Sunday, November 26, 2006

I am a republican. I am not anti-war, I am against the war in Iraq!

Click on link to watch video! Why Billy Why!

I am a republican. I am not anti-war, I am against the war in Iraq.
I wrote why billy why last year when my son-in-law was deployed to Iraq. He, thankfully, came home safely, many others have not. This song is intended to be an honest look at a mother's loss. I wanted to put a face on this tragedy of war and make everyone feel for an instant, a fraction of the pain a mother feels when her son is killed in the war.
It is not unpatriotic to oppose is unpatriotic to sit idly by and do nothing.
Our soldier, Patrick Kelly, NJ, is another outstanding individual moving the marker. He just out doing his job, putting his heart on the line and making a huge contribution. He makes me proud to be an American and do the work I do getting this important message out.
Please read his letter before you vote this November.
A Truly Powerful Video
Patrick Kelly, NJ
I was reviewing books online and somehow came across a link to this incredible video. I was at first angered by Bush's words, but that anger quickly turned to sadness.In 2004, I was stationed at Camp Wolverine in Kuwait. Among other things, my job was to remove body bags off C-130H aircraft and Blackhawk helicopters that were straight from battle scenes. We placed the bags (sometimes 200lbs, sometimes less than 2lbs) in the refrigerated mortuary trucks where they were taken to the mortuary tent for icing and paperwork processing. At the next aircraft heading back to the U.S., we’d perform the reverse. The bodies, still inside their original bag, were now inside aluminum transfer cases. We would help drape U.S. flags over them, load them aboard the aircraft (exactly like the ones you saw in Mark’s video), and all the while, perform a solemn honors ceremony at attention and with a very slow return salute downward. I can hardly recall a time that I didn’t walk away from an aircraft and cry. As the NCOIC, I was often the leader of the detail, but I didn’t want my troops to see me in this state of grief. I was often comforted by the darkness of night which served as a shield for my distorted face and tears so as not to be detected by my crew. I was 40 years old then and had the maturity to understand that the deaths of these men and women would soon, upon their not yet notified families, shatter their lives and the lives of everyone else who knew them. I don’t believe my troops, some as young as 18, could possibly fathom the depths of what they were undertaking.More difficult than that was aiding in the transfer of wounded troops on stretchers (called litters) from small aircraft/helicopters onto C-141B medical evacuation configured aircraft (Medi-vacs). Running down the center of these aircraft, from floor to ceiling were stanchions of litter racks. It was on these racks that we, along with medical staff, would secure our brave men and women by their stretcher sometimes four high and with four rows. I saw everything from mangled and splintered feet and hands, purple bloody faces (from blast burns), eyelids, cheeks, and mouths swollen beyond recognition (from the spraying of red-hot shrapnel), and freshly wrapped, blood soaked stumps where hands, arms, feet, legs, or all four use to be just hours before, functioning as strong, useful, and familiar appendages. But what haunts me most, is not so much their wounds or the fact that their lives were violently changed forever, destined to a life of confinement to mechanical wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and guide dogs. No. It was their eyes. Their eyes followed me as I would approach them from down the aircraft aisle-way. With brows raised in an arch and foreheads wrinkled, they strained to see me with painful, glaring, frightened eyes as I moved toward them and then away. It’s impossible to put these images into appropriate words. What was going on in their minds – those, that is, who were conscious? I always managed to give each hero a pat on the shoulder, the leg, or any place I could touch, and followed with words of encouragement, praise, or gratitude. I always smiled at them, as hard as it was, and then I always felt that terribly familiar surge of emotions as the doors to the aircraft closed for flight preparation. I am a Democrat and I am a proud American, more proud today then ever during my twenty plus years of service to my county. But I am not proud to have served my country in the War Against Iraq because I do not feel that we should have been in Iraq. In other words, there was no need to be in Iraq in order to necessitate one’s service to our country in the first place. Perhaps it is because of Cheney’s remarks as to why we are in Iraq that serves my anger and disgust so well. He said we are there “in order to protect our national interest in that region’s oil. Without it, our country would be in economic ruin.” Alas, the crux of the problem!I am, however, extremely proud to have served my fellow military members in the War Against Iraq because I feel that I made a difference. In some small way, I made someone feel comfort by doing little deeds for them such as giving a bunch of guys a lift to the PX in my truck, showing them my appreciation for their service with kind words of thanks and praise, and by talking to them one-on-one about home and family. The largest contribution I made was one that I performed often for my fellow brothers and sisters was to dash out to an aircraft with its engines screaming during its pre-flight check, and on behalf of late arriving troops with a pass for R&R, to plead with aircrew to take a few more troops with only 10 days to hitch a ride home and hurry back. Despite there being few available seats left without gear piled up on them, or the aircraft nearing its maximum take-off weight, I was, more often than not, able to persuade them to agree to 2, 3, 5, or more. Sometimes I would make up stories to reluctant crewmen saying that I have three brand-new fathers who desperately want to meet their babies for the first time…anything in order to find a connection with them. I rarely failed, and not because of my rank, but because I simply put those crewmembers back in touch with their human side. The hopeless faces of those “stuck” passenger anticipating my return would quickly turned to excitement, screams, and the snapping of their body posture as I would holler over the noise, “grab your gear and follow me, you’re going home!” The look on their faces and the gratitude they expressed to me, whether explicit or implicit, made my deployment worth while. And for me, that was my reward for being there. Those small deeds like that are what I take with me as having served my country during this war.My stance against this war does not make me unpatriotic. I am not anti-war, although I now see myself more a peacenik than I ever imagined possible. With the War Against Iraq constantly on my mind, with its tens of thousands of current and future U.S. troops who are and will serve in that region, let’s clean it up, make it right, keep it limited, and then withdraw all U. S. troops for good, and for the good of all.
Join us
moving the marker
Help share this important video at home and abroad by sending your contributions to:
Conant Associates
P.O. Box 703
Trinidad, CA 95570

