wire.

The mental and personal deficiencies of too many politicians and other public figures today leaves them unable to represent with any degree of fairness the millions of people in our nation today.   Fear drives human beings to strange corners and unreal belief systems.  Fear drives politicians to say and do whatever it is that promises reelection and continued exposure to the public eye.

As a nation, we need to stop the current course of always blaming the underprivileged or the weak for our ills.  We need one and all to take a real stand and let others around us see just who we are and for what we stand in this life.  We must be true to ourselves first if we are to be true to any other person.  Our politicians need the same reminders and directions if they are to be fair and reasoned in their public lives.  

Peace.

For Further Information on Northington Notes

I am keeping my hand in Delaware politics.  Regular commentaries will appear on the blog at

www.JerryNorthington.blogspot.com.

Anyone may subscribe to Northington Notes, a twice a month commentary.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and neighbors who may be interested. The list is a private one which will not be sold or shared.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to keeping in touch and joining with you in activism to address the great issues of our time.

Peace,

Jerry Northington

Thoughts on Crops

copyright 2010. Jerry Northington. Jerry Northington.com

Growing up in farm country in mid-America the relationship between seed and crop was more than easy to see in our back fields.  The land was rented to local farmers who grew corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops year after year all my time at home.  Those farmers saw the proof of the old adage, “You reap what you sow.”

A few days ago I was reminded about another similar adage.  Those who sow violence (read that any who institute a violent act of any sort) may solve one problem but very likely another issue will arise.  The reaction to violence in most human cultures is more and escalating violence.

Today we live in a world of escalating military expenditures, increasing amounts of arms and ammunition, and a continual race to be the biggest of them all.  To what purpose?  What benefit does humankind see from more and more arms and armament?  Is national security made more sure by a nuclear arsenal that could turn our planet to a cinder in minutes?

My heart tells me if we sow violence we are likely to reap more of the same.  What about if we as a nation were to take on the course of sowing peace?  There are

many examples around the world of peaceable intervention leading to improved lives.  What is to stop us as a people from doing even more.

The sowing of peace can begin with each of us in every aspect of our lives.  Instead of responding in kind to that unkind word or gesture perhaps we would be better to respond with a measure of kindness and friendly words. We need not allow ourselves to become doormats accepting all the misfortune people can hand out, but maybe if we reduce the level of the adversity in the situation we can in the end spread a message of peace and reduced militarism around the world.  At least in my mind the idea is one worth a moment or two of real thought and honest consideration.

Peace.

Quote of the Day:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~ Mother Teresa

For Further Information on Northington Notes

I am keeping my hand in Delaware politics.  Regular commentaries will appear on the blog at

www.JerryNorthington.blogspot.com.

Anyone may subscribe to Northington Notes, a twice a month commentary.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and neighbors who may be interested. The list is a private one which will not be sold or shared.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to keeping in touch and joining with you in activism to address the great issues of our time.

Peace,

Jerry Northington

If you wish to communicate with Jerry Northington

Jerry Northington, DVM

Jerry@JerryNorthington.com

Post Office Box 7987?Wilmington, DE 19803

The Stonecutter

copyright © 2009. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the blog.

Much may be made of what seems like permanent material when a stonecutter takes his tools and begins to work.  The stonecutter aiming to break off a piece of a larger stone block hits the stone time and time again with his mallet and chisel.  A final blow is struck and the stone breaks.  The stonecutter knows the final blow was not the one that broke the stone.  It was instead the accumulation of patient effort and many blows that led to the final changing of the stone.  So it is with a nation trying to restore itself in the name of liberty and justice for all.

Many steps must be taken to insure the proper outcome.  Some are already in progress with the administration’s order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  Detainees are humans who deserve the same rights and privileges as any other human being.  Under our system of laws a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  If we are to restore our lost standing in the eyes of the world we must begin to give the detainees the same access to trial we ask for ourselves.  Those declared innocent must have their freedom restored.  Those found guilty of crimes may serve their appropriate punishment under our laws.

If we are to become again a nation of laws rather than a nation of rules put forth by people ignoring the law we have much work to do.  President Obama has already reversed many of the executive orders left in place by the last administration.  Rules promulgated without adequate public notice are being reviewed and changed as the days continue to pass by.  Like the stonecutter working at his task, the administration continues to strike one blow at a time in the name of justice and liberty.

We, the people, are the ones who will in the end be served best of all by a return to our founding principles.  We must continue to be patient, but we need not allow these days to be the best we will enjoy.  There is always a better nation right around the corner so long as we keep pushing for change and for real improvement.

