Friday, December 30, 2011

Gay Marriage: overrated threat to the ancient tradition of marriage

Who is it that "owns" marriage?
Many Christian opponents of gay marriage insist that marriage was something that either did not exist prior to God's instituting it presumably to the mortal Adam and Eve.

Marriage as a somewhat formalized relationship agreement, a coupling or pairing up, if you will, does seem to have ancient roots that go back in time as far as the literalist mortal beginnings as described in Genesis.

The argument - if an argument exists - is about the rhetoric of who owns marriage. Who has the say so as to what marriage is, who and how many are the partners in marriage, and whether the partnership should be societally endorsed and recognized as an element of human life.

A monopoly or ownership of the patent and copyright of any marriage or marriage contract is not something over which we usefully get our undergarments in a bunch and something that has very little to do with making life worthwhile, making a living and making our own contentment.

That monopoly does however seem to have much to do with politics and elections in that there seem to be sufficient numbers of religious folks who believe in the  monopoly to justify campaign rhetoric that appeals to and glorifies one noisy segment of society at the expense of another. We all then suffer the sober silliness of say-anything and sing-any-song to a self righteous choir assumed to hold the reins of electoral power.

But I digress and am not interested in spending too much time on the soberly silly.

Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan - who is also gay - may perhaps be the best known representative of what outwardly might seem two contrary public perspectives. The two perspectives are only contrary if one insists on the absolute and judgmental moral perspective that God Hates Fags.

But if God is not in the condemning business, but the saving business, as my Mormon bishop tells me, then that judgmental moral perspective is less meaningful than the more mature idea expressed by Sullivan and others:  gay marriage will not, as social conservatives fear, cause us to lose our moral bearings, so much as it will bring gays into the fold of a single gay-straight community of shared moral values.

Let me go back to the monopoly-on-marriage idea.

It seems that the family as portrayed by all those focusers on families is not in fact an ancient tradition invented at the earliest times of human tribal life. I'm speaking of the idea of a man-father, woman-mother and their pro-created and privately-owned children who dwell alone and separated from extended blood relatives and tribal family in community.

The notion of heterosexually-founded family as one of many fundamental units of society is - even as you read the descriptive words - more a creation of commerce and society that was born out of the development of industry and commerce. Perhaps in fact as preached, such a notion of marriage as a basic economic unit has greater relationship with capitalism and an organized free market society toward whom concepts of marketing and conformity are targeted.

Philosophy Justin E.H. Smith says it this way:
Indeed, the expectation that everyone should find a place in such an arrangement appears to be Fordist in origin: the same vision of the future that caused us to believe that everyone might have a place in a system of production, might commute to it in an automobile, and might return home at the end of the day to a freestanding domicile with a family inside. 
Smith further makes the point that historically, the contemporary evangelistic political notion of marriage does not actually describe the nuclear notion so adamantly proclaimed by activists and politicians.
In this respect, relative to the great majority of marriages throughout human history, gay marriage is not really marriage, but then neither is first-world, individualistic, freely chosen heterosexual marriage. Marriage was for most of human history a variety of exchange, one that consolidated social ties between families or clans. When a young man of the Nuer tribe is initiated, he receives cattle that he will care for his entire life and will trade for certain goods, including a wife. When the men give the cattle, it is understood that they are giving a part of themselves, and their newly-swapped spouse becomes an essential part of their lives and their lineage. 
Then of course in the scriptures when Christ talks about marriage and giving in marriage He is not necessarily referring to the 19th, 20th, and now 21st-century fundamentalist notions of nuclear families that are formed when a man and woman meet, fall in love, and marry of their own free will and choice.

Marriages of convenience, political alliance and more commonly, arranged by parents, other relatives or even outsiders were quite common back when some would have us believe that marriage was a product of total freedom of choice and the pure chaste love of godly devotion and holy lust.

Many of those early marriages were in fact physical and human agreements that established relationships "of mutual credit and debit with their neighbors as they exchanged their nubile women ... who were transformed into wives."

Wives first and then children of marriages became not part of the basic nuclear unit of man/woman/child family, but rather human basic units of social exchange.

Feminists studies scholars take this as far as suggesting that accepting the notion of historical man/woman/child nuclear unit is in fact accepting a masculine appropriation of the reproductive capacities of women

Smith:

But whether or not early human societies were really so misogynistic as to see their daughters as mere commodities, it is difficult to deny the basic insight that, historically, marriage has mostly had to do with the maintenance of society through the consolidation of interfamilial bonds.
Thus it seems that historically the notion of nuclear marriages created as a result of free-will courting and mating based on romantic love and passion disciplined by religiosity is a myth; a  myth promoted despite the early religious thinking of founding fathers like St. Jerome:
“Men should appear before their wives not as lovers but as husbands.”
This is hardly the fundamental behind the constructing of the nuclear family pedestal but is highly useful in the contemporariness of our industrial and corporate capitalistic age in which economics, politics, religion and consumption are all melded into a dynamic that allows some sort of assumption of family orthodoxy that is in fact an insistence on a social conformity intended to keep dissent and free-thinking definitions at a minimum.

Gay marriage will not impact socially our economy or our  morality except in the positive and common sense ways of ethics and goodness; ways that far surpass the rhetoric and continuing impact of either/or thinking that aggrandizes us-but- not-you and that insists our godly civic bathwater is the only drinkable potion in our tumultuous wilderness of thirst.



I recommend Working Arrangement, an article in a quarterly periodical about history. The author is Justin E.H. Smith, an associate professor of philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal.
Also recommend a perusal of the works of Claude Levi-Straussa French anthropologist and ethnologist, who has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology".

“All I know now is war”, the nineteen-year-old continued. “Everything else seems like a dream.”

More than you ever wanted to know about Ernest Hemingway, who shot himself in Ketchum, Idaho some 100+ miles from my hometown when I was 15 and fascinated by a "local" story about someone famous in Idaho. It's a lengthy and detailed read that starts with the story of Hemingway's war injury where he was wounded (not as a soldier) but as a medical volunteer. He had been in Italy and war only two weeks.
“All I know now is war”, the nineteen-year-old continued. “Everything else seems like a dream.” 

 Hemingway died fifty years ago, shooting himself in the head in the early morning of July 2, 1961, at the house he shared with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, in Ketchum, Idaho. The last ten years of the marriage, which began in 1946, had been marked by insult, paranoia and violence. “It is more than a year since he actually hit me”, Mary told her husband’s publisher, Charles Scribner, in 1950. An entry in her journal for October 1951 says: “E. followed me to my bathroom and spit in my face”. The information that follows is almost as startling: “Next day he gave me $200”.
Between the youthful war hero and his bullying reflection you can fit three failed marriages, two messed-up children, five car accidents, two plane crashes (on succeeding days), one self-shooting (beside the fatal one), murderous safaris, vertiginous celebrity, precarious wealth, and a peculiar type of literary success that seemed, in his eyes, to spell “failure”. 

How hungry are you to know stuff?


Something for nothing?

Too good to be true?

Want the learning more than you want the degree?

It's available to everybody but at least for us older folks, this is a challenge to see just how curious we are and what are we willing to do about it now that we have the time and a reason not to be too too lazy.

Yes, this is something for nothing - the nothing is tuition and expenses while attending college - and it apparently isn't too good to be true.

From FORBES magazine: a totally free college education regardless of your academic performance or background.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) will announce on Monday that they intend to launch an online learning initiative called M.I.T.x,which will offer the online teaching of M.I.T. coursesfree of charge to anyone in the world. 
The program will not allow students to earn an M.I.T. degree. Instead, those who are able to exhibit a mastery of the subjects taught on the platform will receive an official certificate of completion. The certificate will obviously not carry the weight of a traditional M.I.T. diploma, but it will provide an incentive to finish the online material. According to the New York Times, in order to prevent confusion, the certificate will be a credential bearing the distinct name of a new not-for-profit body that will be created within M.I.T.

Go ahead! I dare you

... while you're at it, check out this one:

 Academic Earth
(picked by Time Magazine as one of the 50 best websites of 2009) has cornered the market on free online education by making a smorgasbord of online course content – from prestigious universities such as Stanford and Princeton – accessible and free to anyone in the world. 
No more of this "I've got the time if you've got the money" stuff.

Ya think?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"It’s also dangerous for America. We need two political parties solidly grounded in the realities of governing. Our democracy can’t work any other way. "

I like Robert Reich, who recently suggested in Business Insider.com that the no-brainer choice for the Democratic Party is Obama-Clinton, with Joe Biden becoming Secretary of State.

Last week Reich wrote a piece that lays out a summary of the deterioration of the Republican party as a party for the entire country and all the citizens: Why the Republican Crackup is Bad For America.

Some describe the underlying conflict as Tea Partiers versus the Republican establishment. But this just begs the question of who the Tea Partiers really are and where they came from.
The underlying conflict lies deep into the nature and structure of the Republican Party. And its roots are very old.
As Michael Lind has noted, today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority – predominantly Southern, and mainly rural – that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.
... This isn’t to say all Tea Partiers are white, Southern or rural Republicans – only that these characteristics define the epicenter of Tea Party Land.
The Tea Party that public parades its values and priorities reflects in a contemporary extreme the Southern states' rights priorities that were more powerfully reinvigorated with the civil rights legislation of the 1960's.

In a poll of Republicans conducted for CNN last September, nearly six in ten who identified themselves with the Tea Party say global warming isn’t a proven fact; most other Republicans say it is. 
Six in ten Tea Partiers say evolution is wrong; other Republicans are split on the issue. 
Tea Party Republicans are twice as likely as other Republicans to say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, and half as likely to support gay marriage. 
Tea Partiers are more vehement advocates of states’ rights than other Republicans. Six in ten Tea Partiers want to abolish the Department of Education; only one in five other Republicans do. 
And Tea Party Republicans worry more about the federal deficit than jobs, while other Republicans say reducing unemployment is more important than reducing the deficit. 
In other words, the radical right wing of today’s GOP isn’t that much different from the social conservatives who began asserting themselves in the Party during the 1990s, and, before them, the “Willie Horton” conservatives of the 1980s, and, before them, Richard Nixon’s “silent majority.”
The political darlings of this angry and outspoken "old white men" minority in this country reflect the degradation of statesmanship and compromise that served the country well as underpinning of civic discourse and negotiation. A cadre of Republican statesmen that included Eisenhower, Bob Dole, even Barry Goldwater has been replaced by self-interested and shallow political hacks who only have one hymn to sing to that angry old choir.

But after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as the South began its long shift toward the Republican Party and New York and the East became ever more solidly Democratic, it was only a matter of time. The GOP’s dominant coalition of big business, Wall Street, and Midwest and Western libertarians was losing its grip.
The watershed event was Newt Gingrich’s takeover of the House, in 1995. Suddenly, it seemed, the GOP had a personality transplant. The gentlemanly conservatism of House Minority Leader Bob Michel was replaced by the bomb-throwing antics of Gingrich, Dick Armey, and Tom DeLay.

Reich summarizes his thoughts and I agree with him whole-heartedly:
 It’s also dangerous for America. We need two political parties solidly grounded in the realities of governing. Our democracy can’t work any other way.






Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What would Jesus do with leftovers? ... and other small talk

What would Jesus do with leftovers?This year, our holiday fight was over a Whole Foods pumpkin pie we weren’t going to eat. (Our dinner guests had brought a chocolate cheesecake for dessert.) I said I’d donate the pie to a local women’s shelter. My brother wanted to take the pie to his church potluck the next day. 
I got self-righteous, and my brother got defensive: I said the most clear message of the gospels is that Jesus calls his followers to share what they have with the poor—in fact, he commanded his disciples to sell all their possessions and give the money away.
My brother said that was for a particular people at a particular time. And there are people in his church who struggle to put food on the table, and he was worried there wouldn’t be enough for lunch tomorrow.

When glaciers begin to shrink in size, they generate "a transitory increase in runoff as they lose mass," the study notes.
However, Baraer explained, the water flowing from a glacier eventually hits a plateau and from this point onwards there is a decrease in the discharge of melt water. "The decline is permanent. There is no going back."
         In a related story  
         NASA: Climate Change May Flip 40% of Earth’s Major Ecosystems This Century


On debunking myths ... The Familiarity Backfire Effect 
To debunk a myth, you often have to mention it — otherwise, how will people know what you’re talking about? However, this makes people more familiar with the myth and hence more likely to accept it as true. Does this mean debunking a myth might actually reinforce it in people’s minds?
The Dishwasher Wars

When phosphates were banned, the detergent category got vicious.