Ralph Conant is author of more than fifteen books and monographs on a wide variety of topics, mostly in social policy, metropolitan governance, and regional planning. He holds PhD and MA degrees from the University of Chicago, where he studied public administration with Leonard D. White, urban politics with Edward C. Banfield, and political philosophy with Leo Strauss.

His most recent publications are: Toward a More Perfect Union: The Governance of Metropolitan America, with Daniel J. Myers, 1st edition, 2002; 2nd edition, 2006 and forthcoming City of Destiny: Denver in the Making, with Maxine Kurtz, to be published by Chandler & Sharp in 2007.

His other books include: The Public Library and the City, MIT, 1965; The Politics of Community Health, Public Affairs Press, 1968; Problems in Research in Community Violence, with Molly Apple Levin, Praeger,1969; The Prospects for Revolution, Harper & Row, 1971; The Metropolitan Library, MIT, 1972; The Conant Report: A Study of the Education of Librarians, MIT, 1980; Private Means Public Ends: Private Business in Social Service Delivery, with Barry J. Carroll and Thomas Easton, Praeger, 1987; Public School Finance: Toward a More Level Playing Field for Our Youth, Phelps-Stokes Fund, 1993.

He served as faculty, Michigan State University (1956-1957). Staff, National Municipal (Civic) League (1957-1959). Executive Director, Citizens for Michigan (1959-1960). Faculty, University of Denver (1960-1961). Assistant Director, Joint Center for Urban Studies, MIT-Harvard (1961-1967). Associate Director, Lemberg Center for the Study of Violence, Brandeis University (1967-1969). President, Southwest Center for Urban Research, Houston (1969-1975). President, Shimer College (1975-1978). President, Unity College in Maine (1978-1980). He lives in Trinidad, California and has a farm in Maine dating to the family settlement in 1771.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Shades of tyranny in our use of fear


The way we think and talk about war leaves us unable to evolve beyond it. Like a hypnotic suggestion, the language of war subdues the conscious mind and makes us embrace unthinkable ideas.

