Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Faces of Protest - then and now

photo credit above left: AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

These are the faces of protest – war protest. On the left, a recent associated press photograph of Cindy Sheehan at a press conference. On the right, a now famous photograph of shooting at a Kent State protest of the Viet Nam War. The faces are decades apart, but the cause is the same. They protested wars that were started by evil men. Like the old adage about history, it seems that human beings are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over, and over again, endlessly.

Remember Ms. Sheehan? I certainly do. This is the woman who protested the War in Iraq “outside the president’s Texas ranch” for 26 days in August 2005 – a protest that eventually reached 300 people. But to say it was “outside the presidents home” is misleading. They were not allowed to get closer than one mile away from George W’s home. On February 2006 she was arrested for having the audacity to wear a T-shirt in the galley of the U.S. House of Representatives that read “2,245 Dead. How many more?" at the George W’s State of the Union address. The House rules, it seems, disallows protests in the gallery. We wouldn’t want the president reminded of the some of the deaths he was busy telling us what a great job he was doing now would we?

The Viet Nam war ended with the withdrawal of the troops by Richard “peace with honor” Nixon – but only after America was forced out of Viet Nam. What will it take to get America out of the War that the president started this time?

In the mean time, Ms. Sheehan has ended her efforts at ending the war. I can understand why. As Ms. Sheehan herself put it:

“I have been wondering why I’m killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush.” – Cindy Sheehan.

She said it best, perhaps, in what she called a “resignation letter” in her online diary:

“Good-bye American…you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you that country unless you want it. It’s up to you now.” – Cindy Sheehan.

Sadder still, is the fact that no matter how much Americans my want the war to stop. No matter how many Americans DEMAND it. It is not up to just us. That is because we have leaders that are no longer have a government “by the people, for the people, and of the people” as Abraham Lincoln once put it. We have a government by a handful of powerful people who represent their own interests only. Those people are known by the initials G.O.P. I hope, I pray, that there is a way to remove the troops sooner than an anticipated removal of Republican Politicians in 2008.

Another Face of the War

It is a group that no mother wants to be qualified to join – American Gold Star Mothers.

No mother should have to bury their child.

But there are times when they do.

Who are gold star mothers? The best way to explain is with a quote from the history on their website located at:

“Often the question has been asked, “Who is a Gold Star Mother?” During the early days of World War I, a Blue Star was used to represent each person, man or woman in the Military Service of the United States. As the war progressed and men were killed in combat, others wounded and died of their wounds or disease, there came about the accepted usage of the Gold Star.” – American Gold Star Mothers

First let me put a face to a name. This is the woman who founded this group, Grace Darling Siebold:

Who is this woman? What caused her to found this group? Again, I will let the American Gold Star Mothers themselves explain:

“When the United States entered World War I in 1917, George Vaughn Seibold, 23, volunteered, requesting assignment in aviation. He was sent to Canada where he learned to fly British planes since the United States had neither an air force nor planes. Deployed to England, he was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps, 148th Aero Squadron. With his squadron, he left for combat duty in France. He corresponded with his family regularly. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, began to do community service by visiting returning servicemen in the hospitals.

The mail from George stopped. Since all aviators were under British control and authority, the United States could not help the Seibold family with any information about their son.

Christmas Eve, 1918, the postman delivered a package to the Washington, DC residence of George and Grace Seibold. The package was marked, "Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC." No other information was provided.
After months of inquiry, the family received official notice. "George was killed in aerial combat during the heaviest fighting over Baupaume, France, August 26, 1918." His body was never recovered.

Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.” – American Gold Star Mothers

Sadly, there are many new faces who are eligible for membership in this group – the war in Iraq has changed all that.

“Its ranks [American Gold Star Mothers] dwindled substantially, threatening its survival, as members grew older and died. But the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan are making thousands of women eligible for membership.” – Susan Sarkauskas, Daily Herald for May 28, 2007, “War-torn Mothers”

This is the face of the war that is closer to home. These aren’t civilians in countries that are a half a world away. These are the children of parents in our communities. This is another face of the war that George W. Bush started. This is a face of the war that it is important for everyone to see. It is the face of young men and women who died too soon – some of them, missing in action, will never come home..