Peace.

Quote of the week:

Violence is an admission that one’s ideals and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.

~ Edward M. Kennedy

Obama and Biden in Wilmington, Delaware

( – promoted by Betsy L. Angert)

copyright © 2009. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the blog.

Yesterday I was among the many who went to the Wilmington train station to greet President-elect Obama and Vice-President elect Joe Biden as the train headed toward Washington, DC.  Four of us (two Pennsylvania friends accompanied the teen and me) went down.  We drove straight into town, parked, and headed down the street without any event.

As we approached the venue, we saw many vendors selling all the usual paraphernalia (buttons, T-shirts, sweat shirts, and various other souvenirs).  We went thinking we’d be lucky to get within a block or two, but security was open and in we went.  Harriet Tubman Park was the location and we were in the fenced area before we really knew what was happening.  We were dressed for the cold and wind, but the weather was not so bad and the crowd blocked any wind there may have been.  

(Please ponder the pictures. Walk the streets of Wilmington.  Wait at the train station.  Reflect on a reality that Jerry, Joe, Barack, and many more experienced on a day that will live large in history.  Travel through this link.  May you enjoy the reveries.)

The crowd was ready for the festivities.

We found a fine viewing spot without realizing that bright light in the distance was a flood lamp and not a reflection.  

We were standing about 100 feet from the central portion of the stage.  Other neighborhood friends were near us.  They were the only other people we saw who we knew.

The crowd stretched far behind us and along the top of the nearby parking garage.

There were American flags flying all around

There were children in trees to get a better view.

Excitement began to mount with the appearance of a youth choir.  Soon there was Jack Markell, Governor-elect.

Followed by the centers of attention, Biden and then Obama.

Both wives joined their husbands on the stage.

Obama and Biden both gave inspiring speeches.  The crowd near us was as enthusiastic as could be.  Everyone was uplifted as we stood in that group watching history be made.  The excitement of the entire event was palpable every minute.

As we await the inauguration on Tuesday, the memory of yesterday will live long for those of us not going to DC.  Missing Tuesday will be made so much easier by the experience of the day.

Peace.

All pictures are personal collection.

War is Not a Solution

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

For the past several years I have been a member of the local peace group, Pacem in Terris.  One outgrowth of membership and action with the group was my recent political campaign.  The driving force for political action was then and remains today my staunch opposition to the ongoing occupation of Iraq.  Our nation has many issues to be resolved today.  We will not be able to address many of those issues so long as we continue to borrow and spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.

Support for the Iraq occupation has waned over the course of the years since the invasion.  The administration keeps much of the activity and the results of war from our eyes.  Our media does nothing to portray war as the real hell on earth so many of us know.  During my time in Vietnam I saw first hand the effects of war on troops from both sides, the people and the land.  War ruins the landscape and kills people without discrimination.

The major insult is not to the troops but is rather to the civilians, the women, the children, and the aged who have no part in military activity.  We must continue to remember every person on either side killed or wounded as a result of our military intervention is a son or daughter, maybe a mother or a father, perhaps a brother or a sister.  Every life lost touches the lives of the many who surround that person.  The damage spreads ripples throughout the surrounding society.

I suggest we look to peaceful means of resolving world conflicts.  The end solutions to terrorism will lie in social and economic change.  We need to begin our pursuit of those measures as soon as possible.  It

is left to each of us to insure our elected officials hear our wishes.  First of all we vote.  Then we must remain vocal and keep in touch with those we elect to remind them they serve us first of all.  Those we elect must lead our nation in the direction we choose.  Only our continued action will insure that course is the one taken.

Peace.

Quote of the week:  

In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect.

~ Carl von Clausewitz

Northington Notes is a twice monthly e-mail newsletter and commentary.  Subscribe on the website or send an e-mail to JerryNorthington at gmx dot com with subscribe in the subject line.  

Power and Fear

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

For years now I have talked about power and how people may be attracted to power and the people who hold that power.  It has been said

Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In the aftermath of the tragic hurricane in Myanmar (Burma) a few short weeks ago I was reading a long ago speech about power and fear.  In 1990 Aung Sang Suu Kyi gave a “Freedom From Fear” speech beginning with the following words:

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

For some reason that way of thinking had not occurred to me.  I always attributed the desire to keep power to the addiction of always being in charge and being somehow worshipped, but the thought of fear being the driving factor makes more sense.  People as a whole are driven by fear as much or more than by most any other feeling.