Chaplain Mike on David Lose's The Absurdity of Christmas 
There is something so winsome and utterly human in David Lose’s words. I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to be afraid of doubting. I don’t need to fear when things don’t make complete sense, when I can’t explain everything. “I believe; help my unbelief” has always been the most honest prayer, I think.

 Republicans keep shooting themselves - and us - in the foot with their doofus voter ID legislation the party still doing its part to make us the land of the free and the home of the stoopid.

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations. 
Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.
On Nietzsche: Stranger in a Strange Land
As a teenager, Friedrich Nietzsche was fascinated by America. 
"The American way of laughing does me good," he wrote after reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "especially this sort of sturdy seaman like Mark Twain." 
In the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson he discovered a "brother-soul" who kindled his lifelong passion for truth-seeking. Despite making his name as the greatest anti-democratic thinker of his age, Nietzsche believed that America was a land of free spirits, unburdened by the weight of the European past. 




Thursday, December 15, 2011

... and Christmas is still here and in no need of protecting.


I remember hearing "Happy Holidays" from folks when I was a child in the 50's.

There was no Blowhard O'Reilly and a self-appointed konservative news network sputtering and fuming about protecting Christmas back then. That was sixty years ago

... and Christmas is still here and in no need of protecting.

The Real War on Christmas ... by Fox News | Jim Wallis | God's Politics Blog | Sojourners

Each Advent in recent years, around the time when those prefab, do-it-yourself gingerbread house kits appear on supermarket shelves, Fox News launches its (allegedly) defensive campaign commonly known as the “War on Christmas.”
Fox News’ “war” is designed to criticize the “secularization” of our culture wrought by atheists, agnostics, liberals, leftists, progressives, and separation of church and state zealots— i.e. Democrats. This irreligious coalition force is allegedly waging a strategic offensive on Christmas, trying to banish the sacred symbols of the season, denying our religious heritage, and even undermining the spiritual rubrics upon which our great nation is built.
Fox News positions itself as the defender of the faith and all things sacred. And Bill O’Reilly fancies himself the “watchdog” of Christmas.
Fox News’ usual targets include shopping malls and stores that replace their “Merry Christmas” greetings with “Happy Holidays,” and state governments that no longer call their official "Christmas" trees by their rightful name, or municipalities that ban any depictions of, or references to, the Christmas season in public places. Those who are attacked defend themselves, often claim that they are really religious too, and the perennial war is on.
But what we actually have here is a theological problem, where cultural and commercial symbols are confused with truly Christian ones, and the meaning of the holy season is missed all together.
The war on Christmas is really about what brand of “civil religion” America should have. The particular (read: biblical) meaning of Christmas, for Christians, has almost nothing to do with the media war.
 It was the Puritans (extremely devout and fanatic Christians) who launched the first War on Christmas in America by outlawing it.

And yes, Virginia, there is a popular Christmas song that has been around forever entitled "Happy Holidays."

So when will Mr. Belch-in-the-Wind O'Reilly starting hammering that ungodly Xmas music?

And when will I stop receiving childish chain letters whining about straw-man (fictional or pretend) villains forbidding us from saying "Merry Christmas?"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh please please please ... nominate Newt:

10 of The Craziest Things Newt Gingrich Has Ever Said
Among other things, Newt worries that the country will become both atheistic and Muslim.
 ‎1. No Free Speech for You
2. Muslims don't count
3. Yay for child labor
4. Gays are the cause of our economic problems
5. Life as a white man is so unfair
6. Obama the Secret Kenyan
7. Religious Radical Atheists
8. So what if women get paid less?
9. Guilty until proven innocent
10. Torture is not torture


And Santorum:

Discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said he has suggested that “science should get out of politics”

Rick Santorum Declares Himself a Solid Block of Cheese

“I’m confident that when they do, they’ll find one person who — maybe I’m not the flashiest person, I may be a little boring when it comes to, because I’m consistent,” he said. “My record isn’t swiss cheese. I mean it’s solid, it’s a solid block of cheese.”
Santorum insisted he’s just the kind of boring Iowa likes.



Senator Sanders has never been more right the money.

Saving our Democracy
At a time when corporations have more than $2 trillion in cash in their bank accounts and are making record-breaking profits, the American people should be concerned when the Supreme Court says that these corporations have a constitutionally-protected right to spend shareholders' money to dominate an election as if they were real, live persons. If we do not reverse this decision, there will be no end to the impact that corporate interests can have on our campaigns and our democracy.
A corporation with extraordinary amounts of available cash for lobbying - amounts ordinary citizens would not even earn over a lifetime - should not be a "person".


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This intriguing Christmas present to Americans not courtesy of Health Insurers who don't believe in spending premium dollars on patient medical expenses.

Bomb Buried in Obamacare Explodes - Hallelujah!
‎'If you thought that the Obama Administration chickened out on pushing the nation in the direction of universal health care for everyone, today is the day you begin to understand that the reality is quite the contrary.' Rick Ungar, Forbes
 Worth the read also for born-again free-market corporate-welfare capitalists.

Would be interesting to see how much lobby money has been paid by Health Insurers to the congressional opponents of Obamacare since the law's passage.

Definitely would not be proof of any kind of insurer's claim of how insurance works to protect the individual ... you know, combined assets to deal specifically with emergent need.

As a former life, health and casualty insurance agent, I know the idealist training given to new agents regarding the benefits of shared combined risks of individuals who are told to trust the altruistic attitudes of health insurers.

Health insurance authored and priced by profit-motive has become one of the ultimate hypocrisies in this country.

Just from the opinions expressed among some of my FB friends, I conclude that only the Kindergarten Konservatives and Flee-Market Kapitalists believe the tripe. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seattle Times writes about Willapa Bay

Published today

Willapa Bay offers fresh oysters, prime paddling

Are oysters on your holiday menu? Take a road trip to Southwest Washington's pristine Willapa Bay to get them fresh from the saltwater, and soak up some history and scenery along the way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I do agree with the shocking honesty of Newt:


At this moment I am in no way tempted to vote for any Reflublican except perhaps Paul or Huntsman (if nominated) ... however ...

I do agree with the shocking honesty of Newt:
"One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President -- as opposed to being an analyst on Fox -- is I have to actually know what I'm talking about."


I liked Newt's confession about what credentials are needed to be a talking head on FOX (emptiness) ... however ...I agree with Maureen:

My Man Newt


But next to Romney, Gingrich seems authentic. Next to Herman Cain, Gingrich seems faithful. Next to Jon Huntsman, Gingrich seems conservative. Next to Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, Gingrich actually does look like an intellectual. Unlike the governor of Texas, he surely knows the voting age. To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, if brains were elastic, Perry wouldn’t have enough to make suspenders for a parakeet.
In presidential campaigns, it’s all relative.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

This for my wife, who see's in and from me what nobody else does



Keep it Yea Yea and Nay Nay


I can relate to this. It's one of the reasons why I'm so tired Sunday evenings.


95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family  (BTW: The Onion is a satire site)
"No one in my family really gets my worldview, so I find it easier just to smile and nod and agree with everything," Wilmot said Monday. "When I'm with them, I tend to be a lot quieter than when I'm hanging out with friends.
...  Once you let go of the need to express your thoughts to your family, you suddenly feel much lighter," Wilmot said. "You just float along blissfully, finally liberated from the burden of having any presence at all.

Forget that Muldoon, you've got a kiss in progress at the local grade school.


But Sarge! We're on our way to a robbery in progress at the Seven Eleven!
Forget that Muldoon, you've got a kiss in progress at the local grade school. Get moving!

Cops Summoned To Florida Elementary School After Girl Kisses Boy In Phys Ed Class

         
A sheriff’s deputy was dispatched last week to a Florida elementary school after a girl kissed a boy during a physical education class. School brass actually reported the impromptu buss as a possible
My sister had the best justification for why they might call the cops:
Well of course they called the cops.....she STOLE the kiss....

Hey, Grabinsky, forget about those occupiers. Put your spray can away and get over to the school now! Muldoon may need backup!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vote for me! I know exactly what I'm talking about!

Michele Bachmann did not intend to be taken literally when she told the Republican presidential debate Tuesday that civil-liberties activists have taken over the interrogation of terrorists from the CIA. But even as a rhetorical point, it didn't hold water.

Fact Check: Hyperbole on Terror Interrogations


"THE FACTS: Paul was more accurate than Romney in describing what is happening with defense spending. Constraints in the military budget are much more modest than Romney suggested."
"THE FACTS: As Romney suggested, a no-fly zone by itself wouldn't do much to stop Syrian tanks and bullets from killing civilians.
Perry's follow-up argument that a no-fly zone in Syria could help deter Iranian terrorism and save Israel wasn't clear. He seemed to be referring to Iranian and Syrian support for anti-Israel groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, neither of which has air power."

 And this regarding candidates who are supposed to be statesmen first and hawks second:

GRAPHIC: MOST COMMON WORDS AT CNN DEBATE: ‘WAR,’ AND ‘ISRAEL’  

The Washington Post, as part of their helpful interactive transcript of tonight’s Republican presidential primary debate, has a graphic of the evening’s most commonly uttered words. It’s no surprise that, at a debate sponsored by two neoconservative think-tanks (American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation), candidates from the party that brought you the Iraq debacle said “war” more than just about any other word, along with “Israel.” Not on the list? “Al Qaeda,” “terror,” or “Osama Bin Laden.” Here’s the Post’s complete graphic of the top GOP foreign policy vocab:


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I see where Brother Romney and Brother Huntsman were smart enough to stay away from this political fast and testimony meeting:

At Religious Right Forum, GOP Candidates Weep and Proselytize


In an Iowa megachurch, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Ron Paul put Christianity front and center.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minn., told of how her father abandoned her family, leaving her mother to sell their wedding gifts -- "all the pretty dishes" -- at a garage sale. Apparently lacking a personal story to match theirs, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ga., summoned the tale of a friend's gravely injured child to simultaneously choke up and rail against the health-care reform law signed by President Barack Obama. 
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talked of finding Jesus. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas, gave hints of Christian Reconstructionist leanings, but proved himself inept at public soul-bearing. Asked to reveal some personal difficulty, he talked of how injury cut short his high school track career, but then said he realized it wasn't that big a deal. He did, however, admit to having trouble watching himself on television, "because all I see are my imperfections.”

Popping the balloon of another kindergarten konservative myth

... the one corporate welfare queens need us to believe: "Privatization is your friend."

Privatization Nightmare: 5 Public Services That Should Never Be Handed Over to Greedy Corporations


Why we all pay more when essential services are privatized. Alternet, November 17, 2011   Who gains – and who loses – when public assets and jobs are turned over to the private sector? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Season ... Indulge me and read please.

Got this as a chain letter and usually do not respond or take any further action. But this one makes a lot of sense.
Holiday Season 2011 -- Birth of a New American Tradition
  As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.

Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about ifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams.

And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Why I Won't Quit Challenging Republicans

The War on Common Sense

The sad thing is that if there are genuinely good and capable Republican presidential candidates, we are at a disadvantage because in this campaign the good ones have to climb in the same circus ring as the nut jobs ... and match the stoopid talk word for word in order to get votes.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, we as attention-paying citizens or don't-give-a-damn citizens need to come out of the closet. We need to admit who or what we stand for and declare what philosophy and policies best reflect our concerns.

If we are most focused on American Idol, Nascar, the Patriots and crime shows, let's just stay where we are, with asses super-glued to the couch.

If we are paying even slight attention to what is going on, listening even with half an ear to political slogans, television sound bytes and what passes for popular journalism in this country, let's make a real appraisal of who stands for what?

We have discredited Republicans talking about driving the bus with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hanging out for lobby money.

Republicans have one foot pressing metal to the floor and the other nowhere near the brakes.

Why?

Because the party has only one single song to sing and the choir directors don't care about consensus and think more of political children in 3-cornered hats and tea bags.