Monday, May 28, 2007

Win one for the "Gipper"

Win one for the “Gipper”…er…Cheney

Following on the footsteps of George W. who just addressed the graduating class of the United States Coast Guard, Dick Cheney addressed the graduating class at West Point. Perhaps the thought is to “get them while their young” - it seems to work.

When the facts don’t fit, Dick doesn’t seem to mind trying the old trick of pounding a square peg in a round whole and MAKE them fit. Like George W., if Dick can’t find a smoking gun anywhere, he will put one in someone else’s hand. In an obvious denial of reality he delivered the following quote in this speech to West Point graduates:

“We’re fighting a war over there because the enemy attacked us first. These are men who glorify murder and suicide. Terrorists are defined entirely by their hatreds.” - Dick Cheney

Dick is forgetting the small factor that I mention in yesterday's column - namely Iraq DIDN’T attack us first - before we attacked THEM FIRST they had never killed a single American civilian.

(source: Stephen Zunes, "An Annotated Overview of the Foreign Policy Segments of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address," Foreign Policy In Focus, January 29, 2003. Segments of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address," Foreign Policy In Focus, January 29, 2003 which can be found at

Joining George W. and his increasingly popular tactic of trying to scare the American public in to an act of contrition for having had the audacity for wanting the death stopped, Dick gave his own version of “win one for the Gipper”…

“The security of this nation depends on the outcome.” - Dick Cheney

No doubt Dick was referring to one particular person, Osama Bin Laden, whose family are former business associates of ex-president George H.W. Bush. George W. and Dick seem wont to use Osama as some sort of a touch stone, probing whatever nation they are ready to destroy next.

Friday, May 25, 2007

George Bush's Bloodbath


George W. has his war chest – with no deadline for troop withdrawal mandated. There appears to be no end to the war in sight. In fact he told the American Public today to expect it to get worse. The war has been financed through September of this year (2007). Now George W. has warned the American public to expect a “bloody” August.
What has George W. got in mind for your August? Here is an example below:

This dead baby and more than 600,000 civilian dead others brought to you courtesy of President George W. Bush

“BAGHDAD, Oct. 10 [2006] — A team of American and Iraqi public health researchers has estimated that 600,000 civilians have died in violence across Iraq since the 2003 American invasion, the highest estimate ever for the toll of the war here.” – The New York Times

Remember the old song “War” whose chorus goes like this?

War! huh-yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing

War! huh-yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again y'all

War! huh good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me?

Lets add a new line:

War! huh good God
What is it good for?
Making the family of George W. Bush money – and a lot of it…

Whatever the motives of George W. was for starting the war in Iraq, and mind you he did start it – an unprovoked war on a country that had never killed a single American.

(source: Stephen Zunes, "An Annotated Overview of the Foreign Policy Segments of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address," Foreign Policy In Focus, January 29, 2003. Segments of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address," Foreign Policy In Focus, January 29, 2003 which can be found at

Whether George W. thinks God told him to do it as the article cited in my column yesterday,"Bush: God told me to invade Iraq" by Rupert Cromwell, or whether it is simply unfinished business from the Gulf War the family of George W. Bush, namely his father stands to make a lot of money from it. Why? Here is why…

What corporation (in the year 2003) was the eleventh largest defense contractor in the United States? Say it, say it, say it again – yeah

The Carlyle Corporation

(source: “By virtue of its holdings in companies like U.S. Marine Repair and United Defense Industries, Carlyle is the equivalent of the eleventh-largest defense contractor in the nation. It has $16.2 billion under management and claims an average annual return of 35%.” Phyllis Berman, “Lucky Twice,” Forbes, December 8, 2003

What President of the United States has a father who was a Senior Advisor and is a stock holder in the Carlyle Corporation? Say it, say it, say it again – huh- yeah!

George W. Bush, whose father retired on 10/03 from the Carlyle Corporation, who is a stock holder.

(source:” Even The Carlyle Group, that super-secret international defense private equity conglomerate so chock full of former world leaders (former US presidents George H W Bush and Bill Clinton and former British prime minister John Major) as current and former principals that it is sometimes seen more as a villain in a James Bond film than as an investment vehicle, is getting into the act. Carlyle recently eschewed its normal investments in death and destruction to buy out Philosophy, Inc, a purveyor of soaps, shampoos and other personal and skincare products.” – The highs and lows of buyouts By Julian Delasantellis , The Asia Times, February 22, 2007)

And what corporation that is a defense contractor for the United States once had as investors the very same family that George W. Bush now claims is his reason to continue his war with Iraq? Say it, say it, say it again –

The Carlyle Corporation

(source: "Following the attacks on September 11, the bin Laden family’s investments in the Carlyle Group became an embarrassment to the Carlyle Group and the family was forced to liquidate their assets with the firm." Kurt Eichenwald, “Bin Laden Family Liquidates Holdings with Carlyle Group,” The New York Times, October 26, 2001.