Another Burmese activist, Bogyoke Aung San, said

Don’t just depend on the courage and intrepidity of others. Each and every one of you must make sacrifices to become a hero possessed of courage and intrepidity. Then only shall we all be able to enjoy true freedom.

We in the United States today would do well to take heed of those words and the advice contained within.  It will be by our actions as individuals coming together in the greater collective that will restore our nation one day.  Fear of failure or of power in the hands of others must not sway us from our goal.  True freedom for one and all is a goal we must not let fall from our vision.

Aung San continues saying

…the burden of upholding the principles of justice and common decency falls on the ordinary people. It is the cumulative effect on their sustained effort and steady endurance which will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into one where legal rules exist to promote man’s desire for harmony and justice while restraining the less desirable destructive traits in his nature.

In nations where just laws reign there is no need for ongoing resistance and protest.  

In the United States today we see the erosion of justice as we find our rights taken away one by one.  We are subject to invasions of privacy far beyond what our Founding Fathers imagined might be possible.  We must stand together to see an end to this falling away from our founding principles.  We have lost much already.  We must stand steady and true to ourselves and to our nation if we are to keep what remains and restore what is lost.

Aung San again

A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.

This I submit is the greatest challenge facing we citizens of America today.  Too many are apathetic or fearful.  We have nothing today to fear but fear itself.  We must overcome our fear and move to bring power back to the people.

Today power resides in the hands of a privileged few in our nation.  Too many of our political leaders are mired in the quicksand of the system.  We need new ideas and new leaders to show the way into a future which benefits all of humankind.  We will not find that new future if we continue to allow power and fear to be in control today.

We must act together.  We will stand together or we will fall apart.  The choice is ours to make each and every day.  Every one of us has within our reach the power to make a difference.  We must not let fear stop us from taking the actions we know to be right.  We talk to others every day.  We can protest on the streets, write letters to editors, and live a life free from fear.  

Those who find themselves in any position of power and especially those in elected office must learn to live with the responsibility power brings.  Elected officials have a special state of accountability and must not let themselves become attached to the power to the detriment of their voting public.  We, the voting public must be the ones to hold our officials accountable for their actions.  Fear of power or of losing power must not be allowed to rule either side of the equation lest we lose our freedom in the end.

Peace.

A Day in the Life of a Guantanamo Detainee

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

Imagine for a few moments how your life would change if you were suddenly charged as an enemy combatant and sent to Guantanamo Bay as a detainee.

You’d be transported under conditions of sensory deprivation to maximize your disorientation.





Brooke Anderson, Flickr, Creative Commons (reenactment)



Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)



Carlos Ferrer, Flickr, Creative Commons   (reenactment)

If you were really unlucky you’d end in Camp Delta.





Lorri 37, Flickr, Creative Commons

In any event there would be guard towers all around the place.





USMarine0311, Flickr, Creative Commons

You might be allowed to exercise, or maybe be gathered as a group in an enclosed pen.





ManilaRyce, Flickr, Creative Commons

Your day would not begin or end with regularity.  From the LA Times the story continues:

It’s a dreary winter afternoon, but the scene could be any time of the day or night. The hour for rec time is one of the few unpredictable features in a day in the life of a detainee.

Reveille is at 5 a.m., when guards collect the single bedsheet allotted to each detainee. That precaution has been in effect since June 2006, when three prisoners were found dead, hanging from nooses fashioned from their bedding.

When they do leave their cells, prisoners are shackled and escorted — to and from showers, recreation pens, interrogation interviews, and a meeting or two each year with their lawyers. They leave their cells in the “hard facilities” of Camps 5, 6 and the new 7 for no other reason, unless they are found to need medical or dental treatment when corpsmen make periodic rounds.

Once a man has refused nine consecutive meals, he is considered a hunger striker and brought to the detention medical center. His head, arms and legs are strapped to a “restraint chair” while a tube is threaded through his nose and throat into the stomach. A doctor-recommended quantity of Ensure is administered.

Under those circumstances forced feeding is one more nice way of saying “torture.”  Put yourself in the prisoner’s place and imagine the pain and distress of being strapped down and having a tube forced into your body.

A schoolroom was added to the predominantly Afghan camp last year to teach basic written Pashtu and Urdu to the illiterate.

Leather-and-steel shackles protrude from the floor beneath each desk where prisoners’ ankles are tethered during classes.





mushroomandrooster, Flickr, Creative Commons  (reenactment)

Lights are kept on in the cells 24/7 for what military jailers said were security reasons.