American citizens need to practice a total deferral to the self-defined patriotism of the hysterical Reflublican party.Republicans continue to insist that American citizens absolutely must trust their future to those few at the top of the power pole who want to replace the current benchwarmers.
Here is the national Republican Platform in a large nutshell:

We must fight the war on terror while remaining strictly stuck with the Republican Tax Cut Experiment which did not help Mr. Bush and has severely handicapped the much more qualified Obama.

If we want to vote Republican we are then left to hope for the best but continue to expect the worst and recognize that the burden of middle class taxes are going to continue paying for Reflublican financial and economic fantasies.

The Iraq spending spree and Reflublican saber rattling all the way to orgasm was not necessary. Trillions of dollars of debt generated by a Republican party that has always labeled Democrats as "taxers and spenders" is not something late-night comics ought to make jokes about.

Rather, the Republican Party's solution to all economic woes - as highlighted by that mental economic genius, John Boehner and his fool-de-camp Eric Cantor- is for Republicans to be the "tax-cutters and spenders" party.

We will prosecute the war on terror and suffer the war on common sense while an ungodly number of us go without access to adequate health care.

That's one thing tens of millions of Americans could use ownership of.

Somehow I fail to see how this helps the troops, keeps terrorists at bay, or will make it easier when we invade  in order to secure whatever non-attention-paying Americans (apparently the largest voting block in the state and nation) will buy into as a security blanket worth supporting.

We will prosecute the war on terror while the Republicans - under the guise of "ownership society"- preside over corporate reductions and/or eliminations of pension funds.

We will prosecute the war on terror while Republicans pretend that the extreme Christian Right represents the majority of American Christian voters. Republicans will continue to be willing to work hand in glove with the Christian Zionists to encourage Israel to widen it's borders in order to look like the Israel of prophesy. Otherwise, in the John Hagee playbook, Jesus and his Armageddon Asteroid cannot End the Times and leave all of us more liberal-minded Christians Behind.

Your Republican Party thinks more of these folks than the attention-paying voters who live and work all around us.

Republicans will continue our "war on terror" all the time camouflaging an absolute conviction on the part of failed foreign policy theorists that American might is the brave new world of the future ...

... that American might will facilitate our continued consumption of an inordinate share of energy reserves.

Why?

Because they arrogantly assume that we can do it indefinitely, that's why.

Republicans will forever deny any criminality on the part of their pseudo-religious political shill who did their bidding when they thought they would have the majority votes forever.

These things are what the Republicans are and will not admit.

They want to prosecute the war on terrorism and do it in terms of maintaining their own discredited and - when it comes to corporate welfare - dishonest domestic economic theories.

It does not matter what you and I think so long as they are in power. Only you and I can take this out of their hands. They will not change things unless we intervene.

So all you self-styled economic sophisticates who have bought into Republican capitalism worship keep your heads in the sand. If you cannot see just how many corporations in this country are only showing profits primarily through government intervention, bail-outs and contracts - you go ahead.

Reveal to the rest of us just how poorly you understand the less-government-more-free-enterprise ticket.
As we attempt to impose a fake American dominance on the world based on our failed national credit rating and economic extortion backed by big-stick-waving, go ahead and look the other way while your narrow morality authorizes a trashing of the American Dream.

Those of you who have been politically born again into the cult of a Republican Jesus, can keep insisting that Jesus would vote the same way

- and would go along with the deaths of civilian men, women and children in Iraq or anywhere else as "acceptable collateral damage."

The holes in your common sense and civic wisdom remain vast and empty.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just because you can say something stoopid doesn't mean you have to do it all the time

 ... oh, I forgot what network I'm talking about.

Poster


It's a Food Product Essentially


"I don't think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police," Bill O'Reilly said tonight, discussing the appalling use of pepper spray by UC Davis police on Friday.

Okay, Joe, here's your chance. We need an enterprising free-market capitalist mind to invent a lemon meringue crowd control spray.


Survey: Fox News Viewers Less Informed Than Those Who Don’t Watch Any News

A new survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that viewers of Fox News are less informed about world events than people who do not watch any news. The study found viewers of Fox are 18 points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government six points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government compared to those who watch no news. Fairleigh Dickinson political science Professor Dan Cassino said, "The results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

Here's the actual survey link:

This chart compares typical weekday views for all of Fairleigh Dickinson's website with pages views for the "Some News Leaves People Knowing Less" poll, President Barack Obama's 2009 visit and Bruce Springsteen's visit last spring. 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Police maced my friend, Rev. Rich Lang


Rev. Rich Lang is a friend of Lietta and me going back to the times of our own activism against the War in Iraq. He is an incredible human being. If we had more priests and preachers like this and less who'd like us to believe Jesus is a Conservative Law and Order type, we'd all be better off.

What follows is a direct paste of what Rich sent me. Rich ministers a
t University Temple United Methodist Church in Seattle.



A PASTORAL LAMENT FOR MY COUNTRY  
America, America, my country ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty 
Of thee I singAmerica, 
oh AmericaAmerica the Beautiful has fallen.   
You could feel the tension and raw energy crinkling throughout the air as the marchers once again began their journey into downtown Seattle.   The Occupy Movement is the prophetic voice of God calling out to the nation to “repent” and turn from its ways of corruption. 
Those who camp are a rag-tag, motley crew made up of mostly young adults, mostly unemployed, almost all of whom are alienated and cast out of America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.  They are our canaries, the first fruits being devoured by the Beast of Empire.   
The police were once conceived to be a citizen force created to serve and protect the public.  Today however, the police have been militarized and view the populace as enemy combatants, as threats to their well being.   
The police, like our Armed Forces, are well trained, disciplined and exceptionally talented.  They follow a chain of command and are increasingly apprenticed into a culture of institutional conformity.  Because America has always affirmed the right of dissent, the role of the police is to keep the peace.  They are trained to enter the protesting arena as unfeeling protectors of property and people. 
What has changed in our time is that the police are entering the arena of protest as agents of provocation.  They push and shove at will, they ride their bicycles up the backs of protesters, they engage in verbal abuse.  Their commanders allow this breach of discipline.  Their comrades silently condone the bullying. 
The police become the agitators encouraging violence.  It is as if they are spoiling for a fight --- a fight mind you against the citizenry, against the youth, the unemployed, and those who are trying to return America back to its promise, and dare I say it, return America to its covenant with God, “we hold these truths to be self evident …”  
On Tuesday night a small group of the rag-tag campers of Seattle’s Occupy Movement left their camp to protest the destruction inflicted upon the Wall Street Occupy site.  Throughout the march I, as a Pastor in full clergy alb, stole and cross, acted as a peacekeeper placing myself between the police line and the Occupy Movement.   
On four occasions I stepped between verbal battles between the police and the protesters.  The point being that it was evident to all who I was and what my role was in this non-violent march of the few escorted by the many. The incident was minor in nature.   
A girl, dressed in Anarchist black waving the Anarchist black flag was plastered side by side with an officer on the bike.  They were jawboning each other.  At one point her flag was thrust in his direction --- a provocation yes – threatening?—no.  The officer grabbed the flag and in the pulling, pulled down the girl.  Her friends reacted jumping in to pull her away from the officer.  It was at this point that the first wave of pepper spray went off.  
Point --- one might think the officer acted within reason, that the officer was suddenly threatened.  But with what? By whom?  The friends of the offender were grabbing for the girl, they were not grabbing at the police.  
 Basically the officer, and his comrades, were trigger happy as if they couldn’t wait for just this moment.  And so the spray went forth. I leapt to the front and tried to place myself between the parties --- with spray in the air the protesters were also fleeing.   
Separation between the police line and the protesters was clearly visible … there was certainly no threat of the “mob” suddenly rampaging into the well armed police.  The separation had occurred (as can be clearly seen on the video captured by King 5 News).  But the spray continued.   
I walked between the lines, I was alone, I was in full clergy dress, everyone knew who I was and what I was --- with the protesters fleeing and the police line holding --- with my back to the police and my hands waving the protesters to get back --- alone in full alb, stole and cross --- six officers turned their spray on me thoroughly soaking my alb and then one officer hit me full throttle in the face.  
I praise the courage and compassion, the discipline and the decency of the Occupy Movement.  Out of the rag-tag mob came help, grabbing my hands, leading me (I was blind by then) to the wall and administering care and concern for my well being.  The protesters were assembled around all the wounded, and maintained the discipline of nonviolence (granted the nonviolence was in behavior but not language).   And they were not afraid. 
The spraying had been a baptism sealing them into the security of knowing that their prophecy of repentance was indeed the Spirit-Word through them --- it is as if they did not prophecy their very bones would melt within them.   
Against the wall in increasing pain and burning I realized I was in the midst of church. The police, on the other hand, were afraid.  Their quick use of chemical warfare reveals how cowardly they are.  The unwillingness of their commanders to maintain discipline reveals how incompetent they are becoming --- the only tool in their bag is brutality and like a drunken raging father beating wife and kids, the police have increasingly disgraced themselves.   
Step by step they are being shaped into the front face of fascism, the emerging police state that protects the property interests of the Marie Antionette’s who have seized control of our government, commerce, media, military and increasingly the Church itself.
My question to my clergy colleagues is this:   
Where are you?   
How much longer can you preach without practice?  
How dare you remain protected in your sanctuary while your people (the rag-tag mob of the least, last and lost whom Jesus loved) are slaughtered doing that which God has commissioned you to do (prophecy!).    
Where are you?   
Who have you become in this age of baptism by pepper spray?    
Do you not know how much power you have to stop our national descent into chaos?  Don’t you realize that the world is your parish and right before your eyes the Spirit of God is doing a new thing?  
Can’t you hear that God’s judgment is upon the land?   
God is against the thieves that bankrupted our nation.   
God is against the armies of the Beast who pillage other lands in our name, and turn and destroy our people on our own soil.   
Are you blind? --- Perhaps you need a baptism of pepper spray in your eyes to restore your vision.  
And to the police I say this --- there are always the brutal ones in our midst.  As colleagues you have the moral responsibility to police your own.  If your commanders order you to brutalize your people you have a Higher Command that says, “disarm yourself, turn away from your sin, renounce the orders of unrighteousness.”   
And in doing so, cross the line, come over and join us because we are the winning side of history.  And we welcome your repentance and heal you of your shame.  
And to the church, beloved church I say, you cannot sing the hymns of faith if you are too afraid to live that faith.  In Amos it says to silence your sacred assemblies and let JUSTICE burst forth.   Our nation, with the nations of the world, are under an assault of tyranny and treason of the 1% against creation itself.    
You may not worship God until and unless you care for the image of God living in those tents and prophesying on your behalf.   Once the Powers sweep the Tents away, if you dare to lift your voice even a peep, you too will be swept away.   
But the destiny of the church, the Body of Christ, is not one of quiet passivity and fear, our destiny is to bear witness having no fear of the Cross because even now we have crossed over into resurrection.  
 Rev. Rich LangUniversity Temple United Methodist Church www.utemple.org 
rich@utemple.org  
Videos:*This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.
http://www.king5.com/video/featured-videos/Raw-Pepper-spray-released-on-Occupy-Seattle-march--133931238.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhl03fZ9Q2w&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apple Unveils New Phone For Boomers

John Blumenthal writes good stuff:

Excerpt:


Boomer GPS Voice Choices App: Now you can choose from over 100 old-time voices to direct you to your destination. Included are the voices of Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Bullwinkle, Fonzie, Tonto, Johnny Carson, Perry Mason and the "Mamma Mia, that's a spicy meatball" guy.
Senior Discount Navigator App: This handy app lets you know which vendors offer senior discounts, where they're located, and how annoyed they'll be at having to give you 20 percent off just because you're old. Added feature: The phone will calculate exactly how much gas your car will consume and then convert that information into the amount of money it will cost you to drive to the vendor's place of business, thus allowing you to decide whether the discount is worth the drive.
Where Did I Put My Phone? App: Just say "Where are you, bro?" and the phone will reply, telling you its location by shouting out something like, "I'm in your medicine cabinet next to the Viagra, kemosabe."

Friday, November 4, 2011

You know the Occupy movement is on to something when

the Blowhard record makes people yawn.


T'would be nice to see the end of the blowhard phase.