This death and destruction has been brought to you by George W. Bush and his dear old dad…

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pay no attnetion to that man behind the curtain

Photo above: Frank Morgan as the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” is revealed by Dorothy’s dog Toto as who he really is.

In a move reminiscent of the famous line from The Wizard of Oz – “Pay not attention to that man behind the curtain” – once again George W. is trying to misdirect our attention. Fortunately the particular curtain that George W,’s diatribe is hidden behind this time is 10 pages of newspaper. Thank goodness he isn’t front page news this time. There is perhaps a reason for this. The caption of George W. delivering a commencement speech to the U.S. Coast Guard academy reads as follows:

“Trying to rally support for an unpopular war, President Bush used declassified intelligence Wednesday to equate the U.S. led fight in Iraq with the broader battle against al-Qaida.”

It is not enough that the funding for his war – and make no mistake my friends, this is HIS war and no one else’s – is “in the bag” as they say. It appears as if George W. is not satisfied with winning, everyone else must loose. In this case the people who are losing are not just those who will die in Iraq, but all of humanity.

Here are some quotes, from the Associated Press, from George W.’s commencement speech…

“In the minds of al-Qaida leaders, 9/11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come.”

“It is tempting to believe that the calm here at home after 9/11 means that the danger to our country has passed.”

“Here is America, we are living in the eye of a storm. All around us, dangerous winds are swirling and these winds could reach our shores at any moment.”

Well my friends, the biggest wind of the moment seems to be coming from a blowhard president trying desperately to build up the failing support of the American public for his war. This is a president who has to hold disaster relief for Americans ransom to get his funding.

The first point is this. Even if George W. is correct, stepping up or even continuing the war will not weaken terrorism – it will exacerbate it. Back in graduate school I did my master’s thesis on the causes of terrorism. Terrorism, my friends, is a “war in the shadows” and I am not the first one to call it that (if you can find the original quote, feel free to chime in). You cannot blow up terrorism with tanks. You cannot root it out with missiles. And a war will not stop it. Tell me you want to spend more money on the United States Coast Guard, and keep them here at home? I am all for it. Tell me you want to put PROFESSIONALS in airport security in this country and I will back you 100%. But trying to literally “scare up” some support for his war is just pathetic. My only guess is that George W. wants to ensure that widows and mothers all over the world have more to mourn about this Memorial Day.

But the larger issue is not just this war, but ANY war. Remember back when George W. started the war? He told us all about prayer to God for guidance to got to war? Well an article published by “The Independent” by Rupert Cromwell (source: talks about just that:

“The revelation comes after Mr Bush launched an impassioned attack yesterday in Washington on Islamic militants, likening their ideology to that of Communism, and accusing them of seeking to "enslave whole nations" and set up a radical Islamic empire "that spans from Spain to Indonesia". In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did.’”

I am not sure what God George W. is praying to that tells him to start wars and go kill people, but it isn’t any God I know. But that does lead me to a larger point. Why would God allow this war? I am sure many have asked themselves just that. One the face of it, the short answer is simply “Free will”. God didn’t start the war, a man did – a man named George W. Bush. Some people have pointed out to me that God led the Israelites into war in the old testament. The Old Testament in the Bible is full of scenes of such as the Egyptian Armies being drown at the bottom of the Red Sea, and the people of Jericho being smashed under their own walls – all at the hand of God. I had this same discussion with mother superior this morning. We discussed what God, in the person of Jesus, said in the New Testament:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17

Many times I have discussed God’s new commandment – “love one another as I have loved you.” So God has not abolished the old testament. If you fulfill His new commandment to love one another as He loves us you will be in obedience with God’s will. But remember that Christ taught that it is important to obey the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the Law. When God has spoken to Mankind, he has done so in ways they can best understand. When Mother Mary spoke to St. Bernadette at Lourdes she did so in ways that she could understand – Bernadette had to memorize the words “immaculate conception.” Above all, one thing is important and that is this:


Today, my friends, I will leave you with a short story by none other than Mark Twain. It is called “The War Prayer” – read on .