The full story has many more details than my excerpts.  You should read the entire article.  And put yourself in the  place and time as you read.  Then remember this is our nation at work.  We, the citizens of the United States are represented by the actions of every day in Guantanamo.  We cannot let this continue.





jemstaht, Flickr, Creative Commons

The United States needs to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible.  All detainees deserve the right to a fair trial or release.  We cannot continue to hold human beings in the conditions of Guantanamo if we as a nation hope to hold any measure of moral high ground.

Peace.

103

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

In the first 90 days of 2008 the United States reports 103 troop deaths in Iraq.  Since the invasion we have commemorated the 5th anniversary we have commemorated 5 years and more than 4000 soldiers lost.  Today we hear of costs near $12 billion per month and estimates of $3 trillion overall before all is said and done.  

Meanwhile our mainstream media continues to play down the ongoing failure with barely a mention any more of the deaths let alone stories of the families and friends left behind.  The death count also fails to reflect the numbers of US contractors killed in country.  No mention is made of the many thousands of life altering injuries such as limbs or eyes lost.  Nor do we hear much of the many minds broken beyond repair.  Suicides related to service time are also not counted and often not mentioned.  Coalition losses are not counted in the total.  The Iraqi losses count many thousands more, yet those are dismissed often without a thought.  Every death rends the fabric of humanity a bit more.





activefree, Flickr, Creative Commons



Recent news of increasing violence in Basra is characterized by President Bush as a “defining moment” for the Iraqi forces.  The time is defining alright, but not in the way Bush meant.  US and British troops are being put back into the fray once again.  There are increasing reports of US air attacks in which civilians are killed.  Bombing a populated area always results in casualties among the innocent.

While the ground war continues day by day and our losses mount, the insanity of Guantanamo Bay continues.  Several hundred detainees remain confined in legal limbo.  While the military would have us believe the prisoners are held in relative comfort





US Navy, public domain

we know better.  Reports of abuse may be found most any day.  Justice is a fleeting hope for the detainees as the only court on the horizon is a military proceeding in which the rules of evidence favor the prosecution.  We know the prisoners spend their days in shackles.





US Navy, public domain

Even transport for medical reasons or for exercise may result in the shackling of a detainee.





US Navy, public domain



US Navy, public domain

Razor wire surrounds the compound.





US Navy, public domain

Pictures of Camp Delta suggest conditions far removed from the reality we know exists today.





www.bloomberg.com



US Navy, public domain

In 1970 I came home right off the helicopter pads of Vietnam only a few days out of the field.  I came home a changed person.  In 1967 I enlisted in the US Army filled with the patriotic vigor only the young seem to possess.  I came home well aware of the terrible tragedy war represents.  I saw first hand how war affects the people on both sides as well as the havoc wreaked across the land.  Since those days I have stood firm in my opposition to war for almost all reasons.  Today I stand opposed to the ongoing occupation of Iraq with every fiber of my physical and moral being.  The costs are far too high in both dollars and blood.  We as a nation can ill afford to continue one more day let alone the years predicted by most in the administration.

Today the reaction of the public in our nation reminds me of a line from a song

a nation blinded by its disgrace

Today I am ashamed of my country’s actions.  Recent years have seen a drift in this nation our Founders would never have imagined.  We have watched the atrocities of Abu Ghraib along with the aforementioned Guantanamo Bay and all the damage done in Iraq.  And yet we as a nation continue to survive.





CID image

Is there any hope for us?  Of course there is.  So long as good people stand to fight the good fight our nation will survive this trauma the same way we have survived so many past times of trial and tribulation.

How are we to resolve the morass?  We must withdraw ALL our troops from Iraq.  The Iraqi people do not wish our presence to continue.  The international community does not support our continued occupation.  The time has come to end the occupation and let diplomatic maneuvers replace military force.  We must act to bring stability to the entire region through the cooperation of all nations around the globe.  We stand to be much more successful if we use the carrot rather than the stick approach.

If we withdraw will there be blood shed in Iraq?  Of course.  Will the situation be made worse than the one we see today?  Maybe or maybe not.  Who can predict that future?  The one indisputable fact remains the longer we continue as an occupying force the higher the cost to our nation.

We who believe the war is wrong headed must stand steadfast in our opposition.  The blind stubbornness of the administration will ruin our nation forever if we fail to fight.  We cannot afford to lose this one.  There is no room for failure.