With reverent words to acknowledge suffering, stirring words to honor courage, and persuasive words to rally the troops, attitudes and the phrases that express them have become hard-wired into our cultural consciousness. We utter them without needing to think. Reason gives way to habit and emotion. We don't seem to notice that over time the resignation connected with grief has morphed into acceptance of the unacceptable. We seem blind to the exploitation of our gratitude by the powerful, who send people to war, then silence opponents by equating opposition to policy with disloyalty to those who serve.

After centuries of fighting, not only do we accept war, we applaud and honor it. When it comes to war, we seem willing to shut down our brains and surrender to the emotional tide of popular sentiment.
''There are some things worth fighting for,'' we say, though the phrase offers no evidence for its assertion that violence is an effective strategy for protecting things we hold dear. We say ''freedom isn't free'' to express gratitude to veterans, but confuse promoting freedom with protecting our safety. Any use of force denies the freedom of another. A military victory may provide a measure of safety to the victors, but usually only a lull in a balance of terror, while the defeated bide their time.

Fear and the desire for revenge lurk at the heart of the most powerful attitudes about war. These emotions know no cultural boundaries, and I am not surprised that they exist, but I am amazed that we don't object to their continuing to govern our behavior in the 21st century. Respected nations still speak of ''bringing their opponents to their knees,'' and fearful populations rally in support of leaders who act tough. Seeking revenge should not be confused with problem solving. An enemy subdued is often an enemy lying in wait.

The Bush administration used fear to win initial support for the war in Iraq, and won re-election with the same appeal. To be sure, there is plenty to fear, but using fear to elicit support is more appropriate to tyranny than to democracy. At the core of our democratic ideals is the belief that government derives its power from the consent of the governed. That consent should be given after careful reflection, not taken by emotional manipulation.

Emotional thinking creates a gap between reality and what we choose to believe. The planners of the war failed to take into account the possible consequences of their actions. In a moment of hubris, they convinced themselves that they could wish a democratic ally into existence. They didn't trust democracy enough, however, to listen to voices from the region they planned to liberate, who correctly warned that attacking Iraq would inspire a million bin Ladens. Our invasion was a bonanza for terrorist recruitment, and our removal of Saddam Hussein without an effective strategy for maintaining order was an invitation to every outlaw and power seeker to take advantage of the chaos that ensued.

Experts on terrorism tell us that humiliation is one of its causes. It was certainly not logic, then, that possessed the administration to use a campaign of ''shock and awe'' to send a message to the Middle East. Our power is exactly what angers and motivates terrorists to defy us. Vast numbers of the world's people live in our shadow, and we have yet to come to terms with their resentment. Agents of our country have overthrown democratically elected governments and made behind-the-scenes deals that benefit us at the expense of others. Like frustrated players who upset the game board because they can't win, more and more angry people have decided not to play by our rules. They've empowered themselves to hurt us using methods that armies cannot easily combat. The benefits of any military action must be weighed against its value to terrorists as evidence that we deserve to be hated.

President Bush has inadvertently demonstrated just how vital democracy is to civilization. When a few people act with arrogant disregard for the opinions of others, they erode the glue of consent that holds civilization together. That is true whether plans are hatched in a cave in Afghanistan or in an office in Washington, D.C.

With violent conflicts spiraling out of control, we must think clearly about war. As some begin to call for military strikes in Iran, we need the combined wisdom of every mind capable of reason to choose strategies that make sense, not rash actions that suit our emotions.

The world will not forgive and may not survive another disastrous mistake. We would be wise to act with an eye to the rights and safety of those who have not yet joined the terrorists. Otherwise, we will continue to create enemies faster than we can kill them.
Gail Bangert lives in Harwich.
(Published: October 10, 2006)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Mother's Prayer by Celeste Zappala

Celeste Zappala is a United Methodist Christian whose son, Sherwood, was killed in Baghdad on April 26, 2004. This reflection was written by Celeste to you in response to the news that nearly 2800 soldiers and countless innocents have now lost their lives in the Iraq war.

Celeste was recently a guest preacher at the Eastham United Methodist Church, as well as the Orleans United Methodist Church on Sunday Oct 15th. United Methodist Church Community sponsored this life long Methodist from Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mother Zappala was also a guest speaker at Arlington East the Human Cost of War, as well as on deck at Coast Guard beachhead for Arlington East from sun rise to sun set to honor all those who lost their lives in a war that didn't have to be.