The War Prayer
by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

*God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!*

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the *whole* of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory--*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(*After a pause.*) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Usually I get kissed first...

Usually I get kissed first before Democratic politicians do what they did this week in Washington D.C. George W. is determined to have his war, even if it means he has to hold disaster relief over the heads of the American People (Democratic Party) in order to get his dose of death and destruction. An Associated Press article for May 23, 2007 reported that “Democratic congressional leaders neared agreement with the Bush administration Tuesday to pay for the Iraq war without setting a timeline for troop withdrawal.” I don’t entirely blame the democratic party - after all, it is not quite as bad as the shameful thing that George W. did -

Namely, use disaster relief that should go to the American people WITHOUT A THOUGHT AND WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHED. But George W. is determined to start wars no matter what it takes. Read on…

“Several officials said the emerging compromise bill would cast about $120 billion including as much as $8 billion for Democratic domestic priorities - SUCH AS DISASTER RELIEF FOR HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIMS AND FARMERS HURT BY DROUGHT.”

I believe at this point that both George W. and the G.O.P. must be suffering some form of mass insanity. In a country that has a health care system that is in a shambles, they are spending over 100 BILLION DOLLARS on killing people in a war that George W. Bush started in the first place..

- in a country that had nothing to do with the tragedy of 9/11
- in a country that didn’t have weapons of mass destruction

So he uses money that should have gone to help Americans in dire need to pry the money for his war out of the American people. Just when I think George W. Bush can’t sink any lower - can’t lose more of his humanity, he manages to sink to brand new lows. HOW LOW CAN YOU GO GEORGE W.???

What could be worse? Can it get worse?

Remember just a week or two ago, those same G.O.P members that said they would no longer support George W. if no progress is made in Iraq by September? It appears that by “progress” they mean stepping up the number of deaths in Iraq. Now the Republic party is proud of what it has done. Read on…

“Republicans said that after weeks of struggle, they had forced Democrats to give up their demand for a date to withdraw troops.” - Associated Press May 23, 2007

I wonder at this point if the Republic Party is more concerned with sticking it to the Democratic side of congress than the concerns of the American People, and the world, not to mention humanity as a whole.

So what does it take to get George W. to let go of some additional money for disaster victims? A war…it takes A WAR? And yes, the Republic Party feels that they have done themselves proud….

“Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican Leader, added, ‘Democrats have finally conceded defeat in their effort to include mandatory surrender dates in funding a bill for the troops, so forward progress has been made for the first time in this four-month process.”

SURRENDER? Is that what John Boehner is concerned about? AMERICA STARTED THIS WAR JOHN!!! It makes me want to move to Ohio just so I can “not vote” for the man. The House Republic leader is proud of the fact that the Republican Party was able to force a War down the throats of the American people and the world?

Message to the politicians in both parties in Washington D.C. who feel that they somehow, in their wildest dreams, represent the “will of the people”…


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Michael Moore and "Sicko"

Photo credit:Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP

Michael Moore has a new documentary called “Sicko”. In case you haven’t heard of him he is the producer of the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” – the film that has caused George W. Bush so much ire. The film is described by the associated press as “a ferocious attack on the U.S. health care industry” Both Michael Moore and the documentary are the talk of the Cannes Film Festival in France. Moore is using the film to tell the world about the desperate need to reform America’s health system.

As part of the film he took a group of sick Americans, including people who were rescue workers during the September 11 tragedy, to Cuba seeking medical treatment. Moore told the Associated press that the group only went to Cuba for medical treatment after failing to be admitted to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay – where Moore told the associated press that the “al-Qaida suspects receive better treatment than millions of Americans”. He was given 20 days by the U.S. Treasure Department to respond to questions.

“It’s a government that’s funded by the pharmaceutical companies and the health insurers, so I’m not surprised they’re coming after me, said Moore. I’m surprised they’re doing it so soon. I didn’t think they’d want to draw attention to the movie this early on.”

“They want me to name names” Moore told the Associated Press.

To say the film has been received well at the film festive is putting it mildly. The associated press article had this headline:

“Cannes, France – In Cannes, Michael Moore is a rock star-mobbed by fans, assailed by cameras and forced to wolf down a plate of pasta between his latest interview and his next live TV Appearance.”