Out the door, people.  Hit the streets.  Talk to every person you encounter.  Tell everyone you can corner the truth.  Show them the images of war and of Guantanamo.  Let them see the facts for a change.  It is only by our continued action and ongoing protest that we stand to win in the end.  

Peace to one and all.

Please remember I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website and consider a contribution  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

Commemorating Five Years in Iraq



On Saturday, the 22nd of March, Delaware Pacem in Terris organized a pair of vigils to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.  The theme of the events was remembrance of the fallen.



As the group began to gather in the parking lot of the shopping center one very notable car was seen.



The owner was one of our group.

Organizing along the highway (Concord Pike, Route 202 North) took a bit of time as the banner with figurines representing all of the fallen was rolled out.





Motorists traveling north on the highway were greeted by with my wife on point

or

with our friend from Barcelona Spain in the lead.  (That is me on the right hand side of the picture holding the banner in my customary spot with Ed on the other end in what has become his usual place.)

Though the occasion was somber enough, we did respond to the honking horns by returning a wave.

While most in attendance helped hold the banner, some added supporters were standing or sitting along the sidewalk.



The Wilmington protest lasted from 11AM to noon.  The vigil was gathered again in Dover at the North Gate of the Dover Air Force Base at 2PM for another hour.  Once again we gathered in a nearby parking lot before walking around the corner for the vigil.



This time the banner reached around a corner of the intersection directly opposite the gate.



The images on the banner in red just behind the Mourn the Dead sign represent the women who have died in Iraq.



How sad it was to leave space to fill in as more women may die in time.

The overwhelming feeling of everyone involved was one of sadness as we knew each figure on the banner represents one life lost, one family never to see their loved one again, and a group of personal friends left behind forever as all were touched by the tragedy.  

The point was driven home to each of us today.



How many more must die?  How much longer can we the people of this nation support the occupation?  

Peace.

The American Legion Reply, Part II

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

A few days ago I wrote about my interaction with the American Legion.  I wrote at first to complain about the organizational support of FISA revision to include telecom amnesty.  The ongoing correspondence between myself and Mr. Steve Robertson of the AL continued into today.  While the correspondence has been amicable, we reached a cavernous divide in our thinking.  As of this moment much of my original and continuing concerns is not addressed.  The entire discussion is too lengthy for a diary, but I will try not to slant my coverage.  Representative parts are being chosen to the best of my ability.

My first comments to the AL were brief and spoke to the erosion of Constitutional rights if we allow retroactive amnesty for illegal acts in addition to the continued erosion of our right to privacy included in the bill.  The initial reply was soon revealed to be a form letter sent to all of us veterans who sent a reply in accordance with McJoan’s first posting.

Mr. Robertson responded to my concern about the failure to address a single one of my expressed concerns.

We only received 20 emails opposing S. 2248, so the same response to assure consistency in our official reply.  You must have been involved in some kind of an organized grassroots campaign to defeat S. 2248 in order to know that the same response was sent to others.

What a fine observation he makes.  I admit to being a political activist concerned with our Constitutional rights and wary of governmental invasion of our rights to privacy on all levels.

Then he continued saying

However, when I received another email in response, each was answered independently in an attempt to address specific concerns.

From here we continued a discussion today.

The first reply included

These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.

To which I replied

What tools are missing?

In the same reply I asked again for factual support to the initial claim of terrorist acts prevented in past with information gained by surveillance.  My questions continued

Given the fact the government has a window of 72 hours before a warrant is required how does the current FISA act limt surveillance in any serious way?

The reply came quickly

Besides, it makes no sense to impose FISA requirements in the context of surveillance of targets located overseas.  Meeting the current emergency authorization and going through the FISA Court within 72 hours for every overseas foreign intelligence target, would quite simply overwhelm current resources and manpower, especially those linguists and analysts dedicated to covering al-Qa’ida and other foreign threat.

Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me if the Attorney General has enough information to justify surveillance that should satisfy the FISA Court without further ado.  Mr. Robertson chose to ignore that suggestion.

No real answer to most of my questions was provided.  My final piece of the conversation included my thoughts about telecom amnesty

Such amnesty is not acceptable under any circumstance if we are to hold to our democracy for the future.

 I went further to worry about the Fourth Amendment and Constitutional protection against the provision of laws with retroactive clauses.

The end result was an amicable parting.  No definitive or qualitative addressing of any of my real concerns was forthcoming.  Maybe some such will be part of the future, but is not part of today.

Peace.

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.