What Does the Lord Require?

"On March 6, 2004, the day after I last saw Sherwood alive, I spent wild hours alone in my garden trying to understand how it was that my son was going to Iraq, and fighting my overwhelming sense of dread. I found myself thinking, "the war began a year ago-despite our protests and prayer, and since then I have been hoping something would happen so that Sher would not have to go, something to let this cup pass. But it is ours to drink now, along with the millions of others who are caught in these struggles. What arrogance for me to have thought we would not be touched by the grief of the World." I did not yet understand what the grief of the world could mean.

On April 26, 2004 my soul was seared by the reality of the death of my son in an explosion in Baghdad. A thousand times I have wished the fire ball that destroyed him could have taken me instead, and I know now the grief of the World in part is known by every parent who would have given their life to protect their child.

In the many months since that day I have found myself on a path I never would have chosen, a path I have struggled with and cursed, and yet I am bound to it now, and realize it is the path I must honor in all that I do. I have felt the relentless, power of the Loving Creator pull my spirit upright, away from the seduction of despair. I have seen the path in the profound question of scripture "and what does the Lord require of you, but to try to do justice, try to love mercy, try to walk humbly with God," to the light that the darkness can not overcome.

For me the path must be to seek the truth, for it is in the power of the truth that we are all set free to seek the Peace we know God wants for us.

But just now, I weep for the families who will learn in the days to come that the one they prayed for is now among the fallen. I pray for their struggle, for their brokenness, for the future they will now know with out the person they held so dear. I can not help but feel a terrible sense of failure, even though we worked so hard, we have not stopped the killing.

What does the Lord require of us? Faithfulness?

I struggle with my anger, my helplessness, and yet surely as breath, I trust that nothing, nothing will separate us from the love of God, and that is both comfort and command.

The command means one can not turn away from that knowledge, and the responsibility
it instills. The path Jesus laid for us is to love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.

In the despair, war, brokenness and grief of the World only that mysterious, confounding path of Love can lead to truth and peace. "

With hope,
Celeste Zappala

Vote to honor the fallen.

by Dante Zappala- younger son of Celeste Zappala

On April 26th, 2004, a day before the local primary elections, Sgt. Sherwood Baker was killed in Iraq. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He was my brother. Sherwood's death brought the war home to his entireextended network of family and friends. None of us thought this powerful strong man could fall. We were wrong.

The day after my brother died, amidst the disbelief and the sorrow, my mother went to our local polling station and cast her vote. Some may have toldher it was futile or seen it as meaningless. After all, it was merely a primary. Sherwood, however, wouldhave expected nothing less. He knew the definition ofcitizenship.

I've got hundreds of pictures of my brother. I can stare at them for hours. Maybe it's mental torture,maybe it's just part of the process, but I'm looking at the inflection of every smile, the direction of thecreases on his face. I'm looking at every pixel for a hint about how this came to pass. I've found a lot. We shared happiness on his 30th birthday three years ago. We shared pride and lots oftears when we were at Fort Dix before he shipped off.His face is stern and unwavering in those pictures from Dix. Sherwood wasn't bitter about being deployed.He had reservations; people in their right mindsdon't want to go to war, especially when they have a family. But he had made an oath before God to serveand he took that seriously.

He was truthful and, above all, hopefully; a patriot in the truest sense. The day Sherwood shipped off to Iraq, I knew that forour family, life was forever changed. In all I've donesince that day, I've tried to maintain his sense oftruth and hope.

And since his death, I've started listening. I've learned that the way we talk to eachother is as important as what we talk about. I believe the war has, in fact, affected almost every American family, only many have no idea how. We all go to bed with the full support of our troopsin mind and their safety in our prayers. But debates rage around dinner tables and in living rooms across the country. The righteousness of our opinions has created so much anger between us. We're red in theface proving each other wrong.

I've traveled the country, I've been in dialogue with all sorts of folks, activists, military families, politicians, people on the street. I feel a kinship, even with mysupposed enemies, because we have all made the same choice to participate in this democracy.