Mr. Moore had this to say about the film:

“It was pretty somber working on this film. We just kept thinking, the only reason this person is dying is because they hold American citizenship. If they lived in Canada or Britain or France, they’d have a chance.” – Michael Moore

When he was pulling up to a TV studio in France for yet another interview, Moore had this to say:

“The facts are indisputable. People in those countries live longer than us, they have a lower infant mortality rate, they spend only half the money that we spend per person on health care, and yet hey have a healthier nation. There’s no part of that picture that I’m painting that is untrue.” – Michael Moore.

If his work on his last movie is any indication, “sicko” should be a real eye opener.

Sister Julie

Is George W. Bush just the worst president in history or a war criminal?

Remember the adage about the three famous monkeys - “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”? While the picture of George W. (above left) seems to embody that phrase, unfortunately we would need to add one more monkey for him – do no evil.
In George W.’s case, however, he would fail the task miserably. And former president Carter has been telling the world why…

In an associated press article for May 19, 2007 former President Jimmy Carter called George W. Bush “the worst president in history.” Jimmy Carter goes on to say "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history,"

Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, had the following to say about George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," he said. "But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies." - former president Jimmy Carter

“Pre-emptive war”? My friends, that means George W. STARTED THE WAR. Don’t think so? Bob Woodward, the journalist who is in part responsible for bringing Nixon and the Watergate scandal to light thinks so. Here is what he had to say, in part, in a recent interview on CBS’ 60 minutes:

“And there's this low boil on Iraq until the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, 2001. This is 72 days after 9/11. This is part of this secret history. President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically, and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, ‘What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq? What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret.’ – Bob Woodward.

In his new book “Plan of attack” Journalist Bob Woodward gives a detailed account of how and why President George W. Bush decided to wage war on Iraq. So has George W. Bush committed a crime? You may judge for yourself, but in an article for CNN their “Find Law” columnist John W. Dean said the following:

“This administration may be due for a scandal. While Bush narrowly escaped being dragged into Enron, which was not, in any event, his doing. But the war in Iraq is all Bush's doing, and it is appropriate that he be held accountable.

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

-John W. Dean in his article for CNN “Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?”

Is George W. Bush the worst president in history? That covers a lot of ground my friends, but former President Carter thinks so, and I agree with him. Has he committed a crime? Can we consider him a war criminal? Only time and the courts will tell…

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jerry Falwell's legacy of hatred

Jerry Falwell was found dead on Tuesday May 15, 2007 – this week. For those of you who have never been subjected to his remarks, some of them are included below. He was the founder of a group that was ironically called “The moral majority” He was a man who proclaimed himself to be Christian yet who preached hatred of gay men and lesbian women. He believed God did not hear the prayers of Jews.

While Jerry Falwell was busy living by Leviticus 18:22 (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”) he somehow missed Leviticus 25:44 (“If you need slaves, you may buy them from the nations around you”) I am not personally aware if Mr. Falwell owned any Canadians. I doubt he did however, as slavery is not acceptable as, to him apparently, preaching hatred. Most of all, when he lived Mr. Falwell forgot one very, very important part of the bible. The words of Jesus himself:

And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

If God is the merciful loving God that I know He is, He will give Jerry Falwell a chance to make up for the hatred he preached while he was alive. Karma, as they say is Karma. So if you meet a gay teenager about 14 years from now – and if that young man looks very confused at how to reconcile his love for God with the with the legacy of hatred Jerry Falwell left. Well have a bit of pity on the young man. The young man may just be Jerry Falwell reincarnated…

Jerry Falwell’s legacy of hatred:

Jerry Falwell blamed gays and lesbians with the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on 911 - “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.” – Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell did not believe God hears the prayers of Jews:“I do not believe,” Jerry Falwell told reporters, “that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew.” – Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell believed Heaven will destroy Metropolitan Churches and then Celebrate:
Jerry Falwell called gay-orientated Metropolitan Churches “Brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” This statement was proven in court by gay activist Jerry Sloan

Some further statements by Jerry Falwell:
"[Vice President Gore] recently praised the lesbian actress who plays 'Ellen' on ABC Television...I believe he may even put children, young people, and adults in danger by his public endorsement of deviant homosexual behavior...Our elected leaders are attempting to glorify and legitimize perversion." People for the American Way, "Hostile Climate", 1998, p.9.”