I see the Faux Blowhard Network and the Blowhard Radio Network guys have yet to bring down the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

They keep trying and trying ... bringing them old 78's that they've played the plastic off of now going on more than twenty years. But finally ... perhaps finally ... we're not buying the old hard-ass poor-picked-on-me melody any more.

They be desperate for a hero to tackle Obama. They have yet to find a trash-talking doubt-raising hate-mongering jaw flapper who looks and acts blowhardy enough to arouse the flaccidity that permeats the mad white-guy audience.

And that self-righteously indignant pretend consitutionalist tea-party blowhard mob now finds itself starting to become the new Bevises and Buttheads in this country.

When it comes to a thoughtful critique of the Occupy crowd - the ones who really have a pulse and know the pulse of the country - the blowhards are passing gas in church but somehow think that everybody who matters appreciates the smell.

And the political celebs just ain't got it any more.

The Great Alaskan Helicopter Wolf-Shooter gets booed or worse, laughed at in front of God and everybody.

Minnesota's answer to God, Country and a lack of historic, geographic and civic perspective got elbowed out of the way by a red-neck god-talking Texas Aggie who considers verbal spam the language of the little folk.

And there's Herman who doesn't know what he knew and when he knew it and thinks connecting the dots will keep China from developing nuclear weapons all over again.

Them blowhards keep looking long and hard at the Massachusetts Flip-Flopping Mormon and can't stand the idea that somebody that woodenly complicated might be the best they can do.

Flush Limbaugh, Squawk Flannity and Blen Gecko seem to have run out of anger-making steam ... and although the choir might be able to nominate someone as dumb as they are ... the votes to one-term Obama ain't there ... probably never were.

And now their megaphone just plain aint loud enough any more. Tea-party talkers make tough noises in all the wrong directions and have pointedly refused to say much about corporate welfare and the buying or suppressing of American votes in the name of putting money-where-yer-mouth-is and shut the hell up.

The Occupy-ers have the pulse of the people. They are talking lost jobs, lost homes and sorely limited access to medical treatment.

The blowhards don't have much of a pulse at all; and aren't wanting to discuss those issues. What we get from them are whines about gay marriage, evolution in schools, immigrants holding the jobs they themselves would refuse anyway, and why Obama is the root of all evil.

in 2010 The Blowhard syndicate played the major role in getting tea-party and kindergarten konvservatives elected with promises regarding jobs, houses and medical care.

The Blowhard syndicate now has to justify Reflublican governance focused on sex and looking in the peephole into American bedrooms. As for saving the economy, these Blowhard politicians have not passed one jobs bill based and focused only on jobs rather than Grover Norquist fantasies about shrinking government and no taxes.

No jobs bills but they could certainly pass gas about defunding family planning which has nothing to do with jobs excpet if you are born to unemployed parents.

No jobs bills or solutions but plenty of jaw flapping about busting unions, no raises in minimum wages or standards of living.

Plenty of indignation about all the things that do not keep Americans awake at night.

Oh, and the Blowhards have worn out the marching song about the coming armageddon when gays can marry that is more important than putting Americans back to work.

Americans who are wanting for jobs just aren’t seeing how keeping strangers from marrying is getting them any closer to getting those jobs.

Then of course the attempt to keep white guys angry by denying global warning.

Then of course the need to keep white guys angry by vowing to correct the bank bail out outrages and in stead ... once in office ... working to cut taxes to the rich, cut out or cut down social security and medicare and keep defense spending at the level to which the defense contractor lobbyists are accustomed.

Pay no attention to that unemployed man and his family in the streets. Blowhards have a handle on the commode and know what's best to flush.

So when Ann Coulter says "Our blacks are so much better than their blacks!," the old Blowhard Network takes another stab at what used to work.

We ain't buying it.

Maybe it's time to Occupy Faux News, Tea-Party Fantasy Land and  the Party of Beat-Obama-At-Any-Cost.

Only the dimmest bulbs would argue that point.

"Can't anybody here play this game?"



When I retired I told myself I was through with being an opinionated fellar regarding politics and have tried to lay low since the end of August when I finally earned the ability to have too much time on my hands.

Although disgusted with all the parties and all their antics, I can't help myself and will again respond when guys at the tavern ask me stuff.

This first post of my "back in the game" mode I want to comment on stuff that would be funny if those saying or doing weren't so dang serious about themselves and what they say and do.


Casey Stengel, who formerly managed the Yankees to several World Series victories, wound up managing the New York Mets when they were still in their start up  mode. Their players were for the most part barely major-league material and they lost a record number of games for that time. His famous public question to sportswriters was
"Can't anybody here play this game?"
That's what I'd like to know about these here politicians. For instance, most if not all of those folks trying to become the nominated candidate of the other major party talk as if - when elected - they will whip out their newly minted wand of power and sweep away by executive order all the bad stuff they've smacked Obama for.

These are modern childish myth-makers in action and their fantasy kingdom is the realm of removing health care reform or ... as they would have you believe the imagery that equates Obamacare as an evil relic to  the evil ring of Suaron in Lord of the Rings. They'd like you to believe that with the stroke of a presidential signature they can toss Obamacare into the molten lava:
"One thing I'd do on Day One if I'm elected president is direct my secretary of health and human services to put an executive order granting a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. It is bad law. It will not work. And I'll get that done on Day One." - Mitt Romney 9-7-11 
"And I'll promise you, on Day One, as the president of the United States, that executive order will be signed and Obamacare will be wiped out as much as it can be." — Rick Perry Sept. 7 debate. 
"I'm going to un-pass it on my son's birthday." — Herman Cain Nov. 2 forum with the GOP's Congressional Health Care Caucus.


As they climb off their mighty steed of victory in their imaginative portrayal, the first thing they would do would be a step into an unconstitutional cow pie.

All of them know it, I'm somewhat sure. But then again maybe they are not as smart as they want us to think they are ...  and perhaps all of them assume that you and I don't know about how their promises are pipe dreams.

Here's an interesting quote from from the AP article by Calvin  Woodward and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar that prompted what I'm writing:

A president cannot overturn a law with an executive order.

Moreover, the health law lays out an onerous process for letting individual states off the hook from its requirements; that process cannot begin until 2017.
For a state to be granted a waiver, it must show that it will provide coverage that is at least as comprehensive and affordable as under the federal law.
Also, a state has to insure a comparable number of its residents, and its plan must not add to the federal deficit by shifting costs to Washington.

Finally, a state has to enact its own health law setting up the system envisioned in its waiver request.

Romney's assertion also implies that all states would want to get out of the health care law. That's a doubtful proposition for Democratic-leaning states.

Cain recognizes that for the law to be repealed, Congress must act.

But presidents don't set the congressional calendar, and even if Republicans can secure a 60-vote majority that gives them control of the Senate, the train of legislation seldom runs on schedule. - The Myths of Obamacare in the GOP Campaign 

The more preposterous, outlandish and downright silly the campaign promises - coupled with wide-eyed stares of pretended competency - ought to leave us shaking our head.

Can't anybody here play this game?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Current Immigration Debate and Political Rhetoric

As a recently-retired career bilingul (okay, trilingual) social worker who met with, worked with and helped non-English speaking human beings cope with the American system of policy, procedure and protocol ...
and as the father of five adult children whose Hispanic blood is only half contaminated by the purer white stuff ...

I will tell you without hesitation from my own perspective that much of the anti-immigrant ranting about stolen jobs, sucking up government benefits and taking up classroom space is purely, precisely and factually nothing more than manipulative and deliberately deceptive political rhetoric.

It's a rhetorical song sung to a Konservative Koir by folks who pretend to a deep understanding of these issues and piously insist that such issues are not the same things as our 200-year history of assimilation and Ellis Island acceptance of other human beings.

A false notion. This current situation remains no different. My Handcart ancestors came here for reasons of faith and serious economic desperation that drove the response to a summons from a prophet to come to Zion.

The ultimate hypocrisy in all that anti-immigrant jabber is demonstrated most effectively by what I see happen every year in our community which has a seafood industry that only thrives because the Hispanics and Asians will do the hard work the white boys are mostly reluctant to take on - even at the Washington State minimum wage of almost $9 per hour.

Most of those Hispanic workers - particularly those who are illegal and obtain those jobs using fake ID's and SS cards - receive their hard-earned pay with income taxes and all the other bleed offs withheld from their wages every payday.

Most of those Hispanic workers with whom I worked do not file tax returns precisely because their SS # is not real and ... justified or not, they have a serious concern about drawing IRS and ICE attention to themselves.

Down here, immigration raids are deeply serious, deeply dramatic and downright ugly events.

They can be not unlike Sophie's Choice where family members are torn from each other by sunglass-wearing government cowboys most of whom seem to regard themselves like movie heroes (or Jack Bauer) without understanding the gestapo imagery they naively exuded with all that supposed heroic posturing.

The local workers with whom I am acquainted seem to feel that the loss of part of their income to taxes is

(1) a cost of doing business and
(2) a price that must be paid in order to live and work in this country.

Furthermore, the bulk of the families with whom I worked and with whom I still have relationships include members of their households who are legal or were born here along with the illegals who brought them here.

Other than pregnancy medical (which includes some degree of family planning) and limited Children's medical ... no illegals receive benefits.

That means that a family of, say five human beings, living in this country whether they have found employment or not, with a single member (the youngest child who perhaps was born here) eligible for assistance, will be eligible for approximately $200 a month in food stamps (the federal standard).

For every Hispanic hooligan looking to milk the system, bring in drugs from South of the border or whatever - most of whom rarely if at all apply for benefits whether food, medical or cash, I know personally of another 20 families who are just trying to survive like the rest of us.

But here is the point of my long writing ... in all that patriotic, American-exceptionalistic, tea-party and fiscal Konservative blather ... I have yet to see one single bloviator willing to advocate giving back to the workers they themselves define as illegal/ineligible/illegitimate all those withheld taxes .

On the contrary, Kindergarten Konservatives have on-going plans and opinions on how we should be spending that money that they themselves flap their know-it-all jaws but refuse to admit is part of the federal cash-flow and budget.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Say what it takes to get the job ... then do what it takes if the job is won?


The Obama experience has taught us that we in fact once again responded to an effective communicator who knew what messages to send to voters to get elected. The experience has also taught us that  once elected based on the implications of his campaign messages, President Obama has performed his job according to his own priorities - many of which have turned out to be the exact opposite of the implications of his campaign rhetoric and promises.

Furthermore, although the philosophical differences between our two major parties appear to be profound, there is same basis for assuming that the profundity is not as profound as the verbiage when it comes down to policies, legislative actions and voting records beyond the actions of those  elected officials precariously beholding to specific one-note constituencies who put them in office.

Which brings us to the Republican nomination campaign and promises. Mormon writer Joanna Brooks has penned a great article, What's Eating Mitt Romney? regarding the Mormon-ness of Mitt Romney's personal priorities and values upon which he is seeking entry into our national governing system.

I appreciate what Joanna wrote ... in that regard, it seems to me that Romney's party affiliation - chosen for his own reasons based apparently on his own personal perspectives - is the most inconsistent aspect of his self-presentation.

Party affiliation in Romney's case looks more like a stage costume than some philosophical conviction aligned with Reflublican power brokers. In 2008 his Reflubican "talk" seemed mere mimicry of what became an almost stereotypical presentation of all the candidates, particularly after Old Man McCain embarrassed every veteran in the country by nominating a shallow religious fool as his VP running mate.

After that, the lowest common denominator for all candidates was anchored by Palin's shallowness. Romney was no exception. What he had to say in his Primary Campaign sound bites failed to differentiate his personal integrity from the pig pen group integrity of the entire field.

And I was disappointed.

This morning I have reason to think again about a lowest common denominator in a crowded candidate field dominated primarily by shallow fools.

The comparatives Joanna makes between Romney and Perry as "male" and as "persons of values and standards" seems to shout out the obvious difference between someone you can count on and someone (as with Dubya) you could have a beer with.

I have some measure of basis for comparing these two men.

I lived in Texas for many years and in fact completed my college studies at the U of Houston. At first we lived withint a kind of LBJ Democratic influence under governor Preston Smith and later under newly aroused Republican.

I understand Perry's performance as very much akin to the insincerity of former Governor G.W. Bush along with the brash and loud hypocrisy of Tom Delay.