We have watched together as some of our most spirited citizens, living otherwise humble lives in America,have been called to war. We've watched together astheir lives are stolen away. It is not my intention to tell you who to vote for. We have all been victims of the usual fear mongering,spin and half truths that accompany the campaignseason. I understand the propensity to want to shut itdown. Television ads are either mindless or infuriating. Candidates are eager to push buttons, sowe build walls. 'They deserve each other,' we might tell ourselves. 'Why should I vote anyway?' Letting apathy take hold, however, will only spelldefeat.

We will not be defeated by one party or the other, but by an ideology of hopelessness. But of evenmore importance, staying on the sidelines betrays thenobility of those who have made the ultimatesacrifice. Believe what you will about the war in Iraq; about the pretext, the current situation and the solutions. However, understand that every Soldier and every Marine who has died in Iraq did so under the banner of our democracy.

'Support our troops' means get out andvote. While we may indulge in our cynicism as wedebate particular points of withdrawal strategies, fine men and women who love their country are being disenfranchised by death. And we have the luxury of walking to the polls andcasting a vote. Be it a vote of conscience, a vote ofpassion or a vote of frustration, by God, we can vote.Do your duty as citizens. Go to the polls. Pull thelever with an open heart. And carry with you the promises of the young men and women who can no longerdo it themselves.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

HR 4232 Congressman Delahunt, Where is your leadership?

Hyannis Office
Congressman Bill Delahunt

146 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601

(508) 771-0666
Toll-Free: (800) 870-2626
Fax: (508) 790-1959

Hey Bill, Where is your leadership? How many more grave markers will it take to awaken your leadership?

" If ever you voted for the war,
Then you're out the door"! JJB

If you are active military and want to have the support of those who disaggree with this Congressman and President then click here; Appeal for

Click on Me to read or type Bill Number in window: TYPE HR4232

This is the letter that was sent to Congressman Delahunt on:

8 September 2006
Congressman Bill Delahunt

2454 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Delahunt,

The US war in Iraq is an endless fire consuming lives, resources, and the fragile possibilities of peace. As our member of Congress, you are the legitimate connection to end this terrible tragedy by supporting our request to cosign legislation that will bring an end to this war. Joining the Declaration of Peace campaign, a coalition of more than 250 national, religious, and peace organizations across the US, Cape Codders for Peace and Justice thank you for cosponsoring H. Con. Res. 197 to prohibit the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq. We also appreciate your support of the discharge petition with the purpose of gaining debate and a vote on HR 55. However, you have also stated this plan inhibits your support of H. R. 4232 as politically contraindicated. None of the legislation has gained supporters for months and we need bold steps to move forward. We look to you for that progressive leadership. Therefore, we request that you cosponsor H. R. 4232 to end funding for deployment of US troops to Iraq. Congress may not have control of decisions made by the administration but certainly has responsibility for the funding. We also request that you cosponsor H.Con. Res. 348 to prohibit permanent bases, control of oil and redeployment of troops.

You articulately expressed our sentiments on Iraq Watch (July 10, 2006) when you stated, “Well, the truth is, nothing has been accomplished, except the loss of thousands of American lives with a financial cost going on some half a trillion dollars. You know, one only has to watch the nightly news. I was in the cloakroom earlier and watched the national news. It was depressing, it was sad, it was tragic. What is going on in Baghdad today and all over Iraq is an orgy of violence and blood-letting.” Now please continue to speak truth to power and cosign legislation to end the war and bring the troops home, fund human needs, and resolve to deny war as national policy. We believe that humanity can and must rise above the violence to build a world of justice and peace for all peoples.

Members across the country will receive similar requests from their constituents with the belief that their representative in Congress, at this very “depressing, sad, and tragic” time, will respond to the public outcry against this invasion and war by cosponsoring the above legislation.

We would like to make an appointment with you or receive a written response to this communication on or before September 21, 2006. Thank you for your time and consideration. Declaration of Peace petition is enclosed.

signed by CCPJ legislative committee (Please note that the Declaration of Peace called for sponsorship of HR 4232)