"Someone must not be afraid to say, 'moral perversion is wrong.' If we do not act now, homosexuals will 'own' America!...If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way...and our nation will pay a terrible price!" - People for the American Way, "Hostile Climate," 1997, p.15.

The State of American Healthcare

The State of American Healthcare...

The picture above is by Jon Griffon

In an associated press article dated May 16, 2007 Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is quoted from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article starts with the following paragraph:

“The U.S. heath care system is a ‘dysfunctional mess’ and politicians who insist otherwise look ignorant, according to a medical essay by a prominent ethicist at the National institute of Health.”

The prominent ethicist would be Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel from whom the article then offers up the following quote:

“If a politician declares that the United States has the best health care system in the world today, he or she looks clueless rather than patriotic or authoritative.” – Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel

In the article, Dr. Emanuel says that the U.S. spends $6,000 per person per year on health care, an amount that is more than 16 percent of the gross national product and more than any other country.

Six thousand dollars?

Oh would that it were. It would be a wonderful discount for us. We spend $16,200 per year for Mother Superior’s health care insurance alone. The American Health Care system is a shambles. Even if you are in perfect health, even if you have great health care insurance, you should care. Why?

Everyone gets old that’s why….

What happens when you get old? What happens if you ever reach the point where you cannot care for yourself? At our convent we take care of an elderly woman who is unable to care for herself. Consider this, however. We live in a country that is driven by greed – call it the wage/price spiral if you have taken macro economics and it happens to float your particular boat. I work in real estate as I have for years, and see an industry that not only is driven by greed, but thrives in it. We live in an economy where the it usually takes two incomes to support a family. And what happens if a relative of one of the wage earners can no longer take care of themselves? I am not talking about when someone simply needs to live with their children – I am talking about when they need around the clock care.

Years ago my parents went to a restaurant called “The oriental pearl”. When the owner of the restaurant found out what dad did for a living (he was a nursing home administrator at the time) he was shocked. “We are honored to have our old ones with us” he said. But he might not say that now. Not everyone is in a position to be able to quit there job to be able to take care of an older relative around the clock.

I hope you are not counting on the American healthcare system to take care of you under such circumstances. We have a healthcare system that is a REAL KILLER – literally.

Exit Strategy

We live in a country with a president that lost the election. Not the first time, of course, that the American People said “We don’t want this man to be president” but the electoral college said “Yes you do”. In November 2000 George W. Bush actually lost the “Popular vote” and a hateful of powerful people in the electoral college, decided he should be president anyway – or should I say at this point “Dictator”? Once George W. became the incumbent (and ran against John Kerry) in 2004, the rest, sad to say, is history.

So now a president that was never elected to the office the first time around, insists on having his wars no matter whether the American People, The democratic party and now even his OWN republican part his against him. The prime minister of England, has now resigned in part, due to his support for the American Dictator George W. Bush (source:

It appears that the only possible exit strategy is the one portrayed by political cartoonist Mike Lane that appeared in the local Daily Journal on May 15, 2007:

political cartoon above: “exit strategy” by Mike Lane

Whitehouse finds ‘war czar’

Pictured above: Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

In an associated press article released May 16, 2007 it was announced George W. Bush had found a nominee “…to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a ‘war czar’”. The article goes on to state the following:
“The White House has sought a war coordinator to eliminate conflicts among the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies – and to speak for the president at times.”

The articles gives the title of the new position as “assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation”. Try and fit THAT on a business card. I don’t know anything about the president’s nominee, for the position which will require confirmation by the United States Senate – that is not the point. The point is that the president is in the process of appointing his own little “Reichsmarschall” to oversee a war that he started and no one else wants. It is a war over started over non-existent weapons of mass destruction in a country named Iraq that had nothing whatsoever to do with the horrifying events of “911”. It is a war in which even those members of the GOP that normally supported him, have said they will no longer support him if there are no changes in Iraq by September. So my suggestion is to not bother with a position with a title that is 16 words long. Call it what it is George W. and above you have my recommendation for it. None other than Field Marshall Erwin Rommel of the Third Reich – posthumously of course.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A teacher's teacher

Today we start out with a memory. You know a teacher is a good teacher when a student remembers them thirty two years later. In high school some students would get together and just go out driving on a Friday night - no set destination in mind. Back then this was known as “cruising” although, sad to say, it has a much different definition now, and not a very happy little one either.