In Rick Perry it is very obvious that Howdy Doody and Sam Slick are alive and well in Texas where God-talk and Tavern-talk worked for Bush and are now the basis for Perry's Howdy Doody/Boss Hogg/Elmer Gantry routine.

I've also belonged for a lifetime to the Mormon culture, am essentially the same age as Romney, served as a missionary during the same tumultuous years in the 60's as did he and raised my family within the same time frame.

I then possess an intense sense of much of the moral virtue Romney has to both display and hide based on political contingency.

Joanna's excellent article gives me pause ... a reason to re-think a few attitudes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Anniversary: Why Dissent Really Matters

In August, 2005, my wife, Lietta, joined Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas to camp outside the residence of a sitting American president with whom Cindy, Lietta, I and thousands of others seriously disagreed regarding how he had been presiding. That experience was transforming for Lietta and for me as it ignited an understanding of the power of and need for active dissent in this country.

After Crawford, Lietta was invited to participate in a city-by-city bus tour from St. Louis to Washington D.C.. That tour culminated with a massive rally of more than 300,000 citizens peaceably demonstrating in protest against a war they felt to be un-necessary, justified by deception and untruth and the details of which were seriously manipulated by the broadcast media.

I wish to honor this month of the sixth anniversary of an effort to sway a presidential administration. 



Civic duty is the highest citizen responsibility in a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Civic duty is more difficult, requires more honesty and commitment than mere public patriotism.
The following is Lietta's diary of her activities in 2005 followed by pictures from that time.


But I begin with how I felt after Lietta had left employment to work full time as an activist. I cannot truly describe the pride I have for my wife.


08/11/05


Why  My Wife is in Crawford, Texas


Cindy Sheehan became an acquaintance of my wife and myself because of our joint membership in Military Families Speak Out, after which Cindy founded Gold Star Families.

My wife is in Texas sleeping in a tent as I write this. She is with Cindy by request and - contrary to right-wing intellectual rationales for why Cindy's motives are about grandstanding - that operation down there is very much a seat-of-the-pants thing that has picked up steam and a life ot its own.

Why?

Something more original than calculated political maneuvers in the tradition of Niccolo and Karl has been affected. And it's getting better, more calculated and skilled all the time because for the most part an enormous light bulb has flashed in public consciousness all over the country.

In her anger, grief and willingness to take it to the President regardless of the advice and counsel of the "old pros" and self-appointed strategists, she knew what she had to do to deal with her emotions. Take it to the man himself who - by virtue of his own transparency in acts, words and lack of character - has it coming.

... has it coming in the same manner and for the same reasons Custer had it coming.

Cindy has triggered and authorized that suppressed anger and frustration of millions in this country who are tired of trying to reconcile deception, manipulation and political thievery with a notion that an elected president is assumed to and expected to possess virtues and integrity, honor, compassion and wisdom rather than cheap words and slogans.

"Noble cause" as verbally spewed from the mouth of Mr. Bush is one of the most powerful demonstrations of insincerity you'll ever see from an important and prominent American politician.

It's interesting also that someone as basically simple and without guile as Cindy can come out of obscurity driven by geniune anger and literally take the moral high ground out of the hands of the blowhards who think they had a monopoly.

It's intersting that this unskilled and spontaneous middle-aged lady has demonstrated more impromptu skill and power of integrity and righteous indignation than any supposed power machinations we've seen from the reputed master of political tactic.

It's interesting that this person from the heart of America's true silent majority has generated so much whimpering and whining from those who find themselves more and more bereft of response and engulfed in shame.

It's interesting that his closest tactical advisors were too dumb to see that Bush should have seen Mrs. Sheehan the first day she arrived. By foolish delay, Bush has lost all the power and aura of that the presidential mantle that supposedly exudes from the most powerful man in the world. He who hesitates is lost and Bush and his spin doctors have blown it big time.

If he see's her now he'll be conceding and by action if not words admitting a mistake - something he never does. Eyeball to eyeball, in this showdown he will have blinked.

If his or his advisors authorize any other action against Mrs. Sheehan they'll not only make a martyr of her and give her more credibility by having refused to meet the challenge openly and head-on; they will also make even more ludicrous their own rationales for the war and their endless array of excuses that do not and have not held water.

The swift-bloat attacks were predictable because the pattern is now out there. The deceivers are dangerously close to having gone to the well one too many times.

One final thought: In all the defenses, apologist arguments and disingenuous rationales intended to justify and patriotize the incursion into Iraq, we have seen the transparent and unspoken acknowledgement that the original reasons were bogus.

We have seen that continuing acknowledgement when apologists continually cite the newest or latest rationales and conveniently refuse to recognize that the orignal reasons were lies.

We see and hear this over and over.

The two clowns Bush did send out to meet with Cindy had basically one rationale: "Iraqis can now vote."

That's because there isn't and has never been any successful apologist argument or proof that the first lying reasons were anything but lies ... lies that got us there ... deliberate lies.








© Arthur Ruger 2005
Fall 2005




From Lietta in Crawford, Texas:

Tired, Exhausted but happy.





My wife and I are members of Military Families Speakout and publish the MFSO Pacific Northwest website. She is currently in Crawford with Cindy Sheehan.


I called Lietta just now. Things are quiet down there (its moving toward midnight CST) and she's exhausted.


I asked her to tell me what she wants to say to all those who are waiting to hear her words.


Here is what she told me:



The day started out with a multi-media press conference in Crawford with Cindy the primary speaker and focus. It was not unlike watching the Presidential Press Secretary, McLellan, in front of an audience - except this audience was not full of people tired of lies and misinformation.


After Cindy's time, individual members from MFSO and Gold Star Families were given a minute or two to introduce themselves and share brief bios. Some of those were mutual members, having actually lost a loved one and therefore members of Gold Star and MFSO.


The press event went well. I think we were heard as a collective of mutally supporting advocates.


Then followed a time for Questions and Answers for everybody else (since Cindy took questions earlier.)


Cindy then commenced individual interviews with some of the media while the rest of them came and interviewed the rest of us intividually.


Today I also did live radio interviews with a radio station in Connecticut, then with a radio station in Seattle (thinks it was Dave Ross), and Komo 4 radio.


(She also told me that she has done so many interviews and spoken to so many media members on her cell phone that she lost track a long time ago. The Seattle PI included 3 paragraphs about her in today's article about Cindy and Seattle Channel 7 (CBS) included Lietta on its noon and 5:00 pm news so we expect it to be on the 11:00 news tonight.)


I am impressed with the Peace House (in Crawford proper). So many people are arriving and congregating at the Peace House that the police had to finally require that visitors park in the nearby high school parking lot and a nearby park with a large lot. The Peace House is the staging for shuttle transportation out to the site and back since parking at the site is becoming a growing problem. Cars must be totally off the road so the ditches alongside the road are full of cars.


The Peace House is a story all it's own, historically having survived in red state Texas on a shoestring, the owner from time to time pumping his own money to keep it going. When Cindy arrived the Peace House had lost its electricity and phone service due to unpaid bills. The new arrivals solved that problem immediately with cash, food, water and other donations intended to support the group out by the ranch.


The Peace House has done a marvelous job evolving and adapting to the crowds and the needs at the site as well. In some ways, they have to be somewhat selective in that some donation items have been replicated so much that they have something more than a surplus problem. So they try to communicate in advance the sort of donated things they will need.


For instance, Cindy received flowers sent apparently through the efforts of an L.A. radio station. Eventually what happened was not a trickle of floral color, but an avalanche of flowers - so many that we ran out of places to put them within the area of the site. What a love offering that was!


By now they are also offering "rally" items such as $10 T-shirts saying "George, Meet with Cindy!"


The Peace House shuttle keeps the site supplied with food which boils down to mostly sandwiches, snacks and finger foods. I haven't had a sit-down meal since I got here.


Numbers of people here: At any given time there's a crowd whose numbers are augmented significantly by media folks. And the almost hourly growth in numbers is apparent which gives some concern about the size of the site and what that might mean in terms of prompting the feds or the staties to greater concerns about crowd control.


And the Texans I've met ... lots of Texans are coming to show that Texans care about what Cindy is doing. Texas is not all Bush Country and not all of Texas is red! One saw that I'm having an allergic reaction to whatever is in the air or on the ground and has promised to bring me Benadryl tomorrow. I'm counting on him.


We are very much aware of the rapidly growing support nationwide via our electronic [devices] out here at the site but we are also given much information from that which is shared at the Peace House. I met the Georgia truck driver who was in the news - the one who's a vet and who re-routed his trip through Crawford so he could meet us and share his support. Had a good discussion with him.


I also met WIll Pitt of Truthout and he's everything I had imagined when I first discovered Truthout a year or so ago.


Tell everybody to make their voices strong. Tell the military families that it's okay to love their children as much as they love their country and that it's not wrong to demand safe keeping for both!


Greetings especially to Military Families Speak Out Pacific Northwest members!! 





The rest of what we said is too mushy and none of your dang business!


Arthur Ruger



08/2005

Lietta still in Crawford with the fire ants.
Update: Phone calls with Lietta.

When she first arrived there, Lietta's first impressions included remarks about the repeated appearance and "drive- bys" of the secret service,


"You could always tell which cars, usually driving fast, were Secret Service. They're the ones with the tinted windows."

The firm but friendly authority and respect demonstrated by the local police. She has yet to speak one word against how they have struggled to maintain order while enforcing the law which seems to mostly have to do with local private property owners' right, crowd control and occasional elements of "national security" actions at the behest of the feds.

For example, when Bush drove by to his barbeque date, the Sheehaners were required to stay inside a boundary marked by yellow tape, (in my mind I saw the crime scene tapes like on TV). When I called it a corral, she hastened to disagree, telling me that it was neither tiny nor confining, but a way of keeping tabs on everyone. As soon as the royal coach had passed, they were given some sort of "all clear" and allowed outside the boundary.

The fire ants have been a problem and Lietta's plague. Having suffered from numerous bites, she was finally put into a motel last night to give her some relief. Although not stampeded by her bites, she may go see a doctor there and asked this morning for her med insurance info from me. I read somewhere else that Cindy slept one night in a trailer because her particular tent was infested with the critters.

The number of supporters at the site has ballooned enormously and the newest on-line photos from an assortment of sites showed that country road full of vehicles arriving and parked all along both sides "in the ditch."

Another video I watched on-line last night shows the crowd appearing to be at least as large as the entire Rolling Thunder Festival at Magnuson Park in Seattle where Mike's (MVP) gang and Doug and Linda set up a marvelous MFSO Booth right next to theirs with an incredible large black and white "George! Talk to Cindy!" banner coupled with a slightly smaller blue and white "MFSO Pacific Northwest" banner that dominated the festival site.

Per Lietta, as the number of arriving people has increased, more and more opportunities for rallies and public statements occur. Yesterday, at a rally in Crawford itself, Lietta talked of people lining the streets when Cindy and supporters arrived for a rally at the local high school. After Cindy made a major statement which Lietta felt "throws down the gauntlet more," others spoke (including L).

There was an opposition group in Crawford making noise and shouting but they were not as many. The other interesting thing was her observation that the behavior of the anti-Cindy protestors was loud and disrespectful. I asked her if she was telling me that they were acting like junior high schoolers opposing the adults and she laughed and said, "Well ....."

Lietta also talked about how it appeared that the number of pro-Bush supporters seems to owe its size to incentive-recruiting: getting them to show up for a "reward" like a barbeque, beer. Etc ... she wasn't sure about it.

Regarding the pro-Bushers, Lietta felt that "pro-Bush" was not as accurate as anti-Cindy in that the most apparent purpose was not to support or defend Bush's war, but a platitude thing that seemed a shallow appeal to support the president. In that regard, she declared that many among our group felt that in their actions they were showing total disrespect for the actual military victims of the war in shouting "We Don't Care, We Don't Care, We don't care" ... which, when interpreted as their open gesture of support of Bush equates to "and HE doesn't care either!"

Lietta described as wrenching, for many - especially Iraq and Viet Nam Era veterans to see that kind of behavior from adults smiling, marching back and forth waving tiny flags and acting in an openly belligerent manner - a total contrast to the sobriety and seriousness of the single issue at hand. "In harms' way" becomes totally disregarded in the interest of a false loyalty or ideological viewpoint that shoves aside our natural spiritual inclination to value the life of each human being.

In reality, the insincerity of Bush is reflected in the insincerity of those supporting him, whether waving little flags, laughing and yelling at Camp Casey or broadcasting distorted blather on national TV.

I've updated her on how Washington State seems to have adopted Lietta Ruger as its current Washingtonian at the front. Friday' Seattle PI (Lifestyle) article (by Ms. Paynter) entitled "Northwest Woman joins the Texas Peace Corps" thrilled her. Remember, she hasn't seen any of this as she has no on-line or media access.

I said in an earlier update that filling in for her online has taught me that I will NEVER wonder what she does all day. But this week I have seen the sheer mountain of news about Cindy and her supporters including numerous references to MFSO and its supportive role as well as not infrequent mention of Lietta by local news and all the bloggers who know of her.

Yesterday at Rolling Thunder I spent time with 2 major Washington State bloggers including the founder of Pacific Northwest Portal (which is a syndicated blogging group with a powerful regional as well as national reading audience), Andrew Villanueve: http://www.nwprogressive.org/portal/

and Brian Moran who publishes Washblog:
http://washblog.typepad.com/main/

Brian has previously requested that Lietta write posts to his site as a quest contributor because of their values.

She is in some ways astounded by the breadth of public awareness that is flowing out of this Crawford Moment and at the same time not surprised by the manifest awareness of those of us who pay attention to these sorts of things.

In closing, I'll tell you that she still has not eaten a "sit down" meal (something she says she'll no longer take for granted) and is still running up our cell phone bill (grin) taking some of the overflow calls, the numbers of which are far too many for Cindy to handle herself.
Our own Lisa Gill is heavily involved in this overflow as she has been tasked with managing responses to Cindy's emails which, per Lisa, average about a 1,000 per day. Washington, one of the bluer of the blue states, is a significant player in this drama people and folks like Lisa, Georgia and Lietta are only part of that activity.

Monday, an MFSO caravan leaves for Crawford - the same day Lietta flies home. It's the old story about the uprising of the rebel alliance. "One leaves and ten takes her place." Go you guys!

In addition, like many others in Crawford who have drawn the attention of their home states, more and more local media from those home states are calling for updates and observations from their "hometown kids".

They realize that major pronouncements from Cindy will be publicized nationally by several sources, but that a response for their own local audiences has more impact from stories about local citizens who have joined the Texas Peace Corp headquartered at the crossroads of a farm-to-market road and the rest of the world somewhere outside Crawford, Texas.

08/2005


My Wife Left Crawford Today. After-Thoughts

... and not the same as when she left.

Reflections

(Coming home tomorrow night and expressing how things aren't the same as they were before she went down there.)

Highlights for today were the Interfaith Service this morning that was excellent and beautiful.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif) arrived and met with the reps from MFSO, VFP and Gold Star Families (the coalition) and this meeting was worth it.

She will fly home tomorrow, arriving in the evening in Portland and spend the night there at her son's home.

Will be in Bay Center Tuesday night.

After-Crawford thoughts:

It's about our soldiers ... always was and always will be. The Interfaith Service this morning among other things emphasized the dignity of military service and being a soldier.

The coalition between MFSO, Gold Star Families, VFP and the many others has coalesced in a powerful way and an effort needs to be made to strengthen linkage, joint efforts and mutual support of that dignity of our loved ones.

The callous political behavior of the pro-Bush demonstrators in Texas reveals a fundamental disregard of that dignity, preferring instead to say and do what it takes to support their guy. The "We Don't Care!" act implied strongly that "We support Bush ... We don't care ... and Bush doesn't care."

Bottom line is that the dignified life and duty of a single soldier is worth more and deserves much more than treatment as a political cause in such a way that leaves so many who may never be in harm's way behaving badly at the behest of manipulators who do not have the welfare of our military as the highest good of all concerned.

Camp Casey has never taken its eye off the soldiers and the willful actions of leaders and a president that have placed them in entrapment. The pain of those at Camp Casey in seeing regard for their loved ones and their own sacrifices ridiculed as mere opposition to a political party was palpable.

The more that kind of mindless support for Bush in the absence of recognition of the dignity and worth of those serving in the military, the greater the power of Camp Casey. It is for us to move it further in each of our localities.

If we do that, the silent majority will awaken and be a force Bush and his henchmen cannot manipulate. That is why attempts to smear Cindy have not generated the national reaction intended. They are losing.

No more killing .... no more.

Lietta Ruger (MFSO) Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour Daily Notes

Fri Sep 09, 2005
Bring Them Home Now Tour Report
My wife, Lietta Ruger, (she also has a diary at Kos) spent a week at Crawford with Cindy Sheehan in early August. My diary at that time was a series of summaries of what she reported to me via cell phone.

She is now on the Central Tour of the Bring Them Home Now, sponsored by MFSO/GSFP/IVAW and I've been collecting daily updates city by city. Since I work full time and have limited time at night, I'm using this post to bring you up to date and will try to make same day posts each evening from now on.

09/04/2005
St Louis

I spoke with Lietta late last night at the end of her day. She was back in the home of a local attorney, Bill Quick and his wife Diane in St. Louis.

Her day began with Bill and Diane at a local Catholic church service during which Lietta was able to speak briefly and announce that the Veterans For Peace bus diverted to Louisiana to deliver supplies to Covington (La?).

Afterward, they travelled to a vigil being held at a large beautiful "cathedral-looking" church in St. Louis that was - per Lietta - sparsely attended although a few folks walking by did stop with questions and opinions (mostly supportive).

One interesting thing at the vigil that she felt was a good idea was a reading of the names of the 28 Missourians who have died in the war and a formal proposal to the governor of a state-wide half mast of the flag whenever the state loses another soldier.

Following the vigil, they went to another location for a forum-type meeting in which the topic was "what can we do?" Lietta says that at first the activity commenced with folks who stood up and gave "shoring up" and encouragement type speeches. The way she described them caused me to envision almost a comiseration session in which there were rants, lamenting and encouragement.

Lietta was given a chance to speak and when she did, she explained that what she had heard so far was (in her sometimes blunt way) non-productive. (Echoes of what she told the Oraq war anniversary rally in Seattle earlier this year.)

She asked the forum, "What could you do tomorrow that would change what is going on on the ground?"

After a moment or two of silence (shocked?) hands began raising. Useful suggestions for more tangible and immediate activities began to come forth - ideas, suggestions and "let's do it". Based on how pleased she was with the shift in focus, it sounded to me like the forum then turned into a productive workshop - which is what we hope to see from the tour. Moving off ideals to the tangible which hopefully will result more than just a flare or flash-in-the-pan ignited merely for support for the rally in D.C. on the 24th.

Lietta also impressed with fellow MFSO/GoldStar member, Beatrice Salvador who is also on the Central bus and was in Crawford during the time Lietta was there. Beatrice who is Hispanic and speaks powerfully from her cultural viewpoint, seems to have as her theme her own equivalent of staying the course and staying on-topic. We need to keep current and contemporary with what is going on in the country and linking current events, such as Katrina, with the purpose of the Tour.

There is a direct connection that has been publicized powerfully between Bush/Iraq and the consequences of Katrina and gives greater credence to not only the idea of bringin National Guard Troops home countrywide, but also the disaster of underfunded emergency preparedness because of diversion of funding to Iraq.

Beatrice seems to home in on this point in a powerful way.

Lietta by now is on the RV (a large Winnegago but not the size of, for example, a chartered bus. The travel will be an exercise in crowded conditions with the current number of 6 travelers expected to increase to 9 or 10. But, she says, it's still better than living in a ditch in Crawford and well worth the movement toward 9/24/05 when hopefully the voice in D.C. will be massive.
-----------------------
09/05/2005
Terre Haute
and
Indianapolis Indiana
The Tour stopped at Terre Haute, IN enroute to Indianapolis and met a group of 25 people and local press for what turned out to be mostly a press conference. We answered an assortment of questions. For a while it seemed very routine as if both the crowd and the press were "going through the motions."

Beatrice Salvador and Lietta - when their turn came - took the microphone and began to engage members of the audience one by one and trying to speak in a more individual sense that eventually seemed to generate engaged responses. Per Lietta, that seemed to salvage what started out as a "going through the motions" mentality.

The Tour got a warm reception in Indianapolis (including home-cooked FOOD) and Lietta stayed again at another home of volunteer hosts ... "another couple, Arthur - older than us." The volunteers, although mostly not directly connected to MFSO, belong to different groups sponsoring the events of the Tour while in Indianapolis. "They're activists and engaged. You can sure sense that!"

During the Indianapolis rally protestors began to gather across the street and after a while numbered about 50. They began singing God Bless America so we joined them from across the street and drivers could hear God Bless America in stereo as they passed by. Responding to the protestors seemed to really spark the Tour members and certainly ignited our audience. You could sense a combination of relief and determination as we supported each other and openly dealt with protestors in a way that did not provoke ugliness. That crowd was pumped when we ended.

We held a "bus meeting" tonight and focused on clearing the air, reaching understandings and resolving misunderstandings. Both Beatrice and I, remembering what evolved as the days passed at Camp Casey and a kind of "presentation protocol" evolved, feel like we know what we want in terms of how we're most comfortable in delivering our message and engaging our audiences. In these intitial days of the Tour, our group seems to be working out what will become the presentation style and format.
There is no formal control or guidance regarding this. Rather, the personalities of the group members and their individual styles will more fully reveal the most effective style and presentation. I suppose this means that toward the end of the tour we'll all be more polished and cohesive.

Lietta felt that the "bus meeting" ended with a better sense of harmony, purpose and who functions best in specific roles, in dealing with specific issues and subjects.

Back in host's homes in Indianapolis tonight (Monday) because there's more to do here tomorrow.
------------------------------
09/06/05
Indianapolis, Indiana

She's tired folks. Her voice is worn out but she says it's a "good" tired.

Up early this morning to get to Bloomington, Indiana (home of the Indiana University Hoosiers) for a press conference around 11:00.
(I'm not sure when but Lietta says that she gave a brief TV interview as well as a radio interview today in addition to the planned events.)

The Bloomington Press Conference was a room full of reporters at a book store. The group sat as a panel and all answered questions that Lietta says were very good questions. The reporters, though friendly and not hostile, were definitely knowing their business.

The Tour then went to a park in Bloomington where Harat Viges, Tour member from Iraq Veterans Against the War, was the principle speaker sharing his thoughts and experience in Iraq. He's an impressive speaker with a very effective style that seems to connect with listeners.

At a second park with a "Free Speech Zone" members of the group spoke individually and answered questions.

Sometime during the day Lietta says she interviewed with a local DJ named "Amos ???? (she couldn't remember his last name) on a progressive African-American station.

In the evening in Indianapolis there was a candlelight vigil held, I believe, at something called the Quaker Friendship House. The vigil leaders read off the names of the 51 Indiana soldiers who have died and followed the reading of the names with a prayer. They then sang God Bless America and My Country Tis of Thee. The flag was there ... the candles ... the 51 crosses ... it was a tearful time (Lietta.)

A local Methodist Church nearbye allowed the group to place the crosses on a triangle of their property and the candle-bearers circled the crosses before placing the candles in and around them.

(Lietta) I cried during the TV interview that took place at that time involving Hart Viges and me.

We then began to clean up - tired and emotionally spent. I made an effort to try to personally thank as many of the families who came as possible. One African-American family in particular tapped into my feelings which were so close to the surface (and for those who know Lietta, I can count on less than ten fingers the number of times I've seen her cry). The mother was concerned about recruiters and I asked if they were contacting his son, age 17, who was standing right there. She nodded.

Her son told her "Mom, it's okay."

But it wasn't okay with Mom. I could see that. I said to that young man, "Please don't go."

It was obvious that the son's conflict with choosing whether or not to sign up was something the family had been discussing for a while. I told them, "It looks like you have the makings for a serious family discussion. I wish you well as you work toward your decision."

When I got back to the bus there were two young girls looking to be 4th or 5th graders - again African American. One asked me, "Were you [the one] on TV? I hope I wasn't on TV."

"We don't want any more young people to go [to this war]" I told them my emotions still very close to the surface.

She hugged me, saying, "I hope it will be okay."