We had two regular destinations - the first was a smorgasbord, where we would attempt to “eat the owner out of business” (in those days my metabolism was set a good deal higher by the good Lord). The second place was the house of our favorite teacher. One evening we stopped at the local smorgasbord with a particularly large group of students. After eating our considerable fill, the waitress walked up to the group of about 20 of us to settle the bill. We asked for separate checks, and actually waited for her to fill out part of the first check before we stopped her. I am not sure if she appreciated the sense of humor of a group of teenagers but I am sure she didn’t mind the $100 dollar tip we left - considerable considering that was in the early 1970s.

The second destination was the home of our American History teacher - Mr. Aldo V. Caroza. If there is such a thing as a “man’s man” Aldo Caroza was a “teacher’s teacher” He was the sort of teacher that students talk about decades later (like right now). God bless him, even though we all just dropped in on him, Mr. Caroza always let us in. He visited with us and we always left the recipients of his hospitality and his wonderful sense of humor.

Two memories stick with me about Aldo Caroza to this day. The first is his collection of motorcycles. He had a garage full of Mottoguzzi motorcycles, like the one above. He would ride around town in his motorcycle helmet, never taking his bike much above 35 miles per hour.

Like all schools did at least (I don’t know if they still do) ours had students who volunteered to run messages from the principal’s office to the classrooms. Rarely did a student make it past the classroom of Aldo Caroza. He was a popular teacher. Each time a student came to the room to deliver a message they were “shanghaied”. He had a small metal coil he could plug into the wall to heat up a cup of water. He always kept tea and sugar in his desk. Whenever a student came to deliver a message, he would offer them a cup of tea, a chair, and a front row seat to the day’s lecture. The students always stayed. Aldo was a fantastic teacher. I still remember him all these years later. He left me not only part of his knowledge, but his love for history. God bless you Aldo wherever you are today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Walnut Inventory

Walnut Inventory

It’s surprising sometimes how one small event – a turn of phrase, a sound, a smell can bring back a flood of memories. Not always good ones to be sure. You can bet, however, if they are about something that was done to us, the person who did them never walks down the street grimacing about what they did.

Sometimes the memories are pleasant ones. Sometimes they are just though provoking.

This morning at breakfast Mother Superior turned to me and said “I am sorry there were not walnuts for the oatmeal” – something she always adds. But dear mom, God rest her soul, would have said never look a gift horse in the mouth, and never complain about a meal someone else is willing to make for you. Eat it and be happy. The fortunate thing about Mother Superior’s cooking is that it is always wonderful. But that is a blessing in disguise (as my waistline currently, sagging-ly shows) The memories this particular word, walnuts, evoked, is something that was once said by a visitor to the convent.

This particular visitor was a relative of one of the sisters. He had a habit of treating nuns like he treats employees. Despite the fact that he is not, obviously, a nun himself, nor does he live in the convent. He has offered advice on lo’ so many things. In this particular case he saw the walnuts that Mother Superior keeps to add to food and told her…

“You aren’t managing your walnut inventory here.”

Now where this a receiving dock of someplace like the Nestles Corporation I might understand the phrase. But this is the kitchen of a convent we are talking about here.

At this point a word of explanation is in order. For those of you who may not have a background in business there are two ways to handle inventory. Those ways are called LIFO (last in first out) and FIFO (First in first out). I won’t go into what they mean. I will just point out they are two ways corporations with factories and warehouses handle there massive inventories. So I told you that to tell you this…

So the next day, after said visitor has left, Mother Superior tells me of this little even. Without missing a beat I looked at her and said “Should we handle our walnuts LIFO or FIFO.” Mother Superior also has a business background and burst out laughing. Yes, it is a had to be there sort of thing.

But the remarkable thing to me is, just how usual this sort of behavior is. I often see people who treat business associates like good buddies and family like dogs. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that – at the convent we treat our dogs very well thank you. So I will say “Treat family like dirt.”

My grandfathers brother was the same way, only with his military background. The thing is, he was universally abusive. He treated everyone like a “slick sleeve” private in the midst of basic training. (And believe me, drill sergeants in basic training SPECIALIZE at treating people with abuse). Grandfather once took his brother to “his country club”.
“His” of course only in the sense that he went there on a regular basis to play golf; and country club only in the sense that it was a nice place owned by the local park district with a large dining area and bar. When grand father (actually step grandfather – an important distinction for those of you who have read my column before).