Then the other girl asked if she could see the inside of the bus. So I led them inside where we sat and talked. They were wide-eyed and fascinated. Hart came in, saw them and immediately engaged them in talk as only he can. He is so authentic!

Their school had just raised $1000 to sent to hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast.

As they were leaving one of them turned and said "I feel like my life changed forever."

Not sure what prompted that but I told Todd, one of our directors, "We need to try to go to a school - and I'm taking Hart with me!"

I think that the highlight of this day may very well have been the encounter with those two children. Our time in Indianapolis and Bloomington has been good. Tomorrow we meet with aides to U.S. Senators Bayh and Lugar before leaving town at noon.

Next stop Cincinnati for Wednesday and Thursday.

Good Night.

Arthur


09/07/2005
Cincinnati Ohio 
She was pumped up tonight.

"We just finished a super great rally tonight in Cincinnati." More on Cincinnati later.

Before leaving Indianapolis they met with aides to both Senator Evan Bayh (D) and Richard Lugar (R).

The meeting with Bayh's aide was productive and we felt that he "got" our message. The aide was responsive, with questions the reflected engagement and interest. At the end of the interview, Lietta gave him her card and told him, "I'd like the Senator to call me." She said the aide appeared somewhat astonished.

She also told me that meeting with these aides in the presence of locals (their constituencies) was very helpful as awareness of the audience was obvious in both interviews.

She was not impressed with the Lugar episode. In her opinion Senator Lugar sent what she perceived as "second-stringers" out to meet with them and they were totally focused on politics as usual.

She felt the aide who spoke the most was intent on stalling tactics, one of his earliest statements being clearly for the constituent audience as he dramatically and pointedly stated that the coffee they were being served was not paid for by tax-payer funds.

He also seemed to be deliberately taking up time, playing against the clock as he listened to each of the group one by one, interrupting to move back to ask a previous speaker a question repeatedly.

She laughed when she told me that - being short-tempered because of not having any coffee until that interview, that she let her passion turn to "impassion, I mean, impatience."

Again when leaving, she handed that aide a card and told him to "Ask the Senator to call me."

"You? You're not his constituent. Why would he call you?"

"Because I have something to say to him." was her reply.

Some of the group members including Lietta were then taken to a college class studying social movements and asked to make a presentation about the various organizations involved in the bus tour. That went well and the class teacher had used the Tour group as a kind of "show and tell" about social activist groups up close.

Then the bus ride to Cincinnati.

They were taken to dinner and a reception at St. George Catholic Center.

One of her highlights she said occured while she was in the parking lot preparing for the panel-discussion/reception about to occur. A young man came out in tears and wanted to speak with her. He had been inside studying the pictures the group had laid out and it had gotten to him. Lietta says she hugged him and told him "What we are doing is about you, your peers, your generation - people your age. You cannot inherit this war at your age."

During the panel discussion and Q&A that followed she made referenence to the incident without naming the young man. He later thanked her.

During the panel discussion she was asked by a young African-American about whether or not the group considered itself as including the impoverished communities - "poor people" - in their advocacy. "Are you reaching out to them (us)?"

At that point the audience applauded his courage.

Lietta spoke at length about the Tour as representing all Americans and touched again on the generational point she had made earlier. She also spoke at length with the questioner after the session.

Finally,
"I'm in another host's house tonight and I'm going to take a shower. And tomorrow I'm going to find a store and by a 4-pack of Starbuck's Frappucino's. I'm not going to get caught again having to go so long without coffee!"

And then we talked about stuff that's none of your business before we said goodnight.

-------------------------------------

9/8/05
Columbus Ohio:
The day Steven Williams met the TOUR and joined MFSO
Lietta's narrative:

When we arrived, we got off a bus in Columbus for a press conference that didn't happen, but we did meet with our local sponsors and were joined by 2 local MFSO families with soldiers serving in Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Columbus. This is the Lima Company that lost 23 soldiers in Iraq the first week in August.

The two families met with the mayor who also has a son in Lima Company. The mayor was warm and welcoming to the two families and the Tour group.

The group encountered a young African-American man (Lietta estimated his age as early 20's), Steven Williams, who's personal experience today was the predominant theme and perhaps underlines a most powerful effect of the Tour in helping citizens find their own voices.

Steven was passing by and stopped to ask questions, including, "I have a cousin serving in Iraq. Does that qualify me to join MFSO? The group inducted him into MFSO immediately and he stayed with them, accompanying them everywhere all day. To his surprise, he found himself very shortly with the group and the two families meeting the mayor of Columbus.

Next the tour group was to meet with aides to the two U.S. senators from Ohio, Republicans Mike DeWine and George Voinovich. Lietta not impressed with how the meetings went with the aides of both senators, but Steven Williams certainly was. He told the tour that he had tried to meet with these same aides previously without success. He expressed an astonished pleasure at having been able to be part of the group that met with them today.

Following the meeting was a debriefing with the press and - you guessed it - Steven Williams got to participate in that debriefing and speak to the press.

At one point during the day, I believe the group was to meet at something called the Huntington Plaza Building but instead went to the Huntington Bank Building and 13 persons got on the elevator which either stopped or did not move after the doors closed. After brief button pushing without results, several cell phones came out and calls were made to 911. Eventually building security got the door open and 13 anxious souls stampeded out of the elevator. Realizing they'd been in the wrong building, they headed to the door only to see 4 fire trucks and a brigade of fire fighters carrying fire axes for breaking down the elevator door charging up the stairs.

The group attended a huge potluck dinner at a Mennonite Church after which a panel of speakers made presentations and participated in discussions. On the panel were the Tour group, one of the Ohio MFSO members, a mother of one of a marine in Lima Company due to return in a month. She spoke (she said for the first time publicly) and gave a wonderful speaking of her story for 15 minutes. Next?

You guessed it. Steven Williams who was now astonishing even himself. Celeste Zappala, MFSO/Gold Star Mothers was the concluding speaker and Lietta says the local supporters were inspired by all the talks.

Then came a powerful candlelight vigl followed. Lietta was then asked to interview with local Channel 4 and she insisted on including Steven Williams who took a significant part in the interview. Lietta and Tour Group partner Bill Mitchell (MFSO/Gold Star) more or less shepherded Steven Williams through the day. At the end of the day Steven Williams told them with awe in his voice,

"This morning I got up to go to the library, but then met these people, joined MFSO, then saw the mayor, the aides to two U.S. Senators, spoke to an audience of supporters at a Mennonite Church and then got interviewed by Channel 4 News!"

He was so excited he called his grandmother to tell her to watch the 11:00 News.


For Lietta it was an amazing day, especially in being able to see letting others - especially local supporters - have a chance to speak for the whole group. The Mennonites were great, the vigil powerful and Steven Williams the highlight.

Tomorrow the bus leaves for Cleveland.


Surprise and pleasure:This Bus Tour update sent me from an Ohio Mother Hotlist
by Arthur Ruger
Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 07:02:36 PM PDT
Received this today via our MFSO Pac NW email address.
Lietta said she's been handing out our cards and she gave one to this Ohio mother who writes so very well and I was surprised that she has yet to launch her own blog. I suspect it won't be long until she does. Nothing from Lietta nor me today could ever match what this says:

OHIO CARAVAN WITH... "BRING THEM HOME NOW TOUR"

I am a mother of a 19 year old 3/25 Lima Co. Marine serving in Iraq. One third of his Unit has been kia or injured. In early August after losing 22 Marines in less than a week, fearing for my son's life and driven by conviction, I began my journey to change the direction our country has been going.

I have been waiting for my son's safe return before speaking out publicly. There is such confusion in our country about patriotism and suporting our troops while being against the war.

I stood at a Marine Family Meeting and told the Major and those present that it was time to bring the Ohio Marines home. I shouted out," My son is not expendable." I wrote to my senators asking for their help. I received no response. I refused to be powerless. I began thinking that Mothers had to win our country back and was planning to organize a Mother's March on Washington.

I found the web site, www.truthout.org. Here I found Camp Casey, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, Iraqi Vets Against the War etc. I had never heard of any of these people. I found that there already was a huge march planned for September 24th. WOW! GREAT! I didn't have to take on the huge task of planning a march. Phew! I just had to go!

And this tells me there is a larger movement ... that is in our bones and is beginning to surface.

I wanted to go to Camp Casey but couldn't because of scheduled meetings with the Marines to prepare for the homecoming of our boys. I saw the central Bring Them Home Now Tour plans to DC and realized I could caravan with them to Columbus, Toledo and Cleveland and maybe Pittsburgh!

I contacted a Cincinnati center to see if we could get them to stop in Cincinnati.. So, my tour began in Cincinnati. I offered housing and breakfast.

It was great to meet them. They are "my kind of people." They are not off the wall, emotional fanatics. They are normal citizens willing to take risks as they speak out from their own experience and knowledge and with integrity against an incredible, illegal and disastrous war. They are compassionate people who suffer the loss of their beloved and they ask why? And they work hard to restore humanity, dignity and respect to our country. And they demand accountability and challenge our leadership to step up to the plate or get out of the way.

I was able to speak at the forums in Columbus and Cleveland. I spoke as a mother who watched five mothers bury their sons in the Cincinnati area in August. I shared the terror that I live with. The sleepless nights. The days and nights of anguish. "How desperately I want my son to live and have hope. He is so young, so idealistic, so confident, so trusting."

I was able to visit the offices of the senators who still had not responded to my letters. With others from the Tour we spoke of the many issues involved with this war... depleted uranium, stop-loss, inadequate equipment, not enough men, operatives and the lies and deceit that led the American people into it.

We asked the aides, after we broke through the shell that tells you to "make it quick, I am busy and really don't want to listen to you" to ask the Senators what they want their legacy to be. We asked them to tell the Senators to look again at the war and why we are there. Not with their jobs in mind or their political party, but to look with their human heart and their conscience. We told them if they see the truth and act from the truth...good will follow.

We participated in rallies and visited with many Americans who are sick of this war and the lies that keep us there and the dishonor it has brought to our country. We met enraged Americans.

There is much more to say about this BTHN Tour. It is an important moment. And the March September 24th will be historical.

I am convinced that out country is at a historical turning point... " and the people will lead."

I said to my son, "Mike, you have no idea how precious you are to me and dad, your brother and sister."
" I know"
"We will not let you get away so easily again."
"I know you won't!"
"Mike, I am not afraid of the Marines. I am not afraid of the Government, and I am not afraid of the President. I am your Mom!"
Chuckling..."I love you, Mom."

I will work so Mike and other sons will not have their generosity, their courage, their integrity, their desire to serve, their desire to make a difference compromised. I want my son to always be proud that he is a Marine.

Peggy Logue
Ohio

Lietta on the Bring Them Home Now Tour Bus in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh

Sunday 9/11/05 4:30 PM CAMP NEIL: Speak Out/Pot-Luck Picnic with Musical Perfomances at Flagstaff Hill (Schenely Park, Oakland)

The picnic was fun and MFSO founders Nancy Lessing and Charlie Richardson were speakers along with Cindy Sheehan.

7:00 PM Candlelight Vigil and MARCH: From Flagstaff Hill (Schenely Park, Oakland) to Soldiers & Sailors Memorial

Following the pot-luck we marched to the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial. My thrill was that I got to carry one end of the IVAW banner. Again I have praise for IVAW member Hart Viges who has a powerfully expressive style in his presentation.
Our lodging turned out to be a convent which provided spacious comfort and a wonderful sense of repose and security.

Monday, September 12th

11:45 AM Truth in Recruiting Press Conference/Protest at Oakland Military Recruiting Station (3712 Forbes Ave., Oakland)

The recruiters shut the office and left.
We also went to the office of Senator Arlen Specter and met a Regional Rep/Office Director. Our usual discussion points and some active interest even though Specter (a Republican) was in D.C. chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee trying to get answers out of Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee, John Roberts.