When grand father took his brother to the bar, his brother offered buy a round of drinks for everyone in the bar. However, his brother was such an instantly abrasive man that no one in the bar, and I mean NO ONE would take a drink from him. When people won’t even drink free booze, THAT my friends is one abusive person.

But sometimes that particular cover is not like what the book is on the inside. I worked with someone once, long before I was a nun, and long before I found God (after all He always knew where I was). He was a “full bird colonel” in the military as they say. He was retired, and still in the active reserves at the time. I remember back then asking someone in management, in a rather flippant manner I am afraid, if I would have to salute him when he came in to work in the morning (he was, after all, to be one of my direct line supervisors). In the end, however, this particular person left the military in the military. He treated his employees with respect and valued their opinions. When I was the acting supervisor, he called me in to listen to the job interviews in for two new openings in my department. Not only did he listen to my opinion, he hired the individuals I recommended.

In the end, there are two lessons to be learned here. As trite as the adage may be, the first one is to “never judge a book by its cover”. The second lesson, and perhaps the most important one, is to always treat your family like your best friends in the world, and NEVER give them “the business”.

Julie Whitefeather

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ivy covered people in ivory colored towers

Ivy covered people in ivory colored towers

It happens now and then. Mother Superior, who normally drops me off at the train station turns to me and says, “How much leave time do you have?” It has happened so often that it becomes a programmed response – like Pavlov’s dogs. Automatically I reply, “Why?” But I always know why. A trip is planned and I am being left to mind the store (or the convent in this case) or brought along. Mind you, it is never a happy little trip. At least not so far. The destination is usually the same place – an ivory colored tower.

So there I sat this last weekend, once again, in an ivory tower. The ivory tower, in this case, being a four story mansion located in an urban area in a southern state. (Nebulous enough not to name the person but enough to get the point across). The situation has presented itself so often that it is just tiring to write about it – and depressing. Sadder still is that the situation is all to common. The Ivory tower is surrounded by high walls and wrought iron gates. Going through them, as they open ever so slowly by remote control – obviously meant to impress – it impresses me with nothing more than the thought that I am entering a prison yard some where. And a prison it is. The ivy covered man sits alone in his majestic ivory tower. Disconnected from what makes life truly worthwhile – a family, love and God.

But the prison is not made entirely of brick walls. The prison is also made of emotional barriers as well. Does the ivy covered man ever smile and laugh? Certainly – to impress clients for the most part. But the emotional wall is high and wide. When the real ivy covered man comes out, when no clients are around, when there are no acquaintances to impress – the real ivy covered man never cracks a smile. He never laughs. Like the sound of his voice, his emotions are steady, even and monotonous at best. At worst the ivy covered man is busy being very angry and, in his own mind, very, very right – always right.

What is important to the ivy covered man, as he sits alone in his wonderful impressive ivory prison is amazing. Love? No. Not love. Love is not important to this man. Not love of family and not love of God. On this trip I went to a ceremony where 95 young adults devoted their lives to God. True, many may have done so because there parents expected it. But some did so because they loved God – if you shut your eyes and prayed you could feel the joy of the Holy Spirit fill the church to the very rafters. But the ivy covered man, who sat next to me did not feel it. He was very obviously bored. As the Holy Spirit came and filled those who love Him with joy, the ivy covered man was visibly bored and wanted only for the ceremony to be over.

You will meet this ivy covered man in many places. What is important to the ivy covered man? Money – the more the better. I have met such ivy covered men more than once. For years I would watch my father count out the grocery money to my mother – single dollar bill at a time – carefully tugging at each one to make sure two had not stuck together. It was important for that particular ivy covered man to make sure mom did not get more than her allotted share. All the same mom was loving and patient. She took the pittance and stretched it. She fed a family and held it together. She even managed to buy that family presents and occasionally treat herself. That in itself was not just a testament to a remarkable woman, but a small miracle in itself (thank you Papa le bon Dieu).

How do I recognize the ivory tower so well? I once occupied it myself. The God, my dear Papa le bon Dieu, pulled me out of the tower, and pulled the walls down around me. What did I find in the ruins of that tower? Well my friends, I found God.