Later in the afternoon we went to a studio for taping a CNBC with CNBC personality, Donnie Deutch in a Town Hall meeting about the Tour and Military Families speaking out. They put makeup on many of us but the principal speaker was our Beatriz Saldivar, MFSO. However they also had the pro-Bush Prewitt family from Boise, Idaho whom Bush attempted to use as a counterpoint to Cindy.
They gave much more time and emphasis to the Prewitts - who have five military members (the spouse and 4 adult children I believe) - and who have not suffered a family loss ... yet. We felt extremely slighted by this production, particularly when Beatriz's presentation was evoking emotional support in the audience and CNBC abruptly cut her off in mid-sentence after only about 3 minutes and spent most of the rest of the time doting on the Prewitts. I understand that this taping will air this Wednesday (10:00 pm Eastern) on CNBC if it has not already.

7:30pm PUBLIC GATHERING to discuss Truth in Recruiting - Friends Meeting House (4836 Ellsworth Ave, Oakland)

This gathering also included a discussion of conscientious objectors. Regarding recruiting, I had a chance to share my perspective of the Emiliano Santiago and the Seattle trial where he was overruled by a judge and ordered to fulfill the terms of his contract and return to Iraq.

The Friends Meeting House is of course Quaker - hence a consideration of what it means to be a conscientious objector. Nancy Lessing was one of the speakers tonight. The ultimate theme of the evening, in my (Lietta) opinion is that "soldiers are people too."

Tuesday, September 13th
12 noon PRESENTATION and Q&A with members of the Tour United Steelworkers of America headquarters (60 Blvd.of the Allies, Downtown)

The steelworkers passed a resolution today demanding that the president bring our troops home now.

Wed, Sep. 14th Harrisburg

We spent the day in Harrisburg meeting with elected officials (Pennsylvania state officials and congressional representatives/staffs) discussing the issues raised by Camp Casey and the tour.

We ended the day in Harrisburg with a rally on the steps of the capitol building.

Thursday, September 15th

Philadelphia

11:30 AM Discussion with the AFL-CIO at AFL-CIO Headquarters - 22 South 22nd Street.

Our contact for this meeting was the president of the AFSCME District 47. AFSCME is a member of the AFL-CIO and also the parent organization of the Washington (State) Federation of State Employees of which husband, Arthur Ruger, is a president of Local 970 in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. The AFL-CIO also passed a resolution today demanding that the president bring the troops home now.

Activity: Induction of "Camp Gold Star" to recognize all who have fallen - Independence Mall, 5th & Market Streets

Today we accomplished the induction of "Camp Gold Star" near the Liberty Bell at the Independence Mall, 5th and Market Streets.

There was some pain in the building of Camp Gold Star because the rules do not allow us to "poke holes in the ground" which for us is not the same as inserting the crosses so that they stand up. Eventually we decided to be civilly disobedient and planted the crosses anyway. It's curious that we would have such resistance to honoring our beloved soldiers with crosses at what is famously known as the Birthplace of Liberty. Well ... the crosses remained.

We also - in reminder of the "Eyes Wide Open" campaign - placed empty boots with the crosses and in fact placed a cross in the boots. We then placed a set of empty boots among the others with the idea that the next owner of a set of boots here is yet to be determined. What can we do to help end it?

We who have never been to this city also took time toward the end of the day when the lines were shorter to see the Liberty Bell and again ponder our own history and heritage in the presence of something real and tangible that evokes feelings akin to when we see our flag or sing our anthem.

We met another mother who lost a soldier in Iraq a month ago. As she is tragically eligible to join Gold Star Mothers, we do not know if she will. But her agony is no so great as to overpower her wisdom. We saw as she spoke with 4 young R.O.T.C. cadets who apparently knew her son, pleading with them to not take a similar path to risk a similar fate for such a discredited reason.

Later, a security guard, after finishing his shift, came by. He's a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq in his mid-to-late 30's. If we understood him correctly, he joined (or rejoined) the military after September 11th because he had a sense that if the military (including him) could "end it" before his 10-year-old son reached draft age. An extraordinary thing - yet so typical of what a parent instinctively feels for the children. We see it all the time, sacrificing one's self so the next generation has a chance.

Lietta says that the VFP have been wonderful in their participation, support and activities all day.

We we also excited late in the day to receive notice from Beatriz Saldivar that Daniel Torres' widow, Sophia, gave birth to a valiant soldier's daughter, a new niece for Beatriz and a living legacy of a heroic man.

They named her Daniela.


MFSO Pac NW meets with Murray, Smith and the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee

Sat Sep 24, 2005
Military Families Speak Out: Pacific Northwest Chapter,
MFSO national

(This one is long but no apologies offered for its length. What she had to say tonight has got me fighting mad and fired up! - Arthur)

Lietta Ruger: "walking the halls of Congress in shorts."
Thursday night, 11:30 PM ...
(Lietta)
This was an extremely busy day. I got to see a lot of famous buildings I've only seen on TV and in movies ... The Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress, the Senate office buildings, the Capitol Building ... just like the tourist I always felt I'd be when coming finally to Washington D.C. to see first hand the tangible monuments to our national heritage and democracy-in-action.

Only I wasn't a tourist today, but an activist lobbying for our core American values and what we baby boomers were taught growing up in a country proud of its heritage ... unafraid to practice what we we taught.

However, today, as we pursued our talks with those who we helped place in the positions as our representatives, we were not dressed as government business-people; formally, in 3-piece power suits, in skirts, blouses or dresses with earrings, eye-shadow and lipstick. We walked the halls of Congress in the heat of the day in the happy casual dress of tourists. How strange to deal with three-piece-suiters and power-fashioned women of authority.

Yes, I saw all those photogenic buildings, over and over, back and forth all day - walking through or by them - on our way to see one after another person we all hired with our ballots in some prior election.

It was thrilling, moving and also embarrassing. How many who read this have ever felt embarrased by the Senator or Congressperson chosen to be our voice in Washington? I met some today who embarrased their constituencies and others who honored them. More later, but first the highlight of the day.

This evening Bring Them Home now Tour members went with Elaine Johnson MFSO member) to participate in the Black Voices For America town hall meeting at Plymouth Congregational Church where Elaine was one of the primary speakers.

Also in attendance were many officials and politicians and activist organizations - all powerful advocates.

The evening was spent in strong discussion and public discourse on the war in Iraq, rights and support of our troops, consequences of hurricane Katrina, racial injustice, justice for all, the roots of war and more.

There were two different panels and the evening was both amazing and powerfully inspirational.

Earlier today representing MFSO, we (Stacy Bannerman, Judy Linehan, Rose Gentle from MFSO U.K. and I) met with Congressman Adam Smith (D Washington).

After a brief discussion about Congressman Smith's position on an upcoming vote regarding troop withdrawals/reductions we emphasized to him that withdrawals/reductions based on a future deadline were no longer as important as bringing the troops home now.

Again, we were able to emphasize how recent weeks had demonstrated the invalidity of the administration's oft-changed reasons for the war, any Bush-defined noble cause and justification for more loss of troops in a Republican mantra of "staying the course" despite the failure of Bush's foreign policy objectives and strategy.

Smith was respectful, polite and obviously interested in our discussion, showing no signs of impatience or a desire to keep the discussion limited, brief or redirected to other venues.

Smith: (paraphrasing) "You're not saying later, you're saying now?"
"Yes we are."
"O.K."

When we talked about the relationship between the troops, the commander-in-chief and the citizens responsibility to hold the CIC accountable to insure that lives are not placed in harm's way for
invalid reasons or political agendas, Smith "got it," and told us "You are right!"

Contrast that with our disappointing visit with Senator Patty Murray ( who, like Congressman Adam Smith, did not send an aide to meet with us but instead talked to us personally) who gave us only five minutes and declared that her position on the troops and the ware were "non-negotiable".

Senator Patty Murray, talking like an Bush insider, flatly declared that we needed to keep our troops in Iraq and stay the course until the mission was completed.

I felt that my Senator - like many prominent Democratic politicians - is too intimidated by the Republican majority to take any other stand ... possibly thinking that there is still a silent majority in her home state and the country that continues to drink the kool-aid Republicans have been offering now into a fifth year of political dominance. As this is written, the most recent USAToday/CNN/Gallup poll indicates that 67% versus 32% of American citizens disapprove of what Bush is doing in Iraq.

That is not an insignificant number and evinces a silent majority that might have a thing or two to say to an intimidated elected Democratic minority.

But the "stinkiest" moment of our day was when Kalisa Stanley and I (Lietta) accompanied Gold Star co-founder (with Cindy Sheehan) Bill Mitchell as he made another of several attempts to meet with his Congressman, Bill Thomas (R California) who was elected Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 2001.

Bill Mitchell is a single parent who raised his only child - only to lose him in Iraq the same day Cindy Sheehan lost her son, Casey. Bill has attempted for over a year to have - even if only
briefly - a meeting with Rep Thomas with absolutely no success. They've never once offered Bill an appointment with Rep Thomas.

Lietta and Kalisa Stanley volunteered to go with Bill in another attempt as a constituent to meet his congressman. They went in handicapped by not having an appointment.

An aide to Thomas was called to the desk by the receptionist. The aide escorted the group out of the office to - as she put it - the "other meeting room." Bill told us that this is what happens every time and he's been to the "other waiting room" before.

It's not a waiting room, it's a place where we stand next to window to talk through the window.

(Lietta was not aware at the time that Thomas is Chairman of what the press has for years cliched as "The Powerful Ways and Means Committee") and asked a question that was even more pointed than she realized:

"Are you saying that Congressman Thomas has no place where you can sit down and talk to him?"

Aide's response: (again paraphrased) "His office is not equipped for visitors."

(Lietta)"How come Congressman Adam Smith has a meeting area and Rep Thomas doesn't? We've crossed several states to get here, we've meet with numerous congressional aides in those states and here in D.C. - all of whom met us in a room with tables and chairs where we could discuss ssues with them. But Rep Thomas (the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee) tells us to go stand by a window sill?"

Lietta's perception of the aide was that of a woman who was cold and showed absolutely no emotion and was distant when she told Bill,

"I remember you from before. Didn't you talk to our scheduler?"

Bill:"Yes I have several times. But she never called me back."

Kalisa and Lietta: "We're here to support Bill Mitchell, your constituent.

He's attempted to get an appointment with his elected representative 6 times in the last 12 months with no success. Both in California and here in D.C. - with no success. The 'scheduler' has never called him back. He wants to meet with his representative and for the sake of decency Representative Thomas owes it to this man; owes this grieving father acknowledgement, owes the loss of his only child an acknowledgement."

Lietta: "That is what we do in Washington and Oregon and we are treated respectfully by our congress persons. Bill and his son are Rep Thomas's constituents and deserve at least 15 minutes of his time."

The aide called the scheduler in: "No, the congressman isn't available. He's voting."

Lietta: "So you'll make an appointment for Bill?"

Aide: "Not at this time. But we'll tell the Congressman about our little chat."

Lietta: "This is not a 'little chat' - it's serious business."

At this point the scheduler seemed to grow uncomfortable, conciliatory and apologetic.

The aide then said that as staffers, they will make this a "work in progress," to which Kalisa, Bill and Lietta responded: "We will follow up and expect to see an appointed meeting between Bill and his Congressman take place as soon as possible."

Lietta was still fuming, calling the episode the "stinkiest" part of the day.

"This single parent and grieving father has been so dishonored and disrespected by his congressman who forces him to resort to a meeting with an aide at a window sill like a ticket buyer to a circus. We're going to help Bill compose a letter to be sent to the Congressman every week (the same letter) and to local news media in Bill's district until an appointment is set and a meeting is held. That's our project and we don't intend to drop the ball."

Bill is a veteran, a quiet man, polite and respectful by nature, not brash and not overly agressive - all attributes we as Americans are supposed to cherish. And for this he has been politically snubbed and treated with a cold and brutal disregard by one of the stalwarts of the current Republican administration.

But since this shameful and embarrassing display of ignorant arrogance took place in the morning, all that followed today - capped by the wonderful meeting at Plymouth Congregational Church tonight - helped dilute the bad taste in our mouths from someone who has talked the tough fight but for whom the war and loss of life remains a political abstraction.

End of report.












Lietta, Cindy Sheehan, Dante Zavala

Lietta during interview
with Lehrer News Hour



Sheehan speaking



Iraq Veterans Against the War


Camp Casey



Dante and Lietta, Crawford Texas


Lietta Interview with KOMO TV


Arthur & Lietta Seattle Rally


Lietta Bring Them Home Now Tour
Columbus Ohio



Let's Go Home Son


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